Saturday, October 29, 2011

Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman

From the Publisher

Camilla Fox is alive. The last thing she remembers is being lost in the snow after leaving her home to escape the Mormon faith she no longer calls her own. She’s been taken in by the 5th Infantry Regiment of the US Army and given over to the personal care of Captain Charles Brandon. As she regains her strength, memories of her two children she had to leave behind come flooding back, threatening to break her heart. Camilla is determined to reunite with her daughters. But when news of her father’s grave illness reaches her, she knows she must return to the family farm to reconcile with her father. As spring arrives, Camilla returns to Salt Lake City a changed woman, but nothing could prepare her for the changes to the city, to the Mormon church, and to the family she left behind.

My Take

When I picked Forsaking All Others, I didn’t realize it was #2 in the Sister Wives series.  Thankfully, the way Ms. Pittman started out her book covered what I needed to know. I’d like to go back and read the first book, For Time and Eternity, when I get the time.

I enjoy watching the TLC show “Sister Wives” because it’s such a different lifestyle than what I know so when I saw Forsaking All OthersThe Sister Wives Series, I knew I needed to read it. I didn’t know much about the Mormon doctrine back in the mid-1800’s but the introductory “letter” at the beginning explained it quite well. Ms. Pittman evidently did her researched historical Mormonism and did a great job of communicating it to the reader. She was able to explain without sounding like a school lecture. 

The first couple chapters seemed a little slow to me and I just couldn’t get into the book. However, after I got a few chapters under my belt and became invested in the characters, I couldn’t put it down! I enjoyed the comparison between being a Mormon and being a Christian and their relationships with God. Ms. Pittman’s perspectives and comparisons were very well written and easily understood.

Overall, I would give Forsaking All Others 3.5 stars. I hope the next book in the Sister Wives series comes soon!

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of  Forsaking All Others in exchange for my personal, honest review.

About the Author

Allison Pittman is the author of For Time and Eternity, Stealing Home, the Crossroads of Grace series, and her nonfiction debut, Saturdays With Stella. A high-school English teacher, she serves as director of the theater arts group at her church. She is also the co-president of a dynamic Christian writers group in the San Antonio, Texas area, where she makes her home with her husband and their three boys.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Knit with Love by Lisa Bogart


From the Publisher

Knitting blesses the knitter in so many ways. It affords quiet time, the satisfaction that comes with a challenge met and a project finished, and a creative passion to share with other knitters. As knitting and the fiber arts enjoy a renaissance in popular culture, more and more women are discovering these personal benefits. But knitting also offers knitters a way to bless those around them with handmade gifts that come straight from the heart. The rhythm of knitting brings peace and joy to life. Knitters love to share stories, skills, and even their stashes of elegant yarn. And they love finding new outlets for their talents.

Knitting can't feed the hungry, fight crime, or stop global warming. But a hand-knit sweater warms a cold child. A cozy scarf eases a homeless night. A tiny hat comforts a new baby's head. A lovely prayer shawl wraps a worried patient in peace. Through inspiring stories and gentle encouragement,
Knit with Love reveals the many ways you can, with your own two hands, bring joy and comfort to those around you. 

My Take

“Is your world filled with needs you may overlook while searching for the next big contribution you can make? Do you wonder how to use the talents you have? Maybe it’s time to find new meaning and opportunities in something you’re already eager to do.”Knit With Love, Lisa Bogart

As soon as I read that at the end of Chapter 1, I was hooked. It seems I am one of those people always looking for a way to help someone (or an organization) with my crafts. I’m not a knitter but I think it can be the same feeling with other crafts. I feel I have a talent and want to make others happy with the fruits of that talent. So when I saw this quote, I knew this would be a book I would enjoy.

I love the way Ms Bogart used the stories to motivate and inspire. Each story has encouraging, thought provoking assertion at the end to jump start the reader to search their own heart. You don’t have to be a knitter to use those assertions.

Whether you are a knitter, crocheter, or just a crafter, Knit with Love will be one of those books you’ll want to keep nearby. Take a few minutes each day to read a story, get the inspiration you need, or just to reflect. You won’t be sorry! 

I give Knit with Love 4 stars—the only reason it’s not a 5 is that I sometimes got confused on who was telling the story. I guess it doesn’t really matter but it I just like to know who is “talking”.

“Available October 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book free from Revell as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

About the Author

Lisa Bogart is a knitter, weaver, and scrapbooker with a degree in Fine Arts from Colorado State University. She works at Piedmont Yarn & Apparel in Oakland, California, and belongs to three knitting circles. She lives in California.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hello Hollywood! by Janice Thompson

Great blend of life, romance, and family

From the Publisher

Athena Pappas is the head writer on one of the most popular sitcoms in television history. But when Vegas comedian Stephen Cosse is brought in to beef up the show's suddenly sagging ratings, she starts to worry about her job. Sparks fly as the competition--and attraction--between the two writers heats up. 

Athena has never had a problem scripting the romances of her characters. So why is her own love life so hard to script? With humor and a Hollywood-insider viewpoint, Hello, Hollywood! delivers lots of laughs as the characters discover that not being in control of the plot of their lives might just be the best thing that ever happened to them. 

My Take

I’m definitely a Janice Thompson fan—her Weddings by Bella series was great and I enjoyed each and every book.  I even read and reviewed her first Backstage Pass book, Stars Collide, and enjoyed that one.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t as enamored with her latest book in the Backstage Pass series, Hello Hollywood! (sorry Ms Thompson!).

Although I enjoyed the scenes where the writers brainstormed and the antics that went with it, so many of the ideas came from the old Dick Van Dyke (which I still watch!) and I Love Lucy shows. It just seemed a little too much repetition and recycling of ideas.  As Hollywood writers, there should have been more original ideas. There was also quite a bit of repetition of the “great stories are built on conflict” and the plotline discussions. I actually grew kind of bored with those sections.

Each of the characters had their own “moments” and I enjoyed their stories of how they came to be at this point in their lives. It’s also a treat to see such a family oriented environment. The way the family interacted at home and at “Super Gyros” really touched me.  And I loved how the writers included the older “former starts” in the show—the older generation still has a lot to give. I think my favorite character in Hello Hollywood! had to be Leona. Her failing memory and illusions is so typical of Alzheimer’s  and I’m glad Ms Thompson brings that awareness to her readers.

The romance between some of the characters (don’t want to spoil it!) is always part of Ms Thompson’s books and I enjoy that part. Who doesn’t love some romance??   And, as usual, the inclusion of faith is one of the reasons I read her books. I like seeing the characters living their faith and not just talking about it.

All in all, Hello Hollywood! was an okay read. It was easy to get through but I was disappointed that it wasn’t up to Ms Thompson’s usual standards. I still look forward to not only the next book in the Backstage Pass series, I look forward to all of Janice Thompson’s books.  I give Hello Hollywood! 3 out of 5 stars as just an average read.

Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

I received this book free from Revell  as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

About the Author

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson affords an inside look at TV land, drawing on her experiences as a screenwriter. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series and Stars Collide. She lives in Texas.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren


From the Publisher

There are no second chances. Or are there?

Krista Mueller is in a good place. She’s got a successful career as a professor of history; she’s respected and well-liked; and she lives hundreds of miles from her hometown and the distant mother she could never please. It’s been more than a decade since Alzheimer’s disease first claimed Charlotte Mueller’s mind, but Krista has dutifully kept her mother in a first-class nursing home.

Now Charlotte is dying of heart failure and, surprised by her own emotions, Krista rushes to Taos, New Mexico, to sit at her estranged mother’s side as she slips away. Battling feelings of loss, abandonment, and relief, Krista is also unsettled by her proximity to Dane McConnell, director of the nursing home—and, once upon a time, her first love. Dane’s kind and gentle spirit—and a surprising discovery about her mother—make Krista wonder if she can at last close the distance between her and her mother … and open the part of her heart she thought was lost forever.

My Take

Reading the description of Mercy Come Morning really hit home and I knew I needed to read it. The main character, Krista, is trying to reconcile her feelings about her mother and get over the bad relationship she had in the past with her. Krista is angry, frustrated, and unable to get past the negative feelings she has for her mother—before and after the Alzheimer’s hit.

We are going through the stages of Alzheimer’s with my mother right now. Although we had a good enough relationship while I was growing up, I’ve had many internal conflicts about her since I’ve been her caregiver for the last 4 years. I know she can’t help her actions and I know I shouldn’t take them personally, but I have a tendency to resent her---especially lately. Like Krista, I need to lean harder on my faith and forgive mom, as well as myself, so that I don’t end up bitter like Krista. Plus, like Krista, it’s so hard to have your loved one so changed from what you knew all those years growing up. We have our own expectations of who mom should be even though she can't live up to them anymore. That's where we have to forgive mom, ask for forgiveness and accept her for who she

When I began reading Mercy Come Morning, it was a bit slow. But after getting past the first few chapters, I began to feel connected with Krista. The descriptions of Taos, both the community and the winter weather, was so vividly written that I could picture it in my mind. And I loved all the thought and research Ms. Bergren put into Cimarron Care Center. It sounds like paradise for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. It’s too bad nothing like Cimarron exists in real life. Ms. Bergren definitely has a way with words and drawing the reader into her story.

Thankfully Krista reconnected with her “grandmother” Elena and her old beau, Dane. While going through those last days with her mother, Krista needed the love and support found in both of them. Their different perspectives on mom’s past helped Krista find the healing and forgiveness she needed. Sometimes appearances are deceiving and once Krista found out the reasons between her mother’s actions, she knew she had to apologize to her mother even though mom may not hear it.

Even with the slow start and some predictability surrounding Krista and Dane’s relationship, I give Mercy Come Morning 4 stars. Reading the book actually gave me some peace with my mother’s situation. Now I'm beginning to know compassion and empathy toward mom--healing and forgiveness are only a few steps away.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah’s “Blogging for Books”  as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

About the Author

 Lisa T. Bergren is Tim's wife; Olivia (16), Emma (13) and Jack's (8) mom; a traveler  www.; a freelance editor; a writer; and an explorer of people, places and the ways of God. You can find more about her at