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THE LOOMING STORM GIVEAWAY & INTERVIEW WITH AUTHORS

How did you come up with the idea for The Looming Storm?

DAVID/DIANE: This inspirational thriller percolated in our hearts and minds for some time before we began putting thoughts on paper. In our nine earlier books, we’ve written about a variety of law enforcement and justice issues. We wanted to partially set our tenth novel in Florida, and we wanted to feature more of David’s undercover cases and techniques. Our prior two books contained history, and the new novel is totally contemporary. Ideas kept developing, so we took a fun research trip to the Florida Keys. While listening to Bertie Higgins singing ‘I was your hero, and you were my leading lady’ from his hit song Key Largo, we visited a landing strip on a tiny island in the Florida Keys where David once landed while working an undercover cocaine smuggling case. Offshore we spotted another small island where he stayed with drug smugglers who didn’t know David was a DEA agent. We thought the setting was perfect. The Looming Storm links startling events in high-powered Washington D.C. with the relaxed lifestyle of the Keys. Enough said … It’s suspense.

Nora: It's nice to get the behind the scenes scoop about your new novel!

What do you hope readers take away from The Looming Storm?

DAVID/DIANE: There are several takeaways we hope readers will have. They’ll find an insider’s view as they experience undercover activities of Federal agents gathering evidence and intelligence about an international cabal of spies, which readers often hear about in the news. After reading The Looming Storm, readers can know that while the news may be frightening, there are Federal agents and police officers who are working, sometimes for twenty-four hours straight and through the night while the reader is sleeping, to protect our freedoms. Also, the reader will realize some of these heroes are Christians whose actions are influenced by their Christian worldview. 

Without giving away too much of the exciting plot, the reader receives a glimpse of end times prophecy, which points to a “looming storm.” And finally, and perhaps most importantly, though Federal Agent Eva Montanna is challenged during the trials she and her family face, her faith comes alive. She learns how to trust God in every storm she faces. Because the Lord has protected us in so many situations, we strive in this novel to display His power and faithfulness.

Nora: Thanks for sharing this perspective. Things do seem crazy. Thank you for letting us know that people are working to help keep the peace and many of them are like both of you whose actions are influenced by our Maker!

What was your favorite scene in The Looming Storm? Which was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest? Why? 

DAVID/DIANE: For David, his favorite scene is when FBI agent Griff Topping flies undercover in the Keys. This is so like what David experienced when he infiltrated smuggling rings. 

For Diane, her favorite scene is the courtroom scene when a federal prosecutor questions a witness in a federal criminal trial. This is similar to her courtroom dramas when she served as an Assistant United States Attorney.

Nora: Your work experience helps make your stories believable and at the same time giving readers hope!

A fun scene for David to write is we introduce an informant by the name of Louis Clark. He tries so hard, but has made many wrong choices. Will life become better or worse for Louie as he helps the federal agents go undercover? David has worked with many informants, developing their evidence, and reaching higher into criminal organizations. 

For Diane, the most fun scene is introducing a new character—DEA agent Brett Calloway. David spent many years as a DEA agent, and he and Diane became a bit creative with Brett.

Nora: Thank you for sharing what your past work experience has been. It's fascinating to know this about you both!

DAVID/DIANE: The hardest scene to write takes place when Eva’s daughter Kaley goes to Eastern Europe for her class trip, and faces a dangerous situation. Though we have traveled near the area we write about, we wanted to portray events realistically for readers without being too graphic or dark. We aim for a light touch in writing suspense to keep our novels family friendly.    

Nora: Thank you for not being too graphic and dark!

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

 DAVID/DIANE: Diane first had the desire to write a historical novel. Now you know why three of our novels include history: The Camelot Conspiracy, Stolen Legacy, and Embers of Courage. At the suggestion of a publisher, Diane asked David to join her in creating a suspense thriller. Neither of us knew how two people could go about writing the same novel.

The first Wow for us came as we discovered we could do this together. Clearly God was moving in our hearts, minds, and hands. There are some co-authors where one does the research and the other does the writing. We both do the research and the writing. It’s fun for us to pick up one of our earlier novels, and try to figure out who wrote which scenes.

 
The second Wow is discovering that we haven’t run out of ideas. We know some authors who complain about writer’s block. That is something we haven’t experienced. Our years in the criminal justice system have plied us with endless thrilling, and sometimes scary, stories that just need to be fictionalized.

Nora: These are definitely two fun WOW'S I'm glad you shared!
 

Can you share your testimony with us?

DAVID/DIANE: We are both Christians who have accepted God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ’s selfless and loving act on the cross. He is the Lord of our lives and directs our steps. It is our desire to praise and worship Him in all we do. Although we’ve had exciting and dangerous careers that provide us with unending fodder of plots, we are eager to include in our novels characters who are Christians, living out their faith in their daily contact with family, coworkers and even criminals. A few times, we have been given reviews by readers that complain our novels contain “religious rubbish.” It’s hard to see those reviews, but we don’t have any choice. We are told to not hide our light under a bushel.

Nora: I'm thankful for your faith and your stories!

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

David’s is the Pan Flute.

Diane’s is David’s lively and spirited whistling. 

Nora: Fun!

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

DAVID/DIANE: Each of us keeps pretty busy schedules both researching and writing, or scheduling and supporting book events. We serve in the food pantry and sing in the choir of our church. The stress comes in the evening when we’d like to relax and unwind toward bedtime. Adrenaline is still kicking in. That’s when we are most likely to turn on the TV where we find the producers promoting “if it bleeds, it leads” or the constant mantra of baiting people groups against one other for political advantage. We tend to read a lot or watch nice movies instead. And we are inspired to pray at this time of the day praising God for how He has moved throughout our day, and for His protections, and provisions. We ask Him to bring peace to our spirits as we turn over to Him the many needs of family and friends and the persecuted church around the world. 

Nora: I'm glad He's called you all to write as a team!

If you were asked to create a theme park, what would the theme be and what would you name it?

DAVID/DIANE: Welcome to Urban Alley. In each stage of this venue, the guest is equipped with a body camera and an electronic gun, something like laser tag or paintball. They walk about the streets and alleys playing the role of a “good” police officer. The guest approaches actors playing the role of residents. Some are friendly and others are antagonistic. Some may be complainants or victims while others would be witnesses. Suddenly, the paying patron is confronted by a person with a knife or a gun. Do they shoot or not? At the end, they are critiqued on their reaction and temperament. Urban Alley is what rookie police officers and federal agents must go through in their training. Even after extensive training, they may still be accused of overreacting in the heat of the chase. If we could all walk in their shoes, we might better understand. Maybe it’s too realistic to be a successful theme park.

In a separate part of the park, Diane wants a replica of Jane Austen’s home to tour, a movie theater playing movies based on her books, and beautiful gardens to walk in after experiencing Urban Alley.

As you can see, we don’t always agree on everything. Imagine us writing a 320- page book. It works, thanks to Jesus!

Nora: LOL! That sounds like quite an interesting park. I know that my boys and husband would love to go there! I'd be there cheering them on watching!

If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you wake up tomorrow and do?

Cure zika virus, cancer, ALS, and Alzheimer’s, giving God all the glory.

Nora: Love your answer!

If you could write yourself into a novel, which book would you choose and what would your character do?

DAVID/DIANE: We’ve both had the chance to do this in several of our thrillers. In Confirming Justice, Hero’s Ransom, and The Looming Storm, the prosecutor or defense attorneys described are based on Diane’s many hours dressed in a suit and high-heeled shoes while arguing before stern judges and needing-to-be-convinced juries. Hero’s Ransom features a young attorney named Madison Stone who takes on a difficult child custody case. Maddy is inspired by Diane’s experience as a fledgling lawyer and also on one of her cases.

In Confirming Justice, and The Looming Storm there are undercover DEA agents doing the risky things David did in his career. Diane says that FBI agent Griff Topping, who appears in each of our novels, is really a compilation of the qualities she finds in David, including a terrific smile, sense of humor, and gutsy determination in facing life’s challenges. Go Griff! 

Nora: Fun! Thanks for answering this question!

ABOUT AUTHORS: After a millionaire drug-dealer wrote a memoir that became a movie starring Johnny Depp, Diane Munson decided the good guys wearing white hats should be the ones to write memoirs. A former Federal prosecutor, she asked David, a former undercover DEA Special Agent, to join her in writing about David’s arrest of Johnny Depp’s character in Chicago and other criminals in what the Munson’s deem “high velocity suspense”. Now, this husband and wife writing team reveal the thrills of back alley deals and legal drama in their intriguing suspense novels.

Diane Munson is an attorney of more than twenty-five years who transitioned from her law practice and writing briefs for judges to weaving inspiring fiction for readers. David Munson was a Special Agent with the NCIS and with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As an undercover agent, he infiltrated international drug smuggling organizations. David also served on Capitol Hill as a Congressional Fellow for the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations where he investigated the government’s efforts to co-opt foreign spies and other classified military operations.

More recently Diane flew solo in a law practice specializing in family law. She and David also worked together as Christian mediators and have seen that justice and forgiveness are possible no matter the circumstances. As they travel to research and cloister to write, they thank The Lord for the blessings of faith and family. A verse they hold dear is Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares The Lord, “Plans to give you hope and a future.”



Nora: I'm so thankful to have David and Diane Muson here today. I appreciate you both stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I’m excited about the Signed copy of Looming Storm Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com We will run until the Sept 1st.


Three questions for your readers. 

PLEASE ANSWER ONE of the following questions to be entered into the drawing.  (Note: For USA Entries only)

1.Do you read the last page of the book before you start reading the beginning? If so, why? If not, why not?

2,Many TBCN fans have read many of our books. Authors don’t always hear from readers, so we’d like to know from the TBCN fans. If you’ve read our books, which one did you like the most and why? Secondly, do you have a favorite character? If so, who?



3,In The Looming Storm, teenager Kaley Montanna considers her mother, Federal Agent Eva Montanna, to be her role model. Do you have a hero/mentor? Who is it and what difference has he or she made in your life?


HAPPY CONTEST!

Sincerely,

Nora :o)

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

GOD GAVE US THANKFUL HEARTS by LISA TAWN BERGREN REVIEWED


God Gave Us Thankful Hearts
Lisa Tawn Bergren
Artist David Hohn
Published by Waterbrook
ISBNE978-1-60142-874-5
40 Pages

BOOK COVER: Adventurous Lil Pup is bummed that hibernating season will soon be coming to the Great North Woods. Why should so many of his friends have to go in for the winter and leave Lil Pup without pals? Mama reminds her little wolf that not all animals hibernate, and how he can be grateful for the beautiful autumn season – for jumping in leaf piles, eating apple treats, and celebrating the wonders of fall with his forest friends.  And she points out…

“I think the trick to having a thankful heart is thinking about the things that make us happy, rather than the things that don’t.”

As Mama and Lil Pup explore, she reminds him that God is the giver of all good things. Lil Pup learns that even when something fun comes to an end; his heart can be thankful when he sets his mind on the best things in his life.

This inviting addition to the best-selling God Gave Us series, with nearly 2.5 million books sold, helps little ones to understand how giving thanks warms hearts and brings joy.

REVIEW: When I saw this children’s book written by an author I’ve enjoyed I wanted to read it. The cover was lovely and made me want to look inside. I liked many things the Pup and his mom discussed this is one that started their journey. “The trick to having a thankful heart,” Mama said, “is thinking about the things that make us happy, rather than the things that don’t.”

“Hmm, Like What?”

Little Pup and his mom start searching their hearts and the world around them to discover many things they are grateful for, including the leaves falling and the winter that was quickly approaching. They came up with many things to be thankful for.

This is a story that would be great to bring out before Thanksgiving day and great to read the rest of the year. The artist brings the story to life with an array of fall colors used in the sweet beautifully colored illustrations. I can’t wait to read this with my grand-kids. It’s definitely a warm and cozy story! One that will make you smile and feel good inside. I highly recommend it.

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

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

NEXT DOOR AS IT IS IN HEAVEN REVIEWED

Next Door As it is in Heaven
By Lance Ford and Brad Brisco
Published by Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN#978-63456-497-3
181 Pages

Back Cover: There was a time when neighbors knew each other’s names, when small children and the old and infirm alike had more than their families looking out for them. There was a time when our neighborhoods were our closest communities.

No more. Neighborhoods have become the place where nobody knows your name. Into this neighborhood crisis the words of Jesus still ring true: Second only to the command to love God is the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

In Next Door as It Is in Heaven, Lance Ford and Brad Brisco offer first principles and best practices to make our neighborhoods into places where compassion and care are once again part of the culture, where good news is once again more than words, and where the love of God can be once again rooted and established.

REVIEW: The authors describe a time “When neighbors knew each other’s names, when small children and the old and infirm a like had more than their families looking out for them. There was a time when our neighbors were our closest community.”

They talk about how we have compartmentalized the different communities in our lives.. “Our work”, “our church”, “our schools” none of them intersect.”

The authors then describe a movie titled Avalon that shows the breakdown of close communities. They say, “Avalon begins as a portrait of a robust, relationally rich extended family. Life is lived with others, both in times of shared joy and periods of struggles and hardships. People are connected. Conversations are many. Common meals are the norm. Life is rooted not only in relationships with others but also in relationship to place.”

“Three forces are introduced into the life of Avalon that fragment their relationship connectedness. But once the family fully embraces the modern American way of living there is no possibility of holding the pieces together.”

1.    Creation of Suburbs 
2. The Rise of the Automobile 
3. The popularization of television.

The Suburbs was viewed as a better place to live.” Automobile took every day fathers away. They were able to relocate their families to the suburbs without giving up their jobs in Avalon. Every day they would drive out of the neighborhood, alone, to work in a place that was no longer home.”

“Change in our culture - Jesus went to masses. Embraced people. Talked about who our neighbor are and how Jesus saw community.”
At the end of each chapter there is a reflection time and suggestions on how to apply what you’ve learned to your life, at the same time assessing where you’re at! 

I found it fascinating to learn about how exciting innovations to help improve life degraded our sense of community. I always wondered about how we’d gotten to a place where we do not know our neighbors names and they don’t know ours. I wondered how we’ve become so isolated and compartmentalized while we are a society that is more connected than ever.

This was an eye opening read showing how we’ve lost our unity with each other – the sense of belonging. How we’ve become isolated and compartmentalized. It helps to explain about how we’ve gotten this way relationally. I liked how these authors showed what Jesus did to connect with people. How he created community no matter where he was. I also liked that they gave examples and urged readers to reach out to their neighbors. “Take hold of the heavenly vision and run with it. If we do this “you and your neighbors can experience life next door as it is in heaven.”

Can you imagine how life could be if we all gave this a try? 

Brad
ABOUT AUTHORS: BRAD BRISCO has been involved in church planting for over 17 years and is currently a church-planting catalyst for a network of Baptist churches in Kansas City. He is the cofounder of Forge Kansas City and co-author (with Lance Ford) of Missional Essentials and The Missional Quest.

Together Lance and Brad serve on Forge America, a missions-training network, and they train and consult for churches and faith communities. They both are co-founders of the Sentralized Conference.

Lance
LANCE FORD was a church planter and pastor for 20 years. He is the author of several books, including Revangelical, UnLeader, and Right Here, Right Now (with Alan Hirsch).

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! www.bookfun.org  
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com 
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com 

THE QUEEN OF KATWE MOVIE TRAILER MUST WATCH



BOOK REVIEW: 
CLICK LINK http://psalm516.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-queen-of-katwe-must-read.html

THE MAKING OF THE QUEEN OF KATWE

This story will grab hold of your heart and never let go. It's an inspiration to us all. This movie hits theaters Sept 2016.






"Chess teaches you to use your mind and make a plan!"
Movie hits theaters September 2016

THE QUEEN OF KATWE A MUST READ




The Queen of Katwe
By Tim Crothers
Published by Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
ISBN#978-1-4576-5782-1
245 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: The “astonishing” (The New York Times Book Review) and “inspirational” (Shelf Awareness) true story of Phiona Mutesi—a teenage chess prodigy from the slums of Uganda.

One day in 2005 while searching for food, nine-year-old Ugandan Phiona Mutesi followed her brother to a dusty veranda where she met Robert Katende.

Katende, a war refugee turned missionary, had an improbable dream: to empower kids in the Katwe slum through chess—a game so foreign there is no word for it in their native language. Laying a chess­board in the dirt, Robert began to teach. At first children came for a free bowl of porridge, but many grew to love the game that—like their daily lives—requires persevering against great obstacles. Of these kids, one girl stood out as an immense talent: Phiona.

By the age of eleven Phiona was her country’s junior champion, and at fifteen, the national champion. Now a Woman Candidate Master—the first female titled player in her country’s history—Phiona dreams of becoming a Grandmaster, the most elite level in chess. But to reach that goal, she must grapple with everyday life in one of the world’s most unstable coun­tries. The Queen of Katweis a “remarkable” (NPR) and “riveting” (New York Post) book that shows how “Phiona’s story transcends the limitations of the chessboard” (Robert Hess, US Grandmaster)

REVIEW: The game of chess fascinates me and so do the people who play it. The cover caught my eye first.  I had to know about this young girl from Katwe who became a campion.

The story opens up on Sept 19th 2010 a prologue. Phiona’s wins a place on the Olympiad team. She doesn’t realize what that means. There is then a letter there she writes to her Mom explaining about the experience and some of what she has encountered.

Then the story switches to a chapter titled Land of the Frogs. It gives a brief history of Uganda and its land, people and political struggles. The reader needs to know some of this to appreciate Coach Robert and Phiona and where they have come from. What they have overcome. (I’m not a history buff so I found this helpful) Then the next chapter is Robert Katende’s story and how he founded the Sports Outreach and the chess club known as the Pioneers in Katwe. It’s amazing how God connects people so they can bring out the greater good inside of others.

Who knew Phiona’s whole world would change at nine years old when she followed her brother to a dusty veranda; desperate for food and curious as to what he was up to. There she watched the Pioneer boys chess club play a game she’d never heard of or seen before. After eating a bowl of porridge she wanted to learn how to play.

Robert Katende the Coach of the Sports Outreach Institute missionary program had been coaching a soccer team as an outreach to the community. He was looking for something to draw the non-athletic kids in from the slum. What kept the kids coming back was a free meal and the fact that they were curious about this game. Robert saw Phiona’s interest in the game and set her up with a mentor. A girl younger than herself. Gloria started with showing her what a pawn was and took each piece in turn. It only took Phiona one day to catch on to the game.

Phiona was a sponge soaking up all she could. Robert then set her up to learn from the boys. They were reluctant at first to teach her but when they saw how quickly she caught on they were happy to show her more. Robert and Phiona looked at the game of chess in a similar way. It was a way to survive. Robert was gifted in soccer and found his way out of the slum through the game. Phiona saw chess as her wings to fly. Each time she played she loved the game more and more.

Coach Robert went to bat for three kids he felt would do well and grow as players if he took them to a national champion game. They got funding and went on a grand adventure. Talk about culture shock and the fact that they had to play the game well and not be distracted. It was amazing.

Godfrey Gale said, “Everything at the airport was strange to Phiona; security cameras, luggage conveyors so many white people…” Not to mention the car ride to the airport, public bathrooms, running water etc.

Godfrey explains about their trip to Sudan…,”Sudan might as well have been the moon to people in the slum who have no point of reference. The three couldn’t share their experiences with others because they just couldn’t connect.”

After all the amazing experiences they had at the tournament playing the game, sleeping in a bed for the first time, eating more food than they ever have; the three went back to their home where Phiona asked her mom, “Do we have enough food for breakfast?”

Godfrey Gale continued,…”In future Olympians, I believe our teams will be made up entirely of kids from the slums. They are driven by the kind of life they lead. There is a desperation in the way they play that you don’t see in the other kids, you play harder when the outcome may decide if you eat that night.”

Coach Robert shares with the kids the story of Peter walking on the water to meet Jesus. “The rest feared. But St. Peter was the one who stepped out of the boat. It wasn’t an easy situation. It is extraordinary. Unrealistic. How do you get out of the boat then step on the water when you know you are definitely going to drown? But that’s when you realize it was a miracle. He could do it. If he hadn’t stepped out, there would be no miracle. So, that’s why sometimes we need to get out of our boats to realize a miracle. We can’t just sit back and wait for a miracle to happen.”

“What can we do with the little we have? Because no one is here without anything. But the issue is. How can I work with the little I have to go to another level?”

This is outstanding story of hope, courage, and faith that will knock your socks off. This team had the courage to rise above unimaginable circumstances and dream big. It will make you think differently about your life and your dreams. It’s an inspiring read and one that would be great for your book club. The author has included fifteen topic and questions for your discussion time. There are also three ideas to enhance your book club and/or classroom experience. Soon this story will be made into a Disney motion picture. This is a must read.

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

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

THE BABEL CONSPIRACY by SYLVIA BAMBOLA REVIEWED

The Babel Conspiracy
By Sylvia Bambola
Published by Heritage Publishing House
ISBN#978-098-9970723
295 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: The Babel Conspiracy is a tale of intrigue and love. Two women engineers struggle to develop the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft amid ever intensifying global terrorism and muddled personal lives. Trisha Callahan has an abiding faith in God, and “those roots of middy blouses and pleated skirts, prayer books and incense-filled churches went deep.” This faith is tested when she finds herself in love with a married man. Audra Shields sees herself as a modern Lady Chatterley, “liberated but not forsaking breeding, intellect, or femininity.” When she becomes involved with a dangerous stranger, she begins to question her lifestyle.

Both women try sorting out their personal problems while racing the clock to finish a project fraught with sabotage and murder. And who’s behind it all? When the Department of Homeland Security and the Mossad finally figure it out, the answer surprises everyone.

REVIEW: I instantly connected with the author’s heart in her note to readers. She says, “While rewriting the novel which became The Babel Conspiracy, I wanted redemption for my character, Audra Shields. After all, God is in the restoring, forgiving, and healing business, and He can do this for anyone. But try as I might, I couldn’t make it fit with the story. That’s when it hit me that, yes, God does forgive and restore, but He does so for only those who want it. He’ll never violate anyone’s free will. In addition, Audra is a reminder that not all those we love, pray for, or witness to will want to come to the Lord. This is a sad reality, but a reality never the less.”

I like this author’s transparency and her heart. It permeates the novel making her characters believable. This is a suspenseful drama with characters faced with some tough choices. Trisha Callahan is a Christian who finds herself in love with a married man. She knows she’ll never act on the feelings she has for her boss, Michael Petterson. But it’s a challenge to concentrate on her job and with her feelings messing with her heart. She is creating the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft. She’s being tested on all fronts in her life, all making it difficult for her to work.

This story could have been ripped from today’s headlines. There are spiritual and political powers at war with each other in a big way. The author explains the science behind Trisha’s work making it all the more mind blowing. Since we are in the middle of political turmoil and the rise of terrorism it’s scary to think how real this situation could be. Just like in real life when bad times hit people seek spiritual guidance and strength from above – her characters do the same. There is violence, sexual content (not graphic), and abuse blended together for one fast paced adventure with a splash of romance.

This story will grab your emotions and have a tender heart for the characters and their struggles.

There are good elements in this story that makes for a book club pick and fun read. The author includes eight discussion questions to help with lively interaction at your meeting.



ABOUT AUTHOR: Born in Romania, Sylvia Bambola lived her early years in Germany. At seven she relocated with her adopted family and saw the Statue of Liberty and America for the first time. But the memory of those years in Germany inspired her to write Refiner's Fire, which won a Silver Angel Award, and was a Christy Finalist. Her frequent moves as an "army brat" gave her an opportunity to see America and fall in love with her new country. Bambola has authored eight novels, has two grown children and teaches women's Bible studies.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the 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! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com

Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

THE WITNESSES by ROBERT WHITLOW REVIEWED

THE WITNESSES
By Robert Whitlow
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN#97814016889805
403 Pages

Back Cover: Young lawyer Parker House is on the rise—until his grandfather’s mysterious past puts both of their lives in danger.

Parker House’s secret inheritance is either his greatest blessing . . . or his deadliest curse. The fresh-faced North Carolina attorney shares his German grandfather’s uncanny ability to see future events in his mind’s eye—a gift that has haunted 82-year-old Frank House through decades of trying to erase a murderous wartime past.

While Parker navigates the intrigue and politics of small-town courtroom law, Frank is forced to face his darkest regrets. Then, a big career break for Parker collides with a new love he longs to nurture and the nightmares his grandfather can no longer escape. Sudden peril threatens to shatter not only Parker’s legal prospects but also his life and the lives of those dearest to him.

Two witnesses, two paths, an uncertain future.

REVIEW: The story beings in 1939 at the Germany-Belgium Border. It gives readers a glimpse into war times and introduces a young Franz Haus. Readers also get a peek at the gift Franz has, how he uses it and his role played in times of war.

Then the story fast forwards to 2003, New Bern, N.C. Readers are introduced to Parker House. He works for Greg Branham and Dexter Camp as an associate attorney. Barnham and Camp begin to prepare for a case as they start to choose jury members. Parker meets a young photographer named Ms. Donovana potential jury pick. There is something about this girl he can’t shake. Parker is torn between the girl he’d like to get to know and a great job offer. Can he keep the main thing the main thing?

Parker’s grandfather; Franz Haus says to his friend, people don’t have a clue.
 “They watch a documentary show on T.V. or go to movies and think they have an idea what it was like.” But they don’t...War is hell, and I’m not pretending to be a good guy…”

Franz’s friend Lenny pipes up, “For years, what bothered me the most about my time in Vietnam was a nagging fear that I’d killed one of my own guys by mistake in the middle of a firefight when bullets were flying everywhere and people running all over the place I don’t know for sure that it happened, but I couldn’t share the thought that it did.”

Franz could relate to his friend. He had his own bad dreams to contend with. Then out of the blue someone seeks Franz out from the past. He says he wants to thank him for saving his life during the war. When he agrees to meet with the gentlemen memories from the past come flooding back. The meeting shakes his soul. Old nightmares return and begin to rock his world in daytime hours. 

Franz seeks peace. He decides to go to church. Maybe he could find help. Franz hears the pastor say. “At the mention of guilt and the long term weight it placed on the human soul, Franz perked up and leaned forward in his chair….The Pastor continued, “Guilt comes in many different shapes and forms. It has a thousand faces but only one solution, the blood of Jesus and the grace available through his sacrifice on the cross (through his shed blood)…demonstrates the seriousness of our problem and the depth of God’s love in providing a solution for it. If you’ve suffered, it’s not something you want to revisit….One of the most foolish things we could ever do is arrogantly reject God’s offer of help. If you’re willing to humble yourself, today is your opportunity to take a first step in the right direction”


Things get interesting after that message for sure.

Whitlow’s experience as a lawyer helps him write compelling legal dramas at the same time he laces his stories with a natural spiritual thread. This story is character driven, sprinkled with a little romance, engaging mystery and some unexpected twists and turns. This would make a good book club pick and summer read. This author has included 15 questions to help create lively discussion with your group.


ABOUT AUTHOR: Robert Whitlow grew up in north Georgia. He graduated magna cum laude from Furman University with a BA in history in 1976 and received his JD with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1979. A practicing attorney, he is a partner in a Charlotte, NC law firm. He and his wife Kathy have four children and three grandchildren. 

Robert began writing in 1996. His novels are set in the South and include both legal suspense and interesting characterization. It is his desire to write stories that reveal some of the ways God interacts with people in realistic scenarios.

I'm so excited that Robert Whitlow will be featured on the front cover of Book Fun Magazine August Issue.

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

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

Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

SPOKEN FROM THE HEART CONNECTIONS by CHERI SWALWELL REVIEWED

Spoken From the Heart
By Cheri Swalwell
Published by Spoken From the Heart
ISBN#978-069-2260357
138 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: How do you know if you've ever heard God's still small voice? Do you want to study the Bible but don't know where to begin? Spoken from the Heart: Digging Deeper was created out of my desire to learn more about the God I serve. The closer I grew in my relationship with Him, the more I wanted to learn about why He does what He does. What I've found is the more I seek to understand my Father, the more He reveals about Himself. As I learn what He wants to show me, my desire grows stronger to dig even deeper. I challenge you to try it. Join me on this adventure and after we're done, I pray you will in turn be excited to seek God with the questions you have and begin to dig deeper for yourself. So let's get started. Just as in the spring when people begin to dig in the dirt, together let's dig a little deeper into God's Word.

REVIEW: This is a 32 day devotional by an author that is passionate in her pursuit of a personal relationship with Jesus. I like the way she shares in these devotionals with honesty and a tender heart. These devotions reveal the authors gentle spirit and love for God and others; at the same time they will encourage your soul. I wanted to share part of a devotion that encouraged me on Day 9 titled “World Thinking.”

“When we pray, God hears more than we say, answers more than we ask, gives more than we imagine…in His own time and in His own way.” (This is a quote from an unknown author) She continues, “The world teaches us to be self-reliant and to work hard for rewards…while climbing the corporate ladder. The world tries to falsely convince us it’s all part of the game.”

“God’s view is opposite thinking. He also wants us to work hard, but as it says in Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders’ labor in vain…He wants the bible to be our guide in every situation.”

“…I find for myself when I began my day reading from God’s word, the rest of my day flows better. I’m reminded of how God wants me to live my life and it’s easier to keep world thinking in its proper place. God is a God of love and the commands He gives me to live by are for my benefit, not to punish me or make my life miserable. When I keep my priorities in the right order, then I’m able to have a great relationship with my family and be successful.”

The author then has an encouragement prayer at the end of each day to help you start your communication with the heavenly father. She says, “Thank you for spending time with me. Through these pages. I pray these words challenged, encouraged and filled you with hope regarding the significant relationships in your life. Do you want to take them deeper, help them become more meaningful, and grow stronger?”

“…Consider me that friend who’s bringing you to the “party of the decade,” or encouraging you while we drink coffee one-on-one. I invite you to join me as we explore different ways to connect with those around us and ultimately with the one who guides us into genuine connections with everyone we encounter.”

I like this author’s heart and style of writing. It does feel like you’ve sat down with a friend who cares. She is vulnerable and transparent in her devotions. She doesn’t have it all together but has a love for Jesus and others that is contagious. This is the first devotion I’ve read by this author it won’t be the last.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine and LIFE TO THE FULLEST. Cheri is also a contributing author for the book, 31 Devotions for Writers. Her book series, Spoken from the Heart, is available through eBook and paperback at Amazon.

To read one of her many articles on life from a Christian perspective, visit her blog at:http://bit.ly/1gRp9oK. She loves to interact with her readers, so send her an email at clSwalwell99@gmail.com. You can “like” her on Facebook below:www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the 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! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com

Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

THE BEAUTIFUL PRETENDER by MELANIE DICKERSON REVIEWED

The Beautiful Pretender
By Melanie Dickerson
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN#978-0-7180-2628-8
314 Pages

BOOK DESCRIPTION: After inheriting his title from his brother, the margrave has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences.

REVIEW: I enjoyed how this author blends an organic faith message with a fairy tale type story, through believable, fascinating characters I enjoyed hanging out with. The story has the reader off in a run (literally Grin) showing Lady Dorothea dashing off to join the knight she loves, putting her maid-servant in a real pickle. When Lady Dorothea’s father demands answers Avelina can barely speak. Then the Earl of Plimmward makes an impossible request of her. He blurts out his demand she repeats it grasping the implications, ”Do you mean you want me to pretend to be lady Dorothea?”

The Earl of Plimmwald replies, “Precisely. You are the only woman I know who is fair enough. My daughter wasa  renowned beauty, but with fine clothes and someone calling you ‘My Lady’ and treating you like a noble-born woman, anyone might consider you as beautiful as my wayward, daughter.”

Not much pressure there. Avelina can hardly breathe. He continues, “Thornbeck-must never suspect you are an imposter.”He was fearful of the Duke of Geibart threatening to claim Pilmmwald Castle for his own Earl states, “You must understand that you will be saving us all. Every person at the castle and in the town will be in danger.” If there is an attack.”

She can’t believe this. “How would Avelina, the daughter of a crippled former stable master and a lady’s maid servant, ever fool the Margrave of Thornbeck and all his guests into believing she was an Earl’s daughter?” It was frightening.

Even though she is being forced into this situation to help her family and community; Avelina stays true to who she is and what she believes. She could not act shellfish and unkind as the real Lady Dorothea. No that would not do.

Avelina experiences something new in hear heart, “Never before had she been treated like her opinion mattered. If only she could enjoy it without feeling like someone was going to brand her a fraud and order her to leave at once.”

Her hand main servant Irma says, “No one here knows Lady Dorothea, and after we leave, no one will be the wiser.”

The Margrave of Thornbeck seeks a woman he likes, admires and could eventually love, “I should like the woman I choose to be very honest, generous, and to have a sincere faith in God, rather than mindlessly following rules.” He wanted to avoid the hateful marriage his parents had.

She meets and becomes fast friends with Magdalen who Avelina tries to point out to Thornbeck – Reinhart as a suitable bride. She encourages him this woman is everything you are looking for pick her. Magdalen tries to teach Avelina a few things, “Remember what I am telling you, Avelna. If my mother has taught me anything, it’s that a woman must demand respect.”

The Duke of Geitbart’s daughter Lady Fronicka reminded me of the oldest sister in the Ever After movie. She was always showing off and putting herself out there for the Thornbeck. Pushing the other girls aside so she could be next to Reinhart, no other.

This was a fun, feel good story set n medieval times. It had elements in it that reminded me of Beauty and the Beast the animated movie. There were characters and elements in the story that reminded me of Drew Barrymore in the movie Ever After. Especially the part where Drew dresses up to play a Duchess. She has to be convincing in order to get someone out of prison. Another aspect of the book that reminded me of the movie Ever After was the ball room scene. Avelina was a strong willed, compassionate and generous woman. She reminded me both of Belle and Drew’s character combined.

This story had me choked up, teary eyed and cheering n parts. Great story full of surprises! I smiled, laughed and loved every second of the novel.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Melanie Dickerson is the author of Historical Romances, and her two favorite time periods are Medieval, which she has combined with her love of fairy tales, and Regency England, which stems from her enduring love of Jane Austen. She is a 2-time Christy Award finalist, a 2-time Maggie Award winner, winner of The National Reader's Choice Award for 2010's Best First Book, and winner of the 2012 Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor's degree in special education from The University of Alabama and has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing, hanging out on facebook, and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her on the web at http://www.MelanieDickerson.com 




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the 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! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com