Yella’s Prayers

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Keels, Nadine C. Yella’s Prayers. (Second Edition) USA. 2010, 2017.

yellasprayers

SUMMARY:
Hearing the Voice and unable to ignore it, Bless Heggins knows she must listen. Though still a teenager, Bless starts to realize she needs to help T’meal (an athlete who is posed to give up an opportunity), and Lamall (an out of control young man heading toward destruction). Quiet, shy, and perhaps full of self-doubt, Bless hides her passion for music to deal with the other things in life even though it may mean a loss for her. Faith, doubt, friendship, and romance all combine together in this coming-of-age novel by Nadine Keels.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a book geared towards young adults, Yella’s Prayers tackles some age appropriate issues. Written in such a manner that makes you feel as though you are back in high-school/ college again, the dialog and actions are so authentic to the generation. Reading through this book in just a few short sittings due to the flowing direction, the book actually ended before I was ready. Obviously a writer with a good command of the written English language, I marveled at how the story kept my attention. Well-written with a strong message, Yella’s Prayers will hopefully have a sequel, as I came to truly know the characters and watch their growth. It was enjoyable to be transported back to more youthful days, albeit quite a bit ago.  (The Deleted Scenes accompaniment was a fun bonus upon finishing the book.)

RATING:
4.25 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Yella’s Prayers from the author for my honest review*

The Silent Songbird

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*

All Summer Long

Carlson, Melody. All Summer Long: Follow Your Heart- Book 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing, 2016.

allsummerlong

SUMMARY:
Tia D’Amico is ready to leave her small town life in Washington for San Francisco. With the goal of helping her aunt start a new restaurant business aboard the moving yacht, Tia has the surprise of her life when she realizes the captain is non-other than her long-last flame from years ago, Leo Parker. With a romance rekindled, a floating food business, a heart lost in San Francisco and possibilities galore, Tia and Leo must decide if they should reconnect or go their separate ways…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving author Melody Carlson’s Christmas series best, I do also like her new Follow Your Heart series. Easy to read and well written, what a perfect novel to pack in the suitcase for a summer trip. Perhaps written with young adults in mind, All Summer Long shares popular current culture with the restaurant business (Food Network) and San Francisco (Travel Channel). Though maybe a bit predictable, it does not take away from the sweetness and fun associated with this story. Though a stand-alone, pack both books in the series for pleasurable reading on that longer trip.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of All Summer Long from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Movement of Crowns

Keels, Nadine C. The Movement of Crowns. USA: Smashwords. 2012.

SUMMARY:
movementofcrownsAs a child born to a barren King and Queen for many years, the excitement of finally producing an heir was dimmed by the child being born a female. At the age of twenty, Princess Constance of Diachona is about to celebrate her birthday by becoming a Royal Junior. As only men have previously been allowed to hold such a position, this strong-willed and level-headed young woman has a lot on her shoulders to bear. Adored by her father the King, caring for her ill mother the Queen, and accepting the responsibility of her kingdom, Princess Constance must face many interested suitors, navigate the customs of neighboring kingdoms, and be true to her heart…all of which prove to not be easy tasks…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not a huge fan of fantasy, I am glad I did not shy away from this book due to my perceived notions on the genre. Actually a good story with vivid descriptions and plot twists, my favorite aspect was the word choices. Obviously a fellow word-geek, I found myself re-reading several passages to gain the true depth of the selections. Though only a novella, the story was well enough developed to not feel short in length.  A simple yet pure romance was spun throughout this tale suitable for all ages.  Glimpses of mystery, confidence, strength and faith weaved together to create an intriguing story.  As Book 1 in the Movement of Crown series, I look forward to reading more from Nadine Keels, especially in this series.

RATING:

4.5 (out of 5) pennies

I received a complimentary copy of The Movement of Crowns from the author for my honest review.

Dauntless

Sleiman, Dina L. Dauntless: Valiant Hearts- Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
dauntlessDaring, courageous and dauntless, Lady Merry Ellison guides and protects a group of orphaned children who were thrust into the woods upon losing their parents. Known as the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest, Merry’s task becomes more dangerous as their reputation and fame grow. Timothy Grey, lost in the shuffle of a larger family, must perform a distinguished deed to gain a title of his own. When Timothy discovers who the leader of the Ghosts actually is, hard decisions must be made…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A spirited cross between Robin Hood and Peter Pan, Dauntless delivered on adventure, mystery, suspense, romance and conviction of faith. Marketed as YA literature, it may actually be enjoyed by all ages. As a new author to me, I certainly will watch for other books by Dina Sleiman, particularly the next book in the Valiant Hearts series. Though not necessarily my favorite genre in fiction, I did enjoy the medieval time frame (and adored the book cover). While I found the historical notes at the end interesting, it was the author’s message to her readers at the beginning, which touched my heart.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Why Dogs Are…

Thompson, Tana. Gentry, Marita. Why Dogs Are… USA: Kendall Neff Publishing. 2013.

SUMMARY:
dogRunning through the beautiful fields of Heaven, dogs originally only existed in Heaven until required on earth. When God needed to let a young boy named Brian, who could neither see nor hear, know of His existence, God sent a golden dog to earth to serve that purpose. Naming him Dog (God spelled backwards), God promised to send more dogs to earth if Dog did a good job of loving and convincing this boy. Thus the reason dogs are…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A heartwarming tale of tails!! What an absolutely amazing concept of how dogs came to be on earth. Showing comfort, support and unconditional loyalty and love, dogs share God’s love in such a special way that God decides to send lots of dogs for people to enjoy. Part of the Love Unleashed series, I can only hope for more! Stunning illustrations round out an adorable story. Even more admirable is that one-hundred percent of the net profits from the sale of the book are given to charities and organizations that support animals and their interactions with people…wow! Perfect as a gift for dog lovers and children, wonderful even as part of a Sunday School curriculum, or undeniably sweet as just a book to cherish, Why Dogs Are… is special for all ages! Woof!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Why Dogs Are… from BookCrash and Kendall Neff Publishing for my honest review*

Under the Heavens

Nye, Thomas. Under the Heavens: Amish Horses Series, Book 1. USA: CrossLink Publishing. 2013.

SUMMARY:
horsesCity-boy Lenny struggles with his identity as most teenage boys do; however, spending a summer on the Amish family farm throws a whole new twist into discovering who he truly is and will become. A simpler life chock-full of adventure and  new skills, Lenny soon realizes there may be more to life than the big city…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Vividly worded to share life on an Amish farm, Thomas Nye does a splendid job of descriptive writing. Draft horses, thunderstorms, pastures and family barns all become real as the story progresses. Having vast knowledge with Amish draft horses as well as Amish neighbors, the author weaves a beautiful tale involving both aspects. Throw in a bit of romance, faith, picturesque wording and an enjoyable story unravels even though I don’t find myself having much familiarity with horses. Though not necessarily a fast-paced novel, the softer, simpler side of reading comes through which I appreciated. Book 1 in the Amish Horses series, I will consider continuing with further books in the series.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Under the Heavens from BookCrash for my honest review*

Hear No Evil

Hamilton, Mary L. Hear No Evil. USA: HopeSprings Books. 2013.

SUMMARY:
hearnoevilDropped off at camp by his mother, Brady McCaul spends a week discovering friends, faith, and courage. While at the Christian camp for a week, Brady makes friends with Steven (a boy with a disability), meets Claire (a cute girl who thinks he is childish), deals with Taylor (the camp bully), and worries about his mom (who rejects him and won’t let him come home). Through it all, Brady wonders if God really does care for him, and if so, where is He?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though a book written for tweens and young teens, I found myself immersed in the story. With cliffhangers at the end of chapters, the pages kept turning. Personally, I enjoyed the message communicated by the camp counselors- “God loves you even when no one else seems to love you”. It is a message many young people need to hear and believe. The story also deals with issues relevant to young teens- bullies, disabilities, lack of confidence and disbelief. Having won several awards in writing contests, the author draws on her own camp experience to write a truly necessary novel for today’s youth. As with other HopeSprings Books I have read, I enjoy and appreciate the little extras in the book such as pictures between sections and sketches preceding each chapter. With the next books already set to be published in the next year, I definitely will seek them out.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Hear No Evil from BookCrash and HopeSprings Books for my honest review*

A Simple Song

Carlson, Melody. A Simple Song. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell. 2013.

SUMMARY:
simpleKatrina Yodder loves to sing. When her father becomes seriously ill, Katrina believes that her gift of music could open doors to provide her family with the necessary funds for her father’s surgery. Katrina enters a singing competition – “American Star” – as a result, she risks being disowned by her Amish community.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Melody Carlson provides an Amish novel that appeals to a young adult audience. The novel contains main themes that are relevant to the intended audience. Carlson navigates issues such as peer pressure and accountability. While these topics are presented to the readers, they are weaved seamlessly into the plot. The result is a novel that provides a model of overcoming issues; yet, the novel does not appear didactic in nature. The novel as a whole provides the young adult audience with an entertaining and enlightening read that stands as an edifying alternative to questionable trending young adult fiction of a secular nature.

MY RATING:
4 (out of 5 Pennies)