Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bitter Blessings

Here's the blurb:
Megan has the perfect life, but when her mother dies in an accident, everything spins out of control. With the rest of her family falling apart, Megan must confront her past to uncover the truths that will keep everyone together. Thought-provoking and heartfelt, this book shows that even in times of trial, you can often find blessings.
Megan lives with her mom, two younger sisters and her grandma.  As the story opens, we find out that her mom was just killed in a car accident.  Megan is forced to shoulder much of the responsibility for  taking care of her family and when she talks to her friend's father about insurance, they find that her mom was hiding a devastating secret.

Bitter Blessings is one of those stories where you keep thinking, "Okay, it can't get any worse."  But then it does and does and does until finally Megan finds that there is nowhere she can turn but to the Lord.  It was written mainly with an LDS audience in mind, but I didn't think it came across as too "churchy" like some LDS fiction does.  You could get it for a non-LDS friend and I think they would enjoy it, too.  It is a sweet, uplifting and realistic story with a twist that I didn't see coming.  I liked it a lot and I would definately recommend it if you are in the market for a clean, feel-good, well-written novel.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Big World Network

Logo imageCheck it out!  Free books.  Need I say more?  Well, I'm gonna anyway.

You can listen to audio chapters or read installments of different books directly downloaded to your kindle FREE on  The site launched today and I can't wait to get reading. 

It's kinda like watching episodes of your favorite shows every week, except you get to use your imagination and nobody stands in front of the TV or whines, "Mom. What's for dinner? What are you watching?  I don't want to watch this.  This is boring.  Who is that guy?  Why did he say that?  How much longer?  I want to watch the Upside Down Show...etc.

(dis)Abilities and the Gospel

"Disabilities and the Gospel" is by Danyelle Ferguson and Lynn Parsons and published by Cedar Fort.
     Here is the blurb from the website:
Each day, parents and Church leaders struggle to teach individuals with special needs. Using real-life stories and a touch of humor, this inspiring book guides you to teach effectively, overcome communication barriers, and build strong relationships with people of all ages with disabilities. Discover each person's ability to learn and grow as you help them feel like a valuable part of your life.

Non-fiction is really not my thing, but I found that I was fascinated and touched by this book.  It is helpful and informative for parents, but I think it should be required reading for anyone who has a child with special needs in their quorum or class.
(dis)Abilities and the Gospel is formatted in such a way that it is so easy to navigate.  If you want to read straight through, the different sections progress in a natural way; from Primary and through the auxillaries to adult callings.  If you have a specific area of concern, it is easy to find what you are looking for.

The advice that is given is applicable not only to teachers or friends of people with special needs, but to any parent, friend or primary teacher.  There is also advice on how to help your kids to be a better friend to a child with special needs and even to help people know how to approach that child's parents or siblings appropriately.  The authors have such a sweet and positive way of describing problems and their solutions, and present them with stories and examples.

Various websites and resources are given throughout.

I felt like this book could be beneficial to so many people--I have a better idea of how to help some of the kids in my own Primary, and a better understanding of why they act the way that they do.
There were a few sections that I found to be particularly interesting to me.  The first was the Primary section.  I love the ideas to make sharing time better for kids with special needs.  Simple strategies as easy as where the kids sit or pre-teaching some topics are so do-able.  There were also some great ideas for FHE and scripture study.  It was eye-opening to learn about some of the problems that these special kids face.  A particular example that stood out to me was that a child with autism may not understand 60% of what you're saying.

My very favorite part of the book was at the end where some short testimonies were shared by parents and siblings of special needs kids.  They were so touching and written with so much love.
This book is written so beautifully, and would be appropriate for any church leader or parent.  There is so much practical advice as well as examples of faith.  It is well written and I would (and will) recommend it to anyone.  In my ward, I am the Primary President and I have a little guy whose teacher is getting a copy of this book from me.  We're going to develop a plan because even though he's tricky and feisty and hard to communicate with, this boy has touched all of us in the Primary with his spirit and especially his testimony of Jesus.

Thanks ladies for letting me read it. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

No Holly for Christmas

No Holly for Christmas by Julie N. Ford

Here's the blurb:
Widowed, practically penniless, and banished to an Alabama rural community, ex-socialite- turned social worker Holly Cavanaugh Winter is dreading the approaching holiday season. However, her angst is not due to her husband's untimely death last December 25th, but because of a secret, one she keeps locked deep in her heart, that could reveal itself unless she can find a way to avoid Christmas.
  On special assignment for the DA, defense attorney, Brian McAlister has all but given up on relationships when his path unavoidably crosses Holly’s. But love at first sight quickly turns frigid when Holly gets pulled into a manhunt for an accused murderer who now has his sights set on her. With his case unraveling, Brian finds himself tasked with keeping Holly and her two daughters safe, while bringing an assassin, and the powerful man who hired him, to justice.

I think that the most important element in a romance is that the couple has to be something to each other that nobody else can be.  Each needs to fill the other's need in a way that nobody else can.  Julie does this better than any romance I have read in a long time.  The thing that she did so well in this book is show their needs while the characters themselves don't even realize that they are the perfect ones for eah other.  AAh, Just get together, already!! frustrating, right?  Perfect!  I loved it!  The conflict is great.  I loved the characters.  There were great bad guys and great good guys.The story is unique and unpredictable.  And the physical tension was steamy.  I would definitely recommend this book!
Here's the purchase link:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nourish and Strengthen

I got the chance to review Maria Hoagland's book, Nourish and Strengthen. 

Here's the synopsis from her website:

Taylor has the perfect life: a model’s figure, a husband who adores her, three healthy children. So why does she feel so much less than perfect?

After losing forty pounds, Chloe Taylor is finally happy with her body. What she doesn’t realize is that she’s not the one in control.

When Chloe is called as the Primary president, she discovers that managing the highs and lows of a chronic illness may be easier than the ups and downs associated with family, friends, and church callings. Consumed by her own challenges, Chloe fails to recognize the issues her friends are facing and is in danger of losing their friendship.

As Chloe strives to develop Christ-like love for herself and those around her, she learns that outer appearances are far less important than inner peace and spiritual strength. But is she strong enough to face her most difficult trial yet?

Maria does a fantastic job of describing the struggles of a Latter-Day Saint woman as she learns to handle the added challenge of diabetes to her already busy life.  This book resonated with me because as a mother and a woman, I face so many of the same insecurites: body image, comparing myself to others, trying to do my calling in a way that I feel is right, balanced with the ever pressing need to make others happy. 

The book covers a year in this young mother's life.  By the end, Chloe has gotten stronger.  She is able to cope with her disease and develop a more understanding heart toward people who seem to constantly make her life harder. 

I really like Maria's writing.  There are many sweet as well as hilarious moments with Chloe's kids, giving a good balance to the more serious struggles that she and her friends are dealing with.  I learned so much about diabetes and the daily challenge it is.  It is a great book for any woman.  Very uplifting.  I really enjoyed it.  Thanks, Maria for letting me review it!

Here's her info:
Smashwords for all eBook versions:
Createspace for paperback version: