Thursday, July 13, 2017

CATCHING THE WIND--author Melanie Dobson's memorably poignant tale of unimaginable loss and ultimate, uplifting faith

CATCHING THE WIND by Melanie Dobson "Catching the Wind" is a memorably poignant tale of unimaginable loss and ultimate, uplifting faith. Author Melanie Dobson crafts her story with exquisite care and detail, spanning the decades from the WWII Era to present day. Two young German children, Dietmar and Brigitte, escape Germany and the Gestapo who captured their parents only to be separated when they arrive in England. Dietmar spends the rest of his life searching for Brigitte, and eventually he enlists the help of an American journalist working in London. The journalist, Quenby, has her own answers to seek, but she joins Dietmar's lawyer, Lucas, in a quest which will uncover long buried secrets and hidden, never-suspected truths. Lives are forever changed as more and more facts are revealed. "Catching the Wind" is a remarkable work, a riveting blend of fact and fiction, which once again reminds us of both the depth of human depravity and the amazing resilience of the human spirit. Highly recommended. Book Copy Gratis Tyndale Blog Network MELANIE DOBSON
Writing novels is a fun excuse for Melanie to explore ghost towns and old houses, travel to unusual places, and spend hours reading dusty books and journals. She writes both contemporary and historical fiction with threads of romance and suspense. Melanie is the award-winning author of sixteen historical romance, suspense, and contemporary novels including Catching the Wind, Beneath a Golden Veil, and The Silent Order. Three of her novels including Chateau of Secrets have won Carol Awards, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana. Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with Jon's work, the Dobsons have finally settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to travel and hike in both the mountains and the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn't writing or researching, she enjoys line dancing, biking, and making up stories with her kids. More information about her and her books is available on her website at

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Behind the Scenes (Apart from the Crowd, #1) by Jen Turano Author Jen Turano long ago created her own genre. Her stories are always a reader's treat: the characters are captivating, the story lines are involving, and her writing is always infused throughout with delicious wit and abiding faith. "Behind the Scenes", Book One in the "Apart From the Crowd" series, is set in the societal whirl and world of New York City in the late 1800's. While Miss Permilia Griswold appears to onlookers to be a languishing wallflower, she is actually "Miss Quill", the mysterious gossip columnist with an insider's eye view of the whims and peccadilloes of the city's elite citizens. An overheard conversation leaves Permilia with knowledge of a threat against Mr. Asher Rutherford, a department store owner and a businessman on the rise. Convincing Mr. Rutherford that he is in danger is no easy task, and Permilia feels compelled to act upon her own resolve. Circumstances bring Permilia and Asher together, and admiration and unexpected attraction grows between them, but it will take faith and fortitude to see their way to a possible lifetime of lasting love. Once you read one story by Jen Turano, you will just have to read them all. Highly recommended. Book Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
True to You (Bradford Sisters Romance #1) by Becky Wade Becky Wade is a wonderfully talented author of contemporary inspirational romance. The characterizations and storylines are fresh and captivating, layered and nuanced. "True to You", Book One in the "Bradford Sisters Romance" series, is a classic opposites attract tale made new and appealing with its unique twists and turns. Nora Bradford is a genealogist and owner of a historical village who dedicates herself to her work and her love of books. Losing herself between the pages is preferable to dealing with the heartaches of real life. John Lawson is a former Navy Seal who is very much a man of the modern world. When John becomes diagnosed with a hereditary health condition, however, he must look to the past and beyond his adoptive family to seek answers that may bring much needed help for his concerns. Nora is just the person to help John in his quest, and spending time in each other's company brings a new light and hope for the future to both their lives. When all truths are revealed, can a great leap of faith bridge the gap between the past and the present? Highly recommended for lovers of heartwarming, uplifting contemporary romance. Book Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
Heart on the Line (Ladies of Harper’s Station #2) by Karen Witemeyer Karen Witemeyer writes engaging and entertaining tales of Inspirational Historical Western Romance. As the stories unfold, the characters experience both spiritual and personal growth while facing adventures and finding humor along the way. Of course, the romance is just perfect, with a hero and a heroine who learn about themselves while learning about each other. "Heart on the Line" is Book Two in the "Ladies of Harper's Station" series. Harper's Station is a little Texas town in the late 1800's where women rule the day and the democratic society they have created. Grace Mallory, on the run from a personal tragedy in Denver, Colorado, is a skilled telegraph operator. For some time, as "Miss G" she has connected with "Mr. A", a fellow telegrapher. Their friendship develops across the wires--a form of "frontier social media". When "Mr. A", Amos Bledsoe, relays a disturbing personal message to Grace from Colorado, her lack of response alarms him and propels him to seek her out. What follows is a charming and eventful courtship between two very likeable characters who must take a great leap of faith to solve a mystery and hold on to the "life-transforming" love that just may be their ultimate reward. A very lovely story from the talented Karen Witemeyer. Book Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England #1) by Roseanna M. White Will a master thief have her own heart stolen and find a lasting and life-changing faith along the way? "A Name Unknown" is the stellar beginning to author Roseanna M. White's "Shadows Over England" series. Set in early 1900's England, with the threat of looming world war casting an ominous shadow over all, this intriguing inspirational Historical Romance features an unlikely heroine whose family is a band of street survivors who have graduated from pick-pocketing to relieving the upper echelon of society of their valuables, which may just include vital, secret information. Rosemary Gresham, one of the older "sisters" in the family receives an assignment which will pay her more than she has ever earned through her own particular skill set: She must infiltrate the realm of a certain writer of German descent to learn if his true loyalties lie with England or Germany. Peter Holstein pens his best-selling adventure novels under a "safe" pseudonym, and while he is a man of means and has friends of influence, he remains awkward in his personal life. Suffering from stuttering, Peter feels that he best communicates through his writing. Rosemary enters his life in the guise of an historian of esteem, she seems just the person to help him sort out his lineage and social standing and help him silence dangerous gossip-mongers. Neither of them is prepared for the relationship which grows between them, and their involvement brings unexpected personal and spiritual growth to them both. In such a time when suspicion and fear bring great change to everyday life, is there a chance for Rosemary and Peter to find the love of a lifetime? "A Name Unknown" is a marvelous treat for lovers of history and romance. Book Copy Gratis Bethany House Books AdChoices © 2017 AOL Inc. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, May 14, 2017


REMEMBERING MAMA--one of kind, vastly entertaining, often disconcerting, always my Mama! 

May 3rd, would have been my mother's 84th birthday. It's hard to imagine my mother being over eighty years old. She's been gone for over ten years, and though she was very ill for the last decade of her life, her spirit prevailed. I don't think anyone who met Mama could ever forget her! She was unique, sly, witty, talented, charming, funny, and very pretty. Mama was an animal rights champion and a world-class wildlife care provider. As a young girl, running through the woods near her home, she would sometimes come across horrible steel-jaw traps. She would smash them with a big rock, which sprung the trap, and then she would throw the trap in the river. She loved to ride horseback, and she always said that horses were her favorite animals.

Mama was a true daughter of the South, both sassy and refined. I lost track of how many times we watched "Gone With the Wind". Mama was also talented, artistic, and very theatrical. She studied ballet and tap, and she played the piano "by ear". I used to get tickled when she played because she added extra notes throughout the music piece. I asked her about those little extras one time, and she just gave a grin and said that was the way it ought to be played. I couldn't afford to buy her a spinet piano, but I did get her a full-sized electronic keyboard with a stand. She loved it so much! She was like a kid experimenting with all the different sound effects. More than once when I returned home at the end of a work day I could hear Mama, aka "The Phantom", at the keyboard. When the house windows were open, you could hear her playing out through the neighborhood. We both loved "The Phantom of the Opera". Mama also loved to figure skate, and we spent many, many hours watching figure skating programs on the TV. She was very knowledgeable about the sport, and her comments were often more enlightening than those of the professional commentators.

Mama was a "selective cook". If she liked it, she cooked it, and she cooked it well. Cubed steak and gravy with peppers and onions over mashed potatoes. Baked beans and coleslaw. "Secret Recipe" salad dressing. Fried chicken cooked in real butter in a big old cast iron skillet--with gravy, of course. Yellow cake with caramel frosting. Stuffed peppers. Hot dogs loaded with everything but the kitchen sink. Everywhere we traveled on our road trips, we found a little place that sold hot dogs. A hot dog, chips, and a cold drink would always hit the spot. Mama taught me how to ride a bike, how to knit, and how to remain gracious in the face of disaster. She encouraged me to read as a child, and she started me off with a library of "Little Golden Books". She said they were for me, but I think she enjoyed them even more than I did! She also started my cookbook collection. Before I was born, she began collecting recipe booklets and little cookbooks, and she wrote the date and a little note in each book. When I was older, and really got into recipes and cooking, Mama used to tell people that I could prepare dishes that looked "just like the picture in the book". That was her way of complimenting my cooking.

I come from a long line of dramatic, intelligent, piercingly humorous Southern women. My all-time favorite movie is "Show Boat" (1951), with Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson. When I was a kid, my mother, grandmother and I would sing along with the movies. Mom had the high voice, mine was lower, and Gran did the "silly singing". On a non-musical note, my mother was totally enamored of the film "Gone With the Wind". I have truly lost track of the number of times that we saw it in the theater, and then again when it started being shown on TV. She thought Leslie Howard, who portrayed Ashley Wilkes, was quite a hunk! My most vivid memory of our "Gone With the Wind" experience was when it was shown at our local theater during my senior year in high school. Mom and I had to go, and we ended up sitting on the front row with two friends of mine from my high school class. We three girls spent as much time watching Mom and her expressions and taking in her comments as we did watching the movie. Many times through the years, my friends have told me that Mom made the movie memorable for them! I can still see her face, lit with an almost childish delight, and illuminated by the images on the screen.

Do you have a favorite book that your mother read to you as a child? Is there a book that you have read as an adult that you associate with your mother? Have you ever read a book in which a character reminded you a lot of your mother? Do you have a favorite food from childhood--something that only your mother prepared the best? I'd love to hear your own memories and stories of your mother or someone who was like a mother in your life.


Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

1 quart strawberries
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese
1 baked pastry shell, 9-inch
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
red food coloring
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Wash, drain, and hull strawberries. Beat cream cheese with a fork until smooth. Spread cream cheese over bottom of the cooled pie shell. Stand half of the whole strawberries in the shell with tips up. Puree remaining strawberries in a blender, adding enough water to make 1 1/2 cups of puree. In a saucepan, mix granulated sugar with cornstarch; gradually stir in the strawberry puree mixture and the lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in a few drops of red food coloring; remove from heat. Cool sauce for about 10 minutes, then pour over the strawberries in the shell. Chill for about 3 hours, or until firm. Beat cream with confectioners' sugar until mixture holds its shape. Spoon whipped cream in a ring around the edge of the pie. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator.

Westerner Beef and Beans

1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground chuck
1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
salt & black pepper
one small pinch of red pepper flakes
1 can (16 oz) baked beans or pork & beans, undrained
1 can (16 oz) Great Northern beans, undrained
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
crumbled cooked bacon

In a large, deep skillet or Dutch Oven, brown ground chuck with onion, bell pepper, and celery. Season lightly with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spoon out grease from skillet. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until bubbly. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. To serve, top with crumbled cooked bacon. If there are any leftovers, this makes a great hot dog topping.

Tangy-Sweet Coleslaw

6 cups shredded fresh green cabbage
2 carrots, shredded
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 small bell pepper, chopped fine
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
salt & pepper to taste

Toss cabbage in a large bowl with carrots, onion, and bell pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour the dressing over the slaw mix and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time. Stir well before serving.   


Cornbread Casserole 

1 box or pouch (approx 8.5 oz) corn muffin mix
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) creamed corn
1 can (15 ounces) whole corn kernels, drained
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cornbread mix, creamed corn, corn kernels, eggs, sour cream, and butter. Stir in cheese. Pour batter into a 13-x-9-inch greased baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until the center is firm, and bread is golden in color. Cut into squares to serve.

Easy Lemon Cookies

1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil, and lemon extract until well blended. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into a bowl of confectioners' sugar. Roll them around until they're lightly covered. Once sugared, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 6 to 9 minutes in the preheated oven. The bottoms will be light brown, and the insides chewy. 

Butter-Fried Chicken

one whole chicken, cut into fryer pieces
one to two sticks real butter
salt & pepper
poultry seasoning

In a large ziploc bag, add about one cup flour with a good shake of salt & pepper and a pinch of poultry seasoning. Add chicken pieces a few at a time and shake in sealed bag to coat well. Repeat until all chicken pieces are well-coated. Save any leftover flour mixture to make pan gravy. In a large (10 inch), deep cast iron skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add chicken pieces and cook until crispy brown on bottom. Turn chicken pieces and cook until well-done and golden, crispy brown. Arrange chicken pieces on serving platter. While skillet is hot, brown leftover flour in grease (add extra flour if needed). Carefully add enough cold water (be careful of hot grease splatters) to make gravy. Stir gravy continuously until smooth and thick. If needed, add extra seasoning to taste.

Mama's Summer Salad

one red ripe tomato
one yellow ripe tomato
one cucumber
one bell pepper
one onion

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light cooking oil
salt & pepper to taste

Cut vegetables into bite-sized chunks and mix together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar with vinegar. Blend in oil. Add salt & pepper to taste. Pour dressing over vegetables and stir well. Cover and chill. Flavor improves overnight. Stir salad well before serving.

Yellow Cake with Caramel Icing

one two-layer size butter-flavored yellow cake mix
Prepare cake mix as directed for two cake layers. Bake and allow to cool.

2 c. white granulated sugar
2 c. brown sugar
2 sticks butter
1 sm. can evaporated milk plus a small amount of milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine sugar, butter, and evaporated milk (pour evaporated milk in a measuring cup and fill to 1 cup with whole milk). Place in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook to the soft ball stage. Add vanilla extract. Cool and beat until creamy. Spread quickly over cooled cake.

If Mama ain't happy...ain't nobody happy...

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Entertaining Historical Western Romance from author Mary Connealy--humor, heartfelt romance, inspiring faith...

Someone Will Stop at Nothing to Claim the Boden Homestead!

The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they uncovered the real plot to take their 1880s New Mexico ranch? Justin Boden is a top rancher and a rugged man, and yet with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn't help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.

With her and the doc's timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend. Now Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the threats facing them. It's clear now that everything that's occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they pull together all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the risk of losing the ranch even greater than any of them could imagine?
MY REVIEW:  Author Mary Connealy continues her Cimarron Legacy series with Book Two, "Long Time Gone". The Boden family has faced a series of threats to their home, health, and happiness. Patriarch Chance Boden almost lost his life in an avalanche which was no accident. While he is away receiving medical care, his directive for his three grown children is for them to work together and live on their family ranch for one full year. As the siblings struggle to survive and hold on to the ranch, daughter Sadie meets her match in ranch hand Heath Kincaid, whom Chance had left in charge as overseer. Now, brothers Justin and Cole Boden are battling a life-and-death emergency as Cole is seriously wounded at the hands of an outlaw. The doctor working to save Cole's life has a beautiful young assistant, Angie DuPree. As smart as she is pretty, Angie can't help but notice the rugged charm of Justin Boden. Both Justin and Angie had given up on finding real love--thinking their time for true romance was a "long time gone". The dangers they all face bring the two of them closer together--could it be that this is the love of a lifetime for them both? Will the Bodens solve the mystery of the ongoing attacks that may cost them their home and their very lives? Mary Connealy always entertains with her inspiring western tales which are woven together with love and laughter.
Book Copy Gratis Bethany House Books

No Way Up (Cimarron Legacy, #1)

No Way Up (The Cimarron Legacy)

New Western Romance Series from Bestselling Author Mary Connealy

When Cimarron ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Badly injured, Chance demands that his will be read and its conditions be enforced immediately.

Without anyone else to serve as a witness, Heath is pressed into reading the will. If Justin, Sadie, and Cole Boden don't live and work at home for the entire year, the ranch will go to their low-down cousin Mike.

Then Heath discovers the avalanche was a murder attempt, and more danger might follow. Deeply involved with the family, Heath's desire to protect Sadie goes far beyond friendship. The danger keeps them close together, and their feelings grow until being apart is the last thing on their minds.

MY REVIEW:  A new book from author Mary Connealy is always a treat, and when it's the start of a new series, then that's even better. The "Cimarron Legacy" series begins with Book One, "No Way Up".  A near-death experience in an avalanche and the possibility of losing a leg makes ranch patriarch Chance Boden determined to bring his three adult children together as a family. He wants them united in heart and mind, for their own sake, as well as for the future of the ranch. As Chance departs to receive medical treatment for his leg, he leaves ranch hand Heath Kincaid in charge of the siblings, and he orders them all to follow the directives he has laid out in his will. The three grown children, Sadie, Justin, and Cole, will live and work at the ranch for one year. If not, the ranch and all of the Boden legacy will be left to a distant relative. Heath had noticed how pretty Sadie was from the very beginning, but he doubted she'd ever noticed him. Now, with him having to enforce her father's wishes, he felt sure he would never find her favor. When he discovers that the avalanche was no accident, Heath vows to protect Sadie and her family at all costs--but will it cost him his heart? Sadie has definitely noticed Heath, and she knows that he is a good, strong man, and also an attractive man. Can she put asides her doubts and let her heart lead the way? Will all of them find a way to work together and keep their faith and their home intact? I look forward to future entries in the "Cimarron Ranch" series from wonderful storyteller Mary Connealy. 

Book Copy Gratis Bethany House Books 


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy...with cowboys. She is a Carol Award winner, and a Rita, Christy and Inspirational Reader's Choice finalist. She is the author of bestselling Kincaid Brides Series: Out of Control, In Too Deep, Over the Edge. The Trouble in Texas Series; Swept Away, Fired Up, Stuck Together. The Wild at Heart Series; Tried and True, Now and Forever, Fire and Ice. Her work also includes Lassoed in Texas Trilogy, Montana Marriages Trilogy and Sophie's Daughters Trilogy. And Novella collections; A Bride for All Seasons, Four Weddings and a Kiss, A Match Made in Texas, Hope for the Holidays Contemporary Collection, Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection, With this Kiss Contemporary Collection, With this Kiss Historical Collection and many more books. Under the pen name Mary Nealy, she also wrote Ten Plagues--a romantic thriller, and The Historical Society Murders--three cozy mysteries. Mary is married to a Nebraska rancher and has four grown daughters and a small bevy of spectacular grandchildren.

With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry

by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jegears

MY REVIEW:  Four of the top talents in Historical Western Inspirational Romance combine their considerable storytelling skills for the delightful anthology "With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry". In "The Husband Maneuver", from author Karen Witemeyer, Marietta Hawkins must act fast to keep from losing the love of her life, ranch foreman Daniel Barrett. Daniel is even more of a hero to her than the star of her beloved dime novels, but can she make the real man realize how much she cares? Author Regina Jennings puts her pair of prospective sweethearts in quite a predicament in "Her Dearly Unintended". Can the relationship they pretend to have in order save face turn into a love to last a lifetime? When author Mary Connealy's "Runaway Bride" Carrie Halsey finds Texas Ranger "Big John" Conroy sent by her sister to help her evade an unwanted suitor, the lawman begins to see the situation as appealingly arresting. He promises to keep Carrie safe from harm, but can he keep himself safe from the sparks of an unexpected attraction? Tomboy Charlie Andrews has been the lifelong rival of Harrison Gray in author Melissa Jagears' "Engaging the Competition". When grown-up Charlotte must help Harrison in a time of need, will rivalry turn to romance? Wonderful writers with a talent for engaging storytelling make this anthology a reader's treat.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books

Sometimes Love is Found in the Most Unexpected Places!

Love isn't always a fairy tale, and it doesn't always go as planned. Sometimes the best stories, though, are the ones that are the most unexpected. Join Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears for novellas that celebrate the power of love to triumph . . . even when circumstances go awry!

The Husband Maneuver

When ranch foreman Daniel Barrett seems ready to leave her life forever, Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins on their relationship. But to have any hope of maneuvering him into a proposal, she has to act fast or risk losing him completely.

Her Dearly Unintended

Josiah Huckabee just wanted to make sure Katie Ellen Watson was safe, but when the only bridge to her farm is washed out, the two find themselves alone. Alone, that is, until a menacing stranger appears. Maybe by pretending to be newlyweds, they'll save their reputations--but can pretending to be in love turn into the real thing?

Runaway Bride

Hired to help Carrie Halsey escape from a dangerous man intent on making her his wife, Big John Conroy never expected the job to interrupt his solitary Texas Ranger life. But now that he's promised to keep Carrie safe, he discovers he may just want to make a few more promises.

Engaging the Competition
Harrison Gray and tomboy Charlotte Andrews have been rivals for years. With Charlotte intended for someone else, it seems they'll never settle their differences until an accident changes things completely. When Charlotte breaks Harrison's glasses--without which he's nearly blind--she must help with his teaching position, and working together forces these former adversaries to reconsider everything.

"This quartet of authors consistently write with hilarity, warmth and toe-curling romance. Their individual contributions to this entertaining collection hold true to form. Connealy tips her hat to long-time fans with a grin-inducing reunion and clever word-smithing. Witemeyer's ingenious story-within-a story adds even more humor and drama to her contribution. Jennings and Jagears perfectly complete the ensemble with witty tales of friendship and breathless kisses."--RT Book Reviews Top Pick

About the Authors

Karen Witemeyer is a winner of the Carol Award and has been a finalist for the RITA Award and National Readers' Choice Award. She lives with her husband and three children in Abilene, Texas.

Mary Connealy is well-known for her award-winning, bestselling historical romantic comedies. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband and has four grown daughters.

Regina Jennings is the author of five acclaimed historical romances. She lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

Melissa Jagears
, author of the Unexpected Brides series, is a homeschooling mother of three little ones on a tiny Kansas farm with a fixer-upper house. Her first novella, Love by the Letter, won the 2014 Carol Award for Best Novella.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

"ONE PAN & DONE" and "SHEET PAN SUPPERS"--two terrific cookbooks from talented Chef Molly Gilbert--fantastic, fuss-free food for family & friends!

The author of the runaway hit Sheet Pan Suppers expands her repertoire with easy and delicious recipes for Dutch ovens, skillets, casserole baking dishes, and more.

In One Pan & Done, Molly Gilbert shows you how to use your oven to your advantage, letting it do most of the work to turn out juicy, crispy roasts, succulent vegetables, rich stews, flaky fish, and, of course, sweet treats. Think of it as fast slow-cooking, but with the benefits of baking, roasting, and broiling for concentrated, intense flavor every time. The best part is that with Molly's simple, hands-off recipes, you'll have time to savor your meal and enjoy your company. Whether you're an over-scheduled parent, a busy young professional, or even an accomplished cook, you deserve food that's big on flavor, but simple on steps. With Molly's recipes, you get in the kitchen, and you get out. Kick the oven door shut as you walk away--your meal is One Pan & Done.

MY REVIEW:  For me, a cookbook is a hit when it makes me hungry—when it makes me read the recipes and text, view the food photos, and say “I want that right now”. On that basis,  One Pan & Done: Hassle-Free Meals from the Oven to Your Table” is an unqualified success. Written in a warm, personable style by Chef Molly Gilbert, this is a book to go to time and time again for food that is “about comfort, nourishment, family, and community”. Molly had me from “Bacon Biscuit Bread”, and things just got better and better from there. The format of this book is very user-friendly. The size is easy-to-hold, and the layout is clean, uncluttered, and easy-to-read. Since this is a book about one-pan meals, various types of pots and pans are given their due, and the recipes are each marked with a symbol for the pot or pan called for to make the dish. Pantry staples are also covered, with the author explaining why each item is always to be found in her well-stocked kitchen. The recipe sections include: “Breakfast and Brunch”; “Starters, Snacks & Sides’; “Veggie Mains”; “Poultry”; “Fish”; “Meat”; and “Sweets”. Here is a sampler of the recipes which have me ready to “get out in that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans”: “Herby Egg & Blue Cheese Souffl├ęs (made in muffin tins, these can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and reheated in the microwave—perfect “on-the-go” breakfast bites); “Warm Buttermilk Doughnut Muffins”; “Linguine Primavera”; “Thai Turkey with Carrot Noodles”; “Quick Chicken Pot Pie”; “French Chicken Stew”; “Roasted Shrimp & Chickpea Salad”; “Garlic-Broiled Scallops with Cherry Tomatoes & Pancetta”; “Sweet & Salty Pork Chops with Snow Peas”; “Maple-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Fries”; “Shepherd’s Pot Pie”; “Gramma’s Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting”, and “Chocolate Molten Caramel Mini Cakes”. Hungry yet?

Book Copy Gratis Clarkson Potter Publishers via Blogging for Books

"Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven"  by Molly Gilbert 


It’s the one-pot meal reinvented, and what is sure to become every busy cook’s new favorite way of getting dinner on the table. It’s Sheet Pan Suppers—a breakthrough full-color cookbook with more than 120 recipes for complete meals, snacks, brunch, and even dessert, that require nothing more than a sheet pan, your oven, and Molly Gilbert’s inspired approach.

The virtue of cooking on a sheet pan is two-fold. First there’s the convenience of cooking everything together and having just one pan to clean up. Then there’s the cooking method—roasting, baking, or broiling—three techniques that intensify flavors; in other words, food tastes better when cooked on a sheet pan (move over, slow cooker). But the real genius here is Molly Gilbert’s fresh, sophisticated approach. There are easy dinners for weeknight meals—Chicken Legs with Fennel and Orange; Soy-Mustard Salmon and Broccoli; Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Squash, Apples, and Onions. Special occasion meals—Rack of Lamb with Herby Bread Crumbs and Buttered Carrots; Asparagus and Black Cod in Parchment. Meatless meals—Israeli Couscous-Stuffed Peppers. Plus surprise extras, including in-a-snap party snacks—Baked Brie and Strawberries, Corn and Crab Cakes with Yogurt Aioli; quick brunch dishes like Greens and Eggs and Ham, and Baked Apricot French Toast; and, of course, dessert—Stone Fruit Slab Pie, Halloween Candy S’mores.

Maximum ease, minimal cleanup, and mouthwatering recipes. In other words, a revelation that will change the way we cook.

Molly Gilbert, a graduate of Amherst College and the French Culinary Institute, is an author, podcast host (, food blogger (, former cooking instructor, private chef, and recipe tester in the kitchen of Saveur Magazine. She lives in Seattle with her husband, Ben.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

"WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE"--Author Dandi Daley Mackall's poignant fictional retelling of her own parents' real-life WWII romance

With Love, Wherever You Are  by Dandi Daley Mackall


Everyone knows that war romances never last . . .

After a whirlwind romance and wedding, Helen Eberhart Daley, an army nurse, and Lieutenant Frank Daley, M.D. are sent to the front lines of Europe with only letters to connect them for months at a time.

Surrounded by danger and desperately wounded patients, they soon find that only the war seems real―and their marriage more and more like a distant dream. If they make it through the war, will their marriage survive?

Based on the incredible true love story, With Love, Wherever You Are is an adult novel from beloved children’s author Dandi Daley.

MY REVIEW:  “With Love, Wherever You Are”, from author Dandi Daley Mackall, rings true with a poignant resonance. The fictionalized account of her own parents’ real-life WWII romance and marriage, the story is based on facts gleaned from hundreds of letters, cards, and mementos, as well as the author’s personal insights. Helen Eberhart was a registered nurse, and Frank Daley was a medical doctor. They both served in WWII, and after they met, their hearts and lives were forever joined. Their courtship was quick, and after their wedding, they were each sent to different assignments in war-torn Europe, and letters--many, many letters—communicated their love during the deadliest of times. A love worth keeping is a love worth fighting for, and that is what you will find, along with so much more, in the story of Helen and Frank.

Book Copy Gratis Tyndale House Publishers

 A professional writer for over 20 years, Dandi Daley Mackall has written dozens of articles for popular magazines and published around 500 books for children and adults alike, with sales of over 4 million.

A frequent guest on radio and television talk shows, she lives in rural Ohio with her husband, three children, horses, dogs, & cats. Awards include the Edgar Award for Best YA Mystery, the Helen Keating Ott Award for Contributions to Children's Literature; Distinguished Alumni Award from Mizzou; ALA Best Book; Christian Children's Book of the Year, Amelia Bloom, Mom's Choice Awards. Her YA novel, My Boyfriends' Dogs, is now a Hallmark movie.


Sunday, February 19, 2017


The entertaining storytelling style of author Regina Jennings is in full force in "For the Record", Book Three in her "Ozark Mountain Romance" series. Betsy Huckabee, intrepid journalist, writes articles for her uncle's small-town newspaper in rural Pine Gap, Missouri. Her imagination leads her to create a serial of stories featuring a brave lawman sworn to protect his territory and bring down those live on the wrong side of the law. Deputy Joel Puckett, newly arrived from Texas, is the embodiment of Betsy's fictional hero, and she can't help but follow his heels to gather material for the stories she sends to big-time newspapers outside the area. Deputy Joel came to Pine Gap with his own set of troubles, and he has his hands full with trying to rid the community of masked marauders while being hounded by a persistent female reporter. An undeniable attraction grows between Betsy and Joel, but each of them must resolve issues from their past with hopes for their future. The promise of a lasting love, along with a leap of faith, just might lead them to the reward of a bright future filled with happiness.

Book Copy Gratis Bethany House Books

“An Uncommon Courtship”, from author Kristi Ann Hunter, is a treat for lovers of Regency Romance. Book Three in the “Hawthorne House” series tells of an unconventional relationship where the courtship comes after the marriage. Lord Trent Hawthorne is the younger son, happy to be free of the obligations inherited by his older brother, Griffith. His plans for the future include marrying a wife of his own choosing and enjoying a life of his own making. He did not envision a turn of fate that would have him proposing to a virtual stranger after an unfortunate incident lead to a night spent together under circumstances which would be deemed compromising by the merciless tongues of society. Lady Adelaide Bell was happy to dwell in her older sister’s shadow if it meant dodging the glare of her mother’s disappointment in her second daughter. A forced marriage to escape societal censure is the last thing she expected. Trent and Adelaide must grow as individuals before they grow into a loving couple, and a strong measure of faith, along with respect and appreciation, could just lead to a lifetime of joy and fulfillment.

Book Copy Gratis Bethany House Books

"Still Life" is the chillingly-apt title for Book Two in author Dani Pettrey's "Chesapeake Valor" series. After controversy had forced photographer Avery Tate to take a different path in her career, she worked for a time assisting crime-scene analyst Parker Mitchell with his investigations. Her feelings for Parker progressed beyond friendship and coworker, but she knew that he still deeply grieved for his lost love, the victim of a murder. Leaving his employment was the difficult choice she felt she had to make. Now, returning to the world that once rejected her, Avery is attending a gallery exhibit where one of the featured images will be that of her friend, Skylar. The eerie theme of the showing is beautiful women posed as if dead, but something about Skylar's photo is all too deathly-real--and Skylar is nowhere to be found. To make matters even more frightening, the photographer claims that the image of Skylar is not his work--someone replaced the photo that he created. Reuniting with Parker to solve the crime is emotional and intense, and it will take all of their faith and special skills to overcome the deadly threat they face to their future happiness and their very lives.

Book Copy Gratis Bethany House Books

“The Artisan’s Wife” is Book 3 in author Judith Miller’s “Refined by Love Series”. Set in the beautiful mountain state of West Virginia, these books blend history and skilled craftsmanship with abiding faith and sweetly poignant romance. In “The Artisan’s Wife”, Ainslee McKay must pick up the responsibility of managing the family tile work business after her twin sister’s surprise elopement and departure. Always somewhat in her sister’s shadow, Ainslee must make decisions which will affect the futures of many people. Even with her brother along for assistance, Ainslee is still set on selling the business. The arrival of talented designer Levi Judson is a boon to the success of the tile works, but both he and Ainslee are keeping secrets of their own. They work together as friends, and soon their hearts are also involved. When both of their inner truths are revealed, will their relationship grow stronger, or will they grow apart? Can they merge their own hopes and plans and find happiness as well as prosperity for all? Judith Miller is an excellent writer of inspirational historical romance, and I highly recommend reading the first two books in the series, “The Brickmaker’s Bride” and “The Potter’s Lady”.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books

"A LOVE REFORMED" by Tracie Peterson

“A Love Transformed” is the third and final book in author Tracie Peterson’s “Sapphire Brides Series”. Clara Vesper is a talented jewelry designer, making the stunning sapphire creations sold by her husband Adolph’s company. Their arranged marriage was a business relationship which had appeared profitable, but upon Adolph’s sudden death, Clara learns that she is a widow without means. She and her two small children must leave New York and return to the home of her relatives in Montana. She had once known happiness at the ranch of her aunt and uncle, and there she had also met the love of her life, Curtis Billingham. Much has changed since she left so long ago. Curtis is recovering from serious injuries he received in a mining accident. His spirit seems as broken as his body. Clara is followed to Montana by her late husband’s brother, Otto, and he intends to force Clara to bring her design skills back to the company in New York. Otto is not the only threat to Clara and her children—secrets from her husband’s hidden life are a looming danger. Clara must reconcile the disappointments of her past with new hope for the future—abiding faith must fill her heart and give her the strength she needs to keep her family safe. Will there be a new and happy life for them all, one filled with love and promise? Author Tracie Peterson’s love of history and in-depth research once again blend with her personal faith and admirable storytelling skills as she brings this series to a close.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books


Author Michael Phillips continues his enthralling “Secrets of the Shetlands Series” with Book 2, “The Cottage”. When Loni Ford learns of her unexpected inheritance of property in the Shetland Islands of Scotland, her first thought is to settle a sale of the estate and return to America as soon as possible. However, the more time she spends in the rustically beautiful countryside, the more muddled her thoughts become. The land and its people weave a spell of their own, and then there is David Tulloch, the man the locals had long presumed to be the rightful heir to “The Cottage” and all it entails. Complex and compelling, David is much more than Loni expected. Adding menace to the mix is David’s cousin, Hardy, whose dangerous ties to oil investors are propelling his own forceful claim to the inheritance. Author Michael Phillips’ estimable storytelling skills combine with the magic of the Scottish Isles for an involving romantic suspense read.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books