Category Archives: Book Clubs

Please Join Us Monday the 22nd for a Hair-raising Discussion of The House on Foster Hill!

Friends! Run and fetch our book for this month’s book club meeting ASAP! You’ll be able to finish it quickly. Be sure you have all the lights on as it will have you bug-eyed and a little on edge… (We’re meeting Monday the 22nd from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Invite your friends to join you! We’ll meet in the sanctuary of Middletown United Methodist Church. Address at the end of this post.)

The book had me from its cover:

Author Jaime Jo Wright created quite a page-turner, while jumping back and forth between two women separated by a century in the  very same house. Sounds confusing, but Jamie guides us readers along beautifully and at a fast pace.

It’s a huge deal Jamie Jo’s debut novel is nominated in two categories for the very coveted Christy Award: First Novel and Mystery/Suspense/ Thriller.

I’m only a hundred pages in, so I’m going to let reviewer Barbara Derse tease you for a moment :

“In her debut novel, Author Jamie Jo Wright has delivered a compelling tale of murder and mystery through a time split-story line connected by an old abandoned house, the lives it touched, and the long protected secrets it hold. Gripping suspense, multiple plot twists, hair-raising terror and well developed characters travel across the pages.

I found myself riveted by Kaine Prescott’s and Ivy Thorpe’s lives as they converged at The House on Foster Hill. Wright has woven a dual story so intricately entwined it took me to the end of the book to unravel and reveal the truth.

And, it was a surprise…not what I was expecting at all. The seamless transition from one era to the other kept the smooth rhythm of the story flowing and held me captive with each turn of the page to the very end.Though the story in both eras has a dark  and ominous feel to it, it also offers light and life. Intertwined with the frightening evil that overshadows the house, a legacy of hope rises and shines through the strong women who refuse to let the house’s secret ruin their lives or force them to live in fear; women who look to an eternal future.

Wright does an exceptional job weaving faith into everyday moments in a natural, unforced way…as it should be. Talk of God’s love and His promises written in scripture were flawlessly laid within casual conversation and deep reflections by the characters.

Wright has crafted a well written debut and is an author to watch in the coming years. I look forward to more from her.”

And, good news for us, Jaime Jo has written more…

(releasing January 22nd, available for ore-order.)

To find out more about Jamie Jo Wright, visit her website:  www.jaimewrightbooks.com

Grab some friends and join us in the sanctuary of Middletown United Methodist Church, Monday night, October 22nd, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.  The more the merrier!

Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell at (502) 245-8839.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

See you next Monday!

‘Til next time…

 

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Come Meet Author Ann Gabhart and Hear Her Talk About Her Novel, These Healing Hills, September 24th!

Friends!  Mark your calendars to join us next month for what promises to be a superb first-of-the-season Branches Book Club meeting on Monday, September 24thBonus:  Author Ann Gabhart is coming to be with us to talk about her page-turner of a book, These Healing Hills.

The girls at Branches Book Club at Middletown United Methodist Church invite you to come and bring some friends! The more the merrier! We’ll be meeting from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

These Healing Hills is the winner of the Grace Award in the Action/Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction category and is also a finalist in the Faith, Hope, Love Reader’s Choice Awards in Women’s Fiction.  Bravo, Ann!

Allow me to give you a petite teaser on These Healing Hills…

One of many aspects I love about this novel is it’s about the frontier nurses in Appalachia.  These were and are very brave souls who attend nursing school with the intention of traveling the hills of Kentucky and caring for the sick.  Delivering babies, a la nurse-midwives, is their specialty.

Ann clearly did her homework, researching these nurses’ education, mode of transportation, culture, etc. These Healing Hills opens in 1945, just after the war ended. We quickly meet Francine Howard. She has come from the big city of Cincinnati to the very tiny town of Hyden, in Leslie County, Kentucky to become a frontier nurse. (Please see a real frontier nurse below!)

 

Fran arrives with two built-in challenges before she ever begins work at the clinic. The first challenge could perhaps be the reason for Fran leaving Cincinnati and joining the Frontier Nurses.

Fran had had a close relationship with a young man who had been at war.  His homecoming surely meant their future wedding.  Unfortunately, he met and married a gal in England. Fran learned he was bringing this new wife home.

The second challenge involves Fran’s mother, who’s still in Cincinnati. She is completely against Fran moving to the mountains and pokes fun of the “hillbillies and their ways.”  While we readers fall in love with Fran, we easily get upset over her mother who speaks her mind mercilessly.

While Fran catches on quickly to nursing, as well as traveling on horseback, she doesn’t catch on so quickly to the mountain’s trails and becomes lost. More than once.

Enter one handsome young man, Ben Locke, who’s also just returned from the war.  They have several chance meetings and are obviously attracted to one another.

Fran befriends Ben’s whole family as she takes care of his brother, Woody, as well as his sister, Sadie, and delivers a baby of another one of his sisters, Becca. (This is only the beginning of several plot twists.)

In my research of the frontier nurses, I happened upon this picture.  This is one of the real nurses who called on families.  Thanks to Ann’s writing, this is exactly how I pictured them. (Note the dog and lots of children.)

Ann weaves the importance of prayer and reliance upon the Lord throughout her novel as well as tucking in Scripture verses and a song here and there.  She also writes so visually you feel as if you’re right there with Nurse Howard (Fran) and her patients.

I happen to know Ann’s a dog lover, and she doesn’t disappoint by including a loyal, super smart dog in the story as well as some puppies who we readers become endeared to.

Here’s a favorite quote:

Not without frightful occurrences, including an encounter with a rattle snake, and a mysterious shooting, Ann keeps us guessing while rapidly turning the pages of These Healing Hills.

Will Fran stay? Will she and Ben give in to their attraction to one another? Will her former boyfriend meddle in the middle? Ah, my friend, you must read this book to find out! And read it before our September 24th meeting!

It was a sad day for me when I finished the book. I didn’t want it to end. It begs for a sequel, and that’s going to be my first question for Ann when she comes to book club!

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab These Healing Hills. You have plenty of time to read it before we all get to meet, greet, and hear from the author herself, Ann Gabhart.  Be thinking of questions to ask her! You do not want to miss this opportunity!

Mark your calendar:  Monday, September 24th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church.  Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell at (502)245-8839. (Because of the ongoing remodeling, we will be meeting in the sanctuary.)

One final fun fact: Since we chose Ann’s book in the spring, she’s had yet another book release, River to Redemption, this past July. I’m sure we can ask her questions about it too! (It’s next on my nightstand.)

 

‘Til next time!

 

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You’re Invited for Our Last Book Club Meeting of the Season, Monday, 4/23, Featuring Julie Klassen’s THE INNKEEPER OF IVY HILL

Friends!  Save next Monday night, April 23rd, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.,  where we’ll have a delightful time discussing Julie Klassen’s Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Come and bring a friend with you!

Thanks to my sweet friend, Nancy Tinnell, bailing me out yet again on the write up of our selection (She’d finished the book and I had not yet!), you’ll get to enjoy her teaser on the book below:

 

On Monday, April 23rd, Branches Book Club will end the season with a discussion of Julie Klassen’s The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. What a contrast this book is to last month’s selection, The Choosing, which took place far in the future.

For April, we have traveled in our literary time machine back to Wiltshire, England in the year 1820. Passenger coach travel supports the existence of charming inns, where travelers can find good food and a soft bed before resuming their journey.

After the death of her husband, Jane Bell is expected to keep the Bell Inn running efficiently. Her knowledge of business in general and how the Inn functions from day to day are equally lacking, but she must somehow pull things together. She is surrounded by long time Inn employees and relatives of her late husband, but can she trust them to help her and not take advantage of her? We are left wondering for a while just who the good guys and bad guys are in this novel.

Publishers Weekly had this to say: “Klassen blends her tale well; each ingredient-romance, friendship, mystery-is measured to produce a lively tale that will satisfy Regency aficionados and general readers, too.” I totally agree! I loved attempting to assess brother-in-law Patrick’s motives; the intentions of Mr. Locke, and how long it would take mother-in-law Thora to soften.

Many of our Branches Book Club members have a soft spot for Regency fiction, and this book, first in Klassen’s TALES FROM IVY HILL series, does not disappoint. We look forward to sharing with you on the 23rd!

Yes, we will be in the sanctuary! This will keep us near the special LifeWay display in the lobby. Our friends from LifeWay will have all of next year’s books for you to purchase at a discount, in addition to other titles you may be interested in. Posters of next year’s book list will be available for you to share with others. We hope to see you there!

 

Thank you, Nancy!

Another fun fact is several of us have also enjoyed another book by Julie, “The Apothecary’s Daughter“, just in case you’d like to read another selection by her.

We hope to see you next Monday night, 4/23, from 6:30-8:00.  Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell at (502) 245-8839 and don’t forget we’re meeting in the sanctuary.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

Also you will NOT want to miss this opportunity to learn of our selections for our next season (BIG REVEAL!!!), plus you’ll want to discover which authors are coming to be with us, and to snag the books early for your summer reading that LifeWay is so gracious to set up for us!

‘Til next time!

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Love Stories and Chocolate Treats (Part 3 of 4) Please join us for Book Club February 26th!

Friends! Grab some of your friends and head over to Book Club to hear what promises to be a grand discussion of an even grander love story and mystery, Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon.

The Branches Book Club gals will be meeting at Middletown United Methodist Church on Monday Night, February 26th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

It’ll be fun to hear everyone’s thoughts on their favorite characters, and let me tell you, author Irene has created some real characters. You won’t want to miss the love story budding in this book and I suspect you’ll be as frustrated as I was with the twists and turns.

Frustration only kept my eyes peeled on the pages while neglecting the laundry and dishes as they began to pile up. Shhh, don’t tell my husband! Also, don’t miss other books by Irene! She’s a three-time Rita Award winner, having written fifty-plus books…

While Irene keeps the story moving, she dots it throughout with what I call “wow” statements. An early example is:  “Letting yourself care for anyone—or anything—was an invitation for grief.” Perhaps she does this to brace us readers for what’s around the corner.

Irene also weaves pictures of grace throughout the book.  We readers struggle right along with some of the characters trying to overcome their past. Adam Stone spent time in prison and is trying to get a new start.

Single mom, Lexie, is the police chief of Hope Harbor. She conveniently works on Sundays so as to avoid church. She and Adam converge over vandalism done to his home which triggers sparks for a potential romance. Irene says, “Strange how adversity could turn some people away from God yet lead others to him.”

You’ll find yourself turning pages more rapidly once the mystery of multiple vandalism unfolds coupled with Adam and Lexie’s relationship.  Other characters enhance their relationship in fun and many times humorous ways.

One teenage boy, after being discovered as one of the kids involved in one of the vandalisms, gets mentored by Adam, keeping him out of trouble. His mother is also a single mom.  His, and later his Mother’s transformation is another bonus we readers get to witness.

It’s surprising so many of these characters wind up together at the local church.  Don’t miss the orchestration!

Hurry and read Sandpiper Cove to find out if the mystery gets solved with the vandalisms, if Lexie and Adam jump the hurdles necessary to start a relationship (including a late-into-the-story complication against Adam’s character), and if grace really can be extended to those who seem guilty.

Come join us Monday night, February 26th from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.  Please call Nancy Tinnell to RSVP at (502) 245-8839. We’d love to see you!

Our chocolate treat this week comes from Kentucky cookbook Bluegrass Winners by the Garden Club of Lexington.  Don’t miss the Chocolate Torte on p. 280.

 

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Come Enjoy 5 Fun Treats at Book Club Monday, 11/27 (“Christmas Playlist” by Alistair Begg)

Friends! Be thinking of who to bring with you to our next Book Club gathering on Monday, November 27th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. You won’t believe what all is on our agenda!

First up, we have some special guests coming who will serenade us! Yes, the Cincinnati Christmas Carolers are joining us! (www.cincycarolers.com )They will not only get us in the Christmas spirit, they will be the perfect segue way into our book we’ll be discussing, Christmas Playlist—Four Songs that Bring You to the Heart of Christmas by Alistair Begg.

Many of you know of Alistair and have been blessed by his preaching on the radio via Truth for Life. (www.truthforlife.org )  He’s been the Senior Pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio since 1983. (www.parksidechurch.com )

I used to listen to Alistair every morning after dropping off the children in carpool.  His Scottish brogue, along with his inspiring message, calmed my frazzled self to enjoy the day.

The second treat we’ll experience is watching a short-but-sweet video message Alistair made just for us! How fun is that?

Thirdly, all the while this is going on, we can taste fun Christmas party appetizers everyone is bringing (how about that Christmas tree-shaped cheese mold?!!!) to share.  Get creative, but please do avoid fruit cake. (Nobody quote me on that, and please do forgive me, I know some of you actually like the stuff.) And relax, no judgment will surface if you blow into Kroger and buy something readymade.  Food is food is food.

Fourthly, we’ll have a lively discussion about the book, your favorite songs, Christmas traditions, you-name-it.  This will be a sure cure for any potential Scrooges to infiltrate your homes.

The four songs Alistair shares with us straight from Scripture will prepare our hearts and minds to embrace the Christmas season. Unlike the innkeeper who said, “Sorry, there’s no room in the inn…”, we will uncover ways to make room for Jesus and celebrate His birthday in the best possible way this Christmas.

Fifthly, and finally, in addition to your Christmas party appetizer, please bring a wrapped ornament for our Ornament Exchange! This was so fun last year and a huge bonus to have a new ornament to take home and hang on your tree. This will be our grande finale to a most outstanding and uplifting meeting.

Make arrangements now to join us, toting friends with you, at our Christmas Book Club gathering, Next Monday, November 27th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

Please call Nancy Tinnell to RSVP:  (502) 245-8839.

‘Til next time!

 

 

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Come Meet Author Laura Frantz Next Monday 10/23 at Book Club!

Friends!  Grab your friends and head over to Middletown United Methodist Church next Monday night, October 23rd, from 6:30-8:00 p.m., for what’s sure to be a blast of a book club meeting!

The gals at Branches Book Club have invited author Laura Frantz to come and speak about her book, A Moonbow Night.

Whether you’ve read the book or not, do come as it’s always a treat to get to meet and hear from the author. Laura is currently living in Berea in a log cabin. Her passion for history influences her writing, including her book we’ll be discussing, A Moonbow Night. It has several twists and turns I’m excited to ask her about. Be thinking of questions you’d like to ask!

LauraFrantz.net

One of many fun snippets include Kentucky’s very own Daniel Boone and his family making an appearance in the book.  The connection to their family with Tempe is one of many surprises. Set in 1777, Laura’s characters truly live a pioneer life.  Our modern day comforts we experience didn’t exist back then. (Yes, they camp a lot!)

Some of Laura’s epigraphs are actual Scripture, while some frighteningly foreshadow what’s ahead:  “Our way is over mountains, steep hills, deep rivers, and muddy creeks; a thick growth of reeds for miles together; and no inhabitants but wild beasts and savage men.” (Francis Asbury) Yikes…

Laura exhibits her character’s faith and prayer lives throughout the book. She paints lovely portraits of God’s creation as well while her characters traipse across many miles, i.e. “The woods were an unending palette, its unearthly hues evidence of a Master’s hand.” (One of many reasons I love Christian fiction.)

Nancy Tinnell said, “I’m such a city girl that my enjoyment of the frontier-themed books we’ve read in book club has come as a surprise to me. Laura Frantz is the real deal! She grew up in Kentucky, having lived in both western and eastern regions of our state.”

Nancy added, “A Moonbow Night is about as authentic as it gets. Every page is so thick with descriptive language that you can almost hear the leaves blowing in the breeze and the twigs snapping under someone’s foot. She writes beautifully and makes the forest come alive. And of course, there’s a love story!”

Yes, well, let’s chat a minute about that little love story.  No spoiler alert, but I must say the relationship that blossoms throughout the book didn’t happen as quickly as I’d have liked.  That is what makes the book such a page-turner, the reader nearly YELLING for Tempe and Sion to become united, in the midst of running from Indians—as in the kind that’ll scalp you!

I got tickled at Laura in an interview saying she likes to give her main male character dark hair as well as making him tall and handsome.  My guess is Nancy may be envisioning a twin to Tom Selleck.  (We’ll have to ask her Monday night.)

Because of Laura’s Kentucky influence, we’ll be having Kentucky-themed food, so think about what you’d like to bring. Country ham biscuits, grits, derby pie anybody??? (I also discovered Laura likes peanut butter and chocolate anything, so a good ole’ Reese’s cup could do the trick!)

Finally, I’m happy to report Laura has a new book coming out in January, The Lacemaker. Let’s remember to ask her to give us a sneak peek.

We hope to see you next Monday night, October 23rd, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church. Please call Nancy to RSVP at (502) 245-8839.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

‘Til next time!

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You’re Invited to a Super Fun Book Club Monday, September 25th! Come discuss “Looking for Lovely” by Annie F. Downs…

Friends!  Grab some of your friends and please join us for next week’s Book Club meeting on Monday, September 25th! The more the merrier…

The Branches Book Club gals will be discussing Looking for Lovely—Collecting the Moments That Matter by Annie F. Downs.

Even if you’ve not had time to read it yet, you’ll love hearing the discussion, PLUS we’re having a yummy potluck supper. If time allows, please bring one of your favorite dishes to share.

Annie’s agreed to make us a little video message, so that’s an added bonus.  You’ll love her down to earth style, appealing to all ages.

Mark your calendar now to join us next Monday Night, September 25th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church. You may call Nancy Tinnell to RSVP at (502) 245-8839.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

A few favorite things Annie creates via her book include:

Her hysterical sense of humor will instantly grab you. Her SHOUT TYPING WILL KILL YOU AND YOUR FUNNY BONE.

Her honesty in difficult situations will encourage you. (My favorite chapter on such is “Quitter”. Love her phrase of “broken crazy” for a rough spot in her life. I, too, have had some times when I wanted to run away and my guess is other readers will relate as well.)

Her book is also akin to a travelogue for anyone who loves Nashville.  Makes me want to go follow along for some of her food, finds, and favorite go-to’s.

Annie offers great ideas in helping us look for lovely. She tells us finding lovely requires perseverance.  In fact, she says, “I want you to be branded by perseverance.” Sounds like hard work, but thanks to her help, she makes us readers feel as if she’s holding our hand along the way.

When we arrive at “lovely”, this brings us joy, ultimately bringing God the glory.  Remember “a heart at peace gives life to the body?” (Proverbs 14:30a)

One suggestion for looking for lovely is as simple as waking up in time to see the sunrise. This brings a smile to my face because it’s easily achievable. Her description of a sunrise is a beautiful visual as is why she loves a sunrise:

The chapter called “Ryman Auditorium” is also wonderful.  Here’s a great question we can ask of ourselves:  What is your favorite venue and what does it do for you?  Annie asks, “Is there a building or venue that speaks to your soul in a way that’s unique to you?  Maybe it’s a theater or a library or a church.  Go there, give yourself to it, and see what God does for you in that place.”

One of my favorite places in Louisville is The Palace Theater. (www.louisvillepalace.com )   It is beautiful from top to bottom, literally.  John and I were blessed to see Michael Buble in concert there years ago, on our anniversary, no less.  This was before Michael became really popular.  It’s our favorite memory to date.  What’s your favorite place to go? (Please comment and let me know!)

Another fab chapter is called, “The Sound of Music.”  Annie’s take on music, its’ mood-changing capabilities, and why it brings peace made me want to stand up and say, “Yes!  You go, girl!” There are few things that can stir your soul more than music. It’s a way to, as Peter says in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

I find myself pulling up songs on my iPhone when I get to keep our granddaughter, Claire. The music not only calms me down, I believe it calms Claire down!  Our favorite two to begin with include, What a Beautiful Name It Is by Hillsong Worship and O Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship. (She can’t talk yet, but I’m sure she’d agree. Smile.)

When you have time, checkout David Baloche’s “Labyrinth” album. Scripture guaranteed to put you at rest, or as Annie says, “That’s what music does. It holds you together when you think you’ll fall apart. It reminds you of truth. It grabs your hand as you try to cross the finish line. It fills your ears with peace when it feels like there is no peace.” Amen.

Annie offers some of her favorite songs to listen to in her book as well as reminding us David gave us so many right in the Psalms. Worshipful rest, right?

These are just a sampling of the many wonderful ideas Annie gifts us with.  You don’t want to miss reading Looking for Lovely.  Annie will bless your socks off.

Do join us next Monday?  We’d love to see you!  Don’t forget!  9/25, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Middletown United Methodist Church.  Come and bring your friends.  Bring a dish for the potluck supper!  Meet new people and learn from the discussion.  Book Club is the BEST!

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

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