Secrets of Sloane House

Gray, Shelley. Secrets of Sloane House: A Chicago World’s Fair Mystery. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2014.

SUMMARY:
slaoneSet during the 1893 World’s Fair, Rosalind Perry deceptively accepts employment at the illustrious Sloane House in hopes of discovering what happened to her sister, Miranda. While working as a housemaid, Rosalind befriends Reid Armstrong, becomes wary of the advances of Douglass Sloane, struggles with the adversary found in Veronica Sloane and discovers her own deeply rooted strength. Does Rosalind uncover too late what happened to her beloved sister?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As this author’s debut novel for me, I was impressed. Having read the book for the stylistic and ingenious cover, I soon found the writing to be equally as impressive. Mystery, secrets, difficult subjects, covetous attitudes and patronizing characters all mixed with subtle faith, courageous individuals, and compassionate actions. With an excerpt included for her next book, Deception at Sable Hill, due out in Spring of 2015, Shelley Gray will definitely be an author whose books I anxiously seek out. Very well-written; very well-received!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Secrets of Sloane House: A Chicago World’s Fair Mystery Series from BookLook Bloggers and Zondervan for my honest review*

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Promise To Protect

Bradley, Patricia. Promise To Protect: Logan Point. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
promiseWith an action packed storyline, a second chance at romance and past mistakes coming around, Promise To Protect delivers. Leigh Somerall needs help protecting her brother but it means contact with her old boyfriend, Sheriff Ben Logan. Secrets, a broken heart, a murder and jealousy all combine in this thrilling novel. Will Leigh ever be truly safe or will the past riddle her forever…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Another new author for me, Patricia Bradley definitely knows how to write a riveting suspense novel. Though not necessarily a new storyline, the book did captivate me and hold my interest. Perhaps a bit descriptive in parts, this novel would do well as an engaging movie-score. As a Christian suspenseful romantic piece though, it was definitely worth the read. A second in the Logan Point series, it was fine as a stand alone. Time permitting, I may return to read the first novel; however, I will certainly watch for a future book from this author.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Promise To Protect from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Woman Code

Nelson, Sophia A. The Woman Code: 20 Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
codeThrough 20 different Codes, each with a key that can unlock that specific potential within each woman, Sophia Nelson stresses discovery. Each Code starts with a relevant quote, followed by a discussion, personal stories, explanations, suggestions, Bible references, wisdom and how to “live the Code”. Powerful yet peaceful, The Woman Code empowers all women to unite and stand strong while uncovering what is within…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
The Woman Code definitely encourages and challenges each woman to embrace yet challenge herself to be the woman she was fully meant to be. Through confidence, support and enthusiasm, Codes such as living authentically, being resilient, not gossiping, lifting others and reconnecting with your life are covered. My personal favorite…aging gracefully…truly acting your age in dress, behavior, wisdom and acceptance right where you are (as we all really do get old). Though not overly rich in scripture, Sophia Nelson does a wonderful job of leading with determination and courage, especially to those that may need those qualities (Codes) the most (which could be any woman at any time). Women can absolutely be all things, while living for God.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Daughter of Highland Hall

Turansky, Carrie. The Daughter of Highland Hall. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books. 2014.

SUMMARY:
daughterBeautiful yet feisty Katherine Ramsey needs only to find a prosperous, title-bearing husband to make her future safe and sure; however, as she soon discovers, there may be more to life. Having recently made friends with Jon Foster, uncovered a family secret and tried to decide if the glamour and grandeur are enough, Katherine’s convictions may be tested…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Finally! Having waited (not so) patiently for this next book to be written, The Daughter of Highland Hall was all I had hoped it would be! Following The Governess of Highland Hall, this novel makes references to the prequel but in no way must be read in order. Full of adventure, faith, spirit and even a touch of humor, Carrie Turansky delivered yet again. My only regret is now having to wait for the next book in the series, A Refuge at Highland Hall, which isn’t due out until next October. Though very well written, the cover is so eye-catching, I kept closing the book to glance at it again!!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Daughter of Highland Hall from Multnomah Books and Blogging for Books for my honest review*

Between Us Girls

John, Sally. Between Us Girls: Family Of The Heart Series: Book 1. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
girlsAll at different points in their lives while looking for happiness, several women join together to sort through life at Casa de Vida cottages. Through friendship, tears, troubles and humor, new relationships are formed and surprises found. Between Us Girls shares life’s moments with friends from the heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A new author for me, once I became accustomed to her writing style, I found myself truly enjoying the story. Such a “girl story” if you will, it definitely resonated with the closeness, calmness, excitement and necessity of God placing girlfriends in our lives for a reason. With subtle faith mixed throughout, Sally John shares the waves so often experienced in life. The characters were so real, the novel almost read like a journal. Even more so, this book would be ideal for a movie! As the first book in the Family Of The Heart Series, the saga continues in book 2, Take My Hand. After-all, don’t we all need a little encouragement along life’s journey?

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Between Us Girls from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

To Everything a Season

Snelling, Lauraine. To Everything a Season: Song of Blessing, Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
seasonSet in the beautiful town of Blessing, North Dakota, the Bjorklund family saga continues. Trygve Knuston, working as part of a construction crew, is committed to his family and community until he meets Miriam. Training in Blessing to become a nurse, Miriam expects to return to Chicago where she has a nursing position waiting, as well as siblings and her mother to support. Due to an unexpected family emergency, Miriam finds herself torn between staying in Blessing with Trygve or returning to her family and all that awaits her future in Chicago…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Although well written, I found myself absolutely lost in the beginning of the novel as to the characters and storyline. Unbeknownst to me, several previous books (and series) have been written around Blessing, ND, and the Bjorklund family. Now knowing that, I would advise quite strongly that the prequel stories are read before this series (even though this is Book 1). I did enjoy Lauraine Snelling’s style and her novel albeit not as much as I probably would have if this was a stand-alone book/ series. Definitely an author I will read again though. (BTW…the cover is gorgeous which attracted me to the novel in the first place!)

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of To Everything a Season from Bethany House Publishing for my honest review*

Faith For The Journey

Swindoll, Charles R. Faith For The Journey: Daily Meditations on Courageous Trust in God. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
journeyThrough thirty days of devotions, Faith For The Journey encourages you to completely trust in God, no matter how tough that journey through life may become. Using the life-story of Abraham, popular author, Chuck Swindoll, defines faith as total obedience to God, even if you may have other ideas. Take the time to discover God’s plan for you today, in this very moment…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Encased in a beautiful brown leather cover with gilded-golden page edges, Faith For The Journey sets up nicely for the first impression. Coupled with the compass design on the front cover, this devotional makes a handsome presentation. Within the three-page length devotions, the author does a thorough job of paralleling our own current journey with Abraham’s journey. Included in each devotion is a quote, Bible scripture, brief connection to Abraham, and a chance to reflect with personal questions. This book would be wonderful as a Bible Study, personal devotion time or a gift. I admired the way Chuck Swindoll challenges us to live in the moment today for God through complete obedience to Him. As Phillip Yancy is quoted in the devotional, “Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” Exactly!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Faith For The Journey from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

50 Women Every Christian Should Know

DeRusha, Michelle. 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2014.

SUMMARY:
50Giving thought, voice and knowledge about 50 Christian women who have boldly proclaimed and lived out their faith, Michelle DeRusha provides information in an easy-to-read format yet full of vitality. Meet such inspirational heroines of faith as Harriet Tubman, Susanna Wesley, Phillis Wheatley, Florence Nightingale and Mother Teresa. Who knew Josephine Butler watched her six-year-old daughter fall to her death, only to turn her grief into helping those less fortunate? Or that the untimely death of her fever-drenched son would encourage Harriet Beecher Stowe to finally write? Explore the lives of women every Christian should know…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Making it interesting and accessible, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know is filled with fascinating information. Each tribute contains a short introduction to the woman, followed by a brief history lesson, then how her faith was lived and finally, the impact on today. Surprisingly, though not a history buff, I found myself absorbing the pages and considering each legacy left to us. Definitely a book to be read and shared! Painstaking research must have gone into the writing of this book which was not lost on this reader.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy 50 Women Every Christian Should Know from Baker Books for my honest review*

The Covered Deep

Vallance, Brandy. The Covered Deep. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
deepWorried at age twenty-five that she may remain a spinster yet unwilling to lower her standards, Bianca Marshal enters a writing competition which may thrust her towards true love. Adventure, mystery, secrets and faith all have an impact on Bianca while traveling through London and continuing into the Holy Land which may cause her to encounter more than she ever imagined…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
From the front cover to the writing within, this novel astounded me. The word choices and author’s obvious command of the written language were actually so well blended that the pages turned rapidly. Though not heavy in physical adventures, the mental and emotional involvements were many. As the mystery unraveled throughout the book, I marveled at the changes of my feelings towards the characters…again, due to the selected prose. I particularly liked the reason behind the title of this book which has me contemplating the story even as I have finished it. As the winner of the Jerry B. Jenkins: Operation First Novel Award, Brandy Vallance demonstrated she knows how to write (even though this novel took her fourteen years to finish)! I look forward to her next writing endeavor which I only hope is currently underway…

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Covered Deep from Worthy Publishing/ First Look Blog Network for my honest review*

An October Bride

Ganshert, Katie. An October Bride: A Year of Weddings Novella. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2014.

SUMMARY:
octoberSet in Mayfair, Wisconsin, during the stunning autumn weather, Emma accidentally discovers her terminally ill father’s bucket list…which includes walking Emma down the aisle. Having recently broken off her engagement, Emma sets out to find a willing groom to help her dad achieve that event…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a new author for me, I truly enjoyed Katie Ganshert’s style of writing. (The entire collection of wedding novellas has introduced to me to many new authors.) With humor, compassion, faith and reality, An October Bride was probably one of my favorite novellas yet. Of course I appreciated the setting in Wisconsin (Go Brewers) too! Cutely written yet with a deeper meaning underneath, An October Bride is perfect for A Year of Weddings Novella series. Definitely an author I will now seek out further to read; I appreciated the “wordiness” with which she claims she writes!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of An October Bride: A Year of Weddings Novella from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*