Saturday, December 7, 2013

Stones for Bread

Book Review

“You are now a keeper of bread.” So ends Christa Parrish’s book, Stones for Bread. The book is nourishing to both the body and soul. The book contains ten recipes for different artisan breads. I have a glutton allergy and I admit I grieved that I would not be able to make the bread and enjoy the fruits of my labor. The recipes look absolutely delicious. It is also a book that gives the history of bread making with a cultural literacy that is comprehensive. Parrish knows bread.

Protagonist Liesl McIntyre builds a community around bread. She owns Wild Rise Bakehouse and she painstakingly adds to her family of employees and friends as her business grows. This community of characters goes through circumstances that strongly speak to the human condition: faith, trust, love, and even death.

Parrish moves back and forth seamlessly between contemporary Liesl and Liesl’s childhood and coming of age. By the end of the book the reader knows Liesl well. I liked following the thread from Liesl’s traumatic childhood to her adulthood. The reader is allowed to observe Liesl’s struggle to become whole. I was left with a wonderful  sense of how God moves and intervenes in our lives. I felt blessed by this book.

This is a wonderful book. I recommend it even if the reader has a glutton allergy. I received a copy of this book in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy a copy of the book

About the Book

A solitary artisan. A legacy of bread-baking. And one secret that could collapse her entire identity.

Liesl McNamara's life can be described in one word: bread. From her earliest memory, her mother and grandmother passed down the mystery of baking and the importance of this deceptively simple food. And now, as the owner of Wild Rise bake house, Liesl spends every day up to her elbows in dough, nourishing and perfecting her craft.

But the simple life she has cultivated is becoming quite complicated. Her head baker brings his troubled grandson into the bakeshop as an apprentice. Her waitress submits her recipes to a popular cable cooking show. And the man who delivers her flour --- a single father with strange culinary 

habits --- seems determined to win Liesl's affection.

When Wild Rise is featured on television, her quiet existence appears a thing of the past. And then a phone call from a woman claiming to be her half-sister forces Liesl to confront long-hidden secrets in her family's past. With her precious heritage crumbling around her, the baker must make a choice: allow herself to be buried in detachment and remorse, or take a leap of faith into a new life.

About the Author

Christa Parrish is the award-winning author of three novels, including the 2009 ECPA Fiction Book of the Year Watch Over Me. When she's not writing, she's a homeschool mother of three wonderful children. Married to author and pastor Chris Coppernoll, Christa serves with him as co-leader of their church's youth ministry as well as serving as a facilitator for a divorce recovery ministry. She is now also slightly obsessed with the art of baking bread.

Learn more about Christa at:

Christa Parrish is celebrating her fourth novel, Stones for Breadwith a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway.
#StonesforBread KitchenAid Mixer Contest #ChristaParrish

Easy steps to enter:

1. Follow Christa Parrish and TNZ Fiction on Pinterest.

2. Then Pin the Stones for Bread book cover (below), the contest graphic (above), or both, and link to this post (using this URL: #StonesforBread KitchenAid Mixer Contest #ChristaParrish

3. Then fill out THIS SHORT FORM to let us know. (There are also some additional ways to earn extra entries, as well as an option for non-Pinterest users. It's true—people like that do exist!)

Questions? Email info @ litfusegroup dot com.

Winner will be announced on 12/9 on Christa's Facebook Page.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Marriage in Middlebury

Book Review

A Marriage in Middlebury is a book by Anita Higman. I have read several books by Higman and enjoyed them. Somehow A Marriage in Middlebury failed to draw me in. It has many of the features that I usually enjoy. Middlebury is a charming small town with a delightful neighborhood with a teahouse, antique stores, gift shops, etc., located in an old residential part of the town. It comes complete with cobblestone walkways. Charlotte Rose Hill, the protagonist, owns and runs the teahouse. The teahouse is delightful with delicious food and Charlotte mixes her own personalized teas for her customers.

I should have loved this book because these are the types of things that typically keep me reading. In retrospect, I think what happened is that I could see where the book was going almost from chapter 1. It was completely obvious (to me) how each couple should be correctly paired. Because of this I found myself reading a few pages and I would lose interest. It took me much longer than usual to complete this book.

I was frustrated with Charlotte Hill because she was so perfect. This did become somewhat tiresome, as Charlotte never strayed from her perfect existence. I really wanted her to burst out of her perfection and say what she really felt. She never did though. If she was upset she went into her broom closet to pray. While that is an admirable way to resolve problems there were certainly times when I felt she should speak up.

I did enjoy the character, Meredith, immensely. She was quirky, funny, a creative thinker and an amazing friend. When she was “on stage” I read with interest. Consequently, I loved her romance with the village pastor. She would be an amazing pastor’s wife. This romance was funny, delightful and once again, really drew me in. Also, as someone who thinks that tea is one of the great wonders of the world, I enjoyed the types of tea that were described and I loved the idea of personalized tea.
A Marriage in Middlebury is in many ways a charming, feel-good book. Personally, I had problems losing interest. I knew the ending early on; but I do think that there are probably other readers who would enjoy the coziness and charm of the Village of Middlebury. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy a copy of this book

About the Book

One decision changed both their lives . . . but will love win in the end? Charlotte Rose Hill enjoys a comfortable life serving up country delicacies, uniquely blended teas, and matchmaking advice for her quirky, devoted customers. The only thing lacking is someone to share it with. At eighteen she denied Sam Wilder's marriage proposal after his family convinced her to walk away from their relationship. They both moved on . . . or so she thought. When Sam walks back into her life more than a decade later, Charlotte is surprised that her heart still quickens. But is it because of his presence? Or because of the presence of Sam's new fiancée? A second chance at love doesn't happen often, but their past may keep them apart. Is it too late for Sam and Charlotte?

About the Author

Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Connect with Anita at:

Anita Higman is celebrating the release of her latest book, A Marriage in Middlebury, with a double Kindle Fire giveaway (one for you & one to give away!) and a "Tea for Two" Facebook Author Chat Party on December 12th.


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire for you AND a friend
  • A Marriage in Middlebury by Anita Higman (one to keep and one to give away!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 12th. Winner will be announced at the "Tea for Two" Facebook Author Chat Party on December 12th. Invite your friends and connect with Anita for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Anita's next book!

So grab your copy of A Marriage in Middlebury and join Anita on the evening of December 12th 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 clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word — tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on 12/12!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightly

Book Review

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay is a collection of letters from a young woman, Samantha Moore, to her benefactor who goes by the literary name of Mr. Knightley. It is an unusual format to use in a fictional account but Reay does it skillfully, giving the reader an intimate look into the life of Samantha. We are privileged to know the pieces in her new wardrobe, the description of her gorgeous apartment and her most private thoughts. We know about her biggest fears and her desire to change enough to be able to form friendships. We also get a detailed look into the lives of other people who are part of Sam’s life. I think that the style of the book gives the reader a sense of having an almost voyeuristic peek into the life of this young woman.

Anyone who enjoys Jane Austen will love this book. Sam is a graduate student at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Her previous undergraduate work in classical literature is a big part of who Sam is. There are numerous literary references to Sam’s favorite books and she can quote or paraphrase Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens. I thought that it was fascinating to be able to watch the metamorphosis of Sam, from a bright girl who held people at a distance, to a polished, well-educated young woman that had numerous people who cared for her.

The ending was a surprise. The pertinent question through the entire story was, “Who is Mr. Knightley?” I had an idea who he was but I was not at all sure. This is a fascinating story done in an unusual way. It made me feel like I was part of the grad school experience again and I definitely enjoyed that. Also, in years past I lived in Chicago and it was fun to read about the restaurants – some I was familiar with, some I was not – and riding the “L” and the Metra. This is a great book for many reasons. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book

Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others-namely her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story-by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Growing up orphaned and alone, Sam found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself.

Sometimes we lose ourselves in the things we care about most.
But life for this twenty-three-year-old is about to get stranger than fiction, when an anonymous benefactor (calling himself "Mr. Knightley") offers to put Sam through the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam's program and peers force her to confront her past, she finds safety in her increasingly personal letters to Mr. Knightley. And when Sam meets eligible, best-selling novelist Alex Powell, those letters unfold a story of love and literature that feels as if it's pulled from her favorite books. But when secrets come to light, Sam is --- once again --- made painfully aware of how easily trust can be broken.

Reay's debut novel follows one young woman's journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.

About the Author

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked as a marketer for Proctor & Gamble and Sears before returning to school to earn her MTS. Her works have been published in "Focus on the Family" and the "Upper Room." Katherine currently lives with her husband and three children in Seattle. "Dear Mr. Knightley" is her first novel.

Learn more about Katherine at:

Debut author Katherine Reay is celebrating the release of her delightful novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, a fun Favorite Austen Moments Pinterest contest, and an Austen-themed Facebook Party.

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
  • Handmade Austen-themed items (scarf, mug, bracelet, and necklace) 
Two ways to win! Enter today by clicking one of the icons below or participating in the Pinterest contest (see banner below)—or BOTH! 

But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Dear Mr. Knightley" Austen-themed Facebook Author Chat Party on the 3rd. Join Katherine (and Austen fans) for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Katherine's next book.

So grab your copy of  Dear Mr. Knightley and join Katherine on the evening of December 3rd 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 clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST. Hope to see you on the 3rd!


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