Manchester Firefighting

Pearson, Steve. Manchester Firefighting: A Pictorial History. Charleston, SC: The History Press. 2010.

SUMMARY:
FirefightingAs a fourth-generation firefighter and fire department historian, author Steve Pearson shares his vast knowledge and interest in the history and progression of Manchester (New Hampshire) firefighting. Horses, steam, tankers, and trucks all were part of the evolution of firefighting in this intriguing pictorial account. Full of black-and-white photographs on each page with descriptive summaries included, Manchester Firefighting is like visiting an actual museum…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having recently visited a firefighting museum with my soon-to-be-firefighter son, this book was a perfect match! The pictures and accompanying explanations were so interesting and thought-provoking…to consider waiting for the fire message to be relayed, the horses to be hitched, and the wagons to be filled, what a process! The difference in the trucks (as well as the breathing apparatuses) is astonishing yet heroic at any time in history.  Informative, interesting, inspirational and intuitive describe the experiences associated with this historical book. So well done!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Manchester Firefighting from The History Press for my honest review*

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Catbird Singing

Nye, Thomas. Catbird Singing: Amish Horses Series-Book 2. USA: CrossLink Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
catbirdStranded on an Amish farm after an accident, Lenny and his dog, Russell, seem to find trouble. Warned by Bishop Mose not to chase the Amish girls, Lenny finds himself trying to fit into the Amish way of life while also trying to understand his interest in Leah as he journeys into manhood. With friendships new and old, as well as his love of horses, though trouble may find him, forgiveness and redemption follow closely…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read and enjoyed the first book in the Amish Horses series, I was excited to see book 2 available. Finding the title quite creative, I also enjoyed the placid pace of this novel along with the storyline. Obviously very well versed in horses, author Thomas Nye is able to convey his knowledge of the Amish also. A gentle yet heartwarming story, I found it compelling yet also relaxing as I quickly read it. Although it is not necessary to read the books in order, I did find it helpful as many of the same characters were revisited. Hopefully, book 3 is already in the works.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Warrior Chicks

Wagner, Holly. Warrior Chicks: Rising Strong When Life Wants To Take You Down. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2007/ 2015.

SUMMARY:
warriorsDisappointments, heartbreak, choices, consequences…all parts of life which can take you down. Given the chance, would you lie down and accept defeat or stand up and fight? In her new book, author Holly Wagner helps to put on the boxing gloves and stand strong. Written in short snippets of positive advice, Warrior Chicks tackles relationships, illness, stress…all with the goal of overcoming challenges to accept and live a beautiful life…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Sharing her own obstacles in life, Holly Wagner writes as a positive life-coach for demanding ringside events in life. Though not written in a style conducive to reading in longer periods, I found I would read it in short little pieces, giving me time to flip through and digest the shorter thoughts shared. Not necessarily tied directly to scripture, faith was evident throughout the various messages (encouraging younger women, positive thinking, courageous attitudes). Definitely a good book to have in your corner when life gets tough!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Irish Meadows

Mason, Susan Anne. Irish Meadows: Courage to Dream- Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
irishmeadowsWell aware of his ancestry as an Irish immigrant, James O’Leary expects his daughters to marry well, especially now that the future of Irish Meadows depends on it. Caught between a domineering father and their own hearts’ desires, sisters Brianna and Colleen must make difficult decisions regarding their farm, family responsibilities, and dreams of their futures. Through family emergencies, soul-searching, forgiveness, and newly found courage, all involved must work together for the best outcome…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As her first historical novel written with her style of “romance sprinkled with faith”, Irish Meadows was a success for me. I loved the word choices and writing style with which Susan Anne Mason penned, as well as the family dynamics, difficult situations, strength of faith, pronounced courage and a few surprises all united in a page-turning storyline. Influenced by her own genealogy along with intended and accidental research, the combination worked well for her latest novel. Leaving a character undeveloped in her story ensures a second book will follow next year. Definitely an author I will seek out, I truly enjoyed this book from the gorgeous front-cover to the appealing back-cover and all the pages in-between!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The “She” Stands Alone

Keels, Nadine C. The “She” Stands Alone. Smashwords. 2014.

SUMMARY:
shestandsDumped by gorgeous David, Sheridan Jones is heartbroken. Vowing to be done with men, “She Sher” (as she calls herself) styles a new hairdo, flaunts a new pair of red boots, and obtains a new attitude all her own…until the neighbor-mailman, Eugene, starts to show an interest in this contemporary romance…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Trusting her reviews of books, I was thrilled to be granted the chance to review one of fellow-blogger-friend Nadine Keels’ own stories. As a novelette (48 pages), this short story developed the characters surprisingly well. With strong messages of being comfortable in your own skin as well as not judging a book by the cover (or a person by his hair), this likable novelette felt much longer, while still being a very quick read. Perhaps a bit of confusing self-dialog in the beginning, once I caught on to the style, I so enjoyed the self-talks with Sheridan! Humor, good advice and life-lessons all ravel together for a deeper but surely entertaining piece.

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies
*Rating based largely on length of story (being a novelette vs. full-length), writing quality alone would be rated higher.

*I received a complimentary copy of The “She” Stands Alone from the author for my honest review*

To Capture Her Heart

DeMarino, Rebecca. To Capture Her Heart: The Southold Chronicles-Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
tocaptureherheartSet in the mid 1600’s, history, romance, adventure, faith, heartache and suspense all collide and combine in To Capture Her Heart. Heather Flower, of the Montaukett Tribe, witnesses the death of her groom while being captured at the same time. Rescued by Lt. Dirk Van Buren yet a close friend of Ben Horton, Heather must decide between friendship, love, and her intentions while battling her heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A new author, a new series, a new time period…the combination worked for me! Drawn to the book by the cover, I did also enjoy the story within. Though at brief moments I did feel as if I was missing something in the storyline, this book could stand-alone but I have learned it is a continuation of the previous novel, A Place In His Heart. Basing her recent story on a controversial, perhaps legendary character (Heather Flower) and doing her research at the Southold Indian Museum, Rebecca DeMarino definitely added to my interest in this story. Absolutely a series I will continue after returning to read the first one.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of To Capture Her Heart from Revell Publishing for my honest review.

The Hostess Twinkies Cookbook

Hostess Brands, LLC. The Hostess Twinkies Cookbook: Twinkies 85th Anniversary Edition: A New Sweet and Savory Recipe Collection from America’s Most Iconic Snack Cake. USA: Ten Speed Press. 2105.

SUMMARY:
TwinkieFilled with a bit of Twinkie history, easy and fun recipes, beautiful photography and tons of childhood memories, The Hostess Twinkies Cookbook features the iconic snack cake in new imaginative ways. From Pigs in a Twinkie, to Twinkie Strawberry Shortcake, to Twinkie Corndog and even Twinkie Sushi, this fun-sized and sweet-themed cookbook is sure to illicit fond recollections from years past to share forward.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Fun!! As a cookbook-fan and a (frozen) Twinkie-lover, I admit to indulging for a brief time with this super-cute book. Though I enjoy my Twinkies pure from the package, I am sure my teenage-son will be more than willing to try some of the included recipes (Deep-Fried Bacon-Wrapped Chocolate-Covered Twinkies). Part nostalgic, part yummy, part iconic, part heartwarming, this updated Twinkies Cookbook is like a warm hug from mom packed in a lunchbox all over again! Enjoyed in moderation with sweet, sentimental memories…priceless!!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Hostess Twinkies Cookbook from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Everyday Grace

Thompson, Jessica. Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships With The Love Of Jesus. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
everydaygraceFocusing on what has been done for us already (sins forgiven), author Jessica Thompson offers thoughts, understanding and grace for our relationships. Not a relationship expert, she merely hopes to shed some light on the human problem of relationship difficulties. Being brutally honest about her own relationships, along with personal stories, scriptures and Bible references, Jessica extends that olive branch of peace and grace to others in her life, and shares the same with her readers.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As the author acknowledges at the beginning of her book, there are many, many books written on relationships. Not claiming to be a relationship expert but perhaps more interested on working on her own relationships (which in turn may pay forward), I think this could be a book which might cause some to pause and consider. Though not having a huge impact on me personally, it may just hit-home with someone else. Written in an easy-to-read style, I thought perhaps personal reflection questions or discussion starters would have made this book more relate-able as it might be good for a women’s Bible study or ministry.

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Your Sacred Yes

Larson, Susie. Your Sacred Yes: Trading Life-Draining Obligations for Freedom, Passion & Joy. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
yesBusy, busy, busy…everyone seems to be so busy these days without the time to think, especially before saying “yes”. In her new book, Your Sacred Yes, author Susie Larson instructs, encourages and coaches on saying “yes” more carefully. She demonstrates that responding with “yes” when we aren’t really meant to, can limit the time with God, test our patience, overstretch our talents beyond our abilities and wreck havoc on our lives. With Bible verses, stories of experience, personal reflection questions and group discussion starters, it is hard not to say “no”.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So many are caught up in the whirlwind of life, acting on “should-do’s”, comparing abilities to others, concerned about other opinions and losing sight of God in the process, that “yes” has become automatic in some situations and on many occasions. I appreciated the message delivered within this book although not always easy to hear nor act upon. Especially captivating was the thought of “yes meaning no”…saying ‘yes” to something means saying “no” to something else. Saying “yes” to working more hours means saying “no” to family. An interesting concept to ponder and consider. Excellent book as a ministry, sermon or group study, it also works well as a devotional for personal use.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Your Sacred Yes from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

For The Joy Set Before Us

Fye, Erica. For The Joy Set Before Us: Insights Into The Missionary Journey. USA: CrossLink Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
MissionarySharing her experiences, thoughts emotions and work associated with her life as a missionary in Uganda, Erica Fye writes her story from a straight-forward, realistic, and serving view point. Cautioning to enter the missionary field only if the motivation is the same as Jesus Christ’s, the author expresses the hard truths, the intense joy, the difficult situations and end results of her own missionary work. Surrounded with relevant scriptures, personal stories and questions to ponder before entering the field, For The Joy Set Before Us answers many questions about the importance and reasons of becoming a missionary.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
After reading this book, I definitely have a better understanding of missionary work as well as an even greater respect for those who serve in this manner. What struck me the most was the deep contemplation and listening one must do to truly be sure he/she is being led into doing this work for God..missionary work must be for God, not for a self-serving purpose (trips, travel). Perhaps not edited the most accurately, the message was so strongly delivered, this book will have a lasting impact on hearts and minds.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of For The Joy Set Before Us from BookCrash and CrossLink Publishing for my honest review*