BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

THE VEGAN 8 COOKBOOK REVIEWED

The Vegan 8
By Brandi Doming
(100 Simple, Delicious Recipes Made with 8 Ingredients or Less
Published by: Oxmoor House
Release Date: October 16, 2018
ISBN#978-0848757076
Pages 256

Tags: Special Diet, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Quick, Easy

BACK COVER: Five years ago, popular blogger Brandi Doming of The Vegan 8 became a vegan, overhauling the way she and her family ate after a health diagnosis for her husband. The effects have been life-changing. Her recipes rely on refreshingly short ingredient lists that are ideal for anyone new to plant-based cooking or seeking simplified, wholesome, family-friendly options for weeknight dinners. All of the recipes are dairy-free and most are oil-free, gluten-free, and nut-free (if not, Brandi offers suitable alternatives), and ideally tailored to meet the needs of an array of health conditions. Each of the 100 recipes uses just 8 or fewer ingredients (not including salt, pepper, or water) to create satisfying, comforting meals from breakfast to dessert that your family—even the non-vegans—will love. Try Bakery-Style Blueberry Muffins, Fool ’Em “Cream Cheese” Spinach-Artichoke Dip, Cajun Veggie and Potato Chowder, Skillet Baked Mac n’ Cheese, and No-Bake Chocolate Espresso Fudge Cake.

REVIEW: This includes yummy, creative dishes with gorgeous photos of almost every luscious item in this inspiring cook book.  Author Brandi Doming has run a blog for years and never intended to become a vegan until her husband became ill. She sought to aid in finding the foods that would heal him.100 Simple, Delicious recipes made with 8 ingredients or less was the answer. She also found from her blog audience that they loved the fact all her recipes had only 8 ingredients.

Author gives suggestions for readers to have the same delicious results every time with recipes by using fresh herbs and measuring all ingredients that go into every item in her book (she gives you both measurements for cup and weight - she lets you decide which way you'd like to go). The author uses 8 ingredients per meal, drink, snack, dessert which does not include salt, pepper and water. She doesn’t use the same ingredients over and over but selects only 8 to use at a time. She is very creative and the items I made were very flavorful. Even if you are not a vegan (which I am not) I enjoyed these yummy satisfying treats.

Here is the table of contents, the Welcome her story on the wellness journey her family went on, The Vegan Kitchen, Breakfast, Scrumptious Snacks & Appetizers, Time-Crunch Lunch, Sauces and Dressings, Easy Entrees, Comforting soups & Stews, Sides and Dips, Crowd-pleasing desserts, Staples, Metric equivalents.

Recipes I tried: Crowd-pleasing Brownies, Roasted Gold Potato with Rosemary
Creamy Dijon-Pepper Dressing, All-purpose Lemon Cream, 20- minute Alfredo. My family and I enjoyed these items very much. She uses a wide variety of ingredients not the same ones all the time. I learned some new techniques in these recipes I hadn’t done before. Was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful they were. I wouldn’t think to combine the ingredients the way she did. Yummy!

The recipes have easy to follow instructions. The author includes the recipe yield amount, Prep time, cook time and the nutritional break down. What makes this book vertical is the fact that there are tips and ideas to help make the recipes dairy free, gluten-free and nut free. I look forward to trying many more recipes inside this lovely, easy to use, eye appealing cook book.

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

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

MURDER AT THE FLAMINGO REVIEWED


Murder at the Flamingo
By Rachel McMillan
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN#978-0-7852-1892-6
Pages 344
Release Date: July 10, 2018

Tags: Boston, Mystery, Adventure, Historical Fiction, Rachel McMillan, Anxiety, Rachel, Romance, Night Clubs, 1930’s

BOOK COVER: Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times -- including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square.  When he meets his cousin's “right hand man” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand.

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo nightclub.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build

REVIEW: This is a fun historical novel set in the 1930’s. It’s a throwback to the beginnings of big nightclubs that were the center of the night life in Boston. Hamish Deluca is an attorney who discovers he’s not a fit to do battle in the courtroom. He runs to visit his cousin, Luca, in Boston who wants him to help with his new Flamingo night club.

Another runaway character in the story is Reggie. She has her heart set on getting out from under her parents’ rules, control and money She finds herself in Boston and gets a job as Luca’s secretary. As the opening of the club draws near both Hamish and Reggie sense something is amiss, but they can’t quite put their finger on it. All did not appear what it seemed – they would get peeks at that reality when people came to confront Luca about this and/or that but then Luca did a great job of getting things back to normal quickly enough. But nothing could re-set an unexpected murder at the Flamingo.

This story had a slow beginning as the author has you get to know Reggie and Hamish as they learn about this new exciting night club and the time period. There are references to drinking, smoking, cigarette girls, swearing, and mob references and of course murder. As suspected all along Luca has hidden secrets he doesn’t want to come to light and threaten his new club opening.

This is the authors first book in a delightful series that combines fun quirky characters, mystery, adventure, history, a splash of romance and a story that will make you smile from ear to ear. The author includes discussion questions that will help generate a lively conversation at your meeting.

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! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
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JACOB'S BELL - SPECIAL CHRISTMAS STORY REVIEWED


Jacob’s Bell
By John Snyder
Published by: Faithwords
ISBN# 978-1546010395
224 Pages
Release Date: October 2, 2018

Tags:Classics, Allegories, Holidays, Christmas,  Historical, Family, Redemption, Reconciliation Hope

BACK COVER: For readers of Richard Paul Evans and Melody Carlson comes JACOB'S BELL, a heartwarming Christmas story about how an unlikely friendship between an old man and a little girl saved a family.

Sometimes the road to forgiveness and restoration can be a rocky one. Set in Chicago and Baltimore in 1944 with flashbacks to the 1920s, JACOB'S BELL follows Jacob MacCallum on his arduous journey to redemption.

At one time, Jacob had it all: wealth, a wonderful family and a position as one of the most respected businessmen in Chicago. Then he made some bad decisions and all that changed. For the past twenty years he lived in an alcohol-induced haze, riddled with guilt for the dreadful things he had done to his family and his role in the untimely death of his wife. Estranged from his children and penniless, he was in and out of jail, on the street and jumping freight trains for transportation. Realizing he needed a drastic change, Jacob embarked on a journey to find his children, seek their forgiveness, and restore his relationship with them. Befriended by a pastor at a Salvation Army mission, he struggled to transform his life. Yet finally he overcame his demons, but not without a fair number of setbacks. Jacob became a Salvation Army Bell Ringer at Christmastime. While ringing his bell on a street corner one snowy day, he met a young girl who, through a series of strange coincidences, led him back to his children and facilitated Jacob's forgiveness just in time for Christmas.

Author John Snyder pens a story of love, hardship, and reconciliation that will leave readers filled with Christmas joy.

REVIEW: Forgiveness! That’s what the Christmas story is all about. Jesus took all our sins and came so that we’d be reconciled to our heavenly father. Forgiveness frees our soul and helps us love freely and not be caught up and trapped by unforgiveness. Our sin doesn’t define us but has a part in who we are today.

This novel takes place starting in 1944 while WWII was still raging. This story shows how there are little turns we can make that lead up to making one wrong move that can change your life forever. It also shows that you can’t earn your salvation or forgiveness they are free gifts for us. All we have to do is surrender and accept the gift. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is forgive ourselves. That was one of Jacob’s many struggles.
Jacob had it all beautiful wife and family; was a successful business man who lived in the life of luxury until that fateful night when his whole world came tumbling down. How in the world did he sink so far down?

Years later he meets Howard Angel a pastor who befriends him and gives him hope. Jacob seeks forgiveness from those he hurt after sharing his past with his pastor. The author uses flashbacks, so the reader can experience the events first hand.

Jacob came to the end of himself and surrendered everything to God with Pastor Angel’s help. God and Howard help him forgive himself and face the hatred and fear of his grown children. Jacob understood their feelings toward him. He’d give them time to heal.
You never know where people come from and/or gone through and why they are homeless. 

Gets you thinking about the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not about presents and decorated Christmas trees. It’s about Hope, Love, Forgiveness, Reconciliation and the Redemption of the World! This is an inspirational read that will give you hope. God is the God of miracles, mercy and love. He provides a way when there seems to be no way. This story is not just one to be read at Christmas, but it will give hope all year long.

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

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
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GRAB TODAY -.99 cents THE ROAD TO MAGNOLIA GLEN

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The Road to Magnolia Glen
By Pam Hillman
Published by Tyndale Released Jun 5, 2018
ISBN# 978-1496415943
448 Pages

Tag: Historical, Clean Wholesome Romance

BACK COVER: 1792, Natchez Trace, MS
Bitter since his eldest brother abandoned their family in Ireland, Quinn O’Shea travels to Natchez, Mississippi, ready to shuck the weight of his duty and set off on an adventure of his own. It’s time Connor, as head of the family, took responsibility for their younger siblings. While aboard ship, a run-in with three Irish sister’s lands Quinn in the role of reluctant savior. Though it may delay his plans, he cannot abandon the Young sisters, especially the tenacious yet kind Kiera.

Upon arriving in the colonies, Kiera Young prepares to meet her intended and begin her new life. But she soon discovers the marriage her brother-in-law arranged was never meant to be, and a far more sinister deal was negotiated for her and her sisters.

Quinn offers to escort his charges safely to Breeze Hill Plantation and his brother’s care, fully intending to seek his freedom elsewhere. But the longer he remains, the greater his feelings toward Kiera grow and the more he comes to realize true freedom might be found in sacrifice.

Includes discussion questions.

REVIEW: If you enjoyed Promise of Breeze Hill (book one in Natchez Trace series) as much as I did then you will love the sequel. Readers get to meet Connor O’Shea’s brother Quinn who has traveled a long way to unite with his brother. On the boat ride to America, Quinn gets to know Kiera and her three younger sisters; who was sent by her brother-in-law who made an arrangement to marry a man in this foreign land.

Life in Natchez Trace, MS isn’t what any of them expected. Quinn wants to see the world he doesn’t want to be tied down to Breeze Hill Plantation like his brother Connor is. Kiera finds herself in an unimaginable situation and doesn’t see a way out.

I enjoyed how this author brings characters Isabella Bartholomew and Connor O’Shea back from book one in a big way. The focus is on Quinn and Kiera but since everyone is on the plantation they run into each other often as they learn to be imaginative with the little they have and create a harmony, a family that works hard together.

I liked learning about this time period, as well as hanging out with this family. I liked how these characters grew in their journey and struggles. This is a fun suspenseful adventure story with a splash of romance that made me smile inside and out. It would make for a good book club pick. The author includes discussion questions.

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! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com 
Book Fun Magazine 
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THE RADIO SIGNAL REVIEWED



The Radio Signal
By Friedhelm Radandt
Published by: Deep River Books
ISBN# 978-1940269917
256 Pages
Released date: June 16, 2016

Tags: Radandt, WWII, Hitler, Germany, Baptist Church, Faith, God, Christians, Families, Poland, Courage, Survival

Book Blurb: Growing up in bucolic Eastern Pomerania during the early years of World War II, young Friedhelm Radandt has listened with his family on the Volksempfänger (people's radio) to the many victory news bulletins.

At the same time, Elizabeth Jobs and her family have lived in urbane Warsaw as loyal citizens of Poland who cherish their ethnic German heritage. As the war intensifies, the Radandts continue to hold worship meetings in their home and defy the pressure of local party leaders to send their sons to the notorious school for future Nazi leaders.

Meanwhile, across the border, Elizabeth's family must cope with the death sentence from the Polish resistance movement for her father, Ludwig, the researcher and developer of radio tubes. When both families are driven from their homes, each embark on harrowing, yet thrilling parallel escape routes across war-torn Germany.

Amid the darkness and rubble, can the light of love emerge? The Radio Signal captures the true story of two separate families who share a vibrant faith that imbues their actions with courage and trust. During the war, neither family knew of the other. Neither family knew that their paths would ultimately cross. Includes discussion questions for book clubs.

REVIEW: I’ve read many accounts of WWII from inside the concentration camp, but I haven’t read any about the people that weren’t Jewish and were left behind. I was glued to this compelling true story that read like a fiction novel. The time period discussed was between 1934-1960.

This is a story of two families and how they survived the tragedy of WWII. One family is in Poland and the other in Germany. This book is written by Friedhelm Radandt through the point of view of a child living in the midst of war. It also showed how the invention of the radio and how it was used had a huge affect on the masses and war strategies. Through it all Friedhelm and others relied on radio reports to get true accounts of the ongoing conflict.

The story switches family stories from Friedhelm Radandt and Elizabeth, the girl who would become Friedhelm’s wife. These families meet each other after the war has ended. It was a little confusing at first but became easier as the story unfolds.

This is a first-hand account of what people in Europe went through. It reveals events and daily struggles of how Christians dealt with losing their homes and material possessions, being in bomb shelters with strangers, frequent moves that caused the separation of family members and so much more. It was eye opening. The author shows God’s faithfulness in the middle of darkness and their overwhelming fear of being arrested.

The author shows what was happening in the Church during the Nazi regime. I hadn’t read about that before. It was quite fascinating. Both families were active in the German Baptist Church and community. The author believes the support that both families received from the church was an important aspect in their survival during the years they spend as refugees during the war.

This was an engaging read, with harrowing escapes that revealed the family’s faith and courage. There are miraculous reunions and trials that will surprise you. The author includes discussion questions that are broken down by chapter. He has three questions per chapter. There are 29 chapters and an epilogue. The author adds a personal touch and has family photos at the end. It was interesting to see the people he’d been talking about.

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! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
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MELODY CARLSON'S NEW CHRISTMAS STORY WILL WARM YOUR HEART



A Christmas by the Sea
By Melody Carlson
Published by:
ISBN# 978-0800722715
176 Pages

Tags: Contemporary, Christmas, Christian Fiction, Romance, Inspirational

BACK COVER: When Wendy Harper inherits her family's beach-side cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. But before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. She and her 12-year-old son Jackson move in--temporarily, she reminds him--in order to do the work themselves, even though Christmas is coming. The charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on both Wendy and Jackson, who even registers himself for school in a bid to get his mom to move them there permanently. Wendy knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea is hard to resist.

Join award-winning author Melody Carlson for a Christmas story that will warm your heart and have you dreaming of your own enchanted seaside holiday.

REVIEW: It’s been two years since Wendy Harper’s husband died of cancer. Her and her 12-year-old son Jackson are on their way to the family beach-side cottage she inherited in Seaside, Maine. Jackson is convinced it’s the home they will live in forever; Wendy feels bad about reminding him of her mission (to sell the house) because she hasn’t seen him so happy since his father passed. Jackson’s thrilled to be part of the decorating, painting and repairs. Wendy can’t stop thinking about all the medical bills she has to pay.

Fond memories flood back to Wendy of the summers she spent in this house with her grandparents. They had so much fun and she was grateful they left the cottage to her. The town had grown and wasn’t what she remembered. It was more charming and had grown. There were new shops and more people. She meets Caleb Colton in the paint store. He helps her pick out colors for the house and the bathroom that was being repaired.

She also was in need of a camping portable potty because of the bathroom repairs. Caleb helps her with that too. He’s a nice young, handsome man but she would be leaving soon and didn’t want any ties. She’d love to stay because her son Jackson loves this place so much, but she doesn’t see how she could afford it.

Will she figure out a way to make a living in this sweet town? Will God provide a way when there seems to be none? Or will the house sell quickly, and she could be back to her small apartment and steady job? Was Caleb Colton interested in her and her son or did he have the eyes for Crystal? She had them for him.
Here is a peek into Caleb’s family Thanksgiving gathering as share what they are thankful for. Jackson states, “I’m thankful that I get to live in Seaside – the most beautiful place in the world!”

“Everyone cheered, but Wendy felt like crawling under the table. How long could she let him go on living in a delusion?” She smiled and passed the food around the table. She felt at home with these people and the cottage. But she had to keep the main thing the main thing. She had to keep her focus on paying the bills and providing for Jackson.

This is a sweet fun story I quickly cared about Wendy, Jackson and their predicament. I also enjoyed the house decorating process and the creativity of Wendy and Caleb. I wanted to go to this small-town and be part of their Christmas celebration too.

Melody Carlson has the gift of writing charming delightful stories that whisk readers away to a quaint cozy town I wanted to visit. This is another enjoyable Christmas tale that will warm your heart and put a smile on your face.

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! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
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NEW ORLEANS MYSTERY ROBIN CAROLL'S NEWEST NOVEL



Darkwater Secrets
(Book#1)
By Robin Caroll
Published by: Gilead Publishing
Release Date: July 17, 2018
ISBN# 978-1683700685
272 Pages

Tags: Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Christian Fiction, New Orleans, voodoo, French Quarter, Darkwater Hotel, Robin Caroll, Murder

BACK COVER: A murder investigation uncovers sordid secrets and haunting mistakes.

The Darkwater Inn stands tall and proud in the French Quarter, the hub of New Orleans. Bourbon Street is bustling, and General Manager Adelaide Fountaine has her hands full with a hotel at capacity. She, along with everyone else, is shocked when a body is found: a hotel guest stabbed with a kitchen knife.

Detective Beau Savoie, Adelaide’s childhood friend, is on the case. As Beau digs into the victim’s past, he unearths a shocking connection between Adelaide and the murdered guest. Beau is hurt that his friend—the woman he’s quietly loved for years—kept the truth from him. To make matters worse, the stress of the investigation has sent Adelaide right into the comforting arms of her coworker Dimitri. But Beau can’t press Adelaide too hard . . . he’s keeping secrets of his own.

Can Adelaide and Beau afford to hide from the truth with a killer on the loose?

REVIEW: I enjoyed this intriguing mystery with fun relatable characters. Adelaide Fountaine is the hotel manager dealing with personal trauma and now a murder in the hotel she managed. Weird thing is that she knew this man and it wasn’t the name everyone says his name is.

Adelaide is unaware of the three young men that are interested in her for something more than just friendship they currently had. Each doesn’t want to cross over the line of friendship and spoil things. Each of these men have a hand in helping her in dealing with the murder in the hotel.

I was pleasantly surprised by this story and at the same I was fascinated to learn about New Orleans and what goes on in the city. The music, the food, Mardi Gras party and it’s voodoo. I liked the natural spiritual thread that challenges the characters faith, hope and the spiritual struggle dealing with the occult.

This would make a good book club pick. There is so much to discuss.

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

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
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TERRI BLACKSTOCK'S CHRISTMAS STORY CATCHING CHRISTMAS - Celebration of Life, Love and Christmas



Catching Christmas
By Terri Blackstock
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN# 978-0310351726
304 Pages
Release Date: October 9, 2018

Tags: Holidays, Christian Fiction, Short Story, Taxis, Funerals, Family, Celebration, Christmas

BACK COVER: As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current court case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.

The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is making his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.
When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure that she’s never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.

REVIEW: What fun to see another side of Terri Blackstock’s writing talent as this story and her characters are endearing, quirky and the topics and situations are laugh out-loud. Funny and sad. I liked her balance.

Sydney Batson is a first-year law associate with a ridiculous case she’s sure not to win. She’s been doing her best to be there for her grandmother in between her other obligations. She calls for a cab to pick up her grandmother and take her to the Dr. enters in cab driver Finn Parrish to the scene. He knocks on the door no answer. Then he sees an older woman in a wheel chair all dressed ready to go. He goes the extra mile for Miss Callie who reminds him of his mother he lost a few years back.

Sydney and Finn meet because of Callie. They both are caught up in the tornado of her intentions. Finn says to Sydney, “I’m glad she entangled me in her schemes. I’m honored to have been there with Sydney…”. And I’m glad I had the chance to meet the God she trusted in. I hope someday I can trust him like that, too.”

Callie is all excited to celebrate Christmas this year. Finn could care less, and Sydney was overworked, and sleep deprived to care about celebrating. But Callie had big plans for Christmas. Finn and Sydney couldn’t help but make her dream come true.

I enjoyed Callie, Finn and Sydney as they check off the items on Callie’s list. I couldn’t help smiling from ear to ear. It’s a heart-felt, fun story filled with love, healing, redemption and a reality check on what’s most important in life. This is a fun read that makes you think, celebrate life and its creator.

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

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
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JOY LEWIS - COURAGEOUS WOMAN IN C.S. LEWIS'S LIFE - NEW THOUGHT-PROVOKING NOVEL by PATTI CALLAHAN


Becoming Mrs. Lewis
By Patti Callahan
Story of Joy Davidman & C.S. Lewis
Published by:
ISBN# 978-0785224501
412 Pages
Release Date October 2, 2018

Tags: Historical Fiction, Romance, Christian Fiction, Literature C.S. Lewis, Joy Davidman, True Love

Book Back Cover: In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice. 

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had. 

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story—a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.

REVIEW: This story has a slow beginning and I wasn’t sure where it was headed. I had no knowledge of Joy Davidman and knew very little of C.S. Lewis’s personal life. The author took her time in having you get to know Joy, her situation, her heart, her troubled marriage, children and her mind as she seeks God and His ways with all her might.

After Joy has an encounter with God and shares it with her husband I couldn’t put the book down. This story gets into your heart and camps out there for a while as I felt for these flawed people and watched them answer God’s call. It made me reflect and changed my perspective on a few things as this author respectively shares about affairs, drinking, relationships and walking out what God says we are.
Patti Callahan Henry Keynot Speaker Atlanta 2018

Part One- takes place in America 1927 covers Joy’s childhood and marriage to Bill Gresham a writer, atheist, alcoholic and womanizer. Each chapter begins with a sentence from Joy and/or Jack’s writings. The first is, “You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you.” Aslan, The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis.

Joy and Bill start their research, reading philosophy books, religious texts and pamphlets. They both didn’t know how to make since of it all. That’s when a friend suggested they contact C.S. Lewis. They should ask him their questions about God since Mr. Lewis was an atheist and then found God. Joy wrote a letter and C.S. Lewis replied. They became pen pals.

Part two Joy heads to England 1953 to stay with friends. After a month or so in England she meets C.S. Lewis and friends.

…The three of us (the Lewis brothers and Joy) talked about our favorite books, what had influenced our childhoods and our minds, and most importantly what had ignited our imaginations. Our imaginations. Our voices grew quiet as we drew closer and closer to each other.”

Part three takes place in America during Jan 1953 – Nov. 1953
I enjoyed how the author filled the reader in on historical world events taking place in England and America, so they could get a sense of what was happening in that time periods.

Part four was back to England 1953 -1960.
Joy accepts a copy of Mere Christianity from C.S. Lewis. “My eyes flashed with tears and I hoped he didn’t notice. “This book changed my life, “ I told Jack.

“No. God changed your life. My book just jolly well appeared at the right time.”

This was a heart-felt compelling story I couldn’t stop thinking about. I enjoyed that the author was transparent about Joy’s life and loves. Her battle to stay married with an alcoholic unfaithful man, who she started on this faith journey with and he fell away.

Patti Henry and I at Author Event GA 2018
I enjoyed what the author shared in her note to readers. “As with any life, there are discrepancies within the many stories that have been written about both Jack and Joy; there are myths and assumptions that have been told and retold. I did my best to gather all the information, compare it, and unravel it to tell a story that relates an emotional truth. This novel was written with the back bone of research and the work of those who have come before me, yet in fiction, imagination and inspiration must fill the gaps. I have attempted to capture Joy’s courage and fierce determination, as well as tap into the landscape of her heart.”

The author brilliantly interlaced her research, the writings of both Joy and Jack Lewis and their faith journey experiences into this novel. She showed God's love is limitless and powerful and unrelenting. He will never abandon us even when it may seem that way with certain trials Jack and Joy endured.

As I read the last few chapters tears filled my eyes as I felt Joy and Jack’s pain and rejoiced with them in the precious gift of unconditional love and time. What words do I use to describe this beautiful novel and the powerful message inside? I don’t think I can do an acquit job. It’s something you have to experience.

Patti Callahan Henry Atlanta GA 2018


Joy says, “I hadn’t known that love would arrive in the most unlikely of places…I hadn’t known that love could not be earned or bought or manipulated; it was just this – complete peace in the other’s presence. All the years wasted believing that love meant owning or possessing, and now the greatest love had arrived in my greatest weakness. In my supreme defeat came my grandest victory. God’s paradoxes had no end.”

I enjoyed reading how Joy knew C.S. Lewis as mentor, best friend, and then as husband and lover. This story is rich with so much to talk about. I highly recommend it for your reading pleasure and/or for your next book club pick. I’m on a mission now to check out these authors books.

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

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
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ONE OF BEST READS OF 2018 - REVIEWED



A Rumored Fortune
By Joanna Davidson Politano
Published by: Revell
ISBN# 978-0800728731
416 Pages
Release Date: July 31, 2018

Tags Tressa, treasure, hidden, vineyard, romance, castle, riches, villains, greed, vine dressers, high society, historical Christian Fiction, Allegory, Victorian England

Book Blurb: Tressa Harlowe's father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn't take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they're really up to. She'll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father's fortune--before someone else finds it first.

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they'll not soon forget.

REVIEW: Wow, what a heart-felt mystery with a sweet profound natural faith message. The story is set in the mid-1800’s and they’ve just found out that Tressa’s father has gone missing leaving Tressa and her mother shocked and penniless. Debt collectors start banging on their doors demanding payment or they will take the Trevelyn Castle and its vineyard in leu of payment. Hence begins the mad search for the rumored hidden treasure. Tressa can’t trust anyone. Were they fortune seekers or well-wishers. Seeking an opportunity to find the treasure.

I liked Tressa. She is a devoted, strong-minded, confident young lady who is not afraid of doing things on her own. She is true to herself and her beliefs at the same time she’s very aware of her own vulnerability and is bound (to an extent) to society’s expectations.

I adored Donegan Vance who is the heroic character in the story. He is the vineyard manager, determined to do his job well. He’s honorable, long-suffering and intensely loyal. He’s a man of faith who is inspiring. He hasn’t memorized scripture and doesn’t spout it fluently chapter and verse, “No…he simply lives it out.” He’s been asked to do an impossible job by Tressa’s father. He’s to keep her safe and keep secrets from her. As he gets to know her he struggles to keep these secrets hidden.


I was hooked from the start. The first paragraph begins with dialogue taking place on the streets Tressa seeks refuge, “I say Tressa Harlowe’s dead. It’s the only explanation.”

“I didn’t set out to eavesdrop, but some conversations are simply too interesting to avoid overhearing. Especially when the topic discussed by these strangers is me. In such cases, I had no choice but to absorb every word, for wasn’t it my business even more than theirs?”

This is an intriguing mystery seen through the eyes of Tressa whose been left alone to figure out a way when there seemed to be no way of fixing anything. That’s when she gets to the end of herself and beseeches God to show her His way. She realizes He’s the only one she can trust.

I loved the main and supporting cast; the castle and the vineyard felt like characters in this story as well. The story is beautifully written, has rich characters that are complex and has many twists and turns I didn’t see coming. This author has a gift of keeping the reader guessing as to if there really was a treasure or was it just a big hoax. Would she be left penniless and without a home? Often times It looked that way. This was a fun treasure hunt for secret-rumored jack-pot in a Victorian era castle with all its underground passages that became suspenseful and spooky at times. Loved it!

The metaphor and the imagery of the vineyard is natural and masterfully woven into the story (taken from John 15:5) was powerful and moving. It’s applicable to us today. This novel is a beautiful blend of lovely writing, endearing characters I adored, an intriguing mysterious plot and a word picture of what true love is. Tressa’s search for true love and the beautiful romance (with its ups and downs), the writing style and message makes this novel one of my favorites this year. It’s a book that lingers with you long after you read the last page. This novel would be great for a book club pick. There is so much to discuss.

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

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