Monday, March 25, 2013

Sweet Sanctuary by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Thanks to NetGalley, I get to share Sweet Sanctuary by Kim Vogel Sawyer with you!

Lydia Eldredge longs to provide a sanctuary for her son, Nicky. But a constant threat comes from Nicky's drug-addicted father, who wants the boy and seems willing to do whatever it takes to get him.

Dr. Micah Hatcher serves the immigrant population in Queens, but under cover of darkness he provides another service that must not be discovered lest his and his brother's lives be in danger.

When Lydia and Micah's paths cross, they are suddenly wrapped up in each other's callings. Through unforeseen twists and turns, they seek a refuge of safety--for Nicky, for themselves, and for the needy people God unexpectedly puts in their lives.

I think of Kim as a 'keeper' author – her books don't get swapped or donated - they stay on my shelf, and I always jump at the chance to review her newest offerings. So, I was surprised when I felt hesitation to read Sweet Sanctuary. The blurb just didn't sound like something I have come to expect from Kim.

A drug addict? A mother keeping her son away from his father? Another man that the mother seems she will 'fall in love' with?

I just wasn't sure...

Ah, all is not as it seems!

First of all, I expected a contemporary setting – it's not. The book is set in 1944, near the end of WWII. My husband and I just watched a documentary on the Kindertransport and America's resistance to be involved, so I loved seeing that subject in Sweet Sanctuary.

Kim wrote a great story with some suspense and a wonderful theme of the amazing change that happens when one gets saved!

I don't want to give any spoilers, but I will say that Kim continues to be a 'keeper,' and Sweet Sanctuary is actually at the top of my now favorites! I loved it and didn't want it to end! In fact, I know Kim doesn't usually write sequels, but this one is worth continuing!

Take a peek inside the book HERE.

Thank you to Kim and Bethany House through NetGalley for sending me a copy to read and review!

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell

Thanks to Litfuse, I get to share Siri Mitchell's newest book, Unrivaled, with you!

Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe's best confections, she's sure she'll come up with a recipe that will save her father's struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager-a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy's skin.

Charlie Clarke's new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he's never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She's making his work life miserable...and making herself impossible for him to forget.

Siri writes Unrivaled in her typical style – the first person, often with alternating main characters. Because of this, Siri's books have either been win or lose for me. So, when I was first offered the opportunity to review Unrivaled, I hesitated because of that style. After I saw that this book has a male and female main character, I knew I could keep the 'I''s straight.

I'm glad I chose to read Unrivaled. I really enjoyed it! I think the plot of rival candy businesses was unique and so very interesting! And who doesn't like to hear about candy?! The secrecy of recipes and
unethical business practices showcased the intriguing underworld of sweets!

Ah, though candy-making (and love!) is serious, Unrivaled was an entertaining book from many points of view! I liked it!

Take a peek into the book HERE!

That's what I thought! Click HERE to see what other reviewers are saying!

Thank you to Siri and through Litfuse for sending me a copy to read and review!

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Message on the Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Thanks to NetGalley, I just finished The Message on the Quilt, book 3 in Stephanie's Quilt Chronicles (by the way, I've read book 1, The Key on the Quilt, but haven't had a chance to read book 2, The Shadow on the Quilt, that's sitting on my shelf - and that's ok. The books aren't related - except for quilts and Nebraska - so, note to you: they don't need to be read in order)!

I've read almost all of Stephanie's historical novels, and I can't think of one that I didn't like! She has an easy-to-read style and is gifted at seamlessly weaving spiritual applications through her stories.

The Message on the Quilt tells the story of Emilie and Noah. Emilie is the daughter of a newspaperman, and she has a deep desire to write. And, not new to many storylines like that, Dad and Mom allow her a small, unimportant column, but when Emilie wants more, they don't think it's proper for a lady of her social standing and the expected confrontation arises.

Noah arrives in town to speak at a conference type thing (with another agenda to find more out about his parents) and meets Emilie under unusual circumstances.

Usually, characters fall in love despite their known differences and then struggle to overcome them. I loved that Noah and Emilie's twist didn't occur until after they were 'in love,' causing another whole set of problems. Their 'twist' was also unusual in its seriousness and social prejudice, and I was very surprised at Mr. Rhodes' eventual response.

Stephanie is great at tying several stories into one, and her characters are always so believable and memorable, even down to 'Phil' the horse! The Spring sisters - oh my! It took me awhile to notice their names: April, May, June! ;-) Fun friends, loyal family! And, Madame Jumeaux's story is also good - I think her and her brother's past and future could be a book! I loved Ladora - she's the discerning older woman who always has just the right words of wisdom to give to those around her.

The Message on the Quilt was a great story! If you haven't read anything by Stephanie yet, here's a great place to start!

Thank you to Stephanie and Barbour through NetGalley for sending me an e-copy to read and review!

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Pinned, I Made: Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies

Another Pinterest recipe that I couldn't resist trying. And now that I have, I must be the first to tell you that you should try it, too!

You can find the recipe here on Sally's Baking Addiction.

They were soft and chewy and chocolatey and peanut-buttery.

Super yum!

*To cut down on messy hands, I used my cookie scoop to scoop equal amounts of dough next to each other, then did Sally's 'smoosh-and-roll' to get one cookie ball (see below pic). I did chill the dough (which is something I hate doing), and didn't have much trouble with I recommend it!*

You'll definitely need a glass of cold milk with these fabulous Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Cookies! I hope you give them a try! (You can thank me later)! ;-)

Looking for more peanut butter and chocolate?? I'd recommend this Black Magic Chocolate Cake topped with this Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting!

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**DISCLOSURE: Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pacific Beach All Natural Peanut Butter and Spreads

I recently had the opportunity to try Pacific Beach Peanut Butter.

Pacific Beach Peanut Butter was created after Matthew Mulvilhill was craving a PB&J and found he was out of peanut butter. After his friends began begging him for samples, he knew he had some winning recipes and launched Pacific Beach Peanut Butter in June 2011!

The first jar I tried was PB's organic unsalted peanut butter. Valencia peanuts...that's all, and that's good! The slightly chunky (but not crunchy!) spread tasted just like fresh peanuts. I was impressed that this natural peanut butter was not as oily as others I've purchased – in fact, I didn't even need to stir it!!

The next jar I got to try was PB's chocolate peanut butter spread. I was surprised, again, at the intense peanut taste. I assumed the chocolate would be the overpowering ingredient, but it wasn't. Fresh peanut-y taste reigned in this jar and was complemented perfectly by chocolate! It was fabulous spread on warm toast! If I'd only had some vanilla ice cream, I knew it would be fabulous, warmed and drizzled on top of a cold scoop!

My favorite was the last jar I tried: the toffee peanut butter spread. I adore chocolate, so I thought that one would be my fav, but the toffee won! It was the perfect balance of savory peanuts and sweet, buttery toffee...yum!

I love peanut butter, but I'm not normally a peanut-butter-by-the-spoon kind of person. I must admit that I ate the Pacific Beach spreads by the spoonful! I ran out of spoons, sneaking into the kitchen for another scoop! I made toast for breakfast AND lunch one day, just to have another excuse to eat the peanut butter spreads! Then, I used a chocolate candy bar to dip into the jar (really yummy dipped in the toffee spread)!

Now you wish you could taste the yumminess, don't you? You can purchase Pacific Beach Peanut Butter HERE. Along with the flavors I mentioned, you'll also find others like butterscotch, chocolate raspberry, and more!

Pacific Beach wants my readers to try their natural-style peanut butter and spreads! Use CODE blogger03 to get a FREE jar of Pacific Beach peanut butter with any purchase! Be sure to add your jar to the cart so the discount will apply. Code expires April 15, 2013.

Thank you to Pacific Beach Peanut Butter for sending me complimentary jars to taste and review!

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Grave Consequences by Lisa T. Bergren

Thanks to Litfuse, I had the opportunity to read and review Grave Consequences by Lisa T. Bergren. Click below to enter Lisa's iPad Mini Giveaway!!

Lisa T Bergren's Grave Consequences iPad Mini Giveaway

The Powerful, Epic Romance Continues, Book 2 in Lisa T. Begren's Grand Tour series

For Cora Kensington, the journey of a lifetime takes unexpected twists. And her future-her very life-depends on the decisions she'll make at each crossroad. As her European tour with her newfound family takes her through Austria, France, and Italy, an unseen enemy trails close behind. Meanwhile, a forbidden love continues to claim her heart, putting everyone's plans in danger.

And as Cora stays one step ahead of it all, what might need the most protection is her own heart, torn between the dramatic pursuit of a dashing Frenchman and a man who has been quietly staking claim to her affections all along. Love has dangers all its own. She must escape the bonds of the past and discover the faith to make the right choices, as each one has grave consequences.

I enjoyed Glamorous Illusions (book 1 in Bergren's Grand Tour series) and was looking forward to continuing Cora and the Kensington's story in Grave Consequences.

I didn't find the continuation as exciting as I'd hoped; in fact, I was bored in several parts. I love descriptive passages and historical lessons, but they seemed to drag on and on in this book. I wanted to skim and hurry up to better parts. I really didn't care to hear about another glass of bubbly champagne with strawberries (yeah, another thing that didn't impress me) or the dry history of this town or that monument. As I said in my review for Glamorous Illusions, I had a hard time believing spoiled, rich, young socialites in days gone by were as rapt in their attention to their tour guides as the characters in these books have been.

The entire book wasn't all boring – exciting events certainly took place, like diving off castle walls, a bullfight gone awry, mountain climbing, and evading the bad guys in Venice.

However, wading through 400+ pages full of extras made reading this one a bit of a chore for me. Will I read book 3? Hm...not sure. Just like book 1, Cora arrives at a decision in the last few pages, but the reader doesn't know what the outcome will be until the next book. Do I want to know the outcome? Maybe, but I really don't want to read pages and pages of 'stuff' to get to the main things: which life will Cora ultimately choose? Will her father always manipulate? What happens to Will?

If you have time, you might enjoy this loong book. I, however, was a bit disappointed and bogged down by the extras.

That's what I thought. Click HERE to see what other reviewers are saying!

Celebrate the release of Grave Consequences with Lisa T. Bergren by entering to win an iPad Mini!


One "grand" winner receive:
  • A brand new iPad Mini
  • Grave Consequences and Glamorous Illusions will be pre-loaded onto the Mini!
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 23rd. Winner will be announced on March 25th at Lisa's website.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Thank you to Lisa and David C. Cook through Litfuse for sending me a copy to read and review!

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Monday, March 18, 2013

Catherine's Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley

Today, CFBA introduces Catherine's Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley.

When Angus McKenna was forced to give two of his daughters to families in the wagon train, he promised he'd never try to contact them. Catherine made no such pledge. But when she sets out to find her sisters, she doesn't go alone. Angus sends Collin with her. Will they discover the two women---and love?

Catherine's Pursuit wraps up the story of the McKenna triplets. Without her father's knowledge or permission, Catherine sets out to find her sisters. When Angus discovers she is missing, he sends his young employee after her.

Just the thought of trying to find someone in those days (today, the internet and TV has made it almost impossible NOT to be found!) makes for a fascinating story. Of course, the ease with which the triplets found each other may have been a bit unrealistic, but being triplets helped that idea along (easily recognizable as someone else).

I liked that Lena dealt with fear and rejection in this story. Collin has to face his almost debilitating fear of captaining a ship again, and the girls must come to terms with their father's rejection.

If you've already read Maggie and Mary's stories, you'll want to pick up book 3 and finish the triplet's journey!

Thank you to Lena and Realms through CFBA for sending me a copy to read and review!

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**
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