Whose Waves These Are

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Dykes, Amanda. Whose Waves These Are. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
With a storyline centered around twins Roy and Robert Bliss, Whose Waves These Are tells the tale of family, truth, hope, faith and forgiveness over years of time. Using rocks as a foundation to build something great, Robert Bliss needs to finish before it is too late. Years later, called home by her GrandBob (Robert), Annie Bliss finds herself back home in Ansel-by-the-Sea, discovering mysteries revolving around stones, a poem, and family. Working to uncover the history involved, Annie stumbles upon much more than she imagined…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Full of beautiful imagery and skillful writing, I so appreciated the manner in which this book was written. Through the word choices, the deep visualizations, the dual timeframe, and the eloquence of speech, author Amanda Dykes had me from the first few pages with her debut novel, Whose Waves These Are. Surrounding the theme of water and waves, the quote “Every wave…is a story” is carried throughout the book, resulting in a seamless circle-style story. Savoring this book while at the same time not being able to put it down, it was touching, heartwarming, sensitive and moving. Definitely a book I will recommend as well as an author I will read again.

RATING: 5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Whose Waves These Are from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

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40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith

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Short, Laurie Polich. 40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Filled with 40 scripture verses from the Bible that may not be the most memorized, repeated, nor tagged, 40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith takes a deeper peek at these verses and provides context, thoughtful insights, and lots of encouragement. Just a few pages in length, each verse is included along with a few bullet points and reflections. As an author, speaker, and being active in ministry, Laurie Polich Short offers wisdom, hope, and understanding in the journey of deeper faith.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Taking verses that are not quite as well know nor used, 40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith is well organized, easy to read, and provides plenty of thought- provoking occasions, especially as struggles and challenges are faced. Perfect for a group or personal devotion, definitely appropriate for a church library, sure to be appreciated as a gift, and perhaps even fitting as a sermon topic, I only wish it had been a tad-bit longer to use as a weekly devotional for a year. Certainly a book I would recommend as well as one I plan to use.

RATING: 4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of 40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Secrets of Paper and Ink

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Harrel, Lindsay. The Secrets of Paper and Ink. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Split between England in the 1850’s and here in the present day, The Secrets of Paper and Ink travels on a journey with three women who connect in the process of finding forgiveness, redemption and love. Sophia, dealing with the guilt of an abusive relationship, Ginny, trying to pick up the pieces after her husband left, and Emily, discovered by the other women through her diary written many years ago, all relate in a manner unforeseen. With a dual timeline story surrounding a journal found in a bookstore, author Lindsay Harrel shares the struggles, challenges, heartbreaks, and friendships of life.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving the idea of a story involving a bookstore with lots of books, a bookstore owner hoping to keep her store, a cute literature professor and a written journal found among the shelves, I knew I had to read The Secrets of Paper and Ink. Filled with a bit of mystery, 3 interesting women characters with real-life issues, a bookstore filled with books (can you tell I love to read?), and a storyline which bounces back and forth in time, I truly enjoyed this novel by Lindsay Harrel. Reading it in just two evenings, it flowed easily, kept my interest, and was relatable to everyday life. I hope for a sequel to this novel, allowing me to catch up with Sophia, Ginny and Emily.

RATING: 4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Secrets of Paper and Ink from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

The Memory House

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Hauck, Rachel. The Memory House. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Another dual timeline story by award-winning/ best-selling author, Rachel Hauck.  In her newest novel, The Memory House, two women share grief, sorrow, loss, hope, love and faith through a common strong connection. Everleigh Applegate and Beck Holliday, though separated by over 50 years, find solace, answers and a future through the “Memory House”.  Set in the 1960’s yet also the present day, as the timespan starts to shrink between them, the bond grows deeper between the women while they search for forgiveness, overcome guilt, learn to trust again, and listen to their hearts…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Yet again author Rachel Hauck conquers the difficulty of successfully writing between two timeframes. Leaping back and forth while connecting the women in a common thread, I wasn’t sure she could do it again (but she did)! As a favorite author of mine, I knew I would read The Memory House and am certainly glad I did. With real characters, a strong message, an interesting connection and subtle faith, the newest novel from this author may just be her best. Beautifully written in a readable style, I am already waiting for her next story.  Success…again!

RATING: 4.75 (out of ) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Memory House from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Taste and See

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Feinberg, Margaret. Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, & Fresh Food Makers. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Taking a naturally connected spiritual and culinary journey, author Margaret Feinberg and her husband, Leif, explore different cuisines and associate them with scriptures. With food being a pleasure, as well as sacred and symbolic, our tour guides provide food for nourishment both physically and spiritually. Complete with recipes and side notes, Taste and See fulfills completely in a friendly and relatable manner. Figs, bread, olives, and many more delectable dishes provide good food for thought…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Part devotional, part cookbook, part self-guidance and part story, Taste and See made connections for me I hadn’t previously envisioned. Fruits, veggies, meat and bread combined with the Bible to create a beautiful book. So easy to read and picture, at times, I felt like I was conversing with the author directly. Interesting and essential while also packed with savory recipes, I found this book to be more than I expected. A book I truly enjoyed and read cover-to-cover, I cannot wait to try some of the recipes. With my interest piqued just enough, I will now search out this author to see what else she has written, along with hoping she writes another book quite soon.

*RATING: 4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Taste and See from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Far Side of the Sea

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Breslin, Kate. Far Side of the Sea. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Set during WWI, Far Side of the Sea shares the story of Lt. Colin Mabry as he overcomes his war injuries, now decoding messages rather than in battle. Receiving a personal message meant for him, Colin is certainly surprised to find another person waiting for him in Paris other than the expected woman, Jewel. Johanna, Jewel’s half sister, requires Colin’s help in locating Jewel and their father; however, they soon find themselves caught in a web of espionage, not sure whom to trust nor where to turn. As uncertainty grows, feelings develop, emotions ignite, and danger ensues, the risks and mystery only continue to develop throughout the new novel by author Kate Breslin.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read other books by this author, I knew I just had to add this one to my list. Full of unexpected twists, a developing romance, historical references and subtle faith, Far Side of the Sea is actually the second book following Not by Sight, which I absolutely enjoyed (https://savurbks.com/2015/08/24/not-by-sight/). As an added interest to this novel, carrier pigeons are included as a role in the story, causing me to delve further into the subject of their use in WWI. With added notes on the period history as well as a few discussion questions, I know I made the right decision to read this book. I am already looking forward to Kate Breslin’s next book!

RATING:
4.75 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Far Side of the Sea from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Never Let Go

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Goddard, Elizabeth. Never Let Go: Uncommon Justice- Bk 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Following in her late grandfather’s footsteps, Willow Anderson takes over a cold case of 20 years. Trying to find answers concerning an abducted baby, Willow must keep her own life (and heart) in order. With attempts made on her life, Willow must turn to ex-FBI agent, Austin McKade, who just so happens to be her ex-boyfriend as well. When things heat up, both professionally and personally, Willow and Austin must decide to work together to solve the case while putting their hearts on the line…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
An interesting, quick, suspenseful read, Never Let Go was enjoyable, clean and worth the time. With a few unexpected twists and turns, I needed to finish the book to reach the conclusion which wasn’t an issue due to the writing style. As the first book in a new series, author Elizabeth Goddard did a remarkable job of creating pursuit and suspicion which piqued my interest in continuing with this series. Perfect for those not-so-heavy reading times, I would definitely recommend this novel (and author) to others.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Never Let Go from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Secrets at Cedar Cabin

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Coble, Colleen. Secrets at Cedar Cabin: Lavender Tides- Book 3. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Literally running for her life, Bailey Fleming flees Michigan to the safety of Cedar Cabin in Lavender Tides. Not quite sure how she truly fits in, nor even for sure her true identity, Bailey soon discovers even Cedar Cabin may not be safe. Meeting FBI agent Lance Phoenix, who believes she may be involved in illegal activity, Bailey must decide if she can help Lance find his missing sister, if she can protect herself from a murderer out to find her, and if she needs to keep track of her heart in the process…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As usual with author Colleen Coble, the action and suspense begins right from the start of the story and Secrets at Cedar Cabin is no exception. Full of identity mysteries, a murderer at large, a missing teenager, a human trafficking ring, suspicious activity and evolving emotions, Secrets at Cedar Cabin is an attention-grabber ensuring late reading into the night. As book 3 in the Lavender Tides series, I did not have a problem following the storyline though I haven’t read all of the previous novels. Definitely an author I read often, I will continue to look for new books from this author as well as continue with this series.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Secrets at Cedar Cabin from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Almost Home

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Luesse, Valerie Fraser. Almost Home. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Owning a boardinghouse in Blackberry Springs, Alabama, Dolly and Si Chandler welcome guests into their home as America enters into World War II. With a mixture of boarders from different locations, varying ages, diverse beliefs and various backgrounds, the dinner table tends to be full of numerous lively conversations. As friendships grow and healing takes place, a mystery is uncovered from the past. As a historical romance, Christian fiction and heart-warming novel, author Valerie Fraser Luesse writes a story which makes everyone feel Almost Home

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Instead of a fast-paced novel, Almost Home took time to reveal the characters, create emotions and provide that cuddly, homey feel. I enjoyed meeting the characters and learning their stories, watching where the mystery might lead, and sipping my hot chocolate while I lingered through the book. Though not necessarily my favorite time-period to read, I found the guests interesting and the home-owners delightfully charming. A slower read yet perfect for the coziness of winter, I read this book at just the right time of year. Definitely a warmhearted book, I may continue to watch for this author in the future. (I did also like her previous book, Missing Isaac.)

RATING:
3.75 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Almost Home from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

With This Pledge

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Alexander, Tamera. With This Pledge: The Carnton Series- Book 1. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
As a governess to the MacGovock’s young children, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Clouston is very capable of handling difficult situations. Yet, when faced with the daunting, heart-rendering job of overseeing wounded soldiers who have overtaken the MacGovock’s home, Lizzie is tested to the limits of her inner strength and feels quite helpless. Set during the Civil War, With This Pledge also follows Captain Roland Jones’s journey as he attempts to save both his limbs while strongly sharing his beliefs. Author Tamera Alexander writes an emotionally intense, historically grounded, and undeniably romantic story in the first book of her new series…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Beautifully portrayed while heartbreakingly experienced, With This Pledge is perfectly told in true Tamera Alexander style.  With full characters, an interesting storyline, and an intended message, I had trouble putting this book down once I started it. Already a fan of this author, I wasn’t disappointed in her newest novel and am glad it is the beginning of a series. With the Civil War full of immense casualties, the backdrop for this story flowed through the characters as they found the necessary strength while exploring and standing behind individual beliefs, creating the heart-tugs this author is known for. Well-written and definitely enjoyed, I will continue to seek out this author in the future.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of With This Pledge from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

In the Shadow of Croft Towers

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Wilson, Abigail. In the Shadow of Croft Towers. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Hoping to learn more about her own past as well as her true identity, Sybil Delafield accepts a position as a companion to elderly Mrs. Chalcroft. Upon her arrival, Sybil soon realizes nothing is exactly as it seems, including the involved people. Trying to determine whom she can truly trust, urgency becomes necessary. A Regency novel full of suspense, mystery, romance and secrets, In the Shadow of Croft Towers, by debut author Abigail Wilson, will leave you guessing to the end…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I absolutely love Regency novels and this one was definitely not a disappointment. From start to finish, the secrets and surprises kept taking turns, finally ending when I finished the book. A fast read due to the writing but no means a weak storyline, In the Shadow of Croft Towers was filled with double-identity characters, intriguing suspense, hidden agendas, and agreeable romance. Some people are meant to be writers, and after reading her debut novel, author Abigail Wilson is certainly one of them; so much so, in fact, I am already looking forward to her next book due out in July, Midnight on the River Grey.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of In the Shadow of Croft Towers from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments

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Taylor, Dan. Laughing at life’s Most Embarrassing Moments- Stumbling Along with Hope and Humor. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Laughing at the hardest and most embarrassing moments in life which makes laughing at the rest of life easier is the premise of the book by author Dan Taylor. Filled with cute antidotes and stories taking place in everyday life, each 2-3 page chapter shares embarrassing moments, silly actions, cute behaviors and humorous thoughts. Reminiscing about life’s awkward situations that most anyone can relate to, Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments reminds us that laughing is a healthy tonic for troubles.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Filled with some sweet (albeit some corny) stories regarding life’s difficult yet memorable moments, this book emphasizes and cultivates chuckling. With the ability to laugh and perhaps even enjoy some of life’s precarious happenings, the hope of this author is to find the funny and laugh together. Full of 65 easy to read blurbs, most at least made me smile; however, a few did fall flat. Perfect as a pick-me-up, a fill-in while waiting, or even sharing around the dinner table, Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments was enjoyable and giggle-worthy.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments from Harvest House Publishing for my honest review*

Who I Am With You

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Hatcher, Robin Lee. Who I Am With You: A Legacy Of Faith Novel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Dealing with the sudden and tragic death of her husband and daughter, Jessica Mason is not only grieving but awaiting the birth of her next child. Hiding from the media, Ridley Chesterfield takes refuge in Hope Springs, not intending to meet anyone while he is there. Through invitations, consequences, unexpected situations, a generational Bible, and an adorable dog named Kris, Ridley and Jessica connect in present day but Jessica also makes a connection with her past. Forgiveness, faith, and friendship soon help hearts heal…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Told alternately between two time periods, a connection grows deeper with the past while affecting the present and determining the future. Well written, as well as gracefully told, Who I Am With You tugs on the heartstrings while being enjoyable to read. Though not an enormous fan of contemporary fiction, the mixings with the past provided an interesting storyline with just the right sprinkling of surprises to keep me engaged to the end. Romance, forgiveness, healing, and strength all combine in the first book of the new A Legacy Of Faith series by author, Robin Lee Hatcher. Definitely a series I will continue reading.  (Side note: I absolutely love the title of this book!)

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Who I Am With You from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

The Curse of Misty Wayfair

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Wright, Jaime Jo. The Curse of Misty Wayfair. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Set in the vast woods of northern Wisconsin and fluctuating between the early 1900’s and present day, The Curse of Misty Wayfair follows two women, Thea Reed and Heidi Lane, as they strive to discover their identities in different time periods yet with a connected thread surrounding a legend. Intrigue, mystery, suspense, and a bit of history combine into a flawless story by Christy Award winning author, Jaime Jo Wright.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read this author’s previous novel, The House on Foster Hill, I knew what I was expecting to read. A uniquely suspenseful thriller, not scary but definitely eerie, The Curse of Misty Wayfair may have started out slowly but decidedly picked up the pace. Finding parts of it interesting (postmortem photography was actually an occupation), and parts of it a bit spooky (an image floating through the woods), this book certainly earned its place on my book shelf. Perhaps just a bit confusing in the beginning due to the switching of time periods and following the family lineage, sticking with the story straightened that out, making it a non-issue.  A must-read!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Curse of Misty Wayfair from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Prayers Of My Heart

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Taylor-Williams, Debbie. Prayers Of My Heart: A Personal Prayer Journal. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Organized like a personal calendar and journal, set-up in monthly and weekly pages, Prayers Of My Heart has plenty of room for planning and recording prayer reminders. Unnumbered squares make it easy and efficient to add dates while using the monthly and weekly schedules. Simply fill-in the boxes with prayer requests and record thoughts, meditations, and notes in the lined journal pages at the back of the book. With instructions on using the system, sample calendars, an abundance of pages and a pleasing teal-blue color throughout, this compact book makes keeping prayers of the heart better organized.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
In a very organized book begging to be used, I found this workable and useful journal both valuable and productive. Upon first glance at the plentiful open pages, I was a bit unsure how to make the most of this prayer journal; however, after reading the directions, it clearly made sense. Perhaps taking a bit to create a journaling habit, I feel with a few tweaks, this book could also become a calendar as well as the prayer journal. Certainly a prayer scheduler I will continue using to help meet my goals.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Prayers Of My Heart from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Auschwitz Lullaby

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Escobar, Mario. Abernathy, Gretchen (Translator). Auschwitz Lullaby. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2018.

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SUMMARY:
Based on a true story, Auschwitz Lullaby follows Helene Hannemann and her family into the concentration camp at Auschwitz. German herself yet separated from her Gypsy husband, Helene and her five children must survive the hallows of the camp- physically, mentally and emotionally. When her background and skills are discovered, Helene is forced to open a daycare and school for the many children within the camp. Through heartbreaking decisions, difficult circumstances, and desperate measures, strength, heart, patience, faith, and compliance are tested.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
An emotional read based on an actual story, Auschwitz Lullaby shares the lengths a woman and mother will go for her children and family. Exceedingly protective of the children in her care, I so empathized with Helene as a mother. Heart-wrenching yet hopeful, deplorable yet strong, despairing yet inspiring, author Mario Escobar takes readers on quite a journey. Not easy to read but not a book to be missed, I am glad I took the opportunity to read this one. Discussion questions, a glossary, an author’s note and acknowledgements truly add to the impact of the story.  You will never know your own strength until you have no other option.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Auschwitz Lullaby from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

We Hope for Better Things

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Bartels, Erin.  We Hope for Better Things.  Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing.  2019.

SUMMARY:
Taking place in three different time periods, with three very different characters, and three exceedingly different points of view, We Hope for Better Things intertwines all of these while tackling social issues, cultures, politics, generations, and beliefs. Meeting Mary during the 1860s, Nora from the 1960s, and Elizabeth in the present, through research and history, a common thread emerges. Heartbreaking yet inspirational, togetherness yet loneliness, unique yet brilliant, author Erin Bartels makes a dramatic entrance with her debut novel.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Wow. Filled with emotional baggage, We Hope for Better Things provides a journey across a vast timeline. Able to control that timeline effectively, as well as create well-developed characters with a deeper message within, debut author Erin Bartels does an excellent job with her first novel. As a photographer and artist, her work carries over into her writing as she paints the story. (She even reads with a spastic Chihuahua-mix on her lap…we have one of those, too!) Truly a book I enjoyed reading and an author I look forward to reading more of; so very well done!

RATING:
4.75 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of We Hope for Better Things from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge

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Toler, Stan (Editor). The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge: A Collection of Bible History, Trivia, and Fun Facts. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Organized into 4 parts, (Bible Knowledge and Learning, Things We Say From the Bible, Bible Knowledge Challenge, and Essential Bible Verses), The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge provides pages of Bible information set in easy to access lists and explanations, Bible quizzes complete with the answers, and a listing of Bible verses arranged by topic. Efficient, easy to read, and full of useful knowledge, general editor Stan Toler hopes to enhance the impact of the Bible on people’s lives.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Great as a review for people already familiar with the Bible, a wonderful resource for beginner Bible readers, or filled with interesting facts for any Bible user, The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge was actually quite enjoyable to read and use. A general review of the Bible including people, books and events, as well as some very fun information regarding everyday things we say- “Wolf in Sheep’s clothing”, “Blind leading the Blind”, and “Burning the Midnight Oil” are explained and included. Inviting to browse, engaging to play, satisfying to learn, and comforting to know, I found this book perfect for travel, quiet time, or just a few available moments. This would be a great addition to a church library, classroom or personal shelf, and would work well with groups of people or individuals. An awesome resource!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge from Harvest House Publishing for my honest review*

The Weaver’s Daughter

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Ladd, Sarah E. The Weaver’s Daughter. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
The Dearborn family has stood firm in their loyalties and determination for keeping the family’s legacy alive as weavers for generations. The Stockton family, though linked to the past through their wool mill, also strives forward with new technology in running the Stockton Mill. Kate Dearborne and Henry Stockton find themselves caught in Britain’s Industrial Revolution while struggling with their own loyalties, beliefs, commitments and emotions. Though they hold different and rivaling ideas, living within the same community forces Henry and Kate to consider options, perhaps even those pertaining to their hearts.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
One of my favorite authors, Sarah E. Ladd writes yet another satisfying and complete story surrounding one of my favorite time periods. As a Regency novel, this book was historically interesting, contained developed characters, created a bit of suspense and shared a sweet, clean romance. Just like this author’s previous books, I was truly engaged and didn’t want the book to end. I look forward to reading even more from Sarah E. Ladd as I so enjoyed The Weaver’s Daughter. Well done!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Weaver’s Daughter from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Meal Planner

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Shull, Shay. Mix & Match Mama Meal Planner: Your Weekly Guide To Getting Dinner On The Table. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

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SUMMARY:
In a beautifully photographed new cookbook by author and blogger Shay Shull, Mix & Match Mama Meal Planner is chock full of delicious recipes, efficient shopping lists, streamlined directions and personal tidbits. In a convenient size with thicker covers, glossy pages, and an attached elastic bookmark, this cookbook is arranged by seasons and makes getting dinner on the table a breeze.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Honestly not believing I would like this book as much as I did, I was so much more than pleasantly surprised. Organized by days of the week, with enough weeks to cover a month of meals, the included pantry essentials section and detailed yet manageable shopping lists saves tons of time. Filled with simple, delicious, creative, doable, and family friendly recipes, the corresponding photographs of each recipe takes this book over the top. With meals that are sure to please many different palates, the ingredients are also easy to switch if necessary.  Pumpkin Rigatoni, French Onion Joes, Grilled Shrimp Tacos and Hot Chocolate Cupcakes are only a few of the favorites so far. Definitely a cookbook I will use a lot and recommend often, I am thrilled I gave this new cookbook a chance.  Love it!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Mix & Match Mama Meal Planner from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Under a Cloudless Sky

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Fairy, Chris. Under a Cloudless Sky. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Moving smoothly and logically between 1933 and 2004, best-selling author, Chris Fabry, pens a fascinating novel surrounding a mining town in West Virginia. With a character involved in both time periods who is harboring a secret which could change everything, the believable plot takes twists and turns that spin until the end. With an embedded message about a relevant topic, this novel is full.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read several of Chris Fabry’s previous books, his newest one, Under a Cloudless Sky, was definitely on my list to read. As with all of this author’s books, the message is deep, the writing is solid, the story is interesting and the book is captivating. Not a “fluffy” read but one with a message concerning aging parents, the characters, plot, events and surprises all seem as if they could be real. Complete with discussion questions for group use, this would be wonderful for a book club, a library or perhaps even a ministry. Excellent author; excellent book!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies
*I received a complimentary copy of Under a Cloudless Sky from Tyndale House Publishers for an honest review*

Eubeltic Descent

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Keels, Nadine C. Eubeltic Descent: Eubeltic Realm Series- Book 1. CreateSpace Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Proud of her ancestry though she has never seen the land, Abigaia’s hope is to one day visit. As a young girl who blossoms into a young woman, her inner strength becomes visible as she grows. As she continues to mature and follow her plan, catastrophe strikes which changes everything. Perhaps now needed by her people, Abigaia must make a hard decision. Part history, part fantasy, part inspiration, totally engaging…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As one of my favorite authors and as a continuation of the Movement of Crowns trilogy, there was no doubt I was going to read Nadine Keels’ newest book, Eubeltic Descent. I absolutely loved this one, especially watching Abigaia grow- I actually found myself cheering for her. While fantasy is not a preferred genre of mine, this author has changed my mind with her writings. Able to be read as a stand-alone book, the background from the previous stories would only enhance the experience even more. Well written and sharing her mastery of language, Nadine Keels hits the high mark yet again. Glad to see this is Book 1 of new series, I hope she takes my advice to continue writing as I so savor her skilled talent.  I am confident readers of all ages will enjoy this book as much as I did. (As always, a gorgeous cover, too!)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Eubeltic Descent from the author for my honest review*

My First Book of Prayers

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Various Authors. Illustrated by Flint, Gillian. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids Ideals Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
In a sweet board book filled with timeless classic prayers, My First Book of Prayers contains prayers for bedtime, playtime, mealtime or anytime a special prayer is needed. With simple yet colorful illustrations accompanying each prayer, this little book is full of rhyming prose meant to shared.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Simple, sweet, classic, and timeless prayers perfect for sharing fill this adorable book. Remembering some of the prayers from my own childhood as well as several I shared with my own children, this book brought back memories shared between loved ones. Easy to read, simple to repeat, perfect to share and charming to give, this book would be wonderful in a church library, a Sunday school classroom, a personal bookshelf or as a baby shower gift. Simply delightful!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

I received a complimentary copy of My First Book of Prayers from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Simple Organizing

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Michaels, Melissa. Simple Organizing: 50 Ways to Clear the Clutter. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Pulishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
With encouragement to reach the end goal in mind, author Melissa Michaels, of The Inspired Room Blog, shares her organizational skills in her newest book, Simple Organizing. While organizing, decluttering, focusing and purposing every room, the author shares ideas, thoughts, photographs and inspiration in reaching the goals. Pleasant to read, easy to follow, and beautiful to look at, this book provides simple yet highly effective ways to organize.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Such a charming and useful little book to attain the goal of a more organized home and in turn, life. Set-up in areas of the home, the book provides practical and convenient ideas accompanied by appealing photographs. Though perhaps not the most novel of organizational suggestions, the book is certainly inspirational. Perfect as a house warming gift, a wedding present, or even for personal use, Simple Organizing offers helpful and valuable tidbits and designs that are sure to make a difference.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Simple Organizing from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Memory Rescue

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Amen, MD., Daniel G. Memory Rescue: Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remeber What Matters Most. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2017.

SUMMARY:
Using the plan of sharpening your memory and preventing Alzheimer’s Disease by eliminating, preventing and treating all of the risk factors associated with memory loss, Dr. Daniel G. Amen, in his newest book, Memory Rescue, shares his program. Under the Amen Clinics program which supports the acronym/ mnemonic BRIGHT MINDS for risk factors, he explains the importance of memory, provides a formula for preventing memory decline, supplies tips to boost memory as well as lots of correlating information. Filled with examples, encouragement, lists, tips, pictures, and ideas, this important book may change the way you live.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
First flipping through the pages and randomly reading excerpts within the book, I quickly realized I needed to read it cover to cover. Simple, straight-forward and educational, I learned so much from this book and realized I needed to make some changes. Already living healthy, there are some factors which I cannot change (age, genetics) but lifestyle decisions I can make to compensate for them (diet, sleep). An excellent resource for all, the importance of this book should not be overlooked. Definitely a book I will return to often for reminders and encouragement to continue fighting memory decline…thank-you for sharing, Dr. Amen!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Memory Resuce from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

Shelter of the Most High

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Cossette, Connilyn.  Shelter of the Most High: Cities of Refuge, Book 2.  Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers.  2018.

SUMMARY:
Wanting to spend just a few more minutes in her favorite place- the ocean, Sofea and her cousin, Prezi, dive down one more time. However, upon surfacing, they find themselves captives to a group of marauders who torched their village. Forced to travel aboard a ship across the ocean to Canaan, Sofea meets Eitan, who must remain in the city of Kedesh due to a childhood secret he harbors. Faced with hauntings of the past, caught in a present betrayal and pondering their mutual attraction, Sofea and Eitan need to decide how to approach their challenges while protecting their safety.  Author Connilyn Cossette writes an intriguing, soul-searching, deeply moving story in her newest book, Shelter of the Most High.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With a stunningly gorgeous cover and a beautifully written story within, Shelter of the Most High was absolutely breathtaking. Not able to put the book down once I started, I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish, although, I did close it briefly every once in a while to gaze at the beautiful cover again and again. Written fictionally about an unfamiliar Biblical time in history, the author’s notes and conversational questions at the end of the book complete this inspiring story. Though book 2 in the Cities of Refuge series, I had no problem reading it without reading book 1, A Light on the Hill, but do look forward to learning more about the involved characters. A new author for me, I am thrilled she has written previous books which I definitely plan to read.

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Shelter of the Most High from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Christmas Remedy

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Woodsmall, Cindy. With Woodsmall, Erin. The Christmas Remedy: An Amish Christmas Romance. New York, USA: WaterBrook Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Working at Greene’s Pharmacy, Holly Zuck loves her community and her profession involving better health care for the residents. Organizing events, providing medical care, and helping as needed, Holly finds herself facing challenges, overcoming obstacles as well as possibly losing her heart to Joshua Smucker. Already short on time and large on demands, Holly must decide if she chould follow her head or her heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving a Christmas story really any time of the year, A Christmas Remedy was the perfect start to the upcoming Christmas season when I try to read even more timely stories. A beautiful Amish story filled with hope, faith and romance, authors Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law, Erin Woodsmall, creatively combine their talents in this seasonal book. Certainly a book I would recommend, I am glad I chose it to begin my Christmas readings. In fact, I hope to continue with these characters again in future books.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Christmas Remedy from WaterBrook Publishing for my honest review*

This Is The Day

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Tebow, Tim. With Gregory, A.J. This Is The Day: Reclaim Your Dream. Ignite Your Passion. Live Your Purpose. New York, NY: Waterbrook Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Offering and sharing straight-forward advice on reaching for your dreams today instead of waiting, This Is The day explores the steps in achieving your goals and dreams, no matter what they may be. Becoming the person God has intended you to be, today, with purpose, challenge, strength and faith, Tim Tebow is a well-known athlete, Christian and speaker who delivers easily and knowledgeably to both the heart and mind.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having followed Tim Tebow’s story and read his previous books, I was excited to also read his newest book. Written from an encouraging, candid and genuine approach, I first skimmed the book reading snippets which led me to then read the entire book. Nodding my head in agreement quite often, pausing to examine my own life, and formulating a plan for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this direct, supportive, invigorating book. Split into relevant chapters with questions and challenges to ponder, my favorite part was the reminders scattered throughout the pages set off in squares.  Perfect for a Bible study, group discussion, or sermon series, This Is The Day needs to be read, shared and lived.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of This Is The Day from  Waterbrook Publishing for my honest review*

VeggieTales Very Veggie 5-Minute Stories

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Various authors and illustrators. VeggieTales Very Veggie 5-Minute Stories. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/Ideals Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Full of true VeggieTales zaniness, values, irresistibility, and cleverness, Very Veggie 5-Minute Stories teaches genuine moral lessons, combines pleasing colorful illustrations, and delights readers of all ages. In a full-size hardcover book organized into 5 minute short stories, Bob and Larry are sure to amuse little ones as they find themselves in some comical situations.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perfect! An everlasting fun collection of beloved VeggieTales short stories complete with the usual VeggieTales quality and expectations. Taking mere minutes to read and finish each charming story, Bob, Larry, Laura and Junior become knights, vikings, cowboys, and detectives to share lessons on being patient, taking turns, accepting responsibility, saying sorry, and loving each other. Wonderful as gift, for a church library or Sunday school lesson, this VeggieTales collection would also be ideal for bedtime, generational sharing or self-readers. Simply an inviting, amiable, engaging and adorable book!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of VeggieTales Very Veggie 5-Minute Short Stories from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Planet 316 Story Bible for Toddlers

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Planet 316 Story Bible for Toddlers with Augmented Reality. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids Ideals. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Crafted in a sturdy, chunky board book perfect for little hands, Planet 316 Story Bible for Toddlers is filled with colorful pictures surrounding important basic Bible stories. Each 4 page Bible story depiction includes augmented reality; a simple process which causes the characters (and story) to come alive! Download the free app, use a phone or tablet to scan the picture, and enjoy the 3-D animation and audio as the interaction begins. Engaging, usable, captivating and educational, the technology stays current while teaching the Bible to youngsters.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Already so impressed with the older version of the Planet 316 Story Bible for children ages 4-8, I was interested in the newest version for toddlers. Welcoming the shiny, thick, well-constructed pages of the Planet 316 Story Bible for Toddlers, this book could with-stand lots and lots of reading. With the easy-to-use augmented reality technology, toddlers are sure to be able to activate and enjoy the movement and sounds of characters as much as this adult. Definitely a book I would recommend for a church library, Sunday school curriculum or a gift. Absolutely awesome! (Any chance of making an adult version?)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Planet 316 Story Bible for Toddlers from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

From The Farm House Kitchen

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Stoltzfus, Dawn. And Falb, Carol. From The Farm House Kitchen. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
With over 150 recipes featuring farm-to-table recipes, the included dishes are organized into seasonal fare (spring, summer, fall, winter) as well as categorized into different meal options (main dishes, sauces, sides, salads, snacks and desserts). Bonus “natural living” recipes are included along with helpful hints, room for notes, and simple, wholesome, natural messages scattered throughout. Presented in a spiral-bound, thicker-covered book format, this new cookbook, Farm House Kitchen, definitely serves the purpose in any home.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Cozy, comforting, and delicious meals are included in this farmhouse genre cookbook, originating from a Mennonite kitchen. With most recipes using many natural ingredients as well as pantry-ready items, though simple, the resulting menus are hearty and nutritious. Not using all of the recipes due to my eating lifestyle, I certainly did find enough to keep it amongst my cookbooks in my kitchen. Loving the ease with which this book can be used, it opens flat on my counter and is quite sturdy without being heavy. Overall, a very nice book!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of From The Farm House Kitchen from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Decluttering At The Speed of Life

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White, Dana K. Decluttering At The Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle With Stuff. Nashville, TN: W Publishing/ Thomas Nelson. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Stuff. Everyone has it, everyone struggles with it. With homes filled to the brims with items and needing help with this crazy dilemma, author Dana White has stepped in to help with her new book, Decluttering At The Speed of Life. Not complicated, easy to follow, enjoyable to read, and full of simple decluttering ideas, this book takes the dread out of decluttering. Coming from personal experience and acting as a mentor and coach, the author tackles the emotional and physical challenges by going room-to-room with a positive mindset.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having picked up this book and browsed it at the library, I knew I had to have my own copy to read thoroughly. Understanding that life is busy and can get in the way of even the best intentions, Decluttering At The Speed of Life accounts for those distractions while also working through other decluttering difficulties. Making the process very easy and straight-forward, reading this book will encourage you to purge the unnecessary from your home while creating a more peaceful, healthy and productive lifestyle.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Decluttering At The Speed of Life From BookLook Bloggers For my honest review*

The Great Escape

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Thomas, M.J. The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape- Book 3. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Traveling to Ancient Egypt to witness the Exodus, Peter, Mary and their faithful companion dog Hank, find themselves on a treasure hunt for scrolls. Having only 14 days to find the missing ancient scrolls or being stuck in Egypt forever, Peter, Mary and Hank must work together in the past time period to discover the secret. Journeying through a desert, befriending the Pharaoh’s daughter, understanding the plagues, and learning biblical history and truths in the process, The Great Escape provides a captivating, honest and exploratory experience in a beginning chapter book.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Book 3 in The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series, this newest addition, The Great Escape, continued the adventures, imagination and success of the previous two books in the same series. Geared towards ages 6-9 year olds (grades 1-3), this starting chapter series is Biblically accurate, immersive in history, and has relatable characters and interesting events. Perfect for the intended audience, the series would also work well as a Bible lesson in Sunday school, a study section for elementary school, or personal time either reading aloud or beginning to read on own. I appreciated the suggested further reference to the Bible at the end of the book. Hopefully, more books in this series will follow shortly.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Great Escape from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Numbers in the Bible/ Colors in the Bible

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Museum of the Bible. Numbers in the Bible/ Colors in the Bible. Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids Ideals. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Two separate board books, Numbers in the Bible and Colors in the Bible connect basics to the Bible. 2 brothers (Jacob and Esau), 6 days to create, 10 commandments, red flames (on the burning bush), white dove, orange lion (Daniel)- all included on sturdy pages with bright colorful accompanying pictures. Simple words, scripture verses, and important messages all combine in these beautiful books for the youngest of tots.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Easy to read, simple to repeat and relating directly to the Bible, Numbers in the Bible and Colors in the Bible make sight words, colors, numbers, and a foundation of Bible stories a breeze to learn. Liking the child-friendly illustrations with cheerful colors, these durable books would be perfect for Sunday school, a library, or a personal library. Sure to become favorites, I wouldn’t hesitate to gift these often.  Wonderful!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Numbers in the Bible and Colors in the Bible from WorthyKids Ideals for my honest review*

The Lost Castle

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Cambron, Kristy. The Lost Castle. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY
Set in three time periods spanning a few hundred years, different characters find themselves linked together through a lost castle in France; however, they soon discover there is more than just the castle joining them. With life-stories taking place during the French Revolution, World War II and modern day, three women are intertwined in unique ways involving romance, history, illness, generations, faith and emotions, all embracing and connecting their determination, strength and hearts.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Of course, I just knew I was going to read this book by a favorite author of mine, Kristy Cambron. Not letting me down, The Lost Castle provided a creative and well-written time dimensional story resulting in a very satisfying read. As usual, this author developed her characters well and caused a tug at my heartstrings while I marveled at the overall complexity of the story which just flowed. Though easy to read and follow, I imagine this novel took quite a bit of organization while writing. Excellent!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Lost Castle from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Planet 316 Story Bible

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Planet 316 Story Bible with Augmented Reality. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Alongside more than 100 Bible stories accompanied by colorful illustrations, the Planet 316 Story Bible adds another exciting element-Augmented Reality. Downloading the free app allows the readers to move their devices over the pictures causing them to spring up in 3D. Audio and movement add context, depth and interaction to the characters encouraging a more meaningful and lively experience. The stories are written in child-friendly language, include the related Bible verses, and make the Bible very approachable for young readers.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A team of talented writers, artists and developers, Planet 316 uses current technology to bring the Bible to life, engaging and immersing readers in Bible stories. With easy to use technology (even for adults-LOL), I was enthralled with the characters seeming to pop off the pages, complete with voices and noises. Meeting the current young generation at a place where they are obviously very comfortable, using that technology to learn is genius. Definitely a novel and captivating idea, I would absolutely recommend this Bible to readers ages 4-8; however, older readers reading on their own may also enjoy the awesome interaction opportunity. So cool!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Planet 316 Story Bible from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Chloe Flavor

Featured

Coscarelli, Chloe. Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan. New York, NY: Clarkson Potter/ Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
As the first vegan chef to take the coveted top prize on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, author, chef and entrepreneur Chloe Coscarelli  serves ups delicious, vegan, spicy, saucy and crispy recipes in her newest cookbook, Chloe Flavor. Beginning with an introduction of commonly used vegan ingredients, this stunning cookbook also includes recipes for breakfast, snacks, sides, soups, salads, sandwiches, bowls, drinks, and of course, dessert. Filled with gorgeous photography of each dish, personal testimonies and stories add to this impressive new cookbook.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Wow! Visually beautiful and appetizingly delicious, Chloe Flavor is now one of my very favorite and savored cookbooks. Personally trying to follow the healthy lifestyle more closely, I truly never thought vegan could be so enjoyably tasty! With a few family favorites already from this book, Fiesta Taco Bowl, Cranberry Sauce, and Firehouse Chili with Corn Muffins are some of the most favored. An easy, doable and inviting introduction to healthy vegan menus, I highly recommend this remarkably delicious cookbook.

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Chloe Flavor from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Live. Save. Spend. Repeat.

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Anderson, Kim. Live. Save. Spend. Repeat: The Life You Want With The Money You Have. Eugene, OH: Harvest House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Paying off $93,000 in debt in only two years, blog writer and author, Kim Anderson, shares her strategies, skills, tips and results with readers who would like to do the same. Filled with personal stories and testimonies, various scenarios and examples, work pages and a sample budget, Live. Save. Spend. Repeat.  provides the necessary information and knowledge to live according to your means while enjoying life.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perfect as an inspiration to keep the financial New Year’s goal, Live. Save. Spend. Repeat. is full of motivation, coaching, ideas, and reminders surrounding a major goal of getting out-from-under with a workable budget, worksheets, options and personal motivators. Well-organized, well-written and well-tried, the approach makes sense and appears to be manageable while yielding possibly life changing results. A good guide for anyone hoping to meet goals, strengthen their financial health, or climb out of debt.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Live. Save. Spend. Repeat. from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Sunrise, Easter Surprise!

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Hall, Hannah. Sunrise, Easter Surprise! Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals. 2018.

SUMMARY:
In charming rhyming verse with brightly colored illustrations, Sunrise, Easter Surprise! shares the beautiful Easter story with babies and toddlers. In a sturdy board book with soft edges and a firm binding, familiar characters delight in the risen Lord. Lambs, birds, bunnies and bumblebees join with people and Angels to proclaim the Good News. Perfect for the upcoming season and a wonderful start to faith-building, author Hannah Hall offers her newest book for children.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Simple rhyming words and child-friendly pictures make this little board book adorable and very appropriate for youngsters. Filled with the lovely Easter message, Sunrise, Easter Surprise! would be the right pick for an Easter basket, a church library, Sunday School or a personal bookshelf. Filled with animals that small ones can relate with easily, the rhyming lyrics are age-perfect for understanding and memorizing. Simple yet priceless on the path to a faith-filled routine.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Sunrise, Easter Surprise! from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Sweet Potato Soul

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Claiborne, Jenne. Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul. USA: Harmony books. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Mixing vegan with Southern cuisine in her new cookbook, cooking instructor, blog creator, and vegan chef, Jenne Claiborne, proves taste, soul, health and tradition can truly be combined. Named after her blog and YouTube channel, Sweet Potato Soul shares recipes, knowledge, personal stories and a bit of spiciness. Recipes for breakfast, salads, soups, sides, sauces, mains, desserts and drinks are included in a well organized manner. Coupled with beautiful photography, diners won’t miss the meat at all!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Surprised to find such a tempting cookbook filled with vegan recipes, it was perfectly pleasing both visually and content-wise. Already being mindful of what I eat and heading towards a more vegan lifestyle, I was thrilled to find the recipes easy to prepare, the ingredients easily accessible, the information helpful and the meals nourishing, healthy and delicious. Favorites already, Sweet Potato Hummus and Sweet Corn Succotash are Southern and so delectable- they will be staples in our house from now on. So enjoyably appetizing!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Sweet Potato Soul from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

That Grand Easter Day!

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Lord, Jill Roma (author). Trunflo, Alessia (Illustrator). That Grand Easter Day!  Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Read to the tune of “This is the House that Jack Built”, That Grand Easter Day! follows the format in both rhythm and rhyme. Along the way of the story, main characters are introduced with the initial verse of “That Grand Easter Day!” repeated throughout. Easy to read with gloriously stunning illustrations, this book contributes joyously to the Easter celebration!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Beautifully illustrated with a straight-forward, simple yet eloquent verse, That Grand Easter Day! praises the Easter jubilation in a perfect way. I loved the easy to read and rhyme stanzas with the repetition of certain phrases; wonderful to read to little ones while also being remarkable enough for new readers. Liking the bunny that appears in the story, I admire the way tradition meets contemporary with room for both. (After all, didn’t God create bunnies?) I hope to find more same-style books from Jill Roma Lord and Alessia Trunflo observing other important holidays in a like-manner. (Perhaps a series of them?)  Well done!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of That Grand Easter Day! from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Before We Were Yours

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Wingate, Lisa. Before We Were Yours. New York, USA: Ballantine Books. 2017.

SUMMARY:
In 1939, wrested from their familiar and enchanting home aboard the Arcadia, a shantyboat traveling the Mississippi River, Rill and her siblings soon find themselves at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Under the direction of Georgia Tann, many children were snatched and brought to the orphanage where they awaited adoption from wealthy, prominent citizens. Meanwhile, in present day, Avery Stafford stumbles upon some information that haunts her until she solves the secrecy of the notion. Determined to uncover her own involvement with her family’s history, as the story unfolds with times and events converging, Avery’s disclosure may affect all those around her.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Fictionalizing the true story of Georgia Tann and her involvement with a plentitude of scandalous adoptions, New York Times Bestselling author, Lisa Wingate, writes a deeply moving story. Utterly heartbreaking yet beautifully redemptive, Before We Were Yours is so well written and so emotionally grabbing, it is hard to put down. Though the subject matter was difficult to read, I couldn’t stop and even found myself thinking of the novel throughout the day. With a note from the author at the end of the book surrounding the actual facts of this true account, this story was quite authentic. Liking to find the reason or intent behind the title of a book, this one was perfectly named and even had a relevant picture which spoke volumes upon finishing the book.

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

Whiter than Snow

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Deppa, Joan. Whiter than Snow: Seasons of Love- Book 1. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Recently moving to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Bonnie Turner is only just beginning to realize the vastness, beauty and opportunity of the area. As a UP native, Brad Jorgenson takes it upon himself to turn Bonnie into a true “Yooper”, a person who lives in the UP of Michigan and follows certain cultural norms. (Using “yah” instead of “yes”, enjoying the possible 300+ inches of snow each season.) While exploring the UP, Bonnie recognizes that anger and bitterness are holding Brad back from truly appreciating the beauty and receiving forgiveness, things she hopes to change.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Very familiar with the area of the UP of Michigan, I could surely relate to this book. Written in a calming manner, with a focus on faith and the charm of the region, this novella packed a lot of miles into a shortened story. Sweet, graceful and engaging, I found Whiter than Snow, by author Joan Deppa, to be an inspirational read with a gorgeous book cover.

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Whiter than Snow from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Hope For Each Day Devotional

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Graham, Billy. Hope For Each Day- Words of Wisdom and Faith- Large Deluxe Edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017

SUMMARY:
Filled with 365 daily devotionals, Hope For Each Day gifts pages of scripture, thoughts, stories, and words of wisdom from preacher, evangelist and author, Billy Graham. Updated from an earlier edition to include an imitation leather cover, a larger, softer size, a more deluxe interior design, a ribbon marker and of course, lots of grace, peace and faith from a devotional leader. Sturdy, readable and genuine, this devotional will leave a legacy.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Respected and honored, Billy Graham has ministered to many all over the world. Complied into a beautiful devotional with an updated and more elegant style, I so admired this devotional. Definitely a book I will use this year and many years to follow, I would be proud to give this one as a gift, present it to a church, or recommend it to a friend. Though not too deep, each devotional contains enough of a message surrounding hope and inspiration that I can delve deeper on my own or keep the smile within my heart for the day. Beautiful!

RATING:
5 ( out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Hope For Each Day from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Mister B

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Byk, A. Lynn. Mister B: Living With a 98 Year-Old Rocket Scientist. Littleton, CO: Capture Books. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Moving in with her elderly father-in-law, researcher, investigator and author, Lynn Byk, had only hoped to spare Joseph Byk from the nursing home but received so much more in return. Organized into dated journal- type entries, Mister B shares the almost century-year-old history lived by a man who is humorous, cantankerous, passionate and not always politically correct. Heartwarming and honest, this story causes one to ponder life and smile.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a delightfully charming book! Actually a book for many to read, this tackles one of life’s issues- aging parents. Full of wonderfully thought-provoking lessons, I learned and enjoyed several snippets of history from Mister B. With many stories waiting to be passed down, Lynn Byk knows just the questions to ask to keep her father-in-law talking. Well-written with wit, compassion and grace, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Priceless!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Mister B from BookCrash and the author for my honest review*

VeggieTales-Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers

Featured

Kennedy, Pamela. And Kennedy-Brady, Anne. VeggieTales- Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
In a soft, cushy board-book, authors Pamela Kennedy and Anne Kennedy-Brady fill the sturdy pages with nighttime prayers. Surrounding the prayers are familiar, colorful and playful VeggieTales characters. With a mix of shorter and a bit longer prayers, each contains rhyming verse which reads quite easily. A few Scripture verses mingle on the pages in conjunction with the prayers, all with smiling Veggie figures.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Sweet, amiable, cheerful and engaging, VeggieTales- Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers is perfect for the evening routine of bedtime prayers. I like the simple rhymes which can be very calming as well as quickly learned. Familiarity is so important at a young age which VeggieTales delivers. The packaging of the book is soft yet strong for those chubby little hands (and spills). Great for home use, a church library, or baby gift, this board-book is sure to please.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of VeggieTales- Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers for my honest review*

Missing Isaac

Featured

Luesse, Valerie Fraser. Missing Isaac. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:’
In the deep South during the 1960s, different people came from very different worlds depending on social class and color. When Pete McLean experiences a tragedy in his life, farmhand Isaac steps in to fill the void. Friends despite the color difference, Pete is devastated when Isaac disappears one evening. Without much help from the community, Pete sets out to learn the truth about Isaac’s disappearance and by chance, meets a girl. Together they grow, changing the social dynamics of the South along the way.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a debut novel for an author, I was surely impressed. With strong characters, raw emotion, a powerful definition of friendship, and a style true to the South, Missing Isaac is a story of a young man growing to adulthood and developing his morals, integrity and character. Along with a mystery, a bit of faith, and heart-felt emotion, author Valerie Luesse writes an honest novel, perhaps one even appropriate as a movie storyline. Definitely an author I will watch for and read again.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Missing Isaac from Revell Publishing for my honest review*