Book introductions with Laura Thomas

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The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

I’m a huge fan of Francine Rivers, and I devoured this book with relish!

Roman Velasco is an unbelieving, wealthy, successful artist with a gigantic chip on his shoulder and a troubled past. Grace Moore, his new personal assistant, is a Christian single mother with her own heartbreaking story.

Neither have any intention to fall in love, and both try to deny the attraction they clearly have for one another. Walls are erected and secrets are deeply hidden. But when Roman has an unforgettable encounter with the demons he is fighting, everything changes. A story of conviction, redemption, and forgiveness—aptly named The Masterpiece!

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

From the Rock Harbour search-and-rescue series set in Michigan, this book weaves a complex, action-packed web. For Dana, a new beginning is a priority after escaping the clutches of her abusive ex-fiancé, but she soon discovers there is more to her past than she ever imagined. Healing, grace, grief, and new love intermingle as she finds herself caught in the middle of something unbelievably sinister. This author is a master in suspense enjoy! 

Camino Island by John Grisham

As a writer, I was initially intrigued with the notion of stolen priceless manuscripts, and enjoyed how Grisham developed the characters of several published writerly types in a quirky beach town in Florida. I cringed and nodded in agreement with many of their discussions and identified with their worries and woes. The plot thickens when it becomes apparent the stolen manuscripts could be in the possession of an eccentric bookstore owner, and it takes several turns as we follow the investigation and get sucked into the mystery. My only slight disappointment was the somewhat abrupt wrap-up at the end, but that probably means I didn’t want it to finish and it certainly doesn’t stop me from highly recommending it! 

The light between oceans by M.L. Stedman

This was the perfect book for me to enjoy whilst researching all things lighthouse in the Oregon Coast. I have only praise for this novel—it gripped me emotionally and transported me to a lighthouse in the middle of obscurity, where a heartbreaking story was allowed to unfold. Truth, secrets, desperation, and consequences are all involved in this tale of a young couple longing to live a “normal” family life in an incredibly unique location. I thoroughly recommend it! 

The great alone by Kristin Hannah

“All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home.” I always enjoy Kristin Hannah’s writing, and The Great Alone ticked all the boxes for me. Set in the 1970’s, the allure of a fresh start in Alaska draws the Allbright family to a brand-new life. But for thirteen-year-old Leni, it’s the beginning of a nightmarish existence balancing her father’s rages as he battles the aftereffects of returning from war, with the brutal yet beautiful harsh realities of living in the wilds of Alaska. Raw emotions and unthinkable survival skills culminate in a riveting page-turner. Heartbreaking, always with a sliver of hope. 

The Guernsey literary and potato peel society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.” A female writer in post-WWII London paired with a quirky book club on the charming island of Guernsey is the recipe for a captivating read. Add the fact that the entire book is written as a series of letters, and you have something truly unique and compelling. The protagonist has a quick wit and is utterly fearless. She navigates romantic relationships, new and old friendships, and devastating revelations with strength and a writer’s curiosity. This is one of my new favorites!

Laura Thomas is a published Christian author with a heart for inspiring and encouraging readers of all ages. She is a multi-genre writer with a published Christian teen fiction trilogy, marriage book, middle grade novel, children’s stories, devotionals for Union Gospel Press, articles in magazines and online, musings on her blog, and currently has a three-book deal for her Christian romantic suspense novels. Living in Kelowna, B.C. as an empty-nester, Laura is a mom of three, married to her high school sweetheart, and is passionate about faith and family—and chocolate. laurathomasauthor.com
iola magazine even in the deep

Awestruck, Wonderstruck, Lovestruck

Niagara falls

I was utterly overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by my smallness and God’s greatness. Deluge of water above and below, deafening roar in my ears, pummeled by pellets of moisture, and blinded by the glory of it all. Awestruck. Wonderstruck. Lovestruck.

As a couple hundred poncho-clad spectators huddled under hoods to experience Niagara Falls up close and personal, I was curious as to their reactions. In the moment, floating precariously beneath the avalanche of water, all were amazed. All screams and laughs and merriment. But was anyone else awestruck, wonderstruck, lovestruck? On dry land, on reflection, did anyone else consider the Creator and how He loves each tiny person in that tiny boat under His extravagant show of majesty?

I’m sure some did consider. How could they not? And yet…

What does it take for God to catch our attention? 2,600 feet of cascading water falling before our eyes? He caught my attention. It caused me to humble myself under His mighty hand, relishing the truth that He is God and I am not. He is Father, I am child. And oh, the comfort that brings. The warm blanket of peace that truth pulls over us, His children. The relationship between Creator and created, Potter and clay, King of Kings and his princesses—this is ours to treasure. How can we not be awestruck?

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power

   and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,

   for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

   Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;

   you are exalted as head over all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11 (NIV)

This surreal experience beneath the falls reminded me that His mercies are never-ending—just as the overabundance of water at Niagara showers over the edge in torrents, so He showers us with His grace daily, never running dry. Looking up and knowing that powerful stream of water is endless, ceaseless, is a given. Such is the grace of God. He was, is, and ever will be. He is extravagant with His gifts and how can we not be wonderstruck?

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

  his mercies never come to an end;

  they are new every morning;

  great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

Sometimes, God calls to us in the roar of the waterfalls. Sometimes He whispers in a still, small voice. Regardless, HE SPEAKS. But are we too busy to incline an ear? Too self-absorbed to even notice? Too fearful to hear the answer to our prayers? Think ourselves unworthy, unlovable, untrusting…? Friend, HE SPEAKS. Because He loves us. Not because of anything we have or have not done, but because He IS love. He loves us at our darkest when the waves are washing over us, and He loves us in our finest hour when all is rosy and right. His love is limitless. Our lifeline. How can we not be lovestruck?

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;

   all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

  By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—

  a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:7-8 (NIV)

What does it take for God to catch our attention? May our ears be inclined to hear His voice amidst the deluge of whatever is falling around and about us in our lives today. We can rest in the promise of His peace, and lift our eyes to see that everlasting waterfall of grace. It will leave us utterly awestruck, wonderstruck, lovestruck.

Laura Thomas is a published Christian author with a heart for inspiring and encouraging readers of all ages. She is a multi-genre writer with a published Christian teen fiction trilogy, marriage book, mmiddlegradenovel, children’s stories, devotionals for Union Gospel Press, articles in magazines and online, musings on her blog, and currently has a three-book deal for her Christian romantic suspense novels. Living in Kelowna, B.C. as an empty-nester, Laura is a mom of three, married to her high school sweetheart, and is passionate about faith and family—and chocolate. laurathomasauthor.com
iola magazine even in the deep

Company’s coming (The horrors of hospitality)

Company’s coming. The doorbell rings out the dreadful confirmation. Your blood pressure soars as you realize the frozen dessert is still rock solid in the freezer and the dog just threw up under the dining table. You ignore a balled-up sock mocking you from beneath the sofa as you scurry to the door, plastering on a welcoming smile for your guests. Who are five minutes early.

Side note: Why do people do that? Don’t they know how much is accomplished in those final precious five minutes?

Alexander Mils unsplash

The horrors of hospitality.

Most of us have been there. We have a moment of “Why do I put myself through this?” amidst thoughts of simply going back to bed and leaving everyone else to figure it all out. And then possibly becoming a recluse forevermore.

We know it’s the right thing to do, this inviting people into our homes. We aren’t supposed to care too much about the dust bunnies or the super-dry chicken, but we do care. The Pinterest-perfect images we torture ourselves with are emblazoned on our retinas and we simply can’t keep up. It’s overwhelming and it’s exhausting.

Where, oh where, is the joy?

Isn’t there supposed to be joy in giving? In serving?

One of my favorite Bible verses is found in Nehemiah 8:10 where it says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” But I only recently paid attention to the verse in its entirety, because sometimes I’m a slow learner:

Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’” Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

Did you catch that? It’s actually talking about joy in the realms of offering food and hospitality. It’s a thing.

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9 (NIV)

So, we really are supposed to be hospitable with an attitude of joy and “without grumbling”. A double-whammy. Interesting how Peter actually has to put that little caveat in writing. It’s as if he anticipated a little push-back from some of us on the notion of opening our homes! But how do we actually get to this dreamy place of joy in our hospitality house of horrors?

It seems that in recent years, we have managed to overcomplicate the concept of hospitality. Hospitality is not a home décor competition or an opportunity to display our culinary skills (or lack thereof.) It’s actually a heart issue. It’s a way for us to love others, just as Jesus commanded. Strangers or friends, in homes or at the park, offering a bed for the night or with a batch of cookies, over a quiet cup of coffee or around a noisy dinner table, as a listening ear or with a warm hug.

By thinking of our guests MORE than thinking of ourselves.

More than our reputation, our cooking abilities, and our spotless house. By putting our guest first. By being fully present. By focusing on them. By loving them.

They won’t care what’s on the menu if they are simply seen and heard and appreciated. They won’t notice your mugs don’t match when they are able to truly relax. The pressure melts away. The horror is replaced with joy. And love is literally put into action, just the way Jesus intended.

Company’s coming. And it’s going to be okay. Exhale and enjoy…

Laura is a published Christian author with a heart for inspiring and encouraging readers of all ages. She is a multi-genre writer with a published Christian teen fiction trilogy, marriage book, middle-grade novel, children’s stories, devotionals for Union Gospel Press, articles in magazines and online, musings on her blog, and currently has a three-book deal for her Christian romantic suspense novels. Living in Kelowna, B.C. as an empty-nester, Laura is a mom of three, married to her high school sweetheart, and is passionate about faith and family—and chocolate.

laurathomasauthor.com

Company's coming. The horrors of hospitality a pep talk. iola magazine

Explore, Dream, Discover: Kelowna, BC, Canada

Kelwona BC

As much as I adore traveling, the thought of coming home always sets my soul at ease, causes me to exhale, fills my heart. Comfortable yet captivating, the city of Kelowna in British Columbia has been our home for twenty-three years and its natural beauty still takes my breath away on a daily basis!

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
Maya Angelou

In 1995, my husband and I packed up our two-year-old daughter and embarked on the audacious adventure of emigrating from the UK to Canada. After arriving in Vancouver on the west coast, my husband had a job interview in a picturesque city about four hours inland, nestled in the Okanagan Valley. We knew absolutely nothing about this Kelowna, but as the April sun glistened on a cobalt lake surrounded by welcoming snow-tipped mountains, it took us all of three seconds to decide this was where we wanted to settle and raise our family!

Kelowna, with its current population sitting at 127,500 has also become the vacation destination for our British family and friends time and again, and we have the privilege of proudly showing off the many attributes of our city. One of my most cherished aspects of living here is that we thoroughly enjoy all four seasons. And at the start of each one, I proclaim it my favorite—until the next season rolls around…

Kelwona BC

SUMMERTIME is pure perfection here unless you dislike copious amounts of warm sunshine and idyllic leisurely lake-living. The climate is actually semi-desert (who knew that was a thing in Canada?) and therefore much free time is spent boating, swimming, sailing, water-skiing, or windsurfing on the expansive 84-mile length of the Okanagan Lake. We are famous for our bounty of local fresh fruit, which can be found at markets and fruit stands, and there’s nothing quite like an evening stroll along the downtown boardwalk watching the sunset, followed by some delicious dining lakeside.

The crisp FALL air is a welcome break from the heat, and a perfect time to take in a winery tour at one of over forty local wineries. From the intimate family operated to larger facilities with first-class restaurants and stellar lake views, it’s worth taking time to peruse and sample some of our national and international award-winning wines. You won’t be disappointed!

If you’re looking for a WINTER wonderland experience, Kelowna has it all. A short winter season compared to much of Canada, we usually have ourselves a very merry white Christmas, which as a Brit, I thoroughly appreciate. If some serious snow sports or even après-ski activities are desired, the world-renowned Big White Resort is less than an hour out of town, where the ski-in-ski-out village also offers shopping and dining for those not downhill or cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, snowmobiling, tubing, or doing any other snow-ish activity!

Kelowna BC

When SPRING is in the air in Kelowna, there is a definite spring in the step of the locals. With snow behind us and sunshine ahead, the air is fresh and the orchards heavy with glorious blossom. Perhaps the perfect opportunity for some hiking or biking at one of the numerous trails.

Parks, waterfalls, mountains, or railway trestles— every age and agility level is catered for.

Whether you take advantage of our numerous golf courses, enjoy wandering around our Cultural District downtown, checking out galleries, theatres, unique shops, and fine dining, or prefer an action-packed adventure on the lake or up the mountain— Kelowna truly has something for everyone. It’s been the perfect place to raise our three kids to adulthood, and we are in absolutely no hurry to ever move from this stunning little gem in the vast, spectacular country of Canada.

Here in Kelowna, I happen to believe there’s always more to explore, dream, and discover.

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Laura Thomas

Laura Thomas is a published Christian author with a heart for inspiring and encouraging readers of all ages. She is a multi-genre writer with a published Christian teen fiction trilogy, marriage book, middle grade novel, children’s stories, devotionals for Union Gospel Press, articles in magazines and online, musings on her blog, and currently has a three-book deal for her Christian romantic suspense novels. Living in Kelowna, B.C. as an empty-nester, Laura is a mom of three, married to her high school sweetheart, and is passionate about faith and family—and chocolate.

laurathomasauthor.com