My Top 5

I don’t think I have ever posted a “top list” of any kind so I thought I would go ahead and post a “top 5″ that covers a lot of ground. Meaning, I am posting my top 5 on, well, whatever comes to mind as I write! Let’s start with my top 5 favorite historical fiction books! I will list the contestants from number 5 to number 1, because I just love the suspense!

TOP 5 FAVORITE HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS

5.) The Miner’s Lady by Tracie Peterson

The Miner's LadyThe twist and turns in this story is just fabulous!

4.) A Talent for Trouble by Jen Turano

Talent for TroubleThe humorous characters in this book had me LOLing!

3.) Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig

Tide and TempestThe plot and suspense won me over immediately!

2.) A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

A Beauty So RareNot sure what I like more, the cover or the characters…..

And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Number 1 is……..

Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

Into the WhirlwindOh the cover, the plot, the characters, the humor, the suspense, the action, the drama, it is soooooo good!

TOP 5 LEAST FAVORITE BOOKS EVER!!

An interesting top five, I know, but I like to be interesting! (number 5 least fav means I liked it better than number 1…..just thought I would clarify…)

5.) Marry Poppins by T. L. Travers

Marry PoppinsNot sure if I didn’t like this because I saw the movie first or what, but I know I will never read it again!

4.) Heartland: Coming Home(book 1) by Lauren Brooke

Heartland, book 1It has been a while since I read this book, but I remember hating this girl’s attitude and it never getting better….

3.) (not sure if this is cheating, but…) Heartland: After the Storm (book 2) by Lauren Brooke

Heartland, book 2After reading the first, I decided to try book 2 just to see if the series got better, but I read this and couldn’t stand the plot, the characters or the way it was written. Needless to say, I haven’t read the rest of the series and highly doubt I ever will.

2.) Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover

Firstborn by Lorie Ann GroverI will just say, read my review!

And the number 1 book to stay away from is….(That kind of sounds harsh…..hmm… let me rephrase) The number 1 book that I least enjoyed (there, that sounds better) is,

Night Riding by Katherine Martin

Night RidingThis book is terrible! I had picked it up at a garage sale but it didn’t have a description, so I thought I would try it and see if I liked it. Well, turns out it is all about a neighbor girl who is sexually abused by her father….I got about a fourth of the way into the book before I threw it away, so I don’t know what happens in the end, but just reading that much was too much for a lifetime.

TOP 5 FAVORITE COLORS

5.) Purple!

purple1Yes, any shade of purple easily fits into the number 5

4.) Deep, Dark, Royal Blue! 

blueAnd it must be this shade!

3.) Bright Red (some call it “Blood Red”, but that sounds kind of gory..)!

red

2.) Bright, Bright, Bright Neon Orange!

OrangeThis is good, but it needs to be just a tad brighter….

1.) My all time favorite color (which you would have laughed at about two or three years ago when I would get seriously offended if you gave me anything this color) is………

PINK!

PINK Hot pink is my favorite, but I also love bubble gum, really light, and every other shade out there!

I am running out of ideas….Oh! Got one!

TOP 5 FAVORITE KINDS OF SHOES

5.) Exotic (no, I would never, ever, ever wear a pair, for fear of breaking my entire body should I try to stand, but they are cool to look at!)

Exotic 1

Exotic2

Exotic3This is just scary!

4.) Flip Flops (the comfier and cuter the better)

flip flop3.) Tennis Shoes (I love Nike, but they hurt my feet, so Sketchers is my main choice)

tennis shoeAnd yes, the brighter the better!

2.) Fuzzy Boots (Living in Texas, I don’t get to wear these often….)

Fuzzy Boots

1.) Cowboy Boots (Living in Texas, I wear these with everything!)

bootI have a pair nearly identical to these!

Well, that is all I can come up with for right now, if you would like to know anymore of my “top fives” just leave a comment! Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing!

Book Review: A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

A Beauty So Rare

The Synopsis:

Eleanor Braddock, a spinster–plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty–has long since dismissed any hope of marriage. But when a dying soldier whispers his final words, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. But this compassionate deed takes a harsh turn, and Eleanor finds herself dependent upon the richest woman in America and the most despised woman in Nashville–her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, mistress of Belmont Mansion. A clandestine act of kindness leads Eleanor to an unlikely path for her life–building a home for destitute widows and children from the Civil War. And while Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve.

Gerhard Marcus Gottfried, Archduke of the House of Habsburg and fourth in line to the Austrian throne, arrives in Nashville in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Collaborating with botanist Luther Burbank, Marcus seeks to combine his own passion for nature with his expertise in architecture. But his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widow’s and children’s home run contrary to the wishes of practical, frugal Eleanor, who sees his ideas as costly nonsense.

Yet as the construction project continues, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground–and a love neither of them expected. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor to marry, and even if he were, someone who knows Marcus’s secrets is about to reveal them all.“

My Review:

This book is fantastic! Absolutely in my top 5! I knew this book was going to be good as soon as I saw the cover (about the cover, I have always wanted to know how the covers are made so perfectly to match the book, well, here is a blog link to the photo-shoot that was taken specifically for A Beauty So Rare. Enjoy!)

Okay, to my review! The characters in this book were amazing! If you have been following my blog for a while, you probably have it figured out that the characters are always the first thing I look for in a good book, and these were some of the best I have ever read about! The story itself also kept me reading and I loved the setting.

Subplots are also a big deal to me, I sometimes find myself wishing for the subplot to be solved before the overall story is complete! Anyways, A Beauty So Rare has one of the best subplots I have ever read. It wasn’t overwhelming the story but you were reminded of it every now and again, keeping you hoping for a good ending. It was also surprising, totally did not see it coming!

The only things that might keep this book at an older audience, are:

A background character commits suicide, but there are no details whatsoever, no one even knows why this characters did so… Also, there is kissing and a few “thoughts” on being married on Eleanor’s part, but those are very few.

Again, I loved this book and highly, highly, highly, recommend it to anyone and everyone!

“I received this book from Bethany House publishing for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are my own.”

Poetry

Poetry. Poetry is an art, an art that improves only upon practice.

Some are born with a gift, you say. The gift of bringing words together with a tenderness and sweetness, that the reader easily understands and feels what it is the poet is trying to say. But what, truly good, is that gift without practice? How shall one even know if he or she should possess a gift without practicing it first? Therefor, art itself is a gift, given only to those who practice it, and appreciate it, and take it.

Yes, I agree, some are more talented than others, and yet again more passionate, but all hold in common one small thing; a difference that cannot be matched. No two artists are the same, so why compare? What one holds beautiful, the other tosses away. What one considers priceless, the other considers a waste of time. Why do artists dwell on pleasing an audience, by throwing away or re-writing the masterpiece that was already made? While instead they should enjoy what was created and share it with those who are dear to them.

Poetry is an art, an art that improves only upon practice. I have practiced poetry in the past, some of you may have received a Valentine with one of my “Roses are red, Violets are blue” poems that were quickly written. But, however quickly written they were, I was still granted a smile, a hug, and even a few tears.

Poetry. It is a gift I have decided to take, not only for myself, but to share with those that are dear to me.

Poetry. It is a pleasantry that I enjoy practicing, only hoping that you enjoy reading. For I will not re-write for your pleasure, if I did, it would not be mine.

Written by Rayleigh Gray

A Beatuy So Rare Recipe!

If you frequently look at my sidebar, you would know that I am currently reading A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander (and I am loving it! I’m not even halfway through it and already it is one of my favorites!).

A Beauty So Rare

Well, I have the opportunity to share a recipe that is made in the book, Eleanor Braddock’s Savory Custard (this is really Tamera Alexander’s recipe, you can visit her blog at www.tameraalexander.com), as described in the book! I tell you, the way this is described in the book made my mouth water, but seeing the pictures to the actual dish, oh my! I hope to make it soon! Below are the pictures as well as the recipe, enjoy!

ABSR1

ABSR3

Eleanor Braddock’s Savory Custard

Ingredients
1 old-fashioned unbaked pie crust (recipe below)
1 large onion, diced (or sliced if you like larger pieces of onion in your savory)
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound cooked ham diced into cubes (if using bacon, use 8 slices, fried chewy, not too crisp)
8 large eggs
1-1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste (I always go heavier on the pepper, personal preference)
1 3/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions
Sauté onion in the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Chop the ham into bite-sized pieces (or fry your bacon until chewy, then chop). Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pie crust and press into a deep dish pie plate. A medium-sized iron skillet works wonderfully for making a savory custard (and is what Eleanor used). The crust comes out divine. I just happened to use a pie plate this time.

Whip the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then mix in the onions, ham (or bacon), and cheese. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Cover the pie plate (or skillet) lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown. QUICK BAKING TIPS: The quiche may still seem a little loose when you first remove it from the oven, but it will firm up nicely once removed from the heat. Also, watch that lovely crust so the edges don’t get overly brown. I use a silicone pie crust shield if that starts to happen. Those are a fabulous invention (but foil crimped around the edges works just as well).

Remove from the oven and allow the savory custard to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before diving in. It’s so good, and just like Eleanor Braddock would make. It’s also delicious left over and warmed up the next day.

 

Eleanor Braddock’s Old Fashioned Pie Crust

1 ½ cups Crisco (or lard)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
5 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, using a pastry cutter (or two knives will do the job), gradually work the Crisco into the flour for 3 to 4 minutes until it resembles coarse meal. In a smaller bowl, whip the egg and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of ice-cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir gently until all ingredients are blended well.

Halve the dough. Form 2 evenly-sized balls of dough and place each into large sealable plastic bags. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each to about 1/2 inch thickness to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you’re using the crusts immediately, it’s still a good idea to let them chill in the freezer for about 15- 20 minutes. They’ll be much easier to work with.)

When you’re ready to roll the dough for your crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes (if it’s frozen). On a well-floured surface, roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough if it’s too moist. If the dough starts to stick to the countertop, use a metal spatula and gently scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie plate (or iron skillet).

Using a spatula, carefully lift the dough from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. (I sometimes fold my well-floured dough in half and then “unfold” it onto iron skillet. Or you can lop it over your rolling pin. That works well, too.) Gently press the dough against the sides of the pan or skillet, getting it all tucked in. Then crimp the edges in whatever way you prefer. And now, you’re ready for that yummy savory custard filling above, or maybe for a fruit pie.

If you make this recipe (or if you’ve read A Beauty So Rare), I’d love to hear from you. You can write me through my website at http://www.tameraalexander.com/contact.html.

Book Review: Cloak of the Light by Chuck Black

Cloak of the Light

The Synopsis:

Tragedy and heartache seem to be waiting for Drew Carter at every turn. Sydney Carlyle, a mysterious and elusive girl offers encouragement through her faith, but Drew is too logical and scientific to believe that her prayer of healing was anything but coincidental in the restoration of his eyesight. As his sight returns, he discovers that the accident has heightened his neuron activity, giving him skills and sight beyond the normal man. When he begins to see fierce invaders that no one else can see, he questions his own sanity, and so do others. But is he insane or do the invaders truly exist? The only one who can help him, his genius friend Benjamin Berg, has disappeared. In Drew’s quest to find Ben, he discovers that the invaders themselves are at war, for his efforts to thwart the devastating actions caused by the dark invaders are aided by invaders with a different nature. Time grows short as the dark invaders close in on Drew. With skills that no other man possesses, and help from Benjamin and Sydney, Drew initiates a plan to expose the invaders to the world.

My Review:

My sister MaKenzie will be reviewing this book today, because she begged and begged and begged to read this book before I did, so, being the darling, sweet big sister that I am, I let her read it first!

I, being a rather large fan of Chuck Black, was thrilled when I heard that he was coming out with a new series. What I love about his books is that all aspects tie in and are perfectly in sync with the Bible, this however does not take away from the action.

I loved this book, it is fantastically written, well put together, and has a great adventure level. It was written mainly at a high-school level however and I would not recommend this book to younger audiences. It has some violence but none too detailed, no language or other offenses. I give this book a full five stars and can’t wait for the next one to come out!”

Well, there you have it! A great read that is recommended to all Chuck Black fans!

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are my own.”

Book Review: When Others Shuddered by Jamie Janosz

When Others Shuddered

The Synopsis:

“Travel back in time to turn-of-the-century America. Skirts trailed the floor, hats were a must, and corsets were commonplace. People traveled by horse and carriage, locomotive, or ship. The first skyscrapers were built. The World’s Fair arrived in Chicago.

Life was swiftly changing in the United States, but for most, it was also difficult. Men and women flooded cities in a desperate search for work. Former slaves fled north seeking freedom and education. Crime began to rise as brothels and saloons became commonplace in American cities.

It was in this world that Fanny Crosby, Mary McLeod Bethune, Nettie McCormick, Sarah Dunn Clarke, Emma Dryer, Virginia Asher, Evangeline Booth, and Amanda Berry Smith lived and worked and served. They were ordinary women called to serve God. They followed His leading, risking their own safety and reputation. In doing so, they changed the world forever.

The stories of these eight historic, faithful women will change your life as well as you see what God can do through the willing hearts of ordinary women.”

My Review:

This book was great! It was written very well and I love the way it is laid out. It is not like a biography that just talks about facts or what that person did, it is written in a fiction sort of way, telling the story of each woman. The book is also little, so you are not intimidated by endless words of nonfiction (I am a fiction gal, so if I pick up a nonfiction book, it either never gets finished or it is very small….)

Each woman has three chapters to herself, starting with their childhood, then progressing into the rest of their life. There are quotes from each woman filled throughout the book, as well as favorite scriptures, and accomplishments.

I really enjoyed reading about these women and I encourage you to pick up a copy! It makes for a great history substitute!

“I received this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are my own.”