Tag Archives: Cathleen Armstrong

This Book Is Making Me Hungry — The Top 10 Tuesday Edition!

17 Oct

I’m excited for this Top Ten Tuesday‘s theme. The folks at The Broke And The Bookish are challenging bloggers to post about food! All things yummy are allowed. I occasionally post about books that make me salivate with their references to food. Not as consistently as I would like, I post recipes that I find would be great accompaniments to the offending books. So here in one place, I give you the books (and the recipes) that made me hungry for more than the next chapter. 😉 You’ll find a little bit of everything — perfect for book club potlucks!

Top Books That Made Me Hungry!

 

 

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble (Finnish Pancakes, Finnish Cardamom Rolls, and Squeaky Cheese)

Demise in Denim by Duffey Brown (Sprinkle Donuts and Gourmet Mac and Cheese)

Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon (Cranberry Nut Cake)

 

Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado (Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake)

One More Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong (Green Chili Stew)

Recipe for Murder by Lisa Harris (Lemon Crumb Cake)

 

Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon (Fudge Cake)

Seeing Things by Patti Hill (Shrimp and Pork Shu Mai Dumplings)

Thin Ice by Irene Hannon (Autumn Squash Soup)

 

What books have made you hungry?

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books That Made Me Want to Travel!

26 Jul

Thanks so much to the folks at The Broke And The Bookish who week after week host the fun and fabulous Top 10 Tuesday. This week’s challenge is to list the Top 10 Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do. To find out what other bloggers have learned or are inspired to do, click HERE.

toptentuesday

Well above all else, books make me want to travel. Now as my husband will attest, I am not much of a traveler. But the following books have really sparked my interest. Whether it is to real life places or places I can only dream about, here is my list.

Top Books That Make Me Want to Travel

 

Travel in Unique Ways

Route 66 — The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee

Public Transportation — Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin

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Travel to Unique Locales

Ca d’Zan Ringling Museum — The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

Oregon Sea Stacks — Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Shetland Islands — The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

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Travel Back in Time

Viking Days — God’s Daughter by Heather Gilbert

Medieval Period — The Abbess of Whitby by Jill Dalladay

Ashes to Ashes by Mel Starr

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Travel to Fictional Small Towns

Appleton — Lock, Stock And Over A Barrel by Melody Carlson

Bright’s Pond — The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin

Last Chance — Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong

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Travel Across Time/Space/Universe

The Bright Empires Series by Stephen Lawhead

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Where do you want to travel?

Top 10 Tuesday — Small Town Reads

1 Mar

This week the folks over at The Broke And The Bookish are hosting The Top 10 Tuesday theme, What to Read if You Are in The Mood for X. To find out all the great book recommendations bloggers are making, click HERE.

TOPTENTUESDAY

I am a small town girl. I was born and raised in the city, but I got out as soon as I could! I have lived in small towns for the past 30 years. Although I’ll read just about any genre with any setting, I do enjoy a small town read. The slow pace, the intimate feel, the close-knit relationships, and, yes, the quirky personalities appeal to me. So here are some Small Town Reads that I recommend when you get in that mood too.

Top Small Town Reads

The Quintessential Small Town

Charlene Baumbich has created the quintessential small town in her Welcome to Partonville series. Eighty-something Dorothy Jean Wetstra rides around Partonville, Illinois in her 1976 Lincoln bringing readers fun, laughter and touching moments. There are 6 books in the series, so plenty of reading enjoyment! Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet is book 1.

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Small Town Romance

Cathleen Armstrong creates contemporary romance novels with a small town setting in her Place to Call Home series. Set in the small New Mexico town of Last Chance, this series features real life situations with a strong faith message. Welcome to Last Chance is book one in this 4-book series.

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The Dear Daphne series by Melody Carlson follows the up and down love life of Daphne Ballinger. Daphne moves back to her hometown following her Aunt Dee’s death. Finding out that she will inherit all of her aunt’s estate, if she marries within a year, creates a bit of havoc in Daphne’s life. This is a fun series that has a serious side too as Daphne comes to understand Aunt Dee and herself. The concluding book in the series is due out in April. I can’t wait! Lock, Stock And over A Barrel is book 1.

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Small Town Suspense

Kathy Herman has several wonderful series that feature small towns, but her Baxter series is my favorite and great place to start with this talented author. A lot of mystery and mayhem happens in this small Tennessee town. Recurring characters, such as newspaper editor Ellen Jones, create a cohesive and continuing story line. This is a five book series. Tested by Fire is book 1.

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Small Town Cozy Mysteries

Nancy Mehl has a long list of mystery/suspense novels set in small towns. All are excellent, but if you are looking for a cozy mystery, check out The Ivy Towers Mystery series. Featuring a small town bookstore owner, this series is often laugh out loud funny. In the Dead of Winter is the first book in the 4-book series.

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Mary Conneally is known for her historical romance novels featuring hunky cowboys, but under the name of Mary Nealy she writes mysteries. In the Historical Society Murders series, Carrie Evans is back in her hometown editing the town’s paper and dodging dead bodies and a stuffed mouse. This series is also LOL funny. Book 1 is Bury The Lead.

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Small Town Quirky

While all of the novels listed above have their fair share of quirky characters, it’s hard to find normal within the pages of Joyce Magnin’s Bright’s Pond series. Joyce’s mostly off-kilter world is fun to visit and perfect for those who want a funny and unique small town read. Five books make up this series. Book 1 is The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow.

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So there you have my recommendations for small town reads?

What are some of your favorites?

 

 

Book Review: Last Chance Hero

29 Sep

UnknownThe inhabitants of Last Chance, New Mexico, could not be more pleased. Dr. Jessica McLeod has opened an office right on Main Street. Andy Ryan, the best athlete the little town ever produced, has ended his short career in the NFL and has come home to coach the mighty Pumas of Last Chance High. Unfortunately, Dr. Jess immediately gets off on the wrong foot when she admits that she’s never seen a football game, isn’t really interested in doing so, and, in fact, doesn’t know a first down from a home run.

Meanwhile, Coach Ryan is discovering that it’s not easy to balance atop the pedestal the town has put him on. When this unlikely pair is drawn together over the future of a young player–whose gifts may lie in the laboratory rather than on the football field–they begin to wonder if they might have a future together as well.

With the flair that has made her Last Chance books a favorite among readers of contemporary fiction, Cathleen Armstrong draws on the passion Americans have for the traditions of small-town high school football.

 

Cathleen-Armstrong-hi-res-199x300Cathleen Armstrong is the author of Welcome to Last Chance, winner of the ACFW Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction in 2009 and the first volume in the series A Place to Call Home. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives.

 

My Impressions:

Cathleen Armstrong returns to Last Chance, New Mexico in book 4 of her A Place to Call Home series, Last Chance Hero. In this contemporary romance novel old characters are joined by new as the town prepares for a return to the Glory Days of Last Chance football. Small town feel, endearing characters and a budding romance mix together to provide a very satisfying read.

Dr. Jessica “Jess” MacLeod is living her dream of practicing medicine in a small southwestern town. And while everyone in Last Chance is welcoming, they are not flocking to her office for appointments. Andy Ryan is returning to Last Chance after 10 years playing football in college and the NFL. As the newly appointed coach of the high school team, Andy has to battle expectations that may not align with reality. The two hit it off, but Jess doesn’t know anything about football and is not interested in learning. In a town where football is King, can the two find common ground?

Last Chance Hero is the fourth book Armstrong has set in the quaint and quirky southwestern New Mexico town, and I have to say I have not gotten tired of returning again and again. Secondary characters from previous books keep it familiar, and the introduction of new characters keep it fresh. I really liked Jess and Andy. They have a bit of the opposites attract story going on. I can really identify with that. My husband and I have such dissimilar interests its a wonder we ever got past dating! But after 35 years of being a couple with 30 of those years married, I can say that opposites can attract and thrive! Armstrong hits on the secret of success when she creates two characters that have the same goals and values. The football framework is fun — perfect for Fall reading. High School football is big here in middle Georgia, so I could certainly relate to all the hoopla surrounding the Last Chance team. I could also relate to Jess’ preference to a good book in front of a fire instead of sitting on cold bleachers! But Jess is a plucky heroine; her determination to learn more about football produced a few chuckles. Andy is more complex than his jock persona and I enjoyed his unfolding personality and emotions. Relationships are the center of this series, and Last Chance Hero explores the most important relationships — parent/child and God/His people. The importance of a close relationship with God is stressed, but never preachy.

Last Chance Hero can be read as a standalone novel, but the books are so good that I suggest you start at the beginning. An interesting storyline is introduced that I am hoping will be developed more fully in the next book. Each successive book in the series has been my favorite, and this one is no exception. All in all, a great read that I can recommend.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Revell for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: At Home in Last Chance

16 Sep

UnknownKaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden have always had a similar philosophy of life: when the going gets tough, they get going–out of town and away from the problem. Now they are both back in Last Chance, New Mexico, and trying to start over.

Kaitlyn is working to reestablish a relationship with the seven-year-old daughter she left behind six months earlier. Steven is trying to prove to his family that he is not the irresponsible charmer they have always known him to be. As Kaitlyn and Steven find themselves drawn to one another, one big question keeps getting in the way: How will they learn to trust each other when they don’t even trust themselves?

 

Cathleen-Armstrong-hi-res-199x300Cathleen Armstrong is the author of Welcome to Last Chance, winner of the ACFW Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction in 2009 and the first volume in the series A Place to Call Home. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives.

 

My Impressions:

These books just keep getting better and better! At Home in Last Chance is book 3 in Cathleen Armstrong’s A Place to Call Home series. Favorite characters from previous books make their appearances along with prodigals Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden. These two characters are known for their mess-ups and lack of commitment. And in a small town, its hard to overcome the expectations of friends and family. Kaitlyn and Steven both mourn poor past decisions and their tendency to run when when things get tough. They aren’t cut a lot of slack by the inhabitants of Last Chance — they have to prove themselves.

Proving oneself — isn’t that what keeps many people from trying in the first place? Made to feel like a failure or a ne’er-do-well, people often just give up before they start. At Home in Last Chance made me examine my own motives, choices and opinions. This contemporary romance novel provided another great visit to this little New Mexico town. Can’t wait to return with book 4, Last Chance Hero. More on that one in a few weeks.

Click on the titles to read my reviews of previous books in this series — Welcome to Last Chance and One More Last Chance.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

 

This Book Is Making Me Hungry! + Book Review — One More Last Chance

4 Sep

One More Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong left me hungry for more! Not only did I want to read more books in her A Place to Call Home series, but I wanted some of the New Mexico Green Chile Stew served up at the Dip n Dine in the small town of Last Chance. So here are my thoughts on the book and a recipe that Carlos may even have been proud to make!

UnknownSome things never change . . . and some things change you forever.

Sarah Cooley has come home to Last Chance, New Mexico, for one reason–because it doesn’t change. After a relationship gone bad with a man who wanted to change everything about her, Sarah is more than ready for the town whose motto may as well be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Chris Reed, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to spark some change in the little town. As the new owner of the Dip ‘n’ Dine, he’s shaking things up to draw folks from all over the Southwest into his restaurant.

As it turns out, the winds of change are blowing into Last Chance–just not in the ways that Sarah or Chris might expect.

Cathleen-Armstrong-hi-res-199x300Cathleen Armstrong is the author of Welcome to Last Chance, winner of the ACFW Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction in 2009 and the first volume in the series A Place to Call Home. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives.

 

My Impressions:

I really liked Cathleen Armstrong’s novel, Welcome to Last Chance. But I think I liked this book even more. She introduces three new characters to the already strong cast found in book 1. And while this book may be contemporary romance, the small town feel and the themes of change and fitting in make this more than a simple love story.

Chris Reed is the new owner of the Dip n Dine in Last Chance, New Mexico. He has great hopes for adding creative new dishes to the diner’s menu, but there’s strong opposition from the cook, Carlos, and some of his clientele who think any change is bad. Sarah Cooley has come back to Last Chance to teach second grade and she likes things just the way they have always been. But nothing ever stays the same as the two find out. With the arrival of Olivia, Chris’s seven year old niece, Chris and Sarah are thrown more and more together. Can they stay just friends.

Characters are a strong element of One More Last Chance. I loved the ensemble cast that make their way from the first book, including wise Elizabeth, opinionated Juanita, and stubborn Carlos. Chris and Sarah are highly likable characters that the reader knows from the start are meant for each other. Then there is Olivia, a kid who hides her vulnerability behind a tough veneer. The main characters are believers and take their faith seriously, but are just like the rest of us as they struggle with trust, insecurity and fitting in. The faith message is natural, never preachy. Armstrong also creates a small town feel that makes the reader want to settle in.

One More Last Chance can be read as a standalone novel, but I recommend you start with book 1. You won’t want to miss anything about the people or the place Armstrong has created.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

1042620The Dip n Dine is famous for Carlos’ Green Chile Stew. A New Mexico staple, this recipe is courtesy of the Santa Fe School of Cooking.

 

 

Green Chile Stew

Serves 8

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin or pork butt, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 cups chicken or beef broth
1 pound red or white potatoes, cut in 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes
2 to 3 teaspoons salt, to taste
3 cups roasted, peeled, chopped green chile or to taste
3 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, to taste

Heat the oil in a 6-quart pot over high heat and brown the meat in
batches. Set aside. In the same oil, saute the onions until golden.
Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Return the meat to the pan along
with any juices that may have accumulated. Add the broth, potatoes,
salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour, un-
til the potatoes are tender. Add the green chile and the red bell
pepper, and cook 15 to 20 minutes more. Add the cilantro, stir and serve.

Side Bar: At the school we use locally grown green chile when making
the stew. It is roasted over a fire or gas flame, peeled and chopped.
When the chile is not in season, we use roasted, peeled, chopped, frozen
green chile. You could also use freeze-dried green chile in place of the fresh.
A combination of mild and hot chiles produce a more balanced flavor.

 

Book Review: Welcome to Last Chance

15 Apr

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

16153453The red warning light on her car dashboard drove Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico. But as she encounters the people who make Last Chance their home, it’s her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life for Lainie’s comfort–especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie finds that she is increasingly drawn in to the dramas of small town life. An old church lady who always has room for a stranger. A handsome bartender with a secret life. A single mom running her diner and worrying over her teenage son. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little hick town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

 

Cathleen-Armstrong-hi-res-199x300Cathleen Armstrong is the author of Welcome to Last Chance, winner of the ACFW Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction in 2009 and the first volume in the series A Place to Call Home. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives.

 

My Impressions:

Welcome to Last Chance is the debut novel by Cathleen Armstrong. Book 1 in a 3-part series, is is big on small town appeal as well as a message of discovery of love and faith. This book was on my TBR Kindle list way too long. I enjoyed it so much, I ordered the next 2 books as soon as I finished it.

Lainie Davis is running from a boyfriend and his drug connections. On her way to El Paso from Los Angeles, her car breaks down in Last Chance, New Mexico stranding her in a town that is filled with quirky, yet big-hearted people. Lainie has always made it on her own, but soon learns that some people and God can be trusted.

Armstrong does a good job of creating a town that is filled with quirky, but not over-the-top characters. All of them have their faults and flaws, but love has a way of covering up a multitude of sins. Last Chance offers Lainie a family, a place to belong and a fresh view of God’s love. There is a slow-developing romance between Lainie and Ray that seemed very natural. I also liked that the conflicts and contradictions of a faith journey were handled realistically.

Welcome to Last Chance was a quick and engaging read, and I look forward to revisiting the characters and the town I grew to love.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed were mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click HERE. The Kindle version is currently FREE!