Sweet Potato Soul

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Claiborne, Jenne. Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul. USA: Harmony books. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Mixing vegan with Southern cuisine in her new cookbook, cooking instructor, blog creator, and vegan chef, Jenne Claiborne, proves taste, soul, health and tradition can truly be combined. Named after her blog and YouTube channel, Sweet Potato Soul shares recipes, knowledge, personal stories and a bit of spiciness. Recipes for breakfast, salads, soups, sides, sauces, mains, desserts and drinks are included in a well organized manner. Coupled with beautiful photography, diners won’t miss the meat at all!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Surprised to find such a tempting cookbook filled with vegan recipes, it was perfectly pleasing both visually and content-wise. Already being mindful of what I eat and heading towards a more vegan lifestyle, I was thrilled to find the recipes easy to prepare, the ingredients easily accessible, the information helpful and the meals nourishing, healthy and delicious. Favorites already, Sweet Potato Hummus and Sweet Corn Succotash are Southern and so delectable- they will be staples in our house from now on. So enjoyably appetizing!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Sweet Potato Soul from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

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That Grand Easter Day!

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Lord, Jill Roma (author). Trunflo, Alessia (Illustrator). That Grand Easter Day!  Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Read to the tune of “This is the House that Jack Built”, That Grand Easter Day! follows the format in both rhythm and rhyme. Along the way of the story, main characters are introduced with the initial verse of “That Grand Easter Day!” repeated throughout. Easy to read with gloriously stunning illustrations, this book contributes joyously to the Easter celebration!

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Beautifully illustrated with a straight-forward, simple yet eloquent verse, That Grand Easter Day! praises the Easter jubilation in a perfect way. I loved the easy to read and rhyme stanzas with the repetition of certain phrases; wonderful to read to little ones while also being remarkable enough for new readers. Liking the bunny that appears in the story, I admire the way tradition meets contemporary with room for both. (After all, didn’t God create bunnies?) I hope to find more same-style books from Jill Roma Lord and Alessia Trunflo observing other important holidays in a like-manner. (Perhaps a series of them?)  Well done!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of That Grand Easter Day! from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Before We Were Yours

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Wingate, Lisa. Before We Were Yours. New York, USA: Ballantine Books. 2017.

SUMMARY:
In 1939, wrested from their familiar and enchanting home aboard the Arcadia, a shantyboat traveling the Mississippi River, Rill and her siblings soon find themselves at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Under the direction of Georgia Tann, many children were snatched and brought to the orphanage where they awaited adoption from wealthy, prominent citizens. Meanwhile, in present day, Avery Stafford stumbles upon some information that haunts her until she solves the secrecy of the notion. Determined to uncover her own involvement with her family’s history, as the story unfolds with times and events converging, Avery’s disclosure may affect all those around her.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Fictionalizing the true story of Georgia Tann and her involvement with a plentitude of scandalous adoptions, New York Times Bestselling author, Lisa Wingate, writes a deeply moving story. Utterly heartbreaking yet beautifully redemptive, Before We Were Yours is so well written and so emotionally grabbing, it is hard to put down. Though the subject matter was difficult to read, I couldn’t stop and even found myself thinking of the novel throughout the day. With a note from the author at the end of the book surrounding the actual facts of this true account, this story was quite authentic. Liking to find the reason or intent behind the title of a book, this one was perfectly named and even had a relevant picture which spoke volumes upon finishing the book.

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

Whiter than Snow

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Deppa, Joan. Whiter than Snow: Seasons of Love- Book 1. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Recently moving to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Bonnie Turner is only just beginning to realize the vastness, beauty and opportunity of the area. As a UP native, Brad Jorgenson takes it upon himself to turn Bonnie into a true “Yooper”, a person who lives in the UP of Michigan and follows certain cultural norms. (Using “yah” instead of “yes”, enjoying the possible 300+ inches of snow each season.) While exploring the UP, Bonnie recognizes that anger and bitterness are holding Brad back from truly appreciating the beauty and receiving forgiveness, things she hopes to change.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Very familiar with the area of the UP of Michigan, I could surely relate to this book. Written in a calming manner, with a focus on faith and the charm of the region, this novella packed a lot of miles into a shortened story. Sweet, graceful and engaging, I found Whiter than Snow, by author Joan Deppa, to be an inspirational read with a gorgeous book cover.

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Whiter than Snow from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Hope For Each Day Devotional

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Graham, Billy. Hope For Each Day- Words of Wisdom and Faith- Large Deluxe Edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017

SUMMARY:
Filled with 365 daily devotionals, Hope For Each Day gifts pages of scripture, thoughts, stories, and words of wisdom from preacher, evangelist and author, Billy Graham. Updated from an earlier edition to include an imitation leather cover, a larger, softer size, a more deluxe interior design, a ribbon marker and of course, lots of grace, peace and faith from a devotional leader. Sturdy, readable and genuine, this devotional will leave a legacy.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Respected and honored, Billy Graham has ministered to many all over the world. Complied into a beautiful devotional with an updated and more elegant style, I so admired this devotional. Definitely a book I will use this year and many years to follow, I would be proud to give this one as a gift, present it to a church, or recommend it to a friend. Though not too deep, each devotional contains enough of a message surrounding hope and inspiration that I can delve deeper on my own or keep the smile within my heart for the day. Beautiful!

RATING:
5 ( out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Hope For Each Day from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Mister B

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Byk, A. Lynn. Mister B: Living With a 98 Year-Old Rocket Scientist. Littleton, CO: Capture Books. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Moving in with her elderly father-in-law, researcher, investigator and author, Lynn Byk, had only hoped to spare Joseph Byk from the nursing home but received so much more in return. Organized into dated journal- type entries, Mister B shares the almost century-year-old history lived by a man who is humorous, cantankerous, passionate and not always politically correct. Heartwarming and honest, this story causes one to ponder life and smile.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a delightfully charming book! Actually a book for many to read, this tackles one of life’s issues- aging parents. Full of wonderfully thought-provoking lessons, I learned and enjoyed several snippets of history from Mister B. With many stories waiting to be passed down, Lynn Byk knows just the questions to ask to keep her father-in-law talking. Well-written with wit, compassion and grace, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Priceless!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

VeggieTales-Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers

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Kennedy, Pamela. And Kennedy-Brady, Anne. VeggieTales- Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
In a soft, cushy board-book, authors Pamela Kennedy and Anne Kennedy-Brady fill the sturdy pages with nighttime prayers. Surrounding the prayers are familiar, colorful and playful VeggieTales characters. With a mix of shorter and a bit longer prayers, each contains rhyming verse which reads quite easily. A few Scripture verses mingle on the pages in conjunction with the prayers, all with smiling Veggie figures.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Sweet, amiable, cheerful and engaging, VeggieTales- Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers is perfect for the evening routine of bedtime prayers. I like the simple rhymes which can be very calming as well as quickly learned. Familiarity is so important at a young age which VeggieTales delivers. The packaging of the book is soft yet strong for those chubby little hands (and spills). Great for home use, a church library, or baby gift, this board-book is sure to please.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of VeggieTales- Very Veggie Bedtime Prayers for my honest review*

Missing Isaac

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Luesse, Valerie Fraser. Missing Isaac. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:’
In the deep South during the 1960s, different people came from very different worlds depending on social class and color. When Pete McLean experiences a tragedy in his life, farmhand Isaac steps in to fill the void. Friends despite the color difference, Pete is devastated when Isaac disappears one evening. Without much help from the community, Pete sets out to learn the truth about Isaac’s disappearance and by chance, meets a girl. Together they grow, changing the social dynamics of the South along the way.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a debut novel for an author, I was surely impressed. With strong characters, raw emotion, a powerful definition of friendship, and a style true to the South, Missing Isaac is a story of a young man growing to adulthood and developing his morals, integrity and character. Along with a mystery, a bit of faith, and heart-felt emotion, author Valerie Luesse writes an honest novel, perhaps one even appropriate as a movie storyline. Definitely an author I will watch for and read again.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Missing Isaac from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Lacemaker

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Frantz, Laura. The Lacemaker. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As the “bride” of historic Williamsburg, circa 1775, Lady Elizabeth “Liberty” Lawson, does most everything her father, the British Lieutenant governor of the Virginia colony, demands of her…including a prearranged, high-society marriage. Spending her time continuing the generational task of making lace, Liberty soon finds herself accused of being a spy, saved only by Noble Rynallt, the cousin of her ex-intended. Treason, betrayal, trust, honesty and suspense all entwine together to create a novel not soon forgotten.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With detail, language, customs and characters specific to the timeframe, author Laura Frantz obviously researched the time period carefully. Though it took a moment to become embedded in the language which slowed the start of the book down some, once familiar with the verse, my reading did quicken. Drawn to the gorgeous cover, held by the historical story within, and disappointed when it actually ended, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lacemaker. Already a fan of this author, I must admit, I am even more so now. Beautifully written with charming names of characters, I can only hope this might be a continuing series. (I appreciated the recipes at the end- quite interesting!)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The House on Foster Hill

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Wright, Jaime Jo. The House on Foster Hill. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
In a house on Foster Hill in Oakwood Wisconsin, almost a century ago, a young woman is found dead. Determined to find the assailant, Ivy Thorpe searches yet soon discovers herself in dangerous situations. Forced to revisit memories long shut away, she must shield her own heart while untangling the web of mysteries surrounding the house. Meanwhile, at the same house in present day, new owner Kaine Prescott experiences the same feelings as Ivy when she confronts issues encircling her own life and the same dark happenings within the Foster Hill House.  Struggling to understand the eerie, she must also guard her heart while dealing with the pain of the past.  Suspense, mystery, uncertainty and history besiege in The House on Foster Hill

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Definitely a thriller with time periods linked through deep connections to Foster Hill House, I found it very interesting how the story jumped back and forth between characters and time periods yet had that underlying relationship. Left wondering just exactly what that affiliation may be, I found this book hard to put down once I was immersed in it. As a new author to me, I most likely will look for more books from Jaime Jo Wright and hope she realizes her talent for writing such spine-tingling, dramatic, emotional novels as she did with this one, her debut novel.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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