Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Falling for You by Becky Wade

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
I generally enjoy reading books that I can read quickly because they work well with my busy schedule and in completing them, there is a sense of accomplishment. But, I also enjoy reading longer books, where I can linger and be part of the characters' adventure for a longer stay. I most recently finished reading the great contemporary romance novel, Falling for You by Becky Wade. With the way that Becky Wade develops her characters and lets things unfold naturally, the reader can't help but feel like they know these people and want to spend time with them, experiencing the highs and lows of their emotions. You find yourself pulling for them to find resolution and happiness.
I liked Wade's utilization of phone calls, e-mail, Messenger, and text message exchanges and text from the contents of Josephine's box at the end of each chapter to help transition and provide more context to the exchanges happening in the story. It not only keeps the story moving, but it also provided another way for her to showcase the witty banter and the flirting between the characters (even if it was one sided early on). It also made the book feel very contemporary, as compared to some contemporary books that are relatively 'timeless' in their setting.

Falling for You was an enjoyable story filled with forgiveness, faith and second chances. There is a nice amount of suspense and mystery within the story, an anticipation that pulls the reader in wanting to know what they might learn next and whether there is a connection. It is when Charlotte asks Willow and Corbin to help her uncover the mystery of her grandma's sister's disappearance that they find themselves partnering and working together for the first time since their break-up. Through the time that they work on the mystery, they are able to reconnect and Corbin is finally able to get time with Willow to have the conversation that they should have had before they broke-up and share with her his perspective on the events leading up to their break up and how he acted. As they spend time together, he shares with her about his discovery of faith, his childhood and caring for his father. As the story winds down, there is still uncertainty, but we see true character shine through and discover the power of forgiveness.

I truly enjoyed this engaging, suspenseful story with characters that I liked hanging out with. I look forward to the next book in this series. (This is the 2nd book in the Bradford Sisters Romance series, but don't worry, it reads well even if you didn't read True to You.)

About the book:

Falling for You

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is reveling in the peace and quiet of her hometown right up until the moment she comes face-to-face with her ex-boyfriend, Corbin Stewart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow is concerned. He's never been able to forget her, but Willow makes it crystal clear she's unwilling to risk her heart again.

When a decades-old mystery in Corbin's family brings them together, will the heartbreak in their past and the complications in their present keep them from falling for one another all over again?

About the author:

Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Christy Award, a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and an INSPY Award. Learn more at www.beckywade.com.


No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Fatal Recall by Carol J Post

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
From the very first page, I was pulled into the story in the recent release from Carol J. Post, Fatal Recall. The pace of the story never slowed, even as the author provided the details necessary to develop the characters and share the back story. I found myself unwilling to put down this suspenseful, action-packed, fast-paced story that kept me wondering what would happen next. The suspense was furthered by the fact that one of the main characters suffered from trauma induced amnesia and was as equally uncertain about what had happened and who was after her.
As the story opens, Tanner Brody is in his kayak on the river, enjoying the peace of the natural setting in his new home state. The peace is shattered, first by gun shots and then by a woman's scream. A police officer, Tanner needs to find out what happened. He soon comes upon a woman who appears to have fallen, who has amnesia and probably a concussion. As he is trying to get her to medical attention, he soon discovers that she is still in danger as someone is following them and starts shooting at them. This danger fires up a sense of responsibility in Tanner, now not only does he need to get her medical attention, but also feels a need to keep her safe and help answer the questions surrounding her. Who is this woman? Who is searching for her and why? What is the box in her pocket? Does the tan line around her ring finger mean she is married or engaged or recently divorced? As the story progresses, the answers to the questions and more are slowly learned.

Fatal Recall is a great suspense novel that does not shy away from themes of faith and Christianity. The author did a great job of weaving in the faith in a believable way. Tanner and Paige each had a difficult youth, causing them to each have trust issues and feel a lack of self-worth. As Paige remembers more about her self, one of the first things she remembers is how her finding faith helped her overcome her past. Tanner, because of his experiences, does not have confidence in God or feel the need for faith, but as he watches Paige and how she has faith in spite of her upbringing, we see him open to the idea and begin to discover faith. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this book from the danger, to the mystery, to the romance, to the discovery of the power of faith.

If you enjoy suspense stories, you should definitely check out this book and the others by Carol J. Post.

About the Book:
Amnesia stole her memory—

a killer wants her dead

When Paige Tatem loses her memory, she knows just two things: she has a target on her back, and police officer Tanner Brody is the only man she trusts to protect her. As they piece together her past, Tanner wonders what lies hidden in Paige’s mind. And as the truth begins to emerge, it becomes clear that a ruthless enemy wants certain secrets to stay buried.

About the Author:

From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol's resume reads like someone who doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She started as a child writing poetry for family and friends, then graduated to articles which actually made it into some religious and children's publications. Several years ago (more than she's willing to admit), she penned her first novel. In 2010, she decided to get serious about writing fiction for publication and joined Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband of thirty-two years, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano and holds the position of church treasurer. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping, almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of three fat and sassy cats and one highly spoiled dog.

You can learn more about the author on her blog.


No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Road Home by Beverly Lewis

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

It's been a while since I have read Amish Fiction, so I was glad to see The Road Home by Beverly Lewis arrive in my mailbox. I think that in many ways, for me, Amish fiction has similarities with both current fiction and period fiction. Given their lifestyles and the old-fashioned courting rituals that they live by, as they live in the modern world and deal with many of the same challenges that others do.

The Road Home was the first book I have read by Beverly Lewis. I liked her style of writing, the way in which she developed the characters and told the story. The book was a nice, easy read with chapters that were the perfect length for picking it up a chapter at a time. The story was sweet, and full of innocence. Lena Rose was thrust into an Amish community several states from home, with different rules and traditions than her own Amish community, and with relatives that she had never met, when her parents unexpectedly died. Separated from her siblings, she had to learn to cope with not being able to help them and be there for them, and find ways to bide her time until she could come home at last. She made some quick friends and quickly became a contributing and liked member of the new community. Lena Rose was hard to not like, such a sweet and considerate person that found many ways to serve others. I found myself hoping that things would turn out well (if not exactly as she anticipated) and found myself with tears in my eyes in more than one part of the story. As the story unfold, the reader saw just how resilient Lena Rose was, as she grew and adapted to her new world.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading other works by Beverly Lewis in the future.

About the Book

As the sun began to rise, Lena Rose leaned against the cool pane of the bus window and gazed out at the familiar landscape of her life. I'm leaving my family and everything I know behind. She sighed, trying to keep her composure.

Grieving the death of her Amish parents and the separation from her nine close-knit siblings, Lena Rose Schwartz consoles herself that her new life in Lancaster County won't be forever. Surely someday soon she will return to her beloved Michigan settlement, including her beau. But even as she holds on to hope for a reunion with those she loves most, she discovers that Lancaster holds charms of its own. Will she find the courage to open her heart to other possibilities?

About the Author

Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, has more than 17 million books in print. Her stories have been published in 12 languages and have regularly appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today. Beverly and her husband, David, live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, making music, and spending time with their family. Learn more at www.beverlylewis.com.


No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Chance At Forever by Melissa Jagears

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Summer sports are in full swing at my house, but I have still found some time to read. I recently finished reading A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears. The book is part of her Teaville Moral Society series, but it reads well as an individual book.

Set in Kansas in 1909, the book follows the story of Mercy, who helps run the local orphanage with her brother and sister-in-law and serves as a member of the local school board, and Aaron who has recently returned to Teaville to try to set things right with those he wronged as a bully when he was child. He has changed since he left Teaville and we meet him as he is applying for a teaching position at the local school. Mercy, one of the victims of his bullying, does not believe he has changed and does not want someone of his like to be allowed to teach.

As fate would have it, while he is waiting on the decision of the school board, he finds a summer job that puts him at the orphanage as the gardener. He sees this as an opportunity to help show Mercy that he is a change man and hopefully, gain her forgiveness for the way he treated her as a child.

The plot was engaging and made the book difficult to put down. The characters were easy to relate to and the type that you wanted only the best for. The story was a touching read that was well written with underlying messages of faith and forgiveness. It included a nice touch of romance and mystery, which were enjoyable and added to the appeal of the story. It was nice to watch how through self-discovery and awareness, Mercy was able to come to realize that she might be wrong that no man could ever love her or choose her as his. As the characters grew through the story, they gained new perspectives about others around them and helped show that it's never too late to turn to God and that through faith and conviction great things are possible.

If you enjoy historical fiction or a simple love story, then this book is for you.

About

". . . heartwarming and sweet . . . compelling . . ."--RT Book Reviews on A Love So True

Determined to protect the children of Teaville, Kansas, from the bullying she experienced as a child, Mercy McClain finds fulfillment working at the local orphanage and serving on the school board. When Aaron Firebrook, the worst of her childhood bullies, petitions the board for a teaching position, she's dead set against his getting the job.

Aaron knows he deserves every bit of Mercy's mistrust, but he's returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking the forgiveness of those he wronged. He doesn't expect Mercy to like him, but surely he can prove he now has the children's best interests at heart.

Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron overcome the past in time to battle the threats against the future of the town's orphans?

About the author:
Melissa Jagears

Carol Award-winning author Melissa Jagears is a homeschooling mom who writes Christian historical romance into the wee hours of the night. She's the author of the Unexpected Brides series, the Teaville Moral Society series, and Love by the Letter, a free prequel ebook novella. You can learn more about Melissa, her books, and where she hangs out online at www.melissajagears.com.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Monday, April 2, 2018

High Cotton by Debby Mayne

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Spring has sprung! Only, those little shoots of spring flowers that were starting to peep through in my flower beds are now being coated in a nice spring snow. I shouldn't be surprised, it seems to be typical here to have one last snowfall before we can really enjoy spring. With spring comes a busy schedule again at my house with sports and end of school activities and shows. While I enjoyed the wind down of the winter, I read the new book by Debby Mayne, High Cotton. High Cotton is the first in the Bucklin Family Reunion Series.
The Bucklin family is a very relate-able family and I really enjoyed the format in which the story is written. The author used the point of view of four female members, by birth or marriage, of the Bucklin family to tell the story, which is set primarily in the weeks leading up to what we learn is a more than once a year family reunion. The use of multiple viewpoints is a great way to engage the reader and provide insight to the family. I love that the reader gets the impression that it is one of those events that no one really wants to go to, but everyone realizes that you can't miss it, or you will be the topic of conversation for the family. This is so real life, how many events and not just family events, do we commit to attend, not out of want but out of obligation. Of course, it also made me appreciative of the family that I have and the closeness we have. I was fortunate to grow up in a family where we spent a lot of time with my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins and I actually look forward to seeing the family, but as we have grown bigger (and older), it certainly is harder to get together, making those opportunities so much more important to me. Of course, there are several things I have attended out of obligation, so I can still relate.

Another 'challenge' for the Bucklin family is that there seems to be a lot of pressure in the family around success, in life and love, and who can make the most and best food for the event. After all, who wants to be that person that shows up with a bag of chips or stack of plates to the family reunion? All four women had an 'image' concerns that they were facing. Some concerns were stuck in the old-fashioned values (or perhaps southern) - a woman should marry, a man should support the family and others were around perceptions of success - having a great job, owning a house. I feel fortunate that we are more inclined to celebrate success and not dwell on our differences. In fact, I don't always see a lot of comparison in my family, but I also know that there is a little bit of that out there, as with most families...my grandma always told me that she enjoyed my wedding the most and I certainly enjoyed knowing that (whether she told us all or not, I don't know, but it doesn't matter because I know she enjoyed mine for sure.

I liked that all four women experienced growth through the course of the story. They came to renewed perspectives on their situation, they learned that the truth is important and that people can surprise you and they recognized that faith is important in their lives. For several of them, they developed stronger relationships with family members. Learning from them and even going into business together. Some entered into new relationships, with promise for the future.

I really enjoyed the way the story was told by the four women. The characters were familiar and enjoyable and the story was filled with a real perspective and a good balance of humor. The multiple points of view led to short chapters, which made it easy to ready in short or long installments. I look forward to the next reunion story in this series.


High Cotton
by Debby Mayne
Bucklin Family Reunion series: Book 1

Some families are filled with so much love they can't help but drive each other crazy.

Shay Henke has mixed feelings about going to her family's next reunion. On the one hand, she'll get to see everyone in her mama's family---folks she loves unconditionally. On the other hand, she knows there'll be more drama than you can shake a stick at.

The days leading up to the event bring one surprise after another. First Shay must deal with her sister-in-law's deep, dark secret. Then she has to contend with the childish ways of her business-mogul twin cousins. And when her high school crush wants to be her date to the reunion . . . well, it may have been a dream come true for Shay's teen self, but the woman she's become doesn't know what to make of this.

Shay's contentment is challenged, and she's determined to shake things up a bit. But will she find the excitement she's looking for, or will Shay realize she prefers her quiet and predictable life?

One thing is certain: Life with the Bucklin family is never boring.

Meet the Author
Debby Mayne writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women's fiction and is the author of more than 60 novels and novellas-plus more than 1,000 short stories, articles, and devotions for busy women. Debby is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce.

Debby grew up in a military family, which meant moving every few years throughout her childhood. She was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so Debby enjoys featuring characters with Southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms. High Cotton is the first book in the Bucklin Family Reunion series.

Learn more about Debby and her works on her site.


You can purchase a copy here.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Wewalka Baking Party and Review #Tryazon #wewalkaparty

As a participant in the Tryazon Wewalka Party, I received an Wewalka party pack which included a coupons to try the product at the party and to share with my guests. All opinions expressed are my own.
Pizza is a staple at our house. We have it on a variety of crusts. We do open face quesadilla pizzas on tortillas, we use leftover buns and bagels to make pizzas, we use bread dough, dough mixes and homemade dough. We top them with all sorts of toppings - simple to complex, sweet and savory. We enjoy it at any meal and as a snack too. So, when I got the opportunity to try Wewalka European Bakery Style Dough, I was excited.

The party pack included an apron and an oven mitt for me and some insulated bags, magnetic shopping lists, Wewalka pens and measuring spoons and coupons for product to share with guests. (not all pictured)
I spent a couple of evenings studying the website and finding inspiration and recipes to try at our party. I wound printing out a recipe for shrimp flatbread, a buffalo chicken calzone, a chocolate cherry cheesecake pizza, jalapeno popper puffs, bread sticks and a prosciutto pizza. I made up my grocery list and headed off to find my ingredients and the dough. My store carried four varieties of their dough - Puff Pastry, Flatbread, Classic Pizza and Bistro Pizza. I decided to grab a couple of each to try at the party, using the recipes I found or improvising with other pizzas we enjoy.
Before the guests arrived, I started with prep work and even got a couple of the things in the oven. I wanted the guests to see and work with the product, but with basketball on in the background and plans to play poker, I knew attention would be divided and I would have to prepare to ensure we got to also try more product than we prepped during the party. Plus, you can only have so much in the oven at a time and I only have three baking stones.
I love that the dough comes on parchment paper and is refrigerated, so when you are ready to bake you can simply unroll, top and bake. The packaging is great too, as it is a flat sleeve and can easily stack on the side of my refrigerator, making them easy to access. As I opened the packaging to make the first recipe, I noticed this small valve on the inside. I assumed it had something to do with minimizing moisture build-up on the dough, but to be sure I looked it up on the website and learned that the valve is part of their packaging because they "use real, live baker’s yeast which needs to slowly release carbon dioxide, so we’ve added specialized valves to the packaging. Our yeast ensures your pastries and pizzas always rise up and bake to perfection." (I like it, great way to ensure the freshness and deliver performance of the product). Baking on the parchment paper sure made clean-up easy, which was especially good for the party, since we only had three stones and one pan that we were using.



Buffalo Pizza:
Started with a traditional pizza crust, used ranch dressing to cover the dough, added chicken that had been mixed with buffalo sauce, then added onions and shredded colby jack cheese and baked according to the package.

 Margherita Pizza:

Shrimp Flatbread:

Buffalo Chicken Calzone:

Jalepeno Popper Puffs:

Margherita and Cheese Flatbread:
Started by unrolling a flatbread and scoring it to create two halves. Added pizza sauce as a base to each side. Added fresh mozzarella slices on one side and shredded Italian cheese on the other. Baked it according to the package directions. Then, added fresh sliced tomatoes and fresh basil. Returned it to the oven for 5 minutes, then drizzled with balsamic.

The traditional margherita pizza and the half margherita/half cheese flatbread were delicious. I think that margherita pizza is one of my favorites, there is just something about the fresh tomatoes and the drizzle of balsamic that is so tasty. We wound up making a buffalo chicken pizza in addition to the calzone. The jalapeƱo poppers, which we left the bacon out of, were delicious, but I would make them smaller next time - everyone was cutting them in half to enjoy anyway. The shrimp flatbread was tasty, but compared to the other offerings, just wasn't as popular. Everyone loved the chocolate cheesecake pizza, it was super rich though and so we had a good amount left over (not a bad thing at all - meant we got to enjoy some the next day).

Chocolate Cheesecake Pizza:

I liked the flavor of the product, but found that based on the timing on the directions and/or on the packaging for those that we improvised, that the pizza and flat breads did not bake up as much as I prefer. I don't mind a soft crust and it works fine for a lightly topped flatbread, but it made it difficult to plate up the chocolate cheesecake pizza and the calzone was also difficult to cut and plate for sharing. I found that extending the cooking time helped it cook up a little more. Also, those items that I tucked in the oven to reheat also crisped up nice directly on the stone.

The ease of use of the Wewalka pizza and flatbread products is tremendous. As a busy mom, I could feasibly make and bake a (nearly) homemade pizza for my family in about 20 minutes including prep, which is important on those nights with games and practices that leave little time for dinner. The dough being rolled up with the parchment paper not only makes it easy to use, but makes clean-up a breeze - another time saver on a busy night.

The puff pastry feels like a very versatile product to me, one that can be used for both sweet and savory dishes and the fact that it is fresh and not frozen makes it an easy go to for dinners or dessert. I look forward to trying more of the puff pastry recipes, since we wound up only trying the jalepeno poppers at the party.

There are so many more recipes that I look forward to trying, you can peruse them yourself here. You can find a local store that carries the Wewalka line, using their store locator here.

The guests and my family all enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the Wewalka Baking Party through Tryazon.

As a participant in the Tryazon Wewalka Party, I received an Wewalka party pack which included a coupons to try the product at the party and to share with my guests. All opinions expressed are my own.