World of the Innocent

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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*

Chasing Grace

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Richards-Ross, Sanya. Saving Grace: What The Quarter Mile Has Taught Me About God And Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Sharing her successful yet difficult story of running and life, author and Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross writes of her triumphs and downfalls, happiness and heartache, achievements and collapses, all while realizing we cannot do it alone. Applying her 4-Ps approach (Push, Pace, Position and Pose) to her running career and extending it to her life, Sanya Richards-Ross acknowledges and shares how her trust in God allowed her to embrace and develop her given talents on the track as well as in life…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Opening the book and not closing it until it was finished, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Like having a conversation with Sanya herself, the book just flowed. Truly appreciating the closing of each chapter with one of the 4-Ps, not only did I listen to the encouraging words for life but also have incorporated some of the thoughts into my own running mantra. As a true Christian model, Sanya Richards-Ross is blessed yet humbly and enthusiastically tells her story. Definitely a book I will return to in snippets for self-reminders…excellent!

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Chasing Grace from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

This Life I Live

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Feek, Rory. This Life I Live: One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Growing up in rural America with little money and less direction, country singer and award winner Rory Feek shares bits of his life culminating with his greatest love story. As an American country and bluegrass duo, nothing prepared him for the loss of the love of his life. Sharing his wife Joey’s courageous battle with cancer, Rory Feek managed to cope and in turn, bless others with his story. Well written, honest, heartbreaking and healing, This Life I Live may change your own life, or at least make you love better and live stronger…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not necessarily a fan of all memoirs nor a fan of country music, I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. Straight-forward in a realistic yet graceful manner, I found myself drawn into Rory and Joey’s story before I even realized it. Easy to read yet with a deeper message, This Life I Live celebrated life through mourning, happiness through sadness, and memories through meaning. So glad I took the chance on a book I would have normally passed on, I can only recommend this book to all.   (Tissue alert- have plenty on hand.)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of This Life I Live from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

What Hope Remembers

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Alexander, Johnnie. What Hope Remembers: Misty Willow Series- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Returning home to her childhood community after a heartbreaking situation, Amy Somers isn’t exactly proud of the person she has recently become. Not having stayed especially close to her family, Amy can only wonder how she will be accepted back. When her high-school sweetheart, Gabe Kendall, rides into town, memories surround her even as she realizes Gabe may have some history due to personal choices as well. Romance, forgiveness, family and sweetness combine with a dash of country charm in the newest Misty Willow series novel by author Johnnie Alexander.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read one of the previous books in this series, I had hoped to revisit some of the characters yet again. Though this novel works as a stand-alone, it works even better when read with the series. A strong contemporary writer with just enough pizazz in her storyline to make it enjoyable, What Hopes Remembers is full of gentleness, understanding, love and surprises. Taking place on the ranch of Whisper Lane Stables is an added delight for horse lovers. Wonderful addition to a well-written series.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of What Hope Remembers from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Trusting Grace

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Brendan, Maggie. Trusting Grace: Virtues and Vices of the Old West- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As caregiver to her elderly father, young widow Grace Bidwell still hopes for children of her own someday and relief from her daily struggles. With Robert Frasier as her newly hired farm-hand, unbeknownst to her, he comes with a ready-made family of young ones. While managing the farm, Grace and Robert soon discover their hearts may need to be managed as well…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Fun, light, romantic and filled with a bit of sass, award-winning author Maggie Brendan successfully adds to her Virtues and Vices of the Old West series with her newest book, Trusting Grace. Finding this novel as the perfect vacation and/ or summer read, it reads quickly, humorously, and is full of charm. Though perhaps missing some of the related characters if not reading the series in order, this story is fine as a stand-alone, too. Hoping the series continues, this book appeared at just the right time in life to enjoy.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Trusting Grace from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

There’s a Fly in my Tea

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Ratcliff, Crystal L. There’s a Fly in my Tea: The Importance of Maintaining a Christian Testimony. USA: Crosslink Publishing. 2016.

SUMMARY:
Based on the analogy of having a pesky fly in your delicious glass of iced tea, author Crystal Ratcliff explores the many unhealthy, unproductive things in our life that can impact our Christian testimony. With eleven chapters devoted to the “flies” and how to swat them, this shorter devotional exhibits and works around a scripture verse, includes personal stories and examples, incorporates more Bible verses and finishes with questions for self-reflection. Relevant, timely and engaging, There’s a Fly in my Tea will cause you to pause and consider…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Well written and easy to read yet full of strong messages, encouragement and possible solutions, I thought the “fly in your tea” theme was creative, interesting and worked well for this women’s devotional. Relating some definitely important and thought-provoking ideas, There’s a Fly in my Tea delivers introspection, learning and truth. With devotions centered around everyday concepts (service, talents, worship, forgiveness), this book would be perfect for a Bible study, personal reflection, a ministry or sermon series.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of There’s a Fly in my Tea from Bookcrash for my honest review*

To The Farthest Shores

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Camden, Elizabeth. To The Farthest Shores. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Working the night shift, nurse Jenny Bennett had accepted life even though most days she was exhausted. Surprised to see an old flame, Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher, Jenny needed to guard her heart as he had once broken it. Gone overseas on a daring government mission, Ryan is not proud of his personal actions while there yet celebrates the gift he received. Hoping not to return overseas, Ryan and Jenny must work together to save Ryan’s reputation, life and both hearts…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Drawn to the beautiful cover, the story found within was just as stirring with mystery, forgiveness, faith and romance. Easy to read yet deep in meaning, To The Farthest Shores is a well-written novel full of strong characters, an interesting storyline, and valuable insights. Finishing it in just a few evenings, it had a satisfying conclusion which left me feeling complete. With a relevant historical note included at the end, research librarian and award-winning author, Elizabeth Camden, has written another successful story.

RATING:
4.25 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of To The Farthest Shores from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Devotions From The Kitchen Table

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Edwards, Stacy. Devotions From The Kitchen Table. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Filled with 90 devotions surrounding the kitchen, Devotions from the Kitchen Table invites readers to rest a moment, pause with friends, gather at the table, and enjoy the many blessings bestowed in the comforts of home. Supper, pinwheels, crumbs, gardening and fingerprints are just a few of the many two-page devotionals included in this new book by the author, Stacy Edwards. Coupled with gorgeous photographs in each short yet full devotion, the pale pink ribbon only magnifies further this beautiful and inspirational devotional.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Charming, delightful and brilliant describe this warm and pleasurable devotional. With thicker, shinier pages full of colorful photographs, a short message themed around a Bible verse, scripture references and a prayer to keep close to your heart throughout the day, I would be happy to receive as well as proud to give this stunning book. Based on thoughts from the kitchen (dishes, desserts, coffee, laundry), when joined with scripture and personal stories, this devotional seeps relief, contentment and happiness. The only thing that could possibly have made this even more enjoyable would have been included recipes for the lovely pictures. Well done!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Devotions From The Kitchen Table from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Sandpiper Cove

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Hannon, Irene. Sandpiper Cove: A Hope Harbor Novel. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Adam Stone is living a more solitary life and is content. As an ex-con, he prefers it that way…that is, until Police Chief Lexie Graham shows up at his door. Investigating a string of crimes, evidence points to a troubled youth, much like Adam Stone in his younger days. Hoping Adam may act as a mentor to the youth, Lexie finds herself more drawn to Adam than she would like to admit. After all, how could a police chief and ex-con ever connect…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a wonderful addition to the Hope Harbor series, Sandpiper Cove was filled with mystery, encouragement, romance and faith while centering around second chances. With an engaging storyline and memorable primary characters supported by interesting secondary characters, Irene Hannon has once again written a novel that is hard to put down. Enjoying this three-time Rita Award winning author already, her newest book only increased and ensured my readability of any future books, including Dangerous Illusions, the first book in her new series releasing in fall of 2017.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Sandpiper Cove from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Bible Explorer’s Guide

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Zonderkidz. The Bible Explorer’s Guide: 1,000 Amazing Facts and Photos. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Is it possible that the olive trees at the traditional site of Gethsemane could be 900 years old?  Did you know the Philistines were one of Israel’s fiercest enemies because they knew the technology for making iron weapons? With 16,000 animals on board the ark, who knew that included 12 tons of animal waste every day? Filled with loads of Bible tidbits, references, and information, each two page spread is divided into themes, then sprinkled with material surrounding that theme including accompanying photographs. Easy to read yet packed full of information, The Bible Explorer’s Guide is perfect to share with all ages.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Visually pleasing with interesting portions of Bible trivia, though this book tends to be geared more towards elementary children, I enjoyed paging through it while sharpening my Bible skills and even learning a thing or two.  I was also impressed with the lead to the Bible scripture associated with the Bible facts shared in the different sections. Wonderful for a classroom, library or Sunday school lesson, it would also be perfect as a gift or for generational sharing. Drawn to the colorful photographs yet submersed into the fascinating information, it is definitely a book which could be used often and repeatedly. Well done!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Bible Explorer’s Guide from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*