Saturday, November 27, 2010

Me... Alphabetically

Here's a fun survey I found a few days ago. If you want, you can copy and paste it and post it on your blog with your own answers. You can even "tag" other bloggers and who knows where it'll go from there. You don't need to give one word answers and you don't need to answer every question if you don't want. Just have fun! I hope you enjoy reading mine :)

A - Age: 19

B - Book Genre(s): Historical Fiction and Mystery/Suspense

C - Chore you hate: Sweeping

D - Diet: Huh?!?

E - Essential start to your day: Devotional Time

F - Favorite scent: Lavender

G - Gold or Silver: Silver

H - Height: 5'2"

I - Instruments you play(ed): Keyboard...sorta

J - Job title: Still looking for work! But I am currently a childcare provider

K - Kids: nope

L - Library or bookstore: Do I have to choose?! Fine.. Bookstore. LOVE ME SOME BOOKS!

M - Middle name: Don't have one

N - Nickname(s): Tutu(my niece started calling me that first when she was about 10 months old)

O - Oompa loompa or lollipop kid?: Oompa loompa doopity doo!

P - Pet peeve: When people try starting a conversation with me while I'm watching a really good movie.

Q - Quote(s) you like: ...I'll answer this later..

R - Right or left handed: Right

S - Siblings: I have 3 sisters

T - Time you wake up: It depends, but mostly 7:30am

U - Undesirable habit(s): Nail biting. I only do it when I'm nervous, but I'm getting better at leaving them alone!

V - Vegetable you dislike: Mushrooms

W - Ways you run late: Getting ready and straightening my hair.

X - X-rays you've had: For my teethe

Y - Yummy food you make: Chicken and rice casserole

Z - Zone/Time: Pacific Standard

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In Every Heartbeat

In Every Heartbeat. Kim Vogel Sawyer. Bethany House Publishers. September 2010. Paperback. 352 pages.

In Every Heartbeat is a historical fiction novel set in the early 1900's in Chambers, Missouri. Elisabet(Libby), Bennett, and Pete are three friends who grew up in an orphanage together and are now in college ready to follow their dreams. Libby wants to become a famous journalist, Pete wants to become a minister, and Bennett just wants to have fun and pledge a fraternity. Along the way, each of them face unexpected challenges and their friendship begins to tear at the seams. Will they be able to keep the tight bond they once had? Or will they just grow apart in the midst of their struggles?

I actually enjoyed this book a little more than I thought I would. I was unfamiliar with the author, so I wasn't sure if I'd like her writing style. The book description had me thinking WWI would be a bigger part of the story, but I was disappointed to find out that it wasn't. The romance between two of the characters was sweet and I enjoyed seeing where their close friendship went. Although the book had a slow start, it picked up about 200 pages in and I became a lot more interested in where the story was going for these characters. There were a few times when the situations were unrealistic, but other times I found what they were going through to be very relatable. Without having to read the first book, I was able to follow along just fine and I thought it was a good read. This is a sweet, relaxing, well written novel and I'd say anyone who likes historical fiction with a little romance mixed in would enjoy it.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Month In Review: October 2010

Month in Review is an end of the month post I decided to start doing after I saw something similar on another website.(I can't remember which one) It's just something I wanted to start doing so I could keep track of the books I read each month. I'll probably change it up a little bit over time, but this is what I have for now. You can join in too if you'd like. I'd love it if you left a comment here so I can see your Month in Review post! 


Books I read:
The Last Word by Kathy Herman
The Right Call by Kathy Herman
Don't Kiss Him Good-Bye by Sandra Byrd
In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Couldn't finish:
Uncertain Heart by Andrea Boeshaar

Reviews posted:
Don't Kiss Him Good-bye
The Last Word
The Right Call

Favorite book this month:
The Right Call by Kathy Herman

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

Bittersweet. Shauna Niequist. Zondervan.
July 2010. Hardcover. 256 pages.

Book Description:
In her follow-up book to Cold Tangerines, author Shauna Niequist shifts her gaze to the challenges and blessings of change in Bittersweet. Drawing from her own experiences in a recent season of pain and chaos, she explores the bits of wisdom and growth we earn the hard way, through change, loss, and transition, and offers her own reflections on what brought her hope along the way.

My Review:
Shauna Niequist is a very talented, down to earth author. She's honest, funny, and has a great way of making you feel like you're having a conversation with one of your girlfriends. In Bittersweet, she shares about some really great moments in her life, along with dark and painful ones. She's gone through a lot, but her faith has grown and remained strong because of it all. To be completely honest, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I expected I would. Some parts were really great and I felt glued to the pages, but other times I couldn't even remember what I had just read. I kept wandering off and had to re-read a lot of times.

This book reads more like a journal or blog and the chapters are really short. A chapter titled, "Grace is a new math," was the most memorable and something she said really stuck with me.. "Grace isn't about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could use them through all eternity and never come up empty... It's the moment you feel as precious and handmade as every star, when you feel, finally, at home."pg. 83 One thing I can say is that this book offers a bit of hope to other women that might be going through similar situations she found herself in. Even though I didn't get much out of this book, it just might be the one for you. I'd suggest you read a little more on it and who knows, you might end up loving it.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Zondervan.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

An unexpected move...

I was supposed to post 2 more reviews and details about the next book giveaway on Friday, but I was super busy. I found out that we're definitely moving and we already found a place, so all the chaos is going to start very soon. By December 1st we should be completely moved out of our current house that we've lived in for 9 years. I'm going to miss it very much and I'm so sad to leave. A lot is going to be happening and I might not be able to post all my reviews as soon as I wanted, but I promise they will be up... sooner or later.

For now, have a wonderful night and God Bless!

-Crystal

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Topical Memory System: Hide God's Word In Your Heart

Topical Memory System. The Navigators. Navpress.
June 2006. Paperback. 60 verse cards.

The Topical Memory System is a Scripture memorization tool developed by The Navigators. This system includes a 30 week workbook, 60 verse cards in 8 different translations, and a vinyl card holder. The workbook is divided into 5 different series. Each series has 12 verses and the verses are arranged according to topic. The topics included are: Live the New Life, Proclaim Christ, Rely on God's Resources, Be Christ's Disciple, and Grow in Christlikeness. 

For each week, you are given two verses to study and meditate on. With the verses being available in these translations: KJV, NKJV, NLT, NIV, MSG, ESV, NASB, and NRSV, there's pretty much a version for everyone. I actually prefer the NKJV, but sometimes I go from one version to another, so I really like that I have a variety of translations to choose from. I have been using this for a little over two weeks now and I've enjoyed it so far. This system is a very effective and convenient way to learn and memorize scripture. The last chapter in the workbook is titled, How to keep learning and reviewing, and it gives you helpful tips on how you can continue memorizing and hiding God's Word in your heart. 

My Rating: 4/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This was provided for review by Navpress Publishers.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Really Woolly Bible Stories

Really Woolly® Bible Stories. Bonnie Rickner. Julie Sawyer Phillips. Tommy Nelson. November 2010. Padded Cover. 36 pages.

Really Woolly Bible Stories is a cute storybook that makes for a fun way to introduce bible stories to even the youngest children. Sixteen of the most well known stories from the Old and New Testament are written in a simple rhyming format that's both enjoyable and understandable for little ones. The poems are short enough to keep their attention and the illustrations are sweet, colorful, and super adorable. Under each illustration, there is also a Scripture reference where you can find the full story in the Bible. With an easy to wipe padded cover and board pages, this book can tolerate all the wear it's sure to see when in the hands of little kids. I'd say the appropriate age for this book is 5 and younger.

I read this to my niece before she went to bed and she fell in love with it immediately. You know what? So did I! I just can't get enough of the lamb, bunny, and duckling. Cutest things ever! Her favorite story was Noah's Ark. She liked all the other stories too, but Noah and all the animals stood out to her the most. She kept going back to it and just looked at the pictures for long periods of time. I can tell this will be her most requested bed time storybook. The little closing prayer at the end is another thing I really liked and it'd be great for parents to recite it with their kids when they're finished with their bed time stories. This book is an awesome start for little ones that are being introduced to stories in the bible. It's a must have!

My Rating: 5/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Short Update

A lot has been going on lately so I haven't had a chance to post new reviews. I will hopefully have 3 up by the end of this week. Look out for the next book giveaway I'll be doing soon. You'll have a chance to win a copy of, In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer. Details will be posted at the end of my review. I also found some great giveaways going on right now at these blogs that you might want to check out ---> i blog 4 booksBlack 'N Gold Girl's Book Spot, and itsJUSTme.

Another thing I wanted to share with you is the new idea I have for a monthly post. Earlier today I found a draft in my email that was titled "Month in Review Memo." I completely forgot the blog where I saw the Month in Review posts, so I'm sorry I can't give the proper credit to whoever came up with it. Thanks for the idea though! Anyway, the post will consist of a list of the books I read in the whole month, my favorite and least favorite of the bunch, as well as the books I posted reviews for. So far this month I've read about 5 and I posted 4 reviews. I think my Month in Review posts will be a fun addition to my blog and I hope you think so too.

Happy Reading!
~Crystal

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway! - Ends 10/27

Suzanne Woods Fisher is thrilled to announce the release of The Waiting, book two in The Lancaster Secrets Collection. In The Waiting Jorie finds herself caught be two loves and two lives in this compelling page turner about complex people living the simple life.

The Waiting is the next stand alone story in The Lancaster Secrets Collection and follows in the footsteps of the best-selling, The Choice. The Waiting is in stores now and to celebrate Suzanne is hosting The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway.



One Grand Prize winner will receive a Kindle preloaded with Suzanne Woods Fisher titles and a Amazon.com gift certificate! The Prize Pack (valued at over $185.00) includes:

* A brand new KINDLE, Free 3G, 6", Latest Generation

* The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

* The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

* A $15 dollar Amazon.com Gift Certificate

To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form, then tell 5 or more friends about the contest. Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on October 28th at Suzanne's Lancaster Secrets Book Club Party.

Join Suzanne for the Lancaster Secrets Book Club Party on October 28th! She’ll be announcing the winner of the The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway, hosting a book club discussion of The Waiting and The Choice, and giving away copies of both books and HEAPs of readerly prizes! Be sure to join us on Thursday, October 28th at 5:00 PM PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST & 8 EST) at Suzanne’s Author Page. 

The Movies & Memories Giveaway! - Ends 10/17

Sarah Sundin presents The Movies and Memories Giveaway in honor of
book 2 in the Wings of Glory series. A Memory Between Us is available for purchase wherever fine books are sold. From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

AMBU_button

To celebrate Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Movie and Memory Prize
Package! One grand prize winner will receive:


* Make-your-own-photo book from Mypublisher.com (Capture your own
Memories)


* Netflix Subscription (New or Nostalgic Movies delivered right to your house)

* Starbucks gift card (To keep your engine revvin’)

*Gourmet chocolate (A favorite in the 1940’s and now)

* British specialty teas in carved wooden box (Timeless tradition)

* Miniature model of a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber & C-47 cargo plane
(Everyone needs a few toy planes)

*Big Band music CD (Break out your dancing shoes)

* WWII authentic poster playing cards (Cards – a perfect game for two)

* Keep Calm and Carry On (Uplifting sayings WWII, a boost for troubled times)

To enter simply click on the icons below (contest runs 9/27 - 10/17!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Right Call (Sophie Trace Trilogy - Book 3)

The Right Call. Kathy Herman. David C. Cook.
March 2010. Paperback. 400 pages.

Ethan Langely is back in Sophie Trace for the summer where he'll be splitting his time between working for his uncle to save money for college and seeing where his relationship with Vanessa goes. Before he has a chance to be reunited with Vanessa and her baby, Carter, a series of random shootings leaves four people dead. Ethan's cousin, Drew, just happened to be a friend and roommate to one of the victims, Tal Davison. Police Chief Brill Jessup and her detectives begin their investigation, but nothing comes up that could lead them to a possible suspect. Not too long after, Drew is shot and killed while Vanessa and baby Carter were visiting him, leaving her traumatized over seeing the whole thing play out.

Ethan tries to deal with his grief over losing his only cousin, who was more like a brother, by spending as much time as he can with Vanessa and Carter, and working with his uncle. When his co-worker, Stedman Reeves, seems to be sympathetic towards Ethan's loss and a little too interested in the details of the shootings, Ethan begins to wonder how much Stedman really knows. Soon Brill begins to find clues and evidence that point to Stedman as the killer. Panicked and scared for his life, Stedman makes a late night call to Ethan and tells him everything he knows about the shootings and how he is connected to them. Knowing that Ethan is dating the Police Chief's daughter, he's hoping that he'll go and convince her that he isn't responsible for the killings.

Now that Ethan knows all the details, his life is in danger as well as the lives of the two people he's come to love so much, Vanessa and baby Carter. What should he do? If he goes to the Police Chief with the truth it could save Stedman from life in jail, but it could also be the last of him, Vanessa, and Carter. The hand he's been dealt is impossible, life threatening and down right terrible. Will he trust that God will guide and guard him and show him what to do?

Suspenseful, fast paced, engaging, and awesome! That's what The Right Call was for me. The characters all come off as real people and the struggles within the Jessup family are realistic. Ethan and Vanessa's relationship was gradually growing throughout the whole book and the ending was so sweet. Not only does this book have an amazing mystery, but it also addresses addictions and how it can easily take over your life and affect the lives of others around you. The Sophie Trace Trilogy has something for everyone. There's suspense, mystery, action, drama, and a bit of romance. I love how the author weaves in the Gospel throughout each of the 3 books. Some people might feel like it's a little too preachy at times, but it didn't seem that way to me. I think older teens and adults would enjoy this series as much as I did. When I think about this Trilogy, these three words come to mind -- Faith, Restoration, and Forgiveness. LOVE it!

My Rating: 5/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(I'd like to thank Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Last Word (Sophie Trace Trilogy - Book 2)

The Last Word. Kathy Herman. David C. Cook.
October 2009. Paperback. 400 pages.

Police Chief Brill Jessup and her family are anxiously waiting for her daughter, Vanessa, to return home from college. When she arrives the excitement quickly turns into shock when they see her bulging belly. Brill and husband, Kurt, are not only devastated that Vanessa would just throw away the Christian morals and values they instilled in her, but also that she didn't tell them about her pregnancy for the past seven months. Her friend from college, Ethan Langely, joined her on her trip back home to help break the news to her parents. She reluctantly told them about the baby's father, her college professor, abandoning her and their unborn baby. Now with only two months left in her pregnancy, she needs to make the tough decision to either keep the baby or give him up for adoption.

As if Brill didn't have enough on her mind, she gets a call and finds out that a criminal she helped put behind bars was just released from prison. He's already stabbed and wounded her old partner, Zach, and is now threatening to get revenge on everyone who took part in sending him to jail. When he kills one of her detectives, Sean O'Toole, she clearly sees that he will not stop until he gets to her. Knowing that she's his next victim and he could possibly target her family, she makes sure they are protected round the clock. Will Brill catch the murderer before he can get to her or her family? Will she be able to get past her anger and disappointment toward Vanessa and help her make one of the most important decisions of her life?

The first thing I want to say is that although it is not necessary to read Book 1, I would recommend that you do. The references made of The Real Enemy are explained, but I think it would just add to your enjoyment if you read them in order. After reading the previous book, I had very high expectations for The Last Word. Even though it didn't quit live up to them, I still liked it and thought it was good. Here are the two main reasons why I didn't enjoy it as much. 1: You know who the killer is practically the entire time, so there is really no mystery(I probably shouldn't have expected too much mystery, especially because the book is listed under Suspense.) 2: During the middle parts of the book, I felt like it wasn't going anywhere and it dragged on and on. I became a little impatient while in the middle of it and I was tempted to skim through to the ending. But I didn't!

The suspense, action and drama was mostly in the beginning and end and there were few twists to the story and unpredictable moments. Those moments are what kept me reading and turning the pages. I also liked the new characters introduced and enjoyed getting to know them all a little more. The message I got out of the book is that God can restore lives and bring us closer to Him, no matter where you are in life. This book was still very much worth my time and I do recommend it. The next book in the Trilogy is, The Right Call. I'll be reviewing that one next.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(Special Thanks to Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Kiss Him Good-Bye (London Confidential - Book 3)

Don't Kiss Him Good-Bye. Sandra Byrd. Tyndale House Publishers.
September 2010. Paperback. 256 pages.

Fifteen year old, Savannah Smith, has been living in London with her family for almost a year. Now that she's getting used to her new church, school, and surroundings, she feels a little more at home. She's also showcasing her journalistic abilities by secretly writing for her school newspapers advice column, Asking for Trouble. When her best friend, Penny, tells her about the annual May Day Ball that most people plan for months ahead of time, Savvy feels the pressure to find a date, and fast! She has her eye on a few cute guys, but they're already taken and have dates for the dance. The last thing she expected was to meet Rhys, the guy every girl had an eye on. She couldn't quite pin point what drew her to him, but she wanted to find out. When he asks her to the dance, she happily accepts to go "as friends". Soon she begins to question her decision and wonder what his real motives are.

This is a very cute, fun, entertaining teen novel that wont disappoint. Savvy is just like any other REAL teen girl that has tough decisions to make, concerns, and doubts. Her struggles with trying to fit in and getting used to a new school and friends are things that are so relatable. The biblically based advice Savvy got from her youth group leader can also be applied to the readers lives if they ever find themselves in a similar situation. That's something I really liked. The authors writing style is fun, refreshing, and easy to read. I'd recommend this for ages 12 and up. There is absolutely nothing in this book for parents to be concerned about, so you can be sure that you're providing your teen with clean reading fun! Oh and moms might even enjoy reading it too. I had a fun time reading this and will definitely look out for the others in the series.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

(This book was provided for review by Tyndale House Publishers.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Adventures in Booga Booga Land DVD - Volume 1

Adventures in Booga Booga Land. Richard Milner.
Tommy Nelson. September 2010.

Adventures in Booga Booga Land is a fun 45 minute animated children's DVD, based on the parables of Jesus. Marty the monkey and Gerard the giraffe are the two main characters that live in Booga Booga. They make a lot of mistakes and get themselves into some trouble, but they learn from those mistakes and the lessons they learn are what Jesus taught long ago. The stories illustrated in this volume are: the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard from (Matthew 20:1-16), the Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Builders from (Luke 06:47-49), and the Parable of the Lamp Under the Bowl from (Matthew 5:14-16).

I watched this DVD with my 4 year old niece almost immediately after getting it in the mail. We had a fun time watching it and it kept her attention almost throughout the entire video. She seemed to like the music and Marty's clumsiness the most. The retelling of the parables probably wasn't the best or as clearly linked as it could have been, but this is still a clean, entertaining DVD that my niece enjoyed a lot. When she's older I might be able to explain the meaning of the stories and fill in the blanks that the video left out. It was really the upbeat music, colorful animations, and funny characters that got her attention. So, keep in mind that if you're looking for bible based cartoons for your kids that will clearly teach them valuable lessons and the meaning of the stories, this isn't the one. But if you're OK with just having a clean, entertaining, colorful cartoon, then you might want to give this one a try.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This DVD was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Come Away With Me


Come Away With Me. Cynthia Hyle Bezek. Navpress.
January 2008. Paperback. 92 pages.

Come Away With Me is a guide full of examples, suggestions, and ideas on how you can plan and organize an effective prayer retreat. Cynthia shares her experience on her first prayer retreat and how much she realized the importance of setting aside hours or even a day to spend with God in prayer. We are reminded many times in this book of how Jesus regularly took time to be alone with His Father in prayer. I now see know how much I need to set aside time in my day, week, and month to be with the Lord. I, like so many other believers, am praying constantly throughout the day, but is that enough to keep us spiritually refreshed and rejuvenated? I think it's very important for us to have extended hours of prayer, not only for us to lay down our requests before the Lord and pray for friends and family, but also to just listen and see what He has to say to us. The author also adds other personal experiences and stories of other people who have benefited from these prayer retreats. I think doing this not only shows how much we love Him, but it also shows our devotion and desire to spend time with Him.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Navpress Publishers.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Becoming a Woman of Faith

Becoming a Woman of Faith. Cynthia Heald. Navpress.
November 2009. Paperback. 112 Pages.

Becoming a Woman of Faith is an 11 week study that will help women grow in their understanding of faith. This study is excellent for personal use or even for a women's small group. Woman of all stages in their walk with Christ can benefit from this study. Each of the 11 chapters deal with a different aspect or area of faith, starting with God's faithfulness, followed by encountering doubt. The chapters that follow are also very helpful and encouraging. The author added some personal struggles she's faced in her own faith along with quotes from Christian writers, and plenty Scriptural references.

One thing I really like is that readers NEED to have their bibles handy while using this book. This study is focused a lot more on God's word and what it has to say about faith, rather than the entire book being just about what the author personally thinks about the subject. This is such a great resource to have that will help us develop a faith based life and continue to grow. I've been helping my mom out with her woman's small group, so I am definitely going to suggest that we use this. I think the women will be blessed. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to strengthen their faith in the Lord.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Navpress.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Real Enemy (Sophie Trace Trilogy - Book 1)

The Real Enemy. Kathy Herman. David C. Cook.
March 2009. Paperback. 384 pages.

Colleen "Brill" Jessup is the new Police Chief of Sophie Trace, Tenn. She's the very first female to hold that title in the small town, so she definitely feels the pressure to prove herself worthy of it. Before she can even get settled into her new office, people begin to disappear out of nowhere and the suspect(s) leaves little to no (mostly none) evidence or leads for the police to follow. The small town residents are quick to speculate that these mysterious disappearances are the work of the local legend's, "red shadows."

Meanwhile Brill's husband, Kurt, is still struggling with the past act of unfaithfulness. Even though he's repeatedly shown her how regretful he is, she still has anger and bitterness toward him and doesn't try to hide it at all. The only reason they haven't gotten a divorce is because they "agreed to disagree" and continue to raise their youngest daughter, Emily, together. The tension between them is affecting all 3 of their kids and they begin to realize that something has to change. Will Brill be able to restore the peace in Sophie Trace and in her home?

Kathy Herman, you are now on my list of favorite authors! This fast paced novel is definitely a must read. The suspense, mystery, and family drama kept me turning the pages and interested all the way through to the end. The characters are memorable and realistic and the mystery was amazing. I liked reading how Kurt continued to love his wife and did whatever he could for her when she clearly had not forgiven him yet. He had faith that God would restore their marriage, even if it wasn't going to be in an instant, he was willing to do whatever it took. I enjoyed this novel so much and I'm really excited about reading Book 2 in the series, The Last Word. If you're into Christian mystery/suspense novels, I think you'd enjoy this one.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

You can read the first chapter HERE
To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(Special thanks to Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Didn't fall just start?!

It's so ridiculously hot here! I cannot believe temperatures have actually gone up to 113º in downtown La. I've kept a cup of ice cold water with me everywhere I am and stayed near the fans in our house. After a quick trip to the market, I was DONE! I didn't want to go outside anymore. Usually I try finding a reason to go outside, but not today. My poor dog and bunny didn't even know what to do with this heat. They were constantly trying to find a cool place to lay down. I finally went and poured water over them, I think they appreciated it. ;)

Thank God tomorrow is going to be a little cooler. What other ways can one keep cool when there's a horrible heat wave like this?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cliff Falls

Cliff Falls. C.B. Shiepe. Cliff Falls Media, Inc. June 2010. 
Paperback. 256 pages.

Cliff Falls is a gripping novel about former Tv child star, Clay Grant. On the night of his eighteenth birthday, a fire broke out and burned down his Hollywood studio set. Ever since that night, he's been on the run from the media, the public, and his past. When he is discovered by a photographer who has been chasing him since he disappeared, they get into a fight and clay ends up in jail where he is charged with tax evasion. Minister and popular inspirational speaker who knew clay from when he was still a child star, Reagan Mitchell, bails him out and offers to help pay his debt off. He also gives him the opportunity to have a new start in beautiful Cliff Falls. Clay didn't know it then, but his life and the lives of the people around him were about to be changed forever.

This is the kind of book I like to read. It grabbed me from the very beginning and I couldn't put it down until I was done. As I followed Clay's journey of discovering who he really was, I found it to be thought provoking and challenging at times. The pressure that was put on him since he was a child is not something everyone experiences in their childhood. We get a little look at how child stars are pressured to do more than their best and still not get the feeling that they're good enough. I can't even imagine how it must feel to not get the chance to decide who you want to be in life, or to have a sense of who you are and how precious you are in the eyes of God. I really enjoyed reading Cliff Falls and highly recommend it. Oh and just a warning, there is cussing, but only about 3 or 4 times in the whole book. I didn't really mind it though. C.B. Shiepe is a very talented author and I'll definitely be looking out for more of his work.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

You can get your copy at Clifffalls.com

(This book was provided for review by The Ooze Viral Bloggers.)

God's Promises for Women of Faith

God's Promises for Women of Faith. Jack Countryman. Thomas Nelson.
September 2010. Hardcover. 207 pages.

God's Promises for Women of Faith is a beautiful little Scripture reference book. The cover alone is enough to get your attention, but the collection of verses inside are wonderful reminders of the promises from God that we tend to forget. The book is separated into 12 sections and each section is broken down into topics such as: God Encourages Each Woman to... Cherish being a friend, Give to others with grace, Live a life of service, etc. You can quickly look through the index and find the specific topic you're looking for and go to two or more pages full of verses that relate to it. This book is filled with relevant subjects that women today can relate to, whether they have doubts, worries, questions, or just need to be encouraged, this book is the perfect resource. There are also three pages at the end dedicated for readers to write down their favorite verses and prayer requests. 

This book would make a perfect gift for any sister, daughter, mother, or girl friend. It would also be a great addition to your daily devotional time. I liked how the last topic covered is God's Plan of Salvation, so this would be especially handy when you're trying to talk to someone about Salvation and living for God. I can't get over how pretty the cover is, it adds the cutest feminine touch to the book. It's small enough to carry in your purse and have ready for whenever you or a friend needs encouragement or a reminder of the many promises we have from God.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To Read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference

Outlive Your Life. Max Lucado. Thomas Nelson. September 2010.
Hardcover. 240 pages.

Max Lucado's, Outlive Your Life, is both challenging and inspiring, urging us to reconsider our role in this world. The entire message of this book is centered around the book of Acts. The people of the early church are used as an example of how God can use ordinary people to do great things for His glory. There are several topics covered like, stepping out of our comfort zone, hospitality, persecution, and prayer. I love Lucado's way of turning bible stories into modern day scenes that we can relate to. I see this book as a challenge for believers to step out of our "shell" and help the hurting, broken-hearted, and needy and point them toward Christ. We can make a difference in this hurting world, it's just a matter of whether or not we're willing to get up and reach out to those in need.

Lucado has been one of my favorite authors for a few years now. His writing style has it's way of drawing you in and keeping you engaged. I kind of felt like I've read some of the material in this book already, but it was still a good reminder of the way we should be reaching out to others. We are given practical ways that we can begin to make a difference in the world, starting with our own neighbors. Something we also need to remember is not to do things to get recognition for ourselves. We need to always point to the one who has given us the resources and ability to help others, and that's our Heavenly Father. He deserves all the credit and glory. One thing I love is that 100% of the proceeds the author gets from this book will benefit children and families through World Vision. This was a quick, easy read, but since there wasn't anything new for me, I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Francis and His Barnyard Friends

Francis and His Barnyard Friends. Tamika Rhodes. Dorrance Publishing Co. 
October 2005. Paperback. 30 pages.

From the publisher:
Getting along isn’t always easy. Sometimes we might start to feel a little annoyed by those we spend our time with. That’s understandable – but make sure that’s all it is, and don’t let your differences drive you apart.

Sunnybrook Farm is bustling with animal activity, but it is also the scene of some unhappy friendships. Francis, a calm and fair Saint Bernard, must keep the peace between Mother Hen and the other animals. Mother Hen decides that the farm animals – the chicks, pigs, cows, sheep, and others – cannot be mixing with one another. It’s up to Francis to show her the error of her ways – and the harm that can be done with such a mindset.

Francis and His Barnyard Friends is an enlightening story that will teach young readers the importance of cultural diversity and the value of friendship.

My Review:
I got this book yesterday and immediately read it to my niece. Even though the pictures are in black and white, she still enjoyed it. Francis the saint bernard was her favorite character and she was rooting for all the animals to be friends again. I like that the story teaches kids that we should accept others as they are, because differences are a good thing. Kids will not only get a few minutes of entertainment when reading this, they will also get a good lesson on accepting others just the way they are. The only thing I was irritated by is the way the pictures were placed. It was a little confusing when the picture you're looking at is of the scene you just read about on the previous page. Other than that, I'd say the rest of the book was okay. Recommended for kids ages 5-8.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Dorrance Publishing Co.)

And the winner is...

I entered everyone's name in the list randomizer at random.org and here's what came up.

There were 5 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

1. Orangeheromama
2. Dianne
3. Puppetmaster
4. Jocelyn
5. Caroline
Timestamp: 2010-09-21 15:46:42 UTC

Congratulations, Christy(orangeheromama)!

The winner has been sent an email and will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing info and desired T-shirt size or a new winner will be chosen. The shirt will be sent directly from the publisher, so I am not responsible for lost or damaged items.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for allowing me to host this awesome giveaway on my blog. And thank you to all who entered!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids

Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids. Sarah Young. Tommy Nelson.
October 2010. Hardcover. 

Sarah Young's, Jesus Calling, was a big hit with me and my mom. I love when the devotion for the day is exactly what I needed at that very moment. I was super excited when I saw that it's now available in an adorable kids version. Isn't the cover cute?!? Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids, is written as if Jesus were speaking directly to your child in a language and writing style that they can easily understand and relate to. Not only is there a verse at the beginning of each devotion, but there is also a little "Read on your own" box at the bottom of each page. In this box there are a few scripture references that get kids right back into God's Word. The Scripture verses were taken from the ICB, CEV, and NLT bibles. The suggested ages for this devotion is 4-8, but I'd say 7-12 is a better age range for it. This is another great resource for kids that will not only speak words of truth and encouragement into their heart, but also help them grow in their relationship with Jesus. This one, I highly recommend.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Love, Charleston

Love, Charleston. Beth Webb Hart. Thomas Nelson. August 2010.
Paperback. 320 pages.

Love, Charleston is set in the historical town of Charleston, SC. This story is centered around four main characters: Roy, Anne, Alisha, and Della. 

Roy Summerall is a widowed minister of a small country church and father of young daughter, Rose. When he is sent to be the new pastor of a larger church in Charleston, he feels very much out of place but remains obedient to God's calling. Anne is a bell ringer who loves her job. She's also single and ready to find love, but when she hears a message from God to "stay and wait" she stays right where she is, hoping she heard right. Anne's sister, Alisha, has what people would consider a perfect life and family. She's a doctor along with her husband, Drew. They have two kids and one on the way, but their picture perfect life begins to go downhill when she goes through postpartum depression after giving birth to her baby girl. Della is jealous of Alisha's ability to provide a comfortable life for her family. She's tired of living paycheck to paycheck and not being able to give her daughter a better life. When she runs into her former fiancé who is now a doctor, she begins to wonder if she made a mistake by marrying her unemployed husband, Peter.

This story is about family, faith, and following God's plan for our lives. It may not be one of my favorite books, but I still enjoyed it. The struggles the characters went through were very realistic and I'm sure readers could relate to them in one way or another. Struggles like depression, divorce, insecurities, and debt are relevant to what many women face these days. The author's character descriptions made it so easy to envision how each of them might look and the most memorable was Roy's mother. You'd have to read the book to understand why she's so memorable even though she's not a main character. I would have liked to read more about Anne, especially because the book description made it seem like she'd be the main focus along with Roy. If there were going to be a sequel, I think I'd take the time to read it and get to know the characters a bit more. So, if you like contemporary fiction with a hint of romance, then you might enjoy Love, Charleston

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Immanuel's Veins (review + giveaway)

Immanuel's Veins. Ted Dekker. Thomas Nelson. September 2010.
Hardcover. 384 pages.

Book Description:
This story is for everyone--but not everyone is for this story.

It is a dangerous tale of times past. A love story full of deep seduction. A story of terrible longing and bold sacrifice. Then as now, evil begins its courtship cloaked in light. And the heart embraces what it should flee. Forgetting it once had a truer lover. With a kiss, evil will ravage body, soul, and mind. Yet there remains hope, because the heart knows no bounds. Love will prove greater than lust. Sacrifice will overcome seduction. And blood will flow. Because the battle for the heart is always violently opposed. For those desperate to drink deep from this fountain of life, enter.

But remember, not everyone is for this story.

My Review:
This is the first book by Ted Dekker that I've read, so obviously I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Immanuel's Veins. I honestly had an open mind when coming to this book and I tried so hard to find something about it that I really liked, but I felt no connection with the characters and it was a bit too dark for me. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. It's one of those pulse pounding, mystical, suspense novels and I'm not really into those. I completely understand what the authors point is with this story, but in the end, it was just an okay read. Of course, everyone has their own tastes, preferences, and styles and there are a lot of people that are into vampires and dark stories, so I'm sure they'd like Immanuel's Veins. I'd say it's a good Christian alternative to Twilight and all those other popular vampire stories. 

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

* * * * * * *

The publisher also asked me to answer this question: What is sacrificial love?
In my opinion, sacrificial love is the willingness to sacrifice your own wants, desires, and needs for the one or ones you love. Of course, the ultimate demonstration of sacrificial love is what Jesus did on the cross for our sins. Nothing could ever compare to the unconditional love Jesus showed when He gave all of Himself for us. I don't even have the words to describe the gratitude I have toward my Saviour. All I can do in return is live my life fully for Him.


T-Shirt Giveaway!!
I received a "Spread the Love" t-shirt as a gift for reviewing this book and Thomas Nelson Publishers is allowing me to give one away on my blog. All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment. I will be using Random.org to choose the lucky winner. See more details below.


Giveaway Details:
To enter for a chance to win this t-shirt just leave a comment on this post.
-North American shipping addresses only please.
-Leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. Remember to disguise it like this: reading1atatime(at)yahoo(dot)(com)
-Contest is open until September 20, 2010 at 11:59 PST. Any comments left after will not count.
-The winner will be announced on September 21, 2010 and will be contacted via email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or another name will be drawn.
-The winner will need to provide me with their desired shirt size, which will be shipped by the publisher.

The Boy Who Changed The World

The Boy Who Changed the World. Andy Andrews. Thomas Nelson.
August 2010. Hardcover. 40 pages. 

The Boy Who Changed the World, is Andy Andrews' first children's book. This is the kids version of his new gift book, The Butterfly Effect. The vibrant colors and beautiful pictures alone are enough to draw kids attention and keep it throughout the story. Andrews starts with the story of Norman Borlaug, the young boy who grew up to create a super seed that has fed over 2 billion people around the world. As the story progresses, we are introduced to 3 other boys whose actions eventually affected Normans ability and desire to create the seed. Kids get a small look into history and they're able to read about how one boys actions helped change the world in a great way.

When reading this to my niece, she was really only interested in the bright pictures and counting the butterflies. The suggested age range for this book is 4-8, but the story jumps from one person to another so they could easily become confused with it. I think kids ages 8-12 would probably understand it a bit more. Andy Andrews is a wonderful author and I truly believe that he meant well with this story. I like that it tells kids that they can do big things in this world and that their actions affect others around them. I just don't like that the credit wasn't given to God for the achievements of all these men. It basically tells them that, in their own ability, they are able to change the world. God is not mentioned as the One with the power to do great things through us for His glory. I feel that this is what the book is lacking. Kids aren't pointed back to God and the fact that it is ultimately His plan that we should pursue. 

My Rating: 2/5 stars

To buy this from the publishers click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Beaver Kid's Adventures

The Beaver Kid's Adventures. Elena Dobrina. 
Dorrance Publishing. October 2007. Paperback. 120 pages. Ages 9-12.

As I've mentioned before, my niece loves animals, so I try to request books from Dorrance Publishing Co. that have something to do with them. This story is about the "Beaver Kid" and the many adventures he's had in his young life. He's experienced many things, from a flood that swept him away from home, a run-in with poachers, learning to adjust to new surroundings, making new friends, and a whole lot more. There are 26 short chapters and each include a beautiful and colorful illustration of the scene. The author did a great job with the illustrations.

Another reason why I requested this book is because I wanted to know why a children's chapter book would cost $88. I've never seen any book, other than college text books, cost that much. Anyway, back to the review. Since this is a chapter book and my niece is only 4, she was only interested in the pictures. I think animal loving kids that can read on their own would enjoy this book to some degree. Here's why I say that. There were a few times when the sentences seemed to go on and on and became confusing. The authors use of large words like adjacent, auxiliary, dormitories, fulvous and peaceableness might cause kids to lose interest or become discouraged and not want to go on because they don't understand. The characters and story were cute and interesting, but I think a little more simplicity would have been fine.

My Rating: 3/5

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Dorrance Publishing.)

The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters

The Butterfly Effect. Andy Andrews. Thomas Nelson. August 2010.
Hardcover. 112 pages.

"Everything you do matters TO ALL OF US FOREVER."

I recently named Andy Andrews one of my favorite authors after I read The Heart Mender. I was so excited when I got the chance to read The Butterfly Effect, which is his #1 most requested story. Andrews starts the book off by sharing the story of Edward Lorenz and his hypothesis that a butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving other molecules of air - eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet. He then goes on sharing the stories of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Norman Borlaug. Readers see just how much of an impact their actions can have on others around the world, not only today, but in the years to come. 

This is a short gift book that can be read in about 15 minutes or so. I enjoyed reading about these ordinary men that made a big difference in the world, but in the end I felt that it was lacking something. Mention of God maybe? YES! On one part it says, "You have been created in order that you might make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world." That was a perfect opportunity to add, You have been created in order that you might make a difference for the glory of God or God has the power to fulfill His purpose through you. Yes, our life and the things we do and say matter, but it is ultimately for a higher purpose, one that God has already chosen for us. Apart from God, we can do nothing. I don't think I would recommend this book to friends and family, not because it's not good, but because it doesn't have a biblical foundation. I wish I could say that I liked it, but I just can't.

My Rating: 2/5

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A short update on what's been going on

Hey guys! I know I haven't been posting a whole lot, but I've been really busy taking care of my niece and trying to find a job. Times are tough these days, but I'm trusting that God will provide and I know the job I get will be hand picked by Him. Oh! My niece is starting pre-school next Tuesday!! I can't believe how fast four years have gone by... She's so smart too! She's been spelling and she knows how to add and subtract already. I thank God every day for bringing that precious little girl into our lives. OK, now back to what I was going to tell you. I have about 5 book reviews that I'll be posting up within the next two weeks so look out for those. I'll also be doing a shirt giveaway, but that info won't be posted until the 13th. I hope everyone's had an awesome summer. Let's get ready for fall and all the great things God has in store for us!

Happy Reading!
-Crystal

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Claim (The Homeward Trilogy - Book 3)

Claim. Lisa T. Bergren. David C. Cook. June 2010.
Paperback. 400 pages.

Nic's reunion with his sisters, Odessa and Moira, is closer than ever, but first he needs to get back on his feet. Now penniless and ashamed about what he's let his life come to, he wants to get back to them better off than he is now. While working on one of the many jobs he's taken up, he met Peter Vaughn. He owned a mine and was looking for an extra set of hands to help him out. Dominic wasn't completely on board, but he was willing to think it over. When he decided to head over to the Vaughn claim to speak with Peter, he got news from his son, Everett, that he was shot and killed. Nic unexpectedly became the child's guardian and owner of a very valuable mine. He also found himself falling for, Sabine, the local school teacher. With all this responsibility being thrown on his shoulders, he finally begins to turn to God and trust Him with his life and everyone in it.

Moira is now living with Odessa and Bryce on their ranch. Pregnant and still recovering from the horrible accident that left her scarred for life, she doesn't feel worthy of Daniel's love. With Odessa's help, she begins to rediscover her gifts from God and tries to accept the hand she's been dealt in life. Daniel is also struggling with a past incident and he can't bring himself to tell Moira everything. Will it cost him the love of his life? Will they be able to leave the past behind them and move forward?

This is my absolute favorite out of the three in the series! I was sad when I was at the last few chapters because I felt like I was losing a friend that I had just gotten to know. There was just enough action, suspense, romance, and adventure to keep you reading and entertained. My favorite scenes were in the mine. Wow! I can't believe how much I enjoyed it. The characters all went through a lot of trials, but God brought them through and they eventually found healing, forgiveness, and love. I really enjoyed reading these books and am very pleased with the way the story ended for the St. Clairs. Each book could be read as a stand alone, but it'd be best if you read them all so there's no confusion and you can enjoy the series in it's entirety. What an amazing ending to this awesome trilogy! 

My Rating: 5/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

*Special thanks to Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.*

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sing (The Homeward Trilogy - Book 2)

Sing. Lisa T. Bergren. David C. Cook. April 2010.
Paperback. 384 pages.

It's four years later and Moira St. Clair is now living in Paris. She's finally living out her dream and is a very well known opera singer. When she discovers that her manager, Max Foster, has emptied her bank account and left her with nothing, she decides to leave and head back to America. While on the ship she meets Gavin Knapp and Daniel Adams. Both are attractive and seem to take interest in her. Daniel is more reserved and seems to be hiding something about himself. Gavin saw a very talented women in Moira and believed he could make her famous again. When he became her new manager she began to fall in love with him, but still had Daniel at the back of her mind. She made some foolish decisions and struggles to figure out how she'll handle the situation she found herself in.

Nic is now a boxer in Rio De Janeiro. One night when he loses a fight, he's shanghaied and forced to work off his debt by an angry ship captain. During a storm, they are shipwrecked and Nic tries to find his way back to America. He boards another ship as a crew member and is taunted by some of the other men aboard. He learns the hard way that he needs to control his temper, and a very wise man, Manuel, tries to help him see his need for God.

Back on their Colorado ranch, Odessa, Bryce, and their baby boy, Samuel, have just faced a harsh winter and lost over 50 of their prized horses. Their finances in months to come aren't the only thing they have to worry about. An old enemy comes back to claim what he feels it rightfully his and continues to seek revenge on the St. Clair siblings for getting him sent to jail. The devastation seems too hard to face, but their faith in God remains strong through it all. In the midst of pain, loss, and trials, the St. Clairs see the power of forgiveness and God's grace.

This was another great story by author, Lisa Bergren. This book would be fine as a stand alone, but I recommend you read Breathe first. I think for some, it might be a little confusing when the story jumps from one character to the other. I love how the journey each of the siblings take ultimately leads them to a God of love. They see how powerful His forgiveness is and what an important aspect it is in their lives. I had a hard time putting it down when I was close to the end of it. I really liked that the characters faith and relationship with God was mentioned a lot more in this book and you see how it grows throughout the story. Adventure, romance, mystery, and very realistic struggles fill the pages of this book and it turned out to be another enjoyable read. Now I'm moving on to Book 3, Claim.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

*Special thanks to Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.*

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Summer Giveaway!

An awesome Summer 2010 giveaway is going on at the David C. Cook Fiction blog. There are FIVE great titles up for grabs. You can also get a sneak peek of each book because they let you read the first chapter! All entries must be received by August 31, 2010.  So what are you still doing here?! Hurry up and enter!!

Happy Reading!
-Crystal

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Breathe (The Homeward Trilogy - Book 1)

Breathe. Lisa T. Bergren. David C. Cook. June 2009. 
Paperback. 416 pages. 

When Odessa St. Clair is on the brink of death from consumption(Tuberculosis), her father, having recently lost his wife and four young sons, feared that he would lose another child, so he decided to send her off to Colorado. Odessa and her two sibling, Nic(Dominic) and Moira, traveled from Philadelphia to one of the best sanatoriums in hopes that they would be able to cure her. After arriving to the sanatorium Odessa begins to make progress. She meets two other patients, Sam O'Toole and Bryce McAllen. Sam owns a Silver Mine in the area, and Bryce is a rancher. One night Odessa overhears a noise in Sam's room. She heads over to see what happened and sees that he was murdered. When she receives a poem he left her, she has a feeling it leads to his hidden mine. She begins to fear for her life when it becomes more evident that people in that town will do whatever it takes to find that mine. 

Meanwhile, Nic and Moira are trying to adjust to their new life. Moira is a talented young singer and has always dreamed of being in an Opera. She becomes involved with the town Sheriff, Reid Bannock, but that turns out to be a big mistake. Nic is expanding his fathers publishing empire, but really has no interest in continuing the company. He wants to break free from it and continues to let his anger and frustration take over. He goes from fist fights on the streets to boxing in the ring. Little did the St. Clair siblings know what they were in for when they first arrived in Colorado Springs. Can they overcome the battles that surround them?

Honestly, I wouldn't normally choose to read a book in this genre because I thought I'd eventually get bored. The beginning was a bit slow for me and I sort of lost interest, but it picked up toward the middle and kept my attention. This Western/Romance/Mystery novel kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat. I love that there was mystery and the added suspense toward the end made it even better. At one point I thought I had it all figured out, but the ending really surprised me. I think that's what really makes a story great, when the reader is caught by surprise and the plots twists and turns keep you guessing. The romance is clean and the fighting scenes are pretty much rated G, so anyone could enjoy it. This is a well written novel that I'd definitely recommend. I'm looking forward to getting to know these characters a bit more as I move on to the next book in the trilogy, Sing.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

You can read the first chapter HERE
To buy this from the publisher click HERE

*Special thanks to Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.*

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Forgotten: Seventeen and Homeless

Forgotten: Seventeen and Homeless. Melody Carlson. Navpress.
 August 2010. Paperback. 208 pages.

All of her life seventeen-year-old, Adele, has had it pretty rough. When things start to turn around for her and her mom she feels like she'll finally have a normal life. When she began to attend a new school she quickly made new friends and loved that they knew nothing about her life before them. Her life was changing. She had lots of friends, a much better place to live, and a little more money for better clothes. She even thought her mom was going to actually do good at her new job. It all seemed too good to be true and unfortunately it was all about to end soon. 

When Adele's mom leaves her to fend for herself, she gets a new job to have at least a little money at hand. She soon gets evicted from her apartment and ends up living in an old van she nicknames, "Darth Vader." She keeps her circumstance to herself and does everything possible, including a lot of lying, to keep her wealthy friends from finding out. When everyone finds out about her being homeless, how will she deal with the embarrassment, rejection, and loneliness?

Forgotten is the first book in the Secrets series by Melody Carlson. I began reading it before I went to bed and quickly realized that that was a big mistake. I couldn't put it down and I wanted to see what happened next so bad! Even though I felt glued to this book, I still have mixed feelings about it. The story was predictable at times, and I felt like it ended too quickly. I wanted to see what happened to the mom and friends after Adele started to get her life in order.  I think I expected a little more from this story, but it was still a good read. This book is for teen readers and I really liked that it's a clean story with nothing inappropriate. I'm actually looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Navpress Publishers.)

The Homecoming: A Novel

The Homecoming. Dan Walsh. Revell. June 2010.
Paperback. 310 pages.


The Homecoming is the sequel to Dan Walsh's, The Unfinished Gift. This story starts where the previous left off.

This story is set in the 1940's during WWII. Shawn Collins, a fighter pilot, is returning home a war hero. Unfortunately, the reason he's heading home is to grieve over the tragic death of his wife, Elizabeth. He was ready to stay home and take care of his little boy, Patrick, but the military had other plans for him. They were sending him off to be a speaker for a war bond tour. Shawn really just wanted to be with his son during that hard time, but he had no choice. He knew his father, Ian, was too old to fully care for Patrick, so he goes to Katherine for help.

Katherine Townsend, a young social worker that helped place Patrick with his grandfather after his mother's death, was delighted when Shawn asked her to be Patrick's nanny while he was gone. She loved that little boy as if he were her own. She missed him so much and was excited about seeing him again. Katherine also finds herself falling in love with Shawn, and he struggles with these feelings he's having for her too. He just can't get over the guilt of his wife's death and asks to keep everything professional between them. Will he be able to love again?

The Homecoming is a sweet love story. Although I haven't had a chance to read The Unfinished Gift, I was able to go along with the story just fine. It had my full attention from the beginning all the way through to the end. The vivid descriptions had me envisioning the scenes being played out as I read along. My favorite part is the action packed scenes on the aerial battlefield as Shawn fought hard to get away from enemy fighters. Dan Walsh is a very talented writer. He brought the time period, characters, and story to life. You really need to have tissue handy when reading this book. It's an emotional, heartwarming, fast paced story full of adventure, love, drama, family, and forgiveness. This beautifully written historical, romance novel is a must read! I'm definitely going to grab a copy of the first book now.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was not provided for review purposes. I won it in a blog giveaway.)
 
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