Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book review and Giveaway of As One Devil to Another by Richard Platt

As One Devil to Another is an astonishing debut work that C. S. Lewis’s biographer and foremost Lewis authority Walter Hooper calls “a stunning achievement, the finest example of the genre of diabolical correspondence to appear since this genre was popularized by C. S. Lewis.” Enter into this chilling and diabolical tale, one that reveals the very tricks and strategies of Hell. Through a series of letters between devils created by Platt, senior devil Slashreap trains his young protégé, Scardagger, to win an individual soul away from Heaven and into their clutches. As the devils plot their way to triumph, they reveal the spiritual dangers and risks we face in today’s society. Their frighteningly accurate perspective on issues such as contemporary technology and sexual mores is interwoven with timeless matters such as the power of prayer, the purpose of suffering, and the promises held out by Heaven . . . and Hell. Destined to become a modern classic, As One Devil to Another is a brilliantly written, deeply unsettling perspective on twenty-first-century society . . . a glimpse of ourselves through the eyes of those who have embraced their underworldly existence.

If you like C.S. Lewis' book The Screwtape Letters, then you're going to want to read As One Devil to Another.

If you haven't yet read The Screwtape Letters, you're still going to want to read As One Devil to Another, because it's seriously good.

Richard Platt does an excellent job of  communicating a realistic correspondence between the fiendish devil, Slashreap, and his protege, Scardagger. It feels very real, chillingly so, and never once do you doubt the diabolical nature of their intention to corrupt mankind for their ultimate benefit.

The points Mr Platt touch on are valid ones that hit close to home, and may leave you examining all the ramifications behind every day activities that typically seem harmless. (It also helps that this was written with our current society in mind, and covers issues that we all face on a regular basis.)

As One Devil to Another cleverly illustrates the ways Satan uses any means, especially technology, to draw us away from what we should be focusing on. Occupying our minds is his central mission, and he'll do anything to get what he wants.

I don't know that I'd say this is exactly a fun read, but it's definitely captivating, and one you won't soon forget. It possesses some dark humor, and also some very real darkness that comes just from knowing there are truly forces out there who wish us harm, like the devils referenced here. I found myself mentally and spiritually stimulated by this novel, that while fiction, fairly trembles with realism.

I think this book has the potential to become an enduring classic, much like The Screwtape Letters has, and I say kudos to Richard Platt for creating this fiendishly entertaining, eye opening, piece of literature.

For more info on this book, here is a link that will take you directly to Tyndale House Publishers.


To enter for your chance to win a copy of As One Devil to Another, simply leave a comment below in the comment section, with your email included, so I can contact the winner for their mailing address. This drawing will be open for a little over a week, so you have plenty of time to join, and I'll be announcing the results next Friday, May 4th.

As a way of saying thank you, I'll also award a bonus entry to anyone that already is a follower, or decides to start, following my blog. 

(I'll only be accepting entries within the U.S.)

Thanks so much for stopping by!

As a disclosure, I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review. I also received a certificate for one complimentary copy of this book to be given to the winner of this giveaway.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rosemary Ranch Chicken

Last summer when I went to visit my sister and her family, she made this chicken dish for dinner one night. Omw, it's addicting and lick your plate good!

Grilled squash, zucchini, and a bowl of Jasmine rice were a perfect compliment to go with the chicken and there were definitely no left overs. :)

You also don't need to use skewers-if you prefer, you can simply cook or grill the cut up pieces of meat without turning them into kabobs.

Rosemary Ranch Chicken

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Halflings by Heather Burch

After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret---and the wings that come with. A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys' powers, as well as her role in a scientist's dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world. 

Halfling is the first book in author Heather Burch's Halflings series-and it cranks up the action right away. We start off by meeting Nikki Youngblood, who is currently being chased by some pretty nasty, smelly, creatures called hell hounds.


Well, we really have no idea, and neither does she.

But then the weird factor is upped a notch upon discovering there are three Lost Boys-half angel/half human males-watching the action from a slightly more elevated, and less dangerous, vantage point than Nikki finds herself in.


Well, we really have no idea, and neither does she.

But, thankfully, the pieces start coming together in a relatively swift fashion the quicker you turn the pages and the faster you read.

(And you won't want to slow down because the story kinda sneaks up on you and grabs your attention without letting go.)

Heather Burch has created an interesting, addicting, thrilling, sweet, other worldly, romantic, fun story that, while considered to be in the YA camp, is adult friendly reading too.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Halflings history, as well as each of the boys individual personalities. Mace is a conscientious all around good guy, while Raven is tormented with inner badness, and Vine is totally sweet-both literally and figuratively. (He frequently stops Mace and Raven from multiple "petty" fights, while habitually guzzling down enough Twizzlers to rot his teeth at least a few dozen cavities.)

Nikki's character is a nice combo of motorcycle chick feminine girl emotions that plays well off both Mace and Raven. And that's good, or more likely bad, because they both like her. Which complicates the already complicated things even more. But the most important complication? As a rule, neither of the boys can fall in love with Nikki, unless they want to consign themselves to an eternity of hell. (And by hell, I don't mean the shudder inducing prospect of eternal teenage angst.)

I won't say anything else about the plot because I hate giving away too many spoilers, but the end of Halflings definitely made me want to read the second book, Guardian, which comes out later this year.

This was definitely an interesting novel, one that I'm sure I'll pick up and re-read again in the future.

So, for all you paranormal romance, angel loving, entertainment seeking fans, grab a copy of this book-and maybe some non-sugar candy to nibble on.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Prize of My Heart by Lisa Norato

An unsolved mystery separates ex-privateersman Captain Brogan Talvis from his lost son--his only living relation, his only family. Shortly before her tragic demise, his wife abandoned their infant to strangers, refusing to reveal the child's whereabouts. Now, three years later, Brogan has discovered the boy at the home of a shipbuilder's daughter, Lorena Huntley.

Lorena guards a dark secret about her young charge. She finds herself falling for the heroic captain who has come to claim his newly built ship, unaware his motive for wooing her is to befriend the boy he plans on reclaiming as his own--until the day another's evil deceit leaves her helplessly shipbound, heading toward England.

As the perfect opportunity to reclaim his son unfolds, Brogan is haunted by thoughts of Lorena in her dire circumstance, and he is forced to make a heartrending choice between his child and the woman who has begun to capture his heart. But only his unselfish sacrifice can win him the greatest prize of all--love. 

I won this book several months ago on a blog giveaway, and was excited because I always enjoy reading new authors.

Prize of My Heart was a sweet story, with empathize-able characters who you hope will get their happy ending. Lorena was a mixture of propriety with a bit of spunk thrown in, while Brogan came across as gentlemanly with a few mildly rough edges. I found Lorena's young charge, Drew, a charming lad that you can almost picture wanting to squeeze up, with his plump cheeks and somewhat precocious personality. I also liked the way Lisa handled the faith aspects, as it seemed natural how the character's personal relationships with God were explored throughout.

While there was a nice twist toward the end of the story, I did find the pace a bit slow for my taste. Likewise, there were a few charming moments between Lorena and Brogan, but I didn't feel a lot of "chemistry" between them so to speak. The romance was more of a slow, inward, nature rather than intense sparks/passion.

However, for those who enjoy a calmer, gentler, love story, with a bit of action thrown in, Prize of My Heart may be just what you're looking for. And as I said, it had several twists and turns which made me want to read and find out what the ultimate conclusion would be. 

All in all, Lisa Norato has penned a thoughtful, delicate, novel that most are sure to enjoy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Triple Layer Lemon Pie

Mmm, this was really yummy and ridiculously simple to make! All you need is a graham cracker pie crust, lemon pudding, lemon juice, milk, and cool whip.

I love refreshing desserts, and this kind of reminded me of a lighter "cool whip" version of lemon meringue pie. (One of my favs, btw)

Here's the recipe for Triple Layer Lemon Pie.

Hope everyone had a great Easter! :)

Friday, April 06, 2012

What does Easter mean to you?

“There is a stage in a child’s life at which it cannot separate the religious from the merely festal character of Christmas or Easter. I have been told of a very small and very devout boy who was heard murmuring to himself on Easter morning a poem of his own composition which began ‘Chocolate eggs and Jesus risen.’ This seems to me, for his age, both admirable poetry and admirable piety. But of course the time will soon come when such a child can no longer effortlessly and spontaneously enjoy that unity. He will become able to distinguish the spiritual from the ritual and festal aspect of Easter; chocolate eggs will no longer seem sacramental. And once he has distinguished he must put one or the other first. If he puts the spiritual first he can still taste something of Easter in the chocolate eggs; if he puts the eggs first they will soon be no more than any other sweetmeat. They will have taken on an independent, and therefore a soon withering, life.” – C. S. Lewis

This really hits home for me, as I think Christians often struggle with that tricky duality which holidays bring. 

The spiritual side of us recognizes, and wants to celebrate, the part Jesus represents, while our human instincts want to get caught up in the fun aspects that most of society partakes in.

But, really, do we have to choose only one or the other? Is there a law saying Christians shouldn't decorate hard boiled eggs, hide Easter baskets, or snap a picture of their kids next to a giant, furry, rabbit? Those are all pretty harmless activities in and of themselves, right? 

Just like too much of anything tends to be a bad thing, I think moderation and balance are key.

As C.S. Lewis says, we can have our egg and eat it too. (Ok, that was a bit paraphrased, but you get the picture.) 

Without acknowledging the true reason for Easter, we take away the power of its actual meaning, leaving behind a shallow, rather silly, holiday. Yet when we allow the depth of the Resurrection its rightful first place in our heart, we can also enjoy the trivial parts for exactly what they are.

Because they truly aren't the reason we set aside this particular Sunday once every year. 

No, that honor goes to a man who spent 30 some years of His life as a sinless human being. And then one agonizing day, suffering incomprehendable pain just because the rest of us aren't perfect. 

I always thought the reason Jesus sweated tear drops of blood in the garden was because He knew the torture awaiting Him for hours on end. But I don't think that's true anymore. 

Yes, He knew it would be physical agony, but probably most terrifying of all was having to go from no taste of sin, to bearing the offenses of every single person in the world on His shoulders. While nailed to a cross, no less.

Imagine that for a minute. It would be like taking your healthy newborn baby and heaping the diseases of everyone in existence into their perfect body which had previously known no sickness.

Pretty horrifying.

And God the Father had to watch that happen to His beloved child without intervening.

Had to watch pure evil, anguish, darkness, sorrow, separation, and eventually death, take hold of His Son.

Until three days later, that same death brought about life, eternity, rejoicing, forgiveness, restitution...


That one word is what I'll be celebrating this Sunday, what Easter means to me.

(And in the spirit of that, I'll probably have a chocolate egg to sweeten the day just a tad bit more.)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley

Wow, this is an intense read-and I mean that in the best of ways! I started Garden of Madness last night around 8:00 pm and finished it at 4:00 am. I couldn't put it down, even though I knew I'd be seriously tired in the morning. There is just so much intrigue, mystery, and breathtaking, edge of your seat moments, that I had to see how everything turned out...

Here's the storyline:

For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world.
Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an indulgent palace life. But when her husband dies and a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the macabre death, even if her own newfound freedom is threatened.
As the queen plans to wed Tia to yet another prince, the powerful mage Shadir plots to expose the family's secret and set his own man on the throne. Tia enlists the help of a reluctant Jewish captive, her late husband's brother Pedaiah, who challenges her notions of the gods even as he opens her heart to both truth and love.
In a time when few gave their hearts to Yahweh, one woman must decide if she is willing to risk everything-her possessions, her gods, and her very life-for the Israelite's one God. Madness, sorcery and sinister plots mingle like an alchemist's deadly potion, and Tia must dare to risk all - to save the kingdom, and to save herself.

I have to say, that for me, one of the strongest elements in this book is the way author Tracy Higley evokes a real sense of atmosphere throughout. As Tia experiences layers of various emotions, the reader also shares that same apprehension, tightness in their chest, and dread of events to come. The tension keeps escalating until near breaking point, and you wonder what else can possibly happen.

The descriptions of Babylonian splendor are vivid, and the garden scenes between Tia and the beast like King Nebuchadnezzar, poignant. I honestly dreaded Tia's journeys to the pagan temple, as each visit seemed to pull her further into darkness, a strange madness even. I really felt the spiritual warfare, as good and evil are battling for control of the princess' mind.

However, despite the heaviness of subject, there was welcome relief from the intense oppression as Tia is counseled and prayed over by her trusted Jewish friends Daniel and Pedaiah. (Well, Pedaiah might not exactly be considered "friend" material, as he looks on all Babylonians as unclean idolaters that are best avoided at all cost. Most especially Tia, as he finds himself annoyingly attracted to his late brother's wife, despite his disgust with her excessive lifestyle and false gods.)

I really enjoyed the growing relationship between Tia and Pedaiah, unlikely as it seemed at the beginning. There's a slow, grudging acknowledgement of their mutual, ill advised, attraction, that turns into something really sweet and deep. I loved it. Tracey Higley also balances the religious aspects just right; not coming across too heavy handed, but allowing Tia to gradually see things with her own eyes, rather than be told what to believe.

As I said, the tension is awesome, along with the shiver of foreboding which accompanies you further and further into each chapter. I truly haven't read anything else quite like Garden of Madness, and found it refreshingly unique to explore this biblical story through a new vantage point. I was completely immersed in the world within these pages, and didn't want to leave!

I've not read anything else by Tracy L. Higley, but will definitely be picking up more of her books soon! I highly recommend Garden of Madness as an entertaining, thought provoking, eye opening, read that will stick with you long after you close its cover.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

Wildflowers from Winter is a debut novel by author Katie Ganshert, and it's one I really enjoyed!

While I don't generally pick up a lot of "women's fiction", I quickly found myself immersed in the world of Bethany Quinn and those who populate her home town of Peaks, Iowa.

Here's the back cover blurb:

A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. Determined to pay her respects while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.

Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. So when Bethany is left the land, he must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany's vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.

For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn't seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace she's not even sure exists?

I think Ms. Ganshert does a great job of bringing Bethany to life, plus allowing the reader an honest, tangible, connection to painful circumstances from her past. The inner thoughts and emotions she experiences throughout the story are authentically explored, while not being cliche ridden. I also found the dialogue strong and easy to follow.

The relationship between Bethany and Evan is more of a gentle, steady, buildup rather than the more intense passion I generally go for, but it seemed to fit the flow of the story nicely. As I said earlier, I'd classify this in the women's fiction category, so it definitely covers more life issues, persay, versus placing a heavier focus on the romance aspects.

While Wildflowers from Winter is a slower, more thoughtful read, it definitely held my attention, and kept me wanting to find out how things would wrap up in the end.

I think Katie Ganshert's novel is a welcome addition to the contemporary inspirational genre, and I look forward to reading the continuation of Robin's story in Wishing on Willows.

Read an excerpt
Buy a copy of this book

I received a complimentary advanced review copy of this book from Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.
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