February 24, 2018

Celebrate Lit Tour + Giveaway: The Saturday Night Supper Club

About the Book  

The Saturday Night Supper Club
by Carla Laureano
Genre: Christian fiction/romance fiction

Release Date: February 6, 2018

The Saturday Night Supper ClubDenver 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…

About the Author

Carla 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.

 Blogstops

Rachel Scott McDaniel, February 20
Just Commonly, February 20
Mommynificent, February 21
Among The Reads, February 21
A Greater Yes, February 21
Fiction Aficionado, February 22
Quiet Quilter, February 22
The Power of Words, February 23
Janices book reviews, February 24
C Jane Read, February 24
Faery Tales Are Real, February 24
All of a Kind Mom, February 25
Inklings and notions, February 25
Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 25
Carpe Diem, February 26
Smiling Book Reviews, February 26
Splashes of Joy, February 27
Simple Harvest Reads, February 27 (Guest post from Mindy)
Radiant Light, February 28
Moments Dipped in Ink, February 28
Baker kella, February 28
Pause for Tales, March 1
Book by Book, March 1
Bigreadersite, March 1
amandainpa, March 4
By The Book, March 5
Pursuing Stacie, March 5

 My Review

I have to admit I was a little intimidated going into this book. I'm not much of a foodie or a cook. The only cooking show I've ever watched was MasterChef Jr. (Those kids are adorable and amazing!) But I loved Laureano's MacDonald Family books SO much that I knew I wanted to try this one. I'm so glad I did because it is amazing!

This book definitely fits the swoon-worthy romance category. I absolutely fell in love with Alex from the very beginning and only grew to love him more as the book went on. His commitment to making things right was the first of many things that made him undeniably attractive.

I've always loved strong female characters, so it wasn't hard to love Chef Rachel. I was so inspired by the hard work she put into getting herself to where she was professionally. But I was equally impressed by her spiritual growth. I loved that she was part detail oriented but also very good at adapting when things didn't go perfectly. That was a unique combination you don't find often.

Now for the foodie parts. I'll admit that a lot it was over my head. But I learned a lot of new foodie vocabulary (thanks to my Kindle and hover over definitions!) and it was cool to read about such fancy fare. I enjoyed the scenes with food more than I expected to.

I also appreciated Laureano giving Alex an interesting hobby which also forced me to learn some adventurous vocabulary. The detail with which his climbs were told was amazing. I almost felt like I was there.

The romance in this book was so wonderful. Great kissing scenes and some really great flirting. But as much as I loved the romance and the kissing and flirting I really loved that prayer, journaling, and commitment to God were included as well. I love characters that seek God. This book was filled with wisdom and spiritual growth that really gave the book a depth that made it stand out from some other books I've read lately.

So, all that said...whether you're a foodie or not (like me!) please pick up this book - you won't regret it!

I received an advanced copy of this book from Tyndale through NetGalley. This is my honest review.

Giveaway




February 11, 2018

Review: Love in Three Quarter Time

Love in Three Quarter Time Love in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a delightful novella. One of my favorite parts was reading about places I'd previously read about in the Zion Covenant Series by Bodie Thoene (a series which McMillan also loved). But truly, I loved it for so many reasons.

I've always been a music lover. I played piano and violin growing up and have always been fascinated by the music of Mozart and loved that his home played a role in this book. And I truly loved Klaus' interesting side job and the lengths he went to in order to be so good at it. I am also a history lover so the historical links in this novella were very well placed and added a little mystery to the story. I'm not very knowledgeable about dance - let alone waltzing - but I did enjoy the dance scenes from the musicality side of things.

To be honest it took me a few chapters to get into the story - and since this was a novella that seemed like a little too much - but that being said, once I got into the story I was totally hooked! I really enjoyed the meet-cute of Evelyn and Klaus a lot. I think that was when I started to connect more with Evelyn.

I do want to remind anyone reading this review that this is NOT Christian Fiction. It is perfectly clean but it doesn't have a spiritual subplot or overtly Christian characters. But I find I enjoy reading outside of the Christian Fiction genre occasionally. It is a good reminder that there are amazing books and novellas out there that aren't overtly Christian!

I enjoyed this first installment in McMillian's newest series. I'm already looking forward to the second novella in the series.

I did receive an advanced copy of this novella from the author. However, when I received it I had already pre-ordered the novella on Amazon. This is my honest review.

View all my reviews

January 15, 2018

Review: Love Undocumented: Risking Trust in a Fearful World

Love Undocumented: Risking Trust in a Fearful World Love Undocumented: Risking Trust in a Fearful World by Sarah Quezada
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've followed Quezada's blog for quite a while, so I knew some of her and her husband's back story but I enjoyed reading a more detailed description of everything from how they met to where they are today. I appreciate her candor as she tells their story. I also find her sincerity refreshing as she admits how little she knew in the beginning about immigration and how much she has learned. Of course I also enjoyed reading about their dating relationship and how they fell in love.

The balance in this book between personal stories, research, and scripture is superb. The book could have been written as just a memoir of their personal experience without all of the research and still would have been great. But with the extra time Quezada took to learn more about the details of immigration and the specific scriptures to back everything it took the book to another level. I gained a new perspective reading about Moses, Joseph, Esther, Noemi, Ruth, and even Jesus himself in light of immigration. I hadn't ever thought about any of those stories that way and learned a lot. It was good to be reminded that we are called to reach out to others no matter their socioeconomic status, race, language, or culture.

I've previously read books by immigrants or about immigrants, have a Master's degree in Spanish, and am an ESL teacher at a school with many immigrants so much of the information in this book wasn't brand new news for me. But I did appreciate the perspective of a person to whom it was all brand new information. She included a lot of details I might have missed and assumed more people knew. I like that she was careful to dispel myths and misconceptions that many people have about immigrants.

I love it when a book makes me really stop to think. I pray that through my job I can continue to be a light in the lives of my immigrant students. I also pray that everyone that reads this book will feel called to go outside their comfort zone and be Christ to an immigrant in their church, neighborhood, school, or workplace.

I received an advanced copy of this book through the publisher on NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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Review: Oath of Honor

Oath of Honor Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason

I really wanted to love this book but in the end, it just wasn't my cup of tea. I want to note that I LOVE Lynette Eason's books. I especially love the Elite Guardian series. So honestly I was shocked that this wasn't a better fit for me.

This book honestly was hard for me to read from the beginning. There were SO many characters and other names. And another thing I noticed was that a lot of characters were referred to by first and last names. It was just overwhelming. Another part that was hard for me was how everything in a decent length book took place in a very short amount of time. It was a lot of details to keep up with.

I think this book would be a hit for anyone who loves police procedurals. In the end, I think I was hoping for a little more action than procedure. I also think that I was hoping for a little romance.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Janice Cantore's books. It has a similar feel. It also had some notes of reminding me of Dee Henderson's O'Malley series and also the tv show Blue Bloods because it was very much family oriented.

Revell provided me an advanced copy of this book. This is my honest review.

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