She’s Still There

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Evans- Hurst, Chrystal. She’s Still There- Rescuing the Girl in You. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Losing yourself in the midst of life is easy to do but finding yourself again can be a daunting task. With compassion, encouragement, faith, trust and personal experience, author Chrystal Evans-Hurst shares her own story and insights on life. Lending a hand yet allowing you to stand on your own, She’s Still There explores the reasons and events in life that caused the loss. Looking deeply within, the girl that was once there is reassured, strengthened and restored to dream, believe and live again.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Like a personal coach and cheerleader, Chrystal Evans-Hurst is there and understands. Having been there herself, she shares her concern as a friend and confidant to help others find that girl within that is lost due to circumstances, situations, events…life. Offering wisdom, acceptance, and familiarity, this book is perfect for anyone who has experienced life (most of us). Perfect as a pick-me-up, a pat-on-the-back or perhaps even a kick-in-the-pants, She’s Still There found me nodding several times and chuckling in recognition as I read through it. Definitely a book I will keep on my shelf to revisit as needed, I also wouldn’t hesitate to share it or recommend it to most anyone.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of She’s Still There from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Can I Just Hide In Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back?

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Bolton, Martha. And Ditchfield, Christin. Can I Just Hide In Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back: Facing Life With Courage Not Comforters. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Feeling down in the dumps at times can cause wanting to hide in bed and not get up. Under the premise of not getting out until Jesus comes back, authors Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield offer encouragement, humor, inspiration, chuckles and reasons to actually get up and get moving. Set up in 2-3 page bite-size chapters, each tackles a topic, includes a quote, a personal story, a reference to scripture, encouragement and a smile. Offered by Focus on the Family, this book comes complete with a cute cover and title.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Drawn by the title and cover, I expected a light-hearted, fun book to read in snippets. Bingo! That is just what I received. Able to read a brief section at a time, Can I Just Hide In Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back would be a perfect pick-me-up gift for a friend or self, maybe the basis of a Bible study or ministry or great as an addition to a church library. Enjoying the lists, the stories and scripture references, I think this book clearly hits the mark for the intention of moving forward, no matter the desire to stay in bed and hide. Definitely a book to read and share.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Can I Just Hide In Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

The Captain’s Daughter

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Delamere, Jennifer. The Captain’s Daughter: London Beginnings- Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany house Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Needing to urgently leave town due to circumstances beyond her control, Rosalyn Bernay finds herself in London, penniless, homeless, and jobless with few possibilities. Making her way through London, Rosalyn soon makes acquaintances- some helpful, others not. Landing herself a job backstage at a theatre, with the help of her new friends Jessie and Nate, her life takes a change in direction for the better albeit one that could also affect her heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a new author to me, I can honestly say I have found another favorite author in Jennifer Delamere. Grabbed from the first page and reading straight through to the end, this was one of the fastest books I have ever read. With a bit of turbulence, romance, and secrets mixed with my favorite genre of time and place, The Captain’s Daughter was a success for me. Glad to know this is only book one of the new series, London Beginnings, I absolutely will watch for the next installments. Welcome to my favorite author list, Jennifer Delamere!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Captain’s Daughter from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Turquoise Table

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Schell, Kristin. The Turquoise Table: Finding Community And Connection In Your Own Front Yard. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With humor and grace, author Kristin Schell shares her crazy life and yearning for a connection with community. Inviting her neighbors and friends to join her at the turquoise table (a painted table on the front lawn), she establishes friendship, ministry, love, safety, connections and thus, community. Coupled with beautiful photographs and several delicious recipes, though a quick read, it is packed with encouragement, insight and inspiration. Using a simple concept to create huge impacts, The Turquoise Table strikes home.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Well written in a personal manner, I thoroughly enjoyed this book both in style and content. Chuckling at parts, identifying with points, pondering some thoughts and inspired by certain ideas, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book for ministries, Bible studies, church libraries and sermon topics. Even the included recipes were scrumptious! Consider the impact and influence such a book with this concept could have on neighborhoods and communities throughout the world. So powerful!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Turquoise Table from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Simple Decorating

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Michaels, Melissa. Simple Decorating: 50 Ways To Inspire Your Home. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2016.

SUMMARY:
Encouraging decorators to believe in their own signature style, blogger, author and decorator Melissa Michaels encourages, inspires and shares tips, techniques and designs for every room. In a compact yet filled-to-the-brim book of simple and welcoming fashion, Simple Decorating addresses moods, accessories, textures, spaces, styles and backdrops throughout the home. In short readable pieces complemented by beautiful photographs, this book has something for everyone to inspire style.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
In this clever, fashionable, design-spirited book, I found a variety of methods, patterns, trends and approaches to use in my own home. With ideas such as the use of different curtains, grouping items in threes, mixing linens, and dimensional displays, this book provided the quick pick-me-up my house needed. Gaining insights and ideas even from the photos, this little book set my decorative and creative vibes to work. Perfect to add to your own library or share as a housewarming gift, I truly enjoyed this book and hope to see more from this author.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

English River

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Nye, Thomas. English River: Amish Horses Series- Book III. USA: CrossLink Publishing. 2016.

SUMMARY:
Living with his Uncle Noey and Aunt Ruth since his father left the Amish years earlier, young Lenny reaches adulthood. Having followed his coming of age story through the previous two novels in the Amish Horses Series, Lenny finally comes to a crossroads and must decide between the Amish settlement and the English ways of life. Torn between emotions, community, family and his heart, Lenny realizes he must make choices which will impact his life both now and in the future.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As book 3 in the series, I enjoyed this book at least as much as I did the previous two. With a backdrop of a simpler way of life filled with horses, laughter, sadness and love, English River was probably my favorite book yet. As a calm storyteller, author Thomas Nye pays beautiful credit to the Amish manner of living. A simple, sweet, heart-warming novel with a deeper message, I cannot help but recommend this book to many others. Hopefully, this skilled and gentle writer will have another book on the near horizon.

RATING:
4.25 (out of 5) pennies

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

The New American Heart Association Cookbook

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American Heart Association. 9th Edition. New York, USA: Harmony Books. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Would you like to be healthy? Eat correctly? Feel better? The American Heart Association makes it easier in their newest updated cookbook. Full of more than 800 recipes divided into categories such as snacks, soups, salads, seafood, meats, vegetables, breads, and desserts, the cookbook opens with heart healthy guidelines and tips. Complete with a list of ingredients and easy to follow, condensed directions, each recipe also includes nutritional values per serving. Packaged in a thick hardcover book, delicious and healthy menus are definitely possible.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Knowing and trusting the American Heart Association name, I was very interested in the newest edition of the cookbook. With simple yet delicious recipes, the only thing missing was pictures. Appreciating the nutritional sense included at the beginning of the book, this cookbook leaves no doubt as to the health of the recipes. Already watching my family’s diet, The New American Heart Association Cookbook only makes it easier and much more enjoyable. Absolutely a book to keep and share, this new edition updates tried-and-true past recipes mixed with new ones. With a focus on quick and easy methods and menus, there is something healthy for everyone. Sure to become a staple in American kitchens as healthy lifestyles emerge.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The American Heart Association Cookbook from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Freedom’s Price

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Johnson, Christine. Freedom’s Price: Keys of Promise Series- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Having lost her father, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes decides not to accept her cousin’s plan for her life but rather to seek out her mother’s American family in New Orleans, Louisiana. Upon the boat while making the passage, Catherine encounters Tom Worthington, a shipwreck salvager with a goal of his own. Once in Louisiana, secrets swirl, romance develops, scoundrels appear, and life changes unexpectedly. Full of mystery, misfortune, faith, chances and choices, Freedom’s Price is a historical novel set in the Key West…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As book 3 of the Keys of Promise series, I couldn’t wait to read it as I have read the previous stories and loved them. Getting a peek at the past characters again, though enjoyable, it is not necessary as this book works well as a stand-alone. Perhaps not my favorite of the series, I still enjoyed Freedom’s Price and plan to continue reading this author, Christine Johnson. As a side note, I find the ships portrayed in Christine’s novels very interesting as she is obviously very knowledgeable about the topic being married to a Great Lakes ship pilot. Beautiful cover (again).

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Freedom’s Price from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Weekly Prayer Project

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Hiltibidal, Scarlet. The Weekly Prayer Project: A Challenge to Journal, Pray, Reflect, and Connect with God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Encouraging readers to be more intentional in their connections with God, author Scarlet Hiltibidal presents a personal journal filled with scripture, Bible verses, writing prompts and pages of lined paper for journaling thoughts, ideas, prayers, and dreams. Each two-page layout is broken into weekly topics under a broader subject. Encased in a hard cover book, this prayer project includes a presentation page, soft illustrations, reflection stories and a page marking ribbon.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Designed for the busy person who still yearns to spend time with God, The Weekly Prayer Project allows for the project to begin at any time, topics to be rearranged, and thoughtful, heartfelt writing to take place. Simple yet providing a deeper connection if desired, this book truly meets the reader where they are in faith. Based on prayers, each corresponding scripture verse and writing idea encourages personal consideration. Though not necessarily a devotional, this book touches more on prayers which could be easily incorporated into devotion time. Perfect as a gift, ministry or even a Bible study, this is a project I intend to complete.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Weekly Prayer Project from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

World of the Innocent

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Keels, Nadine. World of the Innocent. CreateSpace Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Becoming a young woman and realizing her own inward growth, Jhoi (pronounced JOY) has never considered Marcus more than just a friend. As a poetic artist, Jhoi has always been just friends with the somewhat-strange yet admired Marcus but something seems to be changing. As she explores her conflicting thoughts and feelings in this well-developed novella, Jhoi slowly, deeply and carefully makes the transition from childhood to young adult. Built on trust, morals and respect, the developing relationship between Jhoi and Marcus is endearing, heartening, and innocent.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a favorite author of mine, I know author Nadine Keels will deliver a well-written, character-deep, word-conscious piece. Her newest release, World of the Innocent, is no exception. Feeling the pull from the first few pages already, I enjoyed the style and voice with which this story was written. Though perhaps more a contemporary young adult book, I enjoyed it none-the-less. With a respectful message, a morally strong relationship and a durable faith, I wouldn’t hesitate to share nor recommend this sweet novella.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of World of the Innocent from the author for my honest review*

Chasing Grace

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Richards-Ross, Sanya. Saving Grace: What The Quarter Mile Has Taught Me About God And Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Sharing her successful yet difficult story of running and life, author and Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross writes of her triumphs and downfalls, happiness and heartache, achievements and collapses, all while realizing we cannot do it alone. Applying her 4-Ps approach (Push, Pace, Position and Pose) to her running career and extending it to her life, Sanya Richards-Ross acknowledges and shares how her trust in God allowed her to embrace and develop her given talents on the track as well as in life…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Opening the book and not closing it until it was finished, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Like having a conversation with Sanya herself, the book just flowed. Truly appreciating the closing of each chapter with one of the 4-Ps, not only did I listen to the encouraging words for life but also have incorporated some of the thoughts into my own running mantra. As a true Christian model, Sanya Richards-Ross is blessed yet humbly and enthusiastically tells her story. Definitely a book I will return to in snippets for self-reminders…excellent!

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

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

The Physics of Everyday Things

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Kakalios, James. The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day. USA: Crown Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Organizing the world into everyday useful, functional and interesting objects, psychics professor and author James Kakalios shares how these modern items work. Explaining the simple science behind such things as scanners, thermometers, microwave ovens, engines, batteries and others in an understandable manner, The Physics of Everyday Things doesn’t overlook the details. Coupled with a few relevant illustrations and examples of use, each section is split into everyday things used in certain actions (going to the airport, driving into the city, beginning your day, giving a business presentation).

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Honestly expecting a book filled with useful “useless knowledge”, I was pleasantly surprised to find more. Written by an authority on how everyday items work (a physics professor), though perhaps resembling a textbook, I thought it was broken down and explained in smaller, understandable pieces. Maybe not ever really wondering but now understanding how the scanners work at the airport, or how the Tyme machine knows my specific account, I find it very interesting as my mind considers even more elements. Able to read it in small snippets, this is a book I will share with friends and family as their inquiring minds may also want to know…

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

This Life I Live

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Feek, Rory. This Life I Live: One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Growing up in rural America with little money and less direction, country singer and award winner Rory Feek shares bits of his life culminating with his greatest love story. As an American country and bluegrass duo, nothing prepared him for the loss of the love of his life. Sharing his wife Joey’s courageous battle with cancer, Rory Feek managed to cope and in turn, bless others with his story. Well written, honest, heartbreaking and healing, This Life I Live may change your own life, or at least make you love better and live stronger…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not necessarily a fan of all memoirs nor a fan of country music, I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. Straight-forward in a realistic yet graceful manner, I found myself drawn into Rory and Joey’s story before I even realized it. Easy to read yet with a deeper message, This Life I Live celebrated life through mourning, happiness through sadness, and memories through meaning. So glad I took the chance on a book I would have normally passed on, I can only recommend this book to all.   (Tissue alert- have plenty on hand.)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of This Life I Live from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

What Hope Remembers

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Alexander, Johnnie. What Hope Remembers: Misty Willow Series- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Returning home to her childhood community after a heartbreaking situation, Amy Somers isn’t exactly proud of the person she has recently become. Not having stayed especially close to her family, Amy can only wonder how she will be accepted back. When her high-school sweetheart, Gabe Kendall, rides into town, memories surround her even as she realizes Gabe may have some history due to personal choices as well. Romance, forgiveness, family and sweetness combine with a dash of country charm in the newest Misty Willow series novel by author Johnnie Alexander.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read one of the previous books in this series, I had hoped to revisit some of the characters yet again. Though this novel works as a stand-alone, it works even better when read with the series. A strong contemporary writer with just enough pizazz in her storyline to make it enjoyable, What Hopes Remembers is full of gentleness, understanding, love and surprises. Taking place on the ranch of Whisper Lane Stables is an added delight for horse lovers. Wonderful addition to a well-written series.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of What Hope Remembers from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Trusting Grace

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Brendan, Maggie. Trusting Grace: Virtues and Vices of the Old West- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As caregiver to her elderly father, young widow Grace Bidwell still hopes for children of her own someday and relief from her daily struggles. With Robert Frasier as her newly hired farm-hand, unbeknownst to her, he comes with a ready-made family of young ones. While managing the farm, Grace and Robert soon discover their hearts may need to be managed as well…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Fun, light, romantic and filled with a bit of sass, award-winning author Maggie Brendan successfully adds to her Virtues and Vices of the Old West series with her newest book, Trusting Grace. Finding this novel as the perfect vacation and/ or summer read, it reads quickly, humorously, and is full of charm. Though perhaps missing some of the related characters if not reading the series in order, this story is fine as a stand-alone, too. Hoping the series continues, this book appeared at just the right time in life to enjoy.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Trusting Grace from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

There’s a Fly in my Tea

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Ratcliff, Crystal L. There’s a Fly in my Tea: The Importance of Maintaining a Christian Testimony. USA: Crosslink Publishing. 2016.

SUMMARY:
Based on the analogy of having a pesky fly in your delicious glass of iced tea, author Crystal Ratcliff explores the many unhealthy, unproductive things in our life that can impact our Christian testimony. With eleven chapters devoted to the “flies” and how to swat them, this shorter devotional exhibits and works around a scripture verse, includes personal stories and examples, incorporates more Bible verses and finishes with questions for self-reflection. Relevant, timely and engaging, There’s a Fly in my Tea will cause you to pause and consider…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Well written and easy to read yet full of strong messages, encouragement and possible solutions, I thought the “fly in your tea” theme was creative, interesting and worked well for this women’s devotional. Relating some definitely important and thought-provoking ideas, There’s a Fly in my Tea delivers introspection, learning and truth. With devotions centered around everyday concepts (service, talents, worship, forgiveness), this book would be perfect for a Bible study, personal reflection, a ministry or sermon series.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of There’s a Fly in my Tea from Bookcrash for my honest review*

Vibrant India

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Agrawal, Chitra. Vibrant Idnia: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn. New York, USA: Ten Speed Press Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Using seasonally fresh and healthy ingredients, chef Chitra Agrawal shares her South Indian family recipes for hearty yet light meals. With an introduction to Indian cooking, plenty of vegetarian ingredients and versatile options, this beautiful new cookbook also includes sample menus, grocery lists, Indian cooking techniques and tips, and explanations of the focused spices. Paired with appealing photography and pretty artwork, Vibrant India certainly does a complete task of celebrating the Indian culture and fare.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With a strong interest in trying Indian cooking, this newest cookbook arrived for the perfect opportunity. As a complete novice to this type of cooking, this book was thoroughly helpful while producing delicious results for me. Finding the information on spices intriguing and manageable, not only will I continue to incorporate the recipes into my menus, but also the methods into my everyday cooking. Lemon Peanut Rice, Summer Squash in Herby Coconut Yogurt, Chickpea Salad with Summer Vegetables and Avocado…I cannot wait to use the Farmer’s Market for these recipes. Healthy, bright, and interesting…the perfect combination!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

To The Farthest Shores

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Camden, Elizabeth. To The Farthest Shores. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Working the night shift, nurse Jenny Bennett had accepted life even though most days she was exhausted. Surprised to see an old flame, Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher, Jenny needed to guard her heart as he had once broken it. Gone overseas on a daring government mission, Ryan is not proud of his personal actions while there yet celebrates the gift he received. Hoping not to return overseas, Ryan and Jenny must work together to save Ryan’s reputation, life and both hearts…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Drawn to the beautiful cover, the story found within was just as stirring with mystery, forgiveness, faith and romance. Easy to read yet deep in meaning, To The Farthest Shores is a well-written novel full of strong characters, an interesting storyline, and valuable insights. Finishing it in just a few evenings, it had a satisfying conclusion which left me feeling complete. With a relevant historical note included at the end, research librarian and award-winning author, Elizabeth Camden, has written another successful story.

RATING:
4.25 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of To The Farthest Shores from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Book of Greens

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Louis, Jenn. With Squires, Kathleen. The Book of Greens: A Cook’s Compendium. New York, NY: Ten Speed Press Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With the purpose of bringing new greens into everyday meals, chef Jenn Louis takes the mystery and anxiety of new vegetables out of the forefront by explaining the nutrition, history, seasonality, and usage ease of many greens. Paired with 175 new recipes, an alphabetical index, scattered photographs, and tons of inspiration, The Book of Greens is a reference guide for the home cook.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Already receiving notice this book was about to debut, I couldn’t wait to use it during the beginning of Farmer’s Market season. Trying to break out of the usual vegetable and greens groove, this beautiful and useful cookbook will definitely help me reach that goal. Full of everyday items and ingredients, this encyclopedia-type book is as interesting and charismatic as it is beneficial and valuable. Absolutely a book I will refer to repeatedly, my family can look forward to new entrees, sides and desserts centered around delicious greens.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Book of Greens from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

99 Favorite Amish Breads, Rolls, & Muffins

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Varozza, Georgia. 99 Favorite Amish Breads, Rolls, & Muffins: Plain and Simple Recipes to Warm Your Soul. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Filled with delicious recipes originating with the Amish, 99 Favorite Amish Bread, Rolls, & Muffins shares biscuits, scones, breads, muffins, rolls and bun ideas to be enjoyed by all. Though not difficult in preparation, the outcome is definitely appetizing. Paired with a dinner menu or sampled alone as a snack, these Amish favorites are sure to inspire as well as be devoured. Popovers, Soda Bread, Orange Cream Scones and Peach Muffins are just a few of the included aroma-filled, tummy-pleasing recipes in this useful, spiral-bound cookbook.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Already owning and using several cookbooks from this series, I was more than happy to add yet another to my collection. Easy to follow directions with pantry-ready ingredients, it is perfect for that needed side-dish, hoped-for breakfast item, or anticipated dessert. Though I missed the photographs which could have accompanied each recipe, I did appreciate the spiral-bound cookbook which can remain open while cooking. Easy to substitute ingredients if needed and/ or desired, this compact cookbook should be a staple in every kitchen.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of 99 Favorite Amish Breads, Rolls, & Muffins from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Devotions From The Kitchen Table

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Edwards, Stacy. Devotions From The Kitchen Table. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Filled with 90 devotions surrounding the kitchen, Devotions from the Kitchen Table invites readers to rest a moment, pause with friends, gather at the table, and enjoy the many blessings bestowed in the comforts of home. Supper, pinwheels, crumbs, gardening and fingerprints are just a few of the many two-page devotionals included in this new book by the author, Stacy Edwards. Coupled with gorgeous photographs in each short yet full devotion, the pale pink ribbon only magnifies further this beautiful and inspirational devotional.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Charming, delightful and brilliant describe this warm and pleasurable devotional. With thicker, shinier pages full of colorful photographs, a short message themed around a Bible verse, scripture references and a prayer to keep close to your heart throughout the day, I would be happy to receive as well as proud to give this stunning book. Based on thoughts from the kitchen (dishes, desserts, coffee, laundry), when joined with scripture and personal stories, this devotional seeps relief, contentment and happiness. The only thing that could possibly have made this even more enjoyable would have been included recipes for the lovely pictures. Well done!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Devotions From The Kitchen Table from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Sandpiper Cove

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Hannon, Irene. Sandpiper Cove: A Hope Harbor Novel. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Adam Stone is living a more solitary life and is content. As an ex-con, he prefers it that way…that is, until Police Chief Lexie Graham shows up at his door. Investigating a string of crimes, evidence points to a troubled youth, much like Adam Stone in his younger days. Hoping Adam may act as a mentor to the youth, Lexie finds herself more drawn to Adam than she would like to admit. After all, how could a police chief and ex-con ever connect…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a wonderful addition to the Hope Harbor series, Sandpiper Cove was filled with mystery, encouragement, romance and faith while centering around second chances. With an engaging storyline and memorable primary characters supported by interesting secondary characters, Irene Hannon has once again written a novel that is hard to put down. Enjoying this three-time Rita Award winning author already, her newest book only increased and ensured my readability of any future books, including Dangerous Illusions, the first book in her new series releasing in fall of 2017.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Sandpiper Cove from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Bible Explorer’s Guide

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Zonderkidz. The Bible Explorer’s Guide: 1,000 Amazing Facts and Photos. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Is it possible that the olive trees at the traditional site of Gethsemane could be 900 years old?  Did you know the Philistines were one of Israel’s fiercest enemies because they knew the technology for making iron weapons? With 16,000 animals on board the ark, who knew that included 12 tons of animal waste every day? Filled with loads of Bible tidbits, references, and information, each two page spread is divided into themes, then sprinkled with material surrounding that theme including accompanying photographs. Easy to read yet packed full of information, The Bible Explorer’s Guide is perfect to share with all ages.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Visually pleasing with interesting portions of Bible trivia, though this book tends to be geared more towards elementary children, I enjoyed paging through it while sharpening my Bible skills and even learning a thing or two.  I was also impressed with the lead to the Bible scripture associated with the Bible facts shared in the different sections. Wonderful for a classroom, library or Sunday school lesson, it would also be perfect as a gift or for generational sharing. Drawn to the colorful photographs yet submersed into the fascinating information, it is definitely a book which could be used often and repeatedly. Well done!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Bible Explorer’s Guide from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

KJV Large Print, Thinline Bible

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KJV Large Print, Thinline Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With high quality leather-soft covers, gilded edges, readable larger type size, new Thomas Nelson KJV font style, double ribbon markers, words of Christ in red, and in the King James translation, the KJV Large Print, Thinline Bible is also portable and durable. Convenient for travel while being comfortable to read, this version also lays flat open, is pleasant for the eyes and fits nicely in hands. A beautiful Bible available in several cover-color choices and material options.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Already owning several Bibles but interested in one to take to church, the Thomas Nelson KJV Bible is perfect for such an occasion. Especially liking the easily readable and eye-friendly type size and font, the other amenities only add to the value. The soft leather covers in a rich black color combined with the beautiful gilded edges are striking while the ribbons are very helpful for referencing Bible locations. Definitely a Bible that will be used but also one I would be proud to present as a gift.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Thomas Nelson KJV Large Print, Thinline Bible from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Married And Still Loving It

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Chapman, Gary. Myra, Harold. Married And Still Loving It: The Joys and Challenges of the Second Half. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers. 2016.

SUMMARY:
Could the second half of marriage be the beautiful season of marriage? New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman, and co-author and CEO of Christianity Today International, Myra Harold, explore the thought. Delving into different aspects of marriage-children, finances, retirement, grief, activities-from the perspective of the later years of life, Married And Still Loving It peers at the changes experienced over many years of marriage. Full of personal stories, advice, discoveries, encouragement and faith, and connected with interviews from long-married, well-known couples, the second half of marriage may just be the most beautiful season of all…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a wonderful book to share with parents, grandparents, Life Groups, church ministries and your own spouse. Organized into a flowing style in a reader friendly manner, I both flipped through it reading snippets then read the entire book from cover to cover. With side notes, interesting interviews and lots of revelations, I learned a few things, confirmed some items, and enjoyed my time reading. Definitely a book I will refer to in the future, and recommend to others, there are nuggets for all ages and stages. The beautiful season of marriage is truly real.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Married And Still Loving It from Moody Publishers for my honest review*

Vicious Cycle

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Blackstock, Terri. Vicious Cycle: Intervention Series- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2011.

SUMMARY:
Accusing of kidnapping the baby he found in the backseat of the car, teenager Lance Covington was only trying to help. As a friend of the baby’s mother, Lance has been trying to get her help for her meth addiction. Now in trouble, Lance turns to his mom, who in turn contacts Kent Harlan, a man who has a personal history with the family. With plenty of suspense, intrigue and action from New York Times bestselling author Terri Blackstock, the newest addition to the Intervention Series is full of choices that could change lives forever…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As one of my favorite suspense authors, though this book was published years earlier, I decided to read it while I wait for her newest book. Continuing with previous characters yet valid as a stand-alone as well, Vicious Cycle was well worth the time. Full of current topics albeit difficult ones, they were well handled and contributed to the storyline. With the pages turning quickly, needing to read just one page, I finished it in record time. As I wait, I will search for more of this author’s previous works, liking every one of them thus far.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

Love’s Winter Hope

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Rawlings, Naomi. Love’s Winter Hope: An Eagle Harbor Novel- Book 5. Cedar Lake Press Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Set in Michigan’s Upper Keweenaw Peninsula, in the remote town of Eagle Harbor, Love’s Winter Hope continues the Eagle Harbor series with the story of Thomas and Jessalyn. Having left home 5 years prior to make a better life for his family, Thomas writes weekly and sends money for Jessalyn and his daughters to join him. Never receiving the letters, Jessalyn considers herself abandoned and needing to care for herself and young children. When Thomas finally arrives in Eagle Harbor to bring his family back to South Dakota, he discovers a different reception than planned. Still legally married yet experiencing troubles, Thomas vows to spend the winter in Eagle Harbor trying to change his wife’s mind…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Faithfully a fan of the Eagle Harbor series, I was excited to read the newest book in the series, Love’s Winter Hope. With a gorgeous cover and a brilliant story within, I loved it from start to finish. Enjoying revisiting characters from previous novels while focusing on Thomas and Jessalyn this time, I was captured by the storyline of the married couple taking place in the middle of winter (as spring is sprung). Very glad there will be more books coming within this series though I will need to find patience to wait until winter of next year for the release. One of my favorite authors and definitely one of my favorite series!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Love’s Winter Hope from the author for my honest review*

The Stage Is Set

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Wright, Bryant. The Stage Is Set: Israel, The End Times, And Christ’s Ultimate Victory. Grand Rapids, MI: Backer Books Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Pastor, founder and chairman of Right from the Heart Ministries, and author, Bryant Wright has led several Bible study trips to Israel and shares his love of the land in his new book, The Stage Is Set. Focusing on the ever-changing current world while recalling God’s promises of the past, present and future, graphs, scriptures, thought provoking ideas and personal stories join together in this book based on the Book of Revelation. Throughout the book, the question begs to be answered, are we ready for the end of times?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Well-written and reader friendly, The Stage Is Set offers possible scenarios for which we must be ready. Outlining events in an easy to understand manner, author Bryant Wright challenges his readers. Though I found the book interesting albeit I was not in total agreement on all points, it definitely was worth the read. Making a wonderful Bible study or sermon series, it would also create meaningful faith-filled discussions. Well thought out and organized, this book just seemed to seamlessly flow through the chapters.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Stage Is Set from Baker Books for my honest review*

Waking Up Slowly

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Burchett, Dave. Waking Up Slowly: Spiritual Lesson From My Dog, My Kids, Critters, And Other Unexpected Places. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum/ Tyndale House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Finding spiritual lessons in such unexpected places as the zoo, the beach, and a coffee shop while spending time with family, friends and grandchildren through prayer, thoughts and love, Waking Up Slowly reminds us to wake up slowly and enjoy life. Full of revelations, scripture verses, Bible references, personal stories and beautiful photographs, author Dave Burchett offers unique perspectives on moments usually missed. Based in a hard-covered book with an inviting cover, each short chapter finishes with a thought from God and a dose of grace…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Captivated by the adorable cover, loving the hard-covered book with beautifully smooth pages, admiring the fun pictures and appreciating the organized layout, I truly enjoyed Waking Up Slowly. Perfect for personal use, in a church library, as a Bible study, or a Life Group idea, I would also be proud to give this book as a gift to family and friends. Based on a dog theme while branching out to other areas, this is one book I will reread as well as keep on my bookshelf. Wondrous!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Waking Up Slowly from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

Made for a Purpose

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Wilde, Kristie. Made for a Purpose: Joyful Creation Series. Sonora, CA: Wilde Art Press. 2016.

SUMMARY:
With every one of God’s creatures made for a specific purpose, author Kristie Wilde shares the special features given to each. With webbed feet and waterproof feathers- ducks can spend the day in the water, and with strong skull bones and long tongues-woodpeckers can find bugs for dinner…just a few of the included animal facts that are coupled with God’s purpose for us- to know Him and enjoy His creation! Beautifully illustrated, colorful pictures accompany each 2-page layout; part of the Joyful Creation series.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Written for preschoolers while appealing to the “why?” in every child, Made for a Purpose is a charming paperback book sure to delight. Like a little science book combined with related pictures while at the same time teaching about God, I found the beginning book of this new series to be wonderful. Aimed right at the preschool level with bold, highlighted terms and illustrated examples, this book would be perfect for a personal library, church library, Sunday school class or birthday gift. I look forward to more from this talented author and artist; truly a blessing.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Made for a Purpose from Bookcrash and the author for my honest review*

If I’m Found

Featured

Blackstock, Terri. If I’m Found: If I Run Series- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Casey Cox is still on the run, hoping not to be found. With Dylan Roberts chasing right on her heels, he might just catch her, but not quite. As the tension continues from If I Run, book 1 of the If I Run series, Casey finds herself facing yet another injustice involving a small child. Though unwilling to be caught, she cannot bear to ignore the situation, resulting in even more dangerous circumstances. As the suspense mounts, the danger increases, the characters become desperate and the plot thickens, best-selling author Terri Blackstock doesn’t back down…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not being able to turn the pages fast enough nor keep the midnight oil burning long enough, I just had to finish this fast-paced, action-packed, suspense-filled novel. Riveting characters coupled with great writing make this quite the thriller. Touching on difficult issues between the hide-and-seek, some may find it hard to read. Having read If I Run and waiting for If I’m Found, I now must (impatiently) wait for the conclusion to the series, If I Live, due out in 2018. Captivating cover, too!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of If I’m Found from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Make It Yours

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Schmidt, Christine. Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours: Patterns and Inspirations to Stamp, Stencil, and Customize Your Stuff. New York, USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Cookies, furniture, accessories, pillows, pictures…they can all be stenciled, stamped and customized to reflect your personal style. Whether for your own home or as a gift for someone special, Make It Yours not only helps you do it with ease but also provides the necessary information to succeed. With included stencil templates, loads of ideas, well organized directions, material information and oodles of creativity, artist and founder of Yellow Owl Workshop, Christine Schmidt, shares her knowledge and passion in an inventive and inspirational manner.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Encased in a sturdy paperback book with lots of photographs, I found this book to be of high quality. Though not my favorite genre of crafting, even I was inspired to try a few of the items as customized accessories for my home. Absolutely perfect for the person who is a novice as well as the more advanced, Make It Yours would be a wonderful gift. Using paint, clay, dye, ink and a variety of other mediums, items such as chairs, clutches, envelopes, tiles, shoes, and flower pots are decorated. This book makes it easy to get in touch with your creative side.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Make It Yours from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

A Stolen Heart

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Cabot, Amanda. A Stolen Heart: Cimarron Creek Trilogy- Book 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Traveling from the North to meet and marry her intended in the South, Lydia Crawford is surprised to find her fiancé gone…not just gone, but leaving a pregnant wife in his place. Between secrets and trials, faith and hurt, memories and love, Lydia finds the quaint town of Cimarron Creek in the Texas Hill Country may not be as unfriendly as she first suspected. Learning to forgive while finding happiness in unexpected places, A Stolen Heart is full of adventure, mystery, and love…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Drawn to the delightful cover by a favorite author of mine, Amanda Cabot begins her new Cimarron Creek Trilogy series in a sweet albeit fussy manner. Truly liking the storyline fused with enjoyable characters, this novel surely met my expectations. Easy yet complete, a perfect read for a spring vacation, to fill an Easter basket or share with a friend, A Stolen Heart sets the stage for the next book in the series due out later this year which I intend to read.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Stolen Heart from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

God’s Easter Miracles

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Mancini, Lee Ann (author). Sharp, Dan (illustrator). God’s Easter Miracles- Adventures of the Sea Kids Series. Boca Raton, FL: GLM Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As the newest addition to the Adventures of the Sea Kids series, God’s Easter Miracles surrounds the Easter Story while teaching sharing, caring, praying and rejoicing. Learning to be like Jesus in their Sunday School class, the Sea Kids need to share with Paul and pray for Lenny. Joining together to rejoice when prayers were answered with Easter miracles, these adorable, colorful and appealing creatures are sure to delight. With an added bonus of a hidden item to find on each page, this Award-winning Christian Series will be shared and requested again and again…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Yet another stunning addition to a beloved children’s series, God’s Easter Miracles continues the success of the Adventures of the Sea Kids series. Author Lee Ann Mancini and illustrator Dan Sharp team up again to design a book worthy of sharing. Touching on Easter, autism, and Manatee rescue through prayers, empathy and miracles, the messages are presented in an age-appropriate manner and encircled with gorgeous, full-page, charming pictures which will be positively embraced. Well done (again)!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of God’s Easter Miracles from BookCrash for my honest review*

Love Your Work

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Dickie III, Robert. Love Your Work: 4 Practical Ways You Can Pivot To Your Best Career. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With a changing economy resulting in a changing workforce, changes are inevitable. Perhaps a career swap, a new work opportunity, or a chance for advancement, in his new book, Love Your Work, author Robert Dickie III shares perspectives on all of these possible changes. Outlining the four quadrants of a career (Revector, Renew, Reinvent and Repurpose), and combining them with career skills while including character and integrity, the future of growth and opportunity is then observed. Equipped with an action plan, a career move can be examined or staying in place can be made better with the importance of loving your work.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With diagrams, highlighted notes, depths of experience and doses of humor, Love Your Work was easy to read, clear to understand, and undeniably relevant. Filled with personal examples, ideas for thought, and pivot-point challenges, I found this book well written, reliable, prominent and useable. Definitely a book I will refer to again as well as share with friends, it would also be successful as a group study, career training, or ministry workshop. Is your career all it could be? You may just be surprised…

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Love Your Work from Moody Publishers for my honest review*

Dinner

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Clark, Melissa. Dinner: Changing the Game. New York: USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With the premise that each included recipe is meant to be a complete dinner by itself, author Melissa Clark shares delicious recipes, easily obtained ingredients, well organized directions, and beautiful photography in her new book, Dinner. Organized into categories, each recipe includes a personal thought, smart cooking tidbits, and lots of menu variety. Effortlessly able to be made and served, dinner is solved…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Definitely a spectacular looking cookbook, the recipes are simple though not necessarily what I was anticipating. Full of more ethnic recipes than I expected, this book is sure to tempt our palates and widen our tastes. While I may need to substitute a few ingredients (due to personal preference and healthy diet restrictions), I actually cannot wait to try several of the meal ideas. Under the basis of each recipe being complete, I did find either a salad or loaf of bread would complement the dinners perfectly. With many of the recipes accompanied by stunning photographs, this cookbook would make a wonderful gift for busy families, newlyweds, empty-nesters and cookbook lovers.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

My Sister’s Prayer

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Clark, Mindy Starns. And Gould, Leslie. My Sister’s Prayer: Cousins of the Dove- Book 2. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2016.

SUMMARY:
As the second book in the Cousins of the Dove series, My Sister’s Prayer continues the Talbot family story, following the story of two sets of sisters-one contemporary and the other historical-separated by 300 years. Told in the first person point-of-view, alternating between present and past, the sisters’ lives run individually yet intertwine through a family heirloom. Romance, sisters, secrets, and hardships divide yet combine the centuries as sisters realize the importance of devotion.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Liking authors Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould, I was ready to read their combined novel. Though perhaps just a bit confusing in the beginning, it wasn’t long before I caught on and sped through the book. (Confession- I did not read book 1, My Brother’s Crown, which may have helped my initial confusion.) Skillfully making the first person POV work well within the story, the added design of parallel yet perpendicular stories only enhanced the creativity. With book 3 already on the horizon, I most likely will read the previous novel to be ready for the May 2017 release of My Daughter’s Legacy.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of My Sister’s Prayer from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Redeeming Grace

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Smith, Jill Eileen. Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story- Daughters of the Promised Land series- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Following the Old Testament story of Ruth, Boaz and Naomi, Redeeming Grace beautifully depicts the loss, grief, longing and hardship associated with Ruth’s story yet also the redemption, love and fulfillment ultimately experienced. Filling in fictionally the missing parts of the Biblical story, author Jill Eileen Smith, through apparent research, stays true to the story’s time in history. As the story unravels, redeeming grace identifies Ruth through her actions while she also receives it…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So timely for me to read Redeeming Grace; I had recently heard a sermon regarding relationships with Ruth and Naomi as examples. Already knowing the story, it was interesting to have the pieces filled in even if only fictionally. Staying true to the time period of culture, customs and ways of life, this story seemed to flow smoothly. My favorite of the series thus far, I look forward to more in the series as well as by this author. Perfect for a women’s Bible study, group ministry or sermon series, I will return to this story again while sharing it with others, too.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Redeeming Grace from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

One Pan & Done

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Gilbert, Molly. One Pan & Done: Hassle-Free Meals From The Oven To Your Table. New York, USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2017.

onepandone

SUMMARY:
Food blogger, former private chef and cooking instructor, and author of Sheet Pan Suppers and now her new book, One Pan & Done, Molly Gilbert helps keep it efficient, uncomplicated and delicious. With the goal of assembling (most) dishes right in the pan or pot, many recipes come complete with easy to follow directions, photographs and a personal story. Using items commonly found in a home pantry and either a baking sheet, a cast iron skillet, a dutch oven, a baking dish or a muffin/ cake tin, the prep is easy and the outcome delectable.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Arriving just in time for dinner, I chose a recipe from the book and had dinner made in no time (Quick Chicken Pot Pie). Though I tweaked a few ingredients due to my family’s taste and health preference, not only was supper savory and satisfying but quick to put together and resulting in very few dishes (yeah). Perhaps not full of elegant fare but definitely hearty and fulfilling meals, I may just find myself hooked on this new trend of cooking. With a new baking sheet on order and a grocery list ready, this is one book that will be used often in my kitchen.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of One Pan & Done from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Illusionist’s Apprentice

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Cambron, Kristy. The Illusionist’s Apprentice. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

theillusionistsapprentice

SUMMARY:
Wren Lockhart, an apprentice not a magician, is independent, confident and sad. Trying to cover her past, she is drawn into a crime investigation for the apparent re-death of a man. Set in the early 1900’s, all the jazz, vaudeville, secrets and culture of the era make appearances in this new novel by author Kristy Cambron. With strong characters, unforeseen surprises, and an intriguing storyline blended with the master of illusion, Harry Houdini, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a captivating novel from start to finish.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As one of my all-time favorite authors, I couldn’t wait for this book to become available. Reading the entire book in just a few short nights, it was alluring and gripping. Not a huge fan of illusion, I did find it interesting to read though about such acts as well as the era. Well-written, fascinating and compelling, I still enjoy Kristy Cambron’s previous Hidden Masterpiece novels better, The Butterfly and the Violin and A Sparrow in Terezin (which I found hauntingly beautiful yet heartbreakingly sorrowful). Definitely worth the read; absolutely an author I will always read.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Zip It

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Ehman, Karen. Zip It: The Keep It Shut 40-Day Challenge. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

zipit

SUMMARY:
Everyone needs a reminder at some point to keep it shut rather than opening the mouth. Though not always easy, author Karen Ehman makes it a bit easier with her 40-day challenge devotional. Beginning with the many scriptures surrounding words, each short devotional progresses through a brief lesson, personal stories, relevant examples, the main ideas summarized, a lesson for the lips, and ends with a heart-felt prayer. Short and simple yet straight to the point, this useful devotional helps tackle an important skill.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though I haven’t read her book by the similar name, Keep It Shut, I was able to follow and use this devotional but perhaps not quite as absorbingly as if I had read her book previously. Apparently with a journal available to accompany this devotional, I am thinking the set of the books might work very well together. Perfect as a group ministry, a self-challenge or even a sermon series, Zip It has a good message to share and learn in a fun, engaging manner. Absolutely a book that will make you think before you talk!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Rescue Me

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Warren, Susan May. Rescue Me: Montana Rescue Series- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

rescueme

SUMMARY:
In love with both her sister, Sierra, and her sister’s boyfriend, Sam, free-spirited Willow Rose also has a heart for God. Though she has been in love with Sam for years, Willow doesn’t want to hurt her sister so decides to keep her emotions to herself. Detailed-minded Sam knows Sierra appears to be the perfect match yet finds himself drawn to Willow for some unexplainable reason. While in the Glacier National Park with a group of teenagers from a youth ministry group, both Sam and Willow must save their own lives, the lives of several teenagers, and quite possibly their hearts…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Starting with the cover and continuing throughout the story, I liked every page of this novel. Intrigue, danger, suspense, action, faith and romance all played center stage while several other pieces surrounded them. As a stand-alone novel while also being a great addition to the Montana Rescue series, I am already waiting for book 3, A Matter Of Trust, due out in July. Like a good story, interesting characters, dangerous situations and the beautiful wilderness? Then look no further than this series by talented author Susan May Warren.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Rescue Me from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Justice Delayed

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Bradley, Patricia. Justice Delayed: A Memphis Cold Case Novel. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell publishing. 2017.

justicedelayed

SUMMARY:
As the start of a new series, author Patricia Bradley ups the stakes in her newest book, Justice Delayed. Will Kincaide, of the Memphis Cold Case Unit, wants nothing more than to solve a crime associated with a man on death row due to a letter of confession he recently received. With time slipping away, Will is more motivated to solve the case as his cousin is involved, as well as Andi Hollister, a TV crime reporter, who he may just have an interest in. As suspense mounts, details erupt and a death looms, justice must be quickly served rather than delayed…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a writer I regularly turn to for quality suspense stories, I was once again immersed in a good thriller. Though perhaps just a bit unrealistic in a predictable manner, I still found myself turning the pages to finish this romantic suspense-filled novel in record time. Liking the premise and most of the characters, author Patricia Bradley is one of my top action-packed, suspenseful writers. I look forward to many more novels in this Memphis Cold Case series (hopefully). Definitely an author to follow and a novel worth the read.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Justice Delayed from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Moving Target

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Eason, Lynette. Moving Target: Elite Guardians-Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

movingtarget

SUMMARY:
Dealing with their personal pasts while watching their current relationship change, Maddy McKay and Quinn Holcombe are already dealing with tension. When both are kidnapped causing them to miss Quinn’s birthday party, the strain only heightens. Finding themselves hiding while human targets, Maddy and Quinn discover there are other issues prevalent in their lives as well…faith, guilt, and forgiveness swirling around their hearts…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Gripping suspense from the beginning, Moving Target is non-stop action. With romance thrown into the suspenseful mix, Lynette Eason provides yet another excellent addition to her Elite Guardians series. Able to stand-alone, the characters are all intertwined which provides a familiarity within the series. Filled with a good storyline, internal struggles, romantic uncertainty and strong characters, this action-packed novel joins the others in a now favorite series.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Moving Target from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Embracing the Race

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Preuett, Lisa. Embracing the Race: 40 devotionals for the Runner’s Soul. USA: Crosslink Publishing. 2016.

embracingtherace

SUMMARY:
Organized into three page devotionals, Embracing the Race couples running with scripture and truths. With 40 unique devotions set up in a running race manner, a running concept is transitioned into a faith-filled element, followed by thought-provoking self questions, a scripture verse, and a prayer. With personal stories, encouragement, compassion and friendly writing, author Lisa Preuett shares the journey, both running and following Jesus.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Oh, how I needed this devotional right at this moment. Coming into running season with several events on the calendar, I so needed the encouragement. Finding myself agreeing (or commiserating) with most of what the author wrote, I appreciated the link to scripture and the Biblical point of view. With each devotional ending in Ready (questions), Set (scripture verse), Go (prayer), I loved the set-up mimicking a race. Relating to certain pieces, I really like some of the signs she mentioned along the race course as I have muttered a few myself (“Forward is a pace”, “It seemed like a good idea when we signed up”, and my favorite, “Can we walk now?”). But, the words of encouragement are priceless when filled with faith (“Be courageous, I’ve designed you for this purpose”, “Keep going, I promise you will get through this”, and “You cannot imagine what is waiting for you at the finish line”).  An excellent choice for the runners in your life; I know it was perfect for me. Thanks, Lisa!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Cherish

Featured

Thomas, Gary. Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything For Your Marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

cherish

SUMMARY:
More than love, “cherish” includes respect, gratitude, honor and adoration. When cherish is combined with love in a marriage, it has the power to change everything within that relationship. In his new book, Cherish, author Gary Thomas explores and shares the positive effect cherishing another person can have. With a faith-based backdrop, the word cherish is applied to many aspects within a marriage, abundantly coupled with personal stories, relevant analogies, beautiful words, ideas and actions, as well as lots of compassion and encouragement.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Reading through the book Cherish, I found it to be a very smooth, interesting read but also one I was constantly shaking my head in agreement with. Trying to read only a few chapters at time so I had time to digest the material; unfortunately, it did not work that way as I was consistently starting the next chapter, pausing only to share (and have my husband read) snippets of each section. Definitely a book for any stage of marriage, it would be perfect for a counseling session, pre-marriage workshop, a marriage ministry or even a sermon topic. I am convinced…to cherish is priceless!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Sisters Of Sugarcreek

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Liggett, Cathy. The sisters Of Sugarcreek. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2017.

sistersofsugarcreek

SUMMARY:
Lydia Gruber, a recent young Amish widow, feels alone in her community. When two women leave a gift for her along with an invitation, Lydia finds she cannot refuse though she may have tried. Learning to knit with the women of Rose’s Knit One, Quilt Too Cottage, Lydia and the other women continue the tradition of the Secret Stitches Society, sharing compassion, hope, love and friendship through their mission. With romance, goodness, and faith, The Sisters Of Sugarcreek, by author Cathy Liggett, shares sisterhood in a delightful way.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A sweet light read, I enjoyed this Amish genre book by a new author to me. Liking the writing style which was fun, snappy and fluid, I breezed through this novel quite quickly. Though not too deep, the storylines kept the book moving while the characters were endearing. Charming mixed with a bit of faith and compassion, The Sisters Of Sugarcreek definitely has the makings of a series which hopefully is being considered. Definitely an author I will read again, I plan on searching for her previous novel, Beaded Hope. (Would make a wonderful gift for a knitter in your life!)

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Sisters Of Sugarcreek from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

Yella’s Prayers

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Keels, Nadine C. Yella’s Prayers. (Second Edition) USA. 2010, 2017.

yellasprayers

SUMMARY:
Hearing the Voice and unable to ignore it, Bless Heggins knows she must listen. Though still a teenager, Bless starts to realize she needs to help T’meal (an athlete who is posed to give up an opportunity), and Lamall (an out of control young man heading toward destruction). Quiet, shy, and perhaps full of self-doubt, Bless hides her passion for music to deal with the other things in life even though it may mean a loss for her. Faith, doubt, friendship, and romance all combine together in this coming-of-age novel by Nadine Keels.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a book geared towards young adults, Yella’s Prayers tackles some age appropriate issues. Written in such a manner that makes you feel as though you are back in high-school/ college again, the dialog and actions are so authentic to the generation. Reading through this book in just a few short sittings due to the flowing direction, the book actually ended before I was ready. Obviously a writer with a good command of the written English language, I marveled at how the story kept my attention. Well-written with a strong message, Yella’s Prayers will hopefully have a sequel, as I came to truly know the characters and watch their growth. It was enjoyable to be transported back to more youthful days, albeit quite a bit ago.  (The Deleted Scenes accompaniment was a fun bonus upon finishing the book.)

RATING:
4.25 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Yella’s Prayers from the author for my honest review*

A Spectacle of Glory

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Tada, Joni Eareckson. Libby, Larry. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2016.

aspectacleofglory

SUMMARY:
As a person who has lived her life with a disability, author Joni Eareckson Tada has not let it define her but wakes up to embrace each day despite the struggles associated with it.  Her new devotional, A Spectacle of Glory, shares scriptures, thoughts and prayers for each day. As a yearly devotional, not only does it draw readers closer to God, but also reminds us of being made perfectly in His eyes, just the way we are. Short and simple yet to the mark.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read many of Joni Eareckson Tada’s books through the years, of course, I was interested in her newest devotional. With many years devoted to sharing her testimony, this devotional shines for Jesus. Beautifully written, I enjoy the length of each devotion but also that it is a year-long devotional. Great for the difficult times in life but also a reminder of the uniqueness of each which God designed as intended. God is good.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Spectacle of Glory from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Moving from Broken to Beautiful through Forgiveness

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Ortega, Yvonne. Moving from Broken to Beautiful through Forgiveness- Moving from Broken to Beautiful Series- Book 3. Salem, OR: Trinity Press International. 2016.

movingfrombrokentobeautifulthroughforgiveness

SUMMARY:
Forgiveness can be one the hardest elements yet also the most restrictive or freeing. In her latest book in the Moving from Broken to Beautiful series, speaker, counselor, and author Yvonne Ortega shares her own personal stories coupled with relevant scripture to demonstrate the power of forgiveness. Outlining 12 steps to move through the forgiveness stage, both forgiving yourself as well as others, each chapter finishes with activities, affirmations and journaling pages. The freedom that can be experienced through forgiveness while moving from broken to beautiful is priceless.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Sometimes forgiving ourselves can be the most difficult thing to do, followed closely by truly forgiving others. Though a shorter book in length, the messages and knowledge packed within are long. Knowing the author has already experienced many forgiving instances in her own life makes the book read more like a talk with a good friend. Based in faith, with compassion and strength, even those not realizing they need to give and receive forgiveness will find nuggets to grip. After reading this current work in the series, I plan to search for the previous books. After all, we all need forgiveness in some form.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Moving from Broken to Beautiful through Forgiveness from Bookcrash and the author.