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Monday, December 31, 2012

{Favorite Reads of 2012}

In place of my usual Music Monday post, I'm going to share my top ten favorite reads from 2012.  I also want to give a shout-out to my friend, Amber, at Seasons of Humility for giving me the idea to post my favorites.  You can read her top 10 list here -- She has a great blog!  Check it out!

The links to my reviews are posted under each book cover.  Thanks for taking a peek, and I pray that you all have a very Happy New Year!

#10 With Every Letter
#9 Submerged

#8 By the Light of the Silvery Moon
#7 When the Smoke Clears

#6 A Lasting Impression
#5 Promise Me This
#4 The Help
#3 A Love Surrendered
#2 Love's Reckoning
#1 Beneath a Southern Sky

So, do we share any favorites?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Sweet Treat: {Faux Pecan Pie} by Christy Jordan's Southern Plate

Photo Credit: Cristy Jordan's Southern Plate
I've been wanting to make a Pecan Pie for the longest time, but pecans are expensive . . . so, penny pincher that I am . . . no pecan pie has been made.  I was thrilled to find this recipe by Christy Jordan!  She uses pretzels in place of pecans, and from what I understand, some people can't tell the difference.  I'm planning on making this delicious pie for Christmas, and I can't wait!

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1-1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Deep Dish Pie Shell, unbaked
  • Topping
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 2 T sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. For Filling:Place first five ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix with wire whisk until well combined.
  3. Pour into pie shell.
  4. Combine all topping ingredients in medium bowl and stir well with a spoon to coat pretzels.
  5. Sprinkle topping evenly over pie.
  6. Bake in 350 oven for 1 hour, covering with foil after 30 minutes to prevent over browning.
  7. Allow to cool completely before serving. Can be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in refrigerator.
  8. Copyright 2011, Christy Jordan All rights reserved.
Do you love pecan pie?  Do you have your Christmas dessert planned yet?  Do you say "pee-can" or "puh-con"?  I say "pee-can."  ;-)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Music Monday: {How Great Thou Art} by Carrie Underwood + Jesus is the Greatest Gift of All!

**This is from the archives, and I thought I'd share it again for those that missed it.**

Praying that you all have a Merry Christmas!  Love & Blessings, Michelle

Many of you know that I'm a fairly "new" Christian.  I didn't come to know the Lord until the summer of 2006, at the age of 34, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.  I was so lost and not knowing my purpose, but my eyes have been opened to the greatest gift of all!  I often wonder, why did I have to be lost for so long, but I am so thankful that He never stopped seeking me.  I am so thankful to have been found by the lover of my soul . . . my God.

From Karla Dornacher's Blog

I feel hesitant to admit this, but many years ago when we would celebrate Christmas, there was no focus on Christ.  I vaguely remember saying to the kids something like, "Christmas is about Jesus' birth, but that's not the reason we celebrate it."  Those aren't the exact words,  but that's the basic gist of it.  Admitting that has me in tears.  I cry out to Him, please forgive me, Lord.  I'm so sorry.  I didn't know.

I can remember singing all of the Christmas songs as a non-believer, and truly not having a clue as to what they meant.  I can't help but think how sad that is.  But now, it's an entirely different story.  I know what it all means, and I can shout it from the rooftops!  I now know the true meaning of Christmas -- celebrating the birth of my Redeemer, my Lord, and my Savior -- not just at Christmastime, but everyday.  WOW!  The magnitude of it has me completely undone.

I had originally planned to share a Christmas song today, but this one seems to be very fitting any day of the year.  It's what I say to Him everyday -- How Great Thou Art!  Lord, How Great Thou Art!  Enjoy and be blessed!  Love, Michelle

Monday, December 3, 2012

Revell Blog Tour: {Nowhere But Up: The Story of Justin Bieber's Mom} by Pattie Mallette (with A.J. Gregory)

About the Book:
From the Inside Flap
"When you hit rock bottom, you have nowhere to go but up."

In Nowhere but Up, Pattie Mallette shares for the first time in detail about the pain and abandonment she experienced as a child, the sexual abuse she suffered for years, the severe depression she wrestled with as a teen, the deep struggles she faced as a single mom, and the faith she's learned to cling to through dark times. With raw honesty, she spills the truth about a lifetime of moments that were punctuated by pain yet permeated with grace--and the journey that's brought her to where she is today. 

From the Back Cover
It's not just teen moms who struggle or need to find hope. Whether you're a single mom, an addict, or a victim of abuse . . . whether you're on the verge of bankruptcy or the brink of divorce . . . whether you're in a dysfunctional family or the product of a broken home . . . whether you battle depression or struggle with anxiety . . . whether you live in fear or hide in shame . . . whether you've been abandoned, rejected, or ignored--there is hope.

It doesn't matter where you find yourself today--how broken, hurting, wounded, or ashamed you are. If God can help me find my way up, I promise, He can do the same for you.

You may know her only as Justin Bieber's mom, but Pattie Mallette has an incredible life story of her own. Her story will inspire you to believe that everything broken can be made whole again, that there are no lost causes, and that even in the darkest of places, there is hope.

My Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Review:
I found this memoir to be very well written, and not just a story of, "look at what happened to me."  There's a purpose here, and it's to show that there is hope.  God can take our brokenness and turn it into something beautiful.  He redeems, restores, and makes things new.  It's beautiful to read how God worked in Pattie Mallette's life, and so inspiring -- a truly remarkable story, by a truly remarkable woman.

Pattie's voice is easy to read, and it took no time at all to get through the book.  She's honest, sincere, and puts herself in a vulnerable place sharing intimate details of her life.  It was like sitting with a friend, talking over coffee.  There were times when I smiled from ear to ear, and other times when I couldn't help but shed a tear.  I also enjoyed the family photos that were included, and found myself turning to them several times as I read the book.

Pattie's story is one that needs to be heard, and I'm thankful she shared it.  Though no one's experience is ever identical, I'm sure there are many people who can relate to Pattie's life journey in some way.  It's inspiring and encouraging to think of her story having a positive impact on someone's life.

God's love, redemption, and grace are truly amazing, and Pattie Mallette's story is a perfect testimony to that.  It's a story worth reading, and I highly recommend it!

**Thank you to Revell for providing me with a free copy of this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.**

**Available from booksellers September 2012.**

Julie Lessman Blog Tour: {A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story}

About the Book: 
One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting. Sam O’Rourke is the childhood hero she’s pined for, the brother of her best friend and a member of the large, boisterous family to which she longs to be a part. So when his best friend Patrick O’Connor joins in pursuit of her affections, the choice seems all too clear. Sam is from a family of faith and Patrick is not, two rogues whose wild ways clash head-on with Marcy’s—both in her faith and in her heart. 

My Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Review:
Oh, how I do love a Julie Lessman novel, and A Light in the Window is certainly no exception!  I've read every single one of Julie's novels, and it's been such a wonderful journey!  With A Light in the Window being the prequel to The Daughters of Boston series and the Winds of Change series, it's a fantastic place to start if you haven't yet met the O'Connors.  And needless to say, there's absolutely nothing wrong with reading it after you've read the other two series (in order, of course!).

A Light in the Window is inspirational Christian fiction at its finest, and overflows with drama, angst, love, and passion.  It's a beautiful Christmas love story, as well as a story of redemption.  I love how it shows the overwhelming power that God has to change a life . . . it's incredible and amazing, to say the least.  The story is well written with fantastic attention to detail in characters and setting, and like I've said in other reviews -- Julie Lessman writes some of the best dialogue I've ever read!  The characters are endearing, the story is heartwarming, and while I could go on and on, I can sum up my thoughts on this book in three words . . . I LOVED IT!  If you're a Julie Lessman fan, I have no doubt that you'll love it, too!  And if you're new to Julie's work, what are you waiting for?  Pick this one up for your e-reader; you'll be so glad that you did!

*With thanks to the author for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Purchase your E-Book copy here at
Don't miss Julie's Contest!!

Music Monday: {Gold} by Britt Nicole

Hey, Britt Nicole fans!  Have you seen her new video?  It just released last week!  I know this type of music isn't everyone's "cup of tea," but I love how her mainstream sound has the power to attract people (especially younger people) to hearing songs with a positive message, and songs that are rooted in God's love.  This particular song has been "remixed" for Top 40 radio, and I think that's pretty awesome and amazing!  The possibility of this leading someone to Christ is definitely there, and that can never be a bad thing!

From Britt's website . . .
With her career continuing to flourish over the last few years, Britt has made a point of maintaining a close connection to her beloved supporters. “After shows I always go and hang out with my fans, talk to them and get to know them,” she says. “I try to take as much time as I can with them, people really want to share their stories.” Noting that her fans “know they can be honest with me because I’m honest with them,” Britt points out that those stories also play a key part in helping to shape songs like “Gold.” “A lot of girls come up to me with their heads down, and I can just tell that they’re feeling broken,” she says. “I love that they can come into the show feeling one way, and then leave feeling like there’s hope.”

To foster that feeling of hope on a grander scale, Britt has extended the self-esteem-raising sentiment behind “Gold” to the song’s powerful video. Featuring a cast of characters dealing with issues common among today’s teens (such as eating disorders and self-mutilation), the “Gold” video aims to uplift and inspire. While many have made the connection of “Gold” as an anti-bullying theme, Britt is intent on not focusing on the bullies. “There are probably always going to be people who feel the need to hurt someone else because of their own insecurity,” acknowledges Britt. “But the message of ‘Gold’ is to remind those kids that are struggling that no matter what they have been told they are worth so much more than the words of another. Once you know that, no one can ever steal your shine,” she says of the intent behind “Gold.”

I hope you enjoy the song.  Be blessed.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Funny: {Tim Hawkins on Hand Raising}

Hi there, and Happy Friday!  I hope you all are doing well, and that you're in the mood for a Friday Funny!  :D

Any special plans for the weekend?  We'll be decorating the tree, going to the dentist, going to church, and having a birthday party for my daughter's 16th birthday on Sunday -- so lots of variety for me this weekend!  I have a feeling it's going to fly by too quickly, but hopefully I'll be able to squeeze some downtime in there for reading and relaxing (and for replying to recent comments that have been left here on the blog).  I look forward to chatting with you!  Hope you have a fantastic weekend!  : )

Sweet Blessings, Michelle

Monday, November 26, 2012

Music Monday: {Bethlehem Skies} by Dara Maclean

Dara Maclean has a beautiful, new Christmas album available called Bethlehem Skies.  Needless to say, it's beautiful, and I just can't go without sharing it here.  If you love great music, I wouldn't hesitate on picking this one up!

This is what Dara has to say about the album on her website . . .
"It's such a special project to me. The title track was written with and features my friend, the amazing, endearing, hysterical and ridiculously talented Dave Barnes. This song nearly poured out and begged to be written. When we stumbled upon the line "All of this with me in mind... Under Bethlehem Skies". We were both wrecked in the best of ways and thankful for such a special, worship like, song writing experience. Even more exciting though, was thought of getting to share a message of hope in attempting to capture even the smallest glimpse of the heart of God for His children. To think, even before time began, He had a plan in place and us in mind. Now "Nothing can separate us from His love..."
-Romans 8:38-39

Also, it's the first look into a live project called "Ocean Way Sessions", which was a remarkable and life changing day of making music at the famous and historical "Ocean Way Studios" in Nashville. Everything was live, incredible musicians sat around me and played and I just sang and what happened happened, just like in the old days of music making. All these things combined, in addition to some surprises and you have a musical experience I hope, that wraps you up, takes you on a journey and reminds you of all things home and the reason we really celebrate Christmas."

Praying that you have a fantastic Monday, and that this song will bless you.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi Friends!  Just wanted to let you all know that I'm taking a little blogging break this week (not that I post a lot . . . but you know what I mean).  ;-)

I pray that you all have a blessed week, and a beautiful time with your families and loved ones.  Enjoy and be blessed!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

{Scripture} Colossians 2:7

Photo Credit: Good Morning Girls Timeline Photo (Facebook)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Music Monday: {What Love Looks Like: The Ocean Way Sessions} Dara Maclean Live

I'm so happy to share a NEW Dara Maclean video with you today!  In two words . . . simply beautiful!  Dara's voice is amazing, and the following quote from her website speaks perfectly to why I love her music so much . . . 

"Few artists combine musical depth and the uplifting realities of a life in Christ as well as Dara Maclean. Hers is a joyful mix of pop idioms and eternal truths, danceable beats and the good news.

"I love making music you can move and groove to," she says, "but at the same time, as Christian artists we have a responsibility to speak the truth of the finished work of Christ in love."

A singer of incredible grace, power and control as well as a gifted songwriter, Dara has put together with Dove Award-winning producer Ian Eskelin a debut CD, You Got My Attention, as fresh and vibrant as any in recent years. Just 25, she has forged a sound rooted in the ’70s Motown, funk and soul her parents loved and filtered through a thoroughly contemporary urban pop lens."

I hope you enjoy the video.  Have a beautiful day, and be blessed!

Dara released the first in a series of five videos today from “Dara Maclean Live: The Ocean Way Sessions.” The videos were filmed at Nashville’s famous Ocean Way Studios as she recorded a rare session with the entire band in the room together playing live.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Music Monday: {Go, Tell It On The Mountain} by Francesca Battistelli

Alright, alright, I know it's a little early for Christmas music, but I want to get this recommendation out to you in time for you to enjoy it throughout the Christmas season.  I was a little hesitant to buy a Christmas CD on October 31st, but I did, and I've really been enjoying this one!  Every song is WONDERFUL!  I love it, and if you're a fan of Christmas music and Francesca Battistelli, I think you're going to love it to!

Go, Tell it on the Mountain is one of my FAVORITES, so that's the one I'll be sharing with you today.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Happy Monday, and be blessed!  : )

Francesca Battistelli's 11-track album, Christmas, produced by Ian Eskelin, is comprised of both classics and some newly-penned Christmas tunes. The traditional songs include:  
1. The Christmas Song
2. Heaven Everywhere
3. Christmas Is
4. What Child Is This? (First Noel Prelude)
5. Marshmallow World
6. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
7. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
8. You're Here
9. Joy To The World
10. Christmas Dreams
11. Go, Tell It On The Mountain 

Friday, November 2, 2012

{Friday Share Day} Digital Scrapbooking

Hi there!  Happy Friday!  I thought I'd mix things up a little bit here, and share one of my digital scrapbook pages.  You know, it's kind of like when you were in school, and you got to bring something to share on Fridays.  ;-)

From time to time, I plan on sharing some random things here on Fridays.  That's the plan anyway, and I hope I can be somewhat consistent with it.  And I hope it's a feature you enjoy here.  :-)

Scrapbooking is one of my favorite things to do (next to reading), and I started paper scrapping when my youngest daughter was a baby . . . so almost 15 years ago.  I used to be pretty good at keeping up with my scrapbooks, but over the years, I got further and further behind.  About a year ago, MyMemories contacted me and asked if I'd like to try their product, and post a review and giveaway here on my blog.  Some of you may remember it.  Since then, I've been making lots of pages, and really enjoying it!  It's so fun and easy . . . even for a computer illiterate like me!

If you're interested in checking it out, you can visit the MyMemories website for more information.  And if you think you want to jump in to the digital scrapbooking world, you can receive $10 off the price of the software, by using code STMMMS74342.

So how about you? Are you a paper scrapper? A digital scrapper? Or someone who would like to get started?  How do you preserve your family's memories?

Hope you all have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend!  Thanks so much for stopping by, and be blessed!  :-)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Sweet Treat: {Monster Cookies} by the Pioneer Woman

Photo Credit: The Pioneer Woman
As much as I wish I was the kind of girl who made up her own baking recipes, and that I was oozing with creative baking talent . . . alas, I am not.  But . . . I'm a pretty good recipe follower, and I love to share when I've found a good one.  And this, my friends, is one tasty cookie!  It's called the Monster Cookie, and I discovered the recipe one Saturday morning while watching Ree cook up a batch of these on her Food Network show. 

Photo Credit: The Pioneer Woman
I followed the recipe to a tee (minus the pecans and I used unsalted butter), and I have to admit, I was a little leery about putting in 2 teaspoons of salt.  It seemed like it would be too much for my taste, and I was right.  That being said, the only adjustment I would make is to cut the salt down to 1 teaspoon, instead of 2.  And depending on whether you'd like a soft cookie, or a crisp cookie, just adjust your baking time accordingly.  My personal preference is a softer cookie, so I just didn't let them get too golden brown.  You probably already knew that, but I just thought I'd mention it.  ;-)

  • 2 sticks (1/2 Pound) Butter (salted) Softened
  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 1-1/2 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 2 whole Large Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1-1/2 cup Oats (either Quick Or Regular)
  • 1/2 cup M & M's (more To Taste)
  • 1/2 cup Pecans, Chopped (more To Taste)
  • 3/4 cups Chocolate Chips (milk Or Semi-sweet)
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter Chips
  • 2-1/4 cups Rice Krispies

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream butter with sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. Add to mixing bowl and mix till combined. After that, add in remaining ingredients in whatever quantity you prefer. Add more nuts if you'd like, or more M & M's, more peanut butter chips or chocolate chips.
Add Rice Crispies at the very end, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix!
Use a cookie scoop to scoop balls of dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, then allow to cool on a rack.
Serve with glasses of cold milk.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Music Monday: {Come to Me} by Jamie Grace

Love this song and video from Jamie Grace!  Such a catchy tune, with an awesome message!  They did an amazing job on the video, too -- love the old, rustic, vintage feel to it.

Thank you, Lord, for the peace, hope, and rest that comes from only You!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 

Enjoy and be blessed!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Revell Blog Tour: {A Love Surrendered} by Julie Lessman

About the Book:
Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy moves to Boston to stay with her spinster aunt. She longs for romance to fill the void left by her parents' death. But when she falls hard for Steven O'Connor, the man who broke an engagement to her sister, Annie is worried. Will he break her heart too when he discovers who she really is?

With heart-pounding romance, intense family drama, and emotional twists and turns, A Love Surrendered is everything Julie Lessman's many fans have been waiting for.

My Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Review:
Oh, where to begin!  There's so much to love about the latest installment by Julie Lessman!  A Love Surrendered has so many beautiful facets, and I loved them all!  From the unique setting of the Ocean Pier Dancing Pavilion, the dynamic characters, the heartwarming family connections, and some of the best dialogue I've ever read . . . A Love Surrendered has all the makings of a novel that will sweep you away to another time and place!

As with all of Julie's books, the writing is top notch!  No matter where the story takes you, you can't help but be pulled into the scene, where your senses are sure to be awakened.  You'll be surrounded by the sights, sounds, and feelings of angst, humor, passion, and love . . . and it's a beautiful thing, indeed!  Like good coffee or chocolate, a Julie Lessman novel is a sweet treat to be savored!  I'm so grateful that Mrs. Lessman continues to write stories that touch the heart on so many levels! 

And rest assured this story is not one dimensional -- not only do we get to experience the burgeoning love of Annie and Steven, we get to peek into the lives of our favorite characters from past books in the O'Connor family saga.  It's all woven together perfectly, and includes the trademark Passion with a Purpose, that readers have grown to love from Julie Lessman's novels.  It's that spiritual thread that is always so well done, and never an afterthought.  Not only am I entertained, I'm able to walk away from the novel having gleaned something through the beautiful messages of faith and God's love.

Since each book builds on the previous book, you'll want to be sure to start with the Daughters of Boston series, followed by The Winds of Change series. This is definitely a series that you need to read in order to get the full effect, and I highly recommend both series!  It's Christian Historical fiction with drama, passion, and romance that you won't want to miss!

**Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

**Thank you to Revell for a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.**

Friday, October 26, 2012

{Friday Funny}

I saw this on Facebook, and I laughed out loud . . . for awhile!  As a matter of fact, I'm still laughing.  But hey, what can I say, I'm easily amused!  I hope you get a kick out of this as much as I did.  Have a fantastic Friday, and a wonderful weekend!  : )

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Music Monday: {If Only for the Taste} by Heather Clark

Hello friends!  So sorry I'm late for Music Monday, but I hope you'll forgive me.  I've been sick for several days with strep throat, but I'm on the mend!  So thankful for that!

I'm going to keep this short and sweet, and just let you enjoy this BEAUTIFUL song!  It's my first time hearing Heather Clark, and I'm speechless and in tears.  Amazing voice, with such a powerful anointing!  I'm listening to the samples from her album, Overcome, on iTunes right now -- WOW!  Where have I been?  I'll be adding this one to my iPod right away!  I pray that this song blesses you, dear friends.  Thank you for being here, and have a fantastic week!

I plan on having a few more posts this week, so be sure to check back for a quote, a book review, a sweet treat, and perhaps even a Friday Funny!  I have a couple days off work, so you never know.  ;-)

Enjoy and be blessed! 

For more information on Heather Clark and her music visit her website.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

{A Quote to Inspire You} by Francis Chan

WOW!  When I first read this quote, I was struck by how much it really "packs a punch" in so few words.  Very convicting, indeed.  I'm quite guilty of "settling in," and this is a great reminder to "step it up," so to speak.  We're to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and sometimes that's going to mean coming out of our comfort zone . . . doing things we might not want to do in our natural state.  But thank God for the Holy Spirit that gives us the desire, the motivation, and the "want to," to do God's work.

God doesn't call us to be comfortable, and I'll be the first to admit, I'm a little addicted to comfort.  And it's no secret, I can be pretty selfish -- especially with my time.  And just when I begin to think of how I'm really missing the mark, I'm reminded of His grace.  It's a constant process of molding us, shaping us, and changing our hearts.   The changes don't come overnight, but God is always working -- and I'm so thankful He's not finished with me yet!

Be Blessed,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Book Review: Revell Blog Tour {When a Heart Stops} by Lynette Eason

About the Book: Spunky and outgoing, nothing much bothers medical examiner Serena Hopkins--except for the thought of falling in love again. But when a serial killer is picking off her former classmates, Serena's life becomes intertwined with her old high school crush, FBI agent Dominic Allen. Is the secret she's keeping putting her next on the killer's hit list? Can she trust Dominic with the truth before it's too late?

Intense, emotional, and fast-paced, When a Heart Stops will have readers up late as they race to the finish to find out what happens.

My Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Review:  WOW!   Talk about great suspense!  In Book 2 of the Deadly Reunions series, Lynette Eason picks up where things left off in Book 1, When the Smoke ClearsWhen a Heart Stops is filled with fast-paced action and suspense!  I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen next!  Who was behind the murders?  And exactly what's in that package?

Of course, since we're talking suspense here, you can' t help but try to figure things out.  For more than half of the book, I thought I knew who was behind the murders, and continued to second guess myself.  But in the end, I was wrong.  With so many twists and turns, Eason really has your mind thinking, and trying to solve the mystery right along with the characters, which is part of what makes the book so great.  You just can't figure it out!  The pages were flying, as I raced to the end to see what would happen!  Things were tied up -- somewhat -- but there are still some unknowns and loose ends hanging there . . . waiting to be uncovered in Book 3 (which can't come soon enough!). 

I know it can be cliche to say, but this book truly has that heart-pounding suspense that keeps you turning pages way past your bedtime!  Eason's storytelling is top notch, and takes the reader to the point of really feeling the character's emotions . . . the fear, the adrenaline rush, and the heart-racing tension.  I don't like to be SUPER scared, but this book did just enough to creep me out when it was time to turn out the lights and head up the stairs to bed.

The romance and faith elements were light, yet very believable and enjoyable.  I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy Christian Romantic Suspense!  This series is best read in order, and not as stand alone titles.  Be sure to pick up When the Smoke Clears first, and then be ready to jump right into When a Heart Stops -- it's a fast-paced ride you won't want to miss!

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

(This book was provided free from the publisher for my honest review.) 

**I read on, that book three is titled, When a Secret Kills.  It's scheduled for publication in May 2013, so not such a long wait.**

Monday, October 15, 2012

Music Monday: {Song to the King} by Natalie Grant

Hello friends!  I pray that you're doing well today, and that this song will bless you. Have a wonderful week!  ~Michelle


This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.  However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.  -- 1 Timothy 1:15-17 NKJV

You came to the world  
For Love of one Like Me  
And Though I am the worst of sinners 
Grace is all I see  
Freedom from these chains  
My brokenness redeemed
Love and Mercy flowing down  
To life eternally  
How could I repay such a debt  
Except with my life 
How could I give anything but sacrifice Sacrifice of praise
Chorus: To the King Eternal, immortal  
Be all the glory forever Amen  
To the King Eternal, immortal  
Be all the glory forever Amen
In plenty and want  
Your strength is all I need 
And deep within these shadow lands  
Your glory never leaves
Chorus: My Praise will go on and on and on   
My Praise will go on and on and on 
My Praise will go on and on  
Oh my Praise will go on
Oh my Praise will go on and on and on  
My Praise will go on and on 
My Praise will go on and on
Oh and on and on and on and on and on 
And on and on and on
To the King eternal, immortal Be all the glory forever Amen
To the King eternal, immortal Be all the glory forever Amen
To the King eternal, immortal Be all the glory forever Amen
To the King eternal, immortal Be all the glory forever Amen
I’m giving all of me  
This is my offering

Monday, October 8, 2012

Music Monday: {Like an Avalanche} by Hillsong United

Like an Avalanche was released in February 2011, but I just recently heard it on KLOVE, and it was one of those songs that made me "stand up and take notice," so to speak.  The voice, the sound, and the message that just takes you to that beautiful place of worship . . . overwhelmed and completely in awe of our Savior!

I continue to be humbled and forever grateful by the amazing sacrifice on the cross!  The precious blood of Jesus that was spilled to provide us with a way to redemption -- bringing us back to the Father, where we always belonged.  

Thank you for lavishing us with your grace and mercy, Lord.  Thank you for providing us with salvation through your Son, Jesus Christ.  I certainly don't deserve it, but I am eternally grateful!

Beautiful God
Laying Your majesty aside
You reached out in love to show me life
Lifted from darkness into light

King for a slave
Trading Your righteousness for shame
Despite all my pride and foolish ways
Caught in Your infinite embrace

And I find myself here on my knees again
Caught up in grace like an avalanche
Nothing compares to this love love love
Burning in my heart

Saviour and Friend
Breathing Your life into my heart
Your word is the lamp unto my path
Forever I'm humbled by Your love

Take my life
Take all that I am
With all that I am I will love You
Take my heart
Take all that I have
Jesus how I adore You

And I find myself here on my knees again
Caught up in grace like an avalanche
Nothing compare to this love love love

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Revell Blog Tour: {With Every Letter} by Sarah Sundin

About the Book:
Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse serving in the 802nd Medical Squadron, Air Evacuation, Transport. As part of a morale building program, she reluctantly enters into an anonymous correspondence with Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer in the 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face to face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage to their past? And can they learn to trust God and embrace the gift of love he offers them?

Combining excellent research and attention to detail with a flair for romance, Sarah Sundin brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing, and true love.

My Rating: 4 Stars

My Review:  With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin is Book One in the Wings of the Nightingale series.  The book is well written, and includes rich historical detail that really draws the reader in, and helps to immerse them into another time and place.

I enjoyed the unique storyline and plot, as well as the great character development.  Each character had their own unique voice and personality, which lent itself to some really great dialogue.  Whether the characters were facing a life or death situation or an exhilarating "sweep you off your feet" moment, you could really get a sense of being right there with them.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but at the beginning it did seem slow for things to get going.  I also found myself getting bogged down at times by the military and war descriptions in the book.  I realize it's necessary for the setting and storyline, but for me personally, I lost a bit of interest during those parts of the book. 

One of my favorite parts of the book was how everything came together towards the end -- it was creative, romantic, and fun, and definitely left me with a satisfied feeling as I turned the last page.

I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy WWII historical novels with a bit of romance, and great messages of faith, friendship, and mercy. 

**Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Monday: {Moonlight Serenade} by The Glenn Miller Orchestra

Hello, and Happy Music Monday!  I'm switching things up from the norm here, and sharing a different type of music today.  Some of you may not know, but I LOVE big band music, and just about all music from the 1940's!  Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Judy Garland are some of my favorite "old-time" singers -- love, love, love!!!  :D

Moonlight Serenade is such a beautiful song!  It's so calming, and has a "dreamy" feel to it.  I can imagine myself dancing across the ballroom . . . if only I knew how to dance like that, and only if my husband actually liked to dance, lol.  But hey, a girl can dream!  ;-)

Anyway, I've been on a 40's music kick lately, and I thought I'd share some of that here every now and then.  I hope you'll enjoy it!

Please chime in and let me know if you're a fan of this type of music, as well.  I'd love to know what you think!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Book Preview: {To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander + Video Vignette #4}

In anticipation of Tamera Alexander's October 23rd release of To Whisper Her Name, Zondervan has created a series of six video vignettes relating to this wonderful new Belle Meade Plantation series.  Each one is beautifully done, and gives you some of the fascinating history behind the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tennessee.  Below you'll find the 4th video, and a link to the book trailer, as well as the three previous videos, in case you've missed them.

Visit Tamera Alexander's website to view the book trailer, and well as the previous Belle Meade video vignettes! 

About the Book:
Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a man shot as a traitor to the South, is shunned by proper society and gratefully accepts an invitation from "Aunt" Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation. Expecting to be the Harding's head housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned when she learns the real reason Elizabeth's husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Not finding the safe haven she expects, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a Southern man who seems anything but a Southern gentleman.

Branded a traitor by some, Ridley Cooper, a Southern son who chose to fight for the Union, is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him. Determined to learn "the gift" that Belle Meade's head horse trainer and former slave, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley harbors secrets that threaten both their lives.

As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for "betraying" the South he loved, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again.

Set at Nashville's historic Belle Meade Plantation, the most influential thoroughbred stud farm in America's history, To Whisper Her Name weaves the struggles of real people of the post-war South with the journeys of a man and a woman scarred by betrayal.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Music Monday: {The Struggle} by Tenth Avenue North

Here's a great new song by Tenth Avenue North, from their album, The Struggle.  It's a very easy song to relate to, because we can all identify with struggling.  In this life, we will have struggles.  We will have trials and tribulations.  But it's important to remember that God never promised that we wouldn't struggle.  And what a blessing to know that in those difficult times God is working, even when we don't understand, even when it doesn't seem like anything is changing for the better.  We can rest in His peace.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

We may be weak, fallen, and broken, but we're free! "Free to struggle, we're not struggling to be free."

There's a wreckage,
There's a fire
There's a weakness in my love
There's a hunger I can't control
Lord, I falter and I fall down
Then I hold on to the chains You broke
When You came and saved my soul
Save my soul

We are free to struggle
We're not struggling to be free
Your blood bought and
Makes us children
Children, drop your chains and sing

So why, Lord, do I still fail
Do I wear thin
Why do I still give in to temptation
On my own, I am bankrupt
I don't trust You or take You at Your word
What You've promised


Hallelujah, death is overcome
And we are breathing
Hallelujah, our stone hearts become
Flesh that's beating
Hallelujah, chains have been undone
And we are singing
Hallelujah, the fire has begun
Can you feel it


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

{A Quote to Inpsire You} Charles Spurgeon

Photo Credit:  Found on Pinterest

I thought this quote went along nicely with the book review I posted last week on What a Difference a Mom Makes by Dr. Kevin Leman.  As moms, we have such great influence over our children, and moms especially have great influence over their sons . . . a blessing and a privilege, indeed!

Hope you all are having a great week!  Sweet blessings, my friends!  ~Michelle  : )  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Music Monday: {Don't Give Up} by Calling Glory

Whether we're on the mountain top, or in the valley, we all need encouragement.  As human beings it's something that we crave.  As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  Jesus is always with us to provide encouragement, to be that strong place to fall when we're weak.  People may fail us, but He's always there to hold us up, to be our rock when we feel like we can't take another step, and we've lost hope.  He's the reason we don't have to give up, or lose hope.

If you're feeling hopeless, discouraged, broken, weak, or in despair, I pray that this song will encourage you.  I pray that you will find your peace, hope, rest, and strength in Jesus . . . the one true source of all of these things.

Praise the Lord that He is our refuge and our strength!

These walls around you are caving in
And your life seems like it is wearing thin
Your hope is drowning in despair
It looks like you're not going anywhere
Step inside this Heart and then you'll see
Such a love that is so amazing

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Book Review: {What a Difference a Mom Makes: The Indelible Imprint a Mom Leaves on Her Son's Life} by Dr. Kevin Leman -- Revell Blog Tour

About the Book:

Every mom wants the best for her son. She wants him to succeed in life, to be a man of character, to find a good woman, to be a great dad. But sometimes boys are hard for moms to understand. Sometimes they're strange, annoying, and downright disgusting! Yet always they need a mother who is engaged and interested in them, because a mom is the most important person in a boy's life.

In What a Difference a Mom Makes, New York Times bestselling author Dr. Kevin Leman uses his wit and wisdom to show Mom how to lay the groundwork that will allow her son to grow into a good man. Armed with Dr. Leman's expert advice and insight, Mom will gain an understanding of her boy at every stage, from that very first diaper change to the moment he leaves for college. Dr. Leman shows how to discipline a boy, how to command respect, how to let him fight his own battles, how to understand his sexuality, and how to weather the changes in the mother-son relationship as he grows up. Most of all, Leman shows Mom how to lighten up and have some fun along the way with that boy who will always have her heart.

From the Back Cover:

Boys will be boys--always.
And no one has a more powerful impact on them than you, Mom.

Surprise! Your boy wants to please you, and he cares deeply about what you think. Those driving needs will stay with him throughout his lifetime. That gives you, Mom, a lot of influence over your son. You can set him up for success in life.

In What a Difference a Mom Makes, the New York Times bestselling author Dr. Kevin Leman reveals how you can make a positive imprint on your son--from the moment you first hold him in your arms until the moment he leaves for college. And the best news? It's never too late to start, no matter what age your son is now.

Through Dr. Leman's expert advice, you'll understand who your son is on the inside, the truth behind sibling squabbles (and how to handle them), a secret for discipline that works every time, and how to navigate the critical teen years. You'll also discover how your parenting style impacts your relationship with your son and how you can respond in a healthy way to his growing interest in sex and relationships.

Want to capture your boy's heart? Want a man you'll be proud to call your son? You can make a difference, because you are the one who matters most in your boy's world.

Even if he won't admit it.

My Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Review:

I'm the mom of a 9-year-old boy, and he's the apple of my eye! There's no doubt that he holds a special place in my heart.  When I was given the opportunity to review this book, I didn't give it a second thought, and jumped at the chance.  My son and I have a great relationship, but I figured there's always room for improvement, and I could definitely benefit in gaining some insight on the "older boy" stages, since my older children are girls. 

I found this book to be very easy to read, filled with practical advice, and just the right amount of humor.  Dr. Kevin Leman provides moms with just what they need to navigate their son's life from birth to college.  Whether your son is just a baby, or heading off to college, you'll find practical advice that's presented in a clear, easy to understand way.

I appreciate the fact that there's practical advice for every stage of a boy's life, as well as general mom tips, and a chapter that's dedicated to dad and the importance of his role.

Dr. Leman stresses that our relationship with our son is very important.  The time and attention we give our sons makes a difference, and how to make the most of that time at any age.  After reading this book, I feel so encouraged to take the relationship with my son to an even higher level.  I highly recommend this book to every mom who has a son!

**Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

**Thank you to Revell for providing me with a review copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Book Review: {Love's Reckoning} by Laura Frantz -- Revell Blog Tour

About the Book:

On a bitter December day in 1785, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of master blacksmith Liege Lee in York, Pennsylvania. Just months from becoming a master blacksmith himself, Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship and move west. But Liege soon discovers that Silas is a prodigious worker and craftsman and endeavors to keep him in York. Silas becomes interested in both of Liege's daughters, the gentle and faith-filled Eden and the clever and high-spirited Elspeth. When he chooses one, will the other's jealousy destroy their love?

In this sweeping family saga set in western Pennsylvania, one man's choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. Love's Reckoning is the first entry in The Ballantyne Legacy, a rich, multi-layered historical quartet from talented writer Laura Frantz, beginning in the late 1700s and following the Ballantyne family through the end of the Civil War.

My Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Review:

Oh, how I love a Laura Frantz novel!  This is her fourth novel, and the first in The Ballantyne Legacy series, which will span over four books, and four generations; an epic family saga, indeed!  I only wish we didn't have to wait so long in between books.

Laura has a tremendous talent to craft beautiful novels, and create images in the reader's mind that truly leave a lasting impression.  From unique characters, detailed descriptions, high tension moments of uncertainty, to sweet, tender encounters  . . . I found myself savoring every word, not only for its depth, but its incredible richness.  

Love's Reckoning is not your "run-of-the-mill" novel, and if you're like me, you'll find yourself captivated from beginning to end!  And just when you think you know which direction the story is headed . . . you're in for a surprise that perhaps you weren't expecting!  That was one of the things I appreciated most about the story . . . it took me places that I never saw coming.

I love how the spiritual thread is beautifully incorporated into the story, as we see Eden "thirst" for God and His word, and see her grow in her knowledge of Him. It's endearing how she keeps His word figuratively, and literally, close to her heart.  In addition, I think it's important to note that the novel opens up with Psalm 23.  Even through the dark times and trials, Eden and Silas experience comfort, protection, and leading from the great Shepherd.  He's there with us, even in those dark valleys, and I love how Laura blends this into the story.

If you're an admirer of historical fiction, and you appreciate great literature, this is one you won't want to miss.  It will charm and enchant you, and leave you with great anticipation for the next installment!

**Thank you to Revell, A Division of Baker Publishing Group, for a review copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.**

**Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

{Upcoming Reviews for the Revell Blog Tours}

Here are some of the reviews to be on the lookout for here at Sweet Treats & Inspiration.  It's an AWESOME lineup from Revell!

Review Coming the Week of September 2nd

Review Coming the Week of September 2nd

Review Coming the Week of September 16th

Review Coming the Week of October 1st