ABOUT AUTHOR: Laura Frantz is an award-winning author who is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Her family resides in Kentucky and Virginia.
According to Publishers Weekly, "Frantz has done her historical homework." With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California.
Readers can find her at

What was your favorite scene in The Mistress of Tall Acres? Which was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest to write? Why?

Laura: My favorite scene was when Seamus proposes to Sophie and rocks her world. That was the most fun to write. The hardest scene was when Sophie leaves Tall Acre and Lily Cate as both mistress and mother.

Nora: Your favorite scene was so much fun to imagine and read. You brought both of these characters to life in a believable way my heart rejoiced and I was teary eyed!

What made you put George Washington into this story? I liked the fact that he actually had some dialogue. Fun! What was an interesting fact you learned about George Washington what you didn’t know before your research into this time period?

Laura: I’m starting to include more historical figures in my books like Washington and 
Daniel Boone. As for George, I learned he had a terrible temper which he usually managed to rein in. It was something he struggled with his entire life which somehow makes him more human. How he managed a rag-tag army and controlled himself is amazing!

Nora: I liked that you brought George Washington into the story. It was a fun surprise.

I LOVED your characters. They were believable. I cared about them deeply. My heart went out to Seamus and his situation with his wife not being able to have more children. He leaves his wife soon after the birth of their daughter and heads back to the battle field. I was pretty surprised at what he had to go through when he got back. Did that happen often to men at war?

Laura: Love this question, Nora. Americans today have little inkling just what men like Seamus and his fellow Patriots reaped from their fight for liberty. Many lost their lives, their homes, their fortunes, their families. Families were often split due to siding with the British while others went rogue and declared themselves independent. To fight for American rights back then meant you were a traitor and the penalty was death.

Nora: It's a heart breaker!

I adored Seamus’s daughter Lily Cate. I could see how Sophie lost her heart to this young one. Their first meeting was to have a tea party. Did you have tea parties growing up? With your children? What do/did you love about them? 

Laura: I do love tea parties! When I was a young girl my grandmother used to do as Sophie’s mother did by hosting a tea party and going barefoot to declare the start of spring and fall. Lily Cate was probably my favorite character in the book though I loved them all. Since I only have boys and no daughters, she really came to life for me.

Nora: Beautiful dishes Laura. Thanks for sharing! Lily Cate was one of my favorites too!

In growing up, what were three important values you learned that stuck with you and shaped your life?

Laura: Work hard. Be kind. Stay close to Christ.

Nora: Good values for sure!

What three things are you most thankful for in life?

Laura: My Lord and Savior foremost. My husband, sons, and family. My log cabin in Kentucky.

Nora: I best the view is beautiful from your house!

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

Laura: As I grow older, the only thing I can rely on amidst life’s many changes is the Lord who is always the same, always near, always loving, always walking with me through every season of life. I tend to be a bit melancholy at times as I feel things very deeply. Guess I have an artistic temperament. I can honestly say the Lord is my rock, my refuge and stronghold. Nothing and no-one else compares.

Nora: Amen! Amen!

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

Laura: The wind. There’s always usually a breeze or wind on my cabin porch, rustling the leaves of the many trees around us. I think of how the Holy Spirit is described as coming in the wind. It’s a beautiful, mysterious sound. You can’t see it, you can only feel and hear it. Chimes in the wind is another beautiful sound.

Nora: THANKS for sharing this pictures. It's lovely. I can see why you love it!

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 would you think you’d play?

Laura: Encourager. People tell me I’m able to give a kind word or help someone when they need it. I never realize I am doing this. But I hope it’s true!

Nora: I'm sure it is! You must be a natural! Grin!

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

Laura: I would LOVE to return to the 18th-century and witness or be a part of the American Revolution when our country gained independence. It was a passionate, tumultuous time and so many of my favorite historical figures lived then like Daniel Boone and George and Martha Washington, George Rogers Clark and the brave women of the frontier.

Nora: That would be an interesting time for sure!

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

Laura: Coffee. Chocolate. Chicken and Dumplings.

Nora: Oh, Yeah! It's been a while since I've enjoyed Chicken and Dumplings. Yummy! Grin! 

What is a special quality, talent and/or event you have experienced that would surprise people? Please explain.

Laura: I attended school in a British manor house/castle in college, something that fueled my imagination like nothing else. The experience was truly God given and delightful! I keep thinking one day I’ll write a book about it!

Nora: This is a beautiful desk. I can see how your schooling in a British mannor house/castle fueled your imagination. I loved this story, the characters and the inner and outer struggles they dealt with. Some if it was heart wrenching! This was a powerful, memorable and fun story! I couldn't put it down!

So thankful for our time together at your wonderful site! Always a pleasure and privilege to talk books! Thank you for taking time for me ~ and happy reading!

I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN started the 20th of SEPTEMBER at LAST DAY to enter SEPT 30th.

Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.


Nora :o)

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

Interview Sponsored by: Revell Publishers


"Lively, inventive, authentic, and wise" are a few of the words used to describe Jane's presentations around the world from Sorrento, Italy to Moro, Oregon.  Whether part of a book signing or a fundraiser for various museums and causes close to Jane's heart, retreats or commencement addresses, Jane engages audiences to consider the power of their own stories.  "Until we find the meaning of the stories of our lives we're destined to wander in the wilderness even though we're in the Promised Land," she notes.  With humor she helps groups find the insights that bring wisdom and joy to their lives. 

Blending her mental health background with years working on an Oregon Indian reservation with twenty-six years carving a life on a remote ranch, Jane finds a way for participants to experience the lessons of her historical characters and allow them to step from one generation to our own to bring healing and hope through the power of the written and spoken word.

Jane says,"If you'd like more information about me, please come visit my website at and click on my blog. My dog also has a blog and you can find out what it's like to be Bodacious Bo, too. A monthly newsletter called Story Sparks is my way of sharing books about authors I enjoy as well as commenting on life and love. You'll find out more about me than you probably ever wanted to know!"

In your research for The Memory Weaver did you come across any surprised you? Made you look at the situation differently?

I had heard about this tragedy since first coming to Oregon many years ago. It changed the way the territory saw itself, changed relationships between settlers and Indian people. What I had not known was that Eliza, who was 10 at the time of the tragedy, was the only one who knew the language of the captors and I thought that would have been a great weight for a 10 year old to carry for 47 days as a hostage after witnessing so many deaths. She had the weight of hoping she expressed what her captors wanted and also feeling responsible for her fellow captives.

What was your favorite scene in The Memory Weaver?

My favorite scene is when Eliza Spalding Warren goes back to the mission where she grew up and she is wrapped again in the arms of the people she had held so dear. Forgiving others – and ourselves – is always very moving for me.

Which was the most fun to write? Any of the scenes with Rachel, the step-mom in them! She was quite a kick from all I could find out about her and a terrible cook so that fit with my own, ah, limited kitchen skills.

Which was the hardest to write? The hardest were the scenes where Eliza as a young mother “disappears” to those traumatic times. Why? Because I didn’t want to dwell on the tragedy but needed to let the reader see why her adult life was so troubled by a past memory. I also didn’t want to leave her there for long and I didn’t want her to mess up her present life because an old memory held her hostage. I felt very protective of her.

Desk Picture -- occasionally my office is neat and tidy. My husband made the desk for me 30 years ago. Bo and Caesar hang out with me when I write.
I liked the way you set up the novel. One story line you told through letters and diary entries; the other you wrote in first person? What made you mix it up like that? It did make the story more intimate.

I’m glad you liked that! It made my life a little more complicated because I had the memories of Eliza, her mother, her father and how they wove together to contend with. But I wanted a way to engage readers with the experiences of those who were not present at the tragedy but whose lives changed dramatically because of it. And I knew that Eliza, the mother, dying when her daughter was young, left a huge hole in Eliza’s life. I wanted her to “have memories” of her mother as a young wife and mother and that could only happen with a diary left behind.

How did you feel about the Eliza being forced by her father to attend the murder trial of the Indians accused of the crimes at Waiilatpu 1847?

 That was so interesting to me and it was another detail I hadn’t been aware of until I started researching. I think her father felt that since she had been the interpreter that she’d be the perfect witness. I think he was clueless about how re-visiting the horror would affect her, a then twelve-year old child.

Why do you think he did this? I think he wanted His memories to be the ones people accepted as fact and Eliza would be the person who would authenticate that. But she didn’t testify and there was a note that her father commented that “she spoke too kindly about the Indians.” That also told me about her own ambivalence as a captive and affirmed what often happens in the Stockholm Syndrome, where captives become attached to their captors in unexpected ways because they are so dependent upon them for survival.

I’d never heard about this family and their tragedy. When did you first become aware of this and how did it affect your life?
Whitman Mission -- This is the site of the Whitman tragedy that affected the Spalding family and so many others, the subject of The Memory Weaver.

While researching about Marie Dorion, an Indian woman who came west with 60 men as part of the Astoria expedition, the first large expedition west after Lewis and Clark returned, I came across this “fact” that the first books printed west of the Rocky Mountains were a Nez Perce primer and the second book was a Nez Perce translation of the book of Matthew. Eliza Spalding was said to have been the linguist who transcribed those books and they were printed on a printing press sent from a mission in Hawaii to the Spalding mission in 1838. I wanted to know a little more about the Spaldings and this historical fact of publishing. We visited the Nez Perce National Park in Lapwai, ID and then visited the Whitman Historic Site where the tragedy happened and the event that closed all the missions in the West at that time. I never forgot the feelings I had at both those sites. Great love and peacefulness at the Spalding Mission site. (I had the same feeling last Sunday afternoon when I was there to speak at the Nez Perce National Park); and a feeling of great loss at the Whitman site. When I realized these families were intertwined I wanted to explore it further, especially what happened afterwards.  Some stories never let us go.

I read in an interview that you and your husband own a small plane. What have you loved about traveling in this small plane? Any things you’ve experienced in the plane you would have otherwise experienced?
my dear husband and me at the dedication of Marie Dorion marker, a courageous woman of the 19th century. It was researching her story that led me to The Memory Weaver.
It’s been my experience in my own life and as a therapist that our memories are often not the way something really happened. If we witness a tragic event or if something terrible happens, we often wish we could go back and do something different that might have changed the outcome but that’s often based on faulty expectations or even the facts of the event. I think that’s a part of the human condition, to “want to do better.” But when we are in the midst of extreme stress (which can be different for different people) our systems shut down and we go on survival mode.

Our fingers and toes get cold and don’t work as well because all the blood flow goes to our head to try to keep us thinking and acting to protect. Some of us can react to save both ourselves and others; and some of us are immobilized. Both are normal responses but those of us who are immobilized often later judge ourselves harshly. As for both Eliza’s dealing with survivor guilt, I think the daughter’s life is evidence of that, how she judged herself as not having done all she could for the hostages, especially Lorinda Bewely and the way her need for control played out in her adult life. I felt the mother also faced great trauma as her sister missionary, Narcissa Whitman, had lost her child to a drowning and then Narcissa and her husband had been murdered, along with so many others.

Eliza still had her daughter and family and a tribe that had protected them. I suspect she felt guilt at not being able to care for some of the hostages upon their return. And I think her very illness was related to the conflict she must have had between trusting in a loving God and at the same time having to trust that the tragedy and all that followed (loss of the mission, Henry’s volatile behavior, her illness, Eliza’s PTSD, etc) was also in God’s hands.

Those involved with treating PTSD also work to keep the victims in the present moment, and bring memories here rather than having the people disappear into the tragedy. In the present, others can walk beside them and help them create new stories, new memories that can nourish and transform. I saw Timothy doing that for Eliza; and Eliza the mom’s brother in many ways, helping her through a difficult time.

In growing up, what were three important values you learned that stuck with you and shaped your life?
Jane says titled photo"Child Alive"I hope it's how I will always see life- happy 6 yr old

1)“Caring for others is a form of worship. Caring for the least of these, is a living prayer.” My mother was a nurse; my dad a farmer who served on many community projects and boards. When I was 16, I spent two weeks in Chicago working and living in an inner city with our church youth group. His allowing me to go severed a relationship he’d had with a friend whom he had not known was racist.

2)  ”Give your employer a good days work for your wages”(my father’s advice that probably added to my overachiever tendency!) and all work is worthy, no one is better than or less than.

3) “If you do your best, that’s all that matters; not the outcome.” 
That gave me permission to risk and fail and start again.

There are so many types of weather which is your favorite? Which to you try to avoid? 
Neighborhood mailboxes - this one winter I could have done without! So looking forward to the sandy beaches after this one!

My favorite weather is warm, sunny, on a sandy beach. My husband and I try to go to Cabo San Jose every January for a few weeks to get away from….snow, slush, tire chains, scraping windows of ice; cold!

Some of my best life-lessons have been learned in the harsher winter weather, though: driving through snow drifts, praying I’d get home safely; having to decide whether to walk down an icy hill a mile or more or turn around and drive back 7 miles to the nearest neighbor on that same icy road. Still, time on the beach, reading, drinking iced tea and chatting with my husband of 39 years is one of the best weather memories I have!

Have you seen any good movies lately and/or read a book you just couldn’t stop thinking about? Please share!

 All the Light You Cannot See was for me an amazing book. I tried to tell my husband why I was crying or why I stayed up until 3:00am to read it and I really struggled through my tears. It’s about the futility of war, yes, but more, about the power of the human spirit to rise above the darkness, to “do the right thing” even in a time of great challenge or turmoil. It’s about miracles that still happen. I believed this story, I imagined it was true even though it was fiction. It touched my heart. I’ll read it again soon. As for movies: I confess we don’t see many movies.

 For 30 years we lived 50 miles from the nearest theater and even though we have television, there’s something about seeing a film on the big screen that makes it more memorable to me. I’d say the last “big screen” film I thought was brilliantly written and captured the power of the human spirit to give and to receive was The King’s Speech.

What is a special quality, talent and/or event you have experienced that would surprise people?
Bo in the Car -- my dog does love to go with me to book events. Here we're unloading for a book fair. He looks a bit forlorn, doesn't he?

 I’m a private pilot. But right now, I’m also afraid of flying! Please explain. I once thought I should take one of those classes for people afraid of flying but thought if the other students found out I was a pilot they might lynch me! It’s because I had an accident while learning to fly and then I had to work through a great deal of “bad memory” to gain enough confidence to fly again and get my license. A year later, when I had 100 hours in, my husband and I were in our small plane with friends (she was 7.5 months pregnant) and we hit a clear air wind shear and crashed missing three homes on the ground, and electrical wires etc. We all survived. The pregnant mom has no memory of the accident! Isn’t that great! Memory is really a form of protection. She went into labor but they were able to stop it and she delivered full term one of the happiest births of my experience! Her husband had no injuries. My husband had a broken hip, two broken ankles, sprained wrists and many cuts to his face etc. I shattered my right foot and left arm and we had months of healing with pins to hold my arm and foot together. So I have not piloted again though I have been on commercial airliners since then, just not in a small plane. One day I’ll do that…but for now, I’ll let someone else pilot! And we remain the closest of friends with those who shared the trauma.

If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money); to do anything you wanted, what would you do?
This Batwa woman of Burundi is holding her identity card. I love how happy she looks. Because of the work of First Presbyterian Church of Bend and African Road, we were able to purchase identity cards for 600 + adults, acquire birth certificates for their children and now these people can work, they can marry, their children can access health care, etc. These are some of the people that if I had all the money and time (a question asked by TBCN) I'd spend my efforts making their lives better through developing a Story Center for indigenous people to be remembered and to transform their memories into hopeful futures.
I’d go back to Burundi and work with the Batwa people there, an indigenous people very marginalized and at risk of extinction. And then I’d develop a Story Center for indigenous people around the world, working with people on the reservations, reserves, urban centers, to find ways for Indian people to tell their stories through music, art, drama, dance, and writing their stories and for those stories to be remembered. Stories heal us and for many indigenous people, there is a cultural trauma that is in the memory. I’d love for story (as in parables, as well) to be incorporated into the lives of those who faced and continue to face marginalization.

If you could interview or hang out with someone for 48 hours who would you pick and why?

Ok, I’m assuming living people, right? So, Anne Lamott. She’s a public woman, writer of faith who has found a way to both challenge, be respectful of and entertain people. She’s well-read and quick and direct while allowing herself to be vulnerable which takes us as readers toward our own vulnerability. And I just bet she’d be a lot of fun. I think we all learn best when we feel safe, respected and have fun and she suggests to me that she’s amazingly adept at all three.

JANE, ANY FINAL COMMENTS FOR READERS? I have the best readers in the world! You write amazing things to me and you share stories of how my stories have empowered you and how you’ve been changing the world, one word at a time. I feel honored to be a part of your busy lives. The words “to read” come from a Norse word that translates as “to unveil a mystery.” I think when we read, we’re unveiling the mystery of the author but also of ourselves. E.L. Forester once wrote “give me me in a story and you’ll have a reader for life.” I hope I give you a bit of yourselves, your courage and compassion and I hope that way I’ll have you as readers for life. Thank you, dear reader, for making room in your heart for all the stories, mine included. 

Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. Thank you for the pictures and for sharing your heart and stories with us.

I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th of SEPT at 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.

Nora :o)

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

Interview Sponsored by: Revell Publishers 


Shadow of the Mountain - Exodus
By Cliff Graham
Published by Bethany House
302 Page

Back Cover: Caleb and Joshua Roar to Life in this High-Impact Old Testament Saga,Two men were brave enough to tell the truth about what awaited the Hebrews in Canaan. This is their story. From the slave pits of Egypt to the efforts of an eighty-five-year-old Caleb as he drives out the last of the giants, Shadow of the Mountain is a vivid portrait of two of God's chosen champions, and a meditation on masculine mentorship and the challenges and blessings of growing older.

For the sake of his new God and his loyalty to his friend Joshua, Caleb will not spend his twilight years resting, but taking the battle to the enemies of God's people until his dying breath. From his early days as a mercenary for Pharaoh in Egypt watching the Hebrews suffer under the yoke of slavery, all the way through a desperate fight with giants in the dark forests of the hill country, this is a story filled with epic battles, gritty intensity, and supernatural events that made Graham's Lion of War series a hit. Shadow of the Mountain is sure to ignite a love for the Old Testament in popular culture.

REVIEW: Exodus is the first novel in the Old Testament series that starts off with 85 year old Caleb helping plan an attack against giants. As the men plan and strategize. Caleb’s nephew asks him to tell of his past. He wants him to recount the Exodus and the early days as a mercenary for Pharah in Egypt; where he’s asked to fight with Anakite giants in epic battles, showing readers how gritty, bloody, and intense it was.

The author says in his notes to readers shares that there is very little mentioned about Caleb in the bible. He says about this novel, “I have fictionalized those early years in the extreme. My purpose is not to invent an elaborate backstory because I felt the bible was insufficient; it is to create a way for the reader to encounter the events of exodus as the Egyptians themselves might have known them. I wanted to help the reader be there in the halls of the palace at Memphis when Moses and Aaron stood before the king, and also after they left. What terrors did the Egyptians under go as the Lord held out His arm? What would it be like to be in darkness so complete that you could feel it?”

The author did accomplish his mission. The tale is told in a series of flash backs to his youth as readers experience the event in real time in the past. The author shows Caleb leaving home and heading to Egypt. He’s a gifted carpenter who knew how to fight. Early on he reveals these skills as groups attempt to rob him at the start of his journey. As he’s setting in his new home in Egypt Caleb sees an injustice on the street and jumps in to help a woman survive; after her husbands beheaded. His employer sees Caleb take down the enemy. He says to him, “A man of skills is valuable to me…and being renown more so…if you can join the red scorpions it will be a mark that guarantees a river of gold for us.  Your skills as an artist is already there. If you apply for the Chef designer position as a member of the Red Scorpions, it will be impossible for them to deny it to you, especially with my blessing…”…” I take risks. It is why I am a very wealthy man.”

Caleb soon discovers he’s in the fight of his life on many fronts’ the stakes are high he’s told, “Most who try out for the Red Scorpions die long before they make it in…There is a three year selection process…” The training master named Horem,…is the most ruthless goat you can imagine.”

This story reminded me of the movie Gladiator with Russel Crow. It’s brutal and agenizing with very violent fighting scenes. This author gives readers an up-close and personal look at these events. This is definitely a story told from a man’s point of view. I liked that.
The author had me look at the Exodus event with fresh eyes; he’s a gifted writer and makes the bible come alive. I’m a person that closes their eyes in violent scenes in movies it was kind of hard to do when I was reading the vivid, and challenging to read fighting scenes. I understand the bible is violent and those scenes need to be shown for us to grasp the signs and wonders of bible times. This would make a good book club pick. There is much to talk about. It’s a story I won’t soon forget!

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

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


By Angela Hunt
Published by Bethany House
345 Pages

Back Cover: New York Times bestselling author Angela Hunt, renowned for her biblical fiction, endows Esther with new life and passion in this dramatic and emotional portrayal.

REVIEW: “Expect the unexpected”, is this authors tag line. It’s what I’ve come to love about her books. I had wondered what she would do with a story that is so familiar to many. Given her back ground and her tag line this author brought a richness and new perspective to the story. I saw Esther with a freshness I hadn’t expected. (Angela Hunt completed her Master of Biblical studies in Theology degree in 2006, 2008 she completed her doctorate and in 2009 she was accepted into a Th.D program.)

The author states, “Whenever I write a historical novel, I am always asked how much of the tale is fact and how much is fiction. I hope you will be pleased to know that nearly every event in this novel comes from the historical record. The biblical account is accurately represented her and I have supplemented that story with writings from the Greek chronicler Herodotus. He wrote extensively of the Persian Court and its Kings, particularly, of Exerxes and his Queen Amestris (Vashti).”

The author give the definition of two words typically used to describe someone’s personal appearance that had relevance to this new series. The first is yaphe which means good looking. The second is tob applied to a woman’s looks, conveys sensual appeal… The author says, “Beauty does not always benefit the woman who possess it. On occasion it betrays her, and at other times it endangers her, even to the point of death.”…“These novels about Esther, Bathsheba and Delilah are stories of “tob” woman.”

This story is narrated in the first person by Esther and a eunuch named Harbonah, who served the king. I like stories that cause me to go back to scripture and walk away with a different insight and understanding. The scriptures came alive through reading this story. I came away with a new appreciation of Esther because readers see an average young girl grow up into a beautiful woman who is set on an unexpected course; all the while staying close to God.

This author has 10 discussion questions and author notes in the back. I read them first. It helped me to see the authors writing process. It also gave a glimpse at how she went about gathering information for the novel. I love the depth of faith portrayed in these characters, their circumstances and the hardships they faced. This author’s in-depth research makes for a heart-felt, fascinating read. Not bogged down with detail but had me feel like you are walking the streets with Esther and people of that time period.

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

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

Book Fun Magazine


Ties that Bind
By Cindy Woodsmall
Published by WaterBrook Press
ISBN# 978-1601426994

Back Cover: Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together—or simply tear them apart?

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a café in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.  

Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the café—because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever. Ties That Bind is the first novel in the Amish of Summer Grove series.

REVIEW: This author hooked me from the start, “Gnarled fingers of smoke seeped under the closed door of the old house. Fear threatened to steal Lovina’s ability to obey her husband’s departing words to stay put.”

This story tugged at my heart strings. I couldn’t put down. I instantly connected with the characters and felt for their situation. Cindy skillfully pens a powerfully moving story that could be ripped from today’s headlines and affects both the Amish and the Engischer world.  

I enjoyed this novel because it didn’t exclusively stay inside the Amish community. This author does a great job creating a tender story with believable characters I could relate to. I enjoyed her well timed humor and getting to the heart of the matter in relationships inside the family and outside in the world.

Here's a peek at the main Amish female character Ariana says about being a sister, “Sisterhood was like having a vivid rainbow and a gloomy thunderstorm in the same room at the same time.” LOL!

Here's a peek at leading male Amish character; Quill and what he shares about relationships, “People’s point of views were tricky in any relationship. That was especially true with him and Ariana. Quill had a helicopter view of the event in broad daylight. She wasn’t to blame for seeing him from the vantage point available to her (which was limited).”…He told Ariana “We have to allow people to make their own decisions about what’s right and wrong for them?” Quill is a complex young man who believes with all his heart he’s here to help people through the hard times. He wants to help them make the right choice for them no matter what the Old Order church says. This young man was loyal, responsible and wise.

Quill reflects on words found in a book from the Plymouth colony that help him.” All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties…Hardship wasn’t an indicator of being right or wrong. It was a sign of being alive.”

Ariana aspires to own her own restaurant that would benefit her whole family; at the same time she is fearful a family member wants to leave the Amish community. She thinks about the “fear Amish parents lived with …after welcoming newborns into the fold, watching over them with love and prayers for two decades, give or take, and then to see them across a great divide, standing in the world with the Amish on the other side. Did Englisch parents live with such fear, for their children – the terror that the fires of hell would swallow their loved ones?”

This is not your typical Amish story where a person is unhappy with the Old Order ways and wants to embrace the ways of the World. It’s so much more. This author does a brilliant job of engaging readers in this heart-wrenching tale that has two families think about what’s important to God, to themselves, and others. I can’t wait to read the next book in The Amish of Summer Grove series. I’m fascinated to see where this amazing author takes these characters next. This would make a great book club pick. There is so much to talk about that is relevant to everyone. This book is a keeper!

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

Nora St Laurent                                               

TBCN Where Book Fun Begins 

The Book Club Network blog 
Book Fun Magazine 


By L.R. Burkard
Published by: Lilliput Press
275 Pages

Back Cover: What do you do when the whole world stops?
When everything you've come to depend upon--transportation, grocery shopping, cell phones, and the internet--comes to a sudden, crashing halt?
Welcome to PULSE.

Three teenage girls and their families must survive when America's worst nightmare actually occurs: The failure of the electric grid due to an electromagnetic pulse.

To outsiders, Andrea Patterson has the American dream house and family. But when the unthinkable happens and life is forever different, the dream looks more like a nightmare--one from which she and her family may not wake up alive.

Lexie Martin's farm family has never been cool like Andrea's, but they've been prepping for disaster for years. For them, the world didn't stop; it just slowed down. The one thing they didn't prepare for? A psycho school bus driver who wants what they've got.

Sarah Weaver, friend of Andrea and Lexie, lives on the top floor of a ten-story apartment building. When things went black, she thought it could be romantic--like living in the time of Jane Austen.

She was wrong.

Has the world collapsed forever?
Who will survive when technology fails? Perhaps even more important,
Who will get to eat?

REVIEW: The cover made me stop, then I looked at the author’s name. I was thrilled to learn that L.R. Burkard and Linore Burkard were the same person. I adored the authors other books and was excited to read this new YA series. The set up for this story is brilliant. The reader experiences the tragic worldwide event from three very different teenage girls’ POV’S. These three girls are friends and go to school together – that is about as much as they have in common. The author introduces one young lady at a time; writing the novel in first person; which made it more intimate. Andrea is 16 and the first teenager to experience the fall out. Each new chapter starts out giving the time line like this Jan 11th Day one (and so on – this is important when you read the other girls stories)

Andrea things to herself, “So my dad got all upset because when he went to leave for work the car went halfway down the driveway and died. His precious Mercedes. I was just walking out to wait for the school bus and he hurried towards me in a huff, yelling something about how the starter wouldn’t even turn over.”

“What’d you do to the car, Andrea? He demanded. I stared at him. I couldn’t believe he was trying to pin it on me.”

After the reader learns about that family they meet the next teenager in PART 2 Lexie Jan 11th 16 years old - Day one. Lexie thinks to herself, “We’re the “preppers” we’d long ago taken seriously the idea that something catastrophic could render the country helpless in a matter of minutes by shutting down the entire electric grid. Heck, we almost expect it. My parents even had enough emergency supplies in storage to last through such a disaster…had it really happened?” As you can see this gal has a different spin on things. It’s quite fascinating to read.

The reader meets the last teen SARAH in PART 3 she too is 16 years old and lives in the city. She has a completely different situation then the other two girls which reminded me of the movie The Day After. The author takes readers through all these families’ lives -later mixing up the girls situations as time goes on. The author takes readers to part 6 which is three months out in time.

Each family has troubles even the ones that are prepared. Readers see that fire drills are different than actually experiencing the real deal! This is a realistic look at what desperate people do in desperate times. It’s edgy but not too graphic. This book sets the stage for the next book in the series. You’ll want to know what happens to these three friends and the families. You’ll want to know how God moves in their lives through impossible situations. This book grabbed my heart and never let go as I watched these families struggle; I couldn’t help but wondered what I’d do.

I instantly cared about these girls and their all too real situation. I had read a series similar to this one that showed a small towns struggle. It didn’t happen in the thick of winter like this story did. This one is written in first person which puts a whole new spin on things. Learning about this through the eyes of teens had me spell bound! You won’t want to miss this gritty and powerful series. This would make a great book club pick. There is so much to discuss.

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

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

Book Fun Magazine


Deception on Sable Hill
By Shelley Gray
Published by Zondervan
ISBN# 978-0-310-33854-3
334 Pages

Back Cover: The World’s Fair has introduced many new ideas to Chicago society—but can two individuals from very different backgrounds find love together?

It’s mid-September 1893 and Eloisa Carstairs is the reigning debutant of Gilded Age Chicago society. To outsiders she appears to have it all. But Eloisa is living with a dark secret. Several months ago, she endured a horrible assault at the hands of Douglass Sloane, heir to one of Chicago’s wealthiest families. Fearing the loss of her reputation, Eloisa confided in only one friend. That is, until she meets Detective Sean Ryan at a high-society ball.

Sean is on the fringes of the Chicago elite. Born into a poor Irish family, becoming a policeman was his best chance to ensure security. Despite social boundaries, he is enamored with Eloisa Carstairs. Sean will do anything to keep her safe—even if he can never earn her affections.

Eloisa longs to feel normal again, but a killer is on the loose. In the last month, three debutants have been accosted by an assailant wielding a knife, and Eloisa fears for her safety at every event she attends. As the danger in the city increases, and as the romance between Eloisa and Sean blossoms, they both realize they want to be seen as more than how the world views them. But will they catch the killer before all their hopes come crashing down?

REVIEW: It’s the beautiful and intriguing cover that grabbed my attention first. Then I noticed the name of the author. I’ve wanted to read one of her books for a while now. Up until now she’d written mostly Amish. The bonus for me was the story took place during the World’s Fair and I liked how it showed the confusing times within social lines in Chicago that were rapidly changing.

The author whisks readers into Eloisa’s world mingling at an elegant party Eloisa’s mother insisted she attend.  A young man starts to lead her to a private area. Eloisa becomes nervous. She doesn’t want to go. Sean Ryan sees panic in Eloisa’s eyes. He steps in to see how she is. She gladly accepts his help. Then people at the party panic for other reasons, screams break out. Everyone is nervous about The Slasher who’s been cutting beautiful rich girls’ faces; leaving them scarred for life!

The author says, “I truly loved Eloisa’s character. She worked hard to overcome the pain she suffered in a previous book…” She continues,…”Deception on Sable Hill takes place at the end of the Gilded age, right before the turn of the Century that will bring the Great War, Prohibition, the women’s right to vote. And the rise of the middle class.”

Eloisa finds it easy to set her feelings aside and pretend all was right with her world but not now. Not after she was sexually assaulted by a gentleman her mother set her up with. No one knows her secret and that she’s tarnished. She spent a long time hiding from people. But after a while became a fighter, “Perhaps life really was worth grasping and taking chances.(she thought) Perhaps life really was for living by what a person wanted instead of how others would view their having it.” She wasn’t going to let this event define her.

She helps Detective Sean Ryan with what she knew about the woman who were cut by the Slasher. She liked Sean and wondered if he liked her too. It was crazy for either of them to think this way. They were from very different worlds.

Sean explains to her when asked why they can’t have feelings for each other; “Because I’m Irish, Eloisa. Because I’m working class. Because my family built canals and railroads and worked in the stockyards while yours financed them. Because each of your evening gowns likely costs more than I earn in a month.”

Elosia looks Sean…”Those things don’t define you….You are more than that.”

Sean Ryan watches how the reverse situation his partner Owen Howard is going through. Owen is interested in his young nineteen year old sister Katie. She’s impressionable, feisty and wonders if she’ll ever be suitable for a man like Owen. The author says this about Katie “I felt she represented all the changes that were taking place for women at the turn of the century.” I agree

Eloisa wants to volunteer to help at Hope House. Sean runs into her sister later and asks how the tour of Hope House went with Eloisa.. Mauve explains, “She has everything, Sean. She has everything and she wants more. She’s going to want to marry a man who can give her more. No matter what you might think, she is not going to want to marry someone like you.”

Emotions run high and misunderstandings are inevitable between the classes. Will anyone be able to get along? Understand? This author gave a clear understanding of this matter from both sides. The author doesn’t have the reader solve the mystery but to go alongside the people that are in charge of investigating; Ryan and Owen. We see how this event affects their lives and their loved ones.

This is the second book in the Chicago World’s Fair mystery series; book one was titled Secrets of Sloane. I hadn’t read book one. I didn’t feel lost at all. I look forward to reading the third and final book in this series that’s scheduled to release November 2015; titled Whispers in the Reading Room. This novel would make a great book club pick. The author includes great discussion questions that would help in book club discussions. It’s a win, win for everyone!

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

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

Book Fun Magazine