Book Talk Tuesday: Evergreen

It’s no secret I’m a huge Susan May Warren fan. She’s just released a novella, Evergreen, a Christmas story in her Christiansen Family series. Evergreen is about the parents of the Christiansen siblings, John and Ingrid, home in Deep Haven with a newly emptied nest.

Evergreen by Susan May Warren
Evergreen by Susan May Warren

John has planned a surprise trip to Europe for Christmas for Ingrid. He wants to renew their vows on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, a romantic gesture that he’s certain will wake Ingrid from the funk she’s fallen into since her last chick has flown the coop.

But the man can’t catch a break.

Ingrid volunteers to head up the community live Nativity. And their nephew needs a place to live for a few months. And John suddenly learns that what he thought Ingrid could snap out of, is much deeper, something that he has no idea how to fix.

Evergreen is the perfect read for a crisp fall or winter afternoon.

Unfortunately, here in California, temperatures were still in the 90s when I read the book last week. I couldn’t snuggle under a warm throw or curl up with hot chocolate or a cup of coffee.

And it didn’t matter in the least. I loved the book. The snowy atmosphere of Evergreen translated from the page into my mind and I shivered along with the characters. As empty nesters ourselves, our related to some of John and Ingrid’s feelings and situations. Susan nailed it.

If you’re an empty nester, what surprised you that you weren’t expecting  about this stage of life? If you’re not an empty nester, is this a season of life you’re looking forward to or dreading?

 

Book Talk Tuesday: When I Fall In Love

Susan May Warren’s latest in her Christiansen Family series, When I Fall in Love, is wonderful. Just like the others.

WhenIFallInLoveThis one is Grace, the homebody’s, story. When her family pool together to send her to a culinary school on Oahu, she’s not sure she can leave home and family. But she gathers her courage and gets on the plane where she meets Max, the hockey player who took her brother, Owen’s, place on the Minnesota Blue Ox when Owen was injured.

Max is carrying a load of guilt and heartache. He lets his guard down to help the lovely Grace and finds he can’t keep up the walls he’s built around his life and heart.

I enjoy all of Warren’s books and this one is no exception. She’s also sponsoring a fun contest where the entrants post recipes using Hawaiian-inspired ingredients.

Here’s my entry. This is adapted from a recipe a friend created after our second vacation together to Maui. We call it …

Mango Chicken Fingers

Take your chicken (we use boneless breasts or tenders).

Rinse and pat dry.

Dredge in a beaten egg, dip in a mixture of half seasoned and half plain bread crumbs.

Put in sprayed pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Top with Papaya Mango Salsa (homemade or from Trader Joe’s).

Bake for another 15 minutes. Yummy!

IT HAD TO BE YOU $100 Visa Giveaway from Susan May Warren!

I reviewed It Had to Be You here.

Susie’s giving away $100 VISA gift card. Click here to enter. And good luck!!

I love all Susie’s books and It Had to Be You is another winner. I loved Eden and Jace’s story and am looking forward to seeing them reappear in the rest of the Christianson family saga.

 

 

Book Talk Tuesday: It Had To Be You

Yep, I’m reviewing another Susan May Warren book. Maybe I should make a fill-in template for her books:

it had to be you[Blank] is another winner from Susan May Warren! Deep plot, real characters, stellar writing. I loved [blank] and can’t wait for the next one.

Seriously though, It Had To Be You is a very good book. Entry number two in Warren’s Christianson Family series is Eden Christianson’s story. We met her older brother, Darek, in Take a Chance on Me.

Eden is a writer. She longs to be a reporter, breaking real news stories and covering events. Instead, she’s at the obits desk of the Minneapolis paper where she works. She’s spent her life on the sidelines, watching and cheering for her accomplished siblings. Especially Owen. Now she fills her days at the paper and her evenings are for watching her brother in his ice hockey games or dragging him out of bars to keep him safe.

Jace (J-Hammer) Jacobsen is the team captain and Owen’s inspiration. His reputation as a violent enforcer has preceded him and Eden meets him feeling that she already knows him.

When Owen has an accident on the ice, Eden is surprised to find that Jace is not quite the brute she’d believed him to be.

It Had to Be You is a lovely story of how God takes our failures and mistakes and redeems them.

Jace’s violent past is a part of who he is. Eden believes her gift is cheering on the others in her family. It’s thanks to Jace and a stranger in a coma that she discovers she’s so much more than a cheerleader to others’ accomplishments.

The complexity of the characters and the interwoven plots are just part of what made this such a great book. Warren knows her characters on a cellular level. They never act in a way that rings untrue. The secondary plots are strong on their own and only add to the richness of the main storyline.

Click here for some photos of how Susie sees the characters. I kept seeing Kristen Bell as Eden though, not Grace. And I totally see Tom Selleck as John and Bonnie Hunt as Ingrid.

I loved It Had to Be You and I highly recommend it!

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I’m honored to be part of Susan May Warren’s launch team! I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Talk Tuesday: Duchess

Duchess, the final book in Susan May Warren’s historical trilogy is a satisfying end to the series.

We started with Heiress, the story of the Esme and Jinx Price and different paths in life. Baroness followed their daughters, Rosie and Lilly in their quests to belong.

DuchessDuchess is all Rosie, bringing the family full circle.

I reviewed several of Warren’s other books and it’s no secret I’m a big fan.

Duchess lives up the Warren’s standards. The writing is lyrical without the poetry of the words distracting from the story.

I had a small quibble with Baroness. I didn’t feel Rosie’s motivation to pursue a career on stage had been given enough plausible set up. But that was dealt with a bit more in Duchess. Enough that I’m okay with it now.

In Baroness we left Rosie as she made a deal with Dash: she’d act in motion pictures and he’d make her a star.

We start Duchess with Rosie living her dream. Her new movie has just premiered. She’s married (although secretly) to Dash and they are partners in their fledging studio. She hates being considered a property though and rebels when she’s loaned out to another studio for a World War I epic. She and a stunt pilot named Rafe renew their acquaintance and it helps pass the time on location.

We follow Rosie through several pictures and heartbreak when she loses both a child and her husband. Then she discovers that her stunt pilot friend isn’t who she thought he was.

A few years pass. Hitler is stirring up things in Europe. Rafe returns and offers her a chance to reignite her movie career with a film he’s producing in Austria and Belgium. Rose agrees and is soon caught up in world events.

I appreciated how Warren tied up all the loose ends in the Price/Worth family. I loved the story, the inside glimpses of life in Hollywood in the 1930s and ‘40s. I was born in the same hospital that Rosie lost her baby in. Many of the sites mentioned are familiar to me as a California native. I liked that Warren did her research and got it right.

All in all, I loved Duchess and I enthusiastically recommend it.

Author Spotlight: Susan May Warren

It’s no secret I’m a big Susan May Warren fan.

I got my hands on an early copy of her newest release, Take A Chance On Me.  

Susie’s Deep Haven series has been more of a bunch of loosely related books. Loosely related because they all took place in the fictional town of Deep Haven, Minnesota. Characters from one book would occasionally pop up in another story but she never gave away too much of the other book mentioned. 

Take A Chance on Me is the first of a series about a Deep Haven clan, the Christiansons. 

Warren put together these pictures of who she sees as her characters. Or who they look like. I’ve read Take A Chance On Me and I’m okay with these pictures. Stay tuned for a real review and a chance to win a Susan May Warren book!

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