The Butterfly and the Violin

Cambron, Kristy. The Butterfly and the Violin: A Hidden Masterpiece Novel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2014.

SUMMARY:
violinSet in present day New York City yet intertwined with the past in Vienna, Austria, Sera James feels a strong connection to the woman, Adele Von Bron, in the painting. Owning an art gallery in New York, Sera remembers when she first saw the painting of Adele with the shaved head, tattoo on her upper arm and the sad yet determined blue eyes. As Austria’s sweetheart of the violin in the 1940’s, Adele must follow what is in her heart, no matter where it may lead her…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a deeply written novel which perfectly combines past and present in a smooth and logical manner. Though not an easy subject (Auschwitz) to broach by any means, Kristy Cambron approached it with the respect and honesty it requires. For a debut novel, this was exemplary; I wanted to keep reading yet didn’t want to continue as I knew it would then end. Though I would have preferred a slightly different ending, I understand why the author chose to complete it the way in which she did. Aptly named with a beautifully designed cover, The Butterfly and the Violin will stay with you for quite some time after turning the last page.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Butterfly and the Violin from BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for my honest review*

A July Bride

Wiseman, Beth. A July Bride: A Year of Weddings Novellas. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 2014.

SUMMARY:
julybrideStood up at the altar by the man who apparently still loves her, Alyssa Pennington just cannot make sense of it all. A beautifully decorated church, the dress of her dreams, family and close friends all in attendance…and Brendan Myers gets cold feet at the last second. Faced with embarrassment, the loss of marrying the love-of-her-life and yet, still in love with him, Alyssa must decide if she can understand, accept and forgive Brendan…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Yet another installment in A Year of Weddings Novellas, I enjoyed this quick, light read as expected in this series. Beth Wiseman does a wonderful job with the characters, adding humor around some more serious elements and sprinkling it all with a touch of faith. I always enjoy this author’s writing style which continued in this novella. Definitely earning a spot within this Novella collection, I am glad A July Bride was included. Who doesn’t love a wedding after-all?

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A July Bride from BookLook Bloggers and Zondervan for my honest review*

Roadfood

Stern, Jane and Michael. Roadfood (Diner Guide). NY: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
roadfoodMuch like a travel guide is necessary for a vacation, Roadfood is a must when planning a visit to another city. With over 900 suggestions for places to eat, you are sure to find one that satisfies your palate. From BBQ shacks to pastry parlors to cozy cafeterias to lobster boils, each restaurant includes directions, hours, phone numbers, price guides and websites to make a trip even more enjoyable and easy…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Just in time for a planned trip to the Midwest, Roadfood provided the personal experience we hoped to include. Obviously packed with lots of information from firsthand adventures, Jane and Michael Stern share their expertise and experiences in one large book. With 900 places included and a “Roadfood Honor Roll” of 100, each unique dining destination includes a bit of history, the house-specials, and the authors’ knowledgeable opinions all arranged by location. I found it especially engaging to discover a few of my own favorites included as well as several to incorporate into my next road trip. Definitely a book I will leave in my suitcase…

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Roadfood from Blogging for Books and Clarkson Potter/ Publishers for my honest review*

Reckless Devotion

Baker, Heidi and Rolland. Reckless Devotion: 365 Days into the Heart of Radical Love. Bloomington, MN: Chosen Books. 2014.

SUMMARY:
bakerHeidi and Rolland Baker, missionaries for thirty years as well as directors of Iris Ministries, share their experiences, faith, thoughts, and encouragement in 365 daily devotions, grouped into themes for each week. A Bible verse followed by a short thought-provoking devotion, inspire ideas for action and reassurance in the following of God’s will. Written in a direct way with volumes of wisdom and knowledge, Reckless Devotion tugs at your heart to love radically…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though each short devotion consists of only a page length, the message contained within is strong and deeply rooted. Backed by experience and strength, Heidi and Rolland Baker quietly yet powerfully challenge you to consider how to love more profoundly, live more faithfully, appreciate more deeply, and follow God more completely. This devotional book would be great for a youth ministry or inter-generational Bible study coupled with service, as well as individual devotional time. Well done…mission accomplished! (Several other books by the Bakers are also available which I plan to explore now.)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Reckless Devotion from Chosen Books for my honest review*

Annie’s Stories

Thomson, Cindy. Annie’s Stories: An Ellis Island novel. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers Inc. 2014.

SUMMARY:
annieHaving a father who was a storyteller, Annie finds delight in obtaining the stories written for her. After her father’s death, Annie flees to safety at Hawkins House in America only to find more trouble brewing and secrets being withheld. Not really wanting to share her deceased father’s memories and stories with the world, Annie must decide if her dreams depend on those stories being published and who can really be trusted…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Yet another new author for me, I enjoyed the historical style of this story as well as the Irish background. Loosely based on the novel The Wizard of Oz, I appreciated and reveled in the nostalgic feelings associated with finding home, where love truly prevails. Although I did not read the first book in the series, Grace’s Pictures, I did not have any trouble following the storyline. Other characters, a bit of a mystery and of course, a blooming romance, all lent to the overall pleasure of this novel.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Annie’s Stories from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

A View from the Buggy

Eicher, Jerry S. Miller, Nathan. A View from the Buggy: True and Inspiring Stories of the Amish life. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
buggyWith Amish experience, both authors collect over thirty short stories and reminiscences shared by Amish men and women. Whether it be a barn raising, special events, animal antics, celebrations of life and death, family occurrences or food memories, each story is told with grace, love, heart and sometimes tears. Such a cozy peek at Amish life is sure to enlighten and slow the pace…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Being raised an Amish boy (Jerry Eicher) and being a member of the Old Order Amish (Nathan Miller), both men are more than qualified to assemble all the recollections told and deliver them in a beautiful book. With each shared story only 2-3 pages in length, snippets can be read, enjoyed, mulled over and appreciated. Each brief chapter begins with a Bible verse relevant to the following story. Pieces of Amish life can be learned and envisioned. This book would be perfect for anyone interested in the Amish way of life.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A View from the Buggy from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Go Fresh: A Heart Healthy Cookbook

American Heart Association. Go Fresh: A Heart Healthy Cookbook. NY: Clarkson Potter Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
gofreshFilled with 250 heart-healthy and fast recipes, Go Fresh takes fresh, healthy and delicious to a new level. With many pantry-ready items mixed with fresh ingredients from the Farmer’s Market, the cookbook leaves no excuses not to eat healthy. Included are appetizers, soups, salads, seafood, poultry, meats, vegetables, breakfasts and desserts, all used to create tasty yet simple recipes. Sections on tips, time-savers and nutritional information are combined with a few mouth-watering pictures.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Who knew healthy cooking could be so easy? Such a wonderful cookbook should grace every home and benefit every heart. Squash, potatoes, Tilapia, pasta, tortillas, cranberries, dark chocolate…all are turned into delicious heart-healthy meals. Ingredient equivalents, nutritive information per serving, preparation time, a shopping guide and helpful hints round out each recipe. The pictures contained in the cookbook are beautiful…I only wish there were a few more (but at least now my completed recipes cannot be compared to them…LOL). Absolutely a book I will use repeatedly and may even share.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Go Fresh from Blogging For Books and Crown Publishing for my honest review*

A June Bride

Whalen, Marybeth. A June Bride: A Year of Weddings Novella. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
juneBeing on the reality show, Rejection Connection, Wynne Hardy cannot believe her life has come to this since the break-up with her long-time boyfriend, Callum Royce. Never dreaming her video would be picked, Wynne soon becomes caught up in the fast paced flow of reality TV. However, right before the large media-based wedding takes place, Callum asks to meet Wynne one last time…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A new author for me, I enjoyed her style and wit. Similar to the current reality shows, A June Bride followed a contemporary romance story. Though brief, this novella was a quick, likable, fun read for summer. Part of A Year of Weddings series, this novella was perfect to be included in the set. Predictable yet pleasant, A June Bride was just as expected. Definitely an author I will pursue further, I am glad I read this novella as it may lead me to books I may not have previously picked up.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A June Bride from BookLook Bloggers and Zondervan Publishing for my honest review*

Love. Period. When All Else Fails

Rasmus, Rudy. Love. Period. When All Else Fails. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
loveLove. Period. That just about sums up the book yet there is so much more. Rudy Rasmus explains and then challenges us to love people regardless of race, gender, status, past experiences, mistakes, and beliefs. He shows how loving everyone can have such a strong impact on others as well as ourselves. Through personal stories, the author encourages us to love unconditionally, just as God does…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Based on 1 Corinthians 13, Rudy Rasmus explains love, teaches love, shows love, reaches out in love, and finds peace and happiness in love. More than just random-acts-of-kindness, love can open doors if applied without boundaries. Love. Period. would be wonderful as a Bible Study coupled with community service in action. Set in brief chapters with highlights in bold, this book was a quick read yet could also be a deeper read with time to absorb the message. Imagine the impact such a message could have on people if we would all…Love. Period.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Love. Period. When All Else Fails from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Plain Faith

Eash, Irene and Ora Jay with Goyer, Tricia. Plain Faith: A True Story of Tragedy, Loss, and Leaving the Amish. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2014.

SUMMARY:
plainLiving in an Amish community, Irene and Ora Jay live a traditional Amish farm life. When a buggy accident occurs which takes the lives of their two young daughters, Irene and Ora Jay struggle to move past it yet in the process realize perhaps their beliefs and way of life must change. Through hardships and blessings, the Eash family come to realize the grace of God and all it truly means in life.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Reading and reviewing many Amish books as well as having an interest in the Amish and their culture, I found Plain Faith to be honest, open, humbling and hopeful. Told from a first-person-point-of-view, the parents recount feelings, thoughts, traditions and beliefs. Well written, Tricia Goyer shares the Eash family’s story beautifully from devastation to grace. The tidbits of Amish life actually enhance other Amish fiction books with a deeper understanding now. Thank-you to the authors for allowing a glimpse into the Amish communities while following God’s lead.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Plain Faith from BookLook Bloggers and Zondervan for my honest review*