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Book Reviews 

Penelope's Book of the Month-July 2021


Sooley-A Novel

John Grisham


Not a book I normally would pick up, but Sooley caught my attention. Gripping. The story builds, taking the reader inside the world of Sudan and American college basketball. An unexpected turn of events will open your eyes to hidden dangers... But I will let that be a surprise. A compelling read.

In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teammates to play in a showcase basket­ball tournament. He has never been away from home, nor has he ever been on an airplane. The opportunity to be scouted by dozens of college coaches is a dream come true.

Samuel is an amazing athlete, with speed, quick­ness, and an astonishing vertical leap. The rest of his game, though, needs work, and the American coaches are less than impressed.

During the tournament, Samuel receives dev­astating news from home: A civil war is raging across South Sudan, and rebel troops have ran­sacked his village. His father is dead, his sister is missing, and his mother and two younger brothers are in a refugee camp.

Samuel desperately wants to go home, but it's just not possible. Partly out of sympathy, the coach of North Carolina Central offers him a scholar­ship. Samuel moves to Durham, enrolls in classes, joins the team, and prepares to sit out his freshman season. There is plenty of more mature talent and he isn't immediately needed.

But Samuel has something no other player has: a fierce determination to succeed so he can bring his family to America. He works tirelessly on his game, shooting baskets every morning at dawn by himself in the gym, and soon he's dominating everyone in practice. With the Central team los­ing and suffering injury after injury, Sooley, as he is nicknamed, is called off the bench. And the legend begins.

But how far can Sooley take his team? And will success allow him to save his family?


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Penelope's Book of the Month-June 2021

When Twilight Breaks
Sarah Sundin 





Sarah will be speaking at People's Church on Saturday, June 26, 9-11 a.m. Tickets are $15 and can be bought on the website www.peopleschurch.org/tickets. You will not want to miss out.


This is Sarah's best work yet.


"Two Americans meet in 1938 in the heart of Nazi Germany. Their efforts to expose oppression attract unwanted attention, pulling them deeper into danger as the world marches toward war"-


Booklist Starred Review


Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominate profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country―or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she'll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed―and wake up the folks back home.


In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party―to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can't get off his mind.


This electric standalone novel puts you right at the intersection of pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping romance.

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Penelope's Book of the Month-May 2021


The Four Winds

Kristin Hannah





The Four Winds was recommended by a friend. Oh, my what a story. What a writer―Kristin Hannah. I could taste the dirt and feel the pain of those who fled the Dust Bowl. For those of us who live in Central California, the story is closer than you might think. One of the camps mentioned in the book still stands today in Arvin, California. I learned much about the trials of those living with dust bowl. And then I watched The Grapes of Wrath. Intriguing.


From the number-one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.

"My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family."

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman's only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa's tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa―like so many of her neighbors―must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it―the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.


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Penelope's Book of the Month-April 2021


The Curator's Daughter

Melanie Dobson




A page-turner. Melanie Dobson is one of my favorite authors. Her books are always well researched and engaging. The Curator's Daughter does not disappoint.


A young girl, kidnapped on the eve of World War II, changes the lives of a German archaeologist forced into the Nazi Party and―decades later―a researcher trying to overcome her own trauma.

1940. Hanna Tillich cherishes her work as an archaeologist for the Third Reich, searching for the Holy Grail and other artifacts to bolster evidence of a master Aryan race. But when she is reassigned to work as a museum curator in Nuremberg, then forced to marry an SS officer and adopt a young girl, Hanna begins to see behind the Nazi facade. A prayer labyrinth becomes a storehouse for Hanna's secrets, but as she comes to love Lilly as her own daughter, she fears that what she's hiding―and what she begins to uncover―could put them both in mortal danger.

Eighty years later, Ember Ellis is a Holocaust researcher intent on confronting hatred toward the Jewish people and other minorities. She reconnects with a former teacher on Martha's Vineyard after she learns that Mrs. Kiehl's mother once worked with the Nazi Ahnenerbe. And yet, Mrs. Kiehl describes her mother as "a friend to the Jewish people." Wondering how both could be true, Ember helps Mrs. Kiehl regain her fractured childhood memories of World War II while at the same time confronting the heartache of her own secret past―and the person who wants to silence Ember forever.

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Penelope's Book of the Month-March 2021

This very well-written and unusual story may be the most captivating book I read in 2020. Four teenagers write down their hopes and dreams put them in a blue bottle. The bottle is found 65 years later. Read The Blue Bottle Club and find out what happened to them and the lessons learned. I won't soon forget these women and the woman who brought them back together.

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Penelope's Book of the Month-November 2020


Book: A The Book Lover's Companion


Author: Jo Massaro


Do you have an avid reader on your Christmas list?


Is your reading life is important to you? Preserve your impressions/record your journey/track your path through the library of your life.


Included in this book you will find a place to:


- List information on each book read

- Express your impressions and questions

- Record other books to be read

- Record book club reading lists

- Track borrowed books and loaned books

- Informational pages for book signing events


Included in this edition are recipes compiled from a collection of family favorites submitted by readers. Along with each recipe you will find an accompanying story, explaining the recipe's history.


Why didn't anyone think of this before? A wonderfully laid out book to record the books you read. Lines to record when you read it, genre, how you felt about it, if you would recommend, and more. There are some temping recipes to try too.

Pick up one for you and for yourself. I love mine.


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Penelope's Book of the Month-October 2020


Faith is Not Silent


Author: Billie Fulton


Inside the Prologue: An old cemetery lies in the middle of a hayfield on our farm in Missouri. For a century and half, seven souls have lain forgotten in silence. ……… We never could have foreseen the chain of events that occurred that day when our ten-year-old grandson asked the simplest of questions that began our journey to discover the hearts of seven people.


 My sister asked me to read Faith is not Silent.  The first three chapters set up the scene for the captivating story to come. The discovery of seven keys, a search of the attic, and a journal take you inside the intriguing world of Frances Neal-Catts-Crawford. Seven-year-old Frances makes her first entry on February 8, 1799 and in April 1890, at the age of ninety-eight, she writes for the final time. In between the time span is a peek inside of a real family who lived through a long span of good and troubled times in history. Actual diary entries along with facts of the time, make this story real.


You will be inspired by the strong faith of a woman who thanked God everyday even when it was a hard one. I will not soon forget Frances and her family. You won't either.


Faith is not Silent: Wherever books are sold.





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Penelope's Book of the Month-September 2020



Water colored Pearls—a novel


Author: Stacy Hawkins Adams


Description on Amazon: Three women spend a summer discovering that their less-than-perfect circumstances, their friendships with one another, and their faith are steppingstones to the lives they long to live.

Serena never thought she'd have children; now she has two active toddlers. But instead of being overjoyed, she's overwhelmed. Did she make the wrong choice in giving up her successful career to be a stay-at-home-mom?

Tawana, an ambitious new lawyer, is trying to pull her life to together, but her past keeps getting in the way. An incredible opportunity at a prestigious law firm forces her to confront her demons. Can her new responsibilities fit with her growing faith?

Erika's estranged, and once-abusive husband wants her back. He says he's changed, and he's even going to church. But is he telling the truth? Or is he just smooth-talking her back into a bad situation?

Enjoy this anniversary edition of Stacy Hawkins Adams' bestselling inspirational women's fiction novel.


Comments: One summer. Three Women. Real life issues perfectly intertwined to tell God's story. The book is written in an easy to read, fast paced manner. Inside these pages you may find hope for your current struggle. What struck me the most was the side story of Serena's minister husband and his personal struggle. What happens between two ministers is relevant to today's environment, but I don't want to give it all away.


I met Stacy at a Mount Hermon writers conference. She is an award-winning author, journalist and a captivating speaker known for weaving life-transforming tales (both fiction and nonfiction) that help readers grow confident in their own stories.


Perfect for book club discussions. I have recommended it to mine.

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Penelope's Book of the Month-August 2020

Shawna Marie Bryant


 Longing to Belong—Discovering the Joy of Acceptance



Author: Shawna Marie Bryant


Have you ever been betrayed or rejected? Were you abandoned by a parent and are still haunted by it? Did a spouse betray you? Was it a child who has rejected you or a co-worker or boss you feel betrayed by. Maybe it was a friend.


In Longing to Belong, Shawna embraces readers as good friends having a transparent conversation. She captures the pain of rejection and the certainty of hope. Through relatable personal experiences and biblical stories. Shawna takes you step by step to the truth of acceptance. This book is a resource you will use time and again.




A mother of a two-year-old said she often felt invisible, but Longing to Belong helped her see that she has value and significance. She now understands that she is not invisible, and that God sees her and values her.


A 14-year old girl heard her mom read from Longing to Belong that Jesus said in John's gospel that the reason the world hates us is because it hated him first. When the teenager understood this, she was released from the burden of trying to fit in. She said that she wanted to belong to Jesus, not to the world that hated him.


Shawna is a longtime friend. It was an honor to endorse Longing to Belong.


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Penelope's Book of the Month-July 2020

Editing Secrets of Best-Selling Authors


Author: Kathy Ide


A Must Read Resource for Every Author


Book Description:


Successful writers spend a lot more time editing than they do writing. They know that first drafts need extensive revisions to ensure their stories or messages come across clearly and effectively.


In this book you'll find a wealth of suggestions from best-selling authors who have studied editing techniques and implemented them in their books, which have touched the hearts and lives of readers around the world.


If you're an aspiring, beginning, or intermediate writer, this book will help you polish your manuscript and get it ready for publication. If you're an established author, these tips can help you edit other writers' manuscripts, either in a critique group setting or as an editorial freelancer.


After reading Editing Secrets, I am excited to share this must have resouce for every writer/author.

I know Kathy though my years at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. The last day of my second year, she explained "tight writing." It still took a few months for me to get it. Tight writing is explained in Editing Secrets. 






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