Beyond The Castle

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Dreyer, Jody Jean. With Windahl, Stacy. Beyond the Castle: A Guide to Discovering Your Happily Ever After. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
How does Walt Disney World create the magic known to so many people? Is it possible to continue the magic even after the vacation is over? Where do you find your “happily ever after”? These questions and so many more are explored and shared in author Jody Dreyer’s new book, Beyond The Castle- A Guide To Discovering Your Happily Ever After. Having worked for Disney for over 30 years in various positions, the author is quite capable of telling her story as it relates to Disney. Through life lessons learned as a result of her roles and Disney interactions, Jody helps guests write their own story based on her experiences at Walt Disney World. It truly is possible to find your “happily ever after” if you know where to look…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having recently enjoyed a vacation to Walt Disney World with another one booked, as well as being a huge fan of Disney, I was excited to read this book. Perhaps expecting just a few more personal stories from an insider to Disney, I did appreciate the perspective of lessons learned from Disney and the encouragement to be in control of my own story and happy ending. Liking the manner in which faith, life, happiness and Disney were intertwined, this is definitely a book any Disney fan will want to check out; I will absolutely tuck mine into my suitcase for my next Disney trip!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Beyond The Castle from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

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A Fierce Love

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Shanks, Shanna. A Fierce Love: One Woman’s Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With her marriage on an uncontrollable downward spiral, author Shanna Shanks decides to take 1 Corinthians 13 literally and follow it word, for painstakingly word. Faced with a request for a divorce after her husband admitted to an affair, in her new book, A Fierce Love, the author shares her tumultuous season full of mistakes, missteps, uncertainty, and doubt. Pure, raw, and vulnerable, the decision made to save her marriage may save more than just her marriage, it may also save countless other relationships.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A valuable read no matter the state of any marriage, A Fierce Love reiterates the truth found in God’s word in the Love scripture, 1 Corinthians 13. Written during one of the toughest seasons of her life, I so appreciated the honesty with which Shanna Shanks wrote. Able to take the lessons and strengthen not only marriages, the same principles could also be applied to endless relationships. Engaging, interesting, encouraging and inspirational, this book is not to be missed by anyone involved in a relationship.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Fierce Love from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

She’s Still There

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Evans- Hurst, Chrystal. She’s Still There- Rescuing the Girl in You. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Losing yourself in the midst of life is easy to do but finding yourself again can be a daunting task. With compassion, encouragement, faith, trust and personal experience, author Chrystal Evans-Hurst shares her own story and insights on life. Lending a hand yet allowing you to stand on your own, She’s Still There explores the reasons and events in life that caused the loss. Looking deeply within, the girl that was once there is reassured, strengthened and restored to dream, believe and live again.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Like a personal coach and cheerleader, Chrystal Evans-Hurst is there and understands. Having been there herself, she shares her concern as a friend and confidant to help others find that girl within that is lost due to circumstances, situations, events…life. Offering wisdom, acceptance, and familiarity, this book is perfect for anyone who has experienced life (most of us). Perfect as a pick-me-up, a pat-on-the-back or perhaps even a kick-in-the-pants, She’s Still There found me nodding several times and chuckling in recognition as I read through it. Definitely a book I will keep on my shelf to revisit as needed, I also wouldn’t hesitate to share it or recommend it to most anyone.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of She’s Still There from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Can I Just Hide In Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back?

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Bolton, Martha. And Ditchfield, Christin. Can I Just Hide In Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back: Facing Life With Courage Not Comforters. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Feeling down in the dumps at times can cause wanting to hide in bed and not get up. Under the premise of not getting out until Jesus comes back, authors Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield offer encouragement, humor, inspiration, chuckles and reasons to actually get up and get moving. Set up in 2-3 page bite-size chapters, each tackles a topic, includes a quote, a personal story, a reference to scripture, encouragement and a smile. Offered by Focus on the Family, this book comes complete with a cute cover and title.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Drawn by the title and cover, I expected a light-hearted, fun book to read in snippets. Bingo! That is just what I received. Able to read a brief section at a time, Can I Just Hide In Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back would be a perfect pick-me-up gift for a friend or self, maybe the basis of a Bible study or ministry or great as an addition to a church library. Enjoying the lists, the stories and scripture references, I think this book clearly hits the mark for the intention of moving forward, no matter the desire to stay in bed and hide. Definitely a book to read and share.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Can I Just Hide In Bed ‘Til Jesus Comes Back from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

The Turquoise Table

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Schell, Kristin. The Turquoise Table: Finding Community And Connection In Your Own Front Yard. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With humor and grace, author Kristin Schell shares her crazy life and yearning for a connection with community. Inviting her neighbors and friends to join her at the turquoise table (a painted table on the front lawn), she establishes friendship, ministry, love, safety, connections and thus, community. Coupled with beautiful photographs and several delicious recipes, though a quick read, it is packed with encouragement, insight and inspiration. Using a simple concept to create huge impacts, The Turquoise Table strikes home.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Well written in a personal manner, I thoroughly enjoyed this book both in style and content. Chuckling at parts, identifying with points, pondering some thoughts and inspired by certain ideas, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book for ministries, Bible studies, church libraries and sermon topics. Even the included recipes were scrumptious! Consider the impact and influence such a book with this concept could have on neighborhoods and communities throughout the world. So powerful!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Turquoise Table from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

World of the Innocent

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Keels, Nadine. World of the Innocent. CreateSpace Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Becoming a young woman and realizing her own inward growth, Jhoi (pronounced JOY) has never considered Marcus more than just a friend. As a poetic artist, Jhoi has always been just friends with the somewhat-strange yet admired Marcus but something seems to be changing. As she explores her conflicting thoughts and feelings in this well-developed novella, Jhoi slowly, deeply and carefully makes the transition from childhood to young adult. Built on trust, morals and respect, the developing relationship between Jhoi and Marcus is endearing, heartening, and innocent.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a favorite author of mine, I know author Nadine Keels will deliver a well-written, character-deep, word-conscious piece. Her newest release, World of the Innocent, is no exception. Feeling the pull from the first few pages already, I enjoyed the style and voice with which this story was written. Though perhaps more a contemporary young adult book, I enjoyed it none-the-less. With a respectful message, a morally strong relationship and a durable faith, I wouldn’t hesitate to share nor recommend this sweet novella.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of World of the Innocent from the author for my honest review*

What Hope Remembers

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Alexander, Johnnie. What Hope Remembers: Misty Willow Series- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Returning home to her childhood community after a heartbreaking situation, Amy Somers isn’t exactly proud of the person she has recently become. Not having stayed especially close to her family, Amy can only wonder how she will be accepted back. When her high-school sweetheart, Gabe Kendall, rides into town, memories surround her even as she realizes Gabe may have some history due to personal choices as well. Romance, forgiveness, family and sweetness combine with a dash of country charm in the newest Misty Willow series novel by author Johnnie Alexander.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read one of the previous books in this series, I had hoped to revisit some of the characters yet again. Though this novel works as a stand-alone, it works even better when read with the series. A strong contemporary writer with just enough pizazz in her storyline to make it enjoyable, What Hopes Remembers is full of gentleness, understanding, love and surprises. Taking place on the ranch of Whisper Lane Stables is an added delight for horse lovers. Wonderful addition to a well-written series.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of What Hope Remembers from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Rescue Me

Warren, Susan May. Rescue Me: Montana Rescue Series- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

rescueme

SUMMARY:
In love with both her sister, Sierra, and her sister’s boyfriend, Sam, free-spirited Willow Rose also has a heart for God. Though she has been in love with Sam for years, Willow doesn’t want to hurt her sister so decides to keep her emotions to herself. Detailed-minded Sam knows Sierra appears to be the perfect match yet finds himself drawn to Willow for some unexplainable reason. While in the Glacier National Park with a group of teenagers from a youth ministry group, both Sam and Willow must save their own lives, the lives of several teenagers, and quite possibly their hearts…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Starting with the cover and continuing throughout the story, I liked every page of this novel. Intrigue, danger, suspense, action, faith and romance all played center stage while several other pieces surrounded them. As a stand-alone novel while also being a great addition to the Montana Rescue series, I am already waiting for book 3, A Matter Of Trust, due out in July. Like a good story, interesting characters, dangerous situations and the beautiful wilderness? Then look no further than this series by talented author Susan May Warren.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Rescue Me from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Life After

Ganshert, Katie. Life After. New York, USA: Waterbrook Publishing. 2017.

lifeafter

SUMMARY:
Upon entering Chicago’s busy transit system, in a fiery moment, life changes for Autumn Manning, twenty-two strangers, and many, many others. Dealing with the guilt of surviving in the only way possible for her, she struggles to make it through each day while living the new kind of normal. Paul Elliott, who lost his wife in the same explosion, is tormented with his own daily grief yet trying to also funnel his children through the distress of losing their mother while growing through life. When Autumn collides with Paul, will the survivor heal or hurt those already struggling…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Written in such a manner that draws the reader in and doesn’t let go (in other words, keeps the pages quickly turning), I found myself invested in the characters while feeling their emotions. Continually needing to read “just one more chapter”, Life After deals with thoughts and feelings unfortunately, experienced by many. In a beautiful yet heart-wrenching novel, Christy award-winning author Katie Ganshert tells a story of forgiveness, hope, loss, healing, and reality that remains with you long after the last page is turned. (On sale April 18th, 2017.)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Life After from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Courage To Soar

Biles, Simone. with Burford, Michelle. Courage To Soar: A Body In Motion; A Life In Balance. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2016.

couragetosoar

SUMMARY:
Determined, dedicated, strong, kind, encouraging, positive and balanced are just a few of the words that describe Olympic gold-winner, Simone Biles.  The most decorated American female gymnast as a four-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time all-around World gymnastics champion, she stands out not only for her gymnastic ability but also the way she lives her life. With a bit of a rough spot in childhood, her natural ability in the sport was discovered early and sharpened over many years of hard work, perseverance, commitment and strong faith. Though she suffered disappointments along the way to winning, it was the manner in which she reacted that kept her body in motion and her life in balance…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Understanding the intensity of training at a high-level, I commend Simone Biles for her achievements. Through personal stories, shared strengths, motivation and inspiration, Courage To Soar not only offers confidence in sports but in all areas of life. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” is how Simone Biles lives her life (after a really good bawling). Picking herself up by the bootstraps after being knocked down, she is truly a role model for many. Engaging, well-written and absorbing, this book will be enjoyed by most. Congratulations and best wishes in the future, Simone!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Courage To Soar from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review.