A MATCH OF WITS TBCN BETHANY HOUSE FEATURED AUTHOR


MIRACLE in a DRY SEASON by SARAH LOUDIN THOMAS REVIEWED


ABOUT AUTHOR: Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, releases August 2014 through Bethany House. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.
A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.
Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.




Miracle in a Dry Season
By Sarah Loudin Thomas
Published by Bethany House
ISBN#978-0-7642-1225-3
300 Pages

Back Cover: In a Drought, It's the Darkest Cloud
That Brings Hope


It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the
mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor . . . until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that introduced me to Sarah Loudin Thomas and her debut novel. I instantly connected with her larger than life characters and couldn’t stop reading this story about a small town that was facing a severe drought.

Casewell is a single man who owned his own business. He liked working with wood, making furniture, woodcarving and working on his father’s farm. The drought brought back memories of the great depression for many…”Casewell remembers having little more than corn bread and milk for dinner and seeing the hard looks on his parents’ face.” Now he saw that same look on the people in his community.

There’s someone new in this small town called Wise. Her name is Perla and she is with her young child. She’s come to live with her relatives. People want to blame their problems on her. She was new and an unwed mother. Not a winning combinations as far as the town was concerned.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged” Gossip does a number on this town and its people. The meaning of this scripture comes to light when the judging comes from the Pastor. Someone you should be able to trust. (not in Wise).

Casewell meets Perla and her beautiful, fun loving daughter. He tries to keep to himself but He doesn’t like how people are treating this precious little girl and her mom.

Big or small it’s all sin. The author drives home themes of forgiveness in a powerful not-preachy way. Casewell says this when it’s his time to say something at church, “That’s how God does us. He’ll forgive us anything – all we have to do is ask Him. I know I’ve had to ask Him for plenty of forgiveness here lately. He doesn’t hold it over me. He doesn’t carry a grudge, and I don’t think He even remembers what I needed forgiveness for. All He asks is that I forgive other people the way He’s forgiven me.”

Casewell smiled, “I know. Easier said than done. Somehow other people’s sins seems to look worse than mine…But in God’s eyes sin is sin, whether it’s murder or telling a little white lie. We all need forgiveness just the same…and we need to dish out forgiveness just as quick as we dish out judgment and condemnation. Jesus made it pretty clear that God’s forgiveness depends on our forgiving one another.”

This is a thought-provoking read that would be a great book club pick. There are discussion questions in the back that will help generate lively discussion. This novel is mainly written in Casewell’s pov. The writing style and flow of the story reminded me of the movie Forest Gump. There was the narration in first person and then you had live action.

I liked this cast of flawed quirky characters living through challenging times caused. It’s a heart-felt, novel that will grip you, get your blood boiling at the Pastor and how crazy people became because of their circumstances. Your heart will hurt for Perla and her young daughter. These characters will stay in your heart and mind long after you close the book.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.boofun.org
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com  

The Book Club Network Blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
  
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Sarah & I at the ICRS in Atlanta this Summer

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

THE BELOVED DAUGHTER by ALANA TERRY REVIEWED



The Beloved Daughter
By Alana Terry
Published by Amazon Digital Services
ISBN#B00C8T1SN4
232 pages

About Author: When Alana isn't writing, it's likely that she's on the floor wrestling with her kids. Or playing outside with her kids. Or chauffeuring her kids. Or trying some random science experiment with her kids. But she's probably not cooking or cleaning.

Alana is a homeschooling mother of three who loves to write, hates to cook, and enjoys reading a good book almost as much as she enjoys writing one.

Alana won the Women of Faith writing contest for "The Beloved Daughter," her debut inspirational novel. "What, No Sushi?" is Alana's first book in a chapter-book series for kids published by Do Life Right, Inc.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that introduced me to Alana Terry and her compelling novel that read like a non-fiction book. The style format of a memoir to a beloved daughter was engaging. Since it was written in a first person perspective I felt as if I were standing by Chung-Cha’s side as she was tortured by guards in Camp 22. I couldn’t put this book down.

Chung-cha’s world changed the instant the soldiers showed up at her house. Her only crime was being the daughter of a Christian. Here’s a peek at what the soldiers said to her father, “Answer me now, you filthy Christian pig.” Pock-Marks was wheezing even as he sneered at father. “Will you let your daughter suffer for the sake of this precious religion?”

“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw father set his jaw. “My daughter and I do not cower in fear of those who can harm the body but can not kill the soul,” he proclaimed.

“For a moment, my fear was replaced by anger toward father and toward the God he served so faithfully, but of who seemed so powerless at the moment to intervene on my behalf…I was about to be murdered.”

This was difficult eye opening, meaningful read; as it gives readers a glimpse into the life of a persecuted Christian; specifically the horrifying plight of the North Korean people. This author paints a sobering look at flawed characters walking out their faith in terrifying circumstances. Main character Chun-cha was too young to understand all her father did for the underground church. She didn’t share her father’s faith. She wondered what the purpose was of all this suffering for your faith? Can the unspeakable be forgive? Will faith sustain even when it seems God has forsaken his people?

“Chung-cha recalls, “When I was 12, you see, my father’s faith was strong that it seemed completely unattainable. I could never be as steadfast as my father…. I’m not God! I clenched my fists…just because my life in Sanhe is hard and dangerous doesn’t mean God doesn’t want me here.”

“If your truly where God wants you to be, then you could at least try to be joyful.” Kwan retorted.”

This novel is not for the faint of heart. This author delivers gritty details of life in North Korean prison camps thru Chung-cha’s young eyes. They are heart wrenching vivid images of the terror, deprivation and humiliation prisoners endured day after day.

These characters and their situation will stir your soul, break your heart, challenge your faith and show you that God moves in all situations in spite of what the evil one is doing. God is still in the miracle business even in prison (it reminded me of the things (told in the bible) that happened to the Apostles in prison).

The underground church is flourishing in spite of the enemy’s attempts to wipe out Christians. It’s a word picture of how faith triumphs in the most hellish conditions. This made me think of how precious "Freedom" is. I don’t often Thank God enough for this precious gift. I never have to worry about being imprisoned and/or shot for reading my bible, going to church or having a bible study in my home.

The Beloved Daughter is a thought-provoking read that will stir your spirit, give you a deeper understanding of North Korea’s current situation and make you want to pray for them more. This is a story of faith, loss, God’s redemption, sacrifice and miracles. I highly recommend this novel for book clubs. There will be lively discussions guaranteed. It’s a book that will leave you changed.

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

DRIFTWOOD TIDES by GINA HOLMES REVIEWED




Driftwood Tides
By Gina Holmes
Published by Tyndale
ISBN 978-1414366425
400 Pages

Back Cover: He made himself an island until something unexpected washed ashore.
When Holton lost his wife, Adele, in a freak accident, he shut himself off from the world, living a life of seclusion, making driftwood sculptures and drowning his pain in gin. Until twenty-three-year-old Libby knocks on his door, asking for a job and claiming to be a friend of his late wife. When he discovers Libby is actually his late wife’s illegitimate daughter, given up for adoption without his knowledge, his life is turned upside down as he struggles to accept that the wife he’d given saint status to was not the woman he thought he knew.

Together Holton and Libby form an unlikely bond as the two struggle to learn the identity of Libby’s father and the truth about Adele, themselves, and each other.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for a review copy of a book that talks about second chances; from an author I enjoy reading.

Holton Creary, renowned driftwood artist losses his wife, Adele in a freak accident. When she kissed him good-bye that morning little did he know it would be their last embrace. “It wasn’t an hour after Holton had handed her a travel mug of coffee and kissed her through the open car window when a squad car pulled up in front of the house. The moment the policeman took off his hat and slid it under his arm, Holton knew…Adele was gone.”

“Holton was so stunned that his heart froze, unable to respond. Before that could change, he drove to the nearest liquor store and bought the biggest bottle of gin he could find.”

Libby and her fiancé, Rob had their blood tested (before the wedding) to see if either of them were carriers for Cystic Fibrosis, “the disease that had taken the life of Rob’s younger sister.” The results had great and mysterious news. The great news was neither of them were carriers for the disease. Surprising news was her blood type was A positive. Weird. “Both of her parents had O blood types,…two 0s don’t produce an A child. It had to be an error!”

This information sends Libby digging for answers and eventually leads her to the front door of Holton Creary, world renowned artist, widow. A man resolved to live a life of seclusion. “Someone Libby found drinking away his pain on the Outer Banks in North Carolina... A knock on Holton’s door changes everything for them both.” They struggle to find answers to their mounting questions about Adele. Both are surprised the blood test results and what they meant.

Rob, Libby’s fiancé is patient with her to a point. He didn’t’ understand why this search had to be done now. They had a wedding to plan. Time was ticking. Libby’s mom Caroline was the controlling type and they were slowly losing control of their special day each day Libby was away!

Holton thought to himself, “Adele had been the love of his life, but maybe true love wasn't a one-time shot. Maybe like this branch – turned – driftwood, hearts could be re-purposed.”

Both Libby and Holton learn, “If we want to be forgiven, we have to forgive.”

Gina Holmes pens a heartwarming story with complex believable characters I instantly cared for. This is a story of forgiveness and a one of new beginnings. This author also talks about giving God control of you life by surrendering it all to Him. (Easier said than done!) It’s a process that requires you taking one step at a time. "Accepting the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." I liked this encouraging novel with it's forgiveness and new beginning themes! This makes for a good read and a lively discussion for a book club pick.

RELEASE DATE of Gina Holmes NEW book SEPT 1, 2014 - you can Pre-Order it now!
 
http://www.deepershopping.com/item/holmes-gina/driftwood-tides-a-novel/6151429.html
Gina Holmes & Ane Mulligan & myself March 2014 at a Book Event
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

BRASSICAS by LAURA B. RUSSELL REVIEWED


Brassicas
By Laura B. Russell
Published by Ten Speed Press
ISBN#978-1-60774-571-6
167 Pages

Back Cover: A cookbook showcasing 80 recipes for the most popular of the world's healthiest vegetables--kale, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, leafy greens, and more--tailored to accommodate special diets such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan.

The eighty inventive, flavorful recipes presented in Brassicas play to each vegetable’s strengths, favoring techniques that celebrate their intrinsic flavors instead of masking them by blanketing under layers of cheese or boiling. Think of the inherent sweetness that can be coaxed from perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts, or the bright, peppery punch of a watercress and arugula salad.

Straightforward cooking methods like roasting, sautéing, pickling, and wilting transform brassicas into satisfying dishes, such as Cauliflower Hummus, Spicy Kale Fried Rice, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan Crust, and Broccoli and Pepper Jack Frittata. These recipes also maintain the vegetables’ stellar nutritional properties. High in vitamins and minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and glucosinolates, brassicas have been shown to act as antioxidants, anticarcinogenics, anti-inflammatories, and liver detoxifiers, and have many other health benefits.

The beauty of these “superfoods” is on full display in Brassicas; exquisite photographs of brassica varieties in their raw forms—roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and buds—can be found throughout, helping you identify Lacinato kale from curly kale or mustard greens from collard greens at the farmers’ market or grocery store.



Laura B. Russell is the author of Brassicas , The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen  as well as the blog, Notes from a Gluten-Free Kitchen . Her newspaper column, "Gluten Freedom", appears monthly in the FoodDay section of the Oregonian. Laura frequently contributes articles to many local and national magazines, including Prevention, Living Without, Easy Eats, NW Palate, and Portland's MIX magazine. She is a culinary advisor to The Heart's Kitchen (theheartskitchen.com), an organization collaborating with Oregon Health and Sciences University to improve nutrition of moms-to-be and consequently benefitting the long-term health of their children.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for a review copy of a book that allowed me to learn about Brassicas veggies and change my view of vegetable altogether. This author has opened up a whole new world of veggies to me and my family that are wonderful for your body, and with a few techniques and knowledge under my belt, will become frequent visitors to my dinner table.

The author explains, “Brassicas belong to the family of plants known as Brassacae…nearly every part of the plant within this sprawling botanical clan is used for food: roots (radishes), stem buds (Brussel sprouts), sprouts, and seeds (mustard).”

“Sadly, brassicas as a whole have an unwarranted reputation for having strong flavors and smells. Yes, some of them can overwhelm any other vegetable in the kitchen.”

When I was growing up veggies were boiled or steamed to death; leaving them pale in color, mushy and undesirable.  The author not only includes nutritional information but other important information about how to pick veggies, prepare and serve them for maximum taste and nutrition.  I learned so much.

The author created a “Flavor Profile” chart of all these veggies which I found helpful under the heading, “Cooking the World’s healthiest veggies: Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussel, sprouts and more.”  There are 8 or so different veggies in each category. The list veggies under their different flavors: mild, stronger, peppery, and pungent.

The next section is, “Taming the Beast: Turning bold flavors into tasty dishes.” The author states, “The first rule when cooking boldly flavored veggies is never to equate the words strong or bitter with unpleasant. When properly handled, these flavors will add excitement to your plate rather than overwhelm their neighbors. You just need to plan. Here are my three go-to strategies: balance – find a counter point to balance the flavors, match bold with bold, or add heat. : 1. Balance – creating the correct blend for the best taste. 2. Bold on Bold – Sometimes the best way to compliment assertive flavors is to stand right up to them, and create bold on bold flavor. 3. Heat – Heat mellows harsh edges. The author had another helpful chart – it has a list of Universal Pairing: Brassicas’ Best Friends!” Helping readers implement her three strategies.

The next section was beneficial to be too. It was called “Selection, Storage – Prep-tips.” This part talks about how to pick out veggies, how to store them in order to keep them vibrant and what you need to do to prepare them for a tasty meal.

“How to Wash you Greens” was next. The author instructs readers on how important this step is for flavor and your health. She states that brassicas veggies have more dirt that needs to be washed away before eating.

Another helpful section, “Techniques to make Brassicas Shine.” Here the author discusses different ways to bring out the best flavor for each veggie; making them shine by using different methods of cooking. Example roasted, sautéed, stir-fried, grilled, moist-hearty cooking, wilting, pickled and raw.

I tried four recipes in this book Broccoli & Pepper Jack Frittata, Chaired Brussels, Spicy Kale Fried Rice and Caldo Verde. My family really liked them all. They loved the Caldo Verde so much it was all gone by the end of our meal. My oldest son said, “Mom this is amazing!”

The recipes had easy to find ingredients, clear instructions that helped me get yummy results. It was great to see my family eat their veggies and not complain about it. This hard back book had beautiful color pictures throughout. At the end the author talked about, “Brassicas and your health; Special Issues and Special Diets.” Which included Gluten Free diets.

I highly recommend this cook book filled with great information and yummy recipes; your family will love. It’s for the experienced cook and a newbie like me. You’ll feel great about them eating their veggies and watching them enjoying something so healthy!

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

JANICE THOMPSON UP-CLOSE & PERSONAL 5 BOOK GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY





ABOUT AUTHOR: Janice Thompson, award-winning author also writes under the pseudonym Janice Hanna. She got her start in the industry writing screenplays and musical comedies for the state. Janice has published over ninety books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children’s books and more. In addition, she enjoys editing, ghost-writing, public speaking, and mentoring young writers. Janice formerly served as Vice-President of CAN (Christian Authors Network) and was named the 2008 Mentor of the year for ACFW(American Christian Fiction Writers), where she has finaled multiple times in the prestigious Carol Awards. She was thrilled to be named the 2010 Barbour/Heartsong Author of the Year, with three books on the top ten list for that house. Janice is currently the vice-president of her local writing group. Writers on the Storm, where she regularly teaches on the craft of writing. Janice is passionate about her faith and does all she can to share the joy of the Lord with others, which is why she particularly enjoys writing. She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends, and two mischievous dachshunds. She does her best to keep the Lord at the center of it all. You can find out more about Janice at www.janiceathompson.com

How did you come up with the idea for A Bouquet of Love?

A Bouquet of Love is the fourth and final book in the Weddings by Design series (a series of stories about four people in the wedding business on Galveston Island). I patterned this story after Meet me in St. Louis, one of my favorite movies. Readers will notice a strong Judy Garland theme throughout. (I’m nuts about Judy Garland. Grew up playing/singing all of her songs.) This particular book cracks me up! It’s about a Greek family that opens a restaurant directly across the street from Parma Johns, a pizza place run by the Rossi family (characters my readers are very familiar with from the Weddings by Bella series). The heroine in this story wants to be a florist but is afraid to tell her very Greek father, because he wants her to work for the family restaurant. She ends up working at a nearby florist shop. . .owned by the Rossi family! And, of course, she falls in love along the way. J

What do you hope readers take away from A Bouquet of Love?

I hope they see that people—even people who are really, really different from one another—can learn to work together for the greater good. I hope they also learn that starting over (like the heroine’s family does) is possible, even in a new place. Of course, I also hope they learn a few of the lyrics from “The Trolley Song” which appears several times in the story!

I see your beautiful sweet creations on your facebook page often. How did you start creating cakes, cupcakes etc?












Thanks for asking about my cakes! I have four daughters, all in their thirties now. They all got married within four years of each other (between ’04 and ’08). I paid $625 for cake at the first daughter’s wedding. Knowing daughter #2 was getting married a few months later, I “suggested” we make the cake, ourselves. I was so clueless! With the help of two loving friends, we got that cake made! (Pictures below) The rest, as they say, is history. I made the other two wedding cakes and then the grandbabies started coming. Of course they needed birthday cakes! Once I started posting pictures of cakes, friends started asking. I created my Nina’s Cakes and Cookies page, thinking that adding a price to the cakes would slow the requests down. It had the opposite effect. Business is booming. In fact, I’m turning away requests for cakes and cookies.


I see pictures of your beautiful creations on facebook can you share some of your cakes with us here? What did you have the most fun making? What was your most challenging project to date? What made it fun and/or most challenging?














One of my hardest cakes to date was the pirate cake from a year ago. I made it for an eight-year-old’s birthday. You just haven’t lived until you’ve tried to create a pirate cake and ocean/beach out of cake. Oh my! It came out fine in the end, but took about twelve hours to complete. I’ve had many other cakes that gave me challenges, but the pirate cake takes the cake, pun intended.

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

The first “Wow!” moment came in 1999 when a phone call from an editor, saying she wanted to publish my very first book. I truly stood in shock as I listened to her talk, unable to believe she wanted it! In fact, I agreed to the advance amount (which was pretty small, even for that time) because I was just so excited.

The second “Wow” moment came a few weeks ago when I received a letter from a reader of the Weddings by Bella series, letting me know that she had given her heart to the Lord as a result of reading Bella’s story. I read and re-read her note, overwhelmed by how God had taken my silly, fluffy little romantic comedy and used it to transform a reader’s life. What a privilege and what a blessing!

What four words or what phrase would best describe you (you can add a few additional words if necessary? Grin)

Dedicated. If I want something badly enough, I work, work, work to make it happen.
Creative. I think I must dream in Technicolor or something. I’m always dreaming up new ideas, new stories, new cakes, new cookies to design. I love the creative process!
Wacky. I have a crazy sense of humor. It gets me in trouble sometimes, but mostly it endears me to my readers, who appear to have the same wacky sense of humor.

Loving. I am passionately loving—in my relationship with the Lord, with my children and (especially) with my grandchildren, who have me wrapped around their little fingers!

Why write Christian Fiction? What’s the draw for you?

Whether I’m writing stories in book form or musicals for the stage, you will always find a faith thread. There’s really only one reason: Life is short. There’s a lot of work to be done to draw people to the Lord and we are only given this one life to do it. Why would I spin my wheels, writing something with no life-changing ability? Every story is meant to prick the heart, to endear the reader to me so that she can begin to trust me as I share the faith message through my characters.

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

I’m so excited about a brand new series I’m writing for Revell. The series is titled “Brides with Style” and revolves around a pro basketball player in the Dallas area who takes over his mother’s bridal gown shop while she’s away in Paris for a year. Of course, it’s a romance!

The first book is titled Every Bride Needs a Groom and has already been written. I can’t tell you how much fun I had crafting new characters. What a blast! The story is told from the POV (point of view) of the heroine, Katie Fisher, from Fairfield, Texas (a small town not far from Dallas). She enters a contest to win a wedding dress from the bridal shop (and wins). Only one problem: she doesn't have a groom!

JANICE, ANY FINAL COMMENTS FOR READERS? 
Learn to laugh, even if it’s at yourself. Laughter brings healing. On the worst of days, find something to laugh about. Let joy bubble up inside of you. It’s contagious, you know!
Janice


Nora: Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. THANKS for sharing such great pictures! I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th of AUGUST at www.bookfun.org . Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books.

I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN in underway at www.bookfun.org . Looking forward reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! REMINDER - Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows. The last day to enter this drawing is the last day of the month.

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

SARAH LOUDIN THOMAS UP-CLOSE & PERSONAL DEBUT NOVEL & 10 BOOK GIVEAWAY



ABOUT AUTHOR: Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, releases August 2014 through Bethany House. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading. 

Did you have a say in choosing the cover for this book? If so, how did the process work? 

The cover is a fun story! First, it’s absolutely gorgeous. But I was kind of surprised when I saw peaches in Perla’s apron. I mean, there weren't any fresh peaches in the story. I always imagined cover designers coming up with the image based on something specific in the novel. Instead, they went with an image that spoke of abundance in hard times. Very nice, but I wanted to give readers that moment when they discover the cover. So I wrote a scene with peaches. It actually worked out beautifully. It was a pivotal moment for Casewell and the fresh fruit complemented it perfectly. You’ll see when you read it!

In Miracle in a Dry Season, Perla says that things always work out – not necessarily the way we expect – but they work out. Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?

I’m walking evidence of that statement! How many of my plans have worked out the way I expected? Umm, hardly any. I used to call it luck or good fortune, but now I know it’s always been God guiding my steps even when I was blind to his influence. I joke that every time I think I see where God’s leading me I can pretty much guarantee I’m wrong. It’s like the weather forecast—we might get close, but only God knows the future!

Things get pretty heated at the church and the community about Perla’s gift when they start calling it witchcraft. They say the gift is from the Devil. Not accepting the miracle for what it was. How do you and/or our society try to explain away the miraculous things that happen? 

Presenting my book @Church - a Miracle

I think we explain away miracles every five minutes. We call them things like coincidence, or medicine, or nature. I had an allergic reaction to a bee sting once and went through a series of shots to increase my immunity. I did NOT enjoy those shots. One day at the clinic I prayed and asked God why he couldn't just cure me. That little voice I too often ignore whispered, “What do you think I’m doing?” Yup, miracle. Look up the aerodynamics of the bumble bee some time. The fact that those guys fly is 100% miracle. If gravity were a tiny bit stronger or weaker, this world wouldn't exist. That would be one of those miracles labeled science. I think miracles scare us—remind us we’re not in control. So we pretend to have an explanation for them instead of just giving thanks. 

I felt uncomfortable when the Pastor of the church got up and spoke from the pulpit about sin and how it was causing the drought. He was singling out one person’s sin and how they needed to repent. I've gone to churches where they said things this Pastor did. (Of course your Pastor character went to the extreme of any situation I've been involved in. But not as extreme as other situations in our world. The cult in Waco Texas and the Jim Jones Massacre just to make a few extremes cases). Did you model this Pastor after any one? What do you hope readers will learn from this character? 

There is no single model for Pastor Longbourne—he’s a bit of a caricature. I wanted to exaggerate that human tendency to try to point to the cause and effect for everything that happens. E.g. If I hadn't skipped reading the Bible this morning, I wouldn't have gotten into this traffic jam. If I had prayed for the meeting this afternoon, it would have gone better. I think people tend to be superstitious and sometimes we even treat faith like some sort of good luck charm. Longbourne tries to use people’s tendency to point fingers against Perla pretty effectively. But it’s never that simple, is it?

You talk about small town life, with its joys and its strains of everyone being up in your business. You also showed how a small town can also pull together to weather a crisis. It’s hard to imagine that type of caring and friendless being demonstrated in our communities today. Were you raised in a small town? Read about small town life? What do you hope readers learn about small town life and about living in community with one another?

My dad infront church I grew up attending

Oh, I pretty much grew up in Wise, WV. I was related to most everyone at church and we visited and helped each other often. I could drive by most houses in Laurel Fork and tell you who lived there—well, Dad could anyway! Even now I know a lot of my neighbors in the little community I live in. We share garden produce, our dogs play together, we check in on neighbor’s houses when they’re away, and we visit on porches and in living rooms. I don’t think it’s so much a matter of that kind of community not being around anymore as it is people not taking time to be that kind of community. Go ahead, take your neighbor a loaf of zucchini bread—I bet you’ll have a great visit and learn all kinds of things you didn't know!

FUN QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK

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

My book launch party-Worked out better than hoped

Oh, I’m totally the bossy, take-charge type. The tricky thing is that it runs in my family. So maybe I’d just be in charge of the library (these are my friends and family so they were ALL traveling with books and grabbed them as the ship went down).

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

Go back to 1940 and hang out with my grandparents who both died before I got to know them.

What three things would you rather not live without (besides your family)? 

My dog,Thistle, In my reading chair
I’m assuming God falls into the family category because I will NOT live without him. Chocolate—which feels like a bit of a cliché— my dog and my laptop.

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

Rain on a tin roof. Especially if I’m drifting off to sleep. I also love the grunty, snorty sounds my dog makes when she’s contented. You've never heard such groaning and heaving of sighs!

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? 

Letting someone else do something that I think I could do better—or quicker. If my husband cooks, I have to leave the room. That’s my domain and if he does anything differently than I would, I just itch to correct it. And he’s a fantastic cook! I have an over-inflated sense of my own competence. God is helping me with that . . .

Sarah

Nora: Thanks for stopping by Sarah and helping us get to know you and your debut novel. Sarah I Loved all the fun pictures too! Grin! I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN going on right NOW at www.bookfun.org   .

Looking forward reading the participation between you and readers! Your questions for them to answer were fun! REMINDER - Everyone has to be a member of TBCN www.bookfun.org  in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows. The last day to enter this drawing is the last day of the month.

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

SARAH SUNDIN UP-CLOSE & PERSONAL In Perfect Time 5 Book Giveaway




ABOUT AUTHOR: Sarah Sundin is the author of six historical novels, including In Perfect Time (Revell, August 2014). Her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to tennis and karate, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. You can find her at http://www.sarahsundin.com

How did you come up with the idea for IN PERFECT TIME?

While researching World War II nursing, I kept reading about the flight nurses, and they fascinated me. These women were true pioneers. In flight, they were completely responsible for the patients, without a physician on board. This role was new for nurses, and they did very well. They also flew into combat areas in cargo planes that did not bear the red cross and were legitimate targets for the enemy. I wanted to tell their stories in the Wings of the Nightingale series.

In Perfect Time flowed out of Kay Jobson’s story. There was a family in our church who used to sing together a cappella—all of them had gorgeous voices. I got to thinking—what would it be like if you were born into a musically gifted family like that and you were tone-deaf? What if the family (unlike the loving family at my church) saw this flaw as a sign of God’s disfavor? What if they judged her? And Kay was born.

Nora: Wow, that would be hard. I can't wait to see how you dealt with this subject in your book!

What do you hope readers take away from IN PERFECT TIME?

Kay struggles to accept God’s mercy and love, and while Roger accepts those gifts, he subconsciously believes he isn't worthy to accept God’s blessings in his life. Both Kay and Roger learn that God gives good gifts, not because we are good, but because He is good. I hope readers will see any areas where they resist God’s gifts and would learn to embrace them.

Nora: Good word Sarah. It's mind boggling to think about God's abundant love for us. Embracing His love and His gifts is huge. I struggled with this myself.

You've gone on location to scout out information in writing your books. What has surprised you about your research at these locations?
 
My family & I at the Colosseums
I was blessed to visit Italy and southern France while researching In Perfect Time. After having visited Normandy a few years earlier, where WWII sites are maintained and used for tourism, I was surprised how hard it was to even locate WWII sites in Italy and southern France. No big memorials to the landings at Salerno or Anzio in Italy (although I found the smallest, most charming WWII museum in Anzio—not in any of the guidebooks!), and no memorials for the Dragoon landings in southern France. However, I was able to visit most of the locations in the book and get a feel for the area. I was also pleasantly surprised how patient and kind the Italians were with my pidgin Italian. They were so friendly and helpful!

Nora: Your trips sounded like fun! Thanks for sharing your pictures!

You've recently gone to Boston to gather information for your book. What did you find there that surprised you? What did you talk about in your book?
 
5 in gun plat door
Just last month I spent a week in Boston visiting family and conducting research for my upcoming Waves of Freedom series. Since I've visited Boston before, I didn't find too much that was surprising—although I had to change plenty of things in my completed rough draft of Through Waters Deep! Since the first two novels concern WWII destroyers, I was thrilled to tour the USS Cassin Young at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston and the USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. at Battleship Cove in Fall River. Also, on the battleship USS Massachusetts at Battleship Cove, I was able to climb inside a 5-inch naval gun mount! Since the book’s hero is an assistant gunnery officer, this made me ridiculously happy.

What do you love most about traveling? What do you despise?
 
Marseille Viux Port
I love seeing new places, experiencing new things, seeing historical sites, tasting new foods, and meeting new people. I love comparing the pluses and minuses of the places I visit compared to home—it makes me appreciate the new places but also gives me a new appreciation for home. I’m not so fond of showering facilities in some places I visit. And I despise doing laundry in Europe. I come home and kiss my washer and dryer!

Nora: Funny! :o)

Puyloubier House
You shared with me you love to bake. On your travels did you run across something you wanted to try to make when you got back home? If so, what was it? How did it turn out? How did you get the recipe?

I often buy cookbooks from places we visit. I picked up a nice cookbook from Provence, and I've enjoyed trying the recipes. In Boston, our son fell in love with Boston cream pie, which is something I've always loved. I found a recipe on Pinterest and modified it—and it’s so good!

Nora: I love cookbooks! I'm not one of these cooks that can wing it. I need the cook book for inspiration and instructions! Grin!

You've share with me that you enjoy teaching? What is the thrill for you in teaching?

I do love teaching, whether for my fourth- and fifth-graders in Sunday school, the ladies in Bible study, or fellow writers at conferences. My favorite part is when you see the light of understanding dawn on people’s faces. What’s most exciting when I teach about the Bible is when God takes my words, flips them around mid-air, and inserts in the women’s ears what they need to hear. I’m always amazed when women tell me how something I said touched them—and it wasn't anything I actually said. Then I know the Holy Spirit is doing the actual teaching. I’m just a mouthpiece, and it’s a thrill!

Sarah

Nora: Thanks for stopping by Sarah and helping us get to know you and your books better Sarah. Loved all the fun pictures too! Grin! I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting TODAY of  at www.bookfun.org

Looking forward reading the participation between you and readers! Your questions for them to answer were fun!  REMINDER - Everyone has to be a member of TBCN www.bookfun.org in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows. The last day to enter this drawing is the last day of the month.

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


THE BLENDER GIRL REVIEWED

I'm mixing things up a little. I'll be reviewing some different books now that I work for The Book Club Network and have a flexible schedule. I hope you enjoy the variety. I really was surprised by this book and the information and recipes inside. Enjoy!

Nora :o)




THE BLENDER GIRL
By Tess Masters



Published by Random House
ISBN#978-1-60774-643-0
216 Pages

Back Cover: The debut cookbook from the powerhouse blogger behind theblendergirl.com, featuring 100 gluten-free, vegan recipes for smoothies, meals, and more made quickly and easily in a blender.

What’s your perfect blend?

On her wildly popular recipe blog, Tess Masters—aka, The Blender Girl—shares easy plant-based recipes that anyone can whip up fast in a blender. Tess’s lively, down-to-earth approach has attracted legions of fans looking for quick and fun ways to prepare healthy food. In The Blender Girl, Tess’s much-anticipated debut cookbook, she offers 100 whole-food recipes that are gluten-free and vegan, and rely on natural flavors and sweeteners. Many are also raw and nut-, soy-, corn-, and sugar-free.

Smoothies, soups, and spreads are a given in a blender cookbook, but this surprisingly versatile collection also includes appetizers, salads, and main dishes with a blended component, like Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce, Twisted Caesar Pleaser, Spicy Chickpea Burgers with Portobello Buns and Greens, and I-Love-Veggies! Bake. And even though many of Tess’s smoothies and shakes taste like dessert—Apple Pie in a Glass, Raspberry-Lemon Cheesecake, or Tastes-Like-Ice- Cream Kale, anyone?—her actual desserts are out-of this-world good, from Chocolate-Chile Banana Spilly to Flourless Triple-Pecan Mousse Pie and Chai Rice Pudding. Best of all, every recipe can easily be adjusted to your personal taste: add an extra squeeze of this, another handful of that, or leave something out altogether— these dishes are super forgiving, so you can’t mess them up.

Details on the benefits of soaking, sprouting, and dehydrating; proper food combining; and eating raw, probiotic-rich, and alkaline ingredients round out this nutrient-dense guide. But you don’t have to understand the science of good nutrition to run with The Blender Girl—all you need is a blender and a sense of adventure. So dust off your machine and get ready to find your perfect blend.

Review: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that introduced me to Tess Masters, “The Blender Girl,” this cook book and her blog by the same name.

I’ve started working a different job that has allowed me more time in the kitchen and less time driving to and from work. I was thrilled to explore this new way of cooking. I liked how this author first talks about “What’s the perfect blend for you?” Where she discusses her journey to getting healthy and what she learned along the way. Not everything works for everybody. She talks about healthy ideas that you might want to blend into your life style. She talks about being proactive about your health and says, “I make a point of eating foods rich in probiotics as part of an alkaline diet low in sugar and high in essential vitamins and minerals.”

She also makes a point to eat food that is in season where she lives. She mixes up eating foods raw and some that are cooked. She helps the reader to think about making small changes in their lives that can make a huge difference in how they feel and what’s best in the long run.

There is great information to assimilate written in an easy to read manner. She also talks about how your blender can become your partner in the kitchen. It can help your bring healthier snacks, drinks and meals to you and your family in a doable time frame.

There are a wide variety of recipes with ingredients that can be found in grocery stores that have a health food section (many do). I tried several of her recipes; they are Thyme for Corn Chowder, Fluffy gf pancakes (best ever), Orange dream sickles (yummy) and Dark Chocolate pudding (great surprise – loved it). My family and I loved them. They even asked for seconds.

Some of the other yummy looking recipes I want to try are Spicy Chickpea Burgers with Portobello Buns and Greens, Alkaline Tacos, Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff, Potato Pizza and many more.

The book is broken down into several sections. They are: Healthy Ideas to Blend In, Smoothies and Shakes, Appetizers, Snacks, Dips and Spreads, Salads, Soups, The Main Event, Desserts, Drinks, Juices, and Tonics, Condiments, Sauces, and Creams. I liked the variety.

This author walks the reader through how to choose a blender. She starts with your basic model and moves to the top of the line. She also discusses how to care for your blender so it will last a long time. Great tips.

I like how Tess shared about why certain veggies are beneficial to your body. She also mentions food combing and how certain foods work well together to make you feel your best.

I enjoyed the beautiful pictures throughout. I also liked the fact that these recipes can help the cook bring healthy meals to your family and yourself in a reasonable time frame. You do need to read the recipes all the way through before you start cooking. I like how Tess talks about things you might be tempted to do and warns you not to do it. For example when I made the pancakes they took 4 minutes on one side and 3 more minutes after you flipped them. If you rushed the process she tells you that you’ll have soggy pancakes. These pancakes take longer to cook but they are so worth the wait. She was right.

The recipes include many ingredients and the measurements were in cups and grams. The author is originally from Australia and currently resides in California. Her Blender Girl blog reaches people all over the globe.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to start down the path to eating healthier and feeling better and are looking for a place to start. This book is also great for those of you that are already on this path. There are 100 Gluten-Free, Vegan recipes to try! I’m looking forward to trying more myself!

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

NEW BEGINNINGS


I had devotion time with my family this morning. It song was a reminder of  how Great God is! I'm pinching myself as so much has changed in the last month. My youngest starts his Junior year of highschool, my oldest son started a new job with his first day of college approaching and my daughter is on a new job as well. It's a year of NEW BEGINNINGS for ALL of us. I've started working for The Book Club Network FULL TIME and FRED has taken on a NEW Role at DEEPER SHOPPING as of yesterday. We have so much to be thankful for!.

Here is the announcement Fred St. Laurent made on his FB page he says, "I am now the Director of Sales for over 800 Christian Retail stores here:https://www.facebook.com/DeeperShopping

Drop by and LIKE the site please  You will want to keep an eye on this. I am still running TBCN and Book Fun Magazine (now with Nora's help) and this fits hand in glove with all we do! BEST prices great service and a St Laurent selling their inventory!!!

God is doing far more than I could have ever imagined. I am very GRATEFUL! Thank you for your continued prayers and support as we all begin new chapters in our lives!

Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network Blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com 
Book Fun Magaazine www.bookfunmagazine.com