Auschwitz Lullaby
By Mario Escobar
Published by Thomas Nelson
304 Pages
Release Date: August 7, 2018

Tags Cultural Heritage, Historical Fiction, WWII, Concentration Camp, Germans, Aryan, Gypsy, Helene Hannemann

BACK COVER: Auschwitz Lullaby brings to life the story of Helene Hannemann—a woman who sacrificed everything for family and fought furiously for the children she hoped to save.

On an otherwise ordinary morning in 1943, Helene Hannemann is preparing her five children for the day when the German police arrive at her home. Helene’s worst fears come true when the police, under strict orders from the SS, demand that her children and husband, all of Romani heritage, be taken into custody. Though Helene is German and safe from the forces invading her home, she refuses to leave her family—sealing her fate in a way she never could have imagined.

After a terrifying trek across the continent, Helene and her family arrive at Auschwitz and are thrown into the chaos of the camp. Her husband, Johann, is separated from them, but Helene remains fiercely protective of her children and those around her. When the powers-that-be discover that Helene is not only a German but also a trained nurse, she is forced into service at the camp hospital, which is overseen by the notorious Dr. Mengele himself.

Helene is under no illusions in terms of Dr. Mengele’s intentions, but she agrees to cooperate when he asks her to organize a day care and school for the Romani children in the camp. Though physically and emotionally brutalized by the conditions at Auschwitz, Helene musters the strength to protect the children in her care at any cost. Through sheer force of will, Helene provides a haven for the children of Auschwitz—an act of kindness and selflessness so great that it illuminates the darkest night of human history.

Based on a true story, Mario Escobar’s Auschwitz Lullaby demonstrates the power of sacrifice and the strength of human dignity—even when all hope seems lost.

REVIEW: This novel follows Helene Hanneman and her family during WWII, and the holocaust, the author said it was difficult to do the research but also difficult to express and show the integrity of the people who suffered. The author says, “What worried me was not being able to capture the greatness of Helene Hannemann’s soul within the lines of the pages.”

This true account of Helene Hanneman, an Aryan German woman married twenty years to a Gypsy violinist, Johann. They were happy and had five children together.

What amazed me about this story was the fact that the German’s singled out and imprisoned Gypsy’s. It wasn’t just the Jewish people they were after. Helene stayed strong for her five children. She sang a Lullaby to calm them to sleep at night. She was all too aware of her surroundings…”there was an ever-present death sentence that had all our names written on it. Sooner or later, we all have to die, but in the concentration camp it felt like you did not actually die, you merely ceased to exist.”

After a few weeks in the camp Helene tells an inmate she is a nurse. The older woman lets the authorities know about Helene’s talents and is willing to help. That’s when she meets Dr. Josef Mengele and works in the Medical Barracks alongside him. Dr. Mengele soon approaches Helene with a request. He wants her to start up and run a nursery and school for the children there. He only trusted her to do this because she was a pure-blooded German. She thinks about it overnight and then starts dreaming “…I had now been given the sacred mission of saving the Gypsy children at Birkenau, which would start by reviving their will to live in the midst of all that death!”

Helene makes up a list of all the things she needed to do this up right including extra food for the children. The Dr. says she’d get all the items on the list. She thanks him. He replies, “There’s no need for thanks. I know most of you think we’re all a bunch of monsters, and you may be right to a degree, but that’s simplifying things greatly, don’t you think? We’re pursuing an ideal; we have a mission.… As long as I’m assigned here, those children will enjoy exquisite treatment, I assure.”

The Dr. is true to his word and a nursery and school are set up from May 1943 – August 1944. Helene was an inspiration to many she was brave, loyal, sacrificed for others, was filled with love for humanity. Many said she was a light in the darkness. Helene wasn’t faithful about going to church, but she did seek God’s help starting the day the SS Guards put her and her family on the train to Auschwitz.

In Historical Clarifications the author discusses all the facts of what happened and what did not. Then there is a Chronology of the Gypsy Camp at Auschwitz, followed by a short glossary. I was surprised at the end to learn this book was translated into English by Gretchen Abernathy who worked full-time in the Spanish Christian publishing world for several years.

This novel is not for the faint of heart; horrific events are shown through Helene and her oldest son’s eyes. It’s brutal, and intense as Helene gives hope to many through her strength and courage to fight for the children held prisoner in this filthy unimaginable place.

The author does a good job of showing the dehumanization process, where people are abducted from their homes, thrust into trains filled with hundreds of people with no food, water and/or facilities. At the camp their hair is cut, belongings taken, left with the clothes on their backs, as they are hustled into barracks like cattle. Their names taken away and replaced with a number that’s tattooed on their body. Many died of starvation, sadistic punishments, exhaustion, medical experiments, and appalling living conditions, because they were too weak or sick to work or picked out by SS guards during roll-call.

The author has helped to engrave some of these images of evil played out in these camps in your heart as he shows how millions of lives changed a flash. He helps readers remember to never take life for granted. It’s said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

This author includes 12 discussion questions to help generate lively discussion at your book club. This book and these events will make your heart ache and leave an impression in your mind you won’t soon forget.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine
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The Solace of Water
By Elizabeth Byler Younts
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: June
368 Pages

Tags: Amish, Sparrow, Delilah, Grief, Secrets, Forgiveness, Pain, Historical Fiction, Death, Racism, Mothers, Children

BACK COVER: In a time of grief and heartache, an unlikely friendship provides strength and solace.

After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.

Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.

With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.

Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom—and has the power to transform a broken heart.

REVIEW: “My hands are the same color as the soil” The first line tugged at my heart-strings, peaked my interest and gave a peek into a turbulent time in history the mid-1950’s, Pennsylvania, were whites and colored folks didn’t mix.

This story had a slow start as the author lays the ground work for this compelling, powerful story. This helps the reader understand the magnitude of African-American Delilah Evans, a pastor’s wife and Emma Mullet, an Amish deacon’s wife; who grieve the loss of a child. The author goes deep into the secrets these women hold close to their heart and how they struggle through each day. It seemed most days the feeling of grief controlled their every move. The author also delved into a young girl named Sparrow as she deals with blame and cutting to cope with the pain. Other topics brought up in this story are family, love, relationships; loyalty, betrayal, redemption, religion, and freedom.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author it won’t be the last. She has an amazing way with words compelling me to read more and experience things through these characters eyes that moved me and at times choked me up. The story is told through the POV of Delilah, Sparrow (her daughter) who Delilah blames for the death of her son and the Amish woman Emma whose very curious about the new family who moved in next door.

Delilah understands Emma didn’t see things the way other white women did. I was surprised at how Delilah and Sparrow keep telling her how white people should act around them. Just because there were no signs posted everywhere like in Montgomery there were rules to follow even in this small town.

Here’s an example of how Sparrow acts when she meets Emma for the first time, “…The lady smiled and patted my hand. That white woman done touched me. …I never had nobody try to help me so much…And they white…She touched me again. Someone needed to tell this lady that it ain’t proper. I looked at my arm…”You shouldn’t do that, ma’am,” …

This author is a gifted wordsmith here’s a peek into when Emma meets Sparrows’ mom the first time. “It’s nice to meet you, Delilah. I’m sorry to hear about the son you lost.” I’m just so sorry.”

“Her words brushed against me like the silk scarf my mama once gave me – all pretty and soft. But after Emma closed the door behind her, the silk-scarf words done wrapped around my neck and pulled so tight I couldn’t breathe.”

Great word picture that evokes emotion and understanding. This author goes deep into the grief of these three characters making me feel as if I were at the side of these ladies feeling their pain. This is a powerful read about a hard topic that’s beautifully written.

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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine
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The Travelling Cat Chronicles
By Hiro Arikawa
Translated by Philip Gabriel
Published by: Penguin Group – Berkley: Advance Reader Copy
288 Pages
Release October 23, 2018

Tags:Cats journey, Japan, Hiro Arikawa, Sweet love story, Animals, Visionary, Family Life, Literature and Fiction

BACK COVER: A life-affirming anthem to kindness and self-sacrifice, The Travelling Cat Chronicles shows how the smallest things can provide the greatest joy.

We take journeys to explore exotic new places and to return to the comforts of home, to visit old acquaintances and to make new friends. But the most important journey is the one that shows us how to follow our hearts . . .

An instant international bestseller, The Travelling Cat Chronicles has charmed readers around the world. With simple yet descriptive prose, this novel gives voice to Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru, as they take to the road on a journey with no other purpose than to visit three of Satoru's longtime friends. Or so Nana is led to believe . . .

With his crooked tail--a sign of good fortune--and adventurous spirit, Nana is the perfect companion for the man who took him in as a stray. And as they travel in a silver van across Japan, with its ever-changing scenery and seasons, they will learn the true meaning of courage and gratitude, of loyalty and love.

REVIEW: At first, this simple story of how a stray cat entertains the idea of becoming someone’s pet is slow going. Satoru finds him under his silver van and begins feeding him daily. Then an accident happens, and Satoru comes to the rescue in caring of this stray. They agree to belong to each other.  After that I realized why the author took his time in sharing, so readers would grasp the significance of this relationship between Satoru and his pet cat Nana.

Nana’s voice,…”….Having had Satoru take me in as his cat, I think I felt as lucky as he did.”

“Strays, by definition, have been abandoned or left behind, but Satoru rescued me when I broke my leg. “He made me the happiest cat on earth.”

Satoru takes Nana on a journey around Japan, to find a new home. There is beautiful scenery and places he always wanted to go. Along the way he visits dear friends he hasn’t seen in a long time. They all wonder why he suddenly wants to find a new home for his beloved Nana. Each friend mentions to Satoru that they’d seen the company he worked for was laying off some employees. Was he one of them? It would explain his request.

Satoru has Nana explore each friends home in hopes there would be a perfect fit. His friends reminisce about their childhoods and the pets they had as kids. During these visits the reader and Nana discover that Satoru’s childhood wasn’t very happy. The reader and Nana get to know this young man inside and out. They see Satoru with fresh eyes and your heart fills with emotion as the journey comes to an end.

This is a story written through a stray cats’ eyes and talks about loyalty, love, family, friendship and a special bond between cat and owner. The story takes a twist along the way when friends ask him why he is doing this and he doesn’t fully answer.

As Nana and Satoru have fun, take in all the beautiful sites; the cat and the reader learn the heartbreaking, touching truth as it sneaks up on them and nestles into your heart. The ending made me go back and look at the story with a different perspective and a tender heart. I got choked up. It makes you realize your life can and does touch so many!

I was interested in reading a book that was written by an international bestselling author Hiro Arikawa who has entertained readers worldwide. This novel was translated from Japanese to English by Philip Gabriel. I’m thankful for the opportunity to go on this journey with Satoru and Nana!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine
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The Memory House
By Rachel Hauck
Published by: Thomas Nelson
ISBN# 978-0310350965
352 Pages
Release Date: April 2, 2019

Tag: Clean Romance, Historical, Domestic Life, Women’s Fiction, Police, Action

Back Cover: A new captivating novel of two women whose lives have been destroyed by disaster but find healing in a special house.

In the spring of 1953, Everleigh Applegate is happily married and newly pregnant. But a tornado sweeps through Waco, Texas, taking her hopes of a bright future with it. Seven years later, widowed and childless, she is living with her mother and older than her years. It is not until she runs into an old high school friend, Don Callahan, that a small spark of hope for what life could be is rekindled. However, a secret Everleigh has kept threatens their happiness and future.

Beck Holiday is a tough, angry, New York City cop. Her father’s death on 9/11 took not just her father’s life but many of her memories as well. She learns that she’s inherited a house from an Everleigh Callahan—whom Beck apparently knows but cannot remember—in north Florida, and her suspension from work because of her anger issues leaves her with time to make the trip to figure out why. Upon her arrival, she meets Bruno Endicott, who clearly remembers her. Beck must work to regain her memory, face her anger, and open her heart to love.

Connected through a beautiful house in ways they will both come to understand, both women must find the courage to face the truth about themselves and their past in order to truly love and be loved in return.

REVIEW: Action from the start as police officer Beck Holiday chases a perp on the streets of Manhattan, N.Y. Beck thinks as she runs, “She was never afraid of the dark. But the light? Now that terrified her.”….she yells, ”NYPD. Stop!”

Beck is in the lead her partner Hogan is bring up the rear in this full-on pursuit Hogan wished she’d end. “Adrenaline made her wonder woman.” No way was she ending anything.

I was hooked from the first sentence and caught up in the drama as this angry, tough, woman who’s on edge; almost goes ballistic when she sees a little dog with a misshapen belly that’s obviously filled with drugs.

I was hooked by the action, felt for the two characters that are introduced and left wanting MORE after reading the first chapter!

I’m marking my calendar for the release of this one. April 2, 2019. I have a feeling I won’t want to miss this read. After reading the Book Cover this might make for a good book club pick.

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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine
SVP Promotion


ABOUT AUTHOR: Ron Smorynski is an army brat; whose mom is Korean and his dad American-Polish. He grew up in White Sands Missile Range & Las Cruces, New Mexico. He transferred to UCLA as a fine artist, then in Los Angeles, as a struggling painter, discovered the new artform of CG animation. One of the first games and cinematics he experienced was Warcraft! He taught himself CG animation and got his first real job at Blizzard Entertainment working on cinematics for Diablo I.

Ron went on to work at various CG studios like Blur Studios. He worked as lead battle animator for the notoriously failed "Conan the Red Nails" animated feature. He always had a bug for indie work. His solo CG feature film got into the Hollywood Film Festival and was represented by two separate sales agents at the American Film Market in 2007 and 2008. After the mortgage crisis of 2008 his dreams of an indie CG producer got dashed against a proverbial rock. Though he continued on a 2nd feature, his daughters became his main focus. He ended up homeschooling them in their pre-teen to teen years. One even went on to win Rachel Ray's Kids Cook-Off on Foodnetwork. Ron had to sacrifice his 15 minutes of fame on that show! And he had to eat a lot of really really REALLY good food.

During all this, he always loved writing and has nearly a dozen unpublished novels and role-playing game books. He even went as far as to publish Alfred, the Boy Who Would Be King, unedited, in 2006. Well in 2015, his sister by chance found the self-published book collecting dust and decided to read it. She saw how badly it was written! Yet she loved the story. So she tortured her younger brother for a couple of years of harrowing editing. Ron had finally succumbed to maturity, professionalism and EDITING. Not only did she use her spare time to edit, after it was all done and polished, and loving it so, she decided to hire an editor on her own dime to help Ron really get it right. Ron has now committed himself to the project and the professionalism needed to make great stories of noble adventure!

How did you come up with the idea for Alfred: The Boy Who Would be King?

RON: As a CG animator, living in Hollywood, and always dreaming and drumming up ideas... Alfred was quite unique... because it was the first where I wanted to be a dad, reading to my daughter. I thought about it that way. I was always into adult horror stuff so never really cared about kid fantasy until I wanted to tell stories to my young daughter. So Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter were out, and my daughter knew about them... both are obviously awesome and successful in their own way... I wanted to mix the two together, taking the parts I liked. I love the sense of history and grim low fantasy feel of LOTR, while liking the fast paced and kid centered feel of the Potter series. What's funny too, is that I wrote it relatively quickly, self published in 2004. It sat there, unedited, on Amazon... collecting proverbial dust. Then I kind of forgot about it till my second daughter was about 3.  I read it to her as a bed time story and it was the most amazing experience for us. But even after that, I did not know what to do with it, and shelved it.

Nora: I liked Alfred and found the story very interesting. It reminded me of the Narnia series as the children went back and forth between worlds aging in one and staying the same in the other. There was also the aspect of time. Very little time passed in one realm and years passed in another. It also reminded me a little of King Arthur as Alfred is trying to help this kingdom prosper again.

What do you hope readers take away from your book The Alfred series?

RON: Courage. I really hope that the Alfred series teaches kids courage. To work hard, to be grateful, to enjoy life and be courageous. Obviously, there are loving adults, who kids need for growth, their mother, their father, leaders... but there are also bad adults, and kids must learn to deal with them too, but with courage. I really hope this gives kids, not a foolhardy arrogant belligerency, but a caring, disciplined, humble courage. And to know there is a Father, a force of Good, out there, that is right beside them.

Another thing I want them to learn, is that there is history and learning in everything, that you need to learn about who has done what before you, to get to where you are now, and all of that takes studious work and perseverance.

Nora: I liked these qualities in Alfred, he was resourceful, hardworking, grateful, thoughtful, quick learner and courageous for sure. He kept trying and didn't give up hope that he would discover the thing they needed to thrive not just survive.

Alfred plays a medieval video game he learns a lot about the time period by planning the game. If you made a video game about the books what would you like to see Alfred and the kids do and/or learn?
RON: Oh man! Totally! I worked in the gaming industry so I understand the concepts of CG assets, programming, designing, scripting, etc... I would love to make a fun family style real-time strategy game. Where the Dad (not Mom, cuz Mom's are too busy doing constructive stuff) and kids play co-op or something, clicking on their characters and units and hurriedly building up their farms and castle defenses preparing for imminent goblin incursions, raids, and finally some epic battle! That would be sooooo coooool!!!!

Nora: This does sound like fun!

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

RON: Well, during my first writing of Alfred and editing process... I myself had become Christian. I was always a Christian-lite in some way, but when I finally went to church to hear a 'lecture' on an actual chapter of the Bible I was like wow... never heard that before. So as I became Christian, as any Christian knows, you can't help but veer all that you do that way. I just can't help it. Alfred is going on the same journey I went on! He is an unbeliever, simply by the fact that he has not heard the Gospel, but as the story progresses I hope it all comes into play. I hope I make it work for any reader. Even those who are not interested in the message, perhaps they will be interested in the story nonetheless. I do want this brazen epic fantasy, but I also want the under tones of why, what, who, how...

So, I don't want to make anything preachy and I don't want to try and fit it in some explanatory way into a Christian worldview... I do want the providence of righteousness, morality and hope. And for that to be fixed upon something solid and there. And for any kid to read it, to then ask... or say... yes... there is something there... I will want to seek it out for myself.

Nora: The spiritual thread was natural not forced. I loved this about your book it wasn't preachy at all. 


What movie affected you most when you were young? If you didn’t watch movies what books affected, you most?
RON: Well it was Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings and eventually the book series! And of course, Dungeons & Dragons, which eventually led me to the role-playing game: Middle Earth Role playing! So.... it appears... Lord of the Rings was my biggest story telling influence! I used to watch the animated version over and over, I had it playing as I got ready for school and ate breakfast! It gave me that sense of Good vs Evil, of courage and honor, to do good, to save others even when you are hiding away or outnumbered. I got into fantasy role-playing early on, leading a small group of kids and obsessed over being creative and telling stories.

Nora: Fun!

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

RON: Leader! I'd totally be the leader! And everyone would be annoyed by me. But... since I have a lot of fat reserves, I'd probably be able to outlast them, energy wise, so they'd all have to succumb to my leadership. I love those sandbox games where you are left in some strange land and have to craft and build and survive! Oooh, I oughta put Alfred on a deserted fantasy island... oh my gosh.... that would be soooooooo awesome!!! I gotta go typpy type a book right now... later!

Nora: LOL!

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?

RON: I'd go back and buy some Apple stock... a lot of it! No! Just kidding! I'd go back and be like, Hey Jesus! Can you get this kink outta my neck! Thanks J! I'll catch you later. And he'd be like... you know I'm only letting you do this in your imagination right? I'm like... yeah, I know.............

I bet in Heaven, we get to go ANYWHERE in time! Check it all out! I bet that's why many of our prayers don't get answered correctly, the messengers are all perusing moments in history, all over the world! Talk about distractions!

Nora: LOL! Oh, Yeah!

What three things would you rather not live without (besides your family)?
RON: My own bed! Oh man... love my own bed!! Wife can stay in it too, but that's it! No one else! My own bed!

Ice cold water! I need water! Lots of it! Like a hippo! I get coffee, salty gouty food, and dizzying heat spells, so I gotta have that water! Gulp gulp gulp!

4 bathrooms! That’s right…4! I got 4 in this house! I don't even know why, it just came with 4! AND I don't even go to the closest one all the time, sometimes I'll walk to the furthest one, just for a stroll. 4!!! One in the front. Why? I don't know. But there it is. The daughters centrally located in house. The master's in the back. Nice stroll to that one, and well worth it. And the guest house in the back has one! Nice jaunt with an outdoor experience on the way. 4!!!

Nora: Oh, Wow! 4 bathrooms! Who cleans them? Just wondering!

If you haven’t been on a cruise would you go if expenses were all paid? If not, why not?

RON: Well I haven't yet... but now that I'm getting older and pastier, I think I might like to! I'm starting to get that 'empty nest' feeling even though the nest IS NOT empty. Daughters are 19 and 14, but still enjoy their parents company... ugh. But I do feel the ocean calling me as I get older and mildly curious. Or maybe it's all those Instagram pics of blue, blue oceans and stuff I keep seeing where friends keep photo-bombing the view!

All paid? Yeah... and as soon as I get there, they'll be like, oh yes, all paid, EXCEPT the alcohol... mmm-hmmm....

Nora: Oh, Yeah!

Nora: Thanks for stopping by Ron and letting us get to know you and your YA series, Alfred.

Thanks for having the giveaway on TBCN and at


Nora St. Laurent The Book Club Network Inc.
You can read author interviews, reviews, learn about book signings and about TBCN giveaways on the blog she created called The Book Club Network blog,
Nora also does author interviews and reviews for Book Fun Magazine  


The Prayer Coin
Elisa Morgan
Daring to Pray with Honest Abandon
Published by Discovery House
192 Pages 
Release Date July 2, 2018

Prayer, Spiritual Growth, Worship, Devotions, Christian Living

BACK COVER: While praying to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus both requested (''Take this cup'') and relinquished (''Not my will''). The idea of praying with honest abandon is what The Prayer Coin is all about.

Elisa Morgan, named one of Christianity Today's top 50 female influencers of the church and culture, had her own epiphany while wrestling in prayer. Should she be more open and honest in a ''pour your heart out'' way, or should she simply submit to God's will and wait? She discovered, through the example of Jesus, that she could do both.

Jesus prayed both sides of the prayer coin in a single sentence. He could be honest because he knew the Father loved him and would hear him. He could pray with abandon because he loved the Father and trusted his will.

She terms this method the ''prayer coin''--flipping from the brutal honesty of our own desires to a complete abandon in allowing God to lead. Moving from one side of the coin to the other and back again creates a new intimacy with the Creator.

Elisa shares her own journey as well as the examples of others as she leads us along a path of deeper fellowship with our Father through His gift of prayer.

The Prayer Coin is also available as an audiobook and an ebook, while a 6-lesson companion, The Prayer Coin DVD, expands on the idea.

REVIEW: I appreciated this authors honest and transparent look at prayer as she talks about it from several angles. She discusses the problems with prayer, How and Why we prayer? When we pray etc. She shares how she came up with The Prayer Coin” as she studied Jesus’s prayers, “Take this cup,” and “Not my will.”  It’s a two-sided prayer approach to prayer. The author gives examples from her prayer journal, so readers can grasp the concept. On the Take this Cup side she has listed “My friend’s trip to celebrate her sister’s 50th wedding anniversary… Take this cup of anxiety. May you rid the worry she’s experiencing regarding traveling etc… She lists prayers for other friends and their situations.

Then on the Not My Will side. She has this prayer for the first friend she already prayed for: “My friend’s trip. May you turn the unexpected and the interruptions into divine appointments. If she doesn’t make it to her destination in time for the anniversary party, or if she’s kept from returning in time for the second event, may you give her peace. May she embrace the solitude of travel as you give yourself to her in it. Not my will.”

Praying two sides of the coin like this makes you humble, surrendered and helps the reader think outside the box as some make God out to be a genie in a bottle and/or Santa Claus granting wishes.

I loved her in depth look and insight into Jesus’ Honest Take this Cup look at scripture and what was going on in the Garden of Gethsemane as he prayed. His truthful Request, His authentic Expression, with scripture references to back up what she’s detailing. She says, “Honest comes from trust and trust comes from being known. Jesus knew that the Father knew his heart, all of it, and would hear his raw three-word request.”

I liked her approach to prayer that helps the readers get closer to God, be honest and transparent with themselves and God. It’s an invitation from Jesus to draw near. This is something that is going to take practice and journaling to be able to do it well.

I’m excited that this book also had a 6 – lesson companion book along the Prayer Coin DVD. I’m going to suggest this to my small group to do at the next session.

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
SVP Promotion


JULY 21st

BOOK BLURB: In two days, wealthy Chicagoan, Anna Hartwell, will wed a man she loathes. She would refuse this arranged marriage to Lyman Millard, but the Bible clearly says she is to honor her parents, and Anna would do most anything to please her father--even leaving her teaching job at a mission school and marrying a man she doesn't love. The Great Chicago Fire erupts, and Anna and her family escape with only the clothes on their backs and the wedding postponed. Father moves the family to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where Anna reconnects with Rory Quinn, a handsome immigrant who worked at the mission school. Realizing she is in love with Rory, Anna prepares to break the marriage arrangement with Lyman until she learns a dark family secret that changes her life forever.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Raised in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Pamela has published articles in Today's Christian Woman, Christian Computing Magazine, Victory in Grace Magazine, Ancestry Magazine, Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Ezine, and the ACFW Ezine, Afictionado. Her true story, Like Son, Like Father, appeared in His Forever (Adams Media). She has served as a sign language interpreter for her church and is a leader of a women's Bible study group. 

Her author tagline, "Take a Sentimental Journey" describes her stories, both contemporary and historical, as most are centered in small Wisconsin towns.

Her books include Thyme for Love, a contemporary mystery-romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, What Lies Ahead, a novella in The Bucket List Dare anthology, and Second Chance Love, a romance set at a rodeo in downstate Illinois. Just out is If These Walls Could Talk, a novella in Coming Home, A Tiny House Collection. Coming in June, Surprised by Love in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (a reissue of LFY in Lake Geneva, WI). 

Pam now resides in Illinois with her two rescue cats. She's not too far from her native Wisconsin, where you will often see her nosing around for more story ideas.

(Best Way to Thank an Author for a book is to do a review)

1. Do you read reviews? If you do what do you look for? If you don't read reviews how to you choose the next book you want to read?

2. If you read reviews where do you go to read them? Why do you read them there?

3. Pam says, "Safe Refuge is set in my hometown of Lake Geneva which has a rich history. Do you have a favorite place that is rich in history? Tell us about it."

CONGRATS to Kathy Robinson
Your name was drawn for a copy of Pamela's new book.

THANKS to everyone for participating!

If you have any question please feel free to contact me

Nora St.Laurent

#AD Contest Sponsored by Author/Publisher




BACK COVER: Do you love the Harry Potter stories but want more oomph and action? Do you love Lord of the Rings but want faster pacing and kid-centered storylines? Well look no further. Aflred the Boy King series offers just that. It's about kids in an adventurous fantasy world, in epic battles, and learning about noble causes. Ron, the author, has been in Hollywood working in the industry for many years as a CG animator. Being in love with story and seeing wonderful works of fantasy come out, there was something missing for this storyteller. Ron decided to write a story he loved telling to his young daughters. An epic story about a computer-game playing boy being magically transported into a scary fantasy world. A grim realm in need of a hero. Kids will love reading this. Adults will love reading this, but more importantly, dads reading to their daughters, moms reading to their sons. Alfred the Boy King series will enthrall and move you, at whatever age.


1. If you read Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and/or Narnia what did you enjoy most about these books?

2. Do you read YA novels? IF so what do you enjoy most about them? If not, what do you read?

3. Ron Smorynski is a creative man, not only is he an animator, an author but he also home-school's his daughters. Any homeschooling's out there? If so, what books have you had your children read that they loved?

CONGRATS TO Karen Yaworski 

Your name was drawn to receive Ron's book.

THANKS TO EVERYONE for participating.

More Book Fun Ahead!

If you have any question please feel free to contact me

Nora St.Laurent

#AD Contest Sponsored by Author/Publisher


Formula of Deception
By Carrie Stuart Parks
Published by Thomas Nelson
320 Pages
Release date July 3,2018

BACK COVER: An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden.
After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

REVIEW:   Wow! What an amazing, nail biting story that kept me on the edge of my chair as I walked in the shoes of main character Murphy Anderson; a woman on the run from a serial killer and in a desperate search to locate her twin sister. She’s gone rogue to get the information needed in doing so she uncovers an incredible treasure and mystery from WWII that people would kill to get their hands on.

I enjoyed getting to know Kodiak, Alaska and sketch artist Murphy Anderson. This was an intriguing story I couldn’t put down. It reminded me a little of the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” As the audience thinks the story is about the war and it turns out to be something completely different.

This a suspenseful action, adventure story that did not get too graphic. I appreciate that. The author includes 8 discussion questions to help get your book club discussion going. This is a fascinating read and one that would work great as a book club pick.

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

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


The Pirate Bride
By Kathleen Y. Barbo
(The Daughter of the Mayflower series)
Published by Barbour Books
ISBN# 978-1-68322-497-6
256 Pages
Release Date April 1, 2018
Tag Historical, Action Adventure, Privateer, Pirates, High Sea ships Nuns, Faith, Romance, and family

Back Cover: Can a former privateer and a determined heiress find lost treasure in 1725? A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Pasts Collide in New Orleans when a treasure goes missing. The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear.

BOOK REVIEW: I had a blast hanging out with Maribel Cordoba and Captain Beaumont. When Maribel splashed on the page and came to life with her fiercely independent thinking, her spunk, with a sense of high sea adventure, and her determination to become a crew member of a pirate ship. I had to smile and laugh out-loud at her passionate desire and confidence in dealing with these pirates.

She knew all she needed to know by reading (almost three times now) , “The Notorious Seafaring Pirates and their Exploits by Captain Ulysses Jones. When Jean-Lu Valmont meets Maribel for the first time a ship mate describes Maribel’s dilemma, “apparently the gag was deemed necessary due to the girl’s insistence on telling anyone who might listen about the books she’s read on pirating and how she knows their jobs well enough to do all of them.” Humor rose on the old man’s face as he looked at Jean…” She’s a spitfire, that one. Watch yourself near her.”

Jean-Lu Valmont is strong, handsome, a pirate commissioned by the French. He operated his ship a little differently than most pirates.  He was not cut throat and ruthless. But he would demand respect from everyone on his ship. Then he meets Maribel Cordoba in a vulnerable position and after they take the gag out of her mouth.  He says, “I am the captain of this vessel.” He looked at Maribel “As such, I regret to inform you that a woman will never be fit to join my crew.”

“And why not?” says eleven-year-old Maribel.

“I’m responsible for protecting all of you.”

“That’s ridiculous. I’ve done a fine job fending for myself.” Maribel blurts out. She’d show him and the other guys on this ship a thing or two; and she does! Grin! (I’m not going to spoil it)

There is more fun in-store for Maribel when she gets to New Orleans. There are surprises for her, Jean-Luc and the reader. This is an entertaining action-packed adventure on land and at sea. It’s a great escape; with well-developed characters I liked hanging out with. I highly recommend this as a delightful read and one that would work well for your book club experience. There is so much to discuss.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through 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!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine
SVP Promotion