Review and Giveaway Seasoned Grace

Seasoned Grace copy

About the Book

Book:  Seasoned Grace

Author: Melissa Wardwell

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release date: August 31, 2021

Wardwell_Seasoned_Grace

You can run from your past, but you can’t escape it.

Though he disappeared that day, Raylin McReynolds never believed her father died at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

So, when a mysterious letter arrives from Breakers Head, informing her that she would find him on the Independence Islands off the coast of Georgia, she has no choice but to find a job, get there, find her father.

As mainland troubles encroach on Hooper Island, Sean Anderson devises a plan and presents it to the island pastors and his cousin, Scott. The result: Grace Mission—a place where those struggling can find the help they need.

What he didn’t need was a distraction in the form of a newcomer to the islands—a mission volunteer, no less.

Others at the mission, Beth and Scott, see more than just frustration brew between Raylin and Sean. What will it take to convince Sean and Raylin to stop bickering long enough to see what’s obvious to everyone else?

Raylin’s on a mission to find her father and protect her heart, but neither seem willing to cooperate.

Seasoned Grace continues the Hooper Island stories of the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Islands Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I was hooked after the first few pages. What a draw to the story, as I clutched the pages. Do I continue quickly or savor the suspense? Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have to spread out my reading time due to “life.” So, savoring the captivating story, it is! I’ve read every one of Melissa Wardwell’s novels, and this one has touched my heart the most. Why? She covers the pages with emotions and episodes of extreme guilt, heartache, sins and poor decisions. Yet, all is not lost, not yet.

Grace enters the scene every time in our lives. Grace never drifts away with the tide or the falling towers or a father’s misconstrued worth. Oh, the power of grace reaching across twenty years of missed opportunities because of selfish miscalculations. Melissa develops dynamic characters under the powerful umbrella of grace.

About the Author

Melissa Wardwell

She doesn’t mind alternating between the world of writing and the reality of being a mother, but she would rather sit with a good book or a good friend and a cup of coffee.

When she isn’t penning works of fiction, she is busy reviewing books for her blog, Back Porch Reads.

To see more from Melissa Wardwell, visit www.melissawardwell.com

More from Melissa

Here we are, in the middle of the collection. The third island—Hooper Island. Have you enjoyed the journey so far? I hope you have, I’m sure you have 😉

Seasoned Grace quickly became my favorite addition to the Independence Islands Collection. It is a little more serious on a few of the topics than my first two contributions. Now that a foundation has been set, I felt like I could get a little deeper into my character’s emotions and pasts. People are complex so writing two-dimensional characters are not something I like doing. I want readers to see the secret hurts that mold them into the person they are, and how God can heal those painful areas.

Grace is the running theme throughout this book. Grace enough to let things go, the Father’s grace, showing grace to those around us, and any other form of grace that might come up. Grace is like salt and pepper. It gives the right kind of flavor to our lives. At least I think that is a life quote Gram would tell Beth.

There is one chapter that you will see one of the new characters lay out their painful past in a rather quick way in a conversation with another character. This character suffered much in their life that some will struggle with understanding how they could talk about it so freely (which is why I am shining a light on it now).

When a person has found healing in life by following Christ and has allowed Him to take away the sting of what others have done to them, those moments become easy to talk about with others. Especially if it means that the one listening will seek healing for themselves.

This conversation in the book is intense and thought-provoking. It also displays the level of grace required to see people the way God might see them instead of through our tainted lenses. I found myself crying as I wrote it because I know how freeing it is to forgive and let the Father heal a wounded heart.

Seasoned Grace also has several returning characters—Beth and Scott, Thaddeus, Amara and Dante, Sarah Reid, and her boys. There are also two new faces, Raylin and Sean, as well as a couple of other mobile business owners who come together to help Elnora Island bounce back from a hurricane.

All my contributions to the collection flow from one book to the next like a television series. While the other writers may have written their stories to be independently read from the others, that is not something I have done. Trust me when I say that it wasn’t my original intent. As I saw my five stories develop, there was a constant feeling of community and character interaction throughout the books. I couldn’t just leave some characters behind, never to be heard from again, while I bring in new faces. It just wouldn’t be right. They have developed friendships and that cannot be overlooked. That said, when they come together at the end for Thanksgiving diner, they, and you the reader, will have a pleasant surprise.

So, stay with me, push through, read on—it will all be worth it in the end.

P.S. I realize that I gave a recipe for Scrumptious Independence, but not Heart Pressed. I apologize for that one.

I hope this one makes up for it. Scott’s favorite

Fish Tacos

Oil

If you don’t have a deep fryer (like me), get a thick bottom, deep pan

Use natural oil, like corn or canola oil

Gauge the temperature with a candy or deep fry thermometer

Fill your pan no more than 2/3 of the way

Heat the oil slowly to 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit

too low of heat, you will get greasy fish

too high of heat, you will burn the fish

Fish

Cod works the best, but Salmon is pretty interesting option as well.

Rinse it off after thawing if you use frozen fish, excess water will make your oil spatter

Pat it dry with paper towel – I use a lot of paper towel, but I feed five adults

If fish pieces are thick, cut into 1 inch-ish strips.

I use Panko fish batter for my batter. I don’t make it from scratch

Slowly place coated pieces of fish into the hot oil and let it cook until golden brown.

While that cooks, prepare your toppings.

Cole Slaw

8oz. bag of pre-shredded Cole slaw mix

1 1/2 tsp Apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tsp of sugar

1 cup of mayo or Miracle Whip

1/4 cup of mustard or 1/2 tsp of mustard powder

Avocado

Make sure it is ripe—soft, not hard

Mash it wit a fork

Cut a lime in 1/2 and squeeze the juice over the mashed avocado

Sprinkle salt and pepper on it

Stir together

Layering the taco

Spread some of the Avocado mixture on a tortilla

Place a strip or two of fried fish on top

Finish with Cole slaw mix

Enjoy!

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 24

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 24

Texas Book-aholic, September 25

Blossoms and Blessings, September 25

Inklings and notions, September 26

HappyWhenReading, September 26

For Him and My Family, September 27

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, September 27 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, September 28

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 28

Aryn the Libraryan, September 29

The Sacred Line, September 29

She Lives To Read, September 30

Connect in Fiction, October 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 1

Reviewingbooksplusmore, October 2

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 2

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 3

Life, love, writing, October 3

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 4

Simple Harvest Reads, October 4 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 5

Splashes of Joy, October 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 6

Blogging With Carol, October 6

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 7

Mary Hake, October 7

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11b5d/seasoned-grace-celebration-tour-giveaway

My Fall Reading Stack

Yes, it is officially fall, and I have so many books to read. Usually, I share all the print books that I have in a huge stack in my room. Today, I want to begin with two eBooks that I am presently reading. For the past two years, I have spent as much or more time reading on my iPad, yet they don’t make my quarterly TBR (to be read) blog.

The two eBooks are by friends of mine. Seasoned Grace by Melissa Wardwell is part of the Independence Island Series. The first two pages of this contemporary novel engages the reader in an emotional journey of healing. The second book is Great Lakes Light by Kari Trumbo. Her words reach into a world of great loss. I’m looking forward to this historical sojourn.

It’s time for a few Christmas stories. Pepper Basham has a beautiful novel, The Mistletoe Countess, taking the reader to 1913 with this question “Can the wrong bride lead to the right romance?” Garrett, a novella by Izzy James, is a time travel event back to 1769!

 Somehow, I missed reading Restoring Fairhaven by Carolyn Miller. It is part of the Independence Island Series. I look forward to going back to Merriweather Island. Next is a princess novel by Jody Hedlund, Beguiled. This is a Snow White Story!

C.D. Sutherland’s The Dragoneers will take the reader to a world of dragons and an imaginary world blended with fact and fiction. Finally, I have my hands on Setting Two Hearts Free by Janet Grunst. This historical fiction brings to life a period in our American history that is vital, the American Revolution.

What are you reading this fall?

Review and Giveaway Heart Pressed

Heart Pressed

About the Book

Book:  Heart Pressed

Author: Melissa Wardwell

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release date: February 23, 2021

Hearts pressed

Crushes are great for grapes, wine, and romance—not so great for hearts.

The Sweetheart Festival, an Elnora Island institution, has sparked more than a few romances over the years, but who would have thought it would light a fire in two hearts from two of the island’s oldest families. When Amara Martin and Dante Greco meet, sparks fly that may ignite more than romance.

Two wineries, old feuds, generations of traditions.

Seeing the attraction at Amara and Dante’s chance meeting, Beth Stevens and Scott Anderson join forces to do a little matchmaking, not realizing the pressure it would bring to both households and their own hearts. The new couple must decide if they will adhere to tradition or break free from expectations and choose love. Pressure on every side threatens a love that hasn’t yet had a chance to ripen—for both Amara and Dante as well as for Beth and Scott.

In this “forbidden love” novel, Heart Pressed continues the Elnora Island romances of the Independence Islands Series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.
The Independence Islands Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Melissa’s Independence Islands novels are yummy! Beth and her concoctions make me want to bake something delicious dripping with calories. The portrayal of island life fills a yearning for a simpler existence. There is no lack of entertainment or drama. The background lacks the noise and rapidity of life on the mainland.

With the introduction of Amara and Dante, the age-old vice of holding grudges laced with secrets winds through the generations to land in their laps. They have a choice to continue the feud or twist it up a bit. One reason I love this series is the continuation of the stories of beloved characters. Beth’s story is not finished which reminds me that my story is ongoing too. Life and worth has nothing to do with age but everything to do with God’s purpose.

About the Author

Chautona

Melissa Wardwell resides in Owosso, Michigan with her husband Jonathan, three children, a cat, and two pitbulls. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, having coffee with friends, and spending quality time with her husband kayaking and fishing.  Melissa likes to joke about the voices in her head, but it is those voices have inspired her to write several romance novels such as “I Know the Plans” (a story based in her hometown of Owosso) and “Finding Hope in Savannah”. When she is not penning works of fiction, she is busy reviewing books on her blog, Back Porch Reads. To see more from Melissa Wardwell, visit http://www.melissawardwell.com

More from Melissa

“Life never goes as planned.”
That is the understatement of the century. 2020 has been the perfect example of it. Around the world, plans were made on January 1st to do this or that. Plans to use the year as a spring board for something new, better, or just a change.

Then that virus dashed all those plans. We were shut out from the world with only our books, our televisions, and our families. Some battled the shut down alone, while others had a house full (one friend of mine had eleven people in her house and only one was not her child). I know a couple of single friends who decided to stay at one house for the few weeks that Michigan was closed. Others, like myself, may not have done as well as everyone thought they were. Brave face and all. But we survived. We persevered. We adapted.

“Heart Pressed” is my covid story. It is about the unexpected way life change while you are in the middle of making plans for the future. How some changes are wonderful and rewarding, while others will bring you to the ground, begging for mercy.

Take Amara, for instance. She had a plan and put things into motion to make that plan come to fruition, but God (don’t you love those two words?) had a different plan and took hold of her heart. He softened it, molded it, made it a place where He could reside. Then life came knocking. The one person she thought would be there, couldn’t be, but God (there it is again) gave her someone to count on, hold her hand, and help her through the storms. He showed her that she wasn’t alone in this world by surrounding her with new people who loved her and cared for her.

(Disclaimer – I know God didn’t do anything, but we all have those stories in our own lives where God intervened on our behalf.)

Did you find a way to survive the storm? Did God bring people into your life, even at a distance, that made things better? Did your faith strengthen to new levels? I hope so because life never goes as we plan, but it sure is nice to have someone to hold your hand.

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 19

lakesidelivingsite, March 19

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, March 20

A Novel Pursuit, March 20

She Lives To Read, March 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 22

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 22

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, March 23

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, March 23

Aryn the Libraryan, March 24

deb’s Book Review, March 24

Artistic Nobody, March 25 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Blossoms and Blessings, March 25

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 26

Batya’s Bits, March 26

For Him and My Family, March 27

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, March 27 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, March 28

Cultivating us, March 28

Texas Book-aholic, March 29

Blogging With Carol, March 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 30

Connect in Fiction, March 30

Simple Harvest Reads, March 31 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, March 31

Splashes of Joy, April 1

Godly Book Reviews, April 1

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10988/heart-pressed-celebration-tour-giveaway

Enjoy the tour!

Review and Giveaway Scrumptious Independence

Scrumptious Independence FB Banner

About the Book

Scrumptious Independence-sm

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

And so is Beth’s cooking! It’s a good thing, too. After a lifetime of her family’s smothering embrace, a whole new world opens to her with the passing of her beloved grandmother.

Armed with an inheritance she never expected and orders on how to use it, Beth sets off for Merriweather Island and fulfillment of a lifetime of dreams.

Or so she hopes.

What she didn’t hope for was what most women would—a man who fills her thoughts at the most wonderfully unwelcome times. She doesn’t have time or space for a relationship, but how do you tell love to just go away?

Of course, starting over in a new place is never easy, especially as an outsider in a small community. Add to that a mayor who has her dander up and a woman bound to make her life miserable, is it any wonder that Beth begins to doubt God’s and Gram’s plans?

With her heart betraying her resolve and challenges to her faith, Beth finds it takes bravery she didn’t know she had to discover just how scrumptious independence can be.

This “Merriweather book” is the second in a new series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

Food and memories. It is a thing, a realistic pull to the past, to memories that surround the senses. Familial tugs of the heart. Don’t we all have them. Beth’s story leans heavily on her time with Gram in the kitchen. Yes, it brings tears and avoid in her life when Gram passes away, but the memories sustain her and allow Beth to pursue her love of cooking and baking. It made me think of my grandmother’s chocolate sheet cake and divinity.

Yet, other memories of past failures or childhood traumas, scar us emotionally and mentally, maybe even spiritually. When is the time to let that part go and let God do His part? Beth has an opportunity to do just that.

I’m very committed to this series and all the authors participating. Anxiously awaiting the next installment.

About the Author

Melissa Wardwell

Melissa Wardwell resides in Owosso, Michigan with her husband Jonathan, three children, a cat, and two pitbulls.

Besides writing, she enjoys reading, having coffee with friends, and spending quality time with her husband kayaking and fishing.

Melissa likes to joke about the voices in her head, but it is those voices have inspired her to write several romance novels such as “I Know the Plans” (a story based in her hometown of Owosso) and “Finding Hope in Savannah”. When she is not penning works of fiction, she is busy reviewing books on her blog, Back Porch Reads.

To see more from Melissa Wardwell, visit www.melissawardwell.com

More from Melissa

“Lord, I don’t know how I can keep doing this.”

That was my prayer one evening in 2019 as I made my way to praise practice. I knew that writing was something God had called me to (because He never seems to call you to do something you enjoy) but the finances were just not there to publish another book. I felt lost in the uncertainty of the path moving forward and I needed a light. I had just shared all my concerns with my parents and left with my dad’s words ringing in my head. Are you writing to gain notoriety or are you writing for God?

The next morning, CelebrateLit had a post looking for submissions for a new and innovative series. Hope burst within me and I know I needed more information. I followed instructions and spoke with Sandy Barela and Chautona Havig. The more I was told, the more excited I became because I knew I needed to be part of this collection.

Ideas were hatched, characters began to talk, and a book proposal was sent. I continued to work on the development of characters and the mobile business knowing in my heart that God had given me this opportunity. I wouldn’t do things halfway. And when the confirmation email came, I was ready to share the beautiful story and characters that developed.

Beth is a food truck proprietor, so that means she spends most of her time cooking. In an effort to grow her recipes, I have been making videos of me cooking some of our family’s favorites as well as raiding my mom’s recipe box. The result is some amazing food to share.

Every book, pre-order card, and my YouTube channel has recipes on it. And so will this tour.

With it being summertime, our family doesn’t want those heavy meals so sometimes chips and sandwiches are all we need in the evenings. One favorite is my chicken salad.

Now, this recipe is easily substituted with other things like however, you like your chicken.

Melissa’s Chicken Salad

Feeds 4 (unless you have big eaters.)

2 cans of chicken (you can use cooked but this is quick and easy

1/2 cup of red grapes – halved

1/2 cup celery – diced

Make sure you rinse all of this well as you prep the salad

Dressing

1 1/2 cup of miracle whip (you can use mayo)

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tsp of sugar

Mix everything together and serve on your favorite bread option or on a bed of lettuce. I like mine in a pita pocket or on lettuce. This time it was with a pita pocket with a side of lightly salted chips and a pickle.

Now, just a little side note, you can add what ever veggie or fruit you like. Apples and cucumbers would be a great addition as well. So, don’t feel like you have to do things exactly like I do. Make it your own.

Bon appétit

Blog Stops

Connect in Fiction, October 1

The Collaborative Press, October 1

Livin’ Lit, October 1

Simple Harvest Reads, October 2 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

The Meaderings of a Bookworm, October 2

Godly Book Reviews, October 2

Joanne Markey, October 3

Captive Dreams Window, October 3

Vicky Sluiter, October 3

Blossoms and Blessings, October 4

Splashes of Joy, October 4

Pause for Tales, October 4

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10105/scrumptious-independence-celebration-tour-giveaway

August Giveaway

August giveaway 2020It’s time for a giveaway! August 20-28! Giving you a chance to win books makes me happy, especially during this time when for the past 30 years I’ve been starting school. Since I’m no longer in the teacher workforce, I’m focusing on reading and writing and enjoying my blog.

IMG_E7487I chose Melissa Wardwell’s Dance and Be Glad to giveaway this month. This is one of her contemporary fiction novels. I’ve read all of her work and have followed her writing career since the beginning. Dance and Be Glad is about Jillian Matthews who has two priorities–her daughter and her dance studio. Her husband died nine years before. She refused to open herself up to love again. Dr. Michael Emerson was happy with his life as a bachelor after a messy divorce. I won’t tell you any more. I hope you win, but if not you can order your copy from Amazon with this link: Dance and Be Glad.

Draw Me to Your Side cover (2)I’ve paired that novel with my book four Draw Me to Your Side. This is historical fiction set in 1776 Charles Town. I hope someone wins this and joins Elizabeth and Louis on a tumultuous journey into war. Amazon link: Draw Me to Your Side

Leave a comment for your chance to win one of these books.