Book Review: Where Trust Lies

Happy Book Review Day! Or, Happy Thursday! Either way, it’s a good day because we’re halfway through the work week. Today I want to share my review of Where Trust Lies by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. I received a copy of this book through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program and am glad I had the chance to read it! It’s the sequel to another book I reviewed last spring, Where Courage Calls.

Where Trust Lies | a #bookreview on thepajamachef.com #reading

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

She loves her friends and students in the West, but family obligations have called her home. Where does she truly belong?

After a year of teaching in the Canadian West, Beth Thatcher returns home to her family. She barely has time to settle in before her mother announces plans for a family holiday–a luxurious steamship tour along the eastern coast of Canada and the United States. Hoping to reconnect with her mother and her sisters, Beth agrees to join them, but she quickly realizes that things have changed since she went away, and renewing their close bond is going to be more challenging than she expected.

There’s one special thing to look forward to–letters and telephone calls from Jarrick, the Mountie who has stolen her heart. The distance between them is almost too much to bear. But can she give her heart to Jarrick when it will mean saying good-bye to her family once again–and possibly forever? And will she still want to live in the western wilds after the steamship tour opens up a world of people and places she never imagined?

Then comes a great test of Beth’s faith. Someone in her family has trusted the wrong person, and suddenly everything Beth knows and loves is toppled. Torn between her family and her dreams, will Beth finally discover where her heart truly belongs?

A companion story to Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart TV series!

And as usual, my five point review:

  • This novel, set in the 1800s, continues the story of Beth Thatcher. In the last book, she survived a year teaching in the wilds of western Canada. Now she’s back with her family in Toronto and ready to go on an adventure with her mom and sisters, and some family friends for good measure. Though this is a sequel, it works well as a stand alone novel so don’t be put off if you haven’t read the first installment. To me, that’s the mark of a good series… include some content that bridges the gap between two books, but not enough that you have to spend the whole novel rehashing the past.
  • I don’t always love the romance elements in Christian novels, but this one truly felt genuine and warm. I could so relate to Beth and Jarrick’s quest to talk and write and get to know each other from afar. They were so sweet to each other, even when they didn’t interact. Absolutely precious!
  • The main element of conflict in this novel was alluded to throughout the novel. You just knew something was coming. Beth’s sister Julie is impetuous and daring. On their journey, she befriends several girls and a young man from the United States and truly ends up in danger [oh those Americans]! While you know [because this is a book] that all will end well, the journey to the resolution was tense, masterfully crafted, and thrilling. While I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, I will say that how things turn out are not EXACTLY as I would have predicted, but I did approve. :)
  • I loved Beth so much in the last novel that I was a bit let down by her in this one. Though I was still captivated by her story and charmed by her sweetness, she didn’t seem to be as strong… but maybe her softness came out more when she was safe with her family. Isn’t that true for us all?
  • In general, while this was a great light read, with an interesting storyline, I liked the first book in the series better. The setting was more intriguing and the characters drew me in more. I would certainly recommend this book if you like Janette Oke, Beth Thatcher, or late 1800s travel though. It’s well worth the read as long as you know what to expect!

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

What I’m Into (April 2015 edition)

I can’t believe April is over. It was QUITE the month, let me tell you. But a good one, so don’t fret. :)

What’s Been Happening

I’ve been saying every month how busy things are…but I haven’t really said why. The last week of April was crazy! Well, our big news is that WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! Guys, I am so excited. I’ve been waiting for this day for a loooooong time. We closed last week and will move there shortly. We have a lot to do before then, such as packing, painting, etc. As you might have guessed, I’m super pumped for the kitchen. It’s gorgeous. We’ll have some work to do on other aspects of the house, but it’s not a fixer-upper by any stretch… there are just things we want to improve and tailor to our taste. We feel so blessed and are so excited. The neighborhood is great and we’re excited to be part of a community instead of living in transient apartment housing.

We bought a house! #homeowners 🏡

A photo posted by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

The day after we closed, I ran the Country Music Marathon here in Nashville. One of my friends from Bloomington came down to run ahead of with me, so that was fun. :)

What I'm Into (April 2015 edition) | thepajamachef.comThe race was HARD HARD HARD. SO many hills, and it got roasty toasty hot ‘n humid at the end! I’ve been having some knee/IT band pain this training cycle, so that was rough. And truth be told, I wasn’t all that impressed with the race itself. The first half of the race was great. Lots of water stops, a decent amount of music, and a good crowd. The second half? Not so much. There were long stretches without water, music, or even mile marker signs. Just a bit discouraging, but you’ll have that with races sometimes. I think I’m realizing I prefer smaller races like the Indianapolis Marathon that I ran in October 2013. But I’m still glad I ran it… now I can check marathon #5 off my list! :)

What I'm Into (April 2015 edition) | thepajamachef.comAfter I finished the race, Ben congratulated me and helped me sit down, then taunted me with “I know something you don’t know!” Turns out, our nephew was born during the race! How fun! My sister and brother-in-law are now parents. :) He’s a cutie!

Birthday flowers! #fleurs 💐

A photo posted by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

And last but not least, the weekend rounded out with my 30th birthday! It was a week ago Monday, and I was still recovering from the marathon so I took it easy. I worked in the morning, but took the afternoon off to go out for lunch and do a little shopping. Then I headed home for an afternoon of baking, reading, and relaxing. When Ben got home, we made an epic Mexican feast [tacos, Mexican rice, refried beans, chips + salsa + guac] and watched a DVR’d episode of Mad Men. He made me cinnamon rolls for my birthday dessert, and they were amazing. I’ve been savoring them all week for breakfast. Yum! It was a great birthday and ended a crazy four-day stretch that included: buying a house, running a marathon, becoming an aunt for the first time, and turning 30! :) What a fun month to remember!

What I’m Reading

Despite all the craziness, I managed to read a decent amount this month… nine books. My reading goal on Goodreads [follow me?] is 120 books this year and by the end of April, I had finished 41 books, so I’m well on the way for meeting my goal [2 ahead, according to Goodreads].

What I'm Into (April 2015 edition) | thepajamachef.comThe best book I read in April was The Midwife of Hope River, a lovely look at Depression-era Appalachia. I was in LOVE with the characters, the plot, the prose… obviously it’s about a midwife, but it’s also about so much more. Survival. Life! Love. Worth the read, for sure. The Butterfly and the Violin was also wonderful and was another one from my favorite genre: World War II historical fiction mixed with the present day. I also read/listened to two popular thrillers-The Girl on the Train and A Small Indiscretion.  You can read my complete reviews on Goodreads but basically I’m thinking I’m a bit… done with that genre. These “popular” thrillers like Gone Girl are entertaining and interesting, but are they good books, good stories? No. Usually I’m annoyed with some ridiculous aspect of the story and don’t like the characters because of their selfishness, stubbornness, or what have you. Let’s face it: I’ll probably keep reading books like these looking for the diamond in the rough, but maybe I’ll try to find them from more established authors rather than the debut novel let’s write a great thriller crowd. I’ve decided there’s no shame in not finishing a book you aren’t into… life’s too short to read bad books!

I’ve also made a point to save some of the great articles I read online to share here… so in no real order you should check out these articles:

What I’m Watching

Ummm, nothing?! Call the Midwife and Mad Men are back, so those have been on my tv lately. Over Easter break I also started a “new” show on Netflix, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. It’s pretty clever and well made, and I l-o-v-e the accents. :)

What I’ve Been Cooking

This month has been so busy that I’ve been cooking the same stuff, over and over. You think I’m joking, but I’m not. Think: boxed mac & cheese, black beans and rice [or nachos], tacos, etc. On one particularly warm day, I stopped at Sam’s Club on my way home from work and bought a huggggge bag of frozen strawberries. Our dinner was smoothies and black bean nachos. Glorious!

Long time readers might remember my 30 before 30 challenge. Well, didn’t happen! But I have high hopes to finish this coming year. I really need to blog about some of the recipes I’ve made, so that list is kinda sorta incomplete.

What’s On The Blog

My most popular new recipe of the month was Cheesy Taco Muffins. Yum!

Cheesy Taco Muffins | thepajamachef.com

My top three popular recipes from the archives were: Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake, Funfetti Cookies, and Buffalo Pretzels. I’m sensing a trend here. :)

What were you into in April?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately. 

Mystery Dish: Pineapple Scones

Sweet, tropical pineapple scones… with smooth coconut and crunchy cashews, these are a treat you won’t be able to resist!

Pineapple Scones... a tropical treat with crunchy cashews, smooth coconut, and sweet pineapple in every bite! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.com

This month for Mystery Dish, Kristi at Inspiration Kitchen was our host and she challenged us to use three ingredients from this fabulous list: apricots, asparagus, vidalia onions, fennel/tarragon, chicken, puff pastry, coconut, cashews, chocolate, and pineapple. I’m a fruit girl at heart, and there’s nothing I love more than a big bowl of fresh pineapple. Feels like summer to me! So when I saw pineapple on that list, I KNEW it would be front and center in my recipe. I had all sorts of ideas, but finally landed on the idea of a quick and tasty scone.

Pineapple Scones... a tropical treat with crunchy cashews, smooth coconut, and sweet pineapple in every bite! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.com

I know you might be thinking… pineapple? In a scone? Is she crazy? I have to admit I was skeptical too. Pineapple seems too… wet or something to be baked like this. But truly, these are some of the best scones I’ve ever made. They are sweet but not cloyingly so, light and airy with just a bit of crunch from the coconut and cashews. Tropical flavors at their best! On a whim, I stirred in some Lightly Dried Ginger that I received from Gourmet Gardens as part of the #HotSummerEats blogging event I’m joining this summer. And as I suspected, ginger + pineapple + coconut + cashews = heaven. Enjoy!

Pineapple Scones... a tropical treat with crunchy cashews, smooth coconut, and sweet pineapple in every bite! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Chili Lime Popcorn
two years ago: Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
three years ago: Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup

Pineapple Scones

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

from Land O Lakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained [reserve juice]
  • 2-3 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger – or lightly dried ginger from Gourmet Garden
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut + more for sprinkling
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and brown sugar. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until flour mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together pineapple, 2 tablespoons juice, and eggs. Fold wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined.

Knead dough in bowl a few times, incorporating a little more flour or pineapple juice depending on how wet/dry the dough is [I had to add an extra tablespoon of pineapple juice]. Dough will be sticky.

Divide dough in half, then pat each half into a circle. Cut each circle into 8 wedges [or 6 if you want them a bit bigger]. Do not separate as dough puffs during baking. Sprinkle dough with additional coconut. Bake for 13-15 minutes, increase oven temperature to 500 degrees for last 30-45 seconds of baking to toast coconut further if desired.

Allow scones to cool a few minutes, then cut wedges to separate into individual scones. Enjoy warm!

Check out what my other Mystery Dish pals made this month!

Pineapple Cake from I Dig Pinterest

Tropical Chicken Tacos from Inspiration Kitchen

Honey Pineapple Chicken Teriyaki Skillet from Flavor the Moments

Chicken Alfredo Bacon Pastry Pockets from Simply Gloria

Ricotta Asparagus Tart from Yummy Healthy Easy

Pineapple Scones from The Pajama Chef

Disclosure: I received an assortment of herbs from Gourmet Garden to try as part of my participation in the #HotSummerEats blogging event, coming this summer. I was not compensated in any other way, and am not required to publish positive comments. My opinions are my own.

Petoskey and Pine Review + Giveaway

Hi friends! Today is my birthday. :) Anddd I happen to have a gift for YOU! Or at least, a chance to win a gift. How fun!

Petoskey and Pine Review & Giveaway | thepajamachef.com

Earlier in April, my blogging friend Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm hooked me up some great products from her daughter and son-in-law’s new business, Petoskey and Pine. Petoskey and Pine specializes in “artisanal handmade bath products,” so think soaps, candles, lip balm, etc. I was able to try one of their lovely soy slow burning candles and some lip balm. Both products were heavenly! I was sent their Toasted Coconut candle and let me just say… amazing! The scent is fantastic–just like a batch of coconut toasting in your oven. It’s light and long lasting, and makes me crave coconut. :) I also got to try a lemongrass lip balm. What a creative flavor, huh? I love anything lemon so this is perfect for me. The lip balm goes on smooth and is perfect for soothing your lips. Mmm!

Though I received these products for review, I am so impressed with them that I’d love to purchase some for myself or for gifts. They’re luxurious, crafted from quality and natural ingredients, and are well made. Now I want to try their soap! And lucky you, you could win some for yourself, your Mom, or a friend. Check out the giveaway below! :)

For more honest reviews of Petoskey and Pine, check out these other blogs:
Nichole of Cookaholic Wife
Sarah of The Pajama Chef
Rebekah of Making Miracles
Anshie of Spice Roots
Shilpi of Simply Veggies

To enter the giveaway and win a great prize pack, perfect for Mom and Mother’s Day, click here. Good luck!!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary candle and lip balm to try and review from Petoskey and Pine. I did not receive any other compensation for this post, and was not paid to publish positive comments. My opinions are my own.