#TuesdayTea Review of Make-Believe Beau by @KeliGwyn

August 30th, 2016

Thank you for stopping by to sip tea, enjoy a treat and chat about Make-Believe Beau by Keli Gwyn. I found this August Love Inspired Historical release to be an entertaining visit to Placerville, California, during an interesting time period. The romance is sweet and the faith element provides an important reminder of forgiveness.

Today I’m serving Lemon Bars as served by the Gold Country Confections shop in this story. So please help yourself to a lemon bar, while I pour your choice of iced or hot lemon tea. We’re ready for a celebration of the end of summer as we review Make-Believe Beau.

Lemon Bars

End-of-Summer Lemon Bars

MY REVIEW:

Make-Believe BeauMake-Believe Beau by Keli Gwyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an entertaining story with an intriguing mix of history and romance!

In 1874, draftswoman Jessica Sinclair is a self-sufficient lady with a challenging new position in a male-dominated workplace. Determined engineer Flynt Kavanaugh is her hardworking and fair-minded boss. Both have secrets concerning their earlier situations, providing an interesting story as they try to keep the past hidden and try to be convincing in their pretend courtship.

Jessica warmed my heart with her attitude of believing the best of others and with her cheerful, courageous personality. I found myself sympathizing with Flynt as he struggles with his convictions and his attraction to Jessica. He thought he had his life well-planned until he becomes Jessica’s boss and pretend beau. It’s great fun to watch this couple navigate the awkward situation imposed on them as they try to understand each other and overcome past issues.

Author Keli Gwyn brings the historical setting of Placerville, California, to life as details of constructing the actual El Dorado Canal and of life in the charming town are sprinkled throughout the book. One of my favorite nostalgic scenes is of the couple during a roller-skating activity…very realistic. Most importantly, the romance builds with sweetness and the faith thread is touching, with many takeaways expressed perfectly. If you enjoy history mixed with the romance of an interesting couple, I think you’ll truly enjoy Make-Believe Beau.

Favorite quotes:
“The Lord’s gifted you with a remarkable voice. It’s my belief that when He gifts us, He does so in the hope that we’ll share what we’ve been given with others.”
“Everyone bore stains of one kind or another. That was why the Lord had come. To pay the price for the mistakes of mankind. Through His sacrifice on the cross, He’d cleansed her.”

*I won a copy of this book with no requirement to write a review. It’s a pleasure to post my honest opinion of this book.

 

TEA TREAT RECIPE:

This is my mother’s recipe for Lemon Bars…a perfect end-of-summer treat with iced or hot lemon tea.

LEMON BARS
Mix together:
1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour
Set aside 1 cup of this mixture, then pat the remaining mixture into the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat 4 eggs until fluffy. Mix in 2 cups sugar, 6 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon rind, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 4 tablespoons flour. (At high altitudes, use 6 tablespoons of flour.) Pour over the baked crust…no need to cool, then top with the reserved 1 cup of crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. When cool, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar. Cut into squares.
BIBLE VERSE:
“…Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” Isaiah 1:18 (KJV)
PRAYER:
Our Father,
We thank you for sending Your Son to wash us clean from our sins so we may live in your treasured forgiveness. Bless author Keli Gwyn as she writes stories to bless readers by spreading Your message of forgiveness and hope.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
You can learn more about author Keli Gwyn (and find tidbits about her writing journey) at her charming Victorian website: KELI GWYN
Thank you for stopping by for #TuesdayTea. May your end-of-summer days be filled with God’s treasured gifts!
Blessings,
Sherida

Want to improve your writing? #writingtips and #amwriting advice…Review of Excelling at the Craft of Writing.

August 23rd, 2016

Not attending #ACFW2016? You can do a writing-conference-in-a-book with Excelling at the Craft of Writing. This collection of writing advice essays is filled with 101 mini-workshops to make your writing glow. Each contribution is written by an author from the WordServe Literary agency, giving us suggestions on many facets of writing. As I read each one, I felt like I was attending a conference session on writing craft, complete with takeaways and inspiration. For your writing sessions, grab a big mug of your caffeinated tea of choice, or coffee if you prefer, as we study ways to improve our craft.

Excelling at the Craft of Writing

Excelling at the Craft of Writing

 

Excelling at the Craft of Writing: 101 Ideas to Move Your Prose to the Next LevelExcelling at the Craft of Writing: 101 Ideas to Move Your Prose to the Next Level by Greg Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many treasures of writing advice fill this book!

Excelling at the Craft of Writing is a book filled with multiple gems of writing advice. This is a conference worth of writer workshops all in one resource. The essays are written by successful authors of the WordServe Literary agency and reflect their wordsmith talents.

Divided into eight sections, the first part is Nonfiction Essentials. Even though I’m a fiction writer, I found useful information in this section. Essays on devotional writing inspired me to develop my skills in this area.

The middle sections cover essential information for fiction writers…characterization, dialogue, plotting, timing, structure, setting the scene, style, language, voice, and process. There are many ideas for making your novel shine…to keep readers turning the pages. I especially liked the excellent pointers for creating strong, reader-involved characters.

The ending chapters give tips which apply to all writers…revising, editing and pitching. These essays suggest many ways to edit your manuscript, with a final part covering query letters, pitching and proposals.

Whether you are a nonfiction author or an author of fiction, you will find great tips for improving your writing so your work moves to the next level. You’ll be encouraged with inspirational thoughts, such as “There may be people out there who need what you have to write.” (Laurie Short) From my needle-crafter and writer’s perspective, my favorite inspirational line from this book is Jan Drexler’s comparison of a quilter to an author: “But the thing quilting and writing have most in common? The finished product is a work of your heart that you share with others.” Exactly!

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my review. I’m pleased to offer my honest opinion.

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

We pray for all those attending the American Christian Fiction Writers conference this week. We pray for their safe travels and for their encouragement as they are inspired by what they experience at the conference. We pray for the authors and publisher of this collection of essays, Excelling at the Craft of Writing, for providing the blessings of knowledge and motivation for writers. May You bless all Christian writers and readers as Your message is spread through the written word.

We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Thank you for joining me for this review post about Excelling at the Craft of Writing. If you’re like me, and not attending a writing conference this year, you might consider studying a craft book such as this one. Conferences are amazing experiences, but we can learn to take our writing to the next level by reading advice written by experienced authors.

Maybe a conference will be in our futures for next year! May your writing and/or reading be inspired by God’s treasured blessings!

With warm regards and blessings,

Sherida

 

End of summer #amreading reviews and easy #TuesdayTea treat!

August 9th, 2016

End of summer reading…cooling off from the summer heat or heading out for an adventure on the trail?

What a different summer this has been for us! Hiking in the mountains is our favorite summer activity, but this year we’ve only made it out on the trail a few times. Both my husband and I had important writing projects to complete…his PhD dissertation and my 70,363-word inspirational romance novel for Harlequin’s Manuscript Matchmaker historical writing contest. Since I’ve submitted my manuscript and hubby is still working on his project, I’ve had some time to catch-up with reading, so here are some suggestions to end up your summer with some great reading.

Snowplow along Wolf Creek Pass.

Snowplow along Wolf Creek Pass.

 

If you’re steaming in the hot weather, and this picture cools you off, you would enjoy Ruth Logan Herne’s Her Unexpected Family. This book features Emily, a wedding planner, and Grant, a hero who works for the highway department. Since we need to drive the mountain passes often during the winter, I’m grateful for the people who keep the roads safe, even when they must work in dangerous conditions.

MY REVIEW:
Her Unexpected Family (Grace Haven, #2)Her Unexpected Family by Ruth Logan Herne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A PERFECT delight!

The whirlwind of precious two-year-old twins, the peek into the fun (usually) job of wedding event planners, and the warmth of the small community of Grace Haven all mixes together for an amazing story about the grace of forgiveness…a perfect story. Emily is so likeable with her common sense approach to life and the joyous love she expresses. As a protective father, hardworking Grant struggles with the past and the future, but he is a good man, willing to see his mistakes and to work on his flaws…my kind of hero.

I love this story, including the shout-out to dedicated highway department employees who work helping others during very challenging weather conditions. As a former special needs teacher, I appreciate the portrayal of Dolly and the viewpoint of parenting. From the details given about the event planning business, author Ruth Logan Herne knows about wedding planning…and I now want to do the job of organizing special memories for happy brides.

If you love small town stories of hope and forgiveness, this delightful story is perfect for you. You’ll love the ending!

Favorite quotes:
“Faith, forgiveness and trust were key factors in life.”
“God doesn’t care that we make mistakes. He cares that we fix them.”

*I was given a copy of this book with no requirement to write a review. I’m honored to share my honest opinion of this delightful story.

Along the Continental Divide near Wolf Creek Pass...summer!

Summer along the Continental Divide above Wolf Creek Pass…near the spot where the winter photo was taken…big difference!

 

If you want to extend your summer by venturing out on the trail, then you will enjoy Love Will Find A Way, a novella collection by Cara Lynn James, Myra Johnson, and Sandra Leesmith. Each story features an adventure on a trail…in Connecticut, in Texas, and near the Grand Canyon.

Along the trail...

Along the trail…

MY REVIEW:
Love Will Find a Way: A Contemporary Novella CollectionLove Will Find a Way: A Contemporary Novella Collection by Cara Lynn James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A perfect collection of three inspirational romances for summer reading!

STAGING A ROMANCE, by Cara Lynn James, is such a fun romance! I enjoyed this sweet story set at Blue Lake Christian Camp in Connecticut, where home stager Jenna Carlyle and businessman Nate McKenzie met as teenagers. Now they are adults facing responsibilities and considering their future plans. They work their way through issues using prayer and consideration for each other. Jenna’s occupation as a home stager was interesting. On a personal note, I liked this story because my husband and I attended church camp in Connecticut as teenagers…and walked down by the lake. This is a fun and uplifting romance!
Favorite quotes:
“I’m a firm believer that prayer matters.”
“I want to do what we want to do. It’s about us, not just me.”

WORTH THE RISK, by Myra Johnson, is a wonderful story of overcoming with faith! I love and sympathize with the characters in this story. Facing a new location and a new job, single mom Cara Gallagher deals with regrets and unresolved issues of resentment. Tour guide Lucas Montero is struggling with disappointments, but keeps his godly focus on serving others before himself. The secondary characters add sparkle…lively kindergartener Zoe, friendly Sandra, and kind Rosalinda. Weaving their way toward friendship and new beginnings, Cara and Lucas find their faith a strong support. I especially enjoyed the trail hike to see the pictographs and the visit to Candelaria.
Favorite quotes:
“But thank goodness God is in control.”
“Things happen. But it never changes God’s love for us.”

NEW BEGINNINGS, by Sandra Leesmith, puts you right into realistic action on the trails of Grand Canyon National Park! The author’s writing takes you on an adventure along the hiking trails of a favorite National Park. This story is filled with action and emotion as ex-police officer, Samantha Reynolds, and Flagstaff lawyer, Zach Williams, find love while helping others in a desperate situation. Great kissing scenes!
Favorite quotes:
“Let go and let God.”
“Don’t dwell on what could have been.”

*I won this book with no requirement to write a review. It is my pleasure to review this collection.

***********

Now for our tea celebration!

#TUESDAYTEA TREAT: Summer Fruit Marzipan Tarts

Farmers’ markets bring such joy during the summer…supporting local farmers and finding fresh delicious product. This easy recipe for Summer Fruit Tarts was created after I returned from shopping with apricots and honey. Please enjoy this summery treat with a glass of iced tea or lemonade.

Easy summer fruit tart...apricot.

Easy summer fruit tart…apricot.

 

RECIPE:

Puff pastry sheets

Marzipan-almond paste roll

Summer fruit–apricots, peaches, cherries, plums, berries

Honey

Preheat oven to 450 degrees or temperature indicated on the package.

Cut the puff pastry sheets into squares, approximately 3″ x 3″ and place a 1/4″ thick slice of marzipan in the center of each pastry square. Bake according to the package directions, until golden brown.

Meanwhile, cook slices of the fruit of your choice over low heat to make a sauce. (The apricots were good as a stewed sauce, but instead of cooking the fruit, you could top the tarts with sliced fresh fruit or use berries…even easier.)

To serve, top a pastry/marzipan square with fruit and drizzle with honey. You could add ice cream or whipped cream. We didn’t use additional sugar because the marzipan/almond paste is sweet.

BIBLE VERSE: This is the Scripture written at the beginning of Her Unexpected Family, a good verse to tuck into our hearts.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)

PRAYER:

Dear Lord,

Bless these Christian authors who spread your word through their writing. May they have strength to continue the writing journey. Please give them comfort in the knowledge they encourage others through their work. We pray all the people of the world come to know You and accept Christ as Savior. Please be with us all during the busy last days of summer.

In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen

BLESSINGS:

So, end of summer reading? Air-conditioned comfort as you read in a comfy favorite chair or out on the trail devouring a book while taking a rest break sitting on a rock? How do you relax during the last days of summer? With an awesome book, I hope!

May you be blessed with God’s treasured blessings of summer–good weather, relaxation time, and fresh produce. Thank you for joining me for #TuesdayTea!

Blessings,

Sherida

 

Seven tools to spark ideas for writing historical fiction. #amwriting #historical

July 26th, 2016

Are you writing historical fiction? Do you sometimes need the spark of an idea to move your manuscript forward? I certainly do, so I’m sharing these tips for what works for me.

While writing historical romances, I find inspiration in some fascinating places. Maybe it’s the history buff in me, or maybe my interest in how other people lived years ago, but ideas popped up when I did these things:

My grandmother is second from the right. This is probably around 1910.

My great-grandparents’ family photo. My grandmother, Mabel, is second from the right. This is probably around 1910.

1.LOOK AT OLD PHOTOGRAPHS

Pinterest is a great place to search for the time period and subject you are writing about.  Photos from historical societies and history books also provide setting ideas. Family photos are other good places to find gems. I found a picture of a stiff-faced family which sparked the idea for a flashback memory for my heroine. Of course, you need to be sure the scene propels your story forward, but reflecting on a moment which adds important elements to the story can be useful.

St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Silverton, Colorado 1905

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Silverton, Colorado 1905

2. VISIT HISTORIC SITES

A wealth of valuable ideas can be found in old towns and historic districts. I find ideas for the settings of my stories by taking walking tours of places I want to write about. Often, there are guide books available which give intriguing details about the people and their occupations to  spark further ideas.

Durango-Silverton steam engine

Durango-Silverton steam engine

3. EXPERIENCE LIFE IN ANOTHER TIME

This is truly the best way to get the feel of a bygone era. My stories always seem to involve train travel, and since we love tourist railroads, riding an excursion train is always on our agenda. There is no better way to experience the stench of coal smoke, the grit of cinders, the thrill of the whistle, while relaxing as the train rocks down the tracks. I suggest heeding the “All aboard!” call of the conductor whenever possible.

Someday I hope to try a wagon trail camping trip to experience the trials of the Oregon Trail. Read

Staying at a historic hotel also immerses you in the setting so you can imagine life during a different time…but the beds are more comfortable now and private bathrooms are good additions.

Wyman Hotel and Inn, Silverton, Colorado 1902

Wyman Hotel and Inn, Silverton, Colorado 1902

4. READ MEMOIRS

Recently, I found an obscure book written by a man who had lived in the area I was writing about. The violence during his time period impressed me, and his use of language was helpful. Reading the man’s remembrances of his early life in New Mexico sparked the idea of adding a raspberry picking adventure to my story. This was authentic to the time and something I hadn’t considered. If you can’t find a memoir through your library, this type of book can sometimes be found in local independent bookstores in a location you’re interested in writing about.

5. SCROLL THROUGH OLD WORD DICTIONARIES

Since a historically accurate novel should contain words used during the time, I found the Online Etymology Dictionary helpful to check when a word was first used. Looking through the word lists also gave me ideas for interesting words to add to my story. Tizzy wasn’t in use during my time period, but scatterbrain and hare-brained were used. I find word etymology fascinating…and sometimes skitter off into too much research.

Click here for Online Etymology Dictionary.

 

Antique shops

Antique shops

6. BROWSE ANTIQUE SHOPS

Looking through antique shops can give you an idea for an item to add to your story which gives your writing an authentic feel. I like old tea-cups, bottles and cans of items available during your time period, and kitchen utensils. Just a mention of an Arbuckles’ coffee crate can put your reader in the Old West setting of your story.

Arbuckles' Coffee Crate

Arbuckles’ Coffee Crate

Also, printed materials from your era give glimpses into everyday lives if you can find a newspaper or magazine from the time period you are interested in.

 

Historic museums

Kit Carson Home and Museum, Taos, New Mexico

7. VISIT HISTORIC MUSEUMS

Small towns often have museums which are idea treasure boxes, offering glimpses into the lives of early citizens. Seeing the personal belongings which were important enough to bring to new homes out west reveals the characters of real pioneers. The gift shops often have great books for research.

 

Thank you so much for stopping by. What tools do you use to spark ideas when you’re stuck during your writing process?

Please share your thoughts and your idea-sparks by commenting on this post. May your day be filled with God’s treasured blessings as you write and/or read a historical novel!

Sherida

#CFRR2016 -News about the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat-Nashville, TN- August 24, 2016

July 19th, 2016

What a fabulous opportunity to meet with these wonderful Christian authors! If you are near Nashville, or can visit in August, I know this will be a great time of fellowship with Christians celebrating writers and readers of inspirational books. The registration deadline of July 26 is fast approaching. (Earlier if capacity is reached.) LOOK AT ALL THESE CHRISTIAN AUTHORS–some of my very favorites!

Christian Fiction Readers Retreat

PRESS RELEASE:

Christian Fiction Authors and Readers to meet at Unique Retreat

Intimate gathering of Readers and 30+ Authors will meet before ACFW Conference
Nashville, TN June 17th, 2016 (wire)

A one day gathering of Christian Fiction readers and over 30 authors will be meeting in Nashville, TN on August 24th from 9am-6pm CDT. The event’s theme is “Honoring God through Christian Fiction” and will feature speaker sessions, author panels, breakout sessions, prayer & worship and author signings as well as booth sponsors.The Christian Fiction Readers Retreat (CFRR) is an unprecedented event in the Christian Fiction genre for readers to meet authors. The event will include food, games, giveaways and free books. The event takes place on August 24 in Nashville, the day before the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference also in Nashville this year.

Avid reader Bonnie Roof from Louisville, KY teamed up with book bloggers “Annie JC” of justcommonly.blogspot.com and “MeezCarrie” of readingismysuperpower.org to form the planning committee based on their common passion for Christian fiction and a desire for authors and readers to interact in a casual setting. Keynote speakers at the CFRR include authors Julie Lessman, Tamera Alexander, Laura Frantz, Mary Connealy, and Ruth Logan Herne. Authors currently due to appear and participate in panels and other activities are Becky Wade, Brandy Heineman, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Carrie Turansky, Caryl McAdoo, Dana R. Lynn, Dani Pettrey, Debby Giusti, Elaine Stock, Gabrielle Meyer, Genevieve Woods, Jan Drexler, Janet Dean, Jean Gordon, Jennifer Slattery, Kara Isaac, Kate Breslin, Krista Phillips, Kristi Ann Hunter, Marie Wells Coutu, Melanie Dickerson, Melony Teague, Mesu Andrews, Myra Johnson, Pepper D. Basham, Sarah Monzon, Shelley Shepard Gray, Susan Anne Mason, Susan Page Davis, and Tracey Lyons.

The CFRR event will be held at the Scarritt-Bennett Center, located just north of Nashville’s trendy Hillsboro village and just south of Nashville’s booming downtown. The event will take place on August 24th, 9am-6pm CDT. The event is open to registered attendees only. Registration is currently open online at http://christianfictionreadersretreat.blogspot.com/p/fee.html for $98 until July 26th or until the venue capacity is reached.

Contact:

Annie JC
Event Coordinator
Christian Fiction Reader’s Retreat
justcommonly@gmail.com
http://christianfictionreadersretreat.blogspot.com/

BIBLE VERSE

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:9 KJV

 PRAYER
Dear Lord, please bless this amazing event. Be with the incredible organizers as they complete the work of preparing for this retreat. Be with all these fabulous Christian authors as they spread Your Word through their writing. Be with those attending this special gathering. May all be blessed with an inspiring time of fellowship. In Jesus’s name, Amen
Thank you for stopping by to read about this event. I hope you will be able to attend. I’m sure you will experience God’s treasured blessings.
BLESSINGS TO YOU,
Sherida

 

 

 

 

 

#TuesdayTea review of Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne!

March 15th, 2016

Welcome to a HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY celebration for Back In the Saddle, by Ruth Logan Herne!!! This is the launch day for this newest book by a favorite author, so we’re celebrating with a tea from my favorite tea shop!

Ruthy’s newest book is a delight…full of handsome cowboys, strong family bonds, and sweet romance. Prepare to swoon as you take a look at this cover.

BACK IN THE SADDLE by Ruth Logan Herne

BACK IN THE SADDLE by Ruth Logan Herne

And the scenery is sigh-worthy, too. Washington is a beautiful state, especially the central valley setting of Back in the Saddle. Peaceful orchards dot the hillsides, amid ranches and small towns, with veggie farms tucked here and there. A very pleasant place to spend some time as you get to know the Stafford family of the Double S Ranch in Gray’s Glen.

BLURB for Back in the Saddle (Double S Ranch Book 1)

THE PRODIGAL is COMING HOME…..

It’s been a long time since Colt Stafford shrugged off his cowboy legacy for shiny Manhattan loafers and a promising career on Wall Street. But when stock market manipulations leave him financially strapped, the oldest son of legendary rancher Sam Stafford decides to return to the sprawling Double S ranch in Gray’s Glen, Washington. He’s broke, but not broken, and it’s time to get his legs back under him by climbing into the saddle again.

He doesn’t expect to come home to a stranger pointing a loaded gun at this chest–a tough yet beautiful woman Sam has hired as the house manager. Colt senses there’s more to Angelina Morales than meets the eye, and he’s determined to find out what she’s hiding…and why.

Colt’s return brings new challenges. Younger brother Nick, who’s long been Sam’s right-hand man, isn’t thrilled when Colt inserts himself into Double S affairs. And the ranch’s contentious relationship with the town’s people forces all the Stafford men to reconsider what it truly means to be a neighbor. As Wall Street recovers, will Colt succumb to the call of the financial district–or stay in the saddle for good?

*****

MY REVIEW: as posted on Goodreads and Amazon.

Back in the SaddleBack in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved every page of this book!

Filled with humor, warm characters, and western wisdom, Back in the Saddle is an uplifting story of strong family bonds and of a couple discovering their relationship within a legacy of hard work and commitment.

Reading Back in the Saddle takes you out West…the West of today, with life around a modern ranch, with small town interactions and community problems, and with real-life cowboys who are dedicated and ruggedly handsome. This is a story about family…..the hurts, the mistakes, the understanding, and the love that weave through the bonds of family. Sam Stafford, the strong-willed patriarch of his family of three sons, is the owner of the Double S Ranch, located in the beautiful central valley area of Washington State. Oldest son, Colt, has returned home after his high-powered New York City financial career faced a major setback. Colt finds a perplexing and outspoken woman, Angelina Morales, running the ranch house and caring for his ailing father.

I loved every page of this book as Colt and Angelina strive to do the right thing for those they care for and as they struggle with their deepening attraction. Forgiveness and faith play a vital role in their decisions, as this prodigal son returns home and finds the place for his heart. Written with just the right pace, from a heart-stopping “click” at the beginning, with continually escalating tension, then building to plenty of excitement towards the end, and finally a tear-inducing last scene…..I truly enjoyed every moment of Back in the Saddle.

*I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book. It is a pleasure to post my honest review.

A FEW FAVORITE QUOTES FROM BACK IN THE SADDLE:

“This is, I think, our juncture. A time of looking back and moving forward. For some reason we are here, at this place, in these moments. God provides and we partake. Or we mess up.”

“Because that’s what neighbors do. They help each other.”

“For the first time in a long time, I had to put my trust in something other than myself.”

Click here for an Amazon link to Back In The Saddle.

 

Angelina's Cherry Cupcakes

Angelina’s Cherry Cupcakes

TEA AND TREATS

Now for a special treat. In Back in the Saddle, Angelina is the house manager, cooking for the family and ranch hands. One of the delights she serves is her own special Cherry Cake. Ruthy puts this recipe in the back of the book and also gave it out during post at the Yankee-Bell Café. She said I may share it with you, my #TuesdayTea readers. Click here for Angelina’s Cherry Cake recipe! Rather than the layer cake topped with whipped cream frosting Angelina uses, I decided to bake the recipe as cupcakes, with a simple sweet glaze, for our #TuesdayTea treat. I hope you enjoy!

#TuesdayTea Cherry Marzipan Tea from Queen Mary Tea Room

#TuesdayTea Cherry Marzipan Tea from Queen Mary Tea Room

Angelina’s mother, Isabo, previously lived in Seattle. I’m sure she enjoyed afternoon tea at the very popular Seattle tea shop, Queen Mary Tea Room. My daughter-in-law introduced me to this charming shop. If you are celebrating an event (birthday, contest entry, book published, job promotion, anything), you’re given a glittering tiara to wear while having tea. And you know how much I like my sparkles! The afternoon tea is amazing…..simply perfect! Click here to visit the Queen Mary Tea Room. For our tea today, I’m serving their Cherry Marzipan green tea….perfect with the cherry cupcakes, don’t you think?

Cherry Marzipan Tea from Queen Mary Tea Room, Seattle, Washington

Cherry Marzipan Tea from Queen Mary Tea Room, Seattle, Washington

BIBLE VERSE

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

You know Ruthy so well and have blessed her with gifts beyond measure. Please continue to place the perfect words on her heart to reach others with Your Word as she writes of forgiveness and redemption. Thank you for giving her the spirit to inspire and encourage others….in so many ways. We ask for her continuing success as an author and as a generous faith-filled servant. Please bless all Christian writers as they spread the hopeful message of Your Word.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

SOME EXCITING NEWS: There will be two more Double S Ranch books featuring the other brothers. The next will be middle son Nick’s story and the last will be about Trey, the youngest, a country and western music star. Fun to anticipate! I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know the Stafford family and the Gray’s Glen area of Washington as much as I did.

Thank you for joining me for #TuesdayTea. May you be blessed with an abundance of God’s treasured blessings!

BACK IN THE SADDLE by Ruth Logan Herne

BACK IN THE SADDLE by Ruth Logan Herne

 

 

 

#TuesdayTea review of Rocky Mountain Reunion by Tina Radcliffe

January 19th, 2016

Please join me for a #TuesdayTea review of Rocky Mountain Reunion by Tina Radcliffe….including a special treat from Patti Jo’s Café and Bakery….a favorite place to stop in Paradise, Colorado.

Rocky Mountain Reunion by Tina Radcliffe

Rocky Mountain Reunion by Tina Radcliffe

Rocky Mountain Reunion is small town romance at its best!

Having lived in many small towns, I appreciate the strength of friendship and faith found in these communities…..and this book highlights these qualities. Located in a beautiful valley surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, Paradise, Colorado, is a special place. With its mix of loveable town characters, complete with failings and quirky behaviors, you feel you are among friends as you read this story.  I’ve loved each of the books in this series….and I’m hoping for more. There is just something about the hard work, wisdom and values of small town folk which bring hope and contentment to my heart. If you haven’t read this series yet, you should know each book is definitely a stand alone. This fourth book adds a charming Victorian house, a sweet black lab and a young girl who needs comforting. Hero Matt is honorable….trying to do his best…as he deals with many difficult issues. Anne makes me smile with her kind and giving personality. Their tender story is about understanding and forgiving….and trusting God and His perfect timing. I just love visiting Paradise, Colorado…..where I feel at home.

Here is my review as posted on Goodreads:
Rocky Mountain ReunionRocky Mountain Reunion by Tina Radcliffe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love rekindled in Paradise, Colorado….small town romance at its BEST!

If you like romance stories filled with endearing characters, special places and inspiring love, I suggest you visit Paradise, Colorado, a perfect small town, complete with beloved townsfolk who value friendship and faith…….a place for a beautiful romance to bloom.

In Tina Radcliffe’s Rocky Mountain Reunion, ER nurse Anne Matson has centered her life around her demanding job and caring for her aging aunt…..the aunt who years earlier coerced her to leave the man she loved. Construction company owner Matt Clark returns to Paradise Valley with a nine-year-old daughter who just recently entered his life.

I loved this story! The looming problem is certainly compelling with the decisions that must be made….and the deadline is fast approaching. Waiting……and forgiving is hard.

I absolutely loved all the characters…..dedicated Anne, feisty Aunt Lily, hurting Claire, steadfast Marta, fun Juanita, faithful Stanley and, most of all, Matt, the handsome hero who has waited patiently, trying to be an honorable man. Though this book is definitely a stand-alone story, I enjoyed the glimpses of characters from earlier in the series.

With the backdrop of a beautiful mountain valley and the charm of a Victorian century-old house, Rocky Mountain Reunion brings you home…..to a place of faith, hope and love, with a picturesque conclusion.

If this is a return visit to Paradise or your first, be sure to stop in at Patti Jo’s Cafe and Bakery for a chocolate chip cookie or a cinnamon roll. You won’t be disappointed!

Examples of small town wisdom expressed in a few favorite lines from Rocky Mountain Reunion:

“I’m your friend and friends are there for each other no matter what.”

“Forgiveness is a decision. A step of faith. I’ve forgiven. The hard part is the pride.”

“We’ve all got a mountain of pride that stands between us and happiness.”

*I purchased and was given a copy of this book. I was not required to write a review. I love giving my enthusiastic opinion of this novel.

 

TEA AND TREAT TIME

One of the reasons I like to visit Paradise is the story always includes a stop at Patti Jo’s Café and Bakery…..so for a foodie like me….this adds to the story. This visit, I selected the chocolate chip cookies…..made with extra chocolate chips just the way Aunt Lily prefers them. Perhaps this time, you’d like your tea sweetened with honey from a favorite honey shop located in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Patti Jo’s Café and Bakery

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Honey

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Honey

I used a recipe from All Recipes for this treat.

Chocolate Chip Honey Cookies

This recipe uses a bit of honey, which I thought was a good addition. We like to stop at a sweet little honey shop located in the Colorado San Luis Valley, which is very similar to Paradise Valley. Haefeli’s Honey in Del Norte, Colorado

 

RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

ROCKY MOUNTAIN REUNION by Tina Radcliffe

ROCKY MOUNTAIN REUNION by Tina Radcliffe

I’m giving away a paperback copy of Rocky Mountain Reunion–US mailing addresses only. By entering the giveaway, you agree to have read and understand the rules per the legal page on my blog. So I can contact you about delivery if your name is selected, leave a comment with your email address, using AT and DOT to avoid scammers, then fill out the Rafflecopter form. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

Please continue to bless author Tina Radcliffe in all she does as she gives to others. Help her stories of faith reach the readers who need to hear the message of your love…..that we wait on you and your perfect timing.  We ask that you give all Christian writers strength and encouragement as they write from their hearts, spreading grace and hope. May the readers of these books and this blog be encouraged and blessed. Thank you!

We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

BIBLE VERSE

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 (KJV)

Thank you so much for joining me for #TuesdayTea in Paradise, Colorado. May your days be filled with God’s treasured blessings!

Sherida

A special Christmas #TuesdayTea celebration!

December 22nd, 2015

Please join me for a celebration of the Christmas season while we enjoy a festive treat of Cranberry Apricot Scones. I’m reviewing A Heart Full of Christmas, a collection of contemporary novellas all filled with the heartwarming joy of romance and happily-ever-after endings. These stories are written by five of the Seekers of Seekerville.

Christmas Tea

Christmas Tea

MY REVIEW:
A Heart Full of Christmas, Contemporary Inspirational Holiday Romance CollectionA Heart Full of Christmas, Contemporary Inspirational Holiday Romance Collection by Debby Giusti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SPARKLING CHRISTMAS STORY COLLECTION!

A Heart Full of Christmas is a sparkling collection of five inspirational romances written by five of my favorite authors. Each story has a different quality. The charming angel ornament on the cover is a precious hint of what is inside, as all the novellas feature the touch of a angel.

A MIRACLE FOR CHRISTMAS, by Debby Giusti, is an exciting love story of overcoming fears and focusing on the future. Watch for Gabriel, a secondary character, who is the kind of guy we all need for comfort during stressful situations.

HOME TO HIS HEART, by Ruth Logan Herne, is a story about former high school acquaintances who must confront difficult childhood memories. A relationship develops between them as his rambunctious and adorable twin boys bring them together. Ruthy knows how to “write” kiddos!

UNDER THE MISTLETOE, by Tina Radcliffe, has the flavor of my favorite Christmas tale. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but this is a charming novella, filled with trademark Tina humor. I love this story. And a recipe for gingerbread cookies makes for a perfect treat-filled ending.

HOLIDAY HOMECOMING, by Sandra Leesmith, starts with a sweet pre-Christmas birthday gathering of old friends. At the suggestion of a special waitress, they reminisce about first loves. A delightful holiday celebration and romance with Southern California style.

SNOWFLAKE KISSES, by Missy Tippens, is a warm small town romance set in High Hope, Georgia. A lovely romance evolves as a family secret comes to light. Vintage ornaments and a Christmas Eve surprise add to a sweet story.

With this group of favorite authors, you will experience suspense, heart-touching emotion, laughter, warmth, and sweet romance…..all with the strength of faith-filled grace. What a perfect set of stories to get ready for the Christmas season. A great Christmas gift to fill someone’s virtual stocking…..errrr, Kindle!

*I won a copy of this book, with no requirement to write a review. I’m thrilled to share my honest opinion about this collection.

***

Another Christmas collection of Seeker novellas is Home for Christmas, a set of historical romance stories. I highly recommend both collections….great authors, great stories, great value. And these sets are excellent for gifting!

TEA TREATS: Cranberry Apricot Scones with Orange Glaze, compliments of author Mary Jane Hathaway.

Cranberry Apricot Scone with Orange Glaze

Cranberry Apricot Scone with Orange Glaze

I first saw this recipe when author Mary Jane Hathaway posted a picture on Facebook. She was preparing these scones for sharing the recipe on the Yankee-Belle Café blog. (www.Yankee-BelleCafe.blogspot.com) She graciously allowed me to share the recipe with you. Thank you, Mary Jane and all the Yankee-Belle Café gals!

Here is the recipe Mary Jane Hathaway and the gals at the Yankee-Belle Cafe let me share with you:  RECIPE FOR CRANBERRY-ORANGE SCONES

I used dried cranberries, which worked fine. These are simply delicious…..and taste and smell like Christmas….a perfect treat for a Christmas tea celebration.

If you want to learn about Mary Jane Hathaway’s books, click here.

PRAYER:

Dear Lord,

We pray for all Christian authors as they bring the message of hope and love to others through their books. We pray that others learn about the light of the world, placing their faith and trust in You.

In Jesus name, Amen.

***

I’m sending my prayers for all of you, dear friends, for a blessed Christmas and a year of treasured blessings in the New Year!

Thank you for visiting me and taking a bit of quiet time to celebrate the treasured blessing of Christ’s birth.

Sherida Stewart

image

 

#TuesdayTea-Review of ISLE OF HOPE by Julie Lessman

November 3rd, 2015

Welcome to #TuesdayTea!

I’m reviewing Julie Lessman’s new book, Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love (Isle of Hope Series Book 1).  

I’m thrilled Julie has written a contemporary romance…..and in the lovely coastal setting of Isle of Hope, Georgia. Please have a snickerdoodle (as featured in this book) and some peach tea….either iced or hot, as we chat about this emotional book of forgiveness.

Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman

Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman

ABOUT THE BOOK:

She stole his heart.
He stole her peace.
Can hope steal their pain?

At the age of eighteen, Lacey Carmichael was a wild girl bent on fun, promised to Jack Carmichael, a straight-and-narrow pastor’s kid bent on the seminary. When her father kicks her out of the house, she runs away from Isle of Hope, turning her back on everything she loves. Now, eight years later, she’s back as a woman of faith, hoping to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she denied. Only the bridges she’s burned are still smoldering, kindled by an adulterous affair by Jack’s pastor father that damaged his son’s faith. But can a turning of tables—and hearts—lead the way back to “hope” for them all?

TREATS

Please enjoy some snickerdoodles before reading my review. I loved all the food treats included in this story! Here is recipe I found on the AllRecipes site for Snickerdoodle Mix in a Jar. This would make a yummy hostess gift for the upcoming holidays…..or a friendship gift to go along with a copy of Isle of Hope.

Snickerdoodles!

Snickerdoodles!

MY REVIEW:
Unfailing Love (Isle of Hope, #1)Unfailing Love by Julie Lessman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Extraordinary! Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love is a riveting story of humility, selfless love, and extraordinary forgiveness!
“Wow!” and “Oh, my!” …..my thoughts as I read the pages of Isle of Hope, a novel packed with emotion!
The first line of Isle of Hope lets us know there is drama and intensity ahead in this story. This is a reunion romance–a romance which started back in high school between Lacey, the class flirt, and Jack, a pastor’s son. Years later, they are back in Isle of Hope for a wedding celebration. Many issues come to light as the story evolves. Just as I felt the characters had solved an emotional crisis and all would be fine, another mountain would rise before them, definitely surprising me. This book compelled me to read as fast as I could to find out if their happily-ever-after was even a possibility after so much pain and regret.
I like Lacey’s courage and her persistence as she tries to reconcile with her father concerning their hurtful past. Jack is great. He shows such tenderness towards the woman who left him. He is dedicated to his family and to helping his pediatric patients. All the other characters were intriguing, but I especially liked Tess, with her warmth and gentle faith…and her nurturing gifts (bribes?) of food, including bacon for Beau, Ben’s dog. It is satisfying to live with these characters as they struggle with forgiveness.
Isle of Hope is fantastic to read…filled with the unimaginable pain of betrayal, which then escalates with the tension of powerful anger and hopeful love. Julie Lessman is a passionate writer who excels at filling a story with heart-thumping emotion, while including the gentle reminder that God is our HOPE, and He is truly in control.
Favorite lines:
“You should know better than anyone—there is no hope without forgiveness.”
“I believe that the truth spoken in love is not only the best gift I can give, but the most critical as well.”
“This is the moment you’ve been praying for.”
“It’s never too late to love.”
*I received a copy of this book for my review. This is my honest opinion of this extraordinary book.

ABOUT JULIE LESSMAN AND HER CONTEST

Julie has a contest on her website, which you can check her contest page for how to enter. JULIE’S CONTEST PAGE

For more information about Julie Lessman, you will find her website is filled with information about her books, how to sign up for her newsletter,  and her spiritual journey. JULIE LESSMAN WEBSITE

MY THOUGHTS

As I’ve mentioned above, Isle of Hope is an extraordinary book. Since I mainly read contemporary romance, I was delighted to learn Julie has expanded from her historical novels to begin a contemporary series. After reading this first book,  I’m hoping for some of the characters I so enjoyed will have their own HEA.

I appreciate the forgiveness theme in this book. We probably all have some issues, big or small, in our lives which cause bitterness. This book powerfully hit me with the reminder that forgiveness is the only way to peace….and God will give me the strength to forgive……extraordinary strength…..if I listen and obey.

I need to tell you this: Julie is such a gracious person. Regretfully, I had to back out of her official blog tour because I had over committed my time. Since I like to believe I’m a responsible blogger, I was embarrassed to let her know I couldn’t promise to have a review done by the date of the blog tour, even though I had already accepted an electronic version of her book. Perhaps someone else might have been upset and angry that I had broken my promise of promotion and reviews. However, Julie absolutely understood my situation, making me feel completely forgiven. I have the greatest respect for Julie because she does truly live her faith. It’s not just words in a book.

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

Please help me remember you are our God of hope and extraordinary forgiveness. You know all things…my sins against others for which I need forgiveness and the forgiveness I need to extend to others as you have forgiven me. Please continue to help me have a forgiving and humble heart.

Thank you for gifting authors, like Julie Lessman, with the ability to write words which challenge me to walk more perfectly in your ways. Bless Julie’s efforts with this book to bring the hope of extraordinary forgiveness to many.

I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

BIBLE VERSE

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Thank you for joining me for #TuesdayTea!

May all your days be blessed with the extraordinary treasure of God’s forgiveness!

#TuesdayTea-LOVE’S DREAM SONG with Sandra Leesmith

October 6th, 2015

We’re having tea…or Chocolate Velvet coffee….today with author Sandra Leesmith as we talk about her amazing new book, Love’s Dream Song, a romantic suspense set in the Navajo area of northern Arizona.

Since I have lived near the eastern edge of the Navajo Nation, it is especially fun to read a suspenseful adventure set in this beautiful desert country ….. along with the passionate romance story of Autumn and Jess. Sandra does settings so well…..you feel you are there! An example from the book:

Nature entertained them with a display of sunset color. Bright magenta deepened to red and then turned fluorescent orange. The jagged outline of cliffs was silhouetted like black sentinels against the vermillion brilliance.

This is a great romantic adventure with realistic heart-racing excitement.

Quote from LOVE'S DREAM SONG.

Quote from LOVE’S DREAM SONG.

A few more of my favorite lines from the book:

“Know your heart. Walk in the way of your dreams.”

“But I refuse to be bowed by the hatred. Real Tall Man taught me that when you let hatred affect your life, it then exists.”

“Being alone in the wilderness makes you face up to yourself. I’ve grown to love the desert country.”

This book releases October 17 and is available to pre-order. You can pre-order Love’s Dream Song HERE  .  So please have a piece of pumpkin bread as you read the blurb and my review of Love’s Dream Song. The giveaway form is near the end of this post.

BLURB

Autumn O’Neill came to Arizona on an archeological dig hoping to find out what happened to the ancient Anasazi tribes, but her true desire was to discover her own Navajo roots. It didn’t help that the dig was located on Jess Barron’s ranch and that the handsome rancher scorned his own native American heritage and believed Autumn was part of a drug ring operating on his land. When the dig is compromised and danger threatens their lives, Jess and Autumn can no longer fight their attraction for each other. They both come to understand that finding answers means listening to the voices of their ancestors and the longings of their hearts.

My review of Love’s Dream Song:

Love's Dream SongLove’s Dream Song by Sandra Leesmith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A blend of suspense and romance with an adventure in the Navajo cultural world…a great story!

I was completely engaged with this suspenseful book. Archeologist Autumn O’Neill is assisting with a trouble-plagued exploration of Anasazi ruins on the northern Arizona ranch of Jess Barron.

The suspense in this book is developed well, with many possible motives and suspects. I was definitely guessing until the end. The reunion romance between beautiful Autumn and undercover agent Jess is touching, yet complicated because of both their past relationship and their feelings about their Native American heritages. Both are interesting, complex characters.

The well-researched Navajo cultural elements added interesting flavor to the story, with tribal customs and bits of Navajo language included. Additionally, I liked this book because of its vivid and accurate depiction of the red rock country of Arizona….a uniquely stunning desert. Sandra Leesmith is an author who excels at bringing to life the settings of her books. You feel you are right there in the experience. I have lived near the Navajo country of Love’s Dream Song and find the sense of this amazing place is very realistically presented.

Author Sandra Leesmith has balanced suspense and passionate romance perfectly in Love’s Dream Song to bring readers a great adventure in the desert southwest. I highly recommend Love’s Dream Song!

*I was given an electronic review copy of this book. I’m delighted to post my honest thoughts about this story.

TREATS and the THREE SISTERS

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

The pumpkin bread ( PUMPKIN BREAD RECIPE from All Recipes ) seemed appropriate to serve as a treat while talking about this Navajo-inspired story because of the importance of squash to native people in this southwest region. The Three Sisters- squash, corn and beans- have been important food sources for the native people. The Three Sisters are crops which are mutually beneficial, so are planted together in mounds of dirt…the corn stalks provide a climbing trellis for the bean plants which provide the soil with nitrogen, enabling the squash plants to thrive and shade the base of the plants for water retention and to crowd out weeds. For more information, you can read about the Three Sisters here.

INTERVIEW:  If you didn’t read my interview with Sandra during the cover reveal post, you might enjoy learning about her research through the following questions.
SHERIDAHow did you get the idea for this story?

SANDRA:  My husband and I have traveled many times in Northern Arizona Color Country. We have explored many of the ancient Anasazi ruins in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Being a writer with a vivid imagination, I’ve always been fascinated with the history of these people.

It has always been a mystery as to what happened to the very advanced and flourishing Anasazi people. They are the native Americans who lived in the ancient cliff dwellings found in the Southwest. Hundreds of years ago, they suddenly disappeared and archeologists are not certain as to why. I used one of the less popular, but more intriguing speculations as part of the premise in Love’s Dream Song.

The summer I started this story, my hubby and I were hiking around a lot of the Anasazi ruins so the story evolved from the interesting facts we were learning about the ancient culture.

SHERIDA:  What is your connection to the setting?

SANDRA:  I have lived in Arizona most of my adult life. Most weekends and holidays were spent hiking and exploring the beautiful deserts in this colorful state. I love the variety and color, so describing the setting and bringing it alive is easy for me. I love sharing the beauty with others.

The cover is a photo of Monument Valley. It is one of the most popular areas. But all of Color Country is gorgeous. My husband is a scientist and very knowledgeable about the geology. In Color Country, which is a term that refers to the red rock areas of Northern Arizona, Southern Utah and Norwestern New Mexico, you can see so much of the geological features in vivid colors.

SHERIDA:  How did you research the topics covered in Love’s Dream Song?

SANDRA:  As mentioned above, my hubby is a scientist so we whenever we travel to an area, we study the geology and explore the historical aspects of the locale. Consequently, I am very familiar with the geological and historical elements presented within the story.

Being a teacher in Arizona, I was required to know the anthropological history as well. I love studying about ancient cultures. I love learning about different cultures.

When I finished writing this novel, I happened to be invited (through my work with ASU) to the Navajo nation to present educational workshops to the teachers on the reservation. Several women I met helped me with many aspects of the culture of Dineh (The People).

Author Sandra Leesmith

Author Sandra Leesmith

ABOUT AUTHOR SANDRA LEESMITH

Sandra Leesmith writes romance designed to warm the heart and make you smile. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. A retired teacher, she lives in Arizona with her husband. During the hot summers she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome, where she enjoys the outdoors and finds wonderful ideas for her next writing project.

You can connect with Sandra through her website, Sandra Leesmith website.

Her books are available through Amazon:  Sandra’s books.

GIVEAWAY:

Sandra has generously offered a copy to a reader. Thank you, Sandra! Please fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below to enter. Be sure to make a comment in the blog comments with your thoughts about Love’s Dream Song and whether you want an ebook or print version if you win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

We’d love to hear your thoughts about Love’s Dream Song. Do you enjoy romantic suspense? Do you like to learn about diverse cultures through reading stories? Have you traveled to the desert Southwest?

Thank you so much for having teatime with us today! May your days be blessed with God’s abundant treasures!