My Sister’s Prayer

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Clark, Mindy Starns. And Gould, Leslie. My Sister’s Prayer: Cousins of the Dove- Book 2. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2016.

SUMMARY:
As the second book in the Cousins of the Dove series, My Sister’s Prayer continues the Talbot family story, following the story of two sets of sisters-one contemporary and the other historical-separated by 300 years. Told in the first person point-of-view, alternating between present and past, the sisters’ lives run individually yet intertwine through a family heirloom. Romance, sisters, secrets, and hardships divide yet combine the centuries as sisters realize the importance of devotion.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Liking authors Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould, I was ready to read their combined novel. Though perhaps just a bit confusing in the beginning, it wasn’t long before I caught on and sped through the book. (Confession- I did not read book 1, My Brother’s Crown, which may have helped my initial confusion.) Skillfully making the first person POV work well within the story, the added design of parallel yet perpendicular stories only enhanced the creativity. With book 3 already on the horizon, I most likely will read the previous novel to be ready for the May 2017 release of My Daughter’s Legacy.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of My Sister’s Prayer from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Redeeming Grace

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Smith, Jill Eileen. Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story- Daughters of the Promised Land series- Book 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Following the Old Testament story of Ruth, Boaz and Naomi, Redeeming Grace beautifully depicts the loss, grief, longing and hardship associated with Ruth’s story yet also the redemption, love and fulfillment ultimately experienced. Filling in fictionally the missing parts of the Biblical story, author Jill Eileen Smith, through apparent research, stays true to the story’s time in history. As the story unravels, redeeming grace identifies Ruth through her actions while she also receives it…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So timely for me to read Redeeming Grace; I had recently heard a sermon regarding relationships with Ruth and Naomi as examples. Already knowing the story, it was interesting to have the pieces filled in even if only fictionally. Staying true to the time period of culture, customs and ways of life, this story seemed to flow smoothly. My favorite of the series thus far, I look forward to more in the series as well as by this author. Perfect for a women’s Bible study, group ministry or sermon series, I will return to this story again while sharing it with others, too.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Illusionist’s Apprentice

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Cambron, Kristy. The Illusionist’s Apprentice. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

theillusionistsapprentice

SUMMARY:
Wren Lockhart, an apprentice not a magician, is independent, confident and sad. Trying to cover her past, she is drawn into a crime investigation for the apparent re-death of a man. Set in the early 1900’s, all the jazz, vaudeville, secrets and culture of the era make appearances in this new novel by author Kristy Cambron. With strong characters, unforeseen surprises, and an intriguing storyline blended with the master of illusion, Harry Houdini, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a captivating novel from start to finish.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As one of my all-time favorite authors, I couldn’t wait for this book to become available. Reading the entire book in just a few short nights, it was alluring and gripping. Not a huge fan of illusion, I did find it interesting to read though about such acts as well as the era. Well-written, fascinating and compelling, I still enjoy Kristy Cambron’s previous Hidden Masterpiece novels better, The Butterfly and the Violin and A Sparrow in Terezin (which I found hauntingly beautiful yet heartbreakingly sorrowful). Definitely worth the read; absolutely an author I will always read.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

A Moonbow Night

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Frantz, Laura. A Moonbow Night. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

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SUMMARY:
In 1777, Sion Morgan is leading his group through the wilderness into what will become Kentucky when he realizes he may need a guide to get his group there safely. Stopping at Moonbow Inn along the Shawnee River, Sion meets Temperance (Tempe) Tucker, a guide known for her survival skills. As Sion and Tempe push through the wilderness, a friendship develops though Tempe is quick to guard her heart against more. With danger, mystery, romance, faith and lots of history, A Moonbow Night tackles more than the wilderness of the land.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As one of my favorite authors, Laura Frantz knows how to write. Though perhaps a bit of a different genre than her previous novels, I still enjoyed it but not quite as much (due to a personal preference). Beautiful and full descriptions of the land, characters, and struggles lend themselves to a heart-tugging story which revolves around strong characters laced with emotions. Slow to set the stage yet complete once done, A Moonbow Night was definitely worth the wait and the read.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Moonbow Night from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

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Klassen, Julie. The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill: Tales From Ivy Hill- Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2016.

theinnkeeperofivyhill

SUMMARY:
Due to her husband’s unexpected and sudden death, Jane Bell now finds herself thrust into the role of the Innkeeper of The Bell. With the former Innkeeper visiting, who just happens to also be her mother-in-law, Jane must not only learn the business but also manage her relationship with Thora. Struggling to make ends meet, Jane must decide who is safe to trust while also exploring new methods, safekeeping her business, and possibly her heart.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Due to the author, Julie Klassen ,I knew I wanted to read this new novel set in the English village of Ivy Hill. Filled with romance, mystery, relationships and hope, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill may have started a bit slower than expected but picked up the pace half-way through it. As a longer novel, though it took a bit to develop the characters and intricately intertwined relationships, it was worth the investment to complete the book. Fully immersed in the lives of the members of this quaint community now, I look forward to reading the next in this series, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, due out in December of 2017.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Mattie’s Pledge

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Drexler, Jan. Mattie’s Pledge: Journey To Pleasant Prairie- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Moving from her current community to yet another, Mattie Schrock knows how to nestle into a new place. Though leaving some friends and family behind, Mattie has a yearning for new adventures, especially when associated with travel. Not an easy journey, Mattie and her family set out for an Amish community in Indiana. Connecting with past friends again including Jacob Yoder, someone who always had a special place in her heart, Mattie discovers she must decide between a new adventure in the West or the comfort of her own community based on a certain pledge.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Liking to read Amish fiction scattered throughout the many other books I read, I enjoyed the newest novel by author Jan Drexler. With ancestors dating back to the Amish immigrants in the 1700s, Jan Drexler has a special interest in this type of genre and it definitely shines. As a continuation of the Journey To Pleasant Prairie series, it was interesting to follow another related character’s story. Heart tugging at times yet full of traveling experiences, I am glad I took the time to read it. Well written and true to the Amish culture, I look forward to the next book in this same series.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Mattie’s Pledge from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Cottage

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Phillips, Michael. The Cottage: Secrets of the Shetlands- Book 2. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2016.

thecottage

SUMMARY:
Loni Ford discovers she is to become a laird due to an inheritance of a cottage, buildings, land and livestock on the island of Whales Reef, in the Shetlands. As an American far from home, Loni soon finds herself questioning her own life direction as she is determined to fight for the property and protect the people of the island. Full of beautiful landscapes, authentic food and well researched culture, The Cottage provides authenticity along with quite the mystery…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a new author for me, Micheal Phillips convinced me he is an experienced author. With exquisite details of the Shetlands, an unfamiliar place to me, the vivid descriptions were impressive. Though perhaps a bit of the dialogue was difficult to follow and the Quaker information a touch too rich, the storyline and characters were well developed. Easily read as a stand-alone novel, I wonder if I would have enjoyed it even more if I had read book 1 in The Secrets of the Shetlands series, The Inheritance. All in all, a good introduction to a new author for me.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

The Silent Songbird

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Dickerson, Melanie. The Silent Songbird: Young Adult Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2016.

thesilentsongbird

SUMMARY:
Promised in marriage by her cousin, King Richard, to the nasty Earl of Shively, Evangeline knows she must escape. A bit naïve due to being locked away in the castle for her own protection, Evangeline soon finds herself outside the Berkhamsted castle and part of the traveling group under the leadership of the handsome Westley le Wyse. Now working as a servant, Evangeline also leads those around her to believe she is mute. Living this lie while hiding from her intended, who surely is searching for his beautiful songbird, turns out to be dangerous to both her life and heart.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a loose retelling of the fairytale Little Mermaid, even the cover of the book reflects Ariel, the red-haired singing beauty. With brief suggestions to the Disney story, The Silent Songbird is a delightful, suspenseful, medieval and interesting retelling. As part of the young adult series written by author Melanie Dickerson, this newest addition nods to a few previous characters; however, is also easily read as a stand-alone. Though classified as young adult, readers of all ages are sure to enjoy!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Silent Songbird from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

A Tapestry of Secrets

Thomas, Sarah Loudin. A Tapestry of Secrets. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2016.

atapestryofsecrets

SUMMARY:
Receiving news that her grandmother was in the hospital, Ella hurries back home. Though home is where the heart is, not everything is as Ella had hoped. With a broken relationship, a new developer in town and a strained family affair, home is full of conflicts. Seeing her granddaughter struggle while she takes care of her, Ella’s grandmother, Perla Phillips, decides it may be time to share the secret she has hidden from her family for years. Through flashbacks of her past and present, Perla shares news that may disrupt the family unit…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Apparently part of a series of books of which I did not previously read, I found myself missing some of the back character information. Even though, I was able to follow the storyline without necessarily needing it except to have it be a bit more connecting. With a back and forth style that worked quite well, A Tapestry of Secrets moved slowly yet effectively and warmly. Liking this book enough to read the previous stories, author Sarah Loudin Thomas is a talented author.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Tapestry of Secrets from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Wedding Shop

Hauck, Rachel. The Wedding Shop. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2016.

theweddingshop

SUMMARY:
Having finished her time with the military, Haley Morgan returns home to Heart’s Bend, Tennessee. While pondering what direction God may want her to take, Haley visits the remains of The Wedding Shop, a former store building which she and her now deceased best friend, Tammy, pinky-swore they would reopen one day. Through perseverance, faith, confusion, promises, discovery and one very special person, Cole Danner, Haley discovers the connection and parallel lives with the former owner, Cora Scott. At the surprising intersection, Haley must make decisions regarding her future, her faith, her family and her heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read the previous two novels by author Rachel Hauck, The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel, as well as The Royal Wedding Series, of course, I was going to read this one. With a well written novel, including a creative storyline, a faith-filled story, clean romance, and timeless characters, I enjoyed it as much as expected. Easily read yet with a deeper message, Rachel Hauck reminds us to follow our dreams and trust in God for His will.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Wedding Shop from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*