Review: “Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner #woocam

I have finally put into words my feelings and love for Bethany Turner’s latest standalone novel, Wooing Cadie McCaffrey! In one word, it is a delight!

About the Book

After four years with her boyfriend, Cadie McCaffrey is thinking of ending things. Convinced Will doesn’t love her in the “forever” way she loves him, Cadie believes it’s time for her to let him go before life passes her by. When a misunderstanding leads to a mistake, leaving her hurt, disappointed, and full of regret, she finally sends him packing.

But for Will, the end of their relationship is only the beginning of his quest to figure out how to be the man Cadie wanted him to be. With the dubious guidance of his former pro-athlete work friends and tactics drawn from Cadie’s favorite romantic comedies, Will attempts to win her back. It’s a foolproof plan. What could possibly go wrong?

Bethany Turner is back with more of the heart and humor readers love. Anyone who enjoys a good romance or binges romantic comedies on Netflix will devour this delightful story.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey (or WooCaM, as the fandom calls it) is a resonating story that will make you laugh out loud, fall in love with the characters, and experience all of the emotions ever defined right along with them. It’s truly a story for movie lovers, with too many romcom references to count. It lovingly makes fun of some classic film moments and even draws truths from a few, using such light elements to deal with the deeper, more serious veins of the story.

I have so many FEELINGS about this story! Mostly, I love the balance of hilarity AND real life. Author Bethany Turner doesn’t shy away from realities, handling some tough topics with a delicate candor. I think that’s what I like best about this story! The decisions Will and Cadie make are not always the best, and that’s ok, because it highlights the dilemmas, temptations, and even the mixed signals of modern relationships. All of this makes Will and Cadie’s love story more meaningful because they deal with messy, real-life stuff. And learn about forgiveness. And what it means to have authentic faith. And the importance of honesty, a boombox, and best friends to see you through.

If you’re looking for a romcom with a hint of faith, I highly recommend WooCaM! It has a few surprises that are refreshing and brave for the genre, along with expected hilarity, a colorful cast of characters, and the BEST banter and chapter titles ever. (Case in point: see my above photo.)

Thank you to Revell and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Eating My Way Through Italy: Rome

About a month ago, I went to Italy. It was an experience I will never forget. I traveled with a short term study abroad group affiliated with the college I work for. That means it was full of art, history, educational things, and LOTS of fun! I’ve been sharing Instagram pics like crazy.

This post is all about one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip: THE FOOD in Rome. Good food. Pizza, pasta, paninis, lamb, cannoli, CAPPUCCINOs, roasted chestnuts on the street and lemon torte in a cafe. Tiramisu.

If you’re going to Rome any time soon, I highly recommend the eating spots I list here! We did stay in the northeast part of the old city, near the train station, so most of the actual restaurants we patronized for dinner were within walking distance of that area.

I’ll be sharing more about food in other towns soon 😉

Artichokes, pizza, lamb, and cappuccino at La Famiglia Roma

Best overall: La Famiglia Roma

Canneloni, roasted lamb, pizza, artichoke Roman style, eggplant parmesan, cappuccino. With a menu in Italian and English, it was easy to discover new dishes! VERY affordable and friendly atmosphere! I ate there 4 times. I needed another week, at least, to try all of the items I wanted to on their extensive menu.

Diadema Restaurant – top 2 photos

Diadema Restaurant— streetside dining! Spaghetti was great!

treats from U. Giuliani!

Caffe Pasticceria U. Giuliani for cappuccino and sweet treats. Best cappuccino! They didn’t look twice at the crazy Americans ordering cappuccino after noon.

Exquisitaly for late night gelato and affogatos. An affogato is the BEST kind of gelato treat because it is 1-2 scoops of gelato with a shot of espresso on the top! Like the best “float” for coffee connoisseurs.

Affogato at Exquisitaly

Have you ever been to Rome? What are your favorite Italian foods? (And, more importantly, do you have any recipes to share?!)

Review: “Murder in the City of Liberty” by Rachel McMillan

Hamish in Italy! He visited the country of his “heritage” with me.

How many words are too many words for a book review!? Because I have a LOT to say about Rachel McMillan’s latest historical novel, Murder in the City of Liberty. I always have a lot to say about Rachel’s stories 😉 I highly recommend reading the previous book in this series (Murder at the Flamingo) for the best reading experience!

About the Book

Hamish DeLuca and Regina “Reggie” Van Buren have a new case–and this one brings the war in Europe dangerously close to home.

Determined to make a life for herself, Regina “Reggie” Van Buren bid goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expected her to marry and escaped to Boston. What she never expected to discover was that an unknown talent for sleuthing would develop into a business partnership with the handsome, yet shy, Hamish DeLuca.

Their latest case arrives when Errol Parker, the leading base stealer in the Boston farm leagues, hires Hamish and Reggie to investigate what the Boston police shove off as a series of harmless pranks. Errol believes these are hate crimes linked to the outbreak of war in Europe, and he’s afraid for his life. Hamish and Reggie quickly find themselves in the midst of an escalating series of crimes that seem to link Boston to Hamish’s hometown of Toronto.

When an act of violence hits too close to home, Hamish is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Murder in the City of Liberty whisks you away on a mystery and adventure that’s really about the characters and friendships. Loyalty, romance, relationships and their ties to the past, grace, and social justice are all themes displayed in an immersive setting of Boston with its cobblestones and steeples. I feel like I could map Boston from the descriptions Hamish and Nate give!

Rachel McMillan writes stories for the romantic at heart. I’m not referring to “love stories”, though a hefty dose of starry eyes, dancing, and the delights of attraction are all found in the pages of this story. I’m referring to the slight idealist slant of her stories with characters to root for and eventual happy endings. A balance of realism is always present, too, portrayed through the realities of the era and their parallels to today’s social and cultural challenges. HOPE is always present.

I ❤ Reggie’s comebacks!

You probably know I’m here for the romance. Especially this slow-building, delicious connection and camaraderie between Hamish and Reggie. I thought I wanted Reggie to have an “Aha!” moment, but I was wrong. What Rachel gives readers is a gradual recognition where Reggie’s concerned, the sparks finally making sense with just how intertwined Hamish is with her daily life and happiness. And with her “journal of independence”. It is perfect!

Within the romantic aspect of the story, the truth of how Reggie is changing and realizing her path in life is magnificent. I really like how she reconciles her past with her identity, embracing how her choices were not in vain but a part of herself, part of what makes her tick and what determines the life she is meant to choose.

Let’s talk about two of the secondary characters: Nate and Luca. They couldn’t be more different, but both have a deep and meaningful connection with Hamish. Both are catalysts for Hamish’s growth. I have liked Nate from the very beginning, but this story makes him one of my very favorite secondary characters who gets to steal the scene more than once! I appreciated the way he reminds Hamish that patience is required for change. And I liked how a particular thing surprised Nate near the end 🙂

And Luca. He brings the theme of loyalty to the forefront. It’s funny how he shapes, defines, even dictates the progression of the story yet he’s hardly “present” on the page. Only a strongly written character can have that kind of presence through a story, to be both likable and disruptive at the same time.

The brave thing Rachel McMillan is doing with these characters is shining a light on mental illness and bringing awareness through the HERO of the story. In this second book, we often see Hamish through the lens of his closest circle, showing both their familiarity with him and the grace they extend as they embrace each other’s imperfections. The maturing in this is twofold: growing Hamish as a person and McMillan’s story style and presentation developing alongside.

I could go on and on about this story, how it incorporates current events of its era, how it handles prejudice and war, how it shows the fallacy and strength of human nature. Wit, baseball, cannolis, smart banter, nods to classic films, end-of-the-world-kisses, and blue eyes are just the icing on top of this one-of-a-kind adventure that I’m sure to love even more upon rereading!

Review of book 1: Murder at the Flamingo

Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review + Book Tour: “Sweet on You” by Becky Wade


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Sweet on You
(Bradford Sisters #3)
By Becky Wade
Christian Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 368 Pages

April 30th 2019 by Bethany House Publishers

Britt Bradford and Zander Ford have been the best of friends since they met thirteen years ago. Unbeknown to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long.

Independent and adventurous Britt channels her talent into creating chocolates at her hometown shop. Zander is a bestselling author who’s spent the past 18 months traveling the world. He’s achieved a great deal but still lacks the only thing that ever truly mattered to him–Britt’s heart.

When Zander’s uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Merryweather, Washington, to investigate, and Britt is immediately there to help. Although this throws them into close proximity, both understand that an attempt at romance could jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. But while Britt is determined to resist any change in their relationship, Zander finds it increasingly difficult to keep his feelings hidden.

As they work together to uncover his uncle’s tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also, finally, come to light?

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Review

This final novel in Becky Wade’s “Bradford Sisters” series was as sweet as I expected, but even more adventurous, swoony, and relatable to my own faith than I thought. I loved it SO MUCH. 

Let’s start with talking about the dynamics and depth of the story. It presents a complex friendship between Britt and Zander, his unrequited romantic love for her and the beginnings of her attraction to him. Also, the sisterly and family relationships are natural and important at this point in all of their connectedness. The mystery and slightly suspenseful plot aspects add even more excitement to the story. All of this combines perfectly in a story that feels fully fleshed out and relatable.

The friendship-turned-romance is transformed at just the perfect pace. I was impatient, of course, for both Zander and Britt to be honest and open about their feelings. We readers have been waiting 3 whole books! When they FINALLY, were, it was all sparks and sweetness and chocolate. I especially loved Zander’s quiet strength and introverted ways. We need more heroes like him in the world.

There are SO MANY quotable lines in Sweet on You! and not just from Becky’s pen. From Zander, too. 😉 One of my favorites: “she {Britt} disrupted him”.

I also smiled over the references to music (Phillip Phillips) and books (like bookish Nora), all the chocolate and cooking bits. Oh, and John and Nora’s peach cobbler contributions (if you’ve read True to You, you know what I’m talking about!).

The faith elements were important to the story, too. They added a richness and a focus that was more than just a romance or a mystery to solve, but rather an essential part of the characters’ lives and a requirement for their own relationships to thrive. The bottom line here: all love requires both bravery and vulnerability. Giving over control. God requires that of us, too — our perfect trust in Him to carry us.

Thank you to Prism Book Tours and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Other Books in the Series

About the Author

Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas. She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children. When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction. She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance! She’s the Christy Award and Carol Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, and the Bradford Sisters Romance series.

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Tour Schedule

Tour Giveaway

ONE WINNER WILL RECEIVE:

  • Tote bag highlighting Britt’s chocolate shop, Sweet Art
  • Paperback copy of Sweet on You
  • $100 Visa gift card
  • 1 pound box of See’s chocolate truffles
  • Set of chocolate scented soap
  • Box of colored pencils
  • “Tattoo” coloring book

Enter on Becky’s website HERE

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Review: “The Waves” by Amy Matayo

Any time is a good time to read an Amy Matayo novel! This time, her latest independent (shortish) novel is the start of a new series. And I couldn’t be more excited about THAT! Read on for my thoughts on The Waves…

About the Book
TheWaves_Amazon_iBooks

Dillon Hayes is twenty-eight and single, an unfortunate status her overbearing family is determined to fix. So when she’s stuck on a cruise ship for a seven-day reunion with the lot of them, she’s desperate for any escape she can find, even if it means partnering with a sketchy stranger for an off-the-beaten-path snorkeling excursion. After her mother’s last matchmaking attempt, Dillon is more than willing to trade all her good sense for a few hours of solace. 

Liam Gamble is stuck in the middle of family vacation hell. The worst part: it’s not even his family. This will be the last time he ever accepts a free-vacation invitation from his best friend. At this point, he’d be willing to hand over his life savings to get off this crazy ship. So when he catches one of his friend’s cousins sneaking off board, he decides to join her, hijacking her private excursion and nearly blowing her cover. If she gets to leave, so does he. 

But what starts off as a secret escape turns into a very real nightmare when their shady tour guide leaves them stranded on an uninhabited island with nothing but the clothes on their backs and no idea how to keep themselves alive.

As hours turn into days, and the weather proves as threatening as their need for food and water, Dillon and Liam must join forces and rely on each other if they have any hope of seeing their families again. Funny thing: sometimes in life, the end of the rope is when you discover everything you value has been in front of you all along.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

With her distinct humorous tone and ability to weave deep themes into seemingly light situations, author Amy Matayo has decidedly penned another must-read story! Sarcasm and music references are included, along with a pleasant directnesss and a swiftly moving story of attraction and romance. Amy writes the guy’s POV like no other.

I was laughing at the wit of Dillon from chapter 1 and crying by chapter 3. After that comes a twisting, adventurous ride with Dillon and Liam. I loved the subtle ways loss and hope, pain and loyalty are tackled through the journey of the characters. And the romantic chemistry! Trust me, it’s there in spades.

I happened to read this book while on a little bit of a vacation, but mine was not as eventful and crazy as Liam and Dillon’s! Though at all times, Amy keeps it realistic. Survival skills are a must, ya’ll. I liked the ending — how things were brought full circle with the romance in a believable way.. I am highly anticipating the next story in this series! (And I REALLY hope it’s about Teddy)

Thanks to Relz Author Support for the review copy. This is my honest review.

First Line Fridays # 26: “A Table by the Window” by Hillary Manton Lodge

It’s time for a new edition of First Line Fridays hosted by the Hoarding Books blog!

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This has been the kind of week requiring some comfort stories. (I had to say goodbye to one of my beloved kitties who was very sick.) SO, I sought out something familiar, easy to read, and cozy in its own way. Hillary Manton Lodge’s “Two Blue Doors” series is just that! A favorite of mine, I started with the middle story, intending to reread just it. Well…. after reading it, most of book 1, and favorite scenes in book 3, I think it’s safe to say I revisited the series.

Here, I’m sharing the first line of A Table by the Window, the book that started it all. The family secrets. The blend of French and Italian cuisine. The restaurant culture, friendships, family banter, and the sweetest long distance romance. If you’re curious, I highly recommend this whole series! (I’ll link my reviews below.)

“I can’t believe she left you the prep table,” my brother Nico groused as he and my oldest brother, Alex, carried the piece up the stairs to my apartment.

Reviews: A Table by the Window | Reservations for Two | Together at the Table

Your turn! What’s your first line? Do you have a go-to, favorite “comfort” series or book?

Review: “Far Side of the Sea” by Kate Breslin

I LOVE when I learn something from fiction. And, when that’s combined with a riveting story, I’m a happy reader. Kate Breslin NEVER disappoints in this respect. Her latest novel, Far Side of the Sea, takes the reader on a European quest during WWI, complete with spies, tricks, pigeons, and a sweet friendship-to-romance story.

About the Book

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives 

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Far Side of the Sea is an absolutely riveting tale of history, adventure, and romance. Set against the backdrop of WWI, Colin’s story begins as a tentative journey for honor and grows more complex and layered as intrigue and danger heighten. When he meets the “other” Reyer sister, Johanna, his life is turned on end and their quest becomes an urgent and noble one — one that takes them across Europe!

Kate Breslin pens the most vivid character personalities (even side characters we meet)! Colin’s intelligence and seriousness are perfectly matched with Johanna’s wits and fortitude, making them a couple to cheer for – and one whose friendship holds more than a few surprises.

I also loved learning more about history and the use of carrier pigeons in WWI. It was such a daring and interesting tactic! I was delighted by Breslin’s extensive author’s note that shed more light on the historical facts of the story. I love to learn through fiction 🙂

Along with the action of this novel, the characters themselves grow and change through their experiences. I was rooting for Colin to heal and realize his value, something Johanna helps him to see. Likewise, Johanna experiences the beginnings of faith and the peace in knowing she is never truly alone as a child of God.

This novel is definitely on my list of favorite WWI stories! I was delighted with the glimpses of familiar characters from Breslin’s novel Not by Sight. I am eager for whatever era or story Kate writes about next (and I’m hoping we see Marcus again? 😉 ).

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the review copy. This is my honest review.