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Playing the Part
By Jen Turano
Published by Bethany House
352 Pages

Back Cover: Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but is forced to abandon her starring role when a fan's interest turns threatening. Lucetta's widowed friend, Abigail Hart, is delighted at the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta's life and promptly whisks her away to her grandson's estate to hide out.

Bram Haverstein may appear to simply be a somewhat eccentric gentleman of means, but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there's much more to him than society knows.

Lucetta, who has no interest in Abigail's matchmaking machinations, has the best intentions of remaining cordial but coolly distant to Bram. But when she can't ignore the strange and mysterious things going on in his house, it'll take more than good intentions to keep her from trying to discover who Bram is behind the part he plays.

REVIEW: This author does a brilliant job of creating fun loving characters, writing physical comedy and she beautifully paints pictures with words. I love Jen’s distinctive voice along with her quick wit and well timed humor; make her novels a pure joy to read.

Miss Lucetta Plum is a theatre star in the 1800’s 1900’s who finds herself in a pickle. Her dear friend Abigail Hunt comes up with a plan to save the day and Lucetta’s life. Without any advance noitice they head to a safe place, her grandson Baum’s castle. Where else?

Miss Plum has an obsessed fan seeking to own her. She tells Baum, “…Nigel my step father, just tried to serve me up as a means of honoring his gambling debt to Silas. I’m sure you’ll forgive my lack of acknowledgement.”

Baum couldn’t believe his hears, “Your father wagered you away in a game of cards?”

“Yes. Silas seems more determined than ever to secure a relationship with me, so do know that I truly appreciate you allowing me to seek refuge at Ravenwood,”

Ravenwood is where the games begin. Miss Plum discovers there is more to this castle than meets the eye. She couldn’t help but notice Baum’s staff. They are a collection of unique and interesting individuals, Tila runs up to Baum and says, “A bunch of riders are approaching – they went right by the gate. Which means Ernie’s either dead or he abandoned his post.”

Miss Plum was beginning to believe the rumors about the castle being haunted. That would explain so much. This novel reminded me a little of the Scooby Doo mystery/ghost cartoons where you find out later the strange happenings where being staged for a reason.

I liked how these lovable complex, characters captured my heart and sought out authentic relationships with themselves, others and God. I like how this is naturally interwoven in the story in a non-preachy way. Lucetta smiles at Baum and says, “Most people do have secrets, Braum, and I’m afraid my secrets’ are going to put a rapid end to our desire to court me!”

Braum had a load of secrets himself. Would they be brave and share their secrets with each other? Would Miss Plum have time for a relationship as she runs for her life in order to protect the ones she loves?

Jen Turano pulls out all the stops in this book filled with mishaps, danger, excitement, forgiveness and faith. I enjoyed the fact that characters from previous books were in the mix, Harriet and Oliver, Reverend Gilmore, Millie Longfellow and Abigail Hunt. The author upped the mystery and suspense in the conclusion to A class of their own series as she gives readers a first peek into how quickly the novel can turn serious when the hideous side of Silas the villain is revealed.

Jen Turano does an amazing job of dropping readers into a hilarious, entertaining story with characters I could relate to and adored. I laughed out-loud so often as I read, my husband asked me “what's so funny?” 

Want to escape from the cares of this world for a while? I highly recommend this authors book. Read for fun on your own and/ or as a book club pick. Check out Jen Turano she just might be your new favorite author! She is mine!

ABOUT AUTHOR: Jen Turano is the best-selling, critically acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction series, and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers. Her novel, After a Fashion, was chosen as a top pick from Romantic Times, as well as being named a top ten romance of 2015 from Booklist. Her book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top ten romance by Booklist in 2013. Her seventh book, Playing the Part, will release in the spring of 2016, followed by a new four-book series, The Wallflowers. When she's not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver with her husband and neurotic Cattle Dog, enjoying life as an empty-nester because her son recently abandoned her for the college life. 

She can be found on Facebook at or visit her on the web at She is represented by Susan Brower of the Natasha Kern Literary Agency.

Disclosure of Material Connection: #AD Bethany House
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Book Club Network  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


Blessed, Blessed, Blessed
By Missy Robertson with Beth Clark
Published by Tyndale
224 Pages

Back Cover:  Missy Robertson knew that marrying duck-hunting family man Jase Robertson would be an adventure . . . and she was up to the challenge. Their life together was good (even after Jase grew the beard). They had two children, worked hard to help build the thriving Duck Commander business, and loved and served God.

But after a difficult and risky pregnancy, their daughter, Mia, was born with a cleft palate―a serious condition requiring multiple cranial and facial surgeries. As their baby struggled to breathe, and Missy and Jase faced a life that suddenly looked very different than the one they’d planned, they found themselves staring down one of life’s biggest questions: Where is God in all this pain?

This is the Robertson’s’ story. It’s for anyone scared and overwhelmed by a problem they can’t fix; anyone lost and searching for a way through. You’ll meet the young girl Mia who captured A&E’s Duck Dynasty viewers’ hearts, and learn how Missy and Jase have raised her and their sons to be faithful, confident, and secure in who they are. You’ll be inspired by how the Robertson family stuck by each other through the hardest times. And you’ll discover that God’s blessings are bigger than you ever dreamed―and there when you need them the most.

REVIEW: Missy is the wife of Jase Robertson who is on the Television series Duck Dynasty. I’ve seen the show a few times. Jase cracks me up.

Missy opens up and shares their family struggles and heart ache in a personal and transparent. The story opens up with Missy getting an ultrasound of their third child, Mia who has a cleft lip.

Jase starts the book with a forward he says, “Most people think that cleft lip and palate is merely a cosmetic issue that can be quickly fixed. In fact, that was my initial mind set too, thinking, My daughter has a problem. Let’s fix it and move on.” If only it could be that simple. The harsh reality is that kids like Mia have surgeries and procedures to aid their speech, eating, and breathing the entire time they are growing.”

I liked how he thanks his wife for writing the book, “without you I could not be me – but God knew that, didn’t he?”

Missy then writes an introduction she says, “Trust me, I don’t know if anyone in the Robertson family expected Jase’s brother Willie, would ever have come up with the idea of putting our family on television. In our minds we have always been normal people doing our best to love God, love each other and raise our children well. …
She goes on to say, “One reason I wanted to write this book is to help families navigate through their difficulties, rather than having the challenges take charge and rule the family. Another reason I wanted to share our story is to encourage people facing any type of trouble in life that there is always hope, that the burden you think you can’t bear is already in God’s hands.”

The couple open us and talk about their life’s experiences happy, sad and the difficult. She says, “Through every circumstance, we have leaned on our faith, and we have found God to be completely trustworthy and faithful. We know what it’s like to hear bad news. We know how it feels to pray that God will do one thing in a situation only to realize He has done something else…and we are well acquainted with the financial strain of a major medical situation.”

“I pray that despite the challenges you face, you will view your life as I view mine: Blessed.”

This couple talks about living out their faith no matter what comes their way, which is an encouragement to anyone who reads about their journey. I have a special needs child and would have appreciated a parent’s outlook at what they experienced and faced with my similar situation. If you are a fan of their T.V. show you’ll love this book!

ABOUT AUTHOR: Wife of Jase Robertson and a member of the famous Robertson family that stars on the television sensation Duck Dynasty. She has her own clothing line called Missy Robertson by Southern Fashion House that she launched in 2014. She wasn't raised in a large family, but she had an easy transition into the Robertson lifestyle.

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

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


By Susie Finkbeiner
Publisher: Kregel
318 Pages

Back Cover: “Where you come from isn't who you are,” Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma's Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff's family, they've got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They're who the town turns to when there's a crisis or a need―and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.

Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother's unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn't sure she likes.

Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he's really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won't be the only thing darkening Pearl's world.

While the tone is suspenseful and often poignant, the subtle humor of Pearl's voice keeps A Cup of Dust from becoming heavy-handed. Finkbeiner deftly paints a story of a family unit coming together despite fractures of distress threatening to pull them apart.

REVIEW: This writer transports readers back to the Great Depression; showing the hazards and hardships of a hopeful community fighting the dust bowl. The story is a haunting tale written in first person through the eyes of an adorable 10 year old girl named Pearl Spence who instantly stole my heart. I felt for her situation and appreciated her outlook on things. Pearl is compassionate, feisty and has wisdom beyond her years. She has a big sister that walked to the beat of her own drum. Pearl says, “Being a lady was just one of the laundry list of things my sister couldn’t figure out…Mama had told me Beanie was slow. Daddy called her simple. Folks…said she was an idiot. Meemaw said ”those folks didn’t understand and that people sometimes get mean over what they didn’t understand…It ain’t no use fighting them….one of these days they’ll figure out that we’ve got a miracle walking among us.”

It was hard to escape their reality, Pearl says, “The dust got in no matter how hard we tried to keep it out. It worked its way into a crack here or a loose floorboard there. A hole in the roof or a gap in a windowsill. It always found a way in always won…Still, I couldn’t help but imagine that the dust was one big old whopping from the very hand of God….I wondered how good we’d all have to be to get God to stop being angry at us.”

Meemaw told me, “Life has a way of taking what we know and tangling it all in knots. It ain’t gonna be easy on you to know the truth, never is. But you’re a brave girl. And your strong in the Lord.”

“Every storm has a beginning and every storm has an end. They never last forever.” She whispered, “God is the one who saves. Don’t forget it…Before I knew it, I was hugging my new dress and crying hard because all the green had dried up and gone, never to come back again.…Desperate times called for desperate measures. For those who were unable to leave they did their best with what they had.”

Pearl’s Mom and her Dad the Sheriff helped keep order in their community and helped people where they could. Pearl’s Mom and MeeMaw were strong women doing what they had to keep the faith and pass on food and love all the way.

This is a well-crafted drama with a mystery in the mix. It involved a secret being forced to the surface. Not everyone handles a crisis in the same manner as Pearl and her family. Tough topics portrayed in this novel were those of spousal and child abuse, cruelty to animals and murder. This is not for the faint of heart. I’d rate it a PG 13.

This is a thought-provoking, tender-hearted, emotional read I had to finish because I just had to know how things work out for Pearl and her family as they weathered the storm. This author became obsessed with what happened in the Great Depression and how the people dealt with the dust storms. She says, “After writing A Cup of Dust, I find that my admiration for the Dust Bowl survivors has grown. They were courageous, faithful, optimistic, and generous with what little they had. After all, who knew what the next year might bring. It very well might bring rain, and mercy from the Lord himself.”

ABOUT AUTHOR: Susie Finkbeiner is a novelist from West Michigan. She is the author of A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (Kregel, 2015), Paint Chips (WhiteFire Publishing, 2013) and My Mother's Chamomile (WhiteFire Publishing 2014).
She is currently working on her fourth novel.

Susie is a wife, mother of three, and avid reader. She enjoys time with her family, coffee dates with her good friends, and quiet moments to read and write.

Find her at 

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

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


By Jody Hedlund
Published by Waterbrook
386 Pages

Back Cover: She was a nun of noble birth. He, a heretic, a reformer…an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire. 

In the 16th century, nun Katharina von Bora’s fate fell no further than the Abbey. Until she read the writings of Martin Luther.

His sweeping Catholic church reformation—condemning a cloistered life and promoting the goodness of marriage—awakened her desire for everything she’d been forbidden. Including Martin Luther himself.

Despite the fact that the attraction and tension between them is undeniable, Luther holds fast to his convictions and remains isolated, refusing to risk anyone’s life but his own. And Katharina longs for love, but is strong-willed. She clings proudly to her class distinction, pining for nobility over the heart of a reformer. They couldn’t be more different.

But as the world comes tumbling down around them, and with Luther’s threatened life a constant strain, these unlikely allies forge an unexpected bond of understanding, support and love. Together, they will alter the religious landscape forever.

REVIEW: Martin Luther made it possible for everyone to read the New Testament for themselves. I was raised in the Catholic Church and could relate to many of the feelings Katharina von Bora felt when she was set free from the law of the church when she and a few other nuns escaped the convent. I felt as she did when she could read scriptures for herself and let the Lord lead her heart not man.

Katharina remembers, “Her father had taken her away from her home when she’d been only five. For the first time in nineteen years, she was outside cloister walls. She took a deep breath of freedom, but along with the breath came a tremor of fear. An unknown world spread before her with its way of life so foreign to all that she knew.”

It was an eye opener to hear Martin Luther talk about Nuns and Priests.

A father told Martin, “I’ve sacrificed my daughters to God for a life of service and worship. How could that be wrong?”

“Did you ask your daughters if they wanted to worship in such a way?...God wants worship that is given freely, not forced.”

“Where else will our daughters learn to sing the psalms, read and write, and speak Latin?”

“They will mostly learn that the church will use them to fulfill the lusts of the priests who oversee their souls.”

Soon after their escape Katharina’s eyes are opened to the corrupt ways of the Church. She learns woman were being abused. It all become too read when her unmarried maid servant showed up pregnant and she wouldn’t tell who the father was.

This made her rethink her actions, “Had she been wrong to lead her sisters away from the security and ease of their lives at Marienthron? There they always had plenty to eat, clean clothes to wear, every need met. They didn’t have to worry about anyone forcing them into a marriage with a man they didn’t love, a man who might mistreat them. But now with so few choices available, what would become of them?

I liked learning more about Martin Luther and his wife and the times in which they lived. The author says in Author Notes, “I would like to be able to tell you that Martin Luther and Katharina never faced any more hardships together. But the pages of their twenty-plus years of marriage are riddled with one difficulty after another…” She goes on to describe their hardships then goes on to mention that most of what she talks about in the book is true. She touches on a few things I thought were fun to know.

There are thirteen discussion questions to help your book club discussion along. This is an interesting read and one that would work well for a book club pick.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she's not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories.

She loves reading almost as much as she loves writing, especially when it also involves chocolate and coffee.

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


The Girl From the Train
By Irma Joubert
Published By Thomas Nelson
384 Pages

Back Cover: A sweeping international love story that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit over the inhumanities of war and prejudice.

Six-year-old Gretl and her sister jump from a train bound for Auschwitz, her mother and grandmother unable to squeeze between the bars covering the windows. The daughter of a German soldier, Gretl understands very little about how her grandmother's Jewishness brought her first to the ghetto, then to the train, and now, to the Polish countryside where she wanders, searching for food and water for her dying sister.
Soon, Gretl finds refuge with Jakob, a Polish freedom fighter, and his family, where she is sheltered until the end of the war. Gretl is then sent away to a new life, a new name, and a new faith in Apartheid-era South Africa. As she comes of age in this strange place, she confronts its prejudices as she hides the truth of her past from her new family. When Jakob makes his way to South Africa many years later, Gretl and Jakob are reunited in a love story that transcends time and distance and survives the ravages of hatred and war.

REVIEW:  This author is an accomplished international bestselling author who lives and works in South Africa. This is the first book to be translated from her native Afrikaans language into English. I was captivated by this story and by a brave little girl named Grett Schmidt.

This is a novel that will pull at your heart-strings and give you a perspective of WWII from a six year old’s POV as she deals with her nightmares. I felt for Gretl and Jakob’s situation. 

Grett’s family planned to jump from the train that was headed to Auschwitz camp. They would all jump and meet up at the grandmother’s house. The train blew up after Gretl jumped with her sister. She heard the explosion and saw the flames. What would she do now? She was all alone. Her sister didn’t make it. 

Jakob Kowalski heard the explosion and ran for his life. He spotted a little girl. His heart went out to this little orphan. He couldn’t leave her behind. Gretl helped out the family for a while on the farm; even when Jakob went away to do work with the revolution in Poland. Gretl was six years old and did her best to fit in and be liked. She stayed about four years; until people started to suspect she might be Jewish.

With the political climax getting hot and the family financial pressures increasing Jakob’s family insisted he find another home for his orphan. He was 21 when he had to make that decision, Gretl had been with his family for 6 years. He tries to find the best place for her. It was hard because she was not the desired age to be adopted even thought she looked younger than her years.. Jakob read an article in a newspaper that tells of kids being adopted and sent to South Africa. They are promised a good home and college education. Gretl was a smart girl and loved to learn. Now to see how to get her into this program.

She remembers what Jakob tells her, “It doesn’t matter what other people are like or even what they call you. You must continue to be Gretl, Gretchen. Do you understand what I’m telling you….Look and listen carefully and make up your own mind. Decide what’s right and what’s good and do it, even if it’s not what you want to do it’s the best way to learn.”

Gretl thought, “I’m German – Lutheran. The people in South Africa must never know I lived in Poland, because they will want to know how I got there. And no one must ever know I have Jewish Blood, that I’m not pure Aryan. And I mustn’t say I learned Russian at school, because the Arrikaners hate the Russians, just as the Poles hate the Germans, and the Germans hate the English.”

Woven into the hardships is a beautiful, tender love story. This young one had to deal with so much. It was hard to keep up each countries hates and likes straight. I liked how this author weaves in historical facts into this heart-wrenching yet hopeful story.

Oh, my I felt for this 10 year old and all she had to keep straight; knowing her life depended on getting things perfect. She knew Jakob wanted what was best for her she could tell he loved her. She had told Jakob how badly she wanted to learn. So this was the best he could do for her. She was on her way to South Africa. She was having second thoughts! Everything would be different. She’d have to learn another language. Her comfort she knew God was with her. She wasn’t alone.

This author Chronicles both Jakob and Gretl’s lives while they were apart. Each having their own challenges to overcome as they and the world around them change.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author I can’t wait for more of her books to be translated into English so I can read more. This is a fascinating read and one that would make a great book club pick. It's a rich layered novel I highly recommend.

About the Author - International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She's the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booklook blog 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


A Worthy Heart
By Susan Anne Mason
Published by: Bethany House
392 Pages

Back Cover: Can an Irish Lass with a Dream for America Find True Love?
Maggie Montgomery's long-held wish to see America is finally coming true. She'll visit her beloved brother Rylan and his wife, Colleen, and at the same time, escape Neill Fitzgerald's unwanted attention. In addition, Maggie has a secret! She plans to remain in America to seek her fortune and to hopefully find love. While visiting Irish Meadows, she meets an intriguing man whom she thinks is a stable hand. Only when Rylan demands she stay away from Adam O'Leary does she realize he's Colleen's brother, recently released from prison. Nonetheless, Maggie can't seem to make her heart conform to her brother's request.

Adam O'Leary has never felt worthy of his place in the family. Spending time in jail only reinforces his belief. Now that he's free, Adam hopes to make amends and earn back his family's trust. Falling in love with Maggie Montgomery, however, was never in his plans.

Despite everyone's effort to keep them apart, the two develop a bond nothing can break--but has Adam truly changed, or will the sins of his past prove too much for Maggie to overcome?

REVIEW: This is the sequel to Irish Meadows the author’s debut novel. This writer takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride. Adam O’Leary is featured in this book. He’s the black sheep of the family. I liked what the author said in her note to readers  about Adam, “A Worthy Heart was a challenging story to write…I have to confess…In the beginning, I did not like Adam O’Leary, not one little bit…I basically banished him from Irish Meadows altogether, hinting that he was on the outs with his father and was potentially involved in some “less than legal” undertakings…The more I delved into Adam’s back story and his true nature, the more I came to love Adam. I had hoped readers would too…It took a strong woman like Maggie Montgomery to see past Adam’s mistakes and love him anyway, Mirroring the way God loves his children unconditionally.”

She was right I did like Adam and felt for his situation. This author pens a powerful story that shows a family trying to do the right thing by showing unconditional love to everyone. Even their enemies.

It was great fun to have all the cast members from the first book in the mix as the focus of this novel was Adam O’Leary, Maggie Montgomery and her brother Gabe who’ve come to visit their older brother Rylan in America. (He’s married to Colleen O’Leary, Adam’s sister.)

The world changed dramatically in three years and so had he. Adam met Christ in jail through a man named John. Adam quickly discerns it’s one thing to learn scripture, and understand the truth, it was quite another to put faith into practice. Adam, prays, “I know I’m supposed to love my father, but does it have to be so hard? Help e to find it in my heart to forgive him and me. Help me to be humble and accept the consequences of my actions and if you’re handing out miracles, allow me to make amends to my family…if that’s even possible.”

Adam felt like the prodigal son going home begging his father for a job as a stable boy. He’d do this just for a while until he could find his own way. He’s not ready for how others and his father will treat him. He’s astounded at how deep his relationship with his father has soured.

His father yells at Adam, “Don’t you realize that simply being seen with you could ruin Maggie Montgomery’s reputation? Or do social niceties not matter to you anymore?”

“I’m sorry father, I didn’t think….” Adam manages to say.

“That’s half your problem, boy. You never think before you act. You certainly never considered the consequences of your actions on others. Ruin your life if you must, but leaven the rest of us out of it.”

I felt for this family and the secrets they kept. Circumstances arise that allow confidences from the past to be revealed during the hardships their family endures. It opens their eyes to viewing family members differently.

I enjoyed this story that helped me imagine America’s as a new beginning for so many. Themes of faith, hope, love, forgiveness, second chances, and the importance of family and woven naturally into this story. This novel will at your heart strings and make you glad to know the O’Leary and Montgomery families.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Susan lives in a suburb near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she works part-time as a church secretary. She is a wife and the mother of two amazing kids, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). In addition to writing, she likes to scrapbook and to research her family history on-line. You can connect with her on Facebook or on her website 

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

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

Book Fun Magazine


By Liz Galvano
Published by Xulon
360 Pages

Back Cover: Ominous words from the stone-faced physician at the temporary hospital greet her: "Welcome to hell, Miss James." No description could be more accurate. Earthquake, tsunami, and fire have razed Messina, Sicily. In a single night in 1909, one hundred thousand people never wake up. Physician Lucille James is determined to help despite horrendous conditions, almost non-existent medical supplies, and the opposition of the medical community she worked so hard to join. Giovanni Castello, the man facing her now, stands as her biggest opponent. Surrounded by blood and death and pushed to the edge of exhaustion, Lucille relies on God as her only option. When God gives a gift, after all, a person must use it. Will she have the strength, courage, and faith to do so? Messina - Book 1 in the Casa Bella Chronicles Liz Galvano  has been writing since she was a little girl. Her stories combine old style adventure and romance with a dash of humor. She loves family, food, animals, and all things Italian. Liz lives with her husband Jeff, two rambunctious dogs, two entitled cats, and a horse who thinks she's a princess.

REVIEW: This author whisks readers to the city of Messina, Italy 1908, where people are facing a catastrophe like no other. The main character Dr. Lucille James; is determined to help these people with her father’s blessings. Not only is Lucille a female surgeon facing horrendous conditions, trying to help people with almost non-existent medical supplies, but then there’s the opposition from the medical community about a female surgeon working period the end. She’d face this situation in America however opposition in Italy seemed worse. She was with her father at a conference when the earthquake hit. In a single night one hundred thousand people never woke up after the tsunami and fire hit Messina, Sicily.

One Dr. tells the others, “I had the opportunity to observe Miss James’ work when I visited Boston last summer…This young lady has convinced me that women, on occasion, can make marvelous physicians.” The problem is they needed one now.

Lucille’s dad pipes up, “My daughter graduated top of her class I’m proud of her.”

She’s asked why a woman would want to be a surgeon. “I love this profession. Medicine runs in my family. And I seem to be good at it. My father is a Dr. My mom was a brilliant nurse…My older brother graduated with a medical degree three years ago.”

She listened to their prejudices, “If you marry, I don’t know any man who would want his wife doing surgeries. It’s too ugly a job for someone like you! As for the Medical community it took years for them to finally admit that Florence Nightingale was right in her discovery of hospital sanitation.”

“I sincerely believe that God has given me a gift and I must use it. Somehow he’ll find an avenue for he’s given me. As for marriage, I have no intentions of marrying unless I can find someone with whom I can work as a partner.”

Physicians and staff are cold to Dr. James hoping she’d quit and head back to America. Among the many things that Dr. James did that annoyed her fellow Doctors and got under their skin was the fact she prayed for each and every patient before an operation. One doctor finally questioned her, “I need to know how you can still believe in God after all this?...Can’t you see that this God you keep talking to is just a fantasy?’

This novel brings to mind all first responders do to save lives. We caught a glimpse of them hard at work when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, N.Y. on Sept.11th just to mention a few. This author doesn’t get extremely graphic in describing her work environment. But she does give you a peek at the situation the city was in. She leaves much to your imagination. I liked that.

I rooted for this feisty young lady determined to beat the odds and do with her life what God has called her to do. This is a story of faith, hope and love with well-timed humor and a love story developing during tragic times. It’s a vivid account of an actual event that you won’t soon forget. The author includes an index of Italian phrases to help readers.

This is not something I normally read but I was drawn in by this cutting edge American father/daughter team who challenged old ways of thinking. Bonus readers gets to know about Italy and some of the issues they faced in 1908.
ABOUT AUTHOR: Liz Galvano has been writing since she was a little girl. Her stories combine old style adventure and romance with a dash of humor. She loves family, food, animals, and all things Italian. Liz lives with her husband Jeff, two rambunctious dogs, two entitled cats, and a horse who thinks she's a princess.

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

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


Chance of Loving You
By Terri Blackstock, Candace Calvert and Susan May Warren
Published by Tyndale

Back Cover: An anthology by three bestselling romance authors

For Love of Money by Terri Blackstock Trying to launch her own design firm while waitressing on the side, Julie Sheffield was drawn to the kind man she waited on at the restaurant last night . . . until he stiffed her on the tip by leaving her half of a sweepstakes ticket.

The Recipe by Candace Calvert Hospital dietary assistant Aimee Curran is determined to win the Vegan Valentine Bake-Off to prove she’s finally found her calling. But while caring for one of her patients―the elderly grandmother of a handsome CSI photographer―Aimee begins to question where she belongs.

Hook, Line & Sinker by Susan May Warren Grad student Abigail Cushman has agreed to enter the annual Deep Haven fishing contest. She’s a quick learner, even if she doesn’t know the difference between a bass and a trout. But nothing could prepare her for competing against the handsome charmer she’s tried to forget since grief tore them apart.

One chance for each woman to change her life . . . but will love be the real prize?

REVIEW: Terri Blackstock’s usually writes mystery and suspense stories. It was fun to read a different type of book by her. For Love of Money grabbed my heart and I instantly connected with her main characters. Brake Adcock is sitting in a restaurant talking to Julie Sheffield his waitress. She’s wondering why he’s ordered all this food and isn’t eating any of it. After paying for his meal Brake realizes he doesn’t have money for a tip. He’s embarrassed. So he decides to give her half of his sweepstakes ticket and writes on the back “I owe you!” It’s a shame he couldn’t leave her a tip because he really liked her. The next day Julie and Blake’s world change forever!

 They’ve come into some money and soon discover both manage their finances very differently. Julie wants to save everything. Blake wants to share what he has with everyone because he can! This threatens their potential relationship.

Julies been hurt by men and has trust issues with them and with God for that matter. Julie’s changed. She thinks, “I couldn’t serve two masters. Because the Lord showed me I had changed. The money was making me miserable.”

In that way it reminded me of and old movie “Brewsters Millions” He had to do something in order to get the real prize that was awarded him. Everyone around him thought he was crazy but he knew what he had to do. It didn’t matter what others thought. These characters come to the same conclusion.

After the fun and excitements’ over Julie and Blake settled into a new normal as they try to make sense of their lives and the future. Would they have the courage to do what it took to have peace in their hearts? Could they give love a chance?

The second story by Candace Calvert was titled The Recipe:
Aimee works at a hospital and has entered a vegan valentine bake off. She’s not a vegan but feels by adopting one of her mother’s favorite dessert recipes into Vegan she’d have a chance to win. Her mom was an amazing cook.

The winner gets top honors and full tuition at a local culinary school. She’s made the finals and the completion was going to be filmed on Valentine’s Day (which was her birthday) and the tenth anniversary of her mom’s passing.“Kitchen time with mom was the best.”

Aimee meets Lucas and his grandmother, Margie. Lucas has been there for his grandmother and struggles with her living will. His grandfather passed a year ago and his grandmother has changed. She’s said to him, “Right now, life on earth has lost its flavor and heaven is calling.” How was he to process all that?

Lucas tells Aimee, “Well, if you ask me, Heaven’s got the wrong number. I’d do everything I can to find some “flavor” my grandmother likes. If I have to hire Baskin-Robins to do a drive-by.”

Both Aimee and Lucas take a hard look at their lives and what they are doing to honor the people they love. Reevaluating their purpose. God would give them the peace that passes all understanding to do the right thing.
This was again a fun story with characters I could connect with.

The Last story was by Susan May Warren. Hook, Line and Sinker.
I’m a huge Susan May Warren fan but I was not a fan of this story. It was a novella that I couldn’t relate to; maybe because this author does an incredible job of having us get to know her characters, (which takes a few pages) and the community they live in (again takes more pages). Then the author usually has the reader delve into the problem. (again takes more pages) I was expecting more from this author because I’ve read other wonderful books by her.

All in all each story was fun, light-hearted and it made you think. What would I do in that situation? Each author included a recipe to make at home. That was fun too! This was a great collection of authors! I highly recommend reading these authors other books! 

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

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

Book Fun Magazine


By Angela Hunt
Based on Story by Paul Aiello
Screenplay by Kevin Reynolds and Paul Aiello
Published by Bethany House
318 Pages

Back Cover: A Powerful Novelization from Bestselling Author Angela Hunt

Epic in scope, yet deeply personal, this novelization offers a unique perspective on the story of the resurrection. Roman Tribune Clavius is assigned by Pilate to keep the radical followers of the recently executed Yeshua from stealing the body and inciting revolution. When the body goes missing despite his precautions, Clavius must hunt it down.

His investigation leads him from the halls of Herod Antipas to the Garden of Gethsemane and brings him in touch with believer and doubter alike. But as the body still remains missing, Clavius commits to a quest for the truth--and answers that will not only shake his life but echo throughout all of history.

REVIEW: The story was written in first person through the eyes of non-believers Clavius, a Roman Tribune and Rachel, widower and intimate friend of Clavius. The thing that jumped out to me about the book cover was the author Angela Hunt and the fact that this was a novelization of a movie that would be out in theaters February 2016. I’ve read several books by this author. I love the way she weaves biblical events into a heart-felt, interesting, suspenseful read. I instantly cared about the characters. She writes in a way that cause me to look up scripture references and see things for myself.

This novel takes a look at the events surrounding Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. I like the fact the author is always up-front with readers about what is “fact” and what is “fiction” in her biblical stories. I like knowing where she had to fudge the facts to make the story flow. I usually read that first so I’ll be prepared for the journey ahead.

This is a unique view of a very familiar story. Pilate sends for Tribune Clavius to make sure three people crucified that day were dead before sunset to be sensitive to the Jewish Sabbath. When Clavius arrives Jesus is already dead, it doesn’t take long for the others to follow. A few days later the Tribune is summoned again by Pilate to investigate the disappearance of Yeshua's body. The followers were claiming he was alive. Pilate wanted his body to shut down the rumors. The Tribune assured Pilate he would do what it took to find the Nazarene. Readers are brought into the investigating room as Clavius interviews people who say he’s alive and others to dig for information about the disciples. Surely Yeshua would be with them.

In the second chapter readers are introduced to Rachel who makes and sells bread at the market. She’s a Jew who isn't happy with herself, “I was such a hypocrite. Why did I bother to keep the traditions of my people? Why did I obey the law when my heart had so thoroughly let me astray?” and into the arms of Roman soldier, Tribune Clavius.

Clavius was the one to deliver the news of her husband’s death. He brought bread from her daily and they both had seen Yeshua. Rachel saw him alive on the street when he dropped his cross. Clavius saw him dead on the cross. It was a moment they’d never forget. When news of the empty tomb is confirmed their worlds are jolted.

The Tribune writes his twin sister about what he's learned about Yeshua, “…Today I executed a man who supposedly worked miracles…according to the rumors the messiah, a Nazarene, fed thousands from a few loaves and fish. He healed lame men, opened the eyes of the blind, and raised a dead man who had been dead four days in the tomb..Can you imagine what a military commander this messiah would make? His army would not need to carry food or medical supplies. Any man who died by the sword would be raised by the word, and forward they would march, conquering all as they went.”

Seeing this story through the eyes of a Roman soldier and meeting the people he meets from scripture (the disciples and other characters who interacted with Jesus)  had me look at the events, people and scripture with fresh eyes. I found the list the author included with scripture references to Yeshua’s post resurrection activities helpful. There was seventeen passages listed.(I appreciate the help in taking this aspect of the story deeper)

I’m excited about seeing the movie. I really enjoyed the fact that the novel alternated view points; some chapters through Clavius eyes, and others told from Rachel a Jewish woman trying to find her way after her encounter with Yeshua. Nothing was the same.

I’m even more interested in seeing the movie and how it will differ from the book because of what the author shares in author notes. “The character of Rachel, who adds so much to the story (I agree) is a creation of Paul Aiello, the screen writer, but her role had to be cut from the movie due to time constraints. I’m happy that she lives within these pages and adds an additional point of view!”

I agree she added a lot in seeing events through a Jewish female’s point of view. I learned much of their culture. I think this would make a good book club pick and book club event. It would be fun to take your group to the movie after they read the book; then you could discuss the differences between the book and the movie at your next meeting. It would be fun to discuss how closely they stuck to the book and what changes you liked and didn’t.

This is also just a fun read to get your heart and mind reader for the Easter season.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Christy-award winner Angela Hunt is the best-selling author of more than 130 books, including THE TALE OF THREE TREES, THE NOTE, and PASSING STRANGERS. She spends weekdays writing and weekends taking professional portraits of amazing men, women, children, and shelter dogs. She enjoys sleeping, singing, and scrubbing toilets because housework keeps her honest. She and her husband live in Florida with two drooling English mastiffs and are frequently visited by the Grandest Baby in all the world.

Disclosure of Material Connection: #AD Bethany House
 I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Book Club Network  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