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*

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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

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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

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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

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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*

The Lacemaker

Featured

Frantz, Laura. The Lacemaker. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As the “bride” of historic Williamsburg, circa 1775, Lady Elizabeth “Liberty” Lawson, does most everything her father, the British Lieutenant governor of the Virginia colony, demands of her…including a prearranged, high-society marriage. Spending her time continuing the generational task of making lace, Liberty soon finds herself accused of being a spy, saved only by Noble Rynallt, the cousin of her ex-intended. Treason, betrayal, trust, honesty and suspense all entwine together to create a novel not soon forgotten.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With detail, language, customs and characters specific to the timeframe, author Laura Frantz obviously researched the time period carefully. Though it took a moment to become embedded in the language which slowed the start of the book down some, once familiar with the verse, my reading did quicken. Drawn to the gorgeous cover, held by the historical story within, and disappointed when it actually ended, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lacemaker. Already a fan of this author, I must admit, I am even more so now. Beautifully written with charming names of characters, I can only hope this might be a continuing series. (I appreciated the recipes at the end- quite interesting!)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Lacemaker from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The House on Foster Hill

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Wright, Jaime Jo. The House on Foster Hill. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
In a house on Foster Hill in Oakwood Wisconsin, almost a century ago, a young woman is found dead. Determined to find the assailant, Ivy Thorpe searches yet soon discovers herself in dangerous situations. Forced to revisit memories long shut away, she must shield her own heart while untangling the web of mysteries surrounding the house. Meanwhile, at the same house in present day, new owner Kaine Prescott experiences the same feelings as Ivy when she confronts issues encircling her own life and the same dark happenings within the Foster Hill House.  Struggling to understand the eerie, she must also guard her heart while dealing with the pain of the past.  Suspense, mystery, uncertainty and history besiege in The House on Foster Hill

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Definitely a thriller with time periods linked through deep connections to Foster Hill House, I found it very interesting how the story jumped back and forth between characters and time periods yet had that underlying relationship. Left wondering just exactly what that affiliation may be, I found this book hard to put down once I was immersed in it. As a new author to me, I most likely will look for more books from Jaime Jo Wright and hope she realizes her talent for writing such spine-tingling, dramatic, emotional novels as she did with this one, her debut novel.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The House on Foster Hill from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The View from Rainshadow Bay

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Coble, Colleen. The View from Rainshadow Bay: A Lavender Tides Novel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Shauna McDade, a widow with a young son, must rely on her own instincts as well as that of her husband’s best friend, Zach Bannister, the man she blames for his death. However, when other deaths occur which seem to connect and now possibly target Shauna, she needs to rethink who may be to blame. Full of suspense, mystery, forgiveness, romance and plenty of action, The View from Rainshadow Bay is the newest novel from acclaimed author, Colleen Coble.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Knowing I would read this book due to the author, I was a bit surprised I finished it completely in almost a (late) night. From the epilogue to the conclusion, there was non-stop suspense which kept my interest without end. As with all of her books, Colleen Coble delivers well-written material mixed with mystery, tension, anticipation and excitement. An excellent book; I look forward to the next book in the Lavender Tides series set to release in July, The House at Saltwater Point. (I love the covers and the names of the locations in this series, too.)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The View from Rainshadow Bay from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Faithful Finance

Featured

Stroud MBA/ CFA, Emily G. Faithful Finance: 10 Secrets to Move from Fearful Insecurity to Confident Control. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2015, 2018.

SUMMARY:
Everyone struggles financially at some point in life and needs a bit of advice to get back on track. Financial advisor, business woman, entrepreneur and author, Emily Stroud, does just that in her newest book, Faithful Finance, in which she shares 10 smart recommendations to becoming financially fit. She addresses budgets, savings accounts, cash (vs credit), college, retirement and estate planning while also taking into account common feelings such as worry, insecurity, anxiety and despair. Filled with personal stories, budgeting tools, relevant scripture verses, loads of encouragement and total understanding, this book is written in an easy to read, conversational style manner for any income, at any age, in any stage of life.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perfect for popular New Year’s resolution of becoming financially secure, Faithful Finance makes that goal just a bit easier to achieve. Neither daunting nor judgmental, author Emily Stroud is more a friendly partner willing to help with sound guidance and information. Having been in financial stress herself, she is straight forward with her suggestions while truly caring about the outcome. I appreciated the monthly budget sheets, the included resources, and 10 ideas for living life well. Owning her own investment firm, Emily Stroud also shares her contact information should a consultation be welcomed.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

* I received a complimentary copy of Faithful Finance from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Pupcakes

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Noblin, Annie England. Pupcakes: A Christmas Novel. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Brydie Benson needs to start over but life just seems to keep throwing her curveballs. Having recently lost her own bakery along with her marriage, Brydie now finds herself working in the bakery at the local ShopCo. Asked to dog-sit for an adorable Pug named Teddy Roosevelt while his owner moves to an assistant living complex, at least she has a place to live. When Brydie meets Dr. Nathan and his large Irish Wolfhound, Sasha, things begin to get interesting, if not a bit crazy…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Caught by the charming cover and title, I was in the mood for a fun, light, Christmas novel and that is exactly what I got. Full of lovable dog antics, a blooming romance and a personal mystery, Pupcakes even comes complete with delicious doggy recipes, including a recipe for Pupcakes. Though a few curse words were included and a very brief adult situation, it was overall an enjoyable read and would make a delightful Hallmark Channel movie. Finding a new author I am fond of, I have already ordered her previous book, Sit! Stay! Speak!, of course, full of more amusing pups.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

Capital Gaines

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Gaines, Chip. Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As a successful and popular businessman, Chip Gaines surely knows failure, mistakes, and the long journey to achievement. In his new book, Capital Gaines, he humbly and even happily shares his advice and wisdom on life. With personal stories of false and missed steps, hard work, and strong work ethics, this book is honest, genuine, thought-provoking, and heartening. Full of insight for the trek through life, Chip Gaines ultimately stays true to himself.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Being vaguely familiar with Chip and Joanna Gaines, it was more the relevant title that caught my eye than the actual author. More than just another business book, Capital Gaines is written in a narrative form that is easy to read, full of humor and encouragement, as well as faith and the necessity for perseverance even through fear. Part memoir, part journey, part business, it is wholly inspirational, interesting, amicable and beneficial. Planning on sharing this book with the rest of my family, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it as a gift to friends either. Definitely a worthwhile read, I am glad I read it and now plan to read The Magnolia Story, where it all began.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Capital Gaines from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

POK POK The Drinking Food of Thailand

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Ricker, Andy. With Goode, JJ. POK POK The Drinking Food of Thailand. New York, USA: Ten Speed Press Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Opening his first restaurant in Portland, POK POK, as well as several others, and a 2011 James Beard winner for Best Chef Northwest, cookbook author Andy Ricker shares drinking food (appetizers worthy of accompanying drinks) in his new book, POK POK The Drinking Food of Thailand. With relevant introductions to each recipe, well explained and organized directions and associated photographs, anyone interested in food from Thailand will find plenty of ingredients and variations to satisfy a palate.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though I have absolutely no knowledge or experience with Thai food, I still found this book to be acutely organized and quite interesting with the stories and prefaces before each included recipe. Worthy of being presented as a gift to someone appreciative of Thai food, this current cookbook is definitely something to consider for the right receiver. Maybe not ready to venture into making my own Thai food yet, after reading this book, I am surely more open to seeking out a restaurant to try such a menu and am certainly more knowledgeable about the ingredients and culture. Well done!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of POK POK The Drinking Food of Thailand from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children

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Berndt, Jodie. Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children: Trusting God with the Ones You Love. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Realizing that children need prayers even when they are grown, author Jodie Berndt shares both Bible and personal stories, Bible scriptures, and relevant prayers, along with lots of compassion, encouragement and understanding. Organized into prayers for different stages and periods of life…relationships, milestones, health, safety and temptations are a few of the included areas. Through forgiveness, trust, appreciation, and realization, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children may have an impact on all involved.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a necessary action by all parents for all adult children, I found this book to be well written, easy to follow, enjoyable to read, and paramount in prayer life. Realizing parents are not alone in whatever situation they may find themselves, it is heartwarming and endearing to know that God loves and cares for our children as much as we do. Praying The Scriptures for Your Adult Children sets the stage for praying with prayer pages at the end of each chapter. My only wish would have been a few journaling pages along with the prayer pages to jot down thoughts, ideas, revelations and outcomes.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Staying Stylish

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Cameron Bure, Candace. Staying Stylish: Cultivating A Confident Look, Style & Attitude. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Fashion, style, make-up, skin care, health, fitness and spirit all are addressed in author and actress Candace Cameron Bure’s newest book, Staying Stylish. Along with many ideas for keeping your wardrobe both stylish and appropriate, your make-up fresh and natural, your closet well organized, your fitness level healthy and your faith fulfilled and present, elegant photographs, tips and tricks, and favorite products are scattered throughout. A beautiful hard-covered book complete with a ribbon marker, perfect for all ages.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Packaged in a stunning book with glossy pages, excellent organization, and lots of style ideas, Staying Stylish is a charming book for most anyone, though especially young adults and perhaps those entering careers. Though it wasn’t necessarily a book directly for me, I may have picked up a few tidbits but plan to gift this book to someone who could use it more. Liking the emphasis on faith as well as appropriateness, it might work well as a basis for a teen ministry. Having read Candace Cameron Bure’s other books, I do trust and appreciate her writing, honesty and direction. I look forward to reading more.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Staying Stylish from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Jesus Always

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Young, Sarah. Jesus Always: Embracing Joy In His Presence- 365 Devotions. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2016.

SUMMARY:
Filled with 365 page-length devotions including completely written-out referenced scripture verses, Jesus Always is a larger beautiful edition encased in a soft imitation brown leather. Written from a first-person perspective, each devotion reads as if Jesus is speaking directly with you. Worthy of gift-giving, a silk pink ribbon accompanies this new release from popular author, Sarah Young.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Always having heard of this author and her very successful series of devotionals, I was eager to read one for myself. Available as a deluxe edition in an elegant cover jacket, the book opens flat with an easily read font and graceful borders. Enjoying the personal devotions and the included scripture verses, I would be proud to give this devotion as a gift (or keeping it for my own use). Looking for my new devotional for next year has now been checked off my to-do-list and I couldn’t be happier with my choice.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies
*I received a complimentary copy of Jesus Always from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

An Amish Christmas Love

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Wiseman, Beth. Clipston, Amy. Reid, Ruth. Irvin, Kelly. An Amish Christmas Love: Four Novellas. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Containing four Christmas novellas (Winter Kisses, The Christmas Cat, Snow Angels, and Home for Christmas), the new collection in An Amish Christmas Love is written by several successful Amish authors. Filled with stories surrounding Christmas, each well- developed short story is similar yet unique. Heart-warming, faith-filled and Christmas-themed, these Amish genre novellas are sure to help celebrate the Christmas season.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Already enjoying the four authors’ writing in this new Christmas compilation, I knew it would be a perfect addition to my Christmas seasonal books. Liking to read these special stories around the Christmas time, I truly enjoyed this collection. Though all were good, I especially connected with The Christmas Cat due to the subject and author. Quick to read yet filled with the Christmas message, An Amish Christmas Love is meant to be shared. Perfect for a library or personal collection, you cannot help but be warmed.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of An Amish Christmas Love from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Carve

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Abrantes, Melanie. Carve: A Simple Guide To Whittling. New York, USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Beginning with the toolbox and filled with tips and techniques, Carve shares the journey from wood to utensil. With projects rated from beginner to advanced, professional woodworker and author Melanie Abrantes includes the necessary ingredients, nicely explained directions, and personal tips for each design. Accompanied by photographs of each step as well as the finished product, maintenance and templates are also included.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As an art spanning many decades, whittling can be done most anywhere. This beautiful little book takes the ancient front- porch art and gives it a modern twist. Easy to understand yet producing impressive results, both the book and the resulting objects would make a welcomed gift. I not only liked the design of the book but the safety factor, wood choice explanations and contemporary turn. Even my husband was intrigued and packed the book in with our camping gear for next year around the campfire. Definitely a book to share!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Perennials

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Cantrell, Julie. Perennials. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Haunted by a fire that happened years ago, Lovey (Eva) leaves town, far away from her bitter sister, Bitsy (Elizabeth). Living her own life while dealing with guilt, disappointment, anger and loss over the shed fire, Lovey is called back home to help plan her parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Chancing a visit home though it may mean facing the pain from the event all those years ago, Lovey must make decisions which could change her life forever.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With an absolutely beautiful cover and a very appropriately named title, New York Times bestselling author, Julie Cantrell, centers her newest novel around perennials. Even with an inspiring and creative topic, unfortunately, I had trouble really connecting with this novel which surprised me.  Truly liking her previous books, I am not sure if it was the story or me personally that just couldn’t merge with the story this time. Struggling to finish with a few reservations along the way, I will definitely read this author again while hoping for a different reaction.

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Church of the Small Things

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Shankle, Melanie. Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
New York Times bestselling author and blogger at The Big Mama Blog, Melanie Shankle in her new book, Church of the Small Things, shares her personal little moments that add up to so much more. Wondering if those small things really matter, she tackles the tough questions while she journeys to a more content place in life. Taking the time to ponder and enjoy, in her witty and honest manner and style of writing, Melanie reveals her experiences growing up which shaped her while offering hope, encouragement and a deeper message.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
While expecting something a bit different from this book due to the title, I was not at all disappointed to find the message portrayed within. Nodding my head in agreement so many times while laughing out loud, there were also some heart-aching moments sprinkled throughout. With her usual humor, Melanie Shankle writes an easy to read, relatable and uplifting book that caused me to stop, smile and enjoy the small moments that contribute to my overall busy life. A truly down-to-earth, faith-filled book from a favorite author, I knew I would enjoy this book having read her previous books. Definitely a book I will recommend and reread as the depth intermingles beautifully with the funny.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Church of the Small Things from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Nourished

Featured

Huber, Lia. Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith & Enduring Love with Recipes. New York, USA: Convergent Books. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Part travel guide, part cookbook, and part personal exploration, Nourished is a memoir of a life surrounded by food. As a food writer. recipe developer, consultant, entrepreneur and blogger, author Lia Huber shares a recount of her journey to faith, food, and community. Written in an easy, more conversational manner, she chronicles portions of her life, ending each section with a related recipe. Finding her purpose through food and faith, Lia eventually made the connection though her adventures are far from over.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Expecting more of a cookbook than a memoir, I actually was not disappointed but found the book, Nourished, to be quite interesting. Liking her style of writing, I found myself immersed in pieces of the book though I only intended to scan it at first. Drawn into her life experiences, I enjoyed the travel aspects as well as the family, food, faith and community elements. Perhaps some of the included recipes are a bit out of my grasp but are appealing non-the-less. A perfect book for a reader compelled by travel and food; this is a book I am actually glad I read.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Hope Unashamed

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Keels, Nadine. Hope Unashamed: When It’s Time Series- Book 2. Smashwords. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As a good student with high morals, Arthur didn’t have time for girls. That is, until he met Lorraine which changed everything. Beginning as a high school romance and continuing the journey into adulthood, Hope Unashamed is filled with sweetness, innocence, perseverance, and hope. Written in a unique manner, author Nadine Keels travels back into the first book of the When It’s Time series where Arthur made his debut, his backstory is learned from his own point of view. Filling the gaps and then moving forward, the storyline only becomes fuller.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With not only a new and interesting story manner but also words that so eloquently and naturally flow, Hope Unashamed has the power to draw you into a story through a connection with the characters. Absolutely relating to the way in which she writes, I am a huge fan of author Nadine Keels. With a talent for developing a deep and entire story within a novella, I can only hope there are more books already being worked on in this series because if history repeats itself, they will only keep getting better. (Adorable cover, too!)

RATING:
4.75 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Hope Unashamed from the author for my honest review*

Merry and Bright

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Macomber, Debbie. Merry and Bright. New York, USA: Ballantine Books. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Merry took the temporary office position in hopes of it eventually becoming a permanent position. Known in the office as “Mary” (vs. the correct spelling of “Merry”), Merry accepts her family’s gift of a membership in an online dating service. Hooking up with Jayson online, much to her chagrin, Merry soon realizes she knows Jayson in another area of her life but with a different character than he appears to be online. Realizing she has done the same, Merry/ Mary must come clean but at a cost. With humor, heart, heartache and hearth, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Debbie Macomber, delights with another tradition, her newest annual Christmas book, Merry and Bright.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So looking forward to this author’s Christmas story each year, I enjoyed the cleverness of this one as well as the sweetness, sadness, and sauciness. Clean, quick and light for this time of year, Debbie Macomber satisfies again. As a favorite author of mine, I enjoy both her Christmas books and certain series of her books. Perfect for a cozy evening of hot chocolate, a snuggly blanket, a sleepy puppy and this seasonal story, I am now more ready for the upcoming season. Let it snow!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

 

Maverick and Me

Featured

Schwarzenegger, Katherine (author). Harris, Phyllis (illustrator). Maverick and Me. Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids/ Ideals Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Found cold, hungry and scared, a little puppy needs a second chance. Taken to a pet store by a kind lady, Maverick hopes to find a loving family the next weekend at the Adoption event. With his crooked ears and marbled color, he waits as many potential adopters stop but choose others. Finally, a little girl in pigtails visits him and falls in love. Promising to take the best care of him, Maverick’s new family hosts a welcome party for him where everyone is encouraged to rescue/adopt a homeless pet when next looking for a new furry family member.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a New York Times bestselling author, lifestyle blogger, philanthropist and animal activist, Katherine Schwarzenegger shares her life with the real Maverick while advocating for pet rescue. Collaborating with successful illustrated and passionate supporter of pet adoption, Phyllis Harris, the new book Maverick and Me is beautifully written with charming, colorful pictures and a powerful message of forever friends and homes for rescued pets. An excellent resource for children, this book would be perfect shared through a library, school or in a personal collection. I plan on sharing my copy with my local Humane Society, with the hope they will incorporate it into their youth classes. A great stepping stone not only for adoption but also respect, treatment and safety of animals.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Maverick and Me from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Everyday Watercolor

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Rainey, Jenna. Everyday Watercolor: Learn To Paint Watercolor In 30 Days. New York, USA: Watson-Guptill Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As a watercolor painting guide structured to teach technique, perspective, shape, form. volume, depth and light with successful results in 30 days, Everyday Watercolor helps both beginner painters as well as those more accomplished. With each lesson plan set-up in 2-3 steps of sketching, choosing a color palette and painting on paper, a finished picture is the result each day. With clear instructions, lots of guidance and encouragement/ permission to create your own style, artist and author Jenna Rainey shares her love, design, education and enjoyment in her new book meant for all.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
By no means an artist of drawing, painting, or patience, this book actually took me by surprise and enabled me to paint beautiful pictures (at least, in my own eyes). Meant to be done in 30 consecutive days, the instruction works just fine on any consistent schedule. Done in a sequential manner building upon previously learned skills from the prior lessons, even I was impressed by what I was able to produce. With Jenna’s encouraging style and reminder to have fun while attempting something new, I liked her acknowledgement of her artistic gift from God which she has chosen to use and share.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Everyday Watercolor from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Fierce Hearted

Featured

Gerth, Holley. Fierce Hearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
In her newest and most personal book yet, author Holley Gerth shares her inner most thoughts, fears, emotions and personal stories. Almost like chatting with a best friend over coffee, Fierce Hearted is organized in smaller chapters perfect for reading and reflecting. Encouraging each woman to realize she is “not the only one” who feels, thinks, hopes, loves, fears, and experiences such struggles and victories in life, Holley wants to empower all women to live more fully and love more bravely, following God as well as giving Him all the glory everyday in all things.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Written in such a raw and honest manner, Holley Gerth truly understands and acknowledges the inner most workings of women. Daring while inspiring women to share the journey, Fierce Hearted is well written with a strong, necessary message. With the book set in shorter chapters, I found I couldn’t stop from reading several at once. Nodding my head, feeling her pain, understanding her joys and relishing the encounter, this is definitely one book I will recommend, share with friends and give as a gift. Perfect as a Bible study or ministry, I thoroughly connected with Fierce Hearted from cover to cover. What a wonderful example Holley is to all women!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Fierce Hearted from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Love Unfeigned

Featured

Keels, Nadine. Love Unfeigned: When It’s Time Series- Book 1. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 2013.

SUMMARY:
Lorraine Tyson and Isaiah James were childhood buddies who loved and trusted each other as only true young friends can. As the two grew up (and grew apart), though they found themselves back together, it was not with the same abandon as when younger. Maturity, honesty, forgiveness, understanding and healing come to have a part in their more adult relationship. With a mix of faith, love, adolescence and sweetness, accomplished author Nadine Keels shares the heartache and delight of growing up…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As one of my most true and trusted authors, Nadine Keels yet again pens a cleanly and reliably written story. Fully developing the characters as well as the storyline, emotions, and scenes, Love Unfeigned is also complete with exquisite, interesting and skilled language adding to the overall success. As one of those stories that is hard to see end, luckily, a sequel has already been written, Hope Unashamed. Absolutely a book I would not hesitate to recommend, I can only applaud the author and encourage her to keep writing!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Love Unfeigned from the author for my honest review*

Christmas at Carnton

Featured

Alexander, Tamera. Christmas at Carnton. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Set in the mid 1800’s during the time of the Civil War, Christmas at Carnton deals with the casualties, harshness, bareness and heartache of that period. With a small child in tow and another one ready to be born, Mrs. Warren Prescott (Aletta) needs a way to support her growing family without her husband. Jake Winston, a wounded Captain in the battle, must serve the Women’s Relief Society in their upcoming event while his wounds heal. When Aletta and Jake both find themselves employed at Carnton Plantation at Christmas time, perhaps flurries will be predicted for more than just the weather outside…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a longer novella for the new series surrounding Carnton Plantation set to release in fall of 2018, author Tamera Alexander does an outstanding job of setting the scenery and storyline for the next three books. Loving the period in history as well as her writing, I thoroughly enjoyed this shorter novel, sad when it had to end. Absolutely an author I adore, there is no question I will read the full series. I definitely recommend this novella (with such a gorgeous cover)!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Christmas at Carnton from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*