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ENTER 3 BOOK DRAWING TODAY - LEAD ME HOME AMY K. SORRELLS


Lead Me Home
By Amy K. Sorrells
Published by Tyndale
ISBN#978-1-4964-0955-3
370 Pages

Back Cover: Amid open fields and empty pews, small towns can crush big dreams.
Abandoned by his no-good father and forced to grow up too soon, Noble Burden has set his dreams aside to run the family farm. Meanwhile, James Horton, the pastor of the local church, questions his own calling as he prepares to close the doors for good.

As a severe storm rolls through, threatening their community and very livelihood, both men fear losing what they care about most . . . and reconsider where they truly belong.

REVIEW: The title Lead Me Home (subtitle: What if all we’re looking for is right where we are?) first caught my eye. I was surprised and hooked to the story after I read the first line, “All at once, the Reverend James Horton understood why Frank Whitmore had killed himself.”

What? I’d never read a book that started out like that. This made me read more. Then I checked out the author note to reader section; she says,”…my heart was … broken for small churches, small towns, and the over looked among us…”It’s not easy being small these days, It’s not easy being the church these days either. Many small towns, independent farms, and churches are dying; just like in the fictional town of Sycamore, Indiana. Many folks like James Horton and Noble Burden wonder how they could possibly be in the right place. Many feel insignificant – even invisible – because of how they compare to the biggest churches, farms and dreams all around them…they struggle to feel like they matter when every sound bite, every social media outlet, everything that saturates our senses says that bigger, louder, stronger, smarter, more beautiful, more independent, and more trendy is better.”

I appreciated hearing her heart about these matters before I plunged into reading the rest of the story. The main character Pastor James Horton struggles with insecurity and the ability to wrap his mind around the church he’d been given to serve for years is closing. His wife was killed in a car accident a few years back and now he was facing the death of his church. How was this possible? Didn’t he hear from God about being the Pastor at this church? Deep down he didn’t blame the people for going to a more modern looking church.

“Higher Grounds resembled the TajJahal rising above the cornfields where the interstate rounded a bend on the way to Indianapolis and traffic getting in an out three morning and one Saturday evening service.”

“Sycamore Community Church (who James Pastored) had been a small ragamuffin church that still used hymnals, recited the Apostles Creed, sang the doxology after the offering, and typed and printed their own bulletins. James Horton didn’t doubt that Higher Grounds preached the same gospel…He wondered why so many were attracted to the loud and shiny places that made old places like Sycamore Community Church seem obsolete, even ignorant by comparison, on days James felt most discouraged, all he wanted to know from God was: Wasn’t the gospel supposed to be enough? Wasn’t he enough?”

This was a good point and fascinating to read about. Across the field Nobel Burden had put his dreams on hold after his father left them behind to run a dairy farm and take care of his younger brother and mother. His dream is to move to Nashville and play his music. The thing that keeps him planted is his family and the love he has for a young lady in town who hasn’t talked to him since her mother died in a car accident.

I felt for each characters situation. Nothing was easy but in the end the author reminds the characters and the reader of something important. Nobel says, “I think I’m realizing God’s been wanting to comfort me, but that he can’t if I don’t let him. If All I’m doing is running from him, I ain’t gonna find him because I’m looking in the wrong direction….Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love…”

This author explores both of these men’s’ situations as they seek God for answers and don’t hear a response right away. In the end both come to the same conclusion on their own; “Grace is abundant for each of us who chooses to believe.”

This is a moving, thought-provoking story with characters I deeply cared for. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author it won’t be the last. This would make a great book pick for your book club.The author has included twelve discussion questions to help you create a lively discussion.  It’s a must read!  Add this title to your summer reading list.




ABOUT AUTHOR: AMY K. Sorrells is an award-winning author and occasional poet writing words of hope for a hurting world. Amy got her start in journalism, has written for medical publications, and enjoyed a three year stint as a weekly op-ed columnist for her town newspaper. A graduate of DePauw University, Amy lives with her husband and three sons in central Indiana.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from The Book Club Network site and Tyndale Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org 
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com 
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com 


ENTER DRAWING - 3 BOOK GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY
The author has three really good questions for you. Answer as many as you’d like! Excited to hear your answers.

CLICK on RAFFLECOPTER LINK Below for Questions - Answer the Question by LEAVING A Blog Post Comment 

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AMY K. SORRELLS UP-CLOSE AND PERSONAL 3 Book GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY



ABOUT AUTHOR AMY K. SORRELLS: Amy is an award-winning author and occasional poet writing words of hope for a hurting world. Amy got her start in journalism, has written for medical publications, and enjoyed a three year stint as a weekly op-ed columnist for her town newspaper. A graduate of DePauw University, Amy lives with her husband and three sons in central Indiana

How did you come up with the idea for Lead Me Home?

AMY: The idea for Lead Me Home began with an interest I developed in classic tent revival hymns and history. I began reading books about the Jesus People movement and how churches have evolved—or perhaps not—over the generations. From there, I sort of fell into research on the astonishing numbers of small churches that are having to close their doors across America, and I wondered what it would be like to be a part of one of those communities, losing not only a church but a way of life.

Nora: I appreciate your Note to Readers where you shared your passions and heartaches for small churches and dairy farms. I read that first. It really helped me connect with you, your story and the characters!

What do you hope readers take away from Lead Me Home?
Cow finished Milking

Milking time on Dairy Farm
AMY: I hope readers feel a fresh sense of the old saying “Bloom where you are planted.” Because it just might be that the Lord plants each of us where we are for a reason.

Nora: Amen to that statement. THANKS for all the great pictures from your cousin's farm. Grin!

How is the setting of Lead Me Home important to you? What do you hope it conveys to readers?

Amy's Cousin's Dairy Farm

AMY: I set my first two novels in locations I’ve visited (Alabama’s Gulf Coast and South Haven, Michigan) but never lived. I really wanted to set this novel in my home state of Indiana. In addition, my cousin owns a sustainable dairy farm that I’ve always been fascinated with, so I wanted to set a novel there, too. The interesting thing about farmers and pastors—just like Noble and James—is that they’re an awful lot alike. Whether dealing with temperatures or temperaments, the farmer and the pastor have to trust in the Lord to keep going. The same is true for each of us, since we’re never promised anything in this life except for the Lord’s grace.

Nora: This was a fascinating look at farmers and pastors. I never looked at either one close. This is the first novel I've read by you. I look forward to checking your other novels out!

I loved your discussion questions in the back of the book, and I wanted to ask you one. Noble is a young man who has struggles of his own—trying to run the family farm and care for his mother and brother—and has put his own dreams on hold. What do you hope readers see in Noble’s struggle? How does it parallel James’s and Shelby’s struggles? What hope do you want readers to grasp from their situations?
Mandi

AMY: I hope readers see that while few of us are where we want to be in life, we are often precisely where we need to be. If we take the time to look at the blessings all around us—even the ones that seem on the surface to be annoyances and difficulties—we can find reasons to be joyful and content where we are, with the Lord’s help.

Nora: So true. Key word "take the time" you are right, "there are reasons to be joyful and content even when the world is telling us other wise. I liked how you talked about this in your novel.

In the book, Noble’s friend Brock tells him, “Sometimes leaving ain’t the answer for our pain. Sometimes the dreams God has for us, the biggest difference we can make in the world is right where we are.” What do you hope readers take away from that statement? How do Noble and James come to realize the truth behind Brock’s words? How can we know whether forging ahead or staying put is the right thing to do?
Milking Time
AMY: We live in a time where little value is placed on the things and people Jesus teaches are important: the meek, the weak, the mourning, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted. We are as a society one that values more and bigger, loud and famous, shock and awe. It’s very hard for most Americans—and I’m guilty of this too—to feel content in their towns, their homes, their jobs, their cars, even their families. Eventually Noble and James realize the wealth (though not by human measures) in their lives is right where they are, but how that happens is something you’ll have to find out by reading the book. Of course there are times when the Lord calls many of us to move, but that theme is for another novel.

Nora: I like how you handles this subject matter with grace and love. I like that the message was natural not preachy. It really made me stop and think. I look forward to read the book about the Lord calling people to move too!! Grin!

Can you tell me of a “wow” moment you’ve had in your writing career? What made it a wow for you?

AMY:A “wow” moment happened recently when I visited a book club that had just read Then Sings My Soul. Two of the women there were weeping—like pass-the-tissues weeping—over Jakob’s story. I kept thinking to myself how odd and wonderful it was that they were talking about this character I made up entirely from my imagination as if he were not only real, but real to them personally. What more could a writer hope for, really?

Nora: I was at a book club meeting when one my members talked to the author about her secondary character. She felt that siblings were too hard on him and he just needed a break. She went on and on. Finally the author looked at her, smiled big and said, "you do know that this character isn't real right?" I'm glad you had that moment too!! You know you've written a story people connected with and cared deeply for your characters!!

What three things are you most thankful for in life?

AMY: My Savior. My husband. My sons.
Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?

AMY: As much fun as it was to write from the perspectives of two gentlemen in Lead Me Home, my next novel is written from the perspectives of two women and centers around the theme of motherhood. It is slated to release in 2017, also from Tyndale.

Nora: I've marked my calendar. That sounds interesting!!

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians—all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play? 

AMY: I’d be a medicine woman or a scribe, of course.


 A friend of yours has a time machine and she will let you use it for a while. Where would you go and what would you do?

AMY: I would love to go to Russia and meet Nicholas and Alexandra and all their children before the revolution. I would also love to sit and perhaps cast a line with Paul on the island of Patmos, meet my ancestors who immigrated here from Eastern Europe in the 1880s, have dinner with Theodore Roosevelt, spend a few days with people who were helping Jews escape the Holocaust, and try to befriend the accused witches in Salem, Massachusetts, because they probably just had epilepsy or other reasons they couldn’t help (and which were unknown at the time) for their seizures. I would also love to travel to the future to meet my great-great-grandchildren.

Nora: Sounds like an interesting trip. When you got back I'd like to know what you discovered!

Out of all the sounds in the world, which are your favorite?

AMY: Crickets in the evening on a country back road; squeaking wheels on the boys’ school bus when it stops in front of our house; the song of the mourning dove.

Nora: Fun!

We all live busy lives and all of us are in different seasons of life; that as a given, what part of your day requires the most patience for you to get through?

AMY: Dinnertime. Cooking is not my forte. I’m done with the day. My family is done with the day. Did someone say carryout?

Nora: I'll Amen that!! Grin!

What causes you to pray the most?
AMY: Teaching teenagers how to drive.

Nora: Oh, Yeah!

THANKS Amy for stopping in and helping us get to know you and your books. Thanks also for the special pictures from your cousin's farm that show the cows on the farm and in the milking process that is mentioned in the book. Fun!
ENTER DRAWING - 3 BOOK GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY
The author has three really good questions for you. Answer as many as you’d like! Excited to hear your answers.

CLICK on RAFFLECOPTER LINK Below for Questions - Answer the Question by LEAVING A Blog Post Comment 

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IF YOU ARE UNABLE to post a comment Through Rafflecopter. PLEASE ANSWER ONE OF THE THREE QUESTIONS FOR READERS: (To be entered in drawing)

1. Look around you, wherever you happen to be sitting as you read this. What are three things you didn’t notice before you sat down but that catch your eye now? Three things you didn’t notice that perhaps you could be grateful for?

2. Think of—or be on the lookout for—someone at work, your church, or in your neighborhood who is unnoticed, unpopular, left out. How can you be an encouragement to them next time you see them?


3. Think of a time you wished and hoped you could be somewhere else or do something else with your life. Did it eventually work out the way you wanted? How do you feel about those plans now?
I was pleasantly surprised by this powerful novel I couldn't put down. I'll be posting my full review soon!

ENTER DRAWING TODAY!! Due to shipping restrictions - USA Residents only.

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
www.bookfun.org 

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THE SLEEP REVOLUTION by ARIANNA HUFFINGTON REVIEWED


The Sleep Revolution
Transforming your life one night at a time
By Arianna Huffington
Published by Harmony Books
ISBN#978-1-101-90400-8
392 Pages

Back Cover: We are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis, writes Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post. And this has profound consequences – on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness. What is needed, she boldly asserts, is nothing short of a sleep revolution.  Only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives.

The result is a sweeping, scientifically rigorous, and deeply personal exploration of sleep from all angles, from the history of sleep, to the role of dreams in our lives, to the consequences of sleep deprivation, and the new golden age of sleep science that is revealing the vital role sleep plays in our every waking moment and every aspect of our health – from weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer’s.

In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna shows how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives -- and even our sex lives. She explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream.  She takes on the dangerous sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.

The Sleep Revolution both sounds the alarm on our worldwide sleep crisis and provides a detailed road map to the great sleep awakening that can help transform our lives, our communities, and our world.

REVIEW: Arianna Huffington was on the fast track to success. She is the cofounder, president, and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. She believed the lie other successful individuals which was “sleep was a waste of time.” There was too much work to be done to sleep. Sleep was over rated.

Arianna’s world came to a screeching holt when she collapsed in her office. She hit her desk on the way to the floor and broke her cheek bone. She had been running on very little sleep and lots of caffeine for too long. As she mentions in the subtitle her life was transformed on night at a time.

I was surprised to hear how little sleep can be very detrimental to your health and can even be deadly. The author says, “If burn out is civilization’s disease, sleep deprivation is one of its chef symptoms.” … She goes on to state, “In twenty years, people will look back on the sleeping pill era as we now look back on the acceptance of cigarette smoking.”

She quotes studies and statics around the world at how people are not faring well on little sleep. She says that people live their lives in a continuous state of exhaustion and do not take the time to figure out why they feel the way they do? Instead of taking time to sleep they drink caffeine and keep going. The author talks about the combination of no sleep, caffeine and sleeping pills. It’s a scary situation.

The first part of this book talks about the problems caused from lack of sleep and our attitude about sleep itself. It’s the wake-up call. I liked how she describes the huge shift our culture has made through the years in reference to sleep.

The second part of the book talks about solutions. Not everything works for everybody but being aware of the warning signs is the first step. I had no idea that fatigue is a warning sign which tells you trouble is brewing in your body. It’s not time to drink more caffeine or work more. It’s time to stop and evaluate your situation.

She discusses ways to help readers deal with mastering sleep, sleeping together, What to do, what not to do; Catnaps, Jet Lag, and Time Zones, Sleep and the Workplace, and talking about natural solutions to help people get more sleep.

This is an eye opening situation on many levels. This book is an informative, fascinating, and disturbing read about who is getting hurt in the fall out and/or burn out. The author gives lots of helpful information in an easy to read format. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Arianna Huffington is the cofounder, president, and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, one of the world’s most influential news and information brands. She is the author of fourteen books, including Third World America and On Becoming Fearless, and the mother of two daughters, Christina and Isabella.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for books site.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org 
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com 
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com 

THE WAITING PLACE REVIEWED

The Waiting Place
By Eileen Button
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN#978-0-8499-4625-7
 240 pages

Back Cover: Some of the most priceless gifts can be discovered while waiting for something else.

We all spend precious time just waiting. We wait in traffic, grocery store lines, and carpool circles. We wait to grow up, for true love, and for our children to be born. We even wait to die. But while we work hard at this business of living, life can sometimes feel like one long, boring meeting. Even today, with instant gratification at our techno-laced fingertips, we can’t escape the waiting place. Somehow, in between our texting and tweeting and living and dying, we end up there again and again.

In the voice of an old friend or a wise-cracking sister, Eileen Button takes us back to the days of curling irons and camping trips, first loves and final goodbyes, big dreams and bigger reality checks. With heart-breaking candor she calls us to celebrate the tension between what we hope for tomorrow and what we live with today.

REVIEW: The subtitle is “Learning to appreciate life’s little delays.” This book is a compilation of lessons this author’s learned in the waiting places – I’m so glad she shared. She states, “I am absolutely convinced that some of the most beautiful things happen if we are willing to quiet our hearts, lean into the waiting place, and listen to what it tells us. When we do, we will often be astonished by what it has to say.”…”The most priceless gifts can be discovered while waiting for something else.”

This author has compiled essays she’s written in a memoir type book. These are slice of life moments she shares that make you laugh, are thought-provoking and choke you up at times. These moments are a reminder that God is with us in the big, small and unexpected events of our lives. He gives us rays of hope, laughter and gifts we wouldn’t have noticed had we not been stopped, waiting. Waiting gives us time to really see the situation and/or the beauty surrounding us.

This author is witty, humorous and insightful, honest and gritty. There is growth and healing in the waiting place if we embrace it. We life fast paced lives that don’t tolerate waiting. Often I’ve been forced to stop what I thought was important and discover something I never would have because I was in a hurry. The author shares some of her discoveries and shares her stories in a way you can relate to and won’t soon forget.

The author writes, “The waiting place - …is for those who work hard at the “business of living” only to find that they seem to be caught in one long, boring meeting…It’s for those who wake up one day and think, “This is not the life I dreamed of living.” The waiting-place is never cozy -…In fact, when we find ourselves there, most of us try like heck to escape.”

I agree with the author when she says, “I am grateful to God, who so obviously has a fabulous sense of humor. I’m thankful He joins me in the waiting place, even when it grows dark and I get scared and lose my way.”

This author is a columnist whose essays breathe life into the common (and not so common) waiting places! This would be a good book for your book club. I highly recommend this book for everyone to read. This is an encouraging, fun read that is insightful and will make you smile!

ABOUT AUTHOR: Eileen Button has worked as an adjunct Communication professor, columnist, career counselor and elementary library paraprofessional. These days, she spends her days with great books and some of the coolest people on earth (a.k.a., librarians and library staff) as the Community Relations Manager for the Genesee District Library. She continues to wrestle with the waiting place, seeking beauty and humor in its dusty corners.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from The Blogging for books site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

REFUGE at HIGHLAND HALL REVIEWED

 A Refuge at Highland Hall
By Carrie Turansky
Published by Multnomah
ISBN#978-1-60142-500-3
338 Pages

Back Cover: The Great War shakes the world of a spirited young woman and the brave British pilot she loves, taking her from London to her family’s magnificent country estate, and sending him into the war-torn skies over France.

Penny Ramsey has always considered Highland Hall her home, but when Britain becomes involved in World War One she travels to London to assist her sister Kate with the eight orphan children she and her husband Jon have taken into their home. Doing her part for the war effort takes priority over Penny’s dreams of romance until she meets Alex Goodwin, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot in training.

Alex is determined to prove his worth and do his part to defend his country. Knowing he is heading off for the dangerous assignment of chasing Zeppelins across the front line in France, he feels it’s unwise to form any romantic attachments. But he can’t help admiring the pretty, warmhearted Penny and wondering what it would be like to find her waiting when he returns home from the war.

As Penny writes to Alex, their friendship blossoms, and she becomes his tie to home and normalcy as he faces the hardships war. But being an RNAS pilot means confronting the enemy, and the fallout from those experiences push Alex beyond Penny’s reach. Can God mend the brokenness left by the losses of war? Will faith and forgiveness bring them together again?

REVIEW: This novel begins in 1915. Penny Ramsey goes to London to help her sister Kate and husband Jon prepare for the arrival of their new little one. Oh, this is not their first child they have eight orphaned children living with them already. Their house is full of excitement. Penny meets Alex while she is visiting. Each is fond of each other so they decide to correspond with one another.

Alex is a Royal Naval Air Service pilot in training. WWII is underway and spreading fear across the land; along to those home praying for their loved ones in battle to be safe. Things go well with Penny and Alex until tragedy hits. They both realize how important family is. They are the glue that keeps them strong. Will their relationship end before it’s begun? Time will tell.

I didn’t feel lost reading this novel because the author does a great job of giving the reader just enough information to have them connect with the story. Since I didn’t read the first two books in the series. I found this helpful. I have to be honest I did feel a little overwhelmed by the two pages filled with the cast of characters in the beginning. I didn’t know how I would remember anyone on that list. I liked that the author didn’t bog the reader down with too many details from the other books. After I got into the story I was glad for the cast of character list I could refer to.

I liked the WWII back drop to this story along with the romance, drama and how she shows the importance of family, their relationships with each other and God. I like how she naturally did this in the story. This is the third and final book in the Edwardian Brides series. It’s the first book I’ve read by this author it won’t be the last. I will be reading books one and two in this series to have a richer feel and insight into this novel.

This is a good read for your book club. The author has included twelve discussions questions to help you create a lively experience with your group. This would make a great pick to put on your summer reading list too.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Bestselling Inspirational Romance Author Carrie Turansky has written more than a dozen historical and contemporary novels. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award; and been a finalist for the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the ACFW Genesis Award. Visit her blog and sign up for her email newsletter at www.Carrie Turansky.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from The Blogging for books site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org 
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com 
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com 

YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT REVIEWED

You’re the One that I Want
By Susan May Warren
Published by Tyndale
ISBN#978-1-4143-7846-6
353 Pages

Have you heard about The Christensen family? If not I highly recommend getting to know them. Susan May Warren has penned a gripping series I couldn’t get enough of. I’m normally not a person that gets caught up in reading a bunch of books in a series. But I found myself anticipating the next installment where I’d learn about the next child in the family. Each book has wonderful discussion questions. Her stories make you laugh, cry and everything in between. There are six books in the series. The first book in the series is Take a Chance on Me; book 2 is It Had to Be You; book 3 is When I fall in Love; Book 4 Always on My Mind; Book 5 The Wonder of you ; and Book 6 is You’re the One that I want. There is also a novella called Evergreen that shares the parents’ story I enjoyed too.

Here is my review of the final installment in this series. I can’t say enough great things about this series. This author pulls out all the stops in this final novel. It won’t spoil the series for you if you start reading this book but I highly recommend starting with book one. It will make for a richer, more satisfying experience!

REVIEW: I cheered and felt sad when I finished reading this heart-felt, wonderful conclusion to an amazing series that answers questions like. What does a Christian family look like? How does a family put their faith into action? And was this really the last book in the series? LOL!

I like what the author said about the Christiansen’s, “When I conceived this series, I wanted a story about real people dealing with real issues of faith and family. I didn’t want to shy away from the mistakes but to tell a story about a family that faces its share of darkness…and discovers a God who is standing at the doorway.” She achieved her goal as each book focuses on one of the Christiansen adult children and their struggles and triumphs.

I’ve waited to read Owen’s story for five books now. I’m happy to report this author pulls out all the stops in showing his journey; I was spell bound enjoying every second of his adventure. This novel starts out on the stormy seas of Alaska. Owen has tried to run far from his former life and has become a fishermen on a crab ship. That’s where he meets Scotty McFlynn Owen thinks, “Finally he met a girl who didn’t see him for his past…she only saw a drifter, a hard worker, a guy trying to make sense of the cards life dealt him.”

Scotty was solely raised by her father. She called him Red. He taught her everything she knew about fishing and life. She tells Owen, “You know what being Red’s daughter has taught me? That there is no room for crying, Life happens. People die. There are no fairy tales or happy endings. It’s the way it is, and if I want to survive, I can’t let people get close enough to hurt me!”

She was rough and tough. She had to be to survive the sea and a boat load of young men on the ocean for a month. Owen is starting to stir things in hear heart she hasn’t felt before. It’s scares her and her ordered life.

Casper has set out on a mission to find his brother Owen. He has issues that need to be settled. His brother was the only thing standing in the way of him marrying Raina. His brother had no idea that Layla was his daughter. He’d already missed a few months of this little one’s life tracking down Owen. Casper wanted to marry Layla’s mother and be the father to this precious girl that stole his heart.

Things get messy when the brothers finally meet and start to head back to Evergreen (their family) Resort. Casper has had months to plan what he wanted to say to Owen. Owen is shocked to see his brother in Alaska. Casper meets Scotty who tells him a thing or two about his brother he finds hard to believe.

Casper, Owen and Scotty learn about faith and how to put it into practice as they lean on God’s strength in the process. Owen says to Scotty, “Faith is reaching out, believing in what you can’t see…When I first got hurt I wanted nothing to do with God. Later, I couldn’t face the colossal mess I’d made of my life. But then I realized I couldn’t fix myself, that I needed help (I realize)…I’m not a total screw up, or if I am God can help me fix it.”

The author says, “God is a pursuer, and even as we push him away, he says, “You are not alone. If you will allow me, I will fix this…It’s easier to endure the self-flogging, the shame, the guilt, because, we know we deserve it.” She goes on to say, “Who am I beyond the Prodigal? How does someone face their past and move on to what God has for us….We are the redeemed. The forgiven. The sons and daughters of the king. Suddenly we can rise, look forward into a new dawn, glorious and rose gold, full of promise. And it is this view that changes everything.” Amen!

I like this author’s heart and her writing style. I wasn’t raise in a Christian family. I found this family dynamic very interesting and insightful in how this family with adult children work together, were loyal to each other and how they tried to show unconditional love the best they could.

This novel can be read as a stand-alone but it’s much more rewarding when you’ve read the whole series because you’d have seen Owen at his worst and realize how far he’d grown and how his family had grown along with him. I enjoyed hanging out with this loud, fun family that lives life large with each other and in their adventures. I loved how this story is not preachy but this author makes the reader think about their family challenges wondering how they’d react in that situation.

This author quickly makes you feel part of the Christenson family. You’ll find yourself wanting to re-read this series just for fun. It’s also a wonderful book club pick. This author includes 12 questions to help create lively discussions for your group. This novel and this series are ones you won’t soon forget. I highly recommend this book and the entire series.


 ABOUT AUTHOR: SUSAN MAY WARREN Growing up in Minneapolis and attending the U of MN, I learned to love city life, although I'm a woodsy girl at heart. Or maybe I'm an adventurer -- having lived and traveled all over the world, including Siberia Russia as a missionary for eight years. Probably that's why my characters can't sit still, and seem to get into one scrape after another -- they're too much like me! I love God, my family, my country, my church, and feel privileged every day to be able to write stories.

Here's my "Official" Bio.

With over 1 million books sold, critically acclaimed novelist Susan May Warren is the Christy, RITA and Carol award-winning author of over forty-five novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press. Known for her compelling plots and unforgettable characters, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic-suspense, thrillers, rom-com and Christmas novellas.

With books translated into eight languages, many of her novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. She's a three time RITA finalist and an eight time Christy Finalist

Disclosure of Material Connection: #AD Tyndale
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com

Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

BEAUTIFULLY PREPARED by MONICA SCHAEFER REVIEWED


Beautifully Prepared
By Monica Schaefer
Illustrated by Julie Headland
Published Clovercroft
ASIN# B01ATTOP66
95 Pages

Back Cover: The author in this book reflects on the luster of her life filled with wonderful success yet tarnished with feelings of emptiness and sorrow. Many women know this life. We appear good, whole, and complete on the outside while sadness fills the depths of the heart on the inside. We often wonder if we will ever experience complete happiness, joy, or peace in our lifetime. Our soul cries out in anguish. When we are younger, we take on a barrage of messages, many of which are lies when applied toward the truth of our identity. Monica Schaefer reflects on how a lie twisted her purpose and identity for over 35 years until a crisis required her to face the lie, her shame, and self-hatred. The journey brought her to the life of Eve and a woman known in the Bible as the Bride in the book of Revelation. The mix of written reflections, contemporary portraits and scriptures relays a deeply personal and universal message of an essential truth, relevant to all women. Beautifully Prepared sheds light on the lies, offering hope to readers for happiness, joy, and peace that seemed to have escaped them

REVIEW: The message inside these pages is powerful. The author says, “…the lie of self-hatred whispers that something is fundamentally wrong with us, making us unlovable, unwanted, and worthless…even the most loved child receives a borage of messages, many serving as lies when applied as the truth of our identity.”

The author describes her journey out of darkness as she became a Christian in her 30’s and started to walk out and believe her true identity in Christ. She describes how Gods word and revelations changed her to the core of her being as she truly believed that her past offenses were forgiven but there were a few emotions and areas of her life she didn’t know how to not walk in self-destructive ways. It was so ingrained. It took total surrender and all she had to trust God to do a new work in her inner being.

I was moved by this author’s testimony that was intertwined with a mini-bible study on beauty. The author gives bible references and shares how God moved in her life. She also gives the reader a question at the end of each chapter to ponder. This helps them reflect on God and what he wants to do or how he wants to love them if they let him.
“God desires to lead you so you thrive. Spend some time with God asking him to show you the true motivation of your heart. Is a lie stealing your peace?” God leads us gently and tenderly.”

This was an eye opener. Especially when the author shared the fact she agreed with a lie that changed the course of her life at age four. This is a small book that packs a powerful punch. I highly recommend it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this E-book from The Book Club Network site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org  
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com 
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com 

HEARD ABOUT PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND? RED DOOR INN?




The Red Door Inn
By Liz Johnson
Published by Revell
ISBN#978-0-8007-2402-3
348 Pages

BACK COVER: Marie Carrington is broke, desperate, and hoping to find sanctuary on Prince Edward Island while decorating a renovated bed-and-breakfast. Seth Sloane moved three thousand miles to help restore his uncle's Victorian B and B--and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart. He wasn't expecting to have to babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her.

The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just two months will take everything they've got--and they have to find a way to work together. In the process, they may find something infinitely sweeter than they ever imagined on this island of dreams.

REVIEW: The first paragraph peeked my curiosity and lead me to care for the young girl, Marie. I also desired to know more about Prince Edward Island, “The change in Marie Carrington’s pocket wouldn’t pay for a ferry ride across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island, let alone a bus ticket to anywhere else in the world. As she cupped the Canadian dollar coins in her shaking hand, they clinked together, drawing the curious gaze of the man in seat next to her.”

This was a great escape filled with fun characters I wanted to know more about. Jack eyes Marie looking at her change. He’s an older man who’s opening a Bed and Breakfast. He asks Marie for her advice on picking out colors for the inn. He has some color swatches to show her. She tells him what she thinks. Jack is surprised by her knowledge. Could she be the answer to his prayers? He wanted to help her and at the same time he could use her understanding of color and design. Jack was fully aware that the B & B was in desperate need of a female touch.

The author has the reader explore the Island thru Marie’s eyes. She has a secret she doesn’t want to share or think about.. Jack and his nephew Seth are harboring secrets and a pain of their own. I liked how the reader learns about Marie’s past at the same time the two male leads learn about it. Each characters pain from the past colors their present circumstance.. I liked seeing how each dealt with their pain and their willingness to let God heal them and/or give them the courage to move on.

I loved hearing about Marie’s creative process and how she went about making The Red Door Inn a memorable place to stay. She also had a flair in making the rooms charming and giving them just the right comfortable feel. She wanted to create a place people wanted to come back to year after year. Marie is surprised when Seth tells her he’s never been to a B & B. She explains that she wants to make each room an experience. She finds a typewriter and wonders what had been typed on it. “Had someone written a book or a story on it, hoping to replicate the literary magic of L.M. Montgomery’s Island tales.” …”Stories are part of the Island’s heritage. We could theme every room around part of the Island’s heritage.”

I loved the playful fun moments in the book as well between Seth and Marie as they try to work together. Marie describes a B & B to Seth. She tries to explain the need for more than one table to eat at in the dining room. She sets up a pretend scene describing why they’d need another table. She talks about a newlywed couple. Asks Seth to imagine that his wife wants a bite of his cinnamon roll. Seth says, “Hey, if she wanted a cinnamon roll, she should have ordered her own.”

Marie fought the urge to shake Seth’s arm. “She was too embarrassed. After all, you’re newly married, and she doesn’t want you to think she’s going to stuff her face…”

Seth replies…”All right. Say she wants my cinnamon roll…Did your friend Caden make it?” Marie wonders where Seth is going with this…”I’m just trying to picture the scene.”

“Yes, fine. She made it. What does it matter?”

“Oh, it matters. If it’s from Caden’s Bakery, I’m not sharing.”

This is the first novel I’ve read by this author. It most definitely won’t be the last. This is a fun filled adventure with a faith message naturally woven in. I enjoyed the Island and I loved hanging out with this cast of characters. Now I want to go to Prince Edward Island and stay in The Red Door Inn. Grin!


ABOUT AUTHOR: LIZ JOHNSON fell in love with Prince Edward Island the first time she set foot on it. When she's not plotting her next trip to the island, she works as a full-time marketing manager. She is the author of nine novels, a New York Times bestselling novella, and a handful of short stories. She makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from The Book Club Network site from Revell publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org 
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com 
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com 

LOVE HISTORICALS? CHECK THIS OUT!



Bride of a Distant Isle
By Sandra Byrd
Published by Howard Books
ISBN#978-1-4767-4789-0
372 Pages
  
REVIEW: The first line grabbed me and never let me go, “I had no warning before evil befell me.” I instantly cared for Miss Annabel Ashton as the novel is told through her eyes in first person, making the story very personal and at times intense. Annabell has been a teacher at the Rogus School for young ladies in Winchester. The year is 1851. Annabel plans a short visit with Edward and his wife but they have other plans. Edward Everedge is her cousin who has recently gained her mother’s inheritance when she passed. Annabell was an illegitimate daughter of a woman who died in an insane asylum. She would have no claim to the inheritance.

Things quickly change and Edward seems to have her trapped. The social structure of that time period had little opportunities for a single woman to have a say in her future. I loved how this author weaves historical details and culture into this story that were intriguing and at the same time didn’t bog the reader down. I also liked learning about some background of the Catholic Church and how it played out in society.


Strange things start to happen to Annabell when they arrive in the home of her childhood. Things go missing, then things appear! The servants start to treat her funny and start whispering behind her back. Annabel recalls, “I had been encouraged to forget all about my mother, to not think of her or speak her name, for fear of reminding others of her condition and set them wondering if madness was to be my legacy.”

Annabell makes friends with Captain Del’Acqua at her cousin’s request. Edward wants her to obtain information from the Captain that will help in his business dealings. Annabell doesn’t much like this new turn of events but begins to like the Captain very much. She’s hoping he can help her get out of the mess she finds herself trapped in.

In author notes I was surprised to learn how easily someone could be put in an Asylum and never get out. The author says, “The trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum,… listed some reasons for admission from 1864-1889 and they included: Reading novels, Nursing too long, Political excitement, Time of life (perhaps related to another reason for admission, Uterine Derangement), Laziness on conversely, Hard Study, and yes, Immoral life, or Moral Madness.”

What an eye opener. I couldn’t believe how easily someone could be committed (most of the list tailored to women).  Annabell digs deep into how her mother was admitted into the Asylum. She is also in search for her birth father. The things she uncovers rock her world. The author has a few surprises for readers that I didn’t see coming. Oh, My!! Buckle up and enjoy this fascinating, suspenseful adventure back in time as this courageous woman, Annabell learns how to navigate the system; as she learns who her real friends are and who will help keep her secret as she desperately tries to search for answers that might lead to freedom.

I highly recommend this read for pure enjoyment and for your book club pick. There is so much to talk about. This book is not for the faint of heart. There are nail biting parts and things that make you say, “What?” “No way!” I look forward to reading the next book in the Daughters of Hampshire series.


ABOUT AUTHOR: SANDRA BYRD. After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books.

Sandra's new series, Daughters of Hampshire, historically sound Gothic romances, launched in 2015 with best-selling Book One: Mist of Midnight. That book earned a coveted Editor's Choice from the Historical Novel Society. The second book in the series, Bride of a Distant Isle, releases in March 2016 and has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. Her latest nonfiction title, The One Year Home and Garden Devotions, published on October 1, 2015.

Check out her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012.

Sandra has published dozens of books for tweens and teens, including the best-selling, The One Year Be-Tween You and God, Devotions For Girls.

She is passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self-publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year via novelcoaching.com

Please visit www.sandrabyrd.com 

BACK COVER: An unforgettable romance set in Victorian England, Bride of A Distant Isle is the engrossing story of Annabel Ashton, who fights to save her family home and her mother's honor while trying to figure out if the man she loves wants her—or just wants to use her to achieve his own ambitions.

Miss Annabel Ashton is a teacher at the Rogers School for Young Ladies in Winchester when she takes a brief visit to her family home, Highcliffe Hall at Milford-on-Sea. She believes her stay will be short but soon learns that she will not be returning to the safety of the school. Instead, she remains at Highcliffe, at the mercy of her cousin, Edward Everedge.

Annabel protests, but as the illegitimate daughter of a woman who died in an insane asylum, she has little say. Edward is running out of money and puts the house up for sale to avoid financial ruin. He insists that Annabel marry, promising her to a sinister, frightening man. But as the house gets packed for sale, it begins to reveal disquieting secrets. Jewelry, artifacts, and portraits mysteriously appear, suggesting that Annabel may be the true heir of Highcliffe.

She has only a few months to prove her legitimacy, perhaps with assistance from the handsome but troubled Maltese Captain Dell’Acqua. But does he have Annabel’s best interests at heart?

And then, a final, most ominous barrier to both her inheritance and her existence appears: a situation neither she nor anyone else could have expected. Will Annabel regain her life and property—and trust her heart—before it’s too late?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com

Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com