Kit Kat & Lucy

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DuPont, Lonnie Hull. Kit Kat & Lucy: The Country Cats Who Changed a City Girl’s World. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

kitkatlucy

SUMMARY:
As a memoir of the changes in her life brought on by two cats, Kit Kat and Lucy, author Lonnie Hull DuPont recounts the pieces of her life shaped by cats. Full of humor, compassion, poignancy and memories, Kit Kat & Lucy take the author (and readers) on a heartwarming journey. As an author of several animal stories, she still shares her home and heart with cats.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I was originally drawn to this book by the title and cover which includes two very handsome kitties. Perhaps expecting something a bit different, I did struggle just a little with the mixed, short stories forming the overall larger story. Though well written, in places I had trouble connecting the tales, which in turn caused some dissonance for me. Liking the healing and helping nature of the cats for the author; however, I did appreciate her willingness to share her story.

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Kit Kat & Lucy from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Berenstain Bears’ Book of Prayers

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Berenstain, Mike. The Berenstain Bears’ Book of Prayers. Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids/ Ideals. 2016.

berenstainbearbookofprayers

SUMMARY:
In true classic Berenstain Bear style, the newest book to join the BB collection, The Berenstain Bears’ Book of Prayers, is full of prayers perfect for sharing. With prayer topics including family, pets, friends, animals, nature, food, emotions, safety, health and plenty more, this softly padded board book is even more appealing with bright colorful pictures. Author Mike Berenstain continues the beloved tradition seamlessly…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Absolutely adorable! Filled with pages of easy to recite prayers with important messages, this sturdy book contains three to four prayers per page spread and of course, they rhyme in the most charming ways! Coupled with the Berenstain Bear family characters, this sweet little book would be great in a child’s library, Sunday school room, church bag or most anywhere. I really like the varying subjects of the prayers as well as the ease with which they can be repeated and remembered. The “thanks” and “bedtime” prayers were some of my favorite. I look forward to more in the popular BB growing series.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Berenstain Bears’ Book of Prayers from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Radical Beauty

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Chopra, M.D., Deepak. Snyder, C.N., Kimberly. Radical Beauty: How to Transform Yourself From the Inside Out. USA: Harmony Books. 2016.

radicalbeauty

SUMMARY:
Defining Radical Beauty as a birthright for everyone, it is achieved when you reach the highest and most authentic potential of your natural true beauty, both inside and outside. Universal yet unique to each, Radical Beauty encompasses internal and external nourishment, sleep, nature, movement and spiritual beauty. Through explanations, recipes, encouragement, and ideas, Radical Beauty begins the transformation journey. With authors Deepak Chopra, M.D. and Kimberly Snyder, C.N. combining their knowledge and expertise, Radical Beauty is achievable.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Redefining beauty to include more than the just the perceived outer beauty, I found Radical Beauty to be encouraging and positive in a very uplifting and beautiful way. Celebrating unique and potential beauty, the included information was current, relevant, well-written and necessary. Perfect as a reminder that beauty is not linked to media standards, this book would be wonderful at any age for that personal transformation. Health tips, nourishment ideas, and natural remedies and tools, all complement the basis of finding Radical Beauty. Well done!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Uninvited

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TerKeurst, Lisa. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books. 2016.

uninvited

SUMMARY:
Being rejected is never easy. In her new book, Uninvited, New York Times best-selling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa TerKeurst, shares her own rejection and the joy she has still been able to achieve. With scriptures, quotes, compassion, personal stories and grace, she encourages those rejected by parents, friends, community, situations or life to turn to God. With humor, honesty and sensitivity, Uninvited touches the heartbreak caused by rejection.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though perhaps not exactly what I assumed this book would entail, what I did find inside was well worth the read. With tidbits of advice and tons of encouragement, Lysa TerKeurst empowers and recognizes strength, goodness and mercy for one’s self through leaning on God. With ten truth-points to remember, many relevant quotes, down-to-earth honesty and an engaging style, this devotional book is definitely appropriate for a women’s ministry, Bible study, and personal growth. Though not my favorite of her books, I am glad I read it.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Socially Confident in 60 Seconds

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Pegues, Deborah Smith. Socially Confident in 60 Seconds: Practical Tips For Navigating Any Situation. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers.
2016.

sociallyconfidentin60seconds

SUMMARY:
Making a good impression in various situations is so important to confidence and success in both the personal and business environments. Including cell phone etiquette, common courtesies, houseguest guidelines, meeting protocols, social media and many more, Socially Confident in 60 Seconds provides tips, information, strategies and manners for tackling interviews, business dining, introductions and networking. Speaker, personal empowerment strategist, leadership coach and author Deborah Smith Pegues, willingly shares her knowledge and expertise in a variety of areas.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Impressions, manners, courtesies, and appropriateness are so important yet sometimes lacking. Definitely an easy book to browse, with tips bulleted within each section as well as many situations addressed, this book organizes and highlights some of the most important socially appropriate actions. From church etiquette, to home office image, to funeral etiquette and proper grammar, Socially Confident in 60 Seconds is a wonderful review (or instruction) to help avoid social blunders, rudeness and awkwardness. Great for adults, teenagers and even young ones, the section on cell phone etiquette should be required reading for all.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Socially Confident in 60 Seconds from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Unlocking the Bible

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Lasseigne, Jeff. Unlocking the Bible: What It Is, How We Got It, and Why We Trust It. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2016.

unlockthebible

SUMMARY:
Hoping to make the Bible a bit less daunting and a lot more understandable, author and pastor, Jeff Lasseigne, sets out to meet those goals in his book, Unlocking the Bible. Broken into two main parts, Part 1 answers more general questions about the Bible while familiarizing readers with the history, trustworthiness, New and Old Testaments, studying and teaching of the Bible. Part 2 then delves into each book of the Bible, discovering the uniqueness and qualities found within. Easy to follow, interesting to browse, and referenced for use, this useful book couples nicely with the world’s best-selling book, the Bible.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Sometimes not knowing where to begin, other times plagued with unanswered questions, and yet other times of complacency, often leads the Bible to being overlooked and not studied. Leaning on his vast knowledge of the Bible, Jeff Lasseigne helps the Bible to become more user-friendly and understandable. While Part 1 was interesting, Part 2 was where I actually learned some new information about each book. As a compact reference guide, it would work well paired with a Bible and used in a Bible study, given to new believers, or studied in various ministry groups as a learning tool or review option. A copy belongs with each Bible to help unlock it and bring it to life.
RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Unlocking the Bible from Baker Books for my honest review*

Hillsong United : Empires Album

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Hillsong United. Hillsong Church T/A Hillsong Music Australia. 2015.

hillsongunitedempires

SUMMARY:
As the newest album from the Australia group Hillsong, this album is packed with music that speaks to the very soul. Quietly reflective yet loudly spoken, the included songs worship God in such a meaningful and beautiful manner. With praise and worship songs, each song touches the heart in different ways with stirring word choices, moving music and soul-reaching messages. Now, this popular Christian contemporary music group shares where it all started and how it all started in a small church town in their new movie, Hillsong-Let Hope Rise, opening in theatres September 16th, 2016. (See the movie trailer here: http://hillsongmovie.com/ ) Leading millions in worship with their songs which are meant to be sung, the movie is sure to touch hearts and souls deeply…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving the music of Hillsong, particularly their newest album, especially the song Touch the Sky, I cannot wait to see the movie. Having seen a brief trailer over a year ago, I was thrilled to see my favorite song included in the movie. Beautifully and stirringly sung, the words speak of being closest to God when falling. Treasures, gift of freedom, soul dancing, upward falling, spirit soaring, touching the sky…it all happens when knees hit the ground to become close to God. Knowing every word, I cannot help but sing along!  I know I will definitely be in the theatre this weekend to see it.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

Photographs From The Edge

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Wolfe, Art. With Sheppard, Rob. Photographs From The Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights On Capturing An Extraordinary World. New York, NY: Amphoto Books. 2016.

photogrpshfromtheedge

SUMMARY:
Author, speaker, educator and award winner photographer, Art Wolfe, teams up with author, editor and photographer, Rob Sheppard, to share a book full of stunning photographs, educational and interesting information about each picture, and photo tips on best capturing the image. With gorgeous pictures covering half page, full page and two page spreads, the topics range from wildlife, to landscapes, to people- all full of brilliant color, strength and emotion. Animals, cities, cultures, celebrations and many more grace the pages with an account of each, information about the pictured topic and photo suggestions. An elaborate feast for the eyes with so much more…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not only did I enjoy paging through this book and reading about the surrounding moment of each photograph, I learned quite a bit about each subject. The accompanying photo tips were so user-friendly; rather than lecturing on the camera, lens, film, etc to use, Art Wolfe mentions the angle, level, distance and thought-process to capture a genuine picture. (He suggests watching and anticipating the animal’s actions and behavior; thus, achieving a more intimate photo.) Overall, an excellent book with so many facets that I will keep yet share with others.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

* I received a complimentary copy of Photographs From The Edge from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Wedding Shop

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Hauck, Rachel. The Wedding Shop. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2016.

theweddingshop

SUMMARY:
Having finished her time with the military, Haley Morgan returns home to Heart’s Bend, Tennessee. While pondering what direction God may want her to take, Haley visits the remains of The Wedding Shop, a former store building which she and her now deceased best friend, Tammy, pinky-swore they would reopen one day. Through perseverance, faith, confusion, promises, discovery and one very special person, Cole Danner, Haley discovers the connection and parallel lives with the former owner, Cora Scott. At the surprising intersection, Haley must make decisions regarding her future, her faith, her family and her heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read the previous two novels by author Rachel Hauck, The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel, as well as The Royal Wedding Series, of course, I was going to read this one. With a well written novel, including a creative storyline, a faith-filled story, clean romance, and timeless characters, I enjoyed it as much as expected. Easily read yet with a deeper message, Rachel Hauck reminds us to follow our dreams and trust in God for His will.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Wedding Shop from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Priceless

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Smallbone, Joel and Luke. With Hue, Nancy. Priceless: She’s Worth Fighting For- Based on the major motion picture. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

priceless

SUMMARY:
James Stevens is spiraling downward quickly after a personal loss in his life and other major setbacks. With a young daughter dependent on him, he realizes he must make ends meet yet becomes involved in situations that may have huge consequences for himself, as well as for others. Clinging to faith and discovering his strength, James finds his choices affect something deep within him…his heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving the music of for KING & COUNTRY, specifically the title song, Priceless, I was interested in the novel and major motion picture of the same title by the authors, Joel and Luke Smallbone. Having an inkling of what the story may be about since hearing a blurp on the Christian radio station, K-Love, I had no idea the deep involvement of the storyline. Evoking strong emotions, opening eyes wide, and being drawn into the story, though not an easy read, it is definitely a well written novel. Listening to one of my favorite songs just took on an even deeper meaning. (Caution- perhaps more appropriate for mature audiences due to content.)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Priceless from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

God Made You Just Right

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Lord, Jill Roman (author). Wummer, Amy (illustrator). God Made You Just Right. Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids Ideals. 2016.

godmadeyoujustright

SUMMARY:
In a thick board book, author Jill Roman Lord and illustrator Amy Wummer share the important message with little minds that each is made perfect. With unique tickle spots, perfect noses, special uses of fingers, gentle hearts, creative talents and extraordinary silliness, God made each amazing, one of a kind. With charming pictures, lots of smiles and tons of cheerfulness, God Made You Just Right leaves no doubt as to each person’s special uniqueness…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Adoring the beautiful illustrations (especially the puppies), and liking the easy, flowing verses based on Jeremiah 29:11, this eye and ear pleasing board book would be perfect for small children, Sunday school, quiet moments or as a gift. Packed with such an important message based on a bible verse, when coupled with the darling illustrations, it combines into a wonderful package celebrating God’s art and love of each. Well done!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of God Made You Just Right from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

God Made the Sun and God Made the Moon

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Simon, Mary Manz (author). Walkley, Lizzie (illustrator). God Made the Sun. God Made the Moon. Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids Ideals. 2016.

godmadethesun godmadethemoon

SUMMARY:
As a pair of books that share God’s unconditional love during both the day and evening, God Made the Sun and God Made the Moon are adorable. With rhyming stanzas, a die-cut sun and moon shape, thick cardboard pages and lots of color, these books are sure to please little hands. Matching pictures to each verse help solidify the message of God’s goodness, no matter the time of day. Perfect to share with children at home, church, school or in a library, marveling at God’s beauty.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Cute, sweet, bright and textured, these books are separate yet work well as a pairing. The illustrations bring the rhymes to life making it easy for toddlers to learn, repeat and begin to read. With an important message included, these books would make an excellent gift, work well in Sunday school, or for a quiet snuggle. Hopefully more books will be added to this delightful set of books.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of God Made the Sun and God Made the Moon from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

The Captain Takes A Wife

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Durbin, Doris. The Captain Takes A Wife- The Captain Chronicles. USA: Crossbooks. 2013.

thecaptaintakesawife

SUMMARY:
On his way to Georgia via train, Captain Harry Richardson is most surprised when a young lady, Sarah Franklin, literally throws herself into his arms begging for his help. Harry soon realizes Sarah may need protection from more than the arranged marriage her Uncle prepared for her. With a new plan in mind, Harry and Sarah soon realize their plan may involve more than expected…outlaws, suspense, mystery, surprises and perhaps even a change of heart.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a new author, Doris Durbin certainly is familiar with writing since she retired from her career as a librarian recently and uses her husband as her consult, a history teacher for many years. Intrigued by the cover, title, and book summary, I took the chance to give an emerging author a try. Though it took me just a bit to become comfortable with her style, her writing did eventually flow for me, providing an interesting storyline, strong characters, and well researched items. As her debut novel, The Captain Takes A Wife, I look forward to more of her writing since a continuing series is certainly plausible and encouraged. An added bonus was definitely the discussion questions, recipes and pattern.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Captain Takes A Wife from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Unstuffed

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Soukup, Ruth. Unstuffed: Uncluttering Your Home, Mind & Soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2016.

*unstuffed

SUMMARY:
With tons of items cluttering homes, minds, souls and in turn, whole lives, now seems like a good time to unstuff. Sometimes an overwhelmingly personal, emotional and physical action, often it may more simply left undone. Through encouragement, knowledge, compassion and direction, New York Times bestselling author, Ruth Soukup, helps make such a daunting task much easier. Starting with a vision and working towards uncluttering space, relationships, schedules and minds, Unstuffed provides an organized manner in which to be successful.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
In a subject that can be hard for many people, this author makes uncluttering understandable and achievable. Written in such a way that it almost seems enjoyable (okay…bearable), it is a well organized book with good ideas, explained results, relatable situations and positive advice. Approaching the cluttered style from a whole perspective, rather than just a materialistic approach, not only makes more sense but also serves several purposes at once. I truly appreciate the candid advice given in a doable, compassionate, upbeat, successful way. My home, mind and soul, thank-you!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Extraordinary Ordinary Moments

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Hurley, Jorey. Extraordinary Ordinary Moments: A Journal. USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2016.

extraordinaryordinarymoments

SUMMARY:
A journal for appreciating the beautiful, the quirky, the surprising, and the overlooked, Extraordinary Ordinary Moments is full of brief writing prompts for noticing just such moments. With delicately and lightly colored drawings quietly enhancing the pages, each sheet of this thick book causes thinking, looking, considering, deciding and sharing things, situations, occurrences and events often taken for granted, neglected or considered mundane. Prompts (such as comfort food, art you love, something that cost too much but was so worth it, a victory and something that hurts in a good way -hint: picture of a jalapeño pepper included), occupy each page yet leave plenty of room to write, doodle, draw and remember…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
In this often overly busy world, too often the little things are often overlooked, forgotten or ignored. Taking the time to focus on those items can bring focus, blessings and peace while reminiscing and enjoying. Able to skip around, work through in order, or put away and revisit, author, graphic designer and illustrator, Jorey Hurley, does an excellent job with this journal. Even the raised orange peel on the cover is inviting! Definitely a book I will use as well as purchase and gift to others.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Extraordinary Ordinary Moments from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Honor Redeemed

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Johnson, Christine. Honor Redeemed: Keys of Promise- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

honorredeemed

SUMMARY:
After losing her beloved mother, Prosperity Jones decides to take the chance and travel to Key West to find her fiancé, Lt. David Latham. Upon arriving, Prosperity realizes she must have missed the latest correspondence from David pertaining to the change in circumstance. Penniless, heartbroken, wary and stunned, she must make plans for her future, while deciding whether to follow her heart or her head. With lots to consider, Prosperity strains to find forgiveness, honesty, faithfulness and hope in her current situation.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With book 1 in the Keys of Promise series, Love’s Rescue, being my favorite book of 2015, it was hard to wait for the next book, Honor Redeemed.  Set against such high standards as book 1, this was again a novel I thoroughly enjoyed. Putting it aside until I had the time to read it non-stop, I did just that. With writing that drew me in, characters involved in intertwining manners, and interesting word choices, the author’s familiarity of the location within the story only led to further enjoyment. (Christine Johnson, please hurry with the next book in the series, I am already waiting!)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Honor Redeemed from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Fetching Sweetness

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Mentink, Dana. Fetching Sweetness: Love Unleashed- Book 2. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2016.

Fetchingsweetness

SUMMARY:
When Stephanie Pink plans to quickly deliver her manuscript to a literary agent, Agnes Wharton, she soon discovers it may be more involved than she planned. Tracking down Agnes, who is trying to track down Sweetness, leads to Rhett Hastings, who may lead to heart-throbbing trouble. With a gallop through a campground, a hurtful past, a bit of new faith, funny moments, and lots of dog-nonsense, Fetching Sweetness is an adorable, amusing, tender, and faith-filled novel with the sweetest Sweetness as the main attraction.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I loved the picture of Sweetness on the cover of Dana Mentink’s newest book with the spirited expression, tip of the head and floppy ears!!  Pancakes, spatulas, wet kisses and trouble all define Sweetness, a hundred pound slobbery mess of a dog, who steals hearts. Combine Sweetness with Rhett, some fun romance and some giggling situations, and a light-hearted read with lots of character emerges. I love this series, especially since the books are written close enough together (sometimes it is SO hard to wait for the next book)- thank-you, Dana! Look for the next book, Paws for Love, in February of 2017.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Fetching Sweetness from Harvest House Publishing for my honest review*

The Caregiving Season

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Daly, Jane. The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace to Honor Your Aging Parents. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2016.

thecaregivingseason

SUMMARY:
Ready or not, we all eventually grow old. As we age, more help is needed with even the simplest of acts. As a result, sometimes that help is characterized by resentment, bitterness or impatience. With people living longer these days than ever before, as well as the Baby Boomer generation reaching profound active ages, author Jane Daly shares her trials, triumphs, advice and encouragement in her new book, The Caregiving Season. Resolving to honor her parents (until they get on her last nerve), Jane Daly extends grace when perhaps it is needed most.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Realizing being cared for can be as difficult as caregiving, in rather direct terms and in sometimes uncomfortable situations, this author shares what needs to be shared. Emphasizing grace for all, The Caregiving Season makes it easier to honor our parents through a difficult and changing time. With roles affected, authority questioned, delicate issues discussed and mourning perhaps close, this necessary reference uses personal stories, notable quotes, Bible scriptures and topic boxes to help with the caregiving transition. Guilt, sadness, laughter, challenges and love all combine into a purpose of honoring aging parents with grace. Excellent!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Caregiving Season from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

How to Graduate Debt-Free

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Ellis, Kristina. How to Graduate Debt Free: The Best Strategies to Pay for College. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

graduatedebtfree

SUMMARY:
In her timely new book, author Kristina Ellis shares her ideas, strategies, knowledge, and expertise on paying for college while staying out of debt. With nearly 70% of students graduating with close to $30,000 in debt, going to college, much less paying for college, may seem insurmountable. Yet in the book, How to Graduate Debt Free, students not only garner hope but some necessary wisdom on money principles, scholarships, financial aid, budgeting, and saving as well as making the most of your college years and studies.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a very necessary topic albeit an ever-changing market for colleges and money, this informative book addresses and explains several payment options. Listing both advantages and disadvantages, paying for college is obviously not a one-size-fits-all option. In this book, however, Kristina Ellis examines many different methods in straight- forward style. As an up-to-date reference, there are definitely money saving strategies for choosing a college, saving before starting, working while attending, and ultimately, graduating debt free. Perfect for both students and parents alike, an absolute must read for anyone contemplating college.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of How to Graduate Debt Free from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

I Wish He Had Come With Instructions

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Bechtle, Mike. I Wish He Had Come With Instructions: The Woman’s Guide to a Man’s Brain. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

iwishhehadcomewithinstructions

SUMMARY:
Through explanation, compassion, thoughtfulness and lots of humor, author and event speaker Mike Bechtle, tries to explain the uniqueness of a man’s brain in terms a woman can understand. While exploring the role of the male brain in relationships, I Wish He Had Come With Instructions gently guides towards an understanding of the male communication process, including actions, listening (or lack of it), feelings, conflict, missions, and silence. With witty examples, personal stories, straight-forward explanations and tons of encouragement, this author’s book is sure to answer some very evasive questions for women…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Is it truly even possible to understand how men think? However, it must be easier than even trying to understand women!  Loving his last book, You Can’t Text a Tough Conversation, I knew I had to read this one and once again, found myself nodding in agreement quite often. Obviously wired very differently from women, author Mike Bechtle not only examines the differences but celebrates the uniqueness between the brains of men and women. I enjoyed the humor throughout along with the serious undertones supporting the necessity of strong communication. Perfect for relationships of all levels and stages, it would be great for a sermon topic, Bible study, marriage encounter or pre-marriage counseling. I will definitely continue to search for his newest books as well as reference this one as needed. Adorable cover and title, too!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of I Wish He Had Come With Instructions from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Sweet Tomorrows

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Macomber, Debbie. Sweet Tomorrows: Rose Harbor Inn Series- Book 5. New York, USA: Ballantine Books. 2016.

Sweet Tomorrows

SUMMARY:
Jo Marie Rose, owner of Rose Harbor Inn, still believes in the relationship magic of her beloved Inn, even is she is struggling with her own heart. While Rose Harbor Inn handyman, Mark Taylor, deals with his own past haunts, Jo Marie enters into another relationship while grieving her most recent lose. With her longer-term tenant, Emily Gaffney, hesitant to unlock her twice-broken heart, Jo Marie befriends and hopes the Inn will change Emily’s thoughts and ideas on love. With visiting characters and references to past healed relationships, the many guests at Rose Harbor Inn are revisited and cherished one last time…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So sad…this is the final chapter in the Rose Harbor Inn series by a favorite author, Debbie Macomber. Most likely with a new series already in the works, I enjoyed this final book and relished the visit with the characters one last time. As always with this series, Sweet Tomorrows is full of forgiveness, compassion, joyfulness and life as well as a gorgeous cover. Just as I had expected and hoped, this latest novel was true to form from this author, delivering a dynamic storyline with it’s final salute to a beautiful series.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

Sweet Tomorrows

99 Favorite Amish Soups & Stews

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Varozza, Georgia. 99 Favorite Amish Soups & Stews: Hearty, Flavorful Recipes to Fill Your Soul. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2016.

*99amishsoupsandstews

SUMMARY:
Bringing simple, healthy and hearty meals to print, author Georgia Varozza shares 99 delicious Amish recipes for soups and stews. As comfort food for those chilly winter evenings, the included recipes use everyday ingredients combined in a pot to fill bellies and souls. As simple pleasures, the soups (Meatball Soup, Chili Bean Soup, Potato Soup with Celery) and stews (Beef and Sweet Potato Stew, Chicken Goulash, I-Can’t-Cook-Stew) are sure to please.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Satisfying, hearty and easy, this spiral-bound book contains 99 appetizing staples of a nourishing meal. Though not necessarily new recipes but more of a gentle reminder of soups and stews lost during busier times, I thought this cookbook was the perfect sequel to the 99 Favorite Amish Recipes cookbooks already in the series. Definitely a book I will keep on my cookbook shelf (which is actually quite full), I look forward to using it when the seasons change. Easy to adjust, simple to adapt, or already adequate, paired with utensils and/ or ingredients in a basket, this would complete an ideal wedding gift, new baby present, cooking-party favor or just enjoyed for personal family use. Yum!!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of 99 Favorite Amish Soups & Stews from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast

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Siegel, Noah, Schwarz, Christian. Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California. New York, USA: Ten Speed Press. 2016.

mushroomsoftheredwoodcoast

SUMMARY:
With hundreds of different types of mushrooms identified, including detailed information about each piece, color, size and texture of the mushroom, Mushrooms of the Red Wood Coast is a textbook of fungi. With additional material on ecology, edibility, toxicity and commonness, each studied mushroom also contains a stunning photograph depicting exquisite detail. Through extensive fieldwork and knowledge, authors Noah Siegel and Christian Schwarz take the guess-work out of finding, identifying and enjoying over 750 species found near the coastal Monterey County to the Oregon border.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With the current interest in mushroom collecting, this large, beautiful, organized book is perfect for beginners and experienced mushroom collectors alike. The added comments, glossy pages and general fungi facts complement the other data of each species. Though not yet a mushroom collector myself, this book would serve as a wonderful addition to the library of mushroom hunters.  The elements and design of the book obviously brim with a wealth of knowledge, time, interest, detail and pictures. Very well done.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Pure Delicious

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Christo, Heather. Pure Delicious: More than 150 Delectable Allergen-Free Recipes. New York, NY: Pam Krauss Books. 2016.

puredelicious

SUMMARY:
Living with allergies affecting members of her family, Heather Christo, chef, caterer and creator of Heathermade, a line of allergen-free baked goods, shares her expertise and knowledge in her newest book, Pure Delicious. Paying close attention to ingredients yet not neglecting taste in the least, this perfectly organized, user-friendly, photograph-filled cookbook makes eating healthy, allergen-free, and tasty enjoyable and easy. With soups and salads, various sides, pizza and burgers, main dishes and delectable desserts, this book is sure to please most any palate, even those with dietary restrictions.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though my family does not have any food allergies, this cookbook was adorned with healthy recipes for everyone, beautiful pictures of most creations, cooking tips, and personal messages from the author. Easy to adapt to my family’s preferences, the ingredients are mostly well known and easily found in the market and/ or grocery store. With clear directions and tempting photos, perhaps the only thing missing is the nutritional value of each recipe. Pasta Verde, Sweet Potato Granola, Applesauce Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnuts and Veggie Summer Rolls with Spicy Sunflower Butter Dipping Sauce were my favorites.  Dinner is served!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Words To Live By

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Gilden, Linda J. Parker, Darlene V. Words to Live By: One Word A Week- 52 Ordinary Words That Lead To An Extraordinary Life. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

wordstoliveby

SUMMARY:
Words are powerful. Whether used to inspire, encourage and uplift or to hurt, degrade and humiliate, words can change lives. Suggesting ordinary words can have huge impacts on people, authors Darlene Parker and Linda Gilden share 52 everyday words which may lead to positive results if used to strengthen, embolden and hearten. Words such as honor, clean, barter, worship, rejoice, listen and accept are broken into sections containing 5 devotions each. With related scriptures, personal stories, and creative actions, there are enough ordinary words for a year but possible positive effects for years to come.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
While many choose a word to live by for a year, Words To Live By- One Word A Week takes that challenge a bit further. Set up in devotion form, the reader is inspired and then encouraged to share the word with others through words, thoughts and deeds. Easy to use, full of inspiration, and packaged with a beautiful cover, this devotional would be perfect for a ministry, Bible study, sermon series or personal use. Words definitely have the power to change lives depending on how they are used.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Words To Live By from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

The Promise of Jesse Woods

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Fabry, Chris. The Promise of Jesse Woods. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2016.

thepromiseofjessewoods

SUMMARY:
Spanning from 1972 to 1984 while moving alternatively between the years, The Promise of Jesse Woods tells the tale of three preteens growing into adults. With secrets, traumas and actions shared between them, the now adults must come to terms with promises, stories and consequences, some of them known, others unknown at the time. Matt, Dickie and Jesse live separate lives yet are bonded by events shaping their lives many years ago…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
In this deeply emotional and moving “coming-of-age” story, author and Christy Award Winner, Chris Fabry, shares characters so real, you may just personally recognize them. Always an author of truly passionate and stirring novels, The Promise of Jesse Woods is no exception. Bouncing between the time periods, from past to present, I found myself drawn into story, always reading just “one more page” which ultimately turned into chapter after chapter. With childhood, choices, consequences, forgiveness, faith and life combined into structuring preteens into adults, this is a storyline that may remind you of your own growing up. Well done.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Promise of Jesse Woods from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

Modern Potluck

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Donnelly, Kristin. Modern Potluck: Beautiful Food To Share. New York, USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2016.

modernpotluck

SUMMARY:
Certainly not your typical church-potluck cookbook, Modern Potluck brings the potluck supper current. With a modern trend toward sustainability, more vegetable and plant-based items in meals, and an open inclusion of food from around the world, food writer and recipe developer, Kristin Donnelly, shares her contemporary reinvention of the potluck supper. Included with the recipe instructions, there are also hints and tips, accompanying photographs, and personal briefings on each recipe. From snacks, dips and drinks, to salads, main dishes and sides, the recipes and ingredients span slow-cooked meals, casseroles, sauces, and of course, sweets.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As the modern manner of eating changes, so too, must the cookbooks. As a result, author Krisitn Donnelly takes the stereotypic potluck suppers into the present stage of cooking. With added vegetables, less processed foods, creative ingredients, additional seasonings as well as family friendly options with ease, Modern Potluck looks and cooks differently. Allowing for special-diet options (gluten-free, vegan, low sodium), these recipes are easily adaptable to any lifestyle, needs and preferences. Favorites recipes? Green Things and Potato Salad (potatoes, asparagus, and sugar-snap peas in lemon sauce) and Sweet-Spicy-Salty Snack Mix (popcorn, rice cakes, pumpkins seeds and sunflower seeds in a delicious sauce). Absolutely a book I will use often and recommend.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Annabel Lee

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Nappa, Mike. Annabel Lee: A Coffey & Hill Novel. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

annabellee

SUMMARY:
Tucked away and living with her Uncle in rural Alabama, Annabel doesn’t realize the trouble until her Uncle locks her in a bunker with a German Shepard dog to guard her. Trudi Coffey, a private investigator and English Literature major, teams up with her ex-husband, Samuel Lee, to unravel the clues and messages left by Annabel’s Uncle to find her. The Mute, a former veteran sniper, enters as a guard for Annabel against the person tracking her. With suspense, romance, faith and even a bit of humor, author Mike Nappa winds all the elements and characters together for a fast-paced thrilling read…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Okay, totally not my genre at all, I must admit I was a bit concerned by the cover if I would even be able to read it. Once into the novel, though I found the characters somewhat unmatched when combined together, in a creative kind of way it worked, especially as all the references to Edgar Allan Poe intertwined and connected pieces. Not quite sure how or where the story was headed, I did find the writing strong and the different perspectives unique yet very worthy. With a follow-up novel in the series slated for fall of 2016, The Raven, I will probably dare to read it.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Annabel Lee from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Murder Comes by Mail

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Gabhart, A. H. Murder Comes by Mail: A Hidden Springs Mystery. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

murdercomesbymail

SUMMARY:
In the usually quaint, quiet, rural town of Hidden Springs, a mystery disturbs the serenity. Having been dubbed a hero by his actions associated with a suicidal man, Sheriff Michael Keane  rues the unfortunate day he became involved. With extra attention now paid to him, pictures of deceased people arriving in his mailbox and a further mystery needing to be solved, the Deputy might just be in over his head in author A. H. Gabhart’s newest novel in the Hidden Springs series, Murder Comes by Mail

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not this author’s usual genre but a good read non-the-less, Murder by Mail continues the cozy mystery genre in the Hidden Springs series, following Murder at the Courthouse. With many of the same characters reappearing, though okay to read as a stand-alone, it might perhaps work better as a continuation following book one in order. With a bit of humor, a little romance and a sense of mild suspense, I enjoyed this novel as a quick summer read. Likely to read the next story in this series (should there be one), I admit I prefer her other genres better.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Murder Comes by Mail from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Hello, Bicycle

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Brones, Anna. Hello, Bicycle: An Inspired Guide To The Two-Wheeled Life. New York, USA: Ten Speed Press. 2016.

hellobicycle

SUMMARY:
As the bicycle craze catches on, bicyclist, author and foodie, Anna Brones, shares her knowledge, love and enthusiasm of bike riding with readers. Whether biking seriously, cycling for recreation, commuting to places or leisurely pedaling, Hello, Bicycle offers lots of information on the subject of bicycling. With the history of bicycles, recipes for the road, accessories for the bike, maintenance of the vehicle, safety for the street and resources/ hacks for cyclists, this sturdy little book packed with useful ideas and cute illustrations will get you on two-wheels fast…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As an avid recreational biker for most of my life, I loved this book. Full of required information but lots of creative ideas too, Hello, Bicycle is perfect for the experienced or new biker. The included recipes gave me some new options for our protein-packed jar meals on those longer rides, and the nostalgia of inserting playing cards in the spokes for that added clicking noise was so fun! (I am sure my kids will love it when I put some in my wheels for the next ride, LOL). Great as a gift or wonderful for your own use, this book is certainly a necessity in the world of biking.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Hello, Bicycle from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Sit, Stay, Love

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Mentink, Dana. Sit, Stay, Love. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2016.

sitstaylove

SUMMARY:
Thirteen-year-old Tippy, an elderly dog needing a good home after his owner passed, now lives with his past owner’s son, Cal. As a rising baseball star, Cal has no interest what-so-ever in dogs, especially an older, misbehaving dog like Tippy. Needing a pet-sitter, Cal hires Gina to take care of Tippy yet ends up with so much more than just a dog-sitter. Humor, romance, second-chances, forgiveness and an adorable dog all complement Sit, Stay, Love

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Light-hearted with a good message, Sit, Stay, Love is a delightfully charming novel with a cute and lovable mutt as the hero. Chuckling (and even nodding) at certain moments, I thoroughly enjoyed this story -due not only to the writing style but my own love of neurotic dogs. Fun, easy, amusing and entertaining, author Dana Mentink certainly hit a funny-bone with this endearing tale (tail, too).

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Sit, Stay, Love from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

The Power of Together

Featured

Putman, Jim. The Power of Together: Discover the Christian Life You’ve Been Missing. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2016.

thepoweroftogether

SUMMARY:
Having been made by God to partake in relationships with others as well as to be a part of a community, senior pastor and author Jim Putman strives to show the importance of being deeply and meaningfully connected to other Christians and Jesus. Through Biblical scripture, personal stories, strategic teachings and strong encouragement, The Power of Together demonstrates the necessity of Christian bonds.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though often difficult and sometimes resulting in avoidance, relationships within a Christian community are important. Providing a helping hand, offering encouragement and caring, growing in Jesus, and attaining spiritual maturity are only a few of the opportunities resulting from taking the chance, time and effort to cultivate relationships. Perfect as a Bible study, a sermon series or personal devotion time, The Power of Together is not only absorbing and engaging, but definitely fuel for thought and action. I especially thought the cover of the book was ideal to the message found within.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Power of Together from Baker Books for my honest review*

All Summer Long

Featured

Carlson, Melody. All Summer Long: Follow Your Heart- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing, 2016.

allsummerlong

SUMMARY:
Tia D’Amico is ready to leave her small town life in Washington for San Francisco. With the goal of helping her aunt start a new restaurant business aboard the moving yacht, Tia has the surprise of her life when she realizes the captain is non-other than her long-last flame from years ago, Leo Parker. With a romance rekindled, a floating food business, a heart lost in San Francisco and possibilities galore, Tia and Leo must decide if they should reconnect or go their separate ways…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving author Melody Carlson’s Christmas series best, I do also like her new Follow Your Heart series. Easy to read and well written, what a perfect novel to pack in the suitcase for a summer trip. Perhaps written with young adults in mind, All Summer Long shares popular current culture with the restaurant business (Food Network) and San Francisco (Travel Channel). Though maybe a bit predictable, it does not take away from the sweetness and fun associated with this story. Though a stand-alone, pack both books in the series for pleasurable reading on that longer trip.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of All Summer Long from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Worth Living

Featured

DeMuth, Mary. Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love For You Makes You Worthy. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2016.

worthliving

SUMMARY:
Unworthiness is just one of many lies author Mary DeMuth used to tell herself. Then, working on feelings and thoughts of God’s wild love for her, she came to the realization that God loves her and she is truly worthy. Sharing those feelings, thoughts, ideas and strengths, in her new book, Worth Living, she outlines ten lies people often believe about themselves, and she encourages, emboldens and solidifies that life is worth living through and with God. With reflections and a worthy prayer finishing each chapter, no doubt remains as to the worthiness of all…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not necessarily connecting with this book yet still realizing the magnitude it could have on some, the purpose and goal of this book is strong. Full of encouraging words, personal stories, Bible references, discussion questions and prayers, Worth Living would be an excellent book for a women’s ministry group, Bible study, personal devotion or a gift for someone struggling. Well written and sure to provide comfort for those needing it most, the emphasis on God’s love is flawless.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Worth Living from Baker Books for my honest review*

Life is Better at the Beach

Featured

Vinson, Christina. Life is Better at the Beach: Inspiration for Living Each Day Like You’re at the Beach. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2016.

lifeisbetteratthebeach

SUMMARY:
With short thoughts, inspirational ideas, gentle encouragement and beautiful pictures, Life is Better at the Beach is the perfect book for enjoying on the beach next to the moving waves. Broken into 15 rules of the beach (take long walks, read a good book, build sandcastles), each intention is then expanded on with a short motivational thought, a relevant scripture verse and an accompanying image. Hard covered and sized just right for the beach bag, the day at the beach will continue…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Ideal for taking along on vacation, nestling up with in the lawn chair, or absorbing on the beach blanket, this book is wonderful. Loving the water as much as my family does as well as our countless time spent at the beach, it will be a permanent fixture in the beach bag. Beautiful as a gift, sharing with friends or personal use, Life is Better at the Beach will make that time even more enjoyable. Between the gorgeous pictures, the sturdiness of the covers and the inspirations found within the chapters, that beach-day feeling will last even longer now, perhaps even through the snowy winter?

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Life is Better at the Beach from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Punderdome

Featured

Firestone, Jo and Fred. Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers. New York, USA: Clarkson Potter. 2016.

punderdome

SUMMARY:
Based on a crazy monthly pun competition in Brooklyn, New York, and hosted by comedian Jo Firestone and her dad, Fred Firestone, this wacky, fun, word-loving, pun-groaning game can now be played at home with family and friends. With at least three players competing individually or as small teams, each player alternates being the prompter with being the pun-er. Sorting through cards with pun prompts, each cleverly thought-out pun is voted on and a winner crowned. With a chance to win the special item in the mystery envelope, Punderdome is sure to delight and create hysteria as well as deep moans.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Never having heard of the game before yet being a self-proclaimed word-nerd, I knew I had to try it. Roping family members into playing with me, as the game went along, things just got goofier and more ridiculous. Definitely a game I will take on vacation, to a picnic, or any social get-together, Punderdome has possibilities for fun times. Tweaking the game was easy to fit our style and the mystery envelope prizes can be just as creative. Unique and challenging.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Beautiful Pretender

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Dickerson, Melanie. The Beautiful Pretender: A Medieval Fairy Tale. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2016.

thebeautifulpretneder

SUMMARY:
As the maidservant to Lady Dorthea, daughter of the Earl of Plimmwald, Avelina has only two requirements when taking Lady Dorthea’s place at Thornbeck Castle…no one must know her true identity as a maidservant and she must make sure the Margrave of Thornbeck does not chose her as his bride. With huge uncertainty on acting as a Lady, Avelina stumbles her way through the two weeks spent at the castle, socializing with the other prospects, becoming acquainted with the Margrave, protecting herself from danger and trying to hold onto her heart. When the events prove too difficult to master, Avelina must seek another plan…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Every once in a while, a book comes along that I do not want to end; The Beautiful Pretender was one of those savored books. With romance, suspense, and danger combined perfectly with full characters, a medieval setting, a gripping storyline, and excellent writing, author Melanie Dickerson had me from the cover. With a slight salute to Beauty and the Beast, I cannot wait for the next novel in the Medieval Fairy Tale series.

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Beautiful Pretender from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Food With Friends

Featured

Cyd, Leela. Food With Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings. New York: USA. Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2016.

*foodwithfriends

SUMMARY:
In a simple yet special compilation of sweets and treats for gatherings with family and friends, author, cook and photographer Leela Cyd shares her collected recipes from childhood and many travels. With an emphasis on food that looks and tastes good, healthy food is also a component of several of the recipes. With beautiful photographic artistry and tasty ingredients, Foods With Friends is the perfect accompaniment to those memorable get-togethers, both simple and elegant…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though many of the full recipes were a bit beyond my time limits due to busyness, I did find several tidbits to try and/ or add to recipes. A few of the included recipes are ones I will definitely add to my weekend menus (Spice-Roasted Chickpeas, Blood Orange and Feta Stacks, Purple Cauliflower Hummus, Chard Empanadas with Pistachio Crema). Perfect as a gift, a planner for a bridal/ baby shower, or a casual gathering of friends, this inventive, creative cookbook is one to impress yet enjoy.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies.

*I received a complimentary copy of Food With Friends from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Alliance

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Petersheim, Jolina. The Alliance. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2016.

thealliance

SUMMARY:
A plane crash in the Old Order Mennonite community sets the scene for the events about to follow. When Leona Ebersole, a member of the Mennonite community, learns what may have caused the crash from Moses Hughes, the plane’s pilot, she realizes life must change in order to exist. As believers of pacifism, the belief that violence is not necessary no matter the threat, those very beliefs and the will to live will bring about decisions, choices and actions never foreseen. As food becomes scarce, thieves attack and hearts hurt, Leona must come to terms with the new normal of life…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not waiting patiently for author Jolina Petersheim’s newest book, I must say not only was I surprised but impressed. With an obvious command of the English language, Jolina is able to bring to life those feelings, thoughts, fears and heartbreaks that surround such a non-traditional Amish dystopia novel. Though fiction, this novel also included some knowledge of the subject, but perhaps the most meaningful was the personal connection Jolina has. Realizing control is not enough, she encourages readers through her newest novel, The Alliance, to lean on God for peace, strength and understand rather than ourselves.  Never picking a dystopia novel due to the genre itself, I knew I had to read this one from the author as she is truly blessed with words. Already, I look forward to the continuation of the story and many more of her novels to follow (hopefully).

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Anchor In The Storm

Featured

Sundin, Sarah. Anchor In The Storm: Waves of Freedom Series- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

*anchorinthestorm

SUMMARY:
Set in the darkest days of World War II, Lilian Avery is determined to withstand the pressures, both physical and mental, to gain her independence and succeed as a pharmacist in Boston. With a developing friendship with her brother’s best friend, Ensign Archer Vendenberg, Lilian soon realizes there is more to her role as a pharmacist than previously believed and the same may be true of her friendship with Arch. Can Lilian and Arch work together to solve the mystery surrounding the crew’s strange behavior or will their entangling hearts prevent a successful conclusion?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read the first book in the Waves of Freedom series, I was ready to catch-up with the characters and watch the relationship grow. Full of history and romance, the two blended perfectly for an engaging read. I am already looking forward to Book 3 in the series, due out in spring 2017. Even more than the actual story, I really liked the correlation between the author’s book dedication and real life. Priceless.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Anchor In The Storm from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Valley of the Dry Bones

Featured

Jenkins, Jerry B. The Valley of the Dry Bones. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

valleyofthedrybones

SUMMARY:
Set in the future, California is uninhabitable due to a seventeen year drought resulting in massive wildfires. When a group of Christians known as “The Holdouts” decides to stay and serve as missionaries to the remaining, they face turmoil, chaos, resistance and trials against others as well as amongst themselves. With tragic times coupled with personal struggles, this end-of-times dystopia novel relies on Christian messaging to make it through to the end. Suspense, action, full characters and uncertainty lead to a satisfying conclusion, albeit begging for a sequel…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not necessarily a fan of this genre nor of “The Left Behind” series, I was a bit hesitant to read this story. As a popular author, Jerry Jenkins is known to write engaging books. With an interesting premise and a plethora of characters, The Valley of the Dry Bones was well written though not my personal favorite. Sure to appeal to readers of the dystopian-type genre, though it was not necessarily my type of book, it served an interesting plot and gripping possible “what-if” basis. Worth the try.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Valley of the Dry Bones from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Broth & Stock

Featured

McGruther, Jennifer. Broth & Stock from the Nourished Kitchen. USA: Ten Speed Press. 2016.

brothandstock

SUMMARY:
In her newest book, Broth and Stock, food educator and author Jennifer McGruther shares her messages of simplicity, patience, thrift and nourishment associated with broths and stocks. As the basis for soups, stews, and sauces, the importance of broths and stocks serves not only nutritional value but also frugality in not wasting any portions. Explaining the history, process and variety of the different liquids, varying recipes are also included utilizing the various broths and stocks. Though the focus is mainly on soups and stews, the uses for the homemade brews could easily be expanded. With beautiful accompanying photography, the Broth and Stock cookbook will prove to be a vital part in the kitchen.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Following the newest trend of bone broths and stocks, I quickly realized this trend is very retro…my mom used to make homemade broths and stocks as did many people years ago. For many assorted reasons for using these juices, this cookbook also includes many healthy options for vegetables, soups, stews, sauces and chowders. Using everyday pantry items with homemade broths only serves to increase the adaptability of the recipes as well as providing a hearty meal. Equally important, I appreciated the messaging on sustainability of the fish from Alaska, something everyone needs to heed for the necessary conservation of the oceans.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Broth & Stock from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Girl Defined

Featured

Clark, Kristen. Baird, Bethany. Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2016.

*girldefined

SUMMARY:
Girl Defined is about redefining womanhood according to God’s creation, not the world’s concept. Based on Biblical truths concerning the woman gender, authors Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird remind women of the importance of their roles according to God’s unique plan. Through personal stories, Biblical references, study guides and reminder points, several important and encouraging messages are shared, myths are debunked and standards are set straight. As the founders of GirlDefined Ministries, these sisters turned authors tout the significance of being women created in God’s image…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
It is about time!  This book should be shared with women of all ages, beginning with the High School age yet the messages could be shared even younger. Not so much a cheerleading book but a more gentle encouragement for women to appreciate, accept and guard their gender while following God, I especially liked the reminder verses found in the margins. “Be the woman who inspires change in others through your obedience to God.” Looking to God for clarification on gender rather than the world for gender expectations can be powerful in the success, health and happiness of women. As speakers, bloggers, mentors and authors, these sisters are right on target. Perfect for a Women’s Ministry, Bible Study, High School Youth Group or perhaps even a sermon topic, Girl Defined is long overdue!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Girl Defined from Baker Books for my honest review*

Always Watching

Featured

Eason, Lynette. Always Watching: Elite Guardians-Book 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

*alwayswatching

SUMMARY:
Popular radio host, psychiatrist, and dad, Wade Savage has a stalker. As a man, Wade feels he doesn’t need a protector yet his father feels differently. Hiring Olivia, a member of the Elite Guardians who just happens to be a woman, a very strong woman, doesn’t sit well with Wade until things heat up even more intensely. Needing to keep his daughter safe, Wade and Olivia work together while struggling to stay out of harm, finding the stalker, and discovering an interest of the heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Another fast-paced suspense novel by author Lynette Eason but this time with a twist- a group of Elite Guardians charged with protecting their clients who are strong, independent women! Yeah!  Well written and full of unexpected suspense, I enjoyed staying on my toes through the story to come to a conclusion of who was guilty, although, sometimes it wasn’t easy to do, especially in Always Watching. I look forward to following this new series from a favorite suspense writer. Go girls!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Always Watching from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Every Bride Has Her Day

Featured

Thompson, Janice. Every Bride Has Her Day: Brides With Style Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.
*everybridehasherday

SUMMARY:
Katie Fisher and Brady James are finally engaged and ready to plan their dream wedding…but…it appears it may never happen. With a full schedule, a wedding to plan, family, and friends, Katie may not be able to have her fairy-tale wedding as dreamed. With strong suggestions and even stronger opinions swirling around town about what Katie’s wedding should include, Katie soon finds herself in trouble. Laughter, romance, faith and drama complete the Brides With Style series, concluding with Every Bride Has Her Day

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perfect for the upcoming wedding season, a beach read, or a lazy summer afternoon, Every Bride Has Her Day is perfect. Having read the previous books in this series, author Janice Thompson has become a writer I look forward to reading. Light yet full, this story shares some important messages while offering fun, faith and clean romance. I love the cover to all the books in this series as well as the cute stories found within.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Every Bride Has Her Day from Revell Publishing for my honest review

The Movement of Kings

Featured

Keels, Nadine C. The Movement of Kings: Movement of Crowns Series- Book 3. Smashwords. 2013.

*movementofkings

SUMMARY:
Losing both of his parents to an early death, King Alexander must assume the kingdom at a young adult age. With the joining of Munda and Diachona under his father, King Alexander must wade the turbulent waters of possible rebellion while battling an epidemic attacking the country. Though young, King Alexander effectively tackles these difficult issues while mourning the loss of his mother and pursuing an interest in a young woman. Through strength, growth, faith and ultimately confidence, King Alexander becomes the ruler he was meant to be…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With openings that grab, author Nadine Keels packs so much story into a novella, I can only marvel how she does it. Having read the previous two books in the Movement of Crowns series, this was a wonderful conclusion despite being a bit disappointing (that the series is ending). With full characters, an impressive storyline and well chosen words, The Movement of Kings was my favorite yet (and I really liked book 2)!  Might I suggest a continuation in a possible book 4?

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Movement of Kings from the author for my honest review*

The Pug List

Featured

Hodgson, Alison. The Pug List: A Ridiculous little Dog, a Family Who Lost Everything, and How They All Found Their Way Home. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2016.

thepuglist

SUMMARY:
Having their house burned down by an arsonist, the Hodgson family experienced grief, loss, new reality and turmoil to make it through a difficult situation not only intact, but perhaps stronger with a better perspective at the other end. Through faith, sharing, family, friends, hope and perseverance, they struggled yet realize they could survive. In The Pug List, author and mother Alison Hodgson chronicles the major event in the life of her family that changed everything…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With an adorable Pug on the cover, I couldn’t help but assume this book would be about dogs. Shortly into it; however, I realized it was about a tragic situation in a family’s life with the Pug being only a small portion of it. Perhaps as a way to cope and finally heal, the author shares her thoughts, emotions, trials and journey as they all bounce back from devastation. Written with humor in a situation-appropriate manner, this was a well written book albeit not about Pugs directly.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Pug List from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Plated

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Karp, Elana. Dumaine, Suzanne. Plated: Weeknight Dinners, Weekend Feasts, and Everything in Between. USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2016.

plated

SUMMARY:
Starting with kitchen basics and progressing through flavorings to recipes, Plated shares more than just the ingredients necessary to make each delicious dinner. With seasonal ideas, flavorful rubs, special touches and straight forward directions, recipes range from meals for a crowd, easy week night suppers, more ambitious feasts for the weekends, inspiring uses for leftovers and scrumptious desserts.  Suzanne Dumaine and Elana Karp create a beautiful cookbook to use with ease while using the premise that food should be fun to help organize, invent, and manage the kitchen, time and meals…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Full of pleasing photography, simple everyday meal ideas, extra kitchen necessities and easily followed directions, the only item I found missing was the nutritional information for each included recipe. As chefs at Plated, the premium cook-at-home delivery service, the authors definitely make meals interesting, interchangeable and healthy. I love the diversity in the cookbook-rubs, soups, desserts and main meals. Especially helpful were the suggestions for leftovers and possible seasonality for peak eating. I would be proud to  give this book as a gift for beginner cooks as well as the more experienced.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Dawn at Emberwilde

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Ladd, Sarah E. Dawn at Emberwilde: A Treasures of Surrey Novel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2016.

dawnatemberwilde

SUMMARY:
Isabel and Lizzie Creston have been students at Fellsworth School for many years until recently. Plucked from the only life they have known for the past years, the girls soon find themselves living with their unknown relatives. As her tidy, controlled, repressed world expands into an unpredictable and unfamiliar way of life, Isabel soon learns the truth of her past which may hold the key to her uncertain future. Mysterious woods, interesting suitors, a predominant relative and matters of the heart all combine and clash in Dawn at Emberwilde

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a favorite author, Sarah E. Ladd is definitely on my must-read-list. Having read the first book in the series, The Curiosity Keeper, I grabbed the chance to read her newest novel, Dawn at Emberwilde, without hesitation. Though not a continuation of the previous novel, the similarity of the school joined the stories together, as well as the style of writing. Taking but a few pages to embrace the current characters, the pages soon turned quickly as the mystery and suspense built. My only regret? Waiting until spring of next year for the third book of the series, A Stranger at Fellsworth

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Dawn at Emberwilde from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*