The End Of The Magi

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Carr, Patrick W. The End Of The Magi. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Though facing adversity from several different angles, Myrad, a young magi acolyte, joins the caravan of Wisemen following the star leading to the Christ Child. In a Biblically-based novel, The End Of The Magi traces the journey from a unique, thought-provoking perspective. While set in motion many years earlier, the current timetable of the story takes place just before the birth and includes some very personal events and challenges which Myrad must encounter. Complete with Bible verses, accuracy and historical relevance, author Patrick W. Carr pens a Christmas story that intrigues, teaches and explores the coming of the Messiah.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perfect for the upcoming Christmas season, The End Of The Magi is so much more than just a light seasonal story. Never having read anything from this author previously, I was unsure what to expect other than a Biblically historical novel. Already familiar with the Wisemen’s story, I was ready for the altering message which actually caused me to consider variances to the usual story told. Though it took me a bit to really appreciate Patrick Carr’s writing style, I was soon able to grasp the flow and immerse myself in the book. Having now read it, I must admit I will pay a bit more attention to the Bible story this season rather than just accepting what was already familiar. Definitely a book to read; definitely an author I will read again.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The End Of The Magi from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Tinderbox

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Lewis, Beverly. The Tinderbox. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Sylvia Miller has always had a curious side but she may have allowed it to go too far this time. Sneaking a peek into her Dat’s tinderbox, Sylvia discovers a secret she may regret finding. Struggling with the secret she now carries, Sylvia watches as the secret disrupts relationships, family, beliefs, and trustworthiness, yet brings forth forgiveness, redemption, sincerity and strength. Rooted by both pain and joy, faith becomes important. Written by New York Times Bestselling Author, Beverly Lewis, her newest novel is filled deeply with emotion.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having grown up near the Amish farmland and thus, very familiar with the Amish cultures, author Beverly Lewis shares that knowledge in her newest book, The Tinderbox. Having met the Miller family in previous books, it was nice to catch a glimpse of them again, yet this story stands alone and will actually be followed by a sequel due out this September, The Timepiece. With a fulfilling storyline in this novel while also leaving enough of a cliffhanger to make waiting for the next a bit difficult, though the Amish genre is not my most favorite, I was engaged enough to likely read the follow-up in fall. Liking this author’s smooth, graceful, calm writing style, at the same time, my interest was captured enough by some mystery and suspense that I read straight through to the end. Writing since the age of nine, Beverly Lewis has certainly earned her award winning title.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

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

Whose Waves These Are

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Dykes, Amanda. Whose Waves These Are. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
With a storyline centered around twins Roy and Robert Bliss, Whose Waves These Are tells the tale of family, truth, hope, faith and forgiveness over years of time. Using rocks as a foundation to build something great, Robert Bliss needs to finish before it is too late. Years later, called home by her GrandBob (Robert), Annie Bliss finds herself back home in Ansel-by-the-Sea, discovering mysteries revolving around stones, a poem, and family. Working to uncover the history involved, Annie stumbles upon much more than she imagined…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Full of beautiful imagery and skillful writing, I so appreciated the manner in which this book was written. Through the word choices, the deep visualizations, the dual timeframe, and the eloquence of speech, author Amanda Dykes had me from the first few pages with her debut novel, Whose Waves These Are. Surrounding the theme of water and waves, the quote “Every wave…is a story” is carried throughout the book, resulting in a seamless circle-style story. Savoring this book while at the same time not being able to put it down, it was touching, heartwarming, sensitive and moving. Definitely a book I will recommend as well as an author I will read again.

RATING: 5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Whose Waves These Are from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith

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Short, Laurie Polich. 40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Filled with 40 scripture verses from the Bible that may not be the most memorized, repeated, nor tagged, 40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith takes a deeper peek at these verses and provides context, thoughtful insights, and lots of encouragement. Just a few pages in length, each verse is included along with a few bullet points and reflections. As an author, speaker, and being active in ministry, Laurie Polich Short offers wisdom, hope, and understanding in the journey of deeper faith.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Taking verses that are not quite as well know nor used, 40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith is well organized, easy to read, and provides plenty of thought- provoking occasions, especially as struggles and challenges are faced. Perfect for a group or personal devotion, definitely appropriate for a church library, sure to be appreciated as a gift, and perhaps even fitting as a sermon topic, I only wish it had been a tad-bit longer to use as a weekly devotional for a year. Certainly a book I would recommend as well as one I plan to use.

RATING: 4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of 40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Taste and See

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Feinberg, Margaret. Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, & Fresh Food Makers. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Taking a naturally connected spiritual and culinary journey, author Margaret Feinberg and her husband, Leif, explore different cuisines and associate them with scriptures. With food being a pleasure, as well as sacred and symbolic, our tour guides provide food for nourishment both physically and spiritually. Complete with recipes and side notes, Taste and See fulfills completely in a friendly and relatable manner. Figs, bread, olives, and many more delectable dishes provide good food for thought…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Part devotional, part cookbook, part self-guidance and part story, Taste and See made connections for me I hadn’t previously envisioned. Fruits, veggies, meat and bread combined with the Bible to create a beautiful book. So easy to read and picture, at times, I felt like I was conversing with the author directly. Interesting and essential while also packed with savory recipes, I found this book to be more than I expected. A book I truly enjoyed and read cover-to-cover, I cannot wait to try some of the recipes. With my interest piqued just enough, I will now search out this author to see what else she has written, along with hoping she writes another book quite soon.

*RATING: 4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Taste and See from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Far Side of the Sea

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Breslin, Kate. Far Side of the Sea. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Set during WWI, Far Side of the Sea shares the story of Lt. Colin Mabry as he overcomes his war injuries, now decoding messages rather than in battle. Receiving a personal message meant for him, Colin is certainly surprised to find another person waiting for him in Paris other than the expected woman, Jewel. Johanna, Jewel’s half sister, requires Colin’s help in locating Jewel and their father; however, they soon find themselves caught in a web of espionage, not sure whom to trust nor where to turn. As uncertainty grows, feelings develop, emotions ignite, and danger ensues, the risks and mystery only continue to develop throughout the new novel by author Kate Breslin.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read other books by this author, I knew I just had to add this one to my list. Full of unexpected twists, a developing romance, historical references and subtle faith, Far Side of the Sea is actually the second book following Not by Sight, which I absolutely enjoyed (https://savurbks.com/2015/08/24/not-by-sight/). As an added interest to this novel, carrier pigeons are included as a role in the story, causing me to delve further into the subject of their use in WWI. With added notes on the period history as well as a few discussion questions, I know I made the right decision to read this book. I am already looking forward to Kate Breslin’s next book!

RATING:
4.75 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Far Side of the Sea from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

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*

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*