Love’s Winter Hope

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Rawlings, Naomi. Love’s Winter Hope: An Eagle Harbor Novel- Book 5. Cedar Lake Press Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Set in Michigan’s Upper Keweenaw Peninsula, in the remote town of Eagle Harbor, Love’s Winter Hope continues the Eagle Harbor series with the story of Thomas and Jessalyn. Having left home 5 years prior to make a better life for his family, Thomas writes weekly and sends money for Jessalyn and his daughters to join him. Never receiving the letters, Jessalyn considers herself abandoned and needing to care for herself and young children. When Thomas finally arrives in Eagle Harbor to bring his family back to South Dakota, he discovers a different reception than planned. Still legally married yet experiencing troubles, Thomas vows to spend the winter in Eagle Harbor trying to change his wife’s mind…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Faithfully a fan of the Eagle Harbor series, I was excited to read the newest book in the series, Love’s Winter Hope. With a gorgeous cover and a brilliant story within, I loved it from start to finish. Enjoying revisiting characters from previous novels while focusing on Thomas and Jessalyn this time, I was captured by the storyline of the married couple taking place in the middle of winter (as spring is sprung). Very glad there will be more books coming within this series though I will need to find patience to wait until winter of next year for the release. One of my favorite authors and definitely one of my favorite series!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Love’s Winter Hope from the author for my honest review*

The Stage Is Set

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Wright, Bryant. The Stage Is Set: Israel, The End Times, And Christ’s Ultimate Victory. Grand Rapids, MI: Backer Books Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Pastor, founder and chairman of Right from the Heart Ministries, and author, Bryant Wright has led several Bible study trips to Israel and shares his love of the land in his new book, The Stage Is Set. Focusing on the ever-changing current world while recalling God’s promises of the past, present and future, graphs, scriptures, thought provoking ideas and personal stories join together in this book based on the Book of Revelation. Throughout the book, the question begs to be answered, are we ready for the end of times?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Well-written and reader friendly, The Stage Is Set offers possible scenarios for which we must be ready. Outlining events in an easy to understand manner, author Bryant Wright challenges his readers. Though I found the book interesting albeit I was not in total agreement on all points, it definitely was worth the read. Making a wonderful Bible study or sermon series, it would also create meaningful faith-filled discussions. Well thought out and organized, this book just seemed to seamlessly flow through the chapters.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Stage Is Set from Baker Books for my honest review*

A Stolen Heart

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Cabot, Amanda. A Stolen Heart: Cimarron Creek Trilogy- Book 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Traveling from the North to meet and marry her intended in the South, Lydia Crawford is surprised to find her fiancé gone…not just gone, but leaving a pregnant wife in his place. Between secrets and trials, faith and hurt, memories and love, Lydia finds the quaint town of Cimarron Creek in the Texas Hill Country may not be as unfriendly as she first suspected. Learning to forgive while finding happiness in unexpected places, A Stolen Heart is full of adventure, mystery, and love…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Drawn to the delightful cover by a favorite author of mine, Amanda Cabot begins her new Cimarron Creek Trilogy series in a sweet albeit fussy manner. Truly liking the storyline fused with enjoyable characters, this novel surely met my expectations. Easy yet complete, a perfect read for a spring vacation, to fill an Easter basket or share with a friend, A Stolen Heart sets the stage for the next book in the series due out later this year which I intend to read.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Stolen Heart from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

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.

amoonbownight

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.

mattiespledge

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

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*