The Golden Braid

Dickerson, Melanie.  The Golden Braid.  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing.  2015.

SUMMARY:
goldenbraidLiving alone with her mother, Rapunzel realizes she has certain skills (knife throwing) but is lacking the one skill she yearns for the most- being able to read. Hastily moving due to interest from a suitor, Rapunzel and her mother, Gothel, move to medieval Hagenheim. Along the way, they encounter a knight needing their assistance. Once saved, the knight becomes indebted to Rapunzel, ultimately providing her with more than just her immediate dream of learning to read…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a fan of fairytales, usually the girly, glamorous type, this story was just the opposite. Rather than the dreamy, dependent daughter meeting her prince, but instead a strong independent young lady ready to take on the world, author Melanie Dickerson takes a unique direction for Rapunzel. Full of life lessons (kindness, compassion, relationships), more contemporary in the telling, suggested Christian values, and other possible ideas/options included, The Golden Braid was well written and a wonderful addition to The Fairytale Romance series. Appropriate for both young adults as well as adults, this book is surely worth the time.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Golden Braid from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Rainbow in the Cloud (Maya Angelou)

Angelou, Maya. Rainbow in the Cloud: The Wisdom and Spirit of Maya Angelou. New York, NY: Random House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
rainbowinthecloudFull of smart guidance, wise direction, humorous pleasantry, and timeless knowledge, this beautiful collection of quotes is gathered from several previous literary works of Maya Angelou. Charming, emotional, witty, clever, strong, and compassionate, Rainbow in the Cloud charters such topics as family, culture, community, race, morals, spirituality, parenting, art and grace.   “Be the rainbow in someone’s cloud.”  Elegant works from a lovely lady.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A stunning woman leaving pearls of herself for generations to come. As an admirer of Maya Angelou, I found this book to be delightful yet full of common sense and practical wisdom. With snippets of her previous works in one slimlined book, some of the included bits are priceless. Such a truly remarkable lady with such sound, just ideas, now contained within reach for many to enjoy. One of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou…”If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”…so true, just perfect!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

Murder in Wauwatosa

Hoffman, Paul. Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher. Charleston, SC: The History Press. 2012.

SUMMARY:
murderinwauwatosaIn a quiet suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, friends and family mourned the passing of Buddy Schumacher, a local boy found dead. Heading to the Menomonee River which was flooded each summer by the city fire department for use as a swimming hole, Buddy Schumacher did not make it there. Filled with tons of relevant history, interesting tidbits, neighboring accounts and speculative notions, Murder in Wauwatosa is a well-written, real-life murder mystery, perhaps finally leading to a conclusion of what truly happened to Buddy Schumacher in 1925…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Full of year-applicable pictures, current photos, pertinent accounts, intriguing history and great story-telling, author Paul Hoffman shares his personal interest in this quaint little city of Wauwatosa. With possible motives, traveling vagabonds, passing trains, neighborhood children and curious residents, Murder in Wauwatosa draws attention and concern to an alarming local crime. Updated to the present, this story is captivating, especially due to the style of writing. Definitely engaging.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Murder in Wauwatosa from The History Press for my honest review*

Green Smoothies

Green, Fern. Green Smoothies: Juices, Smoothies, Nut Milks, and Tonics. USA: Ten Speed Press. 2014, 2015.

SUMMARY:
greensmoothiesAn excellent way to add raw fruits and vegetables into your diet through juices, smoothies, milks and tonics, Green Smoothies makes it easy. Offering many different varieties, each recipe lists simply the necessary ingredients, explains the easy directions, labels the benefits of each and includes pictures of the finished product in a tempting jar. 66 recipes are organized by type with basics being covered too (equipment, super greens, detox plans and differences between the several styles of drinks). Healthy, easy, life-changing and delicious, Green Smoothies takes away any reasons not to add healthy to your life…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving the layout of this book, I found it very visually pleasing as well as choke full of delicious and creative recipes. Mixing both fruits and vegetables, both green and colorful, into juices and smoothies, I thought this book provided many new ideas for combining good-for-me goodness. Muscle and bone building, immunizing, skin enhancing…only some of the many benefits gained from the included drinks with Bok Choy, dandelions, apples, blueberries and raspberries being some of the tasty ingredients. As a fan of smoothies already, this book is perfect. Would even make a great gift accompanied by a blender or juicer for that New Year’s resolution.  Excellent!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Green Smoothies from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Book Blogger’s Planner

Books and Beverages: The Shoppe. The Book Blogger’s Planner. May Designs. 2015.

SUMMARY:
bookblogplannerDesigned especially with the busy book blogger in mind, The Book Blogger’s Planner boasts a steady supply of blank, customizable calendar pages, pages of post checklist sheets perfect for tallying where and when each review was posted, plenty of lined pages for notes and additional pages for keeping favorite quotes. With a sturdier cover and a compact size, this handy little book fits into a folder, purse or backpack easily. Along with the planner, quote cards and book-themed  postcards are available, all ready for sharing.  Be sure to visit http://booksandbeveragestheshoppe.bigcartel.com/ to see what is all available!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Wow…why didn’t I think of that? The perfect gift, accessory or scheduler for every book blogger on your list (don’t forget yourself). I love the design, the quality, the extras as well as the stickers and postcards…all so useful and inspirational! Check out the Books and Beverages Shoppe blog/ website here: http://booksandbeverages.org/ .  You will wonder how you ever lived without this planner…here’s to a wonderfully organized New Year!!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Book Blogger’s Planner for my honest review*

Silver Linings

Macomber, Debbie. Silver Linings: A Rose Harbor Novel #4. New York, NY: USA: Ballantine Books. 2015.

SUMMARY:
roseharbor#4With increased guests staying at her bed-and-breakfast, Rose Harbor Inn, owner Jo Marie Rose is busy yet still grieving her late husband, Paul. With a twist in her friendship with her handyman, Mark, Jo Marie must reevaluate her thoughts, feelings, and heart just as she learns a hidden truth.  Meanwhile, Coco and Katie visit Rose Harbor Inn during their high-school reunion, only to relive their teenage years of first-loves, youthful mistakes, and forgotten friendships. Known as the place of healing, Rose Harbor Inn may have trouble producing this time…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Reading most of author Debbie Macomber’s newer books, I have read every book in her newest series, Rose Harbor. I enjoy revisiting characters I met in previous novels, as well as the guests currently staying at the Inn. Told with compassion, kindness, warmth and just enough mystery to keep the pages turning, I am already looking forward to the next book in the series (which I truly hope is in the process already). A beautiful cover and winner of a 2015 Favorite-Cover accolade from Prismatic Prospects (https://prismaticprospects.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/favorite-covers-2015/), Silver Linings was a beautifully written and delightfully enjoyed novel.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

Beginnings

Wiens, Steve. Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress (Tyndale House Publishers). 2015.

SUMMARY:
beginningsBuried deep within each person is a hidden gift ready to be cultivated, nourished and grown. Based on the seven days of Creation, pastor and author Steve Wiens parallels that beginning with becoming or emerging rather than staying or stagnating. Believing each life is not fixed but instead transitioning, Beginnings focuses on each person as a verb, not a noun. With personal stories, intriguing ideas, practice actions, reflection and discussion, it is hard to remain standing still…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though not a light read, I found Beginnings to be an interesting read, especially when coupling the Creation story with inner purpose, opportunity and beginnings. Seeds, monsters, seasons, light…all ideas used to strengthen, encourage and shed light on possibilities of searching, growing and challenging while reminding us we are not alone in life. Able to relate physically, mentally and emotionally to his training of running a marathon, Steve Wiens took it one step further and asked what next? Perfect as a Bible study, Life Group idea or sermons series, this book will help you navigate that next life-transition a bit smoother.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Beginnings from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

Lifedeck

Lull, Greg. Lifedeck: Balance The Four Corners Of Your Crazy Life And Be Happier Than You Ever Thought Possible. USA: CrossLink Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
lifedeckAn out-of-control, crazy, unbalanced life can create havoc on the road through life. Based on the four corners of life: spiritual, physical, relational and financial, pastor and author Greg Lull examines each area. Through personal anecdotes, recollections of friends, Bible stories and explanations, Lifedeck shares, considers, instructs and encourages balance within the four corners. Events, stages, intention, and control are all explored in relation to balancing, simplifying, un-crazying, and responding to situations, many of which attack us at the same time. Finding your own personal profile, plan and action contribute to true happiness with God in control and at the front.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Honestly, hoping this would not be just another self-help book with lists of actions needed, I was very surprised and encouraged to find myself easily reading it from cover-to-cover with my interest intact. The personal stories were reassuring, the Bible characters relate-able, the style interesting, the message inspiring, and the chapter questions intriguing, lending to the importance of responses to situations of imbalance. I really liked his example of the egg and the potato…when placed in hot water, one becomes hard and the other soft. It really made me consider my own responses which led me to realize I need to work on my own balances.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Lifedeck from BookCrash for my honest review*

The Best and Lightest (Cookbook)

Food Network Magazine Editors. The Best and Lightest: 150 Healthy Recipes For Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. New York, USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
bestandlightestcookbookNot necessarily preaching about healthy food but rather eating healthy naturally, the team at Food Network Magazine decided to publish a cookbook of their best. The most delicious healthy, lower-calorie, energy-boosting, protein-rich, great-tasting favorites lightened up the right way with smart ingredients and creative cooking techniques. Brimming with enthusiasm, the serious foodies/ editors compiled 150 recipes complete with easy-to-follow directions, nutritional values and gorgeous photography of each. Soups, sandwiches, poultry, meat, seafood, pasta, side-dishes and sweets showing culinary expertise anyone can duplicate, enhance, or modify yet guaranteed to enjoy.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Decidedly some really easy, tasty, creative yet do-able recipes shape this beautiful book. As a fan of Food Network (while running on the treadmill), not only are the recipes healthful and unique but also very simple and flavorful. Not requiring any extra time in the kitchen (so very family friendly), I found some usual favorites designed in new ways. Warm Beet-Orange Salad, Kale and White Bean Soup, Pasta with Butternut Squash, and Soy-Glazed Salmon with Avocado Salad…just a few of the uncomplicated recipes. With most higher in fiber and protein but still lower in fat and calories, the adjacent pictures to every recipe only reinforce the effectiveness of this cookbook. Snack time and smoothie recipes are an extra boost to nibble, share with company or take as treats. Taste-buds beware!!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Best and Lightest from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Wedding Chapel

Hauck, Rachel. The Wedding Chapel. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
weddingchapelBuilt for a bride who never returned, the beautifully built stone chapel hides quietly in the woods. Football hall-of-famer, Coach Jimmy Westbrook, lovingly erected the chapel for the love of his life. With only memories left, both wonderful and sorrowful, Jimmy must decide if the time to move on has arrived. Taylor Branson, contemporary photographer and newlywed to Jack Forrester, struggles in her new marriage for several reasons, both current and past. As Jimmy and Taylor experience an intersection in their journeys, similarities, questions, answers, and true love await them surrounding the gracefully charming wedding chapel…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Although it took a bit for me to connect with this story, perhaps due to the preconceived notion that it may be more like Rachel Hauck’s previous fairy-tale type stories, eventually it flowed handsomely and quite delicately for me. An emotionally balanced novel, the changing of the point-of-view between the four characters, as well as the shifting of times from past to present, worked well once I grew to know the characters. Definitely a favorite author of mine, I appreciate the varied direction of her work along with the alluring cover.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Wedding Chapel from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*