Sunrise, Easter Surprise!

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Hall, Hannah. Sunrise, Easter Surprise! Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals. 2018.

SUMMARY:
In charming rhyming verse with brightly colored illustrations, Sunrise, Easter Surprise! shares the beautiful Easter story with babies and toddlers. In a sturdy board book with soft edges and a firm binding, familiar characters delight in the risen Lord. Lambs, birds, bunnies and bumblebees join with people and Angels to proclaim the Good News. Perfect for the upcoming season and a wonderful start to faith-building, author Hannah Hall offers her newest book for children.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Simple rhyming words and child-friendly pictures make this little board book adorable and very appropriate for youngsters. Filled with the lovely Easter message, Sunrise, Easter Surprise! would be the right pick for an Easter basket, a church library, Sunday School or a personal bookshelf. Filled with animals that small ones can relate with easily, the rhyming lyrics are age-perfect for understanding and memorizing. Simple yet priceless on the path to a faith-filled routine.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

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Sweet Potato Soul

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Claiborne, Jenne. Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul. USA: Harmony books. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Mixing vegan with Southern cuisine in her new cookbook, cooking instructor, blog creator, and vegan chef, Jenne Claiborne, proves taste, soul, health and tradition can truly be combined. Named after her blog and YouTube channel, Sweet Potato Soul shares recipes, knowledge, personal stories and a bit of spiciness. Recipes for breakfast, salads, soups, sides, sauces, mains, desserts and drinks are included in a well organized manner. Coupled with beautiful photography, diners won’t miss the meat at all!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Surprised to find such a tempting cookbook filled with vegan recipes, it was perfectly pleasing both visually and content-wise. Already being mindful of what I eat and heading towards a more vegan lifestyle, I was thrilled to find the recipes easy to prepare, the ingredients easily accessible, the information helpful and the meals nourishing, healthy and delicious. Favorites already, Sweet Potato Hummus and Sweet Corn Succotash are Southern and so delectable- they will be staples in our house from now on. So enjoyably appetizing!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Sweet Potato Soul from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

That Grand Easter Day!

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Lord, Jill Roma (author). Trunflo, Alessia (Illustrator). That Grand Easter Day!  Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Read to the tune of “This is the House that Jack Built”, That Grand Easter Day! follows the format in both rhythm and rhyme. Along the way of the story, main characters are introduced with the initial verse of “That Grand Easter Day!” repeated throughout. Easy to read with gloriously stunning illustrations, this book contributes joyously to the Easter celebration!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Beautifully illustrated with a straight-forward, simple yet eloquent verse, That Grand Easter Day! praises the Easter jubilation in a perfect way. I loved the easy to read and rhyme stanzas with the repetition of certain phrases; wonderful to read to little ones while also being remarkable enough for new readers. Liking the bunny that appears in the story, I admire the way tradition meets contemporary with room for both. (After all, didn’t God create bunnies?) I hope to find more same-style books from Jill Roma Lord and Alessia Trunflo observing other important holidays in a like-manner. (Perhaps a series of them?)  Well done!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of That Grand Easter Day! from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Before We Were Yours

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Wingate, Lisa. Before We Were Yours. New York, USA: Ballantine Books. 2017.

SUMMARY:
In 1939, wrested from their familiar and enchanting home aboard the Arcadia, a shantyboat traveling the Mississippi River, Rill and her siblings soon find themselves at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Under the direction of Georgia Tann, many children were snatched and brought to the orphanage where they awaited adoption from wealthy, prominent citizens. Meanwhile, in present day, Avery Stafford stumbles upon some information that haunts her until she solves the secrecy of the notion. Determined to uncover her own involvement with her family’s history, as the story unfolds with times and events converging, Avery’s disclosure may affect all those around her.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Fictionalizing the true story of Georgia Tann and her involvement with a plentitude of scandalous adoptions, New York Times Bestselling author, Lisa Wingate, writes a deeply moving story. Utterly heartbreaking yet beautifully redemptive, Before We Were Yours is so well written and so emotionally grabbing, it is hard to put down. Though the subject matter was difficult to read, I couldn’t stop and even found myself thinking of the novel throughout the day. With a note from the author at the end of the book surrounding the actual facts of this true account, this story was quite authentic. Liking to find the reason or intent behind the title of a book, this one was perfectly named and even had a relevant picture which spoke volumes upon finishing the book.

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

Whiter than Snow

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Deppa, Joan. Whiter than Snow: Seasons of Love- Book 1. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Recently moving to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Bonnie Turner is only just beginning to realize the vastness, beauty and opportunity of the area. As a UP native, Brad Jorgenson takes it upon himself to turn Bonnie into a true “Yooper”, a person who lives in the UP of Michigan and follows certain cultural norms. (Using “yah” instead of “yes”, enjoying the possible 300+ inches of snow each season.) While exploring the UP, Bonnie recognizes that anger and bitterness are holding Brad back from truly appreciating the beauty and receiving forgiveness, things she hopes to change.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Very familiar with the area of the UP of Michigan, I could surely relate to this book. Written in a calming manner, with a focus on faith and the charm of the region, this novella packed a lot of miles into a shortened story. Sweet, graceful and engaging, I found Whiter than Snow, by author Joan Deppa, to be an inspirational read with a gorgeous book cover.

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Whiter than Snow from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Hope For Each Day Devotional

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Graham, Billy. Hope For Each Day- Words of Wisdom and Faith- Large Deluxe Edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017

SUMMARY:
Filled with 365 daily devotionals, Hope For Each Day gifts pages of scripture, thoughts, stories, and words of wisdom from preacher, evangelist and author, Billy Graham. Updated from an earlier edition to include an imitation leather cover, a larger, softer size, a more deluxe interior design, a ribbon marker and of course, lots of grace, peace and faith from a devotional leader. Sturdy, readable and genuine, this devotional will leave a legacy.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Respected and honored, Billy Graham has ministered to many all over the world. Complied into a beautiful devotional with an updated and more elegant style, I so admired this devotional. Definitely a book I will use this year and many years to follow, I would be proud to give this one as a gift, present it to a church, or recommend it to a friend. Though not too deep, each devotional contains enough of a message surrounding hope and inspiration that I can delve deeper on my own or keep the smile within my heart for the day. Beautiful!

RATING:
5 ( out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Hope For Each Day from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Mister B

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Byk, A. Lynn. Mister B: Living With a 98 Year-Old Rocket Scientist. Littleton, CO: Capture Books. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Moving in with her elderly father-in-law, researcher, investigator and author, Lynn Byk, had only hoped to spare Joseph Byk from the nursing home but received so much more in return. Organized into dated journal- type entries, Mister B shares the almost century-year-old history lived by a man who is humorous, cantankerous, passionate and not always politically correct. Heartwarming and honest, this story causes one to ponder life and smile.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a delightfully charming book! Actually a book for many to read, this tackles one of life’s issues- aging parents. Full of wonderfully thought-provoking lessons, I learned and enjoyed several snippets of history from Mister B. With many stories waiting to be passed down, Lynn Byk knows just the questions to ask to keep her father-in-law talking. Well-written with wit, compassion and grace, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Priceless!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

VeggieTales-Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers

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Kennedy, Pamela. And Kennedy-Brady, Anne. VeggieTales- Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
In a soft, cushy board-book, authors Pamela Kennedy and Anne Kennedy-Brady fill the sturdy pages with nighttime prayers. Surrounding the prayers are familiar, colorful and playful VeggieTales characters. With a mix of shorter and a bit longer prayers, each contains rhyming verse which reads quite easily. A few Scripture verses mingle on the pages in conjunction with the prayers, all with smiling Veggie figures.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Sweet, amiable, cheerful and engaging, VeggieTales- Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers is perfect for the evening routine of bedtime prayers. I like the simple rhymes which can be very calming as well as quickly learned. Familiarity is so important at a young age which VeggieTales delivers. The packaging of the book is soft yet strong for those chubby little hands (and spills). Great for home use, a church library, or baby gift, this board-book is sure to please.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of VeggieTales- Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers for my honest review*

Missing Isaac

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Luesse, Valerie Fraser. Missing Isaac. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:’
In the deep South during the 1960s, different people came from very different worlds depending on social class and color. When Pete McLean experiences a tragedy in his life, farmhand Isaac steps in to fill the void. Friends despite the color difference, Pete is devastated when Isaac disappears one evening. Without much help from the community, Pete sets out to learn the truth about Isaac’s disappearance and by chance, meets a girl. Together they grow, changing the social dynamics of the South along the way.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a debut novel for an author, I was surely impressed. With strong characters, raw emotion, a powerful definition of friendship, and a style true to the South, Missing Isaac is a story of a young man growing to adulthood and developing his morals, integrity and character. Along with a mystery, a bit of faith, and heart-felt emotion, author Valerie Luesse writes an honest novel, perhaps one even appropriate as a movie storyline. Definitely an author I will watch for and read again.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Lacemaker

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

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

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

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The House on Foster Hill

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

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

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

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

The View from Rainshadow Bay

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

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

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

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Faithful Finance

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

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

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

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Pupcakes

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

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

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

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

Capital Gaines

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

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

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

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

POK POK The Drinking Food of Thailand

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

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

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

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children

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

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

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

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Staying Stylish

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

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

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

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Jesus Always

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

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

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

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

An Amish Christmas Love

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

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

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

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Carve

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

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

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

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Perennials

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

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

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

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Church of the Small Things

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

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

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

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Nourished

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

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

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

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Hope Unashamed

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

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

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

RATING:
4.75 (out of 5) pennies

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

Merry and Bright

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

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

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

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

 

Maverick and Me

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

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

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

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Everyday Watercolor

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

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

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

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Fierce Hearted

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

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

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

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Love Unfeigned

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

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

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

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Christmas at Carnton

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

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

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

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Keto Reset Diet

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Sisson, Mark With Kearns, Brad. The Keto Reset Diet: Reboot Your Metabolism In 21 Days And Burn FAt Forever. New York, USA: Harmony Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Sweeping the eating culture in popularity recently, the Keto diet is based on metabolism and the many contributing/ surrounding factors. In his new book, the Keto Reset Diet, author, athlete and health coach Mark Sisson shares his most recent research into eating for a healthy lifestyle. Filled with lots of specific information about the Keto method of eating as well as a 21 day menu for getting your body ready, there are also over 100 recipes which support the Keto diet. Based on the theory of a high-fat, moderate-protein and low-carb pattern of eating, this cookbook sets the stage for success.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having heard of the Keto method of nutrients and lifestyle, I was intrigued enough to further research the diet. As an interesting and easy to understand book, The Keto Reset Diet definitely answered several of my questions as well as made a case for this manner of sustenance. Though not quite ready to commit, I will try some of the included recipes while I investigate and read further. With lots of information regarding nutrition, metabolism, health, and ingredients, even if the Keto diet is not strictly followed, there are absolutely some healthy ideas and suggestions to incorporate into a healthier lifestyle. A great book to read while deciding if this diet is right for you.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Keto Reset Diet from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Beyond The Castle

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Dreyer, Jody Jean. With Windahl, Stacy. Beyond the Castle: A Guide to Discovering Your Happily Ever After. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
How does Walt Disney World create the magic known to so many people? Is it possible to continue the magic even after the vacation is over? Where do you find your “happily ever after”? These questions and so many more are explored and shared in author Jody Dreyer’s new book, Beyond The Castle- A Guide To Discovering Your Happily Ever After. Having worked for Disney for over 30 years in various positions, the author is quite capable of telling her story as it relates to Disney. Through life lessons learned as a result of her roles and Disney interactions, Jody helps guests write their own story based on her experiences at Walt Disney World. It truly is possible to find your “happily ever after” if you know where to look…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having recently enjoyed a vacation to Walt Disney World with another one booked, as well as being a huge fan of Disney, I was excited to read this book. Perhaps expecting just a few more personal stories from an insider to Disney, I did appreciate the perspective of lessons learned from Disney and the encouragement to be in control of my own story and happy ending. Liking the manner in which faith, life, happiness and Disney were intertwined, this is definitely a book any Disney fan will want to check out; I will absolutely tuck mine into my suitcase for my next Disney trip!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Beyond The Castle from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Fatal Trust

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Johnson, Todd M. Fatal Trust. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As a new young lawyer hoping to keep his late father’s law practice current while taking care of his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s, Ian Wells is willing to take just about any case that he is given. Amid his stress of life and bills, a thirty-five year old case resurfaces which Ian accepts. While investigating the case, Ian soon realizes this simple case may become a criminal investigation perhaps even involving his own family…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a new author to me, I was quite impressed. Suspense and mystery surround investigations, high stakes and criminal activity. Though maybe just a bit busy in the first few chapters, once the storyline evolved and the main character emerged, I found it hard to put the book down. With flashbacks to history interspersed with current time, this novel by Todd Johnson was well written and kept my attention easily. Definitely not the last book I will read by this author, Fatal Trust has ensured a new fan and future reader.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Queso!

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Fain, Lisa. Queso! Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chili-Cheese Dip. New York, USA: Ten Speed Press Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With over 55 recipes in this chili-cheese collection, Queso! is a spicy cookbook surrounding the deliciousness of cheese dips. Beginning with necessary information on the different chili peppers and cheeses, this convenient sized cookbook then progresses to numerous recipes celebrating queso. Complete with a brief introduction to each recipe, readily available ingredients, simple to follow directions and beautiful photography throughout, author and James Beard Award winner Lisa Fain has created a highly use-able and do-able specialty cookbook.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a fan of chili con queso but stuck in a rut preparing it only one way, Queso! has definitely changed that predicament. With seriously mouth-watering recipes (San Antonio Chili con Queso, Brisket Queso, and Macaroni & Cheese with Green Chili Queso Blanco) grouped into 5 different themes, I found so many new queso ideas to try and share. Making the quesos to accompany a family dinner or bringing to a get-together of friends, Queso! is sure to make popular and tasty treats for all…just be sure to be ready to make more! Yum!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional

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Fisk, Julie. Roehl, Kendra. Demery, Kristin. The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional: 365 Inspiring Ideas to Reveal, Give, and Find God’s Love. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum/ Tyndale House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With a whole year of inspirational devotions to read, share and act upon, The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional is complete with a scripture verse, personal story, and an act of kindness to randomly perform for each day. Organized into days with a one-page devotion, the three authors take turns supplying the devotion with an associated idea for action. Easy and enjoyable to read but containing a possible huge impact, this one year devotional is do-able, relatable and personable.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Already looking for my next devotional for the new year, The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional will fill that need. Simple to begin any day during the year, I appreciate the organization and honesty with which it was written. Realizing the effect daily acts of kindness could have on myself as well as others, this book would work well in a group setting or for individual use. Having several other devotionals already from The One Year series, I know the reliability and timeliness of the included devotions as well as the scriptural references. Well thought out and organized, my search for a 2018 devotional is now complete.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

Sweet Potatoes

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Heck, Mary-Frances. Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, And Made Into Pie. New York, USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As one of the more nutritious items on the menu, there is no limit to the many ways sweet potatoes can be prepared. Organized into a nice sized cookbook, Sweet Potatoes is filled with delicious and creative ideas for sharing sweet potatoes. From the perfect sweet potato french fries to soups, side dishes, main courses, breads and even desserts, there are plenty of recipes sure to please any sweet potato connoisseur. Complete with a sweet potato primer (filled with lots of information about the basic sweet potato including types, sizes, complementary seasonings, and preparation), as well as a personal introduction to each recipe, easy to follow directions, and accompanying photographs of most recipes, Sweet Potatoes is a wonderful addition to any cookbook collection.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a huge sweet potato fan, I was thrilled to find a book which contained several new ways to prepare and serve a favorite dish. Sweet potato burgers, Cobb salad, Braised sausage with sweet potatoes and Twice-baked sweet potatoes are just a few of the many new recipes I found within this cookbook. Finding an easy and successful way to make crispy and tasty sweet potato fries was priceless!  Definitely a great gift for anyone who loves sweet potatoes, the new cookbook by food writer, recipe developer and chef, Mary-Frances Heck, will get lots of use in my kitchen.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

With You Always

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Hedlund, Jody. With You Always: Orphan Train Series- Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Having lived on the streets previously with her younger siblings, immigrant Elise Neumann must find a way to support them. Boarding a train from New York to Illinois in the hopes of finding a job, Elise makes an acquaintance with Thornton Quincy, a member of New York’s elite society trying to build a new town along the Illinois Central Railroad and in the process of hiring skilled workers. When an attraction sparks but threatens progress, Elise and Thornton must make choices which may affect more than just their own futures…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Reading anything author Jody Hedlund writes, of course I knew I would read her newest novel, With You Always. In her true style, she writes a heartfelt, moving, compassionate story which ends way too soon but thankfully, is only Book 1 in the new Orphan Train series. Appreciating the research into the time periods as well as the Author’s Note at the end of the story where she explains the history, I applaud her for telling the story from the different perspective of women during the time. A strong introduction to a new and interesting series!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

The Sugarsmart Cookbook

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Varozza, Georgia. The Sugarsmart Cookbook. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Designing a cookbook around being sugar-smart as a way to eat healthy and lose weight, author Georgia Varozza shares her reduced sugar, simple yet delicious recipes in her new cookbook, The Sugarsmart Cookbook. With recipes for lunches, main dishes, soups, salads, breads and even desserts, this convenient spiral-bound cookbook containing almost 200 recipes includes common ingredients, easy to follow directions and a beneficial recipe index.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Always on the lookout for new healthy recipe ideas, I thought The Sugarsmart Cookbook would be a perfect addition to my cookbook collection. With inviting recipes using minimal sugar as an ingredient, though not necessarily new, the creative combination of ingredients will put a different twist on some of our already favorite menus. Only wishing for nutritional information and accompanying pictures to be included, these recipes are easily adaptable to personal preference or dietary concerns and will definitely have a place on my kitchen shelf.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies
*I received a complimentary copy of The Sugarsmart Cookbook from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Holiday Cookies

Featured

der Nederlanden, Elisabet. Scott, Erin (photographer). Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season. USA: Ten Speed Press. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Professional recipe developer and food stylist, Elisabet der Nederlanden, shares fifty new and updated recipes for holiday cookies. Complete with beautiful photographs of each recipe as well as decorating tips and packaging ideas, Holiday Cookies showcases such favorites as Triple-Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Gingerbread Cookies along with Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers and Espresso Thins. With personal introductions, lists of needed ingredients, and easy to follow directions for every recipe, the decorating section only enhances this special seasonal cookbook.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though marketed as a holiday cookie book, I believe this fun cookie cookbook could actually be used year-round to make delicious cookies. Finding recipes to use any time of the year, I did appreciate the section on recipes for cookie exchanges. Perfect as the baking season approaches, I always delight in new cookie recipes for Christmas get-togethers, while my family enjoys the new creations for dessert. Coupled with attractive photographs, this is definitely a book which I will use this coming season and beyond.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Abiding Mercy

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Reid, Ruth. Abiding Mercy: An Amish Mercies Series- Book 1. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Growing up in the Amish community, Faith is content to work at her parent’s restaurant, The Amish Table. As a hard worker and part of an Amish family, though she struggles at times, nothing compares to the heartbreak and controversy she soon must address. With questions swirling, answers needed and possible forgiveness sought, Abiding Mercy follows two storylines of two very different backgrounds but perhaps a combined future. As the start of a new series, Amish Mercies, author Ruth Reid peaks interest with this first book.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With a bit of a more unique Amish storyline, I was intrigued with how this book would unfold and finish. Reading it in one evening (very rare for me), the pages just kept turning. With a few surprises, developed characters, and an interesting storyline, I thought this novel was well written. Though perhaps it was a little apparent, the journey of reaching the end was enjoyable. Definitely a series I will follow, I appreciate the sincerity and honesty with which the author writes of the Amish and their way of life.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Before You Hit Send

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Eggerichs, PhD, Emerson. Before You Hit Send: Preventing Headache and Heartache. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Everyone has been there…sending the immediate message, only to regret it later. In his new book, Before You Hit Send, author Dr. Emerson Eggerichs hopes to help put the brakes on those messages sooner than later. Working through four important criteria for messages, both written and spoken, each message should pass through the “Is it True, Is it Kind, Is it Necessary, and Is it Clear” test. With explanations of each area as well as related scripture verses, thoughts, personal stories and self examinations, the book also includes ideas for actions if that message was sent too quickly.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Well organized, easy to follow, interesting to read and right on target, this thought-provoking, encouraging and highly applicable book should be required reading. Taking his advice to heart, I hope to redirect my communication to qualify through the four criteria presented in Before You Hit Send so as not to have the regrets nor the consequences of miscommunication through haste. A very good book with great ideas and important actions, I will recommend this book to many of my family and friends.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Before You Hit Send from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

A Fierce Love

Featured

Shanks, Shanna. A Fierce Love: One Woman’s Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With her marriage on an uncontrollable downward spiral, author Shanna Shanks decides to take 1 Corinthians 13 literally and follow it word, for painstakingly word. Faced with a request for a divorce after her husband admitted to an affair, in her new book, A Fierce Love, the author shares her tumultuous season full of mistakes, missteps, uncertainty, and doubt. Pure, raw, and vulnerable, the decision made to save her marriage may save more than just her marriage, it may also save countless other relationships.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A valuable read no matter the state of any marriage, A Fierce Love reiterates the truth found in God’s word in the Love scripture, 1 Corinthians 13. Written during one of the toughest seasons of her life, I so appreciated the honesty with which Shanna Shanks wrote. Able to take the lessons and strengthen not only marriages, the same principles could also be applied to endless relationships. Engaging, interesting, encouraging and inspirational, this book is not to be missed by anyone involved in a relationship.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Fierce Love from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Mix & Match Mama Simmers

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Shull, Shay. Mix & Match Mama Simmers: Slow-Cooker Creations Your Family Will Love. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As a successful blogger and cookbook author, Shay Shull adds another book to her list. Full of delicious recipes for the slow-cooker and coupled with scrumptious-looking photographs of each, Mix & Match Mama Simmers is filled with family-friendly ideas made easy. Created to help during the busy time surrounding dinner, this delightful cookbook features chicken and pork recipes, as well as soup, dips and desserts- all designed for the slow-cooker.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though not necessarily fancy, the recipes in this beautiful little cookbook are definitely tasty and useful. With ingredients found in most pantries and pleasing to most family members, the idea of making these dinner favorites in a slow-cooker is even more enjoyable. I really appreciated the ease of substituting and/ or adding elements according to personal preference and dietary decisions. Easy to follow directions, quick to assemble ingredients and supper ready when everyone walks in the door…priceless!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Mix & Match Mama Simmers from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Many Sparrows

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Benton, Lori. Many Sparrows. USA: Waterbrook Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With a newborn ready to be born any day, Clare Inglesby feels so alone in the western mountain area, in Native American territory. Traveling across country, Clare’s husband, Phillip, must return home leaving Clare alone with their four-year-old son. Discovering Jacob missing, Clare has no other choice than to trust frontiersman, Jeremiah, for help. Through fright, heartbreak, uncertainty, trust and faith, Clare must make choices which may affect her life as well as those of her children. Adventurous, gripping, and heart-stirring, Many Sparrows shares the tumultuous journey of people, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Literally waiting weeks for this book to become available, I have read every one of author Lori Benton’s books and have yet to be disappointed. Drawn into the novel as if I was truly there, I felt every emotion and experience encountered by the characters. Well-written with an embracing storyline, the messages, lessons and faith within lend to the depth. Definitely a book I would recommend and probably re-read (very rare for me), Many Sparrows was worth the wait. I look forward to, as well as anticipate, many more novels from this author.

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

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

She’s Still There

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

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

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

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

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

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

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

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

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Captain’s Daughter

Featured

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

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

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

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Turquoise Table

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

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

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

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Simple Decorating

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

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

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

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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