Monthly Archives: December 2015

Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Lydia’s job at the library is her world—until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.

Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

My Review:

This was a lighter style read in many ways, but I just had so many times I stopped and just shook my head a bit.
The setting for this book was amazing! The reading room was described beautifully and I felt like I met the characters. They were very lifelike and real feeling. I loved the tale that had an unusual romantic thread as well. However, I felt like in the end I would have liked to see a few more details included. I will not say what they were so you can enjoy the story, but it would be something to think on.
Overall, the history was lovely and gave a good feel for the city of Chicago at that time.

You can purchase this book at this link… Whispers in the Reading Room

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews

The Refuge of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

In this third and final book in the Edwardian Brides Series, you’ll be swept away to England and France in 1915 as the Ramsey family and their staff and friends face the dramatic challenges and losses of World War One, yet they also experience the hope and triumph that comes as they put their trust in God to carry them through. Penny Ramsey helps the family welcome a group of orphaned children to Highland Hall, but she soon discovers caring for them is more difficult than she’d expected.

My Review:

The final book of this series was heartwarming in it’s WW1 time period setting with many hat tips to the historical era. The orphans being cared for in the large manor, the issues with status, and dealing with the injured from the war all gave this book character that I fully enjoyed. I have been looking for some Christian novels set in this time period, so was excited to read this one. It was a nice cozy read for a snowy afternoon. The cover is gorgeous as well, which just added to the enjoyment. I have heard said that if you enjoy Downton Abbey, you will enjoy this series. I have never seen Downton Abbey, but I really enjoyed this series and look forward to any more books that Carrie may write.

In order to purchase this book, you can visit here… A Refuge at Highland Hall

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Romance

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay



Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

When Lucy’s secret is unearthed, her world begins to crumble. But it may be the best thing that has ever happened to her.

Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

Now Lucy must go back into her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

My Review:

Lucy makes errors and mistakes early on in this book as is revealed from the back cover, but as you live through them with her, you discover life lessons about yourself as well. This is not a typical romance where boy meets girl, there is some sort of misunderstanding, all is fixed by the end of the book and they live happily every after. This is a bit more real life than that, but in a deeper raw way. You will find a real love demonstrated more fully here, as each layer is stripped away. Ms. Reay does a wonderful job of giving a piece of classic, modern literature for book lovers.

You can purchase it in many book sellers, or it is available on Amazon.

The Bronte Plot


Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

My Review:

In keeping with my tradition of reading Melanie Dickerson on Christmas, I sat down, curled up in my pajamas to begin or savor this tale of Rapunzel. I found my eyes closing from utter weariness, yet my mind was alive with the word pictures that fairly flew off the page in my head. I think this was one of her best books yet. I am a fan of all of them, but this was so good. There are parts of the book that are quotable, which I will refrain from mentioning, but you just have to read it for yourself.
If you are looking for a book that will enthrall your teens or adult friends alike, yet give you a romantic story without any kind of romance that will make you think it is something you don’t want your teens to read, this is the one. It is excellent for discussion with your teens. These books by Ms. Dickerson are also available on Audible as well!

Audible Edition

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Romance, Homeschooling

The Value of the Obvious



Everyone has things that we take for granted. I live in the United States and there are many everyday rights that I know I take for granted. I observed a baptism this morning, and was reminded of a time in history when that was forbidden and knowing that in many countries it is still forbidden.


I was however thinking of some of the other more mundane things that we may take for granted that we may not think of as often.

Sight. Compliments. Family. A Father. A Mother. A home. The ability to read. Full use of all our limbs.


I tend to be a very practical person, that enjoys the truth. But when the day came when I needed some encouragement, and someone gave me a compliment, I realized the rarity of them. A well placed compliment can cheer your day. The lack of one can cause someone to spend the rest of the day wondering if they failed in some way. You may not realize that a few kindly said words about something someone did, said or performed, may brighten their day and cheer them for longer than those few moments.


I listened to a letter written by a loving father to his daughter this last week. The letter was moving in many ways for me, not only because it was worded in a poetic form of heartfelt depth, but because it made me grateful that many have fathers that are loving to their children. There are times when it can be easy to believe that does not exist anymore. I am thankful for those that let me infringe on private moments, sharing this with me. It gives me hope for humanity and joy for the future. I know it can be hard to allow others to view family togetherness, but when we sacrifice just a bit, you never may realize that you demonstrated something that will live beyond today.


If you are reading this, you likely are one of the many that learned to read as a child, and continued on, increasing your vocabulary in school. It may have been easy for you, it may have been a tad bit difficult, but more than likely, you are not one of the people that sincerely struggled to learn to read and may have given up. We have more programs out there to prevent this now, but in watching one bright, studious student struggle through reading lessons, year after year, it made me breathe a prayer of thanks for the ability to read. I am impressed by his tenacity, and saddened by the reactions of others when I see students reduced to tears by a learning disability. There is a shame in something that is nothing they can prevent. I was reminded how encouragement and joy in their minor achievements, while, they may not be like the child reading War and Peace at the age of six, they are worthy of celebrating and perhaps more so. More often, those children will learn to fight through the hardships of life, gain joy and rejoice in the little things. If you know someone that struggles, place an encouraging word in their path. Let them know you have seen how hard it is and how you appreciate them.


Remember to be grateful for the little things and share the love with others. Give to others of what you have. It might not be monetary, but it might be sharing what they have not.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Happenings

Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue By Robert J. Skead




Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Book Description:

A Revolutionary War action-thriller filled with spies and heroes, targeted to boys and girls 8-12. In this second book in the American Revolutionary War Adventure series, twins Ambrose and John Clark find themselves volunteering for another mission to help the newly forming United States of America. Inspired by their success in delivering a secret message to General George Washington himself, the boys step up to help transport much-needed gunpowder to the patriots and end up in an even more dangerous situation, manning one of the first submarines and then, later, attempting a prison break to rescue their older brother, Berty

Written by Robert Skead with the help of his father, the main character is based on their ancestor who fought in the American Revolution as part of the Connecticut militia. Though historical fiction, the events that occurred with George Washington in New Jersey regarding the war effort are true.

My Review:

While I was not the intended audience for this book, I found this read a fun learning experience. I will be adding this book to my school year on the Revolutionary war topic. This exciting adventure story about a set of twins also explores the early history of submarines as far back as the Revolutionary war. There is plenty of historical info included in this book for you to explore further from a school teacher, perspective. These boys are working with their father and older brother and there is much respect demonstrated throughout the book.

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

You can purchase this book where books are sold, or Amazon carries it! The ebook is $3.99 and Hardcover is $10.91 Submarines, Secrets and A daring Rescue 


Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Homeschooling, MFW

The Dangers of “Healthy Eating”…

I  don’t usually like to talk about topics that are controversial. I know there are so many opinions on this topic, but something that has gained in popularity is healthy eating. I love healthy eating! It is a wonderful thing that can make you feel much better. There are certain foods that are not as good for you as others, we all know that.

But I see in some circles, it has extended to beyond just normal healthy eating. Instead of promoting healthy eating, we see the promotion of cutting out food groups. While this can be needed with children with severe food allergies, intolerances, etc by the doctors orders, it should not be the norm.

When a child goes through puberty, it can be a difficult time. Everything is changing. Often for girls, they begin to develop, which can make them feel uncomfortable with their body shapes. There is joint pain, they are tired all the time, sleeping constantly, and eating patterns change. If someone suggests a special diet, often that word is associated with weight loss. That may not be the parent’s idea of why to do it, but it can trigger a thought pattern that is setting your child up for unhealthy habits if you start cutting out food groups, and severely limiting eating.

There have been articles written on “Allergies. The new eating disorders.”. Others talk about Orthorexia, or basically a pure fear of food at times. I have seen some of these in younger and younger children. Some are rooted in real things. But many are developing a type of eating pattern that may harm your child for the rest of their life.

I would love to see more people seeking out and promoting eating real food, whole foods, avoiding chemicals, preservatives, instead of things like dairy, grains, meat, eggs, and even legumes. Some people are beginning to believe that “Gluten free” is a form of health food. While it is healthier for those that need it, it is not as healthy for those that are not intolerant or allergic. Others may have ethical reasons for not wanting to eat certain foods. Mainly, I am speaking of the general parent that doesn’t think much about cutting out dairy, wheat and eggs out of a child’s diet.

As someone that has struggled with my relationship with food since I was twelve, I beg you, don’t do this lightly. Make sure you express to your child that cutting out food from your diet is something you only do with a serious illness.


Instead of focusing on the foods they cannot eat, make a list of foods they must eat everyday if possible.

-Leafy Greens

-Whole grains


-Whole fruits and vegetables

-Lean meats

-Non-processed dairy

Discuss with their care provider what vitamins and how much they should be getting everyday. Focus on the healthy amount of exercise and fuel they need for their body.

Don’t promote eating disorders as healthy. Encourage a healthy body image.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Happenings, Uncategorized

MFW ECC- Weeks 16&17

We did a lot of reading on Germany… Europe and did some Youtube videos as well.

As you can see, our week was full of a lot of basketball.

Our 7th/8th team won the Championship, which was exciting for them!


We have been working through this busy season, pushing along with school. We had finished George Mueller early, so this week, I found a great documentary on him.

The subtitles are in Spanish, but it was really good.

This was another one on Germany that was good.

For science, I found this on Rivers and Lakes.


This was the whole movie of “God’s Outlaw” about William Tyndale.

I also found for older children, this history of the Inquisition, which with studying Germany was important.

There was also this one on Martin Luther…

So, learning looked a little different this week, but we got a lot done. I hope these links helped you a bit.

Leave a comment

Filed under Homeschooling, MFW

Happy Cooking:Make Every Meal Count by Giada De Laurentiis


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

Giada De Laurentiis, one of the most recognizable faces on the Food Network lineup, invites readers to get to know her as never before. The celebrity chef is back with nearly 200 new recipes and helpful advice on everything from hosting a potluck or open house to what to pack along for lunch every day. Drawing on the time-saving tips and healthy eating strategies that keep her functioning at the highest possible level in her roles as working mom, restaurateur, and tv personality, she has assembled a year-round roadmap to vibrant good health and delicious eating. Readers will be inspired to try new ingredients, new wellness practices, and create a wholesome balance between peak nutrition – and the occasional decadent indulgence. Featuring her New Year’s cleanse, homemade Christmas gifts, and ideas for every holiday, special occasion, and casual weekend in between, this is Giada’s 365-approach to cooking up a happy life.

My Review:

A good cookbook is not unlike a good novel. In this novel, we have illustrations, descriptions to touch your senses, and explanations that will make you think you are eating healthy. =) Giada has the taste of Italian food, from snacks to desserts, with healthier options, without sacrificing the taste. This cookbook will fit into a lifestyle that likes a more whole food diet, but also has a love for real, tasty food as well.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Bargain Dinners, Book Reviews, Recipes

Gift Giving Guide for Readers

Do you have a reader in your life? Or are you the reader and looking for things to buy for yourself?

Here are a few recommended gift ideas for those special people you know and love-

My Top book Picks for gifts:

These are just a few that would be on my list…

(Click on the book title for link)

Kept by Sally Bradley – This book title reminds me of a modern day Redeeming Love. Ms. Bradley carries us through a grittier story of pain and redemption in a beautiful way.

The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate– Investigating an old slush pile? What could be more exciting as this story weaves through past and present!

Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall- This whole series is amazing! Just recently available in paperback, this book series is written in first person in such a skilled way that you will forget that it is. I highly recommend.

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz- Set after the Revolutionary War, this book is a sweet story, but also filled with hardships that you would not expect. I loved it!

The Diplomat’s Wife by Pam Jenoff– This is not a Christian read, but a HEA story that warms the hearts of historical fiction fans.

I could go on and on… but my wish list is a mile long!

Here are a few from my wish list that I have not read:


The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen– Her other books have been incredible.

Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman– I own every one of her books!

Until the Dawn- Elizabeth Camden– I have rarely ever been disappointed with one of her books.

The Five times I met myself by James Rubart – His books are very different than what I usually read, but this one fascinates me.

The Golden Braid– By Melanie Dickerson- It comes in hardcover and is beautiful. I love the cover art and her books are not ones to be missed.


Items for Readers- 

From electronic readers to jewelry, there is something here for the reader in your life.

Kindle– Even a diehard hard copy fan like me, has really enjoyed owning a kindle. I love it for traveling! It has made my suitcase a lot lighter, that is for sure. The Kindle Fire’s are cheaper right now, but this one is better for just reading.

Clip-On Book light– This works wonderful for reading in bed or camping with your kindle or book. It is easier to use with a kindle, but works fine with a book too. In a pinch, it works as a flashlight as well.

Mugs-  Readers love to drink coffee, tea or hot chocolate often while reading, or at least I do. Some of these are really cute.

“Kindly Go Away, I am reading” 

“My Courage Always Rises with Every Attempt to Intimidate Me”

Jane Austen Literary Mug 

First Lines of Literature Mug 

Novel Tea– Bags of tea with literature quotes

Pendant Necklace– “So Many Books, so little time”

Alice in Wonderland necklace 

Book Journal- This is great to keep track of your books in. Especially for the readers that don’t use Goodreads.


Then we can’t forget about the young adults in your life that love books and audio books. These are a few that have been popular around here:

Audio and Print Books:

Melanie Dickerson’s Fairy Tale retakes...- Do you have a young woman that loves fairy tales? These are available in both print and audio now. They are totally worth it! They will not just appeal to young adults, but also to adult readers.

Michael Vey series- By Richard Paul Evans– If you want your fantasy loving young people to get hooked on a series, start this one. Mine hardly could do anything else once they got through the first one. This is not Christian fiction, but fairly clean, although there is magical powers etc. involved, if you avoid that.

Wayne Thomas Batson’s book series – He has several. Many of them are available on audio, although we are so sad that his latest ones are not.

A Horse for Kate by Miralee Ferrell– This one is not available on audio, but is an easy read. There is a whole series for your horse loving girls and boys.

Chuck Black Series– He has a bunch of different options for both younger and older age groups.

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson– This is another that we wish were on audio. Her books are very popular with young people and is Christian fiction.

I hope this helps with finding books for some of the readers in your life. If you ever are looking for book lists for one reason or another, remember to contact me and I would happy to make one up for you!



Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Romance