Friday, February 15, 2019

"The Amish Candy Maker" by Laura V. Hilton -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

The Amish Candy Maker Cover
Title: The Amish Candy Maker
Author: Laura V. Hilton
Genre: Amish Christian Fiction
Release date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: WhitakerHouse
Agnes Zook finds herself on her own in a small Amish community in Mackinac County after a tragedy kills her family. Most of the Amish call her “off in den Kopf” (strange) since she’s starting her own business and forging her own way in the community instead of relying on the bishop to take care of her. Since she’s viewed as non-submissive and too-forward for an Amish woman, she’s not courted by young men in the area.
Isaac Mast is on the verge of leaving the Amish church. He’s become a sought-after auctioneer and has a thriving business, but he feels confined by the strict rules. When his brother is severely injured in a wild fire, Isaac receives a letter from his sister-in-law, begging him to come to Mackinac County to help out while his brother is hospitalized. Isaac agrees but is unsure how to manage their young children when he has weekend auctions he’s expected to attend.
Agnes may be the answer to a prayer. Sparks fly when she and Isaac meet. But could their differences help them form a deeper connection to their faith…and each other?
My Thoughts

I enjoyed being back in the Amish community in Michigan's Mackinac County. It was fun seeing characters we met in other books. "The Amish Candy Maker" is the second book in the Amish of Mackinac County series, but Laura V. Hilton also has two novellas that fit in with the series, also. For the story to fit chronologically, the stories would go "Wildfire", "Playing with Fire" (in Plain Everyday Heroes), "The Amish Candy Maker", & " Winter's Treasure" (in Love's Christmas Blessing). When I first met Agnes in Wildfire, I didn't really like her very much. It was nice to get to know her better and see what "made her tick". I ached for Agnes and Isaac and the pain and hurt from their pasts. I felt the book flowed well and was well written. I look forward to reading more books by Laura V. Hilton.

About the Author

Laura pictureLaura Hilton is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with more than a thousand reviews published on the web. Her first series with Whitaker was The Amish of Seymour, comprising Patchwork DreamsA Harvest of Hearts (2012 Laurel Award winner, first place in the Amish Genre Clash), and Promised to Another; and her second was The Amish of Webster County, comprising Healing LoveAwakened Love, and Surrendered Love. Her next series was The Amish of Jamesport, featuring The Post CardSnow Globe, and The Birdhouse. Her latest books include The Amish FirefighterThe Amish Wanderer, and Love By the Numbers. Laura and her husband, Steve, live in Arkansas with their five children, whom Laura homeschools.

Guest Post from Laura

RECIPE FOR FUDGE À LA AGNES ZOOK
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge
Courtesy of Laura V. Hilton
1 bag (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1 bag (10 ounces) peanut butter chips
2 cans sweetened condensed milk, divided
6 tablespoons butter, divided
20 to 30 miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or six regular-size ones broken into four or five pieces each
For the chocolate layer: Line a greased 8-by-11.5-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
In a double boiler or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, combine milk chocolate chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 4 tablespoons butter. Stir until melted and smooth.
Pour into prepared baking dish and allow to cool to room temperature, then move to the refrigerator while preparing next layer.
For the peanut butter layer: In a double boiler or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, combine peanut butter chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 2 tablespoons butter. Stir until melted and smooth.
Pour on to the milk chocolate fudge layer and press pieces of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into the surface. If desired, group candy pieces in a grid-like fashion for easier cutting later.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight or until set.
Remove from refrigerator, lift out of the pan by the edges of the parchment paper, and cut into squares, with roughly one miniature peanut butter cup or piece of a cup per square.
Store in the refrigerator.

Blog Stops

Carla Loves To Read, February 5
Among the Reads, February 6
Britt Reads Fiction, February 6
The Avid Reader, February 7
Emily Yager, February 8
Quiet quilter, February 8
Maureen’s Musings, February 9
Bibliophile Reviews, February 10
Vicky Sluiter, February 10
Daysong Reflections, February 11
Texas Book-aholic, February 12
Janices book reviews, February 12
Carpe Diem, February 13
SusanLovesBooks, February 14
Inklings and Notions, February 16
Pause for Tales, February 16
Have A Wonderful DayFebruary 17
For the Love of Books, February 17
Bigreadersite, February 18

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away a grand prize of a large and small spatula set and a $10 Starbucks 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/d9a6/the-amish-candy-maker-celebration-tour-giveaway


"The Amish Candy Maker" is available in paperback:
  • Publisher: Whitaker House (February 5, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 164123119X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1641231190
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 2788 KB
  • Print Length: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Whitaker House (February 5, 2019)
  • Publication Date: February 5, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07CG2Q11N


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.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

"Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe" by Carla Laureano -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe cover
Title: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe
Author: Carla Laureano
Genre: Christian Romance
Release date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Tyndale
Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.
Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.
Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.


My Thoughts

"Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe" is the second Supper Club Novel. It could be read alone as there is some "catch up" background given, but you would get a fuller experience with reading the books in order. The story pulled me in and kept me. "Just a few minutes" became chapter after chapter. I stayed up late to read and had to force myself to put it down to get other things done. I liked the friendship between Melody, Rachel, and Ana. I wished I could check out Melody's Instagram page! (I looked and there is an Instagram page with that title. It has 0 posts and 2 followers) There was a spiritual thread throughout the story and it worked in well. The characters grew and changed and learned more about God and themselves. I found the book to be well written. I look forward to reading the next book by Carla Laureano. 

About the Author

Carla LaureanoCarla 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

“Confessions of An Erstwhile Baker”
Like most females, baking is encoded somewhere deep down in my DNA. Call it nature or call it nurture, but at the earliest age, I figured out that the cute boy in my English class would talk to me if it involved chocolate chip cookies. Got my heart broken or had a friend betray me? I grabbed the mixing bowl and went for the brownies (even better if they’re served à la mode.) My friend was having a birthday? I made a cake drowned in pounds of buttercream.
I quickly graduated from the boxed mixes to the real thing when I got married and had a kitchen large enough to roll out dough. I would comb magazines for the best recipes and spend my weekends trying them out. I quickly became known for bringing beautifully iced Christmas cookies and delicious homemade cakes to work.
Then my husband and I moved our young family from Los Angeles to Denver, a relocation that was about 1000 miles northeast and 5000 feet up. Suddenly, every recipe I’d perfected in the previous eight years failed. Cookies burned to crisps, cakes fell, and don’t get me started on candy making. Gradually, I adapted my recipes (my beloved never-fail Toll House recipe took eight tries to get right) and even became an avid artisan bread-baker.
Then disaster. Or at least, what a baker would consider a disaster. After developing chronic health problems, I discovered that among other things, I was sensitive to gluten. The horror! In order to heal, I turned to the paleo diet, which eliminates all grains (there goes most gluten free recipes) and all processed sugars (there goes everything else). I’ve tried baking paleo-style, and while I can now make cakes that even my gluten-fiend family enjoy, it’s just not the same.
So what’s a once-obsessive baker do when she can’t eat her creations? She bakes for other people and goes on faith that they actually taste good… considering she can’t taste them herself.
It struck me that there was a spiritual lesson in that, and an obvious tie to Brunch at Bittersweet Café, which deals in large part with Melody’s faith journey. There are times when we have no idea if things are working out the way they’re supposed to, in which case we just have to trust the “recipe” and the input of friends and family who love us. Sometimes our instincts tell us when we’re off track, and sometimes we need that outside nudge from our “taste-testers” to put us back on course.
In any case, what Melody and I have in common is that we both bake to show our love for the people around us. And the process of baking my favorites, even knowing that I can’t enjoy them myself, can still be a selfless way to show people they’re important to me.
Fortunately, macarons, which happen to be made with almond flour, are still on the menu.

Blog Stops

Quiet QuilterFebruary 12
Among the Reads, February 12
Lighthouse Academy, February 12
By The Book, February 12
The Power of Words, February 13
As He Leads is Joy, February 13
Cultivating Us, February 13
Blossoms and BlessingsFebruary 13
Fiction Aficionado, February 14
The Lit Addict, February 14
All-of-a-kind Mom, February 15
100 Pages per Hour, February 15
Splashes of JoyFebruary 15
Bibliophile Reviews, February 16
Texas Book-aholic, February 16
C Jane Read, February 17
Moments, February 17
Back Porch Reads, February 17
Cordially Barbara, February 18
Genesis 5020, February 18
Simple Harvest Reads, February 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Livin’ Lit, February 19
Kat’s Corner Books, February 19
Life with the Tribe, February 19
Remembrancy, February 20
Vicky Sluiter, February 20
2014 and Beyond!, February 21
Daysong Reflections, February 21
Inklings and Notions, February 21
Pause for Tales, February 21
Cafinated Reads, February 22
Ashley’s Bookshelf, February 22
Two Girls and a Book, February 23
For the love of booksFebruary 23
God is Love, February 24
Book by Book, February 24
Janices book reviews, February 24
Lukewarm Tea, February 25
Carpe Diem, February 25
Bigreadersite, February 25

Giveaway

brunch at bittersweet cafe giveaway
To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize package of a macaron baking mat, a macaron book, and a paperback copy of Brunch at Bittersweet Café!!
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/db0f/brunch-at-bittersweet-cafe-celebration-tour-giveaway

"Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe" is available in paperback:
  • Series: The Saturday Night Supper Club
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (February 5, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1496420284
  • ISBN-13: 978-1496420282
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 9040 KB
  • Print Length: 396 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1496432703
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (February 5, 2019)
  • Publication Date: February 5, 2019
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07F92BZX3

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.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

"Ellie's Redemption" by Molly Jebber -- Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

ellies Redemtion
Title: Ellie’s Redemption
Author: Molly Jebber
Genre: Christian fiction, Amish
Release date: January 29, 2019
1912, Charm, Ohio
Ellie Graber is determined to restore her bad reputation in Charm, Ohio. She regrets leaving Amish life and the danger and heartache she caused her family and friends. Ellie loves working with Liza, and her best friend and cousin, Hannah, at Liza’s Amish Charm Bakery, attends church, and obeys Amish law, but the gossip about her past life won’t stop. Joel Wenger’s deep blue eyes tell her he cares for her, but she suspects his parents have warned him to stay away from her. Joel wants to trust Ellie’s changed but his sister, Maryann, who left Amish life broke their hearts. Will Joel ignore his parents and friends, face their anger and ridicule, and give her a chance?

My Thoughts

"Ellie's Redemption" is the second book in the Amish Charm Bakery Novel series. It was fun to be back in Charm, Ohio and see people we met in the first book. I liked how Ellie wanted to do God's will and not to go against Joel's mother's wishes. I felt that there was a nice character growth and change. I found it interesting in the differences between this story and other Amish books in their practices and traditions, such as having audible prayers at meals and in regards to telling people about women being pregnant. I can see several possibilities for story plots to come in the series and look forward to reading them. 

About the Author

Molly JebberMolly Jebber writes Amish Historical Romance. Her latest release, ELLIE’S REDEMPTION, is the second book in her Amish Charm Bakery Series. Molly’s books have been featured in Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today’s HEA, and Romantic Times. Her books have received widespread media attention throughout the US. Her books are sold in print and Ebook throughout the US and United Kingdom. She’s a touring speaker for Women’s Christian Connection, other women’s organizations, and she offers presentations on writing and the Amish. She says the most rewarding part about writing stories is meeting wonderful readers who become friends through social media and at her speaking events. Please visit her website: http://www.mollyjebber.com for a full list of her books (and options stores to buy them), speaking events and recipes.
She loves God, her family, and friends. She says yes to swimming, the beach, golf, and time with her family and friends, and no to coconut, onions, and skydiving!

Guest Post from Molly

Hi Friends!
Ellie likes newcomer Joel, and he’s the first Amish man to show interest since her return to Charm. She’s afraid when he learns of her rebellious past and the danger she brought to her family before turning her life around, he’ll end their courtship. Joel is frustrated his sister left Amish life before his family moved to Charm. He chooses not to tell Ellie about her, until he has no choice. What does the future hold for Ellie and Joel when their secrets are revealed?
Along with the story of Ellie’s Redemption are recipes!
Here’s one just for you!
Ellie’s Surprise Cookies
1 cup shortening 2 cups rolled oats (quick cook)
1 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon soda
1 ¼ cup brown sugar ½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cinnamon 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
2 eggs 2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt
Sift dry ingredients. Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Stir in dry ingredients. Add oatmeal, vanilla and chocolate chips. Dough will be crumbly. Spoon a teaspoon of dough at a time on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, January 29
Carpe Diem, January 29
Lighthouse Academy, January 30
Bigreadersite, February 2
Mary Hake, February 2
Maureen’s Musings, February 2
EmpowerMoms, February 3
Inklings and NotionsFebruary 4
Robin is Bookish, February 5
Texas Book-aholic, February 6
SusanLovesBooks, February 7
Henry Happens, February 9
Bibliophile Reviews, February 10
Vicky Sluiter, February 11

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Molly is giving away a grand prize that includes an Amish doll, a handmade lap quilt (can be used as wall hanging), an Apple Pie recipe tea towel, a Blessings journal, a handmade quilted potholder, a $10 Amazon Card, Ellie’s Redemption Print Book, a mug, a 2019 Planner, pad and pen set, and a bookmark!!
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/da8b/ellie-s-redemption-celebration-tour-giveaway

"Ellie's Redemption" is available in paperback:
  • Series: The Amish Charm Bakery (Book 2)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra (January 29, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420144855
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420144857
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 855 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra (January 29, 2019)
  • Publication Date: January 29, 2019
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07CWH3QVB


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.