Thursday, January 28, 2016

New App, Tea, Valentine Madelines, Ranger to the Rescue Book Review

Teatime with a kitty is always an improvement.
I have been playing with a new app called CameraNCollage that seems to have endless backgrounds and stickers you can download.  I am enjoying playing with it on my Samsung phone as shown above.

Yesterday, I made a pot of Mother's Bouquet by Harney and Sons.  
It is extremely refreshing with local honey.  I had some left over, and put it in the fridge, and find it is just as delightful cold.  Even my son, who really dislikes tea (or so he thinks, tea-hee), asked if he could have the rest of it.  It usually goes on sale around and certainly after Mother's Day.  Click here to order.

You'll notice I had a madeline on my saucer.  Tealightful!  Well, then I spotted the below picture on FB and thought it too darling not to share.  How easy would it be buy some madelines (Sugar Bowl Bakery brand is wonderful from WalMart or Costco!), dip in white melting chocolate, add some valentine sprinkles and some seasonal M&Ms ?
credit on photo
And finally, I picked up this book from my HUGE TBR (to-be-read) pile last night.  Usually when I read Christian novels they are very oversized (like 5x7), but this was pocket sized and only 186 pages, so I easily finished before bed.  Below is the review.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

Ranger to the Rescue - Book 2 by Renae Brumbaugh

•°o Danger & Romance Held my Interest o°•

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. –Isaiah 41:13

1881 Houston, TX

Amelia Cooper is a headstrong newshound trying to prove herself in a man’s world.  She is typically assigned stories of a feminine nature, recipes, apron patterns, etc.
Evan Covington is trying to make a name for himself as an up-and-coming lawyer.  He was wrongly accused of a crime (in book 1), and apparently Amelia helped clear his name, so they have some history together.  In this story, they butt heads a few times, but the attraction is obvious, and they spend more and more time together.  They are particularly thrown together when Evan is requested to be the attorney for a local fisherman, and Amelia smells opportunity in the story.  As she tries to dig deeper, Evan is led by God to help protect her.  She also has lost a past love, Gerald, who was shot and killed in cold blood (book 1 I believe), which makes trusting difficult for her.  Later, more twists and turns add even more adventure and danger to the story, including kidnapping, wildlife, and guns. This tests their faith, and we hear the characters pray and use their wits to escape all sorts of peril.  This was an easy, pocket-size book to read in an evening and I very much enjoyed the story.

I did not realize this was part of a series and the characters carry over from Book 1, however I had no problem enjoying the book, and would recommend it (4 stars).

I purchased this book from CBD and I am offering my honest opinion for no compensation.
©2015 Love Inspired by Harlequin
186 Pages
Read 01/27/2016 / Reviewed 01/28/2016

SERIES:
Lone Star Ranger – Book #1 (2015)
Ranger to the Rescue – Book #2 (2015)

Until next time, hugs and a cup of tea~




"When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude;"

– William Wordsworth, from “The Prelude”

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Calico Spy Book Review


Hello again friends.  Today's book review will also include some fun history about Harvey Girls!  I hope you enjoy it and are as intrigued as I am to learn more about them, and you also give this book a try.  
CLICK HERE to purchase
Calico Spy – Undercover Ladies Book 3
Margaret Brownley

•°o Wonderful Pinkerton Mystery Set in Kansas o°•

Opening scripture: The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. -Nahum 1:7

1880 Calico, Kansas
Two women have been murdered and it’s up to Katie Madison to go undercover as a Harvey Girl and find the killer.  Unfortunately she has NO experience as a waitress, hostess, or food handler of any sort.  It was fun to watch her muddle through and try to learn the “cup code”.
P. 9 “Tonight you’re the drink girl.  Do you think you can handle that?” Plastering a smile on her face, she nodded. How hard could it be to pour tea?
china made especially for Harvey House by Syracuse China. Pictured above is the Harvey House Normandy hand-painted pattern of a bowl, plate and cup.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO.
P. 10 “You do know the cup code, right?”  “Uh?” There was a code for cups? “Cup in the saucer means coffee.” “A flipped cup against the saucer for ICED tea.  A cup next to the saucer –milk.” “As for hot tea, the cup will be flipped upon the saucer.” He then explained how to tell if the customer wanted black, green or orange pekoe tea by the direction of the cup handle. “Any questions?”
A 'Harvey Girl' in Emporia, Kan., where that
restaurant  opened in 1888.
 UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA LIBRARY


Harvey Girls were required to where clean, starched uniforms of a black dress with high collar, starched white apron (which must be clean at all times, and therefore several were changed throughout the day), black shoes and stockings, and always, always have a big smile pasted on (uniforms would change and evolve with the times). 
 There were prominent restaurants located along the train stops, which made them very successful.  While it did give young women an opportunity to earn an honest living, it was also very hard on them.  They worked long days, and they had to live above the restaurant with a strict curfew, and were not allowed to marry while under contract.  I enjoyed getting to know the ins and outs of it all.  
Here is an interesting 2013 blog link with more detail on Harvey House: CLICK HERE
Fun FB page: CLICK HERE
Wall Street Journal Article: CLICK HERE

Katie has a lot of issues with her past.  She lost her fiancĂ© to her sister.  She believes she is ugly with her red hair and freckles.  She feels she is to blame for her father’s death.  But, she is a woman of faith, and a good detective. P. 31 “God, don’t let me mess up this job.  You know how my mouth gets away from me and I say things I shouldn’t. You have my permission to bang me on the head if I don’t curtail my tongue.  And please forgive my envious heart.  I’m sure You had a good reason for giving me hair the color of a rooster’s comb, and maybe one day You’ll let me know what that reason is.”  (Ha!) - She reminds me of Anne Shirley!
Throughout her investigation, she keeps putting herself in harms way.
However, a certain local sheriff is there to keep an eye on her. Branch Whitman has absolutely no use for Pinkerton detectives, but he has no idea she is one, until it’s too late.  He’s intrigued by the new Harvey Girl, and insists on keeping an eye on all the girls since two have already wound up dead, and he has an open investigation to run.  But, he dare not get to close since his wife died 8 years ago, and his responsibilities are stretched thin between his son and his job.  He is stubborn, but kind and a praying man. 
There are past secrets to uncover, old wounds that need mending, and trust is a hard thing to give when so many are suspect, and some might just be plain crazy.  

Amusing tea reference: P.43 "He was a high-strung man with a pencil-thin mustache and a tea-strainer nose." {Yikes, can you imagine?}

Definition: I had to look up what what cackleberries were from P.87.  They are diner talk for hens eggs. -smile.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to others.

The author has shared she has written these as stand-alone-stories, so you can read them in any order.  They simply have the same theme of female Pinkerton agent. The story ends well, with no lingering questions which is always a plus.

Included at the end of the book: Discussion Questions, and a bit of interesting commentary on detective work.

I purchased this book from CBD and I am offering my honest opinion for no compensation.
©2016/01 Shiloh Run Press-Barbour Publishing
312 Pages
Read 01/25/2016
Reviewed 01/26/2016

SERIES: Undercover Ladies
*Petticoat Detective – Book 1 – 2014 (5 stars) MY GOODREADS REVIEW - CLICK HERE
*Undercover Bride – Book 2 – 2015 (5 stars - MY BLOG REVIEW  CLICK HERE)
*Calico Spy – Book 3 – 01/2016 


Hugs and a cup of tea,






Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Spinster's Christmas Book Review

Hello again friends!  Today I am enjoying a lovely cup of Peach Blossom green and white tea.  It has the loveliest peach flavor.  It reminds me of biting into a crisp, white peach.  I also have a teacup full of peach cobbler.  The cup says: Lovely little cup today, send me dreaming far away (a gift from my son when he was a little boy).  Max is busy exploring.   Won't you grab a cuppa and join us?

I knocked out another book last night which I really enjoyed!
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE
First off, I wish to thank Stephanie, my dear friend, over at THE ENCHANTING ROSE who first turned me on to this author.
Read her review of Prelude for a Lord (book #1 in The Gentlemen Quartet series) here.

The Spinster’s Christmas – Lady Wynwood Series
Camille Elliot (aka Camy Tang)

•°o•:*:•.Regency, Christmas, Mystery, & Romance.•:*:• o°•

I ordered this book from Amazon, since I had previously read the author’s novel, “Prelude for a Lord” and loved it.  This book is only 212 pages, so if you are looking for a Christmas novel that you can read quickly during the holidays, grab this one.  It has everything!  Mystery, Regency era, romance, faith and scripture.  I enjoyed it as well.  It is book #1 in the series and I look forward to reading more.

December 23, 1810, Dorsetshire, England
Miranda Belmoore is known as a poor relation whom her family (cousins Felicity and Cecil) has been saddled with.  Think Cinderella. Naval Captain Gerard (pronounced Je-rid in the U.K.) Foremont has had his knee badly damaged in an attack at sea, and has gone home to recover, and unfortunately being an eligible bachelor will find himself with numerous women throwing themselves at him during Christmastide (the Christmas season).  However, when he runs into Miranda on his way to celebrate the holidays at the Belmoore’s estate, Wintrell Hall, he is reminded of his pleasant childhood days spent with Miranda and other children, and immediately offers his help to her.  During the festivities, an enemy is lurking and seeking revenge at several turns.  Lady Laura Wynwood and Solomon Drydale open the story, but are usually part of the background.  When they do make appearances, I genuinely enjoy them. Laura is a strong woman of faith and has no problem saying outlandish things to gain the upper hand in a situation; very enjoyable.  Sol is a bit of a mystery, but ready to lend a hand, and I look forward to seeing his character grow, and perhaps the two will even become more than friends.

photo found on Pinterest
Tea Moments: P.16 “So kind of you, Felicity said. Come inside out of this wind.  There’s tea in the drawing room.
P.38 “He was rescued by the appearance of their evening tea, which also included an ornate silver punch bowl of wassail.”
Amusing Moment: P.20 “…others among the Belemoore’s had equated Miranda’s slowness of foot with slowness of mind, also.  Probably because in moments like these, Miranda simply said nothing.  It made others uncomfortable, which was why Miranda did it.”

5 stars

NOTE: YOU CAN KNIT GERARD’S REGENCY ERA SCARF using a link from Camy’s (Camille Elliot) blog page: CLICK HERE

© 2015 – Publisher, Camy Tang
212 pages
I purchased a copy from Amazon.com & am providing my honest opinion for no compensation.
Read: 01/23/2016 - Reviewed: 01/24/2016


author photo from her web page.
Isn't her pink hair too cute?!
Author Bio
USA Today bestselling author Camille Elliot also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Camy Tang. She grew up in Hawaii but now lives in northern California with her engineer husband and rambunctious dog. She graduated from Stanford University in psychology with a focus on biology, and for nine years she worked as a biologist researcher. Then God guided her path in a completely different direction and now she's writing full time, using her original psychology degree as she creates the characters in her novels. In her free time, she's a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of her church's Sunday worship teams. She also loves to knit, spin wool into yarn, and is training to (very slowly) run a marathon. Visit her website at http://www.camilleelliot.com/ to subscribe to her email newsletter and be informed when she has a new release or a sale on a backlist title.


Until we meet again....
Hugs and a cup of tea!




Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Worthy Heart Book Review

Come, Sit, Stay
There's Darjeeling in my cup today...
and wee chocolate donuts on my saucer
:-)

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

•°o•:*:•.BRILLIANT.•:*:• o°•

Another winning historical Christian romance from Susan Anne Mason! Continuing in her theme from book one, extremely detailed with several characters from not one, not two, but FOUR points of view; making it most excellent for a more experienced reader to have to slow down and digest each POV carefully. Plus, I like to try and hear accents (like Irish) in my head as I read them.
I appreciate that this story does not leave the characters from book one too far behind, with a large gap in time, particularly Rylan Montgomery.  He has married Colleen O’Leary and is now running an orphanage with her. 
His younger sister Maggie Montgomery and their brother Gabe have taken a ship from Ireland to come visit them in 1914 New York.  It turns out, the family feels Maggie needs some distance from her former fiancĂ©, Neill Fitzgerald.  But Maggie has her own ideas about coming to America.  She is extremely gifted with music and plays the piano and organ.  She is also a woman of faith. P.114 “Thank You, Lord, for this marvelous gift. For the healing power of music.”
At the same time, Colleen’s older brother, Adam, has just gotten out of prison, and is headed home to attempt a fresh start at life.  Adam has tremendous burdens, and will have to work through them, but thankfully a kind-hearted preacher by the name of John spent a good deal of time ministering to the prisoners and has helped direct Adam’s path towards God.  Adam seeks John out at his church and throughout the story receives much kindness and wisdom from John. P.209 “You need time, my friend. Time to pray. Time to process this information and discern God’s will for your life. I’m a firm believer that nothing happens by chance.  There is a purpose in this that only time will reveal.  Surrender your anger and sorrow to the Lord, and let Him help heal your wounds.”
When Adam encounters Maggie, he finds her to be extremely strong with no problem speaking her mind, and her beauty doesn’t hurt either (see cover model).  However, he is a convicted felon, and it would not be proper to imagine himself with any woman, which would immediately bring shame to her character by mere association. I really enjoyed Adam, and watching him work through his struggle and eventually accept that some people could believe in him and even care about him; could give him a second chance the way God does with all of us.
Aurora Hastings, who was jilted in book one by Gil O’Leary, joins the story pursuing a career in nursing.  Her mentor, a doctor, is helping her along her path however, her father believes it a passing fancy and in time she will come to marry a man worthy of his approval.  Enter charming, tall Gabe Montgomery, with an Irish lilt, who comes to her rescue at a very fine graduation party for Bree O’Leary, and again later during his duties as a volunteer fire fighter.  
I really do enjoy the heightened danger this writer brings to her books.  Some other authors are either not willing to go there, or have told me their editors don’t think readers want that.  Well, I LIKE the damsel in distress and having a hero or two save the day.  I even like the hero being in danger and having my heart strings pulled all the way to resolution.  (White gloves clapping – good job!)
Gabe and Aurora’s worlds will continue to collide, and a most enjoyable romance takes place, much to the chagrin of her father.
I love when heartwarming animals are woven into a story, and Chester is a sweet dog, who I enjoyed and actually could have done with a bit more of.
            One niggling question remains.  Mary, a new assistant cook of sorts has disappeared.  It was mentioned a couple of times in the book, but we do not find out what has happened to her.  Hopefully we will in book #3.
Internet photo: Maud Herd and her husband Leslie Adkin take tea on the lawn, March 1917.

I also always appreciate tea moments so here are a few: P. 14 “You must be exhausted after your voyage.  Make yourself at home in the parlor, and I’ll boil the water for tea.” P.267 Someone pressed a cup into his hand. “Here, you haven’t eaten all day.  At least have a sip of tea.”  Adam looked up to see his sister.  He blinked and wrapped his fingers around the warm mug.  Brianna rubbed a hand over his back.  “Mama always said a cup of tea could fix anything.” P.269 Maggie set aside the mound of dough she’d been kneading. “You sit. I’ll fix the tea.

“ Bay Lough, Co. Tipperary, Ireland ”
Pinterest

And since MY name is Heather (-smile) P.377 Her eyes became shimmering pools of heather.

The cover of this book was stunning and I love how the back shows a profile of the cover model with a beautiful home and meadows (possibly Irish Meadows) in the a background.

5 STARS

I eagerly await Book #3, Love’s Faithful Promise, available in 2016 (keep updated at the author’s website, www.SusanAnneMason.com

I received an advance copy of the book from Bethany House Publishing as part of the Influencer Team for this author. My opinion is my own, and given freely.
Read: 01/21&22/2016, Reviewed: 01/23/2016
SERIES: Courage to Dream
Irish Meadows - Book#1 – 06/30/2015 (Click Here to Read My Review)
**A Worthy Heart – Book #2 – 01/2016 – 390 Pages
Love’s Faithful Promise – Book #3 – coming 2016

Until next time dear friends, hugs and a cup of tea!





Wednesday, January 20, 2016

At Love's Bidding BOOK REVIEW

Hello Friends,

I was recently asked to review 2 books by Christian Historical authors.
Most recent was:

At Love’s Bidding – Book #2 Ozark Mountain Series
Regina Jennings

•°o•:*:•.REALLY ENJOYABLE.•:*:• o°•

Pine Gap, Missouri 1873

I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  When Regina disclosed the premise of the book, to us {her influencer team}, way back in February 2015, I was INSTANTLY awaiting the arrival of this book!  But we would have to wait nearly a year until near Christmas.  So once the holidays were finally behind me, I eagerly devoured this book in just 2 days!  Miranda is a kind girl, but she has not found her voice yet.  She seeks to make everyone around her happy.  She has a special relationship with her grandfather I found especially charming. Ch. 7 “Arguing art was one of their favorite, pastimes…”
Grandfather Elmer’s mental faculties are beginning to fade, and he causes all sorts of trouble.  Some of it quite delightful, some not so much.
Cousin Cornelius – royal pain extraordinaire.  High and mighty attitude, and wants to marry Miranda… or rather EXPECTS her to marry him and be thoroughly content with it.
Betsy – young girl from the hills who has GREAT insight.  She is spunky, outspoken and very protective of those she cares about.  I would definitely enjoy seeing her character grow in this series.
Widow Sanders – Kind, older lady who adds another layer to the story.  Specialty – rhubarb pie (-smile)
Lady Godiva – hilarious!  You’ll have to read it.
Wyatt lives in the boondock hill country of Pine Gap, Missouri.  He is a pillar of the community and a man of faith.  However, he is also stubborn and tends to leap before he looks, particularly where his lazy brother Isaac is concerned.  His past has a lot of missing holes that have left him with many questions. He dreams of one day owning the sale barn as his father intended for him, and he works hard there to keep it going, and maintain its reputation until he can afford to buy it.
There were several times I laughed out loud while reading this book, and I have to say I TRULY APPRECIATE good humor in historical fiction.  There were also enough moments of faith that I was pleased.
For tea enthusiasts such as myself:
p.14 – “She’d miss the Revere tea service that was selling today, but with Paul’s silversmith mark clearly discernible, they’d make a nice commission on it.”

Paul Revere II: Paine Service American, 1735-1818 

Paine Service, 1773 Silver


Gift of Frances and Eliza Paine, Dr. and Mrs. George C. Lincoln and Richard K. Thorndike

http://www.worcesterart.org/collection/American/1959.105.html
There are other tea moments as well, from hot tea to cool sweet tea shared between Miranda and Wyatt.  The latter being a moment I found rather tender.


Here is one of the early cover photos that was being played with at Bethany House.  She had emailed it to us in early 2015, and it was fun to compare with the new cover.

5 stars

© 2015 Bethany House
349 pages
I received a copy from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.
Read: 01/14,15&16/2015 - Reviewed: 01/18/2015

Publisher's Description
After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the furious family, her grandfather tracks it to the Missouri Ozarks and makes an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house if they promise not to sell anything until he arrives.

Upon their arrival, however, they discover their new business doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its manager, ruggedly handsome Wyatt Ballentine, is frustrated to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more cattle than they can count--but no mysterious painting--Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and salvage a bad situation getting worse.
Author Bio
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of A Most Inconvenient Marriage, Sixty Acres and a Bride, and Caught in the Middle, and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children and can be found online at www.reginajennings.com.

The Painter's Daughter A BOOK REVIEW

Hello Friends,

I was recently asked to review 2 books by Christian Historical authors.
Just before Christmas I read:

The Painter’s Daughter
Julie Klassen

•°o•:*:•.OK, BUT HEAVY.•:*:• o°•

March 1815, Devonshire, England

While I enjoyed this book, the particular struggle Sophie deals with by being torn between two brothers, due to an impossible situation, makes it for me, rather heavy. Sophie is not very repentant about her bad choices, but quick to make excuses. Stephen is strong and seeks to solve problems determinedly and quickly, while preserving honor.  Wesley is self-serving and wishy-washy. There are secrets and creepy “spaces” in the family home, where people lurk about.  I definitely thought it weird when the younger, sneaking person in particular was revealed.  Why were they doing that? How were they allowed to?  It did not quite make sense.  The old nanny was very complex, and the suggestion that she might have some fortune-telling type sight was bothersome.  I did not click with her character as much as I would have liked.  On the one had she seems to be a God-fearing, loving, old care-giver, and on the other she sneaks around and gets drunk. In the end, I really wished Wesley – and trying not to spoil anything here – had gone back and tried searching for a particular person lost to him from a few years ago, and attempted to right his wrong, but clearly he was not interested in that. Sophie makes a good choice, and I believe will have the life she desires.  The details of this book were interesting and held my attention, but the overall feeling was not great for me.

I found this book to be not quite as good as Pembrook Park (Bethany House Pub), but FAR BETTER than Lady Maybe (Penguin Random House Pub).

3 stars

© 2015 Bethany House
456 pages + Discussion Questions
I received a copy from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review and also purchased a copy (which I gifted), before I realized I was going to be part of the advanced reader group.
Read: 12/17&18/2015 - Reviewed: 01/14/2015 {sorry, holidays!}


Team Members/Influencers received a Christmas
card and flat bookmark/ornament, which was a lovely
and unexpected gift.
The cover picture was based on this historical
picture the author found on google, and
submitted to the publisher.  Rather interesting.

Publisher's Description
Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It's where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she's beautiful.

Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother's neglected duties. Home on leave, he's sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter's daughter. He's startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him--one of Wesley's discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.

Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she'll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.

Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family's estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?
Author Bio
Bestselling, award-winning author Julie Klassen loves all things Jane -- Jane Eyre and Jane Austen.  A graduate of the University of Illinoise, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time.  She and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Learn more at www.JulieKlassen.com.