Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Katharina von Bora has seen nothing but the inside of cloister walls since she was five. In a daring escape, Katharina finds refuge with Martin Luther and seeks his help to pair her with the noble, wealthy husband she desires.

As class tensions and religious conflicts escalate toward the brink of war, Martin Luther believes that each day could be his last and determines he will never take a wife.

As the horrors of the bloody Peasant War break out around them, the proud Katharina and headstrong Martin Luther fight their own battle for true love, in one of the greatest love stories of history.

My Review:

One of my favorite books growing up was “Queen of the Reformation”. I don’t know how many times I read that book, but I have always had a soft spot for Katherine, the nun that married Luther.
For that reason, I immediately snatched the chance to read this book before it’s release date. I was not disappointed. Ms. Hedlund captured the exhausting efforts that surrounded Luther as a radical reformer.

The guilt that plagued the monks and nuns that turned their backs on their vows to the church, was an all consuming one.
I really enjoyed how she carried you through the story, showing the imperfect characters that they were, yet preserving the history while not turning this into a sordid romance.

There is some romantic scenes, but they are not the focus in this novel. There is mention of severe torture, rape, murder, as well as hints of impropriety along with enough details to know where the marriage bed would lead to. For that reason, I would recommend this book for adults or mature teens that are used to reading stories of the martyrs etc. The content would not even phase those types.

This book reminds us that while now, many of these names are just the names of church denominations, they were real people. Real people that lived and died for what they believed in.

The release date on this book is October 6th. You can pre-order it now on Amazon

Luther and Katharina 

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Sorry I’m Not Sorry by Nancy Rue

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description:

Bullies aren’t born mean-through the vicious cycle of mean, bullies are made.

According to the Ambassadors 4 Kids Club, one out of every four students is bullied-and 85% of these situations never receive intervention. Parents, students, and teachers have amped up solving the bullying problem for a networked generation of kids.

Written by bestselling author Nancy Rue, each book in the Mean Girl Makeover trilogy focuses on a different character’s point of view: the bully, the victim, and the bystander. The books show solid biblical solutions to the bullying problem set in a story for tween girls.

Sorry I’m Not Sorry tells the story of Kylie Steppe, former queen bee of Gold Country Middle School. After bullying a fellow GCMS student, Kylie has been expelled-and she has to attend mandatory counseling. Without her posse to aid her and other peers to torment, Kylie focuses on the person who stole her GVMS popularity crown: Tori Taylor. As Kylie plots revenge on Tori, she attends therapy sessions, where she reveals a few details that might explain why she finds power in preying on her middle school peers. After a rough year with bullying backfire, will Kylie decide to become more empathetic with her peers?

It’s hard for tweens to imagine why a bully acts the way she does. Sorry I’m Not Sorry shows girls that they hold the power to stop bullying through mutual understanding and acts of love.

My Review:

 

Nancy Rue has a new series of books written about bullying. The unique part of this is you experience in the first part of the series it from the bullied and how to deal with it. Then you see the side of the bully in this book. When the bully becomes the bullied, can anyone believe she can change?

This book would be excellent for a mother and daughter to read together and discuss. If your child has experienced bullying or shows any signs of being a bully especially. This is a wonderful series that will help young people in fiction format, but is a good self help book as well. I think it can also be a helpful series for adult to read that have struggled with dealing with adult bullies as well.

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The ultimate put down for the Christian Novel…

There are so many cliches in Christian fiction writing. But worse than the cliches, are the people that assume that all Christian fiction that is written in a more modern time, contains them.

However, lately, I have seen a trend, that when Christian fiction writers break out of the cliche moulds, the ultimate put down is to say “It is not a Christian book.”

So, I would ask, what makes a Christian book?

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Everyone has their opinions, their ideas. For myself, a book that demonstrates the Christian life, showing the characters walking  it out, without using the words, but more actions. Through this, they offer hope.

Hope is what sums up the difference to me.  There are certain things that will not be contained in a Christian novel, if the characters are living a Christian life.

For me, it comes down to personal standards. Everyone has different ones.

When I was growing up, often all fiction was looked down upon. If you ever said you enjoyed reading fiction, it was as if you said you enjoyed sinning on a regular basis. It was not something you said.

I remember reading or hearing women share about how romance novels were similar to porn, and being confused. I had never read a “real” romance novel until I had been married a long time and suddenly realized what they were speaking of. However, they swept all the books that had any type of romantic love into one basket and classified it all as the same. It was not until I saw the vast difference that I realized one very, very large difference.

Hope.

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Hope speaks through the lives of real Christian characters or characters that come to the Lord throughout the book. I have read some very good books that are not Christian, but the flavor stands apart.

I think sometimes we forget that when we judge a book on it’s standards of Christianity, we are judging the author. We are saying what we think of how they view their relationship with God. When we freely claim it is not a Christian book, when it is claiming to be one, we are judging the person, not the book.

We so often forget the person behind the book, as we see the printed page. The cutting “Christian” words we can use in a slighting book review or fast post on FB can really damage someone’s heart. While there can be a need for that, we can do it in a kind way.

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June/July

I don’t know if this happens to everyone, but if in the year something really hard happens to me, it generally will be in June or July.

I brace myself for it now.

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It is not the healthiest to prepare for the worst all the time. But then again, isn’t it?

My friend spent some time ribbing me a bit the other day after in discussing her new, beautiful deck, I just happened to name about five things that could go wrong with it or could happen if not prevented. For me, that is normal life.

I look to the future, not as something to be dreaded, but the danger to be prevented and watched for. It might be because I am the watchman of the house. I am the care taker and the main decision maker. That makes me two steps ahead on every decision, large or small.

One thing I really had made clear to me the last few days, people really can be mean online. They may not say something to my face, but they will say it online.

I am a straight forward person. Most of the time, if I would say it online, I would say it to your face. I work hard to do that.

On top of all the normal bad things that normally happen in June/July, I have been treated badly by others, mostly online. Some of it was because I chose to voice a different opinion than they had. Another was because I chose to look at a bad situation and see what I could learn from it in a positive way.

All that to say, you never know what someone has going on behind the scenes. When you want to vent, rant and rave or even disagree with someone online, stop for a moment. Think if you would say it to their face. If not, rephrase it.

See what else you can do to speak in a way that will bring life to others, not just display your anger, ignorance or just plain complaints for the world to see.

Try to be a peacemaker, not a warmonger.

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A River Too Deep by Sydney Betts

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

In the spring of 1817, Alcy Callen and her father visit a step-uncle they have long presumed dead; but instead of enjoying a loving reunion, they are plunged into treachery and deceit. Nothing is as they expected and little is what it seems. Even the man who helps her escape is not the reliable suitor he appears. Alcy is caught between gratitude and fear, unable to avoid her rescuer’s attentions or understand the responses they stir. Neither can she tell what sort of man he is or what he intends to do with her in the strange place they are going. Will he keep her for himself or will he sell her to the highest bidder? Of one person only is she certain, but will he come for her before it is too late?

My Review:

This book is set at a time in history that is not often written of. I think it would be a good novel for a older high school student that is studying the era, to get the feel for Native American life. I say older high school students as there is hints of impropriety between some of the characters, as well as some minor details of violence towards women amid the tribes. I am not familiar with some of the accuracy surrounding the tribes of that time, but it does give you a great glimpse into their daily lives and rituals.

I really enjoyed how this book, told in the first person, when it spoke of how she brought the gospel message to the Native Americans, but was seeking to becomes assimilated with them. I am not sure how often that happened in that time period.  There were a few things that were hard to follow in the telling of the story, but overall a interesting historical fiction story. I checked for any historical documentation on the story, but it was not included with the book. I would have loved to see that!

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Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life—and love—altered her plans. Now she’s home again—with a floundering farm to run…a tragic secret…and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives—including their own.

My Review:

It is amazing to me when a suspense author writes contemporary fiction. It is even more astounding to me when she rocks at it, better than her suspense books (which are very good). I have not just liked each one of Irene Hannon’s newest contemporary books, but sincerely enjoyed them. They hit nerves in places that you do not expect to be touched in.

This book touches on two individuals with pain in their past. The set up of building a relationship is subtle and skillfully woven. While not filled with suspense as to what will be the ending, you feel the build up is so relatable. I loved the backstory of secondary characters as well. I highly recommend this read!

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

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The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren

The Wonder of You

The Wonder of You

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Mortified after her semester abroad is cut short, Amelia Christiansen returns to Deep Haven, certain she isn’t brave enough for the adventures she’s dreamed of. The last thing she expects is for the man who broke her heart to cross the Atlantic and beg forgiveness.

Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance—even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.

While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her new place mean leaving home behind?

My Review:

Ms. Warren’s books hold a special place on my shelves and my heart. The Russian interjections always make me smile, and this book was no exception.

I loved the orphaned Russian girl story line. Amelia’s romance was good, but I enjoyed seeing what the rest of the family was dealing with as well. You will want to get and read the rest of the series before reading this one. It, however, should be on your must read list.

The cover is so pretty. I think you have to fall in love with the characters just from the cover, but even with that aside, the description prose of the life of a Christian family will make you dig deep. It will help you deal with things in your own heart and family as you live it with the Christiansen’s.

This book was provided for me for review by Tyndale Blog Network. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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When Despair holds you for ransom…

I was listening to some of my favorite music and the line “When despair holds me for ransom..” stood out to me.

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I am reminded that even when life is out of control, that I feel that I have Someone to turn to.

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I have been through some hard times in my life. This last month started with a very peaceful time. Then it was as if all the chaos that could break loose did.

It does not mean that everything is easy. That nothing bad will happen or that I will be fine even. I have been having panic episodes. But while not everyone derives comfort from believing in God, I find my comfort in Him.

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Life is not the easiest at the moment. I am grieving the loss of someone dear to me, the loss of other things I expected to have in my life and the fear of not knowing the future. The basic everyday life things are getting to me, and struggles that I have since overcome are trying to pop their little heads up into my heart.

However, I am doing okay. Despite all that, I am taking it one day at a time. I am rejoicing in many things. Life is busy. Life is hard. But God has been good to me in spite of the struggles.

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Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

 

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Book Description:

For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.

Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to her brokenness—so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but always falls short. So she keeps her passion for her secret art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée in a car crash. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater, and is shocked to learn former flame Stella is the designer for the project.

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and their pasts as they struggle to compromise and come together on a vision for the theater. Chase doesn’t understand why Stella is such a subdued version of herself, while Stella doesn’t get Chase’s constant need for productivity and speed. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase breaks through Stella’s walls and convinces her to enter her mosaic tile art in a contest.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force both Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from the broken.

About the Author

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her young daughter and has a heart for sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. A freelance journalist, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing. Visit her website at http://www.betsystamant.com Facebook: BetsySt.Amant Twitter: @betsystaman

My Review:

This is my second book to read by this author and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I really connected with Stella, the main character of the book. Betrayed, broken and feeling worthless, she is pushed into a job she doesn’t want with someone she doesn’t like. Yet, she gracefully pushes herself to do the job. While this book does not claim to talk about PTSD, it covers it in one of the best ways I have seen it portrayed in a fictional story. She makes you taste it. I could feel the despair and pain in the words. It takes a talented author to do that, and Ms. St. Amant does this skillfully. Yet, she also causes you to feel the hope as well. Despair and Hope that go hand in hand, make for the perfect combo. She has to have cupcakes mentioned in here, but no recipes in this one.

I really was touched by the story, as well as the awareness of the homeless plight as it is mentioned as well. It gets to a root of many issues that Christians have with homeless people by teaching you to know and love with Stella. Plus, you have to just love the cover! For me that was icing on the cupcake!

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

 

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A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the little girl entrusted to her care after her mother’s death. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When the teacher he’s after produces documentation that shows she’s the little girl’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is Miss Atherton villain or victim? She acts more like a loving mother than an abductress, and the children in her care clearly adore her. Should Stone break his perfect record?

Then a new danger threatens, and Charlotte is forced to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone becomes determined to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart.

My Review:

Karen’s books have a lighthearted feel to them, even though they touch on some heavier topics, it never goes too deep. This particular one involves a lot of what almost feels like Laurel and Hardy type bumbling between a strict school teacher and a  tracker. While you may end up shaking your head at the antics, questioning a few parts of the storyline, and wondering where on earth it is headed, you will enjoy it all around.

This was not my favorite of Karen’s books, but it was for sure entertaining and sometimes that is what you need.

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

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