The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

 

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book: 

All Parisienne Julianne Chevalier wants to be is a midwife. But when her patient dies in childbirth, she’s branded as a criminal and is exiled to 1720s Louisiana where her brother, Benjamin, serves as a soldier. When she arrives there’s no sign of him. Does military attache Marc-Paul Girard know more than he’s telling?

My review:

I had to wait awhile to read this one, but it was worth it. I have enjoyed Jocelyn Green’s other books, but this one was unique.
First of all, as the daughter of a midwife, I am always particular about books speaking of midwives. While I could have been critical of certain points, I felt she did an outstanding job of portraying this life work.
The flow of the book just would not let me put it down. I just wanted to sit, read, absorb and live in the story. I didn’t want to finish, but I didn’t want to go out of it. I wanted to keep experiencing and living with the character’s, their sorrows and their joys.
If you are looking for good, deep historical fiction, you will find it here in this book. As with her other books, this book would be excellent for those studying parts of history not often spoken of. I am well versed in history and had not read much about this before. I am fascinated to get some of the books mentioned by the author in her notes. It will have me digging deeper in history and doing a bit of my own research. If you like historical fiction, pick this one up.

You can purchase it here. “The Mark of The King” 

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A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book: 

Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.
But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

My Review:

This book was one that I wanted to savor, so it took me longer than normal to read. In fact my only complaint with this book was that I didn’t want it to end.

I felt as though the words were somewhat living themselves as they leapt off the page, in a swirl of color and culture. The Italian flavor, the art, and tale of forgiveness intertwined had me longing for more when I finished the story.

Katherine Reay always surprises me. I think I know what to expect from the story, and then she throws me. This one was no different. I found myself experiencing a totally different story than I ever imagined. Highly recommend.

This book is on Kindle for only $1.99 today. A Portrait of Emily Price

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The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost.

Evangeline is the ward and cousin of King Richard II, and yet she dreams of a life outside of Berkhamsted Castle, where she might be free to marry for love and not politics. But the young king betroths her to his closest advisor, Lord Shiveley, a man twice as old as Evangeline. Desperate to escape a life married to a man she finds revolting, Evangeline runs away from the king and joins a small band of servants on their way back to their home village.

To keep her identity a secret, Evangeline pretends to be mute. Evangeline soon regrets the charade as she gets to know Wesley, the handsome young leader of the servants, whom she later discovers is the son of a wealthy lord. But she cannot reveal her true identity for fear she will be forced to return to King Richard and her arranged marriage.

Wesley le Wyse is intrigued by the beautiful new servant girl. When he learns that she lost her voice from a beating by a cruel former master, he is outraged. But his anger is soon redirected when he learns she has been lying to him. Not only is she not mute, but she isn’t even a servant.

Weighed down by remorse for deceiving Wesley, Evangeline fears no one will ever love her. But her future is not the only thing at stake, as she finds herself embroiled in a tangled web that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to save the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

My Review:

Oh, the joy that always fills my heart at another Melanie Dickerson book to read. I am not the most versed person on Disney fairy tales, but I love these retellings in a way that only Melanie can do.

This story had me grinning throughout, hoping for the best, and wishing for the communication issues to end. The medieval feel to the story gives it a romantic feel, despite the reality of the time period. I enjoyed how she wove the reality of the hardship of the times into the story, realizing that it was so much work for the common people to work then.

My Christmas tradition of reading a new book by Melanie Dickerson has thrived and I am glad she has some that come out at other times of the year, but I may have to go back and re-read the others.

These books are enjoyable for adults, and teens. The romance is there, but nothing to uncomfortable with. This book hints at domestic violence in arranged marriages, but only hints, no detailed descriptions, but enough to know that it was common. I think sometimes we can think that would be easier or more romantic, and this dashes that theory on the rocks (or the stairs as it were).

You can purchase this book wherever books are sold, or online here. “The Silent Songbird”

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Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description

“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

My Review: 

I was unsure of what to expect from this novel when I began the story. So, for those of you that are unsure of what this story is about, I will share a little.
This is the story of the raw and real side of some missionary living. There are good times and bad times, but through it all, it is the stark reminder that when ministering to others, our families must come first.
It is not really anything you could finish and think it was a “HEA” story, or think, “Yay, that was sweet.” More so, you will be left with the desire to reach out and touch some of the out of the country missionaries, people serving others in other lands in a tangible way.
I think every person that works with ministry and missions should read this book. It can help us to realize how we can minister to those that are in ministry. We often focus on the excitement aspect of it and no one really wants to hear about diarrhea or children that are struggling with the adjustment.

This story takes one of the reality of mission life, and brings it to life. I thought the drastic part of the story, showing how the imbalance of seeking to do “God’s work”, took precedence over the needs of family, and left everyone in the family more emotionally vulnerable.

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

It is available for purchase here. “Of Stillness and Silence” 

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The Power of Assumptions

You ever let your mind get carried away with assumptions? It can be easy to do.

I know that I have been very distressed that someone was upset with me, based on a cryptic  text or email, only to find out that once again, I thought it was about me, when in reality, they were super tired and just didn’t communicate well.

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We can look at a photo and assume laziness, disobedience, or even abuse, when truly we read the photograph wrong.

Assumptions can ruin someone’s life. They can go too far and make someone feel absolutely horrible about themselves. It hurts when someone assumes that my children’s learning disabilities are because of a lack of teaching or because of lack of smarts.

It truly pains me when someone feels that assuming that they know why someone is treating you badly, and assume it is because of a fault you committed.

It is also easy to assume that everyone is thinking ill of you when they are not.

If we did a little less assuming and a little more listening, seasoned with grace, it would make life much easier and smoother.

When we get the cryptic email, writing back and asking if they are okay could solve and clear it all up.

If we hear someone was sick, we don’t assume they have not tried essential oils. Instead, you might ask before you flood their inbox with expensive vitamins and oils they can purchase from you. On the flip side, I can assume they meant the best when they did that, but also send back a firm reply with my wishes and boundaries on the topic.

Assumptions can kill friendships, ruin families and destroy marriages. We can do better with reframing how we think and how we assume.

Don’t assume the worst or even the best of someone.

Don’t assume someone is safe that has abused others in the past because you want to think the best of them.

Don’t assume that when someone gets divorced that “there are two sides to every story”. Sometimes there is only one.

Don’t assume that someone is out to get you. Be wise, careful and safe. But don’t go on the offensive to start.

The power of the assumption can control our life. It can make us believe in ourselves or doubt our decision making. We can assume that we are worthless because others have told us so in their assumptions. We can believe a lie because everyone else assumed along with you.

Break the power of assumptions.

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From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

 

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About the book:

Romulus White has tried for years to hire illustrator Stella West for his renowned scientific magazine. She is the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry.

But Stella abruptly quit the art world and moved to Boston with a single purpose: to solve the mysterious death of her beloved sister. Romulus, a man with connections to high society and every important power circle in the city, could be her most valuable ally.

Sparks fly the instant Stella and Romulus join forces, and Romulus soon realizes the strong-willed and charismatic Stella could disrupt his hard-won independence. Can they continue to help each other when their efforts draw the wrong kind of attention from the powers-that-be and put all they’ve worked for at risk?

My Review:

I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Camden’s books. However, this one, dragged a bit for me. The characters were not as vibrant as I generally feel her characters were.
But we all enjoy a lighter book, and this one felt light, despite some of the content that tried to go deeper.
I love the cover, and it kept pulling me in. When I finished, I was satisfied with the storyline. I loved the historical facts of crime investigation, the building of transportation in that time and magazine writing.
It fascinated me, but took me awhile to read it!

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For the Record by Regina Jennings

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Betsy Huckabee might be a small-town girl, but she has big-city dreams. Writing for her uncle’s newspaper will never lead to independence, and the bigger newspapers don’t seem interested in the Hart County news. Trying a new approach, Betsy pens a romanticized serial for the ladies’ pages, and the new deputy provides the perfect inspiration for her submissions. She’d be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but these articles are for a newspaper far away. No one in Pine Gap will ever know.
Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but this job in tiny Pine Gap is his only shot at keeping his badge. With masked marauders riding every night, his skills and patience are tested, but even more challenging is the sassy journalist lady chasing him.

My Review:

I think I might have picked up this book no matter what, just because of the authors name. I have a sister named Regina, although, she goes by Gina, it is one of my favorite names.

Betsy was a bit all over the place in this story, and I had to feel for Joel. I enjoyed the story, but found it was a light, happy, read with hints of harder topics that never were delved into. There were a lot of places that I wished it would have gone, but instead, they kept it light and with slight humor. If you like to avoid books that have minor misunderstandings that could have been cleared up with a quick conversation, you will likely want to skip this one. But if you like a little humor, drama and fun reading, pick it up!

This book was provided for me for review by NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

This book is available wherever books are sold and online.

For the Record 

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Keeper of the Stars by Robin Lee Hatcher

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the Book:

Forgiveness is the only cure for heartbreak. But can Penny forgive the man she holds responsible for her brother’s death?

When her mother died from pneumonia, Penny Cartwright was heartbroken. But now, after burying her younger brother just 12 years later, she is devastated. Anger, guilt, and sorrow cloud Penny’s mind, and the last thing she wants is to be reminded of her pain—but that’s exactly what happens when a stranger comes to town.

Trevor Reynolds has been chasing fame for more than a dozen years, but his musical career can’t get off the ground. While on the road, an accident kills his young drummer, Brad Cartwright. Trevor wasn’t behind the wheel, but he still blames himself . . . and so does Brad’s sister, Penny. Now Trevor finds himself in Kings Meadow, determined to follow through on his final promise to his friend.

 

My Review:

Robin Lee Hatcher writes light, easy on the heart and mind, romantic novels. She has been a long time steady voice among Christian fiction that I have enjoyed. The meat is few and far between, but it is still there, throughout the story. In this tale, forgiveness is the theme that sneaks between the pages with a musical tune throughout.

You find yourself seeing through Penny’s eyes, lingering on the past, her loss of her brother, and blaming the person that she believes responsible. As you see that, you walk through the path of forgiveness and love as she grows to find a friend in the person closest to her brother.

 

This book was not a read that I would recommend for in depth reading, but for a light, happy, Christmas themed story, it was excellent. It will give you food for thought and entertainment. I loved the blue and white themed cover as well. Snuggle up under a warm blanket with hot cocoa and cookies and grab this book up.

 

This book was provided for me for review by BookLook Bloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.

It is available for purchase from wherever books are sold.

Keeper of the Stars 

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Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Now remembered as the author of the world s most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father until the night he hears Polly Catlett s enchanting voice, caroling. He s immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.
An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John s reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?
Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.”

My Review:

In the somewhat different style of Jody Hedlund, the famous story of John Newton and his conversion is told in a fascinating way.
I found the story uplifting and inspiring. even though it was familiar to me, it was told in such new way, it seemed like a new story. I found myself realizing the cultures and customs of the time, while different from ours, Polly’s father had many reasons to dislike John as a suitor, and Polly needed to have the wisdom to listen. Often we can see a story as “just a story”, but in this case, this book would be excellent for young women to read to see the “behind the scenes” of what we might think is “romantic”, but realize that in knowing the story of John Newton, why at times our parents may think otherwise.
If for nothing else, pick up this book and just stare at the cover. It is so pretty! I loved it!

 

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

It is available for purchase wherever books are sold, but also on Amazon.

Polly and Newton 

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Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description:
A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter façade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England—home to C.S. Lewis—to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers—until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with curious a wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in Kara Isaac’s inspiring and romantic story about second chances.

My Review:

As not so much of a Narnia fan myself, I was skeptical about this book. (I had an unnatural fear of the idea of a closet with another land in the back of it).  But she quickly won me over and I was engrossed in the storyline immediately.

I, of course, felt some frustration over the secrets that seem to plague the characters, but I forgave them and throughly enjoyed the read. If you are a fan of literature, you will want to pick up these books.

The book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher for review. The opinions expressed herein are my own.

This is the second book in the series, and I recommend you read the first book before reading this one. I read them out of order and still enjoyed them both, but it would be nicer the other way around.

They are available for purchase from Amazon.

Close To You 

Can’t help Falling

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