At Home in Last Chance

Armstrong, Cathleen. At Home in Last Chance: A Place to Call Home Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
lastchanceKaitlyn Reed has a difficult past and the tendency to leave town rather than stay. Deciding it was time to be a mother to her seven-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn makes the commitment to remain in Last Chance, New Mexico. Meeting Steven Braden, the irresistible yet irresponsible player, Kaitlyn learns she must trust herself before she can trust her heart to someone else.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Jumping into the A Place To Call Home series with Book 3, I expected to find myself a bit lost with the characters; however, that was not the case at all. I actually found myself drawn to the book though I cannot put my finger on the exact reason. Perhaps the writing style? The life-like characters? The storyline? I am not really sure but do know I plan on reading the previous books in the series now too. (Both are already on my eReader.) As the winner of the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction, I honestly am now a fan and follower of author Cathleen Armstrong.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of At Home in Last Chance from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

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Happy Habits for Every Couple

Lipp, Roger and Kathi. Happy Habits for Every Couple: 21 Days to a Better Relationship. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2009.

SUMMARY:
happyhabitsFormatted in three weeks worth of projects (activities), Happy Habits for Every Couple is a marriage project designed to put love and laughter back in a relationship. With homework before the 21 days begin, the necessary steps are explained and encouraged (babysitters, schedules, calendar) to help ensure success.  Each individual project is then described, the purpose given, a brief scripture, devotion, or thought interwoven, a prayer, and then the results (reactions to project). A few extra projects sprinkled throughout keep the humor, wit and fun involved.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I have to admit, I think the book cover is absolutely adorable! With well-planned out ideas, solid explanations, humor added and true devotion to marriage noticeable, Roger and Kathi Lipp present a fun, doable, faith-filled manner in which to liven up a relationship. With years of experience, written from a friendly point-of-view as well as tested with many couples, Happy Habits for Every Couple may help to improve a struggling marriage, put life and laughter back into a mundane relationship, or strengthen a solid couple even more. God constructed marriage so wouldn’t He be pleased if it was held in high esteem, protected while also being enjoyed?

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Happy Habits for Every Couple from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Still Life

Parrish, Christa. Still Life. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2015.

SUMMARY:
stilllifeA plane wreak. A tragedy. Lives torn apart. Katherine Cramer is forced to accept her actions caused Julian Goetz, known photographer, to accept her seat on the plane during the crash. Julian’s widow, Ada, must now face life alone while Katherine deals with the shame of the reason behind giving up her seat. With a failed marriage, a religious sect, a shattered young boy, a gift of inner viewings, graceful forgiveness and an unyielding faith, Still Life embraces life and humanity genuinely and compassionately while providing direction for the future.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Christa Parrish wrote this book in a different style than most; however, the word choices coupled with the unique expression worked so well. Such a deeply moving and heartfelt story with characters living real lives intertwined with faith. With a fascinating storyline, I wasn’t quite prepared for the depth of this novel yet was surprisingly tugged and immersed completely in it. Reading it in a few short days, it is a book which still causes me to pause to consider some aspects, especially the value of life.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Still life from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Forgotten Tales of Wisconsin

Hintz, Martin. Forgotten Tales of Wisconsin. Charleston, SC: The History Press. 2012.

SUMMARY:
talesFull of mini-tales from the Badger State, Forgotten Tales of Wisconsin reminds readers of events in the past so as to make the present more meaningful. Odd facts, little stories, unique tidbits and history “did-you-knows” are all included. Set up in short story format and accompanied by cute illustrations, both humor and wit make this book a true delight. (Part of a series on forgotten tales of various states.)

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Quick, light, easy and enjoyable, Forgotten Tales of Wisconsin is fun to read in spurts as time allows. I appreciated the extra knowledge to drop into conversations as well as learn about the history of Wisconsin. Perfect as a gift for history buffs, Badger fans, long-time WI residents or anyone interested in extra “useless knowledge”. (Topics include speed limits, the auto industry, prohibition, the circus, murder mysteries and politics.) I liked the style in which it was written as well as the format. It is just the right size to tuck in my purse for those few minutes while waiting.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Forgotten Tales of Wisconsin from The History Press for my honest review*

In Her Kitchen

Galimberti, Gabriele. In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes From Grandmas around The World. USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
kitchenUpon finishing his degree in photography, Gabriele Galimberti lands a job with an Italian magazine chronicling his travels of fifty countries with only a camera, computer and journal. Gone for the next two years, he takes the time to say good-bye to his family, including his Nonna who worries what he will eat. Full of beautiful photographs, food, stories and travel, In Her Kitchen is visually stunning as well as heartwarming.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Sensational! Grandmas, food and travel…who doesn’t love that combination? Meeting grandmas from all over the world through a glimpse into their kitchens, personal stories shared, favorite recipes explained and pictures encompassing each, In Her Kitchen is almost a coffee-table style book. More than merely a cookbook, the book celebrates grandmas, food, traditions and humanity. Absolutely a book everyone needs to experience; I am thankful for the opportunity to have done so.  I feel as if I visited each grandma personally in her own home. Wonderful concept!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of In Her Kitchen from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Hidden Agenda

Harris, Lisa. Hidden Agenda: Southern Crimes-Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
hiddenagendaHaving his undercover protection blown and on the verge of being murdered, Michael Hunt is on the run to save his life. With corruption in the Atlanta police department, Michael finds himself being rescued by the drug cartel’s daughter and son at the last minute. From the very beginning, the suspense and thrill continue until the very end. Michael learns through it all that he cannot rely on only himself but must let others into his life, including people, truth and faith.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not having read the first two books in the Southern Crimes series, I had no problem following the action nor the characters in Hidden Agenda. Perfect as a stand-alone book, I definitely will return to the others I missed. With suspense, action, romance, murder, car chases, stake-outs, adventure and faith, this book was absolutely action-packed. Led by a great storyline, from cover-to-cover, Lisa Harris was able to keep my interest and kept me up reading late into the night.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Hidden Agenda from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Romancing Your Better Half

Johnson, Rick. Romancing Your Better Half: Keeping Intimacy Alive in Your Marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
romanceBased on effective communication between a husband and wife, Rick Johnson shares thoughts, ideas and activities to keep a marriage strong. With humor, wit and wisdom of many years of marriage, the author of Romancing Your Better Half provides expert advice to keep the romance alive in marriage, ensure a long-range vision for marriage and make marriage matter.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though perhaps a bit stereotypical, I did find the thinking process and thought differences between men and women quite on the mark. The personal stories and information contained in the book made it an interesting read. Suggestions were included at the end of each chapter for building intimacy (holding hands, building each other up, communicate often, enjoying time together). Though not necessarily new ideas, Romancing Your Better Half reminds spouses that marriage takes time, effort and communication to become strong, enduring, enjoyable and important. Author of many popular books, Rick Johnson is also the founder of Better Dads.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Romancing your Better Half from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Dashing Dish

Farrell, Katie. Dashing Dish: 100 Simple and Delicious Recipes for Clean Eating. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books. 2014.

SUMMARY:
dashingdishDashing Dish emphasizes clean eating- not a diet but a healthy lifestyle approach to eating which utilizes whole foods that have not been altered or processed and have no chemicals/ preservatives added but are in their natural state. Full of healthy, nutritional, tasty recipes accompanied by beautiful pictures, Dashing Dish makes cooking (and eating) simple, fresh and delectable.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having recently changed my lifestyle to include more clean eating, I was thrilled to find Katie Farrell’s appealing new cookbook. Not knowing the author nor her infamous Dashing Dish blog, I was pleased to learn her book is a combination of helping women find their identity in God and ending misconceptions about healthy eating. I so appreciate the healthy alternatives/ possibilities if desired (gluten-free, sugar-free, oat flour) while not compromising taste. With recipes for all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and of course, dessert), pictures of each recipe, helpful, healthy tips and a personal note for each recipe, I truly enjoyed this book. I have to admit though…the Cake-Batter Protein Shake and the Peanut Butter Protein Cookies were my favorites. Seriously, who knew healthy could taste so good?

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Dashing Dish from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Emmissary

Locke, Thomas (Bunn, T. Davis). Emissary: Legends of the Realm. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
emissaryDestined to farm land, Hyam accepts his mother’s suggestion to first return to Long Hall, even though it may be filled with trepidation. Upon his return, Hyam learns information which spurs his quest for the truth. Through adventure, mystery, suspense, wizardry, colorful characters and an imaginary world, Emissary takes the reader on an unforgettable journey…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A totally unique genre for me, I actually was quite caught up in the fantasy as the novel unraveled. As well as the storyline, perhaps it was the writing style which held my attention. I have read and enjoyed Davis Bunn before, so it may have been the similarities in style that the same author, Thomas Locke, utilized that captivated me. Though Christian themes and values were instilled throughout, the actual story was neither an allegory nor parable. Fans of Lord of the Rings will definitely enjoy this piece as may others. I have now learned not to judge a book by the cover, nor the genre…lesson learned.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Clutter Free

Lipp, Kathi. Clutter Free: Quick And Easy Steps To Simplifying Your Space. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
clutterDo you have stuff? Is it all over the place? Do you wonder how you will ever sort through it all? Kathi Lipp, along with some of her friends, have tackled those exact questions and have found some (hard) truths. Discussing the “why”, “what” and “how” of clutter, Clutter Free examines the process of accumulating clutter, the weight of carrying clutter and finally, the freedom of losing that clutter. Straight-forward talk and techniques help to simplify your space and take back your life.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having had to climb out from under the pressure of clutter herself, Kathi Lipp definitely understands and appreciates the thoughts, feelings and work associated with clutter. Acting as a coach, cheerleader and friend, she gently yet firmly confronts the many issues relating to clutter. Personally, I particularly liked the advice of ” use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” as a general principle of decreasing clutter AND saving money. Sure to hit home with many readers, Clutter Free will certainly help with the New Year’s resolutions concerning clutter.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Clutter Free from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*