The Skinnytaste Cookbook

Homolka, Gina. Jones R.D., Heather K. The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor.   New York: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
skinnyAs the author of the award-winning blog, Skinnytaste, Gina Homolka has complied 150 recipes into one cookbook. Complete with pictures, nutritional values, cooking tips and “light on calories, big on flavor” ideas, this cookbook uses low-calorie, easy to find items for delicious results…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
How can something that tastes so good still be good for you? Using in-season, unprocessed, natural whole foods to make such tasty recipes is priceless. Full of motivational tips, nutritional eating make-overs, and healthy information, The Skinnytaste Cookbook helps make losing and maintaining weight through food choices fun and yummy. Recipes included are for breakfasts, soups, sandwiches, appetizers, salads, meats, sides and of course, desserts. Key information (calories, carbs, fat, fiber) is included with each recipe as well as easy-to-follow directions, additional food facts, and “skinnyscoops” which gives the author’s personal thoughts/ experiences with each recipe. Appetizing and extremely palatable while being nutritional and weight conscious…it doesn’t get any better than The Skinnytaste Cookbook!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

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Steel Will

Harris, Shilo. Cox, Robin Overby. Steel Will: My Journey Through Hell To Become The Man I Was Meant To Be. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
steelHaving withstood childhood with a father suffering from PTSD due to the Vietnam War, Shilo Harris enlists after the 9-11 tragedy. While in Iraq, his Humvee is struck with an IED setting off such an intense trial of survival. Through many surgeries, extreme pain, heartache and hard decisions, Staff Sgt. (Ret) Shilo Harris realizes perhaps this is the man God intended him to be…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Incredible! Steel Will is so appropriately named…after the many difficult ordeals, anguish and suffering endured, a strong will, his committed family and faith in God is what brought him through it all. As a true role model, a team player, a compassionate educator, a father and a husband, Shilo Harris is also a genuine American. Though raised by his father for the service, his success in the military came from pure heart. Well written from a story obviously well lived and told, Steel Will will bring you to tears as well as make you smile. Thank-you Shilo…to both you and your family!!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Steel Will from Baker Publishing for my honest review*

The Stress Cure

Sheperd, Linda Evans. The Stress Cure: Praying Your Way to Personal Peace. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
stressEveryone deals with stress in some form. In her book,  Linda Sheperd explains, encourages and emboldens you to pray away stress towards a life of peace. Through Bible characters, personal stories, prayer examples and bits of wisdom, The Stress Cure may help you do just that…find the cure for your stress.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With many different “cures” for stress on the market (exercise more, eat better, relax often), this was a different approach (a stronger one). Linda Sheperd suggests battling your stress through prayer…not just any prayer, but trusting and committed prayer. Feeling God’s presence and control over your life should help overcome the stress. With chapters full of different causes/ types of stress (Negativity, Anxiousness, Frustration, Hopelessness), The Stress Cure is organized like a devotional or Bible Study with room to journal ideas or thoughts. Overwhelmed by stress can be a difficult way to live but finding God’s peace through prayer may help. To quote the author, “God is with you. He’s at work in your circumstances now.” That has to alleviate some stress!!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Tried and True

Connealy, Mary. Tried and True: Wild at Heart- Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
cowboyTired of living as a man, Kylie Wilde dreams of being a true woman (elegant dresses and all). Though she earned her exemption as a “boy” in the Civil War, she cannot wait to sell her land to move out East as a lady…until land agent Aaron Masterson discovers her secret…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Stetsons, horses and cowboys…the makings of a fun story! Three sisters homesteading in the West provide an entertaining notion for a book which reads quickly, easily and wildly. With a bit of a mystery and quite the romance brewing, Tried and True is a playful read which includes a piece of history in the exemption offered to men of the Civil War in homesteading (each year served in the War counted as a year off the five-year land period). As a fan of Mary Connealy’s humorous writing, I was not disappointed in this novel and already am looking forward to her next ones in the Wild at Heart series. Ride em’ cowboy (er, cowgirl)!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Tried and True from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

One Pot

Martha Stewart Living. One Pot: From the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living. New York: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
potFilled with elegant yet easy meals which can be made in one pot (skillet, slow cooker, stockpot, roasting pan or dutch oven), each two-page layout contains a recipe, directions, useful information and a finished picture. Arranged according to the pot required for use, One Pot is simple to use, easy on clean-up yet delivers delicious meals. One pot truly can do it all…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Wonderful! I appreciated the ease of use of the book as well as the satisfaction of creating a home-cooked meal easily. With clean-up being a snap, it allows less time in the kitchen…yeah! From fancy dinners (the recipes could be dressed up) to every night family meals, One Pot takes busyness to a more manageable level. With explanations of the various vessels, extra information on ingredients, realistic photographs, use of everyday food items and new pairings, I found this book to be priceless. My family couldn’t agree more as the many empty plates can attest!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Ride of Your Life

Howerton, Mike. The Ride of Your Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
bikeRiding a bike can be scary yet rewarding all at the same time. With a dad at your side to encourage and catch you if you fall, the same analogy can be applied to faith…faith like a child. Through a set of five essential life lessons modeled after teaching his young son to ride a bike, Mike Howerton shows what life can be if we take the leap of faith…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Through a clever comparison to learning to ride a bike, the author parallels child-like faith to a life of opportunities when we trust in God. Though not necessarily new ideas, the correlation was a helpful reminder of the important things in life as well as a refresher of the knowledge that our heavenly Father will not let us fall if we trust in Him completely (thus, with the faith of a child). With corresponding chapters to riding a bike (Slamming on the Brakes, Avoiding Obstacles, Get Back On and Get Moving), the theme was consistent and easy to follow. With lots of personal stories throughout, The Ride of Your Life would be a good devotional, a gift for a parent, encouragement for a new-believer or even a Bible Study.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Ride of Your Life from Baker Publishing for my honest review*

Love’s Fortune

Frantz, Laura. Love’s Fortune: The Ballantyne Legacy. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
fortuneBeing just a mismatched, unadorned, simple girl on the outside yet shy and heart-filled on the inside, Rowena (Wren) lives in the gentle hills of Kentucky; however, she soon finds herself aboard a ship heading for Pennsylvania. Under the direct eye of her Aunt, Wren attempts to fit into the high-society but is it truly possible? Choices, secrets and decisions may all decide…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Hard to believe but I have never read a book by Laura Frantz (even though the first two books in this series sit on my bookshelf)! How did I not? Love’s Fortune was wonderful as a stand-alone story; however, I assume it would have an even greater impact if I had read the previous novels in the Ballantyne Legacy. Full of descriptions, romance, surprises, family secrets and of course consequences for choices made, Love’s Fortune delivered. Well written enough to keep the pages turning quickly, I am only glad this is not the end of the series for me as I plan to return soon for the previous books.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Why Dogs Are…

Thompson, Tana. Gentry, Marita. Why Dogs Are… USA: Kendall Neff Publishing. 2013.

SUMMARY:
dogRunning through the beautiful fields of Heaven, dogs originally only existed in Heaven until required on earth. When God needed to let a young boy named Brian, who could neither see nor hear, know of His existence, God sent a golden dog to earth to serve that purpose. Naming him Dog (God spelled backwards), God promised to send more dogs to earth if Dog did a good job of loving and convincing this boy. Thus the reason dogs are…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A heartwarming tale of tails!! What an absolutely amazing concept of how dogs came to be on earth. Showing comfort, support and unconditional loyalty and love, dogs share God’s love in such a special way that God decides to send lots of dogs for people to enjoy. Part of the Love Unleashed series, I can only hope for more! Stunning illustrations round out an adorable story. Even more admirable is that one-hundred percent of the net profits from the sale of the book are given to charities and organizations that support animals and their interactions with people…wow! Perfect as a gift for dog lovers and children, wonderful even as part of a Sunday School curriculum, or undeniably sweet as just a book to cherish, Why Dogs Are… is special for all ages! Woof!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Why Dogs Are… from BookCrash and Kendall Neff Publishing for my honest review*

ROAR

Hughes, Scottie Nell. Roar. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
roarGiving voice to the conservative woman, Scottie Hughes shares her opinions, thoughts and speech on politics, the war on women, the state of the country and marriage. As a Tea Party correspondent and journalist, she conveys a determined message. Straight-forward yet laced with humor and wit, Roar equips the modern conservative woman to stand strong…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A quick yet thought-provoking read, Roar was a book which gave me pause to think and consider things often thought but left unspoken. Through mixing sass, witticism, and candidness, Scottie Hughes delivers a compelling and perhaps effective message about life. As a debut novel, I found it to be well-written which led to it being well-read. I appreciated the frankness with which it was told though some may find it disagreeable…definitely a conversation starter (if needed). As a strong defender of marriage, parenting and women, the chapters included were fitting (Hugging Trees and Getting All Sappy, Parenting and Mommy Mafia). I do think the title was not only creative but extremely effective and applicable. Well done!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Thief of Glory

Brouwer, Sigmund. Thief of Glory. Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press. 2014.

SUMMARY:
sigmundSet during WWII during the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Dutch East Indies, life changes for ten- year-old Jeremiah Prins quickly. When his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the family, Jeremiah finds himself the protector of his mother and younger siblings in the concentration camp. Through fear, faith, love, hope and marbles, Jeremiah must grow up and face coming of age in very difficult situations…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As the author of many, many books, Sigmund Brouwer is still a new author to me. Not an easy read by any means, Thief of Glory was so well written, I found myself cringing, grimacing and cheering for the characters as the pages turned. A mixture of fact and fiction, it was a piece of history I never realized but will now never forget. I found the perspective of first-person writing to be extremely effective in this book as well as the continuation of the marble playing/ collecting throughout the story. Based on the personal relationship of his parents, Sigmund Brouwer drives the story straight to the heart.  (Just as a word of caution…some difficult content may be intense for some readers.)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Thief of Glory from WaterBrook Press/ Blogging for Books for my honest review*