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*

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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*

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*

Under a Cloudless Sky

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Fairy, Chris. Under a Cloudless Sky. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Moving smoothly and logically between 1933 and 2004, best-selling author, Chris Fabry, pens a fascinating novel surrounding a mining town in West Virginia. With a character involved in both time periods who is harboring a secret which could change everything, the believable plot takes twists and turns that spin until the end. With an embedded message about a relevant topic, this novel is full.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read several of Chris Fabry’s previous books, his newest one, Under a Cloudless Sky, was definitely on my list to read. As with all of this author’s books, the message is deep, the writing is solid, the story is interesting and the book is captivating. Not a “fluffy” read but one with a message concerning aging parents, the characters, plot, events and surprises all seem as if they could be real. Complete with discussion questions for group use, this would be wonderful for a book club, a library or perhaps even a ministry. Excellent author; excellent book!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies
*I received a complimentary copy of Under a Cloudless Sky from Tyndale House Publishers for an honest review*

Eubeltic Descent

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Keels, Nadine C. Eubeltic Descent: Eubeltic Realm Series- Book 1. CreateSpace Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Proud of her ancestry though she has never seen the land, Abigaia’s hope is to one day visit. As a young girl who blossoms into a young woman, her inner strength becomes visible as she grows. As she continues to mature and follow her plan, catastrophe strikes which changes everything. Perhaps now needed by her people, Abigaia must make a hard decision. Part history, part fantasy, part inspiration, totally engaging…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As one of my favorite authors and as a continuation of the Movement of Crowns trilogy, there was no doubt I was going to read Nadine Keels’ newest book, Eubeltic Descent. I absolutely loved this one, especially watching Abigaia grow- I actually found myself cheering for her. While fantasy is not a preferred genre of mine, this author has changed my mind with her writings. Able to be read as a stand-alone book, the background from the previous stories would only enhance the experience even more. Well written and sharing her mastery of language, Nadine Keels hits the high mark yet again. Glad to see this is Book 1 of new series, I hope she takes my advice to continue writing as I so savor her skilled talent.  I am confident readers of all ages will enjoy this book as much as I did. (As always, a gorgeous cover, too!)

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Eubeltic Descent from the author for my honest review*

Shelter of the Most High

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Cossette, Connilyn.  Shelter of the Most High: Cities of Refuge, Book 2.  Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers.  2018.

SUMMARY:
Wanting to spend just a few more minutes in her favorite place- the ocean, Sofea and her cousin, Prezi, dive down one more time. However, upon surfacing, they find themselves captives to a group of marauders who torched their village. Forced to travel aboard a ship across the ocean to Canaan, Sofea meets Eitan, who must remain in the city of Kedesh due to a childhood secret he harbors. Faced with hauntings of the past, caught in a present betrayal and pondering their mutual attraction, Sofea and Eitan need to decide how to approach their challenges while protecting their safety.  Author Connilyn Cossette writes an intriguing, soul-searching, deeply moving story in her newest book, Shelter of the Most High.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With a stunningly gorgeous cover and a beautifully written story within, Shelter of the Most High was absolutely breathtaking. Not able to put the book down once I started, I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish, although, I did close it briefly every once in a while to gaze at the beautiful cover again and again. Written fictionally about an unfamiliar Biblical time in history, the author’s notes and conversational questions at the end of the book complete this inspiring story. Though book 2 in the Cities of Refuge series, I had no problem reading it without reading book 1, A Light on the Hill, but do look forward to learning more about the involved characters. A new author for me, I am thrilled she has written previous books which I definitely plan to read.

RATING:
5+ (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Shelter of the Most High from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Christmas Remedy

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Woodsmall, Cindy. With Woodsmall, Erin. The Christmas Remedy: An Amish Christmas Romance. New York, USA: WaterBrook Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Working at Greene’s Pharmacy, Holly Zuck loves her community and her profession involving better health care for the residents. Organizing events, providing medical care, and helping as needed, Holly finds herself facing challenges, overcoming obstacles as well as possibly losing her heart to Joshua Smucker. Already short on time and large on demands, Holly must decide if she chould follow her head or her heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving a Christmas story really any time of the year, A Christmas Remedy was the perfect start to the upcoming Christmas season when I try to read even more timely stories. A beautiful Amish story filled with hope, faith and romance, authors Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law, Erin Woodsmall, creatively combine their talents in this seasonal book. Certainly a book I would recommend, I am glad I chose it to begin my Christmas readings. In fact, I hope to continue with these characters again in future books.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Christmas Remedy from WaterBrook Publishing for my honest review*

The Great Escape

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Thomas, M.J. The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape- Book 3. Nashville, TN: WorthyKids/ Ideals. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Traveling to Ancient Egypt to witness the Exodus, Peter, Mary and their faithful companion dog Hank, find themselves on a treasure hunt for scrolls. Having only 14 days to find the missing ancient scrolls or being stuck in Egypt forever, Peter, Mary and Hank must work together in the past time period to discover the secret. Journeying through a desert, befriending the Pharaoh’s daughter, understanding the plagues, and learning biblical history and truths in the process, The Great Escape provides a captivating, honest and exploratory experience in a beginning chapter book.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Book 3 in The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series, this newest addition, The Great Escape, continued the adventures, imagination and success of the previous two books in the same series. Geared towards ages 6-9 year olds (grades 1-3), this starting chapter series is Biblically accurate, immersive in history, and has relatable characters and interesting events. Perfect for the intended audience, the series would also work well as a Bible lesson in Sunday school, a study section for elementary school, or personal time either reading aloud or beginning to read on own. I appreciated the suggested further reference to the Bible at the end of the book. Hopefully, more books in this series will follow shortly.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Great Escape from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

The Lost Castle

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Cambron, Kristy. The Lost Castle. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY
Set in three time periods spanning a few hundred years, different characters find themselves linked together through a lost castle in France; however, they soon discover there is more than just the castle joining them. With life-stories taking place during the French Revolution, World War II and modern day, three women are intertwined in unique ways involving romance, history, illness, generations, faith and emotions, all embracing and connecting their determination, strength and hearts.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Of course, I just knew I was going to read this book by a favorite author of mine, Kristy Cambron. Not letting me down, The Lost Castle provided a creative and well-written time dimensional story resulting in a very satisfying read. As usual, this author developed her characters well and caused a tug at my heartstrings while I marveled at the overall complexity of the story which just flowed. Though easy to read and follow, I imagine this novel took quite a bit of organization while writing. Excellent!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Lost Castle from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*