Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

What were your favorite posts of the year?

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The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Book Description

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and she hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.

Unable to pass his message on to her father, the duke, Margaretha convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. But when Colin asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment for retrieving a lost heirloom, Margaretha discovers that she might be very wrong about both Colin and her potential betrothed.

About the Author

Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.


My Review

I have a tradition that I have been able to keep the last few years, of reading a Melanie Dickerson book on Christmas Day. It is such a nice finish to the day. I look forward to my tradition every year, just as much as raviolis and good company.

This year was no exception!  Melanie writes easy to read, young adult historical books.  While there is some light romance, it is nothing that you would not want a teen to read, while still holding the appeal of Medieval fascination.  In this one, the German princess,  obligated to marry, has chosen to marry for convenience. This concept was something that many teenage girls would have faced in the time period this book is set in. I found it especially fascinating  that Melanie Dickerson can write a book meant for teenage girls, and yet it can hold an appeal to adult readers as well. If you have not looked up her book yet, you must. If not for yourself, a teenage girl in your life. The covers alone will catch your eye!

This book was provided for me for review by Book Sneeze and the opinions contained herein are my own. (I did buy a print copy to give as a Christmas gift and am planning on buying one for myself as well, I would encourage you to do the same!)
Amazon has the eBook on sale for $1.99 right now.
The Princess Spy eBook

I review for BookLook Bloggers


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MFW Week’s 16, 17, 18 and 19

The homeschooling weeks are going by in a blur! We have been busy with getting up, pushing through school, basketball and getting ready for the holidays. We have had all sorts of transportation issues in the last month. I feel like I live in a fog half the time! I pulled out my camera after it went with the car to the repair shop, so there are not a lot of pictures of our actual school time.

P1080235 Our little school visitor

Basketball Games

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Reading with cousinsP1080231 P1080232 P1080233 P1080234 Being silly!

P1080225 P1080224 P1080219 P1080217They loved their coach and water to sit as close to him as possible!

P1080256 P1080260 A tight game in which our team won the first place trophy by one point!

We have been learning a lot with our history these last few weeks. I found that I was not happy with the lack of learning about the Oregon Trail and California Gold Rush, so we changed out the read-aloud. I am not a huge fan of the Sergeant York story myself, and we already have listened to an audio story of it. So, we are instead reading an old favorite. “The Singing Boones”.

We were reading the one day and they were explaining some of the perils of the trip. Cholera was mentioned. This led to a web search, with way more information than I ever wanted to know.

In our studies of the “Great War”, Mustard Gas was mentioned, so we brought up pictures of gas masks, patients with Mustard gas exposure, and why it was not allowed to be used now.

In high school, the study of Russian history and writing about it has been consuming us. He is in full swing basketball season, so it is tough to work hard on school and practice. We are persevering!

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Slave Again by Alana Terry


About Slave Again:

After escaping a North Korean prison camp, Mee-Kyong is hustled over the border and sold into the Chinese underworld. She vows to survive, but sheer determination and willpower won’t save her this time. Is she fated to remain a slave forever?

Slave Again is a Christian suspense novel from award-winning author Alana Terry, whose debut novel, The Beloved Daughter, won awards from Women of Faith, Grace Awards, The Book Club Network, and Readers’ Favorite.

About the Author: Alana is passionate about human-rights issues in North Korea and has devoted her writing to raise both awareness and funds to help North Korean refugees find freedom and safety. You can find out more about Liberty in North Korea and Alana’s rescue campaign at


My Review:

Slave Again is a Unique look at the story of sex trafficking between North Korea and China. There is graphic violence right off the bat, which makes this book more of an adult read. The violence is not meant for entertainment value, but to tell the story of the issues facing the young women held in slavery. Kidnapping, rape and murder are all a part of this story. In it, you read the torment that is inflicted upon this young soul, Mee-Kyong. Her search for the truth throughout the story is not always apparent, but becomes clear in the end.

I found the book unique as you do not read a lot of books with this type of subject matter. I always appreciate an author that is willing to step outside the box and give us an inside view of the not so pretty life. However, if you are sensitive this book may not appeal to you.  If you are interested in the fight to stop human trafficking here in the USA and in other countries, this book is the one to pick up.

To buy a copy… Slave Again by Alana Terry 

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A Christmas Gift for Rose by Tricia Goyer

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


I will begin this with the fact that I do not always read novellas. I certainly do not usually read Amish novellas. For some reason, at Christmas time, I find myself drawn to the shortness of them. They feed the need for a story, but yet during the busy time of year, take less time.

This Amish Christmas novella takes place during the time following World War 2. Rose’s fiancé has made the choice to serve as a non-combatant during the war. I was a little confused at first as it made it sound like he joined the military as a full serviceman, but claimed he never carried or fired a weapon. There were many Amish and Mennonites that served in non-combatant positions in hospitals as medics during World War 2. It was during that time the laws changed considering conscientious objectors. They were often persecuted, even though the law gave them the chance to serve without fighting. It was not as badly as during World War 1, where many were imprisoned. Since this was a novella, this book does not go into much of the history of that. It also refers to them as “Pacifists”. This was a title often shunned by those of Anabaptist beliefs. They were not passive in their beliefs, they simply did not believe that it was right to kill or harm someone simply because you do not agree with them or their nation. You loved your enemies instead, and sometimes quite aggressively. You could serve in non-combatant positions, but not in an office. You needed to take the jobs that were serving others. They worked as janitors, nurses, and medical personnel. But many times insisted on serving enemies and friends alike.
The book “One Boys Battle” by Christmas Carol Kauffman is a true story of one boy that served in the military.

For One Moment is another about a German boy.

There are many, many books written on this topic, which many people that are not raised as Anabaptist, struggle to understand. I think if you enjoyed A Christmas Gift for Rose and wish to understand more about this, those are good books to read.

Before I digress more so on that topic, I will talk more about the actual book. I enjoyed the adoption story in this book as well as the history behind it. The topics were heavy, but dealt with in a light manner. This makes this an ideal Christmas time read and you get a minor history lesson just from reading this review.

About the book:

Inspired by a true story, A Christmas Gift for Rose is a heartwarming novella of sacrifice and deep love.
Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But she is overwhelmed by self-doubt when she learns the truth of her birth. She was born Englisch and abandoned when her family moved West in search of work. Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind—Englischers? And was her intended’s gift of discovering her birth family given out of love or fear?
Don’t miss award-winning author Tricia Goyer’s first Christmas novella.

If you would like to win a copy of A Christmas Gift for Rose, please comment on this post and let me know where you shared about this giveaway with a comment about what you learned about Anabaptists today.
Leave an email address to contact you like this barbara(at)yahoo(dot)com

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When Treetops Glisten- By Tricia Goyer- Sarah Sundin- Cara Putman- giveaway


By Tricia Goyer- Cara Putnam- Sarah Sundin

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

When you see a book on the shelf written by this caliber of authors, you have to pick it up. The blend these three authors give to a story forms a seamless line up of three separate stories. Three characters, from the same family go their different ways in this Christmas story. Each one has their own unique story to tell, and because of this you will find yourself drawn in quickly.

The World War Two setting adds to the charm, as there are not as many Christmas stories set in that time period, even though there are several Christmas movies. I found that especially appealing. It interwove the history throughout the story of the characters that were all searching in their own way.


The theme of Christmas songs will have you humming and likely reaching for your DVD of White Christmas or CD of Bing Crosby songs. Do you want a Christmas read, but you like a little bit of depth in your “lighter” books as well? This is the book for you. It is not a heavy read, but it will make you stop and think throughout the stories. These authors are all well known for addressing issues in a very tasteful way, so this book would be appropriate for teens as well as adult readers. Topics of war are discussed, and there are some light romantic scenes, but it is done very skillfully.


I have a special giveaway to offer for commenters on my blog today! Pete’s favorite cookies were peanut butter, while there is also a recipe for White velvet cutouts in the book. What is your favorite cookie recipe? Do you have one to share with me? I am always looking for good cookie recipes! If you don’t have a favorite recipe to share with me, let me know what your favorite Bing Crosby movie is.

Make sure that you leave a valid email address to contact you as well, in case you are the winner.


 About the Authors:

Three of the most beloved Christian authors of World War II-era fiction have come together to gift their readers with the new Christmas release, Where Treetops Glisten (WaterBrook Press/September 16, 2014/ISBN: 978-1601426482/$14.99), a collection of three Christmas novellas.

Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman and Sarah Sundin invite readers to turn back the clock to days gone by as they listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow and get to know the Turner family. Each of the three siblings is forging their own paths in their own love story filled with the wonder of Christmas. Hailing from the heart of America in Lafayette, Indiana, these characters will never be the same as the reality of America’s involvement in World War II hits incredibly close to home.

The collaboration was unique and enjoyable for the writing trio. “We started in the brainstorming phase, throwing out character and family ideas and making them mesh,” explains Sundin. “The collaboration was challenging since our stories are more tightly connected than in most novella collections, but it was a lot of fun.”

In Putman’s White Christmas, college student Abigail Turner loses a beau to the war and is skittish about romance, until a young man with a serious problem needs her help. Pete Turner, a former fighter pilot in Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, is trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. In Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner (or “Merry” to those who know her best) is using her skills as a combat nurse in the Netherlands. She’ll have to face the deepest kind of betrayal a world away from her family, but that could be precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The unsettled World War II era may not at first glance seem like a backdrop for love to flourish. “Our purpose is to remind readers of the importance of family, of home, and of togetherness,” Goyer reveals. “Even in a time of war we can remain strong because of the love of God and the love of those we serve.”

Will the Turner family be able to absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for their futures even in such a tumultuous time? “There’s a freshness and sense of wonder to Christmas,” Putman says. “The idea that God would send His Son to earth as a newborn is an incredibly humbling thought. Combine that with great music, tradition and the love of family, and it becomes a magical time where almost anything seems possible.”

Readers will be able to feel the crunch of newly fallen snow under their feet as they get caught up in these stories of love and loss set against one of the most pivotal times in world history.


Want to buy your own copy?

Where Treetops Glisten is available from your local booksellers and online.

Where Treetops Glisten: Three Stories of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II


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The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko



Living side-by-side, a fledgling chef and a big-hearted contractor find a delicious attraction.

Trouble is, their chemistry could spoil their dreams.

Spirited PJ McKinley has the touch when it comes to food. Her dream of opening her own restaurant is just one building short of reality. So when a Chapel Springs resident offers her beloved ancestral home to the applicant with the best plan for the house, PJ believes it’s a contest she was meant to win.

Contractor Cole Evans is confident, professional, and swoon-worthy—but this former foster kid knows his life could have turned out very differently. When Cole discovers the contest, he believes his home for foster kids in transition has found its saving grace. All he has to do is convince the owner that an out-of-towner with a not-for-profit enterprise is good for the community.

But when the eccentric philanthropist sees PJ and Cole’s proposals, she makes an unexpected decision: the pair will share the house for a year to show what their ideas are made of. Now, with Cole and the foster kids upstairs and PJ and the restaurant below, day-to-day life has turned into out-and-out competition—with some seriously flirtatious hallway encounters on the side. Turns out in this competition, it’s not just the house on the line, it’s their hearts.

My Review:

This was an enchanting part of the series by Denise Hunter and perfect for a Christmas book read, if you are looking for one. You will find characters that you learned to know in previous books throughout this one, and so will get to catch up on their lives, but if you have not read the others, you can read this as a stand alone.

There were a couple of loose ends throughout the book, which I wished were tied up, but I may have missed it somehow. For example, as a side issue it is mentioned that P.J is missing $5000 worth of cookware, but even though we find out who took it, we never find out if it is returned, or she gets  insurance money for it.

The serious moments in the this book as life in foster homes, stalking, adultery, suicide and other topics such as that are just a few that are covered lightly in this book. However, there is a thread of romance and lightness as well throughout the whole book, so don’t think that it is just heavy topics. I just mention those as I figured some mothers would want to know if their teenage daughters wanted to read it.

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