Monthly Archives: July 2012

TCBN Birthday Bash!!

Check it out! They will be giving away 10 books a day for the whole month of August!

TBCN INTERVIEW w/Nora St.Laurent
Nora Stlaurent’s Bio: Nora is the CEO of The Book Club Network Incorporated. Nora and her husband run The Book Club Network http://www.bookfun.org She runs two book clubs near Atlanta, Ga., Former ACFW On-Line Book Club. Nora currently writes a Book Club column for the Christian Fiction OnLine Magazine and is a Book Club Talk Columnist for Novel Rocket. You can read author interviews on her Finding Hope Through Fiction blog, located at http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com, and reviews around the web at The Christian Pulse Mag, Title Trakk, Novel Reviews, and Suspense Zone.

What inspired you start TBCN?

The Book Club Network was born out of a desire to share Christian Fiction authors with other book clubs, share book club ideas with other leaders and to encourage the authors who are writing such amazing books. The economy has been really tough for a few years and people are not parting with money like they used to. Through TBCN they can take their time and find the right book or win it. We have give away opportunities each month. ALL of our contests are from the 19th – 21st of the month.
I run two face to face book clubs one at the Christian Book Store I work at and the other at the church I attend. It’s a position I never imagined I’d be in since I didn’t read for pleasure much before I started working in a Christian book store 11 years ago.
But since I love talking with people and the main thing to talk about in a book store is books I started reading Christian Fiction (publishers sent ARC copies to our store and I started checking them out) The first book that rocked my world and got me hooked in Christian Fiction was a book by Linda Nichols called Not a Sparrow Falls her next book did me in and I couldn’t stop talking about it, At the Scent of Water was her next book that prompted me to contact the author and let her know how much her book touched my spirit.
After reading these two books and telling customers about these reads I had a reason to read. These books spoke to me because I wasn’t expecting it. It reminded me of the stories in the bible. Jesus is the greatest story teller and He knew a story could change a life or prick our spirit and move us in a direction we never thought we’d be in.
I tell you all that to say I’m dyslexic and I have not been a fan of reading. Movies were more my thing. I could watch a movie of a book and have a lot more fun. Reading Christian Fiction changed my life in more ways than one. I wanted to tell everyone about the greatest book I read, and I’d do that at the book store. It was possible to talk about the new book I read and loved for about a month or more but when At the Scent of Water and Not a Sparrow Falls were not on the shelf anymore, I had to find some other books to talk about at work. I’m not a very fast reader so; discovering the next new book was a challenge. Would I get the book read before it disappeared from the shelf? How long do books live on a book shelf? The shelf life of a book was a mystery to me and still is.
I was whining to my husband Fred about my problem. How can I get the word out about great books for a very long period of time??? Being a man who likes to face challenges head we began to talk about how we could do this and the fact that I can’t read books fast enough to keep up with it’s shelf life at the store.
I also told him as a book club leader I wanted to promote great books and share them with other groups. Not everyone has the advantage of working at a book store and see what new books hit the shelves each week. Another struggle I had was if I had an author speaking at my book club I wanted to share them with other book clubs in the area. How could I do that? Where are book clubs meeting?
Our answer to many of these questions and more was the birth of The Book Club Network – TBCN. Connecting authors to book clubs and readers to their books; it’s also a network of book clubs as they post what they’ve read and how the meeting turned out.
It’s a place to find where a book club is located. We have a member map where you can find a book club near you. Message them and see if they are accepting new members. I envision it to be similar to be similar to the Weight Watchers program (don’t laugh Grin) you can go to a meeting anywhere in the country right? All you have to do is look on line and get connected. This is my hope for the future of TBCN.

Have there been any surprises for you @TBCN? What benefits have you seen by bringing readers and authors together?

I’ve been encouraged and fascinated by our growth. I can see there were other people out there like me wanting to connect with other book club members.
I’ll tell you what has surprised me is the author/reader interaction each month. This is something I didn’t foresee as I’ve watch the authors are having a blast interacting with the readers and visa/versa. The beauty of this discussion is it’s there forever for all to read no matter when you join TBCN.
The authors have done a great job coming up with questions for reader to answer that give them a peek into their book – create interest and then the discussion helps book club leaders connect with the author. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the amount of authors that want to be featured @The Book Club Network. It’s been a great thing.
The interaction with the authors is almost like having a book club meeting on line. It’s a huge benefit for both the authors who’ve wanted to ask clubs questions and readers who want to get to know authors. The authors are catching on. Our sponsors have loved the interaction as well. Members have told me that they love the author interaction from the 19th-21st as much as having a chance to win all these books. It’s hard to know if a book will be a fit for your group so these interaction times are helpful for that and so much more. Another thing I love about TBCN members is the fact they are not afraid to share what they think in a good way. I’ve learned so much and laughed out loud in some discussion where the questions lead to sharing funny moments.
My hope is that book club leaders and/or members participate in the discussions and make that book connection with the author and their book. I want TBCN to be a tool for them in picking out their books. Maybe invite the author to speak to their book club on the phone. It’s my hope. The discussion will be there forever. No worries about a books shelf live here @TBCN. So, everyone has time to get to know each other!! It’s a beautiful thing!
How can readers join in the anniversary celebrations?
It’s easy to sign up to be a member of TBCN. We ask a few questions for you to answer and for other information that helps us keep spammers and other information seekers out of the network. It’s also FREE. You have opportunities to win lots of books. For our BIRTHDAY BASH we are giving away 10 books a day and announcing winners once a week. You’ll have all week to enter the daily featured contests.
Do you have any other comments for my readers?

If you are avid reader this is the place for you to learn about the latest in Christian Fiction and interact with the author each month.
Are you a book club leader? Well this is the place for you to find your next book club pick. We’d also love for you to set up your Book club page at our site for others to see. It’s a place to share your latest featured book. Post pictures of your club and the field trips you’ve taken. The authors you’ve met and the book fun you’ve had. Learn from other book clubs that have already set up their pages.
Want to start a book club but felt it was too overwhelming?

You can learn from other experienced book club leaders, and you can start right away making your book club list!
Do you like to win books? This is the place for you. You’ll have a chance to get to know the authors and their books and read genre’s you normally wouldn’t. We’ve been giving away about 100 books a month and for our birthday bash it’s going to be 10 books every day; starting August first. Winners are picked weekly and announced each weekly.

THANK YOU! You’ve been a grand host to have me here and let me talk about The Book Club Network and our Birthday Bash!! I hope to see you there @TBCN www.bookfun.org

You are a Blessing!!

Nora :o)
The Book Club Network CEO

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Bees in the Butterfly garden by Maureen Lang

Bees in the Butterfly Garden
By Maureen Lang

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Meg Davenport has never wanted for anything in her life, materially. She has longed for the love of a family, something she has never known. The life of a proper young woman, taught in boarding schools to find the proper husband left her life empty and filled with vanity.
When she receives notice her father, whom she barely knew has passed away, imagine her surprise when nothing is as it seems after the funeral. Her father was a Gilded age Robin Hood…a thief.

Struggling with her loss, of a father she never knew, one whom she is told loved her too dearly to have her in his life, she fights to join his lifestyle.
Can the people she seeks to defraud end up reaching her with the truth about life? Can she find the love she has been seeking with mercy from someone she did not know had it in them?

I was surprised by this book! It was not all what I thought it would be. This is a story of a young woman searching for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. The author speaks to how some people can end up in the wrong places by simple choices, but also how redemption and kindness can reach someone to teach them what is right. The history and the quotes from The Code of Thieves and Madame Marisse’s Handbook for Young Ladies were especially entertaining!

Meg is the main character in this book, but the other minor characters had their roles as well, Ian and Kate were very interesting, but I especially like the Pemberton’s!! They were so interesting to learn about…nothing is quite what it seems!
-Martha

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Thirty Days hath….by Chautona Havig

(Note: This book is free today on Kindle)

Thirty Days Hath…..
by Chautona Havig

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Adric Garrison has agreed to be part of a very odd type of matchmaking service provided by his church, sister and brother in law. If you are a fan of the show The Bachelor, this book will be right up your alley. If you are not, it still will be as it is very different from the show in many ways. 12 months. 12 women with chaperones living in his grandmother’s house. What changes will they make to his heart, the house and his life?
Mix a man with old fashioned values, family members that want you married and put yourself on stage for the whole town to see and you have Adric Garrison.

This was very different than many books I read. Ms. Havig has a conservative taste in her books, mixed with swirls of contemporary lifestyle that sometimes seems to catch you by surprise. Shelby, Christine, Allison, Jael and of course Jodi were the ones that stood out to me…I found myself rooting for one woman and disliking others…and wondering what type of woman would even agree to such a game. Is marriage that desperate of a thing that you have to play a game to get a man to love you?
This book brings up many questions in my mind, as well as I am sure the readers minds..as you read the fumbling, romantic and clumsy way Adric woos and courts the 12 different women who visit him.

This is a real romance novel, mostly a real life type story that could bring much discussion about the way love works and is it something you fall into or something you choose?

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Past Forward by Chautona Havig

Past Forward- A Serial Novel
Parts 1 &2
by Chautona Havig

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Willow Finley is now alone. She was prepared for everything else in life, yet very ill-prepared for how to deal with the death of her mother and sole companion. She has been isolated from society, family and friends, and because of that, she has an odd appeal to Chad Tesdall- young police officer who ends up befriending her.

I have never read a serial novel online, only in story papers growing up. Of course, this one is a little longer than one in a story paper. Willow is quirky, smart, but so stupid almost in other ways. As the story progresses, I understood more about why her mother chose to raise her that way, but I struggled to identify with her naivety as most people who are isolated, if they are not slow tend to have a quickness for the ability to learn fast.

After the first 25 pages, I found that I was engaged with the story, and wanted to know what would happen to her. I will signing up for the author’s newsletter, to find out when the following installments will be ready and deals on her other books.
Newsletter sign-Up

I am curious as to whether Willow ends up staying on the farm, or does she get to know the family she did not know…?
I noticed that some characters from other books that I looked at by this author were also mentioned in this book, which made me more curious to read those ones too!
If you want to buy the first installment- it is available on Amazon

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Love in Disguise by Carol Cox

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Love in Disguise
By Carol Cox

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

When Ellie Moore loses her job as costume designer and assistant to actress Magdalena Cole, she is in despair about finding another position. When observing other girls in dire straits resorting to selling themselves to avoid starving, she realizes she would do anything but go there.
Eavesdropping on a conversation, she applies for a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and puts all her training and talent for observation on the stage to work, as she travels to Arizona as a much older woman and her much younger alter ego.
Mine owner, Steven Pierce is desperate to discover who is stealing from him! The expensive silver shipments vanishing into thin air seem to have inside people working on it. He least suspects that the gentle widow, newcomer to town could be his saving grace.

This book is an entertaining read of a detective who makes up lines as she goes along! I found it funny that since Ellie had never done detective work, she seemed to focus more on playing the parts she was given, than a lot of detective work! The beautiful Jessie and old Mrs. Stewart plague the town with questions, showing up where they shouldn’t be and attracting romantic attention.

I found this a light-hearted read, good for a hot day when your brain does not want to think about too many heavy things. It does contain some light referrals to the insides of saloons, but otherwise, even the romantic parts are few and would be a good read for teenagers.

(This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers for review and the opinions and writing is all my own)

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Finishing up the trip

After we left up north, we traveled down south in MN, near Alexandria, where we stayed the night with some friends. It was really nice to visit, have dinner and sleep well.
They were very gracious hosts and it is always so nice when someone is open to that!
We left early for the last leg of our trip and traveled all the way to Billings. It was a long, hot drive! We have air conditioning, but I hate it, it makes me feel sort of ill….so I avoid using it.
We arrived in Billings and the motel I had reserved was not a name brand, so I was nervous. we pulled up to what I thought was the right address and it looked really seedy. There was a man in a suit in front of the seedy hotel with a young woman or questionable character….which gave me pause. Thankfully, our hotel was down another block and was a nice, family owned, clean, but not fancy hotel. Three queen sized beds, nice small fridge, microwave, and coffee pot, with breakfast served awaited us. We enjoyed the room throughly and headed out the next morning, refreshed and ready for the day. A bookstore that I had wanted to visit, happened to be right down the street too, so that was neat!

We arrived home and I have never been so glad to get out of a car! I have been avoiding sitting in one now for the last week or so….and been walking tons!

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Second day up North

We spent the second day up north having good food, visiting and playing!
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They have a great fenced in yard, where you would never know they live on the main street.

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Swinging with cousins

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Climbing up for the picture

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Aren’t they cute?

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Giving T. a hug!!

We went to Dairy queen for ice cream after dinner and the older boys went fishing on the river.
It was really nice! We stopped at a park on the way home….which was nice…
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There were some children whom had been taught very bad habits though that made us want to leave sooner than we were ready to.

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How many children can you get on a teeter totter?

It was an enjoyable visit and everyone was sad to say good bye!

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North Country

We were not planning on going up north, but we needed to visit my husband’s parents and his mom’s health was suffering, so the trip down was not okay for her.

We drove through violent rain storm upon leaving town and chose to take the backroads up north, which thankfully we did, as the other road severely flooded. We had to drive through a couple large amounts of water on the road, but we were safe!

When we arrived, Grandma served a meal and P. and grandpa sat to practice some Russian.
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The littler boys had a hard time sitting still, so we brought in a small bucket of legos to build on their rug.
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It was a lifesaver!

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The commercial building where his brother lives. It has been converted inside into a nice house, a church and will be another 3 or 4 bedroom apt. as well. There is also a shop in the basement. It is not much to look at from the outside, but nice inside.

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We went fishing with Fred’s dad…and they had some nice time together.

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It was chilly, but the boys went swimming with their cousin!

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They are a pair!!

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Last day

This was our last evening in the cities…we had a nice quiet day where I just spent time with Bobbi, we went shopping for some snacks and Fred spent some time with his sister.

We went over to his brother’s and his wife’s house for dinner. She made us this amazing gourmet meal, with stew in little tureens, salad, tomato canapé’s, bread. His sister made crepes with raspberry cream to put on them and hot chocolate! It was so good! I felt like I would roll out of there!

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Here is the super content baby once again…

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Everyone is tired out after dinner and it was a super hot and humid day!

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The little boys were playing Hi-Ho Cherry-O…

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Saying goodbye…the boys were all being silly

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Getting them to stand still was impossible

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A girl just like me…

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Hugging…little boy style

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Gotcha!!!

They loaded us up with snacks, treats and all kinds of wonderful things to send us on our way!

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