Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

 

27066853.jpgAbout the book:

One Plucky Female Pharmacist + One High-Society Naval Officer = Romance–and Danger
For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy–even if he “is” her brother’s best friend.
During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves–and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?
Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won’t soon forget.

My Review:

What can you say about a book that seems to be the perfect read? I am not sure how I could be more of a fan of Sarah Sundin, but I have to say, I enjoyed every word of this novel.

The quirky characters, the mystery and the underlying trademark of Ms. Sundin’s depth of character dealing with tough topics and flaws.

I loved the touch on PTSD in the early days of WW2. I feel we do not have enough books that talk about characters that struggling with this. Often people imagine someone that is described as “shell shocked” as someone that cannot function beyond sitting and staring. This book met the challenge and showed Arthur as able bodied man that was dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event.

I am so looking forward to reading more of Sarah Sundin’s books as she writes them! They are worth the time. You can purchase a copy right here! It is only $8.64 for a paperback copy right now. Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

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Miriam by Mesu Andrews

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About the book:

At eighty-six, Miriam had devoted her entire life to loving El Shaddai and serving His people as both midwife and messenger. Yet when her brother Moses returns to Egypt from exile, he brings a disruptive message. God has a new name – Yahweh – and has declared a radical deliverance for the Israelites.

Miriam and her beloved family face an impossible choice: cling to familiar bondage or embrace uncharted freedom at an unimaginable cost. Even if the Hebrews survive the plagues set to turn the Nile to blood and unleash a maelstrom of frogs and locusts, can they weather the resulting fury of the Pharaoh?

Enter an exotic land where a cruel Pharaoh reigns, pagan priests wield black arts, and the Israelites cry out to a God they only think they know.

My Review:

It was a different experience reading about characters that were much older than most we read about. They were spry, hardy and still lived for many years after this according to the bible.

The history in this book was incredible. The explanations taken from Egyptian history fascinated me, as you put together the pieces of the plagues, Miriam, Moses returning to Egypt and the slavery of so many people.

The one thing I struggled a bit with, was Miriam’s jealousy that was portrayed throughout the book. I know she was jealous later, but I wondered if that was a bit much as far as conjecture on the part of the author here.

I truly enjoyed the walk through the life of Miriam in this book, and seeing what a special woman she was that God used.

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

You can purchase a copy of your own here! Miriam by Mesu Andrews 

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Dawn of Emberwilde by Sarah Ladd

 

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About the book: 

For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady yet unexciting role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would provide her a steady environment to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.

The unexpected arrival of a striking stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.

My Review:

You know how when you pick up a book and wonder why you waited so long to get it read? This was one of those books. I truly wanted to savor every page, and yet loved the story so completely.

It was not that it was not a bit fanciful, but it just had the flavor of so many books that I have loved before. I found myself immersed in the story, shutting out everything else around me and wanting more. It made me want to go back and re-read the others by this author as well.

This lovely Regency tale of an orphan being taken advantage of by wealthy relatives was not a new story, but told in a unique way that captures your heart.

You can purchase this book from your local booksellers, but it is on sale from Kindle for only $1.99 from Amazon right now. Dawn of Emberwilde 

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In America by Nina Romano

 

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About the book:

Beautiful, headstrong Marcella Scimenti has the affection of a handsome neighborhood boy, the love of her large Italian family, and serious dreams of singing in Hollywood. But the course of true love nor the journey to finding one s true self never did run smooth. “In America” follows the story of Marcella, the daughter of the characters at the center of Nina Romano s continent-spanning Wayfarer Trilogy, as she comes of age in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in the late 1920s. In the trilogy s heartwarming conclusion, Marcella must learn to balance new friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working girl with the expectations of her tradition-bound family, all against the backdrop of a looming economic depression and a changing world. Along the way, she unearths a devastating family secret that shakes her to her core and tests the boundaries of her love, loyalty, and faith.”

My Review:

I rarely review book with a low star rating, and I prefer to never have to. However, as much as I wanted to love and enjoy this book I could not.
I did really love the Italian food descriptions. It was well described to the point you felt you could taste it in your mouth. However, the positives did not move beyond that too much. The flip flop between the two characters ended up feeling choppy, broken up and just ill thought out. The focus on sex felt forced, like the author was attempting to make it “sexy” without really being that way, but then you felt like you were hearing private thoughts of someone you really didn’t know well, and someone you didn’t care enough about to know that much about them.
Although I didn’t enjoy the book, I did like the father/daughter relationship and found that to be a good come away feeling from the book. Perhaps someone else will read this book and find that it just hits the spot for them.

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Back to School?

“Mom, why do they have signs for “Back to School”? My son asked me after a trip to the store this afternoon.

“Well, son, school will be starting again in about a month and half. They want people to buy supplies now.”

Horror shone in his eyes as suddenly panic began to overwhelm both of us, thinking about getting back to the daily grind of school. “But, summer just started!”

Isn’t that how it feels so many times? I feel like the stores cause some of these panicky moments where we feel like we are behind instead of feeling ahead.

We push, push, push to get all the school in we can. Summer school! Activities packed in. Go, go, go. Work, work, work, to make the money so we can do the activities, and then we feel on the edge of collapse.

Next week is a week of doing no normal activities, and I have to say, I am looking forward to it.

I believe people should not be idle. But there is a balance between idleness and busyness. We can be too busy and sometimes, when you are poor, there is no helping that. It is life for us, to work hard.

But hard is not bad. A busy life can be a productive and good life. But choose what you are busy with and live deliberately just a bit.

Back to school? For us, we decided to not think about school for a bit, even though we need to do some reviewing. I read something that encouraged brains to allow them to refresh. My son that has trouble with focus is doing so well without the pressure of school right now. I am honestly dreading the constant push to get them to learn. I love the ease of learning through interest and sometimes get tempted to do something different as far as learning.

Let’s not be like the stores. Let’s not rush winter, into summer clothing. Rush summer to back to school. Let’s enjoy the moments we have and not think of what we have to do every day in the future. Enjoy the day that is here.

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A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

While Lydia King’s reasons for joining the Teaville Moral Society might be suspect to some members, her heart is in the right place. Because of her father’s debts and her mother’s persistent illness, her best chance at a secure future and curing her mother is to impress the politician courting her. Her first task–to ask the town’s wealthiest man to donate–seems simple enough . . . until he refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas Lowe wants to help others, but prefers to keep his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, but Nicholas still intends to do things his own way. Neither predicts what they’ll learn about true charity or foresee the complications their actions will bring to the town, forcing Lydia to decide where her beliefs and heart truly align.

My Review:

I have to say that I wasn’t sure what to think of the first chapter of this book. I was mistakenly thinking it was a rewrite of a Charles Dicken’s novel and set it aside for awhile. I am so glad I picked it back up, because after the first chapter, I was hooked. 

This story took me on a journey I did not expect. Nicholas Lowe, hard skin flint, widower  and the Lydia, the daughter of a drunken gambler and dying mother were not that unusual of characters, but how Ms. Jagears portrays them is what is unique. If you don’t want to see any of the seedy underbelly of the time period, this probably not the book you want to pick up. While nothing descriptive is included, it is eluded to. Gamblers, dance halls, brothels, and the selling of under age women are all eluded to in this book. It is not a pretty sight, but you also, without the details, get to see what life was like for the less fortunate of that time. 

Most of all, you get to see how the church handled things and see glimpses of the modern church, hidden behind talk of freedom and love for all. It was a fascinating story. This book is released August 2nd and is available for pre-order. A Heart Most Certain 

This book was given to me for my honest review by NetGalley and Bethany House. The opinions contained herein are my own. 

 

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Almost like being in Love by Beth Vogt

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Winning an all-expenses paid Colorado destination wedding might seem like a dream come true for some people—but Caron Hollister and her boyfriend Alex Madison aren’t even engaged. How is she supposed to tell him she’s won their wedding and honeymoon when he hasn’t asked her to marry him? Being “perfect for one another” seems like the absolute best reason to get married. But what if their supposedly faultless relationship is merely a safe place to protect his secrets and a way to keep their families happy? After quitting her job, Caron accepts her best friend’s offer to visit Colorado. She needs to catch her breath. Who knows, maybe visiting the destination wedding site will make a future with Alex seem like a reality.

Kade Webster just landed the biggest deal of his life with his company, Webster Select Realty, participating in the Colorado Springs Tour of Homes. He never imagined he would run into the woman who broke his heart—Caron Hollister—right when his career is taking off. Seeing her again, Kade can’t help but wonder why Caron walked away from him years ago, leaving him with no explanation. When Kade learns his home stager won’t be able to help with the Tour of Homes, he vaults past all the reasons he should stay away from Caron, and offers her a temporary job helping him on the project. This time, their relationship is purely business.

My Review:

Beth Vogt’s books take relationship to a whole new level. She doesn’t give you the traditional cliche romance, but instead she takes people with broken lives and gives you their romance. Caron, Alex, Cade and others in this book do not have perfect lives. Things do not always go according to plan.

I especially loved how the “Wounded Warriors” are mentioned as well as other little mentions of real organizations that help others.

But most of all, I loved how they addressed the issues with the father/daughter relationship and mother/son relationship in this book. It was done in such a healthy way that you could have been reading a self help book in fiction form, but without the cliche “Do this, not that” sayings. Instead, you got to see it lived out. What if your long term boyfriend and you were not right for one another? Would you be brave enough to say anything? How do you know? Is it ever right to stand up to your parents and let them know they are doing wrong? When is the right time?

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

 

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A Tapestry of Secrets by Sarah LoudinThomas

 

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Now in her eighties, Perla Phillips has carried a secret since she was eighteen years old. When she sees her granddaughter, Ella, struggling for perfection, she decides to share her secret to show that God can use even the biggest mistakes for good. But before she can reveal what happened during that summer sixty years ago, she has a debilitating stroke.

Carrying a secret of her own, Ella arrives back in Wise, West Virgina, to help her aunt Sadie care for Perla. Both know the woman wanted to tell them something, but she’s now locked in silence. Together they begin looking into the past, but they may learn more than they expected.

Will they have the courage to share their hearts? Or will the truth remain buried forever?

My Review:

I was very anxious to know Perla’s secret, and as we read, I wanted it to be revealed a little faster. It made more sense when I realized this was actually the first book this author wrote, and she ended up publishing the others first. I loved Ella. She was just such a likable character for me. I related to her, the fear of relationship, but also Perla, in her frustration of communication.

This generational story is told in pieces, much like a quilt. You start to lobby for the different relationships throughout the book, and wonder what will be. Nothing is certain until the end. This third book in the series will answer some questions, but you will want to enjoy the previous two books before reading it.

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

 

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Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the Book:

After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who’s invaded the house with her motley crew.
As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?
Three-time RITA Award winner Irene Hannon takes readers back to Hope Harbor for a new season of charm, romance, and second chances.

My Review:

I have enjoyed Irene Hannon’s contemporary books, as well as her suspense books. This series is a really nice, easy going, change over. The tidbits of real life, guilt and how it affects each of the characters lives made this a winner.

Plus, you will be totally craving tacos when you are done, hopefully with mango salsa. Charley’s Tacos really should come out with a recipe book. I don’t even like fish tacos, but I found my mouth watering over the simple descriptions of the flavorful tacos, slaw and salsa.

Overall, I loved the immigration twist that Ms. Hannon threw in. It was really informative on the inside, without being “preachy” or “in your face”. Charley was one of my favorite sub characters, but of course, I loved the story that carried through with helping the elderly throughout as well.

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

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Fear…gift or curse?

Is fear a gift or a curse? I believe it can be both.

I recently, at the suggestion of a friend of mine, read the book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker

It was an amazing book that really helped me to see some of the positives of fear, the feeling in your “gut” or intuition. But what else it helped me with, was to be able to identify when fear can be a curse.

We all know someone that allows fear of something to control them. It is not always wrong. Perhaps someone had a traumatic event occur and they are in the healing process. It is normal to avoid reoccurring events. It may appear to not make sense to others, but to them it is a certain and real fear.

But what about when fear endangers our lives? It then becomes a curse, risking not only us, but our children.

I grew up surrounded by people that allowed fear to control their lives. It began with the fear of the government. All fears are based in some truth, so others listened to the fear and carried it a bit further. When you are surrounded by people that allow fear to control them, eventually you attract some very interesting people.

There was a man that refused to speak. He would wander in the woods, occasionally whispering in a foreign language, stealing useless items and wrapping them in paper. Some thought something was messed up in his mind, especially when he fixated his odd gifts on a young woman in the church. Low and behold one day, we discovered that not only could he speak, but he spoke in perfect English with a British accent. What could make a man stay silent and alone for so many years?

The woman that dressed in odd supposedly Amish clothing, told stories that bordered on the truth about a life of seclusion, abuse and odd cultures among a group of Amish that no one knew if they really existed. We never proved it, but in the end, we believed she actually had kidnapped the children she claimed to be her own, possibly from an Amish community. We proved her stories wrong numerous times, and she eventually tried to use her fear of losing control to seek to sow discord among anyone that knew us. ‘

Then there were the con artists. They piled things around the entire interior of their house, to protect themselves from outsiders. She claimed to be a doctor, but did not even know how to take blood pressure. A large German shepherd dog graced the home, warning others to take care. Every opportunity they had to seek to cause an issue, they took, claiming fear of authority, government, and refusing to get real work. They would vanish for time periods, dress oddly and then suddenly change appearances. When we discovered they were on the most wanted list for embezzlement and identity theft, we were not surprised. It made a lot more sense then.

So, what do all these stories have in common with fear? Their fear of something, either the establishment, authority, led them to make up stories, that appeared to be based in facts. They were able to lead gullible people down a path, that had we not pursued the truth, we would have been conned, harmed or worse. The cautions about not going to the doctor when you were ill or hurt, don’t call poison control, don’t call the police if someone is being hurt were common place. There were always good reasons behind it.

“Oh, we believe God is the healer. He could heal that cut on your head if it is His will.”

“God created us as women to give birth. Why do we need a midwife or someone to oversee the birth. We were created for this. If we die, it must have been His will. What if they did something your baby when you were not looking?”

“If you go in and get a PKU test, they will keep your baby’s blood and maybe they will do all sorts of things with it. Or they will be suspicious of you and come to visit. Who knows what they would try to find and take away your children from you. Don’t do it!”

“If you call poison control, they will make a file on you, and if you have too many, they will call CPS and you will be investigated. CPS is horrible and they take children and ask questions later.”

I remember the first time I called poison control for my own children. I was shaking. I was so afraid that they were going to come and take my children away from me, but my son had eaten cucumber melon soap and I needed to know what to do. I was shocked and surprised when a very kind lady on the other line reassured me that it would be okay, told me what to do and let me know it was a popular flavor for children to eat. It was as though suddenly a weight was lifted off my chest. It was okay to get advise from a medical professional and they did not judge me. I was not a bad parent for calling.  I realized that neglect can be when we allow fear to allow us to over shelter, over protect, and under treat our children as well as the flip side. We often are so fearful of the one, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to the con artists, abusers that would isolate us, and those that would not allow us to reach out for help. We have been told a lie.

Yes, there are bad in the law enforcement. Yes, there are bad CPS workers. Not everyone that works for poison control is kind. But the majority of them are servants to the people. They are there for us. We are truly blessed to live in a nation where help is readily available, and we do not have to watch our children die. If we choose to allow that, then the questions begin to come.

So, let go of those fears. Use your instincts. If you want to ask someone for advice, talk to professionals that know what they are doing. Don’t ask on Facebook or Google. You can always call and not give your name if you would like, but generally that can arouse more suspicion. In the end, give your fear wings, and let it fly away. Read the book I listed above and learn how to program yourself to listen to the good parts of fear and let the others go.

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