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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Brunch at bittersweet cafe FB Banner

About the Book

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

About the Author

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

Guest Post from Carla

“Confessions of An Erstwhile Baker”

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


This book has been  such a joy to read.   I loved reading about how breads were made.  The author described the technique so well, I could smell delicious aromas of bread as it browned in the oven. Melody is very unhappy in her mundane job of baker. She has long hours and the same routine is getting to her. She has always dreamed of being a pastry chef and owning her own place. She has not been happy in awhile and her dating life hasn't exactly been anything to talk about. It was interesting to read about the different desserts Melody made at home and then posted on line. I thought that was such a clever idea. 

Justin is quite an intriguing character. His job as a pilot fascinated me. I do not like flying at all, but he makes it sound fun and adventurous.  When he and Melody first meet it was kinda comical. Here is this very confidant person who knows about motors, cars, planes etc and ends up stuck in the snow. 

The story takes us on a journey with two people discovering what they want to do with their lives and being content where God has them until He changes things. Both have issues from their past that will hamper their relationship until they find a way to overcome it. I loved reading how the character's were vulnerable at times and opened up to each other. Justin seems to be a bit more smitten than Melody but I think she is still having trust issues.  There is a tug of war going on within these two characters. 

The story is very hard to put down and I loved how easy it flowed. The characters from the first book in the series play an intricate part in this story. I love when a series can continue without a hitch and you quickly can pick up where the series ended without being lost. The author has a beautiful way of describing even the smallest detail which puts you right there in the middle of the story. I wanted to watch Melody as she made her desserts and get to taste each one just as she finished them.

There is a conflict between Melody and one of her friends that really questions if Melody is committed to the plan with her friend.  Will Justin and Melody find a way to be together or will their careers get in the way? They each have hard decisions to make and at this point I started tearing up. I know what it's like to be scared of making the wrong decision. I loved what Melody's mom says to her, "Which regret can you live with? And which one would tear you apart?" The story is an emotional roller coaster and one I found very invested in. I am anxiously awaiting the next in this beautifully written series.

" When we let ourselves cry over things that weren't ours in the first place, its like telling God that we don't appreciate what He's actually given us."

I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher and Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

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


brunch at bittersweet cafe giveaway
To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize package of a macaron baking mat, a macaron book, and a paperback copy of Brunch at Bittersweet Café!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Finding Amore Facebook Banner

About the Book

Finding Amor Cover
Title: Finding Amor
Author: Allison K. Garcia
Genre: Latino Christian Fiction
Release date: September 8, 2018
In a world filled with hate, how can you know what love is?
Escaping a violent and abusive environment, eight-year-old Emanuel Martinez attempts to cross through three countries to be with his mother, Ana, whom he hasn’t seen since he was a baby. When la migra catches him at the border and he’s thrown into an immigration center, his dreams for being a real family start to disappear.
Vowing never to be like her own mother who abandoned her and never looked back, Ana has worked for six years to get her son to the United States, Now Ana has to rely on her distant mother and her alcoholic boyfriend, Carlos, to finally get her son to her side so they can build a life together.
When Lauren Barrett agrees to help with the afterschool program, she soon realizes she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Growing up in an unsupportive home has made her insecure and vulnerable, plus suffering through years of infertility hasn’t helped matters. Yet she longs to do something meaningful with her life and wonders when that opportunity will come along. When a special young boy named Emanuel enters her life, he turns her worldview on its head.
As their lives intersect, will they help each other understand what family and love and home really mean?

About the Author

Allison GarciaAllison K. Garcia is a Licensed Professional Counselor, but she has wanted to be a writer ever since she could hold a pencil. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Shenandoah Valley Writers, Virginia Writers Club, and is Municipal Liaison for Shenandoah Valley NaNoWriMo.
Allison’s short story, “At Heart,” was published in the Winter 2013 edition of From the Depths literary magazine, along with her flash fiction. Her work, “You Shall Receive,” was published in GrayHaven Comics’s 2014 All Women’s anthology. Winning an honorary mention in the ACFW Virginia 2015 short story contest, “Just Another Navidad” was published in A bit of Christmas. Allison’s book, Vivir el Dream, published May 2017, has won several prestigious awards: 2016 ACFW Genesis Contest Finalist, 2018 Eric J. Hoffer Montaigne Medal Finalist, Honorary Mention in the 2018 Eric. J. Hoffer Awards E-book category, and 2018 IAN Book of the Year Awards Finalist in the Christian/Relgious Fiction category. Her highly-anticipated novel, Finding Amor, was released in September 2018.
Latina at heart, Allison has been featured in local newspapers for her connections in the Latino community in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A member of cultural competency committees for work and a participant in several pro-immigrant rallies and other events in her region, she also sings on the worship team and enjoys get-togethers with the hermanos in her church. With the help of her husband, Julio, and their son, Miguel, she has been able to nurture her love for the Latino people.

Guest Post from Allison

It’s All About Love: Loving God and Loving Your Neighbor
Finding Amor is the first part of a larger series, Buscando Home, about a family from El Salvador broken through decades of war, violence, and distance. Finding Amor is the first glimpse into their world – why they are broken, some of what they’ve gone through, and how far they have to go in order to heal and find peace and home together. Finding Amor is about finding the love of family, God, and within ourselves. It also calls people to loving both God and their neighbors, the two main tenants of Christianity.
Since 2012, God has been calling me to write Latino Christian fiction. He led me to write my multi-awarding winning debut novel, Vivir el Dream, in 2012 and then in 2014, He led me to write Finding Amor.
Finding Amor was by a couple things in 2014. I was watching the news and saw a video of little kids on a bus near an immigration detention center. Outside the bus angry Americans were protesting, yelling at them and carrying signs. It broke my heart. I thought about how scary it must be for those small children to be surrounded by an angry mob after what was surely a traumatic border crossing. And I began to think how most likely some of those people yelling angrily at the children were also proclaiming to be Christians (as I had heard echoed sentiments in our community). I wanted to change the narrative. This is the first scene of my book. I wanted to give an insider perspective on how scary this is to experience as a child. The other thing that inspired my book was a true story from my church about how a little boy in the afterschool program came to Christ and subsequently brought many of the other little kids to salvation as well. That touched my heart, and from there my main character, Emanuel, was born.
My main goals for writing Latino Christian fiction are to have Latinos represented in Christian fiction, share God’s word, and show authentic stories of undocumented immigrants so that people can open their hearts and minds and grow in compassion and love and understanding. In showing real stories and explaining the whys and showing the human side to immigration, my hope is that people who have negative views towards immigrants will understand more and realize that we are called to love our neighbors, no matter what their documentation status or skin color or language, etc. I purposefully put a very diverse group of people in the book, because it represents America and also in Revelations is shows Heaven as a place where “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” people are praising God. Also there are important verses that remind us that we cannot love God if we do not love our neighbor. We cannot love God without loving our neighbor anymore than we can love our neighbor without loving God. This is another theme that is represented in Lauren’s story. Seeing her neighbors in a new light and seeing the love they show her, helps her grow to love others and herself more. So, for me, the trauma and drama and debates in the U.S. boil down to a lack of love.
My hope as a writer is that Finding Amor reminds them that everyone has a story. We often judge a book by its cover and as Christians, that’s not okay. We are called to love everyone, unconditionally. I hope that sticks with them.


The book is a realistic view of immigration in our country today. It is such a timely book that holds nothing back. We have seen on the news about people wanting to come to the U.S. for a better life. They are desperate and are willing to pay anything to get here. What we forget about is the children that are caught in the middle. This story opened my eyes and heart to a new way of thinking. Everyone wants a safe place to call home and to be loved. In this story we find a young boy trapped in one country and what he goes through to live in the U.S.

Emmanuel is a young boy who longs for his mother. It was hard to read all the things he saw and went through as he went to immigration camps. Emmanuel has seen brutality and felt hunger as he hoped someone would save him.  When he is finally reunited with his mother Ana, I wasn't sure if Emmanuel was coming to a better environment. The boyfriend was horrible and I felt so bad that Ana and Emmanuel endured emotional abuse from him. 

I did enjoy reading about the culture and the foods that Ana cooked.  The story is  rich in heritage and gives us a glimpse into their culture. I understand why Spanish was included in the story but it was hard for me to focus when I had to keep looking at the footnotes to understand what was being said. I'm hoping in the next book the author can find a better way to keep Spanish in the story but have the English meaning in an easier place so readers are not distracted. 

For me, I loved the theme of the story which is love. We all come from different backgrounds,, but God desires us to love and accept each other. Emmanuel and his mom both suffered from lack of love and a feeling of belonging.  I applaud the author for tackling a subject that is controversial but written with realism. 

I loved the bond between Lauren and Emmanuel. Her need to have a child has broken her heart, but God had a plan for her. This young lost boy named Emmanuel needed someone just like Lauren to show him love and lead him to know who Jesus is. Each time she spends with Emmanuel and the other children in the after school program, God fills her heart with love for the children .  Her desire had been answered by God but not in the way she thought it would happen. I loved how God gave Lauren lots of children to love on and it filled her with joy.

The ending is a big cliffhanger and I can't wait to read it. Thank you for writing a story that reminds us to love one another.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

Mary Hake, February 3
100 Pages per Hour, February 4
Carla Loves To Read, February 5
A Diva’s Heart, February 6
Bigreadersite, February 7
Multifarious, February 8
Bibliophile Reviews, February 10
Carpe Diem, February 11
Creating Romance, February 12
Texas Book-aholic, February 14
Janices book reviews, February 15


To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away a grand prize of gift basket that inlcudes a copy of The Ultimate Authorship Planner, 4 Christian novels, chocolate, and other surprise items!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


This is a beautiful historical book that is set in Texas with vivid descriptions.  The author does an excellent job of taking readers back to 1865. I was  excited to see a character from another book in the series make an appearance if only by name in this story. It is nice to see how authors can weave characters throughout a series with no gaps.

Ellis is a fierce and determined woman. When she rescues an unconscious man floating near the river the action really starts in the book.  The scene where she goes in the water with snakes had me on the edge of my seat. Her bravery was evident as she never gives up trying to save the man. I don't think a few of her family members were thrilled to see the man and have Ellis take care of him.

Clay was on a secret mission t when he becomes injured. Can you imagine his thoughts when he woke up to see Ellis looking at him? Clay has said  some things while having high fever that has Ellis a let nervous. Is Clay trustworthy or is he there to cause harm to her  and her family? The story had a bit of intrigue with Clay hiding secrets and Ellis becoming suspicious of him. Who shot Cay that day when Ellis found him? As danger come to Ellis and her family because Clay is there?

 I enjoyed the banter between Ellis and Clay and it was fun to read how their relationship developed. There are some really funny moments in the story that will catch readers snickering as they see a different side to Ellis and Clay's relationship. It makes me think maybe they are becoming comfortable with each other.   I loved the references of places like the Brazos River since I'm a Texan. It is easy to tell the author has done her homework on historical facts that make the story realistic The ending is filled with action and ties the story up nicely. .Fans of historical books will enjoy this story filled with intrigue, secrets, romance and faith. I encourage readers to read the what the author included at the end of the book. There are interesting historical facts and other tidbits that really enhanced the story.

I received a copy of this book from  Barbour Publishing  and was under no obligation to to post a review.
The Amish Candy Maker FB Banner

About the Book

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

About the Author

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

Guest Post from Laura


Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge
Courtesy of Laura V. Hilton

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


It was hard not to crave candy as I read this book. The author really piqued my interest in making fudge as one of the main character's owns a Candy Shop. It was easy to like Agnes because she was thoughtful, giving and a hard worker. She has been through a tragedy and now is on her own. I  loved reading about her shop and I could smell the aromas of chocolate and other delicious flavors floating throughout her shop. A lot of Amish stories seem to be centered around bakeries or restaurants, so this was a very refreshing setting.

It was easy for me to like Agnes because I could relate to her struggles. She has a hard time believing that God loves her, and I struggle with that same issue. Her father was a bit hard on her and left a lasting impression that if she didn't marry Gabe  she would be  alone forever. It must have been heartbreaking for her when Gabe married someone else. Her self-esteem really needed a pick me up. Have you ever thought that no one would want you? Agnes doesn't see herself as God does. She has believed all these years that she is not worthy to be loved. 

Isaac comes into the story when his brother is severely injured . His  brother and sister- in -law need to travel to a hospital for a period of time for him to receive treatment. I wasn't sure about Isaac for awhile. He was arrogant and way to flirty. He seemed to be put off having to take care of his nieces and nephew while his brother is away. He has an attraction to Agnes right away which didn't set well with me. I wanted to tell him to back off and worry about what he came to town for. Does he like Agnes because he needs help with the children? 

As the story progresses, the author gives us insight into two hurting people both wanting answers from God. I can't tell you how many times I have prayed about something, only to get no reply. It can be discouraging and a feeling of loneliness can set in. Agnes is seeking acceptance and Isaac is looking for forgiveness. The story is emotional at times and shows that everyone at some point in their life struggle with their faith.   it is a great book with  characters many can relate to. 

I loved the story and how the author used scriptures at just the right time in the story to emphasize a point. There is much wisdom in this book with lessons in forgiveness, acceptance and trusting God. 

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

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


To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away a grand prize of a large and small spatula set and a $10 Starbucks gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.