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.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

1 Year Blogoversary!!


I can't believe it's already been a whole year since I started this blog. Time has gone by so fast and I've had lots of fun along the way. As you can see in my first post, I was very excited to become a part of the blogging world. I had no idea what was in store for me, and now I can't wait to have another great year. I want to thank all of the wonderful Publishers that have given me the opportunity to read their books and I'd also like to thank my readers, you're all awesome!

Now, time to announce the winner of the giveaway!! I entered everyone's name in the list on Random.org and here's what came up.

There were 7 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

1. Paula
2. Samantha
3. Melanie
4. Jenny
5. L
6. Laurie
7. Rob

Timestamp: 2010-08-10 17:47:58 UTC

Congratulations, Paula, you're the lucky winner!!!

I sent her an email and she has 48 hours to respond. If she doesn't reply within that time frame, a new winner will be chosen.

Thank you to everyone that entered. You'll have another chance to win in the next giveaway I'll be having very soon.

Happy Reading!
-Crystal

Monday, August 9, 2010

*Giveaway Reminder*

Tomorrow marks my 1 year blogoversary! I'm super excited about drawing the name of the giveaway winner. If you entered already, that's great! If you haven't, you still have about 7 hours to do so. Come back tomorrow to see if your name was drawn. 

Happy Reading!
-Crystal

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I wanted to share this with you



This song is called Hero and the band that sings it is, Abandon. I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it, which was about a year ago. I get chills every time I hear it. Please listen to the whole thing. It really is a beautiful song. I hope you enjoy! :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

100 Prayers God Loves to Hear, 100 Praise Songs

100 Prayers God Loves to Hear, 100 Praise Songs. Stephen Elkins. Tommy Nelson. August 2010. Hardcover. 208 pages. Reading Level ages 4-8.

When I requested this book from booksneeze, I thought is would be filled with little prayers, but it's actually more like a devotional for kids. It's full of colorful illustrations that keep kids attention and the Cd's that are included are packed with 100 songs. Each topic is laid out on a two-page spread, with a short story, verse, and a little "prayer reminder" that is actually a quote from someone famous. Each page is also labeled with the CD number and track number that goes along with the topic of the prayer. The songs are fun and upbeat and kids can easily learn and memorize them. 

My niece really enjoyed this book. The first thing she wanted to do is look through the whole thing and see every picture. The songs were also a big hit with her. I love finding books, Cd's, and DVDs that will help her develop a relationship with God and have lots of fun along the way. She's 4 years old and I would say that the target audience is pre-schoolers, kindergartners, and kids in lower elementary grades. I highly recommend this adorable little book of prayers and praises.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

This book will be available for purchase on August 17, 2010. Be sure and grab a copy!

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

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

Unburdened

Unburdened: The Secret to Letting God Carry the Things that Weigh You Down. Chris Tiegreen. SaltRiver. July 2010. Softcover. 240 pages.

Unburdened deals with a subject that many Christians are very familiar with, including me. Burdens that weigh so heavy on our shoulders, that they can eventually break us down. Fear, anxiety, stress, and worry can quickly fill our minds when we don't fully lay down our burdens before God. Heavy weights like finances, health concerns, responsibilities, regrets, and relationship problems are the kind of things we tend to hold on to and try to deal with ourselves, in our own strength. This book is great in reminding us of how God wants us to live our lives, fully depending on Him. When we turn all of our worries, fears, and stress over to God, that is when we are really trusting Him and living an unburdened life.

"There's a difference between the kind of burden God places on a person's shoulders to carry in His strength and the burden that overwhelms and crushes a person's spirit, miring him or her in futility." pg 11.

With personal stories, and lots of scripture, the author engages the readers with his conversational style writing and great points that make you think about the things that might be holding you down. This is not a "how to" book that shows us how to make all our worries disappear. This book is helpful in showing us what the root to our problems are and how we can start trusting God to carry the things that He never intended for us to carry in the first place.There are a lot of things in this book that I feel I can easily apply to my own life. Through Praise, Worship, Prayer, and Trust, we can begin to give God the things that weigh us down. Overall, this book was great and I really enjoyed it. It was very encouraging and I definitely recommend it.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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