The Homemade Kitchen

Chernila, Alana. The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes For Cooking With Pleasure. USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
thehomemadekitchenCooking for pleasure with homemade recipes, organic whole foods, optimism, intention and satisfaction, author Alana Chernila shares her tips, recipes, stories, reminders and way of life in her newest cookbook, The Homemade Kitchen. With gentle reminders taped throughout her kitchen (do your best and then let it go/ slow down/ eat outside), she cooks for her family and others using the ingredients true to her, as well as with enjoyment. Delicious recipes accompanied by appealing pictures all packaged in a beautiful, sturdy book provides magnitude to any kitchen.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Reading more like a story than a usual cookbook, The Homemade Kitchen is definitely a book for me. I enjoyed the stories and personal recounts along with the easy yet hardy recipes (Stuffed Winter Squash-yum!). I really liked the author’s down-to-earth perspective on ingredients, attitude, resources and life. Though simple, the tips and tools could be useful to most any level of chef (freezing vegetables, hard-boiling eggs, storage ideas, using scraps). Even my teenage son found a few recipes he would like to try (Pumpkin Hot Chocolate, Flavored Cream Cheese). With a few foreign ingredients to me, I am more than willing to try them now due to the manner of presentation and calmness factor experienced through this book. Perfect as a gift, this copy will remain on my own counter though I absolutely will now seek out her other book, The Homemade Pantry. Hungry yet?

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

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

Defying Normal

Heitzig, Skip. With Kinley, Jeff. Defying normal: Soaring Above The Status Quo. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
defyingnormalDeciding not to settle for what this world is offering today, Pastor and author Skip Heitzig shares his thoughts, faith, battles and strength in his new book, Defying Normal. Wanting to “fit in”, most people find themselves settling for what is abundant these days…untruths, immorality, lack of values, changing standards, and little faith. Through eight elements which parallel Daniel’s ability to soar above the status quo (self-control, faith, humility, integrity, dependence, courage, hope and balance), the author explores the difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Complete with challenge sections to deliberate (think, pray) and defy normal (application), the challenge is presented to be applied in real, practical ways.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Recently having thoughts and a conversation on this exact topic, this book arrived at just the right time. Not sure if I was going to agree with the ideas from the book’s description, I actually found it to be on track with my thinking. Rising above some of today’s standards by not settling but staying strong and living in this world but not necessarily of this world, I appreciated the message as well as the Bible lesson of Daniel. Thought provoking, interesting, and compelling, Defying Normal would present a good sermon topic or Bible Study.

RATING:

4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Defying Normal from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Dashing Through the Snow

Macomber, Debbie. Dashing Through the Snow. NY, USA: Ballantine Books. 2015.

SUMMARY:
dashingthroughthesnowWanting to get home to Seattle to surprise her mother for Christmas, Ashley Davison appears down on her luck with no rental car, no airline ticket and only a bit of cash. Needing to arrive in Seattle for a job interview, Dash Sutherland takes the last rental car, appears in a hurry and has the means to obtain what he is after…and has a conscious which allows him to include Ashley in his plans. Through a snow storm, an orphaned puppy, a rental car issue, blowing snow, complete embarrassment, security problems and an affected heart, Dash and Ashley may be set up for the adventure of their lives…all in time for Christmas.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a perfect time for another Christmas story. Fun, humorous, heartfelt and seasonal, Dashing Through the Snow delivers a quick, light read for a busy time. From New York Times and USA Bestselling author, Debbie Macomber, this Christmas novel includes a bit of a mystery, humorous banter, a sweet adopted puppy, and a fast-paced romance. As a stand-alone shorter book, it was just not quite what I expected though from a favorite author.  (A few minor words and inferences may be offensive to some.)

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

Powerful Moments In The Presence Of God

Varela, Lorraine Marie. Powerful Moments In The Presence Of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
powerfulmomentsinthepresenceofGodWith stunning photography accompanied by scripture verses and a short message seemingly written from God, Powerful Moments In The Presence Of God is a beautiful book full of grace, beauty and faith. Perfect as a gift or personal use, the devotional quality in this glossy, full-color, smaller hardcover version presents very well. Through her camera lens and writings, author Lorraine Marie Varela enjoys drinking coffee, traveling, meeting people and sharing the love of God.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though not sure I encountered each devotion in the intended manner, I realize time with God is personal in each relationship with Him. From my perspective, I enjoyed the beautiful photography, the scripture appearing with each photo, the lay-out of the book, and the ability to use it as a devotional even though I may not have made some of the same connections between the photos and the messages. Still, a gorgeous little devotional book definitely worth sharing.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Powerful Moments In The Presence Of God from Chosen Publishing for my honest review*

Cute Emergency

Heally, Tony. Cute Emergency: Bad Day? The Doctor Is In. USA: Three Rivers Press. 2015.

SUMMARY:
cuteemergencyDealing with an emergency…coffee shop out of your favorite flavor? Pizza turned upside down in the box? No hot water for your shower? Need a root canal? No worries…in his new book, Cute Emergency, author Tony Heally reveals how even the worst of days can be uplifted by this seriously adorable book of animal photos. Monkeys, puppies, guinea pigs, rabbits, elephants and kitties all vie for attention when accompanied by really funny, sweet captions. No matter the emergency, the cuteness factor of this book will cause most anyone to smile and calm a bit…even if you did just drop your phone in the toilet.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So cute! I chuckled, grinned, laughed and giggled as I read the captions accompanying some of the cutest animal pictures I have ever seen. Cats, puppies, turtles, hedgehogs, piglets and even bears all guarantee to turn bad days around. Set up in degrees of emergencies (low-extreme), the full-color pictures just keep getting cuter! Definitely a great book to share with people needing a smile, of course, animal lovers would also appreciate a copy.   Stat…it’s a cute emergency!!

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Cute Emergency from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Movement of Crowns

Keels, Nadine C. The Movement of Crowns. USA: Smashwords. 2012.

SUMMARY:
movementofcrownsAs a child born to a barren King and Queen for many years, the excitement of finally producing an heir was dimmed by the child being born a female. At the age of twenty, Princess Constance of Diachona is about to celebrate her birthday by becoming a Royal Junior. As only men have previously been allowed to hold such a position, this strong-willed and level-headed young woman has a lot on her shoulders to bear. Adored by her father the King, caring for her ill mother the Queen, and accepting the responsibility of her kingdom, Princess Constance must face many interested suitors, navigate the customs of neighboring kingdoms, and be true to her heart…all of which prove to not be easy tasks…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not a huge fan of fantasy, I am glad I did not shy away from this book due to my perceived notions on the genre. Actually a good story with vivid descriptions and plot twists, my favorite aspect was the word choices. Obviously a fellow word-geek, I found myself re-reading several passages to gain the true depth of the selections. Though only a novella, the story was well enough developed to not feel short in length.  A simple yet pure romance was spun throughout this tale suitable for all ages.  Glimpses of mystery, confidence, strength and faith weaved together to create an intriguing story.  As Book 1 in the Movement of Crown series, I look forward to reading more from Nadine Keels, especially in this series.

RATING:

4.5 (out of 5) pennies

I received a complimentary copy of The Movement of Crowns from the author for my honest review.

You Can’t Text A Tough Conversation

Bechtle, Mike. You Can’t Text A Tough Conversation: #RealCommunicationNeeded. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
youcanttextatoughconversationLOL…TTYL…TMI…JK…very real communication today yet lacking depth, emotion, connections and true conversation. Lack of face-to-face communication seems almost the norm these days yet author Mike Bechtle, in his new book, You Can’t Text A Tough Conversation, explains how conversation works, what healthy communication sounds like, the necessary skills in communication, the effective connection through strong, though sometimes tough, conversations and the ensuing results. Trust, ownership, expectations, relations, confidence, responses, and respect issues all figure into efficient exchanges…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Actually a book on communication, I found myself nodding my head in agreement so many times, my neck hurt! Truly an engaging, crucial, significant book on an important topic, not only does it offer ways to improve communication skills but it also helps explain how we got here. Living in a different type of world (due to technology), the method of communication may have changed yet the key ingredients are still consistent. Texting has surpassed the phone call as the major means of communication yet lacks the depth of face-to-face conversation; appropriate in some instances, texting a tough conversation just doesn’t work. I especially found interesting the reasons for responses we give (criticism, negative thoughts, lack of listening, mistrust, emotions, pride) as well as the connection chapters. Well-written in an easy to read manner with just the right amount of humor and seriousness, I definitely will check out this author’s other books.              IMHO…GR8! (In My Humble Opinion…great!)

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of You Can’t Text A Tough Conversation from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Home & Garden Devotions

Byrd, Sandra. Home & Garden Devotions: The One Year Series. Carol stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
homeandgardendevotionsThe One Year devotional series touts devotions that are do-able and daily. With many in the series, Home & Garden Devotions joins a magnitude of other books inviting taking the time for a brief devotion centered around God and an interest. Through one-page-length devotions, dated and complete with a scripture, Sandra Byrd makes connecting easy with God, even for the busiest of people. Personal, relate-able, inspiring and absorbing, this larger-sized devotional is perfect for daily time with God.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Beautiful! The design, writing and inspirations are perfect for staying true to God throughout the year. I enjoyed the shared thoughts, the gift of scripture, the connections, and the warm-hearted manner in which the short devotions were written. Humor, compassion and insightfulness surround each devotion pertaining to the home (spring cleaning) and garden (new soil). Each month starts with a well-planned tip (craft, recipe, home idea, garden advice) which just makes sense (a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moment). I am looking forward to the new year to begin this set of devotions…as well as a cleaner house and prettier garden!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Home & Garden Devotions from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

Sacred Intent

Crowe, Brent. Sacred Intent: Maximize The moments Of Your Life. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
sacredintentLiving an entire lifetime in just a week, seven short days, life would be handled differently. More organized, more intently, more structured, more deeply, more developed and more for God. Choosing words which define each day of the week, author Brent Crowe shares the intensity and fulfillment of the positive influence, deeper involvement and focused power associated with each of the words. Influence, time, calling, engagement, relationships, motivations, and dreaming…with grace and determination, Sacred Intent encourages, uplifts, empowers and instills the necessary thoughts, behavior and faith to make an impact in life in just a short amount of time…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So, if such a great significance and influence could be accomplished in a week by living intently, imagine the impression that could be made in a longer time by living decisively, deeply and committed to Christ. With a doctorate in philosophy, a masters of divinity in evangelism and a masters of arts in ethics, speaker, motivator and leader Brent Crowe provides quite the thought-provoking ideas and impetus to live wholly for God while influencing others to do the same. I found this book to be well written and engaging while presenting an interesting message. Dynamic!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Sacred Intent from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Congratulations, Graduate…Now What?

Facey, Denise Fawcett. Congratulations, Graduate…Now What: Help In Figuring Out Your Future. USA: CrossLink publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
congratulationsgraduateA devotional, a journal and a resource book, Congratulations, Graduate…Now What? encourages and challenges the recent graduate to discover, embrace, reflect, examine, and organize his/ her future, both near and far. With direction and confidence, personal stories, methods and scripture are included to ensure success. Lots of room to reflect, journal and answer suggested questions are sure to help steer in a positive manner.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Part devotional, part workbook, part journal and part wisdom, I thought this book was thought-provoking at the recent graduate level. Perhaps not full of answers but more self-reflection, some of the workbook questions were aimed at values, ethics, plans, thoughts, and dreams with encouragement to follow through. Wonderful as a graduation gift, a high-school ministry or Bible study, author Denise Fawcett Facey does a thorough job of helping graduates navigate a confusing time of life upon high-school graduation. Well done!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Congratulations, Graduate…Now What? from BookCrash for my honest review*