Gail's Book Nook

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Looking Out the Window: The Stephanie Landsem Blog Tour for The Tomb, Her Retelling of a Classical Bible Story. Enter to Win a Gift Card, Read an Excerpt and Try a Recipe from the Bible

Enter to win a gift card now through April 1!
Click below
A Warm Welcome to Stephanie Landsem

Stephanie shares one of her favorite Bible verses

Although my favorite Bible verse changes with the day and what’s going on in my life, I tend to turn to the Gospel of John when looking for inspiration—especially writing inspiration. I’m always awe-struck at the very first sentence. These few words are simple, beautiful, and profound. They speak to my writer’s heart like nothing else ever has:
“In the beginning, there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

About The Tomb

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.”

In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.
Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?

One of Martha's recipes

Martha wanted to serve only her best to Jesus and his followers. This fruit and wine compote was a beautiful dish to serve at the end of her perfect meal.

Martha’s Spiced Fruit and Wine Compote
½ cup dried figs, halved
½ cup whole dried apricots
½ cup dried plums
1 ½ cup Zinfandel wine *
1 bay leaf
1 t coriander seeds
1 t fennel seeds
¼ t cumin seeds
¼ t black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1 t ground cinnamon
1 T lemon juice
3 T honey
¼ t salt

Combine fruit, wine, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan. Let stand while you prepare the spices.
Put coriander, fennel, cumin, peppercorns, and cloves in a small skillet over medium high heat. Toast the spices until they are fragrant and the fennel seeds just begin to turn darker. Remove from heat immediately and pour into the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Grind the spices with the pestle until they are a fine powder. Add the ground cinnamon. This will smell divine!

Bring the fruit and wine to a boil then simmer uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes. Keep a good eye on the pan. When the liquid has reduced to a syrup consistency, remove from heat and stir in the spices. Add lemon juice, honey, and salt. Let cool.

Serving suggestions:

Serve as is, like Martha did, or
—over ice cream
—top a baguette slice with goat cheese and a spoonful of fruit and sauce
—over a slice of pound cake
*substitute concord grape juice instead of wine if you wish

An Excerpt from The Tomb
Chapter 1
Hear, O children, a father’s instruction, be attentive, that you may gain understanding! —Proverbs 4:1

MARTHA CLENCHED HER teeth so tight her jaw ached. She’d kept quiet for seven days. Seven days. Now she felt like a pot left too long over the fire. If another old woman gave her a pitying glance, if one more village girl whispered behind her hand . . . by the Most High, she’d boil over.
She filled a cup for Josiah, her sister’s new husband. Who would have believed it? Sirach of Bethany’s daughter—his younger daughter!—choosing her own husband. And what a husband he was. Josiah had many good qualities. He was kind and patient, and everyone knew how he loved Mary. But he was also poor and none too smart. Even his own mother admitted that he was about as useful as a three-legged donkey.

She took a deep breath and poured a cup of wine for her father, careful not to spill a drop on his fine linen tunic. When Abba agreed to the betrothal a full year ago, the women of Bethany had gossiped for weeks. Most had concluded that Sirach was eager to be rid of Mary, his grown daughter who spent more time playing with the village children than taking care of her father’s household. But they were wrong. Abba loved Mary just as much as he loved Martha and Lazarus.

Now, at almost fifteen years, Mary was ready to start her own family with a man she adored. Martha was glad that Abba had allowed Mary her heart’s desire. If only he would allow Martha hers.
If Mary can choose Josiah, why can’t I have a say in my husband? But of course, she knew why.
Her eyes strayed to the center of the meadow that stretched between the Mount of Olives and her father’s many fields and vineyards. The afternoon sun cast a patina of gold on a pair of musicians—an old man playing the flute and a young one strumming the kinnor. Lazarus sat at the kinnor player’s feet, watching him with admiration.

Martha sighed. Even her little brother got to be closer to Isa than she did.

A group of village girls linked arms and began to dance, each eyeing Isa as if he were the last honey cake on the plate. Didn’t they have anything else to do but stare and giggle about how handsome he was?

Isa didn’t even look at them. He never did. He looked into the distance, where the Mount of Olives rose between Bethany and Jerusalem. The love song of Solomon was on his lips, but Martha knew his thoughts were on her. Small comfort, with all the work she had to do.

Mary’s wedding feast had lasted the full seven days. Abba’s excellent wine had flowed as generously as the music, and laughter had filled their courtyard and the meadow that surrounded it. It had been good to celebrate Mary’s joy, but with all the rejoicing, Martha had found only a few moments to be alone with Isa. And tomorrow he would leave for the Decapolis. She had to find a way to talk to him today. Who knew when they’d see each other again?

Mary and her new husband rose from their seats. The men nearest Abba elbowed each other and smiled. Martha averted her eyes from the couple. The sun wasn’t even behind the blossoming apricot trees, and they were already going to the marriage tent? Of course, they wanted children, and there was only one way to get them. But did they have to look so eager? People would talk.

“Leaving us so soon?” Simon, their neighbor and one of the most respected men in Bethany, was a handsome man—at least that’s what the village girls said—but his large, wide-set eyes and full lips had always reminded Martha of a fish. He pursed his thick lips and raised his brows. “I’ve never known a man to need so much sleep.”

A chorus of twitters sounded from maidens clustered in the shade of the olive grove. Older women, those with babies at their breasts and sleepy toddlers, exchanged knowing glances.

Martha watched as the bridal couple took their leave of her father. She had to admit, marriage agreed with her sister. Mary’s softly rounded face glowed, and her eyes, the same deep brown as Martha’s, shone with what must be the marital bliss Martha had heard of. The linen dress Martha had made for her—the best linen, dyed Mary’s favorite shade of pink—fit her plump curves perfectly and suited her bronze skin and the deep blush on her cheeks.

As Mary moved beside her new husband, her arms jingled with a dozen brass bracelets, her betrothal gift from Josiah. They weren’t silver or gold—in fact, they were practically worthless—but the best Josiah could afford. Mary hadn’t removed them since the ketubah had been signed at their betrothal.
Josiah shrugged his thin shoulders as if to brush off the laughter. He looked down at his new bride, and a ridiculous smile stretched from his crinkly eyes to his wispy beard. Josiah wasn’t much to look at, but when he smiled at Mary like that Martha could see why her sister had pleaded with Abba—even though Josiah owned little more than the cloak on his back and a tiny home in the village.

No more servants for Mary, no fine linen from Galilee, no meat in her cooking pot—not with Josiah as a husband. They’d probably live on barley bread and water. Mary didn’t seem to care, and, at this moment, Martha could see why. What would it be like to be adored? To have a husband so in love that he couldn’t keep his eyes, or his hands, off you?

Yes, Abba gave Mary to Josiah, but he would never let Martha marry Isa. It was unthinkable.

Bio:   Stephanie Landsem, author of The Living Water Series, writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats.  When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.

Visit Stephanie's Web site
Facebook Page

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Looking Out the Window: Stephanie Landsem Blog Tour - Prizes - Book Talk - Recipe and Bible Verse

Enter to win a gift card now through April 1st by clicking the link below!
Come back on March 31st to read about The Tomb
Stephanie also shares a recipe from the Bible story and a Bible verse

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Looking Out the Window: The Theft of an Antique Doll Theme for Linda Weaver Clarke's New Cozy Mystery

A Warm Welcome to Linda Weaver Clarke
Linda Shares Review Excerpts for Her Newest Book, The Mysterious Doll
It’s time to get cozy! The Mysterious Doll is the newest mystery in the Amelia Moore Detective Series. Linda Weaver Clarke blends a nice balance of mystery, romance, and humor. “I love the sparks of romance -- they spice things up and add much interest to the story.” – Susan Ortlieb, Suko’s Notebook

Most mysteries are a “who-done-it.” But in this cozy mystery series Amelia Moore, who is the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, specializes in missing persons. Her cases have taken her to some very interesting places and put her in some dangerous situations, but with the help of her partner, Rick Bonito, she always solves the case.

“This was a fun read and I enjoyed it very much. I think you will enjoy the other books in this cozy mystery series, as well. Amelia and Rick seem to be getting closer as the series continue and some romance is definitely in the air.” – Sonja Nishimoto, Sunnie Reviews

About the Series

“I am LOVING the Amelia Moore Detective Series!” wrote Shauna Wheelwright on her book review blog. “FUN! CLEAN! FUN! AMAZING! DID I MENTION FUN?! I recently reviewed The Bali Mystery and loved it so much that I quickly dove into this sequel.”

About The Mysterious Doll
In The Mysterious Doll, Pauline Jones is confused why her boyfriend took off without telling a soul where he was going. But that isn’t all. Sam Whitaker is accused of stealing a valuable porcelain doll from the museum. His disappearance makes him look guilty, but Pauline is convinced he is innocent. When Amelia finds Sam, she realizes they need to prove his innocence. Where is the antique doll and who has taken it?

To read a Sample Chapter, visit

Linda Weaver Clarke travels throughout the United States, teaching people to write their family history and autobiography. She is the author of several historical sweet romances, a mystery/adventure series, a children’s book, and a cozy mystery series.
The Mysterious Doll (ISBN-13: 978-1502929143, Red Mountain Shadows Publishing, 2014) can be found at local libraries or online bookstores. For more information, visit

Monday, March 9, 2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

All about Award-winning, Best-selling Author Nancy Mehl’s New Book, Deadly Echoes, a Favorite Recipe from Nancy and a Wonderful Devotional

A Warm Welcome to Nancy Mehl

Nancy will give away a print copy of Deadly Echoes (U.S. only). To enter to win leave a comment and an e-mail address below

About Deadly Echoes

After a youth filled with tragedy and upheaval, Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last. She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school.

Sarah's joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed.

As she learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents' murder. Sarah enlists Paul's help in digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide--even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family.

Nancy Shares One of her Favorite Recipes

She says, “I’m sharing one of my very favorite recipes. It’s really easy, but it’s absolutely delicious. Normally, I’m not a “lasagna” person. Most of the time, I find lasagna in restaurants rather disappointing. Too much sauce, tastes too much like tomatoes, not enough cheese… The list goes on and on. When I found this recipe, I decided to try it. My first attempt was good. Better than most of the lasagna I’d had. But then I decided to tweak it. This is the end result. I’ve been told by more than one person that it’s the best lasagna they’ve ever tasted. I’m sharing it with you because hot lasagna on a cold day, along with some garlic bread, is an awesome meal. Your family will love it! (And you!)”
Nancy Mehl’s Crock Pot Lasagna
 1 ½ pounds Ground Beef (or Italian sausage)
 Lasagna noodles
 1 jar spaghetti sauce (I use Ragu Roasted Garlic. It seems to work the best.)
 1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese (One half of a large container)
 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese (I use a little more than this)
 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (I use a little more than this)
 Brown ground beef and drain. Spoon 1 C. spaghetti sauce in bottom of crock pot. Mix remaining sauce with beef. Place 2 uncooked lasagna noodles on sauce in crock pot. (I break each noodle in half so they will cover the layers more evenly.) Spread 1/3 meat mixture on top of noodles. Spread 3/4 C. cottage cheese over meat. Sprinkle 1/2 C. mozzarella cheese over cottage cheese. Add another layer of uncooked noodles, 1/3 meat mixture, the remaining cottage cheese and 1/2 C. mozzarella cheese. Place another layer of uncooked noodles, meat mixture, and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top. Then sprinkle with dried oregano. Cook on low for 4 hours. If cooked much longer, the noodles can get a little hard around the edges of the crock pot.
Makes 6 servings.

Yum. I can’t wait to try it.

One of Nancy’s Favorite Bible Verses and the Dream She Had about It

To properly share this verse, I’ve got to tell a brief story. One night I had a dream. In the dream a young boy stood on a stage, preaching. I was in the audience. The auditorium was full, and everyone seemed to be enthralled by this child because he was very anointed. Suddenly, he stopped talking and came down off the stage. He walked right up to me, took my hand, and gazed into my eyes. All he said was, “Psalm 37:5.” Then he turned around and walked back up to the stage where he resumed his message. Of course, when I woke up, I ran to grab my Bible so I could look up Psalm 37:5. When I located it, I read: “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” I began to study the scripture and found that the Hebrew word for “commit” actually means to “roll over.” The Young’s literal translation says this: Roll on Jehovah thy way, and trust upon Him, and He worketh.” It was clear that God wanted me to completely roll my life over on Him. My cares, my concerns, my worries, my insecurities…everything. I knew that if I could do that, then God could bring about His will in my life. He could work it all out – if I’d just get out of the way.

I’m embarrassed to say it took me a while to finally do what God had asked me to do. One part of the dream that I understood immediately was the reason for the child. Real trust means you can rest in the arms of your Daddy. As a small child you know without a doubt that your father will protect you. Take care of you. I finally came to the end of myself, growing tired of carrying the weight of my life on my own shoulders. I was ready to become the trusting child God desired me to be. I rolled my life over on Him, and I quit worrying about tomorrow - my career, my life, my future, my needs, and the needs of my family. The release of all those burdens feels wonderful. Now I can enjoy my life because I’m no longer worried. My only job is to love God, trust Him, and love the people He puts in my life. I know that my Daddy is taking care of me. 

If you’ve never rolled everything over on Him, I pray you will find a way to do it. You are loved so much. Remember that your Daddy desires that you cast ALL your cares upon Him – because He cares for you.

Thanks to Gail for allowing me to mention my “favorites” in her awesome blog. God bless you.

Thank you, Nancy, for visiting! It is my pleasure to have you!

Nancy Mehl lives in Festus, Missouri, with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored twenty books and just finished a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Finding Sanctuary series, “Gathering Shadows” was released in May of 2014. The second book, “Deadly Echoes” became available in February.  The third book, “Rising Darkness will release late in 2015. She is also working on an Amish cozy mystery series for Guideposts.
Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site. She is part of The Suspense Sisters, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.