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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Stones For Bread by Christa Parrish (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Litfuse Publicity, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Stones For Bread by Author Christa Parrish!

Stones for Bread KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway from Christa Parrish! 

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christa parrish stones for bread

Book Review

Stones For Bread by Christa Parrish
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Format: Paperback - 326 pages / Kindle - 1085 KB / Nook - 916 KB
ISBN: 1401689019
Genre: Christian Fiction / Women's Fiction 

BUY THE BOOK: Stones For Bread

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Litfuse Publicity.

Book Description:

A solitary artisan. A legacy of bread-baking. And one secret that could collapse her entire identity.

Liesl McNamara’s life can be described in one word: bread. From her earliest memory, her mother and grandmother passed down the mystery of baking and the importance of this deceptively simple food. And now, as the owner of Wild Rise bake house, Liesl spends every day up to her elbows in dough, nourishing and perfecting her craft.

But the simple life she has cultivated is becoming quite complicated. Her head baker brings his troubled grandson into the bakeshop as an apprentice. Her waitress submits her recipes to a popular cable cooking show. And the man who delivers her flour – a single father with strange culinary habits – seems determined to win Liesl’s affection.

When Wild Rise is featured on television, her quiet existence appears a thing of the past. And then a phone call from a woman claiming to be her half-sister forces Liesl to confront long-hidden secrets in her family’s past. With her precious heritage crumbling around her, the baker must make a choice: allow herself to be buried in detachment and remorse, or take a leap of faith into a new life.

Book Excerpt:


I'm young, four, home from nursery school because of snow. Young enough to think my mother is most beautiful when she wears her apron; the pink and brown flowered cotton flares at the waist and ruffles around the shoulders. I wish I had an apron, but instead she ties a tea towel around my neck. The knot captures a strand of my hair, pinching my scalp. I scratch until the captive hair breaks in half. Mother pushes a chair to the counter and I stand on it, sturdy pine, rubbed shiny with age.

Our home is wood—floors, furniture, spoons, bowls, boards, frames—some painted, some naked, every piece protective around us. Wood is warm, my mother says, because it once was living. I feel nothing but coolness in the paneling, the top of the long farm table, the rolling pin, all soaked in January.

At the counter, the smooth butcher block edge meets my abdomen, still a potbellied preschooler's stomach, though my limbs are sticks. Mother adds flour and yeast to the antique dough trough. Salt. Water. Stirs with a wooden spoon.

I want to help, I say.

You will, she tells me, stirring, stirring. Finally, she smoothes olive oil on the counter and turns the viscous mound out in front of her. Give me your hands. I hold them out to her. She covers her own in flour, takes each one of mine between them, and rubs. Then, tightening her thumb and forefinger around a corner of dough, she chokes off an apple-sized piece and sets it before me. Here.

I poke it. It sucks my fingers in. Too sticky, I complain. She sprinkles more flour over it and says, Watch. Like this.

She stretches and folds and turns. The sleeves of her sweater are pushed up past her elbow. I watch the muscles in her forearms expand and contract, like lungs breathing airiness into the dough. She stretches and folds and turns. A section of hair comes free from the elastic band at the back of her head, drifting into her face. She blows at it and, using her shoulder, pushes it behind her right ear. It doesn't stay.

She stretches and folds and turns.

I grow bored of watching and play with my own dough, flattening it, leaving handprints. Peel it off the counter and hold it up; it oozes back down, holes forming. I ball it up like clay, rolling it under my palm. Wipe my hands on the back pockets of my red corduroy pants.

My mother finishes, returns her dough gently to the trough. She places my ball next to her own and covers both with a clean white tea towel.

I jump off the chair. When do we cook it?

Bake it. Mother wipes the counter with a damp sponge. But not yet. It must rise.

To the sky?

Only to the top of the bowl.

I'm disappointed. I want to see the dough swell and grow, like a hot air balloon. My mother unties the towel from my neck, dampens it beneath the faucet. Let me see your hands. I offer them to her, and she scrubs away the dried-on dough, so like paste, flaky and near-white between my fingers. Then she kisses my palms and says, Go play.

The kitchen is stuffy with our labor and the preheating oven. The neighbor children laugh outside; I can see one of them in a navy blue snowsuit, dragging a plastic toboggan up the embankment made by the snow plow. But I stay. I want to be kissed again and washed with warm water. I want my mother's hands on me, tender and strong at the same time, shaping me as she does the bread.

My Book Review:

Stones For Bread is a poignant story that follows the generational legacy of bread making in Liesl McNamara's family that began with her grandmother, passed down to her mother, then on to her. It is a story that interweaves the fond childhood memories of baking bread with her grandmother and mother, with the tragic moments that occur in her life, and through it all bread has been the bonding element in Liesl's life. Now as an adult Liesl's world consists of everything bread as the owner/baker of Wild Rise, a bake house in Vermont. But Liesl's uncomplicated solitary life is about to change when one of her assistants enters Liesl in the reality show, Bake Off; and she unexpectedly meets Seamus, a divorced man and his six year old daughter Cecelia. As her business grows from the publicity of being on the reality show, Liesl believes that she has gotten everything she has ever wanted, until a mysterious woman calls claiming to be her half-sister, revealing a devastating family secret that shatters Liesl's world, leaving her to question everything about her life and family.

Author Christa Parrish weaves a wonderful tale written in the first person narrative that follows Liesl McNamara's emotional personal journey of discovering the meaning of life and love, alternating between the present and her childhood past, and lovingly interwoven with the generational legacy of baking bread.

While the main focus of the story revolves around Liesl's personal journey, I loved how the author seamlessly interwove her story with the fascinating history of the art of breading making. It is a wonderful story of life, family, and love all revolving around the bond that is created from the art of bread making, that provides nourishment for our heart and soul. As an added bonus, the author includes delectable recipes that had my mouth watering and desiring some freshly made warm Artisan bread with strawberry jam.

You can't help but get drawn into Liesl's life, she is a complicated woman with a past that includes happy and tragic memories, who lives a solitary and uncomplicated life revolving around baking bread, until an unexpected meeting with a divorced man and his daughter shakes up her world, coupled with learning to accept the growing notoriety of her bake shop due to the appearance on the reality show, that will notably change and reshape Liesl's world. I really enjoyed following Liesl on her personal journey of self discovery, it was inspiring and emotional to see how her story unfolds in a way that she is finally able to let go of the past, grow, open up and embrace life and relationships.

Stones For Bread is a warmhearted and touching story that will pull at your heartstrings, while providing a fascinating and soul nourishing lesson on the art of bread making.


About The Author

Christa Parrish is the award-winning author of three novels, including the 2009 ECPA Fiction Book of the Year Watch Over Me. When she's not writing, she's a homeschool mother of three wonderful children. Married to author and pastor Chris Coppernoll, Christa serves with him as co-leader of their church's youth ministry as well as serving as a facilitator for a divorce recovery ministry. She is now also slightly obsessed with the art of baking bread.


Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Stones for Bread KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway from Christa Parrish! Pin It & Win It! Christa Parrish is celebrating her fourth novel, Stones for Breadwith a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway.

#StonesforBread KitchenAid Mixer Contest #ChristaParrish

Easy steps to enter:

1. Follow Christa Parrish and TNZ Fiction on Pinterest.

2. Then Pin the Stones for Bread book cover (below), the contest graphic (above), or both, and link to this post (using this URL: #StonesforBread KitchenAid Mixer Contest #ChristaParrish

3. Then fill out THIS SHORT FORM to let us know. (There are also some additional ways to earn extra entries, as well as an option for non-Pinterest users. It's true—people like that do exist!)

Questions? Email info @ litfusegroup dot com.

Winner will be announced on 12/9 on Christa's Facebook Page.

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