Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thankful: Return to Sugarcreek by Shelley Shepard Gray Litfuse Blog Tour

About the book: 
Thankful, Book Two in the Return to Sugarcreek series
New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray captures the beauty, devotion, and warmth of Amish life in this engaging tale of family, commitment, trust, and love set in the beloved community of Sugarcreek.
Christina Kempf has always known that God chose Aden Reese to be her husband. As children, he was there to save her when she fell through the ice, and he's been by her side ever since. After his parents died in a car accident ten years ago, the Kempfs raised Aden as one of their own, and everyone sees Aden and Christina as brother and sister. But Christina has never given up hope that Aden will one day ask her to be his wife.
Aden always planned to court Christina. But losing his mother and father changed everything---except his love for her. Her parents generously welcomed him into their home and treated him like a son. He can't betray their kindness by admitting his feelings for the girl who is like a sister . . . yet so much more.

Pressured by her parents to court, Christina begins to accept the attentions of Sugarcreek's young men, and now, Aden must make a choice. Will he stand by and watch the love of his life slip away? Or will he risk losing the love and trust of the family he holds dear to tell Christina how he truly feels?
Thankful includes a P.S. section with additional insights from the author, background material, suggestions for further reading, and more.

Purchase a copy: 
Landing page: 
My thoughts:  I enjoyed visiting Sugarcreek again and seeing how the characters that were introduced in the first book were.  It was nice that the focus had been changed to someone else because it kept the story feeling fresh and kept it moving.  This story addressed how strongly one can feel towards duty and obligation and how much one needs to follow the desires of his or her heart.  Aden has loved Christina since they were 12 and 14 and she fell through the ice when they were skating.  When her parents invited him to become a part of their family, he was glad to be near her, but has felt that he needs to steer clear of the love he feels as being raised in the same house has made the family consider him a brother and it would not be right.  Christina has been waiting for Aden to feel about her as she always has about him, not knowing he has his own internal struggle about how it would seem if he asked to court her.  Everyone has their own struggle with what is expected of them, and what they desire for their own lives.  There is a delicate balance between making sure you follow your own desires and at the same time not offending those around you.  Amish society seems to have a few extra layers of rules and procedures in place.
Along with the struggle these two are feeling are Judith and Ben, a couple introduced in the first book.  Judith is unable to have children, so they have decided to pursue adoption.  While no baby is available for adoption, their social worked asks them if they would be willing to foster a child born to a woman who is in prison.  The two of them have to weigh their desire to love a child and to help against how it will feel if or when they must give the child back to his mother.  Complicating this is that the child they will be caring for may not look like them.  Can they love this child enough to care for him for whatever amount of time they are able to have him as a part of their lives.
About the author: Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Connect with Shelley: websiteFacebook

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriene Trigiani TLC Book Tour

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Abut the book:
New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani takes us from the cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village to lush New Orleans to Italy and back again, from the tricky dynamics between Old World craftsmanship and New World ambition, all amid a passionate love affair that fuels one woman's determination to have it all.

For more than one hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This ancient business partnership provides a twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the schoolteacher-turned-shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past . . . and a secret.

But after the wedding celebrations are over, Valentine wakes up to the reality of juggling the demands of a new business and the needs of her new family. Confronted with painful choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company: "A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything." Now the proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves—the bitter and the sweet of life itself.
My thoughts:  I was a little worried that having not read the other books featuring these characters might hamper my enjoyment of the book, but it didn't seem to.  I think enough of what happened in the past was reviewed and mentioned that it was not an issue.  This book easily stood on it's own.
Valentine loves her work and spends many hours creating custom shoes.  She loves her life and her Italian family.  When she decides to marry Gianluca her plan is to keep everything the same in her work life.  She resists his idea that they move to Italy and live near his family, wanting to stay in the same apartment and workspace her grandparents used to build up the shoe business.  From the start of the marriage, just six or seven weeks after the proposal, she has doubts about it.  Did they rush things?  Was she a fool to believe that things would stay the same?  Is having a husband trying to protect her really what she wants?  Gianluca has been married before and is close lipped about why he and his first wife divorced and she worries that they might be headed down the same path.
A lot of the worries and joys that Valentine experiences are ones that all of us can relate to.  How do we maintain our own independence and self while also creating a partnership and sharing with a spouse or loved one?  How much should you compromise and how much do you need to insist on keeping things one way?  What does it really mean to love?

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062136593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062136596

Adriana Trigiani photo credity Timothy Stephenson.jpg


Bestselling author Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for her hilarious and heartwarming novels. Adriana was raised in a small coal-mining town in southwest Virginia in a big Italian family. She chose her hometown for the setting and title of her debut novel, the critically acclaimed bestseller Big Stone Gap. The heartwarming story continues in the novel's sequels Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, and Home to Big Stone Gap. Stand-alone novels Lucia, Lucia; The Queen of the Big Time; and Rococo, all topped the bestseller lists, as did Trigiani's 2009 Very Valentine and its 2010 sequel Brava, Valentine.

Trigiani teamed up with her family for Cooking with My Sisters, a cookbook coauthored by her sister Mary, with contributions from their sisters and mother. The cookbook-memoir features recipes and stories dating back a hundred years from both sides of their Italian-American family.

Adriana's novels have been translated and sold in more than 35 countries around the world. Trigiani's latest blockbuster Brava, Valentine (Very Valentine's sequel) debuted at number seven on the New York Times bestseller list following its February 2010 debut. Valentine Roncalli juggles her long-distance romance, as she works to better the family's struggling business. A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Val from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal.

Trigiani's first young adult novel, Viola in Reel Life--the first in a series--debuted in September 2009. Fans fell in love with fourteen-year-old filmmaker Viola Chesterton, who moves from Brooklyn to a South Bend, Indiana, boarding school. In Spring 2011, readers will delight in Trigiani's follow-up novel Viola in the Spotlight, as Viola and friends spend an adventure-filled summer vacation in Brooklyn.

Readers will take a peek into the lives of the women who shaped Adriana, with her November 2010 nonfiction debut: Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from my Grandmothers. The book makes a lovely gift for family (or yourself!), as Trigiani shares a treasure trove of insight and guidance from her two grandmothers: time-tested common sense advice on the most important aspects of a woman's life, from childhood to old age.

Fans everywhere will soon see Adriana's work on the big and small screens! She wrote the screenplay for and will direct the big screen version of her novel Big Stone Gap. Adriana has also written the film adaptations of Lucia, Lucia and Very Valentine--which will be made into a Lifetime Original Movie in 2011!

Critics from the Washington Post to the New York Times to People have described Adriana's novels as "tiramisu for the soul," "sophisticated and wise," and "dazzling." They agree that "her characters are so lively they bounce off the page," and that "...her novels are full bodied and elegantly written."

Trigiani's novels have been chosen for the USA Today Book Club, the Target Bookmarked series, and she's now officially a regular with Barnes & Noble Book Clubs, where she has conducted three online book clubs. Adriana speaks to book clubs from her home three to four nights a week.

Her books are so popular around the world that Lucia, Lucia was selected as the best read of 2004 in England by Richard and Judy.

After graduating from Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana, Adriana moved to New York City to become a playwright. She founded the all-female comedy troupe "The Outcasts," which performed on the cabaret circuit for seven years. She made her off-Broadway debut at the Manhattan Theatre Club and was produced in regional theatres of note around the country.

Among her many television credits, Adriana was a writer/producer on The Cosby Show, A Different World, and executive producer/head writer for City Kids for Jim Henson Productions. Her Lifetime television special, Growing Up Funny, garnered an Emmy Award nomination for Lily Tomlin. In 1996, she wrote and directed the documentary film Queens of the Big Time. It won the Audience Award at the Hamptons Film Festival and toured the international film festival circuit from Hong Kong to London.

Adriana then wrote a screenplay called Big Stone Gap, which became the novel that began the series. Adriana spent a year and a half waking up at three in the morning to write the novel before going into work on a television show.

Adriana is married to Tim Stephenson, the Emmy Award-winning lighting designer of The Late Show with David Letterman. They live in Greenwich Village with their daughter, Lucia.

Perhaps one popular book critic said it best: "Trigiani defies categorization. She is more than a one-hit wonder, more than a Southern writer, more than a woman's novelist. She is an amazing young talent
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Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Promise in Pieces by Emily Wierenga -Litfuse Blog Tour

A Promise in Pieces

A Promise in Pieces | A Quilts of Love Book
It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt—and the promise stitched inside it.

My thoughts:
Stepping back in time was both interesting and informative.  WWII seems so long ago and so many of those who fought in or were alive during that time have passed away, that we often don't think too much about it.  Seeing the war from Clara's point of view, running off to join the army as a nurse and being stationed in Europe caring for those taken from the field, brought the whole thing alive for me.

The last review book I read was about the women and men left behind in the US during the fighting and especially the women who took jobs that had been held by men prior to the war, as welders of ships and factory workers so it was interesting to see the war from a woman's perspective on the other side, actually  being there for the action and dealing with the bloody aftermath.

Clara is very touched when an injured man asks to write to his wife before he dies.  Keeping that letter with her, she delivers it in person as she promised.  How do you learn to trust again after seeing death and dying first hand, how do you make friends when the friends you thought you had were willing to leave you behind with only angry words, and how do you decide to open your heart and move forward?

This story is told by Clara to her grandson on a long car trip from Pennsylvania to New Orleans.  I found myself wishing she would stay in storyteller mode, but later was glad to have gotten those glimpses into what her life was like in the present. 

The quilt from the title is a baby quilt.  The wife of the soldier Clara delivers the letter for gives her the quilt when she leaves.  Clara plans to embark on a new career path as a midwife and the wife feels that after losing her husband, she will never have a child of her own and looking at the quilt is just too painful.  That quilt bundles many babies, as well as comforting some older people as well.  It is like the love that was sewn into it with dreams of the young couples children spreads to those who find comfort in it's warmth.

For more information or to purchase a copy click here.

Book Tour Information

Series: Quilts of Love, Book 17
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Year: 2014
ISBN: 1426758855