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*

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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*

The Weaver’s Daughter

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Ladd, Sarah E. The Weaver’s Daughter. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
The Dearborn family has stood firm in their loyalties and determination for keeping the family’s legacy alive as weavers for generations. The Stockton family, though linked to the past through their wool mill, also strives forward with new technology in running the Stockton Mill. Kate Dearborne and Henry Stockton find themselves caught in Britain’s Industrial Revolution while struggling with their own loyalties, beliefs, commitments and emotions. Though they hold different and rivaling ideas, living within the same community forces Henry and Kate to consider options, perhaps even those pertaining to their hearts.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
One of my favorite authors, Sarah E. Ladd writes yet another satisfying and complete story surrounding one of my favorite time periods. As a Regency novel, this book was historically interesting, contained developed characters, created a bit of suspense and shared a sweet, clean romance. Just like this author’s previous books, I was truly engaged and didn’t want the book to end. I look forward to reading even more from Sarah E. Ladd as I so enjoyed The Weaver’s Daughter. Well done!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Weaver’s Daughter from BookLook Bloggers 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 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*

The Lacemaker

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Frantz, Laura. The Lacemaker. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As the “bride” of historic Williamsburg, circa 1775, Lady Elizabeth “Liberty” Lawson, does most everything her father, the British Lieutenant governor of the Virginia colony, demands of her…including a prearranged, high-society marriage. Spending her time continuing the generational task of making lace, Liberty soon finds herself accused of being a spy, saved only by Noble Rynallt, the cousin of her ex-intended. Treason, betrayal, trust, honesty and suspense all entwine together to create a novel not soon forgotten.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With detail, language, customs and characters specific to the timeframe, author Laura Frantz obviously researched the time period carefully. Though it took a moment to become embedded in the language which slowed the start of the book down some, once familiar with the verse, my reading did quicken. Drawn to the gorgeous cover, held by the historical story within, and disappointed when it actually ended, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lacemaker. Already a fan of this author, I must admit, I am even more so now. Beautifully written with charming names of characters, I can only hope this might be a continuing series. (I appreciated the recipes at the end- quite interesting!)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Lacemaker from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The House on Foster Hill

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Wright, Jaime Jo. The House on Foster Hill. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
In a house on Foster Hill in Oakwood Wisconsin, almost a century ago, a young woman is found dead. Determined to find the assailant, Ivy Thorpe searches yet soon discovers herself in dangerous situations. Forced to revisit memories long shut away, she must shield her own heart while untangling the web of mysteries surrounding the house. Meanwhile, at the same house in present day, new owner Kaine Prescott experiences the same feelings as Ivy when she confronts issues encircling her own life and the same dark happenings within the Foster Hill House.  Struggling to understand the eerie, she must also guard her heart while dealing with the pain of the past.  Suspense, mystery, uncertainty and history besiege in The House on Foster Hill

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Definitely a thriller with time periods linked through deep connections to Foster Hill House, I found it very interesting how the story jumped back and forth between characters and time periods yet had that underlying relationship. Left wondering just exactly what that affiliation may be, I found this book hard to put down once I was immersed in it. As a new author to me, I most likely will look for more books from Jaime Jo Wright and hope she realizes her talent for writing such spine-tingling, dramatic, emotional novels as she did with this one, her debut novel.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Capital Gaines

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Gaines, Chip. Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As a successful and popular businessman, Chip Gaines surely knows failure, mistakes, and the long journey to achievement. In his new book, Capital Gaines, he humbly and even happily shares his advice and wisdom on life. With personal stories of false and missed steps, hard work, and strong work ethics, this book is honest, genuine, thought-provoking, and heartening. Full of insight for the trek through life, Chip Gaines ultimately stays true to himself.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Being vaguely familiar with Chip and Joanna Gaines, it was more the relevant title that caught my eye than the actual author. More than just another business book, Capital Gaines is written in a narrative form that is easy to read, full of humor and encouragement, as well as faith and the necessity for perseverance even through fear. Part memoir, part journey, part business, it is wholly inspirational, interesting, amicable and beneficial. Planning on sharing this book with the rest of my family, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it as a gift to friends either. Definitely a worthwhile read, I am glad I read it and now plan to read The Magnolia Story, where it all began.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Capital Gaines from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*