Together at the Table
By Hillary Manton Lodge
Published by Waterbrook
ISBN# 978-0-3074-73179-1
312 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: In a bittersweet series of events, her mother’s health took a turn for the worse. Juliette and her brother opened their restaurant together to rave reviews, but her romance with Memphis immunologist Neil McLaren ended in anger and tears.

As autumn sweeps into the Pacific Northwest, Juliette feels that she’s finally on the cusp of equilibrium. The restaurant continues to thrive, and her family is closer than ever. She and sous-chef Adrien are seeing each other, both in and out of the kitchen. Just when she thinks her world might stop spinning, a trip to the waterfront lands a familiar face into her path.

Rather than dwell on her personal life, Juliette throws herself into work and research. After reading her grandmother’s letters from war-torn Paris, she still wants to know the full story –  and she’ll travel across countries and oceans to find it.

But even Juliette can’t outrun the man who stole her heart. As she finally uncovers the truth about her family history, what will it mean for her own chances at lasting love?

REVIEW: I’ve enjoyed the first two books,  A Table by the Window, and  Reservations for Two but this last installment in the Two Blue Doors series hit a home run in my heart. This author showed readers a side of her writing style we didn’t see in the other books. I feel she saved the best for last! Bravo!

I relished my time with this French, Italian family who love each other and are brought together by their passion for food (creating it; eating it and sharing it with others) This novel (like the others) has many delicious recipes sprinkled thru out. The reader is brought alongside the characters while they experiment with food and create new dishes.

Juliette thinks about what to make for their Thanksgiving dinner. She pulls out her cookbooks to begin the search, “ I scanned glossary pages filled of lovely food, let my eyes drift over whatever recipe seemed best..”…” Saturday, I slipped out to the Farmer’s market. Waiting for me were crates of pears in shades of green, gold, and rose. I fell in love.”…Pears. Pears cake, pear sauce, caramelized pears, baked pears.”

The story goes on as readers walk in Juliette’s shoes and watch she decide what to make. The recipe at the end of the chapter is Pear Cardamon Galette. All the recipes are a bonus, fun factor of this series.

There are quotes on the top of each chapter. One of my favorites, wraps the reader in the warmth, fun, realism, and mystery inside these pages. It’s a quote by Cesar Chavez who says, “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.” Juliette and her family do just that.

The mystery talked about in the first two books is solved in a unique way. Juliette’s family has uncovered her grandmother’s diary. They gather together at the table and read it out loud so everyone can learn about the family secret together.

The D’Alisa’s read Mireille’s diary. She pens it in English so the hired help can’t read her private thoughts. She says, ...” We’re all doing the best we can. We hear of arrests and rumors of arrests, of women and children being sent to labor camps. I know there are families hiding, which is not so very different from us. We hide in the open.”

This author seamlessly weaves together the past and present. The reader is given the opportunity to join arm and arm with Juliette’s family who get a peek into the harsh reality of war. Discovering a few surprises that affect their relatives in present time.

You won’t want to miss hanging out with this loving, loud household as they learn to live with loss, discover true love and solve a mystery. This book would make a great book club pick as the author has provided twelve discussion questions to help create lively conversation, plus there are so many recipes to help create a fun and yummy meeting time.

This author pens a humorous, witty, insightful, touching story I couldn’t put down. This series is a keeper. This author is one to watch (she’s gotten better by the book this last being her finest).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Waterbrook 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


The Returning
By Rachelle Dekker
Published by Tyndale
405 pages

ABOUT BOOK: Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace” ―one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

REVIEW: The Choosing rocked my world. It’s the first novel in the Seers series. I read book one because I was curious about the writing style of Rachelle whose father is Ted Dekker; one of my favorite authors. I was blown away by The Choosing and the world this author describes. Second book in the series The Calling reminded me a little of the Divergent series in how there was a rebellion going on and how I imagined the lay of the land would look like. Good fighting evil on all fronts; including an internal struggle. The cool thing about this series and the second novel is that there is a character named Aaron who represents Jesus in this story. He encourages people to remember who they are; and their identity lies in Him alone. I have found his encouragement, help me remember things I had forgotten.

In this third installment which begins 20 years after the second book ended. Early on the story is focused on Elise, the daughter of Remko and Carrington Brant. She was taken as a baby and brought to be a prisoner raised in the Authority City. There is a list of characters (as there have been in all the books) describing the different groups and who exacely is in each group and the roles they play. This could be read as a standalone. The author does a good job of catching readers up on what’s gone on in the past books without bogging them down. But to grasp all the richness of this barbaric mind controlling situation and foreign land they live in, I highly suggest reading books one and two and then this final conclusion. It will be a more profound experience that way. Just Saying!

This book is a powerful allegory of how the Lord (Aaron) in this story works in our lives if we are willing. This author had an incredible way of showing the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts and how deep healing takes place when you let it. I was blown away and deeply touched. Aaron keeps telling everyone that it’s in the letting go.

Elise says to Kane, “Surrender is not something that comes easily to me…. Yes, it has been painted as a negative word, hasn’t it? The truth is there is overwhelming power in surrender. In letting go of all you think you know to discover the truth.”

The truth will set you free. I’ve known this for years but to read it and see it at work is a powerful thing. I like how Elise continues to talk to Kane, “Life is a cycle of remembering and forgetting. The Father is in all and with all, and He tells me I am the light of the world. So if I believe His words are true and that we are all the same, created equal, and that I am the light of the world, then you must be too. When I start to forget who, you are, then I, in turn, also start to forget who I am. So, I practice remembering.”

This whole series has been about remembering and forgetting. I’ve realized I’ve done this a lot myself. It made me look at the children of Israel differently. After all they experienced firsthand all the plagues, and miracles like the parting of the red sea etc. This group of people are perfect example of remembering and forgetting. This author brings this message to life in this futuristic world showing the power of forgiveness, the art of letting go, walking in faith and that standing up against fear is possible. This is a book (series) I’ll be re-reading and telling my friends about for their book clubs.This book is a keeper. This author is one to watch.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


God Made You Nose to Toes
By Leslie Parrott
Illustrated by Estelle Corke
Published by: Zonderkidz
18 Pages Board Book

ABOUT BOOK: Help little ones understand that God created each part of their bodies so they can enjoy life and everything in it. In this delightful padded cover board book by well-known author and family therapist Leslie Parrott, children can follow along with Toucan––with a great big nose––as he helps them learn God loves each one of them completely. For 4-8 year olds. Preschoolers and kindergarteners.

REVIEW: Great colorful illustrations help bring the message of the story to life. This young boy learns about how God made all of us from our heads to our toes. The illustrations have this young boy running into different animals and talking about how they have the same things as he does but they may look different. For example, on page one the author says, “God gave old Tucan a fairly big nose. But your little nose can smell all that grows.”

This book also talks about not only the body parts eyes, nose, hands etc. but it also talks about their function and what it allows us to do. The pictures will make you smile could make little ones laugh out loud. I can’t wait to read this to my grandson to experience his reaction. I could see this one becoming a book they will enjoy and learn a thing or two. Note to reader: This book was originally published in March 2002. This new version has a completely different look I really like.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the BookLookforbloggers 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


By John Morgan
With Joel Belin
Published by Creation House
124 Pages HB

BACK COVER: What Would Your Life Look Like Without Fear? Where would you go?
What dreams would you aspire to achieve?

Imagine the possibilities of living without fear.

In his new book, War On Fear, author, speaker and presidential impersonator, John Morgan, shares his personal struggles with fear to give you practical advice and guidance for victory over your fears.

After reading War On Fear, you will be empowered to become a more confident, positive person.

REVIEW: Meet John Morgan best known for being a George Bush impersonator. It’s not a job he ever saw himself doing but it’s grown on him. I was encouraged to hear about this man’s journey in learning how to stop fear in its tracks; not let it overwhelm him as he struggled to learn about how to fight the good fight. This is what he states, “Fear takes its own prisoners. I was one of them. For the majority of my young life I let fear keep me,…. “Fear owned me. It dictated my choices finally, I got really angry – now I’m fighting back. I’m doing battle against a soul-seeking energy and loving every minute of it.” Amen! Amen!

I could relate to this authors struggle. He goes on to say, “Each decision affects your future, and this moment can change everything. You are one of the hens, but at the moment you maybe a POF (Prisoner of Fear). You’re called to influence those around you. Seeds of world-changing greatness are within you. Conquering fear is vital for fulfilling your purpose, achieving your dreams.”

I appreciated this author transparency and how he learned to not let fear control him anymore. He is an encourager and describes ways to identify and deal with fear that are helpful and hopeful. This is the first book I’ve read by this author it won’t be the last. This was an inspirational read and one I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from author and 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! 
The Book Club Network blog 
Book Fun Magazine 


Lots of Love
By Kim Washburn
Illustrated by Jacqueline East
Published by Zonderkidz

ABOUT BOOK: Lots of Love celebrates all the ways we show love—from hugs and kisses to sharing and helping others. The sweet rhymes and whimsical artwork in this board book illustrate the special bonds of love between families and friends. Perfect for young children, this book will make you want to snuggle with your little one as you two explore the greatest blessing of all—love!

REVIEW: This is a beautifully illustrated book that is fun to read. The book begins with a little girl waking up in her bed, sun shining through the window of her room. She is grateful for the beaming sun and also for her happy heart. She says, “Good morning, happy heart! I feel your cheerful beat. Today I’m sharing lots of love with everyone I meet.” The first to receive special hugs and love from her is her sweet puppy. The book goes through different people and situations where she can share kindness and hugs.

She starts out receiving special hugs from her mom and puppy that she can share with others. This is a book that has more than one or two words on each page. It would be a good book to show little ones but they won’t have the patience or attention span to have you read every word. Good for ages 4 - 8-year-old who would like you reading all the words. It might help them recognize some sight words for preschoolers and those in kindergarten. 

The book ends with the same little girl ending her day in prayer and being thankful for the day she had filled with opportunities to share. I liked the message and the lovely pictures that walk a child through the many different ways to show people you care; shows how to receive love and encouragement from others.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the BookLookforbloggers 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


Giver of Wonders
By Roseanna M. White
Published by WhiteFire
321 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: A miracle once saved her life ~ will another give her a future?
Cyprus was little more than a child when a fall left her paralyzed...and when the boy known as the wonder-worker healed her. Ever since, she has wondered why the Lord spared her, what he has in store for her. But her pagan father thinks she was spared solely so she could be introduced to the wealthy wonder-worker, Nikolaos.
Nikolaos has never questioned that his call-in life is to dedicate himself to the church and to God. Never, that is, until he and his cousin Petros meet the compelling Cyprus Visibullis. For years, he struggles with the feelings she inspires...and with the sure knowledge that Petros loves her too.

Petros knows he will never be good enough for Cyprus's father to consider him as a match for his favorite daughter not as long as Nikolaos is there. But when tragedy strikes the Visibullis family, he will do anything to save his beloved. Unfortunately, his beloved is determined to do anything to save her sisters ~ even at the cost of herself.
As the festival of lights bathes their Greek city in beauty, Cyprus, Petros, and Nikolaos celebrate the miracle of their Savior s birth together one last time. And in remembrance of their Lord's greatest gift, one of them will make the ultimate sacrifice for the others...and a centuries-long tradition will be born.

REVIEW:  I’m a fan of this author so when I saw the cover of this book and the authors name on the front page I couldn’t wait to read about How a Christmas tradition began. She has a gift of grabbing her audience from the start. Here is the first line of the book, (I was hooked) “She would die today, one way or another. Cyprus Visibullis risked a glance over her shoulder without slowing her feet”

Cyprus had an accident in the beginning of the story that should have left her maimed. She was miraculous healed. Since that day she wonders why God spared her. Was it for a special task, mission? She talks to her friend Nikolas about it. He’s educated on spiritual matters, being a priest and all.

Nikolas explains to Cyprus (in one their many talks) how community works. He says, “To be involved Cyprus! To give of yourself, of your heart, to open up-even if it means opening yourself up to the possibility of pain, of rejection. Unless you give them the chance to hurt you, you are never giving them the chance to love you.”

This is a new concept for Cyprus. She ponders doing this until her world comes crashing down on her.

Nicholas thinks about the best way to fulfill his calling he's reminded of what his uncle said to him …” When you do a good deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your good deed may be done in secret.” …”Yes, Yes, that was how he would give – in secret. No one must know.”

This is a compelling read with a fascinating cast of characters I instantly cared for. My heart hurt for the women of that time period specifically Cyprus and her two sisters. They were headed for a life of slavery unless their father went to bat for them.

I felt Nikolaos’s agony in trying to figure out what was the right thing to do. Then rejoiced with him when he knows without a shadow of a doubt his plan of action. And he knows deep down, that “…The gift is “not about the giver. A gift, a true gift given from nothing but love, should be done in secret; so, that God alone sees...the giver’s only reward is what the Lord decides to bestow…”

The author writes this in notes to readers, “My prayer is that as you read this interpretation of who Nikolaos may have been as a young man, you come to appreciate that he was so much more than our traditions today give him credit for being. My prayer is that we can all take a few cues from him…that our gifts become less about us and more about Him.”

What I love most about this author is her ability to place readers in the character’s shoes and have them experience their culture and difficulties first hand. This story and its characters stole my heart. The novel is filled with hope, true love, heartache, miracles, sacrifice and wonder. This message is relevant for today and can be read all year long. I learned so much. This author does not disappoint!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from author. 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


Mary Chosen of God
By Diana Wallis Taylor
Published by Whitaker House
320 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: "Blessed are you, Mary, chosen of God.

Mary is ordinary girl from Nazareth. She helps her mother with household chores, she daydreams about a handsome carpenter's son named Joseph, and at night she lies on the roof and contemplates at the stars. But one evening, a heavenly visitor comes with unexpected news, and her life is changed forever.

Experience the life of the Messiah from the perspective of his mother, who must place her trust and obedience in Adonai, the Most High, as he fulfills centuries of anticipation in the middle of her daily life. Walk with Mary as she witnesses Yeshua grow, mature, minister, and even crucified, and then raised again, to the kindling of her new faith.

REVIEW: This was a familiar story I read with fresh eyes and came away with a stirred heart and a new appreciation and perspective of Mary and Joseph . I felt  like I had met this couple for the very first time. This author sews in details of their culture and how things would have been back then for a young Jewish couple who was betrothed. She captures the youthfulness, innocence, and love these two had for the Lord and for each other.

I liked when Mary prayed. She usually started out, “Oh, God Who Sees Me” This really struck a chord with me. I started saying this in my prayers too. It brings things into perspective. Here is one of Mary’s prayers.

 “Oh, God Who Sees Me, she said silently. Grant me the courage to carry out your plan and to face my parents and Joseph. Give them grace to believe me. They must believe me. Strengthen me, and help me through these next few hours and days. I am your maiden, may your will be done.” …” please help me. I’m afraid of what lies ahead. I know your ways are beyond understanding, but I submit to your will. Show us the way. Go before us.”

The author gives Mary’s perspective about the trip to Nazareth for the census. Mary thinks of the baby’s arrival, “…Then a thought struck her and she pursed her lips to keep from making a sound that would worry Joseph. What if there was no midwife? Who would help her? Would she birth this heavenly child by herself? Would Joseph have to help her? She blushed at the thought. What did a man know about birthing a child? She shuddered slightly as she fought down the fear that threatened to engulf her.”

The author says this in author notes to readers, “…these were specific questions and speculations that I sought to answer in this book:

1. At such a young age, how did Mary get permission from her father to travel over one hundred and twenty miles to Juttah, where Elizabeth lived and how did she get there? It was five days from Nazareth to Jerusalem alone.

2. “Living in a small house, how would Mary hide from her mother the fact that her time of the month did not come? How could she explain the angel’s visitation in a way her parents could believe? Was that her reason for immediate haste to get to Elizabeth’s?

3. Who helped Mary with the birth? Angels? Joseph?

4. How would I show my readers that Mary and Joseph were a typical young Jewish family, living in a small village in the hills of Judea?

These are not the only aspects and questions the author answered in this book.  I was glued to this novel that revealed the humanity of Mary, a 14-year-old girl facing unbelievable situations (like I hadn’t read before), showed Joseph, faithful, hardworking man and Jesus the son of God who they’d be caring for. All of them became very real to me. I felt like I had the opportunity to walk along with Mary and Joseph in a unique way. This author had the gift of bringing a whole new dynamic way beyond the Christmas story. I liked the writing style of this author. I highly recommend this novel. It would make a great book club pick.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


By Lecrae
With Jonathan Merritt
Published by B & H
212 Pages HB

ABOUT BOOK: Lecrae is a two-time Grammy winning rap artist, Lecrae, learned this lesson through more than his share of adversity—childhood abuse, drugs and alcoholism, a stint in rehab, an abortion, and an unsuccessful suicide attempt. If you live for people's acceptance, you'll die from their rejection.”

Along the way, Lecrae attained an unwavering faith in Jesus and began looking to God for affirmation. Now as a chart-topping industry anomaly, he has learned to ignore the haters and make peace with his craft. The rap artist holds nothing back as he divulges the most sensitive details of his life, answers his critics, shares intimate handwritten journal entries, and powerfully models how to be a Christian in a secular age.

REVIEW: This is a heartfelt, transparent look at the life of Lecrae, a Christian rapper. He says, “Some of life’s struggles are so severe that even music is powerless to overcome them.” He knew he needed something more. He would later learn that the something more was Jesus.

He talks about the challenges of being raised by a single mom and how she worked hard to provide a good home. He spent summers with his grandmother so his mom could work two jobs. Growing up without a dad always made him wonder if he had done something to make his dad leave and/or stay away?  Through the years, Lecrae realized he had hole in his heart no one could fill. Oh, He tried to fill the emptiness with all types of things. He tried to fit in and be accepted in a variety of ways but alas there was no place for him. But he kept searching!

Summers with his grandmother; who was the living example of the hands and feet of Jesus as she delivered supplies where needed. She never beat Lecrae over the head with the bible, instead she allowed him watch her share food and the love of Jesus her community.

When he was in college and desperate for something to do, he’d go to a bible study. He thought of church more as a social thing nothing more. Lecrae talks about the bible study he went to, “I thought I had heard it all, but I was encountering stories for the first time.”…(he discovered that ) ..people who came to the study weren’t lame like I thought Christians were. They didn’t look unpopular or dress weird and some of them were really cool. Over time, I kind of enjoyed going, but it was still more social than spiritual for me.”

My son’s listened to Lecrae’s music growing up. So, when I saw he had written a book I wanted to read it. I wanted to know more about this mystery man and how he got to be a rapper. I wanted to know the stories behind his rapping and lyrics. I listened to the audio book and read the book when I wasn’t in the car. I LOVED the fact that Lecrae was the reader on the audio book. I could hear his heart, pain and wonderment as he read. Another Bonus feature on the audio book was the fact that he actually had excerpts of his songs to listen to.

Bonus material in the hard back book was the fact he had lots of pictures to share. I liked seeing pictures of the people and situations he talked about. Having both of these book materials was a win win for me. This story touched and inspired my heart. It also reminded me that God can do far more than I can every imagine. He’s done that with this young man.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from Netgalley and publisher. Audio book from the library.  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!
The Book Club Network blog

Book Fun Magazine


Jesus Saves Me
By Callie Grant
Art by Missi Jay
Published by Graham Blanchard
19 Pages Board Book

ABOUT BOOK: To celebrate the Easter season, children engage with Jesus’ teaching of the Good Shepherd’s saving love in John 10:14-16. From the Knowing My God series, this book offers three levels of exploration: a quoted Bible passage, beautiful real-world photographs, and supportive text to relate the passage’s meaning to a child’s life. A parent guide gives tips for involving a baby, toddler, and child. In the Graham Blanchard book collection, Jesus Saves Me is a Learn book, which makes personal Bible study accessible to young children who, alongside adults, build a foundation for faith and a lifelong friendship with Jesus. Find out more about our Learn, Absorb and Praise framework for children’s books at

REVIEW: The scripture explained in this board book is found in John 10:14-16. It starts out, “Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

The author asked a question – “Did you know?....Sheep are watching and learning from other sheep as they graze. They are also learning about the person who takes care of them. They know a good shepherd when they see on…A shepherd’s job is to watch over his flock, or sheep. Shepherds lead sheep to pastures for food. Etc…They rescue sheep from danger. Jesus calls Himself a shepherd. Can you guess who His sheep are?”

This book grows with your child. The author has beautiful color pictures to help illustrate the passage of scripture being explained. At the end of the book there are helpful ways to use this book from ages 0-8 years of age. I liked that about this series. She also has another scripture at the end of the book for grown-ups Revelations 7:17.

There are three questions on the last page to engage the reader and make the book personal. It also helps the adult start a discussion with the child they are reading to. These board books are keepers!

ABOUT AUTHOR: Callie Grant founded Graham Blanchard Inc. to create children's books for growing up in God and resources for parents. The company's LEARN, ABSORB & PRAISE collection of board books have been positively reviewed by more than 400 Christian parent bloggers and readers, who also give high marks to Graham Blanchard's online parent resources, including a Mom Mentor panel of popular authors and bloggers, and free tips for grownups to connect Jesus to children's everyday lives. In spring 2017, Graham Blanchard will launch its first adult title: Your Newborn Promise Project, a Christian pre-parenting primer for husband & wife. The company is the culmination of Grant's experience in the publishing industry paired with a strong calling to help families know God's love and nurture their faith through reading together. For more information about Grant and Graham Blanchard, visit

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Book Club Network and Graham Blanchard 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


(How our Holy Celebrations Shape our Faith)
Published by: NavPress
ISBN# 978-1-63146-463-8
213 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: Michelle Van Loon helps us treasure our time as a gift and a spiritual responsibility, and God as faithfully present in all our moments and days.

People rarely slow down to experience their days, and so they feel rushed through life even as they begin to suspect that life lacks significance. By introducing (and reintroducing) us to the feasts and festivals of the Bible, as well as the special celebrations of the Christian calendar, Moments and Days restores a sacred sense of time throughout our year, enriching our experience of each “holy day” and enlivening our experience of even the most “ordinary time.”

REVIEW: “Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days. Let them flow in endless praise.”

This author has helped us all to be able to do this one holiday at a time. First of all she gives her testimony that will blow you away and then she talks about her journey to walking a blended life. She grew up Jewish and then became a Christian in her 20’s. At that time the Jewish and Christian history to each holiday had more meaning for her. She says, “Our eternal God has given us the slice of eternity, right here and now, in which to live for and with him.”

I like how she talked about her journey and how the history of When, Why and How people observed these holidays and celebrations changed her life. She says, “Following a calendar that tells us our lives are not all about us is a powerful place to learn to inhabit that sacred gift of time. When Paul acknowledged not all followers of Jesus see specific days as Holy, he wasn’t suggesting that everyone in church needed to hit the ‘delete’ button on the discussion (Rom 14;5-10)

He was instead, encouraging them to give one another lots of grace as they sought how to honor God together in their community. He never discounted the value of the weekly/yearly rhythm of Holy days. He simply wanted the Jewish and Gentile followers to understand that the finished work of Jesus the Messiah fulfills the meaning of these festival days: (Colossians 2:16-17”) “That reality must shape our ordinary moments and our sacred days…Those Holy days are gifts of love from God designed to help us understand the nature of eternal life.”

In Part one Jewish Calendars she breaks down by different Holidays -

Part two The Christian Calendars Advent, Epiphany, Holy Week, Pentecost, Lent Easter, Christmas, etc.

I found this very informative and how it brought a clearer view of why we celebrate this holiday in the first place. This author has a glossary of words and recipes to help celebrate the different holidays. Some of the recipes listed are for the Sabbath – Tia Sarah’s Special Honey Challah, Peral’s Noodle Kugel (Rosh Hashana – Shavuot) Sylvia’s Cheese Cake (Shavuot, Easter)

If you’d like do a deeper study into these holidays/traditions the author has additional reading sources and a side by side comparison of the Jewish, Catholic/Protestant Orthodox calendars. This book will help readers grasp a deeper understand of these holidays that will draw them closer to the Savior all the while creating a close sense of community within their families.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Since coming to faith in Christ at the tail end of the Jesus Movement, Michelle Van Loon's Jewish heritage, spiritual hunger and storyteller's sensibilities have shaped her faith journey and informed her writing. She is a regular contributor to Christianity Today's popular Her.meneutics blog. She has pieces in four recent devotional projects and has authored three books. She's been a church communications director, served on staff at Trinity International University, and currently serves as a consultant for a handful of small faith-based non-profits. She's currently enrolled part-time at Northern Seminary. She's married to Bill, and is mother to three and grandmother to two. Her writing focuses on issues of the church and spiritual formation. She blogs at

Michelle's book, If Only: Letting Go Of Regret (Beacon Hill Press, 2014) won an Award of Merit in the Christian Living category of Christianity Today's 2015 Book Of The Year list

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


HAPPY 2017

I'm going to be mixing things up in 2017. I'll have lots of reviews on Christian Fiction and non-fiction books. There will be children's books, Youth. Cook Books and Coloring books. You might say, "What? It sounds like the same thing to me!"

Oh, the difference is that they won't all be "Christian" per say. I'm taking on a more family friendly approach. I've started working at a library and I'll be talking a little bit about that and the things I find there. Books that are family friendly and fun!

I'll talk about the excitement I see as little ones tell others about the book treasures they've found. I'd love to hear about your book experiences in the library in the New Year too!

I might be asking you about your library experiences and what you love most about your local library. I'd love to hear about it.

I'm EXCITED about the places we'll go in 2017. Thank you for heading there with me. Grin!


You've made this book adventure FUN!!


Nora St.Laurent
Where Book Fun Begins! 


ABOUT BOOK: This Christmas season, celebrate the birth of our Savior through beautiful design and devotion. Grab your colored pencils, cozy up with your favorite blanket and a cup of tea, and settle in for a night of peace and wonder with All Is Bright. For lovers of the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest coloring books, All Is Bright is the perfect way to transform the Advent and Christmas seasons for your whole family, re-centering the holidays on the miracle of Jesus’ birth. Combining 31 days of rich content by the beloved and inspirational Nancy Guthrie with intricate designs that will reconnect you with the heart of Christ, this coloring book devotional journey reminds us all of what the season really calls us to: worship.

REVIEW: I have included a few pages I've colored in this book. I think it's a book that can be used all year long. I started coloring this devotional book before Christmas and found that I wanted to spend more time on coloring the pages and soaking in the devotion.

Once you've completed the coloring pages it can be used again. In the back the author has activities that can be done with your family. There are discussion starters and coloring pages for little ones as they look forward to the holiday season. It will help you get across to them the significance of who Jesus is and what he came to do. The topics are The Spirit of Giving scripture reference Acts 20:35, At Home with Jesus John 1:14. Faith to Believe Luke 1:28-30. Jump for Joy Luke 1:41-44. The Gift of Jesus John 1:12 NIV Discussion starter is from Romans 8:32. Ending prayer "Jesus, we receive you! We welcome you into our home and into our hearts this Christmas. Show us what it means to unwrap this incredible gift we've been given and put you at the very center of our day-to-day lives."

There are several more topics I didn't list. Just wanted to give you a sample of what she to help you and your family ready your hearts for Christmas.

This is a devotion I will refer to all year long.
 ABOUT AUTHOR: "God has been preparing me my whole life for teaching his Word," says Nancy Guthrie. "He has blessed me with so many sound Bible teachers to sit under--from my days as a college student in Bible classes, to terrific Bible Study Fellowship leaders, gifted pastors -- as well as several teachers like Tim Keller and John Piper that I listen to almost daily on my ipod." 

Nancy's life experience--dealing with the loss of two of her children--has significantly affected her teaching substance and style. "I've had to dig into God's Word in search of answers to hard questions about how he works, …my listeners usually have the same struggles and questions. And while I openly share the deep hurts in my life, I also like to laugh. People who hear me teach say that I'm very real, and that is certainly what I want to be." "To me, God's Word is a treasure to be mined," Nancy says. "The deeper I go in it, the more I see its wisdom, the more it authenticates itself, the more it reveals to me the amazing mystery of God."  

The devotion is on the left and the coloring page is on the right. I liked many of the pictures that took a few days to color. I didn't a little bit here and there.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book Amazon. 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!
The Book Club Network blog

Book Fun Magazine


ABOUT AUTHOR: Kelly Klepfer - She had ambitions to graduate from the school of life quite a while ago, but alas . . . she still attends and is tested regularly. Her co-authored cozy/quirky mystery, Out of the Frying Pan, is the culmination of several of the failed/passed tests. Kelly, though she lives with her husband, two Beagles and two hedgehogs in Iowa, can be found at Novel Rocket, Novel Reviews, Scrambled Dregs, Modern Day Mishaps, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter with flashes of brilliance (usually quotes), randomocities, and learned life lessons. Zula and Fern Hopkins and their shenanigans can be found at Zu-fer where you always get more than you bargained for.

What do you hope readers take away from Out of the Frying Pan?  

Kelly: A friend who purchased two copies of my book told me she had given both away and still hadn’t been able to read it yet. I loved hearing that her sister adored the book, but teared up when she said that the other went to a friend who is having her husband read it out loud to her during chemo. And another gal wrote Michelle a note and told her that she’d had a dark and heavy couple weeks and Out of the Frying Pan was the only light, the only laughing she was able to do and thanked Michelle for that. Our book is not spiritually deep or full of fascinating takeaways like many novels. But you do get some pretty real and charming characters who can take you out of your present circumstances and leave you with a smile. If our novel, our hard work, our soul-searching edit process can leave someone undergoing chemo a chance to laugh and escape cancer for a time, then, wow, what a gift for me as an author to know that.

Nora: You and Michelle do have a way with words and making people smile. I look forward to reading your debut novel. I know it will be good for my soul!

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

Kelly: I’m having wow moments now. I’ll tell you, it’s really, really weird to put out a huge 250+ page book and have people who know you actually read it. So weird. My co-worker told me I should buy an office copy for people to read. Good idea. So the quickest reader grabbed it first and mostly read it over her lunches. She walk past my desk and give me feedback. So weird. She’s real melancholy so Zula freaked her out a bit but she couldn’t help but laugh. She’s also real detail oriented so I was waiting for her to point out a glaring plot hole we missed. Whew. Skated by that. One of my physician’s assistants is taking it to Portland with her in a couple weeks. She and I talk about our minimalism journeys and quirky ways of eating and stuff. This book thing is so not something we’ve discussed. So I guess all that to say that I am feeling a little like I’m always tugging on my skirt and walking carefully to because I’m pretty sure my slip is showing. The other wow moment would be the amount of soul-searching and growth and self-assessment one must subject themselves to during the editing process. When I wrote something I loved, but others didn’t it was a little battle in my brain. At the end, you willingly murder those darlings and are glad you did, but in the process it’s a little rough!

Nora: Thanks for sharing your heart and journey my friend. I'm so excited for you and Michelle!

What keeps you sane in the middle of craziness? Hope in the middle of stress and Life’s storms?  

Kelly: I’m not going to give the Sunday School answer. As much as God, Jesus, the Bible and Prayer are my-should-go-tos’ I sometimes stumble onto them after other things don’t work. I’m very self-sufficient, frustratingly so, and mostly laid back so I don’t get real stirred up and fretful. But I love my dogs, silence and stillness. I adore coming home to raucous greetings at the door, and cuddling with them before bed. My beagles drive me crazy often, but their enthusiasm for me recharges me. And in the quiet I can sort out my thoughts and give to God what He wants from me, and let go of what is of no value or not good. In those times I find myself singing or humming praise songs which restore my soul as well.

Nora: Amen! Amen!

What three things are you most thankful for in life?

Kelly: I am very thankful that God is patient. I was a hard nut to crack. And I still try His patience and a regular basis. I’m also so thankful for the blessing unfolding in front of me where I can watch my adult children flourish and grow in Christ’s plan and timing. Finally, and some days my most enthusiastic joy is my grandkids. Delight of my soul!

Nora: Watching our children love on our grand babies is a blessing. Getting to see them laugh and be able to share precious moments with them and at the end of the day send them home with their parents; a Double blessing! Grin!
Can you share your testimony with us?

Kelly: Here’s the real basic version. The other would require the whole magazine. I was “saved” at 6 while watching Billy Graham with my parents. But I never had any security that I was saved. Our Baptist church instilled in me that I wasn’t a “good Christian” so I did a lot of rededicating my life after so many failures I couldn’t keep track. When I was newly married my church had an ugly split and we saw a few things that wrecked us. We stepped away from hypocrisy and into real lives (yeah, worldly, and ugly). For about 8 years we ping-ponged between being “Chreasters” (Christmas and Easter attenders) and unchurched. My husband began drinking heavily, I was a worldly, selfish woman and our marriage began crumbling. When I was pregnant with our middle child we separated due to his drinking. We reconciled and a few years later he quit cold turkey without Christ leading the quitting and entered into an affair. I found out on our anniversary while getting ready for a date when his former girlfriend called me to tell me she was pregnant. That was my second rock bottom, but I still had one more to go before I submitted to Christ’s headship. Again, we pulled out of that through grit, determination, stubbornness and worldly counseling.

We returned to church and started “growing” and got real involved and the whole time my mindset was that as long as the good outweighed the bad in my marriage I’d stay with him. And that he’d better be good and make it up to me. He owed me. (Lovely, isn’t it? So harsh in the black and white of words!)

My final rock bottom seems so tiny in comparison to alcoholism and an extramarital affair, just the constant fighting and list making on my part. I would critique his actions and choices regarding our family. He’d have to work extra to help pay child support and to pull off visits with our youngest, his daughter. He couldn’t make me happy. No matter what decision he made. I finally just couldn’t handle it anymore one night and wept to God and begged Him to change my husband. God spoke directly into my heart and asked me why I thought I was right. Couldn’t answer that one honestly and still respect myself, because I was not. Our church was starting an inductive class on marriage a few days later. I told God I’d actually follow His plan and die to myself finally and try things His way. I honestly believe that was the moment I was saved. Because everything changed.

I’m so, so glad God wrestled me down and allowed the pain and consequences in our lives. Our youngest, his daughter, MY daughter moved in with us when she was nine. She is now 25 and a mom of the most precious one-year-old and has a little stepson as well. She is stepping back toward Jesus. My relationship with her is one of the greatest joys in my life. She calls me mom and we call each other friend. Life would be so much less without my daughter from another mother. Our two older kids are living their lives seeking Jesus with all that they are. I couldn’t ask for children who could bless me one bit more. And they each will say that my surrender to Christ showed them an authenticity that they could count on as real. And it made Christ real to them, too. I used to struggle with sorrow over the lost, worldly years when we didn’t pour truth into our children. God showed me that He is the Author and Perfecter of my life in Hebrews. Jesus wrote my story to be exactly what it is to show His power, to tell the truth about Him to the portion of the world that interacts with me. And the ripples of my life and my choices have continued into the next generation and beyond. And I’m still discovering that dying to self is daily. And that when I do, it’s worth it.

Nora: Wow, Thank you for sharing your heart and the journey you've been on my friend. I know that wasn't easy. I know that in sharing you will (and have encouraged many).  

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?

Kelly: We have been talking about continuing with this group of people we’ve come to love. Zula and Fern need more adventures. And we have a couple of ideas. The next title is going to be Into the Fire and it’s going to involve...wait for it….fire! And not just any fire. Oh no, not with Zula around! When will it be out is a big question. Probably a couple of years. I’m hoping we can shave off maybe 6 years since we worked on Frying Pan for 8. Not even kidding!

Nora: This sounds fun and fun direction and time.

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

Kelly: I would stay in the here and now. That sounds strange I think. But I don’t know that I belong anywhere but in this time and place. I would travel. I would want to see all the miles of all the beaches and touch the sand and play in the surf. Years ago we went to Maui with my parents and our oldest two kids. We went to a different beach every day. Black sand, white sand, hardened lava tide pools. It was really amazing to see the difference of each and every beach. I’d also want to go into Europe and experience the little villages and the vast beauty. The Holy Land is fascinating and I’d love to touch places that are maybe things Jesus touched. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon or the East coast in autumn. My travel then would then include massive cross country road trips. Route 66. Pacific Coast Highway. The Redwoods. The Blue Ridge Mountains. Goodness, maybe my friend just needs to provide me with a series of different vehicles so I can get done all that I want to do. :  )

Out of all the sounds in the world which are your favorite? I don’t immerse myself in sound all the time. When I’m alone I usually am just silent. No background soundtrack or television. I think maybe I’m sensitive to sound so that’s why I choose silence most of the time. Instruments, almost any, simple instrumentation or the human voice can just knock my socks off. The sound of my husband’s voice reverberating in his chest when we hug or snuggle and talk calls to my heart. And the laughter of my people, the kids, the adults, the laughter of those I love just makes me feel alive. I cannot listen to a baby laugh without smiling like an idiot and until my face aches. Laughter. A glorious gift! Water. Waves crashing, or lapping, falling from the sky onto a metal something or other so it tink-tink-tinks. Yes. Those are my sounds.

Nora: Funny out of all the author's I've asked this question to only one other person answered the way you did. They didn't want to use the time machine. That person was Francine Rivers. You are in good company! Thanks for your response!


Kelly: Just a hearty thank you! If you’ve made it all the way through the article or have read our book, or purchased it to read, or if you’ve read my column. Thank you!!!!!

Nora : Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your debut novel Out of the Frying Pan , Kelly. I wanted to tell you that I’ve enjoyed your monthly articles in Book Fun magazine. You talk about to things I love books, food and ways to have fun at book club. Your ideas help to create memorable book club experiences! It’s a win! Win! Thanks for giving away a signed copy of your new book!

TO ENTER - Answer ONE of the Following Questions:

1. What do you like most about a Cozy Mystery?

2. If you are in a book club, what do you like most about that experience?

3. What three things are you most thankful for in life?

4. Why do you read? For Knowledge, for escape, for learning how to write, looking for what you would and wouldn't read?

5. What characteristics do you tend to admire in fictional characters? Are these characteristics you have or ones you'd like to develop. Give examples for the characters if you want. Example: I would want to be as fearless as Ma Ingalls.

6. If you could set up life in a fictional or real setting where would it be and why?

Nora: These are Great Questions Kelly! I think readers will have fun answering these and readers will enjoy their answers! Be sure to check out Kelly’s Full Review in the November issue of Book fun Magazine.

Kelly is giving away One signed copy of her book. The LAST Day to enter is JANUARY 1st. 

Have a Blessed Christmas! Check back in the new year.

CONGRATS goes to KRISTINA M. ANDERSON her name was drawn. THANKS to everyone that participated. 

HAPPY 2017



Nora :o)

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
Book Fun Magazine
The Book Club Network Blog