With You Always

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Hedlund, Jody. With You Always: Orphan Train Series- Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Having lived on the streets previously with her younger siblings, immigrant Elise Neumann must find a way to support them. Boarding a train from New York to Illinois in the hopes of finding a job, Elise makes an acquaintance with Thornton Quincy, a member of New York’s elite society trying to build a new town along the Illinois Central Railroad and in the process of hiring skilled workers. When an attraction sparks but threatens progress, Elise and Thornton must make choices which may affect more than just their own futures…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Reading anything author Jody Hedlund writes, of course I knew I would read her newest novel, With You Always. In her true style, she writes a heartfelt, moving, compassionate story which ends way too soon but thankfully, is only Book 1 in the new Orphan Train series. Appreciating the research into the time periods as well as the Author’s Note at the end of the story where she explains the history, I applaud her for telling the story from the different perspective of women during the time. A strong introduction to a new and interesting series!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

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The Sugarsmart Cookbook

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Varozza, Georgia. The Sugarsmart Cookbook. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Designing a cookbook around being sugar-smart as a way to eat healthy and lose weight, author Georgia Varozza shares her reduced sugar, simple yet delicious recipes in her new cookbook, The Sugarsmart Cookbook. With recipes for lunches, main dishes, soups, salads, breads and even desserts, this convenient spiral-bound cookbook containing almost 200 recipes includes common ingredients, easy to follow directions and a beneficial recipe index.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Always on the lookout for new healthy recipe ideas, I thought The Sugarsmart Cookbook would be a perfect addition to my cookbook collection. With inviting recipes using minimal sugar as an ingredient, though not necessarily new, the creative combination of ingredients will put a different twist on some of our already favorite menus. Only wishing for nutritional information and accompanying pictures to be included, these recipes are easily adaptable to personal preference or dietary concerns and will definitely have a place on my kitchen shelf.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies
*I received a complimentary copy of The Sugarsmart Cookbook from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Holiday Cookies

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der Nederlanden, Elisabet. Scott, Erin (photographer). Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season. USA: Ten Speed Press. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Professional recipe developer and food stylist, Elisabet der Nederlanden, shares fifty new and updated recipes for holiday cookies. Complete with beautiful photographs of each recipe as well as decorating tips and packaging ideas, Holiday Cookies showcases such favorites as Triple-Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Gingerbread Cookies along with Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers and Espresso Thins. With personal introductions, lists of needed ingredients, and easy to follow directions for every recipe, the decorating section only enhances this special seasonal cookbook.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though marketed as a holiday cookie book, I believe this fun cookie cookbook could actually be used year-round to make delicious cookies. Finding recipes to use any time of the year, I did appreciate the section on recipes for cookie exchanges. Perfect as the baking season approaches, I always delight in new cookie recipes for Christmas get-togethers, while my family enjoys the new creations for dessert. Coupled with attractive photographs, this is definitely a book which I will use this coming season and beyond.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Holiday Cookies from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Abiding Mercy

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Reid, Ruth. Abiding Mercy: An Amish Mercies Series- Book 1. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Growing up in the Amish community, Faith is content to work at her parent’s restaurant, The Amish Table. As a hard worker and part of an Amish family, though she struggles at times, nothing compares to the heartbreak and controversy she soon must address. With questions swirling, answers needed and possible forgiveness sought, Abiding Mercy follows two storylines of two very different backgrounds but perhaps a combined future. As the start of a new series, Amish Mercies, author Ruth Reid peaks interest with this first book.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With a bit of a more unique Amish storyline, I was intrigued with how this book would unfold and finish. Reading it in one evening (very rare for me), the pages just kept turning. With a few surprises, developed characters, and an interesting storyline, I thought this novel was well written. Though perhaps it was a little apparent, the journey of reaching the end was enjoyable. Definitely a series I will follow, I appreciate the sincerity and honesty with which the author writes of the Amish and their way of life.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Abiding Mercy from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Before You Hit Send

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Eggerichs, PhD, Emerson. Before You Hit Send: Preventing Headache and Heartache. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Everyone has been there…sending the immediate message, only to regret it later. In his new book, Before You Hit Send, author Dr. Emerson Eggerichs hopes to help put the brakes on those messages sooner than later. Working through four important criteria for messages, both written and spoken, each message should pass through the “Is it True, Is it Kind, Is it Necessary, and Is it Clear” test. With explanations of each area as well as related scripture verses, thoughts, personal stories and self examinations, the book also includes ideas for actions if that message was sent too quickly.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Well organized, easy to follow, interesting to read and right on target, this thought-provoking, encouraging and highly applicable book should be required reading. Taking his advice to heart, I hope to redirect my communication to qualify through the four criteria presented in Before You Hit Send so as not to have the regrets nor the consequences of miscommunication through haste. A very good book with great ideas and important actions, I will recommend this book to many of my family and friends.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Before You Hit Send from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

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*

Mix & Match Mama Simmers

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Shull, Shay. Mix & Match Mama Simmers: Slow-Cooker Creations Your Family Will Love. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As a successful blogger and cookbook author, Shay Shull adds another book to her list. Full of delicious recipes for the slow-cooker and coupled with scrumptious-looking photographs of each, Mix & Match Mama Simmers is filled with family-friendly ideas made easy. Created to help during the busy time surrounding dinner, this delightful cookbook features chicken and pork recipes, as well as soup, dips and desserts- all designed for the slow-cooker.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though not necessarily fancy, the recipes in this beautiful little cookbook are definitely tasty and useful. With ingredients found in most pantries and pleasing to most family members, the idea of making these dinner favorites in a slow-cooker is even more enjoyable. I really appreciated the ease of substituting and/ or adding elements according to personal preference and dietary decisions. Easy to follow directions, quick to assemble ingredients and supper ready when everyone walks in the door…priceless!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Mix & Match Mama Simmers from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Many Sparrows

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Benton, Lori. Many Sparrows. USA: Waterbrook Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
With a newborn ready to be born any day, Clare Inglesby feels so alone in the western mountain area, in Native American territory. Traveling across country, Clare’s husband, Phillip, must return home leaving Clare alone with their four-year-old son. Discovering Jacob missing, Clare has no other choice than to trust frontiersman, Jeremiah, for help. Through fright, heartbreak, uncertainty, trust and faith, Clare must make choices which may affect her life as well as those of her children. Adventurous, gripping, and heart-stirring, Many Sparrows shares the tumultuous journey of people, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Literally waiting weeks for this book to become available, I have read every one of author Lori Benton’s books and have yet to be disappointed. Drawn into the novel as if I was truly there, I felt every emotion and experience encountered by the characters. Well-written with an embracing storyline, the messages, lessons and faith within lend to the depth. Definitely a book I would recommend and probably re-read (very rare for me), Many Sparrows was worth the wait. I look forward to, as well as anticipate, many more novels from this author.

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Many Sparrows from Blogging For Books 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*