Life and Other Inconveniences by @Kristan_Higgins #BookReview #WomensFic


From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.

Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley. 

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?

Biography

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 18 novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have received dozens of awards and accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist. She is a five-time nominee for The Kirkus Prize for Best Work of Fiction, and her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year of many prestigious journals and review sites. If you want to keep up with Kristan’s new releases and get a free short story, sign up for her mailing list at http://www.kristanhiggins.com.

The proud descendant of a butcher and a laundress, Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband, two long-lashed children, a couple of frisky rescue dogs and an occasionally friendly cat.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My Review

Emma London hasn’t had it easy. Her mother committed suicide when she was eight and her father dumped her on a grandmother who was the antithesis of sweet and kind-hearted.

At eighteen, Emma became pregnant. When she refused to give up the child, her grandmother kicked her out. Emma had to dig deep for her London strength and pride to get through the next few years- thank God for Pops. Her mother’s father took her and baby Riley in and the three of them formed a tight family unit.

Everything changed with one fateful phone call– Genevieve London (Emma’s perfect patrician grandmother) was dying.

Though it goes against Emma’s instincts, she packs up Riley and they go to Gigi’s aid, only to find she’s as judgmental and rude as ever. Tempted to leave her to die by herself, it takes along time before Emma finds it in her heart to understand the woman who had such a strong influence on her life.

Favorite Lines:

You never realize it until you’re pregnant, or holding your baby in your arms, but your heart, soul and peace of mind will never be yours again. The tiny hijackers take over before they draw their first breaths, and you would do anything to keep them safe. Anything.

Higgins, Kristan. Life and Other Inconveniences (p. 7). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Parenting isn’t always a peachy-colored glow. Half the time, it’s just showing up and doing your best.

Higgins, Kristan. Life and Other Inconveniences (p. 393). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Family ties aren’t always easy, but they play an integral part in the person you become. Kristan does a beautiful job creating a tough, yet vulnerable matriarch in Genevieve and a supporting cast of characters who are sure to steal your heart (even Mac- you’ll have to read the story to see what I mean 🙂 )

I give Life and Other Inconveniences 5+ lovely kisses- My favorite kind of read; #FamilyFirst

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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!

The Last Letter by @RebeccaYarros #BookReview #Romance


“Yarros’ novel is a deeply felt and emotionally nuanced contemporary romance…”—a Starred review from Kirkus Reviews

The Last Letter is a haunting, heartbreaking and ultimately inspirational love story.“—InTouch Weekly

Beckett,

If you’re reading this, well, you know the last-letter drill. You made it. I didn’t. Get off the guilt train, because I know if there was any chance you could have saved me, you would have.

I need one thing from you: get out of the army and get to Telluride.

My little sister Ella’s raising the twins alone. She’s too independent and won’t accept help easily, but she has lost our grandmother, our parents, and now me. It’s too much for anyone to endure. It’s not fair.

And here’s the kicker: there’s something else you don’t know that’s tearing her family apart. She’s going to need help.

So if I’m gone, that means I can’t be there for Ella. I can’t help them through this. But you can. So I’m begging you, as my best friend, go take care of my sister, my family.

Please don’t make her go through it alone.

Ryan

Biography

Rebecca Yarros is a hopeless romantic and a lover of all things coffee, chocolate, and Paleo. She is the author of the Flight & Glory series, including Full Measures, the award-winning Eyes Turned Skyward, Beyond What is Given, and Hallowed Ground. She loves military heroes, and has been blissfully married to hers for sixteen years. 

When she’s not writing, she’s tying hockey skates for her four sons, sneaking in some guitar time, or watching brat-pack movies with her two daughters. She lives in Colorado with the hottest Apache pilot ever, their rambunctious gaggle of kids, an English bulldog who is more stubborn than sweet, and a bunny named General Fluffy Pants who torments the aforementioned bulldog. Having adopted their youngest daughter from the foster system, and Rebecca is passionate about helping others do the same.

Rebecca is represented by Louise Fury of the Bent Agency.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

My Review

A heart-wrenchingly beautiful story!

This is probably the hardest review I’ve ever done. How do you explain a book that will without a doubt leave you heartbroken and crying ugly tears, yet at the same time be filled with the power of love?

This is a story unlike any I’ve ever read. The premise is about a soldier and the letters he receives from his best friend’s sister, first, as a gesture of kindness, then increasing as a genuine connection is formed between the penpals.

Chaos (Beckett) isn’t used to caring about anyone other than his MWD and his best friend, Ryan, but finds he looks forward to the letters from single parent, Ella in Telluride. When one of her five-year-old twins develops a rare form of cancer, Chaos makes it his mission to help any way he can. When Ryan is killed in battle, this becomes even more important an assignment.

Ella is used to going it alone, and she’s managed just fine until now. Her baby girl has cancer. Just thinking the words is enough to weaken her knees just when she needs to be stronger than she’s ever been before. The treatments are brutal. The only thing that gives her hope is that her brother should be home soon to help and the letters she receives from the mysterious Chaos.

Until Ryan comes home in a coffin.

Then Beckett arrives, like a guardian angel, and takes over some of the burden she’s been carrying. But all is not what it seems, and soon Ella is faced with life-changing decisions she’s ill-equipped to handle.

The end of this book was unexpected. I don’t want to ruin it for readers, suffice to say the bonds of love shine in this novel of strength against all odds, and the undeniable connection between twins and a mother who just won’t give up.

This is so much more than a romance. It’s tragedy, destiny, and fate entwined with an unbreakable thread of hope that will remain with you long after turning the last page.

I give The Last Letter 5+ lovely kisses- Best Reads!

Cooking up Memories-Breakfast Wraps #Recipe #MealIdeas


Now that January has arrived, many of you are busy making those pesky resolutions and wondering how to keep them.

I have an easy #MealIdea to help!

I developed this wrap at the restaurant one spring when the tree planters were in town. They could eat like, well, tree planters, lol.

My grandson dressed up for Christmas- my café in the background

I only had room for fifty guests and a grill no more than three feet wide, but none of that mattered when those kids came to town. They would fill the booths and had no problem with pitching in to help my girls serve them.

One young man even took off his boots at the door because they were muddy! They were the best of customers and I really miss their smiles. They loved their breakfasts and especially liked my place for the cooked to order items. No pre-made sausages or bacon in my restaurant!

Blessed to be highlighted in this foodie guide!

The wrap I’m sharing today was a favorite with my customers.

Breakfast Wrap

3 large eggs

chopped tomato

chopped mixed peppers

chopped onion

Grated cheese mix (Cheddar, mozzarella, swiss or gruyere)

2 slices cooked bacon

12 inch tortilla (tomato, spinach, whole wheat)

In a medium bowl mix eggs, tomato, peppers and onion, then scramble until cooked in medium-low frying pan.

Once the egg sets up, you can lay the tortilla over the top to warm, then remove it to add cooked bacon and cheese mixture to the eggs and cover until cheese melts.

Lay egg mix down the center of the wrap, fold up from the bottom until tortilla cradles the eggs, then fold in left and right sides until covered (like a baby’s diaper 🙂 )

I used to leave mine open on top and seal with a toothpick through the middle, but you can also close both ends and cut through the middle. The choice is yours!

Bitmoji Image

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

Empty Nesters for the second, or is it third time? #Familyfirst #Chasingthedream #mgtab


bird-house-2727658_640

 

This post is bittersweet. One week from today, DH and I will say goodbye to our daughter and grandson as she leaves to begin her graduate studies in marine biology– across the country!

But, this isn’t the first time.

When she graduated from high school she said goodbye to our hometown, the town five generations of family on the maternal side called home, and moved eight hours and one province away. There, she worked, made friends, and raised her son for five years before deciding to go after her dream of becoming a marine biologist. She applied to university and was accepted!

 

library-438389_640

 

We were so proud of her! But now, she was even further away, twelve hours and a ferry ride. We made the decision to move closer so that we could support her and see our grandson grow up.

Then, two years later the unthinkable happened– he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Those who know me, know how difficult and life-changing this has been for all of his family. There has to be constant care for T1D kids, and yet my daughter managed to not only learn everything from the dangers of the disease but how to manage it and allow him to enjoy a normal life.

From the JDRF website

Needs Constant Attention

Living with T1D is a constant challenge. People with the disease must carefully balance insulin doses (either by injections multiple times a day or continuous infusion through a pump) with eating and daily activities throughout the day and night. They must also test their blood sugar by pricking their fingers for blood six or more times a day. Despite this constant attention, people with T1D still run the risk of dangerous high or low blood sugar levels, both of which can be life-threatening. People with T1D overcome these challenges on a daily basis.

 

And through all of that, she worked hard at school and came out with a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honors this summer!

 

IMG_4809

 

But, her dream beckoned and she applied to universities to continue her graduate program working toward a PHD.

And once again, she was accepted! This time on the opposite coast in Newfoundland!

 

harbor-1284263_640

 

I’m excited and worried. Will the healthcare system be as good there as it is here? Will they find a nice place to live? How cold are the winters? We’re from Alberta, so we’re used to -30, but I’ve heard some crazy stuff about northeasters that makes me pray she has a reliable vehicle. Will he like the school there? Will they know how to help him if he needs it?

They’re driving across Canada to get there, so I’m going to be sick the entire time. Yet, imagine the things they’ll see, the memories they’ll make.

It’s going to be a long two or three years, but God, I love them and wish them the very best.

They say life can change in an instant… Lost and Found Sisters by @JillShalvis #BookReview #Reading #WomensFic


51zKj38qMJL._SY346_

 

 

From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes her first women’s fiction novel—an unforgettable story of friendship, love, family, and sisterhood—perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover, Susan Mallery, and Kristan Higgins.

They say life can change in an instant…

After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.’s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she’s looking for a missing piece she can’t find?

The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.

On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn’t quite fit in right away, she can’t help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.

As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there’s another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn’t a house or money, but rather something earthshattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she’s searched so long for.

 

 

Jill Shalvis

Biography

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit http://www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
http://www.facebook.com/jillshalvis
http://www.twitter.com/jillshalvis
http://www.instagram.com/jillshalvis
http://jillshalvis.tumblr.com/
or email her at contact@jillshalvis.com

 

My Review

What would you do if you suddenly found out the family you know and love isn’t yours?

This is the news unsuspecting sous chef Quinn Weller receives on the eve of her thirtieth birthday, and it throws her already screwed up life into a tailspin.

In search of answers, she travels to her dead mother’s hometown, only to learn she’s inherited a cafe, a broken down house… and a teenage sister. Tempting as it is to run the other way, Quinn stays and learns love can sneak up on you even when you guard your heart.

This book has so many great quotes it’s hard to pick a favorite. Here’s just a couple that resonated with me:

I walk around like everything is fine but deep down inside my shoe my sock is sliding off.

I’ve learned that you can’t make everyone happy, you’re not a bowl of ice cream.

Shalvis, Jill. Lost and Found Sisters (p. 228). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I loved the interactions between Quinn and her young sister, Tilly and the way their relationship changed throughout the story. And then there’s Beth, Quinn’s dead sister’s ghost who has sage advice and likes to pop up unexpectedly just when Quinn needs her.

There’s a flea-bitten cat, a pushover of a dog, a flock of killer chickens (or so Quinn believes!) and the handsome, supportive, sexy Mick who forces Quinn to look at parts of herself she’d closed up after her sister’s death.

This book will touch you, comfort you, and best of all, make you laugh!

I give Lost and Found Sisters 5+ lovely kisses- A must read!

cropped-kiss21cropped-kiss21cropped-kiss21cropped-kiss21cropped-kiss21

Heroes don’t Discriminate #HealingHands #Faith #Inspiration


stones-2780171_640

 

The past few days I have been stunned and saddened by the catastrophic events that have taken place here in Canada and in the United States.

Instead of belabouring the senselessness of these acts of violence I want to focus on the first responders who stepped up to help when it would’ve be easier to look the other way.

Humboldt, Saskatchewan was the scene of a horrific vehicle accident three weeks ago. Sixteen people died and many more were injured. The hockey community, the country, the world mourned the senseless loss. But, the heroics of first responders on the scene and at the hospital filled my heart with gratitude. I can’t imagine the trauma they endured, and I hope and pray they can find peace in those they were able to help.

 

hands-1926414_640

 

A man, half-naked, opened fire on a Waffle House in the Nashville area and if not for the bravery of a customer who threw himself in danger by tackling the man to the ground, many more lives may have been lost.

 

And then there’s the individual who drove his van onto a busy Toronto sidewalk and mowed people over like bowling pins, all because he couldn’t get a date. Thanks to the extreme bravery and training of a Toronto police officer the suspect was apprehended without any shots being fired, though he pretended to have a weapon and clearly wished to become a martyr by getting shot.

 

 

houston-fire-department-3226063_640

 

Heroes step up to the plate without thought to their own safety- or actually maybe it’s more to do with their deep love of life. Without people like the first responders, doctors, police, or the average guy just out for a breakfast and instead ends up risking his life, we would be a much sadder world.

 

It’s no wonder romance authors love to write larger-than-life heroes, they give us hope.

 

 

architecture-3291806_640