Review Time: Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer

wires-and-nerve-by-marissa-meyer

wires-and-nerve-by-marissa-meyerIko from The Lunar Chronicles, finally gets her chance to shine.  From servant robot to a glitch that makes her love ‘girly’ fashion and romance; followers of the Lunar Chronicles have watched Iko lighten the mood and win the day with her dependable, peppy, and courageous personality.  In this graphic novel, we see Iko developing into an individual, full of nerve and sass, ready to protect her friends at all cost; even if it means losing a few wires in the process.  Her humanity is called into question; Is it personality and spirit that make us human or only flesh and blood. Can programmed cyborgs possibly be human? (This reminded me of Mr. Data’s dilemma in Star Trek.) Overall a clean read with some violence (Iko is hunting rogue wolf warriors who are killing humans), plus lots of party dresses and fashionable shoes. Fans of the original Marissa Meyers books will get to see their favorite characters again as well as meet new ones.  Cliff-hanger alert – let’s hope we don’t have to wait long for the finale!Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Valentine’s Day Review: Operation Valentine by Elizabeth Maddrey

operation-valentine-by-elizabeth-maddrey

operation-valentine-by-elizabeth-maddreyJane Austen is the portrait of romance and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to read a contemporary story based on Austen’s Persuasion!  Annabelle Elliott is a programming whiz, but her life is lack-luster.  Six years earlier she was persuaded to call off an engagement to her college sweetheart, Rick Wentworth.  Rick has returned from an overseas assignment only to find his vacation puts him in direct contact with Annabelle; the girl he would like to forget!  Some matchmaking friends from Operation Mistletoe are determined to get these two together, but with both of them dating other people, and dealing with Annabelle’s disapproving parents, can they possibly work out their differences?  Or will they be persuaded to give up the second chance that God has given them?

This is a sweet novella by fellow Virginian, Elizabeth Maddrey, features a wonderful Austen-like Valentine ending.  I’m looking forward to reading Operation Fireworks!

Recipe Time: Overnight Oats

oats-1

I’ve been putting on a few pounds over the last few months.  Some because of the holiday feasts, but some because I have had back and hip pain and can’t exercise like I normally do.  I realized that if I couldn’t exercise then I need to cut back on my food intake, especially the rich and fatty food intake.  But, “dieting” never works for me.  Soooo, I’m trying a few healthier recipes in hopes that I’ll feel better and hopefully lose those few pounds that I picked up.  Overnight Oats is one of the breakfast recipes that I found that sounded versatile and tasty.  It cuts out the butter and processed sugar of my normal oatmeal, and jazzes up the taste with Greek yogurt, fruit, nuts, and honey, or whatever toppings you prefer.  The best part – No Baking!   Here is the recipe that I picked up from  http://kroger.inspiredgathering.com/recipes/overnight-oats

Psst…I added a few of my own photos at the end of the post.  The recipe is very quick and easy to mix.  I actually made a double batch to save time and energy in the kitchen.  Give it a try and let me know what you think and what your favorite fruit and protein combination is!  

Overnight Oats

Created by: Crystal Owens, A Pumpkin & A Princess

For me, a new year means new goals and lifestyle adjustments to get back on track after the holidays. Meal planning has always been a great way to stick to my diet and make the best possible food choices available. One of my favorite breakfasts is overnight oats.

This easy breakfast can be adjusted with fruit and protein of your preference. Simply combine old fashioned oats, Greek yogurt and milk in an airtight jar overnight. By morning, the oats will have absorbed the liquid and you can top them with fruit, chia seeds, nuts, granola, peanut butter – or whatever you like. The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup old fashioned oats (not instant)
  • ⅓ cup Greek yogurt (vanilla or plain)
  • ⅓-½ cup milk
  • Toppings: banana slices, granola, and honey
Directions:

  1. Combine oats, yogurt and milk in a small mason jar or sealed container. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Top with banana slices, granola and a drizzle of honey for sweetness. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

View Party Plan: Healthy New Year

– See more at: http://kroger.inspiredgathering.com/recipes/overnight-oats#sthash.Bc8RbOBQ.dpuf

Here are my photos of the mixing process:  Ingredients, before mixing, after mixing, in carry-out container, in mason jar as noted in recipe.  Enjoy!

Review Time: The Viscount’s Proposal by Melanie Dickerson

the-viscounts-proposal-by-melanie-dickerson

the-viscounts-proposal-by-melanie-dickersonI have been eagerly waiting for this second book in the Regency Spies of London!

Feisty, unconventional Leorah finds herself at odds with the uptight and outdated Viscount Withinghall until an unfortunate accident places them in a compromising situation where they have to work together to overcome a scandal. Leorah reminded me of a few of my favorite Jane Austin character’s: Marianne Dashwood and Elizabeth Bennet. With Leorah’s lively disregard of foolish social mores matched with an outspoken sensibility and unwavering faith, Leorah’s personality gives her a vivacity that captures the attention as her character virtually steps off the page. Edward Withinghall has a bit of Mr. Darcy and Edward Ferrars, being both rigid and prideful, yet attentive to the less fortunate. He has no time for what he perceives is the foolish, scandalous Leorah until he realizes her character may be more noble than his own. I very much enjoyed the combination of personalities and conversation reminiscent of my favorite Jane Austin novels. There is even a bit of Ms. Austen’s Emma in the story when Viscount Withinghall asks Felicity Mayson to dance after she is rudely slighted by a couple of arrogant noblemen. Plus reader’s of A Spy’s Devotion will get to see how Nicholas and Julia are getting along since their marriage.  Ms. Dickerson is hitting her stride in sweet Regency romance, and weaves a delightful story that engages you from the very beginning and holds your attention to the very end. Clean, inspirational romance that would be well suited to young adults as well as adults who are romantic at heart! I received The Viscount Proposal from Netgalley.

Also read book one, A Spy’s Devotion, in The Regency Spies of London and discover Nicholas’s and Julia’s story; and visit www.melaniedickerson.com for a full list of wonderful romance stories!

A Spy's Devotion by Melanie Dickerson

Review Time: Chop Chop by L.N. Cronk

chop-chop-by-l-n-cronk

chop-chop-by-l-n-cronkI could not put Chop Chop down once I started reading it! A precious story about young teens growing up, developing friendships, and maturing in their Christian faith. It was beautiful to watch grumpy David grow and mature and discover what is truly important in life. Laci and Greg are remarkable young people who befriend and support David despite his short-comings and their own weaknesses and struggles. There is a heart-breaking point in the story, and I found myself grieving along with David as he found his way back to God. Very moving story that I would recommend to teens and adults. This would make a good story to discuss as a youth group or Sunday school class. My thanks to L.N. Cronk for providing this touching story for me to read. I also picked up the e-book edition of this book for free on amazon.com.  Check out all the books in this series!chop-chop-series-by-l-n-cronk

Review Time: The Yielding by Tamara Leigh

the-yielding-by-tamara-leigh

the-yielding-by-tamara-leighI have officially become a fan of Tamara Leigh! I thought the first book, The Unveiling, was good, but The Yielding is even better. Beatrix Wulfrith has a beautiful, faith-filled, courageous spirit. Accused of murder, she stands up for the truth even when it could condemn her. Michael D’Arci is embittered by his own past mistakes and over his brother’s death. Though he has gifts of healing he rarely feels compassion and his faith in God has long faded. He longs to see Beatrix suffer for the crime she’s been accused, but as the facts start to prove Beatrix’s innocence, Michael must come to terms with his own bitterness and face the truth that he has misjudged his brother and injured an innocent lady. This book also sets the stage for book three, The Redeeming. Mild sexual references, mild action violence, but otherwise a clean read. Be sure to check out ohter books in the Age of Faith series.

Kansas Brides by Denise Hunter

kansas-brides-by-denise-hunter

kansas-brides-by-denise-hunterDenise Hunter is one of my favorite authors.  I have devoured her books and series to the point I had to slow down just so I wouldn’t go into book withdrawals waiting for the next book.  Her contemporary books are easy to find, but her earlier books…not so much.  Here’s the part where I mention Franklin County Public Library, a wonderful library system that is a viable part of the community, a true gem in the small town of Rocky Mount, Virginia.  They offer a monthly book sale from time to time.  This program is a double blessing as it provides affordable books to readers of all ages and the funds raised by the sales provide free educational and fun programs for the whole community to enjoy.  The last book sale provided several treasures for me, one being all four of Denise Hunter’s Kansas Brides books!  These stories are all set in late 1800’s Kansas around a little country town called Cedar Springs.  Although a bit predictable, you can see the author’s talent and ability to build characters and community that you will want to revisit over and over.

Stranger’s Bride – Sara trades an abusive home for a loveless, but safe marriage on a farm in Kansas with Nathan who only marries her to claim his inheritance.

Never A Bride – Jane has never felt beautiful or pretty.  Teased as a child, she lives with the weight that no one will love her.  Luke Reiley loves Jane’s pretty sister, Cassy.  When Cassy marries his brother, he has to come to terms with his feelings and continue to care for his family’s ranch.  Jane comes to take on household chores to help while the married couple is away.  Suddenly both of these young people come face to face with their anger and fears.  What they discover could bring them both peace or misery.

Bittersweet Bride – Mara is the town debutante and flirt.  She toys with men and snubs people she feels are beneath her.  When her family loses a fortune, Mara has to come to terms with her new reality, one where others are snubbing and laughing at her.  A handsome rancher and his sister reach out to help Mara find her way past the hurt and find a way back to God.

His Brother’s Bride – Cade lost his devoted wife, Ingrid, shortly after she gave birth to their son, Adam.  Emily is a mail-order-bride seeking a family, a fresh start, and  a way to save her grandmother from an unscrupulous uncle.  When she arrives she is devastated to discover that her situation isn’t what she’s expected and now she has a husband who doesn’t want children!