What Once Was Lost

Sawyer, Kim Vogel. What Once Was Lost. Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press. 2013.

SUMMARY:
lostChristina Willems’s world is turned upside down after a fire severely damages the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor. As the home’s leader, she must find temporary shelter for the home’s inhabitants. As a last choice, Christian must place the young boy Tommy, who has been blinded, with the reclusive Mr. Levi Jonnson. While the circumstances are not ideal, they may prove to be the required events to bring much needed change and healing within the residents, Christiana, and Levi.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I can guarantee that this will be a book that you will whole-heartedly devour. From the first chapter to the last, you will gladly consume the words written by Kim Vogel Sawyer. My only advice – make sure you start the novel at a time when you can read the book in an entire sitting; otherwise, you will find yourself reluctantly tearing yourself away from the pages to attend to distractions. Forget laundry, making dinner and homework – eagerly absorbing the sentences of the book will become your main priority.

MY RATING:
4.5 (out of 5 Stars)

*I received a complimentary copy of What Once Was Lost from WaterBrook Press for my honest review*

A Bride For All Seasons

Brownley, Margaret. Clopton, Debra. Hatcher, Robin Lee. Connealy, Mary. A Bride for All Seasons. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2013.

SUMMARY:
Mail-Order BridesFour authors contribute to this Mail-Order Bride Collection. Each of the four novellas take place in a different season but with the same premise: a mail-order bride hoping to find ever-after happiness. Meddling in the mist though, is the owner of the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalog, Mr. Melvin Hitchcock, who takes it upon himself to “reword” each submission as he deems necessary for success.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I found this collection of short stories to be a perfect light read. I was introduced to a few new authors, I enjoyed the bride-to-be basis of each, I was tickled by the stubbornness and determination of the heroines and I was thrilled I could start and finish each tale in just a short amount of time (during this very busy time of year). Most of the included story-lines I would love to see developed into full-length novels but will instead search out other books by these authors in hopes that they deliver the same enjoyment.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Bride for All Season from BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson for my honest review*

Rebellious Heart

Hedlund, Jody. Rebellious Heart. Bloomington, MN: Bethany house. 2013.

SUMMARY:
revellious heartSusanna Smith, daughter of a minister and his wife, lives a comfortable yet controlled life. When she meets Benjamin Ross, a man of few means, she realizes he will never be accepted by her parents as a suitor. Involved in his own adventures, Ben quickly becomes an advisor to Susanna as she becomes involved in a dangerous situation concerning a runaway indentured servant. Rebellion and revolution soon result to all that once was believed and held true…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Inspired by the early courtship of the second President of the United States and his First Lady, John and Abigail Adams, Rebellious Heart weaves suspense, adventure, and romance together all while staying true to Christian values. I was excited to read another novel by Jody Hedlund and this story did not disappoint at all. I found I could not turn the pages fast enough; the action and drama were captivating! Cover-to-cover, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was only sorry to finish it. Congratulations to Jody Hedlund on an absolutely enthralling read!

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Rebellious Heart from Bethany House for my honest review*

Amish Friends (Cookbook)

Brunstetter, Wanda E. The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, Inc. 2013.

SUMMARY:
Amish cookbookThe author has created an appealing cookbook full of hearty and delicious recipes ranging from Breakfast Foods to Desserts (and many, many items in between). It appears most (if not all) of the recipes are shared by Amish women from throughout the different Amish communities (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana). Though basic in ingredients, the results sound satisfying and appetizing. Many of the recipes include a picture of the anticipated outcome. Mixed throughout the chapters of recipes is the history of Amish communities with the many differences and similarities explained (schools, transportation, religion, etc).

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I received this cookbook as an eBook and it was outstanding on my Nook. The pictures with the recipes were visually pleasing. The Amish recipes used several everyday pantry items along with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and sweets to mix the items in new ways. I actually tried a few of the recipes with my family and plan to continue to add them to my meals (Bean Salad, Winter Fruit Salad, Chicken Pot Pie, Cobbler, Honey Bun Cake). I also appreciated the Amish tidbits and learned about the different beliefs and customs associated with the different Amish communities. Definitely worth taking a peek at, this book was a nice change-of-pace from my usual fiction books (and SO appreciated by my hungry family)! Yum!!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Best of Amish Friends Cookbook Collection from Netgalley and Barbour Publisher for my honest review*

Busy Mamas (Bible Study)

Forster, Pam. Thirty Days of Bible Study for busy Mamas. Gaston, OR: Doorposts. 2013.

SUMMARY:
Busy MamasBusy Mamas Bible Study is a quick, five-minutes-a-day study of Colossians 3. The study focuses mainly on that chapter of the Bible providing a deeper understanding without requiring a lot of extra time (thus, the name: Busy Mamas). Biblically sound, the author suggests colored pencils, drawings, a notebook and lists to help participants understand Colossians 3 more acutely. Through familiarity with the chapter as well as explanations connected with everyday life, this book teaches yet leaves you fulfilled.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
No longer do I have the excuse that “I am just too busy to read the Bible”. The author took away that excuse but replaced it an informative, achievable, enjoyable method of spending time in God’s Word. She gives amusing examples, obtainable time structures and flexible methods for studying and understanding Colossians 3 in the Bible. (What a wonderful reason to take 5 minutes a day for myself…alone!) The author does do a wonderful job of showing ways though to share what you learn/ read with your children. I only hope Pam Forster continues to offer different Busy Mamas studies of the Bible.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Busy Mamas from Bookcrash and Doorposts for my honest review*

Forsaken Dreams

Tyndall, MaryLu. Forsaken Dreams. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing. 2013.

SUMMARY:
forsakenEliza Crawford, a widowed Confederate army nurse, sets sail for Brazil hoping to guard her secrets. New friends, a dangerous sea and the intriguing Colonel Blake Wallace complicate the journey to the new land and envisioned utopian community. Eliza Crawford and Colonel Blake Wallace must sort through dangers and painful memories to find the forgiveness and peace for which they both long.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
MaryLu Tyndall presents the reader with an exceptional use of the literary technique of flash-forward and flashback. While flash-forward is a difficult element to successfully use, Tyndall incorporates the technique with literary grace. By combining the flash-forwards and flashbacks, the reader is swept into the story by gaining the characters’ perspectives. The slightly disorientating effect that the method naturally produces, was well incorporated into a story that is set at sea. Overall, the resulting effect is a believable set of characters and a vivid setting and context.

MY RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

Every Waking Moment

Fabry, Chris. Every Waking Moment. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2013.

SUMMARY:
fabryTreha Langsam, a young woman struggling with her own difficulties, has a special gift…she is able to connect with elderly people suffering from dementia. Though not able to cure the residents of Desert Gardens Retirement Home, Treha provides a way of communication, if only temporary. While helping those in need, she must “find” her own self albeit very painful at times. When a documentary shifts the story to Treha, she must question “if this is as good as life gets, it that enough”?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
This novel caused me to ponder life in ways I hadn’t considered. Deeply intriguing yet profoundly compassionate, the story connected people of all ages and stages in life with each other. Through almost a funnel effect, the author took the position that everyone’s life story affects others in some way. It poses the question…”when is enough, good enough”? Not a genre I normally read, in fact, almost a book I found myself discontinuing, I became drawn into the heart of the storyline and compulsively finished.

To delve deeper into the meaning of the novel, here are a few questions and answers posed to the author, Chris Fabry:

1. What was your inspiration for this book, Every Waking Moment?
The question at the center of this story is “If this is as good as it gets, am I okay with
life?” I find this is a universal question that hits at the heart of our outlook on life and
our belief in God. The other question it raises is this: If you could bring someone back from dementia
or Alzheimer’s and have a conversation, what would you ask? What would you say to that person?

2. Tell me about your main character Treha Langsam. Was this character based upon anyone in particular?
She was loosely based on my own children and what they’ve gone through the past five years. This is probably my most personal story to date. We were exposed to toxic mold. Most people think you can only get a rash or have respiratory damage, but it can attack the brain. Treha’s symptoms are similar to what I’ve seen in them and others who have been exposed.

3. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel?
I love the fact that God doesn’t look at the exterior; he looks at the heart. As humans, we have a
tendency to judge on first impressions, but we miss so much by doing that. Those who are disabled, those who have some kind of struggle in life, those who are older—all are lumped into a category,
and this is such a disservice to them and us.

4. How do you expect Treha’s story to resonate with your readers?
I think everyone feels a bit like Treha. She is the little engine that could, even if she isn’t
given a chance. And it only takes one person giving someone else a chance. I’m hoping
readers will give someone a chance—or maybe let someone else give them a chance.

5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I loved getting to know Treha better because she’s so mysterious to everyone around
her. She’s also a bit scary. To crawl into her skin and walk around and see what she sees
is a heartbreaking, life-affirming journey. I also liked the discovery that came with other
characters who encounter Treha and see how she changes their lives.

6. What is your hope for this story? How would you like it to impact readers?
My hope is that this force of nature, Treha, would empower readers to believe the truth
about themselves and others. In Christ, you are stronger than you think you are. With
God, you can do anything he calls you to do.

7. How has this novel helped you to grow as a storyteller?
Trying to tell a complex story in a simple way is always difficult, and people’s lives are
hugely complex. Trying to uncover the truth about Treha—why she is the way she is and
where she might be able to go from here—helped me as a human being as well as a writer.

8. Your novels typically touch on a relevant and current topic in our culture. What topics do you weave into this novel?
One thread running deeply through this story is the reliance we have on drugs. It’s much easier to take a pill than to make a lifestyle change. And this is affecting individuals, families, and our culture. It also means a great deal of money to institutions, so in tackling this, I know I’m not going to make friends in the pharmaceutical industry. I’m grateful for drugs—my son wouldn’t be alive today without insulin. But every positive thing can have a negative side as well

9. What big questions will this novel get your reader
thinking about? What is your backstory? What is the worth of an individual?

Old, young, disabled, unsuccessful…several characters are faced with questions of their own worth as well as how they treat others. I’ve always heard that your faith is tested by how you treat
someone who can’t do anything for you. This story will get you thinking about some of
those deep issues of the heart.

10. How do you manage your time with such a full life, including a writing career, a radio
career, and a large family?

Everyone has the same amount of time each day. We simply make choices about what
we invest in. Hence, I spend less time watching television than I used to. That’s a huge
time waster. I get up earlier and go to bed earlier. And when you begin your day
centered on God’s Word and ask him what your priorities should be, things generally fall
into place. I haven’t arrived at that balance, but I’m struggling as well as I can.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies.

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

Courage to Change

Maddrey, Elizabeth. Courage to Change. Hopesprings Books/ Chalfront House Publishing. 2013.

SUMMARY:
courageRecently divorced, Phil Reid struggles to overcome his rough relationship with his ex-wife, Brandi. Having become a Christian, he is hesitant to become involved in a relationship with Attorney Allison Vasak, a woman who is driven by her heart. Both work together to help a pregnant teenager and her dad make some tough decisions in a difficult situation. Will any of them have the courage to change?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Elizabeth Maddrey pens a contemporary Christian novel which actually reads quite speedily. Although a lighter read, the issues dealt with could be a part of most people’s lives. The shorter chapters as well as the cute borders marking breaks within the chapter, all lend to smooth transitions between characters and situations. The book is Book 2 in a series (Grant Us Grace) but only twice did I find I was missing information due to a reference to a previous event. I most likely will read the next book in this series which is due out this month yet.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Courage to Change from Bookcrash and Hopespring Books for my honest review*

Rules of Murder

Deering, Julianna. Rules of Murder. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House. 2013.

SUMMARY:
murderMadeline Parker has come from America to visit her uncle at his home in Britain. Upon reaching her uncle’s home, she is swept into family and societal mystery. In the course of one dinner party, several family secrets are revealed and lives are changed forever as murder strikes in an unexpected manner. In order to solve the ensuing mystery, the American Madeline Parker must work with the intriguing British Drew Farthering to uncover the truth.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
The author successfully accomplishes no easy feat – writing a novel that is convincingly British. The novel carefully remains within the set context and location by exceptional use of word choice. Furthermore, the genre remains consistent until the last page by creating a mystery that turns back the clock to the early 1900s. The British 1900s unfold for the reader through descriptions of landscape, clothing, popular culture and societal norms. It becomes easy to picture a 1932 Rolls Royce, an elegant dinner party and a weekly radio program. Albeit slow to unfold, the mystery sets a rigorous pace that will not fail to delight.

MY RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Rules of Murder from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Liebster Award

liebster

I was recently nominated for the liebster Award by one of my blog followers: http://booklovers1.wordpress.com/about/. I am honored to accept as well as humbled to have been nominated. (The Liebster Award is an award designed to help bloggers enter the blogging community.)

Here are the questions I was posed and my answers:

1. If you could pick a favourite author who would it be and why? What specific book or series of theirs do you highly recommend?
My favorite author is Karen Witmeyer. My favorite book of hers is “Head in the Clouds”.

2. If you could pick any fictional world to live in, which would it be? What is so appealing about it?
I would love to live in the late 1800s since I enjoy the Christian historical fiction set in that time.

3. Out of all the fictional characters you have been introduced to, who do you really want to meet? What is it about them that appeals to you?
Ivy Malone! I love her spunky, spirited, sarcastic sense of humor!

4. What is your favourite bible verse and why (if it is not too personal)?
Jeremiah 29:13…I found it after watching/ reading “Soul Surfer” and love the message.

5. What has been your lifelong dream or aspiration?
Being an inspiration in someone’s life and leaving a legacy.

6. If you were able to learn any language, which would it be?
Italian

7. You find a time traveling machine in your backyard. What period of your life would you revisit?
Middle School and High School…I loved homeschooling!

8. You are generously given 1 million dollars. How would you spend it?
Books and Coffee!

9. If you were able to pick an actor/actress for one of your favourite fictional characters, who would it be?
Sally Fields to play Ivy Malone

10. Are there any recent movies you highly recommend?
Unfortunately, I don’t have time to watch movies as my nose is usually in a book!

Here are my questions for my nominees:
1. If you could meet any author, whom would you like to meet?
2. What is your favorite childhood book?
3. If you could watch a movie adaptation of any book, which book would you choose?
4. What is your favorite genre of books?
5. What is the next book on your “must read” list?
6. If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?
7. Who is your role model?
8. If you wrote a book, what would the title be?
9. What book has inspired you through use of a Bible verse?
10.Why or how did you start bogging?

Though extremely hard to choose, I am limited to only ten blog nominees, so here are my choices:
http://sevennotesofgrace.com/
http://edifier1.wordpress.com/
http://anncole68.wordpress.com/
http://tlacorte.wordpress.com/
http://thestorytela.wordpress.com/
http://interestingliterature.wordpress.com/
http://futureflyingsaucers.wordpress.com/
http://ellenolinger.wordpress.com/
http://reetchampionbookreviews.wordpress.com/
http://whoopiepieplace.com/

Here are a few procedures to forward this Award on:
– Link back the blogger that tagged you
– Nominate ten others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you
– Ask ten questions for the bloggers you nominate
– Let your nominees know of their award
(Please let me know when you answer the questions as I would like to check back and read through your answers.)

Again, thank-you to booklovers1 for the nomination. (Please visit http://booklovers1.wordpress.com/about.) Have fun and enjoy the Award!