Broadway Favorites: Power Couples

It is no secret that I love musicals.  If I could, I would go to New York just to see a show on Broadway.  Today, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite Broadway actors and actresses because they are AMAZING (this will be more videos than commentary, as I think showing you will be more effective than telling).

From Phantom of the Opera, duo Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess, who play The Phantom and Christine, are awesome.  They both have beautiful voices and I could listen to them forever.  Listen to this:

Everything Ramin Karimloo sings is beautiful. For example:

My other favorite Broadway couple is Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. I am dying to see this show! It looks stunning, and the songs are beautiful. I’d give anything to see this show.

Watch their performance at the Tony’s (skip to 0:55):

And because Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana both have voices I just can’t get over, you must watch this video:

They are a wonderful together. That’s all.

So, these are my favorite Broadway actors and actresses.  Who are your favorites?

Cinnamon Crisps Recipe

In Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer, Meredith makes cinnamon crisps for her family. Today, I am sharing this recipe with you.

For the pie crust:
1 ¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water

For the topping:
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Start by whisking the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

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course crumbs

Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons ice water over the mixture. Toss with a fork to moisten, and add more water until the dough comes together. It should look like this:
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Gently gather dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes before rolling out.
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Roll out dough and cut into strips.
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Mix cinnamon and sugar. Brush dough with melted butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  It should look something like this:

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ok, so I am no pro at this, so yours might look different

Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes.  And when they are done, they should look like this:

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the finished product

And then you are done!  Such a simple recipe for a delicious treat.  They are perfect when paired with a hot cup of coffee!

Enjoy. And don’t forget to read Short-Straw Bride.

Review: Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson, 2013

Summary:
Ever since her twin brother died, Madison McKinley has had trouble trusting God and has closed her heart to other people.  Now, a few years later, Madison still struggles to move on with her life without her brother.

Beckett O’Reilly’s reputation as a ‘bad’ guy precedes him, but he has grown into a mature adult who is wholly committed to God. With an alcoholic dad in jail and a grandfather who has dementia and doesn’t remember him, Beckett has a complicated life.

As Madison and Beckett both face the tough issues in their lives, will they be able to open their hearts to each other?

My Thoughts:
Madison has been plagued with nightmares ever since her brother died almost ten years ago. Before he died, Michael’s dream was to be the youngest winner ever of the sailing regatta. So, when the 45th Annual Sailing Regatta arrives, Madison’s greatest desire is to win the regatta for her brother. Somehow, she believes that it will free her from her nightmares and help her move forward with her life. However, she has a hard time seeing that she can only move past this if she gives her worries and fears to God.

This is a story of two people who have a hard time figuring each other out.  Madison and Beckett aren’t always on the same page, which makes for some interesting interactions between the two. Not only are they trying to understand each other out, but their personal lives are filled with difficult struggles that are hard to find solutions to.

There are a few ‘twists’ or ‘surprises’ in this story.  They made the story more complicated and added a layer to the plot. However, the second revelation is a bit of a cop-out to the problem that the main characters face, in my opinion.  There is this huge issue, and then, “just kidding, that’s not what really happened, you’re not at fault after all.”  It just didn’t sit well with me. The problem seemed to go away too easily.

I very much liked the book’s title, Barefoot Summer, and how it fit into the story overall.  I loved the meaning of letting go and feeling everything, good and bad.  And when you are barefoot, you feel everything.

Overall, a good book.  A story filled with the levity of summer and the difficulty of real issues that are hard to work through.

Rating: 3 stars

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”*

Mailbox Surprise from Karen Witemeyer

I was pleasantly surprised a few days ago when I learned that I won Karen Witemeyer’s Writing Desk book giveaway on Tricia Goyer’s blog.  I won her latest book, Stealing the Preacher, and I very much look forward to reading it soon!

But the real surprise happened when I received the book in the mail the other day.  Not only did I receive Karen’s book, but she also blessed me with a some lovely trinkets that I was surprised to find when I opened the package.  This surprise made me want to share what I received with you.  Enjoy!

First, I got this tote bag with the book cover image on the front. How adorable!
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In this next picture, you can see a real flower magnet on the left side.  On the right is a sewing kit for your purse when you are on the go.
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In this next picture are several trinkets.  On the far left, you can see a recipe for Cinnamon Crisps, which is a treat that Meredith makes in Short Straw Bride.  I have read this book in the past and it is my favorite from Karen Witemeyer.  I can’t wait to make this recipe and share it with you!  On the right side there are four bookmarks that are super cute!  I don’t really have any bookmarks around, and I typically use a scrap piece of paper, so these will come in handy!
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Of course, I also received the book, but what really made me happy was that Karen signed it!  I have never had an autographed copy of a book before, and you should have seen how excited I was when I realized that she signed it! Very exciting!
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Isn’t that neat!

With that said, I can’t wait to read this book, and I am so blessed by the gifts I received.  Thank you to Karen Witemeyer for being so generous!

Sidenote: I start my new job tomorrow (!), so my blogging schedule will probably be sporadic for a few weeks until I get used to my new routine.  Stick around, I have some great things planned for my blog!

Review: Though My Heart is Torn

Though My Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof
Multnomah Books, 2013

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group through the Blogging for Books program for this review.*

Summary:
Although they had a rocky start, Gideon and Lonnie are now happily married and are content living in the Blue Ridge mountains with their young son.  But, Gideon’s past comes back to haunt them when Cassie Allan claims that she is Gideon’s rightful wife.

Gideon’s past choices have consequences on his life in the present, and as he is forced to face his mistakes.  As he struggles to accept what life has given him because of his careless choices, not only is his life turned upside-down, but Cassie and Lonnie must also face lives they were not expecting to live.

My Thoughts:
Though My Heart is Torn is the second book in The Cadence of Grace series. Upon picking up this book to read, I did not realize that there was a whole other book about these characters before, so it took me a short time to get my bearings on the story and the characters.  I was a little lost, but this riveting story swept me off my feet, and I was quickly immersed and invested in the characters and their stories.

Gideon ends up with two wives, and the trouble begins there.  His past mistake caught up with him, and it not only hurt himself, but it also hurt Lonnie and Cassie.  As each character goes through this difficult trial, they experience emotional turmoil. It is heartbreaking to watch these characters suffer with complicated feelings and powerful emotions about what has happened to their lives.  The author writes their emotions with an honesty that is beautiful to read.

Each character goes through their own journey in this book. Gideon must learn to accept Cassie as his wife.  Cassie must learn how to be a wife to a man who is angry and loves another woman.  Lonnie must come to terms with the fact that her husband is no longer hers, and she must go on in life alone, and raise her son without his father.  These journeys are difficult and painful, as each character tries to cope with the situation.

But, how do you move forward with a life you didn’t ask for?  When life is turned upside-down, how do you come to a place where you understand what is happening and what that means for your future?  How do you accept what has happened?  These are the questions that are explored as Gideon, Lonnie, and Cassie go through the journey of this book.  They all must face the consequences of past choices.

One quote that stood out in particular came when Gideon and Lonnie were preparing to annul their marriage because Gideon had to be with his rightful wife, Cassie.  Even though Lonnie knew she would no longer be able to call Gideon her husband, she also knew that she could never un-love Gideon.  He was a part of her, and that would never change.  She knows that every day when she looks at her son, she will see Gideon.  In that scene, her love for her husband was described as this: “But the deep places of her heart were rooted and tangled- a love like that could never be undone” (118).  Amidst the pain and hurt, Lonnie’s love for Gideon was a love that would last forever.

Lonnie’s aunt, Sarah, was a character that I liked very much.  She was so loving and cared deeply about Lonnie.  She is someone that Lonnie had warm memories about.  Another character that I became fond of by the end of the book was Toby, the Scottish reverend.  I am very interested to see what happens to him in the next book.

Overall, a lovely book that explored the emotional ups and downs of the trials each character faced.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the third book, and now I must go back and read the first one!

P.S.  Be sure to read the author’s acknowledgements at the end of the book.  I especially love what she wrote to her husband and children. So sweet!

Rating: 4 stars

To learn more about this book, click here.
Want to read chapter 1? Click here.

Review: Trouble in Store

Trouble in Store by Carol Cox
Bethany House, 2013

*I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.*

Summary:
When Melanie Ross is fired from her governess position, she doesn’t know where to go. She has one option: go to Arizona and claim her inheritance of her cousin’s mercantile.

When she arrives and meets Caleb Nelson, they get off on the wrong foot.  Caleb is convinced that he inherited the mercantile, and he doesn’t like the changes Melanie is bringing to the store.

What is his solution?  Marry her off to one of the single men in town and be rid of her.  But, as Melanie and Caleb continue to spend their time together, running the store, will they ever stop disagreeing and find common ground?

My Thoughts:
Aptly named, Trouble in Store is true to its title.  There is plenty of trouble going on at the Cedar Ridge Mercantile. Mysterious notes, tampering with store products, and unexplained deaths plague the owners of the mercantile.  Assumptions are made and rumors fly as the mystery surrounding the mercantile goes unsolved.  Will Melanie and Caleb discover who is causing all this trouble?

This mystery and intrigue occurs in the midst of Melanie arriving in town and trying to settle in as rightful owner of half of the mercantile.  Her unexpected arrival turns Caleb’s life upside-down when she claims the mercantile as belonging to her.  To say they butt heads would be an understatement.  They have conflicting ideas on how to successfully run the store, and they have a difficult time getting along.  Both are stubborn characters, bent on doing things their own way.

I had a difficult time being drawn into the story, as Melanie’s character rubbed me the wrong way, and I felt like there were plot holes, where previous conversations were referenced that the reader did not witness.  Also, scenes that I thought would be important to the storyline were not included in the plot, but were assumed to have happened, as they were referred to later on in the novel. However, this book is a light, enjoyable read with intrigue and a dash of romance.  I enjoyed reading about the daily life and activity of the mercantile and enjoyed this quaint and charming setting.

Rating: 3 stars