With This Pledge

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Alexander, Tamera. With This Pledge: The Carnton Series- Book 1. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
As a governess to the MacGovock’s young children, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Clouston is very capable of handling difficult situations. Yet, when faced with the daunting, heart-rendering job of overseeing wounded soldiers who have overtaken the MacGovock’s home, Lizzie is tested to the limits of her inner strength and feels quite helpless. Set during the Civil War, With This Pledge also follows Captain Roland Jones’s journey as he attempts to save both his limbs while strongly sharing his beliefs. Author Tamera Alexander writes an emotionally intense, historically grounded, and undeniably romantic story in the first book of her new series…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Beautifully portrayed while heartbreakingly experienced, With This Pledge is perfectly told in true Tamera Alexander style.  With full characters, an interesting storyline, and an intended message, I had trouble putting this book down once I started it. Already a fan of this author, I wasn’t disappointed in her newest novel and am glad it is the beginning of a series. With the Civil War full of immense casualties, the backdrop for this story flowed through the characters as they found the necessary strength while exploring and standing behind individual beliefs, creating the heart-tugs this author is known for. Well-written and definitely enjoyed, I will continue to seek out this author in the future.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of With This Pledge from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

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Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments

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Taylor, Dan. Laughing at life’s Most Embarrassing Moments- Stumbling Along with Hope and Humor. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Laughing at the hardest and most embarrassing moments in life which makes laughing at the rest of life easier is the premise of the book by author Dan Taylor. Filled with cute antidotes and stories taking place in everyday life, each 2-3 page chapter shares embarrassing moments, silly actions, cute behaviors and humorous thoughts. Reminiscing about life’s awkward situations that most anyone can relate to, Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments reminds us that laughing is a healthy tonic for troubles.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Filled with some sweet (albeit some corny) stories regarding life’s difficult yet memorable moments, this book emphasizes and cultivates chuckling. With the ability to laugh and perhaps even enjoy some of life’s precarious happenings, the hope of this author is to find the funny and laugh together. Full of 65 easy to read blurbs, most at least made me smile; however, a few did fall flat. Perfect as a pick-me-up, a fill-in while waiting, or even sharing around the dinner table, Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments was enjoyable and giggle-worthy.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Laughing at Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments from Harvest House Publishing for my honest review*

Who I Am With You

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Hatcher, Robin Lee. Who I Am With You: A Legacy Of Faith Novel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Dealing with the sudden and tragic death of her husband and daughter, Jessica Mason is not only grieving but awaiting the birth of her next child. Hiding from the media, Ridley Chesterfield takes refuge in Hope Springs, not intending to meet anyone while he is there. Through invitations, consequences, unexpected situations, a generational Bible, and an adorable dog named Kris, Ridley and Jessica connect in present day but Jessica also makes a connection with her past. Forgiveness, faith, and friendship soon help hearts heal…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Told alternately between two time periods, a connection grows deeper with the past while affecting the present and determining the future. Well written, as well as gracefully told, Who I Am With You tugs on the heartstrings while being enjoyable to read. Though not an enormous fan of contemporary fiction, the mixings with the past provided an interesting storyline with just the right sprinkling of surprises to keep me engaged to the end. Romance, forgiveness, healing, and strength all combine in the first book of the new A Legacy Of Faith series by author, Robin Lee Hatcher. Definitely a series I will continue reading.  (Side note: I absolutely love the title of this book!)

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Who I Am With You from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

The Curse of Misty Wayfair

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Wright, Jaime Jo. The Curse of Misty Wayfair. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Set in the vast woods of northern Wisconsin and fluctuating between the early 1900’s and present day, The Curse of Misty Wayfair follows two women, Thea Reed and Heidi Lane, as they strive to discover their identities in different time periods yet with a connected thread surrounding a legend. Intrigue, mystery, suspense, and a bit of history combine into a flawless story by Christy Award winning author, Jaime Jo Wright.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read this author’s previous novel, The House on Foster Hill, I knew what I was expecting to read. A uniquely suspenseful thriller, not scary but definitely eerie, The Curse of Misty Wayfair may have started out slowly but decidedly picked up the pace. Finding parts of it interesting (postmortem photography was actually an occupation), and parts of it a bit spooky (an image floating through the woods), this book certainly earned its place on my book shelf. Perhaps just a bit confusing in the beginning due to the switching of time periods and following the family lineage, sticking with the story straightened that out, making it a non-issue.  A must-read!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

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

Prayers Of My Heart

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Taylor-Williams, Debbie. Prayers Of My Heart: A Personal Prayer Journal. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Organized like a personal calendar and journal, set-up in monthly and weekly pages, Prayers Of My Heart has plenty of room for planning and recording prayer reminders. Unnumbered squares make it easy and efficient to add dates while using the monthly and weekly schedules. Simply fill-in the boxes with prayer requests and record thoughts, meditations, and notes in the lined journal pages at the back of the book. With instructions on using the system, sample calendars, an abundance of pages and a pleasing teal-blue color throughout, this compact book makes keeping prayers of the heart better organized.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
In a very organized book begging to be used, I found this workable and useful journal both valuable and productive. Upon first glance at the plentiful open pages, I was a bit unsure how to make the most of this prayer journal; however, after reading the directions, it clearly made sense. Perhaps taking a bit to create a journaling habit, I feel with a few tweaks, this book could also become a calendar as well as the prayer journal. Certainly a prayer scheduler I will continue using to help meet my goals.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Prayers Of My Heart from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

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*

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 Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge

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Toler, Stan (Editor). The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge: A Collection of Bible History, Trivia, and Fun Facts. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Organized into 4 parts, (Bible Knowledge and Learning, Things We Say From the Bible, Bible Knowledge Challenge, and Essential Bible Verses), The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge provides pages of Bible information set in easy to access lists and explanations, Bible quizzes complete with the answers, and a listing of Bible verses arranged by topic. Efficient, easy to read, and full of useful knowledge, general editor Stan Toler hopes to enhance the impact of the Bible on people’s lives.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Great as a review for people already familiar with the Bible, a wonderful resource for beginner Bible readers, or filled with interesting facts for any Bible user, The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge was actually quite enjoyable to read and use. A general review of the Bible including people, books and events, as well as some very fun information regarding everyday things we say- “Wolf in Sheep’s clothing”, “Blind leading the Blind”, and “Burning the Midnight Oil” are explained and included. Inviting to browse, engaging to play, satisfying to learn, and comforting to know, I found this book perfect for travel, quiet time, or just a few available moments. This would be a great addition to a church library, classroom or personal shelf, and would work well with groups of people or individuals. An awesome resource!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Ultimate Bible Knowledge Challenge from Harvest House 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*

Meal Planner

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Shull, Shay. Mix & Match Mama Meal Planner: Your Weekly Guide To Getting Dinner On The Table. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.

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SUMMARY:
In a beautifully photographed new cookbook by author and blogger Shay Shull, Mix & Match Mama Meal Planner is chock full of delicious recipes, efficient shopping lists, streamlined directions and personal tidbits. In a convenient size with thicker covers, glossy pages, and an attached elastic bookmark, this cookbook is arranged by seasons and makes getting dinner on the table a breeze.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Honestly not believing I would like this book as much as I did, I was so much more than pleasantly surprised. Organized by days of the week, with enough weeks to cover a month of meals, the included pantry essentials section and detailed yet manageable shopping lists saves tons of time. Filled with simple, delicious, creative, doable, and family friendly recipes, the corresponding photographs of each recipe takes this book over the top. With meals that are sure to please many different palates, the ingredients are also easy to switch if necessary.  Pumpkin Rigatoni, French Onion Joes, Grilled Shrimp Tacos and Hot Chocolate Cupcakes are only a few of the favorites so far. Definitely a cookbook I will use a lot and recommend often, I am thrilled I gave this new cookbook a chance.  Love it!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Mix & Match Mama Meal Planner from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*