Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Claim: A Novel of Colorado by Lisa T. Bergren

Wow! Claim: A Novel of Colorado by Lisa T. Bergren was a fantastic ending to The Homeward Trilogy. The book moved quickly, and the two main story lines kept you hanging on until the end. This book gives readers a good dose of adventure, romance, and suspense. I enjoyed seeing characters from the first two novels in the series, and at the same time liked the new characters introduced. (I would highly recommend the other two novels in the series if you want to start from the beginning: Breathe and Sing.)

4 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from The B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

No Greater Love by Kathi Macias

No Greater Love by Kathi Macias was a total surprise from beginning to end. I hesitate to tell too much about the plot because I don't want to give anything away. I'll give you just a little taste.

The story takes place in South Africa during the height of apartheid in 1989. Chioma, a "colored" girl, lost her parents to the struggle of apartheid. After losing her brother and a friend at the hands of white men who have no regard for her "kind," she runs away from the life she has working on a white man's farm and joins the rebels fighting for justice. She struggles between her hatred of white people and her fear of the rebels. But more than that, she struggles to reconcile the God of the Bible with the sermons preached by her white boss and the life she has experienced under apartheid.

The author does a great job of evoking a wide range of emotions - anger, fear, despair, hope, joy. I really felt like I was a part of the story, rather than just an outsider looking in. I enjoyed the introduction of new characters throughout the novel, and really related to the young couple who showed up later on. Overall, Kathi did a great job of bringing me in and worked in life lessons throughout. (I also appreciated just how different Chioma is from me. Very eye-opening!)

I look forward to reading the next book in this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James

Love on a Dime is great story about an upper-class family during the Gilded Era. Summering in Newport, Lily is faced with some big decisions … and a few challenges along the way. This is a fun read, and James does a great job of weaving biblical truth into the story without being cheesy. I really enjoyed Love on a Dime and look forward to more from Cara Lynn James.

4 stars (out of 5)

I received this book FREE from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Connect with David Platt!

Connect with David Platt!

Author of Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

David will be answering questions about the book and The Radical Experiment on Facebook.

Where: www.Facebook.com/TheRadicalExperiment

When: Thursday, June 10 at 1:00pm EST

About the Book:

As you read Radical, you'll discover that this is more than just about digesting a book. This is about an idea — an idea that we were created for far more than a nice, comfortable Christian spin on the American dream. An idea that we were created to follow One who demands radical risk and promises radical reward. It's an idea that was first expressed in the simple yet radical words from Jesus to his disciples when he said: Follow me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Heading Home by Renee Riva

In the conclusion of the Indian Island trilogy, A.J. is reunited with Danny when she returns to the island to go to college. As the two friends fall back into old routines, it's impossible to miss the fact that 8 years has passed ... and they're not the kids they were back then. While A.J. has some big decisions to make, Danny recognizes his true feelings for A.J. Together, they work through big decisions about careers, religion, family, and what they mean to each other.

This is a really sweet story. I had not read the first two books in the trilogy but felt I could easily catch up (although I certainly would enjoy the other books!). The book is funny and a great coming-of-age story. A great young adult novel or a quick read for those of us who wish we still were young adults!

4 stars (out of 5)

I received a FREE copy of this book from The B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

Miss Clara Carter is dismayed to learn that she will debut THIS season ... instead of next. Father and Aunt insist that she is to debut and win the heart (and money) of the DeVries heir. Aunt crams years of etiquette lessons into a few short months in order for Clara to be ready for her big debutante tea. As the season continues on, Clara realizes that she must choose between fulfilling her obligations to her family and following her heart and ultimate learn to love herself exactly as she is rather than how society expects her to be.

Siri Mitchell's She Walks in Beauty takes place during the exciting Gilded Age of New York City (1890s) after the Panic of 1873 and before the Crash of 1929. Mitchell describes the life of those living in "high society" ... and those trying to attain a position in high society ... which absolutely fascinated me!

I felt terrible for Clara as everything that she loved (her governess, her educational studies) were taken away and exchanged for the things (etiquette, dancing, corsettes!) that society dictated she learn. Aunt begins teaching her that nearly everything about herself and her appearance will not measure up against the other girls. She becomes lost in this new world ... and it's nearly painful to watch. By the end of the book, I went from thinking how neat and interesting this lifestyle was to feeling sorry for the women who had to endure such ridiculousness!

Mitchell also contrasts the extravagant lifestyles of many in NYC during this time with discussions of extreme poverty (43% of the city!), disgusting tenements where most of the immigrants lived, brutal working conditions and wages of the poor, and the crime and dirty politics that dictated how most business was conducted. It was an interesting, yet disturbing, contrast ... and I'm glad that Mitchell did not leave this aspect of life during this time out.

Ultimately, though, I appreciated the focus on the fact that God made each of us exactly how He intended and with an ultimate purpose for our lives.

I greatly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Siri Mitchell in the future!

5 stars (out of 5)

I received a FREE copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Side Note: I have never been a huge fan of historical fiction. I have enjoyed the last few novels of this genre that I have read. However, I think this book has pushed me over to a true fan of the genre!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews

*** Contest Winner: CONGRATULATIONS to Jill Jones, winner of a copy of The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews! ***

The Heart Mender
by Andy Andrews was one of the most fascinating “fiction” books I have ever read.

Andy—while digging up a tree in his yard—finds buttons, medals, and pictures that he soon learns are from a Nazi soldier during World War II. He begins researching to find out who they belong to and how they could have ended up on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. He begins learning about Helen and Josef, who lived in the area during WWII ...

Helen, recovering from the loss of her husband in the war and her aunt to sickness, lives a fairly solitude life in Orange Beach, AL during World War II. She is lonely and depressed and angry—at God and everyone else. One night while wandering the beach, she finds a man lying in the surf. Once she takes a closer look, she realizes he is a Nazi soldier—who was serving on a German submarine in the Gulf of Mexico. An unlikely … friendship … begins to form between Helen and Josef as she nurses him back to health. As time goes on, Helen realizes the value of forgiveness, letting go, and second chances.

The story is crazy. Hard to believe. Why have I never heard of Nazi submarines actively operating in American waters during the war?! This book is a very emotional one. Andrews writes in such a way that you can’t help but feel what the characters are feeling. You want Helen to win, you want others to get what they deserve, you want everything to be okay in the end.

I spent the first half of the book trying to figure out if the background info was true or not … and the second half trying to figure out if Andy was ever going to solve his “mystery.” It definitely kept me hanging on!

The Author’s Note at the beginning of the book states that all of the background information (dates, numbers, etc.) and most of the people and places are real. Many of the names have been changed ... but it is truly more of a true story than fiction.

This is a fascinating story that more people should know about! I can’t believe that this nugget of history has been covered up for so long. I would highly recommend this book!

5 stars (out of 5)

I receive this book FREE from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Thomas Nelson sent me a second copy of this book. Post a comment below letting me know what you are currently reading and I will randomly select a winner on Tuesday, June 8. (Make sure I have a way to get in touch with you.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr

Ellie is a spinster, forced to live with her cousin and his family who have taken her in only out of obligation. She takes a job cleaning Jackson's house hoping to obtain a reference that will allow her to gain employment somewhere else. What Ellie gets, though, is a proposal for a more permanent arrangement ... to be Jackson's wife and help him raise his two sons.

This is a great story about realizing your value in Christ, forgiveness, and the true meaning of love. It made me reflect on how I react to others and what my true motivation behind certain actions is. This is one of the few historical fiction novels that I've ever read that didn't really focus on the time period (which I liked). The book is well-written and a fairly easy read. Looking forward to seeing what's next from Delia Parr. I really enjoyed this book and I hope you will too.

4 stars (out of 5)

I received a FREE copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.
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