Sunday, February 9, 2020

Operation Blessing Recipes From Around The World Recipe Book

I'm so glad to be sharing about Operation Blessing. The first time I heard about them was when I joined FrontGate Media to promote the recipe book. Operation Blessing provides relief in 39 countries around the world. They help in a variety of ways: disaster relief, medical aid, hunger relief, orphan care, and much more!


In the recipe book, each of the countries represented have stories where Operation Blessing has been a help. Like for Asia, they helped a family's village by building a well for them. Before the well the family had to walk to another village for fresh water! That's just one example.

After looking through the recipes some of the first ones I want to try are the Imam Bayildi which is a recipe from Israel, Coconut Mahamri from Kenya, and Ahi de Gallina from Peru. Thankfully the ingredients are ones we can get at nearly any grocery store.

There are a couple of offers I wanted to share:

The cookbook is offered as a gift for any dollar amount donation. It has a soft cover with a total of 34 international recipes ranging from breakfast, side & main dishes, breads & desserts and drinks. The recipes originated from 15 countries namely Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Kenya, Israel, Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, Japan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, China, and United States.


We are pleased to offer four (4) recipe cards inspired by international recipes from Operation Blessing’s latest cookbook, “Recipes From Around the World.” Anyone can sign up to receive this free gift after which, requests will be processed and delivered straight to their mailbox.


You can even enter to win a copy of Recipes From Around the World!


Saturday, February 8, 2020

Isaiah's Legacy By Mesu Andrews

Isaiah's Legacy
by Mesu Andrews
Publisher: WaterbrookMultnomah
ISBN: 9780735291881

Having started following Mesu Andrews on Instagram last year and also starting a new bookstagram account, I heard a lot of book people talking about her books. When I had the opportunity to read Isaiah's Legacy for review, thanks to WaterbrookMultnomah, I jumped at it

Summary:

The drama of the Old Testament comes to life as Judah's most notorious king ascends to the throne in this gripping novel from the award-winning author of Isaiah's Daughter

At eight years old, Shulle has known only life in a small village with her loving but peculiar father. When Uncle Shebna offers shelter in Jerusalem in exchange for Shulle's help tutoring King Manasseh, Judah's five-year-old co-regent who displays the same peculiarities as her father, she's eager to experience the royal court. But Shulle soon realizes the limits of her father's strict adherence to Yahweh's Law when Uncle Shebna teaches her of the starry hosts and their power. 

Convinced Judah must be freed from Yahweh's chains, she begins the subtle swaying of young Manasseh, using her charm and skills on the boy no one else understands. When King Hezekiah dies, twelve-year-old Manasseh is thrust onto Judah's throne, bitter at Yahweh and eager to marry the girl he adores. Assyria's crown prince favors Manasseh and twists his brilliant mind toward cruelty, beginning Shulle's long and harrowing journey to discover the Yahweh she'd never known, guided with loving wisdom by Manasseh's mother: Isaiah's daughter, the heartbroken Hephzibah. Amid Judah's dark days, a desperate remnant emerges, claiming the Lord's promise, "Though we're helpless now, we're never hopeless--because we serve El Shaddai." Shulle is among them, a girl who becomes a queen through Isaiah's legacy.


My Review:

As this was my first introduction to Mesu Andrews as an author I'm wondering if this is where my starting point should've been.

Isaiah's Legacy is an extremely intense story. I've heard of King Hezzekiah as well as Manasseh, but didn't realize how terribly things went from the king to his son. As we all know, if we've read the Bible, there are stories in there that are intense and ofttimes overwhelming. We can't quite wrap our minds around how dark times were.

The introduction to Shulle sets off a very dark story. I have to admit, when I first started reading the book, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to complete it. The depravity that Shulle experienced at the start was really hard for me to digest.  Evil existed then and it exists now. While Shulle had good intentions at the beginning, it's clear to the reader how quickly a person's thoughts can be manipulated and turned.

I will warn you, if you dive into this story, there are topics that could be hard to swallow. Yes, these are events that took place in Biblical times, but that doesn't make it any easier to read. There is also the topic of witchcraft that's throughout the entire story. You see how evil it truly is.

As we're introduced to Manasseh, I can picture children who have autism being like him. I appreciated the author's handling of this condition. She never made it more than it needed to be and I felt like she portrayed it in a very believable way. His life is also brought to life in such a detailed way.

I had to keep reminding myself how young he was and everything he went through. It's easy in this day and age to forget that kings (as well as others) married as adolescents. Imagining even my 16yr old as a ruler, married, or in battle boggles my mind, yet here was a young boy reigning initially as co-regent and then as a king. I can see how his mind was able to navigate it all if he had something such as autism, especially in this story. It certainly makes sense. It was incredible to me how Mesu brought his mind to life and helps the reader understand how it worked in his decisions.

It also helped that there was a thread of humanity in him when it came to Shulle. It aways came back to her. While he had darkness in his mind and heart, Shulle in a way kept him human. Through all of the deception that occurred in the early part of his reign (in this story), I wasn't surprised at how winding a path his life took. Amazing to me how God can use a life that had been spent in so much darkness, and for His glory!

I'm definitely going to have to try a different book by the author. This one certainly left a heaviness with me, even as I finished it. Once again it was a learning experience getting to know people of the Bible better, even through a fictional setting.

About the Author:

MESU ANDREWS is the Christy Award-winning author of Isaiah’s Daughter and numerous other novels, including The Pharaoh's DaughterMiriam, Of Fire and Lions and Love Amid the Ashes. Her deep understanding of and love for God's Word brings the biblical world alive for readers. Mesu lives in North Carolina with her husband, Roy, and enjoys spending time with her growing tribe of grandchildren.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Hidden Current By Sharon Hinck

Hidden Current
by Sharon Hinck
Publisher: Enclave Publishing
ISBN:

The best book that wasn't released in 2019, but 2020, that I read was Sharon Hinck's new novel Hidden Current. Now, I don't tend to shoot myself in the foot, but I can guarantee you right now that I'm not going to do this book justice with my review. I've been trying to process it in my mind since I read it in December, and it just floored me! Thanks to Enclave Publishing for my review copy.


Summary:

The dancers of the Order direct their floating world of Meriel with their movement… but are they steering it toward destruction?
Calara spent her life learning dance patterns and seeking to become the perfect servant to her people. When she discovers the work of the Order is built on lies, she flees with a rough-edged herder, Brantley of Windswell. Pursued by soldiers, her journey through the suffering villages of the rim leads her to encounter a truth that sends ripples through her world—and through her soul.
As she seeks clues to her forgotten family, Calara discovers newfound courage in the face of danger, while her quest awakens a growing but forbidden affection for Brantley. Yet even his support can’t fully be trusted, since he’d rather destroy the Order than bring reform.
She is a lone woman facing opposition from rim villages and treachery from the all-powerful Order. Can she restore the dance to its true purpose and bring freedom and hope to her people?

My Review:

Hidden Current was beyond what I was expecting. Sharon Hinck has outdone herself with the beauty of this story. The story telling is exceptional. I mentioned to her that I felt her sharing images of her ballet days inadvertently prepared me for her book. I mean, I'm sure that was part of it, but it lent to preparing my mind for what was to come without me realizing it. I'm so thankful she put so much of her own experience into the story because it absolutely came through for me.

Ok, so let's get on with it, right?

Calara is such a compelling character. She's practiced and given 100% to becoming a dancer who will help spin her world. That all comes crashing down around her as she's come to the cusp of making the transition. You can feel how gut wrenching and life changing it is for her as well as those around her. There's such vivid detail put into the story you almost feel like a spectator.

Brantley is the hero you can get behind! Maybe because he's an inadvertent one. When we as readers learn why he's at the Order, we learn how dire things truly are! Isn't it amazing how things can fall apart AND come together at the same time? It's incredible to see how grace and mercy are able to be found even when evil is happening! It's such a reflection of God.

When I read speculative fiction, I oftentimes have a difficult time imagining the world about which I'm reading or what the civilization is like. Not with Hidden Current. With Hinck's writing I was able to imagine Meriel and it's inhabitants. Whether it was the people in the rim villages or those with the Order, the writing brought it all to life.

I'm SO glad this will be a series because it's an absolutely beautiful story! I can't recommend it enough.

About the Author:

Sharon writes "stories for the hero in all of us" - uplifting and entertaining novels about ordinary people called to extraordinary challenges.

She's won several Carol awards for both contemporary Christian fiction and fantasy, and was a Christy finalist for The Restorer - a genre-blending adventure of a soccer-mom in an alternate world.

She holds an M.A. in communication, and worked for many years in arts ministry. In her various roles over the years as wife, mom, grandmother, church worker, choreographer, and writer, and adjunct professor, she has loved learning how God's grace pours into our lives in the midst of our weakness.

When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking to conferences, retreats, and church groups. She and her husband make their home in the mid-western United States.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Collateral Damage By Lynette Eason

Collateral Damage
by Lynette Eason
Publisher: Revell Books
ISBN: 9780800729349

Thanks to Revell Books for the copy of Collateral Damage that I received for review. Excited to get started on the Danger Never Sleeps series!

Summary:

They thought they left the fight behind on the battlefield.
But their greatest struggles are just beginning.

Honorably discharged from the Army after an explosion nearly killed her, former military psychiatrist Brooke Adams has set up shop to help others, but her days of helping military personnel are over. She's got her own battles to fight from her time overseas, and she's not equipped to take on more. 

Former Army Special Ops Sergeant First Class Asher James could handle anything that war sent his way. The only thing that scares him now is sleep. As the shadows close in, the nightmares begin.

Finally convinced that he needs help, Asher makes an appointment with a counselor. When he arrives at her office, she isn't there--but a dead body is. When it becomes clear that Brooke was the real target of the attack--and that her secrets go even deeper than his own--Asher vows to protect her no matter what. 

My Review:

Talk about a story starting off with a bang! I have to admit, after having recently read several suspense/thriller/military novels, I wasn't sure if I had it in me to get through another one. hahahaha Oh, my, I have no idea what I was thinking as I'm pretty sure this is the fastest I've read through a novel in a LONG time!

Collateral Damage is a non-stop action story that nearly has the reader ducking for cover! Initially I wasn't exactly sure what was going on and it took me until chapters 2 & 3 to really decide I was in it for the long haul. There's just a lot going on in chapter 1 and it's all over the place. When you look back after you're into the story, you're able to make sense of the chaos.

Stories like this often make me realize how little I know what's going on around me, and I'm surrounded by military simply because of where I live. It also gives me a new appreciation for how much our military men and women need our support while they're active and after. We all realize on some level that PTSD can be debilitating to our military, but reading it through these characters certainly brings it to life with fresh words.

Like I said, this story is fast, and keeps the reader on their toes. I was more than ready to lose sleep over the book last night just to keep reading, that's how invested I was. I really liked Brooke. She's a strong, yet vulnerable character. She has military training, and thankfully that helps keep her alive AFTER she comes home and has retired from serving. Asher is a pretty complex fella. He comes from money and being in the military is scene as a scourge to several of his family members.

The twists and turns in the story really surprised me as it will anyone who reads it. The answers are unexpected, and as always I didn't start connecting the dots until nearly the end. Pretty typical for me, but I did peg one person sooner than I normally do, which I had to hi-5 myself for. HA!

I can't wait for the rest of this series, especially if it was as riveting and intense as this one was. Bring it on Lynette Eason. I'm ready for you!

About the Author:

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of Protecting Tanner Hollow, as well as the Blue Justice, Women of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master's degree in education from Converse College. Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

End Game By Rachel Dylan

End Game
by Rachel Dylan
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764234309

One of the reasons I wanted to review End Game is because I now live only about 30 minutes from Washington D.C. In fact, we just did a Capitol tour last week with our friends. I already had the book, but because we always venture down there with people who visit, I figured it would be fun to know the general area. On top of that, this is a new author for me to ready.

Summary:

Each New Clue . . .
Every Crime Scene . . .
Brings Them Closer to Discovering the End Game

When elite members of the military are murdered on the streets of Washington, DC, FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini must work together to bring the perpetrator to justice. Unfortunately, all evidence points to a Navy SEAL sniper who Bailey refuses to believe is guilty. 

When Bailey and Marco start to connect the dots between the victims, they wonder if there's a deeper cover-up at play. After Bailey is targeted, it becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep their dark secrets. 

With the stakes getting higher by the moment, Bailey and Marco rush against the clock to determine whom they can really trust in this twisted conspiracy. As allies turn to enemies, the biggest secret yet to be uncovered could be the end of them all.

My Review:

If I had to give suspense and intrigue authors a system of how I'd rate their books, it would have to be the nail biter instead of stars. This was a 4 out of 5 nail biter. That's the actual truth of it! Now, I don't really have much in the way of nails, but as I finished the book I realized I had done nail biting on 4 fingers on my right hand.

That being said, what an incredible read! End Game is absolutely edge-of-your-seat reading. It's fast paced and keeps you on your reading toes.

While the book centers mostly around Bailey and Marco, we also get to know the supporting characters almost as well. It was surprising to me how easily I was able to keep track of who everyone was and what their roles were in the storyline.

Not only that, but then people come and go throughout the story as the team tries to solve the murders that are happening. What I actually loved about that is, I felt like I was with Bailey, Marco, and the rest of the team trying to solve the case. Every time they'd regroup I had visions of boards with strings tying people and events together and whiteboards. Seriously, NCIS tv show kind of moments.

I don't think I've ever read a book where a character's life is on the line so many times. How Bailey makes it through the book alive is beyond me. lol She's basically the human version of the Timex watch; takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'.

I really enjoyed getting to know Marco and Bailey. Bailey is a kick butt kind of gal who gets the job done. So is Marco, but he seems to be more willing to show his emotions. They have a rocky start when they meet each other, but hey, Marco's bravado wasn't much help. As the story picks up its pace, it turns out they make a very strong team. As for the other team players, I felt like they were onions being peeled back as we got to know them better. My hope is that they'll continue to show up in future stories now that I have an investment in them as well.

Looking forward to the continuation of the series and I'm hoping the person who shows up a bit more is the character we see more towards the end of this book!

About the Author:

Rachel Dylan (www.racheldylan.com) was a litigator in one of Atlanta's most elite law firms for over eight years and now works as an attorney at one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers. She is the author of Deadly Proof and four Love Inspired Suspense novels and lives in Michigan with her husband.

 
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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.