#BookReview- Sisters by Choice @SusanMallery #WomensFic


From the New York Times bestselling author of California Girls comes an all new original Blackberry Island novel told with Susan Mallery’s trademark humor and charm. Sisters by Choice is a heartfelt tale of love, family and the friendships that see us through.

Cousins by chance, sisters by choice…

After her cat toy empire goes up in flames, Sophie Lane returns to Blackberry Island, determined to rebuild. Until small-town life reveals a big problem: she can’t grow unless she learns to let go. If Sophie relaxes her grip even a little, she might lose everything. Or she might finally be free to reach for the happiness and love that have eluded her for so long.

Kristine has become defined by her relationship to others. She’s a wife, a mom. As much as she adores her husband and sons, she wants something for herself—a sweet little bakery just off the waterfront. She knew changing the rules wouldn’t be easy, but she never imagined she might have to choose between her marriage and her dreams.

Like the mainland on the horizon, Heather’s goals seem beyond her grasp. Every time she manages to save for college, her mother has another crisis. Can she break free, or will she be trapped in this tiny life forever?

Order your copy today- Amazon

Biography

Susan Mallery is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of books about the relationships that define women’s lives—romance, friendship, family. With compassion and humor, Susan keenly observes how people think and feel, in stories that take readers on an emotional journey. Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, Susan’s books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, thanks to her ever growing legions of fans.

Critics, too, have heaped praise on “the new queen of romantic fiction.” (Walmart) Booklist says, “Romance novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling,” and RT Book Reviews puts her “in a class by herself!”

Although Susan majored in Accounting, she never worked as an accountant because she was published straight out of college with two books the same month. Sixteen prolific years and seventy-four books later, she hit the New York Times bestsellers list for the first time with Accidentally Yours in 2008. She made many appearances in the Top 10 before (finally) hitting #1 in 2015 with Thrill Me, the twentieth book in her most popular series, the Fool’s Gold romances, and the fourth of five books released that year.

Susan lives in Seattle with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Her heart for animals has led Susan to become an active supporter of the Seattle Humane Society. Animals play a big role in her books, as well, as she believes they’re an integral component to a happy life. Visit Susan online at http://www.SusanMallery.com.

Image by Helga Kattinger from Pixabay

My Review

When Sophie Lane’s business empire goes up in smoke- literally- she makes the decision to move back home to Blackberry Island to make a fresh beginning. The factory is easy enough to find, but finding the right staff and regaining her hard-earned confidence takes more time.

Kristine (Sophie’s cousin) married right out of school, had kids, the house with the white picket fence, a loving- mostly- husband, and a budding enterprise as a baker. She dreams of opening a bakery and running her own business, but her husband thinks she’s foolish- after all, she’s a wife and mother, isn’t that enough?

Heather works four jobs, cares for a mother (Sophie’s cousin) who defines the word self-pity, and wishes more than anything that she could leave her responsibilities behind.

Told from varying perspectives, this is a novel about family, friendships, and a strength that will carry us through life’s challenges- if we only believe.

I enjoyed the premise of the story. It shows women are smart, industrious, and able to handle whatever is thrown their way.

My problems came with a bedroom encounter only half an hour after supposedly indomitable Sophie meets the guy. Her heartache over losing a beloved pet cat, yet she takes in a foster cat about to have kittens. And worst of all, she is portrayed as a hard-headed multi-millionaire business woman, yet she can’t seem to hire the staff to run her new business.

While I like Kristine and rooted for her, I thought she could have better stood up for herself.

Heather was the most relatable for me. She’s a young girl trying to do the best she can with the crap hand she’s been dealt. I think she was the strongest of all the women.

Overall, Sisters by Choice is a good read- 4 lovely kisses!

Have you read any Susan Mallery books? Love them or… ?

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

cat mom
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A Birthday Celebration #FamilyFirst #Grandparents


It’s my grandson’s birthday!!

Time seems to go faster every year. I can’t believe my boy is twelve already!

His mom booked him an amazing party at a recreation centre filled with activities like rock climbing, jamboree type rides, high jumping onto an air mattress (yikes!) and a trip to the movies for Avengers: Endgame. A friend made this amazing cake- isn’t it cool?

A good day 🙂

Memories

I love this kid!

While The Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle & Elsie Hancy Eaton #Memoir #BookReview @bakeandwrite


What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?
Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.
Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.
Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes

Biography

Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. 

Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

Robbie has also recently published a poetry collection, Open a new door, together with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

My Review

The story of life behind war zones.

Elsie is born in England during a tumultuous period in history- WWII. Her family must learn to live on rations, restricted power, blackout posters, and food stamps while still providing milk to the nearby village.

Elsie understands the threat of war. The fear of German bombers is a backdrop to an everyday life without extras, but the family still manages to enjoy simple pleasures such as summer swims, afternoon tea, and on special occasions small gifts and treats.

I found it fascinating to read the lives of those not directly involved in the war effort. The average citizens just trying to survive what must have been a frightening time. While Elsie is young, she still grasps the stress her parents are under to provide a safe, warm home for their family.

Standout lines:

Britain had been at war with Nazi Germany since 1 September 1939, and the little girl could not remember a time when the distribution of food, coal, and clothing had not been controlled. She listened for the sound of bomber planes and air raid sirens without even realising it and even possessed her own gas mask.

While the Bombs Fell- Robbie Cheadle & Elsie Hancy Eaton

The air raid shelter smelled damp and musty, and the dark felt as thick as velvet curtains before Father lit the paraffin lamp.

While the Bombs Fell- Robbie Cheadle & Elsie Hancy Eaton

This is an enlightening read about village life in wartorn times.

I give While the Bombs Fell 5 lovely Kisses!

Baking up Memories- Pumpkin Bread Pudding #Recipe #Desserts


Christmas is right around the corner and with it, the joy and love of family. In our house, it’s going to be quiet this year with my daughter and grandson on the other end of the country. It’s been a struggle to retain the holiday spirit, so last night we took my mom on a drive to see the lights.

And my daughter and grandson did the same!

Near or far, love knows no boundaries. Though we can’t be together in body, we are in spirit.

Today’s recipe is great warmed up with caramel sauce and can be made a day or two ahead of time.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce


Fill Dutch oven with mixed bread cubes. I save my crusts of white, brown and cinnamon raison and then rip them into bite size pieces.

Add a couple handfuls of raisins for flavor.

In a separate large bowl, mix 6-8 large eggs and approx. 2 cups of sugar, cinnamon and shake of salt. Add can of pumpkin puree (not pie fill), mix. Slowly add milk until mixture is loose, approx. 1 litre.

Pour mix over bread and stir, should be soupy (not too loose though) Just so you see the liquid through the bread. If not, add a couple more eggs and milk blended together to the mix.

When you have a nice consistency: sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon and small dollops of margarine over the top.

Cook in pre-heated 350 oven for 1- 1.5 hours. Top will gain a nice crunchy golden look. Take a knife and spread the center apart to tell if done.

Drizzle some of your favorite caramel sundae sauce over the top and enjoy.

Cooking up Memories- EggNog French Toast #Recipe #Christmas #FamilyFirst


Happy Holidays!

Growing up, Christmas for our family often meant trips to Wilmore Park for a day of tobogganing with our cousins, hot cocoa and shortbread cookies with our grandparents, and… Christmas morning gift opening!

My tree in Alberta

Years later, after my dad passed away, DH (darling hubby) and I slowly took over the Christmas Day festivities. One of the things my brothers and daughter looked forward to was a big holiday breakfast.

I was lucky enough to have the use of an industrial kitchen (my restaurant) and would prepare platters of bacon, sausage, and ham the day before. Then, Christmas morning, while the meat was warming in the oven, I cooked up pancakes, eggs, toast, vats of coffee 🙂 and waited for the hordes to arrive.

Our house in Alberta

One of the family favorites was Eggnog French Toast. It’s easy and delicious!

Eggnog French Toast

Ingredients

1 dozen lrg. eggs

1 litre eggnog

2 loaves of bread (French loaf works well)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla

Heat skillet med/hot with a dash of olive oil.

Mix eggs, eggnog, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla together in a large bowl until smooth. Dunk bread in mixture to evenly coat, then add to hot pan. Flip after a couple of minutes and remove when golden brown. Repeat process until you have enough for your family.

Hint

I average approx 1 egg for 2 slices of bread and cook 4 slices for the men. You can easily suit this to your needs.

Enjoy!

Cooking up Memories- Waldorf Salad #Family #Inspiration


The Christmas season is my favorite time of year. An air of festivity takes hold as stores bring out their holiday decorations and old time favorites play on the television.

One of my favorite Christmas recipes came from my grandmother- Waldorf salad. Every year I’d look forward to seeing that fancy glass bowl filled with chopped up apples taking pride of the place on our dining room table. It was Grandma’s donation to our holiday dinner.

Grandma and her sister

We’ve kept the tradition going, even though she passed away a few years ago. Now, when I look upon that simple bowl of salad every year, I feel her presence among us and smile.

WALDORF SALAD

1 cup Mayo

4 tbs. milk

2 tbs. sugar

Whip Mayo, sugar and milk together to form a loose dressing.

6 Spartan or Mac Apples

1 cup Chopped Walnuts

3 Stalks Celery

Use lemon juice or citric acid to whiten apples.

Peel and chop apples and celery into bite-size pieces, sprinkle with lemon juice. Add walnuts. Stir in dressing and refrigerate until use. Enjoy.

***

Papa and buddy- 2013

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter! #Holiday #FamilyFirst #mgtab


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Funny Easter Jokes:
The Meaning of Easter

A Sunday school teacher was asking her six-year-olds about the meaning of Easter. “Children,” she said, “Do you know why we celebrate Easter?”

A little girl raised her hand.

“Yes Jenny,” said the teacher.

Jenny said, “ Is Easter when we put on costumes and go trick-or-treating?”

“No, Jenny. That’s Halloween. Does anyone else know?”

A little boy yelled, “It’s when we set off fireworks!”

“No Jimmy, that’s Independence Day. Anybody else?”

A shy little girl in the back said, “Easter is when Jesus died.”

The teacher replied, “That’s right, Shauna. And what happened to Jesus that makes Easter special?”

“Well, he died and got buried. And every Easter he comes out. And if he sees his shadow there’s 6 more weeks of winter.”

Palm Sunday Joke

One Palm Sunday, little Johnny was sick and stayed home from church. When his brothers and sisters came home carrying palm branches, Johnny asked where the palms came from.

His father replied, “When Jesus walked by, people held palm branches over his head.”

“Just my luck!” Johnny said. “The one time I don’t go to church, Jesus shows up.”

Attribution: Funny Jokes and Quotes

 

Just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a wonderful Easter! Life is precious, don’t take your loved ones for granted. #familyfirst

 

 

Now That You Mention It by @Kristan_Higgins #WomensFic #BookReview #5StarRead


New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins welcomes you home in this witty, emotionally charged novel about the complications of life, love and family

 

 

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One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant, a wild-child sister in jail and a withdrawn teenage niece as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was, Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family. Balancing loss and opportunity, dark events from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.

 

Get Your Copy Here

 

Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and a two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages and received numerous starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus and Romantic Times. She is a four-time nominee for The Kirkus Prize for best work of fiction.

She loves to connect with readers on her website www.kristanhiggins.com and her Facebook page www.facebook.com/KristanHigginsBooks

Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, National Public Radio, Library Journal, iBooks and Amazon have named Kristan’s books to their best books of the year numerous times. The author is a popular speaker at schools, writers conferences, bookstores and book festivals.

Before she was a writer, Kristan worked in advertising and public relations. She waited tables and nannied while in high school and college, cleaned houses as a young mother, and is the proud descendant of a laundress and a butcher.

The author loves animals, children (even teenagers), the New York Yankees and dessert.

Along with her heroic and tolerant firefighter husband and two snarky and entertaining children, Kristan lives in her hometown in Connecticut.

My Review

I was granted an early copy of Now That You Mention It thanks to the lovely people at Harlequin and Netgalley.

Nora Stuart has it all, a handsome boyfriend, exciting career (okay, maybe not exciting, but it is rewarding), a lovely apartment, and plenty of friends.

So why is she waiting for the other shoe to drop?

When Nora is hit by a passing motorist and then awakens to her beloved flirting with a nurse over her seriously injured body, she is understandably upset.

Needing space to think, Nora hops a ferry back to Cupper Island and the not so warm arms of her family. It’s also the scene of her happiest and most heartbreaking moments in life.

As she tries to find her feet, readers are guided through a sentimental, emotional journey of her youth blended with the present day as she grapples with family connections and a new love interest.

 

This story is done in classic Kristan Higgans style; plenty of snarky humor, and characters who leap off the page and into your heart.

I loved every second of this book and will definitely be saving it to my keeper shelf!

I give Now That You Mention It 5 + lovely kisses- A Must Read!

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Take Time for Simple Pleasures #Summer #Family #mgtab


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One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to pack an impromptu picnic lunch and go for a drive with DH until we find that perfect spot to while away the afternoon.

Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the hectic pace of everyday life we let the simple pleasures go by the wayside.

Funny thing though, looking back on my life it’s those sort of days I remember the most.

Rising early and driving deep into the forest to my dad’s favorite fishing spot, then walking through the bog, losing my shoe and having him rescue it for me. 🙂 Catching a creel full of trout and grayling and then stopping for lunch along the riverbank.

Wicker_creel

Attribution: By Sobebunny – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7274675

 

Or going for a drive up and over the Great Divide to pick raspberries with my aunt who had a condition that had us kids giggling, but must have been frustrating and possibly dangerous for her. You see, she had a condition where she would be talking and all the sudden she’d fall asleep mid-sentence! When she woke up, she’d continue the conversation even though it might be fifteen minutes later.

 

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One of my favorite times was a picnic into the Cadomin mountains with my grandparents. My grandpa was sick with cancer at the time and wouldn’t see the next summer, but for that day, life was good.

 

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Don’t forget to take time to enjoy the simple pleasures, they’re the ones that matter the most.

Jacquie Biggar

 

It’s the Little Things #MFRWauthor #FamilyFirst


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This past weekend was cause for celebration. My grandson turned nine years old!

A few years ago when we moved from our home and followed my daughter to the west coast so that we could help with the care of our boy, we didn’t realize we would want to stay. He was five at the time and about to enter the school system for the very first time, {yikes} and needed care after school while my daughter attended university.

She came here with the dream of becoming a marine biologist, and four years later, she’s close to fulfilling that goal.

As for her dad and I, we’re grateful for the opportunity to live close enough to be there for our grandchild, as we were for our girl.

The older I get, the more time seems to slip through my fingers. It seems like just yesterday that I was sending my girl off to kindergarden, watching her grow up, teaching her to drive, and holding her hand when she needed us.

 

Now she’s doing the same with her boy.

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Training him to ride a bike.

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To learn the value of being a team player.

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We’re so very proud of both of them!

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It’s funny how you look back on life and it’s the little things that turn out to mean the most. So today I wanted to take a moment and share some of the many reasons I have for being grateful, and the blessing grandchildren bring to our lives.

Happy birthday, my boy. Grandma and Papa love you to Jupiter and beyond (because the moon isn’t far enough, as you kindly informed us :))

 

 

Aiden almost 7 yrs old-March 2014

ONE LINE FRIDAY


Today was a good day. For some Friday 13 immediately brings visions of world catastrophes, witches, goblins, plight or afflictions.

For me it brought family closeness, phone calls from old friends, and internet connections with new ones. It brought sunshine and strawberries. Blooming roses and pineapple plants.

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photo by ANTHONY AYIOMAMITIS, TWAN on National Geographic

Ghostly fae images floated across the barren field, swaying and turning beneath the summer solstice moon, and an eerie moan raised warning goosebumps up and down his spine.

Your turn, 🙂