SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME - Soon to be a MOVIE - Check out the CAST

DENVER MOORE – Co-Author of Same Kind of Different As Me meets Jesus.

"The gates of heaven swung open on Saturday, March 31, 2012, and Denver Moore went walkin’ in! He had sung those words of his favorite old spiritual countless times, receiving standing ovations all across America.  He dreamed of heaven and was ready to march in with the saints and be reunited with Miss Debbie, the woman who believed he would make a difference.  He was 75 years old. 

Though his lips were always flappin’ like Bible pages, he would say, he never claimed to be a preacher, just a sinner saved by grace with a message of hope for those that didn't have any.

His story, well known by millions, is told in SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME,  a word-of-mouth best-selling book that spent 3 1/2 years as a New York Times best-seller.  His follow up book WHAT DIFFERENCE DO IT MAKE, tells the rest of his story."

HOLLYWOOD, CA (October 30, 2014) – Paramount Pictures today announced that Academy Award®-nominees Greg Kinnear and Djimon Hounsou and Academy Award®-winners Renee Zellweger and Jon Voight will star in “SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME,” based on the best-selling nonfiction book by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent, author of the bestselling book Heaven Is for Real.
Michael Carney will make his directorial debut from a screenplay he co-wrote with Alexander Foard and Ron Hall. Mary Parent and Cale Boyter will produce through Disruption Entertainment, alongside Darren Moorman, Stephen Johnson and Ron Hall. The executive producers are Chris Bancroft, Hans Graffunder Michael Carney and Foard.

Principal photography began October 27th in Jackson, Mississippi“SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME” is the story of an international art dealer Ron Hall (Kinnear) who must befriend a dangerous homeless man (Hounsou) in order to save his struggling marriage to his wife (Zellweger), a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the most remarkable journey of their lives. Voight plays Hall's father, with whom he reconciles thanks to the revelations of his new life.

I'm EXCITED about this movie. We heard about this from D.J. Jones, Debra's sister. She spoke at Finding Hope Book club. I talked to her about this and she shared her feelings on my blog

I'll keep you posted about this event as it releases in theaters!

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



Check out INTERVIEW w/Travis Freeman in Book Fun Magazine 



LOS ANGELES, Calif. (October 17, 2014) – Based on the real-life story of a champion, Travis Freeman, who lost his sight overnight through a seemingly tragic occurrence and played football for Corbin High School, the highly-anticipated film,23 Blast and its producers are supporting charities nationwide which support overcoming any obstacles life brings.  Coinciding with “World Blindness Awareness Month” in October, the producers are giving back to numerous charities through the film’s national release on October 24, including The Travis Freeman Foundation.

23 Blast will release through Ocean Avenue Entertainment, Inc. in association with Toy Gun Films.

The Dylan Baker Film highlights how Freeman took the high road, how it made a difference in his own life and the lives around him, and will surely encourage and uplift audiences.  It masterfully depicts a story of hope triumphing over despair, of courage and faith overcoming fear and of victory prevailing over adversity. 

Filled with its strong message of encouragement, influential leaders are also finding the film a powerful

message, inspired by the way Freeman overcame the odds to reach his goal. Tony Dungy, former professional American football player and first African American National Football League head coach is one of the film’s strong supporters. 

“23 Blast is a powerful movie about football and perseverance, based on the true story of Travis Freeman. If you’re looking for an inspiring movie that the whole family can enjoy, go see this film!” Dungy says. 

“We all have disabilities that we have to overcome. In my mind, a disability is merely an obstacle that we have to conquer, says Travis Freeman.  “For some it’s cancer; for others it’s the loss of a job and still for others it might be the death of a loved one. For me it was the loss of my sight. In all of these situations we cannot allow the circumstances to dictate what we think about God; instead, we must allow God to dictate what we think about our circumstances.”

23 Blast features Freeman, a typical teenager growing up in a small town in Kentucky, who is a local hero on and off the field. In the prime of his youth, he is unexpectedly stricken with an infection that destroys his optic nerve. He becomes blind overnight. Under the influence of parents who love him, a physical therapist who challenges him, a coach who inspires him, and a best friend who he cannot bear to leave behind, Freeman shows us what true bravery is by competing on the gridiron, helping his Corbin High School team advance to the state playoffs. 23 Blast follows Freeman and Jerry Baker, his closest friend, from the time they meet on the football field as kids through high school. Baker’s attraction to the dark side of teenage temptations, beer and drugs, threatens to pull the friends apart. It is only on the football field where they truly connect. 

The film stars Dylan Baker, Stephen Lang, Alexa Vega, Mark Hapka, Max Adler, Bram Hoover, Kim Zimmer, Becky Ann Baker, Timothy Busfield, and Fred D. Thompson, and is written by Bram Hoover and Toni Hoover, directed/produced by Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2 & 3, 13 Days) and produced by Gary Donatelli and Toni Hoover. Executive producers for the movie include Daniel Snyder, Misook Doolittle and Brent Ryan Green. 

“God has given me an amazing platform to share my story, and to ultimately point people to the greater story of the Gospel. In 1994, when I stepped foot on the football field as America’s first blind football player, I was just living my life. I was just doing what most boys in the town of Corbin, Kentucky want to do. It wasn’t anything special; I was at home on the field. I never had any thoughts of a movie, a book, or starting The Travis Freeman Foundation ( to raise funds and awareness about blindness. I just wanted to play. God then used my desire to overcome the odds and play football to establish a platform for me that is greater than anything I could have ever imagined,” Freeman says. 

The film’s release will also include a descriptive audio channel, which allows visually impaired to enjoy the movie in theaters.  

For more information about 23 Blast, please visit:




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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotel Florence

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

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

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

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

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

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

 A baby’s laughter.

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite holiday? Why?  

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

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

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

THANKS for dropping by and sharing with us Judith - I really enjoyed all your pictures.
I'm Thrilled that Bethany House Publishers is giving away 10 copies of your new book The Brickmaker's Bride. The Contest is underway.

ANYONE Can participate. They just need to go to THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK SITE JOIN - It's FREE and EASY!! Then CLICK on the LINK that is located on the top of the Book Cover. It will take you to the Giveaway page at Bethany House Publishers page. JOIN the page. Just Click JOIN and then Answer ONE of the questions listed. It will take not time at all.

See you at BOOK FUN!!

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun BEgins
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Nora :o)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


For theaters and showtimes:

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

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

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

Follow 23 Blast on Facebook:
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Follow 23 Blast on Instagram:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

Nora :o) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Love Undone
By Cindy Woodsmall
Published by Waterbrook
328 Pages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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