Love Unexpected

Hedlund, Jody. Love Unexpected: Beacons of Hope-Book One. Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
hedlundWanting only to have a permanent home to call her own, Emma Chambers isn’t sure that will ever happen. When her steamboat catches on fire due to pirates and sinks, she and her brother find themselves near Presque Isle, Michigan. Meeting the new lighthouse keeper, Patrick, proves to be a possible answer to her hopes but he comes with baggage, history and a young son. After a quick marriage, Emma finds herself discovering parenthood, love, regret, faith and forgiveness stronger than she ever thought necessary…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Of course I was going to read this book…the author is one of my favorites and I just knew I would like it!  I was not disappointed as I encountered pirates, blossoming love, a rambunctious toddler, persevering strength, and forgiveness beyond measure- all along the shores of Michigan. As the first in the Beacons of Hope series, I am looking forward already to Book Two set to release in June. (Now, if only Jody Hedlund could write faster!)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Love Unexpected from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Adriana’s Secrets

Colwell, Cheryl. Adriana’s Secrets: The Secrets of The Montebellis Series- Book 2. Ashland, OR: Inspired Fiction Books Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
montebellisHardship, suffering, heartache, rebellion, jealousy, belonging, endurance…Adriana Montebelli experiences each throughout this tale woven together through the western part of the country in the early 1900’s. Distraught over the death of her parents, Adriana finds herself thrust into a family with members she both loves and despises. As she grows, Adriana learns secrets she must both hide yet share in hopes of grabbing her most precious dreams…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Wow…from the first chapter, I was entranced by the suspenseful action which only heightened throughout the story, literally almost to the last page. As a continuation in The Secrets of Montebellis series, it was outstanding! Well-written, I thoroughly enjoyed Adriana’s Secrets, including the faith-filled messages, the strong characters, the engaging storyline, the subject matters and the inclusion of many secondary plots all joining in a powerful conclusion. Seriously, I truly hope the author, Cheryl Colwell, is working on the next Montebellis installment as she completely lives up to her writing-style tagline of “stunning suspense”. (The cover was actually quite perfect also after reading the book!)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Adriana’s Secrets from BookCrash and Cheryl Colwell for my honest review*

The Song

Fabry, Chris. The Song. USA: Tyndale House Publishers/ City On A Hill Studio. 2014.

SUMMARY:
songSon of the famous singer, David King, Jedidiah King has big shoes to fill. Though legendary with his songs and performances, other parts of his father’s life were not so authentic. Meeting Rose while writing an intensely charged song, Jed soon finds himself thrown into stardom, unfortunately, including all the negative temptations too. Full of success, romance, faith, infidelity, temptations, grace as well as mercy, The Song explores an emotionally difficult subject.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Originally developed as a movie (by Richard L. Ramsey) and church resource, The Song was then written as a novel by Chris Fabry, an award-winning author, so even more people could experience the Scripture. Based as a modern adaptation of Solomon’s life through Song of Songs and the book of Ecclesiastes, The Song teaches (faith, grace, mercy, forgiveness) while showing the temptations of the world against marriage (adultery, dishonesty, irresponsibility). Though blunt in areas, the novel deals with a challenging issue in an exceptional manner. Complete with discussion questions and a couple’s Bible Study at the end of the book, The Song would work well for small group discussions, a couple’s Bible Study, marriage counseling or ministry. Entertaining yet so full of life and faith lessons. I definitely plan on sharing my thoughts on this book with many others!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Get Wise

Merritt, Bob. Get Wise: Make Great Decisions Every Day. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2014.

SUMMARY:
wiseMaking decisions every day can be tough, especially if those decisions are not wise ones made on God’s wisdom from the book of Proverbs. Applying those truths, Bob Merritt shares wisdom on many topics (money, revenge, friends, parenting, relationships, effort). Written from years of experience, Bob Merritt shares this guide for life…almost a “how-to” live the correct life God intended…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Wisdom is often something learned- either through our own trail-and-errors or those of someone else. Having learned from his own experiences (including both good and bad decisions), Bob Merritt openly reiterates those lessons gained to help others make informed decisions which ultimately will affect directions of life. Not claiming to be an expert though, Get Wise takes the words of wisdom and bases them on the Proverbs. I most appreciated the pearls shared on relationships, character and success. Highly relevant in today’s society, this book would work well as a Bible Study, a graduation gift, or personal reading. Why not learn from someone’s wisdom to make your own life better?

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Get Wise: Make Great Decisions Every Day from Baker Books for my honest review*

Your Life Still Counts

Miles, Tracie. Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past to Create a Beautiful Future. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
livelifeThough shame and regret often are allowed to define people, Tracie Miles sets out to show how a person’s past can be part of a beautiful future when healing and grace are received. Using the past to shape the future, God has a purpose for each that depends on history, decisions, choices and forgiveness. Full of many personal stories, thoughts to ponder and tons of encouragement, Your Life Still Counts provides the reasons to live life as designed by God.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With many shared stories from many different people, Tracie Miles also shares her own hard past. Using examples, purpose ponderings (questions to consider), scripture and explanations of God’s plan for each, the author promotes forgiveness, healing, direction and redemption to be used to reach out and minister to others to find the same. Though not always an easy read in terms of information, Your Life Still Counts would be wonderful as a Bible Study, Women’s Group or an Outreach Ministry. I appreciated the honesty with which the author wrote; I appreciated the honest message which she shared.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Your Life Still Counts from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Strong Is The New Skinny

Cohen, Jennifer and Colino, Stacey. Strong Is The New Skinny: How to Eat, Live, and Move to Maximize Your Power. New York: Harmony Books/ Random House Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
strongWith a central message stating that the point of fitness is getting stronger and healthier through empowerment and doing (not deprivation, suffering and extremes), Strong Is The New Skinny teaches that strong is more than physical. Way past just being skinny, this book offers a determined mind-set, exercises, encouragement, variations and attitude adjustments to help you be your best at your strongest…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Be prepared to be amazed (as well as sore, tired, yet so proud)! I truly appreciated the overall message in this book…anyone is capable of being strong, healthy, challenged and successful…at any age, fitness level and size. Starting with a reality check, pursuing self-goals, working diligently, persevering and applauding success, authors Jen Cohen and Stacey Colino provide the necessary head-work, exercises, techniques and tips, and well placed motivation to help realize strong is not the same as skinny. With pictures for examples (just as a side note…some may find the pictures not as conservative as they may like), challenge variations and sample workouts, Strong Is The New Skinny is like a Personal Trainer! With a list of exercises at the back of the book, I was able to access each exercise easily on my eReader for reference at the gym. Be ready to change your focus, thought-process, strength and abilities with this book!  Strong is healthy!!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Strong Is The New Skinny from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

A November Bride

Vogt, Beth. A November Bride: A Year of Weddings Novella. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2014.

SUMMARY:
novemberHaving just turned thirty and dumped by her boyfriend through a text message, Sadie McAllister begins to wonder if true love will ever find her. As a food-star hopeful, Sadie receives an invitation to move out west; however, she is beginning to wonder if perhaps her chances at love may be right under her nose at home with Erik Davis, her eighth-grade crush…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As the ending to A Year of Weddings series, this was a fun-filled novella perfect for this busy time of year. Light-hearted yet with a good message, this short contemporary romance is actually quite relevant today (text messages, Food Network). As a new author for me, Beth Vogt will definitely be an author I read again as I appreciated her sense of humor and developed characters in her writing. The entire Wedding series was a delight for me…fast paced, humorous at times, and faith-filled while introducing me to several new authors. Even some of the author’s friends/ co-writers are my favorites now too!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable

Burton, Valerie. Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable: Step Into The Amazing Life God Imagined For You. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
unstuckLike a wonderful conversation with a best friend, Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable is brimming with encouragement to live life to the fullest, no matter where you might have been. From unclogging your past, to changing your present attitude, to reaching for your dreams, Valerie Burton coaches you to be your best…just the way God intended.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So upbeat, so inspirational, so necessary…Valerie Burton gently encourages yet delivers a well-placed nudge to take control and live a healthy, happy life. Set up in chapters full of thought-provoking messages (commit or quit, don’t let stuff control you, drop the toxic friendships), each chapter also provides areas in which to journal, jot notes and share comments. Having never read one of her books, Valerie Burton will now be on my must-read list as well as my to-share list. With such optimism and reassurance included, failing to get unstuck and be unstoppable would be almost impossible.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Black Coat With A Silver Lining

Yalian, Elizabeth.  Black Coat With A Silver Lining: A Homeless Man Finds Hope.  CreateSpace Publishing.  2014.

SUMMARY:
coatA former foster child, Nick finds himself living and barely surviving on the streets.   Homeless and desperate, Nick relishes an Italian dinner yet ends up stealing a car instead, perhaps the car belonging to a criminal.  When inner turmoil sets in, Nick is faced with decisions that could impact his future…and it all may hinge on a black coat…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I must admit this is not my usual genre of books yet I found it to be truly thought-provoking, humbling, educational and well-written.  Drawing attention to an often overlooked and ignored issue of homelessness, Elizabeth Yalian takes a sensitive approach through a page- turning fictional piece to make the reader consider it.  This book may work well for a church ministry group or even an introduction to a Bible study and/ or mission.  Elizabeth, thank-you for sharing your book with me as well as your compassion.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Black Coat With A Silver Lining from the author and Booklovers1 for my honest review*

21 Things The Devil Cannot Do

Vander Klok, Duane. 21 Things The Devil Cannot Do. Minneapolis, MN: Chosen Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
21“Know your enemy” is the basis of 21 Things The Devil Cannot Do. Although at times Satan is given more power and authority over lives than necessary, often misinformation and perspective can cause that power. Equipped with knowledge, action, the Word and the spiritual weapons of Jesus, the influence Satan has been given on lives can be taken back…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Interestingly, many aspects of Satan can be learned, applied and taken control over if you choose to have power over him. Citing the Spiritual Laws set forth by God, Pastor Duane Vander Klok explains these Laws cannot be bent, broken nor touched. Many examples are included in the book (the devil cannot trespass unless you allow it, the devil cannot hide from the Word of God in you). Being actually a weak spirit, Satan is often given too much credit and validity. I learned quite a bit from this easy to read yet in depth book packed full of information about the devil and sin. Powerful!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of 21 Things The Devil Cannot Do from Chosen for my honest review*