ABOUT AUTHOR:  Judith Miller is an award-winning writer whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. She is the author of the popular Daughters of Amana and Home to Amana series, which explore the closed communities of Iowa's Amana Colonies. Judy makes her home in Topeka, Kansas. Learn more at

You have mentioned to me that you love traveling. What was your most memorable trip? What made it special for you?
Amana Heritage Society Germany
A trip to Europe in 2011 to tour areas of Europe with a tour group from the Amana Heritage Society. This was a particularly special trip for me because I traveled with descendants of the original immigrants who settled the Amana Colonies. Having set two series in the Colonies, being able to visit the places where the original settlers had taken refuge to escape persecution prior to migrating, was especially meaningful to me. I was present when the unofficial dedication of the narrow road leading from the village of Altweidermuss up the hill to the Ronneburg Castle was renamed, “Amanaer Strasse.” A church service was followed by a large reception. What an honor and thrill to be present for such an event!

Out of all the places you've been is there a town or city you went to and thought, “This location is definitely going into one of my books – I can’t wait to share this with my readers.”
Judith spoke at Book Club in Pullman
Because setting is usually what draws me into the creation of my stories, that’s a difficult question for me to answer. Almost every book I've written has evolved through visits to unique places that I wanted to share with readers—even the ones co-written with Tracie Peterson have evolved out of particular settings. I would probably say Pullman, Illinois (Postcards from Pullman series) and the Amana Colonies (Daughters of Amana and Home to Amana series).

What do you like best about traveling? What do you look forward to when you start a road trip?

West Virginia
Discovering something unexpected. I love it when I've done some reading and have some idea about a place I’m going to visit and then when I get there, I make an unexpected discovery that will provide a new twist or turn in my plot.

Is there something you do on your travels? Example my mom liked to go to restaurants she heard about on the Food Network channel. What do you look for when you travel?

Hotel Florence

When I’m going on a road trip, I check out the AAA Guidebooks for the areas I’ll be passing through. I don’t want to miss any historic sites along the way. Being open to exploring is part of the fun and where you can learn new and exciting things about our past. Even if it isn't something that makes it into one of my books, it’s fun to take time for side trips. One of my favorites was a side trip to the early home of George Washington Carver. That history has never made it into one of my books, but the visit is a fond memory.

What fascinates you about a time period that makes you want to set on of your stories there? How does that process work for you?

Book Club meeting Chicago
I’m drawn to writing stories set between the mid-1850’s to the early 1900’s. While I might deviate from that at some time, that period has become my favorite. I have a love of history and find that period particularly fascinating. There were so many changes going on in the country—huge numbers of immigrants, the American industrial revolution which produced the “robber baron” period, epidemics, scientific inventions—all of it lends itself to wonderful stories that both teach and enrich while providing (I hope) a good story.

Can you give us a peek into what book you’re working on now? When will it be out?

I’m currently completing second book in the Refined by Love series, The Potter’s Lady. Rose McKay, Ewan’s oldest sister, take the lead in this second book of the series, and the McKays will begin another business venture—this time a pottery located in Grafton, West Virginia, where they’ll experience some unexpected difficulties and some hope for the future.

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

 A baby’s laughter.

There are so many types of weather – which are your favorite? Which do you try to avoid?

I love days like today that are sunny about seventy degrees—especially in the Fall when the leaves are changing.

Name two jobs that you've had that might surprise people? 

I don’t know if they’d surprise people, but in high school I held a job as a salesgirl in a dress shop. I also worked in a real estate office helping the owner’s wife organize files and paperwork.

What is your favorite holiday? Why?  

Christmas. Because it draws friends and family together and gives us the opportunity to celebrate Christ’s birth.

What has been your favorite book club experience? What made it so much fun?
Book Club Meeting in Pullman Illinois

I was invited to speak to a group in Pullman, Illinois. It was particularly special because it was held at the Hotel Florence and the group opened it to the residents of the town. Most had read the first two books and were eager to participate in the question and answer session. The session was followed by a tea and the women had even used one of the recipes in the book to make scones. We scheduled it for a time when I was going to be there to conduct research for the third book.

THANKS for dropping by and sharing with us Judith - I really enjoyed all your pictures.
I'm Thrilled that Bethany House Publishers is giving away 10 copies of your new book The Brickmaker's Bride. The Contest is underway. ANYONE Can participate. They just need to go to THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK SITE JOIN - It's FREE and EASY!! Then CLICK on the LINK that is located on the top of the Book Cover. It will take you to the Giveaway page at Bethany House Publishers page. JOIN the page. Just Click JOIN and then Answer ONE of the questions listed. It will take not time at all.

See you at BOOK FUN!!




Grammy and Stellar Award-Nominated Recording Artist Turned COO Releases First Music Project Since Taking Helm at Madison Line Records
Antonio Neal is set to release his EP, Welcome Home, today on Madison Line Records (Mary Steele photo)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 21, 2014) - Multiple Dove Award recipient, as well as Grammy and Stellar Award-nominated recording artist, Antonio Neal releases his new project, Welcome Home, today on Madison Line Records, the label where he serves as chief operating officer. Madison Line Records is the affiliated label of Visible Music College, a music and worship college in Memphis, Tenn. The project is available at all digital retailers.

Neal, formerly an EMI Gospel recording artist (now Motown Gospel), has recorded three albums during his career as a singer and songwriter. As an artist, writer and producer, he has sold more than five million albums and has worked with Stacie Orrico, Kierra "Kiki" Sheard, and Tyler Perry on his Diary of a Mad Black Woman soundtrack. Neal won two Dove Awards as a songwriter on "There Is Nothing Greater Than Grace" by Point of Grace and a Dove Award as the producer on This Is Me by Kierra "Kiki" Sheard. Welcome Home will be Neal's first release since taking the helm in 2013 to oversee the marketing, publishing and day-to-day operations at Madison Line Records.

"How can I say 'This is a place that is on the rise,' if I don't put my own music here?" Neal says. "It would be like a chef who won't eat in his own restaurant. I believe in this label and the direction it's headed, so I wanted to become a part of it."

Neal co-produced the seven-song EP with Kirk Kienzle of Kienzle Music, and utilized the talents of Visible Music College staff and students, among others, on many of the tracks. The music encompasses a variety of genres, from pop to calypso to gospel to what Neal calls "cafĂ© Caribbean cool." 

"I have been exposed to and impacted by so many cultures," Neal says. "It all became art to me."

Throughout the multi-genre format, the EP contains one theme at the core: reconciliation.
Antonio Neal is set to release his EP, Welcome
Home, today on Madison Line Records (Mary Steele photo)
"It's the Prodigal Son--that's the idea of Welcome Home, but it's not just the parent-child relationship," Neal says. "It encompasses many different kinds of relationships--with God, the Church, family relationships, friendships, even romantic relationships, such as husband and wife." 

Neal says in each song--from the inspiring piano pop of "Things Will Get Better" to the jazz-infused pop of the EP's title track--he tried to focus on telling his own story rather than projecting a heavy-handed message. 

"I'd rather take the same medicine and put it in something sweet," he says. "But really, this is about my life, my experience. That's what I'm sharing. It's looking inward rather than
pointing a finger out and saying, 'this is about you, this is what you need to do.'" 

Welcome Home will be available at all digital retailers, including Amazon, iTunes, and at

For more information about Welcome Home and Neal, visit, like on Facebook ( or follow on Twitter (@AntonioNeal). 
About Visible Music College and Madison Line Records:
Visible Music College offers four-year 

Madison Line Records is the affiliated label of Visible Music College. Among the label's recent releases are the self-titled debut from Visible Worship, which Worship Leader Magazine has named one of 2014's Top 5 Best College Releases, and a Christmas single from Visible Music College alum Sarah Simmons, who was in the Top 8 of NBC's The Voice (Season 4).
For more information about Visible Music College or Madison Line Records, visit or



The Skinnytaste Cookbook
By Gina Homolka w/Heather K. Jones R.D.
Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers
320 Pages

Back Cover: Get the recipes everyone is talking about in the debut cookbook from the wildly popular blog Skinnytaste

Gina Homolka is America’s most trusted home cook when it comes to easy, flavorful recipes that are miraculously low-calorie and made from all-natural, easy-to-find ingredients. Her blog, Skinnytaste is the number one go-to site for slimmed down recipes that you’d swear are anything but. It only takes one look to see why people go crazy for Gina’s food: cheesy, creamy Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli with only 420 calories per serving, breakfast dishes like Make-Ahead Western Omelet "Muffins" that truly fill you up until lunchtime, and sweets such as Double Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies that are low in sugar and butter-free but still totally indulgent.

The Skinnytaste Cookbook features 150 amazing recipes: 125 all-new dishes and 25 must-have favorites. As a busy mother of two, Gina started Skinnytaste when she wanted to lose a few pounds herself. She turned to Weight Watchers for help and liked the program but struggled to find enough tempting recipes to help her stay on track. Instead, she started “skinny-fying” her favorite meals so that she could eat happily while losing weight.

With 100 stunning photographs and detailed nutritional information for every recipe, The Skinnytaste Cookbook is an incredible resource of fulfilling, joy-inducing meals that every home cook will love.

ABOUT AUTHOR: GINA HOMOLKA is the founder of, the award-winning blog that's been featured on Fitness, Better Homes and Gardens,, and, among other media outlets. She lives on Long Island with her husband and their two children.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that introduced me to Gina Homolka and her blog; there is an introduction that talks about Gina’s journey to eating healthy and creating meals her family liked to eat. She said, “I needed to love the food I was eating.” I feel the same way. She talks about how we get “stuck” into the diet trap “buying processed, so-called “weightloss” food that is nothing more than junk food (some of it wasn’t even food).”

She goes onto say, “I’m going to bust all the excuses that keep you out of the kitchen, and show you that cooking- even cooking healthy, nutritious food – is quick, easy and dare I say painless.”

Yes, she can say it because it’s true. When I made Kiss My (Shrimp) and Grits I wondered how this would taste. I have made several different Shrimp and Grits dishes. I haven’t really liked any of them. When I tasted this dish I felt like there was a flavorful party going on in my mouth. I could see it was happening to my family as well. They were beaming as they ate. When I made the Double Chocolate Chunk Walnut cookies; I never imagine putting avocado into a cookie and have it taste good. Oh, I was wrong. My family ate every last one of my cookies. I beamed knowing it was good for them. I loved seeing their surprised faces when I told them they had avocado and applesauce in them. Fun! I also made the Pumpkin-Obsessed Vanilla-Glazed Scones (yummy), Quinoa Tabbouleh and Acorn Squash.

On the inside cover it says, “Gina has tweaked recipes to lower the fat and calorie content. She also wanted the meal to appeal to her family.” I agree with her when she said she didn’t have time to make two meals one for her and one for her family. The thing that’s important to me is to teach my kids how to eat right and to be health minded.

There are 150 recipes in this book that are easy to make (the ones I tried) low-calories, made from fresh ingredients I found in my regular super market. I was over joyed at how flavorful the dishes I made were and how much my family loved them.

She has a key to each recipe that tells the reader if the recipe is V – Vegetarian GF – Gluten Free, Q – Quick (30 minutes or less) FF = Freezer Friendly – SC – Slow Cooker. The instructions are easy to follow and Gina helps simplify eating healthy and cooking too. This is a beautiful hardback book with wonderful pictures inside of food and some of Gina and her family.

What tickled me was the feedback from my family. My boys are picky eaters and I watched them eat all the baked goods I made and eat the main courses until it was all gone. At first they were not excited to see I was cooking from a book titled “The Skinnytaste” cookbook – to their brains healthy and skinny translate to yucky! I loved seeing their surprised expressions as they ate what I made and loved every bite.

I can’t wait to try more recipes and learn more from Skinnytaste cookbook. I’m thrilled at my family’s reaction to the dishes they’ve eaten so far. It makes me feel great knowing the food we’re eating not only tastes wonderful but it’s good for us too. It’s a win win for everyone!! I highly recommend this cook book for those who love good healthy food!

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


REVIEW: I listened to this CD titled Christmas...Not the Way it Seems and ENJOYED IT!! They are right when it says it's a Celtic-Infused Christmas music. I liked how Jean Watson's voice complimented the instruments being played. Phil Keaggy shines in the songs he does. This music will get you in the Christmas Spirit. CD AVAILABLE OCTOBER 14th

Nora :o)

This is the PRESS RELEASE about the NEW CD by JEAN WATSON

Gospel Music Hall of Famer and guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy has joined Shadowlands recording artist Jean Watson on the Celtic-infused holiday project, Christmas...Not The Way It Seems. Watson enlisted Keaggy's talents on "Do You Hear What I Hear?," the lead single. Keaggy also joined the classically trained singer/songwriter and violinist on the video for the single, which was directed by award-winning director and producer Ben Pearson (Blue Like Jazz).

Christmas...Not The Way It Seems released October 14 through Shadowlands Music and Elevate Entertainment. Watson, the first artist signed to the indie Shadowlands label, brought in Grammy Award-nominated producer Billy Smiley to produce the 11-song collection of angelic Christmas favorites.

Destined to become a Yuletide classic, Christmas...Not the Way It Seems blends time-honored, beloved carols like "Do You Hear What I Hear," "Angels We Have Heard On High" and "The First Noel," with melodic renditions of less familiar holiday songs like "Pat A Pan," "Coventry Carol" and "Lo How A Rose" and Watson's self-penned Christmas hymn, "Not The Way It Seems."

"Jean is a gifted soul and person. Very seldom do I find someone with incredible gifts in songwriting, singing, and violin all in one person," says Smiley, who, in addition to his Grammy nominations, has produced more than 100 albums and 30 No. 1 songs, and is a founding member of legendary Christian rock band White Heart. "It has been a pleasure to see her wings unfold throughout the recording process. It will be so exciting for the world to see and hear this beautiful talent!"

Musically, the album employs rich, emotive orchestration which, when combined with Watson's ethereal yet resilient vocals, is reminiscent of such world music artists as Enya, Maire Brennan, Clannad and Kristen Getty.

The project opens with Keaggy's unmistakable acoustic guitar stylings undergirding, supporting and uplifting Watson's delicate, lilting vocals on a wistful rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" to create an ethereal atmosphere for listeners to relish. Watson closes the CD with a full band version of the same song, giving listeners the opportunity to experience the expansive range of her musical expressions. In between, Watson takes fans on a sonic journey of wonder as each song delicately and reverently celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation.

Pensive, orchestral woodwinds and strings embellish Watson's bell-like vocals on her achingly melancholic rendition of "O Come O Come Emmanuel." She employs joyous Celtic-rock rhythms on her updated version of the 18th century Burgundian carol, "Pat A Pan," then mixes contemporary instrumental stylings with classic vocals on her up-tempo version of the beloved Christmas hymn, "Angels We Have Heard On High." Watsonseamlessly shifts to the meandering, peace-evoking "Coventry Carol."

Fans of traditional Christmas songs will thrill at Watson's compelling and reverent version of "O Holy Night." Moody, swaying acoustic guitars, understated violin and yearning minor key Celtic whistles beckon listeners to stop and ponder on the 19th century English carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," and joy simply bursts forth like the sun over an Irish countryside as Watson recounts the wonder of that first Christmas morn on "The First Noel."

Perhaps less well known than other holiday carols, "Lo How A Rose" may be the oldest song on the project, having been first published in Germany in 1599 A.D. Watson's lilting version of the classic carol segues effortlessly into the newest song on the album,  Watson's own "Not The Way It Seems," a contemporary Christmas carol that is destined to take its place among seasonal favorites.

For more information about Watson or Christmas...Not The Way It Seems, visit


HERE IS the LINK to my MOVIE REVIEW - Enter Drawing BELOW

For theaters and showtimes:

A new feature film from director Dylan Baker. Based on the amazingly true story of Travis Freeman.

Travis shows us what true bravery is by competing on the gridiron--even after becoming blind overnight. Depicting a story of hope and triumph, courage and faith, and of victory prevailing over adversity, 23 Blast is designed to encourage and uplift audiences.

In theaters October 24, 2014--in partnership with K-Love and Air1 radio.

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Lights Out – Living in a Sightless World
By Travis Freeman with Rebeca DeBoard Seitz
Published by Believers Press
171 pages

Back Cover: When the lights go out – play harder.
Travis Freeman plunged into a world of darkness at 12 years old. A rare occurrence of a routine illness stole his sight, leaving the small–town Kentucky boy's dreams of football and fun languish–ing on the sidelines. 

Having given his heart to Jesus merely a year before the illness, Travis knew one thing: God was still the light for his life. 

That life story is now the inspiration for a major motion picture, "23 BLAST" that hits theatres in October 2014. Starring Dylan Baker (SPIDERMAN, THE GOOD WIFE) and Mark Hapka (DAYS OF OUR LIVES, CRIMINAL MINDS), the film focuses on Travis's football career playing Center for the Corbin Red–hounds – a team that went on to win the state championship. 

Yet there is even more wisdom and hope for us to find in a full telling of Travis Freeman's story. So much more to hear that couldn't be included in The Today Show and Dateline coverage of his football exploits. 

This graduate of the University of Kentucky and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary now joins with seasoned writer Rebeca Seitz to share his story in his own words. His is a story that is destined to turn the lights on for millions of readers.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for a review copy of a book that gave me an insider’s look at Travis Freeman the inspiration for the movie 23 Blast.  Lights Out; “is the rest of the story” the movie didn’t have time to tell. The book starts out in current time and then goes back to when Travis’s parents met which included the story of his arrival into this world, which was a miracle in itself.

Travis was raised in Eastern Kentucky, he says, “Life in the small town of Corbin revolves around family, church, neighborhood, and football – usually in that order. Every little boy – at least every little boy I knew – grew up with one dream: to become a Corbin Redhound, a member of the high-school football team.” Travis was no exception. In 4th Grade he was thrilled to become a water boy for the Redhounds; one step closer to being on the team.

Travis had accepted Christ into his heart July 1992 about a year before he went blind. He describes how things were for him, “Life would be a bit different now that my internal, spiritual light switched on. No drastically different from the outside – I’d still go to church and all – but my reasons for going would be changed. Now my life had the motivation of loving this Jesus who’d died on a cross for me. And rose again, conquering death, bringing life and light to all who accepted him. ….There was something mysterious and powerful, deep and unplumbed, within the pages of the bible.” Travis’s faith would get him through tough times ahead.

All was hopeful and bright until this young twelve year old boy developed a really bad headache that wouldn’t go away. It took a long time for the Dr’s to take this horrendous headache of Travis’ seriously. Once his dad got him to the hospital they rushed him into surgery (because of his high temp) to see what was going on. After surgery the lights went out for Travis. The Dr’s said that most patients with this high a temperature and serious Meningitis infection die in surgery and/or have permanent brain damage. This young man lost his sight but everything else was intact.

Travis and his family were part of an amazing small-town. Travis says, “Community pulls us through the dry stretches. Picture a marathon runner, parched and tired, trying to dig deep and find some energy for those last few miles. Then he sees a hand on the side, offering a cup of water.

The runner snatches the water, never slowing, never faltering. He gulps it. Pours the rest over his head. He is ready again. He’s renewed for the challenge ahead. Because of community.”

He is an overcomer. I was amazed that this young man was never angry about the fact he was blind. He was frustrated though with people and how they treated him as if he had a mental disorder. I appreciated his list of Do’s and Don’ts List – tips and tricks that “will help you engage with a blind person, but not lose your mind (or make him want to lose his) in the process. I found them very helpful. Some of these made it on film.

Travis says, “Everyone could create a do’s and don’ts list for the best way to interact. Because everyone – every single, solitary broken one of us – is disabled. Walk on broken one. Even if the lights go out.”

There is a touching and fun interview at the end of the book with his parents that is very interesting and up-lifting. This man is an inspiration. He goes on to say, “Here is the inexplicable truth that makes me open my unseeing eyes every morning and try again: Disability does not equal inability….Pay attention, broken one. Disability does not equal inability. We’re all handicapped. We’re disabled. But we aren’t done. We have an ability to be conducts of hope, kindness, love, joy, peace and inspiration to a crippled world. We can be an oasis in someone’s desert.”

Travis Freeman’s story will make you laugh, cheer, tug at your heart and have you look at him, being blind and the world around you with fresh eyes. This story is one you won’t soon forget.
I highly recommend this as a book club pick AND as a field trip for your book club to see the movie in theaters OCTOBER 24th. The film tells a powerful story, with its well-timed humor and viewers meet Travis and his family on camera at the end of the film. There are family photos inside this book too. The book compliments the movie. It’s a book that you’ll be telling your friends about. I give the book and the movie a thumbs up!




1. Have you heard of Travis Freeman? If so, where? 
2. What did you think of the movie Trailer? Interested in seeing the movie?
3. What inspires you about Travis Freeman?
4. Why would you like to read Lights Out?
5. What do you look forward to when watching a movie about a football team?
6. What do you LOVE about Football?
7. Would you rather play football or watch it or both? What's the best out of each experience?
8. Did you play on a football team and/or a cheerleader and/or play in the band? What did you love about it?

Nora :o) 

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

LET US ALL EAT CAKE by Catherine Ruehle w/Sarah Scheffel REVIEWED

By Catherine Ruehle with Sarah Scheffel
Published by 10 Speed Press
214 Pages

Back Cover: A delightful collection of gluten-free takes on your favorite cake recipes, from everyday coffee cakes, layered cakes, and cupcakes to show-stopping special occasion masterpieces.

Celebrate your favorite holidays and special occasions from birthdays to bake sales, Halloween to Christmas—and even the everyday—with delectable gluten-free cakes. In this delightful collection, Catherine Ruehle, a pastry chef and cake artist turned wellness foods chef, shares sixty classic cake recipes that are every bit as indulgent as the gluten-heavy ones we adore, but gluten-free, all-natural, and with alternatives given for vegan, dairy-free, and nut-free renditions. A few of the luscious cakes that await: Pink Velvet Strawberry Cake made electrifyingly pink with strawberries instead of food dye, Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes that children of all ages will be thrilled to find in their lunchboxes, and a dramatic White and Dark Chocolate Checkerboard Cake that’s a cinch to prepare in advance. With positivity and careful guidance, Ruehle provides basic and advanced decorating, piping, and plating techniques to take your cakes from pretty to breathtaking. So go ahead: lick the frosting off the beaters, cut yourself a nice big slice, and let us all eat cake!

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a cookbook that not only helped me create yummy healthy treats but it was fun to read and beautiful to look at. The food pictures are lovely and makes you want to try and make every recipe inside. The ones that I tried are Nana Banana Snack Cake, Polenta Breakfast Cake, and Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked each one of them they were yummy and I felt good after eating them. My boys and husband liked them too.

The author starts off telling readers; what is the best way to use this book which I found helpful. The chapters are Breakfast, Snack, and; Coffee Cakes; Layer Cakes; Cupcakes filled and Frosted, Plated Slices and Little Cakes; Decorated Special-Occasion Cakes; Essential Frostings, Fillings and Glazes; Tips, Tricks and; Decorating Techniques. What should be in your gluten free pantry, Allergen-Free and Vegan Cakes Chart and a Sources listing.

The treats I made had many ingredients that would be easily found in the health food section of a supermarket. I’m not a very experienced cake maker so I chose to make the breakfast cakes and snacks. I found the instructions helpful and easy to read.

As the book progresses the more elaborate the cakes got. This book is written by a trained pastry chef with the help of a professional writer Sarah Scheffel. There is a wealth of information in this book that encourages the reader to make some of the beautiful looking cakes near the end. They are amazing. She shares many tips and tricks to making lovely cakes that are healthy for you too.

I know that I didn’t feel bloated and sick to my stomach when I ate the treats I made. I felt really good inside and out. This excited me to try more of the gluten and dairy free options inside this book. I also liked how she discussed different sweeteners and ingredients in the back of the book giving the baker more options to think about. It was very helpful.

I would not recommend this book for a first time baker. It’s a little intimidating at first because some of the pictures they showed. I didn’t picture myself making something so lovely. This book is also helpful for people who are learning how to incorporate gluten and dairy free products into their lifestyle. They can have yummy treats that everyone will love. These treats might take a little bit longer to make than others but I feel it’s well worth your time. The end product is truly delicious and others who do not have gluten issues will think so too!! I’m excited to try more recipes from this beautiful and helpful book!

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


A Love Undone
By Cindy Woodsmall
Published by Waterbrook
328 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: A husband and son abandoned to forge a path alone.
A young woman who sacrificed her dreams.
How will the God of grace and hope help them find their way?

At nineteen years old, Old Order Amish Jolene Keim was on the brink of happily-ever-after when everything changed, stealing the future she expected and burdening her with an unbearable decision. For the next ten years, Jolene throws herself into family life—and then she meets Andy Fisher. The horse trainer and father to a sweet nine year-old challenges her and holds up a mirror to issues Jolene has been unwilling to face.

Andy is cautious about his deepening friendship with Jolene, but he believes she knows the truth about him – that he is a grass widower. As a man whose wife has abandoned him six years past, he is unable to divorce or remarry according to the Amish ways. Andy has wrestled with God concerning his reality, and he had found peace with the solitary future facing him…until he met Jolene.

As Andy and Jolene find themselves confronted by difficult choices, will they trust in God's guidance—or will the allure of their deepening friendship only lead to further temptation?
Great Fun to catch up with Cindy in Atlanta this summer
REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that reinforces the reason I read Christian Fiction. It also reminds me of this author’s first novel When the Heart Cries. It was a captivating heart-wrenching story and amazing series - I highly recommend. I loved how this author's emphasis was on God’s grace and love in the circumstances of the main character in When the Heart Cries and those around her. I see all that in this book as well along with other themes naturally running through we all can relate to: disappointment, unforgiveness, loss, redemption, pain, love, patience and a peace that passes all understanding; a gift given to us by God.

The reader first meets Jolene, a young lady in love, filled with hopes and dreams. She’s a woman forced to make a tough choice between what she wants and what is best for her family. She never second guesses herself or regrets her choice. She is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her family intact. Jolene does an amazing job of navigating the demands life has thrust upon her. Family is important, she works hard to keep life moving along for her siblings; hiding her feelings; and grief over what happened in her life. She has a heart of gold.

“She realized how little of herself she shared with loved ones. She’d closed up when the need to be a pillar of strength became nonstop….She no long had anyone she could open up to. Her siblings knew her love and faithfulness to them and to God, but she had to keep parts of herself locked away like her artwork.” (I liked reading about her art outlet)

I had taken this book with me on a retreat and was amazed that the themes of the weekend matched up with what I was reading in the pages of this novel. I was learning about how God could reclaim my numb heart and heal the hurts so I could feel free inside again. I saw Jolene and Andy walking this process out right before me. I saw how they allowed God to do a great healing in their hearts. Both were willing to be willing to do His will and have Him heal pain deep within producing a contentment they didn’t know was possible. Life isn’t fair – but God is there to pick up the pieces of our shattered hearts and make them into something beautiful. The end result often times is not at all what we expected or longed for. Sticking close to God can heal our hurts. He can speak life into the dead places if we let Him.

I know this is fiction but I connected with Jolene in a real way. I was emotionally spent over the tradgies and trials she went through in the confines of the Amish rules and ways. At the same time I was encouraged and inspired by this young lady. Jolene realized she had to, “Live life based on what you know to be true, not on what others think is true of you!” Amen!

Andy is a man who’s caught between a rock and a hard place. He’s stuck, not free to move on in life even if he wanted to. He’s an honorable man who is willing to do what must be done in order to protect his loved ones, regardless of the cost to himself. He stays true - respecting the Amish ways to remain with his family and part of his Amish order district. Andy is patient and caring for people and animals which is so obvious with the way he trains horses and deals with those around Him. He’s very insightful and funny.

Andy has agreed to help the Humane Society handle a herd of horses that have been mistreated. Andy seeks the help of a relative from another Amish district to accomplish the task. Jolene and Andy meet when Jolene volunteers to help with the horses, sparks fly and not at a good way at first. Andy doesn’t want Jolene to help him. It’s not woman’s work. She can get hurt. Jolene knows this job needs to be done soon. There are no men to help. She was a quick learner and was determined to help these animals. I loved learning about horses and how the trainers help calm them down and gain their trust.

Andy says to Jolene, “Has anyone told you that you’re a little annoying?” He couldn’t keep from smiling as he teased her. There was no way of knowing what she’d say to him.”

“Nope. (She replied) Not one person has used the word little with the phrase you’re annoying.”

I gave you a peek into this authors well timed humor. Andy realizes he needs her help to accomplish what he promised so he lets Jolene help. Andy is cautious about a deepening friendship with Jolene – He believes she knows the truth about his situation. Soon they both realize they can’t work together that’s when things get complicated.

There was one thing he wanted to give Jolene. “If Andy could, he would leave at the end of summer having given Jolene the gift of freedom; to wade in creeks, own a phone, and hold a conversation with Van without wanting to flee.” (Freedom the very thing God wants to give us)

The smaller stories lines woven into the bigger plot added a depth and richness to the overall story and made me feel part of their family. I liked Ray’s story; a boy who was struck by lightning and lived to tell about it. My heart went out to him in his struggles with life, and his anxieties. Finding his place in the community and dealing with his emotions was hard.

A friend says to him, “Maybe your definition of revenge is all wrong, Ray. There’s a saying I agree with – “The best revenge is massive success.” – To me, success is not ruining something at work……Maybe If we did something we liked, we’d actually be good at it.”

I was captivated and loved the many plot twists and turns. I liked how this author focused on relationships in reference to God, family and romance,  I liked how Cindy Woodsmall talked about what real love is and what it isn't about - like rushing into fulfilling a longing in our heart or letting our life be run by our emotions. The patience and love Jolene and Andy had inside their hearts for one another was remarkable. They were willing to wait for God to give them the best for their family even when their family was rebellious – like Ray. They both showed an extraordinary love and patience for their Amish community and friends around them as well.

This author has 12 discussion questions in the back of the book to help create lively discussion for your meeting. This is a special book I highly recommend to book clubs. This story could have gone several different ways. Many of which would have my heart sick at the end. Cindy has a satisfying ending that brought a peace to my heart and a smile on my face. This book is a keeper.

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


EXCITED to see an advanced screening — with Steve Carell and Jenifer Garner at Regal Perimeter Point Stadium 10 GA of ALEXANDER and The Terrible,Horrible, NO Good, Very Bad Day tonight with my sons. It was great family fun. We laughed out-loud - jumped for joy and went ohmygosh along with the family in the film. 

The place was packed out everyone was anxiously awaiting Disney's newest release. I was glad we were there two hours early. There was a long line to get in. The line wrapped along the theater. Right before we entered the theater there was three men in suits holding flash lights. I had put my tickets into my person and then noticed that a man was trying to put a flashlight inside. I didn't know what he was doing. When I asked he said they were making sure that I didn't have a devise in my purse to record the movie I was about to see. Later when every was in the theater they asked everyone to turn off their phones. They would be going around the movie theater with night vision glasses and taking cellphones away from people if they were one. This was our first pre-screening of a Disney film. They were very serious about protecting their movie. 

This film hits Theaters OCTOBER 10th. I highly recommend this movie for the entire family. It has a great message. One of them is in the CLIP BELOW!! CHECK IT OUT!!

Different Drummer has created a FREE STUDY GUIDE to create Family discussions. CLICK this link to get the guide They also have pictures from the movie there!!

Here are just two of the questions from the study guide. I like how they set it up for your family to talk about things they normally wouldn't!

Q: When have you felt like it was the end of the world? How did it get better?

Q: When have unexpected events challenged your expectations? How did you overcome
them or change your expectations?

It's a short book with great questions, fun pictures and its a great way to generate family discussions and create memories!

I am thankful for the opportunity to see this movie and tell you about it. I give it a THUMBS UP - GREAT FUN for the WHOLE FAMILY!!

Until next screening!!

Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network Blog
Book Fun Magazine








ABOUT ACTRESS: Nicky Whelan stars in “Left Behind” opposite Nicolas Cage, out October 3, 2014. She will next be seen in the Terrence Malick film “Knight of Cups.” Nicky recently wrapped a showy supporting lead playing Nadia ‘The Hottest Girl in the World’ in “The Wedding Ringer” opposite Kevin Hart, Vince Vaughn and Josh Gad, set for release in 2015.

Nicky Whelan first garnered attention on the Australian hit “Neighbours” and has since been a mainstay in American comedy, with stints on “Scrubs, “Workaholics” and as one of the leads in the feature comedy “Hall Pass,” playing the object of Owen Wilson’s desire.

She can be seen starring in the first and second seasons of Crackle’s “Chosen” opposite Milo Ventimigllia.

Nicky’s latest project is one of the leads in the Robert Rodriguez-produced TV series “Matador” on the El Rey Network.'

Moderator: We also have on the call, Nicky Whelan. And Nicky has been involved in so many great movies, and different things, even some things she has set for release in 2015. I know Nicky you could even talk a little bit more about that. I know you just wrapped The Wedding Ringer with Kevin Hart, Vince Vaughn. I know that you have some things coming up and a lot of things that you have done. From Neighbors, to Scrubs, Workaholics, Hall Pass and I know that there’s a lot of, you know, things on the horizon where we’re seeing you kind of popping up all over the place. And even in Crackle’s Chosen, and Matador.

Nicky, thank you so much also for joining us today. And we just wanted to start out asking you about some of the unique parts you’ve played. You play a very pivotal and very important role in this movie. Maybe just start out just diving right in and telling us about your character (laughing). I know we haven’t shared a lot with everybody on this call about the different characters and the different people that everybody plays in this film. But can you just share with us about your role? Who Hattie is, and kind of what she brings to this movie.

Nicky Whelan: Absolutely. Hello everybody. Yea, usually you know, as Cassi has mentioned when I read the script it is a very character-driving script as well as extremely action-packed. But the particular thing you don’t really know a lot about Hattie when she sort of comes in, and she’s quite (laughing) promiscuous. Like we had this fabulous opening scene which we loved to shoot, Vic if you remember with the lipstick and the car and the whole setup and immediately off the bat from seeing Hattie, you say that there’s something going on with her and “Ray”. I think Hattie seems to be at the beginning a very basic character that’s quite immersed in the world of being an air hostess. She loves her job, that’s all she knows, you know. She sort of dresses up for work, it’s a whole production and obviously she’s got something going on, or hopes to have something going on with the captain, played by Nicolas Cage. And I think the beautiful thing about this character is, you know, you want to hate her. She’s a little bit promiscuous. She’s sort of going against the all the rules. It’s clearly obvious why she doesn't get taken, (laughing) in the rapture. 

However, me and Vic did discuss, you know, about making this character as human as possible in the sense that you know, throughout the movie these, the rapture occurs and we’re on a plane and you know, you don’t think much of her. She seems to be this quiet, you know, naughty air hostess, mincing about, flirting with the captain. And she becomes quite real and quite human and, and, and I think hopefully quite like likeable by the end of the movie, when you see how she decides to deal with things that happen on the plane. You know, she finds out, I don't know if I’m aloud to say this. She finds out that Nicolas is married and so she’s been, not only has she been betrayed by someone that she’s, you know planning on spending some time with and hopefully developing a relationship with. The world’s half-ending in a sense. (laughing) And she’s in a plane so there’s a lot taking place and she’s got to keep that as human as possible, and it was a journey that me and Vic discussed and we went on together and as Cassi also mentioned that Vic gave us a great deal of freedom on set to sort of play it how we would. And I remember the very first thing I had to shoot was me coming in hysterical and losing my mind.

 It was quite a challenge I've got to be honest because, there was nothing to sort of build from or anywhere to go from and we really had to be careful with Hattie. I don’t know, I hadn't read the books before I had started filming. I wasn't familiar with this story. I just read this cool action-packed movie with great cast in it, and then sort of learned more about it as I got more involved. But, you know it’s, it’s hard playing, as Vic said, and I think they've done a really good job of in this movie is, not only telling a story that rings true to a lot of people but also making a great action film. And I think we've managed to balance both out and I, if we go on to make, you know two and three of this movie my character gets (laughing) really interesting, so I find her, I find her a lot of fun to play and I was really embraced in this, Cassi and the girls had mentioned, it was a journey down there in Baton Rouge and we had an incredible team of people working together under strange circumstances, and really trying to make it come to life and as, as real as possible in such a crazy scenario, so.

Moderator: Yeah. It was intense as everybody obviously experienced on the set. What, regarding, you know the other roles that you've played or different things that you've done, what was different? Like that was unique about this? What kind of things did you even, as an actress have to, I know you kind of touched on a little bit of it but is there anything that really stands-out that you really felt you had to learn or do differently this time?

Nicky Whelan: I think, you know, I've always been so grateful for the roles I've booked over the years. I’ve predominately done comedy always and only over the last year, obviously doing a part of Chosen, and now being in Matador, I’m starting to do sort of more of those dramatic roles. And I still think even though it’s quite a serious story and it’s very dramatic, I liked being able to bring, “Hattie’s” a little bit comical, I don’t know does anyone agree, I don’t know like she kind of (laughing), I think we need a little bit of lightheartedness and there’s a, there’s sort of (inaudible) back and forth between her and “Ray.” It’s a little bit comical at the start. It sort of makes you smile. I think we need a few comic reliefs, a few smiles throughout the movie. And a lot of the characters actually on the plane bring that to the movie. But in particular, you know, I love to be a part of anything action and when you've got Vic Armstrong on board you know that, you know things are going to blow up, it’s going to be hot, it’s going to be rad (laughing). Let’s be honest. So, you know, as an actress to be a part and work with these particular people. And obviously of course getting to work alongside Nicolas Cage, he was someone you grow up watching your whole life so, you know, when you’re picking characters and things like that, a lot of the time, it’s not until you get to the set do you really realize how you’re going to handle and understand this character and until you get around the energy of other people, and actors, and the director, and really feel out this process. It’s something I’d never done before, I’d, you know and the circumstances are so extreme it’s interesting to see what you come up with as an actor on the spot. I remember we had to shoot my coverage of the plane crashing and coming down. And, I’m just sitting in a chair and they've got the hydraulics on the plane set throwing it round and you know it’s a challenge, as Jordin said as well, like you’re trying to bring to life, an extreme situation and it’s, for a human, as a person, as me, Nicky, like it’s interesting to see what I come up with and sort of what rattles me and I feel like we all got so immersed in our characters. And I really think that we brought it to life, and so I hope that everyone sees that, and enjoys it.

Moderator: That’s great. Alright, then can you also just tell us, quickly here, just what is the main thing that, apart from what you've told us about your character, that you feel like by the end of this movie, that she, you know without obviously giving away things that you can’t, but what did she struggle with the most, and what do you think she learned or was there anything you even, on a personal level kind of took away from what, this character is someone who, I think a lot of people won’t expect because, you know, they just expect to see stories of, oh who was the last, who was it? What’s their life like? But you, and Nicolas Cage’s character had a really important, just relationship and kind of what you dealt with and struggled through most of the movie. Is there something you could just share that just kind of stands out as what she really went through? As a woman?

Nicky Whelan: Well, I, she’s very, she, Hattie in particular is really immersed in her world. She’s living as an air hostess.  She’s not awake so to speak. And it’s interesting because how you view life in real life. I feel, a lot of people are sleeping through life. Sort of just getting on with it, getting it done, being sort of caught up in their own world, in their own dramas and their own everything. And she really, she seems like a character that’s really like that. She’s very, all her life is about is looking fabulous, getting on the plane and having an affair with the captain. Well not (inaudible), but you know. She’s so caught up in her world and you know I think with any sort of world catastrophe like this is what happens and all of a sudden everybody wakes up. Or do they? You know, and I think that’s what happens to her on this plane. I think she’s all of a sudden for the first time in her entire life. Not only is half the world left, she also is being hit on a lot of personal levels. She goes through a lot and what I love is what Vic helped me choose and what we discussed was making her, at the end you see some really redeeming qualities in Hattie and at the start you’re not so sure about her. And it’s hard to play the character that’s, you, you know I could have played this quite hard and quite, you know ruthless, and not bitchy but just very self-driven but I think throughout the movie you see her break down and what people really go through as humans when they’re faced with these problems and in Hattie’s case, she, she really redeems herself on a lot of levels. Personal levels, and you see that, and I think you can go away from the film with a bit of love for her and I’m so grateful that Vic and I chose that as a way to let the movie end. Let me tell you if we come back and make two, I think she turns again. I mean, she might have bi-polar (laughing). But, she’s so funny. Like, I don’t know, anyways, just towards the end of the film I think you, from starting out sort of being this quiet, you’ll see. As toward the end, I think we grow a bit of love for her and I hope that comes through and that’s one of the really important things is, Hattie’s journey, who she was, and who she becomes after she gets hit with some pretty heavy things and I think that it’s a good testament to everyone in their life, what is your wake up call? Do you know what I mean?

Moderator: No that’s really good. Yep, and I think everyone who has kind of touched on the fact that there’s a lot of questions, a lot of things that anybody seeing this movie and kind of just grapple with throughout life and I think it’s, it’s really appropriate in this time, even in our world right now and, and you know, we've had some questions come in that are kind of even along these lines and everyone has, you know already touched on this so well. Paul, there’s a question that’s actually come in for you which I think falls right in line with this. Just in regard to, you know, there are shows that I think Jordin mentioned, The Leftovers and a lot of things in popular culture right now. There’s a lot of rapture-like stories out there. Paul, how do you see and how can you explain to everybody here, what this film speaks to and how it is different from some of the things or maybe how it’s alike, how it’s like a lot of the things that are out right now. Can you just share with us a little bit about, kind of the whole concept of what you hope that people take away? Or what people will find in this movie, again without giving away too much?

Read my REVIEW in BOOK FUN MAGAZINE here is the link PAGE 84