Below the Surface
By Tim Shoemaker
Published by:
387 Pages

 ABOUT BOOK: In the third book in the Code of Silence series, a coming-of-age story that both boys and girls will enjoy, from prolific author and speaker Tim Shoemaker.

Buried fears don’t stay buried for long. Something is wrong with Cooper. He doesn’t understand it, and he won’t admit it, but after surviving the trauma of abduction, Cooper is plagued by a deep fear he can’t control. A vacation aboard the restored Getaway with his friends is just what he needs. No drama, no mysteries, just fun, relaxation, and a few well-planned pranks. But trouble follows this crew, and the idea of a carefree vacation soon disappears along with a missing woman. The police think she drowned, but Hiro has her own suspicions and starts investigating, while Cooper keeps busy and hides behind his practical jokes. But fear has a way of rising. A prank gone wrong, a dark water dive, and the four friends find more than they bargained for - just below the surface.

Review: I’m thankful for a review copy of a book that reminded me of a few fun movies where a bunch of kids go on a grand adventure; such as The Goonies and Stand By Me.

When I received this book I didn’t realize that Below the Surface was the third and final book in the Code of Silence series. Book one is titled Code of Silence – the tag line is; “Is there ever a time to lie? And what happens when the truth is dangerous?”

Book Two is titled Back Before Dark - the tag line is “Sometimes rescuing a friend from darkness…means going in after them.”

Below the Surface the third book in the series deals with fear. “A Note From Author” in the back of the book states, “Fear can be something deep and shadowlike – something you can’t quite put your finger on, but you sense its presence. Fear can be something you try to bury, something you dread. Or fear can be obvious, a pulse-pounding terror you can’t avoid!” He goes on to talk about Good Fear – an Internal Warning – Bad Fear; Petrifies us. There are four ways to Fight fear 1. Run from it; 2. Ignore it 3. Bury it 4. Face it.

The author works all of these elements of fear into the story through this group of young boys and one girl. I wish I would have read the other two books in this series before this book; so I would have known all the adventures this team had gone on before they tackled this murder mystery. I would understand their closeness and why they trusted each other so much in investigating this dangerous situation. I admit the author does a good job of having me quickly connect with these gang of kids.  I just wish I had known more.

This group is heading off on vacation together. Fun in the sun and all that. Until one night all of them hear screaming aboard a ship and what they presumed was a body thrown into the water. When this group starts to look into what had happened (to make sure they saw what they all thought was true) crazy things start to happen. They are given warnings to stop digging deeper into the matter or dangerous things will continue to happen to their small group.

I enjoyed this action adventure novel and the kids in the gang. There are great discussion questions in the back of the book to help ignite lively discussion. I loved how the author discussed fear at the end of the book. I loved how he also showed kids facing fear in the story in very different ways.

I enjoyed this story. If you liked the old movies I mentioned in the beginning of this review you’ll like this book! Makes for a good book club pick too!

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

Finding Hope Through Fiction www.psalm516.blogspot.com


ABOUT AUTHOR: Jen Turano is the acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction Series, published through Bethany House publishers.  Her second novel, A Most Peculiar Circumstance was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Romance for 2013.  Her fourth book, A Match of Wits, releases in July, 2014, while a new series, A Class of Their Own, will begin hitting the shelves in early 2015. She is a member of ACFW and makes her home outside of Denver, Colorado with her husband and teenage son. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor.

ABOUT BOOK: Two years ago, Zayne Beckett's departure from New York City to meet up with his almost-fiance caused Agatha Watson no small amount of grief. So he is the last person she wanted to stumble upon in her travels as a reporter with the "New York Tribune." Looking worse for the wear, he clearly needs to be taken in hand and taken back East to his family. Even though she's over him, Agatha can't help feeling sorry for him and realizes she'll have to be the one to get the stubborn man back home. 
Zayne has no desire to be taken anywhere. Content to sit and mope over his recent bad fortune and the desertion of his not-quite-fiancĂ©, he's prepared to drag his heels all the way back to New York. That is, until he and Agatha find themselves slipping back into the strangely enjoyable bickering and bantering of their old friendship. 

It isn't until they arrive in New York City that Zayne realizes Agatha's determined nose for news has earned her a few enemies. When his attempts to repay her for helping him go sadly awry, Agatha proves herself just as stubborn as Zayne. Everyone else may think them a match, but nothing could be further from the truth--until Agatha finds herself in real trouble. Have these two stubborn, too-smart-for-their-own-good people been meant for each other all along?

How did you come up with the idea for A Match of Wits?

A Match of Wits started coming together after I finished writing A Most Peculiar Circumstance.  The problem I faced was realizing something of a dramatic nature was going to have to occur to allow Agatha and Zayne to come back together – that’s why the reader will find Zayne in quite the sorry state at the beginning of the book and…out of New York City.

 What was your favorite scene to write? Why? What was the hardest? Why was it hard?

There were quite a few favorite scenes.  I loved bringing Matilda into the story and really enjoyed it when she learned how to spell.  Then there was giving Agatha dynamite, and…Charlotte’s invention showing up, and Zayne and Piper having a bit of a chat in his carriage. 

The hardest part – trying to write the book so it could be read as somewhat of a stand-alone book.  Agatha has been with me forever now, so trying to look at her as if I really didn't know her as I wrote her story was somewhat difficult. 

In your research for this book about being a reporter did you uncover some interesting things about the job you hadn't realized they did? IF so what was it? What interested you the most about this job? Surprised you most?
The few women journalist of that day faced a very difficult time of it.  They were subjected to criticism by their fellow male counterparts, and most of them were viewed as radical feminist.  However, they did work for newspapers, and two of the most famous female journalist, Margaret Fuller and Jane Grey Swisshelm, were hired by Horace Greeley of the New-York Tribune, the paper where Miss Agatha Watson works.  These two ladies were great supporters of the suffrage movement and published articles that reflected that- articles that I’m sure garnered a lot of disapproval – but Jane and Margaret were what inspired me to write Agatha as a journalist.

Nora: This does sound interesting. I can't to read your new book!

We discussed previously that being a mom is an important job and one we are honored to have? Can you share some cherished memorable moments with us?

Being a mom is the best job I've ever had.  It was a little difficult for me at first, transitioning from a career woman to stay-at-home mom, and, quite honestly, there were days when I was sitting at yet another playground, watching my son play with his friends, that I truly thought I might lose my mind.  But, I had the privilege of seeing everything – Dominic making new friends, experiencing things like the ocean for the very first time, getting scared to death on rides at Disney, watching him with my parents – those are moments I wouldn't trade for anything, nor would I trade the not so pleasant moments.  Dominic is incredibly…strong willed.  He was the inspiration behind Ben in A Change of Fortune and yes, he did go through a rather nasty biting phase, which is why he’s an only child.  But, to see him grow into a rather charming young man, well, besides being a little surprised about that, I am incredibly proud to be able to call him my son. 

Nora: Fun! Thanks for sharing him with us! Sweet picture!

Being a mom has many different seasons to it. The hardest for me has been letting them go and watching them enter the world without us being there. It’s felt like being the mother bird watching the little ones jump out of nest, hoping they don't have a crash landing! Grin! You've said that you are in or quickly approaching this season yourself. What keeps you sane? What gives you hope? What do you enjoy most about this time?

Dominic just graduated from high school this past May, so will be heading off to college at the end of August.  It’s going to be very odd, not having him around.  But, he’s always been an independent sort and told me a few weeks ago that this is what’s supposed to happen. I’m, along with my husband Al, supposed to get him to adulthood, and then…he’s supposed to take it from there. That’s why I know he’ll be fine.  He’s got a good head on his shoulders, a good attitude about life, and now…it’s time for him to fly. 

Nora: Love this picture too! Grin!

Can you give us a peek at what you are working on how? When will it be out?

I’m working on two books for the next series – A Class of Their Own – at the moment.  After a Fashion, a book that I’m waiting to review the galleys on, will be out in March, 2015.  It revolves around Miss Harriet Peabody, a young lady who works in a hat shop, and Mr. Oliver Addleshaw, one of the wealthiest gentlemen of the day. They form this really interesting alliance, and then…well…their lives take a somewhat interesting turn.  I’m also working on the second book in the series – In Good Company.  It’s due to my editor in a month so I’m just putting the finishing touches on it now.  It’s Miss Millie Longfellow’s story, a nanny with the unfortunate propensity of getting dismissed from her positions far too frequently.  When she accepts a position with Mr. Everett Mulberry, a gentleman who unexpectedly inherited three unruly children, they clash a bit over child-rearing tactics, but with the help of a slightly meddling older woman by the name of Abigail Hart, they might just….nope, can’t tell you more, but you get the idea.  That book will release later in 2015, followed by the last book in that series, currently untitled and unwritten. 

Nora: Wow, you are one busy lady! These books sound like fun. I'm marking my calendar! Grin!  

What made you set your new book in New York City?

New York City was the desirable place to live during the Gilded Age if you belonged to high society.  It was home to Astor’s, Vanderbilt’s, McAllister’s, etc., and was the place to live if you had social ambitions.  Fifth Avenue mansions were popping up like crazy, and it just seemed to me to be the logical place to set a rather quirky series with unlikely characters.  

Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books better Jen.  I’m THRILLED about the Giveaway opportunity that is going on right now at The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org  (10) copies of A Match of Wits. It’s easy to enter the drawing. Go to www.bookfun.org Become a member if you aren't already (It’s FREE and EASY). Scroll down the front page until you get to the cover. Click on the link above the book cover A Match of Wits. It will take you to the place to enter. ANSWER one of the questions listed to be entered into the contest. It’s easy!

SEE you at TBCN!!

Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!


Today starts a new journey in life for me. I knew this time would come. I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. This morning as I walked and prayed I reflected on the last 10 years. I have so much to be grateful for. 10 years ago I started working at a Christian Book store little did I know how that would change my life. I worked at a book store and didn’t read. I could but it was a struggle. I’m dyslexic and reading for me had bad memories and feelings attached to it. There was really no reason for me to read because it wasn’t a pleasure; but now give me a good movie and I’m all in.

I was introduced to Christian Fiction by a few of my customers that raved about some authors so much so I had to check it out. One of the first authors that rocked my world was Linda Nichols, Deborah Rainey and Ted Dekker. These authors’ books were thought-provoking and life-changing. It made my struggle to read worth the effort. I saw how the Lord moved in my spirit and life as I read these authors’ books. Some of them made me go back to scripture and look at it with fresh eyes. It encouraged me.

Then my friend asked me to run a book club with a group of friends. I told her I was a non-reader. I only just started to go to a book club to meet friends a few months back. My first book club read was The Sin Eater by Francine Rivers. I was hardly an expert on anything book related. My friend encouraged me to pray about this. She felt I was the one to run it. I went home and prayed. I got a peace about taking the step to run the book club. We started meeting at Borders Book Store. We met for about 6 months when my boss sat me down and said, “Nora, we are making a few changes around here and your name came up. We’d like to talk to you about something.”

I didn’t like the sound of this already. Ok, God, help my emotions as I hear what the “something” is. To my surprise my boss asked me if I would be interested in running a book club in the store. It would be my book club run however the Lord leads. What do I say? WHAT DO I SAY? I thought, “Is this a joke?” Really another person asking me to run a book club? God, this isn’t funny. I told my boss that I would pray about it and get back to him.

I was in a panic. Terrified. Running a book club with a few friends is one thing but in the store I work at was totally another thing. I hurried to the bathroom where I went to pray. I reminded God “reading” and I didn’t get along. Remember how you made me God? This isn’t funny! The Lord told me to cool my jets and said, “Can you love the people I put in your life the way I have loved you?”
Last Book Club Meeting Oct 2013 w/Jessica Dotta
I calmed down instantly. This wasn’t about reading, there would be no test. This was about LOVE??? OK, I’m in. I then confessed to my boss that I was a non-reader but this is what the Lord told me to do. He was on board. I asked if I could bring my other book club to the store and he said yes. A few months after that I was asked to help run an on-line book club and did that for 5 years. I was getting used to this NEW chapter of my life.
I ran a book club for 8 years. My last meeting with these special ladies was November of 2013. I cried and cried. It was funny. I never wanted to or ever thought I’d be running book clubs for so long (or ever). I was heart sick at this change but I knew I couldn’t work full time and run two book clubs too.
Michelle & Cindy-creator of Cupcakes

JULY 18th was my last day of working at the Christian book store. When I gave my notice two weeks ago I wasn’t sure what the Lord had in store for me. Costco (my favorite store) was opening up close to my house. I filled out an application. I applied to other stores close to my house. I told the Lord I was willing to be willing to do whatever he had for me next. It was scary and EXCITING all at the same time. My oldest son graduated High School and was off to college soon. I needed to be close to home to support my youngest son who will be a junior in high school this year. I knew I had to be there for my family. I also had the only car and could not work 30 to 45 minutes from home. I knew that something would open up close to home.

Two weeks ago today; I gave my notice.  A few things started to fell in place that day but nothing was definite. On my last day Friday, July 18th 2014 I still hadn’t a clue as to what direction my life would take. It was a hard day emotionally. Saying Good-bye to special friends. Missing the customers that I’d see each week. Remembering how the Lord grew me and stretched me not only did he give me a LOVE of READING and healed the pain associated with that experience he stretched my faith. I am so grateful he allowed me to work in an environment where I started my day out with co-workers giving a devotional and having a time of prayer. Praying for one another and for our customers’ prayer requests (we had a small box by the front door where people could leave notes for us to pray over). It broke our hearts some mornings to read what people were dealing with. I was humbled to have the change to pray for them.

I was also grateful for the opportunity to pray for people in the store. I’ll never forget the first time the Lord asked me to pray for a total stranger. It was a young woman. I saw her walk in the store and I heard the Lord ask me to pray with her. I told the Lord I didn’t do that sort of thing in public and anyway she wasn’t talking to me. A few minutes later the girl asks me about a magazine and where it was located. I showed her! (Ok, she talked to me but that doesn’t mean I can pray for her Lord!) Then the girl leaves. I thought I was cleared for the call to pray.

A few minutes later the girl walks back in. I watched her walk around and around the store. I don’t know what she was searching for but I went over and asked if I could help. She told me something she was struggling with. I hear the Lord whisper in my ear, “Now is your opportunity to pray with her. She is talking to you!” I smile inside. Grin! Yeah, she was. Ok, I’ll ask her Lord she probably will say no. I ask, “I sense the Lord is asking me if I could pray for you. Would you mind if I pray for you?”

“I wish you would.” I hear her say. Then she takes my hands. OHMYGOSH!! I’m about to pray with a total stranger in public and we are holding hands. Ok, Lord! I’m trusting you’ll give me the words. We close our eyes and I pray. I’m not really sure what came out of my mouth. But when I opened my eyes I saw she was crying. She hugged me and thanked me for praying. She said she knew there was a reason she came in the store. This was it. She needed someone to pray for her.

Cindy made yummy beautiful cupcakes
I’ll never forget that first time and the many other times people asked me or accepted prayer or came in the store looking for someone to pray with them. I’ll never forget the months my boss set aside time out of our day. Usually around lunch time to gather anyone who wanted to gather in the front of the store to pray for our country and the leaders, for peace and for revival and for whatever the Lord laid on their hearts. I’m thankful for the faithfulness of my boss to have the courage to do what the Lord asked him to do in the store. It was a special time to pray with our customers. I loved seeing us all united in Christ praying in one accord!

When I got home on Friday night, (July 18th) my husband told me some really good news. I was to be part of The Book Club Network team full time. Things fell into place that day and some more good news on Saturday that sealed the deal.

TODAY is the FIRST DAY of the new direction, my new life. A New Beginning!

I’m excited about the opportunities and the stretching the Lord will be doing in me as He leads! I’m so grateful to be taking these steps with my husband Fred and The Book Club Network Community! More BOOK FUN AHEAD!!
See you There at TBCN and Book Fun Magazine!

Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.bookfun.org

Finding Hope Through Fiction www.psalm516.blog.spot.com


ABOUT AUTHOR: Living just thirty miles from a restored Shaker village in Kentucky, Ann H. Gabhart has walked the same paths her character might have walked in generations past. Her thorough research provides a colorful backdrop for her Shaker novels. Ann is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and Angel Sister. The Gifted is the fifth book set in her Shaker village of Harmony Hill.

Ann lives on a farm with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart , Twitter (user name annhgabhart) or Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/annhgabhart/.  

Below is a great review you received about the Rosey Corner stories. I have TWO Questions for you after the quote.

"Masterfully storytelling blends with a written love story about sisters everywhere, resulting in a novel tailor made for book clubs that can be treasured and shared with all who appreciate the beauty of love and family and the value of struggle." 

When this reviewer says the novels are tailor made for book clubs what do you think she means by that? (Do you have special themes in the story book clubs can schedule their meeting by? Do you have discussion questions that are engaging? Do you have recipes in your book that they can use for book club? Can you Please give us a peek on how book clubs can use your books?)

I did appreciate the reviewer mentioning book clubs since I’m such a fan of book clubs myself. I think it is such fun when people get together to talk books. While I’m not sure about a special theme to schedule a meeting around, I feel the reviewer was thinking about how the story follows the different sisters through times of joy and crisis. Those scenes could make for good discussions about how family celebrates with us and also helps us overcome hardships and problems. Sisters are especially good to have around when things aren't going well. First your sister has known you all your life if she’s older and all her life if she’s younger. That means she’s most likely seen you at your best and at your worst, but still loves you. Second, you can count on your sister to tell you the truth, but you can also cry on her shoulder. Last of all, women are very good at finding “sisters” whether they have any sisters born to them or not. That is another theme in my Rosey Corner books–how we can expand our family circles beyond those born into it.

I hope my discussion questions are engaging, but I suppose that’s for book club members to determine. Discussion questions are available on my website on the Rosey Corner link for Love Comes Home.  Also, quite a few book clubs have read Angel Sister, the first Rosey Corner book that had several avenues of discussion with Victor’s drinking problem, the fathers’ not approving of Victor and Nadine’s marriage, Kate’s determination to take care of Lorena, and Lorena being a deserted child. The fact that the story was set during the Great Depression opened the door to some good discussions about that era.

Some of those same themes are in Love Comes Home with Jay and Mike both being haunted by their memories of the war and Lorena wanting to know more about her birth family. Kate also suffers a hard time that many other women have faced. Readers can share Victoria’s difficulty in turning loose of sorrow and discuss how a person can handle loss and find ways to move on with life. Then, Fern might be a character to get book club members talking about odd characters they've known and perhaps misunderstood. Fern’s character shows how everybody in our lives touches us in some ways. Last of all, Aunt Hattie is a fount of spiritual wisdom. She’d love knowing her character got people talking about prayer and walking hand in hand with the Lord through whatever life brings.

Nora: That's one of the things I enjoy about your books. Your talk of family and how you naturally weave in the spiritual aspects!

There is a recipe in the back of the book for the brown sugar pie that Jay loved so much. A book club might have fun making and eating Jay’s pie. One of the reviewers of Love Comes Home, recently did just that. Made the pie and included it in her review. I once went to a book club meeting that had read one of my Shaker books. The hostess of the club had made all the refreshments from Shaker recipes, including the Shakers’ famous lemon pie. That was fun. So definitely, I think a brown sugar pie would go well with any book club talking about Love Comes Home or any of my Rosey Corner books. That pie made appearances in every story.  

Nora: This looks yummy Ann! Yes, I know this would be a hit at a book club meeting! 

    The theme “Sisters” is throughout the Rosey Corner stories. You mentioned “There's also the way my Merritt family in the Rosey Corner stories gather people into their family who aren't related except by heart.” What are some of the ways this happens in the series?

Rosey Corner is the kind of community where everybody knows not only your name and where you live, but where you grew up and who your parents and grandparents were. That type of place can enhance the family feel, but closeness and knowledge doesn't make family. Love does. And my Merritt family is ready to open the circle of family love to include some of the characters in the story who don’t have families of their own. Of course, Lorena was taken into the family in Angel Sister. But we also have Aunt Hattie and Graham who add to the family scene. Even Fern is welcome at the Merritt family table although she’s not so sure she wants to be there. Family is so much more than sharing the same ancestors. It can be sharing the same memories, the same roots, and the same love.

You come from a close knit family and mentioned to me that you've used some family history as a jumping off place for some of your books? How has that worked for you, Ann? What stories did you end up using? What did you have to change about them to make it work for your book?

Several years ago, I went through a time when my work wasn't finding a publishing home and so I decided to write a story about the Sixties, the era when I was growing up. That story, Scent of Lilacs, was my first novel published in the Christian market. (By the way, Scent of Lilacs is a free download right now.) I wrote two more books set in my fictional town of Hollyhill. Then, while I was casting around for a new idea, I decided since I’d had some success using my growing up background, maybe I could use Mom’s childhood background. Mom and her sisters were always talking about when they were kids during the Great Depression. They didn't have any money, but they had a great time with abundant love.
My sisters and Mom a few years ago before her dementia.
For several years I’d been encouraging Mom to talk about her life whenever we had some time alone together. Those visits to doctors’ offices after she got older and could no longer drive herself were perfect opportunities for me to think up questions to get her to tell me more stories while we were waiting. At the time, I just wanted to know about Mom’s younger days and hadn't really considered writing “her” story. That came later when I was scrounging around for that new idea.

So I did go back to the Thirties and use her background for Angel Sister. The story is completely fiction, but Mom’s memories are threaded throughout the story. My character, Kate tries to be the one who takes care of everybody and sees that things get done. In real life, Mom was that kind of person. Her sisters leaned on her strengths and she was always ready to help them. In the Rosey Corner stories, Kate’s father is a blacksmith who served in France in World War I. My grandfather was a blacksmith who was a soldier in France during WW I. My grandparents loved books. Kate’s family loves books in the Rosey Corner stories. One of my aunts loved to go fishing. So I let Tori love fishing. So the background is solidly built on Mom’s memories, but what happens to the characters in the story didn't happen in my mother’s life. That’s the fiction part.

I did base a couple of my eccentric characters, Graham and Fern, on the stories my mother told me about a brother and sister who lived in their little community and whose oddities were legend among the residents. I invented reasons for their oddities, but I kept some of those real life oddities. The real Fern actually did chop down cedar trees and make cedar palaces something like those I have her making in Angel Sister. They really did have a house they didn't live in and Graham really did show my mother his mother’s hats. I gave the two of them a happier ending in my stories than their real life ones. The two of them came to life in that first story and continued on with major roles in Small Town Girl and Love Comes Home. Their characters definitely added to the stories.

Nora: You share fun family memories. I know your mom recently passed. I'm sorry for your loss Ann! Praying for you and your family!

What did I have to change about the stories? 

I had difficulty when I first began writing Angel Sister because I was seeing and thinking about Mom and her sisters too much. I had to push how they really were aside and let my fictional characters take over. I wasn't writing a true story. I just used my Mom’s background to give it a true background. So in ways, I changed everything by letting my characters take on lives of their own that didn't follow the paths that my mother and aunts walked. Even so, in Love Comes Home, there remain echoes of my mother and her sisters. Two of my aunts had husbands who were in World War II. One of my aunts suffered a loss like one of the characters in my story did. Such joys and sorrows happen in all families, and I felt blessed to write the stories and feel that, in some ways, I’d stepped back into my mother’s world before she became a mother.

Nora: Fun!

 Have you had any feedback from family members about using some of the “family” stories in your novels? If so, what have they said? Did they give you any more family stories ideas for future books?
Mom is the one on the left
I really haven’t had much feedback from my family in regard to the stories. My mother, who passed away after suffering from dementia, read Angel Sister in manuscript form after the publishers decided to hold off releasing it until after a couple of my Shaker novels came out. I do think the story meant a lot to her, but I also think dementia was already dimming her ability to read and enjoy books. My aunts had all passed away before Angel Sister, the first Rosey Corner book came out, and thus I didn't get to hear what they thought about the stories. I like to think they would have been pleased. My cousins, if they have read the Rosey Corner books, have never talked to me about any specific parts of the stories. One of my sisters always reads my books and tells me she enjoys them. My other sister rarely comments about my stories although she’s very supportive of my work in other ways. We love talking about books, but my own books are rarely part of the conversation.  

Nora: Great pictures of your mom and her sisters!
My Aunt Evelyn (on the left)
(My Aunt Evelyn, who was actually called Evie by one of her sisters and my Mom flank my grandmother)

So I guess I’d have to say no to the family feedback about the Rosey Corner stories or inspiration for future ideas. I have had many readers tell me this or that person’s life would make a great story. So far, I've only taken one of those challenges when I wrote Angels at the Crossroads, the life testimony story of my friend, Jerry Shepherd. He had such an amazing story I had to give it a try and his story has been a blessing to many readers. But fiction suits me better. Although it’s fun to start with a nugget of truth about something that really happened or actual places the way I did in my Heart of Hollyhill series and in the Rosey Corner books, I like being able to turn those ideas in different directions to come up with my imagined story. That’s what I did with the Rosey Corner stories where Mom’s memories were that beginning inspiration. 

        “After my research into WW II for this book and for Small Town Girl, I have great admiration for the men, some very young, who fought in that war.” What did you discover in your research that prompted this admiration? Discover something you hadn't known before? Something that made you sit back and say “Wow” these were incredible men?

Two of the books I read to help me know what the war was like for the people who lived through it were Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation and Studs Terkel’s The Good War. The first person accounts in those books from the men who lined up to fight the war and the women they left behind blew me away. That helped me put faces on those who fought in the war. I was no longer considering a group of anonymous men in an army, but seeing individual soldiers who gave up so much to fight for their country. I also read Ernie’s War, about Ernie Pyle, a journalist who lived with the troops and was eventually killed in the war. His reports made you hear the bombs and breathe the dust as you marched with the soldiers toward battle.

As I said earlier, two of my uncles were World War II veterans, but I never heard them talk about their experiences. One of my husband’s uncles suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, even though it wasn't called that then. When I was young, people spoke of war veterans as being shell-shocked. I suppose I never really understand what that meant until I began reading first person accounts of war experiences.
Mom on her honeymoon
The history books can give you the facts, but it’s not until you see those soldiers as people like the guy next door or yourself or your husband or son that you realize what an amazing group they were. Boys still in their teens lined up to volunteer or were drafted into the service. Those kids drove tanks across Africa. They flew bomber planes over Germany and Japan. They stormed beaches in the face of artillery fire. They jumped out of airplanes into enemy territory. They endured terrible conditions in prison camps. Not all were teenagers, but many were very young.

The soldiers, whatever their age, bonded together as bands of brothers to fight against tyranny. Thousands of American soldiers died or saw their comrades and friends die. When the war finally ended, and the survivors got to come home, the great majority of them embraced the opportunities and gifts of life and became respected citizens, pillars of their churches, beloved husbands and caring fathers. I have no argument at all with Tom Brokaw calling them the greatest generation. At the same time, my research has given me increased respect for all veterans or active servicemen and women who have stood or do now stand in the gap for our country.

Nora: Looking forward to reading more of your books Ann!

Thanks for sharing your family with us Ann. I loved the pictures. I’m THRILLED about the Giveaway opportunity that is going on right now at The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org  (5) copies of Love Comes Home. It’s easy to enter the drawing. Go to www.bookfun.org Become a member if you aren't already (It’s FREE and EASY). Scroll down the front page until you get to the cover. Click on the link above the book cover Love Comes Home. IT will take you to the place to enter. ANSWER one of the questions listed to be entered into the contest. It’s easy!

THANKS AGAIN ANN for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. Thanks for the ideas for book clubs that pick your book to read.This is GREAT for BOOK CLUB!! I know your book will be a fun for book club.

SEE you at TBCN!!

Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!


I Quit Sugar
By Sarah Wilson
Published by Clarkson Potter
212 Pages

Back Cover: A New York Times bestseller, I Quit Sugar is week-by-week guide to quitting sugar to lose weight; boost energy; and improve your looks, mood, and overall health, with 108 sugarfree recipes.

Sarah Wilson thought of herself as a relatively healthy eater. She didn't realize how much sugar was hidden in her diet, or how much it was affecting her well-being. When she learned that her sugar consumption could be the source of a lifetime of mood swings, fluctuating weight, sleep problems, and thyroid disease, she knew she had to make a change.

What started as an experiment to eliminate sugar--both the obvious and the hidden kinds--soon became a way of life, and now Sarah shows you how you can quit sugar too:

* follow a flexible and very doable 8-week plan
* overcome cravings
* make food you're excited to eat with these 108 recipes for detox meals, savory snacks, and sweet treats from Sarah Wilson and contributors including Gwyneth Paltrow, Curtis Stone, Dr. Robert Lustig (The Fat Chance Cookbook), Sarma Melngailis (Raw Food/ Real World), Joe "the Juicer" Cross, and Angela Liddon (Oh She Glows)

I Quit Sugar makes it easy to kick the habit for good, lose weight, and feel better than ever before. When you are nourished with delicious meals and treats, you won't miss the sugar for an instant. 

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that is easy to read, very informative and has yummy recipes that are simple to make. This author lives in Sydney, Australia, is a journalist, T.V. host, Blogger and a qualified health coach with the Institute of Integrative nutrition in New York.

I appreciated this author sharing the reason she wanted to try giving up sugar. She was honest about her struggles and finds as she sought to be sugar free. The facts she shared about sugar were surprising. I knew our modern food system was laced with sugar but I didn't realize how much until she points all the places its hidden. She says that our bodies were only designed to consume 6-9 teaspoons of sugar daily. The average American consumes about 2 pounds of sugar a week. OHMYGOSH! These facts and many others were helpful and motivating for me.

Sarah Wilson has great tips and tricks to make this life style work. I loved her ideas on using your freezer as a sort of pantry for you fresh veggies. It makes them last longer and stay fresh. She states, “Most of the recipes are completely fructose-free and are perfect for the 8 week plan. Some recipes contain sugar alternatives or low-fructose fruit and are best for eating after the two month quitting period is over. The recipes are mostly gluten and grain free!

The first week of this plan starts out simple. She doesn’t believe in the cold turkey approach and says, “…humans respond badly to outright bans….If you are told to stop a certain food, we’ll carve it all the more and it’s all we can think about.” So true!

This authors gives you all the tools to be successful in changing your life style. Slow and steady wins the race! I’ve made some of the recipes they were good. I’m ready to begin her eight week plan. I’m very excited about this journey! Grin!

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

Finding Hope Through Fiction www.psalm516.blogspot.com


By Ann Spangler
Published by Tyndale
305 Pages

Back Cover: At some point in our lives, many of us have fallen victim to an imbalanced, distorted view of God. Sometimes we see him as a hard god—all-seeing, all-powerful, and all-knowing, but not someone we can trust or get close to. Other times he’s depicted as much softer—always tolerant and not too demanding, but not much better than we are. What we need is the perspective only God can give—a true and deeper vision of who he is as the almighty, everlasting God, who is holy and yet merciful, jealous and yet loving, righteous and yet forgiving.

Let us not settle for a vision of God that is thin and anemic, one that will fall to pieces when life becomes more difficult than we can bear. Instead, let us pray that God will draw us out of our complacency so that we might hunger and thirst for more of him.

As you read through this book, I hope you will share my sense that learning more about God’s attributes is like drawing water from a deep well—the kind that can refresh and invigorate your faith. In the days and weeks ahead, may God give you the boldness to prayerfully insist that he nourish, sustain, and strengthen you with a clearer revelation of who he is.

—Ann Spangler

REVIEW: I love how this author explains why we should learn about the Attributes of God. She describes a man by the name of Austin Chapman who was born deaf. He talks about music, “All music sounded like trash through my hearing aids…But that changed the day he tried on a new pair capable of distributing higher frequencies with greater clarity….Suddenly the young filmmaker heart sounds he didn’t even know existed—the scraping of his shoe on carpet, the clicking of a computer keyboard,…crash course on music…Mozart, Elvis, Michael Jackson and more. He listened to Mozart’s Lacrimosa’ tears rolled down his face. He said, “I finally understood the power of music.”

“Chapman’s story reminds me of my first experience with God. Before that, most of what I’d heard about him sounded garbled and boring, a bit like trash coming through hearing aids….When the real God showed up, he changed my life. He up ended my world. He blew my mind. And he keeps doing it – surprising me, catching me off guard, shattering my false images of him.”

This author goes on to state, “If we want to see God more clearly, we have to be willing to let go of false images when we are given the grace to recognize them for what they are. Human vision, of course, is always impaired. Our deluded hearts mislead us. We see only to the extent that God graciously opens out eyes, the eyes of the blind.”

I liked how Ann put all this and one more quote that surmises why studying the Attributes of God is live changing. This is a quote by A.W. Tozer, “God’s attributes are not isolated traits of his character but facts of his unitary being. They are not things-in-themselves; they are, rather, thoughts by which we think of God, aspects of a perfect whole, names given to whatever we know to be true of the God head. To have a correct understanding of the attributes it is necessary that we see them all as ONE. We can think of them separately but they cannot be separated.”

I appreciated the insight before I started reading this book. I also like how this author set up the book for me to use as a study tool. She had the reader reflect on one attribute of God all week. There are five elements to the weekly study. They include background information, a short bible study, devotions, bible promises and prayer. I highly recommend this study, devotion on helping you get to know God better. It’s simple and profound.

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
Finding Hope Through Fiction www.psalm516.blogspot.com


Spirit Bridge
By James L. Rubart
Published by Thomas Nelson
371 Pages

Back Cover: The Warriors Riding have battled in astounding supernatural realms, set captives free, and awakened thousands of hearts. But now their only chance of survival depends on calling for The Spirit Bridge.

Reece, Dana, Brandon, and Marcus have achieved staggering success in the spiritual realm . . . but each is reeling from vicious attacks. They need rest. A break from the war.

But the warlord Zennon is raging and will give them no quarter. The demon holds what he believes to be the trump card—a hidden strategy set in motion before Warriors Riding even began—that will detonate the team from the inside out. And he's just set it loose.

The street magician Simon—finally free of Zennon's alternate reality prison—is racing to remember his past before his ignorance obliterates his destiny. Then there's Miyo—a brash young warrior with advanced knowledge of spiritual realities and supernatural armor even Reece doesn't know about. These two will be pivotal in the final war.

If only the Warriors knew which side Simon and Miyo are truly on. If only they knew how to fight against Zennon's final assault.

The Spirit Bridge is the epic conclusion to acclaimed author James L. Rubart's Well Spring series, which will propel each of the Warriors Riding on a quest of true identity, ultimate freedom, and a final battle that will leave them changed forever.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a story that not only lifted the veil to the spiritual battle ragging around me but this book told readers how to fight the enemy and listen to the holy spirit guidance. The best part it was done in an engaging, non-preachy, enthralling way! Loved that!

I was blown away at James L. Rubarts imagination and style of writing this series; as he had Reece, Dana, Brandon and Marcus enter into different realities when they prepared for battle. I liked how this author showed how clever and beautiful the enemy and his minions can be too.

The thing that unnerved me was the introduction of Miyo and Simon into the inner circle of the Warriors Riding. I wasn’t sure if Miyo was from the dark side with all her moves and how she went about doing things in the spirit world. I was on the edge of my seat. I didn’t know if Simon was on the up and up either. This author did make me squirm as I wasn’t sure what would happen on the next page to the cast in the Warriors Riding I cared deeply about.

This author does a great job in revealing who God is and gives reminder of how much he loves us. Reece reminds Brandon, “We have the spirit of God of the universe in us. The God who created the earth. The God who moved time backward as recorded in Isiah thirty-eight. The God who says we can move mountains with the faith of a mustard seed. The God who…”

Brandon hears God speak to him after Reece talks to him, “I've never loved you for your voice, or your songs,or what you've brought millions of people. I love you for you, Brandon. Now you have a choice; to love me for me…But it is your decision.” I love that!

Thank you James Rubart for a brilliant imaginative, thought providing, suspenseful novel that not only entertained and encouraged my spirit but also kept me up late because I couldn’t put it down. All three of the novels in this series were like that for me.  I couldn’t have asked for more! This book has a very satisfying ending; one you’ll be thinking about for a long time.

I highly recommend this book for a great summer read and as a book club pick. The author has discussion questions in the back of the book that will help ignite lively discussion at your book club meeting. This series is a keeper. I know that I’ll be checking back to things in the book that I can apply to my life and its battles!

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

Finding Hope Through Fiction www.psalm516.blogspot.com


By Nick Vujicic
Published by Waterbrook Press
213 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: No Bully Can Define Who You Are 
Nick has experienced bullying of all kinds for being “different.” But he’s learned that he doesn’t have to play the bully’s game–and neither do you. In Stand Strong Nick gives you strategies for developing a “bully defense system,” so you can handle bullies of all kinds by building your strength from the inside out.
 Find out how to: 

·         Turn being bullied into a great opportunity (yes, really!)
·         Create a safety zone within yourself
·         Establish strong values that no bully can shake
·         Deal with cyber bullies
·         Develop a spiritual foundation to stay strong against bullying
·         Monitor your emotions and control your response to them
·         Help others who are being bullied

Are you facing the unwanted attention of a bully?  You can stand up to the challenge, because you have greater power over your feelings and your life than you may think! Just ask Nick--the man with no arms or legs…and “a ridiculously good life.”

REVIEW: I’m thankful for a review copy of a book that showed me another side of this amazing man. He has such a great outlook on life. It wasn’t always this way. He is transparent about how it was growing up and the things he learned as he faced bullying in new schools. He has traveled around the world speaking and has learned that Bullying is a global epidemic.

The author states, “Being bullied, sadly, is as common as catching a cold or stubbing your toe.” He goes on to point out that being bullied is not just happening to the young or the disabled. He says, “Bullies can be your boss, coworkers, teachers, coaches, boyfriends, or girlfriends – anyone who abuses his power or position.” He shares in the book that most of his live (even now) he was a bully magnet – He said, “I’m the poster child for the most common bullying experiences and that is for being different.”

When he was young he would try to figure out why someone would treat him this way. Then, “Finally I realized that the bullying wasn’t about my problem. It was about the bully… the bully’s motives don’t matter. You do. …so instead of focusing on why a bully is picking on you. Let’s focus on helping you feel secure and happy again.”

He has some strategies for dealing with bullying situations that surprised me. He starts off by saying, “building strength from the inside out, from your deepest thoughts and feelings – your heart and soul – to the way you see the world, make decisions, and take actions. You build your bully defense system from the inside out by:

1.      Figuring out who you are so no bully can tell you differently or make you feel badly;
2.      Taking responsibility for your own behavior and happiness so bullies have no ultimate power over you;
3.      Establishing strong values that no bully can shake.”

The author goes on to list 10 items to help you build you up and change the way you think about this situation. Each chapter talks about one of these items on the list. At the end of each chapter there is a section called Nick’s Notes. He gives the bullet points for the chapter.

He says, “Once all those things are in place, you will have your own bully defense system. Then you can join me in working to educate the epidemic of bullying so no one else has to suffer. Together with God’s help we can bring an end to the bullying epidemic.”

This is a powerful and informative read. If you haven’t been bullied yet there is a chance you will be in the near future. This book is partial, encouraging and helpful for you in facing bullies and many other situations in life.

I’ve seen Nick Vujicic speak in youtube videos and read his other books. He’s confident, kind, practical and an encourager. He’s transparent in his writing when sharing about himself and others.  Not only is this book helpful for you and/or your child or friend being bullied; it will change your attitude on many things when the author shares his outlook on life. It’s amazing. He has a strong faith message everyone can use. I highly recommend this read for your own purposes, as a book club pick and/or to be used in a small group setting. It’s a must read!

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where book fun Begins www.bookfun.org
Finding Hope Through Fiction www.psalm516.blogspot.com