A Glorious Dark

Swoboda, A.J. A Glorious Dark: Finding hope In The Tension Between Belief And Experience. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2014.

SUMMARY:
darkUsing the three days of Easter (Good Friday-Easter Sunday), A Glorious Dark explores life, faith and experiences. Based on the differences between “belief’ and “experience”, many times it is hard to find the common ground. Through life situations, pain, grace and redemption, A.J. Swoboda connects understanding, insight and life occurrences to attempt to make sense of God…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perfect during Holy week and the upcoming Easter weekend (Good Friday-Easter Sunday), I found this book to be both thought provoking and well-timed. Different than what I had originally expected, I read it at face value. Though not necessarily full of Bible verses, it contained more life experiences, actions and thoughts actually based on the scriptures. Perhaps not for the newer believer, it definitely could raise questions and discussion among those encrusted in their faith. May be a good Bible study, generational discussion tool, or even sermon topic.  I did find the book to be creatively titled.

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Glorious Dark from Baker Books for my honest review*

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Sand In My Sandwich

Perry, Sarah Parshall. Sand In My Sandwich And Other Motherhood Messes I’m Learning To Love. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
sandEven a BS in journalism and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law did not equip Sarah Perry for motherhood. With three children under ten (two on the autism spectrum), life is hard but good. Realizing her house will be a mess, dinner could be non-existent and life may always present a battle, Sarah Perry shares her personal experiences while reminding us that God is truly on our side…really…He does care even when we have sand in our sandwiches…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
LOL…with humor and grace, Sarah Perry tells it like it is…imperfection and all. I so enjoyed this book which made me realize we are all in the same boat…needing to be reminded we are not alone in our struggles but that God can handle it (IF we let Him). I laughed, chuckled, nodded and empathized with the author as she recounted episodes in her life that even a highly educated person couldn’t manage alone. Sand in My Sandwich reminded me of the song, “Do Everything”, by Steven Curtis Chapman, in which he reminds us to do everything, even the small things (picking up toys, sweeping Cherrios, matching socks), to the Glory of God…yes, even enjoying sand in our sandwich, unbrushed teeth, and a disorganized house while doing our best to take care of the blessings God has entrusted to our care. Sarah Perry, thanks for helping me keep life in perspective!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Sand in My Sandwich from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Last One Home

Macomber, Debbie. Last one Home. NY: Ballantine Books. 2015.

SUMMARY:
lastonehomeGrowing up, Cassie, Karen and Nichole were close as sisters. Unfortunately, a few life choices had consequences which could have lasted a lifetime. Through tears, struggles, faith, circumstances and forgiveness, the three sisters realize family is important, even if you are the last one home…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a fan of Debbie Macomber, I looked forward to this book’s release, especially due to the eye-catching cover. Usually writing in series, this book is a stand-alone though could be continued. With compassion, strong characters, real-life situations, interesting relationships, and second chances,  Last One Home is a well-written story about an everyday family, with strong messages interwoven. I look forward to reading more from Debbie Macomber as she does not disappoint.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

Worry Less So You Can Live More

Rubietta, Jane. Worry Less So You Can Live more: Surprising, Simple Ways To Feel More Peace, Joy And Energy. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
worryEveryone experiences worry. Worry about money, children, parents, careers, mortgages, safety…life. In Worry Less So You Can Live More, pure pleasure and assurance are enjoyed when God is in control of tomorrow. Worry can be exchanged for delight in God which allows child-like faith and happiness. Encouraging, uplifting, and complete with Bible verses and discussion questions, Jane Rubietta shares personal stories and struggles while she tries to worry less…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Women worry…lots. The author, Jane Rubietta, is no exception. With lots of experience and insight, she shares many ways in which to look up towards God, realizing He is in control and worry will not change anything. Through humor, personal anecdotes, Scriptures, poems, and inspiration, I appreciated the message which was shared. Often we live our lives as “worry warts”, missing the many blessings we could be enjoying. Though not always easy to stop worry, this book caused me to stop and “smell the flowers” as I considered how much worry affects life.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Worry Less So You Can Live More from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Soup Club Cookbook

Alision, Courtney.  Carr, Tina.  Laskow, Caroline.  Peacock, Julie.  The Soup Club Cookbook.  USA: Clarkson Potter / Publishers.  2015.

SUMMARY:

soupToo busy to cook?  Need new recipes?  Have a few close friends and/ or neighbors?  How about a Soup Club!  The four author-friends show how to organize, navigate, assemble, process, cook, embellish and deliver enough soup for four families.  Each family is responsible for making 8 quarts of soup once a month but relish the results every week as soup is delivered.  Time-saving, fresh and oh so good…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:

What a novel idea!  With explanations of each step, soup recipes complete with condiments, and pictures galore, each author shares ingredients, personal notes, directions and variations.   Perfect for friends or neighbors living close-by, The Soup Club Cookbook may be the answer to what’s for dinner.  Though not necessarily in a place to start a Soup Club at the moment, I certainly did appreciate the recipes as well as the well-planned and explained concept.  Definitely an idea that could revolutionize dinner, the cookbook will remain on my shelf and be used often for fresh soup ideas.   Soup’s On!

RATING:

4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Life Unstuck

Layton, Pat. Life Unstuck: Finding Peace with Your past, Purpose in Your Present, Passion for Your Future. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
unstuckGod doesn’t intend for us to be stuck in life, He wants us to live life unstuck. By allowing the past to dictate the future, a life full of blessings may be missed. Reminding us that today will be the past by tomorrow, Pat Layton shares how to “unstuck” our lives by dealing with the past (unstuck love, unstuck forgiveness, unstuck light), enjoying the present and embracing the future.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What an inspiring notion…living life to the fullest unstuck! From the catchy cover to the interwoven creative theme throughout, Life Unstuck shares such an important message in a non-threatening, encouraging and compassionate manner. I appreciated all the personal stories, scriptures, truths, hand-holding, Biblical stories and especially the Manifesto at the beginning of the book (to be re-read over and over until the message sticks). Perfect for a Bible study, women’s ministry, book club or a personal up-lifting, Life Unstuck delivers a much-needed lesson to enjoy God’s grace in life, unstuck from what prevents happiness and worth. Well done!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Dauntless

Sleiman, Dina L. Dauntless: Valiant Hearts- Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
dauntlessDaring, courageous and dauntless, Lady Merry Ellison guides and protects a group of orphaned children who were thrust into the woods upon losing their parents. Known as the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest, Merry’s task becomes more dangerous as their reputation and fame grow. Timothy Grey, lost in the shuffle of a larger family, must perform a distinguished deed to gain a title of his own. When Timothy discovers who the leader of the Ghosts actually is, hard decisions must be made…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A spirited cross between Robin Hood and Peter Pan, Dauntless delivered on adventure, mystery, suspense, romance and conviction of faith. Marketed as YA literature, it may actually be enjoyed by all ages. As a new author to me, I certainly will watch for other books by Dina Sleiman, particularly the next book in the Valiant Hearts series. Though not necessarily my favorite genre in fiction, I did enjoy the medieval time frame (and adored the book cover). While I found the historical notes at the end interesting, it was the author’s message to her readers at the beginning, which touched my heart.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

You’re Loved No Matter What

Gerth, Holley. You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
LovedGod had a plan when He created each of us, and no matter what, He loves us just the way we are. Though we may have an insatiable desire to be perfect, may be living under the bonds of guilt, or even just buried deeply in mounds of laundry…God loves us right as we are now. Holley Gerth in her new book, You’re Loved No Matter What, reminds us of God’s grace which can indeed set us free to be the person, with the purpose, He created us to be…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read several other books by Holley Gerth, I was excited to add this one to my list. So full of practical yet realistic advice for reveling in God’s grace and enjoying life while putting away the time-consuming, no-win quest for perfection. I appreciated a lot of the advice…especially “If you try to be perfect, you’ll be doing God’s work for Him”…hmm…guess He really doesn’t need my help? (Loved the cute cover too!)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of You’re Loved No Matter What from Revell for my honest review*

How to Catch a Prince

Hauck, Rachel Hayes. How to Catch a Prince: The Royal Wedding Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2015.

princeCorina Del Rey, an American-born heiress, meets the love of her life in a whirlwind romance, resulting in marriage. Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom, war-veteran turned rugby-star, has a secret he deems necessary to keep, resulting in a divorce. Forgiveness, honesty, redemption and love must all come to terms within hearts that hurt, carry guilt, and sustain secrets but still love…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As the final story to The Royal Wedding Series, I was anxious to read this book. Though different than I originally was expecting, I enjoyed it. Full of “princessy-goodness” yet deeper emotions, messages and faith, it was a wonderful ending to the series. With a message of “love well” running throughout and perhaps a bit of fairy-dust included, I loved this novel from the beautiful, sassy cover to the last word. Though book 3 in the series, previous characters were revisited but How to Catch a Prince works well as a stand alone also. Without a next book to anticipate from this series, I hope Rachel Hauck is busy working on a new series…perhaps just as sparkly?

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of How to Catch a Prince from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden

Newcomb, Karen. The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden: Grow Tons of Organic Vegetables in Tiny Spaces and Containers. USA: Ten Speed Press. 2015.

SUMMARY:
gardenThe best-selling guide on gardening productively in small spaces is now completely revised and updated.  Be those tiny spaces a garden plot or container, Karen Newcomb shares how to plan your garden, ready the ground and soil, when and how to plant/ water, which vegetables and herbs to pick, how plants get along and controlling pests and diseases. With extended knowledge and information on the many different types of each vegetable, including maturation, color and taste of vegetable, difference between varieties and the seed source, The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden is worthy of all levels of gardeners.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With a healthier lifestyle popular now, a push for local produce, new cooking habits and my own recent review of Salad Love, how could I not review and utilize a book on gardening? Just flipping through the book, I learned so much about the assortment of vegetables, new ideas for my cooking (ingredients to try), and how to plant and maintain my own fruitful garden. With specific yet variable directions, most anyone could grow a prolific garden of vegetables and herbs with the help of this book (including me). Revised and updated with very useful information, I truly will use, share and reference this book often in the planning of my garden. Now, if only the weather would cooperate…

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden from Blogging for Books for my honest review*