Posted in Book Reviews, Celebrate Lit Reviews

Review and Giveaway for “Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe”

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About the Book

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Title: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

Author: Carla Laureano

Genre: Christian Romance

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Tyndale

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

Click here to purchase your copy.

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Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe is one of those books that made me want to keep reading.  The idea of a couple who find themselves being drawn to each other despite a determination to not become involved with each other reminds me of my husband and myself when we first met.  I found the characters likable and interesting.  The plot keep me interested and wanting to see how the story turned out in the end.

Given that our youngest son had dreams at one point of becoming a chef, I loved reading about Melody and her adventures as a chef.  I also could relate to finding myself in a rut like Melody and wanting more out of life.  The idea of having to choose between the man I love and my dream career or business opportunities also provides ties to my own experiences.

So if you want to read a book about dreams, adventures and deciding what your heart truly desires, check out Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe for yourself.

About the Author

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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

“Confessions of An Erstwhile Baker”

Like most females, baking is encoded somewhere deep down in my DNA. Call it nature or call it nurture, but at the earliest age, I figured out that the cute boy in my English class would talk to me if it involved chocolate chip cookies. Got my heart broken or had a friend betray me? I grabbed the mixing bowl and went for the brownies (even better if they’re served à la mode.) My friend was having a birthday? I made a cake drowned in pounds of buttercream.

I quickly graduated from the boxed mixes to the real thing when I got married and had a kitchen large enough to roll out dough. I would comb magazines for the best recipes and spend my weekends trying them out. I quickly became known for bringing beautifully iced Christmas cookies and delicious homemade cakes to work.

Then my husband and I moved our young family from Los Angeles to Denver, a relocation that was about 1000 miles northeast and 5000 feet up. Suddenly, every recipe I’d perfected in the previous eight years failed. Cookies burned to crisps, cakes fell, and don’t get me started on candy making. Gradually, I adapted my recipes (my beloved never-fail Toll House recipe took eight tries to get right) and even became an avid artisan bread-baker.

Then disaster. Or at least, what a baker would consider a disaster. After developing chronic health problems, I discovered that among other things, I was sensitive to gluten. The horror! In order to heal, I turned to the paleo diet, which eliminates all grains (there goes most gluten free recipes) and all processed sugars (there goes everything else). I’ve tried baking paleo-style, and while I can now make cakes that even my gluten-fiend family enjoy, it’s just not the same.

So what’s a once-obsessive baker do when she can’t eat her creations? She bakes for other people and goes on faith that they actually taste good… considering she can’t taste them herself.

It struck me that there was a spiritual lesson in that, and an obvious tie to Brunch at Bittersweet Café, which deals in large part with Melody’s faith journey. There are times when we have no idea if things are working out the way they’re supposed to, in which case we just have to trust the “recipe” and the input of friends and family who love us. Sometimes our instincts tell us when we’re off track, and sometimes we need that outside nudge from our “taste-testers” to put us back on course.

In any case, what Melody and I have in common is that we both bake to show our love for the people around us. And the process of baking my favorites, even knowing that I can’t enjoy them myself, can still be a selfless way to show people they’re important to me.

Fortunately, macarons, which happen to be made with almond flour, are still on the menu.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, February 12

Among the Reads, February 12

Lighthouse Academy, February 12

By The Book, February 12

The Power of Words, February 13

As He Leads is Joy, February 13

Cultivating Us, February 13

Blossoms and Blessings, February 13

Fiction Aficionado, February 14

The Lit Addict, February 14

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, February 14

This Chattanooga Mommy Saves, February 14

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 15

Just the Write Escape, February 15

100 Pages per Hour, February 15

Splashes of Joy, February 15

Bibliophile Reviews, February 16

Texas Book-aholic, February 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 16

C Jane Read, February 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 17

Moments, February 17

Back Porch Reads, February 17

Cordially Barbara, February 18

Genesis 5020, February 18

Simple Harvest Reads, February 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 18

Livin’ Lit, February 19

Kat’s Corner Books, February 19

Life with the Tribe, February 19

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 19

Through the Fire Blogs, February 20

Remembrancy, February 20

Vicky Sluiter, February 20

Living Life Free in Christ, February 20

2014 and Beyond!, February 21

Daysong Reflections, February 21

Inklings and Notions, February 21

Pause for Tales, February 21

Cafinated Reads, February 22

Tell Tale Book Reviews, February 22

two points of interest, February 22

Ashley’s Bookshelf, February 22

My Devotional Thoughts, February 23

Two Girls and a Book, February 23

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 23

For the love of books, February 23

God is Love, February 24

Book by Book, February 24

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 24

Janices book reviews, February 24

Lukewarm Tea, February 25

Carpe Diem, February 25

A Baker’s Perspective, February 25

Bigreadersite, February 25

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize package of a macaron baking mat, a macaron book, and a paperback copy of Brunch at Bittersweet Café!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/db0f/brunch-at-bittersweet-cafe-celebration-tour-giveaway

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Posted in Book Reviews, Celebrate Lit Reviews

Review and Giveaway for Fatal Homecoming

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About the Book

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Title: Fatal Homecoming

Author: Stacey Weeks

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Write Integrity Press

It was murder. She was sure. And that assurance could cost her life.

Undercover RCMP officer Rick Chandler poses as a detective in the small town of Chenaniah River. He is investigating the possibility of a corrupt police force when Jessie returns to bury her brother, and she refuses to believe evidence that point to her deceased brother’s involvement in drug trafficking. Soon, the same person that murdered her brother targets her. Can Rick help Jessie dodge bullets, escape fires, and exonerate her brother before the attacks escalate?

 

Jessie Berns has returned to her hometown to find answers about her brother’s suspicious death. With the help of an old friend, Detective Rick Chandler, they pursue a truth that someone is willing to do anything to keep hidden—even kill again. They uncover decades-old secrets that expose hidden sins and threaten the lifestyles of high-powered people in their small town.

As they close in on the devious mastermind manipulating the community, it becomes frighteningly clear to Rick that Jessie is not the one calling the shots in her amateur investigation. She is the killer’s new target.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

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If you want a book that has an incredible amount of nonstop action and intrigue, then this is the book for you.  From the moment I started reading, I could not bear to put the book down.  Stacey Weeks masters the art of creating a spellbinding story.  Between Jessie Berns and Rick Chandler, constant action and mystery keeps the reader guessing about what is actually going to happen.

With extended family members, an estranged father, and a brother who was murdered, Jessie Bern creates a desire in the reader to see her find answers, find peace and find closure.  With secrets of his own, Rick Chandler initially desires to keep Jessie safe because she and her brother were childhood friends.  But quickly those feelings become something more.

While this book definitely is from a Christian perspective, it does not slam the reader in the face with those ideas.  Instead, Jessie and Rick have to overcome obstacles to their faith that brings them closer to each other and to God.

No one knows who to trust with drugs, secrets, murders and attempted murders the action keeps the reader on their toes.  At various points, I felt I knew who was behind the murder and attempted murders, but I wanted it to be someone different.  I have to say the ending of the story brought closure and a sense the book ended in a satisfactory way. So if you enjoy reading Christian mysteries, check this book out for yourself.

About the Author

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Stacey Weeks: My primary ministry in life crowds around my dining room table like a ravenous herd every night. My husband and children are both my greatest blessing and greatest ministry opportunity. Caring for them is a privilege bestowed upon me as wife and mother.

I believe God simultaneously called Kevin and me into ministry. Kevin’s calling was clear – he is a pastor. I, on the other hand, took years to recognize the specific areas in which I was equipped and called serve. I believe that God has called me to meet Kevin’s needs, to meet the needs of our children, and to serve Him personally.

 

Guest Post from Stacey Weeks

A Pile of Stones

Often, the things I am studying in the bible make their way into my novels. At the time of writing Fatal Homecoming, I was reading the book of Joshua.

In Joshua chapter four, Joshua describes the pile of stones the Israelites built as a memorial to God. Those stones were evidence of the Lord’s provision for them. The monument was a reminder to future generations that God had delivered his people.

In Fatal Homecoming, Jessie needs to remember God’s provision. She wears a unique pendant passed down through the women of her family. Her necklace is comprised of river stones that represent the rocks from Joshua. They are to remind that God always meets His children in their moment of need.

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Shortly after writing this necklace into Fatal Homecoming crisis struck a good friend of mine. As our church gathered around a suffering family to love and support them in their time of need, I decided to make a real pendant of stones to give to my friend to remind her and to remind me that God meets every need in His time and in His way.

The pendant of stones can be strung on a necklace or keychain. It is more than words on paper and more than a pile of rocks strung on a string. It was a reference point. They mark where God gave me a story to share so that others may know and believe.

If you are the lucky winner of this pendant of stones, I pray that every time you look at it, touch it, and feel the weight of it around your neck that you will remember to believe that your God is good. Always.

 

Stacey has also gifted all the blog readers with a short story to download. Enjoy!

Click here to download.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 14

Carpe Diem, February 14

Real World Bible Study, February 15

Blogging With Carol, February 15

Multifarious, February 16

Mary Hake, February 16

Bibliophile Reviews, February 17

Bukwurmzzz, February 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 18

Maureen’s Musings, February 18

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 19

Texas Book-aholic, February 19

Through the Fire Blogs, February 20

Ashley’s Bookshelf, February 20

Quiet Quilter, February 21

Inklings and Notions, February 21

Daysong Reflections, February 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 22

As He Leads is Joy, February 23

Simple Harvest Reads, February 23 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Spoken from the Heart, February 24

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 24

EmpowerMoms, February 25

Janices book reviews , February 25

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 26

Bigreadersite , February 26

A Baker’s Perspective, February 27

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Stacey is giving away a grand prize of a beautiful handmade necklace (May vary from picture)!!

Be sure to enter the giveaway for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/da8a/fatal-homecoming-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

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