SuperGal vs. God

Hynson, Lori. SuperGal vs. God. Valley Forge, PA: Broken Shoe Press. 2013.

SUMMARY:
GalSuperGal could do anything…or so she thought. God on the other hand… had a different plan for her. Part memoir, part fiction, lots of humor, lessons to be learned and love to be found, SuperGal vs. God will tug at your heart and perhaps even sound familiar…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Striking a nerve, Lori Hynson brings to story what many women think and feel (myself included). Under stress to do everything, accomplish anything all while being the best at it, SuperGal vs. God takes a humorous look at life while putting life into perspective. I had to chuckle at SuperGal’s actions while hearing God’s responses and thoughts; the author does a terrific job of moving between the two viewpoints. As a first-time author and recipient of the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award, I must admit I was impressed while giggling yet learning my own lessons. Lori Hynson sums it up best when she states, “When God moves into your house, He rearranges the furniture”. So very true! I look forward to her next book. (Lori: Thanks for taking the time to sign my copy of the book; I appreciate the message.)

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of SuperGal vs. God from BookCrash for my honest review*

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Rhythms of Grace

Weems, Kerri V. Rhythms of Grace: Discovering God’s Tempo for Your Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2014.

SUMMARY:
rhythmsBusy, busy, busy. Seems everyone is busy these days with daily schedules getting out-of-control, priorities being lost, rest and relaxation falling by the sidelines and relationships becoming difficult. Though busy can be productive, it can also disturb our inner peace and focus, primarily our focus on God and His plan for us. Rhythms of Grace reminds us what is truly important in life…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Love the cover, love the premise! Set to the idea of rhythm, I could really appreciate the theme that ran throughout the book (as a musical family). Fatigue, frustration, busyness, and craziness all are part of daily lives yet the impact can be detrimental. In her book, Kerri Weems shares her personal stories, related thoughts, scheduling ideas, Biblical perspectives, focal reminders and deserved relaxation, all pointing towards redefining a relationship with God as the primary target. Almost viewed as a healthy lifestyle book, Rhythms of Grace reads like a friend. After-all, isn’t everyone busy these days with a strong need for rest and a spotlight on God?

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Trading Secrets

Carlson, Melody. Trading Secrets. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
tradeHaving been assigned as pen pals in fifth grade, Micah Knight and Zach Miller continue as pen pals then friends for many years while not actually meeting in person. Though from differing ways of life, Micah and Zach grow closer, eventually meeting each other; however, when an opportunity arises to share the truth, will it affect the friendship or their future?  Keeping a secret can have enormous consequences…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a fun premise for a story from one of my favorite authors! Filled with faith references, Amish tidbits, humor and charm, Trading Secrets is an enjoyable read. Though recognized as more of a Young Adult novel, I would recommend it for anyone looking for a quick, pleasurable book. As the author of many novels, Melody Carlson writes both Amish and contemporary story lines- combining both ingredients in this story. (I truly enjoyed and chuckled before the actual reveal, just imagining the possibilities.) Absolutely a book which deserves a sequel or perhaps even a movie!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Trading Secrets from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Homemade Decadence

Wilson, Joy. Homemade Decadence: Joy the Baker. New York, NY: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
homemadeFull of mouth-watering treats made from scratch, Homemade Decadence shares recipes for brunch, cookies, pies, cobblers, cupcakes, ice cream, brownies and layer cakes. Accompanied by beautiful photography of each recipe, this irresistible cookbook keeps it real. Ingredients are basic, instructions are thorough and the results are scrumptious! A gorgeous book to devour!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I couldn’t wait to receive my copy of Homemade Decadence in the mail to review. Not only did I find a new favorite cookbook but also a new blog to follow (who doesn’t love desserts?). Stunning photography coupled with 125 complete recipes for all kinds of treats…perfect for keeping and giving. Almost a coffe-table book, it could be enjoyed as a hostess gift, a wedding present or just to treat yourself! Written by award-winning blogger Joy-the-Baker, this book is sure to be relished and reveled in again and again. Though not necessarily the lowest in calories, if eaten in moderation, these recipes will be sure to delight as we all need to indulge sometimes!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Christmas Cat

Carlson, Melody. The Christmas Cat. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
catGarrison Brown, insanely allergic to cats, must find suitable homes for his recently deceased Grandmother’s six (yes, six) cats. With initial interviews, home visits and follow-up appointments necessary, Garrison wonders if he will ever place all the kitties. With a surprise “insurance” check included when each cat is settled into a loving home, Garrison soon finds himself attached to the Maine Coon, Harry. And could it be? His new neighbor, Cara, may be just the perfect home for Harry…what would Gram think?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read each of Melody Carlson’s Christmas novels each year, it has almost become a tradition to anticipate the next one. With a few cats myself as well as a mom with plenty of her own, I was excited to read The Christmas Cat. Truly an adorable, faith-filled, sweet Christmas story, I was not disappointed. Melody Carlson had me with the stunning cover and kept me reading to the end. Especially heart-warming was the dedication to Harry, the Maine Coon cat, who found the author in the middle of winter and worked his way into her heart…aaww! I look forward to next year’s Christmas book addition to my tradition!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Unshockable Love

Burke, John. Unshockable Love: How Jesus changes the world through imperfect people. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2014.

SUMMARY:
unshockableOnly imperfect people can change the world…which means everyone has that chance to make an impact. Having studied Jesus and his interactions with people in the Bible- not just the words and messages of Jesus but the social interactions and attitudes towards those people by Jesus-John Burke shares short stories and real-life examples of people reaching out and witnessing to “shocking” people. The end result? All involved were impacted and brought closer to God…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Turning to those people who needed him most, Jesus surrounded himself with “shockable” people. Very relevant and relative to society today, “shockable” people still need love. John Burke does a wonderful job in this book of sharing love and acceptance of messy folks, resulting in a change in all. The message conveyed within was well-received due to the interesting and very plausible accounts written as well as the engaging style. A bit unsure of what to expect when I started reading, I am glad I pursued it. Definitely worth the time; definitely a book to be shared.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Unshockable Love from Baker Books for my honest review*

Surprised by Love

Lessman, Julie. Surprised by Love: The Heart of San Francisco series. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
surprisedWall-flower Megan McClare was teased and mocked through-out school; however, after returning from Paris, she has blossomed into a beautiful, confident young woman. Testing her new poise and assurance is Devin Caldwell, the school-age young man by whom Megan was charmed but now must work beside. Having his own heart evaluated by Megan’s return is her best friend, Bram Hughes, who must decide if what is best for Megan is best for him…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Being book three in The Heart of San Francisco series and not having read the two previous books in the series, I must admit I was a bit adrift to the relationships already developed. It didn’t take long though for me to catch-on and enjoy the romance of a few couples. Humor, surprises, emotions and faith all fit together nicely in this novel. Time allowing, I will return to the series as the prior books are already on my bookshelf (Just a caution, this book may be intended a bit more for the mature teen…though clean, it is a bit more passionate than others in this genre.)

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Surprised by Love from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

A Young Man’s Guide to Discovering His Bible

George, Jim. A Young Man’s Guide to Discovering His Bible. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
bibleWhile helping a young man to discover his Bible, author Jim George also offers explanations, thought provoking questions, relevant workbook pages and encouragement to live accordingly. Teaching young men to not fear the Bible but instead to embrace the adventure it can be, A Young Man’s Guide to Discovering His Bible also helps preteens and teens to view the Bible as authoritative yet friendly. Through God’ Word on peer pressure, dating, responsibility, temptation and friends, this book may lead to so much more…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Definitely user-friendly, this book leads a young man to uncover God’s Word and instruction within the Bible. Using age-appropriate stories, examples and explanations, Jim George does a nice job of relating to a young man at a level he will understand. Though fill-in-the-blank pages are provided as guides, they in no way are intimidating nor considered a chore as they relate nicely to the topics covered. I appreciated the relationship between the timelines (past people/ issues with today’s people/ issues) which are in many ways similar. A wonderful gift for a young man’s Graduation or Confirmation, it might also work well with Youth Groups or in a homeschool setting.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Young Man’s Guide to Discovering His Bible from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Not A Chance

Sproul, R.C., Mathison, Keith. Not A Chance: God, Science and the Revolt of Reason. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 1994, 2014.

SUMMARY:
chance“Ex Nihilo, Nihil Fit”…translation: “Out of nothing, nothing comes”. With that exact phrase, authors R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison set out to prove that God and His creation cannot be associated with chance. Through sound arguments, scripture and proven contradictions, Not A Chance denounces the philosophy of something coming from nothing…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Wow. Such a deeply written book on theology and Creation while leaving nothing to chance. A perfect book for the philosopher who questions God, faith, and Creation. Not by any means a light read, it was actually a book which I needed to read in bits, take time to consider, more time to ponder and then continue reading. The authors did a thorough job of examining the many debates against God and then proving why those are not possible while explaining the only true way could be God.  Definitely a well researched book, it also begs the reader to think deeper, believe stronger and live bolder.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Not A Chance from Baker Books for my honest review*

The Making of an Ordinary Saint

Foster, Nathan. The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2014.

SUMMARY:
saintLearning and applying the spiritual disciplines in life can be overwhelming; however, in his book, Nathan Foster shares though not perfect, you can indeed find joy. With an introduction to each discipline from his author father, Richard Foster (Celebration of Discipline), explanations of the twelve different disciplines, personal past stories and the commitment to personally experience each, a brief history lesson of a Saint who attained that discipline and closing with a further reference/ reading list, this book will make you consider your life…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As truly human, Nathan Foster shares his very personal (albeit not saintly) life with the reader as an effective way to connect. As an ordinary guy, the author demonstrates that following the spiritual disciplines can truly bring happiness in life to oneself as well as to others. An interesting read, I am intrigued to return to his father’s book,Celebration of Discipline, to read the prequel to this author’s actions while understanding his true celebration.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Making of an Ordinary Saint from Baker Books for my honest review*