GO FRESH COOK BOOK REVIEWED


GO FRESH
American Heart Association 
Published by Clarkson Potter
ISBN#978-0-307-88806-8
320 pages

Back Cover: The more you cook at home, with a focus on fresh ingredients, the easier it is to achieve a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Making meals with fresh ingredients is not only healthy and flavorful but also fast and easy with Go Fresh. The American Heart Association offers more than 250 recipes in this cookbook, inspiring you to bring nutritious and wholesome ingredients into your kitchen. Enjoy full-flavored favorites—all made from scratch, made healthy, and made fresh—including:
· Cauliflower-Carrot Soup
· Blueberry-Walnut Chicken Salad
· Blackened Fish with Crisp Kale and Creamy Lemon Sauce
· Rosemary-Peach Chicken Kebabs with Orange Glaze
· Tomato-Basil Pork Tenderloin
· Butternut Squash Pasta
· Dark Cherry and Apple Crumble

In the book, you’ll also find Healthy Swaps for substituting seasonal fruits and vegetables in delicious new ways, Shop & Store tips for making the most of your trips to the market and what you buy, and Tips, Tricks & Time savers for reducing prep time and getting meals on the table faster.

REVIEW: I was excited to receive this cook book put together by the American Heart Association. My family (I have High School aged children) and I are moving away from processed foods, watching our salt intake and sugar. This book kicks off by answering questions like, “Why focus on fresh?” A: Fresh allows for max flavor with manual prep. Now that I am eating more fresh veggies, it’s nice to know how to pick the best veggies from the start, and how to store them so they will be fresh for a long time. All this and more are covered in the section called Shopping for and Storing Fresh Foods – Fruit and Veggies.

You can easily cook fast fresh meals your family will like with this book. There is a section that talks about how to make eating “fresh” part of your life style. This book talks about the things you can learn to make prep time quick. It covers different cooking methods that will be best for each dish. They have kitchen tips that will save you time getting your delicious meal on the table for your family to enjoy. It’s light easy reading, not complicated but encouraging.
I liked the fact that each recipe includes a nutritional analysis at the bottom of the page. It has the serving size it makes, and what the serving size is. The Prep time and cooking time. I like to know these things before I start a meal. The ingredients for the meal are easy to find, and there were helpful tips to making the meal well or swapping some items out to create something a different to incorporate fruits and veggies that are in season.

The chapters are titled, Appetizers, Snacks, Beverages; Soup; Salads & Salad Dressings; Seafood; Poultry; Meats; Vegetarian Entrees, Veggies & Side Dishes, Sauces & Condiments, Breads and Breakfasts, Desserts, At-A-Glance Food Storage Chart – I found it most helpful.

The recipes that I tried and my family loved were Garden Vegetable Fried Rice, Roasted Parsnips and Carrots, Stuffed Burgers, Asparagus Grilled. There are 250 recipes inside this paperback book. The middle section has 8 pages of full color pictures of many recipes in the book that are titled with the page number so you can find it.

I highly recommend this book for anyone desiring to eat healthier and for those who already do for great ideas! There is a wide variety of meals you and your family will enjoy in this yummy book!

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



ANE MULLIGAN BOOK SIGNING - CHAPEL SPRINGS - SEPT 13th


SEPTEMBER 13th was a special day! It was the day Ane Mulligan's debut novel was released. A day that we've all been looking forward to for a long time.

The book launch was at Sugar Hill City Hall building. It was done on the back of the building at a place that felt like a comfy porch where friends and family gathered for fun. I've known Ane Mulligan for years now and one thing Ane Mulligan knows and that is how to have fun. Her special day was filled with Fun! Fun! Fun! I wouldn't have missed it for anything!


Terry & Ane Mulligan with yours truly at Ane's Book Launch

ABOUT AUTHOR: While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion.


You can find Ane on her website/blog: http://www.anemulligan.com . If you'd like to see a map of Chapel Springs showing you where all the characters live, visit http://www.anemulligan.com/p/books.html 

THRILLED to Share this special day with Ane & Terry

Now let me tell you ABOUT BOOK: Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire Bennett and Patsy Kowalski. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds.

During an early morning discussion at Dees 'n' Doughs bakery with their ladies group, all Chapel Springs entrepreneurs, attention is drawn to the slackened tourist trade. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to address the town's revitalization in hopes of drawing back the tourists. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages.

Claire, a pottery artist, stumbles through life with her foot in her mouth. When she became a Christian, she thought life and her marriage would be included in the new creation part. But her thighs are just as big and her husband, Joel, is as ornery as ever. She's become nothing more than a sheet-changer, a towel-folder, a pancake-flipper. Her life is humdrum and she's tired of being taken for granted.

Patsy has plans for her empty nest, plans that include a cruise ship. However, her husband, Nathan, continues to work long hours, and he's not talking about slowing down. In fact, he's not talking much at all. She's asleep long before he comes home each night. At first she thought it was just because of tax season, but now she's not so sure. Something other than work seems to keep him late at the office every night. With the lines of communication closed, she'll have to find another way to reach him.

Two of my favorite people!
I was THRILLED to see how many people turned out almost 200 people. Ane is such a giving, encouraging person. She has sown into so many peoples lives. As I looked around the room and watched Ane and Jim Hall sign books. I thought of the last scene to It's a Wonderful Life where everyone gathers around Jimmy Stewart and supports him financially and emotionally.

Ane has given of herself, encouraged many and has learned her craft well. She is a woman of many talents and has a bubbly personality. I originally met Ane and her husband in doing theater. Ane Mulligan is also a screenplay writer and has a passion for putting together plays.

Original Painting by Terry Mulligan
Terry Mulligan is also a multifaceted man as he painted the book cover to Ane's debut novel. Here are pictures of the painting and the person who won the picture in the drawing held at the book launch.

Betsy won the picture at book event


Ane hard at work Signing books for people

Seedwriters in the Back


Jim Hall & Ane Mulligan
Book Signing Event

 Awesome to see Ane Mulligan at her own book signing after all these years. I've watched her help, encourage and be there for so many.

My son Isaac tried to capture a picture of the Seedwriters but it was a beautiful sunny day and that messes with pictures. In the picture is Julie Garmon, Barbara Davidson, Anita Melliot and Patty Smith Hall. This is a special group of ladies that have big hearts and amazing ideas for books. Ane has taken us all under her wing. Jim Hall was part of the group too. It was cool to see how these ladies encouraged him and helped him to tell his story and how they listened to Ane has her story developed and became a reality!

LOVE Her Smile- This is a woman Living her DREAM!!



 Here are shots that we looked out from the porch in the back of Sugar Hill City Hall. I told you it was a beautiful day!!






ALL THE BEST TO YOU ANE!!


You'll be hearing more about Ane Mulligan and her book Chapel Springs Revival. 

I'll be interviewing and reviewing Ane's Debut novel. Stay tuned for MORE BOOK FUN AHEAD!!

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



JIM HALL'S BOOK SIGNING - Sept 13th- SUGAR HILL CITY HALL

I caught up with Jim Hall this past weekend - Sept 13th at the Official Book Launch of his debut novel  titled Connected from Godfather to God the Father.

ABOUT BOOK: The FBI s search for an escaped convict, a former member of John Dillinger s gang, brought them to little Bobo's house as they attempted to unearth his father. Bobo's dad eluded capture, and the seven-year old joined his father, embarking on life as a fugitive. Searching for happiness through his Catholic boarding school years and success as a businessman, Jim Hall became entrenched in the mafia. With riveting tales of Frank Sinatra, Las Vegas casinos, and a possible connection to JFK s death, this is the miraculous true story of a boy connected to the godfather who finds his way to peace with God the Father.

I've known Jim Hall for many years. I've heard him speak a few times. I've watched as the Seedwriters (a writing group lead by Ane Mulligan) This group encouraged and helped Jim write his autobiography. I loved watching this creative process blossom into a book.

 It was Great fun to see Ane Mulligan and Jim Hall do their book launch together. I was thrilled at how many people came out for the event about 200 people.

Jim Hall & Ane Mulligan

SEEDWRITERS GROUP in Back Julie Garmon, Anita Melliot, Patty Hall Smith and Barbara Davidson 
 This is a picture of the Seedwriters group. Jim Hall and Ane Mulligan are in the front and the Seedwriter group is in the back. It was a beautiful day. My son Isaac who was my camera man tried several times to capture this shot. It was a sunny day. No getting around it! This was a special day for everyone!~

 This was the view in back of the City Hall building where the book launch was held.





Jim Hall at Book Launch




CHECK OUT HIS BOOK!! I'll be reading his book soon. I'll give my honest review!!
CLICK on the Book Cover to purchase the book!

CONGRATS JIM!! I'm excited for you and Ane Mulligan!!

BLESSINGS

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

JUST 18 SUMMERS by RENE GUTTERIDGE & MICHELLE COX REVIEWED


Just 18 Summers
By Rene Gutteridge & Michelle Cox
Published by Tyndall
ISBN#978-1-4143-8659-1
375 Pages

Back Cover: Winner of the 2014 CLASS Reunion Kudos Book Award, fiction category.

After the tragic death of Butch Browning’s wife, Jenny, four families begin to realize how precious—and fleeting—their time together is. Each is at a different stage in life: Butch is facing single parenthood. The O’Reillys are expecting their first child. The Andersons are approaching an empty nest, and the Buckleys are so focused on providing their children with everything that they’ve forgotten what they truly need. With just eighteen summers before their children are grown, how do they make the most of that time when life so often gets in the way?

As summer flies by, each of these parents must learn about guilt and grace . . . and when to hold on to their kids and when to let go.

REVIEW: What first grabbed my attention was the cover of this book.  Then I looked to see who wrote the book; Rene Gutteridge. That sealed the deal for me. I had to buy this book. Rene Gutteridge is one of my top favorite authors. I was glad to be introduced to Michelle Cox whose screen play will soon be made into a movie.

I got more than I expected inside this amazing novel. It reminded me of an old movie Steve Martin was in called Parenthood. That movie showed a few families at different seasons of parenting; from expecting their first to the teenage years and how they were handling it.

This book is similar in that respect. The major difference is the spiritual thread that is naturally woven into this story. It gives this novel a powerful punch (not in a preachy way) but in a way that is a game changer in the family dynamic.

Butch has recently lost his wife, Beth. Now he’s left to raise their 8 year old daughter by himself. He felt as if they were strangers. Beth made their relationship work. What did he know about girl stuff? He was floundering. He talks to his friend and co-worker Tippy.

“There was no purpose to this movie (My Little Pony’s - Ava keeps wanting to watch) other than to sell glitter pony dolls.”…Butch sighed. “But Ava loves it….. I think I’m going to rent some WWI and WWII DVD’s. She needs to know about Winston Churchill … Is Shindler’s List too hard to follow for her age?”

Tippy looks at Butch, “Probably too disturbing…You’re probably right…She just needs to know that there are no Glitter ponies, and I don’t think she knows that at eight.”

“How am I going to raise this kid Tippy?”….”We have nothing in common, and what about when she starts asking about…you know….underwear stuff?”

“Get a book. They got a book on everything. Daphne bought about 50 books on pregnancy and child care…She’s making me read them all. I won’t lie to you- it makes Glitter Ponies sound appealing. Right now I’m on a chapter that describes bowel movements and when you should be alarmed by them. I can’t admit to Daphne that all poop, no matter the color, alarms me.”

Butch groaned, “I’m not walking into a store and get a book about children’s underwear. They’ll put me on a watch list.”

I loved every second of this novel. It’s honest, funny and at times filled with heart piercing tender moments that made my eyes tear up and my throat choke up. I liked what Rene Gutteridge said about writing this book from Michelle Cox’s screen play. She says, “Every moment that I invested in this project was a moment that I also invested in my kids, because with every page I learned something about them, something about me, or something about my family. I saw myself as a mom through the eyes of each of the characters – my strengths, my flaws, my good intentions gone bad, and my deep love for my kids.” Amen to that Rene. Amen!

Beth, Butch’s sister-in-law has struggles of her own. She misses her sister, she was her biggest cheerleader. She goes to talk to her husband with tears in her eyes, “It’s such a sobering thing to realize you can’t get time back. It’s gone before you even know it came…” Their son has just graduated high school and their daughter is about to get married.

Helen, Beth’s next door neighbor goes to see Dr. Reynolds because of her rebellions teenager. The Dr. says to Helen…,”you can’t fix other people. You can only fix how you view them, the lens by which you see them. You can pray for your children, guide them. But you can’t fix them.”

“Helen yanked her purse off the ground as she stood. “You, Sir, should stick to counseling botched surgery victims. What you’re saying is absolute nonsense. Of course I’m supposed to fix her! That’s my job. You come out of the womb completely confused and who is to set you straight if not for your parents? Answer me that.” Then she stormed out.

This story is written through different characters eyes. Each chapter is clearly marked so you know who was speaking and what their view on parenting is. The blend of perspectives made for a moving read. This story packs a powerful punch, will grab your heart, make you think; you’ll laugh out-loud and cry. Several times I laughed so loud my family wanted to know what was going on. I shared; they laughed too!

No matter what season of parenting you are in – parenthood is a blessing. One character says to another just beginning their journey, “You don’t know it yet, but you’ll love in a way you didn’t know you were capable of.” So, true.

This is a thought-provoking read; you’ll want to read over and over again. It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time. It does a great job at capturing family life with the struggles all parents face; the joys and the changes. Balancing the demands of life with the desire to spend quality time with our children and spouses is difficult. I highly recommend this book for your next book club pick. Rene and Michelle hit this one out of the park. This novel is a keeper and one you’ll be sharing with friends and anyone who will listen about the great book you just finished!

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

THE BONE HOUSE by STEPHEN LAWHEAD REVIEWED

The Bone House
By Stephen Lawhead
ISBN#978-1-59554-805-4
Published by: Thomas Nelson
385 Pages HB

Back Cover: Kit Livingstone met his great-grandfather Cosimo in a rainy alley in London where he discovered the truth about alternate realities.

Now he’s on the run—and on a quest—trying to understand the impossible mission he inherited from Cosimo: to restore a map that charts the hidden dimensions of the multiverse. Survival depends on staying one step ahead of the savage Burley Men.

The key is the Skin Map—but where it leads and what it means, Kit has no idea. The pieces have been scattered throughout this universe and beyond.

Mina, from her outpost in seventeenth-century Prague, is quickly gaining both the experience and the means to succeed in the quest. Yet so are those with evil intent who, from the shadows, are manipulating great minds of history for their own malign purposes.

Those who know how to use the ley lines have left their own world behind to travel across time and space—down avenues of Egyptian sphinxes, to an Etruscan tufa tomb, into a Bohemian coffee shop, and across a Stone Age landscape where universes collide—in this, the second quest to unlock the mystery of The Bone House.

REVIEW: I purchased the Hard Back copy of this book along with the audio copy. I listened to the audio book to and from work (I have a long commute). When I got home I would read the book. I was hooked from the first book in this series. I adored the narrator of this series. He has a great accent and is very talented and creative in how he did the different voices for each character in the novel. I loved it. I brought this novel to life in a whole new way.

The Skin Map (the first book in this series) introduced me to this imaginative author. The author said this was a book he’s been wanting to write for a long time. In the first book the author sets up the concept of ley-traveling. Readers are introduced to a wide range of quirky characters and a few you are meant to despise. Many of them are in search of the same item, the “skin map.”

Book two, The Bone House’s first page has a list of important people and who they are. I appreciated the list because it has been a while since I’d read the first book. In looking at the list I noticed he added a few new characters making a grand total of 17. I liked how this author takes his time in giving each major character time to shine in their own adventure.

I liked how the author explains the concept of time and how he used it in this series.  Stephen Lawhead says, (in author notes to reader) “Albert Einstein’s observation…”the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion,” speaks directly to one of the central devises of The Bone House, as characters struggle with the diverse yet interconnecting realities of a universe unlimited by space and time…

The author continues, “For characters enmeshed in the Bright Empires quest are not time-traveling explorers – but merely running backwards and forwards along chronological train tracks, confined to rails permanently fixed in a singular direction. Rather Kit and company are bouncing around a multidimensional universe in the equivalent of a helicopter that can travel in any of a thousand different directions. And if hypothetical helicopter is a vehicle that can also zoom off into hidden dimensions and lands in any possible alternate would – with a dose of time slippage thrown in for good measure – then we have the situation I am trying to describe in Bright Empires.

The Skin Map stretched my mind to take in the concept of ley-travel. In The Bone House, the author helps readers understand more about time and how ley-travel works. This is done thru Wilhelmina a girl I admire and liked.The author does an brilliant job of setting up a world Kit goes to which blew me away as to the authors creativity and talent.

I was stunned at how this author connected the characters and their adventures. I hadn't a clue at how amazing this author was. There was more suspense and drama in this story. Loved that. I didn't rush through this book I wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything and it helped me keep characters and travels straight. I was as memorized as Kit was at the new primitive people he stumbled onto. They take him in and teach him a new language. He fits in! The author doesn't complicate things but keeps it simple with the language and village people. I felt as if I were with Kit on this journey. The author does a brilliant job of describing the sights, sounds, and smells of this new world, along with the wide range of emotions that ran through Kits body. Fun.

I was engaged from the start and caught up in this search for the map. This author is a well-educated, creative man with diversified interests. He writes imaginative fiction I adore. This is a GREAT book club pick and just a fantastic read I highly recommend.

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

MARK OF DISTINCTION by JESSICA DOTTA REVIEWED






MARK OF DISTINCTION
By Jessica Dotta
Published by Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN#978-1-4143-7556-4
380 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: London is said to be the glittering jewel of society, a world unto itself—but to Julia Elliston it is a city of shadows. Her life is swiftly dissolving into scandal. And in Victorian society, even a whisper of scandal—substantiated or not—can be the death of a young woman’s reputation.

Now under the watchful eye of Lord Roy Pierson, one of most influential men in England, Julia begrudgingly accepts his protection. But Chance Macy’s power is far-reaching as well, and he is eager to assert his claim over her.

Thrust into society as the Emerald Heiress, Julia is the toast of London, a celebrated curiosity. But in reality she’s trapped between the clutches of two powerful men. Aided only by a gentleman whose intentions she prays she can trust, Julia must finally take control of her own fate—but outwitting one’s foe rarely goes according to plan.

Jessica Dotta at Finding Hope Book Club's Last meeting October 2013

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of book two in the Price of Privilege series. This story starts where the first book Born of Persuasion ends. **Spoiler** at the end of the first book Julia learns that Lord Roy Pierson was her guardian and biological father. So when Julie flees for her life with Edward they run to Lord Roy Pierson’s house for protection from Mr. Macy.  In this novel readers get to see (along with Julia) Macy dripping with revenge and learn how well he is at manipulating situations to perform his evil deeds.

Lord Roy Pierson’s plan is to present Julia to polite society in a coming out party. They will explain she is the daughter he sent away to finishing school, that’s why no one has heard of her.  Soon after she will become engaged to Lord Isaac Dalry. This will help both Lord Pierson and Lord Dalry who have aspirations to run for a political office.

Julia is not excited about her options but agrees to this scheme and studies hard to learn society’s rules and how to act like a lady in order to become the Emerald Heiress.  All the while hoping her father would want get to know her and like her as his daughter. But Lord Pierson is a gruff and stern man who’s all about business.

There was a short window to learn all the rules of society and how to walk and breathe in her new fancy clothes. The reader wonders as does Julia could she really pull this off? Could she learn everything in a few months and pretend to be happy on top of it? Tall order but Lord Isaac Dalry has her back in social situations. This part reminded me of the movie Princess Diaries where the character Julie Andrews played tries to teach Mia Thermopolis, (played by Ann Hathaway) how to be a princess that would eventually become Queen of Genovia. Fun, Grin!

Mr. Macy made it known he could snatch and harm Julia at any time which made everyone nervous. All the players in this game knew that in “Victorian society, even a whisper of scandal-substantiated or not-can be the death of a young woman’s reputation.” This mattered to Julia because of her love for Edward and to Lord Dalry because of his political ambitions.

Soon Julia becomes the toast of London, and everyone is anxious to get to know her. She feels trapped in a power struggle between two men. How could she get out of their clutches and take back control of her own life. She was learning to rely on God for His help there was no one else to turn to.

I felt the tension between Julia and her father as he tried to control everything she did in order to keep her safe and to make their plan work. Mr. Macy was on the prowl to get Julia.  He made sure she and her father knew he was always near. I agonized along with Julia in her challenge but quite honestly she let her emotions run her actions and made some crazy choices in book one and made some more in book two. I just wanted to say to her, “Stop and think about your next move BEFORE you make it.” Grin!

I like how this author starts off the novel in the future much like the movie Titanic did. Julia says, “I’m an old woman now. I had no idea my story would cause such an uproar…long life has its advantages. Your perception grows clearer, even if your sight dims…yet the world thinks what it will. I am far too old to care, anyway…It all began, of course, with my father (Lord Roy Pierson)…

I liked that Jessica writes this series in the first person perspective. It made things more personal. You feel as if you are walking in the characters shoes. “Julia shares her tale of misfortune, mistakes and misery. She was caught in a snare of deception and passion as a greater love sought to save her to Him. Who could she turn to for answers who could she trust with her heart and life?”

Love this beginning. Julia then drops readers back in time for the rest of her story just like the Titanic movie did. “I want to believe that my life would be rectified-that I would find my way back to Edward. But as each day passed, that hope became a glittering candle, sitting in a draft.”

I was caught up in the mannerisms, apparel, and lifestyle of the privileged and decorum of the 1800’s. It’s a fun and fascinating peek at society, rolled together with many suspenseful moments that kept your heart pounding and my fingers turning pages reading about believable characters I found myself rooting for.
Out JANUARY 2015

I highly recommend this novel as a great read and a book club pick. There is so much to enjoy and talk about. I can’t wait to see where this author takes readers in the next book called Price of Privilege. You will too.

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

THIS SCARLET CORD by JOAN WOLF REVIEWED


THIS SCARLET CORD
By Joan Wolf
Oasis Audio – Read by Brooke Sanford Heldman
PDF included on Disc.

Back Cover: Within one of the Old Testament’s most famous battles lies one of the most tender love stories.

Hidden within the battle of Jericho is the story of Rahab, a beautiful and brave young Canaanite woman who aided the Israelites by hanging a piece of scarlet cord from a window. This act of faith changed her life by placing her in the genealogy of Christ.

Rahab is the youngest daughter of a Canaanite farmer, taken to Jericho for the pagan New Year so her father can find her a wealthy spouse. Sala, the Israelite boy who had once saved her from being kidnapped, is also in Jericho. When the two young people meet again they admit their love for one another, but their different religions make marriage impossible.

Their love story plays out against the background of Jericho’s pagan rites. It is only when the One True God of Israel comes into Rahab’s life—and she realizes what He is calling her to do—that she and Sala can come together.

Witness Rahab as a young woman determined to find her destiny as she follows her heart toward true love . . . and the One True God.

REVIEW: I purchased the audio version of this book to make the drive to and from work more enjoyable. I hadn't read anything by this author before. I looked forward to learning more about Rahab. This story was brought to life and made me feel as if I had been thrust onto the City streets of Jericho. I felt as if I were mingling in amongest the crowds watching Rahab and her family.

I liked the way Brooke Heldman read the book and how she captured the lively spirit of Rahab. She did a good job of creating different voices for the many characters in the novel.

I liked how the story was centered around - a sweet and tender love story that almost wasn't. Rahab and Sala come from opposite ends of the world and worship two different Gods. Neither were willing to give up the God’s that they were raised to worship. When Sala talks about his God freeing the Israelites from Egypt and parting the red sea to aid their escape; Rehab soaks it all in. She’d never heard of such a thing.

I liked how the author allowed me to imagine what people of the bible times might have thought, and felt as the drama of the battle of Jericho started to play out inside the city walls. This story is well written and I had fun listening to it visualizing the events taking place.

The only thing I struggled with was the fact that nowhere in scripture does it state that Rahab was a virgin. (None that I could find) There were several places where Rahab’s referred to as a harlot. One of the beautiful examples of scripture is of God redeeming people who have colorful pasts. Rahab’s testomy is one of forgiveness and redemption. The key point in this story for me is the fact that God redeems our past no matter where we’ve come from. He forgives it all!

When I read a story based on the bible I look for an author that sticks very close to the biblical story as they can. If they’ve deviated from the story I like the author to tell me that up front. Right in the beginning I liked to read something like…. “I made this up to fit the story. In my research I didn’t find evidence to back this up but it made the story flow better.” Now I can head into the story forewarned.

This Scarlet Thread wandered too far from the main point of the story. It made me feel uncomfortable. Joan Wolf is a good writer and the story was compelling but the reader was robbed of the powerful message of redemption and forgiveness. God forgave an ordinary - unworthy harlot, brought her into his loving arms, she found salvation, He saved her family, found her a husband and put her in the lineage of Jesus. Bam! Now that’s powerful!

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

RIVER'S END by MELODY CARLSON REVIEWED



River’s End
By Melody Carlson
Published by Abingdon Press
ISBN#978-1-4267-1274-6
306 Pages

Back Cover: In the final story of The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna Larson's granddaughter Sarah is beginning to find her independence. But her relationship with her parents suffers as a result and she travels away from all that is familiar.

While the solace of the river calls Sarah back, surprises await upon her return. Three generations of family heartbreak and disappointments converge at Shining Waters as Sarah finds God right in the center of it all.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that puts the final touches to life for Anna and Clark at the Inn at Shinning Waters. Again American history is interwoven into the story line. This time it’s the 70’s and Anna’s granddaughter Sarah has been missing for two years. Lauren, Anna and Clark have been searching for her with now leads. This leaves an ache in all their hearts. They need to work together to find proof she’s still alive.

I like that the author has let each book in this series focus on one woman and her trials in the maternal like of the Larson family all told through Anna’s perspective in first person. The River’s Song, book one was Anna’s story as she sought to find peace, healing and meaning to life. She and the reader learned much of her Indian heritage.

In book Two River’s Call focuses on Lauren and the predicament she finds herself in.  Eunice tries to entangle Anna and Lauren in her web of deception and control. Ann has the courage to follow her the dream God has given her. She also had the courage to forgive and stay the course no matter how hard the storms of life hit her.  She will not be abused by Eunice or her daughter at the same time she looked for opportunities to love them both. It was difficult.

In book Three River’s End, Anna, Clark and Lauren are working together to find any clues to Sarah’s whereabouts and they learn to work together as they serve the guests at the Inn at Shinning Waters. The thing that would make this a great situation for Anna would be if Sarah were in the fold. As time goes on Anna feels that she is losing her grip on the main focus of The Inn; which was to bring healing and peace to those that stayed there.

This author weaves in some pretty serious things that happened in the 70’s and has her characters be affected by the events. The theme of forgiveness and healing are natural threads throughout this novel and series. The Siuslaw woman – the Larson women have learned to adjust to the changes life brings them. But through this story the River remains constant. Anna realizes, “Everyone has to decide their own path in life.” No one can live your life for you.

I like how this author shows regular people facing challenges and problems the best they can. In all three of these books the authors talks about relationships. They take time, prayer, work and all need to be clothed in forgiveness. The time and effort they put into their relationships would pay off in the long run. They had to be patient with themselves and each other. This book could be read as a stand-alone but I highly recommend reading books one and two in this series as it makes this read all the more richer and a more memorable experience. I highly recommend this book as a book club pick and just plain fun. It’s a series that you won’t soon forget and one that will stay in your heart long after you read the last book.

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

RIVER'S CALL by MELODY CARLSON REVIEWED


The River’s Call
By Melody Carlson
Published by Abingdon Press
ISBN#978-1426712678
320 Pages

Back Cover: Anna Larson's daughter, Lauren, is confused, brokenhearted, and misguided. It's the turbulent 1960s and, feeling alienated from her mother, Lauren chooses to stay with her paternal grandmother. However, repelled by the woman's manipulative and spiteful ways, Lauren returns to her mother, the river, and the Inn at Shining Waters.

There, Lauren begins to appreciate the person her mother is becoming--and she loves the river. However, romantic interests throw a wrench into the works and Lauren, jealous and angry, returns to her grandmother yet again.

But as time passes, Lauren, now a mother to her own defiant teenager, faces a new crisis--one that puts the entire family at risk.

REVIEW: I bought the eBook copy of this book because I was in a hurry to find out what happened next to Anna’s family. I was glad to know that book two The River’s Call continues the story of the Larson maternal line all through the late 50’s early 60’s at The Inn at Shinning Waters This novel begins where book number one, The River’s Song left off.  The main focus of this story is on Anna’s daughter Lauren and the choices she makes that keep the relationship between her and her mother strained. Things are seemingly hopeless for Anna as she and Clark manage their Bed and Breakfast. Lauren is far away and calls are few and far between. This story is told in Anna’s pov. I liked that.

Anna reflects on her daughter Lauren’s upbringing and how maybe some of Anna’s choices could have been different. Maybe Lauren wouldn't have been in this situation and/or be so self-absorbed if Anna had not lived with her mother-in-law for so long. She concluded she did the best she could for the situation.

 Times where hard when Lauren’s dad returned from Vietnam wounded. He was a shell of a man. Anna did all she could to nurse him along but he had lost his fight to live. In the meantime Eunice, her mother-in-law took that opportunity to bond with her granddaughter Lauren and take the affection that was due her mother, Anna. Readers got a peek at Eunice’s dark side in the last book. In this one the author shows Eunice in all her glory. It’s not pretty. I could see how Anna felt hopeless in her circumstances.

This author interweaves American historical events throughout that took place in the 60’s. Many changes take place in our country and in Anna’s life on the river as she and her husband Clark make improvements to The Inn at Shinning Waters. Its fun to read about Clark and Anna working together as their love blooms as they create a peaceful and fun environment for their guests to enjoy. I wanted to go there. Not kidding! Grin!

What makes this story even better is the colorful cast of supporting characters. Hazel is Anna’s friend who is an Indian researcher. She is also Clark’s mom. Clark is a building contractor who has studied law, Henry is the river boat delivery man. Babette, is an adorable French woman who is a friend of Anna’s family. Eunice Anna’s mother-in-law who you get to see up close and personal in this novel and someone who will get under your skin.

I marveled at the patience Anna and Clark had when they dealt with Eunice. They kept healthy boundaries and showed her the love of Jesus at the same time. They would not let Eunice abuse them or their guests. They had a contagious love that spilled over to their family and the people God placed in their lives on the river. I love how this author shows this and how when they fail at loving they pick themselves up and seek his help to love again.

There is a struggle between Lauren, Eunice and Anna that is difficult. Anna learns to rely on her Christian faith, supportive husband and dear friends Hazel and Babette. Life lessons are interwoven throughout this novel and series. This is a heartwarming story that will have you look at relationships and family in a whole new light.  I highly recommend this as a great read and a book club pick. There is so much in this novel.

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

VEGAN ICE CREAM by JEFF ROGERS REVIEWED


Vegan Ice Cream
By Jeff Rogers
Published by 10 Speed Press
ISBN# 978-0-60774-545-7
135 Pages

Back Cover: This revised edition of Vice Cream features more than 90 delicious ice cream recipes using all-vegan ingredients like nuts, dates, coconut milk, maple syrup, and fruit, plus recipes for raw vegan ice creams and sauces.

Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or following a dairy-free diet, you don’t have to miss out on one of the world’s favorite desserts. Although ice cream substitutes are available, none of them achieves the richness of the real thing or offers the breadth of delicious flavors—until now. Vegan Ice Cream offers decadent frozen alternatives that don’t rely on milk, cream, or refined white sugar. Instead, these luscious recipes use nut milks, fresh fruit, and natural sweeteners to create simple and inventive ice cream flavors, from old favorites like Chocolate Chip and Strawberry to exotic creations such as Pecan Pie, Pomegranate, Kiwi Mandarin, PiƱa Colada, Chai, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Gingersnap, and many more.

This fully revised edition now features more than 90 recipes, including raw vegan ice creams and sauces, and full-color photography throughout. From the very first taste, you’ll be astonished at just how tasty and rich vegan ice cream can be. So make room in your freezer, and never miss out on the joys of ice cream again.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for a review copy that helped me make the most wonderful tasting natural ice cream ever. This author is not a stranger to cooking in the kitchen. He’s worked in restaurants for years and has used his talents to create amazing ice cream. In his quest to improve his health he eventually became a vegan, avoiding all animal products. After he changed is way of eating “he craved the premium dairy creams he once ate… using his kitchen gifts to experiment with creating a rich gourmet vegan ice cream.” Because he created decadent desserts he was nick named “The Naughty Vegan”. He has a website by the same name.

“These luscious recipes use nut milk, fresh fruit, and natural sweeteners to create simple and inventive ice cream flavors. He starts with the basic flavors chocolate, strawberry and then more creative flavors after that.” There are beautiful color pictures inside too. I liked reading this authors journey as to how he created these yummy ice cream dishes. I appreciate that he talked about some important items before he plunged the reader into the recipes. He talks about sweeteners that can be used instead of the one he lists in the recipe. He educates the reader on extracts, chocolate chips, coconut milk and how to make it, apricot kernels, coconut water, coconut toasted, durian, ginger juice, nut milks, how to pick out a good ice cream maker and so much more.

I made chocolate, banana, chocolate chip mint, fig and coconut avocado ice cream. I was surprised at how easy they were to make. The ingredients were easy to find, and the ice cream texture was just like the real deal. The taste was luscious. My husband and family loved it. The author tells readers to eat it right after it’s made for the best taste. There is a note to reader, “Vegan ice cream tends to freeze fairly hard. It tastes best when softened a bit.” He gives the best ways to soften and eat after it’s been frozen overnight. I found this helpful.

I felt great at the fact I could make a healthy rich ice cream from natural and fresh ingredients and not have the after “dairy” ice cream drama my body goes through because of my issues with milk. It was exciting.

The main ingredient in most of the recipes call for cashew nuts. They are not cheap I found them for $13.99 a pound. Each recipe calls for about one and a half to one and three fourths cup of cashews for each recipe. This isn’t bad for what you are getting. After all dessert is a treat and not something you eat every day. I feel it is well worth the splurge. On the other hand I chose to forgo the spirulina powder when I made the chocolate chip mint ice cream. The author explained there was no natural ingredient to make ice cream green in color. He suggests using spirulina power; it’s a super food, great for your overall health and will make your ice cream green in color. It’s a great health food bonus. The recipes usually call for 1 to ½ teaspoon full. Here’s the problem I had. The bottle which maybe fit in the palm of my hand cost $20.00. Great for what you are getting but I only wanted to have the ice cream be green. I used the alternative that wasn’t all natural; green food coloring. I used four drops and it was a perfect green. I’ll try the spirulina power when it’s on sale. But the color was beautiful and it tasted great.

The author loves sharing this healthy alternative to dairy ice cream. It’s become part of his life’s work. I’m thrilled he has shared his passion in this inspiring book with great tasting ice cream that is simple to make. Another bonus is the fact the author gave readers variations on the basic recipe for more flavors to try. I’m excited to know I could make all these ice creams that are natural, fresh with rich flavor! I love this book. My family loved the ice cream. You will too!

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

The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com

RIVER'S SONG by MELODY CARLSON REVIEWED

River’s Song
By Melody Carlson
Published by Abingdon Press
ISBN# 978-1-4267-1266-1
286 Pages

Back Cover: Sometimes when we look back, we are able to see ahead

Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own midlife crisis, widow Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life.

For the first time since childhood, Anna embraces her native heritage, despite the disdain of her vicious mother-in-law. 

By transforming her old family home on the banks of the Siuslaw River into The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna hopes to create a place of healing—a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings. Starting with her own family . . .

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that gave me a snap shot into the Larson Family through the maternal heritage.

This novel is told in first person through the main character named Anna; who wants to embrace her Indian Heritage. It’s a heritage her mom, Marian Larson wanted nothing to do with. Anna says, “My mother was 100% Indian from the Siuslaw Tribe, but she lived out her life as a white woman. Other than her skin you would not know about her heritage.”

Anna’s mother passing has brought her to the home they had grown up in and her walks along the river helped her seek God’s will for her life.  She hadn’t been to the river in years. This was her family home. She learned so much about them as she cleaned it out. She reflects on the life she lived there with her parents and how much she didn’t know.

Anna runs into an interesting lady on one of her walks, named Hazel. She’s a woman fascinated by the local Indian population who lived near the river. Hazel is an anthropologist doing her doctoral thesis on the Indians heritage. Anna begins to share what she knows and they become fast friends. She encourages Anna to follower her dream of making her parents store into a Bed and Breakfast.

Anna loves sharing the stories she learned from her Grandma Pearl. There was a reason she was named that. “Her grandma was similar to a red pearl. Anna’s grandmother’s early life had been full of hardships, just like the rough sand that sneaks into an oyster, irritating and rubbing against it. But like an oyster pearl, her grandmother had been polished smooth by her challenges. Anna had never known a sweeter, kinder, more generous soul than her grandmother. She had been a pearl. She would name her grandmother’s house “Pearl’s Oyster Shell.” When she opened her Inn.

Hazel said, “Many Indians went the same route as your mom Anna…I don’t blame them a bit. In fact, I blame the white man…Most Indians were robbed of their language, their art, their culture, their families, their dignity…even their lives in many cases-“

The year is 1957 and Anna gained a new appreciation for her mom and her grandmother through talking with Hazel and uncovering some interesting things in her parents’ house and store. One of the themes running naturally through this book is one of forgiveness.

Hazel’s son, Clark says to Anna, “I’ve learned from experience that when you withhold forgiveness from someone it puts you into a kind of bondage with them. It’s like they own a piece of your soul if you remain bitter. “Clark continues, “The truth is it’s kind of a process with me. I find I have to forgive this person again and again. But, hopefully, in time, I’ll get beyond it all together.”

This was a story of relationships, healing, hope, forgiveness and how you can enjoy freedom in Christ yourself and with others! This book is rich in Native American history and stories told by their people mixed with American historical events that happened in the late 50’s early 60’s. Blend in some life lessons and a splash of romance all mixed together for a great and memorable read. It makes an interesting book club pick too. This is the first book in the Inn at Shinning Waters Inn series’ that chronicles the maternal line of the Larson woman starting with Anna’s great grandmother down to her grandchildren. I highly recommend this book and the series. It will touch your heart and have you glued to the pages as this saga unfolds. I highly recommend it to be put on your book club reading list too!

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

DISCOVERING JOYE by JIM STOVALL REVIEWED


Discovering Joye
By Jim Stovall
Published by Destiny Image
ISBN#978-0-7684-0354-1
170 Pages HB

Back Cover: Sometimes, the greatest treasures that life has to offer go unnoticed behind the frantic pace of modern society.

What if the people, places and things we have categorized in our lives as no more than average turned out to be something quite extraordinary?

Discovering Joye is the amazing discovery of Joye Kanelakos’s life’s work in poetry. It was at her deathbed where Kanelakos told her children about a hidden box that held the secrets to her creative passion—a compilation of poems that had gone unnoticed… until now.

Bestselling author, Jim Stovall takes us behind the facades that shroud our everyday lives and helps us to see the masterpieces that lie beneath the people, places and things we thought we knew


REVIEW: Thanks to The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org for the review copy of a book that introduced me to Joye Kanelakos and her poetry. I also appreciated that I was able to get to know Jim Stovall better. He’s one of my favorite authors.

I liked how Jim incorporated Joye’s poems into the narrative. At the end of each chapter the author had points to ponder. The section is called “Discovery”

This novella size hard back book is filled with inspiration and fun stories from this author’s life. It’s fun to read and also would make a great gift. The title page has typed on it Presented to: and FROM: also a place for you to write in the date you gave the gift.

This author has met some fascinating people. Some of whom became mentors to him at a young age.  He met Katherine Hepburn, Frank Sinatra, and Steve Allen just to name a few.

Jim Stovall started losing his sight at age 17. His world became completely dark by the time he turned 29.  Jim would watch movies he’d seen dozens of times and thought he’d remember every scene. But that wasn't the case. He thought there would be others like him. This gave him the idea for a narrative television network.  He’s still doing narratives for T. V. a quarter of a century later. He says, “We make movies, T. V. shows and Educational programming accessible for the 13 million blind and visually impaired Americans and millions more around the world.

One of Jim’s mentors passed. He was young. He said, “We must savior each moment with the special people in our lives as we never know which moment with them will be our last.”

Jim gives readers a peek into his world, and says, “In my world, they always lie to the blind guy. And they think they get away with it…I guess they do get away with it, but I just like to remind them that I know they get away with it.” I can just imagine how he does that. Grin!

He goes on to state, “We need only three things to be happy. We require something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to.” I like how he puts that.

Here’s a “Discovery” statement. This is where he makes readers stop and think, He says, “Every season is a gift, every day is an opportunity and every moment is a treasure. Spend them wisely.”

Coach John Wooden said to Jim Stovall, “Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out! We can only share that which we possess and that which possesses’ us. To give love away, we must first accept it, then embrace it, then become it.”

There’s a lot in this little book! You’ll be rereading this book again to catch what you missed the first time. I’ll leave you with this through from the author. “Sometimes in order to hear, learn, and understand that which we seek, we need only to be still…often, the best way to move forward and hold on is to simply let go!”

This is a book to be enjoyed and shared!

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