All Dressed up in Love by Ruth Herne

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description

They’ve helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples. Now twelve new couples will find themselves in the wedding spotlight in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.

Greg Elizondo hadn’t bargained for this. Any of this.

Satin. Lace. Tulle. Pearl inlay, embroidered bodices, and Swarovski crystals.

The bridal shop business it took his mother three decades to build, the enterprise that covered his university and law degrees in full, was struggling because he might be part-genius when it came to contract law . . . But corset-style gowns with a mermaid flair? Shoot me now.

Tara Simonetti hated law school, but loved the community grant funding her presence at Temple University’s esteemed school of law. She could not fail. Would not fail. But when a notice for bridal store help appeared on the community notice board, Tara applied for the job immediately. While grants and loans helped pave her way, money for food was scarce. Legal precedence, moot court, and judicial clerking all had their place, but they were nothing compared to Alcenon lace, tucked silk skirts, and a well-placed peplum.

Greg had grabbed her help as the act of a desperate man. Within weeks, he was desperate again, this time to win her heart. But after using community funds to get her degree, how can Tara turn her back on the people who helped finance her goal?

But if she leaves Philadelphia and Greg to return to her small-town in northern Pennsylvania, she’ll be leaving her heart behind. A heart he won, fair and square by posting a help wanted notice on the coffee shop board . . . A heart that filled the missing niche in his mother’s acclaimed bridal store. A heart Greg longed to cherish forevermore.

About the Author

Award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne is the author of over a dozen novels for Love Inspired and Summerside Press. The mother of seven children, she loves kids and pets. She is married to a very patient man who is seemingly unthreatened by the casts of characters living in her head.

My Review:

I am generally not a fan of novellas, but made an exception for this author. I was pleasantly surprised most of the way through this book. Even though the story developed very quickly, more so than is realistic, it dealt with core issues. Briefly, the topic of suicide, single motherhood, loss, and other topics were discussed. I enjoyed the book most of the way through. I wished that it was not tied up so quickly at the end, but had more of a gradual feel, but I could overlook it.

There are many things to enjoy in this book, especially if you are looking for a light Christian romantic story. It is totally clean, and no edges blurred there with lots of demonstrations of the Christian life lived out.

This book was provided by BookLook bloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.

 
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A Crazy thing called Love by Beth Vogt

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

Married at a young age and divorced before they had a chance to really be married, this couple has not seen each other in years.

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

My Review:
I have enjoyed Beth’s books in the past as they are not your typical romance. This one brings up the topic of divorce, remarriage as well as when it is right. I personally loved the angst that the two faced throughout the novel. It felt so real. they had been young, willful and chose their own path. It was not the right thing to do, but they were stuck with it.
It seems as if God throws them together again, but each facing huge life choices that will determine their future apart from each other.

You will enjoy agonizing along with this couple, whom is not really a couple. Just as with Ms. Vogt’s other books, this one is amazing! 5 stars!

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

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Until The Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Until The Harvest

Until The Harvest

Book Description:

When a family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. Although Henry tries to find escape in bad company, the only things that can tamp down his anger and grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and sweet but unusual pre-teen Mayfair Hoffman.
Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, with the freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has the opposite effect. Worse, she’s his grandmother’s housekeeper and helper, so she’s always around and ready to push his buttons. At first he thinks she doesn’t care about his loss, before beginning to understand she’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries, and Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as both Henry’s future and Mayfair’s life are put at risk.

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series and eagerly anticipated this book. I found the beginning a bit slow moving, fascinating. I say this only for those of you that may pick it up and set it down again. Keep going! It is worth it!

Mayfair was likely one of my favorite characters in this book as well as Perla again. Mayfair’s health issues were looked on differently at this time in history than we look on a health issue of similar fashion now. I struggled to like Henry very much. I wanted to shake him more times in this book.

My favorite scenes in this story were surrounding the milk cow! I love milk cows and the experience of learning how to milk is near and dear to my heart. The visit to this small town was refreshing.

I wished the ending held a little more details and didn’t feel quite as rushed as it did. I found myself noticing more the writing style than the story there at the end, but it made it worth it when as it does wrap up neatly.

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

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The Last weeks of school in pictures…

We finished our books except for the core subjects in the beginning of April. This meant we switched from so much book work to more hands on learning. We have been soaking up sunshine, nature hikes and park days. The exercise is great!

High School Banquet Pictures

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Park Day with Friends

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Trip to Grandma’s

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Dramatic L.

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Nephew N.

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Happiness is a crowded kitchen

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And lovely friends

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Bike ride and library trip.. We stopped for locally made ice cream.

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Track and field Day!!

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H. on his first 5k with friends

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Hiking with friends on many occasions

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PE day

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My sister graduated from college (Yes, I realize my eyes are closed)

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Tough Montana Boys- This was in April

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Summer school is always a lot of fun!

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From the Start Melissa Tagg

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

From the Start

From the Start


Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays…until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he’s lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he’s never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it’s like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn’t part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that’s ever happened to them?

My Review:

I have enjoyed Melissa Tagg’s other books, but this was really good. It follows a premise that I really could relate to. The lack of belief in true love. It seems almost wrong to even admit it or say it aloud, but Kate demonstrates it in this book.

It almost seemed to cliche, with the celebrity falling for the hurt, small town girl, but the growth you see in both characters throughout this story will make you fall in love with them.

I loved how this book wrapped up, which could have been cheesy, and maybe it slightly was, but I loved it anyhow!

I received this book from the publisher and NetGalley for review. The opinions contained herein are my own!

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To Win her Favor by Tamara Alexander

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

To Win Her Favor

To Win Her Favor

Book Description

A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who can help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing for good.

An Irish-born son far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and start a farm, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the annual Drayton Stakes at Nashville’s racetrack–the richest race run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance, and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder, Maggie’s father–aging, yet wily as ever–makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail–Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Cullen and Maggie need each other in order to achieve their dreams. But their stubborn, wounded hearts–and the escalating violence from a “secret society” responsible for lynchings and midnight raids–may prove too much for even two determined souls.

About the Author

Tamera Alexander is the best-selling author of numerous books including A Lasting Impression and The Inheritance. Her richly-drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide. Tamera is a two-time Christy Award winner, two-time RITA winner, and a recipient of the prestigious Library Journal Award. Tamera and her husband recently returned to her Southern roots and now make their home in Nashville. Visit her website at Facebook: tamera.alexander Twitter: @tameraalexander

My Review:

A marriage of convenience story. Who isn’t a sucker for those? Most of us would hate to be in that position in real life, yet we love to see a well done story with this story line. This was one of the well done ones. I loved how in keeping with the historical time period, a marriage of convenience would fit and be realistic. It would not have been easy. Margaret was more well off, but about to lose everything. Her father saw a way to possibly preserve her way of life, as well as helping out someone else.

There was a lot of talk on the web, in readers groups etc. about the marriage part of this book. It was described by more than one person as “steamy”. Some were even considering not reading it. I will hopefully put those fears to rest.

If you have read and enjoyed her other books, you will likely enjoy this one. It was no steamier or edgy than any of her other books in my opinion. There was a short scene in the middle of the book, about a page long that for the sensitive possibly be a bit much, but it still was not what I would call explicit or even glimpsing too much into the marriage bed. It did build an important scene. At the end, there is another brief sentence or two that could be construed as something more. It is for sure not a steamy or book that goes too far, in my opinion. It was not provoking of sensual thoughts even as the focus of the book is on something else. However, if you are looking for it, you might be able to find more in it than was meant. For me, since our conversation here, I was looking carefully and that was what I came up with. It is about a married couple. It addresses abuse of slaves at the time period as well as abuse of the Irish.

There is minimal violence in it as well, but even that is handled with grace.

I would personally say, if you enjoyed her others, you likely will enjoy this one. Out of the 368 pages, the possible part that might be offensive would be one page and maybe one or two other sentences. But it was not steamy or more than a very important scene that was needed to show the progression of their married relationship.

I received this book for review from BookLookBloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.

 

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The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description:

At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?

The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.

On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.

When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both–Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

My Review:

The back of the book tells the poignant heartache this story carries. It follows several characters story lines. Anna, Lydia, Major Aubrey somewhat, Two Hawks and his mother. Since it jumps around from character to character, it is a little difficult to ascertain who the actual main character was. You see very quickly that this story is plot driven instead of character driven. The character support the plot, and lend credence to it rather than the other way around.

I found the history of the story fascinating, as well as the notes at the end of the book about the research the author took part in. I wondered about some of the racial divides that the characters faced after the story had ended.

Overall, even though the set up of the story was different than I normally read, I did enjoy the story. It was unique in it’s tale and how it was presented.

I was given this book for review by the publisher and Blogging for Books. The comments and opinions are my own.

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The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description:

Swan Lake meets Robin Hood when the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant by day becomes the region’s most notorious poacher by night, and falls in love with the forester.

Jorgen is the forester for the wealthy margrave, and must find and capture the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave’s game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea she is the one who has been poaching the margrave’s game.

Odette justifies her crime of poaching because she thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. But will the discovery of a local poaching ring reveal a terrible secret? Has the meat she thought she was providing for the poor actually been sold on the black market, profiting no one except the ring of black market sellers?

The one person Odette knows can help her could also find out her own secret and turn her over to the margrave, but she has no choice. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the dangerous poaching ring . . . and fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his forester is protecting a notorious poacher?

 

My Review:

My mini celebration of Christmas in May, came a little early to my mailbox this year. I found myself thrilled to read and review this newest work by Melanie Dickerson. Although this one is geared towards adults slightly more than her other books, it still has that clean, young adult feel to it. I am especially thrilled that it is her first book to be out on audio! I cannot wait to share it with my sons.

I loved the Robin Hood type theme without it really being Robin Hood. The direction this story takes is so fun. It is not a story with long descriptions of depth and poetry, but I felt the story teach me as I read. This young maiden has a desire to help the poor, while being  willing to risk anything and everything to do so. Her uncle has been the only family member left to care for her, and she is eternally grateful.

I enjoyed how the author wove the storyline of poor choices for the right reasons throughout. This will inspire a good discussion between mothers, daughters or even for book clubs after reading this work. Besides, the cover is absolutely gorgeous!

Once again, Melanie has succeeded in bringing us a story that feels classic with lessons to live by. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend for both adults and young people.

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

You can still pre-order a copy of this book which is released on May 12th, 2015. The eBook is only $4.99 http://amzn.to/1zDkSC5

 

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Student/ Teacher Conference ideas

Yesterday one of my students and I had some Teacher/Student conference time. We had just gotten testing results back and needed to discuss and evaluate.

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The “little fox” needed some building up as well as ideas for continuing to learn throughout the rest of the school year and summer. While investigating a new Mexican taco place, where we received very personal service, we discussed our options.

A few ideas that we came up with:

-Two lessons of math daily

-Reading a book outside his comfort zone. He settled on a a mystery, which we chose three to try.

Journey to Freedom by Gilbert Morris 

Wild Rescue by Chris Fabry (Red Rock Mysteries #4)

My life as a Cowboy Cowpie by Bill Myers

– Practicing typing  everyday

This of course is just some extra stuff we are adding, but we are looking for more active ways to continue learning throughout the summer as well.

What are some ideas that help foster learning throughout breaks?

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Taken by Dee Henderson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description: 

Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She has enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.

When Shannon contacts private investigator and former cop Matthew Dane to help her navigate her reentry into society, she quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn’t mean her troubles are over. For one thing, her brother is the leading candidate in the race for Illinois governor, and news of her escape will create a media frenzy. For another, the ransom her family reportedly paid years earlier appears to have been a scam; no one knows what happened to the money. And then there’s the fact that Shannon’s escape involved faking her own death. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they’ll stop at nothing to silence her.

If justice is to be done, and if Shannon’s life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her–even if it means stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets.

My Review:

I rated this book with 4 stars, even though there were some things that were not my favorite about it, as it captured my interest immediately and kept it until the end of the book. That has been hit or miss lately, so this was a huge plus!

The storyline on this book is not so much a suspense book as the unraveling of a mystery behind a missing girl. I loved the way it was done. She is a strong woman that while having suffered, is strong and capable, while still weak.

I loved how the author wove that through the storyline as often they are portrayed as either/or, while victims are generally more survivors instead of victims as we often see them.

It was because of the depth of that storyline this book receives 4 stars. It had some other flaws of which you will discover as you read, which I struggled with a bit, but it also showed the humanity.

This book was given to me for review by the publisher and NetGalley

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