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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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*

The Naked Cookbook

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Ward, Tess. The Naked Cookbook. New York, USA: Ten Speed Press. 2016.

thenakedcookbook

SUMMARY:
Living with a parasite for five years due to a trip out of the country, author, blogger and Le Cordon Bleu chef Tess Ward, shares her creativity found in her healthy recipes. In her book, The Naked Cookbook, she celebrates food at its rawest form, nothing processed or refined, and no fad diet regimes. Touting a sustained method of eating which naturally supports overall health and happiness, simple, delicious and stripped back recipes include smoothies, rhubarb sauce, coconut yogurt, salmon tartare, and many others. With information on detox, pantry items and superfoods, even the covers are in a pure and natural state…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Natural in all respects, The Naked Cookbook is simple yet healthful. With many recipes from which to chose, the Chive Crepes with Avocado and Smoked Salmon as well as the Flax and Pumpkin Bread sound delicious! Gaining even more ideas from her pantry listing, broths and stocks, sauces and dressings, this book would definitely be an asset in the kitchen of someone invested in the clean and natural eating lifestyle. Only thing missing were a few more of the beautiful photographs.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Someone Like You

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Bylin, Victoria. Someone Like You. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2016.

someonelikeyou

SUMMARY:
Trying to keep Caliente Springs resort afloat financially while attending to the many other business matters associated with it, Zeke Monroe is both surprised and hopeful when his former college girlfriend waltzes back into his life. Caught in a tough spot as a single mom raising her young son, Julia Dare cannot believe her luck (or lack of it) when she quite literally finds herself bumping into and eventually working with Zeke. Putting personal history to rest, at least in theory, working on a project together may prove more than either heart can handle…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a new author for me, I must admit I was impressed with author Victoria Bylin’s newest book, Someone Like You. Though not sure if the characters were related in any way to previous novels, this story worked quite well as a stand-alone; however, could easily be continued with the many various, well developed characters and storylines. As a contemporary Christian romance, it was heartwarming, tender, strong and encouraging. Full of forgiveness, emotion, faith and compassion, Someone Like You is the perfect summer read.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Someone Like You from the author and Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Long May She Wave

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Hinrichs, Kit. Hirasuna, Delphine. USA: Potter Style. 2016.

*longmayshewave

SUMMARY:
In a cute, stylish little box containing 100 postcards around the American flag theme, Long May She Wave celebrates memorabilia from the Stars and Stripes collection of Kit and Linda Hinrichs. With astounding photographs of the American flag depicted on several one of a kind objects created by citizens of the United States, the pictures include a folding fan, WWI sailor, a Pearl Harbor remembrance, and a cigar wrapper flag among many others. With a 50 piece set to keep and one to share, history buffs and art collectors are sure to embrace this postcard collection of the American flag based on a previously published book by the same authors…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though not a huge history fan, I did enjoy the beautiful postcards on quality paper, perfect for sharing with friends and family who would like them. With a brief description of the item included on each card, the photographs are well done, showing great detail along with bright color. Packed into a storage box representing a thick book, the classic pieces are both interesting and patriotic. Such a neat way to bring their previous book alive.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Long May She Wave from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Wonders of Creation

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Wilde, Cindy. Phuapradit, Pimlada. Wonders of Creation: Illustrations to Color and Inspire. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2016.

*wondersofcreation

SUMMARY:
Full of animals found in the savannah, the forest, and the sea, each finely detailed, well illustrated page beckons to be colored in gorgeous hues. Elephants, rabbits, porpoises, monkeys and moon jellies are only a few of the many creatures which fill the sturdy, white, smooth pages found within Wonders of Creation. Giving all the credit to God for his world of unique creations, the different patterns, line thickness, intricacy and detail allow for inspiration, design and spirit to prevail…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Amazing! Owning quite a few coloring books, especially many with an animal theme, I must admit this is one of my absolute favorites. Loving the facial expressions, the beautiful patterns and the various included animals, the penguin, walrus, sloth and raccoon were my favorite pictures to color (due to their cuteness, smiles and decorations). As an animal coloring book delighting in the wonders of God’s creations, this book is sure to please both young and old. Astounding!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Honest Wrestling

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Joslin, K. Howard. Honest Wrestling: Questions of Faith when Attacked by Life. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press/ Thomas Nelson. 2012.

*honestwrestling

SUMMARY:
Written as an account of the immense struggle during his wife’s battle with cancer, author K. Howard Joslin shares the events leading up to the diagnosis, the treatment plans, the emails to friends and family, the prayers offered by many, the effect on the children, as well as the thoughts and feelings of both Howard and his wife, Ann. Putting the entire event into perspective, including a major move across country, a job loss, treatment plans and results, unfailing faith yet questioning of God and His will, the power of prayer, the devotion of friends and the future of both his children and himself, Honest Wrestling details it all in a memoir complete with a bit of humor, serious truths and lots of tears…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not quite sure what I would find when opening the cover, I was deeply moved as I started to read. Through honest accounts of thoughts, feelings, prayers, hope, despair and actions, I discovered the reactions of people going through a devastating circumstance can be similar. Being reminded that God is good no matter the situation, and that events are used by God to refine our character and faith, I appreciated the bits of humor in this difficult matter along with feeling the experienced pain. Useful as a book to share with those dealing with cancer themselves or knowing someone afflicted with it, the perseverance of faith was encouraging.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Country Cooking From A Redneck Kitchen

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Bryson, Francine. With Volkwein, Ann. Country Cooking From A Redneck Kitchen. New York: USA. Clarkson Potter /Publisher. 2016.

countrycookingfromaredneckkitchen

SUMMARY:
Cookbook author, local and national baking champion, TV star and book award finalist, baker Francine Bryson now shares her love of Southern cooking in her newest book, Country Cooking From A Redneck Kitchen. With recipes fit for a party, gathering, picnic, potluck or family meal, hearty and happy attendees are guaranteed. Burgers, BBQ, sides, bread and desserts are all included. With colorful photographs and personal anecdotes, the recipes are as fun as they are tasty…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though most of the recipes appealed to me, the section on Breads and Rolls was my favorite. Blackberry Pecan Bread, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Peanut Butter Muffins, and Lemonade Rolls make the perfect accompaniment to main dish meals. Though some of the ingredients were not our usual fare, they were easily switchable. The one thing I missed was a few more photographs as the ones included were well done (and I absolutely love pictures in a cookbook). A perfect cookbook for the summer months as well as the winter months, it is definitely crowd-pleasing. For dessert tonight…Sweet Potato Spice Cake…yum!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Country Cooking From A Redneck Kitchen from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Red Door Inn

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Johnson, Liz. The Red Door Inn: Prince Edward Island Dreams Series- Book 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

reddoorinn

SUMMARY:
Each struggling with their own hurt, heartache, pain and loss, Marie Carrington, Jack Sloane and his nephew Seth Sloane, find themselves working together towards the same goal, even if it is not quite clear in the beginning. Through mistrust, hard work, healing and ultimately shared dreams, each contributes to the Bed and Breakfast known as The Red Door Inn in unique ways. While completing the Inn, many heart-warming moments occur while some deeper issues are resolved with the common themes of fatherly love and trust woven throughout…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving the idea behind this book, I found the story and themes very absorbing, with the characters pleasing to meet. Staying true to the local characteristics of Prince Edward Island, author Liz Johnson writes a successful novel different from her usual genre of romantic suspense. Though not a fast paced nor complex storyline, it hummed along and was quite enjoyable. As book 1 in the Prince Edward Island Dreams series, the peek at the characters sure to be involved in the next book was enough to pique my interest already in book 2, Where Two Hearts Meet, set to release in fall of this year.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Red Door Inn from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Roots & Sky

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Purifoy, Christie. Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

roots&sky

SUMMARY:
Making the trek from Florida to Pennsylvania, author Christie Purifoy shares her hopes, dreams, joys, sorrows and life as she transitions through a year of her life from fall until the following summer. Longing for home, meaning so much more than just a physical building, she introduces us to the simple pleasures of neighbors, gardening, motherhood, faith, and love. With deeply rooted good things growing towards the heavenly sky, Roots & Sky ties together life now and in the future while loving what is directly in front of us…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a book to wander through, taking time to smell the flowers and enjoy the breezes along the way, I found that cozy, warm, safe feeling of home nestled within the pages of Roots & Sky.  Almost a memoir, definitely well-written and flowing, I was drawn to the writing style of Christie Purifoy as I contemplated my own busy lifestyle. Absolutely soothing and inspiring, this book would bless a Bible study or Mothers’ ministry. Wonderful!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Roots & Sky from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Land of Silence

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Afshar, Tessa. Land of Silence. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2016.

landofsilence

SUMMARY:
With a name meaning “My God has favored me” given to her by her father, Elianna lives a life consumed with guilt over the death of her younger brother. As trial after trial burdens her life, Elianna continues to live with shame, guilt and the heaviness of her circumstances. Making decisions which are both devastating yet heart-felt, she learns of the man whose garment can heal through touch; thus, sharing the story of the woman was lived unclean for 12 years yet found healing in so many ways…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a Christy award-winning author, author of several Biblical-fictional works, and a highly recommended author, it is hard to believe this is the first book by author Tessa Afshar that I have read. With a previous book of hers on my to-be-read stack, I am now sorry it slipped towards the bottom of the pile. As a fictional account of a woman from the Bible, I believe it was done with respect, emotion, knowledge and substance. With Bible verses beginning each chapter with a hint of what was to follow, I became emotionally involved with the lead character, Elianna, and felt each crushing event along with her. Definitely a well-written novel from an author I will now search out, moving her previous book upward in my TBR collection.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Land of Silence from Tyndale House Publishing for my honest review*

The Elements of Pizza

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Forkish, Ken. The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home. USA: Ten Speed Press Publishing. 2016.

elementsofpizza

SUMMARY:
James Beard Award-winning author, Ken Forkish, proves that the best pizza can be made at home. Starting with the crust, mixing the batter, shaping the dough, piling on the correct toppings, baking with care and finally enjoying the tastiest pizza in the comfort of your own home, The Elements of Pizza makes it understandable, enjoyable and achievable. With several different types of pizza crusts from which to choose, favorite flavorful sauces and delicious coverings, most anyone can be successful (and proud) of their pizza accomplishments.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a family who likes to experiment with pizza, the Elements of Pizza was a scrumptious treat for us. With different dough ideas, sauce strategies, garnish suggestions and pizza history, this book will remain on our shelf yet will probably become full of flour, paste, and tomatoes as we use it again and again. Owner of three restaurants in Portland, Oregon, and an award-winning author, Ken Forkish definitely know his pizza. A beautiful book complete with directions, personal commentary, instructional pictures, recipes, photographs and lots of options, it is absolutely a must-gift for the pizza lover in life.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

One Dress. One Year.

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Winz, Bethany. With Aughtmon, Susanna Foth. One Dress. One Year. One Girl’s Stand against Human Trafficking. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2016.

onedressoneyear

SUMMARY:
One Girl. One Dress. One Year. For Freedom. So begins the idea behind author Bethany Winz’s project to raise awareness in fighting human trafficking. Deciding she needed to do “something” to help stop modern day slavery, known as human trafficking, sixteen- year old Bethany sets out to wear the same black dress every day for an entire year. Though she can accessorize it, change it and wash it, every morning she puts it on as she focuses attention on the world of trafficking. Raising money for the cause along the way, meeting many people on her journey, but most importantly, learning and growing herself, Bethany understands and shares that God loves you dearly and deeply, no matter the circumstances…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
An amazing undertaking by a sixteen-year high-school student, I was inspired and encouraged by the author’s commitment to persevere through her endeavor, even when it became hard to do so. Watching her grow in her relationships, her beliefs and her abilities was exceptional especially during the difficult times. Written from Bethany’s personal perspective, it was easy to read while cheering on her efforts. Definitely a book to share with young adults, youth groups and ministries, the entire theme of the black dress makes a mark. Well done, Bethany!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of One Dress. One Year. from Baker Books for my honest review*

Hunting Hope

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Maples, Nika. Hunting Hope: Dig Through the Darkness to Find the Light. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

huntinghope

SUMMARY:
Having been through tough times herself, speaker, educator and author Nike Maples shares the importance of hope in her own life while paralleling it to the Bible. Comparing the rough seasons of life to the cold, dreary, lifeless season of winter, she reminds us even then we are not alone and that our God truly cares and accompanies us during those times. Illustrating the many hope hunters in the Bible- Paul, Moses, Joseph- personal stories, encouragement and hope are given throughout.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So relate-able, so well-written and so personally encouraging, Hunting Hope inspires, reminds, strengthens and embraces while waiting for the sun to appear again. Using those dark times as a means to draw us closer to Him, believing and growing stronger in faith help remind us God is always in control (as hard as that can be to understand at times). Read in snippets or straight through, it is easy to follow and become immersed in, especially given her humor at points (like trying to find a rhyme for her name). Perfect as a Bible study, sermon series or a gift for someone in the midst of a winter season, this book will remain on my own bookshelf to be reread during my own chilly frosts.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

99 Favorite Amish Home Remedies

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Varozza, Georgia. 99 Favorite Amish Home Remedies: Healing Cures from Foods & Herbs, Soothing Salves & Creams, Natural Solutions for Your Home. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2016.

99amishremedies

SUMMARY:
Lavender for stress headaches, black tea for cleaning wood floors, beeswax and honey for chapped lips, and baking soda for mosquito bites…all natural and simple remedies yet highly effective. From gardening to cleaning house, skin irritations to pregnancy, 99 Favorite Amish Home Remedies provides plenty of natural, home solutions for house and yard, illnesses, personal care, and stress issues. Acutely organized, spiral-bound for ease of use, manageable ingredients, precise directions and spaces for notes, author Georgia Varozza makes natural home remedies uncomplicated…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So easy to understand, follow and use, as well as natural and clean, 99 Favorite Amish Home Remedies is the perfect book to have in your personal library. Without pesticides or processed additives, minor injuries and illnesses can often be treated safely with items usually found at home. Not necessarily replacing antibiotics and/ or medications for serious afflictions, the included items are reliable remedies to try in the interim. From flea deterrent for pets, to natural deodorant and lip balm, to natural mood enhancers for depression (exercise, sunlight and diet)…many opportunities are included for simple, plain remedies. (*It is important to note, however, in no way does this book take the place of, nor suggest, professional care should not be sought in medical emergencies and serious illnesses and injuries. This book pertains more to everyday occurrences and more inconsequential items.)  Part of a series of Favorite Amish books by this same author.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

A Fool & His Monet

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Orchard, Sandra. A Fool & His Monet: A Serena Jones Mystery. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

afoolandhismonet

SUMMARY:
As a member of the FBI Art Crime Team, Agent Serena Jones has a personal interest in this particular crime- who exactly stole the Monet from the local museum? Hoping that identifying the art thief may lead to clues of her grandfather’s death, Serena Jones is unable to work alone on the case. Stuck in a bit of a romantic mess of her own, Serena must decide where her heart leads, how to placate her mom’s ideas of a wedding and grandchildren, and what to do about her well-meaning but screw-loose Aunt. With humor, coziness and fun, author Sandra Orchard begins her newest series…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With her usual sense of suspense, author Sandra Orchard shares a witty story in her new Serena Jones Mystery series. Though a bit quirky and perhaps unrealistic at times, overall it was a good read. With strong characters and endless possibilities to continue, A Fool & His Monet kept my interest as I quickly finished it. Though maybe a bit confusing due to the many characters involved, the mystery was entertaining, lively and amusing. Especially liking some of the play on words, the title and cover were perfect!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Fool & His Monet from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Good + Simple (Hemsley + Hemsley)

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Hemsley, Jasmine. Hemsley, Melissa. Hemsley + Hemsley: Good + Simple. USA: Clarkson Potter. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
As a follow-up to their first book, The Art of Eating Well, authors Jasmine Hemsley and Melissa Hemsley continue with their lifestyle of wellness eating with Good + Simple. With a diet consistent with eliminating gluten, grains and refined sugars, this cookbook focuses on maximizing nutrition in an easy, delicious manner. More than just a cookbook, sisters Jasmine and Melissa also consider lifestyle- fashion, busyness, energy and mindful eating. Full of 140 recipes celebrating health, meal plans, a guide to the basic diet plan and beautiful pictures, this cookbook belongs in your kitchen.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As my first introduction to Hemsley + Hemsley, I have to admit I am intrigued. With a thriving family business in health, beauty and wellness, it appears the sisters are experts within the field. With a growing trend toward eating and living healthy, this cookbook is a good start. Though not necessarily following every recipe to the exact ingredients, I found the recipes were easily adaptable to my own taste while still staying healthy. Taking some of the important suggestions and tweaking them to fit my own style, this cookbook will become readily used. Hopefully, the sisters have yet another book on the near horizon.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Good + Simple from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Busy, Busy!

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Spinelli, Eileen (author). Ellis, Elina (illustrator). Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids/ Ideals Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
No matter the species, everyone is busy. Cat is busy tangling the yarn, Mouse is busy nibbling seeds, Mole is busy digging, Pig is busy in the mud, and Mommy is busy with work…BUT she always has time for a cuddle. With lots of adorable pictures, relatable animals, common activities, and love to share, Busy, Busy! is full of bright colors and reassuring cuddles. Constructed as a board book perfect for little hands, Eileen Spinelli and Elina Ellis make snuggle time even more enjoyable…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Fun, colorful, and charming, Busy, Busy! is so cute and cuddly. Offering encouragement even during the necessary busy times, small children are sure to love this thick book. Perfect in a child’s library, for the travel bag or in church, it would be delightful given as shower gift while paired with a stuffed animal, an animal outfit and rattle.  I especially liked the learning associated with each animal’s natural behavior as well as the sweet included message. Darling!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Would a Worm Go on a Walk?

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Hall, Hannah C.(author). Bolton, Bill (illustrator). Would a Worm Go on a Walk? Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids/ Ideals Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Celebrating God’s planned uniqueness for each individual and species in this adorable children’s book, author Hannah Hall and illustrator Bill Bolton team up to teach the Bible verse from Genesis 1:31 (God saw all that He had made, and it was very good). Through silly animal renditions, rhyming verses, brilliant colors and engaging pictures, Would a Worm Go on a Walk shares God’s intentional purpose for each. Worms don’t walk, possums don’t dance, penguins don’t fly and lions don’t like water…BUT normal or odd, the wise Creator planned each detail, loves them all, and finished with the best masterpiece of all…you!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With a strong basis, sing-a-long rhyming lines, recognizable animals, charming pictures and page-to-page color, Would a Worm Go on a Walk is sure to be a favorite. Whether a Sunday school library, school library or personal library, what a wonderful reminder of God’s love and plan for everyone. Loving the silliness yet message behind each verse, uniqueness and purpose is celebrated loudly and boldly. Excellent!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Would a Worm Go on a Walk from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Pressing Pause

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Ehman, Karen. Schwenk, Ruth. Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments For Moms To Meet With Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Being instructed to press pause from the crazy, intense, frazzled life of motherhood and take a deep breath while immersing in the calm, sweet and loving time with Jesus, authors Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk help with that transition. Through personal stories, encouraging statements, an appropriate prayer and several questions for self- reflection, Pressing Pause understands and meets moms right where and when Jesus is needed most…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Alternating between the two authors with similar yet different styles, I liked the difference in writing while the book stayed true to the theme presented by the included scripture for each devotion. Able to read each 3-4 page devotion in a brief setting, it was perfect for a quick pick-me-up when needed. The follow-up questions were thought-provoking and direct. I especially liked the eBook directions provided which correlated and made responses easily recordable. (That was the first time I had encountered that and they were easy to follow too!)  As experienced writers and speakers, the collaboration was excellent and as a result, might just make the perfect Mother’s Day gift for that special mom!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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