Secrets at Cedar Cabin

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Coble, Colleen. Secrets at Cedar Cabin: Lavender Tides- Book 3. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Literally running for her life, Bailey Fleming flees Michigan to the safety of Cedar Cabin in Lavender Tides. Not quite sure how she truly fits in, nor even for sure her true identity, Bailey soon discovers even Cedar Cabin may not be safe. Meeting FBI agent Lance Phoenix, who believes she may be involved in illegal activity, Bailey must decide if she can help Lance find his missing sister, if she can protect herself from a murderer out to find her, and if she needs to keep track of her heart in the process…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As usual with author Colleen Coble, the action and suspense begins right from the start of the story and Secrets at Cedar Cabin is no exception. Full of identity mysteries, a murderer at large, a missing teenager, a human trafficking ring, suspicious activity and evolving emotions, Secrets at Cedar Cabin is an attention-grabber ensuring late reading into the night. As book 3 in the Lavender Tides series, I did not have a problem following the storyline though I haven’t read all of the previous novels. Definitely an author I read often, I will continue to look for new books from this author as well as continue with this series.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Secrets at Cedar Cabin from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

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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*

With This Pledge

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Alexander, Tamera. With This Pledge: The Carnton Series- Book 1. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
As a governess to the MacGovock’s young children, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Clouston is very capable of handling difficult situations. Yet, when faced with the daunting, heart-rendering job of overseeing wounded soldiers who have overtaken the MacGovock’s home, Lizzie is tested to the limits of her inner strength and feels quite helpless. Set during the Civil War, With This Pledge also follows Captain Roland Jones’s journey as he attempts to save both his limbs while strongly sharing his beliefs. Author Tamera Alexander writes an emotionally intense, historically grounded, and undeniably romantic story in the first book of her new series…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Beautifully portrayed while heartbreakingly experienced, With This Pledge is perfectly told in true Tamera Alexander style.  With full characters, an interesting storyline, and an intended message, I had trouble putting this book down once I started it. Already a fan of this author, I wasn’t disappointed in her newest novel and am glad it is the beginning of a series. With the Civil War full of immense casualties, the backdrop for this story flowed through the characters as they found the necessary strength while exploring and standing behind individual beliefs, creating the heart-tugs this author is known for. Well-written and definitely enjoyed, I will continue to seek out this author in the future.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of With This Pledge from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

In the Shadow of Croft Towers

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Wilson, Abigail. In the Shadow of Croft Towers. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Hoping to learn more about her own past as well as her true identity, Sybil Delafield accepts a position as a companion to elderly Mrs. Chalcroft. Upon her arrival, Sybil soon realizes nothing is exactly as it seems, including the involved people. Trying to determine whom she can truly trust, urgency becomes necessary. A Regency novel full of suspense, mystery, romance and secrets, In the Shadow of Croft Towers, by debut author Abigail Wilson, will leave you guessing to the end…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I absolutely love Regency novels and this one was definitely not a disappointment. From start to finish, the secrets and surprises kept taking turns, finally ending when I finished the book. A fast read due to the writing but no means a weak storyline, In the Shadow of Croft Towers was filled with double-identity characters, intriguing suspense, hidden agendas, and agreeable romance. Some people are meant to be writers, and after reading her debut novel, author Abigail Wilson is certainly one of them; so much so, in fact, I am already looking forward to her next book due out in July, Midnight on the River Grey.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of In the Shadow of Croft Towers from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments

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Taylor, Dan. Laughing at life’s Most Embarrassing Moments- Stumbling Along with Hope and Humor. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Laughing at the hardest and most embarrassing moments in life which makes laughing at the rest of life easier is the premise of the book by author Dan Taylor. Filled with cute antidotes and stories taking place in everyday life, each 2-3 page chapter shares embarrassing moments, silly actions, cute behaviors and humorous thoughts. Reminiscing about life’s awkward situations that most anyone can relate to, Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments reminds us that laughing is a healthy tonic for troubles.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Filled with some sweet (albeit some corny) stories regarding life’s difficult yet memorable moments, this book emphasizes and cultivates chuckling. With the ability to laugh and perhaps even enjoy some of life’s precarious happenings, the hope of this author is to find the funny and laugh together. Full of 65 easy to read blurbs, most at least made me smile; however, a few did fall flat. Perfect as a pick-me-up, a fill-in while waiting, or even sharing around the dinner table, Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments was enjoyable and giggle-worthy.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments from Harvest House Publishing for my honest review*

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*

The Curse of Misty Wayfair

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Wright, Jaime Jo. The Curse of Misty Wayfair. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Set in the vast woods of northern Wisconsin and fluctuating between the early 1900’s and present day, The Curse of Misty Wayfair follows two women, Thea Reed and Heidi Lane, as they strive to discover their identities in different time periods yet with a connected thread surrounding a legend. Intrigue, mystery, suspense, and a bit of history combine into a flawless story by Christy Award winning author, Jaime Jo Wright.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read this author’s previous novel, The House on Foster Hill, I knew what I was expecting to read. A uniquely suspenseful thriller, not scary but definitely eerie, The Curse of Misty Wayfair may have started out slowly but decidedly picked up the pace. Finding parts of it interesting (postmortem photography was actually an occupation), and parts of it a bit spooky (an image floating through the woods), this book certainly earned its place on my book shelf. Perhaps just a bit confusing in the beginning due to the switching of time periods and following the family lineage, sticking with the story straightened that out, making it a non-issue.  A must-read!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Curse of Misty Wayfair from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Prayers Of My Heart

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Taylor-Williams, Debbie. Prayers Of My Heart: A Personal Prayer Journal. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Organized like a personal calendar and journal, set-up in monthly and weekly pages, Prayers Of My Heart has plenty of room for planning and recording prayer reminders. Unnumbered squares make it easy and efficient to add dates while using the monthly and weekly schedules. Simply fill-in the boxes with prayer requests and record thoughts, meditations, and notes in the lined journal pages at the back of the book. With instructions on using the system, sample calendars, an abundance of pages and a pleasing teal-blue color throughout, this compact book makes keeping prayers of the heart better organized.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
In a very organized book begging to be used, I found this workable and useful journal both valuable and productive. Upon first glance at the plentiful open pages, I was a bit unsure how to make the most of this prayer journal; however, after reading the directions, it clearly made sense. Perhaps taking a bit to create a journaling habit, I feel with a few tweaks, this book could also become a calendar as well as the prayer journal. Certainly a prayer scheduler I will continue using to help meet my goals.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Prayers Of My Heart from Harvest House Publishers 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*