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

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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.

The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Moore, Johnny Ray (author). Wummer, Amy (illustrator). The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. Nashville, TN: Worthy Ideal Kids. 2016.

martinlutherkingjr

SUMMARY:
Born in 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the son of a preacher and a school teacher. Exceling in school, Martin liked to learn, and do as other children his age did. Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to due to his color. When grown, Martin Luther King, Jr. became a preacher and spoke with over 200,000 people about his dream of not being judged by skin color. As a result, everyone is welcome to dream and live their dreams, regardless of color.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Packaged in a chubby board book, The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. is friendly in verse and charming in illustrations. With important words highlighted in the text, colorful pictures throughout, and a sturdy design, this book not only teaches an important message about the contributions made in history but is very child friendly. Perfect to share with young children or as a beginner reader, it is timely as we celebrate Black History Month. I look forward to many more in the series, highlighting all people.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

The Story of Rosa Parks

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Pingry, Patricia A (author). Walker, Steven (illustrator). The Story of Rosa Parks. Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids Ideals. 2016.

thestoryofrosaparks

SUMMARY:
Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1913, Rosa grew up in Alabama though didn’t finish school. Later marrying Raymond Parks, Rosa soon took a job as a seamstress which required her to ride the bus to and from work. During that time, colored people were to give up their seats on the bus to white people as needed. Tired of the rule, Rosa Parks decided to stay seated one day, causing her to be arrested. Taking her case to the Supreme Court, it was ruled that people of any color were allowed to sit wherever they wanted on the bus.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Created in a thick, chubby board book with simple phrases, colorful pictures and highlighted words, The Story of Rosa Parks shares an important moment in history. With February celebrated as Black History Month, this delightful hard-cover book makes a wonderful addition. Teaching history and a message in a book meant for little hands, it would be welcomed in libraries and school classrooms. As an excellent introduction to contributions made in history, hopefully, it will become part of a series celebrating changes made possible by people of all colors.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Story of Rosa Parks from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Life After

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Ganshert, Katie. Life After. New York, USA: Waterbrook Publishing. 2017.

lifeafter

SUMMARY:
Upon entering Chicago’s busy transit system, in a fiery moment, life changes for Autumn Manning, twenty-two strangers, and many, many others. Dealing with the guilt of surviving in the only way possible for her, she struggles to make it through each day while living the new kind of normal. Paul Elliott, who lost his wife in the same explosion, is tormented with his own daily grief yet trying to also funnel his children through the distress of losing their mother while growing through life. When Autumn collides with Paul, will the survivor heal or hurt those already struggling…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Written in such a manner that draws the reader in and doesn’t let go (in other words, keeps the pages quickly turning), I found myself invested in the characters while feeling their emotions. Continually needing to read “just one more chapter”, Life After deals with thoughts and feelings unfortunately, experienced by many. In a beautiful yet heart-wrenching novel, Christy award-winning author Katie Ganshert tells a story of forgiveness, hope, loss, healing, and reality that remains with you long after the last page is turned. (On sale April 18th, 2017.)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Chosen With Esther

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Ramos, David. Chosen With Esther: 20 Devotionals to Awaken Your Calling, Guide Your Heart, and Empower You To Lead By God’s Design (Testament Heroes-Book 6). Amazon Digital Services. 2016.

chosenwithesther

SUMMARY:
With a strong message to share that even though we may not be chosen first for things (invites, teams), we are always intentionally chosen by God to fulfill His will. Though not always what we may have hoped for and expected, God chose us for a purpose just as He did Esther. As the queen chosen to free the Jews, while not easy, she eventually understood her purpose. Breaking the story and characters into understandable pieces, author David Ramos also includes personal correlations, provides a take-away thought, and concludes with a complementary prayer.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Written in a friendly, non-judgmental manner, this wonderfully written devotional by David Ramos shares the story of Esther in such a way that most can learn from. Relating the Bible story to the everyday makes it that much more effective; a writing talent this author employs well. With a lesson to ponder, thoughts to consider, and hope to be found, through compassion, honesty, and grace, Chosen With Esther not only shares the story of Esther but also reminds that each is chosen and has a purpose with God. “You were chosen for such a time as this.”

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Chosen With Esther from the author for my honest review*

A Moonbow Night

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Frantz, Laura. A Moonbow Night. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

amoonbownight

SUMMARY:
In 1777, Sion Morgan is leading his group through the wilderness into what will become Kentucky when he realizes he may need a guide to get his group there safely. Stopping at Moonbow Inn along the Shawnee River, Sion meets Temperance (Tempe) Tucker, a guide known for her survival skills. As Sion and Tempe push through the wilderness, a friendship develops though Tempe is quick to guard her heart against more. With danger, mystery, romance, faith and lots of history, A Moonbow Night tackles more than the wilderness of the land.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As one of my favorite authors, Laura Frantz knows how to write. Though perhaps a bit of a different genre than her previous novels, I still enjoyed it but not quite as much (due to a personal preference). Beautiful and full descriptions of the land, characters, and struggles lend themselves to a heart-tugging story which revolves around strong characters laced with emotions. Slow to set the stage yet complete once done, A Moonbow Night was definitely worth the wait and the read.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Moonbow Night from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Eat Beautiful

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Rowe, Wendy. Eat Beautiful: Food And Recipes To Nourish Your Skin From The Inside Out. USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2016.

eatbeautiful

SUMMARY:
Broken into the four seasons with explanations of certain foods helpful during each specific season, the ingredients are then incorporated into recipes. Interspersed with health and beauty tips for skin and body, Eat Beautiful offers care for the entire person, inside and out with a focus on skin. With years as an international make-up artist to models and celebrities, author Wendy Rowe is known for her holistic approach to skincare.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With lots of information on the effectiveness and necessity of eating healthy for your skin and health, Eat Beautiful starts with the inside which causes the outside to shine. Full of wonderfully healthy recipes with ingredients which nourish the skin (quinoa, salmon, almond milk, radish, garlic, pumpkin, pine nuts), each recipe also includes a brief personal note, calories per portion, skin benefits and well organized directions. With photographs scattered throughout, the only thing missing was pictures of “ordinary” people, too. The areas including the helpful ingredients were full of information relating to skin nutrients from which I learned quite a bit. Overall, a useful book to help you feel and look your best.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Because You’re Mine

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Coble, Colleen. Because You’re Mine. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2017.

becauseyouremine

SUMMARY:
As the main fiddler in the popular band, Ceol, Alanna Connolly is enjoying the success associated with her Celtic band. With her husband as the drummer of the group, when tragedy strikes, Alanna finds she must protect herself and the one she loves. Forced to make decisions about her future in a hasty manner, Alanna soon discovers people and circumstances aren’t always what they appear on the surface. Needing to backpedal, Alanna must trust herself to make the right choice and perhaps undo her impulsive mistakes…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Willing to read just about anything author Colleen Coble writes, I knew I was in for a suspenseful read. With quite a few striking moments surrounding several scenarios, though I figured out the mystery early in the story, I still couldn’t put the book down and just had to finish reading it. Full of some danger, romance and a little bit of faith, it was definitely a good, quick, eventful novel. I look forward to reading more from Colleen Coble, perhaps even a sequel to her newest novel, Because You’re Mine.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Because You’re Mine from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Let Food Be Your Medicine

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Colbert, M.D., Don. Let Food Be Your Medicine: Dietary Changes Proven To Prevent Or Reverse Disease. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

letfoodbeyourmedicine

SUMMARY:
Struggling with his own illness, Dr. Don Colbert thought outside the box to overcome it. Sharing his methods, and hopefully the same positive results, his updated version of his book, Let Food Be Your Medicine, is about making changes to live a healthy lifestyle which both treats and prevents diseases. With a section on information to help make the best choices regarding inflammation, weight loss, and proper nutrition, it also includes a section on specific illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, autoimmune, diabetes, cancer, dementia and mental illness. Concluding with appendixes on a 21-day meal plan, shopping lists, material on pesticides and mercury, as well as supplements, the material is very well organized and easily useable.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As I’ve already made several of the healthy lifestyle changes suggested, this newly updated version now supplies a 21 day meal plan which follows the modified Mediterranean Diet as a suggested starting point. With clear evidence of the positive effects of the Dash Diet and Mediterranean Diet, this book enhances those diets with healthy choices for food, exercise, awareness and faith. Full of really helpful information with specific illnesses and challenges organized by chapters, it provides nutritious menus, foods to avoid, and personal stories that may change your life for the better. As a New York Times best-selling author specializing in anti-aging medicine, Dr. Don Colbert has impacted many through his research and walk with God.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Let Food Be Your Medicine from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

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Klassen, Julie. The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill: Tales From Ivy Hill- Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2016.

theinnkeeperofivyhill

SUMMARY:
Due to her husband’s unexpected and sudden death, Jane Bell now finds herself thrust into the role of the Innkeeper of The Bell. With the former Innkeeper visiting, who just happens to also be her mother-in-law, Jane must not only learn the business but also manage her relationship with Thora. Struggling to make ends meet, Jane must decide who is safe to trust while also exploring new methods, safekeeping her business, and possibly her heart.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Due to the author, Julie Klassen ,I knew I wanted to read this new novel set in the English village of Ivy Hill. Filled with romance, mystery, relationships and hope, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill may have started a bit slower than expected but picked up the pace half-way through it. As a longer novel, though it took a bit to develop the characters and intricately intertwined relationships, it was worth the investment to complete the book. Fully immersed in the lives of the members of this quaint community now, I look forward to reading the next in this series, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, due out in December of 2017.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Authentic Living

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Exley, Richard. Authentic Living: 365 Devotions for Deliberate Faith. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

*authenticliving

SUMMARY:
With the new year upon us, it seems to be the perfect time to begin a yearly devotional. As an accomplished author, pastor and speaker, Richard Exley shares 365 devotions intent on deliberate faith in his new book, Authentic Living. Organized into page-length devotions with a scripture verse and prayer included, each unit lasts for a few days so the concept can be experienced from several different angles. With topics such as relationships, grief, prayer, the Holy Spirit and faith, each is written with compassion, grace, strength and thought which allows for guidance and daily time with the Lord. Though shorter in words, the impact is deep.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Filled with in-depth messages in daily devotional form, Authentic Living is a wonderful devotional for yearly use. In a compact book easy to take along, this handy little book may be short in length but speaks directly to the heart. With scriptures from different Bible translations, stories from the author’s personal life experiences and deeper topics, this devotional choice is full of understanding yet to the mark. (The only thing missing is a ribbon for marking my spot but that is just a personal preference.) Definitely a devotional I plan to use this year!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Jesus Bible

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Contributors- Giglio, Louie. Lucado, Max. Piper, John. Zacharias, Ravi. Alcorn, Randy. The Jesus Bible: NIV edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2016.

thejesusbible

SUMMARY:
Reading the most popular book just became even more enjoyable. With the full NIV text accompanied by essays, sidebar notes, book introductions, full-page articles and journaling room, The Jesus Bible invites readers to meet and greet Jesus and follow His story throughout the Bible. As a sturdy hard-cover book with a binding that opens flat, the featured extras by noteworthy authors are scattered within for an enhanced experience. Focusing on the 66 books, in one story, all about one name, Jesus is glorified.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A thick grey-linen covered book with a ribbon to keep your spot, The Jesus Bible was welcomed at first glance. Upon opening it and reading the scripture verses, I thought the sidebar explanations were helpful in explaining the verses a bit deeper in a relatable manner. The articles and essays coupled with the corresponding verses clarify the scriptures further, all while keeping Jesus as the main focus. With extra wide sidebars for journaling or note taking, this Bible is very usable. With inclusions from some favorite authors, I find myself browsing the Bible even more than usual now. Reader friendly, well organized and extremely useful, The Jesus Bible is sure to become a favorite.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Jesus Bible from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Wake Up to the Joy of You

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Stassinopoulos, Agapi. Wake Up to the Joy of You: 52 Meditations and Practices for a Calmer, Happier Life. USA: Harmony Books. 2016.

wakeuptothejoyofyou

SUMMARY:
Filled with 52 meditations for a calmer, happier life, Wake Up to the Joy of You is filled with practices, thoughts, ideas, intentions, compassion, and encouragement to love yourself while being yourself. Each chapter begins with a corresponding quote, a personal story, guided meditation and/ or suggestions for the week. Filled with positive thoughts, gentle methods, helpful lessons, and self-compassion, author Agapi Stassinopoulos makes the journey easy to self-discovery and a life filled with joy.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With life so full of negativity, busyness, guilt and self-doubt, this book is a wonderful reminder that grace, joy, peace and spirit live within each of us…they may just need to be discovered and brought to the forefront. A beautiful hard-cover book which is broken into sections on self-care, roadblocks, and conflict, Wake Up to the Joy of You celebrates the real you that you were meant to be. I plan on using this book throughout the year to rediscover my true self underneath all the busyness, hurriedness, and craziness that is part of life. As my word for the year (as well as my middle name-Joy), this book will couple perfectly with my devotional book.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Wake Up to the Joy of You from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Mattie’s Pledge

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Drexler, Jan. Mattie’s Pledge: Journey To Pleasant Prairie- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

mattiespledge

SUMMARY:
Moving from her current community to yet another, Mattie Schrock knows how to nestle into a new place. Though leaving some friends and family behind, Mattie has a yearning for new adventures, especially when associated with travel. Not an easy journey, Mattie and her family set out for an Amish community in Indiana. Connecting with past friends again including Jacob Yoder, someone who always had a special place in her heart, Mattie discovers she must decide between a new adventure in the West or the comfort of her own community based on a certain pledge.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Liking to read Amish fiction scattered throughout the many other books I read, I enjoyed the newest novel by author Jan Drexler. With ancestors dating back to the Amish immigrants in the 1700s, Jan Drexler has a special interest in this type of genre and it definitely shines. As a continuation of the Journey To Pleasant Prairie series, it was interesting to follow another related character’s story. Heart tugging at times yet full of traveling experiences, I am glad I took the time to read it. Well written and true to the Amish culture, I look forward to the next book in this same series.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Mystery

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Sturm, Lacey. The Mystery: Finding True Love In A World Of Broken Lovers. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2016.

themystery

SUMMARY:
Without a decent male role model in her life, singer and author Lacey Sturm shares her experiences of pain through the process of finding true love. Struggling through mental and physical abuse, accepting unkind treatment, and suffering a broken heart many times, The Mystery shows, shares and encourages what real love looks like. Not just the love of another person, but self-love, confidence and respect. Realizing she, along with everyone, needs direction, love, forgiveness, and faith, Lacey Sturm confides in an honest, personal and healing manner.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Being the right book for the right audience, this book carries an openly needed message. As a former atheist looking for love in all the wrong places, Lacey Sturm boldly and honestly shares her faith-finding journey and her value to God. Along that journey she discovers certain messages which she now hopes to teach. Using her own brokenness, The Mystery follows her first book, The Reason, in which she tells her story of finding purpose behind the pain.  Engaging, well-written and brutally honest.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Successful Women Speak Differently

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Burton, Valerie. Successful Women Speak Differently: 9 Habits That Build Confidence, Courage, & Influence. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2016.

successfulwomenspeakdifferently

SUMMARY:
With a strong message to stop underestimating yourself and start believing you are capable of far more than you know, author Valerie Burton emphasizes the importance of communication and the power of words to strengthen successes and minimize failures. Full of research, personal stories and reliance on Scripture, Successful Women Speak Differently is organized into chapters focusing on the 9 habits that build confidence, courage and influence. With each chapter introducing the key factors, scripts for success, points every woman should know, self-coaching strategies, and a vital aspect to remember, this book is a powerful tool.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read several of her previous books, I know Valerie Burton uses a no-nonsense direction to obtaining success. As a life coach who encourages, guides, and ultimately delivers, her books are well written, interesting, organized and to the point. Heralding and defining the importance of communication, Successful Women Speak Differently is full of necessary and dynamic directives for strength, confidence and success. Perfect for most everyone to read as it deals with networking, interviewing, and communicating both in personal relationships and work environments. Definitely a book I will refer to again and again; a lot of knowledge is packed into this mighty book.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Successful Women Speak Differently from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

The French Chef In America

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Prud’homme, Alex. The French Chef In America: Julia Child’s Second Act. USA: Penguin Random House. Audiobook. 2016.

juliachildfrenchchefinamerica

SUMMARY:
As a freelance writer for the New York Times and author of several books as well as Julia Child’s grandnephew, Alex Prud’homme follows up his bestselling memoir of Julia Child, My Life In France, with his newest book, The French Chef In America, chronicling the second half of Julia’s life from personal cook to celebrity chef. As a major influence in cooking, Julia was also a mentor, friend, wife and TV personality. Rubbing elbows with the elite at the White House while still making time at home for the love of her life, Paul, the continuation and impact of Julia is read by the author himself, in this eleven-hour, nine CD audiobook of the available same hardcopy book.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Remembering the significance of Julia Child on cooking throughout the years, I was interested in this memoir of her life. Not having read the first book, this stand alone version worked just fine. As an audiobook, it was easy to listen to the story while in the car, on the treadmill, or at home. With a serene voice, author Alex Prud’homme narrates the story. As an icon to the popular and current cooking craze, The French Chef In America was a nice addition to my many, many books. I definitely learned quite a bit while listening as well as developing a respect for a well-known name in America.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary audio-copy of The French Chef In America from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Grace For The Moment

Featured

Lucado, Max. Grace For The Moment: Inspirational Thoughts For Each Day Of The Year- Large Deluxe Edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2016.

graceforthemoment

SUMMARY:
Packaged in a beautiful chocolate brown, leather-like covering, Grace For The Moment offers inspirational verses, scriptures, thoughts and encouragement for daily encounters with God. In a deluxe edition with a larger print size, the font is more easily readable. Organized into daily readings for each month, the accompanying ribbon marks the spot. Full of devotions offering grace while ensuring God’s love for all, this repackaged best-selling book by leading author Max Lucado, is abound with promise.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Already a reader of several books by this author, this was one I hadn’t yet read. Upon first glance, it struck me as a beautifully packaged devotional book, complete with a place-marking ribbon. The covers made of imitation leather and the larger font were a welcome sight. As I started to read, the bite-sized daily inspirations were encouraging and held my heart through-out the day. Full of God’s love and grace, the brief readings had a longer and larger impact which would be welcomed by most anyone. Perfect as a gift, in a church library, or for personal use, while I may gift a copy to those I know, this copy will remain on my own shelf for the next year as my own daily devotional.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Grace For The Moment from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

God’s Gift

Featured

Mancini, Lee Ann (author). Sharp, Dan (illustrator). God’s Gift: Adventures of the Sea Kids Series. Boca Raton, FL: GLM Publishing. 2016.

godsgift

SUMMARY:
As part of the award winning series, Adventures of the Sea Kids, the newest addition explores the true meaning of Christmas whether celebrating Hanukkah or a more traditional Christmas. In God’s Gift, Jacob (Starfish) and Christian (Turtle) argue over the amount of presents they each will receive but soon discover the real meaning of Christmas, God’s gift to all. With adorable, full color illustrations and a lively, simple yet meaningful text, author Lee Ann Manicini and illustrator Dan Sharp coordinate again to provide a quality book perfect for sharing.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving this Christian book series already, I was excited to read another one with a timely focus on Christmas. With an impressive message and delightful child-friendly illustrations, I love the extra treat of returning to find a symbol on each page when the book is complete. Sure to be a favorite, this would be wonderful as a gift for children, great in a church library or Sunday school class, or cherished as a personal story to share at home. Hopefully, this talented team will continue with this series as I look forward to more.

RATING:
5 ( out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of God’s Gift from the author and BookCrash for my honest review*

Courage To Soar

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Biles, Simone. with Burford, Michelle. Courage To Soar: A Body In Motion; A Life In Balance. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2016.

couragetosoar

SUMMARY:
Determined, dedicated, strong, kind, encouraging, positive and balanced are just a few of the words that describe Olympic gold-winner, Simone Biles.  The most decorated American female gymnast as a four-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time all-around World gymnastics champion, she stands out not only for her gymnastic ability but also the way she lives her life. With a bit of a rough spot in childhood, her natural ability in the sport was discovered early and sharpened over many years of hard work, perseverance, commitment and strong faith. Though she suffered disappointments along the way to winning, it was the manner in which she reacted that kept her body in motion and her life in balance…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Understanding the intensity of training at a high-level, I commend Simone Biles for her achievements. Through personal stories, shared strengths, motivation and inspiration, Courage To Soar not only offers confidence in sports but in all areas of life. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” is how Simone Biles lives her life (after a really good bawling). Picking herself up by the bootstraps after being knocked down, she is truly a role model for many. Engaging, well-written and absorbing, this book will be enjoyed by most. Congratulations and best wishes in the future, Simone!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Courage To Soar from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review.

Storm

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Calhoun, Bonnie S. Storm: Stone Braide Chronicles Series- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

storm

SUMMARY:
Selah Rishon Chavez just celebrated her eighteenth birthday, and unbeknownst to her, begins a transformation that is linked to her heritage. The transformation requires leaving all things she knows and loves to join the group that is now hunted by her father and brothers. Needing to complete the Third Protocol while still sane, Selah and her alliances must rush across the country, push through enemy territory, and learn to trust while trusting no one. Full of fight scenes, continuous suspense and fantasy, this young adult dystopic novel, Storm, is sure to appeal…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though obviously author Bonnie Calhoun knows how to write, unfortunately, it is not my genre of reading. Neither connected to the characters nor the storyline, this book was not much to my liking; however, I feel it is purely a personal choice. Perhaps readers of fantasy, dystopia or mild violence may enjoy this book three in the Stone Braide Chronicles series, but I would advise reading the previous novels immediately before this one. Intriguing cover.

RATING:
3 (out of 5) pennies

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

America At The Crossroads

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Barna, George. America At The Crossroads: Explosive Trends Shaping America’s Future And What You Can Do About It. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2016.

*americaatthecrossroads

SUMMARY:
Listing, summarizing, researching, and analyzing current trends in America and the influence on culture is shared in the new book, America At The Crossroads. With chapters on faith and spirituality, government and politics, lifestyles and perspectives, as well as action that can be taken, an award-winning author and founder of Barna Group (a research firm that specializes in faith-related surveys), George Barna, explores the patterns of thought and behavior that provide insight into society.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As America continues to change, some for the better with some for the worse, it is interesting to see those changes and the consequences on a number of factors. With churches changing yet also being affected, America At The Crossroads provides summaries and key facts on how people view and feel about America. Maybe a good book to examine closer, churches, pastors, leaders, teachers and parents may find some direction from this information on which direction to head next.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of America At The Crossroads from Baker Books for my honest review*

The Prayer Saturated Family

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Sacks, Cheryl. The Prayer Saturated Family: How to Change the Atmosphere in Your Home through Prayer. Bloomington, MN: Chosen Publishing. 2016.

*theprayersaturatedfamily

SUMMARY:
Author Cheryl Sacks shares the importance and power of prayer in family life. In her newest book, The Prayer Saturated Family, she demonstrates what happens when families pray together, how to take the necessary steps to action, and provides a daily prayer guide, all through personal stories, Biblical scriptures and lots of encouragement and examples. Family friendly with successful results!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Written in a friendly manner with proof of prayer affecting family climate change, this book is easy to use and well written. As a national speaker and best selling author, Cheryl Sacks supplies the tools to starting a family on a path to a strong faith-filled life. Wonderful as a church resource, a Sunday school project, a family ministry or personal use, this book would also be a great gift for a young family or grandparents to share with their grandchildren. Organized and effective, the kick-start is so helpful!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Prayer Saturated Family from Chosen Publishing for my honest review*

The Cottage

Featured

Phillips, Michael. The Cottage: Secrets of the Shetlands- Book 2. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2016.

thecottage

SUMMARY:
Loni Ford discovers she is to become a laird due to an inheritance of a cottage, buildings, land and livestock on the island of Whales Reef, in the Shetlands. As an American far from home, Loni soon finds herself questioning her own life direction as she is determined to fight for the property and protect the people of the island. Full of beautiful landscapes, authentic food and well researched culture, The Cottage provides authenticity along with quite the mystery…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a new author for me, Micheal Phillips convinced me he is an experienced author. With exquisite details of the Shetlands, an unfamiliar place to me, the vivid descriptions were impressive. Though perhaps a bit of the dialogue was difficult to follow and the Quaker information a touch too rich, the storyline and characters were well developed. Easily read as a stand-alone novel, I wonder if I would have enjoyed it even more if I had read book 1 in The Secrets of the Shetlands series, The Inheritance. All in all, a good introduction to a new author for me.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Rhythms of Rest

Featured

Miller, Shelly. Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishing. 2016.

rhythmsofrest

SUMMARY:
In the busyness of today, finding Sabbath (or rest) can be very difficult. Not just physically finding the time but also mentally focusing on rest through a pattern of rhythms. In her new book, author, blogger and leader of the Sabbath Society, Shelly Miller explores the choice of rest, the consequences both of as well as the lack of intermission, and the necessity of solitude. Through personal stories, comforting thoughts and emails from her online Sabbath community, Rhythms of Rest encourages spending time with God and reflecting on His love…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With an interesting and necessary theme to her newest book, Shelly Miller does a nice job of explaining the need, pattern and discipline of rest. Though her stories fit well, for some reason, I was not quite able to follow the process of the book nor really connect. Seeing the importance of the Sabbath, especially in the crazy schedules of life currently, I think this book has potential for certain people. Definitely a book that should be given a chance, I hope to read more of her books in the future.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Rhythms of Rest from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Larger-Than-Life-Lara

Featured

Mackall, Dandi Daley. Larger-Than-Life-Lara. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2016.

largerthanlifelara

SUMMARY:
Laney Grafton has a difficult home life yet shines in her life. As a likeable person, Laney has friends in class but wonders why others protect their reputation against being with her. When Lara, an overweight new student in class, tries to befriend Laney, Laney finds herself considering the reversal in roles now. With bullying, jokes, tormenting and cruelty, Larger-Than-Life-Lara tackles feelings, thoughts, meanness and kindness through the eyes of middle-schoolers. Written in a manner which emphasizes, explains and practices the writing pattern of a story, this many faceted novel ponders many aspects of life…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though a simple book written mainly for middle school-age children, Larger-Than-Life-Lara shares such an important message, it should be read by all. Undertaking the cruelty and effects of bullying, author Dandi Daley Mackall writes a poignant, sometimes humorous, always complex, well-written novel. With lessons to be learned on bullying yet also the academic writing style of stories, each chapter coincides with an actual story (beginning, setting, villain, details, rising action, climax). As a two-fold book with several themes, it was interesting, heartbreaking, informational and would be perfect as a study unit for class.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Larger-Than-Life-Lara from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

A Primary Decision

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Leman, Kevin. Nesbit, Jeff. A Primary Decision: The Worthington Destiny Series- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

aprimarydecision

SUMMARY:
Sarah Worthington, next Attorney General and sister of Will and Sean, fears she may be the next target. As secrets lie deep, suspense turns inward, politics run wild and alliances become distorted, Sarah draws closer to the Polar Bear Bomber but at what cost? With personal gains and losses at risk, the Worthington siblings realize their greatest strength may come in numbers…and family.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Teaming authors Dr. Kevin Leman and Jeff Nesbit have scored another political thriller just in time for the election. As book 3 in The Worthington Destiny series, A Primary Decision is full of page-turning suspense. Though readable as a stand-alone, this novel would have deeper understanding and meaning on the heels of the previous books in the series. Already a favorite author of mine, Dr. Kevin Leman and his Birth Order books, I also liked the influence of author Jeff Nesbit on this current story. Well-written and well-enjoyed, I definitely will look for more from both/ either of these authors.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Primary Decision from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Devoted

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Fisher, Suzanne Woods. The Devoted: The Bishop’s Family- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

*thedevoted

SUMMARY:
With an amazing heart for good, patience and the Lord, Bishop David is led by the Scriptures to help the people of Stoney Ridge follow the Bible while also keeping their Amish way of life. Ruthie, at the age of seventeen and on the brink of adulthood, must decide the path she wishes to pursue while the Englisher Patrick, hopes to delve deeper into the Amish culture. Add to those characters, Dok, who purchases the health clinic practice and must work to gain the Amish trust, and Luke, the town trouble-maker. Add in a bit of humor, some romance and perhaps some heartache for a stirring story…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As book 3 in the Bishop’s Family series, The Devoted also works well as a stand-alone. Grabbing my attention from the beginning of the novel, I literally flew through it. Full of Amish community and culture, a little mystery and soft, clean romance coupled with faith, author Suzanne Woods Fisher has penned yet another well-written Amish novel. As the characters grow and are revisited, it is interesting to not only learn their ways but realize they are similar people with choices and consequences. This was a wonderful re-introduction to Amish genre after a bit of a lapse for me.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Love One Another

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Berenstain, Mike. Love One Another: The Berenstain Bears. Eugene, OR: Worthy Kids Publishing. 2016.

*loveoneanother

SUMMARY:
In a thick chunky book perfect for little hands, the well known and beloved Berenstain Bears add yet another clever and adorable addition to the classic tradition. With a neighbor of the Bears just having had twin cubs, Mama Bear invites Sister and Brother Bear in joining her to make some blueberry muffins to share. Extending the Bible verse learned in Sunday school, to love one another, the sibling cubs take helping even further to rake leaves, set the table and watch the tiniest Bear.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having shared the Bearenstain Bears with my own children growing up, I am excited to see this series continue on with author Mike Berenstain. Filled with a wonderful lesson appreciated by all, Love One Another is perfect for Sunday school, church, a baby gift, or most any little hands. Debuting just before the Thanksgiving holiday, it may be just right to share with family over dinner while saying grace and giving thanks. Simple prose and darling illustrations only enhance the message, sure to be embraced by many.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Love One Another from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

A New Way To Dinner

Featured

Hesser, Amanda. Stubbs, Merrill. Food 52: A New Way To Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead. New York, USA: Ten Speed Press. 2016.

anewwaytodinner

SUMMARY:
With busyness surrounding us everywhere, everyone could use some help…especially when it comes to dinner. Authors and co-founders of Food 52, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, set up dinner for each week with seasonal favorites, a grocery list, full weekday meals, complete recipes and accompanying photographs. With the premise of making a week full of meals on the weekend before, there are also informational tidbits, personal stories, additional recipes for the included ingredients and cooking helps. Printed on sturdier paper in a well organized manner, A New Way To Dinner may make life a bit easier and definitely more delicious…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a useful cookbook! With fresh recipes according to seasons, Food 52: A New Way To Dinner is a beautiful book sharing the necessities of cooking for the week on Sundays. Following the full menus is easy with creative recipes full of inventive recipes yet common fare. Perfect for busy families, traveling couples or retired seniors, it would make a wonderful gift as well as kept for personal use. Ease and innovation paired.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Silent Songbird

Featured

Dickerson, Melanie. The Silent Songbird: Young Adult Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2016.

thesilentsongbird

SUMMARY:
Promised in marriage by her cousin, King Richard, to the nasty Earl of Shively, Evangeline knows she must escape. A bit naïve due to being locked away in the castle for her own protection, Evangeline soon finds herself outside the Berkhamsted castle and part of the traveling group under the leadership of the handsome Westley le Wyse. Now working as a servant, Evangeline also leads those around her to believe she is mute. Living this lie while hiding from her intended, who surely is searching for his beautiful songbird, turns out to be dangerous to both her life and heart.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a loose retelling of the fairytale Little Mermaid, even the cover of the book reflects Ariel, the red-haired singing beauty. With brief suggestions to the Disney story, The Silent Songbird is a delightful, suspenseful, medieval and interesting retelling. As part of the young adult series written by author Melanie Dickerson, this newest addition nods to a few previous characters; however, is also easily read as a stand-alone. Though classified as young adult, readers of all ages are sure to enjoy!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Silent Songbird from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Fatal Frost

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Mehl, Nancy. Fatal Frost: Defenders of Justice- book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2016.

fatalfrost

SUMMARY:
As a member of the law enforcement, US Marshal Mercy Brennan understands danger. Though absent from her life for many years, Mercy’s father makes a reappearance. Now in danger herself, Mercy must trust her ex boyfriend, Deputy US Marshal Mark St. Laurent, to keep her safe while battling an ice storm, hiding from a deadly enemy, and guarding her own heart in the process…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As another romantic suspense novel from author Nancy Mehl, Fatal Frost was a great start to the new series, Defenders of Justice. Full of suspense, a bit of mystery, subtle faith and of course, some romance, this was a quick fulfilling read. Though perhaps a little predictable in parts, it was still a story I wanted to finish to the end. Extra thoughtful was the dedication page to law enforcement men and women, as well as a beautiful poem from her mom to her son. Definitely a series I will continue, I look forward to the next installment.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Fatal Frost from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Power Of Your Attitude

Featured

Toler, Stan. The Power Of Your Attitude: 7 Choices For A Happy And Successful Life. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2016.

thepowerofyourattitude

SUMMARY:
Attitude is a choice. And that choice can determine the outcome. Author and speaker Stan Toler shares 7 choices that give the power to transform life. With attitude choices of compassion, generosity, humility, gratitude, and perseverance, combined they have the power to affect identity, character and reality. Working through negative messages and habits, The Power Of Your Attitude encourages and demonstrates the effect of positive words, actions and thoughts.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Falling into a negative pattern can be very easy yet hard to break. In the author’s new book, he examines how and why attitude has the ability to control life, what changes need to made inside (of you), and how to implement those positive changes of attitudes in everyday life, as well as the positive outcomes. Easy to read, simple to relate and full of real examples, The Power Of Your Attitude has the power to change your life.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Power Of Your Attitude from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

A Servant Like Jesus

Featured

Mancini, Lee Ann (author). Sharp, Dan (illustrator). A Servant Like Jesus: Adventures of the Sea Kids Series. Boca Raton, FL: GLM Publishing. 2016.

aservantlikejesus

SUMMARY:
Continuing in the multiple-award winning Christian series, Adventures of the Sea Kids, author Lee Ann Mancini and illustrator Dan Sharp once again team up in the newest addition, A Servant Like Jesus. The Sea Kids are just starting class at Fish-Care Cove School and Charlie Crab is too shy to participate. When his teacher, Miss Stella Starfish, needs a helper, Charlie comes out from his hiding place to help, using his special God-given gift of serving. Modeling himself after Jesus, Charlie soon finds his confidence through helping others.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Another book in the adorable Adventures of the Sea Kids series, with full-page spreads of eye-catching color and darling illustrations of sea friends coupled with a faith-filled message. I already am a fan of this series and this current extension only solidifies my thoughts. Perfect for preschoolers and elementary age children, in a school library, Sunday school or on personal shelves, A Servant Like Jesus shares important lessons of serving, empathy and Jesus.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Servant Like Jesus from BookCrash and the author for my honest review*

Inspiralize Everything

Featured

Maffucci, Ali. Inspiralize Everything: An Apples-to-Zucchini Encyclopedia of Spiralizing. New York, NY: Clarkson potter/ Publishers. 2016.

*inspiralzeeverything

SUMMARY:
With the focus on turning vegetables into delicious meals, Inspiralize Everything takes everyday vegetables and spiralizes them into creative, healthy dinners. With an entire book devoted to using and cooking with the spiralizer, different vegetables are sorted alphabetically and coupled with clean-eating recipes. As the award winning blogger and author of Inspiralize, Ali Maffucci continues her quest for healthy, hearty and inspirational meals.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Again, another wonderful spiralizer cookbook packed full of beautiful photographs, easy to follow directions and palate-pleasing ideas for fresh and healthful fare. Enjoying this current cookbook even better than the author’s previous one, I especially like the included vegetables and their categorizations. The recipes using the spiralized vegetables are not only delectable, but also doable. With recipes such as Spicy Cabbage and Carrot Detox Soup, and Pear, Pomegranate and Roast Turkey Salad, as well as Sun-Dried Tomato, Chicken and Broccoli Pasta, there is sure to be something for everyone in an easily accessible manner.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Long Way Gone

Featured

Martin, Charles. Long Way Gone. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2016.

longwaygone

SUMMARY:
Musician and songwriter Cooper O’ Connor heads to Nashville at the age of eighteen counting on his musical ability. When tragedy strikes, Cooper returns home to Colorado to sort things out with his father, whom he left years ago. Realizing he must face his past, find his faith and hope for grace, Long Way Gone tells the Prodigal Son story in an emotional, unconventional manner. With strong characters, depth of heart and piercing emotions, author Charles Martin weaves a story of wisdom, mercy and unconditional love…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With a writing style that draws emotions to the surface and wreaks havoc on the heart, Charles Martin is skilled beyond words. With a deepness that continues throughout the story, it doesn’t let go. Not having read a novel from this author before Long Way Gone, I really had no idea what to expect, although, once in the story, I soon found myself profoundly absorbed. Liking his style, I absolutely plan on reading more of his works while hoping for a new novel. Fair warning…have the tissue ready.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Long Way Gone from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Wonders Of Creation Bible

Featured

NIV Wonders of Creation Bible- Illustrations to Color and Inspire. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2016 (specific version).

wondersofcreationbible

SUMMARY:
With the full length version of the NIV Holy Bible complemented with over 50 pages of black and white illustrations to color, the Wonders of Creation Bible is a beautiful version. Filled with the original thin pages of the Bible but immersed with thicker pages for the drawings, the included animal and design pages are as graceful as they are charming. Accompanied by a lay-flat binding for easy coloring, a presentation page for gift giving, special verses included on each coloring page and a ribbon marker, this Bible is complete.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A perfectly sized Bible with readable size font and text, the Wonders of Creation Bible was beautifully enhanced with the illustrations waiting to be filled with a spectrum of color. The drawings are inviting, the coloring verses are relevant, the cover is alluring and of course, the message within is priceless. I really liked the idea of a more interactive Bible, combining two of my favorite things- coloring and God’s Word. Only thing I might add would be a few journaling pages to truly complete the experience.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Wonders of Creation Bible from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

In Such Good Company

Featured

Burnett, Carol. In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox. USA: Crown Archetype Publishing. 2016.

carolburnett

SUMMARY:
Well-known actress and author, Carol Burnett, takes the time to share what led up to her becoming a musical comedy performer with her own weekly show. Wanting to chronicle her years while her memory still serves her well, her newest book, In Such Good Company, tells her TV story as well as mentions the many characters who shared the show with her regularly and the many special guest stars. Taking the reader behind the scenes while bestowing her memoir too, Carol Burnett graciously proves why she is so loved and respected still today…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving Carol Burnett and her show, I knew I just had to read her story. Full of quirky tidbits, funny memories, likeable skits, and actor spotlights, In Such Good Company also shares photographs, thoughts, remembrances, and recollections of her wildly successful show which was originally supposed to only run for 6 weeks. (While researching her book, Carol Burnett actually watched all 276 episodes, marveling and delighting in how her hair changed over the years…makes me want to rewatch all my favorite episodes yet again.) Quickly reading through it yet trying so hard to slow down and savor it, I thoroughly enjoyed this book which will remain on my shelf for many years, like a dear friend. Thank-you, Carol, for sharing a bit of your life with us!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of In Such Good Company from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Wild Montana Skies

Featured

Warren, Susan May. Wild Montana Skies: Montana Rescue Series- Book 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

wildmontanaskies

SUMMARY:
Ben King, an international country music star, returns home to Mercy Falls, Montana, to help care for his injured, ageing father. Kacey Fairing, currently on leave from her position with the military as a helicopter pilot, spends time with her daughter and parents in her hometown of Mercy Falls. With a past history between them, Ben and Kacey find themselves working together to save the town from flood waters but may need help rescuing their own hearts as well…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Cowboys, danger, survival, romance, drama, secrets and faith all combine for a fast-paced, amazing read. With likeable characters, several storylines, and a message of second chances, Wild Montana Skies sets the stage for an enjoyable new series, Montana Rescue. Though I did not read the prequel to this first book, If Ever I Would Leave You, I had no problem connecting with the story, and look forward to the continuing saga in book 2, Rescue Me, due out in spring of 2017. Definitely a good book by a well written author.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Wild Montana Skies from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Raven

Featured

Nappa, Mike. The Raven: A Coffey & Hill Novel-Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

theraven

SUMMARY:
As a deception specialist, “The Raven” lives up to his show name by picking pockets of people as they watch. Deciding to keep a politician’s wallet for himself, The Raven finds more than just money. Quickly involved in a scheme named “Nevermore”, The Raven realizes he may be in over his head. Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill tackle the case and meet some unique characters, starting with Mama Bliss. Suspense, full characters, subtle faith, links to Edgar Allan Poe, the Ukraine Mafia and interesting points of view all combine into a riveting story…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Certainly not my usual genre, again, I was drawn into Mike Nappa’s book and finished it before I realized it. Having read the first book in the series, Annabel Lee, I was actually anticipating this one. Though perhaps not quite as violent as the first book, it was just as well written and compelling. With a mix of characters telling their stories in different perspectives, lots of references to Poe and intensity from cover to cover, The Raven even has me looking forward to a book 3, chilling book cover and all.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Vendetta

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Harris, Lisa. Vendetta: The Nikki Boyd Files Series- Book 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
As a detective with the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force, Agent Nikki Boyd takes her job personally. With the abduction of her own sister years earlier, Nikki suspects there may still be a link to her sister with the current abduction. Needing the help of her friend, Tyler Grant, both Nikki and Tyler discover more than surprises connected to the case but also to their own hearts…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Definitely a great start to a new suspense series, Vendetta is full of surprises, twists, loss, faith, hope and romance. Though a common theme or storyline found in other novels, author Lisa Harris handles it well. Keeping my interest while the pages turned, I finished this book in just a few days. Even when the clues became obvious, the direction spun and kept me engaged. Fast, clean, well written and fun, I enjoyed this non-stop suspenseful novel to the end.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Secret Language of Dogs

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Stillwell, Victoria. The Secret Language of Dogs: Unlocking the Canine Mind for a Happier Pet. New York, USA: 2016.

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SUMMARY:
On the newer trend of realizing animals’ mental abilities are similar to humans, given the ability to learn, adapt, experience and survive, author and positive dog behaviorist and trainer, Victoria Stillwell, shares her knowledge and expertise on unlocking the many languages of dogs. With the inner experiences of dogs examined and the meanings of body and vocal languages explained, The Secret Language of Dogs helps create a stronger, more positive bond with our four-pawed best friends.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Already of fan of Victoria Stillwell as well as owning several of her previous books, I knew I would have to read this new one. Not only a dog behavior expert but also committed to helping the cause of animal rescue and rehabilitation, she is also involved in various organizations to stop animal-related issues. Meeting the expectations I had set, The Secret Language of Dogs even went above with beautiful photographs, necessary information, and tons of tips, all joined together in a compassionate, positive manner. Seriously a must-read for all dog owners, I was inspired to give my own rescue pups extra hugs (and maybe even an extra treat), knowing they understand. Excellent!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Secret Language of Dogs from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Bible Habit

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Ramos, David. The Bible Habit:7 Strategies On How To Study The Bible. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Based on the thought that it’s impossible to know God without knowing the Bible, author David Ramos shares his useful insights, tips and strategies for reading, learning and using the Bible. Filled with chapters on boosting memory, the power of context, building a reading habit, joining in community and the strength of prayer, The Bible Habit also includes a Bible Habit Toolkit which shares a genre guide to the books of the Bible, popular book abbreviations, and a list of  terms found within the Bible, all of which help becoming more immersed in the Bible that much easier.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I found this handy little book to be filled with some great advice for studying the Bible. Though perhaps more targeted to beginners, I actually picked up a few tips as well as was inspired to do even more in my own Bible reading. Written on a friendly personal level, it was easy to read and simple to follow yet full of good information. Neither preachy nor heavy, the personal everyday correlations worked very well. Definitely a book for new believers, youth classes, a church library or even a nudge for the experienced Bible reader, I look forward to more books from this accomplished author.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Bible Habit from the author for my honest review*

A Royal Christmas Wedding

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Hauck, Rachel. A Royal Christmas Wedding: The Royal Wedding Series- Book 4. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2016.

royalchristmaswedding

SUMMARY:
Volleyball champion Avery Truitt is going through a rough time. Helping her mom with the Barbeque place on the beach, having recently lost her dad, and receiving some disheartening news about her beloved sport of volleyball, Avery is also still nursing a broken heart over the Prince of Brighton Kingdom, Colin. With a sister already in Brighton Kingdom married to the king and experiencing a difficult pregnancy, Avery and her mom decide to visit for the Christmas season. With an old tradition rich in romance yet wrapped in peril, Prince Colin must decide if he could persuade Avery to meet him at the Pembroke Chapel on Christmas morning should he ring the bell, even though he broke her heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving the previous stories in the Royal Wedding Series as well as author Rachel Hauck, I knew I had to read this longer novella in the series. Visiting some of the previous characters, and of course, lots of princess glitter, it was a perfect start to the Christmas season and a good continuation of the story. With a beautiful cover, a good storyline and a bit of tradition, A Royal Christmas Wedding was well worth waiting for.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Royal Christmas Wedding from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*