Almost Home

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Luesse, Valerie Fraser. Almost Home. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Owning a boardinghouse in Blackberry Springs, Alabama, Dolly and Si Chandler welcome guests into their home as America enters into World War II. With a mixture of boarders from different locations, varying ages, diverse beliefs and various backgrounds, the dinner table tends to be full of numerous lively conversations. As friendships grow and healing takes place, a mystery is uncovered from the past. As a historical romance, Christian fiction and heart-warming novel, author Valerie Fraser Luesse writes a story which makes everyone feel Almost Home

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Instead of a fast-paced novel, Almost Home took time to reveal the characters, create emotions and provide that cuddly, homey feel. I enjoyed meeting the characters and learning their stories, watching where the mystery might lead, and sipping my hot chocolate while I lingered through the book. Though not necessarily my favorite time-period to read, I found the guests interesting and the home-owners delightfully charming. A slower read yet perfect for the coziness of winter, I read this book at just the right time of year. Definitely a warmhearted book, I may continue to watch for this author in the future. (I did also like her previous book, Missing Isaac.)

RATING:
3.75 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Almost Home from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

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Who I Am With You

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Hatcher, Robin Lee. Who I Am With You: A Legacy Of Faith Novel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Dealing with the sudden and tragic death of her husband and daughter, Jessica Mason is not only grieving but awaiting the birth of her next child. Hiding from the media, Ridley Chesterfield takes refuge in Hope Springs, not intending to meet anyone while he is there. Through invitations, consequences, unexpected situations, a generational Bible, and an adorable dog named Kris, Ridley and Jessica connect in present day but Jessica also makes a connection with her past. Forgiveness, faith, and friendship soon help hearts heal…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Told alternately between two time periods, a connection grows deeper with the past while affecting the present and determining the future. Well written, as well as gracefully told, Who I Am With You tugs on the heartstrings while being enjoyable to read. Though not an enormous fan of contemporary fiction, the mixings with the past provided an interesting storyline with just the right sprinkling of surprises to keep me engaged to the end. Romance, forgiveness, healing, and strength all combine in the first book of the new A Legacy Of Faith series by author, Robin Lee Hatcher. Definitely a series I will continue reading.  (Side note: I absolutely love the title of this book!)

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Who I Am With You from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Auschwitz Lullaby

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Escobar, Mario. Abernathy, Gretchen (Translator). Auschwitz Lullaby. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2018.

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SUMMARY:
Based on a true story, Auschwitz Lullaby follows Helene Hannemann and her family into the concentration camp at Auschwitz. German herself yet separated from her Gypsy husband, Helene and her five children must survive the hallows of the camp- physically, mentally and emotionally. When her background and skills are discovered, Helene is forced to open a daycare and school for the many children within the camp. Through heartbreaking decisions, difficult circumstances, and desperate measures, strength, heart, patience, faith, and compliance are tested.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
An emotional read based on an actual story, Auschwitz Lullaby shares the lengths a woman and mother will go for her children and family. Exceedingly protective of the children in her care, I so empathized with Helene as a mother. Heart-wrenching yet hopeful, deplorable yet strong, despairing yet inspiring, author Mario Escobar takes readers on quite a journey. Not easy to read but not a book to be missed, I am glad I took the opportunity to read this one. Discussion questions, a glossary, an author’s note and acknowledgements truly add to the impact of the story.  You will never know your own strength until you have no other option.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Auschwitz Lullaby from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

We Hope for Better Things

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Bartels, Erin.  We Hope for Better Things.  Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing.  2019.

SUMMARY:
Taking place in three different time periods, with three very different characters, and three exceedingly different points of view, We Hope for Better Things intertwines all of these while tackling social issues, cultures, politics, generations, and beliefs. Meeting Mary during the 1860s, Nora from the 1960s, and Elizabeth in the present, through research and history, a common thread emerges. Heartbreaking yet inspirational, togetherness yet loneliness, unique yet brilliant, author Erin Bartels makes a dramatic entrance with her debut novel.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Wow. Filled with emotional baggage, We Hope for Better Things provides a journey across a vast timeline. Able to control that timeline effectively, as well as create well-developed characters with a deeper message within, debut author Erin Bartels does an excellent job with her first novel. As a photographer and artist, her work carries over into her writing as she paints the story. (She even reads with a spastic Chihuahua-mix on her lap…we have one of those, too!) Truly a book I enjoyed reading and an author I look forward to reading more of; so very well done!

RATING:
4.75 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of We Hope for Better Things from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Under a Cloudless Sky

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Fairy, Chris. Under a Cloudless Sky. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Moving smoothly and logically between 1933 and 2004, best-selling author, Chris Fabry, pens a fascinating novel surrounding a mining town in West Virginia. With a character involved in both time periods who is harboring a secret which could change everything, the believable plot takes twists and turns that spin until the end. With an embedded message about a relevant topic, this novel is full.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read several of Chris Fabry’s previous books, his newest one, Under a Cloudless Sky, was definitely on my list to read. As with all of this author’s books, the message is deep, the writing is solid, the story is interesting and the book is captivating. Not a “fluffy” read but one with a message concerning aging parents, the characters, plot, events and surprises all seem as if they could be real. Complete with discussion questions for group use, this would be wonderful for a book club, a library or perhaps even a ministry. Excellent author; excellent book!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies
*I received a complimentary copy of Under a Cloudless Sky from Tyndale House Publishers for an honest review*