Friday, February 28, 2014

Author Robyn Carr's "Thunder Point" series--romantic stories of coastal Oregon community where wanderers settle in, newcomers are welcomed as friends, and friends become family...

The Wanderer (Thunder Point, #1) 
THE WANDERER  by Robyn Carr   
From Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the popular Virgin River novels, comes THUNDER POINT-the highly anticipated new series that will make you laugh, make you sigh, and make you fall in love with a small town filled with people you'll never forget.   

Nestled on the Oregon coast is a small town of rocky beaches and rugged charm. Locals love the land's unspoiled beauty. Developers see it as a potential gold mine. When newcomer Hank Cooper learns he's been left an old friend's entire beachfront property, he finds himself with a community's destiny in his hands. Cooper has never been a man to settle in one place, and Thunder Point was supposed to be just another quick stop. But Cooper finds himself getting involved with the town. And with Sarah Dupre, a woman as complicated as she is beautiful. With the whole town watching for his next move, Cooper has to choose between his old life and a place full of new possibilities. A place that just might be home.   

MY REVIEW:   Author Robyn Carr begins her "Thunder Point" series with "The Wanderer". Set in the ruggedly beautiful coastal area of northern Oregon, the book has some ties to her popular "Virgin River" series. "The Wanderer" is Hank Cooper, known as just "Cooper", who has received word of the death of his longtime friend, Ben Bailey. A loner, like Cooper, Ben left his beachfront property and business to Cooper, who is stunned to learn the extent and value of the land holdings. Ben lead a modest lifestyle, but his property is worth a fortune. Cooper only plans to stay long enough to handle Ben's estate, but the longer he stays, the more involved he becomes in the community, which starts to feel like home. He makes friends with the local deputy sheriff, Mac McCain, and he decides to renovate the bait shop/deli/bar that Ben had run on the property. As Cooper begins to restore Ben's place, he learns just what pivotal piece of property it is--if he sells it to developers, the whole community will be affected. Cooper befriends a teenager, Landon Dupre, who is being bullied by some of his classmates. When Cooper meets Landon's older sister, Sarah, he is instantly smitten, and he has one more reason to stay in Thunder Point. Like Cooper, Sarah is a helicopter pilot, serving with the Coast Guard. Cooper had served as a military pilot--Ben had been his mechanic--and now he goes where the work takes him. Having been badly burned by her cheating spouse, Sarah is not looking for an involvement. However, the chemistry with Cooper is impossible to resist, and they soon begin a passionate affair. To his surprise, Cooper finds himself wanting a deeper relationship, while Sarah tries to keep an emotional distance. Cooper has lived a nomadic existence by choice, but will his unexpected inheritance and surprising emotional longings finally give his life well-planted roots? Will Sarah give him her heart and her trust? "The Wanderer" is leisurely, but enjoyably, paced, allowing the reader to get a real sense of the setting and the characters. The secondary romance between Mac McCain and Gina James added much to the story line, and it is the basis for the second book in the series, "The Newcomer". If you love romances set in small communities where everyone and everything is somehow connected, then you will enjoy the "Thunder Point" series.   

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The Newcomer (Thunder Point #2) 
THE NEWCOMER  by Robyn Carr  

With humor and insight, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr looks at letting go of the past-and knowing when you've found something worth building your future on... 

Single dad and Thunder Point's deputy sheriff "Mac" McCain has worked hard to keep everyone safe and happy. Now he's found his own happiness with Gina James. The longtime friends have always shared the challenges and rewards of raising their adolescent daughters. With an unexpected romance growing between them, they're feeling like teenagers themselves-suddenly they can't get enough of one another. And just when things are really taking off, their lives are suddenly thrown into chaos. When Mac's long-lost-and not missed-ex-wife shows up in town, drama takes on a whole new meaning. They're wondering if their new feelings for each other can withstand the pressure...but they are not going down without a fight. 
Step into the world of Thunder Point, a little town on the Oregon coast where newcomers are welcomed, hearts are broken and mended, and the dramas of everyday life keep the locals laughing, crying and falling in love. 

MY REVIEW:    Hank Cooper was "The Wanderer" in the first book in author Robyn Carr's "Thunder Point" series. Now that Cooper seems to be settling in for the long haul, he's "The Newcomer" in the Thunder Point, Oregon community. After an unexpected inheritance from his good friend, Ben Bailey, Cooper eventually grew to love the area where the property Ben had left to him was located. He also came to love Sarah Dupre, and her younger brother, Landon. Cooper became good friends with the deputy sheriff in the little community, Mac McCain. Mac was a single dad, raising three kids after their mother had left them a decade ago. With the help of his Aunt Lou, Mac managed to keep his family together and on the right track. The mother of his oldest daughter's best friend was Mac's best friend and parenting buddy. Gina James was a single mother, never married, living with her own mother and her teenaged daughter. Deep down, there was more than just friendship between Mac and Gina. Romantic attraction had made itself known on a couple of occasions, only to be shut down by an overly-cautious Mac, leaving Gina hurting and frustrated. Everyone knew that Mac and Gina belonged together, but it took another man's interest in Gina to make Mac stake his claim. Now that they're together, he can't believe it took him so long to claim the happiness that was there all along. However, when Mac's ex-wife makes an unwelcome return, she threatens the newfound joy for Mac and his family. Gina has serious issues of her own to deal with her daughter Ashley becomes distraught and self-destructive after she is heartlessly dumped by her boyfriend. Mac's buddy Cooper is trying his best for a happy future with Sarah, but a promotion for her in the Coast Guard could mean that she would have to leave Thunder Point. If her brother Landon went with her, he would be uprooted for his senior year of high school. If Cooper went with them, he would be leaving behind his newly found homeplace. Landon could stay behind and live with Cooper to finish out his school year, but then Sarah would be without the two most important people in her life. Meanwhile, Cooper receives another unexpected gift--one that will change the course of his life forever. Someone will have to compromise, but will it be a compromise of the heart? "Thunder Point" is like a patchwork quilt top--a work in progress where unexpected pairings and additions somehow come together to form a thing of beauty. Something unique and ever-evolving--just like the residents of Thunder Point.   

Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine

The Hero (Thunder Point, #3) 
THE HERO  by Robyn Carr   
With warmth and sensitivity, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr shows readers that falling in love can be the bravest act of all. 

In a moment of desperation, Devon McAllister takes her daughter and flees a place where they should have been safe and secure. She has no idea what is around the next bend, but she is pretty certain it can't be worse than what they've left behind. Her plan is to escape to somewhere she can be invisible. Instead, an unexpected offer of assistance leads her to Thunder Point, a tiny Oregon town with a willingness to help someone in need. As the widowed father of a vulnerable young boy, Spencer Lawson knows something about needing friendship. But he's not looking for anything else. Instead, he's thrown his energy into his new role as Thunder Point's high school football coach. Tough and demanding to his team, off the field he's gentle and kind...just the kind of man who could heal Devon's wounded heart. Devon thought she wanted to hide from the world. But in Thunder Point, you find bravery where you least expect it...and sometimes, you find a hero.

MY REVIEW:  Author Robyn Carr returns readers to the coastal community of Thunder Point, Oregon with Book Three, "The Hero". Rawley Goode is a sixty-something Vietnam Vet, usually short on words and spare with communication. However, when he sees a young woman and her small child walking the road alone in the early morning darkness, he offers them a ride. From the young woman's clothing and hairstyle, he surmises that she has just left "The Fellowship", a religious compound located in the area nearby. Since he was on his way to Hank Cooper's little deli & bar, he offers to provide breakfast for mother and child, and then give them a lift to wherever they want to go. Devon McAllister and her daughter are indeed fleeing the compound and the control of the manipulative ruler, Brother Jacob. Devon had been vulnerable to Jacob's persuasion to join his commune, and later he fathered her daughter, Mercy. Devon knew firsthand that Jacob was evil--sometimes physically violent. He grew pot as a cash crop, saying that it was medicinal herbs. He was on the radar of the authorities, suspected of kidnapping and human trafficking. Rawley extends his kindness even further, giving Devon and Mercy a place to stay, and advising Devon to change her looks. She cuts her long hair very short, and Rawley helps her to get new clothes. Another friend of Cooper's also takes an interest in Devon. Spencer Lawson had been married to a former girlfriend of Cooper's, and when she is dying from cancer, Cooper is called to see her one last time. She reveals that he is the biological father of her son, Austin, who has been raised by Spencer. After her death, Spencer and Austin show up in Thunder Point, and Cooper is delighted to be able to spend time with his son. Spencer accepts the job of head coach at the local high school, and he throws himself into the role. Devon finds work in the new doctor's office in town, and she moves into a small apartment which needs a lot of work. Spencer, Rawley, Cooper and his lady, Sarah, step in and fix up Devon's apartment while she is at work one day, and she and Mercy finally have a real home of their own. The friendship between Spencer and Devon blooms into romance. Cooper and Sarah are making plans for the future, and their friends, Mac McCain and Gina James are now happily married and co-parenting their merged families. Devon enjoys her work, her new friends, and the romantic attentions of Spencer, but she is always aware of the danger she left behind. When that danger comes looking for her, and Mercy is kidnapped, Devon is devastated. However, there's more than one "hero" in Thunder Point, and Devon's friends won't let her down. When the past is put behind at last, what will the future hold for Devon and Spencer? Each of them is healing from painful memories, but hearts can always hope for healing and happiness to lead them to brighter and better days ahead. Thunder Point is just the place for them to be--a place where wanderers come to settle, newcomers are welcomed as friends, and friends become family.  

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The Chance (Thunder Point, #4) 
THE CHANCE  by Robyn Carr   

Share the joys, heartbreaks, challenges and triumphs of the people who inhabit the small Oregon town of Thunder Point with #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr...
With its breathtaking vistas and down-to-earth people, Thunder Point is the perfect place for FBI agent Laine Carrington to recuperate from a gunshot wound and contemplate her future. The locals embraced Laine as one of their own after she risked her life to save a young girl from a dangerous cult. Knowing her wounds go beyond the physical, Laine hopes she'll fit in for a while and find her true self in a town that feels safe. She may even learn to open her heart to others, something an undercover agent has little time to indulge. Eric Gentry is also new to Thunder Point. Although he's a man with a dark past, he's determined to put down roots and get to know the daughter he only recently discovered. When Laine and Eric meet, their attraction is obvious to everyone. But while the law enforcement agent and the reformed criminal want to make things work, their differences may run too deep...unless they take a chance on each other and find that deep and mysterious bond that belongs to those who choose love over fear.   

MY REVIEW:  With its picturesque coastal Oregon setting, appealing characters, and involving story lines, "Thunder Point" continues to be a very enjoyable contemporary romance series from author Robyn Carr. With "The Chance", FBI agent Laine Carrington is in need of a respite to recover from a gunshot wound incurred during a dangerous assignment to bring down a nefarious cult and its evil leader. The Thunder Point community had taken her into their fold after she had rescued a young girl, and Laine requests a leave of absence to return to the haven of the Oregon coast. Renting a house and settling in, Laine hopes to get a fresh viewpoint on her future and to come to some resolution with her difficult relationship with her father. When Eric Gentry, owner of the local service station and garage, first lays eyes on Laine, he is immediately smitten. After a troublesome past, Eric has put down roots in Thunder Point to be near his daughter and to make a better future for himself. Laine is equally attracted to Eric, and while he is cautiously making his way toward her, she is a decisive woman of action, and she knows what she wants. However, they have very different backgrounds and life histories. Eric quit high school and became involved with the wrong crowd, later serving five years in prison for being in the wrong place at the wrong time when his buddies held up a store. After learning a hard lesson, Eric cleaned up his act, got his GED, and became successful in auto repair and restoration. Laine's parents were both doctors, and as their daughter, she was a well-educated high-achiever. Can an electric chemistry and mutual need overcome their conflicts and lead to a lifetime of love? I look forward to future visits to Thunder Point and spending more time with its residents and its newcomers.


Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine

The Promise (Thunder Point, #5) 

 #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr returns to Thunder Point with an uplifting story about overcoming loss and finding unexpected love

Scott Grant has a bustling family practice in the small Oregon community of Thunder Point. The town and its people have embraced the widowed doctor and father of two, his children are thriving, and Scott knows it's time to move on from his loss. But as the town's only doctor, the dating scene is awkward. That is, until a stunning physician's assistant applies for a job at his clinic. Peyton Lacoumette considers herself entirely out of the dating scene. She's already been burned by a man with kids, and she's come to Thunder Point determined not to repeat past mistakes. When Scott offers her a job, at a much lower salary than she's used to, Peyton is surprisingly eager to accept…at least for now. She's willing to stay for a three-month trial period while she explores other options. Scott and Peyton know the arrangement is temporary—it isn't enough time to build a real relationship, never mind anything with lasting commitment. But love can blossom faster than you think when the timing is right, and this short visit just might hold the promise of forever.
MY REVIEW:  I may live in Virginia, but I have another home in Thunder Point, Oregon, the fictional community created by author Robyn Carr. With "The Promise", the fifth book in "The Thunder Point Series", I am familiar with old friends and family, and I am embracing new acquaintances finding their own home in this lovely little community. Dr. Scott Grant is a widower with two small children, building a life and establishing firm roots in Thunder Point. As the town's only physician, his professional life and personal life often overlap, and he's managing the best way that he can, but he could use some extra help. Peyton Lacoumette, an accomplished physician's assistant, needs a life change--away from the prominent cardiologist who had been her lover and her employer. Answering Scott Grant's help wanted advertisement seems like the perfect solution for them both--at least for the time being. Peyton, from a large Oregon farming family, has always been a giver, and it seems those around her don't mind taking, but she's determined to be on her own and free from some of those needy, greedy attachments. Scott is far different from Ted Ramsdale, the god-like medical superstar who had first dazzled and then greatly disappointed Peyton. His children are also quite unlike Ted's children. Even though they lost their mother, Scott's young son and daughter are easy to be around, with few of the issues Peyton dealt with in Ted's three unmanageable, unappreciative teens. As Peyton weighs her options for the future, Scott and his children, and the Thunder Point community are finding a place in her heart. Scott was attracted to Peyton from the very beginning, not just for her stunning beauty, but for her competence and intelligence. He realizes that his heart is ready to love again, but can Peyton be satisfied with small-town living and a much less grand lifestyle than the one she left behind? After working on her parents' farm as she grew up, she achieved much in her career and chose to reward herself with perks of her success--but is that what makes her really happy? Love has its own sense of timing, often very different than our own, but when the promise of real, lasting love comes along, we must realize when the time is right to make a leap of faith for the heart. A recommended series for lovers of smartly-written, involving contemporary romance.

Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine
The Homecoming (Thunder Point, #6) 
In a small town, reputation is everything. In her latest novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr explores the burden placed on a young man returning home to face his mistakes—the first step in claiming the life he was meant to live ...
At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.
Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he's been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he's become a better, humbler version of his former self. Winning over his father isn't the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he's finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?
MY REVIEW:  Six books into author Robyn Carr's "Thunder Point" series, and I am still hooked. I look forward to each trip to the little community on the coast of Oregon, where I can visit with old pals and meet new friends. This book, "The Homecoming", is my favorite entry, thanks to a very appealing heroine and an exceptionally poignant story line. A hunky hero who admits to being a self-reforming work-in-progress adds just the right balance to this charming contemporary romance. Seth Sileski was a golden-haired golden boy--a high school football star who left Thunder Point and earned a pro-football contract. His moment in the spotlight vanished all too soon, thanks to a serious car accident which permanently damaged his right leg and ended his career in professional sports. Finally finding a career in law enforcement, he returns to his home town as Deputy Sheriff, taking over for his promoted predecessor. Seth makes his rounds of the town, getting to know the business owners and catching up with old friends, visiting with his mother and letting her fuss over him and feed him. There are two very important people with whom Seth must make amends. His father always felt that Seth had thrown away his opportunity of a lifetime, and a distance had grown between them over the years. The other person on Seth's mind, the one he had missed and most desired to be back in his life, is his former best friend, Iris McKinley. Seth and Iris had grown up together, next-door neighbors and schoolmates. Iris was always there for Seth, guiding him through school and personal issues, and she always made him tow the line. In their senior year, a misunderstanding had led to a permanent break, their once close relationship strained and damaged. Iris had always loved Seth, as a friend and more than a friend. She was the odd girl and he was the school star, but somehow they had fit together and were content with each other's company--until the night a drunken Seth had said things and done things he didn't remember the next day. He had broken Iris' heart, and she carried her hurt with her throughout the years, never really getting over Seth. Now he was home, wanting to be her friend again, and she finds it hard to resist him, even though the pain is still just below the surface. When the truth is revealed, can childhood pals and high school buddies discover that their feelings have grown into attraction and love between an adult man and woman? I so enjoyed Iris as a female character, both vulnerable and still very much her own woman. Seth is a different kind of leading man, just right with his humbled hunkiness. The story line for "The Homecoming" explores many other touching, funny, and dramatic elements, and I highly recommend this well-written contemporary romance. I am a great fan of Robyn Carr's "Thunder Point" series, and I know you will be too.

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Image of Robyn Carr  

Robyn Carr is a RITA® Award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of almost fifty novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River series. Her highly anticipated new series, Thunder Point, began in March 2013. Robyn and her husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Robyn Carr's website at

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"The Cake Boss"--BUDDY VALASTRO--rich family history--lasting legacy of over 100 years

 Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia 

Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia  by Buddy Valastro 

In this heartfelt memoir, master baker and star of the #1 hit TLC show, Buddy Valastro tells his inspiring story—and recounts his family’s warm memories from a lifetime of living, loving, and cake making.
Television viewers have fallen in love with Buddy Valastro, master cake maker, and his funny and fiery family, proprietors of Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey, on the smash hit TLC series Cake Boss. Now, to coincide with Carlo’s 100th anniversary, cake designer extraordinaire Buddy Valastro brings together his passion for baking and his high-energy family stories in the pages of this charming, heartwarming book—complete with 25 recipes and tips that will make every reader the “cake boss” of their own kitchen.Buddy’s beautifully designed cakes are the stuff of legend—and so is the remarkable story of his father, a beloved pillar of the community and himself a talented baker who set the stage for his family’s rise to the pinnacle of their industry. Cake Boss recounts the story of Buddy’s life and of his family’s bakeshop, originally established in 1910 and now a Hoboken, New Jersey, landmark and culinary tourist destination. Here also are twenty-five recipes for Carlo’s Bakery’s most sought-after pastries, pies, cupcakes, and cakes, an irresistible combination of time-tested old-world recipes and modern creations, all founded on a rock-solid “old-school” baking foundation and classic techniques.This is the incredible true story of how Carlo’s Bakery came to be, how one hard-working family realized their patriarch’s dream of making their beloved bake shop a household name. The special bond and loving dynamic of the Valastro clan make this an uncommonly touching and truly inspiring memoir. 

MY REVIEW:   An engaging and involving memoir, "Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia", by Buddy Valastro, is told in a warm, personal style just as though Buddy were speaking directly to the reader. Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey, is the family-owned and operated bakery extraordinaire which has achieved legendary status in its more than one century of making the sweetest of dreams come true for its many loyal customers. While the cakes and confections produced by the bakery fulfill the fantasies of the most fanatic foodies, it takes the lifelong hard work and devotion of the family and friends who work as a team to ensure the consistent quality and customer service for which Carlo's Bake Shop is noted. The heartfelt story of the Valastros, their family and friends, and the living legacy of their landmark bakery made a natural transition to TV with the hit show, "Cake Boss", on The Learning Channel (TLC). Included along with magical memories and appealing photos are recipes for the bakery's most popular pastries, pies, and cakes: "Classic Biscotti"; "Pecan Wedges"; "Cannoli"; "Ricotta Pie"; "Banana Cream Pie"; "Crumb Cake"; "Carrot Cake", and more. Spend some time with "The Cake Boss" and his family, and you might just hit the road to Hoboken.   

Review Copy Gratis Simon & Schuster      

 Bake Like The Boss--Recipes & Techniques You Absolutely Have to Know

The Essential Cake Boss (A Condensed Edition of Baking with the Cake Boss): Bake Like The Boss--Recipes & Techniques You Absolutely Have to Know   by Buddy Valastro 

Bake Like the Boss! 

The Essential Cake Boss is a perfect slice of Buddy Valastro’s beloved bestseller Baking with the Cake Boss—a sweet collection of Buddy’s core recipes and techniques; the building blocks of Buddy’s show-stopping desserts; and many of his most popular, signature creations. You’ll learn to work with baking and decorating equipment, bake perfectly moist cupcakes and cakes, and work magical effects with frosting and fondant. Gorgeous photos let you follow Buddy as he shows how to create his artistic flourishes and decorations. The Essential Cake Boss also features charts that let you mix and match cake flavor, frosting, and liqueur syrup to create your own trademark cakes.  

Bursting with delicious, tried-and-true recipes, handy tricks of the trade, and stories told in Buddy’s inimitable voice, The Essential Cake Boss is a rare treat— a fun, accessible guide to baking that inspires home bakers to new culinary heights, all in a gloriously designed, fully illustrated book worthy of the Cake Boss’s unique artistic vision.  

MY REVIEW:   "The Essential Cake Boss" may be a condensed version of master baker Buddy Valastro's "Baking with the Cake Boss", but it is filled to the brim with mouthwatering recipes and expert baking methods and helpful hints. While you may never achieve the level of food artistry of the "Cake Boss", you can elevate your level of baking skill and culinary knowledge. You won't just be in awe--you'll be truly inspired. Sections such as "Basic Baking Techniques", "Decorating Techniques", and "Working with Fondant" are magically mixed together with recipes for cookies, cakes and cupcakes, and frostings and fillings. Try to resist the appeal of these tempting treats: "Double Chocolate Chip Cookies"; "Pignoli Cookies"; "Christmas Tree Cupcakes"; "Raspberry Dream Cake"; "Old Fashioned Italian Rum Cake"; "Red Velvet Cake", and more. Fully illustrated from cover to cover, this slim volume contains a wealth of baking and decorating techniques. Practice makes perfect, and the test products are scrumptious.  

Review Copy Gratis Simon & Schuster   

 Recipes for Get-Togethers Throughout the Year

Family Celebrations with the Cake Boss: Recipes for Get-Togethers Throughout the Year  by Buddy Valastro 

Make every gathering with your friends and famiglia extra special with these great new cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and other delicious, gorgeous desserts—and 100 other original recipes featuring the Cake Boss’s signature twist on favorite family foods! Besides being a master baker and fantastic cook, Buddy Valastro is a great host. He knows the key to every successful family dinner, gathering, or party: a fabulous cake as the starring attraction together with great food! Clear, step-by-step instructions and photos will guide you through recipes perfect for all generations and for every occasion—birthday parties, anniversary parties, summer barbeques, and feasts for the major holidays.  

As he does in every book, Buddy brings his characteristic warmth and flair to Family Celebrations with the Cake Boss, sharing personal stories alongside cooking, baking, and decorating tips. His charisma as well as his delicious appetizers, dinners, and desserts make this an indispensable cookbook for every holiday and special occasion. Whether you’re cooking for six or sixty, these delicious dishes from the Cake Boss will make your next family gathering an event to remember! 

MY REVIEW:   "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro brings his signature style and joy for food and life to "Family Celebrations with the Cake Boss: Recipes for Get-Togethers Throughout the Year''. Featuring fantastic food for all occasions--topped off by unforgettable desserts--this photo-filled book will have you returning to the kitchen again and again to create memorable celebratory meals for family and friends. Each recipe comes with its own story, making the preparation and enjoyment of the finished dishes all the more special. You and your loved ones will appreciate the irresistible appetizing appeal of recipes like these: "Antipasto Salad"; "Apple-Oatmeal Cookies"; "Sesame Chicken Fingers"; "Blueberry-Lemon Pancakes''; "Roasted Rib Eyes with Horseradish Butter"; "Cherry-Glazed Holiday Ham''; "Eggnog Ice Cream"; "Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus"; "Smoked Salmon Risotto"; and much more. Organized by holidays, special occasions, and "just because" days, this cookbook offers traditional favorites and new discoveries that will add so much flavor and fun to your get-togethers with family and friends.  

Review Copy Gratis Simon & Schuster 


 100 Chefs Celebrate a Century at the American Table

THE WAY WE ATE  by Noah Fecks & Paul Wagtouicz

Take a trip back in time through the rich culinary tradition of the last American century with more than 100 of the nation’s top chefs and food personalities.

The Way We Ate captures the twentieth century through the food we’ve shared and prepared. Noah Fecks and Paul Wagtouicz (creators of the hugely popular blog The Way We Ate) are your guides to a dazzling display of culinary impressionism: For each year from 1901 to 2000, they invite a well-known chef or food connoisseur to translate the essence or idea of a historical event into a beautifully realized dish or cocktail. The result is an eclectic array of modern takes and memorable classics, featuring original recipes conjured by culinary notables, including:

Daniel Boulud, Jacques Pépin, Marc Forgione, José Andrés, Ruth Reichl, Marcus Samuelsson, Michael White, Andrew Carmellini, Anita Lo, Gael Greene, Michael Lomonaco, Melissa Clark, Justin Warner, Michael Laiskonis, Sara Jenkins, Shanna Pacifico, Jeremiah Tower, and Ashley Christensen

An innovative work of history and a cookbook like no other, The Way We Ate is the story of a nation’s cravings—and how they continue to influence the way we cook, eat, and talk about food today.   


  Heirloom Recipes from Our Family Kitchen 
Callie's Biscuits and Southern Traditions: Heirloom Recipes from Our Family Kitchen  by Carrie Morey    

Carrie Morey started her company, Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, with a simple goal: She wanted to make her mother Callie’s delicious biscuits—unbelievably tender, buttery creations—accessible across the country. Carrie’s handmade biscuits combine unique, brilliant flavors—sharp cheddar with fresh chives, cracked black pepper with cream cheese and green onions, and cinnamon biscuits so buttery they melt in your mouth. The biscuits are an iconic Southern staple, but they are just the beginning.

Now Carrie Morey shares her modern approach to traditional Southern cooking in more than one hundred recipes that pair classic Lowcountry fare with surprising twists, for incredible results. Carrie guides you through the foundational techniques of Southern cooking to reveal how she developed her new takes on favorite heritage dishes and how to take the fuss and huge time investment out of traditional preparations. She shares skillet recipes passed down through generations, including Lemon Zest Cast-Iron Fried Shrimp, Macaroni Pie, and Cast-Iron Herb Lamb Chops. She gives roasting and slow-cooking techniques for Beef Stew with Herbed Sour Cream, Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Salad, and Roasted Pimento Cheese Chicken. Her DILLicious Cucumber Sandwiches, BBQ Chicken Salad Biscuits, Fiery Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs, and Summer Crab Salad will make any picnic or casual get-together a true Southern affair. And her desserts are to die for: Mama’s Sour Cream Banana Pudding, Alex’s Chocolate Chess Pie (so good that Carrie credits the pie for sparking her and her husband’s whirlwind romance), and Blueberry and Peach Cobbler finish your meal on the perfect sweet note.

Carrie also shares her family stories behind each recipe—growing up in Charleston, learning to cook from great Southern matriarchs, and founding and growing her business. Fill your kitchen with the comforting aroma of home-cooked goodness with Callie’s Biscuits and Southern Traditions.   

 Cooking with Economy and Grace 
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace  by Tamar Adler, Alice Waters    

Reviving the inspiring message of M. F. K. Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf— written in 1942 during wartime shortages—An Everlasting Meal shows that cooking is the path to better eating. 

Through the insightful essays in An Everlasting Meal, Tamar Adler issues a rallying cry to home cooks. 
In chapters about boiling water, cooking eggs and beans, and summoning respectable meals from empty cupboards, Tamar weaves philosophy and instruction into approachable lessons on instinctive cooking. Tamar shows how to make the most of everything you buy, demonstrating what the world’s great chefs know: that great meals rely on the bones and peels and ends of meals before them.

She explains how to smarten up simple food and gives advice for fixing dishes gone awry. She recommends turning to neglected onions, celery, and potatoes for inexpensive meals that taste full of fresh vegetables, and cooking meat and fish resourcefully.

By wresting cooking from doctrine and doldrums, Tamar encourages readers to begin from wherever they are, with whatever they have. An Everlasting Meal is elegant testimony to the value of cooking and an empowering, indispensable tool for eaters today.

 What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch -- Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods 
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch -- Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods  by Jennifer Reese      

When Jennifer Reese lost her job, she was overcome by an impulse common among the recently unemployed: to economize by doing for herself what she had previously paid for. She had never before considered making her own peanut butter and pita bread, let alone curing her own prosciutto or raising turkeys. And though it sounded logical that “doing it yourself” would cost less, she had her doubts. So Reese began a series of kitchen-related experiments, taking into account the competing demands of everyday contemporary American family life as she answers some timely questions: When is homemade better? Cheaper? Are backyard eggs a more ethical choice than store-bought? Will grinding and stuffing your own sausage ruin your week? Is it possible to make an edible maraschino cherry? Some of Reese’s discoveries will surprise you: Although you should make your hot dog buns, guacamole, and yogurt, you should probably buy your hamburger buns, potato chips, and rice pudding. Tired? Buy your mayonnaise. Inspired? Make it.
With its fresh voice and delightful humor, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter gives 120 recipes with eminently practical yet deliciously fun “Make or buy” recommendations. Reese is relentlessly entertaining as she relates her food and animal husbandry adventures, which amuse and perplex as well as nourish and sustain her family. Her tales include living with a backyard full of cheerful chickens, muttering ducks, and adorable baby goats; countertops laden with lacto-fermenting pickles; and closets full of mellowing cheeses. Here’s the full picture of what is involved in a truly homemade life—with the good news that you shouldn’t try to make everything yourself—and how to get the most out of your time in the kitchen      


Starting from Scratch 
STARTING FROM SCRATCH  by Susan Gilbert-Collins  

Why is someone who just defended her doctoral dissertation still wasting her time at her childhood home, two months after her mother’s funeral, making coq au vin and osso buco? Olivia Tschetter, the youngest of four high-achieving South Dakotan siblings, is not returning to “normal”—or to graduate school— quickly enough to suit her family. She wants only to bury herself in her mother’s kitchen, finding solace in their shared passion for cooking.

Threatened with grief counseling, Olivia accepts a temporary position at the local Meals on Wheels, where she stumbles upon some unfinished business from her mother’s past—and a dark family secret. Startling announcements from two siblings also challenge the family’s status quo. The last thing she needs is a deepening romantic interest in a close but platonic (she thought) friend.

But while Olivia’s mother is gone, her memory and spirit continue to engage Olivia, who finds herself daring to speak when she would never have spoken before. Told with humor and compassion, Starting from Scratch explores the shifting of family dynamics in the wake of shattering loss and the healing power of cooking.   

 My Southern-Fried Search for the Meaning of Life 
Big Appetite: My Southern-Fried Search for the Meaning of Life  by Sam McLeod    

Dr. Beauregard pulled his chair up a little closer to me, looked me in the eye, and said, "Sam, I’m afraid your health is pretty good. . . . You could stand to lose a little weight, but without some bad news, I can’t scare you into taking better care of yourself. . . . You’ve got to find some meaning in your life that will motivate you to take better care of your body—something that gets under your skin, something that grabs your imagination, something other than a diet. And only you can figure that out."

So begins "big-boned" Sam McLeod’s search for the meaning of life. Luckily, a mysterious envelope arrives in the mail to distract him. It’s an invitation to a neighborhood reunion where Sam grew up near Nashville, Tennessee. Sam’s wise wife, Annie, insists that her reluctant husband get in the car and make the cross-country trip. "Here’s a map and your itinerary. . . . But you keep your hands off that old girlfriend, you hear me?"

As Sam drives, he tries to work out the meaning of life, just like the doctor ordered. Instead, memories of childhood fill his head. Who would be at the reunion? Weiner? He remembers how Weiner got his name and his lasting fear of buzzards. Would he find a descendant of Big ’Un, the snake as fat as a family-size can of Franco-American spaghetti? And what about Lexi? She wasn’t his girlfriend, no matter what Annie says, but he remembers the summer night they played hide-and-seek. . . . And with these recollections come the smell of his mother’s meatloaf, the taste of spicy pimento cheese, the tang of cold pickled shrimp, and the tart sweetness of strawberry pie, the foods of his Southern childhood.

Does Sam find the meaning of life? Yes, he does, even though he lacks "the emotional intelligence God gave a stinkbug," as Annie so delicately put it. So come along with Sam as he follows his deep-fried roots to a simpler time and place, where mothers nourished their children with much more than ham biscuits, deviled eggs, and tuna noodle casserole with potato chips on top

A warm, laugh-out-loud funny memoir for anyone who has ever: 

• Collected lightning bugs in a quart-size Ball jar
• Been in a watermelon fight
• Fallen asleep to the sound of grown-ups talking on the porch
• Been told you’re eating a bite, whether you like it or not
• Grown up Southern

Georgia's Kitchen
GEORGIA'S KITCHEN  by Jenny Nelson

At thirty-three, talented chef Georgia Gray has everything a woman could want—the top job at one of Manhattan’s best restaurants; a posse of smart and savvy gal pals who never let her down; and a platinum-set, cushion-cut diamond engagement ring courtesy of Glenn, the handsome entertainment lawyer who Georgia’s overbearing mother can’t wait for her to marry. The table is set for the ambitious bride-to-be until a scathing restaurant review destroys her reputation. To add salt to her wounds, Glenn suddenly calls off the wedding.

Brokenhearted, Georgia escapes to the Italian countryside, where she sharpens her skills at a trattoria run by a world-class chef who seems to have it all—a devoted lover, a magnificent villa, and most important, a kitchen of her own. Georgia quells her longings with Italy’s delectable offerings: fine wine, luscious cheeses, cerulean blue skies, and irresistible Gianni—an expert in the vineyard and the bedroom. So when Gianni tempts Georgia to stay in Italy with an offer no sane top chef could refuse, why can’t she say yes?

An appetite for something more looms large in Georgia’s heart – the desire to run her own restaurant in the city she loves. But having left New York with her career in flames, she’ll need to stir up more than just courage if she’s to realize her dreams and find her way home.

 A Novel with Food
ANGELINA'S BACHELORS  by Brian O'Reilly with recipes by Virginia O'Reilly

Sometimes the shortest distance between two people is the length of a kitchen table. . . .  

Far too young to be a widow, Angelina D’Angelo suddenly finds herself facing a life without her beloved husband, Frank. Late one night shortly after the funeral, she makes her way down to the kitchen and pours all of her grief and anger into the only outlet she has left—her passion for cooking. In a frenzy of concentration and swift precision, she builds layer upon layer of thick, rich lasagna, braids loaves of yeasty bread, roasts plump herb-rubbed chicken; she makes so much food that she winds up delivering the spoils to the neighbors in her tight-knit Italian community in South Philadelphia.

Retiree Basil Cupertino, who has just moved in with his kindly sister across the street, is positively smitten with Angelina’s food. In a stroke of good fortune, Basil offers Angelina (not only husbandless but unemployed) a job cooking for him—two meals a day, six days a week, in exchange for a handsome salary. Soon, word of her irresistible culinary prowess spreads and she finds herself cooking for seven bachelors—and in the process discovers the magical power of food to heal, to bring people together . . . and maybe even to provide a second chance at love.

Filled to the brim with homemade warmth, Angelina’s Bachelors is a sweet tale of overcoming grief, redefining family, and following your heart—through food.

REVIEW: "Old-School Comfort Food--The Way I Learned to Cook" by popular TV Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

 The Way I Learned to Cook  

How does one become an Iron Chef and a Chopped judge on Food Network—and what does she really cook at home?

Alex Guarnaschelli grew up in a home suffused with a love of cooking, where soufflés and cheeseburgers were equally revered. The daughter of a respected cookbook editor and a Chinese cooking enthusiast, Alex developed a passion for food at a young age, sealing her professional fate. Old-School Comfort Food shares her journey from waist-high taste-tester to trained chef who now adores spending time in the kitchen with her daughter, along with the 100 recipes for how she learned to cook—and the way she still loves to eat.

Here are Alex’s secrets to great home cooking, where humble ingredients and familiar preparations combine with excellent technique and care to create memorable meals. Alex brings her recipes to life with reminiscences of everything from stealing tomatoes from her aunt’s garden and her first bite of her mother’s pâté to being one of the few women in the kitchen of a renowned Parisian restaurant and serving celebrity clientele in her own successful New York City establishments. With 75 color photographs and ephemera, Old-School Comfort Food is Alex’s love letter to deliciousness.    

MY REVIEW:  Our concept of "comfort food" is influenced by the family kitchen of our childhood and our encounters with food from outside the home. If you are a true "foodie", then you have a fascination with all the things that combine to complete your food and make it into the finished dish which you consume. "Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook", by accomplished chef and TV personality Alex Guarnaschelli, is a perfect example of how our differences in heritage and life experiences shape our idea of what is our comfort zone, and that includes our favorite foods and beverages. Written with dry humor, and a refreshing, down-to-earth tone, this cookbook almost makes you feel as though you and Alex are having a conversation about food. Even if your idea of comfort food is much different than hers, you will appreciate her amazing "journey in food". Her earliest food impressions were provided by her esteemed cookbook-editor mother, and by her father, whose Italian heritage was blended with a love for cooking Chinese food. Once grown, and out on her own, Alex traveled the globe, cooking and learning from some of the most highly-renowned chefs in a number of the most prestigious restaurants in the world. Her eventual return to her home turf of New York added further layers to her adventures in food, as she worked in a Madison Square Garden steakhouse, taught at the Institute of Culinary Education, and even held a job as private chef for a family on Park Avenue. Now an executive chef at more than one top New York City establishment, Alex is also a veteran star of numerous TV food and cooking programs. In addition to sharing her recipes, Alex also shares cooking techniques and essential kitchen tools, and she is not afraid to specify her favorite brand names for ingredients. She also provides a "sources" pages featuring some of her personal picks for places and products. Here are some of her recipes which I found most appealing: "Overnight Garlic Bread"; "Chilled Iceberg Wedge with Blue Cheese and Leeks"; "Shrimp and Cucumber Salad"; "Mom's Meatloaf"; "Bacon-Wrapped Pork Chops with Apple and Brussels Sprouts"; "Broiled Bluefish with Corn and Bacon"; "Mashed Potatoes Chantilly"; "Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting and Caramel Top"; and "Evil Cheese Biscuits". Also included is a "Make it from Scratch" chapter which provides recipes for such kitchen staples as butter, pickles, BBQ sauce, and hot sauce. You will enjoy this view of "comfort food" from an author whose love of subject and considerable skills and knowledge shine through from page to page.  

Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine


 Over 230 Scrumptious, Quick & Easy Recipes for Garfield's Favorite Foods...Lasagna, Pizza and Much More! 


from Gooseberry Patch 

Garfield...Recipes with Cattitude!: Over 230 Scrumptious, Quick & Easy Recipes for Garfield's Favorite Foods...Lasagna, Pizza and Much More!  Gooseberry Patch and Garfield the cat... it's a match made in food heaven! The first new Garfield cookbook in ten years, Garfield...Recipes with Cattitude! is packed with over 230 yummy recipes near and dear to Garfield's tummy. Gooseberry Patch fans will love this fun new twist on the quick & easy recipes they've come to expect. Garfield collectors will love Gooseberry Patch and Garfield the cat... it's a match made in food heaven! The first new Garfield cookbook in ten years, Garfield...Recipes with Cattitude! is packed with over 230 yummy recipes near and dear to Garfield's tummy. Gooseberry Patch fans will love this fun new twist on the quick & easy recipes they've come to expect. Garfield collectors will love the strips and quips by Jim Davis, while the simple recipes will entice even inexperienced cooks. Garfield...Recipes with Cattitude! delivers heaps of homestyle flavor and Garfield's humor adds tons of fun to each page. Readers will love Cheesy Scramblin' Pizza for breakfast. Happy Burgers, Baked Chili Fries and Jim's Spicy Deviled Eggs (from Davis himself!) are on the lunch menu. Spicy Honey Chicken Wings and Crispy Bacon Bread Sticks are perfect for snacking and sharing. At dinner, they'll love Bow-Tie Lasagna, Creamy Salmon Manicotti, and Meatball Pizza Pockets just as much as Garfield does. Even a bachelor like Garfield's owner, Jon Arbuckle, can make Incredibly Easy Pot Roast and Spicy Roasted Potatoes with these simple-to-follow recipes. Of course, it isn't dinner without dessert, so treat yourself to Caramel Apple Pie. Chapters include: Breakfast Is Served...Time to Get Up!; First Lunch, Then a Catnap; Snack Attack!; Lotsa Lasagna, Pasta & Pizza; It's Dinner Time...Now!; and Dinner is Over, What's for Dessert? There are plenty of Garfield gags and illustrations, plus easy cooking tips and simple substitutions... the kind of advice Gooseberry Patch fans have come to love. 


When the world's most fabulous feline foodie joins forces with a renowned cookbook publisher, expect incredible edibles! "Garfield...Recipes with Cattitude!: Over 230 Scrumptious, Quick & Easy Recipes for Garfield's Favorite Foods...Lasagna, Pizza and Much More!" is a joyous joint venture from Garfield and Gooseberry Patch. I love Garfield--he makes me laugh out loud! Whenever I would chuckle when reading the newspaper, Mama would always say: "What's Garfield done now?". The folks at Gooseberry Patch offer the most mouthwatering cookbooks you could imagine, and they really topped themselves with this terrifcally tasty collection from our favorite culinary cat--Chef Garfield. This cookbook is loaded to the max with food and fun, and there are images of Garfield and friends on every page of the book. Each page also has a helpful hint or side note. The recipes are divided into sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and of course, a special section for lasagna, pasta, and pizza. These recipes are easy to prepare, and you will easily find something to please everyone--even the pickiest of eaters. Just a sampling of the delightful dishes you will find: "Crustless Breakfast Pie"; "Lazy Cat Pancake"; "Mom's Chicken Soup for a Cold"; "Deluxe Greek Salad"; "Pull-Apart Pizza Bread"; "Salty-Sweet Crunchy Mix"; "Classic Lasagna"; "Farmers' Market Fettuccine"; "Oven-Fried Catfish", "Hushpuppies", and "Farm-Fresh Coleslaw"; "Picnic Basket Cake"; "Country Cheesecake Bars"; "Just Peachy Blueberry Crisp"; and "Double-the-Fun Fudge". There are also recipes for treats for cats and dogs. Kids of all ages will enjoy reading this cookbook, and you will find many new family favorite recipes from Garfield and Gooseberry Patch.  

 In the Kitchen with Garfield 

I'm in the Mood for Food: In the Kitchen with Garfield  
by Jim Davis with Recipes from Barbara Albright    

Over the years, Garfield the cat has struck a chord with readers who can identify with his laid-back, shall-we-say-lazy approach to life. The famous feline--whose passion for food and sleep is matched only by his aversion to diet and exercise (he prefers lie-downs to sit-ups)--has become the poster cat for all kinds of people, none of whom would ever describe themselves as "Type A's."

To celebrate being the world's favorite feline, Garfield introduces I'm in the Mood for Food: In the Kitchen with Garfield.

Chock-full of tasty recipes, the cookbook also features spot art and food-related Garfield comics in color. I'm in the Mood for Food includes chapters on Family Food, Party Food, Pasta, Outdoor Cooking, Kids' Recipes, Snacks, and Desserts. Consider some of these mouth-watering morsels: Lazy Cat's Lasagna, Color Me Hungry Red Pepper Potato Frittata, Royal Roasted Lemon-Herb Chicken and I'd Rather Be Happy Than Thin Chocolate-Chunk Cookies. All in all, I'm in the Mood for Food will appeal to cooks everywhere, especially those who love Garfield and, like him, believe that the best things in life are edible.  


I adore Garfield. He makes me laugh out loud. Garfield adores food. He is foodie extraordinaire! This tubby tabby is an expert on lasagna, laughter, and mastering his hapless master. "I'm In The Mood For Food: In The Kitchen With Garfield" offers lots of humor from Garfield and his creator Jim Davis, and dozens of wonderful recipes from Barbara Albright. This cookbook is good enough to eat, with easy-to-fix recipes that are fun food for the whole family. Don't worry about calories--you'll burn them off laughing! Try these recipes on for "Garfield size" enjoyment: "Cheesy Baked Potato Casserole"; "Tempting Tuna Steaks"; "Color Me Hungry Red Pepper Potato Frittata"; "Killer Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie"; "Lucky Ginger Pennies"; "Macho Nachos"; "Brownie-Bottomed Ice Cream Pie"; "Life's a Party Havarti Shrimp Dip With Garlic Toasts"; "When in Doubt Pig Out Breaded Pan-Fried Pork Chops"; "Royal Roasted Lemon-Herb Chicken"; "I'd Rather Be Happy Than Thin Chocolate-Chunk Cookies"; and of course..."Lazy Cat's Lasagna".

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

ENCHANTED ESCAPISM--fall under the spell of author Paula Brackston's wicked-good witches!

The Midnight Witch
"The dead are seldom silent. All that is required for them to be heard is that someone be willing to listen. I have been listening to the dead all my life."

Lilith is the daughter of the sixth Duke of Radnor. She is one of the most beautiful young women in London and engaged to the city’s most eligible bachelor. She is also a witch.

When her father dies, her hapless brother Freddie takes the title. But it is Lilith, instructed in the art of necromancy, who inherits their father’s role as Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. And it is Lilith who must face the threat of the Sentinels, a powerful group of sorcerers intent on reclaiming the Elixir from the coven’s guardianship for their own dark purposes. Lilith knows the Lazarus creed: secrecy and silence. To abandon either would put both the coven and all she holds dear in grave danger. She has spent her life honoring it, right down to her charming fiancé and fellow witch, Viscount Louis Harcourt.

Until the day she meets Bram, a talented artist who is neither a witch nor a member of her class. With him, she must not be secret and silent. Despite her loyalty to the coven and duty to her family, Lilith cannot keep her life as a witch hidden from the man she loves.

To tell him will risk everything.

Spanning the opulence of Edwardian London and the dark days of World War I, The Midnight Witch is the third novel from New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston.
"The Midnight Witch" in author Paula Brackston's darkly entertaining tale is Lady Lilith Radnor, society beauty, heiress, and witch. When her father, Lord Robert Montgomery, passes away, her brother Freddy inherits the title of the Duke of Radnor. However, Lilith, trained in the art of Necromancy, inherits a title all her own: Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven, Keeper of the Great Secret, and Guardian of the Elixir of Life. Lady Lily is also engaged to Viscount Louis Harcourt, another entitled witch. Lily and Louis have been friends since childhood, and their engagement was a match determined by their families. As Lily struggles to carry forth her father's legacy, care for her grieving mother, and bear up under her brother's personal issues, she is haunted by an evil presence bent on taking all she holds dear in order to gain the power and knowledge passed on from father to daughter. When Lily meets artist Bram Cardale, neither witch nor noble, she finds love, and with it comes the mesmerizing mix of joy and heartache only real love can bring. Taking place in early twentieth-century England, a poignant and fascinating setting, "The Midnight Witch" is both touching and tantalizing--a mix of sorcery and sentiment. Paula Brackston is also the author of "The Witch's Daughter" and "The Winter Witch".

Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine
The Winter Witch
Fledgling witch Morgana must defend her love, her home, and her life in this enthralling tale perfect for fans of Discovery of Witches

In her small Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana. She has never spoken, and her silence as well as the magic she can't quite control make her a mystery. Concerned for her safety, her mother quickly arranges a marriage with Cai Bevan, the widower from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumors that swirl around her. After their wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving, but she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the rugged mountains that surround it, while slowly Cai himself begins to win her heart. It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her. Forced to defend her home, her love, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything.
The Witch's Daughter
My name is Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith, and my age is three hundred and eighty-four years. Each new settlement asks for a new journal, and so this Book of Shadows begins…

In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate at the hands of the panicked mob: the Warlock Gideon Masters, and his Book of Shadows. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers she didn’t know she had and making her immortal. She couldn't have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself, tending her garden and selling herbs and oils at the local farmers' market. But her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl called Tegan starts hanging around. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth begins teaching Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories--and demons—long thought forgotten.

Part historical romance, part modern fantasy, The Witch’s Daughter is a fresh, compelling take on the magical, yet dangerous world of Witches. Readers will long remember the fiercely independent heroine who survives plagues, wars, and the heartbreak that comes with immortality to remain true to herself, and protect the protege she comes to love.
Image of Paula Brackston

Paula Brackston lives in a wild, mountainous part of Wales. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and is a Visiting Lecturer for the University of Wales, Newport. Before becoming a writer, Paula tried her hand at various career paths, with mixed success. These included working as a groom on a racing yard, a travel agent, a secretary, an English teacher, and a goat herd. Everyone involved (particularly the goats) is very relieved that she has now found a job she is actually able to do properly.

When not hunched over her keyboard in her tiny office under the stairs, Paula is dragged outside by her children to play Swedish tennis on the vertiginous slopes which surround them. She also enjoys being walked by the dog, hacking through weeds in the vegetable patch, or sitting by the pond with a glass of wine. Most of the inspiration for her writing comes from stomping about on the mountains being serenaded by skylarks and buzzards.

In 2007 Paula was short-listed in the Creme de la Crime search for new writers. In 2010 her book 'Nutters' (writing as PJ Davy) was short-listed for the Mind Book Award. Last year she was selected by the BBC under their New Welsh Writers scheme.


Monday, February 24, 2014

"PRISONER OF THE FLAMES"--a very appealing "scarred hero" and an intriguing glimpse into a fascinating historical setting and era

Prisoner of the Flames
A horribly scarred Scottish laird goes to Paris to seek healing from the great Nostradamus, and instead finds love with a blind flower girl--and finds himself drawn into a French civil war!

An appealing hero and a fascinating historical setting elevate the story line of "Prisoner of the Flames", by Dawn MacTavish. Robert Mack, Laird of Berwickshire, ruled Hume Castle and his Scottish lands with a keen mind and a just heart. Brave in battle, and a seasoned warrior, he was tall and strong. However, one side of his face had been horribly scarred by fire when he was a babe in his cradle. As he grew, the burned skin marred and pulled that side of his face, but the other side was untouched and quite handsome. He wears a helmet which covers his twisted visage, and few have actually seen his real face. As he nears his thirtieth year, he is lonesome and feels the need to marry and produce an heir. Due to his disfigurement, the only female company he has known has been that for which he has paid. With a letter of sponsorship from his Uncle Aengus, a respected monk, Robert travels to Paris, France to seek the healer, Nostradamus. Hoping that the mysterious physician can help his damaged face, Robert dreams of a future free of the oppressive helmet. Robert's journey will one not just of the body, but also of the heart and mind. He will rescue a beautiful, blind young flower girl, Violette, not once, but numerous times, and she will change the course of his life forever. He will meet the great and wise Nostradamus, who cannot heal the flesh burned so long ago, but who will guide Robert toward the destiny of his heart. In sixteenth century France, religion, politics, and superstition are ever at war, and, against his will, Robert becomes embroiled in the deadly, devastating conflicts of the times. With his personal mission greatly changed, and a chance at last for happiness, Robert must fight with all his might to protect those he loves and return to his home in Scotland. The time and place in history, the use of the mystical Nostradamus as an integral character, and the very worthy Robert as the main character made this an enjoyable read. The story line would have been much improved with more development of the character of Violette, who remained almost one-dimensional throughout the story. Robert deserved better.

Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine

Image of Dawn Thompson

Dawn Thompson-aka-Dawn MacTavish (March 28, 1937 - February 8, 2008)

Historical/Paranormal Author for Dorchester Books/ Now published by Montlake/Amazon Publishing - The Ravencliff Bride (2005 RIO Award Winner), The Waterlord & The Falcon's Bride. Highland Press - Blue Moon Magic and Blue Moon Enchantment. Historical Fiction - Odin's Daughter (2005 RIO Award Winner) & Children of the Wind. She also wrote for Kensington books, doing The Elementals - Lord of the Deep, Lord of the Dark and Lord of the Forests, as well as several anthologies. She also wrote under the penname of Dawn MacTavish.

Dawn was primarily a Regency Romance novelist, writing both traditional Regencies, and Regency-set historicals. Some of her other works include historical paranormals, and Celtic and Norse Medievals, incorporating the history, theology, legend, and lore of her heritage, which was the ongoing focus of her research for over thirty-five years.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Butterfly Palace
Lilly secures a job as lady's maid in a grand manor in Austin, Texas. But even far from home, her past lurks around every corner.

When Lilly Donnelly arrives at the Cutlers' famed Butterfly Mansion in 1899, the massive house and unfamiliar duties threaten to overwhelm her. Victorian Austin is lavish, highly political, and intimidating, but with the help of the other servants, Lilly resolves to prove herself to her new employers.

Then, while serving at an elegant dinner party, Lilly recognizes one distinguished guest as Andrew, the love of her life, who abandoned her without a word back home. He seems to have assumed a new identity and refuses to acknowledge her, leaving her confused and reeling.

Before Lilly can absorb this unwelcome news, she's attacked. Could it be the sinister Servant Girl Killer who has been terrorizing Austin? Or is it someone after something more personal--someone from her past?

Does she dare trust Andrew to help or is he part of the danger threatening to draw Lilly into its vortex?
Author Colleen Coble is one of my favorite storytellers. Her Inspirational Romantic Suspense works, whether historical or contemporary, take me back to a very enjoyable time in my life. As a young reader, I devoured Gothic romance tales, and it is a real pleasure to be reminded of why I was so captivated by these involving and entertaining story lines. "Butterfly Palace" is set in Texas in the early 20th century, a time of great change and great disparity between the wealthy and those less fortunate. Lily Donaldson and Andy Hawkins were young, and in love, and their fathers were business partners. When a fire destroys the livery business, taking the lives of both fathers, Drew blames himself for not being able to rescue them. He leaves Lily and their hometown of Larson behind. Lily is devastated, even more so when her mother passes away, leaving Lily alone in the world. Able to obtain a position as a housemaid for a wealthy Austin family, Lily determines to move forward, trying to accept the hardships which have taken away her own home and loved ones. However, she is unprepared to find Andy, now known as "Drew Hawkes", mingling with the wealthy and urging her to keep their past relationship a secret. There are other strange aspects to her new world. Her employer, Mr. Marshall is an avid, obsessed collector of butterflies from around the world, thus giving his mansion the name of "Butterfly Palace". While Lily finds the collection of beautiful dead butterflies to be quite creepy, even more disturbing is the threat of the "Servant Girl Killer", a murderer stalking young house servants like Lily. When Lily survives an attack on her life, she needs Drew more than ever, but can she trust him? He has a hidden agenda, part of which seems to be a courtship with the Marshall's niece, Belle. Will Lily be trapped, just like the beautiful dead things in the butterfly cases, or will the courage of faith and a renewal of love and hope lead her into the light of a bright new future?

Review Copy Gratis Thomas Nelson Books via BookLook Bloggers
Echoes of Mercy
When a suspicious accident occurs at the Dinsmore Chocolate Factory in Sinclair, Kansas, in 1904, Caroline Lang goes undercover as a factory worker to investigate. Oliver Dinsmore, heir to the Dinsmore candy dynasty, has his own investigation to conduct. Posing as a common worker known as “Ollie Moore,” he aims to find out all he can about the family business before he takes over for his father.
In Kansas of the early twentieth century, child labor was still a common practice in factories. Youngsters faced long, hard days in exchange for pennies, and being kept from attending school in order to not lose work often gave them little hope of improving their lot in life. "Echoes of Mercy", by Kim Vogel Sawyer, focuses attention on this time period in American History, when revolutionary changes in American industry created a high demand for a growing workforce. Caroline Lang's own unfortunate childhood, combined with an abiding faith, lead her to devote her own life to improving the lives of others. Working as an investigator for the Labor Commission, Caroline often went undercover to expose dangerous working conditions and mistreatment of child laborers. Her latest assignment sends her to Dinsmore's World-Famous Chocolates Factory in Sinclair, Kansas, where one of her fellow labor investigators has died under mysterious circumstances. Upon being hired at the factory as "Carrie Lang", Caroline is befriended by "Ollie Moore", the janitor at the factory. Unbeknownst to anyone, Ollie is really Oliver Dinsmore, heir to candy factory family, sent by his father to check out what's really going on with the facility and its employees. Ollie and Carrie become friends, even if they don't always see eye-to-eye. When all truths are revealed, will honesty and faith leave the door open for their friendship to lead to something more? Author Kim Vogel Sawyer always weaves together history, romance, and inspiring hope into entertaining, enjoyable story lines.

Review Copy Gratis WaterBrook Press via Blogging For Books
What Once Was Lost: A Novel
A woman meant to serve, a child in the dark, a man standing apart—can these three souls embrace a God with new plans for them?

On a small Kansas farm, Christina Willems lovingly shepherds a group of poor and displaced individuals who count on her leadership and have come to see the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor as their home. But when a fire breaks out in the kitchen leaving the house inhabitable, she must scramble to find shelter for all in her care, scattering her dear “family.”

With no other options, Christina is forced to approach Levi Jonnson, a reclusive mill owner, to take in a young blind boy named Tommy Kilgore. Levi agrees with reluctance but finds himself surprised by the bond that quickly grows between him and Tommy. As obstacles to repairing the farm pile up against Christina, she begins to question her leadership ability and wonders if she can fulfill the mission to which she's dedicated her life. And when an old adversary challenges Christina, will she find an unlikely ally—or more—in the aloof Levi? Can Levi reconcile with the rejection that led to his hermit-like existence and open his heart and life to something more, especially a relationship with a loving God?
Set in Kansas in the late 1800's, "What Once Was Lost" is a poignant and ultimately uplifting tale of hardship, endurance, spiritual renewal, and connecting by heart. Author Kim Vogel Sawyer is a skilled story teller whose historical detail, well-developed characters, and interesting story line will keep the reader involved until the last page is turned. After her father's death, Christina Willems assumes the responsibility for the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor, a refuge for displaced indigents. A devastating fire forces Christina and the poor house residents to find new living quarters. A young blind boy, Tommy Kilgore, is the last one to be placed, and Christina turns to an unlikely source for assistance. Levi Jonnson, the local mill owner, is a taciturn recluse who lost his faith due to a great hurt in his past. He agrees to take Tommy in on a temporary basis, and a surprising bond grows between the two, with each of them learning much from each other. As Christina works to find a way to rebuild the poor house, someone from her past is working against her. While she struggles with mounting trials and tribulations, an appreciation and attraction blooms between her and Levi. Will accepting unexpected help and support give Christina the personal encouragement she needs? Will seeing through the eyes of a young blind boy open Levi's heart and help him to see his own faith again? This story is told from the viewpoints of the different characters, and readers will be particularly touched by Tommy's "vision" of the world around him.

Review Copy Gratis WaterBrook Press via Blogging for Books
A Match Made in Texas
In the small town of Dry Gulch, Texas, a good-hearted busybody just can't keep herself from surreptitiously trying to match up women in dire straits with men of good character she hopes can help them. How is she to know she's also giving each couple a little nudge toward love?

A Cowboy Unmatched
Neill isn't sure who hired him to repair Clara's roof--he only knows Clara desperately needs his help. Can he convince this stubborn widow to let down her guard and take another chance on love?

An Unforeseen Match
Hoping to earn an honest wage on his way to the land rush, Clayton ends up on Grace's doorstep, lured by a classified ad. He may have signed on for more than he expected though--and he may have found the one woman who can keep him from moving on.

No Match for Love
Andrew can't fathom how refined Lucy ended up as the caretaker to his dotty aunt, and somehow her arrival has prompted even more bizarre occurrences around the ranch. When they join forces to unearth the truth, will the attraction between Andrew and Lucy develop into more?

Meeting Her Match
When the tables are turned and a tenderhearted meddler becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme, her world is turned upside down. As her entire life changes, will she finally be able to tell the banker's son how much she cares for him?
Four very talented authors join together to form "A Match Made in Texas", a delightful collection of connected novellas. In 1893, in the small Texas town of Dry Gulch, a do-gooder with a well-intentioned heart goes out of her way to nudge people in the right direction, especially towards each other. Helping folks find what they need comes naturally to school teacher Hannah Taylor--it's something she's done all her life. Assisting her mother in managing their large family has made her wise in the ways of human behavior. In "A Cowboy Unmatched", by Karen Witemeyer, someone sends Neill Archer to repair Clara Danvers roof. What he discovers is a very pregnant young widow who needs emotional support that he is suddenly quite willing to give. Being with Clara, and helping her deliver her babe, brings out all his family man instincts, but can he convince Clara they are meant to be together? Author Regina Jennings tells the story of Clayton Weber, a scarred man with a troubled past who comes to Dry Gulch when he loses his horse. On his way to a land run to claim a homestead of his own, he must find a way to gain much-needed funds. When he finds a newspaper stuck in his saddlebag, a classified ad leads him to Grace O'Malley. Grace is losing her sight, and she needs help to manage her ranch. She also needs the loving care of the right man to help lead her into a happy, fulfilling life--but will Clayton change his plans to stay with Grace? In author Carol Cox's story, unexpected allies find that they are "No Match for Love". Lucy Benson finds herself with limited choices when she is beset by both strained finances and the need to find a new place to live. A persistent suitor offers marriage, but Lucy knows that is not the right answer to her problems. A train ticket from a mysterious donor sends her to work as a companion for an elderly lady determined to live out her days on the ranch she shared with her late husband. The woman's nephew, Andrew Simms, isn't sure that lovely and refined Lucy is the right person to care for his aunt, but strange circumstances find them working together to protect his aunt and safeguard the ranch. Will a burgeoning friendship blossom into something more? Finally, storyteller Mary Connealy gives the matchmaker of Dry Gulch a taste of her own medicine in "Meeting Her Match". When Hannah Taylor's mother dies in childbirth, her father and younger siblings become increasingly dependent on Hannah, leaving her to despair of ever having a life of her own. When her father unexpectedly marries the waitress from the town diner, Hannah is put out of her own home and sent to live in the room the waitress had occupied above the diner. With her world turned upside down, Hannah feels very much alone. However one person has always cared for her, but he is too shy to speak his true feelings. Marcus Whitfield, son of the local banker, cares deeply for Hannah--can he show her with his ways, as well as his words, what he feels in his heart? I am a fan of each one of these terrific authors on their own. Together, the four of them offer a real treat for readers.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
Where Courage Calls: A When Calls the Heart Novel
Her courage and her heart will be tested in ways she never expected...

Beth Thatcher has spent her entire life in the safe, comfortable world of her family, her friends, and the social outings her father's wealth provides. But Beth is about to leave it all behind to accept a teaching position in the rugged foothills of western Canada. Inspired by her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years ago, and gently encouraged by her father, Beth resolves to put her trust in God and bravely face any challenge that comes her way.

But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she'd feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have had very little prior education, and many of the locals don't even speak English. There isn't even a proper schoolhouse. In addition, Beth's heart is torn between two young men--both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the many challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she's had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?

A special companion story to Hallmark Channel's "When Calls the Heart" TV series.
Written by renowned inspirational author Janette Oke, and her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan, "Where Courage Calls: A When Calls the Heart Novel" will touch and encourage the hearts of readers. When Beth Thatcher answers the call of the Canadian West, she leaves behind a life of privilege to become a teacher in the impoverished mining town of Coal Valley. Long coddled by her wealthy family, and considered to be of "sensitive" health, Beth is taking a leap of faith, inspired by her beloved and courageous Aunt Elizabeth, who years before made a similar move. What Beth discovers are living conditions far worse than she expected, but she is determined to work out the terms of her one-year teaching agreement. Complicating her days are the attentions of two Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers. One, Edward Montclair, is someone she has known for her entire life. The other, Jarrick Thornton, is a new acquaintance who becomes a kind friend. As Beth and the locals come to know each other, they each learn much from one another. Beth's faith is tested time and again, and comes back stronger each time. Despite the hardships, much about the community of Coal Valley and its residents becomes dear to Beth--when the year is over, will she return to her former life? "Where Courage Calls: A When Calls the Heart Novel" is special companion story to Hallmark Channel's "When Calls the Heart" TV series.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books