World of the Innocent

Featured

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*

Larger-Than-Life-Lara

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*

The Silent Songbird

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*

All Summer Long

Carlson, Melody. All Summer Long: Follow Your Heart- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing, 2016.

allsummerlong

SUMMARY:
Tia D’Amico is ready to leave her small town life in Washington for San Francisco. With the goal of helping her aunt start a new restaurant business aboard the moving yacht, Tia has the surprise of her life when she realizes the captain is non-other than her long-last flame from years ago, Leo Parker. With a romance rekindled, a floating food business, a heart lost in San Francisco and possibilities galore, Tia and Leo must decide if they should reconnect or go their separate ways…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving author Melody Carlson’s Christmas series best, I do also like her new Follow Your Heart series. Easy to read and well written, what a perfect novel to pack in the suitcase for a summer trip. Perhaps written with young adults in mind, All Summer Long shares popular current culture with the restaurant business (Food Network) and San Francisco (Travel Channel). Though maybe a bit predictable, it does not take away from the sweetness and fun associated with this story. Though a stand-alone, pack both books in the series for pleasurable reading on that longer trip.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of All Summer Long from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

One Dress. One Year.

Winz, Bethany. With Aughtmon, Susanna Foth. One Dress. One Year. One Girl’s Stand against Human Trafficking. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2016.

onedressoneyear

SUMMARY:
One Girl. One Dress. One Year. For Freedom. So begins the idea behind author Bethany Winz’s project to raise awareness in fighting human trafficking. Deciding she needed to do “something” to help stop modern day slavery, known as human trafficking, sixteen- year old Bethany sets out to wear the same black dress every day for an entire year. Though she can accessorize it, change it and wash it, every morning she puts it on as she focuses attention on the world of trafficking. Raising money for the cause along the way, meeting many people on her journey, but most importantly, learning and growing herself, Bethany understands and shares that God loves you dearly and deeply, no matter the circumstances…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
An amazing undertaking by a sixteen-year high-school student, I was inspired and encouraged by the author’s commitment to persevere through her endeavor, even when it became hard to do so. Watching her grow in her relationships, her beliefs and her abilities was exceptional especially during the difficult times. Written from Bethany’s personal perspective, it was easy to read while cheering on her efforts. Definitely a book to share with young adults, youth groups and ministries, the entire theme of the black dress makes a mark. Well done, Bethany!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of One Dress. One Year. from Baker Books for my honest review*

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*

Moment by Moment

Flanders, Jennifer. Moment by Moment: A Devotional Journal for Girls. Tyler, TX: Prescott Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
momentSet up as a personal journal, Moment by Moment is absolutely adorable yet so functional. Adorned with cute clip-art, Bible verses and scriptures, pages of room to make lists, record thoughts, draw pictures, write poetry, doodle uniquely and express dreams, this charming devotional journal will be priceless some day. With topics centering around favorite things, prayers, friendships, talents, service, faith and love, girls will definitely enjoy filling the pages…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loved it! Not only would my daughter enjoy this book, I would have loved it as a young girl (because I love it now)! Anyone who relishes in writing, doodling, poetry, lists, or drawing will truly appreciate the space to record such personal information. Similar to a journal or diary, this one is filled with an abundance of faith too. According to the author, there will be more related volumes released for moms, wives and boys in the near future (please hurry!). I truly found delightful the introduction which stated there is no right or wrong way to complete this book…what an invitation to be candid and creative!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Moment by Moment from BookCrash and the author for my honest review*

Hear No Evil

Hamilton, Mary L. Hear No Evil. USA: HopeSprings Books. 2013.

SUMMARY:
hearnoevilDropped off at camp by his mother, Brady McCaul spends a week discovering friends, faith, and courage. While at the Christian camp for a week, Brady makes friends with Steven (a boy with a disability), meets Claire (a cute girl who thinks he is childish), deals with Taylor (the camp bully), and worries about his mom (who rejects him and won’t let him come home). Through it all, Brady wonders if God really does care for him, and if so, where is He?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though a book written for tweens and young teens, I found myself immersed in the story. With cliffhangers at the end of chapters, the pages kept turning. Personally, I enjoyed the message communicated by the camp counselors- “God loves you even when no one else seems to love you”. It is a message many young people need to hear and believe. The story also deals with issues relevant to young teens- bullies, disabilities, lack of confidence and disbelief. Having won several awards in writing contests, the author draws on her own camp experience to write a truly necessary novel for today’s youth. As with other HopeSprings Books I have read, I enjoy and appreciate the little extras in the book such as pictures between sections and sketches preceding each chapter. With the next books already set to be published in the next year, I definitely will seek them out.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Hear No Evil from BookCrash and HopeSprings Books for my honest review*

Finding God in the Hunger Games

Sarns, Selena. Finding God in the Hunger Games. The Bible People. 2013

SUMMARY:
Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games has become a very popular mainstream book series. Selena Sarns has created a book with short devotionals designed for readers of the Hunger Games. The devotionals connect sections of the books to Christian concepts and then provide a thought to ponder.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Selena Sarns connects the Hunger Games to Christian concepts by using the technique of parallelism. The method has both pros and cons. The devotion is written for fans of Hunger Games. Sarns makes broad connections between events within the novels and Christian concepts. (For example…Katniss took her sister’s place for the Games as Jesus took our place on the cross; however, the issue of the actual Games and controversial concepts associated with them are not addressed.)
If using the devotional for adult readers, the broad parallelisms provided excellent starting points for deep thought and arriving at personal conclusions. For those using the devotion to guide young adults or even youth readers, further discussion is needed because of possible lack of understanding of the deeper issues. This devotional serves as an excellent conversation starter in attempting to explain the ramification of these issues.

My Rating:
4 (out of 5) Pennies (for Adult readers)
3 (out of 5) Pennies (for Youth readers)

*I received a complimentary copy of Finding God in the Hunger Games from BookCrash and The Bible People for my honest review.*

A Simple Song

Carlson, Melody. A Simple Song. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell. 2013.

SUMMARY:
simpleKatrina Yodder loves to sing. When her father becomes seriously ill, Katrina believes that her gift of music could open doors to provide her family with the necessary funds for her father’s surgery. Katrina enters a singing competition – “American Star” – as a result, she risks being disowned by her Amish community.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Melody Carlson provides an Amish novel that appeals to a young adult audience. The novel contains main themes that are relevant to the intended audience. Carlson navigates issues such as peer pressure and accountability. While these topics are presented to the readers, they are weaved seamlessly into the plot. The result is a novel that provides a model of overcoming issues; yet, the novel does not appear didactic in nature. The novel as a whole provides the young adult audience with an entertaining and enlightening read that stands as an edifying alternative to questionable trending young adult fiction of a secular nature.

MY RATING:
4 (out of 5 Pennies)