My Heart Stood Still

Copeland, Lori. My Heart Stood Still: Book 2. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
sistersOn a stagecoach ambushed by Comanche warriors, “Sister” Anne-Marie McDougal finds herself rescued by a Crow warrior, Creed Walker. On her way to jail for swindling, Anne-Marie is separated from her sisters causing her to rely on Creed, like it or not. Though sparks fly, this spunky, spirited, sassy heroine has her moments and must trust herself, Creed and God in order to survive…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Following the initial book in the series, Sisters of Mercy Flats, My Heart Stood Still accompanies the middle sister, Anne-Marie, on her journey. Having read and enjoyed the first book, I knew I couldn’t wait to meet this sister. Dressed as nuns on their way to jail when the adventure begins (sisters posing as “Sisters”), the story kept up the pace with humor, wit, chuckles and of course, a fun romance. Light without a heavy dose of faith, this was a pleasant read which left me anxious to meet the third sister. Cute, cute, cute!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of My Heart Stood Still from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

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Inspiralized

Maffucci, Ali. Inspiralized: Turn Vegetables into Healthy, Creative, Satisfying Meals. NY: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
inspiralizedClean eating takes on a whole new look in Inspiralized. Turning ordinary vegetables, and even fruits, into pasta-tasting meals full of nutrition, Ali Maffucci shares her skills, recipes, knowledge and inspiration. Using the newest cooking craze, spiraling, this creative cookbook takes healthy to a new form…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Interested in this new technique, as well as referred to the book by a fellow-friend-blogger, Inspiralized makes eating healthy and clean a new venture, with room to personalize.   Though new to some of the ingredients and combinations, I am intrigued enough to try them.  Though skeptical of the pasta-tasting creations at first, I am now convinced of this trend, especially as a novel way to eat more vegetables. Full of recipes, pictures, personal stories and easily followed directions, this book may not be for everyone but is definitely worth a try. With a tool to spiralize, from expensive gadgets to affordable tools, the recipes are attainable, tweak-able, and actually quite enjoyable.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Inspiralized from Blogging for Books for my honest review*

Every Bride Needs A Groom

Thompson, Janice. Every Bride Needs A Groom: A Brides with Style Novel. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
everybrideHaving everything for the perfect wedding except the groom, Katie Fisher just cannot believe her luck. With the most splendid dress, fairy-tale plans, a dapper boyfriend…all she needs is the proposal. Accepting a job in another town which results in a break-up, Katie is stunned yet humiliated but not necessarily done. Collecting her prize dress from the fashionable bridal shop attended by an enticing pro-basketball player only makes the quandary more interesting…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Such a creative storyline full of humor, forgiveness, amusement and sequins, Every Bride Needs A Groom was a fun novel to read. Perfect for the upcoming wedding season, most girls love a book centered around glitter, jewels, gowns and of course, cute guys. Toss in a bouquet (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) of forgiveness, challenges, God’s timing and grace, and Janice Thompson accomplishes a wonderful new novel as the first in a new series, Brides With Style. Love the salute to Loretta Lynn as well!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Every Bride Needs A Groom from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

From Good to Grace

Hoover, Christine. From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2015.

SUMMARY:
graceMany will relate to the “goodness gospel”…try harder, go to church more, obey, have better faith, discipline yourself…all thoughts that surround the word “good” rather than “grace”. Struggling with a goodness addiction from which we will gain things (God’s approval, better children, more blessings), women of all types, from perfectionists to those dealing with depression, can be affected. Christine Hoover attempts to help change that goodness-frame-of-mind by demonstrating and sharing God’s grace over goodness. Full of personal stories, strong advice, thought-provoking ideas and lots of faith, From Good to Grace strikes home…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Based on the works of the Holy Spirit and our needed dependence on God (rather than ourselves), Christine Hoover shares her own addiction with the “goodness gospel” or appearing to be good on the outside while struggling on the inside. I appreciated the honesty and conviction with which the author addressed the subject, perhaps even recognizing I rely on my own self a bit more than I should. Though not always easy to do, accepting grace to be enough can free women (and men) to live a more joyful life for the Lord. Perfect for a Bible Study, Women’s Ministry or personal devotion, From Good To Grace will remain on my bookshelf although I may share it often. (Love the front cover and the laundry theme too- very relatable!)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of From Good To Grace from Baker Books for my honest review*

The Legacy

Walsh, Dan & Smalley, Gary. The Legacy: The Restoration Series-Book 4. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
legacyLiving a different life while away at college than his family thought possible, Doug Anderson is falling…falling from faith, family, friends and focus. When an incident causes the two lifestyles to collide, Doug must face his decisions head-on, while determining his future. Though not easy, growing up can be painful and costly yet priceless in the lessons learned…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Reminiscent of the prodigal son theme, The Legacy carries a strong message of reassurance, forgiveness, faithfulness and God’s unending love. Part of The Restoration Series, this concluding novel was equally as thought-provoking as the previous books in the series (The Dance, The Promise, and The Desire). Difficult but necessary life lessons can be learned from The Legacy and the authors did a wonderful job with them. Popular authors full of faith, Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley do not disappoint; I look forward to their next writing venture.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Legacy: The Restoration Series-Book 4 from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

On Shifting Sand

Pittman, Allison. On Shifting Sand. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2015.

SUMMARY:
sandContent yet not necessarily satisfied, Nola Merill tackles life during the Dust Bowl, allowing herself an indiscretion in her own home with her husband’s friend. Shame, disrespect, remorse and disgrace collide with forgiveness, strength, honesty and grace in this moving story. Complete with a note from the author and discussion questions, On Shifting Sand embarks on a soul-searching journey…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With a striking cover and meaningful title, On Sifting Sand enters a difficult, sensitive yet possible domain. Told from the main character’s point of view, Allison Pittman writes a unique story permitting readers to relate, perhaps even understand Nola’s actions. Occurring during the Dust Bowl, I was clearly able to glean the atmosphere associated with it, learning quite a bit about the time as well. By no means an easy subject, the author did the story justice in an almost inspiring way, granting forgiveness and understanding when needed. Though different from her other books, Allison Pittman captured the raw emotions of the situation, resulting in a satiating read.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of On Shifting Sand from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

Cookie Love

Segal, Mindy. With Leahy, Kate. Cookie Love: More than 60 Recipes and Techniques for turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary. USA: Ten Speed Press. 2015.

SUMMARY:
cookieloveSwitching paths and following her true passion…cookies…Mindy Segal shares her talent, recipes, personal experiences and delicious outcomes in Cookie Love. Owner of an urban bakery in Chicago, Hot Chocolate, this cookie cookbook is full of exquisite pictures, product information, baking skills and followable directions for making absolutely scrumptious cookies. So inspirational, artistic and motivating!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a beautiful book from an artistic chef who decided to follow her dreams! Though I was a bit intimidated upon first opening this cookbook, I soon applauded Mindy Segal for pursuing her passion of baking to be truly successful and obviously happy. Though not a book for everyone due to the depth of it (some specialized ingredients, piping of cookies, fancier shapes), I found the recipes were easily adaptable to a home-kitchen baker like me. Seriously, there are some great recipes in here…Hot Fudge Thumbprints, Blondie Butterscotch S’Mores, Shortbread…and even Pumpkin cookies for dogs! So glad I did not gloss over this cookbook and dismiss it too quickly, I actually thoroughly appreciated the story behind the book as well as everything contained within this wonderful cookbook.

RATING:

4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Cookie Love from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Miracles In You

Hansen, Mark Victor. The Miracles In You: Recognizing God’s Amazing Work In You And Through You. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
miracleBest-selling author of the Chicken Soup For The Soul series, Mark Hansen shares his thoughts, stories, knowledge and faith in miracles. Whether obvious, hidden, unintentional or awe-inspiring, The Miracles In You encourages readers to see miracles, believe in miracles and most importantly, be the miracle (to others). Starting with life, miracles happen everyday if the time is taken to notice (and appreciate) them…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Based on the premise “be a miracle generator”, The Miracles in You is broken into three parts: Believe the miracle, See the miracle and Be the miracle. Though not necessarily new information, this book encouraged, reminded and inspired me to remember the miracles in my own life as well as the positive impact I can have on others. Easy to read with several personal stories included, perhaps the greatest reminder was to listen to God’s calling, even though we may not realize the influential miracle in store. Perfect for a Bible Study, Ministry or personal reflection…always remember to be the miracle maker.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Miracles In You from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

The Creole Princess

White, Beth. The Creole Princess: Gulf Coast Chronicles. grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
creoleSet during the midst of the Revolutionary War in Mobile, Alabama, young and beautiful Lyse Lanier lives on the edge of the British fort which protects the South. Being of a mixed-racial background, Lyse finds herself caught between family, love, loyalty, faith and her heart when trying to determine whom to trust. Through history, espionage, romance and adventure, The Creole Princess brings to life parts barely known and recognized…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not having read the first book in the Gulf Coast Chronicles (The Pelican Bride), I had no trouble following this book; it read just fine as a stand-alone. I found this novel to be well written and researched with many intriguing and interesting tidbits shared (even though I am not a huge history fan). Especially thought-provoking was the extra information from the author which actually piqued my interest in the history lesson even more. Several difficult facets were touched upon (slavery, racial influences, espionage); however, they were handled quite respectfully. As a new author for me, Beth White will be an author I look forward to reading, including Book 3 in this series due out in Spring of 2016.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of the Creole Princess from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Beyond Orange County

McLaughlin, Lydia. beyond Orange County: Season 8-The Real Housewives of Orange County-A Housewives Guide to Faith and Happiness. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
housewifeAnswering the call to be a part of The Real Housewives of Orange County, Lydia McLaughlin shares her thoughts on living a life of purpose and responding to God’s calling. With snippets of Hollywood included as well as personal accounts of her life, faith and family, Beyond Orange County includes honest thoughts, perspectives and insights from an actress who many thought had it all…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Written in an easy, humbling, down-to-earth manner, Lydia McLaughlin is obviously grounded in her faith, beliefs and family life. Though probably easy to get caught in the Hollywood-style of living, the author/actress stopped before she did. With frankness and openness, I found interesting the path through which the author found her true happiness. Full of her personal stories, relevant scriptures, Bible verses, a thought-provoking study guide and lots of encouragement, Beyond Orange County would be perfect for a Bible Study, Women’s Ministry or devotional.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Beyond Orange County from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*