Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Book Description:

Irene and Rand come from very different walks of life. Will they find common ground in their fight to survive?

Irene has grown up in the jungle as a missionary with her Aunt Anita, but now she and countless others are imprisoned by Japanese soldiers at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in the Philippines. Irene and her aunt are safe there, and she keeps busy with her duty of delivering censored messages to the camp’s prisoners, but like everyone else, she prays for the war to end and for her freedom.

Rand is a wealthy, womanizing American, whose attempted escape from the internment camp has put himself and others in danger. When Rand and Irene’s Aunt Anita meet one another in the hospital, Irene learns more of his story and her heart is determined to save his family.

But the danger outside the walls of the hospital worsens every day, and life in this exotic place is anything but luxurious. Can Irene find Rand’s family before they disappear forever? And can a humble missionary woman and an arrogant man find common ground in the face of their biggest fears?

My Review:


I had previously read Liz Tolsma’s WW2 books, and have been looking forward to reading this one as well. I believe I looked forward to it more after having the privilege of meeting her this last fall.

This is an unusual story, much like her other stories, it does not follow the traditional WW2 storyline. Instead, you are transported into a land far away, experiencing the cruelty and starvation that caused the USA to fear the Japanese. You will be living in an internment camp, where freedom is only an illusion. The twists and turns of the story take you down a path that you will be unsure you want to travel, but the story will keep you reading.

I was reminded of the book “Evidence not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose“. Even though, it took place in a different country,  the story of an American held in a Japanese internment camp rang true to me. I love how you can trust the research that Ms. Tolsma put into her stories. They have the basis of truth, which would allow you to use these in a high school curriculum as historical reading.

The topic is in itself, not the prettiest, but it is done in a way that older high school students will benefit from it’s telling, even when it addresses parts that are not as lovely. Another great read from a wonderful and sweet author.

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

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The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Book Description

The handsome firefighter makes a living coming to people’s rescue, but Gin is used to fighting her own battles.

Nothing has ever come easy for single mom Genevieve Lightly. Over the years, she’s managed to pay the bills waitressing, and she is deeply devoted to her daughter, Raine. Gin has been satisfied moving from city to city, never putting down roots or making commitments. But when engine trouble temporarily strands them in the small town of Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises her daughter they will stay put until Raine graduates from high school in the spring.

Dan Moretti couldn’t imagine a life without Evie, but she married his best friend. After Max died while fighting a huge blaze, Dan has looked out for Evie and her son, Cody. Evie has always made it clear she thinks of him only as a friend, but Dan has secretly held out hope that her feelings would change. When a small town scandal erupts, Dan is caught in the middle and his loyalty put to the test when he realizes his feelings are the ones that are changing. He’s falling for a beautiful, unconventional waitress named Gin.

As Cody and Raine move closer to making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives, Dan makes a decision, too. But can he convince a woman who doesn’t believe in happy endings to take a chance on a new beginning . . . with him?

My Review:

I had no idea what to expect from this book when I picked it up. The author creates a tale of two families from two worlds. They live in the same town, yet only cross paths when their children become irreversibly entwined.

I enjoyed this book as the characters were real. They were not cookie cutter, nor were they without faults. Yet, they seemed to make me fall in love with each of them. Many books focus on only one or two characters, while this story had me rooting for all parts of the story. There were layers for each character, which involved another. I learned as we unveiled each piece, how much talent that takes.

This is not a terribly light read, but neither is it a heavy read. Topics are dealt with relating to teen pregnancy, death from firefighting, abuse and widowhood. They are all lightly touched on, without giving sordid details. This would make it a great book to read with older teens that need to experience this. I especially liked how Cody was a great kid, that never thought it would happen to him, yet it did.


I recommend this book as a great read!


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


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Twisted Innocence by Terri Blackstock

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Book Description:

When Holly’s secrets backfire, is the mess too big to unravel?

Holly Cramer has worked hard to keep the identity of her daughter’s father a secret, shamed and embarrassed by the one-night stand. But when the police knock on her door searching for Creed Kershaw, she realizes his identity isn’t as hidden as she thought. The fact that Creed is a person of interest in a recent drug-related murder only increases her humiliation.

When Holly’s and Creed’s paths cross, Holly is unsure whether to be terrified of him or trust him. His tenderness with their daughter makes her want to believe his story that he had nothing to do with the murder. Then she discovers that Creed has a connection to Leonard Miller-who killed both her sister’s fiancé and her brother-in-law, and kidnapped her nephews-and things only become more complicated.

Will Creed lead them to the man who has plagued her family, or become another of his victims?

My Review:

Holly Cramer is determined to turn her life around after having a child. Her past is not making it easy on her. The book opens with a mugging, which will have your heart racing. The desire to figure out who actually committed the murder in this murder mystery, will keep you reading. This book sort of ties up a lot of loose ends that were left open in the previous books. You will want to make sure you read them before this one.

I found the frustration with the legal system portrayed accurately in the book, and the desire to see justice despite the circumstances. It is hard when you see someone you love harmed, and you are helpless to help them.

Through the twists and turns of this book, I often disagreed with the choices the characters made and felt frustrated with them. But I have learned that is real life! Life really hands you a lot of hard knocks. You will feel you got handed a plateful of difficult to handle relatives. You love them to pieces, but want to shake them as well.

I enjoyed how this book tied all those things together, in a not so neat package.

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

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Dauntless by Dina Sleiman


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko 

About the book:

Though once a baron’s daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village. Dubbed “The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest,” her band of followers soon become enemies of the throne when they hijack ill-gotten gold meant for the king. Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, will he choose fame or love?

My Review:

I was looking forward to reading this book, but was unsure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the content! “The Ghosts” are more a family band of fugitives seek normal life while living under an oppressive king. In Robin Hood like story fashion, you can imagine everything from Shrek and Robin Hood coming to life. But this story is much more than that. It felt a little like I was missing some of the story, as the backstory was revealed very slowly. I wished it came out a little faster. This is written for young adults and so, lacks some of the depth of an adult novel. However, it will be of great appeal to young teens in it’s easy to read, flowing style. The story is clean, other than mentions of some of the punishments reserved for the criminals and temptations to kill. Even the “thefts” they leave money in their place, being honest “thieves” for a purpose. It is more an appearance of evil, than a truly evil action.

The romance, while there, is light, reminiscent of Melanie Dickerson’s novels  in type of romance. I enjoyed this story and look forward to more from this new author. I hope to see Allan in an upcoming book! =)

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

To purchase Click here…. Dauntless

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Capturing Jasmina by Kimberly Rae


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Jasmina, a young girl in India, and her brother, Samir, are sold as child slaves and must learn to survive living on the streets of India.

My Review:

This book is written for young adults, and is in a format appealing for them. However, it is a story of a young girl sold with her brother into slavery. The subject matter in itself is mature and something to be approached with children and young adults with wisdom. It is important to teach our children about this so they can be on the lookout.

I found the writing style a little confusing at times, there was one whole chapter that seemed to be placed out of order in the book. I am not sure if that was because I had an eBook, but it was confusing there.

This story though, shows the important work that needs to be done and is being done by loving people throughout the world, but especially in India. Children are being sold into slavery in the USA as well as in other nations. It is very sad to read of the plight of these children, but so needed.

The story is written without a graphic storytelling, but it is enough that I would recommend this for high school age teens.

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Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden


Book Description from author’s website:

Anna O’Brien has the perfect job at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship that disappeared at sea. When forces conspire to prevent her from learning the truth, she turns to a dashing congressman for help.
Luke Callahan is one of the most powerful men in congress until his career begins collapsing amidst scandal. When he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship, he is stunned to find himself falling in love with the down-to-earth librarian. Despite the attraction, strict rules forbid Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of congress, and each meeting puts her career in jeopardy.
From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation to the scholarly archives of the nation’s finest library, Anna and Luke will begin unraveling a mystery larger and more dangerous than ever imagined.

My Review:

Elizabeth Camden is a brilliant author. Her books, each one of them can hold their place in the sun. This one in particular shines brightly. She has woven a fantastic tale of history. The beautiful new Library of Congress is the center of this story, with all the debate on the improvements. A young congressmen with anger issues and a young, spunky librarian with a husky voice. What could they possibly have in common? Nothing, really, or so it turns out.

I loved the realism this story takes. Both of the main characters, as in Ms. Camden’s other books have suffered from abuse. Yet, they are survivors. They freely admit they struggle with the past events. Anna is sensitive about her voice while Luke does not want to be like his father. They are human and weak. Yet, they seek to appear strong.

You get to watch the Spanish/American War unfold, a conflict with Cuba and even hints about President McKinley’s wife. This is historical fiction at it’s prime. The tidbits dropped throughout will pique your interest in learning more about the time period. The word pictures will show you a glimpse of the majesty of the Library of Congress as well as the job early librarians performed there. There is mention of a scene with both characters that can be a little triggering if you have had abuse in your past. It is superbly written as to get my heart racing when I read it, like I was there. Alcohol abuse is mentioned as well as brief mention of physical abuse. For this reason, it is recommended for older teens and adult reading.

I absolutely loved it!! It was the right pace for the story to unfold. It didn’t feel rushed. There are so many layers to the characters, and you will be irritated with Luke right along with Anna! Go out and buy this one!

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

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Every Tear a Memory by Myra Johnson


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Joanna Trapp found adventure serving in France as a “Hello Girl” for the Army Signal Corps, but she still mourns her doughboy sweetheart killed in battle. Returning to Hot Springs, Arkansas, she takes a job as a switchboard operator at the Arlington Hotel and quickly discovers that after her experiences overseas, civilian life proves dull.

Thomas Ballard still regrets he was medically ineligible to serve in the war and feels inferior to those who did, especially his war-hero brother, Gilbert. When Thomas finds himself attracted to Joanna, he strives to match her adventurous spirit, when all he really wants is to settle down, raise a family, and earn respect as a successful businessman. As romance blossoms, can two such different people learn to accept not only their own but each other’s God-created individuality . . . or will love change them both?

My Review:

There is a frightful lack of communication in this story, which makes it a little frustrating to read. I always wish people would speak to one another. Lily was one of the most complex enigma’s as her siblings and she refuse to communicate with one another. They keep secrets that didn’t need to be kept. But then, that is the perfect picture of teenagers at that time in their life.

However, despite this, I found that the story was interesting. Joanna finds a job working as a switchboard operator, which I find fascinating. The prejudice against women was still alive and well in this time period as demonstrated through  the story. Women were held to much higher standards than men, not much unlike they are today still.

This book would be appropriate for teens, although it does have a romantic story in it.

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

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Hidden Blessings by Kim Tate

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko cover53099-medium

Description: Diagnosis: breast cancer. Prognosis: terminal. Life: only beginning. Her diamond caught the sun’s rays and refracted glittered light about the room. She’d asked herself again and again: How could she be so blessed? Partner at a prestigious law firm, engaged to the man of her dreams . . . there was no doubt. God had smiled on Kendra Woods. But the moment Kendra is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, her world collapses. Within days, Derek backs out of the wedding and the firm suggests a leave of absence during her treatment. Of all the roles Kendra has played over the years—daughter, sister, friend, student, attorney, bride-to-be—cancer patient seems the most unwelcome in the world. When her path crosses with youth pastor Lance Alexander, Kendra sees only the troublemaker she knew in high school. But Lance could prove an unexpected spark. In the darkness that covers her, will Kendra be able to embrace a glimmer of hope?

My Review: I put off reading this book because of the content. However, I was touched by the depth in which this book went into the pain of someone that is dying of cancer would or might suffer. She did so without making it grim or horrible. The story is a of a touching love story, but also one of redemption. Kendra had everything, yet realized she would give it all for longer to live. This story hits some hard hitting topics of death, infidelity, forgiveness, redemption and love. I enjoyed the story, even with the subject matter and was sorry I put it off so long! This book does contain some mentions of things that make it an adult or more mature teen.

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

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Motherless by Erin Healy

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Book Description

Guilt may be the most dangerous motive of all.

On a rainy night seventeen years after his wife’s presumed suicide, Garrett Becker sees her walking down the street. A car accident snatches him away from this world before he can reach her.

Marina has spent her whole life mothering her brother, who suffers from an anxiety disorder. After their father’s accident, they face losing their home-the only place Dylan’s fears are held at bay.

Crushing debt is just one of their father’s secrets. Old keepsakes lead Dylan to believe their mother is alive and lives nearby. Sara Rochester is a successful chocolatier who doesn’t dwell on her past and never expected the resurrection of its ghosts. But after Dylan confronts her, Sara consents to parent the only way she knows how: with money, chocolate, and a gross deficit of experience.

Sara’s hesitant presence divides Marina and Dylan. Marina doesn’t believe that Sara is their mother. The woman’s paper-thin lies suggest she might even be responsible for their mother’s death. When Marina’s suspicions spark an investigation, no one is prepared for the tragic truth or the powerful redemption that Marina’s actions expose.

Narrated by a storyteller with more to lose than any other character, Motherless is a richly layered mystery about the power of perception-and deception-among people seeking forgiveness for irreversible sins.

About the Author

Erin Healy is the bestselling coauthor of Burn and Kiss (with Ted Dekker) and an award-winning editor for many bestselling authors. She is a member of ACFW and Academy of Christian Editors. Her novels include such thrilling stories as Never Let You Go, The Baker’s Wife, Stranger Things, and Motherless. She and her family live in Colorado.

My Review:

Erin Healy’s books are unique. One of the things that makes them unique for me is that often they require extra brain power to  understand the path the story is taking. Her words catch you, entrap you in a snare that pulls you in despite the irritation of having to work to sometimes follow the storyline. In the end, you cannot believe you thought about setting the story down.

This story builds on itself. Mental Illness, paranoia, mystery and a supernatural being all have a place in this book.

At first, I was struggling as I mentioned, with the story. But something about the book, drew me and I couldn’t put it down until I was finished. The true feelings that the writer describes are throughout this story. The helpless feeling of a person married to a mentally ill spouse. You start to doubt yourself and wonder if what you believe happened, really did happen. In this story, she will have the reader doubting the story. I am not sure what genre to really classify this book, but it was similar  in style to Ms. Healy’s earlier book The Baker’s Wife.


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


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Words that we speak…

“If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.”

This old proverb came to mind the other day and in the past few days was pounded into my head. The news is rampant with stories of all kinds as always. But what struck me more, was the words, comments and cutting remarks that were made. Many were about people that were unknown to the commenter. They, however, became the judge, jury and sentencer all in one.

I had painful words tossed at me in the last while. I realized, even as I told myself “They are not true.” the pain still went in like a knife. I thought about sunshine, roses, beaches and still it felt like pebbles were falling like rain. The shards of glass entered, despite my positive words. I turned the music up, but I could still hear them.

I heard them replaying as I filled my mind with the sweet words of hope.


Why do the painful words replay while the sweet ones take longer to sink in?

I am not sure how or why, but I do realize that I need to be more watchful of my words. If we followed this old proverb more, we may stop before we comment, post or speak to our loved one.

I plead with myself to work hard at this, while at the same time when those shards of glass come the next time, I pray that I can have figured out what shield protects me.

I will remind myself that I am not a failure, even though I may be told that.

I am going to work hard, even if I fail in small things.

I will accept how I look, and work to change what I can, without putting myself down.

I will love freely, without being afraid of the pain when it is rejected.

I honestly don’t know if there is a shield to protect.  But I believe that if I work to conquer  the fears that the words hold an echo of truth, I will build one.

In the mean time, I will work to see if I can prevent causing that kind of pain to others. If I accidentally cause pain, I hope that I am forgiven. This, even as I forgive those that have caused the pain that I am healing from in my own heart.

There is hope. There is healing from the painful words.


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