Gourmet Gifts by Dinah Corley

I truly enjoy giving gifts, especially baked ones. Not many people bake nowadays or make special dishes because they are so busy with work and family activities. This is one of the reasons I was so interested in this book. I must admit the “gourmet” was a little intimidating at first. I imagined 10 step recipes with uncommon ingredients and odd combinations. Boy was I wrong and pleasantly surprised!
While the recipes require a little extra effort to make them special, nothing was labor intensive. Ingredients were common and easy to find. Nothing is “strange” or bizarre. I found the recipes to be easy to make and tasty, with an extra attention to detail.
It is a beautiful cookbook! It did not have a lot of pictures of the finished product which I would have liked, but the author more than made up for it in her attention to detail and bonus ideas not usually seen in cookbooks. The cookbook is divided into 6 sections: small tokens, big batches, pennywise, pound foolish (special recipes for the person who has everything), feel better (gifts to nurture and comfort), and special delivery (gifts to mail). The latter
As you can see the chapters are creative, but wait till you see the recipes! I especially liked the section at the end of each recipe named “wrap it up.” Here the author not only gives you a clever, imaginative idea to package and present your gift. This includes instructions and a list of supplies you will need. Every recipe tells you the preparation time, degree of difficulty, cost range, if it can be frozen or shipped, if the recipe can be tripled or doubled and the shelf life. I really appreciated the last detail. I hate to bake gifts and not know how far ahead I can make them or how soon the recipient needs to eat them.
This is an exceptional cookbook! A treasure to own!
I received this book free from HARVARD COMMON PRESS which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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The Bachelor By Stephanie Reed

Seventeen old Betsie Troyer, and her teenage brother and sister, Abijah and Sadie, are left to fend for themselves when their parents leave the Amish faith and move away. They are faced with the shame of their parent’s shunning because they accepted Christ as their Savior. The children pray fervently that their parents will see the error of their ways and return. In the mean time they must carry on with Betsy trying to be both father and mother to her siblings. The pressure she faces is incredible.
Charley, Betsie’s intended beau since childhood, comes frequently to assist with the chores and repairs that require a man. He seems sincerely devoted in helping her, but is he? Michael, an Englisher friend of many years who has moved away continues to write her. She treasures his friendship, as he truly understands her.
To add to her already heavy load, a man she has worked for in the past leaves his 12 year old daughter Shelia to stay with the Troyers. He is leaving town to try and bring his wife back that has left them. This creates conflict not only with her siblings, but also with her church and Charley. A shocking tragedy reveals who really has Betsie’s best interest at heart.
Just when I thought no one could come up with an Amish novel with a unique story line, Ms. Reed has managed to! Most of the time it is the youth leaving the church for the world, but this time it is the parents. I was shocked and upset with her parents for abandoning their children. Especially with all the responsibilities that are a part of an Amish household.
The story was made even more interesting by all the details of the situations the author so vividly describes. So much so in fact, I felt pressure with all Betsie was dealing with! She was a brave and dedicated young woman, but there were so many decisions that she needed her parent’s wisdom for. All in all, she does an incredible job.
The characters were interesting. I enjoyed Shelia. Her youthful innocence, candidness and strong, childlike Christian faith unaffected by others, was delightful! Psalm 8:2, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength . . .” aptly describes this little lady!
As the story progresses, the integrity and motives of each individual was gradually revealed. I liked this because it added suspense, and excitement to the plot. I was inspired by Betsie’s taking every problem and decision to the Lord in prayer. She continued trusting and asking even though circumstances seemed unchanged. Through her trials she begins making her own choices separate from the opinions of other and the rules of her culture.
I did not read the previous book but I feel this one stood alone. I look forward to reading it and the 3rd sequel to come in 2016. Well written, entertaining and hard to put down!
I received this book free from the publisher through Kregel Publications which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Frederick: A Story of Boundless Hope By Frederick Ndabaramiye, with Amy Parker

After you read this book, it cannot help but change how you view your life. We all have problems and sorrows, some tragic. This common ground we share. But how many of us will turn our grief into hope and use the scars that are left as a stepping stone to help others? It is far too easy to sink into despair and focus on our pain. This is the story of one young man that did not.
In 1994 Fredrick’s family was torn apart by the Rwandan genocide. He was only 15 years old at the time. Fredrick was already living in hardship and poverty when blood massacre began in his country. He lost family members and watched horrific atrocities, but that was not where it ended for him.
Fredrick was on a bus to his aunt’s, to help her after the death of his uncle. Terrorists stopped the bus and brutally beat all the passengers, including him. Then handing him a machete, the men ordered him to kill everyone on the bus. He refused and said, “My God won’t let me do that.” Those words of faith cost him dearly. They severed his hands and ordered him to be stoned. God miraculously saved him from death, sent help and lead him to a hospital where there “just happened” to be a surgeon skilled in the type of surgery he needed.
In a country where you must work for your living, having no hands was almost a death sentence. There are no facilities for rehabilitation or therapy. He shares how he struggled through all the emotions, fear, and desperation. When it seemed all was hopeless, he was accepted by an orphanage, where with love and support he healed not only in body but spirit. Through his strong faith in God, he began to teach himself to do things that would be impossible for one with no hands.
Throughout the book you see the hand of God guiding Fredrick to the new life He has prepared for him. The Lord consistently led him to just the people he needed.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity Fredrick was open to God’s plan. He developed a burning desire to help others like him, and he did it with no money, little education, and a devastating disability. You will be nothing short of amazed at all he accomplished.
His life is an illustration of Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Fredrick’s account will forever stay with me, not only in strength, perseverance, and forgiveness, but also in an unfailing trust and faith in Christ. I don’t think I will ever look at my problems and trials quite the same. This is a book you will want to read!
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255