book review

Thanks for joining me in a monthly book review from the side porch of my farm house.  If we are going to be coffee-sipping on the side porch friends, then I must unapologetically confess three of my weaknesses to you right now:  organic lipstick found for a bargain, organic coffee (lattes to be exact), and books.  Some women buy too many shoes; I buy or borrow (from the library) too many books. I am always on the hunt for books that inspire me to grow spiritually and personally.  As I sipped my coffee the other day staring at my bookshelves (note the plural), I thought why not share my recent favorites titles with my readers in the same way that I would share a favorite recipe?  We can have our own monthly virtual book club.  Each time we meet, imagine, that we are sitting on my side porch relaxing in the wicker chairs sipping our lattes (or Earl Grey) bantering about the books.  Eventually, when the Mid-Atlantic,  seasons change and cool crisp weather greets us, we’ll move inside next to the fire.


Once a month, we will meet right here, and I will share with you what I am reading, a brief synopsis of the book(s), a bit about the writer, and a thought-provoking discussion question.  To cap off our time together, I will provide a real food recipe that will make our book sharing time together even more special.  The recipe will be something I would prepare if you were to stop by for an afternoon visit.

As readers, we need tools to help filter out books not worth reading versus the books that should rank high enough for a place on the nightstand.

Tim Challies offers an insightful article on 5 Questions to Ask of a Book Before You Read It.  I encourage you to glance at the post for its straightforward advice about the prudent practice of filtering books before we click the “place your order” button. After perusing his post, print it and tuck it someplace handy as a reminder that as believers we need to be vigilant about what we read.

My usual habit is to have several books going at one time.  The titles, though, stretch across different genres like a book buffet that satisfies several needs at one time.  Click Book List for a printable that will help you maintain an ongoing list of titles as you stumble upon.

The Book Review

Book Banter #1:  Spiritual/Faith Read

I hijacked this gem from my twenty something’s bookshelf.  The forward written by some of my favorite writers like Nancy Guthrie,  & Aileen Challies, Paul David Tripp, Jerry Bridges, Kathleen Nielson, sealed the deal to make this my most recent devotional.  This book keeps on giving beyond the pages of its stalwart prose. Brownback provides a study guide in the back of the book or a free downloadable (if you are one who doesn’t like to mark or mar up your books).  Chapter four, “Wise Women Choose Friends Carefully,” hit home hard for me.  Women, who are typically relational, thirst after female companionship, but do we always exercise wisdom and discernment when forging friendships?  My favorite slice of wisdom that the author offers regarding friendship, ” The primary criterion for choosing a friend is whether the relationship, overall, brings us closer to the Lord.”

In what ways have you followed a biblical model for friendship?

Book Banter #2: Homeschool Read

I picked this title up at a homeschool convention that I attend annually.  I schlepped around the vendor hall looking for an injection of encouragement because it was June, the end of the school year, and my mommy grace levels were alarmingly low. Truthfully, it was the title of the book that drew me in for a closer look at its content.  Each chapter of the book feels like a much-needed reminder that homeschooling is not just about academics rather, as aptly stated by Campbell, “homeschooling is a way of life, if successful, reflects all the one

Each chapter of the book is like a gourmet meal, so I read slowly to savor every word.  From the onset, Campbell serves a much-needed reminder that homeschooling is not just about academics rather, as aptly stated by Campbell, “homeschooling is a way of life, if successful, reflects all the one anothers in scripture.”

How has homeschooling served as a means of developing relationships within your family and with others outside of your family?

Book Banter #3:  Personal Development Read

by Tim Challies

The little canary yellow book with the quirky title is perched in my “Take Action” bin.   Desperate to start the new year off with a better grip on time management, I snatched this title like a voracious tiger mama along with the free, companion 10 Day Productivity Challenge download.  Both tools steered me straight into, do I dare say, an awareness of how much time I wasted because I didn’t prioritize or plan.  Challies suggests using task management and productivity apps like Todoist  and Evernote.  This is the point where the paper and pencil traditionalist, non-millennial side of me stalled.  I downloaded the apps but at this point, they remain as colorful icons on my screen waiting for me to muster the nerve to leave behind my archaic methods of brain dumping on paper and make the millennial leap to storing my life on apps like Evernote.

In what areas do you need help in productivity?

Book Banter Recipe

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Scones

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Scones

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 8-12 scones

As with every recipe, I use ingredients that are as unprocessed and as pure as possible.


  • 2 cups milled hard white whole wheat flour or all-purpose
  • 2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3-4 shakes of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, diced or ghee
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 3 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup of buttermilk or plain keifer, or dairy free (DF) option


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture is the consistency of course crumbs.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk (reserving the white), honey or maple syrup, and buttermilk or keifer or dairy free option until well-blended.
  3. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just enough until dough clings together. The dough may be sticky.
  4. Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface. Shape the dough into a flattened ball. Roll or hand-pat to a circle that is 1/2 thick and 8 1/2 diameter. You will still see lumps of butter in the dough.
  5. Using a floured knife, cut the circle into 8-12 equal wedges. Place them slightly apart on a greased (I prefer coconut oil) baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with egg wash (use reserved egg white).
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a crisp and golden brown.
  7. To Make the Glaze (optional)
  8. 5 tablespoons butter or ghee
  9. 1 cup of heavy cream or coconut milk (DF)
  10. 3 tablespoons of sucanat or coconut sugar
  11. 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
  12. 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  13. In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in cream or coconut milk, brown sugar, maple extract, and cinnamon. Stir until sucanat or coconut sugar dissolves and mixture thickens slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Drizzle over warm scones. Garnish with rolled oats. NOTE The warmer the scones are when you apply the glaze, the thinner the glaze will be.


Adjust the sweetness to your liking. I use as little sweetener as possible. Milled flour will add a different but pleasant texture to the scones.

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  1. Mark Sultenfuss on May 19, 2016 at 6:12 am
    I can't help but be proud of her and grateful to say, "She's mine!".
    • Denise Sultenfuss on May 19, 2016 at 10:17 am
      Thanks for all of your love and support
    • Siobhan McDonald Newman on May 22, 2016 at 9:25 am
      This is SO up my alley! Thanks Mark for the heads-up. Nice to meet you Denise. I am excited to follow you!
      • Denise Sultenfuss on May 22, 2016 at 6:55 pm
        Welcome! Nice to meet you Siobhan. Take a load off and visit.
  2. Shannon Burke on May 20, 2016 at 2:39 pm
    Nicely done Denise!
    • Denise Sultenfuss on May 21, 2016 at 10:38 am
      Books...a forever weakness!

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