Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: June 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Excited about Reading: Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

Amazon Purchase Link
The Cover Story~ 
Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life--and love--altered her plans. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter's. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives--including their own.

Sharing my take~
Meet the major players. Tracy Campbell, part time accountant and full time cranberry farmer. Michael Hunter, guilt-ridden, grieving businessman from Chicago who came to Hope Harbor to honor a wish of his late wife. Anna Williams, recluse, taking in wounded animals to make up for the two-decades-long rift with her estranged son. Charley, artist and taco maker (and angel?). And Floyd, a lonely seagull.

"In the beginning he brought his wife, but he's been coming by himself for the past four months. I guess something happened to her."
A husband and wife seagull pair.
Tickled by that fanciful notion, Michael dug out a few stray pieces of taco filling and tossed them to Floyd, who scarfed down the treat. "Maybe he'll get married again."
"He might, down the road...but gulls mate for life, and this one's still in mourning." 

Lonely and wounded by love...kind of sums up all of the characters in Hope Harbor except Charley, who seemed to be the orchestrater of healing. I enjoyed the story and how the characters grew during the course of the book, and I appreciated the parallel of their relationship with that of the seagulls. That said, the romantic chemistry was stiff and a bit lacking for me.

Ever read a book where you almost felt as if you were there? This is one of those books. The "charming Oregon seaside village" came to life. At times I felt like I was walking along the dikes of the cranberry farm flicking away bees or sitting on the picnic table outside Charley's food trailer, the sea breeze kissing my cheeks.

But what really ramped this book up for me was its theme of forgiveness and restoration.

"Are you condoning her behavior?"
"No. But I guess I've gotten more tolerant of mistakes as I've grown older and made plenty of my own. It seems to me it's better to treat people in the midst of a crisis with compassion than censure or criticism."

Hope Harbor isn't a fluffy book to wile away a lazy afternoon. It's deep and packs a powerful message. Don't pick up this book for the romance. Pick it up because of the story.

Disclaimer: Sending my thanks to NetGalley and Revell for the privilege of reading and reviewing Hope Harbor. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. I was in no way compensated for my review.

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of “Excited about Eating” takes us back to the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte, to a restaurant recently featured on Food Network's “Diners, Drive ins and Dives,” Intermezzo Pizzeria and Café. This European style restaurant serves hand-tossed pizza and traditional Serbian dishes. It reminded me of some of the cafes we visited on our past trips to Europe. 

Dora here. Yeah, especially the cozy interior with brick exposed walls and only a smattering of tables and booths surrounding a hearth-like bar. But they don't need many interior tables with this generous outdoor patio!
After DDD's feature, I was all set to order the cabbage rolls (Sarma), but they were out. So, at the waiter’s helpful recommendation, I ordered Karadjordjeva,
 a ham and cheese schnitzel breaded and pan fried, served with skillet potatoes and tartar sauce, although not the typical American tartar sauce, with a definite hint of dill. Similar to Cordon Bleu, but elevated a few notches, especially with the drizzle of lemon on the top. 
Dora here. I ordered the Burek, ground beef and onions baked in Fillo dough. An unusual combination, right? But isn't it beautiful? Nothing spicy or too complex. After a few bites w
hat came to mind was comfort food, much like Mac 'n Cheese is to Americans. Between Ernie and I, we finished off the whole thing. Didn't touch the salad, but that cucumber mixture made for a nice dipping sauce.
I'd definitely order the Karadjordjeva again, but I'd also like to try the Sarma or the Piroska. And the pizza... 
Dora here. Guess that means we'll be going back. lol

We rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.
Click to add a blog post for Intermezzo Pizzeria and Cafe on Zomato

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Excited about Reading: Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

Amazon Purchase Link
The Cover Story:
Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to her brokenness—so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but always falls short. So she keeps her passion for her secret art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée in a car crash. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater, and is shocked to learn former flame Stella is the designer for the project.

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and their pasts as they struggle to compromise and come together on a vision for the theater. Chase doesn’t understand why Stella is such a subdued version of herself, while Stella doesn’t get Chase’s constant need for productivity and speed. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase breaks through Stella’s walls and convinces her to enter her mosaic tile art in a contest.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force both Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from the broken.

Sharing my takeaway:
Back home in Bayou Bend after the death of his fiancee, Contractor Chase was hired to restore the town's old theater. From the blurb, I expected him to be a risk taker, but he wasn't that way at all. He was steady and kind, quite the hero, coming to Stella's rescue several times. Recently divorced Stella, a preacher's daughter and ex-pageant queen, is trying to make a living as an interior designer, but will soon be evicted if she can't work with Chase on the theater's design. She hides her pain behind a fake pageant smile, baggy jeans, and no makeup. I could relate to Stella's feelings of inadequacy and loss of self-esteem from divorce. 

The cover is stunning, a perfect match to the inside! The writing was exceptional. The author dug deep into relationships, and this book was so much more than a romance. It's about people and pain, and how we hide it, and how a person so broken can find their beauty or, in Stella's case, her "colors" again. It's about loving people through their brokenness. The story kept me flipping pages, but some threads just didn't come together as neatly or as satisfying as that last piece in a jigsaw puzzle. As the title implies, Love Arrives in Pieces seemed a bit fragmented, but maybe that's by author design.

This is the first book I have read by Betsy St. Amant. Readers who appreciate a hefty dose of drama in their stories will enjoy Love Arrives in Pieces. This isn't a book you'll whiz through in a couple hours. Set aside a few nights to really dig in. :)

Disclaimer: Sending my thanks to NetGalley and Zondervan Fiction for the privilege of reading and reviewing Love Arrives in Pieces. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. I was in no way compensated for my review.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us north of Charlotte to Huntersville and to the first gastro pub in Mecklenburg County, Killington’s Restaurant & Pub. This pub located in Rosedale Shopping Center has a great atmosphere with outstanding food and covered outdoor seating. They claim to serve “high quality food in a casual atmosphere.” After our experience, we’d agree.
As an appetizer, we ordered a cup of chili sprinkled with cheese, a smattering of onions and a few tortilla chips. This chili had robust flavor and included at least three different types of beans, chick, black and pinto, and the spice level was perfect. Dora here….coughing. Yeah, perfect for one of us. Maybe that’s why I chugged two full glasses of iced tea before the main course arrived. Yowza! :) 
Cup of Chili
On weekends Killington’s offers some additional brunch items to cover those appetites craving a breakfast alternative. I chose a brunch special: steak kabobs and poached eggs served over home fries with sourdough toast. The kabobs consisted of colorful red and green peppers and onions and were blanketed with salsa verde. The steak was cooked perfectly, the veggies still had a crunch, and the salsa verde was the perfect complement for the dish. Outstanding, and I’d definitely order this again!
brunch special: steak kabobs
Dora here. So many items on the menu were calling out my name, but I finally decided on the Monte Cristo, ham, turkey and Swiss cheese piled on sourdough French toast sprinkled with powdered sugar and raspberry preserve for dipping. Oh my!! It’s been ages since I enjoyed a Monte Cristo. The batter on the bread was light and subtle, not eggy, and the raspberry jam took this sandwich from ordinary to lick-my-fingers delicious! 
Monte Cristo
Oh, and the outdoor covered patio was so relaxing, not too loud or hot, the best spot to enjoy this summer lunch. 
Covered Patio
We rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

What about you? Have you eaten at a gastro pub yet? What did you think?

Click to add a blog post for Killingtons Restaurant & Pub on Zomato

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Enthusiastic about Faith: God is in the details

So, you all know I switched to a chronological Bible recently, and I’m reading the section called The Birth of Israel which includes Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Let me just get this out of the way right now and confess that this section is one of my least favorites in the entire Bible. I was never a history buff (still not!) and I get bogged down in so many details. Exact dimensions for the tabernacle, procedures and instructions for offerings and sacrifices, descriptions of the festivals, census numbers and names from the tribes, etc. You know what I mean?

Now don’t get me wrong. Some really cool events happened in these particular books that are still applicable to life today. Like when Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law showed up to find Moses busy listening to the Israelites’ disputes from morning until evening. “Why are you trying to do all this alone…?” Jethro asked, then proceeded to lecture Moses about burnout and advised him to appoint leaders over the people to help carry the load. How many of you feel washed out, limp as a dishrag by the end of the day? Yeah, I hear you.

Every day, I pound away at the keyboard in my quiet home office, but I’m not really alone. My crazy adorable dog keeps me company inside while a wildlife parade (wild turkey, fox, ducks, geese, rabbits, turtles, squirrels, birds) entertains me outside my office window.

I usually escape the house to meet hubby somewhere for lunch, and while many miles may separate us, friends and family are just a click away. And Jethro nailed it when he talked about burnout. If I don’t schedule regular times to relax and disconnect, fatigue sneaks up and forces me to, whether through illness or just plain rebellion. And what about the 10 commandments? Who could argue that society wouldn’t be better off if more people valued and lived by these basic rules?

But over the last few days reading through these books again, I felt a little nudge.

God is in the details.

A few days later, that nudge became an audible voice as hubby’s Bible plan read aloud.

“You kept your word to David my father, your promise. You did exactly what You promised—every detail.” (2 Chron 6:15 MSG)

Cool, right? That “ahh” moment when you realize God just spoke to you!

God is in the details.

Not just the big ticket items like when you’re sitting across the desk from a doctor and you hear that terrifying medical prognosis, a look of finality and pity staring back at you. Or the day your boss calls you into his office and closes the door and the next thing you know, you’re cleaning out ten or twenty or thirty years of stuff from your desk, cramming it into a banker’s box as if all those decades of experience meant nothing, to make room for someone younger. And you better believe He’s there, His arm wrapped around your back holding you up when you’re hunched over an open grave, waiting for your loved one to be lowered into a hole and swallowed up by earth, agonizing how one second, one breath, ripped your life right out of normal and hurled it into some place unrecognizable, some place you never expected or asked to go.

But He’s also in the thousands of tiny specifics that I tend to skim over without much regard. How my body processes the foods I eat. How my stories come together, from a speck of an idea to an outline, to characters then hundreds of pages. Whether technology works on any particular day. What roads I take –or don’t take— as I drive around town. The people He plants in my path while my dog drags me around the park or while getting a carwash or my hair cut. Whether the lawn mower will crank or if I’ll have to call hubby for help.

God is there. In the details, in the minutia of everyday life, waiting for us to acknowledge His Presence just like we do during the major events.

So, instead of rushing to get to the Old Testament books I typically enjoy more like Psalms, Isaiah or Jeremiah, I’m forcing myself to slow down and savor the details.

What about you? Do you skim these particular passages of the Bible?
Which OT books are your favorites?

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Welcome Ane Mulligan and Chapel Springs Revival

Amazon Purchase Link
When I joined ACFW, Ane Mulligan was a name and face that kept popping up. As zone coordinator, she was the go-to resource for everything while I was the treasurer for our local chapter, and she's a mentor and encourager to many. Please join me in welcoming Ane Mulligan and her debut, Chapel Springs Revival, to Fiction Faith & Foodies!


Chapel Springs Revival is a work of fiction, and if you like to laugh, you’ll it. After all, laughter is good medicine, and we should indulge often. Best friends Claire and Patsy get in and out of more pickles than a Vlasic cucumber. It’s a little bit like Lucy and Ethel go to Mitford.

But lest you think it’s all silliness, Chapel Springs Revival is also a book with a message about faith and commitment in marriage.

And for the Foodies, there are a few recipes in the back of the book. Poor Claire can’t cook. Her expertise maxed out at jello jigglers, but her husband and friends are great cooks.

Here’s a short synopsis of Chapel Springs Revival:

With a friend like Claire, you'll need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire Bennett and Patsy Kowalski. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds.

During an early morning discussion at Dees 'n' Doughs bakery with their ladies group, all Chapel Springs entrepreneurs, attention is drawn to the slackened tourist trade. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to address the town's revitalization in hopes of drawing back the tourists. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages.

Claire, a pottery artist, stumbles through life with her foot in her mouth. When she became a Christian, she thought life and her marriage would be included in the new creation part. But her thighs are just as big and her husband, Joel, is as ornery as ever. She's become nothing more than a sheet-changer, a towel-folder, a pancake-flipper. Her life is humdrum and she's tired of being taken for granted.

Patsy has plans for her empty nest, plans that include a cruise ship. However, her husband, Nathan, continues to work long hours, and he's not talking about slowing down. In fact, he's not talking much at all. She's asleep long before he comes home each night. At first she thought it was just because of tax season, but now she's not so sure. Something other than work seems to keep him late at the office every night. With the lines of communication closed, she'll have to find another way to reach him.

With their marriages as much in need of restoration as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

Ane can be found on her website, Southern-fried Fiction, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter,

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

The first segment of Excited about Eating takes us to downtown Baltimore and to Nando’s PERi-PERi. I have never eaten Portuguese food but I was more than excited to give it a try.  Dora here. Hmmm…as I recall, I was the one excited to try it. You were a bit skeptical because of the chicken-heavy menu, and I dragged you along for the walk. :)
I chose their famous ¼ chicken – breast/wing with flame-grilled corn on the cob and butternut squash medley. You can order their chicken spiced a multitude of different ways so I chose medium. The chicken was outstanding, juicy and grilled perfectly. The corn was charred from the flame grilling, giving it a deep smoky taste and the butternut squash medley packed in red onion, dried cranberries, cilantro and chili. Just a warning, this side is spicy!
1/4 Chicken Breast/Wing with Corn & Butternut Squash Medley
Dora here. Haha. Wasn’t everything spicy? A forehead slicker for sure! You kept calling for wipes. Lol. I chose the chicken breast sandwich on Portuguese bread with some lime-heated sauce. Yowza! The white meat was juicy and tender, and the whole sandwich was delish with eye-popping flavor! 
Chicken Breast Sandwich
When you enter the restaurant, you’re given a numbered rooster which corresponds to a table. You order at the counter, grab your condiments and drinks, and then sit at your assigned table. I loved the eclectic, exposed brick interior. Get here early because seating fills up fast and folks were huddled around the counter waiting to order. But not to worry if you can’t. The meals were delivered quickly and service was friendly and efficient. I’d definitely eat at another Nando’s!
Eclectic interior
We rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

Nando's Peri-Peri on Urbanspoon

Next, we moved on to the Chinatown area of Washington, DC, to Daikaya, serving Sapporo-style ramen. Ramen restaurants seem to be the rage lately. Dora here. Don’t conceptualize the packaged noodles you’d buy in a grocery store. Not even close. 
Daikaya - exterior

As an appetizer, we chose the gyoza dumplings, pan fried, full of flavor and something that you just want more of.
Gyoza Dumplings

Since we were told the serving sizes were huge, we shared the Shoyu Ramen, a hearty sized bowl with roasted pork, noodles, and veggies in a dark rich soy sauce. Now I have never tasted ramen before but this dish has made me into a believer. Deep flavors and full of noodles and vegetables, this dish was outstanding.  Also, they were right. Neither of us left the restaurant hungry. Dora here. Great experience, and I’d go here again, but I don’t think I’d like a weekly diet of Ramen unless it was twenty degrees outside. :) 
Shoyu Ramen

I would rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

Daikaya on Urbanspoon

After several visits to DC and just as many attempts to get a table at Founding Farmers, a farm-to-table restaurant three blocks west of the White House, we finally made it! Reservations are the best way to sample this restaurant unless you have a couple hours to kill waiting. 

Our waiter explained that Founding Farmers typically purchases from local merchants and farmers’ markets. When they can’t find fresh ingredients locally, they buy carbon offsets to ensure that regardless of distance, Founding Farmers is walking its talk that the planet matters. 

We started our meal with the Skillet Corn Bread served with sea salt and honey butter. This corn bread was great, sweet even without the honey, and packed with fresh corn. Unfortunately, we dug in so fast, we forgot to snap a picture. Sorry!

I chose the Signature Chicken Pot Pie, and the waiter practically dared me to finish it. Chicken pot pie is one of my favorites, so I have experienced this dish at many restaurants, but this one was excellent. Bursting with chicken and fresh vegetables and a broth that kept my fork coming back for more, I still couldn’t clean my plate. 
Signature Chicken Pot Pie

Dora here. I ordered the Butternut Squash Mascarpone Ravioli. Soft ravioli puffs, smooth and tasty, but loaded with flavor in a delicate, refined way. Delish! 
Butternut Squash Mascarpone Ravioli

We rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

 Founding Farmers on Urbanspoon
What heat level do you prefer? Light your mouth on fire? Sizzling? Warm? Or no heat?

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Excited about Reading: A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

Amazon Buy Link
The Cover Story~
Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan's Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the orphaned girl entrusted to her care. Charlotte promised Lily's mother she'd keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When Miss Atherton produces documentation that shows her to be Lily's legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he's been led to believe. Is she villain or victim?

Then a new danger forces Charlotte to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone vows to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he's ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte's heart.

Sharing my takeaway~
Sitting down to read a Karen Witemeyer book is like settling back on the couch and chatting with a friend or loved one who I haven't seen in awhile over a cup of coffee. Exciting, comfortable, and over way too soon!

What a great cast of characters! Charlotte, aka Miss Lottie, former headmistress who creates her own family of abandoned students. Lily, an orphan entrusted to her care by Lily's mother, Lottie's best friend. Stephen, left behind by parents who travel extensively in Europe, and John, an orphan with musical gifts. Stone calls himself a "retriever," hired by Lily's grandfather to bring her back. And the gnome gave me laughing fits!

The plot moves along at a fast clip. Romancing man-shy Charlotte takes a little longer, but the sigh-worthy hero vows not to give up. A gentle faith thread addresses topics like discerning God's path for our lives and choosing joy over our circumstances, and music lovers will appreciate the musical theme. A Worthy Pursuit is definitely worthy of a few hours of your time. :)

Disclaimer: Sending my thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the privilege of reading and reviewing A Worthy Pursuit. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. I was in no way compensated for my review.

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Exited about Eating features a bonus since we visited two restaurants on a holiday weekend. Our first visit was to the South End of Charlotte to Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop

Now when I hear Soda Shop, it brings back memories of diners that were located in drug stores forty years ago and this place meets the billing. We visited on a Sunday and they were serving their Brunch buffet which I was eager to try. Service was attentive and friendly, and brunch provided a wide variety of both breakfast and lunch selections and also quite of few sweet options.

For breakfast, the standout item for me was the biscuits with sausage gravy. The biscuits were light and fluffy and the gravy creamy with just the right amount of sausage. For lunch, the broccoli casserole stood out, tender, rich, and packed with broccoli. Also the scones and key lime pie were outstanding choices. 
Biscuits and sausage gravy

Brunch buffet
Dora here. Lots of carb heavy dishes, but not enough proteins for me. Some of my faves: blueberry french toast, coffee cake, and carrot cake. See what I mean? :) Flavor was great, but a tad lukewarm for my taste. I'm the gal who orders my coffee extra hot. 

I would rate this establishment 4 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving great food. 
Pike's Old Fashioned Soda Shop and Fine Diner on Urbanspoon

On Monday of the holiday weekend, we visited Whiskey Warehouse in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte. This rustic looking pub has an industrial feel built into a sports bar with many TV’s and a large rooftop patio. 
We started with the Brussel sprouts appetizer, cooked in a white wine, garlic and parmesan reduction topped with bacon jelly. We are really not sprouts fans, but we gave them a try and were not disappointed. They were roasted, smoky and the bacon jelly could easily get addictive. Dora here. Still not a sprouts fan, but this appetizer is a great way to entice kids, er...adults to eat their veggies. That bacon's like candy!
Brussel Sprouts Appetizer
Since May was National Burger Month, we ordered burgers. I selected the Elvis Burger, topped with peanut butter, bacon and cheese. Now I am a peanut butter lover but have never thought about adding it to a burger but will in the future. This burger was large, juicy, and tasted great. You could taste the peanut butter, but it was not overwhelming and blended together perfectly.
Elvis Burger
Dora here. Based on our friendly server's recommendation, I ordered the Bistro Burger, topped with caramelized onions, Brie cheese, bacon and a horseradish dijon aioli. Oh my stars! This juicy burger wowed me with robust flavor, the sweetness from the Brie and onions calling out for more bites until all I had left was an empty plate. The hand-cut fries were a perfect accompaniment, and finally, a restaurant that passed my iced tea test with an A+! Adding Whiskey Warehouse to our "must return" list.
Bistro Burger
I would rate this establishment 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.
Whiskey Warehouse on Urbanspoon
What's the most surprising topping you've ever tried on a burger? Did you like it?

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Welcome to the world: RORI'S HEALING!

It's finally here! :insert happy tears:
Amazon Purchase Link
Happy Book Birthday to Rori's Healing, 
the first book in the Harmon Heritage series, 
where three siblings struggle to find healing and peace after their father's tragic death. 

Want a peek? Sure you do! 
Cowgirl was staring at him, the gentle breeze fluttering long strands of dark hair across her creamy cheeks, hiding those beautiful eyes. She flicked the locks away, and then stuffed a free hand into the pocket of her jeans, the tip of her boot poking at the dirt, her focus now on studying the ground. “Thank you for being here when I needed somebody.”

From the soft tone of her voice, Graham knew that meant a great deal to her. He puffed out his chest. He might not know anything about a llama’s labor and delivery process, but he could be the man Cowgirl needed. Yeah. He could do this even if Jumbo decided to spit again. Graham glared at the tall, fuzzy creature. He’d just make sure he moved as fast, no, faster, than his racecar.

Still stinging from the publicity surrounding her father's death, social phobic Rori Harmon prefers the solitude of her animal sanctuary, accepting that marriage isn’t in her future. Racecar Driver Graham Decker refuses to be wrangled into a relationship by another money-hungry female. On a philanthropy mission, he arrives just in time to assist Rori with a llama birthing, but his appearance thrusts her into the media spotlight again. Has Graham found a woman who doesn't care how deep his wallet extends? Has Rori finally met a man who will stick around when times get tough? Is healing for a hurting heart finally within Rori's reach?

Harmon Heritage, available with Pelican Book Group
Rori's Healing ~ June 5, 2015
Beck's Peace ~ Coming July 24, 2015
Burk's Surrender ~ Coming September 18, 2015

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Twitter Chat for #RorisHealing

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Excited about Reading: Now & Forever by Mary Connealy

Purchase Link
The Cover Story ~
Saddle up for romance and adventure with the Wilde sisters!

Shannon Wilde is the middle sister--and the one who loves animals. She's established her own homestead and is raising sheep for their wool. Things are going fine...until Shannon gets swept over a cliff by Matthew Tucker!

Tucker seizes every opportunity to get away from civilization, but one particular walk in the woods ends with him sprinting away from an angry grizzly and plunging into a raging river, accidentally taking Shannon Wilde with him. Their adventure in the wilderness results in the solitary mountain man finding himself hitched to a young woman with a passel of relatives, a homestead, and a flock of sheep to care for.

As Tucker and Shannon learn to live with each other, strange things begin to happen on Shannon's land. Someone clearly wants to drive her off, but whoever it is apparently didn't count on Tucker. Trying to scare Matthew Tucker just makes him mad--and trying to hurt the woman he's falling in love with sets off something even he never expected. 

Sharing my takeaway ~
I just love Connealy's kick-em-in-the-teeth, explosive, laugh-out-loud openings scenes! They never fail to yank me right into the story. By the end of the first chapter, my palms are sweaty and hubby's asking what is so funny. Now & Forever was no different.  

Circumstances led Shannon and Tucker to an abrupt wedding shortly into the book, but the romance didn't stop there. No, it progressed until the very last page, sweet, funny and oh-so-tender. There was never any doubt about their love for each other. They had plenty of obstacles, though, to keep me turning pages.

Nightmares plague Shannon and at one point she questions where God was during the war. Tucker's faith is steadfast and sure, and I like how he responded without judgment, by suggesting that she bring her doubts to God and not to hide them, that God's big enough to handle our doubts.

I thought Tried & True, the first book in the Wild at Heart series featuring Kylie and Aaron, might've been my favorite Connealy book, but I was wrong. Now & Forever took its place, but that seems to happen with every one of her books. Both books can be read as stand alone, but trust me and just start with the first one. You won't be sorry! Contemporary and historical romance readers alike will enjoy Now & Forever. Set aside a few hours to read it, though, because you won't be able to put it down! 

Disclaimer: Sending a big thanks to NetGalley and Baker Publishing Group/Bethany House Publishers for the privilege of reviewing Now & Forever. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Excited about Reading: Married 'til Monday by Denise Hunter

Purchase Link
With a big anniversary party in the works for her parents, Ryan will pretend to be Abby's husband for just one last weekend.

The Cover Story~ 
Ryan McKinley has tried to move on from his ex-wife, Abby. He’s sulked, he’s gotten angry, and ultimately he bought her dream house. Big mistake. Living alone in the massive 2-story has only made him miss her more. When her parents call him out of the blue about their anniversary party in Summer Harbor, Maine, Ryan believes God has dropped a golden opportunity straight in his lap.

Abby McKinley never exactly told her parents about the divorce. A strained relationship with her dad has culminated in a distant relationship with her parents, but she’s finally succumbed to her mom’s pressure to make the drive for their 35th-anniversary party.

Then Ryan shows up on her doorstep, looking as devastatingly handsome as ever. When he insists he’s going to Seabrook, with or without her, Abby knows she can’t say no. Her parents still think they’re married and now Ryan knows it too. Besides, he only wants to check in with his best friend from college—her cousin Beau, who just lost his dad. It’s just a one-week road-trip with the man who broke her heart. What could possibly go wrong?

My takeaway~
Yeah. What could go wrong? lol.
"There's no if. I'll be back next Monday, and everything will be exactly like it is now. You'll see."

I was soooo looking forward to Ryan's story after reading all the other books in the Chapel Springs series. The poor guy has been pining for his ex-wife, Abby, and I couldn't wait to hear their story. This restoration romance didn't disappoint!

Full of angst, the remnants of a emotionally and physically abusive childhood:
It's not true. Nothing he said is true. I'm not stupid. I'm not worthless. I'm not unlovable.

A faith thread that asks some tough questions:
 Thank You, God, he'd said. Where was God now? And how come He only got credit for the good stuff?

Sprinkled with light, playful moments like this:
She suddenly realized it had been quiet a moment. Her eyes shot up to find him watching her, gun lowered. She wiped the appreciation from her face. "Not bad," she said, stepping up to take her turn.
He smirked. "My aim or...?"
"Your aim, smart aleck." She reloaded the gun, her face heating.
"If I didn't know any better, Abby McKinley, I'd think you were checking out my form."

Married 'til Monday has all the components that a romance lover craves, including a hero that digs deeper than the exterior to reveal a soft, hurting woman underneath the tough, you-don't-want-to-love-me, I've-got-too-much-baggage facade. Save a chunk of time because you won't want to put this gem down!

Disclaimer: Sending a big thanks to NetGalley, Thomas Nelson Fiction and Denise Hunter for the privilege of reviewing Married 'til Monday. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

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