Whether focusing on spiritual connections or appreciating our culinary roots, July's books explore the shared nourishments we all need to live fulfilled lives.

“Your Friend, Leyland” by Ellie LeRoux and Shirley Bourne Epperson, published in January by Balboa Press

In this book, LeRoux recounts her spiritual journey from her childhood and early adult life to her family life and the health struggles of her husband and daughter. Her relatability as a mother and wife is very present. She openly shares her accomplishments and struggles with perfection and control, as well as the dynamics of different personalities in a family.

Your Friend, Leyland by Ellie LeRoux and Shirley Bourne Epperson
Your Friend, Leyland by Ellie LeRoux and Shirley Bourne Epperson

When her husband and eldest daughter were diagnosed with two different types of cancer, LeRoux opened up to her neighbor and friend Shirley Bourne Epperson, who is a spiritual medium. Bourne Epperson (and her sister) channeled Leyland (a collective of spiritual guides) for the family multiple times to provide much-needed guidance and insight.

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These conversations are included in the book, and the advice they share is relatable for many. Their gentle words encourage the family to see the connections between all living things and the healing strength derived from those connections.

The theme of this book is not just life and death, but the spiritual connections we have to one another that never really end if we open ourselves up to them. Bourne Epperson also contributes her poetry and writings throughout.

Ellie LeRoux
Ellie LeRoux

Ellie LeRoux earned a BA from DePau University before teaching violin and cello for almost 50 years. She loves life, her four children and grandchildren. She is a Suzuki Association of the Americas Teacher Trainer and lives with her husband in Minneapolis.

Shirley Bourne Epperson is a registered nurse who worked in the medical field for 45 years. She has worked with her sister in spiritual work for decades and has written poetry since 1995. She lives in Colorado with her husband and family.

“Your Friend, Leyland” is available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Balboapress.com.

"This Distance We Call Love" by Carol Dines, published Aug. 3 by Orison Books

“This Distance We Call Love” is a collection of short stories about families and relationships — some happy and healthy, some messy and dysfunctional. Its settings vary from Minnesota to Rome. And each story is told from a different perspective.

This Distance We Call Love by Carol Dines
This Distance We Call Love by Carol Dines

Dines has created something beautiful and relatable. She opens a window into everyday lives and showcases their value through small moments of humor and sadness. The connections and relationships that make the world go around even when they aren't perfect are well represented in this book.

Carol Dines
Carol Dines

Carol Dines grew up in Rochester and graduated from Mayo High School. She has three novels and a collection of short stories for young adults in addition to "This Distance We Call Love." She was awarded the Judy Blume Award. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and dog.

“This Distance We Call Love” is available online for preorder at OrisonBooks.com.

"At Home in Lanesboro: Shared Recipes and Memories" by Barb Jeffers, published July 1 by Shipwreckt Books

This collection of recipes by Lanesboro locals is a real treasure for anyone in the area. There is something very comforting about the food you grew up eating, and this book captures quintessential Midwest cuisine. With six meatloaf recipes and almost as many meatball recipes, plus appetizers, dips, desserts and more, this book is packed with the heritage and flavors of the area.

At Home in Lanesboro by Barb Jeffers
At Home in Lanesboro by Barb Jeffers

Its 309 pages of recipes are sectioned into categories for easy searching. Jeffers’ photographs are interspersed throughout, adding color to the areas these recipes originated from. Many recipes stand alone on a page, leaving space for the cook’s notes to be added and passed down as a family heirloom. This book is worth its weight in hotdish.

Barb Jeffers (submitted)
Barb Jeffers (submitted)

Barb Jeffers was born and raised in Lanesboro. She is the photojournalist for the Fillmore County Journal, and the owner and photographer of Bluff Country Photography. She has four children and 10 grandchildren. After years of living in other locations, she and her husband moved back to Lanesboro in 2015.

“At Home in Lanesboro” is available online at bluffcountryphoto.com and in several locations in Lanesboro.