Monthly Archives: February 2015

Dauntless by Dina Sleiman

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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

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Description

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

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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

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Description

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

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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

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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.

 

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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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?

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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The Secret from Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the Book:

As secrets come to light at the abandoned manor house Pembrooke Park, will Abigail find the hidden treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

My Review:

This book was one that I looked forward to reading most of the year. Yet, when the book came for me after I ordered it, I lacked the time to spend in really reading it. I put it off until I could savor it. It was worth it. Every page. This book is a thick read and meant to be savored. I stopped part way through to think and mull on the words.

I loved Lady of Milkweed Manor. I throughly enjoyed The Maid of Fairborne Hall. I relished reading The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Ms. Klassen wove spiritual truths into her book, with ever sermon preached in the book. The story of an abusive father touches on deeper issues that the reader may notice. The “Austen” like style is throughout, without being at all a copy cat of any other books. This book has it own unique mysteries. The romance is similar to an Austen novel. The wording of the time period held intact, while shocking almost if we take it in our modern ways.

The beauty of the homes were described, but  I found that I could see them without getting bogged down in the words. I loved traveling through the time period with this book and didn’t want it to end. I savored the words, as I wanted the story to continue, but not end for me! Great job, Ms. Klassen. Five stars! This is a book you will want to take time to read.

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Esther by Angela Hunt

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the Book:

An ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews in ancient Persia, so an inexperienced beautiful young queen must take a stand for her people.

When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king’s heart and a queen’s crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king’s permission to exterminate all Jews–young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people…and bind her husband’s heart.

Esther marks bestselling author Angela Hunt’s return to biblical fiction. In each novel she explores an example of a Hebrew Old Testament tob woman: a woman whose physical beauty influences those around her–and can change the course of history.

My Review:

Travel the streets of ancient Persia with young Hadassah and  the eunuch Harbonah. This unique biblical fiction weaves a tale as fine as the woven linen of the looms of royalty. The taste of fear, rules and legalities will grit your teeth, as Ms. Hunt takes this biblical tale to a new level with you. She follows the bibles path, leaving nothing out, which touches on some of the more gruesome parts of Persian history. The cruelty of the king, the executions, the banishment of his wife and other familiar stories are told with skill that will make you feel like you visited the country. You will have tasted the dust in your teeth as it blew through the country, and felt the chill when the deaths were ordered. Most of all, you will read the story of the amazing sacrifice one brave young woman made for her people. She gave up everything for a reason she didn’t know. She married a man that was a gentile in a time when that was not done, and God used it to save His people.

I enjoyed this tale, even though I shook with horror at the cruel acts that were done with a blink of an eye. For this reason, I would not recommend it to anyone in their teen years. There was just too much violence in it for that. Unlike what you would perhaps assume, there was not really much as far as romantic scenes, although hinted as to what took place between the husband and wife, details are not there. The violence was more accurately described.

The story is beautiful, sad and heart-wretching. The story of two very different kinds of slave. One queen. One Eunuch. People from history and the bible that changed an outcome that could have been vastly different otherwise. It is beautiful in the way it is told. If you enjoy biblical or even just historical fiction, you will love this book.

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