The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

My Review:

The story is one that warms your heart and has little surprises along the way. I didn’t really expect some of the little twists that the story had, but it ended with little surprises.

A fun historical mixed with the taste of a contemporary novel, I found a learned a bit. This author does a great job of bringing you into a somewhat unique story and making you care.

The history of coal mining in the Appalachia, plus just the flavor of the era and people make you enjoy the simplicity of it, as well as being caught between two worlds as the young people in the story are.
The book was provided to my by Bethany House and NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.
You can purchase your own copy from Amazon. “Sound of Rain”

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The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

Falling into the past will change their futures forever.

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues – particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath.  While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by the other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

My Review:

I love that you never know what you are going to get in a Katherine Reay book as far as storyline. But you do know that you will get good story. I loved this story. I mean, I really did. And it is not just because I am someone that loves Jane Austen. Her way of giving us story while addressing serious life issues without any type of feeling traumatized is a gift.

For one, I would love to go on one of these excursions. It would be so much fun to be able to embrace that and experience it, but I, like the characters in the book, would need the internet to keep up at work.

I loved how topics like disassociation, abusive parents, issues with relationships were all part of this novel, but not the focus of the novel. If you did not relate to it, you likely would miss it. Many people would totally not see it at all. But for those that need it, it was there.

If you are an Austen lover, this has to be on your Christmas gift list. It is available from Amazon and wherever books are sold.

“The Austen Escape” 

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The Words of Kindness

“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.”

Caroline Lake Ingalls

 

Often I think when we say words, correcting someone or telling someone what to do, I often wonder if we remember this little proverb.

I think that in this life, we have so many times listened to the words either spoken to us or even the unspoken words, with looks that mean something else and felt their sting.

I was thinking after taking part in an exercise, where you looked at other people and told them things that we saw they contributed of value to others and  in the world in general. Some these people I did not know well, but after spending a weekend together, many of their gifts shone forth.

As I returned to “normal” life, I found myself wondering how much was the truth and struggled to not fall into the pit of doubt.

Life is hard. I mean, it just is. There are so many everyday errors people may either believe you made or you actually did make. In the end, you can throw up your hands and scream or you can keep pushing on.

I can sit and ask myself the questions that roll around in my head day after day.

“What do I offer of value?”

“Are the positive words right that I have heard others say, or are they simply saying what they think they should say?”

“Are the critical words actually the truth?”

“How can I change my impact on others to be more positive?”

My mind starts to buzz with how I can change myself to be more a person of impact on others, but then as I start to do this, asking the questions, I wonder “Are those really the right questions?”  I know that I have always believed in self sacrifice, long suffering, meekness and all those things. It seems so counterproductive to say that I need to focus on the positive things about myself.

Instead asking/saying, “Do you believe in yourself? Do you think you can do this? Do you think you made the wrong choice? You messed up? That’s ok. Pick up and move on.”

There is someone I have been acquainted with, that rarely says a positive thing about anyone, unless she knows them very well. In fact, I can generally count on her saying something negative about someone until she gets to know them.

I know other people that will look at a person and if they are not fitting in the correct racial or belief boxes, they mark them off the list of approved people.

The list could go on and on. We all know those kind of people. They are not the people we tend to want to hang out with as we know that if we end up displeasing them in some way, we will be on that list.

Instead, I think of how I would love to be surrounded by people that love others despite flaws. They may not be perfectly dressed, believe the same as you, walk, talk or act like you, but they are valued and loved.

I have many friends and acquaintances that are so totally different from me, that I cherish having them in my life. I tend to be drawn to the ones that fit outside the box. It is the stories I want to tell and write. The overcomers, the “damaged” ones that succeed, the success stories. They are the ones that love best because they know pain.

As I write my stories, I never know what will become of them, but one day, I hope others will read them and love them as well.

But for now, I am going to think about Caroline Ingall’s saying, and let wisdom guide my words. I may need to look and find someone to say a positive word to. I may need to hold my tongue when a critical word comes my way. But in the end, I need to remember that I have to believe it as truth when someone tells me something they appreciate about me.

It is a choice that I must make to survive.

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The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

My Review:
Looking for a lighter read with a chick lit feel, with relatable characters? This one might be the key that fits that lock for you. The character grows in her faith throughout the book, but is completely fallible. By this, I mean, she messes up a lot.
However, through everything, I loved the raw, gritty honesty she portrays. The romantic thread between two older unique characters really round out this book, but is not really one that I would recommend for the teen reader. That is not to say it is inappropriate, but it is more topics that would be best understood by those with more maturity.
This book is unique in a world of similar books and I really liked so many things about it. It did not hit every facet of my enjoyment scale, but it came pretty close.
I would say, don’t read this novel if you are looking for dealing with hard issues in a detailed way or realistic romance. But it does get to the heart of a few issues within the church with lighthearted jabs that pack a punch.
You can purchase it on Amazon. “The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck”.
Look for it and find it! I received this book through NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

My Review:
Sometimes you read a book that you finish and you go, “Good book.” Other times you don’t enjoy the book as much and move on easily.
This was neither of those. This was a book that I finished and thought, “Wow. I wish I had not just read that book as I would like to read it again!”
Elizabeth Camden is an exceptional author, but I love her unique characters. They have quirks, fun personalities, and flaws, yet you can love getting to know them while learning amazing historical facts without even realizing it.
Carrier pigeons, Morse code, newsrooms, spies, and narcissistic/abusive family members are only a few of the topics covered in this fast paced story. It is one you will not want to put down.
Elizabeth Camden is one of the authors that is an automatic buy for me. I see she has a new book out and I don’t even stop to think if I will enjoy it.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her writing and books! I never think I can have one that tops my favorites by her, and then another one comes along.
I obtained this book through NetGalley and Bethany House publishers. The opinions contained herein are my own.
You can purchase your own copy, (and I encourage you to do so) at local booksellers and online. “A Dangerous Legacy” 

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Launch Your Dream by Dale Partridge

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description

Bestselling author and serial entrepreneur Dale Partridge provides a concrete, easily executed plan for readers looking to start a business that will result in greater freedom, a stronger family, and healthier finances.

Dale Partridge, bestselling author and founder of StartupCamp.com and many other highly successful businesses, has helped thousands of people launch new startup businesses—and find unimaginable freedom in the process—through his highly acclaimed Startup Camp program. In Launch Your Dream, Partridge distills the essence of that course into a hyper-practical, 30-day journey for readers looking to follow their passions and realize their dreams. In clear, easily grasped steps, he teaches readers how to hone their ideas, build an audience, construct an online presence, launch a business, master social media, craft a beautiful brand, and create experiences that keep customers from ever considering competitors. Sharing time-saving “smartcuts” to make readers more efficient, Partridge also helps them identify and resolve business-killing blind spots.

For anyone looking simply to make money on the side or seeking to become a millionaire, for the CEO or the stay-at-home mom, for the would-be entrepreneur or the freelancer, Launch Your Dream provides the steps necessary to begin living your dream in just 30 days.

My Review:

I was encouraged as I picked up this book, at how simply it was laid out for the dreamer seeking to launch a business. As a newer business owner, I really appreciated that. I did not do all the steps as of yet, but as I read, I realized how encouraged I was to be on the right path!

Each chapter has the estimated time it would take you to read it, as well as an assignment to complete the task explained in the chapter. It is concise and would be excellent for young high school students wishing to launch their dream in an organized manner.

When I finished this book, I purchased a copy of “People over Profit”  on audio, for my son and I to listen to.

I would highly recommend this book to new business owners, those unfamiliar with social media marketing and anyone that is just starting up or needs a fresh start in their business. It has excellent tips and goals to achieve.

I obtained this book through BookLook Bloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.

To purchase your own copy, Amazon sells it as well as other retailers. “Launch your Dream”

I felt this book did an excellent job of practical advice towards launching your dream beyond the basics. Pick on up today! This one is also available on audio!

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To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description

Can a railroad man and a Southern Belle turned teacher find a way to work together to achieve their dreams in the new reality of the post-Civil War South?

Sylas Rutledge, former gambler and new owner of the East Line Railway, invests everything he has into this venture, partly to see if he can do it—but mostly to avenge his father.

Spurning her family’s wishes that she marry, Alexandra Donelson is pursuing her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen’s university in the United States. But her family does not approve, and ultimately, her father expels her from the family home and cuts her off completely.

Set at Nashville’s historic Belle Meade Plantation, To Wager Her Heart is a sweeping Southern love story about a nation mending after war, the struggle to move a country forward, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves for who they truly are—and can be—with each other.

My Review:

As I read the description above, (since I didn’t write it), I found myself wondering at how much it leaves out. This has to be one of my favorite books by this author. I have not been so deeply moved by a novel in quite some time. While this description makes it sound romance centric, it really is not.

Instead, you will find yourself experiencing more of what the Fisk University students experienced, I was riding the train when there was an accident, or so I felt when I finished this novel. I experienced the historical events as they happened, and found myself close to tears several times.

I had heard of Fisk University and the Jubilee Singers on Adventures in Odyssey, but otherwise, have not read much about them. Phillip Bliss is a well known name to me and others that come up in this novel.

This story is not just about two broken people that found healing, it is a story that can help you understand what many faced in that time period, but also find healing yourself through their story.

I obtained this book from BookLookBloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.

This book is available for purchase through Amazon and other book retailers. I highly recommend you set money aside to purchase it straight away!

“To Wager Her Heart”

You will not be sorry you did, even if you have not read the previous books in the series.

 

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The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

In 1927, Margie Lane, an avid naturalist, convinces her Senator father to procure her a position at the fledgling Mount Rainier National Park. Since Ranger Ford Brannon lost his father in a climbing accident, he doubts his ability to protect the park and its many visitors. He certainly doesn’t relish the job of watching over an idealistic and privileged young woman with no practical survival skills.
When Margie’s former fiance sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, Margie and Ford will have to work together to preserve the beauty and simplicity of this mountain hideaway, but the developer’s plans might put more than just the park in danger.

My Review:

I was not sure what to expect from this novel and it sat on my “TBR” pile for a bit waiting for the right moment to pick it up. When a review came across my feed letting me know that others found it humorous, it was the encouragement I needed to pick it up.
While I did not find it over the top humorous as it is really not that type of book, I did find the history of Mount Rainer and Tacoma fascinating. I lived in Tacoma as a child when my parents were in YWAM, so it gave me a point of reference.
This book, while on the lighter side in many ways, does briefly touch on abuse by a significant other and parents that are controlling.
I found that I loved the quirky packrat, and her adventures with wildlife as those made me smile!
If you enjoy history and would love a great story about national parks, pick this one up.

It is available for purchase from Amazon. “The Road to Paradise”

This book was received from Blogging for books. The comments are my own and no one else.

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An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Hunter

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

 

My Review:

It is not often that you read a book where you feel the author really made it a point to bring the point home on how hard it was to be a beauty.

I felt this story really showed the drastic measures that men took in the time period to use and abuse their power over women and their families, while playing with their heart.

The story was totally enjoyable, while not too deep, it was enjoyable and I would love to read more by this author. If you enjoy regency fiction, you will want to check this one out. It is likely my favorite by this author so far.

I received this book through NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

This book is available for purchase from Amazon.

An Inconvenient Beauty

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Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

My Review: 
I love Lynn Austin’s books. This one is not a race to the story kind of novel, but a slow build up to the fever pitch that dies down and then revs up again.

The story is written in a different style than some of her books, giving it to you in pieces, leaving you wanting in some areas as you travel through the pages and travel the globe with the two sisters. It is not a romance, even though there is mention of romantic attachments in the novel, but it is more the story of discovery. It would be excellent to go along with a homeschool study of Ancient history and world history.

The book is available for preorder on Amazon!
I obtained this book through NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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