February 10th, 2016

 

If I Run

CASEY KNOWS THE TRUTH. BUT IT WON’T SET HER FREE.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up.

Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

My Comments: This was a great, very engaging read! Ms. Blackstock does an excellent job of adding suspense and mystery without any language or violence. I couldn’t figure anything out for a while, although the guilt or innocence of Casey, the main character was pretty evident. The book goes back and forth between Casey and Dylan. Dylan is the PI engaged to find Casey, and Casey is the one suspected of murder. I like the way we get into both of their heads without giving away too much until the end. The Christian message is hinted at, not didactically given – maybe just enough to whet a person’s appetite. Thank you Terri Blackstock for writing such engaging, clean mysteries with suspense added! I highly recommend this and any of her books! This book will be out on February 16 to purchase.  I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

February 7th, 2016

SharksDolphins_187

Sharks and dolphins both have torpedo-shaped bodies with fins on their backs. They slice through the water to grab their prey with sharp teeth. But despite their similarities, sharks and dolphins belong to different animal classes: one is a fish and gets oxygen from the water and the other is a mammal and gets oxygen from the air. Marine educator Kevin Kurtz guides early readers to compare and contrast these ocean predators through stunning photographs and simple, nonfiction text.

My Comments: This is a beautiful read for children. The pictures are outstanding. The text is simple enough for my second graders to enjoy. We used this book as part of our research for informational writing on sharks, and it gave us some good information. I like the way it is a compare/contrast book discussing the similarities and differences between the two animals. Different types of the two animals were highlighted. In the back of the book there is a sections entitled, “For Creative Minds.” This section gives even more information about sharks and dolphins. Arboreal provides great non-fiction texts for children. I highly recommend them!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

February 5th, 2016

broken

About the book: Cousins Lydia and Sandra Troyer and their friend, Rosemary Beiler have always been close. The two cousins, however, both have eyes for handsome Ezra Wagler, leaving Rosemary to watch from the sidelines. But when the cousins’ fathers face financial ruin, Lydia and Sandra make a deal as to who should have Ezra’s affections…at which point Rosemary decides to make a play for Ezra herself.

My Comments: Lots of drama runs throughout the pages of this book. We definitely see an imperfect Amish community and imperfect Amish families. In and out of the Amish lifestyle we jump with the characters. As I’ve said before, even though the pureness and cleanness of the Amish lifestyle appeals to me, the legalism drives me nutty. I see no earthly explanation from Scripture on why they do certain things. The men have too much power and seem to make all of the important decisions. I could not live that way. Forgiveness is available for certain things but not others.

This is a great book. I love Jerry’s books because he actually lived the Amish lifestyle, so I think they are probably more true to life. He is also a male writer, so things are not quite so romanticized. I look forward to reading each of his books!

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

 

January 26th, 2016

paralized

Kennedy Stern has returned to campus after surviving an abduction, but old scars cut deep. Vivid flashbacks and terrifying dreams paralyze her, threatening to ruin her academic career and any chance she has at peace or happiness. This mental anguish, however, constitutes only a small fraction of her post-traumatic nightmare.

A partner in Kennedy’s kidnapping remains at large and will not stop until he has silenced her witness permanently. His violent resolve risks not only her life, but the safety of anyone who tries to help.

Kennedy must engage in a deadly battle of the mind as she struggles to stay alive. While fighting on two fronts — one psychological and one physical — the question isn’t whether she’ll come out of the war stronger in the end.

The question is whether she’ll come out of it at all.

My Comments: This book is the second installment in the Kennedy Stern Christian Suspense Novel series, and I couldn’t really enjoy it until I read Volume 1 – “Unplanned.” Having said that, this is a great read — the whole series is. It seems since the main character is a Harvard student that it is mainly geared towards Young Adults, but as an emerging senior citizen, I enjoyed it as well. The story heavily deals with PTSD. I think because the main character is an MK (missionary kid), young adults with issues as preacher’s kids, missionary’s kids, or anyone with parents in ministry will benefit from reading about Kennedy and the struggles she deals with. I also feel that any young Christian who has dealt with severe trauma would benefit as well. The writing is good, fast, engaging, and entertaining. I loved it because I love procedurals as mysteries. I also like the Christian aspects throughout the book. I recommend it!

I received a free e-copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

January 21st, 2016

restoration

About the Book:

Dive into an Amish country love triangle in this third book of the Prairie State Friends series. Priscilla Herschberger finds herself pursued by Elam, a childhood friend from her community, and David, an outsider raised in the modern world. Elam would do almost anything to convince Priscilla that David would never fit into the Amish way. Will flames of jealousy rage out of control and ruin lives? Can forgiveness allow love and trust to grow?

My Comments: This book was a continuation of the Prairie State Friends series, so many of the characters were familiar. A little drama entered the story as it looked like for most of the book that an Englisher was going to become Amish. The Amish main character did not seem very likable, at least to my way of thinking – very macho (more so than usual for Amish men). I like when a character evokes emotions in me. The story kept me engaged. It was not super predictable. Brunstetter is definitely one of my favorite Amish fiction authors. I recommend it.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

January 16th, 2016

brain

About the book: In this completely revised and updated edition of the breakthrough bestseller, you’ll see scientific evidence that your anxiety, depression, anger, obsessiveness, or impulsiveness could be related to how specific structures in your brain work. You’re not stuck with the brain you’re born with. Renowned neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen includes cutting-edge reseach and the latest surprising, effective “brain prescriptions” that can help heal your brain and change your life:
To quell anxiety and panic:
Use simple breathing techniques to immediately calm inner turmoil
To fight depression:
Learn how to kill ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)
To curb anger:
Follow the Amen anti-anger diet and learn the nutrients that calm rage
To conquer impulsiveness and learn to focus:
Develop total focus with the One-Page Miracle
To stop obsessive worrying:
Follow the “get unstuck” writing exercise and learn other problem-solving exercises.

My Comments: Since suffering with depression in the past and dealing with people with all sorts of mental issues, this book appealed to me on several levels. I found a lot of helpful information which is worth giving a try, including ways to boost your memory and learning how to focus. I’ve had issues with these for year. Also getting rid of negative thoughts will be helpful to me. I can’t wait to give some of the suggestions a try!

January 4th, 2016

storm buddies

About this book: A fictional tale about a little boy, who is terrified of stormy weather. He overcomes his fear with the help of three small animals called THE STORM BUDDIES, who live in the cloud pillow. The bundle comes with the book, cloud pillow, and three stuffed animals.

My Comments: Storms can be very frightening to young children (and sometimes even adults!). The idea behind this story is to have some buddies with you to keep you company during a storm so that you will not be afraid. You can pray with, talk to, and snuggle with the storm buddies buddies during the storm (look at the picture to see the buddies). The book comes with a pillow which has the buddies inside of it — cute idea! These buddies help young children cope and maybe even sleep during a storm.

 

January 3rd, 2016

pug in wheels

About the book: Five-year-old Josh loves dogs. He lives in a cozy house with a pretty garden, but the one thing that’s missing is a doggie! One day, Josh’s Auntie Lise brings over a homeless dog for him but forgets to mention: Sadie cannot use her back legs, so she has a cart with wheels to help her get around. When Josh sees Sadie, he is confused. He has a never seen a dog with wheels before. Auntie Lise and Mommy explain Sadie’s challenge to Josh. Acceptance is Josh’s first lesson. From the very first meeting, Sadie and Josh become close friends. Josh does not expect too much from Sadie, but he is pleasantly surprised when she happily retrieves the ball and gobbles up biscuits like any fun-loving dog. Sadie brings many questions to the surface, such as fostering, adoption, disability, and care giving. Mommy and Auntie Lise answer all Josh’s questions until he and young readers thoroughly understand that these issues are an everyday part of life. It’s not all smooth sailing for Josh and Sadie. When they face a problem, Josh takes responsibly and saves the day. Soon enough, Josh and Sadie realize the can rely on each other.

My Comments: What a great read! Children and dogs are a natural duo and this book is a good way to introduce disabilities as well as pet adoption to children. Sadie is a dog with a weak back and legs. She needs a “wheelchair” in order to function as any other dog, but she does par excellence. This book provides a natural avenue of discussion of several issues for families.

December 22nd, 2015

a picture purrfect

About the book: Rags, the klepto cat, performs a Christmas miracle. A spellbinding story of love, hope, and a child’s innocent Christmas dreams. When Savannah Ivey agrees to teach photography to a group of at-risk children, she doesn’t expect a sweet-spirited little crippled girl to steal her heart and become an important part of her family. Even Rags, the kleptomaniac cat, is captivated by the child named Marissa. When she goes missing, everyone, including Rags, experiences the pain of loss. Detective Craig Sledge fears that Marissa’s unscrupulous, non-custodial father may be behind her disappearance and the search escalates into high gear. When even a pack of rescue dogs can’t find the child, the detective turns to Rags and everyone prays for a Christmas miracle. Can Rags succeed where the others have failed? While this story involves some intense drama, it will also make you smile and even laugh out loud. Bring out the tissues for the beautiful ending. A Picture Purrfect Christmas is one of those feel-good holiday stories you’ll want to read over and over again.

My comments: This book appealed to me on many levels: the mom in me, the teacher in me, the kid-lover in me, and the animal lover in me! If you are looking for a great holiday read, may I suggest this book? The story includes enough mystery to keep you going as well. The characters are very likable and sweet. A mystery solving cat is a little bit of a different twist which is intriguing. If you love animals, this would be a good book for you – if you love cats, dogs, and horses, especially. Patricia Fry is a new author to me, but I will be looking for more of her books in the future!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

December 14th, 2015

Merry Christmas from me, Patricia Davids. If you love pecans the way I do, you’ll want to enjoy this delicious holiday recipe all year round. They are called Kentucky Pecan Bars and they are YUM. Pair them with a cup of hot peppermint cocoa and you’ll have a real treat to savor while you enjoy my latest book, An Amish Noel.

 

 

Ingredients

Crust:

Nonstick cooking spray

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

1 2/3 cups pecans

6 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1 cup honey

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons bourbon

Zest of 1 orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

For the crust: Adjust the oven rack to the bottom position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt and butter until the butter is pea-sized. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough begins to pull from the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, gather together and pat into a rectangle. Roll the dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle that measures about 13 by 15 inches. Trim the rough edges and ease the dough into the prepared pan, pressing it onto the bottom and about halfway up the sides (trim the dough more on the sides as needed). Prick the dough a couple times with a fork.

Cover with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the dough starts to set up, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and continue to bake until the crust is just golden, about 5 minutes more. Let it cool completely.

For the filling: Meanwhile, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and spread the pecans out on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool and then coarsely chop.

Bring a couple of inches of water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Put the white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl that sits comfortably in the saucepan without touching the water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Spread it evenly on the crust and let it set up. Beat the honey and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Pour in the melted butter and continue to beat. Add the flour, bourbon, orange zest and vanilla. Sprinkle the pecans over the white chocolate and pour in the honey mixture.

Bake until the top of the filling is golden brown and the center sets up, 30 to 40 minutes. Cover and put in the refrigerator until cool. When ready to serve, cut into 36 even bars.

Recipe courtesy of Damaris Phillips, From The Food Network website.