Yella’s Prayers

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

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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*

Authentic Living

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Exley, Richard. Authentic Living: 365 Devotions for Deliberate Faith. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
With the new year upon us, it seems to be the perfect time to begin a yearly devotional. As an accomplished author, pastor and speaker, Richard Exley shares 365 devotions intent on deliberate faith in his new book, Authentic Living. Organized into page-length devotions with a scripture verse and prayer included, each unit lasts for a few days so the concept can be experienced from several different angles. With topics such as relationships, grief, prayer, the Holy Spirit and faith, each is written with compassion, grace, strength and thought which allows for guidance and daily time with the Lord. Though shorter in words, the impact is deep.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Filled with in-depth messages in daily devotional form, Authentic Living is a wonderful devotional for yearly use. In a compact book easy to take along, this handy little book may be short in length but speaks directly to the heart. With scriptures from different Bible translations, stories from the author’s personal life experiences and deeper topics, this devotional choice is full of understanding yet to the mark. (The only thing missing is a ribbon for marking my spot but that is just a personal preference.) Definitely a devotional I plan to use this year!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Authentic Living from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Love One Another

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Berenstain, Mike. Love One Another: The Berenstain Bears. Eugene, OR: Worthy Kids Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
In a thick chunky book perfect for little hands, the well known and beloved Berenstain Bears add yet another clever and adorable addition to the classic tradition. With a neighbor of the Bears just having had twin cubs, Mama Bear invites Sister and Brother Bear in joining her to make some blueberry muffins to share. Extending the Bible verse learned in Sunday school, to love one another, the sibling cubs take helping even further to rake leaves, set the table and watch the tiniest Bear.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having shared the Bearenstain Bears with my own children growing up, I am excited to see this series continue on with author Mike Berenstain. Filled with a wonderful lesson appreciated by all, Love One Another is perfect for Sunday school, church, a baby gift, or most any little hands. Debuting just before the Thanksgiving holiday, it may be just right to share with family over dinner while saying grace and giving thanks. Simple prose and darling illustrations only enhance the message, sure to be embraced by many.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Love One Another from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

The Pug List

Hodgson, Alison. The Pug List: A Ridiculous little Dog, a Family Who Lost Everything, and How They All Found Their Way Home. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Having their house burned down by an arsonist, the Hodgson family experienced grief, loss, new reality and turmoil to make it through a difficult situation not only intact, but perhaps stronger with a better perspective at the other end. Through faith, sharing, family, friends, hope and perseverance, they struggled yet realize they could survive. In The Pug List, author and mother Alison Hodgson chronicles the major event in the life of her family that changed everything…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With an adorable Pug on the cover, I couldn’t help but assume this book would be about dogs. Shortly into it; however, I realized it was about a tragic situation in a family’s life with the Pug being only a small portion of it. Perhaps as a way to cope and finally heal, the author shares her thoughts, emotions, trials and journey as they all bounce back from devastation. Written with humor in a situation-appropriate manner, this was a well written book albeit not about Pugs directly.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Pug List from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Honest Wrestling

Joslin, K. Howard. Honest Wrestling: Questions of Faith when Attacked by Life. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press/ Thomas Nelson. 2012.

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SUMMARY:
Written as an account of the immense struggle during his wife’s battle with cancer, author K. Howard Joslin shares the events leading up to the diagnosis, the treatment plans, the emails to friends and family, the prayers offered by many, the effect on the children, as well as the thoughts and feelings of both Howard and his wife, Ann. Putting the entire event into perspective, including a major move across country, a job loss, treatment plans and results, unfailing faith yet questioning of God and His will, the power of prayer, the devotion of friends and the future of both his children and himself, Honest Wrestling details it all in a memoir complete with a bit of humor, serious truths and lots of tears…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Not quite sure what I would find when opening the cover, I was deeply moved as I started to read. Through honest accounts of thoughts, feelings, prayers, hope, despair and actions, I discovered the reactions of people going through a devastating circumstance can be similar. Being reminded that God is good no matter the situation, and that events are used by God to refine our character and faith, I appreciated the bits of humor in this difficult matter along with feeling the experienced pain. Useful as a book to share with those dealing with cancer themselves or knowing someone afflicted with it, the perseverance of faith was encouraging.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Honest Wrestling from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

My Mother’s Quilts

Richards, Ramona. My Mother’s Quilts; Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family and Faith. Franklin, TN: Worthy Inspired Published. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
“A quilt is love that serves a purpose”…written with this as the main theme of her newest devotional book, author Ramona Richards shares her personal stories, scripture verses, artful prayers, and beautiful renditions of her mother’s quilts. Full of heartfelt sentiments, precious memories, thoughtful legacies and aptly named quilts, each three to four page devotion is complete with a Bible verse, personal memory, starter prayer and lovely photography. With glossy pages, a satin bookmark, and a charming book cover, My Mother’s Quilts is perfect for quilters, mothers and special friends.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Beautiful!  Not a quilter myself but certainly able to appreciate wonderfully created artwork, the quilts and surrounding stories are exquisite. Though I enjoyed reading each devotional, of course I had a few favorites- the Dutch Doll quilt contains quilted dolls dressed in the author’s clothes from high school, the Storm at Sea quilt is designed of patterns of blue and purple, and the Turtle quilt is a tic-tac-toe pattern of turtles in various color schemes. Packaged in a quality book, I would be proud to share this book as a gift, although, I plan on keeping this copy for myself.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of My Mother’s Quilts from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

All Things Bright And Beautiful

Alexander, Cecil Frances (author). Hudson, Katy (illustrator). All Things Bright And Beautiful. Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids/ Ideals Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Discovering all the beauty in God’s delightful world, three small children camp in the great outdoors. Fruits, bugs, water, birds, trees, meadows, night creatures…the Lord God made them all and gave us the eyes and lips to enjoy His creation. Written in the mid 1800’s by an author no longer here on earth and accompanied by gorgeous colorful illustrations from an illustrator very much still alive, this stunning child’s book celebrates the simplicity yet depth of exploring God’s beautiful achievements. To be shared by young and old alike, this gem is truly a masterpiece spanning the decades…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Remarkable! Joining verse written years ago with contemporary pictures, author Cecil Frances Alexander and illustrator Katy Hudson join talents to design a visually pleasing and artistically written story. All Things Bright And Beautiful is perfect to be shared multi-generationally at home, church or Sunday school. With full pages filled with color along side a simple faith stanza, this is such a treasure! Lovely!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of All Things Bright And Beautiful from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

At Heaven’s Edge

Rodgers, Andrea Jo. At Heaven’s Edge: True Stories Of Faith And Rescue. Eugene OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
atheavensedgeAs a volunteer EMT for over 26 years, author Andrea Jo Rodgers shares her vast knowledge and experience of emergency response calls. A pool accident, a car crash, a heart attack, ventricular tachycardia, heatstroke…all very real situations encountered by EMTs and raveled with real-life stories in the book, At Heaven’s Edge. Affecting both the patient and the medical responder, these true stories supply inspiration from God, both directly and indirectly, in very real ways in some of life’s most turbulent times…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perhaps biased as my son is presently studying for his EMT license (as part of his firefighting career), I couldn’t seem to put this book down. “Just one more page” often turned into several, then several more pages. With surrounding stories, true dispatcher calls, real emergencies and personal thoughts, At Heaven’s Edge then concluded each section with a real-life faith conclusion, realizing even difficult situations work for the best with God. Fast-paced, heartbreaking, joyful and emotional, I thought this book intertwined God’s presence in an inspirational manner.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of At Heaven’s Edge from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

The New Pilgrims

Castleberry Ed.D., Joseph. The New Pilgrims: How Immigrants Are Renewing America’s Faith And Values. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
pilgrimsFrom the original Pilgrims to the current immigrants, Christianity has played a dominant role in American religion. Though in different forms, the Christian faith has shaped, formed and supported America’s creed and the nation. Social sciences, journalism, history, ethics, political science, and theological perspective are all implemented in this study of immigrants renewing America’s faith.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With the current downward trend of people identifying as Christians in America, author Joseph Castleberry demonstrates his belief of immigrants strengthening faith and the nation. Interesting and well-written albeit not a light read, this book may be perfect for a Bible Study, or a relevant history class. Written in a pro-American and pro-religious manner, this book will prove to be well-suited for those engrossed with politics, theology and history. May also be currently compatible with the political season of elections, offering a divergent view.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The New Pilgrims from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

God of the Big Bang

Wickman PhD, Leslie. God of the Big Bang: How modern Science Affirms the Creator. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
bangGrowing up in a home where Christianity and science coexisted, collided and compelled, Leslie Wickman, former corporate astronaut, rocket scientist, engineer and current chair of a science program and research center, argues effectively that faith and science can coincide. Using the theory of coherence with the two, Leslie Wickman also advocates land stewardship, renewable energy, sustainability and conservation.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I admired the fact that the author did not flip on her beliefs but rather used evidence to show both can complement each other for a better understanding of the world in which we live. Based on the Bible being written timelessly for future generations, though science may change, God does not. Interesting, affirmative, knowledgeable and straight-forward, God of the Big Bang would be wonderful for new believers, seasoned faith holders or anyone wondering how it all can fit together. Great as a reference and resource, I will definitely return to the book as well as lend it to others. Well done!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of God of the Big Bang from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*