Book Review and Giveaway: True to You

Today I’m so excited to share my review of Becky Wade’s latest book, True to You! Read on for more about the book and be sure to enter the giveaway at the end!

Check out my review of Becky Wade's latest, True to You

A description of the book from the publisher:

It’s the exciting start of a brand-new series by a contemporary romance fan favorite!

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match.

However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

As usual, my five point review:
  • Nora is one of those characters you are either going to LOVE or just really not like. I personally loved her. She’s sweet as can be, smart, and inviting. She’s often described as a librarian (a tiny fact I take issue with, being that she was not described as going to library school, but I digress). Among her many quirks, Nora has funny names for everyone–The Dreaded Harrison, for example. She truly makes this book laugh out loud funny at times, and it is precious. These quirks make her a lovable character that you will be cheering for to move past her heartache and on with new life. Her makeover, both internally and externally, is stunning. Nora used to live in the past, but as she dares to dream and trusts God with her future, she is transformed.
  • I really enjoyed the relationship between Nora and her sisters, Willow and Britt. It’s obvious that although these sisters are all incredibly different, they do care about each other immensely. They would do anything for each other, I am sure of it. The lack of conflict between them–even as they planned a party and discussed happiness and heartache–was a bit unrealistic… even for adult siblings.
  • Much of the plot of this book centers around Nora’s endeavors to learn about John’s birth mother. What a way to develop a relationship! I’m personally fascinated by history and genealogy and reading about the process was fun. I did not personally find the surprise twist between John and Nora (not their romantic relationship, but another tie that I won’t mention specifically) to be… shall we say… appropriate. What are the chances of something like that actually happening? Slim to none, I suppose. It makes for good drama but REALLY. It is also worth noting that there is some violence and brutality discussed in this book. It was a bit surprising for me to read–nothing is graphic but it could be a trigger/disturbing for some.
  • The tension (and humor) Nora experiences as she grapples with the affection of not just one, but TWO men is fantastic. Aside from John, Nora is also pursued by a minor celebrity. Whaaat? Who has a Facebook messenging relationship with the actor of a character on a British TV show (that I pictured as a Regency era Downton Abbey)? Nora, that’s who. : ) Once again, not realistic. But adorable nonetheless.
  • Overall, I adored this book despite the lack of realism in a few areas for me. I loved Nora’s subtle humor, bookish charm, wit, and willingness to grow and develop. That’s hard to do as an adult, especially if life doesn’t happen as you hoped/thought/prayed it would. Like Becky Wade’s other novels, there is some emphasis on faith and some discussion of Christian principles. However, Bible verses aren’t thrown into every other sentence or anything like that… the characters interject faith and conversations about God in very natural and normal ways. I love that. This is a must read if you enjoy smart fiction that will challenge you to think and grow!
 About the author:
Becky Wade is 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 Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, and the Bradford Sisters Romance series.
And don’t forget the giveaway!! 🙂 #WishICouldWin

Do opposites really attract? John and Nora might just be the perfect match.

Find out in True to You, book one in Becky Wade’s new series!

Celebrate the launch of Becky Wade’s new series by entering to win a fabulous prize pack and $100 cash card!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of True to You
  • A $100 Visa cash card
  • A prize pack hand-picked by Becky

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 30. The winner will be announced May 31 on the Litfuse blog.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse. However, I was not required to write a positive review and received no compensation. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks for the chance to read this great book!

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Five Favorite Things

Awhile back, in the pre-baby era, I used to write monthly update posts. Ain’t nobody got time for that no more! Ha. But I do miss having a space to share randomness, so I’m going to try to share (regularly) my favorite things. I thought about implementing a schedule and/or categories… but nahh… I’ll just keep it simple!

Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies | The Pajama Chef

ONE: I haven’t done tons of baking lately, but we hosted our church community group on Sunday so I decided to make dessert to go along with our simple dinner (baked sliders–half ham & provolone, half turkey & swiss, a big salad, and chips). I made these Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies and everybody went crazy for them. Well, almost everyone. Apparently someone doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate together, but likes them separately? Weird! Oh well, more for me! There were only a few left and now I’m contemplating making another batch just for us.

TWO: Before our baby was born, Ben and I had lots of free time, especially on the weekends (obviously). Now we don’t have very much unstructured time (obviously), and the time we do have on the weekends is filled with all the minutiae that we didn’t get to do during the week. In an effort to incorporate more rest into our weekends, we’ve been considering what it looks like in our life right now to treat Sunday as more of a Sabbath and less of an extra day to get things done. It’s definitely a mindshift, and one we aren’t perfect at… but this article has been something I’ve been considering lately.

THREE: Running has been my thing for 19 years now (eeek I feel old). I started running in the spring of my 7th grade year, in 1998, and never really stopped. Though I’ve run many a race before, I loved running in the Rock ‘n Roll Nashville Half Marathon on Saturday. It was quite hot and humid, but I finished and I only walked at water stops. I was quite proud of myself and am anxious to sign up for more races now!

FOUR: I don’t watch much TV but lately I’ve been catching up on DVR’d episodes of Victoria, on Masterpiece. I am in love!! Anyone else??

FIVE: I’m psyched to read Becky Wade’s newest book, True to You. My copy came in the mail yesterday and it was hard to leave it at home when I went to work today! I’ve reviewed Becky’s other books on my blog so I was excited to be part of the blog tour for Becky Wade’s True to You. She’s having a Facebook party tomorrow, and everyone’s invited! Read on for more information.

Raise your hand if you’re ready for Becky Wade’s new series! Celebrate the release of book one, True to You, with Becky and other readers on Facebook on May 4th during a fun author chat party at 8:00 PM EDT (that’s 7:00 Central, 6:00 Mountain, & 5:00 Pacific)! Becky will be chatting about the book and answering your questions about the new series, and of course, there will be plenty of fun giveaways too!

Pre-order your copy of True to You so you’re ready for a fun book discussion. Find out more about the book here.

Hope to see you on May 4 for Becky’s True to You Facebook Party!

What are your favorite things lately?

Menu Plan: BBQ Style

It’s almost May! And with that, the beginning of grilling season and eating as many meals as you can outdoors. Or is that just me? 🙂

May Menu Plan: BBQ Style

Be sure to check out all the yummy recipes in the post–they all sound GREAT to me! And just in time for Father’s Day, we cooked up a fabulous giveaway for you… a Shinola Leather Card Case. So neat! Click here to enter. Good luck!

May Menu Plan: BBQ Style

Beverages

May Menu Plan: BBQ Style

Entrees

May Menu Plan: BBQ Style

Sides

May Menu Plan: BBQ Style

May Menu Plan: BBQ Style

Desserts

May Menu Plan: BBQ Style

May Menu Plan: BBQ Style

May Menu Plan: BBQ Style

This month’s recipe round up was brought to you by:

The Cooking Actress | Pies and Plots | The Spiffy Cookie | Foodtastic Mom | Kelly Lynn’s Sweets & Treats | Savory Moments | The Pajama Chef

Pin this to your meal planning board for easy access all month long!

May Menu Plan: BBQ Style May Menu Plan: BBQ Style

Deconstructed Falafel Bowls

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights. 

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights.

Spring is here! My birthday was yesterday, and #BabyVolde’s is next week. He’ll be ONE on Friday. I can hardly believe it. Last weekend we celebrated his birthday and his baptism. Almost our entire family came down for the occasion. It was a whirlwind weekend (and unfortunately it rained the whole time) but it was so fun.

Our little family

One of the best parts of spring (aside from the great running weather) is all the fresh produce at the grocery store! It’s almost farmer’s market season too. I can’t wait. I foresee quite a few lighter meals in our future, like these deconstructed falafel bowls. Regular falafel, while delicious, are a little too intense for weeknight dinners at my house. All that shaping and frying/baking. Noooo thanks! BUT if you just roast the chickpeas in the oven and layer them up with some grains, a tasty Mediterranean salsa bursting with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, and herbs, and drizzle a tangy tzatziki yogurt sauce over top, suddenly falafels on a random Wednesday night is doable. Even if you have a baby crawling all over the kitchen, getting into evvvvvvverything.

Welcome spring with a light and flavorful deconstructed falafel bowl! This vegetarian dinner is so fresh and delicious, perfect for busy weeknights.

Though they take about 45 minutes to put together, most of that time is hands-off, waiting for the chickpeas to get all crispy in the oven. To make this meal faster, you can prepare the grain base (I used bulgur but anything goes–couscous, quinoa, rice, etc.) and tzatziki yogurt sauce ahead of time. Then, when the chickpeas are cooking you can throw the Mediterranean salsa together in a hurry… and presto! Dinner is served. 🙂 We loved all the textures/flavors in this dish, as well as the temperature contrast between the hot, smoky chickpeas and the cool, creamy tzatziki sauce. This is a great one dish meal that has definitely earned a spot on my spring/summer dinner rotation. Next time, I’ll be sure to pick up some pita bread and hummus to enjoy on the side. Happy Friday!

one year ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreo Dream
two years ago: Spicy Chickpea Bacon Burgers
three years ago: Easy Homemade New York Bagels
four years ago: Kale Fried Rice
five years ago: Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup
six years ago: Mexican Pizza

Deconstructed Falafel Bowls

  • Servings: 3
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

adapted from Delish Knowledge; Tzatziki from my blog

  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted very dry with towel
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup uncooked bulgur, couscous or other grain/grain susbtitute of choice

for the Tzatziki

  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and grated, pressed dry with a clean dish towel
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill (or 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped])
  • 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

for the Mediterranean salsa

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Begin by making the chickpeas. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the chickpeas–they should be very dry–with olive oil, then spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Cook for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and season with cayenne, cumin, and paprika.

While chickpeas are cooking, prepare grain according to package directions. I made bulgur but couscous, quinoa, farro, or even rice would be great choices! Basically, anything goes here.

Next, make tzatziki. In a small bowl, stir together greek yogurt with grated cucumber, then fold in dill. Season with pepper and salt to taste. If desired, add mayonnaise. It adds a little extra tang that I love, but it can be omitted. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors blend. Tzatziki can be made the day before if desired.

Finally, make the Mediterranean salsa. Stir together tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion in a medium bowl. Gently fold in parsley and mint, then season with a bit of pepper. Let rest while chickpeas finish cooking.

 

When ready to serve, place bulgur in individual bowls. Top with chickpeas, Medterranean salsa, and a drizzle of tzatziki. Enjoy!

S’mores Oatmeal

Creamy oats topped with your favorite campfire dessert… S’mores! What could be a better way to wake up?

Creamy oats topped with your favorite campfire dessert... S'mores! What could be a better way to wake up?

looove oatmeal for breakfast. No matter the weather, I could eat oatmeal almost everyday (and sometimes I do!). Sometimes I like them cold (yay overnight oats!), and sometimes I like them hot (made with milk and topped with berries and almonds)… and sometimes I like them baked (but not in the pot nine days old #thankyouverymuch).

Creamy oats topped with your favorite campfire dessert... S'mores! What could be a better way to wake up?

Flahavan’s recently sent me a fun little oat-licious care package that included a box of their famed Irish Oatmeal and some packets of quick-cooking steel cut oats. Both were DELICIOUS! There’s something to be said about enjoying oats from Ireland made by a family who has been in the oat business for over 200 years. I think these people know oats! And what Flahavan’s is known for is their flaked oats that cook up fast (only three minutes on the stovetop!) and creamy as can be. Thank you, Flahavan’s, for letting me try your amazing oatmeal! Now I know what all the hype with Irish oats is… and I’ll be seeking them out. If you’re curious, you can find out where to buy them yourself here.

Creamy oats topped with your favorite campfire dessert... S'mores! What could be a better way to wake up?

Naturally, I had to fancy up my first bowl of Flahavan’s oats. Since Ben was out when I made my morning oatmeal, I decided to top my oats with a combo that only I would enjoy… S’MORES! Ben does like s’mores, but s’morifying other recipes isn’t really his jam… oh well, more for me! So I wasn’t basically eating dessert for breakfast, I chose to be intentional about the amounts of marshmallows and chocolate chips I added to my oatmeal. That way I didn’t go overboard! Is this is a bowl of oatmeal I’d eat everyday? No, probably not. But it’s a fun treat! The best part is that these oats cook up in just a few minutes and are the absolute creamiest oats I’ve ever tasted! I think some of that is the marshmallows stirred into the hot oats, but it is also the Irish oats doing their thing. 🙂 Hope you enjoy!!

one year ago: Bacon, Potato, and Egg Casserole
two years ago: Cheesy Taco Muffins
three years ago: Coconut Curry Popcorn
four years ago: Guacamole Salsa
five years ago: Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing
six years ago: Sausage Egg Apple Strata

S'mores Oatmeal

  • Servings: 1 but can be easily scaled up
  • Time: 7 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal (or other old-fashioned oatmeal)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of vanilla
  • 15 mini marshmallows, divided
  • 1 tablespoon graham cracker crumbs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sliced, toasted almonds
  • 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Combine milk, water, Flahavan’s Oats, and cinnamon in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until liquid has absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and half of the marshmallows and half of the graham cracker crumbs. Stir until melted, then transfer to a serving bowl. Top with remaining marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, almonds, and chocolate chips. Enjoy immediately!

Disclosure: I received samples of Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal to try. However, I was not required to blog about them or provide positive feedback. I was not compensated in any other way. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Flahavan’s for some great oats!