Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Evelyn Wisely has a heart for the orphans of Teaville and works at a local mansion that rescues children out of the town’s red-light district and gives them a place to live. But her desire to help isn’t limited to orphans.
David Kingsman has recently arrived in Teaville from Kansas City to help with one of his father’s companies in town. While he plans on staying only long enough to prove his business merit to his father, he’s shown interest in Evelyn’s work and is intrigued enough by her to lend his support to her cause.
They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David’s dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them?

My Review:

I throughly enjoyed book one of this series and dug into this second book with gusto. It is often that many people might judge this book by it’s title or even the cover and deem it a “romance novel” with disparaging tones, but I would be the first to argue with them.

While there is a story of love between a man and woman, the  main love focus that I saw was the love for the least of these. Orphans, prostitutes, and others that were not deemed acceptable always in this times period that the book is set in, were the focus of the heroine of our story. She is honorable, driven and a strong personality.

This story brings to the forefront, much of the underbelly of polite society, without being graphic or unseemly, but truly will give the readers much to think about and ponder. Who are the ones in our society that we put in this category?

The author is skilled in her writing, interweaving a tale that will pull you in until you are finished. I would encourage you to pick up a copy. I found this book not only interesting, but another learning experience about the moral society of that time.

I received this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed herein are my own.

This book is available for purchase. “A Love So True” 

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No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description

If you’ve ever been given empty clichés during challenging times, you know how painful it can feel to be misunderstood by well-meaning people. Far too often, it seems the response we get to our hurt and disappointment is to suck it up, or pray it away.

But Scripture reveals a God who meets us where we are, not where we pretend to be.

No More Faking Fine is your invitation to get gut-level honest with God through the life-giving language of lament. Lament, a practice woven throughout Scripture, is a prayer that God never ignores, never silences, and never wastes. As author Esther Fleece says, “Lament is the unexpected pathway to true intimacy with God, and with those around us.”

No More Faking Fine is your permission to lament—to give voice to the hurt, frustration, and disappointment you’ve kept inside and silenced for too long. Drawing from careful biblical study and hard-won insight, Esther reveals how to use God’s own language to draw closer to Him as He leads us through any darkness into His marvelous light.

My Review:

If I had to list one book that touched me more than any other book this year, it would be this one hands down. In this book, Ms. Fleece does not pull any punches. She does not tell you that life is going to go well and God has you in the palm of His hand, which means things will be easy.

Instead, she walks you through the bible and gives you permission to grieve and lament, in a biblical fashion. She shows how God, instead of as many in the church seem to believe, loves to hear our laments and sorrows spoken aloud.

This book will bring you to a place of being able to embrace the trials a bit more as you suffer through them, but also not be as afraid to share with others your struggles.

I found as I read this, I was absorbing, living and loving the permission to be real, but not just in a complaining way, but that living in reality is not complaining. I learned that Christianity does not always mean being positive. It often means that life is full of hardship. She goes into what joy is and what joy is not. This is not another book that tells you to keep it inside and don’t let others know. She encourages you in the godly art of mourning.

As I read it, it felt as though something was released in me, the ability to be okay with not being as fake as I feel others often expect you to be. This review, even feels lame in my effort to explain, but just get it and read it! You will not be sorry!

You can order it from Amazon, “No More Faking Fine”. The Kindle version is only $1.99 right now. You can eve add audio for only $3.99.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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Harvest by Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

A beautifully photographed, gift-worthy guide to growing, harvesting, and utilizing 47 unexpected garden plants to make organic pantry staples, fragrances, floral arrangements, beverages, cocktails, beauty products, bridal gifts, and more.

Every garden–not just vegetable plots–can produce a bountiful harvest! This practical, inspirational, and seasonal guide will help make any garden more productive and enjoyable with a variety of projects using unexpected and often common garden plants, some of which may already be growing in your backyard.

Discover the surprising usefulness of petals and leaves, roots, seeds, and fruit: turn tumeric root into a natural dye and calamintha into lip balm. Make anise hyssop into a refreshing iced tea and turn apricots into a facial mask. Crabapple branches can be used to create stunning floral arrangements, oregano flowers to infuse vinegar, and edible chrysanthemum to liven up a salad. With the remarkable, multi-purpose plants in Harvest, there is always something for gardeners to harvest from one growing season to the next.

 

My Review:

This book is one of those books you will want to have on your coffee table for people to page through. It is filled with gorgeous photography.  Not only that, but the useful information for those of you looking for uses for common plants, herbs or unusual garden plants.

I did find that some of the zoning seemed to be off on what plants grow where, but it did instruct you to refer to a updated zoning chart with an online link in the back. I was wishing for a zone map to be included, but they skipped that.

There were multiple recipes for alcoholic drinks, herbal oils, and some other recipes, but mostly, this is just a lovely book of amazing pictures, with some minor ideas of how to use the plants. Most of the plants mentioned only grow in zones 6 and up, so if you are a colder weather, northern dweller, know that some of the plants do grow here that they mentioned, but they do not mention your zone.

I did, very much enjoy this book and passed it along to  a friend to look at in the final stages of her pregnancy.  I am looking forward to making the lilac cream, some of the oils and lip balm mentioned in here.

This book was given to me for review by Blogging for Books. The opinions contained herein are my own.

It is available for purchase and would make an excellent gift for any gardener.

“Harvest”  It comes in a lovely hardcover volume.

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The Curse of Pride

Pride is something we may have heard mentioned time and time again. But not until a couple years ago did I realize what it truly was.

I wanted to make no mistakes. I wanted my children to make no mistakes. I wanted to have a very clean house and keep up with everything. I worked very hard at it.

But one day, realizing that the fact that I believed that I could make no mistakes, was in itself pride. I believed that I could be perfect. I believed that was what was demanded of me. By God, by fellow humans and well, just the whole of society.

Then it went on to my children. When my children had struggles in school, I blamed myself. I believed that it was me that caused their issues, or them. One of us was not working hard enough. I tended to blame myself more than them, but continued to look for a solution.

When my first son was diagnosed with learning disability, it felt like a relief, but I felt guilty that I was relieved. I felt like I had failed somehow. I had failed perhaps in my pregnancy, and that was why. Maybe I had done something wrong in their infant hood and they bonked their heads one too many times. But in the end, it was admitting that there was a lack of perfection in us. It came down to pride. It was hard to admit that there was an issue.

I have seen parents that get prickly when you call it a disability. “Why can’t we call it, “a unique learning style”? they ask.  Or they steadfastly persist, “There is nothing wrong with him/her. He/she is just a little unique, but they are work harder and be normal.”

I sometimes wonder if we are only this way with less obvious disabilities. If someone was born without a leg, would we force them to crawl on the floor because they should not depend on a crutch? Would we say that they should not have all the opportunities to help them to walk, because we are pretending they do not have a missing limb?

When someone has a special need, a disability, we need to teach our children to embrace it. Forgo pride in perfection.  Perfection is overrated anyhow! When we embrace our imperfections that is when pearls are formed. We can thrive and do more than when we are trying to be “normal”.

Let’s not ignore our children’s needs for our own pride. If we can embrace our imperfections, stop blaming ourselves for something that had nothing to do with us, we can thrive and be joyful.

Our joy can come from loving how we are, our mistakes and laugh or cry through them.

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A Slow Burn…

There are times in life when comments really can eat away at you.

I am a fairly even tempered person. I can get frustrated on occasion with the normal things in life, messes, children that argue, things that do not seem to go right. But I more often tend to have anxiety than frustration.  I will generally blame myself over someone else.

But recently a myriad of comments seem to build up and cause a slow burn deep within, that culminated in a form of sadness and then anger.

What did it teach me?

People don’t think before they speak.  Including myself at times, although I used to agonize over every word I spoke. The fact that now I can speak my own mind without over analyzing it, is actually healthier than when I did think it through. But I digress.  If other do actually think before they speak, they often speak in ignorance.

My mom is this incredibly positive person, and tries to find the silver lining in every rain cloud. However, sometimes I am realizing, it is okay to be hurt. It is okay to be disappointed. It is okay to not be positive about something.

It is okay to be hurt when people ignore your talents and praise someone else that does the same thing as you.

It is okay when someone tells you that your work is foolishness and in fact, might be sinful to ask others to enjoy it, to feel indignant. (In this case, writing fiction).

It is okay when people speak of your siblings and praise their looks, but have never once complimented you to feel pain.

The slow burn of hurt that culminates in anger from seeing someone you love and care about be abused and controlled by someone that claims to love them is painful to feel.

But it is okay. It is okay to be angry sometimes. It is okay to be hurt. It is what we do with it that can be wrong. If I turn around and scream at someone else because of the anger inside, that is not the healthiest way to cope. But if I journal, confront the behavior or even channel my energy into something healthy, it can help me to grow and be different.

There is not a silver lining in every cloud. Sometimes some people are just mean. Sometimes things are not going to turn out okay. Sometimes people you love die. Men abandon their families. People abuse one another. There is no silver lining there. Sometimes we do ourselves and others a disservice when we look for the positive.

I am not saying to wallow in it. But there is something about a real grieving period where allow ourselves to be hurt, sad and even angry for a time to be able to heal. If we are always looking for the good in it, it is not able to heal. We can’t pretend we are not cut. That doesn’t encourage healing. But when we embrace the pain, work with the pain, like in childbirth, we are able to give birth to a baby.

Don’t let anger turn to bitterness, but embrace the pain.

Today, my hurts, though they are private are many, but I choose to embrace it. I will not fight the pain, but I will fully live in it.

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Spring Fling Learning

Spring Fling Learning
By Martha Artyomenko
Spring brings its own challenges to learning, but learning to roll with it and take advantage can help keep the learning happening when everyone wants to be outside.
-Garden planning: Pull out those seed catalogs, botany books and science books and work on planning even a container garden if you live in town. Start plants in the windowsill, visit a nursery, and investigate what is starting to blossom outdoors.
-Go for a hike. Hiking can invigorate the mind, and you can find local herbs, plants, and even bones to identify.
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-Do math, reading, writing outside on the picnic table. Have snacks in the sunshine on a warmer day. Sometimes I would even take reading books to the park and we would read on the bench and then play for a bit.  Speak as to why fresh air invigorates the mind as you play outdoors. If when you get home, see if you can find a book that speaks to the benefits and writing a paragraph or journaling in a nature journal about their experience.
-Take a walk to the library. If you don’t live close enough, park a bit away and walk. Go and explore the educational set ups they have and learn what they offer. Get some new books on topics of spring, art or other interests. It can freshen up your learning.  Often libraries will offer classes on topics that can relate to your way of living as well.
-Go feed the ducks at the park. First research the diet that a duck or geese should eat and bring food accordingly. Talk about fungi and algae while observing (from a distance) the pond, and germs around there. It is a good place to see it in action.  Refer to nature or science books that you have read to get the full impact of merging science with reality.
-Tea party on the porch or in a sunny window while you read aloud. They can drink tea or even color while listening. Other times, we would build legos or work on handwriting.
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-Try some new ideas that are fresh for learning.  It might mean putting the books aside for a day and saying, “Let’s bake today. If we triple this recipe of Banana bread, how many loaves will we have?  How much butter will we need? Can we bake it all at once?”
Banana Bread (made with coconut sugar)
Yield: 2 loaves
3 c. flour (Whole wheat or white)
3 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
2 eggs
2 c. mashed ripe bananas
3/4 c. coconut sugar (or you can use regular white sugar)
1/2 c. cooking oil (I could have added more banana or applesauce for this, but I did not this time, if you wish to cut back and use fruit from your own garden, applesauce works well)
1 t. vanilla
Mash bananas well. Add dry ingredients and then rest of wet ingredients. Mix well. Divide between two baking loaf pans. Bake for 55 minutes apx. at 350 degrees. Let cool before slicing. It was plenty sweet, and I would probably cut the coconut sugar back more if you do not mind it not as sweet.
Homemade Ice Cream can be another fun science in action treat to try. If you have an electric churn is is very simple, but a hand churned ice cream maker is even better. 
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-Audio history, science and fiction novels in the car. It keeps their brain churning even when not doing school.   
Here are a few of our favorites:
The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett (I especially liked this one when we were studying gardening as it brought the love for the earth, growing things and being outdoors to life).
These are just a few ideas for spring or summer learning for those that homeschool. It can add a fresh start to your homeschool day.

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Shine Like the Dawn by Carrie Turansky

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

 

In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event shattered their idyllic family life and their future prospects. Maggie is resilient and will do what she must to protect her sister Violet. Still, the loss of her parents weighs heavily on her heart as she begins to wonder if what happened that day on the lake…might not have been an accident.

Can Maggie let go of the resentment that keeps her from forgiving —and reconciling with God? Will the search for the truth about her parents’ death draw  two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts?

My Review:

I throughly enjoyed this story set in a small historical town, with a little mystery twist to it. As are her other books, this one is well written and entraps your attention, making you unable or unwilling to set it aside until you are done. It is not that it is fast moving, but it has little twists and turns throughout that make your mind keep moving from character to character.

I loved how the trauma in the story is not minimized, yet, it is not graphic. You realize to what extent it harmed the main character without feeling traumatized ourselves as readers.

The love story does not take the forefront of this story, but is more in sweet undertones, as it would be in real life. You have to check this out.

You can purchase this book $8.31 paperback right now. “Shine Like the Dawn”

This book was provided for review by “Blogging for Books”. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah Ladd

 

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Description:
Could losing everything be the best thing to happen to Annabelle Thorley?

In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, the home of her long-estranged aunt and uncle, where a teaching position awaits her. Working for a wage for the first time in her life forces Annabelle to adapt to often unpleasant situations as friendships and roles she’s taken for granted are called into question.

Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to eventually purchase land that he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to the lovely Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife’s tragic death, Owen begins to dream of a second chance at love.

My Review:

The lovely cover will make you pick up this book, but the story will not let you put it down. This book does not come out until May, so I generally try to read them closer to the time of publishing. However, this one was irresistible  Once I started it, I could not put it down. The story where the heroine found herself facing forced marriage because of money was very common in those times, and escape was not always something that was possible. The hero and heroine both, faced abuse, and yet persevered.

The spiritual elements in this book were quite open and keen, where this is not a book you might pick up and wonder if it was a Christian book. If you are not looking for one, don’t pick this one up. I found the message to be heart warming and encouraging.

I completely enjoyed this book!

“A Stranger at Fellsworth” is available for preorder through Amazon and through other book sources. The release date is May 16, 2017. Generally the price is better before it is released and I highly recommend you order this one.

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Beyond Justice by Cara Putman

 

 

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Description
Hayden McCarthy is on track to become the youngest partner in her prestigious D.C. law firm . . . if the case she’s just been handed doesn’t destroy her first.

Hayden McCarthy knows firsthand the pain when justice is not served. It’s why she became an attorney and why she’s so driven in her career. When she’s handed a wrongful death case against the government, she isn’t sure if it’s the lucky break she needs to secure a partnership—or an attempt to make sure she never gets there. She keeps the case alive through sheer determination and more than a little creativity, but then she’s fired by a partner with a vendetta.

The longer she keeps the case active, the higher the stakes become. Unknown enemies seem determined to see either the case—or her—die. Should she fight alone for the dead young man by launching her own unfinanced firm, or abandon the case in order to save her own life?

My Review:

A well written legal thriller with a message relevant to our society today. I loved the inside view of immigration, especially illegal immigration and government politics laid out in this story. It is not often that I find myself saying, “Yes, yes!” to a fiction novel, but this one had me wanting people to read it that I know will never think about it with an open mind.

The author is a lawyer, which shows in her writing, but doesn’t take away from the story. The lively tale makes me want to read more of her books!  If you like suspense, a fight for justice and human interest, pick this one up. There is a slight romantic thread throughout, but it is not the focus of the story at all.

The publishing date on this book is April 4, 2017 and is available for preorder. “Beyond Justice” 

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