Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories by Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern and Jennifer Gracen with Giveaway

Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories by Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern and Jennifer Gracen with Giveaway

Welcome to my review for Burning Bright  the first major house release of Four Chanukah Love Stories by Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern and Jennifer Gracen. This contemporary romance anthology from Avon Impulse is a wonderful entrant into the holiday stories that are so prevalent and loved by readers. Please read on for my review, check out the tour stops to see what other readers thought of the title, and don’t forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway where you could be the lucky winner of a $25 Gift Card to eBook Seller of Choice.

Book Review:

Each story is so sweet and heartfelt, it was hard to pick a favorite, and every story fairly screamed with feelings of home, family, tradition and hope that are common to ALL Holiday celebrations, no matter the faith belief behind them.

Ben, searching for a new sort of balance and redefining his life in the secular world when it is upended by the very modern-thinking and bubbly Amanda. Miracle by Megan Hart is just a wonderful story of a new relationship as the two learn and enjoy one another.

In A Dose of Gelt by Jennifer Gracen, Shari and Evan have been happily dating for a while, when Evan is overwhelmed by his own prejudices against marriage and his family’s perceived push for him down the aisle.  Shari is going to make him atone (as well she should) before resuming his place in her good graces.

Stacey Agdern brings an interesting (and withdrawn) Jon into whirlwind Molly’s life in Home for Chanukah.  Focused on his career, Jon is faced with someone who matches him perfectly, and the two seem fated. But Molly’s determination that his house should be more than a place to crash, and his own issues about being “told” how things should be bring an emotional roller coaster to both Jon and Molly.

Rounding out the anthology we have All I Got by K.K. Hendin.  I loved Tamar’s voice and her self-deprecating humor as she travels in Tel Aviv for winter break.  The love at first sight moments are strong and well played, and the relationship between Tamar and Avi is wonderful, until she has to return to the states.

Overall, this little collection is full of heart, with lots of humor and some emotionally trying moments, bringing much for everyone to enjoy.  While occasional words may trip readers up, they are easily translated, and the joy of the holiday and the importance of connections shine through.

 

Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories by Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern and Jennifer Gracen with Giveaway

Title: Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories
Author: Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern, Jennifer Gracen
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Holiday Themed
Published by: Avon Impulse
ISBN: 006246485X
Published on: 1 December 2015
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 400
Rated: five-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne Flame

Get Your Copy: Amazon iTunes Kobo Downpour
See this Title on Goodreads

This December, take a break from dreidel spinning, gelt winning, and latke eating to experience the joy of Chanukah. When you fall in love during the Festival of Lights, the world burns a whole lot brighter.

It’s definitely not love at first sight for Amanda and her cute but mysterious new neighbor, Ben. Can a Chanukah miracle show them that getting off on the wrong foot doesn’t mean they can’t walk the same road?

Lawyers in love, Shari Cohen and Evan Sonntag are happy together. But in a moment of doubt, he pushes her away—then soon realizes he made a huge mistake. To win her back, it might take something like a Chanukah miracle.

When impulsive interior designer Molly Baker-Stein barges into Jon Adelman's apartment and his life intent on planning the best Chanukah party their building has ever seen, neither expects that together they just might discover a Home for Chanukah.

All Tamar expected from her Israel vacation was time to hang out with one of her besties and to act like a tourist, cheesy t-shirt and all, in her two favorite cities. She definitely was not expecting to fall for Avi, a handsome soldier who’s more than she ever dreamed.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Read on for some Chanukah Fun and Q & A’s with the authors!

Chanukah Fun with Megan Hart

Favorite Chanukah Memory or tradition  Definitely the latkes. I like mine with sour cream, although applesauce is more traditional.

Favorite Chanukah Dish/Dessert Latkes, latkes latkes! However, I don’t have a recipe. I can list the ingredients and tell you what to do, but measurements vary from year to year!

Potatoes / Onions / Garlic / Oil / Salt

Shred the potatoes and onions. Mix with the garlic, to taste. (You can also add salt and pepper) Heat the oil. Fry small patties of potato/onion mix! Enjoy!

Do you have any real life experience with finding love during Chanukah? I was married before I started celebrating Chanukah, so every year has been full of love!

What was your favorite scene to write for MIRACLE? I think the first meeting scene is my favorite. It made me giggle. So awkward!

One line that describes your holiday romance. You’ll never know where the road will take you if you don’t start walking it!

 

 

Chanukah Fun with KK Hendin

Favorite Chanukah Memory or tradition: My favorite memory is from the first year I lived in Israel. I was in school there, and we had the afternoons off that week. A bunch of us wanted to do something fun before lighting the menorah in the evening, but we were all too poor to do anything that really cost money. So we split up into two groups and wrote a ridiculous list of things to do. The goal was to see which group could do more things on the list, with picture evidence to make sure nobody lied. By the end of the afternoon, we had done things like decorate a public bathroom, confuse the heck out of a bunch of soldiers, ask random strangers both silly questions and very serious questions, and hired ourselves to work at people’s restaurants. And all for the price of a bus ticket.

My favorite tradition… hmm. Lighting the Chanukah candles every night is really nice, because we do it as a family. Everyone gets together in the living room, and we all light our menorahs together, and sing. And laugh when my dad reminds us not to go near the candles, because when it comes to menorahs, he seems to forget we’re all perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves near fire.

Favorite Chanukah Dish/Dessert: It’s traditional to eat both dairy products and fried food on Chanukah, which is the greatest possible combination of foods to eat. One Chanukah night every year we ignore the concept of a balanced meal for dinner and have latkes, homemade french fries, and a bunch of different kinds of cheese. It is a ridiculous overindulgence, and the next day everyone just eats salad as a recovery food. (I eat my latkes with cottage cheese, not applesauce. I don’t understand the appeal of latkes and applesauce. I’m sorry.)

(When I called my mother to make sure I got the latke recipe correct, I mentioned eating latkes and cottage cheese. Her response was something along the lines of, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? WHO EATS LATKES AND COTTAGE CHEESE??”. When I reminded her that I have ALWAYS eaten latkes and cottage cheese together, she told me she probably blocked the memory.)

The recipe we use for potato latkes is our potato kugel recipe tweaked.

Potato Latkes (Or Potato Kugel)
5 pounds potatoes / 1 large white onion
(You can substitute a zucchini for a few of the potatoes if you want for the potato kugel.)
6 eggs / (1/2 cup oil-for kugel) / 1 tablespoon Salt / Pepper

LATKES: In a large mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, salt and pepper. Use a food processor to shred the potatoes and onions, then add to the mixing bowl. Form into patties, and fry them in oil. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or (to quote my family), if you’re irrevocably broken somehow like KK, cottage cheese. Makes a lot of latkes.

POTATO KUGEL:  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, salt and pepper. Cover the bottom of a 9×13 pan in oil and place it an oven set at 450. Use a food processor to shred the potatoes and onions, then add to the mixing bowl. Combine all ingredients together, and the take the mixing bowl directly to the oven, and pour the mixture into the pan without taking the pan out of the oven. Cook for an hour and a half, or until the potato kugel is at the consistency and texture you’d like. Serve hot with anything at all, because potato kugel, and if you have extras somehow, potato kugel is delicious cold with a bit of mustard on top or dipped in humus. Makes one delicious pan of potato-y goodness.

(Alternative, if you’re feeling fancy: instead of baking the kugel in a 9 x 13, you can bake it in cupcake tins for fanciness and extra crispy bits. Adjust temperature and cooking time accordingly.)

Do you have any real life experience with finding love during Chanukah? I think I really and truly fell in love with Israel on Chanukah- I finally was settled in, I knew how to get places without taking the bus, and there were an abundance of cheerful soldiers. It was finally sweater weather, and every person, regardless of religious observance, was excited about Chanukah, and about sufganiyot. Also, as a New Yorker, getting to go to the beach in December without freezing your face off is pretty cool.

What was your favorite scene to write for ALL I GOT? Besides the ending? Probably the rain. I’ve done my share of dance parties in the rain in Israel, and it was so much fun to write one for Avi.

One line that describes your holiday romance. Sometimes you can meet the love of your life at a bus stop.

Chanukah Fun with Stacey Agdern

Favorite Chanukah Memory, or tradition: My brother holds a pretty big Chanukah party every year (he calls it Laktepalooza).  It’s filled with family and friends, gingerbread houses, music and it’s centerpiece : my brother at the stove frying latkes.  I’m not always able to attend, but when I do, it fills my heart with joy, even when it ends up being in March 😉

Favorite Chanukah Dish/Dessert: Latkes of course J

My family recipe involves applesauce (as a dipping sauce)

-6 potatoes / -3 onions (or one big one ) / -2 eggs / -breadcrumbs, matzah meal (or gf alternative) to bind / -Olive oil

Wash, cut and grate the potatoes (you can use a food processor if you have one ).  The goal is thin strips that will crisp up in the oil). Use a paper towel and get as much water out of the potatoes as possible.  Squeeze 😉  Then put in a bowl. Peel and cut the onions, put them in the food processor (or grater).  You want them finely chopped.  Add them to the potatoes. Break the eggs into the bowl with the potatoes and the onions.  Mix. Add the breadcrumbs or your substitute into the bowl, just enough to sop up the water that’s being released from the potatoes and the onions.

Oil in the pan; make sure the oil is on the hotter side.  Test the oil with a small piece of the potato.  When it sizzles, you know it’s ready. A tablespoon of batter is usually enough. When the oil sizzles through the latke, it’s time to turn it over.NB: as long as the latkes are crispy on both sides, you’re good J

Recipe Transcribed from Jane Agdern

Do you have any real life experience with finding love during Chanukah? The love I find during Chanukah is the love of family and friends; the family who I love, the friends both near and far.  All of them make me smile and cry with thoughtful gifts, of memories and of their presence.

What was your favorite scene to write for ‘A Home for Chanukah’? There’s a scene in ‘A Home for Hanukkah’ that takes places in a big box store.  The store has huge displays for each December holiday (and there’s even a nod to one that doesn’t take place in December!).   There’s also a big bold wonderful(fictional) Chanukah song playing in the background as my hero and heroine gather the items they came to the store for.  I think I cried writing that scene, because it’s symbolic of a world I’d like to see.  Where ‘holiday’ means more than one, and at least for a little while, the world is a little brighter and filled with understanding.

One line that describes your holiday romance  3 boroughs, two mensches and one Chanukah romance complete with menorahs, latkes, chocolate and love.

 

Giveaway - Tasty

About Jennifer Gracen

Jennifer Gracen hails from Long Island, New York, where she lives with her two young sons. After spending her youth writing in private and singing in public, she now only sings in her car and has fully embraced her lifelong passion for writing. She loves to write contemporary romance and romantic women’s fiction for readers who yearn for better days, authentic characters, and satisfying endings. When she isn’t taking care of her kids, doing freelance copy editing/proofreading, reading, or talking to friends on Twitter and Facebook, Jennifer writes. She’s shocked her family hasn’t yet staged an intervention for her addiction to social media. But the concerts she gives in her car and the dance parties she has in her kitchen are rumored to be fabulous.

About KK Hendin

KK Hendin writes books where people flirt awkwardly, make out, dish out a whole lot of sass and ridiculousness, and live happily ever after. She’s the author of many books, including the TWELVE BEATS IN A BAR series and the upcoming UNDERCOVER series. She also writes books as K. Hendin, where people aren’t as nice and Happily Ever After isn’t a guarantee. KK is currently writing way too many books, and is still waiting for the subway to run on a regular schedule. When she’s not playing book Tetris in an attempt to fit everything onto the bookshelves in her tiny NYC apartment, she’s probably wandering her neighborhood with her camera or drinking yet another cup of coffee.

About Megan Hart

Megan Hart is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than thirty novels, novellas and short stories. Her work has been published in almost every genre, including contemporary women’s fiction, historical romance, paranormal and erotica. Learn more at www.meganhart.com

About Stacey Agdern

Stacey Agdern is an award winning former bookseller who has reviewed romance novels in multiple formats and given talks about various aspects of the romance genre. She also a romance writer. You can find her on twitter at @nystacey. She’s a proud member of both LIRW and RWA NYC. She lives in New York, not far from her favorite hockey team’s practice facility.

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