Thursday, January 17, 2019

"The Saturday Night Supper Club" by Carla Laureano--Book Review

About the Book

The Sunday SupperTitle: The Saturday Night Supper Club
Author: Carla Laureano
Genre: Christian fiction/romance fiction
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.
Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?


My Thoughts

This is the first book I have read by Carla Laureano, and will not be my last. I sat down in the morning with the "Saturday Night Supper Club" and finished it by that evening. It was well written with likable characters and realistic feelings and emotions. I wished I could meet up with Rachel, Ana, and Melody and chat with them. I liked Alex and his desire to do the right thing. There was a spiritual/faith element that was woven through the story and the characters grew and changed by the end of the book. I am glad that this is the first book in a series so I can get to go back and read more about these characters. 

About the Author

pic_LGb_Laureano_CarlaCarla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

Guest Post From Carla Laureano

I’ve got a confession to make: I have a cooking problem.
It started early and innocently enough, flipping through my mom’s cookbooks and marking things I wanted to try. Making cakes and muffins from a mix. Flipping frozen steak patties. Doctoring canned spaghetti sauce.
It wasn’t long before I got into the hard stuff: muffins from scratch, slow-cooked marinara, cast-iron seared and oven-finished rib eyes. Over the years, I tried to kick the habit numerous times, but every time things got tough, I found myself falling off the wagon and heading back into the kitchen. Even hosting dinner parties. Yes, dear reader, I pulled my hapless friends into my madness. To my shame, I even got some of them hooked with their own addiction.
Before I knew it, my obsessions started creeping into my day job. No longer was it enough to write contemporary romance about normal people who order take-out. No, I had to write chefs and passionate home cooks and describe the food in the books just as lovingly as I did a first kiss. And then the final straw—a book series centered entirely on food and the culinary profession, beginning with The Saturday Night Supper Club.
All joking aside, cooking really is an addiction that I haven’t been able to kick. As a writer, I spend hours locked in my own imagination, creating things out of words and ideas. And while it’s immensely fulfilling, it’s a long, painstaking process that takes months, even years, before I can release the final product into the world. While there’s a large amount of planning and analysis involved in creating a book, the work is still mostly in my head.
Which is why I find cooking to be such a relaxing creative pursuit. Dicing a pile of vegetables into perfectly uniform cubes may take the same concentration and precision, but it’s concrete and measurable. It becomes a personal challenge to do something better than last time, improving by tiny, nearly imperceptible increments. It’s the closest to meditation that my always-on brain ever experiences, clear of all thought except for my activity at the present moment.
And yet, simultaneously, food is ephemeral. Mistakes last only as long as it takes to eat them or toss them directly into the trash can, depending on the nature of the mistake. If a sauce breaks, I toss it and start over. If I burn something, I either cut off the burned part or I order takeout and try again the next day. There’s an element of experimentation and instinct and whimsy that isn’t hampered by the pursuit of perfection. Let’s face it, a mediocre chocolate chip cookie beats a perfect celery stick any day of the week.
It was natural, then, to write a chef heroine who had dedicated her entire life to the pursuit of culinary perfection and explore all the ways that food makes our lives and relationships richer. How it anchors our memories. How we nurture others by feeding them. How a simple meal becomes meaningful not because of the food, but because of the connections we form with others over the dinner table.
In the end, I guess my cooking problem isn’t that much of a problem after all. If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen.

"The Saturday Night Supper Club" is available in paperback:
  • Series: The Saturday Night Supper Club
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (February 6, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1496420241
  • ISBN-13: 978-1496420244
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.2 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 7631 KB
  • Print Length: 380 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1496420241
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (February 6, 2018)
  • Publication Date: February 6, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B073RS3TT1

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for my review. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

"Flights of Fancy" by Jen Turano-- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

Flights of Fancy
Title: Flights of Fancy
Author: Jen Turano
Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Gilded Age
Release date: January 1, 2019
Publisher: Bethany House
Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.
Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.
Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

My Thoughts

It took me a little bit to get into the writing style and way the characters talk (being from another era than I am), but I knew that I would love it once I acclimated to the style. I found the book well written and easy to read. I loved the characters: from the quirky Aunt Birdie and Uncle Amos, to Izzie and Ian, and the children and even Elmer and Buttercup. I laughed at some of the antics and adventures that happen and I was surprised by some of the twists that came. I am glad that this is only the first book in the American Heiresses series and  to hear that we will get Beatrix's story in the 3rd one. 

About the Author

Jen TuranoNamed One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.

Guest post from Jen

Q & A With Jen Turano
“Flights of Fancy” is the first book in the American Heiress Series. What inspired you to write this series?
The inspiration for this entire series started off with a What If? All of my proposals for new series start off that way, and this time it was – What if Consuelo Vanderbilt had balked when her mother insisted she marry the Duke of Marlborough – and then that led to – What if she’d run away until her mother came to her senses? Just like that, an entire series was born – a bit of a different take on American heiresses because in all three books, my heiresses might decide to go a tad…rogue. We start off with Miss Isadora Delafield – who does run off to avoid marriage to a duke, then we get to meet Miss Poppy Garrison, who is an unexpected heiress but who can’t quite seem to get a handle on the expected social decorum of the day, and then the final book revolves around Miss Beatrix Waterbury – who gets banished to Chicago after she annoys her mother one too many times, and once there, well, gets up to a bit of mischief.
How do you come up with the names of your characters?
I find most of my names as I research the New York Four-Hundred, although I normally take a first name here, a last name there so I’m not stepping on any toes by writing about an actual historical figure – except for some of the main figures in New York society back then, such as Mr. Ward McAllister – who was the social arbiter of the day, or Mrs. William Astor, who was the queen of that society. What I don’t do is simply make up names, no matter how outrageous they may appear. And, no matter how I may love a certain name, if the character decides it doesn’t suit them, that’s it, it’s out and I’m back to the drawing board.
How do you picture your character? Do you use Pinterest, magazines, movies?
Odd as this may seem, I don’t use pictures for my characters. They start off in my mind as a blurry figure, and then, they develop from there – I like to keep my descriptions of them somewhat vague on the pages so that the reader can imagine them exactly the way they’d like them to be.
What are some of your favorite resources for historical research?
I’ve been building up a research library over the past few years and now have over 200 books dedicated to the Gilded Age. My favorites are – “A Season of Splendor” by Greg King, “Society as I Have Found It” by Ward McAllister, “The Gilded Age in New York – 1870-1910” by Esther Crain, and “ ‘King Lehr’ and the Gilded Age” by Elizabeth Drexel Lehr.
The setting for “Flights of Fancy” is a bit of a departure for you since it’s set in and outside of Pittsburgh. Any reason for that?
My mom was born in Pittsburgh, and unfortunately, her father, a prominent attorney back in the day, died when she was only four. I thought it would be cool to set a story in Pittsburgh, which would then allow me to really dive into some research. And get this – while I was doing that research, I found this obscure journal called “Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In that journal was a bit about my great-grandfather, Fred, his wife, Susie, my grandfather, and his brother and sister, but I’d never heard about this brother, who apparently died quite young. One of the most fabulous research tidbits I’ve uncovered to date.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just recently turned in the content edits for the second book in this series, “Diamond in the Rough,” and I’ve also turned in a novella about the Harvey Girls that will be coming out in a novella collection in Fall, 2019. With those out of the way, I’m now starting the third and final book in the American Heiress series, Miss Beatrix Waterbury’s story, but I’m having a bit of a struggle with the hero at the moment – he was supposed to be Edward, but he doesn’t want to be an Edward – I think he wants to be Norman – but, time will tell on that one – don’t hold me to the name – it’ll depend on if he changes his mind or not – pesky characters.
You seem to enjoy adding animals in many of your stories. Will we find any animals in “Flights of Fancy?”
Since Miss Isadora Delafield ends up on a farm, I do believe you will find a few animals, such as an adorable cow by the name of Buttercup, a few goats that seem to have a great liking for laundry, and…there might be some chickens.
Thanks for stopping by today, everyone! Always enjoy visiting with all of you – in fact, that’s the best part of my job!
All the best,
~ Jen ~

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, January 10
Among the Reads, January 10
Through the Fire, January 10
Blogging With Carol, January 11
Back Porch ReadsJanuary 12
KarenSueHadleyJanuary 12
Godly Book Reviews, January 12
Daysong RefectionsJanuary 12
Livin Lit, January 13
The Becca Files, January 13
Texas Book-aholic, January 13
Rebekah’s Quill, January 14
All-of-a-kind Mom, January 15
Stories By Gina, January 15
Splashes of JoyJanuary 16
Mary Hake, January 17
Maureen’s Musings, January 17
Bibliophile Reviews, January 17
Baker Kella, January 18
Simple Harvest ReadsJanuary 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Robin is Bookish, January 19
Carpe Diem, January 19
Have A Wonderful DayJanuary 20
Life with the Tribe, January 20
Inklings and NotionsJanuary 20
amandainpaJanuary 21
Pause for Tales, January 22
Live Love Read, January 23
A Rup Life, January 23
Bigreadersite, January 23

Giveaway

 a8597c23-4861-43f5-a11e-1b202095e839
To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a grand prize of a trunk filled with all of Jen’s full-length novels released to date!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d8d1/flights-of-fancy-celebration-tour-giveaway

"Flights of Fancy" is available in paperback:
  • Series: American Heiresses (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (January 1, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764231677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764231674
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 9773 KB
  • Print Length: 371 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 076423319X
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (January 1, 2019)
  • Publication Date: January 1, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07F3J5ZM8

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for my review.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Worsted Weight Socks

I got a pair of tiny 9" knitting needles in size 8, so I went looking for patterns that I could use them with. I decided that a pair of socks was just the thing. I found one pattern which had me cast on 40 stitches and had a heel flap heel. I started at the top and knit the leg and it seemed like it might be too big. I tried it on and wasn't sure, so I worked the heel and part of the foot. I then tried it on again and it was definitely too big.
My original attempt

I also didn't like the look of the heel flap, so I did a search for a short row heel sock made with worsted weight yarn. I didn't find anything that I liked, so I decided to figure out my own pattern. In the process of looking for a sock pattern, I learned about Shadow/Twin Stitch Short Rows for heels from this video:

This is what I did for my socks:

1. Cast On 32.
2. K1 P1 for 8 rows (~1") 
3. Knit even for 20 rows (until top of sock measures ~5 1/2")
4. Knit 7, make Twin Stitch Knit (TSK). Switch to new needle and slide TSK       onto it. Turn
5. Purl 14, Twin Stitch Purl (TSP). turn
6. * K to 1 before TSK, make TSK, turn, Purl to 1 before TSP, make TSP, turn *
7. Repeat * to * until there are 5 Twin Stitches on each side and 6 regular stitches in the middle.
8. < K to TS, Knit TS as 1 stitch, make next TS into a Triplet (same as a Twin Stitch, only now there are 3 loops), Turn. Purl to TS, Purl TS as 1 stitch, make next TS into Triplet. Turn >
9. Repeat < > until there is 1 TS on each end. Switch back to 9" needle. Slide TS back onto it.
10. Knit 7 stitches, Place Marker. Continue knitting around back to marker, treating TS as 1 stitch.
11. Knit even for 20 rows (~6" from back of heel)
12. Remove marker. Knit 8. Switch to magic loop needle (I lost one of the 9" needles).
13. K1, SSK, K 10, K2tog, K1, Pull loop to move to back of sock. K1, SSK, K to 3 from end, K2tog, K1
14. (K1, SSK, K to 3 from end, K2tog, K1) Repeat on both sides of sock
15. Knit even
16. Repeat rows 14 and 15 until there are 4 stitches left on each side. Kitchener stitch to bind off.



One somehow ended up longer than the other!


These socks fit better than the ones I had started with, but were still a little big, so I started with 28 stitches and they fit just right, except I'm not 100% satisfied with the toe. I may alter the pattern to fix that, so stay tuned.

1. Cast On 28.
2. K1 P1 for 8 rows (~1") 
3. Knit even for 20 rows (until top of sock measures ~5 1/2")
4. Knit 6, make Twin Stitch Knit (TSK). Switch to new needle and slide TSK  onto it. Turn
5. Purl 12, Twin Stitch Purl (TSP). turn
6. * K to 1 before TSK, make TSK, turn, Purl to 1 before TSP, make TSP, turn *
7. Repeat * to * until there are 5 Twin Stitches on each side and 4 regular stitches in the middle.
8. < K to TS, Knit TS as 1 stitch, make next TS into a Triplet (same as a Twin Stitch, only now there are 3 loops), Turn. Purl to TS, Purl TS as 1 stitch, make next TS into Triplet. Turn >
9. Repeat < > until there is 1 TS on each end. Switch back to 9" needle. Slide TS back onto it.
10. Knit 6 stitches, Place Marker. Continue knitting around back to marker, treating TS as 1 stitch.
11. Knit even for 25 rows (~6" from back of heel)
12. Remove marker. Knit 7. Switch to magic loop needle.
13. K1, SSK, K 8, K2tog, K1, Pull loop to move to back of sock. K1, SSK, K to 3 from end, K2tog, K1
14. (K1, SSK, K to 3 from end, K2tog, K1) Repeat on both sides of sock
15. Knit even
16. Repeat rows 14 and 15 until there are 4 stitches left on each side. Kitchener stitch to bind off.




"This Homeward Journey" by Misty M. Beller --Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

This Homeward Journey
Title: This Homeward Journey
Author: Misty M. Beller
Genre: Christian historical romance
Release date: January 1, 2019
After her husband’s death, Rachel Gray is finally free from the turmoil his addictions caused. She wants nothing more than a new life with her twelve-year-old son. If she can reach her brother in the wilderness of the Canadian territories, they’ll have help to start over in peace. She knows better than to put her life in the hands of another man, but she never expected the Montana mountains to be so treacherous. When two brothers invite her to join their small group traveling to the same area, she refuses. After she and her son narrowly escape a bear attack, she’s forced to admit they need the safety of numbers in this untamed land. If the men prove dangerous, she can always leave with her son and strike out alone again.
Seth Grant has made some bad choices in his life, but God healed him from the addiction that mired him in his sins. Now, he’s determined to live the life God called him to, starting with a journey northward to see the Canadian mountain both his brother and sister have fallen in love with. When he discovers the woman and boy who plan to travel the same mountain trail, he can’t fathom why she refuses to join in the safety of their larger group. Though her decision seems unwise, he has no other choice but to pray God provides her protection.
Despite Rachel’s best efforts, she can’t seem to fight her attraction to the Seth—until a secret from his past proves he’s not at all the man she thought. When a new peril threatens her son’s life, she must choose between trusting in what she can control, or the man who her heart says is trustworthy, no matter his previous sins. The path she chooses just may determine whether she can step into the new life God has in store for them all.

My Thoughts

"This Homeward Journey" is the 5th book in the Heart of the Mountains series, but it could be read as a stand alone as characters from other books only make minor appearances. I enjoyed reading the book and found it well written and well paced. After so many books set in the same area, you would think that Misty M. Beller would run out of things for the characters to encounter. While some of the hardships are similar, she does a good job of finding new twists for them to go through. I liked Seth and Samuel and their interactions with each other and with Rachel and Andy. I look forward to reading Samuel's story next.

About the Author

MistyMisty M. Beller writes romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.
She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.
God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Guest Post from Misty

Why Christian Historical Romance?
I don’t know about you, but my life can get crazy…busy…chaotic. Historical fiction gives me a haven, allowing me to immerse in a simpler time and place. Add in remote mountain settings—log cabins and horses and snow…what could be better? Sometimes I wish God had let me live a couple centuries ago, but then I remind myself He knew exactly what He was doing. I don’t do well without a shower every day. 😊 And He even lets me go back to that simpler time through stories!
If you’re reading this, you probably enjoy immersing yourself in a good book, too. Story can be such a powerful thing! Becoming an intimate part of the characters’ lives, feeling their struggles—the desperation, the elation, the emotions, the love.
I enjoy reading and writing Christian fiction because it provides a place where I don’t always have to be concerned about inappropriate language or too-graphic love scenes. It’s a “safe zone” where my imagination can escape, living out exciting times and experiencing God-orchestrated happily-ever-afters—without having to clean-up at the end of the day. Can you relate?
I’m excited to share my latest Christian Historical Romance story with you, and hope you enjoy it as much as I loved writing it!

Blog Stops

The Power of Words, December 29
Carpe Diem, December 30
Splashes of JoyDecember 30
Mary Hake, December 31
Pause for Tales, January 1
Simple Harvest Reads, January 2 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Among the Reads, January 3
Connect in Fiction, January 5
Creating Romance, January 8
Texas Book-aholic, January 8
Wishful Endings, January 10
Cafinated Reads, January 10
Bigreadersite, January 11

Giveaway

e5f4939d-cd96-45de-b748-8fb15bc1a0af
To celebrate her tour, Misty is giving away a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d9bc/this-homeward-journey-celebration-tour-giveaway

"This Homeward Journey" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Heart of the Mountains (Book 5)
  • Paperback: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Misty M. Beller Books (December 28, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0999701274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0999701270
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 5007 KB
  • Print Length: 232 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Misty M. Beller Books, Inc.; 1 edition (January 1, 2019)
  • Publication Date: January 1, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07HZ1C46V

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for my review.