Book Review: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

 

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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.

 

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts

Because I am a person that enjoys baking, I loved how much this book talked about baking. Although it did make me feel a bit like an amateur baker. It also inspired me to get better at baking and be more adventurous in my recipe choices. I had my first attempt at making macarons this week and fully understand Melody Johansson’s grandma’s frustration at not being able to get them right. Attempt two is happening this afternoon so we shall see. But anyway, I did enjoy this book. It was a fun and easy read.

This book is the second book in a series. I read the first book already but it was several months ago, and I had definitely forgotten some of the details from it. I do not think that you need to read the first book before this one, but it may add a depth to the story that would not be there otherwise.

I enjoyed the plot of this book. The author writes in an easy-to-read style, and I appreciated the witty banter. This book did feel like more of a dessert rather than a main meal. A pleasurable read that did not push me.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book in conjunction with Celebrate Lit for the purpose of reviewing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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.

 

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, February 12

Among the Reads, February 12

Lighthouse Academy, February 12

By The Book, February 12

The Power of Words, February 13

As He Leads is Joy, February 13

Cultivating Us, February 13

Blossoms and Blessings, February 13

Fiction Aficionado, February 14

The Lit Addict, February 14

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, February 14

This Chattanooga Mommy Saves, February 14

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 15

Just the Write Escape, February 15

100 Pages per Hour, February 15

Splashes of Joy, February 15

Bibliophile Reviews, February 16

Texas Book-aholic, February 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 16

C Jane Read, February 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 17

Moments, February 17

Back Porch Reads, February 17

Cordially Barbara, February 18

Genesis 5020, February 18

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

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 18

Livin’ Lit, February 19

Kat’s Corner Books, February 19

Life with the Tribe, February 19

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 19

Through the Fire Blogs, February 20

Remembrancy, February 20

Vicky Sluiter, February 20

Living Life Free in Christ, February 20

2014 and Beyond!, February 21

Daysong Reflections, February 21

Inklings and Notions, February 21

Pause for Tales, February 21

Cafinated Reads, February 22

Tell Tale Book Reviews, February 22

two points of interest, February 22

Ashley’s Bookshelf, February 22

My Devotional Thoughts, February 23

Two Girls and a Book, February 23

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 23

For the love of books, February 23

God is Love, February 24

Book by Book, February 24

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

Janices book reviews, February 24

Lukewarm Tea, February 25

Carpe Diem, February 25

A Baker’s Perspective, February 25

Bigreadersite, February 25

Giveaway

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. https://promosimple.com/ps/db0f/brunch-at-bittersweet-cafe-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: The Seamstress

 

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About the Book

The seamstress cover

Title: The Seamstress

Author: Allison Pittman

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Tyndale

A beautifully crafted story breathes life into the cameo character from the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities.

France, 1788
It is the best of times . . .

On a tranquil farm nestled in the French countryside, two orphaned cousins—Renée and Laurette—have been raised under the caring guardianship of young Émile Gagnon, the last of a once-prosperous family. No longer starving girls, Laurette and Renée now spend days tending Gagnon’s sheep, and nights in their cozy loft, whispering secrets and dreams in this time of waning innocence and peace.

It is the worst of times . . .

Paris groans with a restlessness that can no longer be contained within its city streets. Hunger and hatred fuel her people. Violence seeps into the ornate halls of Versailles. Even Gagnon’s table in the quiet village of Mouton Blanc bears witness to the rumbles of rebellion, where Marcel Moreau embodies its voice and heart.

It is the story that has never been told.

In one night, the best and worst of fate collide. A chance encounter with a fashionable woman will bring Renée’s sewing skills to light and secure a place in the court of Queen Marie Antoinette. An act of reckless passion will throw Laurette into the arms of the increasingly militant Marcel. And Gagnon, steadfast in his faith in God and country, can only watch as those he loves march straight into the heart of the revolution.

 

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

This book was fascinating. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect when I first started reading it. It began rather slowly. Actually the entire book moves at a fairly slow pace, but not in a bad way. I loved Allison Pittman’s writing style. She wrote in such a way that even though the story moved slowly in some parts, I never got bored. Her style is reminiscent of the classics. Fitting I suppose, as this book was inspired by A Tale of Two Cities. Which I now really want to read. Any book that inspires me to read a classic or is written in a classical style gets a good review from me.

This book is set right before and during the French Revolution. I enjoy books set during this time period, but I hate them as well. I know how the French Revolution story ends, and it makes me sad. So many people died, from hunger and from the guillotine. I think this time period showed clearly what desperation and deprivation and starvation can drive people to do. It showed the darkness that humanity is capable of. But even so, this time period is not totally without light. There were those who stood against the flood, who stood up for what is right. Allison Pittman’s book shows a brief snapshot of some of those people, and that is one of the reasons that I enjoyed it so much. It shows the best and worst of human nature. All in all, it was a very enjoyable read, and I would recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in conjunction with Celebrate Lit for the purpose of reviewing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

allison PittmanAllison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a three-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series and once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com.

 

Guest Post from Allison

My dream of being an author began by “finishing” other author’s works, fleshing out the stories of neglected characters. When I read the final books in the Little House series, I was far more interested in Cap Garland than I was in Almonzo Wilder, and I imagined all kinds of stories in which he was the hero.

This, The Seamstress, is one of those stories that came to me in a single burst of thought. I was teaching my sophomore English class, discussing through the final scenes in A Tale of Two Cities, when the little seamstress in those final pages reached out to me. She is a nameless character, seemingly more symbolic than anything. Dickens, however, gives her an entire backstory in a single phrase: I have a cousin who lives in the country. How will she ever know what became of me? I remember pausing right then and there in front of my students and saying, “Now, there’s the story I want to write.”

Now, years later, I have.

While every word of every Charles Dickens novel is a master class in writing, what he gave to me for The Seamstress is the kind of stuff that brings life and breath to fiction. I have to convey the fact that any character on my pages—no matter how much story space he or she is allotted—has a life between them. Every man was once a child; every woman a vulnerable young girl.

So, Dickens gave me the bones of the story. A seamstress. A cousin in the country. A country ripped apart; family torn from family. I did my very best to put flesh on those bones, but no writer can ever bring the life and breath. Only a reader can do that.

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, February 9

The Lit Addict, February 9

The Power of Words, February 9

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis & Christ Collide, February 10

Lis Loves Reading, February 10

Maureen’s Musings, February 10

Carpe Diem, February 11

A Baker’s Perspective, February 11

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 12

Emily Yager, February 12

Mary Hake, February 12

Stories By Gina, February 13

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 13

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 13

Inspired by fiction, February 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 14

Remembrancy, February 14

Through the Fire Blogs, February 15

Seasonsofopportunities, February 15

Inspiration Clothesline, February 15

Books, Books, and More Books, February 16

Inklings and Notions, February 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 16

Bibliophile Reviews, February 17

Texas Book-aholic, February 17

Margaret Kazmierczak, February 18

A Reader’s Brain, February 18

By The Book, February 18

Multifarious, February 19

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 19

Pause for Tales, February 19

Bigreadersite, February 20

Simple Harvest Reads, February 20

Janices book reviews, February 20

For the Love of Books, February 21

Book by Book, February 21

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 21

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 22

To Everything A Season, February 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 22

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Allison is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card, a hardcover copy of The Seamstress, and this copy of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/db0e/the-seamstress-celebration-tour-giveaway