Blue stained wood with crimson carnations

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: A Beauty So Rare

Well after a full month of promotions for Tamera Alexander's new book "A Beauty So Rare" The time has come for me to sit down and write my review of said book! ...But before I do that I just 
wanted to say that I really love working with these book blogging programs and getting the chance to review this latest title from Bethany House! I was quite pleased to be getting an 'advanced reader copy' to begin with but I can't tell you how utterly delighted I was to be asked to be a part of this special team to help promote the book more directly! It has been a great experience (that has even secured me a tin of yummy cookies from Christie's bakery in Nashville!) and one I won't soon forget!

If you have followed me (and this blog) for any amount of time you will no doubt know how utterly in love with Tamera Alexander's books and writing style I am. (And I'm sure that you can imagine the fangirling that took place when I got the email offering me this promotions opportunity!) It should be no surprise then that this review is going to be um, slightly biased...but I'll do my best to ahem, remain professional. :)

Set in post civil-war Nashville, "A Beauty So Rare" opens on the life of Eleanor Braddock. The war has changed life for Eleanor drastically, gone are her mother, her brother, her family's financial security, and- her father's mind. At nearly 30 years old unmarried, ordinary Eleanor has little else to loose as she sells off the home she grew up in and makes the humbling move into Nashville. Although she is living with, and under the good graces of, her Aunt the famed Adelicia Acklen in her stately home, Eleanor intends to be a burden on her aunt for as brief a time as possible. After her best laid plans for her future are dashed Eleanor finds work in a most unusual fashion- but as she begins to reach out to the widows and orphans that have flooded the city after the war Eleanor begins to learn that God may have more planned for her then she ever could have hoped for!
Also building a life for himself in Nashville is Marcus Gotfried a man with many hidden talents- and an equally hidden past. Hailing from Austria, Marcus has also come from another life and is working hard to create the kind of life that he wants to be proud of. With a talent for grafting and planting, a talent for architecture and building, and it seems- a talent for making Eleanor's head spin his options are seemingly wide open...but that may not be the true case. Even as his compelled return to Austria and his old life looms on the horizon Marcus tries his best to not form attachments to Eleanor- he knows something between them can never be- but as he helps her with her work and comes to know her better and better the more he rethinks the course he wants his life to really take.

You don't know how long I have been waiting for this book.
The last few years I have enjoyed the yearly pattern of a new Tamera Alexander book being released just weeks before my birthday- and the expectation that a freshly printed copy would soon be in my hands, but this last year the pattern changed on me and the late fall book I looked forward to was now to be due in the spring! Oh fudge. Well, now that spring is here so is Eleanor's story- a story that was well worth the wait! While it did take me a while to get through the 471 beautifully bound small type pages that really was due to the small children in my care not the story itself!

The story it self is lovely. The characters that Alexander creates are ones, from humble seamstress to highly acclaimed aunt, that one wants to know and to be friends with. One of the things that Tamera Alexander does so well is that she tells the story in front of her. I frequently find myself tiring reading some other authors because they are so heavy handed with plastering around backstory until the poor characters are mired deeply in pasts that need escaping.  Not so with Alexander. Her characters and story telling style always stands 'as is'- she doesn't need to paint the details of the past in the heavy strokes that leave a reader burdened- but she lets you know, as in real life, that everyone has a past and everyone is moving forward day by day. It is something that I think we often need reminded of and something that is a particular theme of this book. Eleanor is someone who has been touched by national division, the death of loved ones, the loss of expectations and now dreams, and who is now experiencing the tragedy of dementia in her father. But these things do not cripple her. Despite the weight she moves forward step by step as God opens and closes the doors of her life according to his plan for her.

My favorite quote from the book! All ready for Pinning!
As Eleanor's story unfolds I really found myself identifying with her a great deal. While I might not share her adversity to the color pink I do share with her a similar age, marital status and more reserved disposition. I share her love of cooking had have had my own hopes for business endeavors dashed. I share her love of children and her desire to provide for the ones she loves. Even with sharing so many similarities with this character I found ways that she taught me as well- and that is another area that Alexander succeeds so well in. The truth of God is always strongly present in every book but is never something you are bashed over the head with, it always is woven in as naturally as breathing. When I pick up a fiction book to read it is almost always for enjoyment so I really appreciate this fact!

The cherry on top for this book is the personal connection that is offered. This volume has a good list of book club discussion questions in the back that are just begging to be used! Online at Alexander's blog is several recipes that were featured in the book including the savory custard, buttermilk pie, and shortbread. Given the opportunity I would love to put both of these to use myself! (Friends, let me know if your interested in a party!) Also of note listed in the back is all the many ways one can contact the author yourself. I personally follow her on Facebook and really enjoy the thoughts she shares in her posts! I recommend you connect with her too!

All in all, Tamera Alexander has once again produced a flawless book. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy for your summer reading and enjoyment and take a few hours off from the bustle of everyday life to step back in time and discover "A Beauty So Rare".

Final Rating: 5 stars

For my followers~ be sure and check back in here next week where I'll be hosting my second giveaway! It's not to be missed!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Preview: Goin' on a book hunt...

Ok, so when was the last time that you went on a scavenger hunt? For me it was about three years ago. It was an experience that pretty much ended up in total and utter disaster!

Well, whether your last scavenger hunt ended with victory or vanquish I say give it another go! In honor of Tamera Alexander's launch of "A Beauty So Rare" she is hosting a fabulous Pinterest Scavenger Hunt! And I promise, this one will be easy and fun- and you won't even have to leave home to participate! So check out the details below!

From Tamera's Blog

"Join me for a Pinterest Scavenger Hunt and win 1 of 7 copies of A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont Mansion series. 

PIN IT and share the love

The questions are posted below and the giveaway runs through Sunday night, April 27. The answers to the questions can be found on my Pinterest pageNot on Pinterest? Doesn’t matter. You can still participate and find the answers by using this link

Your correct answers must be submitted to (numbered 1 - 6) by Sunday, April 27, midnight Central to be entered into a drawing to win one of seven copies of A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont Mansion series. 
  1. On the A Beauty So Rare board, find the pin that shares the seamstress who sewed the dress on the cover of A Beauty So Rare (featuring the heroine, Eleanor Braddock) and *click the pin* to discover what the seamstress’s most challenging part of making the pink dress was. 
  2. On the A Lasting Impression board, find the pin where Tamera shares about the desert seasons in her life––those times that helped her write about a certain relationship in her novel, A Beauty So Rare. *Click the pin* to learn what specific relationship Tamera mentions in that blog. It’s the relationship between which two people?
  3. On the My Novels board, find the pin where Tamera shares about the inspiration behind A Beauty So Rare. *Click it* and watch the video to learn the true history that ties the Belmont Mansion (the setting of A Lasting Impression and A Beauty So Rare) to the real Insane Asylum that existed in Nashville in the 19th century.
  4. On the Recipes from my novels board, what's the recipe from A Beauty So Rare that is posted most often on that board (doesn't necessarily have the most re-pins)? It's also a favorite of Eleanor's.
  5. On the My Loves board, find the pin that references Easter weekend then *click it* to learn what kind of fish Tamera caught this past weekend.
  6. On the My Novels board, find the pin for the book trailer for A Beauty So Rare, then *click it* to watch the video. What is it that Aunt Adelicia is determined to find for Eleanor?
  7.  BONUS: LIKE Tamera's Facebook Page for an extra chance to win.

In your email, remember to number your answers from 1 to 6, like this:
1. Answer 
2. Answer
3. Answer
4. Answer
5. Answer
6. Answer
7. I liked Tamera's FB Page!

Hope you have fun with it, and I look forward to hearing from you!


Note: Pinterest is not sponsoring this promotion nor are they formally affiliated with it. "

Have fun on the hunt- and good luck in winning one of those copies of the book! You are just going to love it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book Preview: Behind the Cover- Fashion and Fiction

Hello again friends!

This week I'm here with a new look at Tamera Alexander's "A Beauty So Rare"! I'm loving this book and- head's up- will have my review of it published by the end of the week but while you are waiting on that let me take you behind the cover...

Have you ever wondered about how book covers are created? I know I have! I actually really love book covers and think that they speak a lot to what is in between the covers. In years past most covers (and books!) that are lining my shelves are ones with beautifully rendered artists interpretations of how an artist sees the characters. Sometimes those covers match up splendidly with the characters described in the books, but sometimes the artist misses the mark! (How do authors feel about that when that happens?)

Well, now a days designing a book cover has changed! Much is done in front of a lens and then translated into what you see on the cover. I recently read about how this was done for the cover of "A Beauty So Rare" and there are a lot of neat details that go into making a book cover! I encourage you to head on over to Tamera's blog and take a look for yourself at the cool pics that she posted!

In the mean time, I'd love to know what you think makes a good book cover and what makes a bad one? Any thoughts? Lets discuss!

Also, one more thing- for a look at how the dress for the cover of the book was designed head on over to this post also on Tamera's site! Even if you aren't into historical fashion this will be a cool read for you!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Preview: And now, for a recipe...

Well here I am again with a posting about the new novel from Tamera Alexander, "A Beauty So Rare"! This week I have dug into the book and I'm about three-quarters of the way through it- and finding my mouth watering at every turn!

One of the star attractions in the book is the 'savory custard' that's enjoyed at several points in the book. Now, I'm sure you are saying "what's a 'savory custard'"? And that my friend is a good question!
This book is set in the post Civil War era and located in the heart of it all, Nashville. During that time period pies of every description would have been whipped up with ease once- or perhaps several times a week! I mean really, who doesn't love pie? :) This 'savory custard' pie is really a cousin of what we might better know as the French favorite- quiche. Long way to travel from Nashville to Paris huh? Well never fear the recipe has traveled well and is ready to be enjoyed by one and all!

Take a look at the recipe (under the 'read more' link below) and print it today and serve yourself up a slice of history- and deliciousness!  I know I can't wait to myself!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Preview: A Beauty So Rare -Inspired by.....

"What would you do with all these women?"

So asks Tamera Alexander after reading an account of widows coming to Nashville after the Civil War looking for their husbands, fathers, and brothers. From that one spark Alexander's newest Belmont Mansion novel "A Beauty So Rare" is born. Take a look at this exclusive content from the author and get a behind the scenes what inspired her to begin writing!

I don't know about you but I cant wait to sit down this weekend (hopefully!) and get started on this book! I've been waiting on it for so long and I can't believe it's really here! Grab your copy HERE!