Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Lady In Disguise By Sandra Byrd

A Lady in Disguise
by Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Howard Books
ISBN: 978-1476717937

I was so thankful to be included in author, Sandra Byrd's, inner circle to help promote this book! It had been a while since I'd read any of her novels. This year I'm back on the reading train, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read her newest novel.

Summary:

In this intriguing novel of romance, mystery, and clever disguise set in Victorian England, a young woman investigates the murder of her own father.

After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.


My Review:

This sort starts off with us meeting Gillian at the funeral of her father. While at the home her grandparents had lived in, she meets the neighbor, Viscount Thomas Lockwood. They spend time getting reacquainted after his mother sends greetings and condolences to Gillian.

From there, Gillian and her companion, Ms. W head back to their home in London. It doesn't take long for her to realize something isn't right. Something is amiss once they get back home, the inspectors who had once been close to her father and their family are distancing themselves from her, and there are rumors her father may have been part of something illicit.

Gillian sets out to get to the bottom of what's happening. At every turn she seems to be watched or under suspicion. Nothing seems right and she doesn't know who to trust. Lockwood seems to take an interest in her, but she's not sure if it's a spark or if he's simply interested in her property that is next to his.

I love that in the midst of her turmoil, she opens her home to young girls who need a chance in life after being child mimes and then discarded. Her hope is to give them skills that will give them a better station in life. Unfortunately because of the mystery surrounding her father's death, she may have put their lives in danger as well.

Does Lockwood have ulterior motives? Can she trust any of the inspectors? Will she find out that she never really knew her father?

About the Author:

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than fifty books. 

Sandra's series of historically sound Gothic romances, Daughters of Hampshire, launched with the best-selling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor’s Choice award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, published in 2017. Sandra is excited to continue writing Gothic romance and will be adding books to that genre beginning in October 2018 with Tyndale House Publishers. 

Check out her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2011, and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. 

Sandra has published dozens of books for kids, tweens, and teens, including the bestselling The One Year Be-Tween You and God Devotions for Girls. She continued her work as a devotionalist, this time for women, with The One Year Home and Garden Devotions. Her latest book, The One Year Experiencing God’s Love Devotional, will be published in October 2017.  

Sandra is passionate about helping new writers develop their talents and their work for traditional publishing or self-publication. She has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to guide developing authors toward success each year via novelcoaching.com.

Please visit www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more or to invite Sandra to your book club via Skype.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Essential Amish Cookbook

The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Family
by Lovina Eicher
Publisher: Herald Press
ISBN: 978-1513800295

When I was asked to do a review of this cookbook, I was thrilled. It was perfect timing since we'd just been up in Amish country in Lancaster, PA just a few weeks before. 

I had been ooo-ing and ahh-ing over some of the Amish food we'd been able to sample, and I was happy to give a couple of the ones in this cookbook a try.

Summary:

Join Amish cook Lovina Eicher in her kitchen as she prepares recipes used every day in countless Amish homes in Old Order Amish communities across North America. Many of the more than 100 recipes are richly illustrated with step-by-step photographs to help you learn Amish cooking as if you were in Lovina’s own kitchen. From hearty main dishes to substantial sides—plus a generous sampling of scrumptious cakes, pies, cookies, and other delectable desserts—learn how to make the hearty, simple dishes that the Amish cook together and serve at home, church services, and weddings.

My Review:

First of all, the images are wonderful. Not only are the food pictures delicious, but I love getting glimpses into their way of life. I liked how Mrs. Eicher shared how a recipe would be used, tips for making the dish, or how the recipe fits into their daily lives. The recipes are very easy to follow. I love how they're not complicated, and can be done by pretty much everyone. There aren't a lot of steps to get the recipe complete. Like their lives of living simply, her recipes reflect that as well.

I tried two of her dishes. I've never made potato salad before, and quite honestly, I'm extremely picky about how it tastes. I find there are 3 different ways it can be made: not enough flavor, too much flavor, or exactly right. I have got to tell you, this was exactly right. It was SO incredible, I'm making another batch for my son's graduation on Friday. Planning to wow and amaze the family! I have literally been eating it every single day since I made it.





For Mother's Day I wanted to start the morning off easy for the family so I tried making the French Toast (Overnight) Casserole. I prepped everything Saturday night, and put it in the oven Sunday morning. It was still a bit mushy when it came out so I cooked it for about 5 more minutes. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to get the bottom cooked well without burning the top. It was flavorful (I really like cinnamon sugar) so I'll have to try it again and see if I can attempt it a different way to get it cooked all the way through.



The next recipe I plan on attempting, hopefully this weekend, is the Breakfast pizza. It looks delicious!

About the Author:

Lovina Eicher is author of the syndicated column, Lovina’s Amish Kitchen, which appears in 40 newspapers around the United States and on a weekly blog maintain by her editors. She is the author of several cookbooks. Lovina and her husband have eight children and live in rural Michigan.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Road Trip Prep With Prestone and 3M & Giveaway

This summer the boys and I will be making our annual trek to Minnesota. That means getting the car prepared for the miles we're going to be driving and having the right items tucked away! This is where Prestone & 3M comes in. They reached out to me asking me to try their products, and hello, who could turn down such an automotive staple? Of course I agreed!

Now, dad has always done minor work and maintenance on his cars. He didn't pass that gene on to me.

Kidding! I love doing what I can on my own with my car. So much so that I've tried to pass that on to my kids. What I love is getting a call from my oldest daughter (who's in Minnesota) and her starting off with, "Mom, my car is..." I try narrowing down what might be going on and try to give her the confidence to figure it out or to be wise in finding someone who can help her.


Empowering myself and my family when it comes to our cars is really a necessity. Do you realize how much money you can save by doing things like checking brake fluid, restoring headlights, and checking your antifreeze/coolant? Keeping up with home maintenance on your own vehicle will not only save you money, but will extend the life of your car.



So, let's get into the nitty gritty before we talk about what you should take with you on any road trip!

Have you EVER driven in Minnesota in the middle of mosquito season? It literally rains bugs. And at night, forget about it. You may as well drive with the windshield wipers on. The Prestone BugWash® is what will get us through driving through the midwest in July! lol It's also great because it creates a barrier from things sticking to your windshield.

When we moved into our house Fred was parking on the right side and I parked on the left. I don't know what happened, but somehow we ended up swapping our cars around. One day I came out and noticed both of our driver's side mirrors were warped. I also realized my driver's side headlight was messed up. We think the windows on the house are doing the damage. The 3M Headlight Restoration Kit is exactly what was needed!


Now, I don't know about you, but I'm as skeptical as they come. For real. I'm rarely buyin' what you're sellin'. Get my drift? I'll be honest with you (aren't I always?) that I wasn't sure how this was going to perform. THEN what do I do? I kind of gave the kit the stink eye as I started the process.



I read through the instructions, grabbed a small spray bottle, and a Meguiar's microfiber towel, and set to work. The first step was to clean the headlight and then tape it with the tape that's provided in the kit. I was only targeting the damaged area because the rest of the headlight looked fine. If you're going to be scrubbing near the paint of your vehicle, I would highly suggest doing a double wide line of the tape in case you slip as you're sanding. Nothing like working on one thing and scratching up another.



There are 3 different grits of disks: 1000, 3000, and 5000. You use them in order from smallest to largest spraying the water on the light and disc as you go along. The steps are incredibly easy to read and understand. With the first pass of the 1000 grit the headlight was still pretty hazy. I was trying not to be too judgey judgey. I still had a couple steps to go.

Next the 3000 and 5000 grit were used and I finished by spraying off the headlight and then wiping it down once again. My initial response was, "No way!" I hadn't been expecting the results I got. It was literally crystal clear. You can see the difference in the before & after images. The only negative part was I now see how bad the rest of the headlight is and will have to do the rest of it! I mean, eureka. No need to drop cashola on replacing the entire headlight cover.

My hubby came home halfway through the restoration. Now, some of you might have a hubby who will just take care of all things automotive or if he sees you attempting something will swoop in and just do it himself. Not my guy. He knows better. lol He came over to say, "hi," and then went about his merry business.

I thought checking and filling fluids on my car would be relatively easy. And I'd say it was other than Chevrolet putting covers on things so you have to unsnap them to get to what you need. No problem. Just went to grab my car manual and flat head to find what was needed.



It was easy enough to fill up the windshield washer fluid. It's one of the most obvious looking caps under the hood. Every car engine I've looked at has that windshield wiper design on it. It was nearly full, but since it's spring, aka "bugs are alive and well season", no reason not to top it off!



From there I checked my brake fluid, but that was already full since my car had been into the dealer recently. Then came the fun of finding the spot for the power steering fluid. I found it in the manual, but realized it had to take off a rather large cover to get to it. So strange. Once I took off the oil cap, I just had to heave ho the large cover and it came off. Voila there was the power steering fluid. I cleaned off the dip stick, filled it up until the fluid was between the min & max, replaced the cap, and put the cover back on.



The antifreeze/coolant was a different story. The place to ADD the coolant was visible. The place to CHECK the radiator fluid, not so much. I had to remove an extremely large cover from the engine to see how the radiator fluid was doing after I filled the reservoir. Thankfully removing the covers only takes a minute. Everything was good to go so I replace the cover and was finished with my tasks.



Now that everything under the hood was taken care of, I wanted to show you what I like to keep in the car for not only road trips, but for any surprises that might come up! Here's the list of what we'll bring:

  • blanket
  • emergency road side kit
  • snacks
  • personal reading light
  • power inverter
  • hand wipes
  • first aid kit
  • sunscreen/bug spray
  • bottled water
  • tire gauge
  • umbrella

I bought a tote a couple weeks ago, and a friend from church has an embroidery business. I put in an order for her to personalize the tote for all of the road trips we do, including to Minnesota. I love, love, LOVE how it came out!


Will you be hitting the road this summer? Where will you be headed? Before you go anywhere, be sure to enter the giveaway to win what I received from Prestone and 3M!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Oodles Of Zoodle Recipes

I love spaghetti. I love pasta. Sadly, I know it's not good for me. Now, I love zucchini, and since zoodles have made their appearance, I know I need to give them a try. That being said, I have yet to make the leap. Honestly, they make me nervous. It seems like you have to have the right tools to get your zoodles cut like they should be. Fred and I tried to make our own spaghetti once...once.

Since I can't be the only one who wants to give zoodles a try, but have no idea where to start, I thought I'd reach out to other bloggers who've had success with making them as a meal. The only issue? My stomach is growling as I look through them!

Let's start with Cotter Crunch's Quick Turkey Chow Fun Tamari Zoodles! If your mouth isn't watering just looking at this photo, you must be dead! Looking through all of her photos and reading the recipe, I'm ready to go out tomorrow, buy all of the ingredients, and live off it for the next few days.

Photo courtesy of Cotter Crunch

A blogging friend of mine has a recipe that includes the pairing of tomatoes and zoodles. I just want to grab a fork and start swirling up bite after bite. For real, doesn't this Parmesan Zucchini Noodles with Tomato & Basil by This Mama Loves look incredible?

Photo courtesy of This Mama Loves

You're going to want to feed the family tonight with this dish by Strength & Sunshine! This is a Lenil Quinoa Meatball Bolognese with Zucchini Noodles dish that your family will ask for time and time again!

Photo courtesy of Strength & Sunshine

Now we change things up a little bit with an all vegan meal. This dish from Stacey Homemaker is gluten-free and dairy-free! Her Roasted Cauliflower Cashew Cream Alfredo Sauce to top zoodles will knock your socks off! Just thinking of it makes me salivate!

Photo courtesy of Stacey Homemaker

So, since the point of me trying some zoodle recipes is to try to add low carb food to our diet, this Zucchini Noodles Recipe with Healthy Alfredo Sauce fits the bill! Wholesome Yum made this recipe with only 9 ingredients! I think it's time to pull out the forks and spin up some zoodles!

Photo courtesy of Wholesome Yum

If you're like me, you know you need to add more veggies to your diet. Of course zoodles are a great way to do that! You get rid of the pasta, use zucchini, and viola you have a delicious vegetable to complete your meal. That's where The Worktop's Spiralized Zucchini Breakfast in Sausage Cream Sauce comes into play. When was the last time you thought to have something like this for breakfast?

Photo courtesy of The Worktop

When I saw Hungry Hobby's Zoodles With Creamy Lemon Shrimp my stomach actually growled! Zoodles and shrimp seem like they'd be such an amazing combination. I think this is one recipe my hubby would actually try. Of course it's because of the shrimp, but if I could get him to take a brownie bite, it would be with this recipe. Can I just say my stomach is still growling thinking about it? lol

Photo courtesy of Hungry Hobby

Ready to add some kick to your zoodles? How awesome do Cajun Zoodles sound? This recipe from The Starving Chef is incredibly mouth watering! I don't eat a lot of cajun food, but that's just because I'm not a great cook. I'm sure my Fred could whip it up so I'm putting this one on his recipe list to try. Just looking at the photo you know it's going to have amazing flavor!

Photo courtesy of The Starving Chef

I'd love to see some of your favorite zucchini noodle recipes!

Which one do you think will be your favorite?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

True To You By Becky Wade & $100 & Prize Pack Giveaway

True to You
by Becky Wade
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0764219368

One of my favorite things to do to relax is read. Being able to review books like this one is such a pleasure. Thanks to Litfuse sending me True to You to read.

Book Summary:

It's the exciting start of a brand-new series by a contemporary romance fan favorite!


After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.
Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he's diagnosed with an inherited condition, he's forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.
The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John's already dating someone and Nora's not sure she's ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they're seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

My Review:

As you know, if you've read my other reviews, most of the books I review are historical fiction. Gosh, I just love that genre. Occasionally I break away from it and read something contemporary. I can't remember reading any of Becky Wade's books before, but oh my gosh, I'm ready to devour them ALL! Let me preface my review of True to You by saying I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning finishing this novel. I didn't even admit to my hubby what I'm I finally went to bed. Do you know HOW many years, yes years, since I did that?

True to You starts off on a highly amusing note and gets funnier and deeper as you turn each page. Nora is extremely smart, but sees herself as the not so pretty middle sister. She and her sisters have the best dialogue, and the way the author writes it, you would think it's a conversation you probably could've had with your siblings. Their texts back and forth are ones you'd expect to find a friend sharing on Facebook!

Then there's John Lawson. He's serious, quiet, and introverted. The way he and Nora meet will leave a lasting impression not only on them, but the reader. He runs a company teaching people how to survive in hostage situations. It would seem he'd know how to be prepared for situations that are unexpected, but his health issue is one that he had no way to be ready for.

John and Nora are the perfect example of opposites attract. Sadly, John is dating the "perfect" girl. Nora is content (or is she) growing her historical town & keeping devotees of Northamptonshire apprised of their favorite actor. That's pretty much a relationship, right?

I really loved everything about this book. The way the story flowed made reading it very fast. The characters are extremely enjoyable, including the side characters. How the characters talk, you'd think you were eavesdropping on people next to you. The story was that believable. Becky Wade definitely left me wanting more. I'd say about half way through the story I started wondering which of the sisters would be the main character in the next book.

About the author:

Becky Wade is a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She's the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, and the Bradford Sisters Romance series.

Do opposites really attract? John and Nora might just be the perfect match. Find out in True to You, book one in Becky Wade's new series! Genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now. Former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he's diagnosed with an inherited condition, he's forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother. Finding the answers they're seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Celebrate the launch of Becky Wade's new series by entering to win a fabulous prize pack and $100 cash card!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of True to You
  • A $100 Visa cash card
  • A prize pack hand-picked by Becky

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 30. The winner will be announced May 31 on the Litfuse blog.

 
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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.