Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sing by Lisa T. Bergren

Hello everyone! It's been awhile, I know. School... it just gets in the way. :p  I was finally able to finish the second book in Lisa T. Bergren's Homeward Trilogy Series, Sing.  Let's get to the review!!

From Barnes and Noble:
Sing (Homeward Trilogy Series)Overview:
Moira St. Clair has done exactly what her father forbade her to do: chased her dreams to sing on the stage. But even as her star rises, she becomes more vulnerable to those who wish to use her—or bring her down….

It is 1886, and the St. Clairs are living out their dreams in three very separate parts of the world—Paris, Brazil and Colorado. And while each has found a measure of success and joy, each is haunted by past sins and secrets.Once home in Colorado, the St. Clairs struggle to learn what it means to sing praise to God—even in the face of tremendous loss—and trust Him in all things, even when forced to fight for their very lives.

My Review:  This book was hard for me to get in to.  I found Moira to be self-centered, selfish, and immature.  I was also VERY disappointed at the choices she made in this book.  However, I took a step back for a minute and really focused on the message of Moira's story.  Aren't we all a bit selfish, immature, and self-centered sometimes? Who was I to judge (yes, judge a fictional character) Moira when I myself have been guilty of the same traits? After I came to that realization, I was able to get into the story more.  Moira made some bad choices. She, like everyone else, thought God was no longer interested in her and wouldn't want anything to do with her. How wrong was she!  Even after all she had done, God whispers to her "I AM grace." That gave me chills! I AM GRACE. Those three simple words. God wants us to realize that HE is grace and we need to sing praises to him and trust in him no matter what comes our way! Isn't it great to know there is one bigger than us to help us and to lean on in our lives?

It was nice to visit with Odessa and Bryce and Dominic again as well.  Odessa and Bryce face their share of problems in this book too, but Odessa faithfully reminds Bryce that God gives us life. This passage struck me enough to want to quote it for you: "But it is God that grants us life. We must praise Him, Bryce. Even when it's hard. Even when all seems dark. We must remember what is good, what is true, rather than believe fears and half-truths. That is how we cope with the day. That is how we keep living our lives the way He would have us live them, embracing them rather than just surviving them." Each character struggles to grasp the meaning of rejoicing and singing in the Lord's grace and mercy.  Each character continues to grow, and we get to watch all three of them evolve into the men and women the Lord is shaping them to be. Lisa T. Bergren provided another excellent book with well thought-out plots, intriguing characters, and enough action to not make it boring.  

Upcoming review:  Claim (Homeward Trilogy #3)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Breathe by Lisa T. Bergren

Howdy folks! Boy, has it been an interesting week here. We had a huge storm come in on Thursday evening (when I first intended to post this blog) that knocked out my Internet. Friday, it was time to do my homework I had been putting off all week (boo!). So, now that I've finished my homework for the week, it's finally time to sit down and write this review! I've also been researching on Google+ and gotten some very good ideas to implement on my blog. So here it goes!!

This week's book is called Breathe by Lisa T. Bergren. I have not read any of her books previously, but downloaded the second book in the trilogy, Sing. Now, if you're like me at all, you can't just jump into book 2 of a series when you KNOW it's not the first one! So, I did my research and downloaded the whole trilogy (so look for review #2 within the next week!).

From Barnes and Noble:

Breathe (Homeward Trilogy Series)Overview

Devastated by the loss of four sons to tuberculosis and his wife in childbirth, a Philadelphia patriarch sends his three living children west in 1883 to make a new life in the clean mountain air of Colorado Springs. Odessa is struggling to survive consumption; Moira is beautiful and dangerously headstrong; and pugnacious Dominic is charged with establishing a new arm of the family business-a business he doesn't want. Readers will love The Homeward Trilogy, in which the St. Clair siblings struggle to follow where the heavenly Father leads them. In Breathe, Odessa arrives at a famous sanitarium seeking a cure for the disease that killed her brothers. While Moira and Nic establish themselves in Colorado Springs society, Dessa inches her way back to health . . . and into love with a soft spoken fellow patient, rancher Bryce McAllan. When she witnesses a murder-in the very hospital where she is recuperating-and other patients begin to die, Dessa struggles to breathe again. She'd always expected to die young, but now that she has a reason to live, can she hold on to her fragile health to solve the mystery?

My Review:  This book is fantastic. It has it all. Love. Mystery. A touch of Christianity. It's the story of three siblings, told from all three points of view. I thought I might find this distracting, but I didn't. It actually added to the story and made you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens!  When Odessa arrives in Colorado Springs, you're thinking, WE JUST MET THIS CHARACTER! IT CAN'T END ALREADY! And you're glad when it doesn't. The mystery is intriguing, the love story is sweet and subtle, the bond between the siblings is one I can relate to (having a sister of my own). I love how they affectionately call each other "sissy" and "brother." The Christian undertone of the book cannot be denied, but it's not overwhelming in any sense, and I related to each characters struggle to accept that God wants us to live, to breathe, and to accept his creations and his path for our lives, come what may. I loved the ending and am eager to finish the second book as well. The book is well written, the characters are just beginning to grow (as all three books will feature points of view from all three siblings) but are already lovable and I'm rooting for them. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I hope you do too!

Upcoming Review: Sing (Homeward Trilogy Series, #2)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Girl in the Gatehouse

I am such a nerd. I finished a book on Thursday evening, and decided to re-read a book that I've not yet reviewed, and finished it LAST NIGHT! I was up until 3 am! Yes, I''m a little crazy... :)

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen is a wonderful book about God's forgiving grace and learning to not only accept that grace and mercy, but to forgive yourself as well. I love this author and I've read several of her books (though this is only the second review I've written for her, which I intend to fix!).  She always writes about issues that were not commonly written about back in that time period. Her characters are so real and relatable. The plots are interesting and captivating. She is just a great author!

This book introduces us to Miss Mariah Aubrey and Captain Matthew Bryant. Miss Aubrey has "fallen" from society and her father decides to hide her away so her shame will not ruin their family. She goes to live with her aunt at Windrush Court in the gatehouse. Mariah is a lovely heroine. She acknowledges her mistake and lives with the consequences. She is ashamed of herself, and like most of us when we sin, believes she has fallen so far even God couldn't want her still.

Captain Matthew Bryant has been trying to prove himself worthy of a certain "lady's" love and affection for the past four years. He is strong willed and determined, to a fault. He is also a very relatable character because his pride is what keeps him from acknowledging his growing feelings for Mariah, and then keeps him from realizing his mistakes (for a while anyways). Don't we all struggle with prideful ways? I know I do sometimes!

The character development in the book is believable and fantastic. I love seeing the slow transformation in each character as those around them teach them to accept the gift of God's forgiveness and to learn to forgive themselves in the process. Throw in a little mystery and some romance, and this book moved to one of my favorites!

I highly recommend this book, and I hope you all enjoy it too! :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bees in the Butterfly Garden

Hello friends! I hope this beautiful Friday finds you well. I have been in a bit of a reading "funk" lately. I did manage to find this little gem of a book out of the not so exciting books I've read recently, though.

Bees in the Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang was a pretty good book. The plot of the story was good, although I would have liked for a little more action. What I like the most about this book was the message. This story teaches you about God's mercy and grace in a way I've never read it before. It was very enlightening.

Meg Davenport has been sheltered away at Madame Marisse's school for girls her entire life and resented her father for it. So when news of his untimely death comes to her, she isn't all that sad. In fact, it makes her more determined than ever to leave the school. Little did she know what she would find out about her past and how it would change her life forever...

Ian Maguire loved John Davenport like a father. He also loves "Meggie" but knows he can never have her because of the life he chose. He's a thief after all. So when Meg offers up the biggest heist of his career, he is very conflicted... does he protect the one he loves from the one thing that would most certainly ruin her chances, or does he help her to do what she's suggesting and be the stumbling block?

I'll start by stating this: Claire Pemberton and the entire Pemberton family are a rare family to read about in fiction books like this. They exude their faith and live it "out loud" in high society; that is not often heard of. It is Claire's explanation of the difference between mercy and grace that touched me the most. "Mercy," she says, "is being spared the deserved punishment... Grace is more than mercy. It's a gift, completely undeserved. Like heaven." That is so true! None of us deserve God's mercy and grace. He willingly sent His son to pay the price, so that we can accept a gift none of us deserve, HEAVEN! This is why this story caught and kept my attention. The evidence of God's mercy and grace are shown in several ways throughout the story and it amazed me each time. I would have questioned several of the times mercy and grace were shown, and the characters in the book didn't even hesitate to offer it, just like God doesn't hesitate to offer us his love and mercy.

If you're looking for a fast paced, exciting tale, this is probably not the story you would want to choose. If you are looking for a well written Christian book about God's love, mercy, and grace then you've found it. I recommend everyone at least read it once!