Saturday, February 27, 2010

Conspiracy in Kiev by Noel Hynd

Link to Zondervan to purchase Conspiracy in Kiev by Noel Hynd
The first book in The Russian Trilogy

During the preparation for a United States presidential trip to Ukraine, Department of Treasury Special Agent Alexandra LaDuca was approached by the Secret Service for a special assignment. Her assignment was to keep an eye on organized crime leader Yuri Federov. Although conflicted, she accepted the job that would be a challenge to her both professionally and personally. Before the action ends, Part Two of the book changes the location and Alex finds and uneasy alliance.

Conspiracy in Kiev is the first in this trilogy of international intrigue. I read these out of order, and although each of them was perfect as a standalone book, the three of them together are captivating.

Alex is a smart woman of faith who can handle herself well in tough situations. The locations in the book are well described, so I had a sense of being there with the action. The characters are interesting and there is ample information to get to know and understand them. There is a perfect blend of narration and conversation without either being overdone. Plenty of action and adventure held my interest until the end.

Although Alex is a person of faith, this is not a religious or preachy book. Her feelings of conflict in her faith and moral dilemmas are worked out in the book, but she is far from a perfect person. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good thriller, adventure, and story of international intrigue.

Books 2 & 3 of The Russian Trilogy:

My Review of Midnight in Madrid

My review of Countdown in Cairo

A review copy of Conspiracy in Kiev was provided by Zondervan

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Christian Fiction Blog Tour

I received two books from this Christian Fiction Blog Tour, Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn and Yesterday's Promise by Linda Lee Chaikin.

WaterBrookMutlnomah link for Secrets

Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn is the first book of eight in The Glenbrooke Series .
Turning her back on her past, Jessica Morgan created a new identity and a new life. She settled in the small town of Glenbrook, Oregon where an old friend helped her get a teaching position. A car accident almost destroyed her dream, but with the kindness of strangers and a handsome paramedic with secrets of his own, Jessica struggled to make a new life for herself.

Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn is a young adult love story in an ideal small-town setting. As Jessica and Kyle work through the pain and past that haunts them, they find that the truth, no matter how painful, can work for good. This is Christian romance at its best. The book has good role models, but not perfect people and provides adventure, mystery and struggles.

I would recommend this for both adult and teen readers.

About the Author
Robin Jones Gunn is the much-loved award-winning author of the Glenbrooke, Sisterchicks(R), Christy Miller, and Sierra Jensen series, with more than three million books sold worldwide. Robin lives with her family near Portland, Oregon. Her website is here:  Robin Gunn

WaterBrook Mutlnomah link for Yesterday's Promise

From the back of the book:
He fought to seek his fortune. Would he lose a greater treasure: the love he left behind?

As the son of the squire of Grimston Way, aristocrat Rogan Chantry has fought hard to win his independence from Sir Julien Bley and the British South Africa Company. Now, his pursuit of a mysterious deposit of gold, marked on a map willed to him by his murdered uncle, Henry Chantry, is challenged by a new complication: the impending British colonization of South Africa. Can Sir Rogan find the gold in the midst of escalating tensions among the native tribesmen, the missionaries sent to win them, and the new colonists?

Meanwhile, Evy Varley, the woman Rogan loves back in England, is headed for a brave yet dangerous confrontation with Henry’s killer–but at what price? With so much against Rogan and Evy, a reunion seems improbable, if not impossible. Can yesterday’s promise hold them faithful to the hope of future freedom and a victorious love?
My Review:
Yesterday's Promise is the second of three East of the Sun series.  It is an involved story with mystery, adventure and romance. I would recommend reading the first, Tomorrow's Treasure first.  I think it would give a better grasp of the people and situations involved in the story.  There are interesting situations and places with valuable treasure, tribal difficulties, and power struggles.  I appreciated the author's historical information and a list of historical dates following the story. The writing is a little too flowery for me and there were too many characters without development, possibly because the characters were in the previous book.  

Both books were provided to me for review purposes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Heart Healthy Monday

Heart Healthy Monday Web Information:
I confess I am not a big fish eater, but I have added more to my diet recently.  I work in a medical office and was surprised one day to receive a newsletter warning against Tilapia for heart patients.  Here is a link to explain the problem:  Science Daily

We gave up Tilapia when we saw a TV show on how the fish are farmed, but in fairness I want to post this link which is more Tilapia friendly: Mayo Clinic

Heart Healthy Tip:  If you smoke -PLEASE QUIT.  My sister continued to smoke even after serious warning signs.  She died last year at age 66 of heart failure.  To the younger readers 66 years may sound old, but I promise that the older you get - the younger that will sound.

Tip #2 The following spices are good for use on fish -curry powder, dill, dry mustard, lemon juice, rosemary, marjoram, lemon pepper, thyme, paprika- experiment!

Heart Healthy Recipe - Mediterranean Baked Fish
Adapted from a recipe from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

1 lb fish fillets (sole, flounder, or sea perch)
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 can (16 oz) whole tomatoes, chopped up and drained, reserve juice
Note: I prefer to use some of the herb flavored diced tomatoes instead of whole
1/2 cup reserved tomato juice
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced ( I don't use the garlic simply because I don't like it)
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp fresh orange peel, grated (I don't use the orange peel.)
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
(A prepared italian herb mix can be substituted for the last four herb ingredients.)
black pepper if desired

Heat oil in large skillet.  Add onion and sauté over moderate heat for 5 minutes or until soft.  Add all remaining ingredients except the fish. Stir well and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. 

Arrange fish in 10- by 6-inch baking dish. Cover with sauce.  Bake uncovered at 375 ºF for about 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Yield: 4 servings

Serving size:
4-oz fillet with sauce
Each serving provides:
Calories: 178
Total fat: 4 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 56 mg
Sodium: 260 mg
Total fiber: 3 g
Protein: 22 g
Carbohydrates: 12 g
Potassium: 678 mg

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Angels of Venice by T.R. Foster Link for Angels of Venice

Angels of Venice by T.R. Foster is a combination police crime drama, mystery, thriller, and horror story. Set in the small impoverished town of Venice, a haunting past of serial murders has come back a generation later. Could they be the product of a childhood imagination or something beyond imagination? Chief of Police Eliza Hamilton has a past and a present with the murders in town as her life reconnects with a childhood friend.

T.R. Foster creates an interesting location in the town of Venice. The descriptions of the abandoned buildings and a former religious settlement added to the haunting creepiness of the story. In the beginning, the town of Venice could be any rural small-town location. Only as the story progresses does the troubled past of murder and mystery set this town apart.

I enjoyed the story and thought it was a good horror story, but there was no character that I really cared about. The chief of police could have been a strong female character, but her weakness for a battering ex-husband did not appeal to me. The mystery aspect was intricate and I felt like some of the “dots”  were not fully connected by the end.

I still enjoyed the story and recommend Angels of Venice for fans of a creepy good read.

About the Author:

T. R. Foster is a former Air Force test engineer, has a degree in Nuclear Engineering, and a master’s degree from Georgia State University in high-energy theoretical physics. He has four completed novels with two in the works. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and dogs. His website is here: T. R. Foster

A review copy of Angels of Venice was provided by PublishingWorks, Inc.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Giveaway - At Home With Laurie Ann by Laurie Ann McMillin Ray

Congratulations to chocolate and croissants at yahoo dot com, the winner of the book and candle giveaway.  The winner has been emailed and has 48 hours to send a home address. link for At Home With Laurie Ann by Laurie Ann McMillin Ray 

Giveaway instructions below:

My Review:              
At Home With Laurie Ann is a lovely decorating book with tips and instructions from a professional decorator. Her practical style and cost-saving ideas allow the reader to create a home haven in their own style. Laurie Ann begins with a basic 9-point questionnaire to help decide your individual decorating needs.

Ideas in the book cover themes, color, walls, furniture, floors, and windows. There are suggestions for each room, including an office. There are even make-over tips for the exterior of the home.
There is actually so much more in this book. She has holiday decorating ideas and even recipes for each occasion. (I have to try the Orange Cake). The photographs in the book are very well-done, plentiful, and the book is printed on high quality paper. At Home With Laurie Ann is a beautiful and useful book.

About the Author:  Laurie Ann McMillin Ray has been involved in the Southern California interior design community since the 1980s when she began decorating model homes for her father, well-known builder Corky McMillin. Since that time she has built a solid reputation as both an interior designer and the owner of several decorating stores. She is a self-taught, innovative go-getter who is known for her eclectic style.

The giveaway is for one winner to receive 3 items: A copy of the book, the Candle with Cross (pictured below), and a set of mini candles (no picture of the mini candles)

How to Enter:

This contest is for U.S. only and no P.O. Box addresses .
Post comments for:
+2 entries for a follow
+1 entry for your favorite decorating tip
+2 entries for tweeting about contest (leave link) Tweet-This link at end of post.
+3 entries for blogging about contest (leave link)
You MUST leave your email address with each entry. Contest will end midnight of  March 7, 2010
Winners will be chosen by randomizer.
The winner will have 48 hours to respond with your name and address.

A copy of At Home With Laurie Ann was provided for review.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where is God? By Dr. John Townsend link for: Where is God? By Dr. John Townsend

My Review:
In our darkest hours we cry out to God “Where are you?” It often doesn’t matter how close our relationship has been, in those days of heartache, we don’t always see His work or feel His presence. Having lived in that darkness, I am drawn to books that offer help for the suffering Christian. There are only a handful of books written for struggling or suffering Christians that I recommend. This book, Where is God? by Dr. John Townsend, is one I will highly recommend.

Spiritual pain is often worse than physical pain. Dr. Townsend understands the intensity of the problem and gives solid scriptural counsel. He offers hope and understanding without condemnation for the suffering Christian. His scripture based message is one that makes sure the reader understands who God is and how He stays with us even when we don’t feel His presence. Dr. Townsend explains that we often have a distorted view of God and it is those views that often cause us to struggle with matters of faith. I think this was the most interesting part of the book and reminds us not to try to make God fit into our own images of Him.

This is a book I would recommend for those going through trying times, for church libraries, for anyone that offers counsel, or is interested in Christian psychology.

My only point of disagreement with the author occurs in his Appendix: Books on God and Suffering. He recommends a book called Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey. I reviewed this book on this site and it is one I would not recommend. My review of Yancey's book is here.

Heart Healthy Monday - Never too early Never too Late to learn

Learn more about heart disease in women at the National Heart and Lung Institute.

Heart Healthy Tip: 
This one I do all the time. Remove fat from homemade broths, soups, and stews by preparing them ahead and chilling them. Before reheating the dish, lift off the hardened fat that formed at the surface.

Heart Healthy Recipe:   NOTE:  I add sliced red or green seedless grapes to my chicken salad.
Chicken Salad:

3 1/4 C chicken, cooked, cubed, skinless
1/4 C celery, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp salt*
3 Tbsp mayonnaise, lowfat
*Reduce sodium by removing the 1/8 tsp of added salt. New sodium content for each
serving is 127 mg.

1. Bake chicken, cut into cubes, and refrigerate.

2. In large bowl, combine rest of ingredients, add chilled chicken and mix well.

Yield: 5 servings
Serving size: 3/4 cup
Each serving provides:
Calories: 183
Total fat: 7 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 78 mg
Sodium: 201 mg
Total fiber: 0 g
Protein: 27 g
Carbohydrates: 1 g
Potassium: 240 mg

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Khan Dilemma by Ron Goodreau link for The Khan Dilemma by Ron Goodreau

Book Description: Las Cruces, California is a gritty town full of political corruption and social turmoil. The District Attorney, Rich Danko, is in the midst of a federal probe when a cabal of Washington, D.C. elites, fronted by a sinister FBI agent named Ross, takes an interest in a local double homicide. A young Muslim suspect has murdered two mysterious businessmen in a quiet, upscale neighborhood and for some reason the administration is scrambling to cover it up. Max Siegel lands the case and gets caught in a spiraling vortex of deadly intrigue with a dangerous mix of characters that threaten to consume his career and his life!

My Review:  The Khan Dilemma by Ron Goodreau is an interesting and exciting political thriller. Mr. Goodreau’s plot subjects of are realistic enough to be seen daily in today’s newspaper headlines. The plot moves at a good pace, and the story has a good blend of dialog and storytelling. People and place descriptions are thorough without being overdone.

The book started slowly for me, and although the character of Max was likeable enough, none of the characters really stood out. They were typical for this type of novel, but none of them had a boldness of personality that would create an intense interest for me. I was initially confused by the term “sap” and had never heard of this term referring to a weapon, so I guess I learned something.

I recommend The Khan Dilemma to anyone who likes a gritty crime/political thriller story.

About the Author: Ron Goodreau is a deputy district attorney in Stockton, California, presently living in Sacramento. He is an Air Force veteran with degrees in government and law.

A copy of this book was provided for review

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Decorating with Papercraft by Clare Youngs

With so many beautiful papers in our local craft stores I couldn’t wait to try some of the projects in Decorating With Papercraft: 25 Fresh and Eco-friendly Projects for the Home by Clare Youngs. With the help of just a handful of inexpensive tools and the techniques explained in the book, I was easily able to create some of the projects. When reviewing a craft book, I like to try out the patterns and instructions to see if they are easy to follow. I made three projects (pictures below) : a tea light lantern, a paper bowl, and a book page flower.

First I made the tea light lanterns using three types of papers. This is one of the easier projects, and it turned out beautifully. As described in the book, I sewed the layers together to give it a much nicer look.

Next, I made the paper bowl, not really meant to store anything, just a lovely simple form. I expected this one to be much more complicated, but it was not. It was a fun and easy project made with strips of paper that turned out very well, and now a special necklace rests inside.

The last project I tried was the paper flower made from pages of an old book. This one was a little more difficult for me because it had to be manipulated (and I am not all that patient), but the directions were very clear and in the end I like the way it looked.

I am not finished with the book yet because there are two mobiles, one with birds and one with airplanes, which I still want to try. The instructions in Decorating with Papercraft are clear, the diagrams and photographs are very well done, and there are quite a few fun projects for all skill levels. There are several projects that would be fun to work on with children, such as the paper garland and the festive piñata.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Heart Healthy Monday with recipe

Whether you are 20 years young or 70 years old it is never too early or too late to start a heart healthy routine.  Here is a link to an article on the  ABCs of Preventing Heart Disease, Stroke and Heart Attack.

Healthy Hint:  Try to consume no more than 6 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of table salt a day.

Heart Healthy Recipe:

Chicken Marsala

1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C flour
4 (5 oz total) chicken breasts, boned, skinless
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 C Marsala wine
1/2 C chicken stock, fat skimmed from top
1/2 lemon, juice only
1/2 C mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1. Mix together pepper, salt, and flour. Coat chicken with seasoned flour.

2. In heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil. Place chicken breasts in skillet and brown on both sides, then remove and set aside.

3. To skillet, add wine and stir until heated. Add juice, stock, and mushrooms. Stir, reduce heat, and
cook for about 10 minutes, until sauce is partially reduced.

4. Return browned chicken breasts to skillet. Spoon sauce over chicken.

5. Cover and cook for about 5–10 minutes or until chicken is done.

6. Serve sauce over chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Yield: 4 servings
Serving size: 1 chicken breast with 1/3 cup of sauce
Each serving provides:
Calories: 285
Total fat: 8 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 85 mg
Sodium: 236 mg
Total fiber: 1 g
Protein: 33 g
Carbohydrates: 11 g
Potassium: 348 mg

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Web of Deceit by Darlene Cox Link for Web of Deceit by Darlene Cox

Even as a poor young immigrant child Peter Brock had a lifelong dream. He never wanted to be poor again so he carefully devised “the plan”. Although he was already well educated and very successful, Peter’s plan continued as he brought his friends into the intricate Web of Deceit he created. All seemed to be going as planned until two murders occur.

I enjoyed the complex plot as both a financial crime story and a murder mystery. I was never sure who was going to end up on top, or still alive for that matter, until the end. Each character had a background story that explained just how and why they ended up in the plan. There were many twists to the story, and each character developed as the story progressed. This is a mystery has it all, diamonds, international crime, greed, suspense, thievery, murder, and revenge.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Angels by Dr.David Jeremiah link for Angels by Dr. David Jeremiah

Angels have become a part of pop culture today with many misconceptions of what they are and their purpose in our lives. People have imagined fanciful ideas of what they want angels to be. Dr. David Jeremiah has taken a who, what, where, when, why and , how approach from scripture to explain what our proper relationship to angels should be.

Taking examples of angels from scripture the author reminds us of some very interesting facts. For example, angels are always one-way messengers. They are God’s messengers to us and never our messenger to God. Although we do not know how many angels there are, Dr. Jeremiah explains from scripture that there are multitudes – innumerable.

There is an explanation of how and where angels appear to man and several stories of modern day likely appearances of angels in protection of people. The description of fiery beings surrounding missionaries is a fascinating story. The most powerful to me was the chapter “Coming to Take Me Home” which not only moved me to tears, but gave me great peace at the same time.

This is an interesting and thoughtful look at angels that will dispel any misunderstandings the reader may have.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
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