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On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service is hands down my favorite read so far this summer.  I wasn't sure exactly what to expect when I first sat down to read it but after the first few pages I was hooked.

Georgiana Rannoch is ready to be married to the love of her life but there is one little snafu.  Georgie is thirty-fifth in line to the British throne and the only way she can marry her love is to renounce her claim to the throne.  The Queen has one little mission for Georgie before she can continue with her wedding plans, and before long she is at a house party in a beautiful villa in Italy.  Georgie is supposed to be keeping an eye on her cousin Prince David and his lady friend Wallis Simpson but soon everyone's attention goes to solving a murder that has happened inside the house.

As the story unfolds everyone becomes a suspect and every time you think you know who could be the murderer there is another twist in the story.  There are parts of the story that are a little predictable but all in all it was such a fun read.  If you've never read any of the other Royal Spyness books, like myself, that is not a problem.  The author did a wonderful job of filling in the gaps so I never once felt lost.

This is the first book that I've read by Rhys Bowen and I can honestly say that I am in love with both the author's writing style as well as her attention to detail.  The imagery is amazing and even though On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service is set in the 1930's, and in Europe, you can see the characters, the villa, and the beautiful Italian countryside.

I would highly recommend On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service to anyone who likes a good mystery.   You fall in love with the characters and genuinely want to know what's going to happen to them.  I plan on reading the other books in the Royal Spyness series and cannot wait to see where the next book takes Georgie Rannoch.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Fearless Food

Anyone who has children understands the daily struggle with food.  We want our kids to be healthy and they want food that tastes good.  The struggle really gets real when one of your children has an allergy to a certain food type.  This brings on a whole other struggle and adds more pressure to your day.

Fearless Food by Katrina Jorgensen is a cookbook that is geared towards children's tastes.  It steers clear of the "Big 8" food allergens and each recipe is supposed to be easy enough that your child could make it with little help from an adult.

I decided since this review is focused on recipes for kids that I would let my 10 and 12 year old boys help me review it.  We all agreed that the overall look of the book was great.  The colors are bright and vibrant and the pictures of each dish are very appetizing.

I wanted each boy to pick out a recipe for us to possibly try and each of them struggled with this task.  When I read through the Table of Contents I found many recipes I would love to try but from a kids point of view they were just not feeling it.  When I asked them what it was about the recipes they didn't like they couldn't really say.  I think it could be that many of the dishes are out of our normal daily eating and that could be what was scarring them off.

As they flipped through the book they would point out a certain recipe that they thought might be interesting but then then would read the ingredients and there would be one item they don't like so they would dismiss it.  Gotta love picky eaters.

What I really liked about Fearless Food was that it had an explanation on what a food allergy is as well as a conversion chart right at the beginning of the book which is very handy.  What I wasn't too happy about was that I thought this book was focused on children as a whole but upon further inspection realize that though the recipes are formatted for children, many of them I would not trust my boys to cook on their own.

All in all, I would say that this is a decent cookbook for what it is.  The layout is clean and easy to read and the recipes are appealing but I wish there would've been more tips for getting your children involved with the cooking process.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

Grace in the Mirror

Who doesn't love a good fairy tale?  What about a fairy tale with a contemporary twist?  That's exactly what you get with Grace in the Mirror by Kristy Tate.

Grace James is a sixteen year old girl who's life has been turned completely upside down.  She is having to move from her home with her mother, older sister, and younger brother and live with her mother's parents in Santa Magdalena, away from her friends.   Grace's father has been deployed which adds to the difficulty her family is facing but then there is the transition to a new town with a new school where she doesn't know anyone.

To help out her family financially, Grace takes a job at an antique shop and soon strange things begin to happen to her.  She starts to hear voices, tiny men are following her everywhere she goes, and she is continuously mistaken for someone named Blanche.

Grace makes friends quickly and adjusts to life in Santa Magdalena, and dealing with her selfish grandparents, as more oddities continue to happen.  The entire story is definitely geared towards a teen audience but intermingled is fairy tale hints which keeps the reader intrigued.

Grace and Brock (the antique shop owner's son) are two characters that you easily fall in love with and root for the entire story.  There is enough mystery to keep you turning the pages, but the ending leaves you with more than a few questions than answers.

All in all I say this was a fun read.  It's definitely a young adult book but it was cute.  The only thing were a few of those unresolved issues that I hope will find resolution in the next installment.  If you love fairy tales and innocent romance with a touch of suspense you will like Grace in the Mirror.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Our Way Home

One of my fondest memories growing up was bedtime.  I know you don't normally hear a child say that, and it wasn't that I loved to sleep, but I loved our bedtime rituals.  My dad would sing us goofy songs and get us all amped up, and then my mom would read us a Bible story.  I loved every moment but the best part was right before we would go to sleep and we would say the Lord's Prayer together as a family.  

When you're a child, you do not realize the significance of the Lord's Prayer.  You are actually speaking to the creator of the universe and the Lord's prayer is God's lesson to us on how we should pray.

In my Christian walk, prayer has always been a struggle and I cannot figure out why.  How can it be hard when God gives you the blueprint to prayer?  In Our Way Home, Daniel E. Paavola walks you through the Lord's Prayer and helps you gain the confidence to pray with power.

All those times that I prayed the Lord's Prayer I didn't really understand the depth of what I was praying.  I had just memorized it and recited it over and over.  Mr. Paavola unpacks each aspect of the prayer and helps you delve deeper into what it means to pray to our Father.

This is one resource that I can see myself going back to over and over again.  As I was reading I was constantly highlighting things that I wanted to remember.  When I sat down to write this review I realized almost half of my book is highlighted!  A wonderful reference and resource!

Each line of the prayer is broken down and explained in simplistic terms.  The analogies that are sprinkled throughout the book paint such a picture in your mind that you will not forget the principles taught.

I highly recommend Our Way Home for anyone who wants to enrich their prayer life and get closer to the Lord.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


I have always had a desire to garden.  Growing up my grandfather had a beautiful vegetable garden in his backyard that I frequently admired and enjoyed the harvest of.  Over the years, I have attempted to create my own little garden with disastrous results.  After each failed attempt I've wondered if it's me or if it's what I'm trying to grow.  It's this reason that I decided to read Harvest by Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis.  Maybe this book could help me realize what has been missing in my gardening endeavors.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the gorgeous photography.  It has a rustic feel to it which is very calm and inviting.  The book is separated into three sections that align with the time of year that you should be planting these certain plants or vegetables.  There is early (late winter to early spring, mid (summer to early fall), and late (late fall to early winter)  For someone who knows nothing about gardening, I found this to be very helpful.

Not only are there vegetables and flowers that are included in this book but other "ingredient alternatives" like Edible Flower Garnishes, Simple Syrup, and even a wreath and garland.  This part had to be my favorite part of the entire book and only wish there were more.  Many of the decorative alternatives most likely will never be used by me but I can see those that do thrive in decorating loving them.  There really is something for everyone in this book.

For those that are knowledgable in gardening, this book could be disappointing but for anyone that is inexperienced like myself I think you will really enjoy it.  Even if you never try anything from the book itself, just flipping through and looking at the beautiful pictures is relaxing in and of itself.  

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

The Mountains of Ararat

Ever since I was a child I have always loved the story of Noah's ark.  Seeing the cute little photos of the animals going in two by two and imagining how it must've been to be in the ark with them for such a long time can set your imagination running wild.

When you read the story you find the account to be so amazing that it couldn't possibly be true but it is!  It really happened and Lutheran pastor Aaron Simms took a trip around the world and up the mountain of Ararat to prove it.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this book.  I love Pastor Simms simplistic writing style and the entire account of his trip with his son and follow brothers in Christ to find the ark.  Interwoven through the story of the treacherous climb up Mount Ararat, Pastor Simms ponders different aspects of the story of Noah and the parallels to the Christian faith.

Many say that this account is a fabricated story and that the proof isn't proof enough but I say that's where faith comes in.  Even if you don't believe the story of Noah's ark to be true, this book is still a wonderful tale of adventure, brotherhood, and overcoming major odds.  Highly recommend!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

The Matchmaking Game

I have been such a fan of several of the books from the Timeless Romance series that when the opportunity to read another in the collection I jumped at the chance!

The Matchmaking Game by Donna Hatch is a historical romance novella about two childhood friends, Rowena and Evan, that, after years apart, realize they are falling in love with each other.  With neither of them wanting to ruin their friendship, they keep their feelings for each other to themselves, though their attraction is obvious to everyone else.

Rowena puts all of her focus on her matchmaking game: trying to unite her father and Evan's mother, two widowers who would greatly benefit from the union, but she cannot shake the feelings that she is feeling for Evan.

Evan is struggling with his own internal struggle.  While at war, he witnesses his best friend die.  His friends dying wish is for Evan to take care of his sister Cynthia when Evan returns home and he vows to live up to his promise.   What does Evan do?  Does he follow his heart or follow his head?

The Matchmaking Game is a cute little love story.  Each character is well developed and the story line is wonderful.   There is plenty of sparks but this is a clean romance which is my favorite kind.  The whole time I was reading I was rooting for love!  If you're looking for a quick read with a good story, great writing, and a lot of love than look no further!  Highly recommend!  

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 
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