How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird

Lively, Amy. How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
neighborHaving been commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves (including respecting them, nurturing them, getting-along with them and witnessing to them), in her new book, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird, author Amy Lively shares personal stories, strategies, ideas and responses for meeting your neighbors, conversing with them and even sharing your faith. With encouragement and motivation to step out of the comfort zone and connect within your current community, perhaps loving (or at least liking) your neighbors could result in positive outcomes…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I love the title of this book which I am sure is quite relevant to many people (seriously…who wants to be considered weird?). Though not for everyone nor every neighborhood, there are some aspects which may produce new friendships, stronger community, more neighborhood involvement and maybe even renewed or initiated faith. Full of ideas yet not necessarily what I was expecting, this book may be perfect for certain communities, assuming a common faith. While the author expounds upon the importance of meeting neighbors, maybe a few more ideas for the initial contact would be welcomed.

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Love the Home You Have

Michaels, Melissa. Love the Home You Have: Simple Ways to Embrace Your Style, Get Organized, and Delight in Where You Are. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
lovethehomeComparing ourselves to others, expecting more of ourselves than we can give, never being happy with what we have, and making excuses for ourselves are some of the many reasons life can get us down. In her new book, Melissa Michaels encourages us to enjoy our many blessings, accept where we are in life and love the home we have. Full of ideas for organizing, redecorating, re-purposing, and de-cluttering, she couples those with motivation, inspiration and enthusiasm to help us overcome obstacles blocking enjoyment of life, specifically with our homes.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not just another book on organizing and de-cluttering, Love the Home You Have is actually a wonderful resource to feel better about your mess. (LOL) With simple yet realistic decorating tips, personal stories, new views on expectations, and inspirational quotes and thoughts (“A well-loved home will always be a bit of a beautiful mess”), Melissa Michaels extends a smile, offers a hug and nudges you forward to success. I think the most encouraging aspect was the attitude-changing process of creating your own style, counting your blessings, opening your home to others with pride and not making excuses (for the piles of laundry, dirty dishes and pet hair). I actually do love my home, sometimes I just need a reminder.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Love the Home You Have from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

In Firefly Valley

Cabot, Amanda. In Firefly Valley: Texas Crossroads Bk 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
fireflyvalleyMuch to her chagrin, Marisa St. George finds herself without a job, requiring her to move back home to a rural town in Texas. Daughter of the cook at Rainbow’s End resort, Marisa accepts the position as business manager temporarily. Without many fond memories of the town and some difficult issues she must address, Marisa surprises herself when she meets the long-term resort guest, Blake Kendall. As a struggling writer, Blake also has hurdles to overcome which just may include winning Marisa’s heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read and enjoyed the first book in the Texas Crossroads series, At Bluebonnet Lake, I was excited to read the next book. I found this contemporary romance to move slowly yet in a calming manner with several characters revisited from the first novel. Having learned my lesson with the first book- not to judge a book by the cover- I again was not a fan of the cover yet the story within was worth the chance. With the third book out in Spring of 2016, On Lone Star Trail, I will definitely look for it. Perhaps the most inspiring aspect though is the author, Amanda Cabot, who followed her dream of writing and now is living it.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of In Firefly Valley from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

While My Soldier Serves

Melson, Edie. While My Soldier Serves: Prayers For Those With Loved Ones In The Military. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
soldierDuring the difficult time of her son’s deployment, author Edie Melson spent hours praying for his safety. Realizing she wasn’t able to keep him safe herself, she turned to the One who could, God. In her book, While My Soldier Serves, she shares prayers for the soldier serving as well as the person at home. Set into sections with many topics (fear, peace, patience, faith,strength, protection, courage), each page-length prayer includes a quote, prayer and scripture verse.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perfect for Memorial Day as we remember those who have served (or are currently serving), While my Soldier Serves is full of prayers that may sometimes be hard to start. Written for anyone who has a family member, relative, neighbor, or friend serving, this beautiful book of prayers is sure to encourage, strengthen and speak to the heart. Wonderful as a gift, ministry or personal use, the topics covered are sure to resonate and comfort many.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of While My Solder Serves from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Dare To Answer

Busacker, John. Dare To Answer: 8 Questions That Awaken Your Faith. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
daretoanswerToo often, we look at outward responses rather than inward for our own response concerning our faith. In his book, Dare To Answer, John Busacker dares readers to answer 8 questions which could have a profound effect on faith and then respond by accepting a challenge to live out that faith. Full of personal stories and relationships, scripture, “homework”, reflection questions and Bible stories, reading this book may just cause you to react differently than expected…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Imposing and tackling such soul-searching questions as presented in Dare To Answer is bound to affect people in challenging and life-changing ways. I found the style to be very readable, the stories interesting, the Bible stories and scriptures relevant and the questions a wake-up call out of complacency. Excellent as a tool for Bible Study, a ministry or sermon topic, this book may also be good as a refresher for “long-time” believers, church leaders or a retreat focus. Definitely thought-provoking if taken to heart.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Dare To Answer from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Moment by Moment

Flanders, Jennifer. Moment by Moment: A Devotional Journal for Girls. Tyler, TX: Prescott Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
momentSet up as a personal journal, Moment by Moment is absolutely adorable yet so functional. Adorned with cute clip-art, Bible verses and scriptures, pages of room to make lists, record thoughts, draw pictures, write poetry, doodle uniquely and express dreams, this charming devotional journal will be priceless some day. With topics centering around favorite things, prayers, friendships, talents, service, faith and love, girls will definitely enjoy filling the pages…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loved it! Not only would my daughter enjoy this book, I would have loved it as a young girl (because I love it now)! Anyone who relishes in writing, doodling, poetry, lists, or drawing will truly appreciate the space to record such personal information. Similar to a journal or diary, this one is filled with an abundance of faith too. According to the author, there will be more related volumes released for moms, wives and boys in the near future (please hurry!). I truly found delightful the introduction which stated there is no right or wrong way to complete this book…what an invitation to be candid and creative!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Moment by Moment from BookCrash and the author for my honest review*

The Three Heavens

Hagee, John. The Three Heavens: Angels, Demons and What Lies Ahead. Brentwood TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
3heavensAccounting for the three distinct heavens, Heaven One: the heaven we see from earth containing the sky, stars and moon, Heaven Two: the heaven ruled by Satan, and Heaven Three: the heaven being made ready for us to share in eternity, John Hagee shares scripture, personal stories, descriptions and arguments for each heaven’s existence. Expounding upon the fight between good and evil, The Three Heavens confirms the need to have God as our Savior in what lies ahead…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Obviously a well respected and popular author, this is my first experience with John Hagee’s books. I found the style and information very interesting and definitely thought-provoking as well as compelling. This type of book would work well as a Bible Study, sermon topic, base for new-believers (or even doubters), as it brings the Word of God, science and true stories of the supernatural together. At the very least, The Three Heavens touches upon a topic which will stir conversation dependent upon individual beliefs, which in turn, may cause more to draw closer to God.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Three Heavens from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Grill It, Braise It, Broil It

American Heart Association. Grill It, Braise It, Broil It: And 9 Other Easy Techniques For Making Healthy Meals. USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers.

SUMMARY:
broilFull of various techniques for creating simple, delicious, heart-healthy recipes, Grill It, Braise It, Broil It makes the cooking techniques available for beginners or reminders for the more advanced. Explanations, tools and equipment required, tips for success and  several recipes are included in each procedure. Whether steaming, poaching, roasting or stewing, the included approaches and corresponding recipes are sure to please…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I love being able to cook healthy, quick yet delicious meals for my family so this cookbook was perfect for me. With ingredients found in your pantry or easily accessible, I liked the variations on recipes resulting in tasty, heart-healthy meals even the pickiest of eaters may like. Steamed lemony green beans with almonds, grilled Baja fish tacos, and Orange-apricot smoothies were some of my favorites. With safe cooking practices, calorie-level serving recommendations, nutritional values and easy-to-follow recipes, this book may be perfect for college students, newlyweds, retired people or anyone looking for fresh, bright and beneficial recipes or new cooking techniques. Only thing that may have made this book even more useful would be additional pictures to enhance it, otherwise, it is a cookbook I will definitely use often.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Grill It, Braise It, Broil It from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Inn at Ocean’s Edge

Coble, Colleen. The Inn at Ocean’s Edge: A Sunset Cove Novel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
oceanLost in the woods for a year at the young age of 4, Claire Dellamare revisits the area many years later. Unable to remember any of the details, Claire must rely on her parents, members of the community, handsome Luke Elwell and stubborn Kate Mason, to fill in the blanks. Set on the coast of Maine, an intricate plot of murder, dishonesty, family and secrets evolves rapidly…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Quite a new direction on a mystery for me, I enjoyed The Inn at Ocean’s Edge as a new start to a series. Full of unseen twists, unfortunately, I did find myself a bit confused at times with the characters. Once straightened-out though, I was invested to the finish. I particularly found interesting the knowledge of Maine as well as the information on Orcas; definitely wonderful and interesting additions to the story. I look forward to the next book in the Sunset Cove series due out in December 2015- Mermaid Moon.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Inn at Ocean’s Edge from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Native American & Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York

Czarnota, Lorna MacDonald. Native American & Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York: Westwards Trails From Albany To Buffalo. Charleston, SC: The History Press. 2014.

SUMMARY:
NA&PioneerAn award-winning storyteller, Lorna MacDonald Czarnota spreads her history knowledge of the expansion from New York to Buffalo. Once open frontier and wilderness, European settlers and Native Americans altered the routes with their cultures, inventions, ideas, and experiences along the way. Filled with interesting facts, relevant black-and-white pictures, and intriguing information, Native American & Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York is a history lesson in a compelling package.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So very interesting! Not only the tidbits, facts and information, but the pictures are so well placed and incorporated that the entire book just flows effortlessly. Either read straight through, in sections or even brief passages, this book held my attention. From Harriet Tubman to the Oneida Community to the Chery Valley Massacre, many people, legends and events are included. Definitely worth the read, the history lessons learned and revisited are priceless.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Native American & Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York from The History Press for my honest review*