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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sweet Caroline blog my review, a recipe, a contest and more!

Contest: The Sweet Life contest! Enter to win a Scrumptious Baking Basket from Rachel. The basket contains a Super Cool Apron, a Low country cook book signed by PAT CONROY, rolling pin, and a pie plate!

All you have to do to enter is sign up for Rachel's newsletter here:

**Picture of apron:

And BONUS here's a recipe for Bubba's Buttery Biscuits!

3 cups self-rising flour 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled, plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted for brushing the tops 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the flour and chilled butter in a medium mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingertips until the butter pieces are a little larger than an English pea, but not larger than a lima bean. If you are using your fingers, work quickly so that the heat of your hands won't melt the butter.

Pour in all of the buttermilk and, using light pressure, fold the mixture a few times with a plastic spatula until it holds together. Do not over mix. In order to make light biscuits, it is important to work the dough as little as possible.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it quickly and gently 6 to 10 times or until it begins to be almost homogenized. There will be large pieces of butter throughout. Sprinkle a little flour under the dough so that it won't stick to the board and lightly dust the top of the dough so that it won't stick to the board and lightly dust the top of the dough so that it won't stick to the rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness.

Cut the dough into 2-inch rounds, place on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. I like the biscuits to be crispy and brown on the top and bottom, but not dry in the middle. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter. Serve right away. (recipe from Louis Osteen)

About the book:

Caroline Sweeney has always done the right thing--the responsible, dependable thing--unlike her mother who abandoned her family. But when her best friend challenges her to accept an exciting job adventure in Barcelona, Spain, Caroline says "yes" to destiny.

Then, without warning, ownership of the run-down cafe where she's been waitressing falls right into Caroline's lap. While she's trying to determine the cafe's future, handsome Deputy Sherriff J.D. Rand captures Caroline's heart.

But when her first love, Mitch O'Neal, comes back to town, fresh from the heat of his newly-found fame as a country music singer in Nashville, Caroline must make some hard choices about love and the pursuit of the sweet life.

My review:

I wasn't sure what to expect with this story. At first I thought it would be a straight chick lit, and in some ways it was. However, Sweet Caroline touched me in a deeper place than most lits do. I actually got choked up a few times. I rarely do these days. There were some very funny moments, some truly enjoyable girl times, and some romantic interludes that sizzled and popped. Best of all, though, was a spiritual awakening and a discovery of one's place in this world that was breathtaking and yes, sweet.

I loved this story. It was hard to put down once I got past the first few chapters. I loved the old folks, the lowcountry charm, and the author's voice. The honesty and self-examination Caroline had to deal with in order to grow was truly inspirational. She was strong, yet totally emotionally vulnerable, and for good reason. I loved how Caroline was so perceptive of other people's needs. She was also brave and willing to tackle her issues.

When she helped her brother tackle his bitterness there was a genuine God moment that was unforgettable. I am rarely as moved as I was during that pivotal point in the story. Of course I'm being vague so as not to spoil the surprise. At any rate, this story is probably my favorite story penned by Hauck. Does it get any better than this??? Seriously.

About Rachel:

I'm a forty-something, a child of the '60's, '70's, '80's, '90's and '00's.

I roller skated through the '70's into the '80's with Farrah Fawcet hair and a three-speed orange Camero.

Born in Ohio, I lived several years in Oklahoma and Kentucky before my parents moved the family to Florida.

I graduated from Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!) with a degree in Journalism. As a member of Phi Mu sorority, I partied my way though the last few years of college.

But, the truth is, and always will be, I belong to Jesus. At the age of six, I knelt at the altar of a Tulsa Methodist church and gave my life to the One who loves me.

After graduation, hired on at Harris Publishing as a software trainer, determined to see the world. And I did it without a laptop, a cell phone, an IPod or portable DVD player. Those were hard times.

But, I traveled to Ireland, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia, Canada and the U.S. from California to Maine. But, life on the road is difficult. Working twelve to fourteen hour days, one doesn't get to see many of the sites. In Ireland, our company's distributor drove me around at night so I could see something of Dublin.

I met Tony, my husband, in '87, at church, of all places. We got married in '92. Tony has been a pastor for twenty years. I've worked with him in eighteen of those twenty. Our heart is to see teens and adults passionate, radical and whole hearted for Jesus.

Tony and I don't have any children of our own, lots of kids-in-the-Lord and we love them all. However, we do have a very spoiled dog, and an even more spoiled cat.

I've always wanted to be a writer. My dad used to tell me, "You're a writer." I have letters he wrote me post college, exhorting me to write. In this, I believe he had the heart of God.

In '93, I started an epic WW2 novel with two plots. It was well rejected. After that ordeal, I took a break and put efforts into my job as a software project manager. But, I missed writing and in late ' 99, I took up the craft again.

With a little help from my friends, my first book was published in ' 04, Lambert's Pride, a romance novel. I love writing chick lit and romance. I love writing. What an honor.


Rachel's website:

Rachel's My Book Therapy ( a writing craft blog for writers):

Lastly, here is a list of all of the blog tour stops for the Sweet Caroline tour!


Pattie said...

I really liked "Sweet Caroline" - Rachel is one of my favorite authors! Please enter me in the contest. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

sounds like a good book. l always love a new recipe and she sounds like an amazing gal to boot! Percy

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