Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Excellent conclusion to the series! - "Seasons of Tomorrow"

I have really enjoyed Cindy Woodsmall's Amish Vines and Orchards series! These books were not the "typical" Amish romance stories and I just loved everything that was a part of it - the romance, the family relationships, the mystery.  "Seasons of Tomorrow" is a well-written and wonderful conclusion to this series.  Rhoda has gone through much and has faced opposition, faced her own fears and pursued her dreams.  The King family has gone through much as well and yet that family tie always come through strong.  This is a wonderful series of family, facing fears, having faith and starting over and one that fans of Amish fiction do not want to miss out on!

*"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

I highly encourage you to check out Cindy's website!  It is beautiful and filled with information about new books, all of Cindy's previous books, has recipes and wonderful tidbits of information about the Amish culture! 

You can also connect with Cindy on facebook!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review - "The Manual To Manhood"

Cover Art

This book is AWESOME! "The Manual To Manhood" is a must-have for every teenage boy (although I have to admit that I learned a few things myself from reading it!). Jonathan Catherman has written the perfect book for teenage boys as it will teach boys much needed skills for being on their own, for being in a relationship and for overall living a comfortable life.  This book/guide is divided into well-defined sections and then further divided into chapters that focus on one aspect of the section.  For example, there is a section on money management and one of the chapters in this section addresses how to build up a savings account and another chapter is on managing a credit card.  Each and every lesson in this book teaches a valuable skill and it is very straightforward and explicit as it tells exactly what is needed and step by step instructions.  I was very intrigued when I was offered this book to review and I loved it!  My son is turning four this summer, so I know that it will be awhile still before he will need to know these skills, but this book will act as a guide for what he needs to be taught in upcoming years! 

*Thanks to the Revell Reads program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

"Monday, Monday" - an emotionally charged and well-written book

Monday, Monday: A Novel    
By Elizabeth Crook
Published by Sarah Crichton Books
Hardcover: 352 pages
April 29, 2014; $26.00 US/$30.00 CAN; 9781621451457
In this gripping, emotionally charged novel, a tragedy in Texas changes the course of three lives
On an oppressively hot Monday in August of 1966, a student and former marine named Charles Whitman hauled a footlocker of guns to the top of the University of Texas tower and began firing on pedestrians below. Before it was over, sixteen people had been killed and thirty-two wounded. It was the first mass shooting of civilians on a campus in American history.
Monday, Monday follows three students caught up in the massacre: Shelly, who leaves her math class and walks directly into the path of the bullets, and two cousins, Wyatt and Jack, who heroically rush from their classrooms to help the victims. On this searing day, a relationship begins that will eventually entangle these three young people in a forbidden love affair, an illicit pregnancy, and a vow of secrecy that will span forty years. Reunited decades after the tragedy, they will be forced to confront the event that changed their lives and that has silently and persistently ruled the lives of their children.
With electrifying storytelling and the powerful sense of destiny found in Ann Patchett's Bel Canto, and with the epic sweep of Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins, Elizabeth Crook's Monday, Monday explores the ways in which we sustain ourselves and one another when the unthinkable happens. At its core, it is the story of a woman determined to make peace with herself, with the people she loves, and with a history that will not let her go. A humane treatment of a national tragedy, it marks a generous and thrilling new direction for a gifted American writer.

Author Bio
Elizabeth Crook, 
author of Monday, Monday: A Novel, is the author of three novels, The Raven's Bride, Promised Lands, and The Night Journal. She has written for anthologies and periodicals, including Texas Monthly and the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, and has served on the council of the Texas Institute of Letters. Currently she is a member of the board of directors of the Texas Book Festival. She lives in Austin with her husband and two children.
For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook

"This rapturous novel starts with one of the most heinous shootings in history, yet every page shines with life. Crook follows three students who endured the tragedy as they grapple with the past, struggle to navigate their futures, and discover that who and what saves us is nothing like what you imagine. Brilliantly realized and so vivid the novel seems to virtually breathe, Monday, Monday is a stunning achievement."
-- Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
"Elizabeth Crook has written an extraordinary novel -- an eloquent love story born from an act of random violence, a tale of destruction and redemption. It's about making a whole life out of a damaged one, and about holding on and letting go. The characters are as real as people you know; their story is subtle, startling, and wise."
-- Sarah Bird, author of The Yokota Officers Club and Above the East China Sea
"Monday, Monday begins by throwing us into the midst of one of the worst mass murders in American history, a scene painted with such harrowing exactitude that it leaves you wondering how the characters can possibly survive and how the author can possibly sustain such a high level of narrative momentum and emotional insight. And yet Elizabeth Crook pulls it off. This is a brilliant and beautiful book."
-- Stephen Harrigan, author of The Gates of the Alamo and Remember Ben Clayton

My Review:
Elizabeth Crook has written a story that will pull you right into the story and keep you there until the very end of the book.  "Monday, Monday" is a story of three individuals and how their lives completely changed and became intertwined with each other as a result of a mass murder. Elizabeth has written a novel charged with emotion, and has brought the events and characters to life.  Although, the novel involved a difficult subject, it is written in a style that is easy to read and thoroughly engaging.  The strength that these characters have will leave the readers feeling hopeful about life and will leave them thinking about the story long after the book is finished.

Click here to read an excerpt from "Monday, Monday:" excerpt!

*Thanks to FSB Associates for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review - "Just 18 Summers"

"Just 18 Summer," written by Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox, is a well-written book that is needs to be on a must-read list for all mothers.  This book is eye-opening, thought-pondering and one that I will remember for a long time as I savor moments with my own two children.  Four families face the truth that they are given a limited time with their children as a family after Butch's wife Jenny passes away.  This is a women whom they are all grieving the loss of, but her passing also causes them to reflect upon their own lives and families and making the time that they do have together count.  I find this book to be very well-written and love that there are four families that are focused upon and the story is told from each of the family's view points.  Each family is different obviously and are in various stages and points in life, yet they each have the same thought of making the time together count instead of being caught up in just living life. 

*Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

"Meant to Be Mine" - one not to be missed!

"Meant to Be Mine," book 2 in Becky Wade's Porter Family series, is a must-read for any romantic Christian fiction fan! This is a fabulous book, one that I finished within two days because I could not put the book down, but at the same time I did not want to finish because it would mean the book was done. 
Ty and Celia have known each other for years as they went to school together, and then when they meet up again a few years later and after a few days wild romance they marry in a Vegas chapel.  However, after a change of heart in the morning, they have no contact for 5 years.  Celia cannot let go so easily though as nine months after their wedding night she gives birth to a baby girl.  Throughout these five years apart, Ty is very successful with pursuing his rodeo dream; yet Celia's dream is put on hold as she is caring for her daughter.  However, Ty cannot forget Celia and searches for her which completely turns his world upside down when he discovers that he has a daughter.  As Ty comes to terms with this, Celia must come to terms with her feelings and how her life is going to change, especially being taken care of when she is very independent and used to doing things herself.

I absolutely fell in love with this book and all of the characters (well except for Tawny!).  I loved the first book in the series and thought that would be hard to beat, but this one is just as good!  Ty and Celia were wonderful main characters, they were faced with challenged, they grew and developed as characters and were just wonderful to spend time with. I loved how the Porter family pitches in to help, and how accepting they are to Celia and Addie and Uncle Danny's antics.  Celia is forced to give up some control, face her fears and give her trust not only to an "imperfect" human, but to God as well.  I am looking forward to the third book in this series and cannot wait to revisit this family!  "Meant to Be Mine" is in the top 5 of my favorite books, highly recommend this, but also encourage you to read book 1 in the series first!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"A Beauty So Rare," a wonderful Civil War Era story!

"A Beauty So Rare," book 2 in Tamera Alexander's Belmont Mansion series, is filled with romance and secrets and the pages are oozing with vivid descriptions that bring this time period and story to life!  Eleanor has never considered herself to be a beauty, a Southern Belle, but merely a strong individual whom loves her family, cares about others and tries to do what's right.  As Eleanor is forced to get care for her father, she accepts her aunt's offer to live with her at Belmont Mansion.  Aunt Adelicia Acklen's plan is to find the perfect match for Eleanor so that she is cared for and lives the comfortable life; however this is not Eleanor's dream, but it is one that she succumbs because she feels she must. When Eleanor arrives at Belmont, she meets Marcus.  Marcus works at Belmont Mansion as a gardener and has a love for working with plants and he is grafting plants and trying to make them stronger.  However, he has secrets that he is hiding as does Eleanor.  Eleanor loves to cook and bake, but that is looked down upon in society; why would Eleanor want to cook for others?! 

"Just thinking of it again tempted Eleanor to smile.  That was the point in the conversation when the knot in the pit of her stomach that had bound her almost since the first day she'd set foot on the Belmont Estate again, had slowly, but most certainly, begun to unfurl.  
And it felt...wonderful. 
Freeing didn't even come close to describing it.  It was a feeling she wanted to cling to- and she knew the recipe for doing just that.  Although she'd suspected her aunt was going to like that news even less than she had this."

Eleanor has felt "stuck," not living her life how she wants to (including wearing pink!) and this was a moment I loved in the book as I could feel the relief oozing through Eleanor as she is feeling free and life is finally turning in the direction that she wants it to be, the life that she wants to live.

I highly recommend this book for historical fiction fans!  Tamera has the romance in this for all of us whom enjoy that piece of our books, but she also addresses subjects that are not often written about, including dementia and botany. Also, I loved Eleanor's passion for cooking and baking as I love trying out new recipes and enjoy being in the kitchen as well.  This is a book that you do not want to miss out on!

Write Perspectives with author Tamera Alexander: Pinterest Scavenger Hunt

Tamera Alexander has some more fun for all of us in celebration of her new novel!  Check this out!:

Write Perspectives with author Tamera Alexander: Pinterest Scavenger Hunt: Join me for a Pinterest Scavenger Hunt and win 1 of 7 copies of A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont Mansion series!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review - "Along Came You?

Book Description from the publisher:

Available for the first time as a fun and durable board book, the beautifully illustrated Along Came You is now perfectly suited for little hands and hearts. Ideal for Mother's Day, baby showers, birthdays, or any time a parent wants to express their love, this book's storyline highlights the positive ways in which parents' lives change when they have children. Author Karona Drummond, a certified elementary school teacher, employs storytelling techniques that will appeal to both the child and parent. The simple language and repetitive structure of the phrases make this a perfect read-along book that teachers, librarians, parents, and young readers will enjoy.

My Review:
"Along Came You" by Karona Drummond illustrated by Estelle Corke is one of my new favorite bedtime stories to read to my children.  This book is a sweet story of a mother explaining to her daughter how her life was before she had her and after.  "Along Came You" highlights the joy of having a child and expresses a mother's love toward her child. I love this book as it is well-written and also a sweet, beautiful story, it is a sturdy board book that is perfect for small children to hold onto and look through the pages and it is a must-read for parents and children alike.  I highly recommend this book and will be giving this as shower gifts in the future. 

*Thanks to the BookLook Bloggers Program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tracie Peterson celebrates 100 books with an iPad Mini Giveaway & A SENSIBLE ARRANGEMENT Live Webcast Event!

Tracie Peterson A Sensible Arrangement
Welcome to the campaign launch for Tracie Peterson's 100th book! A Sensible Arrangement launches Tracie's new Texas-based series, Lone Star Brides, that’s sure to please. As a special treat, devoted fans will be able to catch a glimpse of several popular characters from previous series.

Tracie is celebrating by giving away an iPad Mini and hosting a LIVE webcast event on 4/29.
  One winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 29th. Winner will be announced at the A Sensible Arrangement Live Webcast Event on April 29th. Connect with Tracie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tracie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, fun prizes, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of A Sensible Arrangement and join Tracie and friends on the evening of April 29th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

About the book: A Lone Star Brides book.
Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.
Answering an advertisement for a "Lone Star bride," she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn't know.
Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her.
Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.
When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake's yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty's dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.
What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways . . . and dreams and secrets collide?

Purchase a copy:

About the Author: Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. 

Learn more about Tracie at:

My Review:
"A Sensible Arrangement" is the perfect title for Tracie Peterson's latest (and her 100th!) novel, as that is something that both Jake and Marty are seeking.  Marty is seeking to move on with her life and not live with the memories that she has been for the past few years since her husband passed away. Jake is expected to be married and have a perfect wife on his arm at social events.  Marty responds to Jake's advertisement and this marriage seems to be the answer for both of them.  However, of course things do not go according to plan and the relationship changes in ways neither expected.
This is a great story and I am looking forward to the second one in the series!  The setting is well-described so that I felt as if I was truly a part of a story.  The historical details add so much to the story as well and I love books that bring history alive.  The main characters are flawed as each of us are and I felt that it made it easier to connect with them and really empathize with them throughout the story.  While I really liked both Jake and Marty, I also enjoyed the minor characters in the story as well, especially Alice and the role that she plays in Marty's life.  I recommend this book to historical fiction fans and am looking forward to reading the rest of this series!

To read other reviews included on this book blog tour, go here!

*Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for including me on this blog tour and for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

"Claiming Mariah" - a sweet story with secrets that have been hidden for years

Book Info
About the book: After her father's death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father's farm, the only home she's ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father's rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Frederick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.

With the ranch now under Slade's careful eye, he unearths more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal, and murder threatens the well-being of the ranch, endangering those who hold it dear. As the days dwindle until the rest of the Donovan clan arrives at the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed changes their futures forever.

Purchase a copy:

About the Author: Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of!

Learn more about Pam at:

My Review:
"Claiming Mariah" is a sweet romance by Pam Hillman which is filled with secrets, suspense and love. Pam dives right into the story and action on the very first page with the two Donovan brothers showing up at Mariah's home to claim the ranch as theirs due to the past between their fathers.  Mariah has been living on her family's ranch with her grandmother and she cannot believe the truth; however Mariah is concerned of her father's reputation and carrying for her grandmother and sister.  As Slade Donovan comes involved in Mariah's life and in the ranch, secrets are uncovered and things may not be as these two individuals have perceived them to be.  As Mariah seeks God's guidance she can feel His leading, but she is not prepared for what all is to come. 
This is such a sweet story and one that is filled with action and loveable characters that I was immediately engrossed in and did not want to stop reading!  There are things that are uncovered and past issues that need to be dealt with and so much growth and changes for these two main characters that you cannot help but become completely involved in their lives.  I highly recommend this historical romance set on a ranch as it will draw you into the story and on a journey with these characters. 

To read other reviews included on this blog tour, go here!

*Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for including me on this blog tour and for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tracy L. Higley’s THE QUEEN’S HANDMAID Kindle HDX giveaway!

Win a Kindle HDX!
The Queen's Handmaid
Tracy L. Higley is celebrating the release of The Queen's Handmaid with a fun giveaway.

Retailers + Resources gave it this glowing review: "Rich in historic detail, Higley’s vivid writing brings to life the plots and intrigues that swirled through the ancient world as alliances were built and broken on the calculated schemes of power-mad monarchs." 
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 19th. Winner will be announced April 21st on Tracy's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Tracy's blog on April 21st to see if you won.

Book Info
About the book: From the servant halls of Cleopatra's Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.
Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC
Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.
But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she's had to a family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.
Trapped among the scheming women of Herod's political family---his sister, his wife, and their mothers---and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.

Purchase a copy:

About the Author: Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at age eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored many novels, including Garden of Madness and So Shines the Night. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. 

See Tracy's travel journals and more at:

My Review:
Wow Tracy L. Higley has done it again - "The Queen's Handmaid" is historical fiction at it's best! Transported back in time to the year of 39 BC in Egypt, we meet Lydia, an orphan whom is uprooted from the only home she has known and become intertwined in Herod's household, a mission and danger. This book is packed full of historical details and vivid images making the setting and the characters come alive in the pages.  Tracy has a way with bringing history to life and helping her readers to feel as if they are a part of the characters' lives and experiences.  This is an exciting novel that is filled with secrecy and twists and turns, along with complicated relationships as Lydia is trying to fulfill her mission.  Once you begin reading, you are not going to want to stop!  I love that Tracy has included family trees at the beginning of the novel as this helped me keep the characters straight as to their connections and relationships throughout the story.  I highly recommend this book to those whom enjoy historical fiction set in Biblical times!

To read other reviews included on this book blog tour go here!

*Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for including me on this blog tour and for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Mom Seeks God Kindle HDX Giveaway and “Moms’ May Day” Facebook Party!

Julia Roller Mom Seeks God
Mom Seeks God by Julia Roller offers a highly relatable story and useful advice to help new moms grow in their faith as they address life changes with grace, patience, and prayer. As readers discover ten essential faith practices, they’ll learn that motherhood itself is a spiritual discipline and can be God’s most effective technique for forming a more Christ-like life.

Julia is celebrating the book's release with a fun giveaway and connecting with moms during a live Facebook author chat.

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • Mom Seeks God by Julia Roller
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 1st. Winner will be announced at "Moms' May Day" Facebook Party on May 1st. Connect with Julia for an encouraging discussion on spiritual discipline and finding joy in the middle of motherhood. Win prizes, connect with other moms, and be inspired.

So grab your copy of Mom Seeks God and join Julia on the evening of May 1st for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 1st!

About the book: The first months and years of motherhood can be the most challenging and disorienting of your life---and faith. When you're surrounded by the happy chaos of children, how do you spend quiet time with God if the only quiet time you get is while you sleep? How can you demonstrate a solid spiritual life to your children if you don't have time to pursue one yourself?
When Julia Roller discovered that her spiritual growth had been stunted by the busyness of life with her toddler, she embarked on a yearlong journey through ten spiritual disciplines: prayer, fellowship, submission, study, simplicity, silence, worship, fasting, service, and celebration. As she focused on each discipline, she discovered practical ways to observe them---even in the chaos of her every day.

Purchase a copy and find out more about Julia at:

About the Author: Julia Roller is an author and editor. Her books include Mom Seeks God (Abingdon Press), A Year with God (with Richard J. Foster), A Year with Aslan, and 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. Working with Renovaré, she has also co-authored four spiritual formation guides. She has written study guides for authors such as Desmond Tutu, Richard J. Foster, Henri Nouwen, Jenna Bush, and Rob Bell. Her articles have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, Street Spirit, Group, Rev.!, and Children's Ministry. She and her family live in San Diego, California.

My Review:
Being a mom is so rewarding, but it is also nonstop and can be extremely stressful and tiring leaving no energy for anything else including prayer and taking care of one's spiritual well-being.  Julia's book "Mom Seeks God: practicing grace in the chaos" is breath of fresh air and encouragement for each and every mom. Julia is straightforward and yet has a sweet conversational tone that immediately draws the reader into the book. This is a book that is filled with ideas and encouragement for dealing with the chaos with God's help and keeping Him a part of one's daily life.  What I love about this book is that it is practical and encouraging; meaning that I don't feel as if it would be a losing battle to make changes in my life. I love the tips included at the end of the chapters and look forward to implementing them. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Book Review - "What Follows After"

"What Follows After" is the latest novel from Dan Walsh and this is one not to be missed! Not only will you be completely engrossed in the story, you will be thinking of this story long after you finish reading as well.  Scott and Gina have been living a lie and have their sons, Colt and Timmy lying along with them.  Colt has had enough of the lies and the life they are all living and he devises a plan for he and Timmy to teach their parents a lesson.  However, things do not go according to plan and Scott and Gina are forced to reevaluate their lives and their choices.  This is an excellent book, (although I think I say that about everything by Dan Walsh!), but this really is! Dan does such a great job at creating stories that are so real and so engaging and thought-provoking.  The characters and their struggles and emotions are so real and life-like that it is so easy to relate to them and be caught up in their world.  I highly recommend this book for men and women to read, you will not be disappointed!
*Thanks to the Revell Reads program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Featured recipe from Tamera Alexander's latest book - "A Beauty So Rare"

Eleanor Braddocks Savory Custard

(or Ham and Cheddar Quiche)

From the novel A Beauty So Rare

by Tamera Alexander


Most people think quiche originated in France. Not so. Its originally a German dish and people referred to them as "savory custards" in the 19th century. Which is accurate since the egg-based mixture forms a luscious-like custard as it bakes.


In my novel, A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont Mansion series, the heroine, Eleanor Braddock, is "a cook with a dream." But her dreams dont quite turn out like she thinks they will. However, her savories always do!


I hope you enjoy this recipe (or "receipt" as recipes were called in the 1800s) from A Beauty So Rare. For more about A Beauty So Rare and for recipes from all my novels, visit





1 old-fashioned unbaked pie crust (recipe below)

1 large onion, diced (or sliced if you like larger pieces of onion in your savory)

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound cooked ham diced into cubes (if using bacon, use 8 slices, fried chewy, not too crisp)

8 large eggs

1-1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste (I always go heavier on the pepper, personal preference)

1 3/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated



Sauté onion in the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden brown. Set aside to cool.


Chop the ham into bite-sized pieces (or fry your bacon until chewy, then chop). Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pie crust and press into a deep dish pie plate. A medium-sized iron skillet works wonderfully for making a savory custard (and is what Eleanor used). The crust comes out divine. I just happened to use a pie plate this time.

Whip the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then mix in the onions, ham (or bacon), and cheese. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Cover the pie plate (or skillet) lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown. QUICK BAKING TIPS: The quiche may still seem a little loose when you first remove it from the oven, but it will firm up nicely once removed from the heat. Also, watch that lovely crust so the edges dont get overly brown. I use a silicone pie crust shield if that starts to happen. Those are a fabulous invention (but foil crimped around the edges works just as well).


Remove from the oven and allow the savory custard to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before diving in. Its so good, and just like Eleanor Braddock would make. Its also delicious left over and warmed up the next day.




Eleanor Braddocks Old-Fashioned Pie Crust

(makes two large crusts)

From the novel A Beauty So Rare

by Tamera Alexander


This is a wonderful crust that Ive been using for years. Eleanor would likely have used lard in place of Crisco (since lard was cheaper than butter in her day), and you may too, if you prefer. Yes, lard is still available on most grocery shelves, although Im pretty sure I just felt you shudder!


This pie crust "freezes beautifully " as they say in Steel Magnolias (instructions on freezing below), so even though I may need only one pie crust at the moment, I always use this recipe and make a second, and freeze it for later. Makes that next pie (or savory custard) go twice as fast!


1 ½ cups Crisco (or lard)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg

5 tablespoons ice water

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt


In a large bowl, using a pastry cutter (or two knives will do the job), gradually work the Crisco into the flour for 3 to 4 minutes until it resembles coarse meal. In a smaller bowl, whip the egg and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of ice-cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir gently until all ingredients are blended well.


Halve the dough. Form 2 evenly-sized balls of dough and place each into large sealable plastic bags. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each to about 1/2 inch thickness to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If youre using the crusts immediately, its still a good idea to let them chill in the freezer for about 15- 20 minutes. Theyll be much easier to work with.)


When youre ready to roll the dough for your crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes (if its frozen). On a well-floured surface, roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough if its too moist. If the dough starts to stick to the countertop, use a metal spatula and gently scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until its about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie plate (or iron skillet).


Using a spatula, carefully lift the dough from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. (I sometimes fold my well-floured dough in half and then "unfold" it onto iron skillet. Or you can lop it over your rolling pin. That works well, too.) Gently press the dough against the sides of the pan or skillet, getting it all tucked in. Then crimp the edges in whatever way you prefer. And now, youre ready for that yummy savory custard filling above, or maybe for a fruit pie.


If you make this recipe (or if youve read A Beauty So Rare), Id love to hear from you. You can write me through my website at

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Win a NEW Spring Wardrobe from Quilts of Love | “Maybelle in Stitches” Giveaway!

Quilts of Love Joyce Magnin Maybelle in Stitches
Don’t miss the newest Quilts of Love book, Maybelle in Stitches, by Joyce Magnin. Maybelle can’t sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house, she gets the crazy idea to complete it.
Joyce is celebrating the release with a $200 Modcloth giveaway. Enter today for a chance to spruce up your spring wardrobe!

  One winner will receive:
  • A $200 gift card
  • Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron
  • A Sky Without Stars by Linda S. Clare
  • Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 19th. Winner will be announced on April 21st on the Quilts of Love blog!

Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER

Book Info
About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the book: Maybelle Kazinzki can't sew. She was after all, the only girl in the seventh grade Home Economics class to sew the zipper in the neck hole of the A-Line dress they were supposed to make. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother's house she gets the crazy idea to finish it---somehow, come heck or high water. She thinks it will help fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden, is serving overseas during World War II.

Her recently departed mother's quilt is made from scraps of material Maybelle traces back to her mother's childhood, her grandmother's childhood and her own childhood. She tries to add one of Holden's stripes to it but the sewing is not going well and neither is her life. After receiving some harsh news, Maybelle's faith falters and she puts the quilt away and stops trusting God. But God is faithful---no matter what. And it'll take a group of neighborhood women armed with quilting needles to help Maybelle believe that.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

About the Author: Joyce Magnin is the author of the Bright's Pond novels, including the award-winning The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. A member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship, Joyce is a frequent workshop leader and the organizer of the StoryCrafters fiction group. She lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Learn more about Joyce at:

My Review:
I have absolutely been loving the books in the Quilts of Love series that I have read and love this latest addition to the series!  "Maybelle in Stitches" is a story that had me laughing, anxious and totally immersed in the story and in Maybelle's life. Set during World War II, I was transported back to this time and how life was for women at home waiting for their loved ones to return to them and dreading receiving bad news.  Joyce does an excellent job with recreating this time period in the book and bringing history alive.  Maybelle is a loveable main character and one I enjoyed spending time with.  Maybelle is not a sewer or quilter and yet attempts to complete the quilt that she finds; I love the meaning behind the quilt, the pieces that make up the quilt and how quilting helps Maybelle through this trying time.  I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and I would encourage you to read this book even if you are not familiar with this series as this is a stand-alone novel as well. 

To read other reviews included on this blog tour, go here!

*Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for including me on this book blog tour and for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The latest must-read from Katie Ganshert

"A Broken Kind of Beautiful," written by Katie Ganshert, is a beautiful, soul searching story that will touch your heart and stay with you long after you finish reading it. 

Ivy is broken, she feels broken inside, yet she has done an excellent job of hiding behind a put together and beautiful, unbroken, façade.  Ivy's parents were not exactly there for her growing up and when she has a chance to model, she takes it.  This eventually leads her to a small town in South Carolina to be the new face of a bridal line and also into the world of Davis Knight. Davis has secrets of his own and he is hiding behind his camera lens; and he seems to see through Ivy's façade and this begins her façade cracking and Ivy rethinking her worldview and her own worth.
Ivy is on a journey and it is a beautiful and heart-wrenching one.  There were so many times while reading this book that I wished I could sit down and talk with Ivy over cups of coffee and be a friend to her; she was so real and I wanted to help her.  Katie has done another fabulous job with writing fiction that is so real, thought-provoking and heart-wrenching.  The journey Ivy takes to God and discovering His love and her worth to Him is one that I am so glad I was able to become a part of.  I highly recommend this book, and Katie's other novels as well. 

*Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Visit Katie's website here!

And if you cannot wait to get started reading this book, go here to read chapter 1: here!

Book Review - "Sincerely Yours"

I have enjoyed reading novels by these authors, so I was thrilled to have the chance to read and review this novella collection!  "Sincerely Yours" is a collection of four stories, four stories that are all well written and with four heroines whom you will enjoy spending time with!  Due to a letter from someone, each of these four women find their lives changing and also at the same time finding love.  I enjoyed each of these novellas and the fact that even though the stories are shorter than novels, they do not lack any details or fall short of full length novels as the authors have done a fabulous job with bringing the time period in each story to life.  The details and descriptions set the scene so well and I felt right at home with each of the women.  This is a collection that every historical romantic fiction reader must read!

*Thanks to the Revell Reads program for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*