America At The Crossroads

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Barna, George. America At The Crossroads: Explosive Trends Shaping America’s Future And What You Can Do About It. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Listing, summarizing, researching, and analyzing current trends in America and the influence on culture is shared in the new book, America At The Crossroads. With chapters on faith and spirituality, government and politics, lifestyles and perspectives, as well as action that can be taken, an award-winning author and founder of Barna Group (a research firm that specializes in faith-related surveys), George Barna, explores the patterns of thought and behavior that provide insight into society.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As America continues to change, some for the better with some for the worse, it is interesting to see those changes and the consequences on a number of factors. With churches changing yet also being affected, America At The Crossroads provides summaries and key facts on how people view and feel about America. Maybe a good book to examine closer, churches, pastors, leaders, teachers and parents may find some direction from this information on which direction to head next.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of America At The Crossroads from Baker Books for my honest review*

The Prayer Saturated Family

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Sacks, Cheryl. The Prayer Saturated Family: How to Change the Atmosphere in Your Home through Prayer. Bloomington, MN: Chosen Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Author Cheryl Sacks shares the importance and power of prayer in family life. In her newest book, The Prayer Saturated Family, she demonstrates what happens when families pray together, how to take the necessary steps to action, and provides a daily prayer guide, all through personal stories, Biblical scriptures and lots of encouragement and examples. Family friendly with successful results!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Written in a friendly manner with proof of prayer affecting family climate change, this book is easy to use and well written. As a national speaker and best selling author, Cheryl Sacks supplies the tools to starting a family on a path to a strong faith-filled life. Wonderful as a church resource, a Sunday school project, a family ministry or personal use, this book would also be a great gift for a young family or grandparents to share with their grandchildren. Organized and effective, the kick-start is so helpful!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Prayer Saturated Family from Chosen Publishing for my honest review*

The Cottage

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Phillips, Michael. The Cottage: Secrets of the Shetlands- Book 2. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2016.

thecottage

SUMMARY:
Loni Ford discovers she is to become a laird due to an inheritance of a cottage, buildings, land and livestock on the island of Whales Reef, in the Shetlands. As an American far from home, Loni soon finds herself questioning her own life direction as she is determined to fight for the property and protect the people of the island. Full of beautiful landscapes, authentic food and well researched culture, The Cottage provides authenticity along with quite the mystery…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a new author for me, Micheal Phillips convinced me he is an experienced author. With exquisite details of the Shetlands, an unfamiliar place to me, the vivid descriptions were impressive. Though perhaps a bit of the dialogue was difficult to follow and the Quaker information a touch too rich, the storyline and characters were well developed. Easily read as a stand-alone novel, I wonder if I would have enjoyed it even more if I had read book 1 in The Secrets of the Shetlands series, The Inheritance. All in all, a good introduction to a new author for me.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Cottage from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Rhythms of Rest

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Miller, Shelly. Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
In the busyness of today, finding Sabbath (or rest) can be very difficult. Not just physically finding the time but also mentally focusing on rest through a pattern of rhythms. In her new book, author, blogger and leader of the Sabbath Society, Shelly Miller explores the choice of rest, the consequences both of as well as the lack of intermission, and the necessity of solitude. Through personal stories, comforting thoughts and emails from her online Sabbath community, Rhythms of Rest encourages spending time with God and reflecting on His love…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With an interesting and necessary theme to her newest book, Shelly Miller does a nice job of explaining the need, pattern and discipline of rest. Though her stories fit well, for some reason, I was not quite able to follow the process of the book nor really connect. Seeing the importance of the Sabbath, especially in the crazy schedules of life currently, I think this book has potential for certain people. Definitely a book that should be given a chance, I hope to read more of her books in the future.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Rhythms of Rest from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Larger-Than-Life-Lara

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Mackall, Dandi Daley. Larger-Than-Life-Lara. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2016.

largerthanlifelara

SUMMARY:
Laney Grafton has a difficult home life yet shines in her life. As a likeable person, Laney has friends in class but wonders why others protect their reputation against being with her. When Lara, an overweight new student in class, tries to befriend Laney, Laney finds herself considering the reversal in roles now. With bullying, jokes, tormenting and cruelty, Larger-Than-Life-Lara tackles feelings, thoughts, meanness and kindness through the eyes of middle-schoolers. Written in a manner which emphasizes, explains and practices the writing pattern of a story, this many faceted novel ponders many aspects of life…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though a simple book written mainly for middle school-age children, Larger-Than-Life-Lara shares such an important message, it should be read by all. Undertaking the cruelty and effects of bullying, author Dandi Daley Mackall writes a poignant, sometimes humorous, always complex, well-written novel. With lessons to be learned on bullying yet also the academic writing style of stories, each chapter coincides with an actual story (beginning, setting, villain, details, rising action, climax). As a two-fold book with several themes, it was interesting, heartbreaking, informational and would be perfect as a study unit for class.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Larger-Than-Life-Lara from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

A Primary Decision

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Leman, Kevin. Nesbit, Jeff. A Primary Decision: The Worthington Destiny Series- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

aprimarydecision

SUMMARY:
Sarah Worthington, next Attorney General and sister of Will and Sean, fears she may be the next target. As secrets lie deep, suspense turns inward, politics run wild and alliances become distorted, Sarah draws closer to the Polar Bear Bomber but at what cost? With personal gains and losses at risk, the Worthington siblings realize their greatest strength may come in numbers…and family.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Teaming authors Dr. Kevin Leman and Jeff Nesbit have scored another political thriller just in time for the election. As book 3 in The Worthington Destiny series, A Primary Decision is full of page-turning suspense. Though readable as a stand-alone, this novel would have deeper understanding and meaning on the heels of the previous books in the series. Already a favorite author of mine, Dr. Kevin Leman and his Birth Order books, I also liked the influence of author Jeff Nesbit on this current story. Well-written and well-enjoyed, I definitely will look for more from both/ either of these authors.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Primary Decision from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Devoted

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Fisher, Suzanne Woods. The Devoted: The Bishop’s Family- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
With an amazing heart for good, patience and the Lord, Bishop David is led by the Scriptures to help the people of Stoney Ridge follow the Bible while also keeping their Amish way of life. Ruthie, at the age of seventeen and on the brink of adulthood, must decide the path she wishes to pursue while the Englisher Patrick, hopes to delve deeper into the Amish culture. Add to those characters, Dok, who purchases the health clinic practice and must work to gain the Amish trust, and Luke, the town trouble-maker. Add in a bit of humor, some romance and perhaps some heartache for a stirring story…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As book 3 in the Bishop’s Family series, The Devoted also works well as a stand-alone. Grabbing my attention from the beginning of the novel, I literally flew through it. Full of Amish community and culture, a little mystery and soft, clean romance coupled with faith, author Suzanne Woods Fisher has penned yet another well-written Amish novel. As the characters grow and are revisited, it is interesting to not only learn their ways but realize they are similar people with choices and consequences. This was a wonderful re-introduction to Amish genre after a bit of a lapse for me.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Devoted from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Love One Another

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Berenstain, Mike. Love One Another: The Berenstain Bears. Eugene, OR: Worthy Kids Publishing. 2016.

*loveoneanother

SUMMARY:
In a thick chunky book perfect for little hands, the well known and beloved Berenstain Bears add yet another clever and adorable addition to the classic tradition. With a neighbor of the Bears just having had twin cubs, Mama Bear invites Sister and Brother Bear in joining her to make some blueberry muffins to share. Extending the Bible verse learned in Sunday school, to love one another, the sibling cubs take helping even further to rake leaves, set the table and watch the tiniest Bear.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having shared the Bearenstain Bears with my own children growing up, I am excited to see this series continue on with author Mike Berenstain. Filled with a wonderful lesson appreciated by all, Love One Another is perfect for Sunday school, church, a baby gift, or most any little hands. Debuting just before the Thanksgiving holiday, it may be just right to share with family over dinner while saying grace and giving thanks. Simple prose and darling illustrations only enhance the message, sure to be embraced by many.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Love One Another from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

A New Way To Dinner

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Hesser, Amanda. Stubbs, Merrill. Food 52: A New Way To Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead. New York, USA: Ten Speed Press. 2016.

anewwaytodinner

SUMMARY:
With busyness surrounding us everywhere, everyone could use some help…especially when it comes to dinner. Authors and co-founders of Food 52, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, set up dinner for each week with seasonal favorites, a grocery list, full weekday meals, complete recipes and accompanying photographs. With the premise of making a week full of meals on the weekend before, there are also informational tidbits, personal stories, additional recipes for the included ingredients and cooking helps. Printed on sturdier paper in a well organized manner, A New Way To Dinner may make life a bit easier and definitely more delicious…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a useful cookbook! With fresh recipes according to seasons, Food 52: A New Way To Dinner is a beautiful book sharing the necessities of cooking for the week on Sundays. Following the full menus is easy with creative recipes full of inventive recipes yet common fare. Perfect for busy families, traveling couples or retired seniors, it would make a wonderful gift as well as kept for personal use. Ease and innovation paired.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A New Way To Dinner from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

The Silent Songbird

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Dickerson, Melanie. The Silent Songbird: Young Adult Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2016.

thesilentsongbird

SUMMARY:
Promised in marriage by her cousin, King Richard, to the nasty Earl of Shively, Evangeline knows she must escape. A bit naïve due to being locked away in the castle for her own protection, Evangeline soon finds herself outside the Berkhamsted castle and part of the traveling group under the leadership of the handsome Westley le Wyse. Now working as a servant, Evangeline also leads those around her to believe she is mute. Living this lie while hiding from her intended, who surely is searching for his beautiful songbird, turns out to be dangerous to both her life and heart.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a loose retelling of the fairytale Little Mermaid, even the cover of the book reflects Ariel, the red-haired singing beauty. With brief suggestions to the Disney story, The Silent Songbird is a delightful, suspenseful, medieval and interesting retelling. As part of the young adult series written by author Melanie Dickerson, this newest addition nods to a few previous characters; however, is also easily read as a stand-alone. Though classified as young adult, readers of all ages are sure to enjoy!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Silent Songbird from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*