Monthly Archives: January 2016

Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

Tessa Taylor arrives in 1870s Upper Peninsula, Michigan, planning to serve as a new teacher to the town. Much to her dismay, however, she immediately learns that there was a mistake, that the town had requested a male teacher. Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since they won’t be able to locate a new teacher before then, and Tessa can’t help but say she is in his debt. Little does she know that Percival will indeed keep track of all that she owes him.

Determined to become indispensable, Tessa throws herself into teaching, and soon the children of the widowed lighthouse keeper have decided she’s the right match for their grieving father. Their uncle and assistant light keeper, Alex Bjorklund, has his own feelings for Tessa. As the two brothers begin competing for her hand, Tessa increasingly feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.

My Review:

In this continuing story with the theme of lighthouses, we follow Tessa. I was intrigued by the story line, the rich history that Ms. Hedlund wove throughout the story made this a delightful book. The romance, well, for me, it seemed overdone or maybe a bit over the top when it came to describing eyes, body characteristics, and other mannerisms. I loved Tessa, and some of the other secondary characters.  I have to say, I fell in love with Samuel and really wanted to follow his story a bit more. Ms. Hedlund did bring so many of these characters to life for me, and I did really enjoy the book. I wished the romance would have been better, but over all, it was really a good book.

The history of the mines, lighthouses, and other area features was a huge perk of reading this book and something that I think many historical fiction lovers will enjoy. I remember visiting a mining museum and seeing pictures of the long ladders that were in the mine that the miners, young or old could slip and fall off of while working. It sent shivers down my spine.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House and NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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A Spy’s Devotion by Melanie Dickerson


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

In England’s Regency era, manners and elegance reign in public life—but behind closed doors treason and tawdriness thrive. Nicholas Langdon is no stranger to reserved civility or bloody barbarity. After suffering a battlefield injury, the wealthy, well-connected British officer returns home to heal—and to fulfill a dying soldier’s last wish by delivering his coded diary.

At the home of the Wilherns, one of England’s most powerful families, Langdon attends a lavish ball where he meets their beautiful and intelligent ward, Julia Grey. Determined to maintain propriety, he keeps his distance—until the diary is stolen and all clues lead to Julia’s guardian. As Langdon traces an evil plot that could be the nation’s undoing, he grows ever more intrigued by the lovely young woman. And when Julia realizes that England—and the man she is falling in love with—need her help, she finds herself caught in the fray. Will the two succumb to their attraction while fighting to save their country?

My Review:

I have long been a fan of Melanie Dickerson’s books. Every Christmas for the last approximately five years, I have bought her books to read on Christmas day. So, when she varied from her normal genre of fairy tale rewrites to write Regency, I was wondering if I would enjoy it as much as her other books. I should not have doubted.

Wow. While this book is geared towards adults, it would still be appropriate like her other reads for teens. It was a genuinely amazing Regency story, that will remind you of the famous Regency authors of old with twists that will have your heart slightly racing. I enjoyed, not only the light romantic story, but the mystery of the spying with historical facts throughout. The end result, Melanie Dickerson hits the high notes again. This book is another “must buy” book.

This book was provided for me by NetGalley and the author for review. The opinions contained herein are my own.

You can purchase a copy available for pre-order here. It releases February 9th, 2016


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The Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love



Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

When the illustrious India Hartley is accused of murder, she has to uncover the deceptions of others to save herself.

India Hartley, the famous and beautiful actress, is now alone in the world after her father’s death and embarks upon a tour of theaters across the South. Her first stop is Savannah’s Southern Palace. On the eve of the second night’s performance, something goes horribly wrong. Her co-star, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead on stage in front of a packed house, and India is arrested and accused of the crime.



My Review:

It took me a bit to get into this story, similar to the Bracelet, which I also felt similar about. The storyline was fascinating, the theater experience, details of the history in the area. But, I struggled to figure out where the story was going at times. It seemed to drag or lag at times. I did like that the romantic story took awhile to develop and was more realistic in that way. I wondered about the court systems in the time period that it was set, so that was interesting to see how it worked. I will be looking up to see what was truthful in history!



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Trim and Healthy Mama Plan by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Based on the New York Times bestselling, self-published book Trim Healthy Mama comes a simplified, practical guide to starting and succeeding this unique fad-free diet that teaches readers to stop cravings and boost energy while losing weight quickly and getting healthy.

My Review:

I had read some of the original ginormous Trim and Healthy Mama book, and since I didn’t feel the need to follow a diet plan at this time in my life, got quickly overwhelmed with the idea and set it aside.

However, with my mom following the plan and several other friends, my interest was piqued to look into it more. I recently reviewed the cookbook, which was great. As I read this guide to a different way of eating more than a diet plan, I was amazed at how delightful they could make food sound. No matter what type of eater you are, there is a plan in here that will work for you. Some readers complained lightly that they couldn’t follow it without speciality foods or mixes, but after observing my mom do it for  more than a couple of years, I would say it is highly possible.

Some of their mixes that they sell for sweetener and baking mixes can make life simpler and are not priced badly for what they offer.

Throughout the book, the easy going, friendly tone is worded more like a conversation with a friend than a professional author. It is that tone that I believe has made this book a top seller. It worded in an easy to read format, not like a traditional “diet” book, which this is far from being. I don’t know any diet that tells you to eat bacon and says carbs are not the enemy as well as encourages you to eat dessert.

While the authors that wrote this are not health specialists, their ideas are working to improve the health of many, many families while also helping them to maintain healthy weights, without depriving themselves of yummy food. Not everything will work for everyone! But this is one of the ones that I have seen work for more people that I personally know, than not. The other plus is that you feel good on it!

Unlike its thick original guide, this book is straightforward and to the point. It is easy to follow and if you get lost, it might be because you are thinking about the yummy food and need a snack.

The book is available for sale online through their website and on Amazon here.

Trim and Healthy Mama Plan


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Anchored by Kayla Aimee



Book description:

You count a pregnancy by weeks and Kayla Aimee had only ticked off 24 of the 40 when she unexpectedly went into labor. She thought her church upbringing had prepared her for every circumstance but when tragedy struck and threatened to take the life of her newborn daughter, it felt as though once solid ground had turned to glass beneath her feet, destined to shatter everything she held sacred.

For anyone who has felt their faith in God falter, Anchored extends a gentle invitation to join her as she uncovers a hope that holds.

My Review:

If you ever wonder what it is like for some mothers that experience early birth, life in the NICU and the daily fear that goes with it, this book will bring you through the midst of it. I found myself reliving the days I spent beside my niece’s bed as if it were yesterday. Her little one had a very complicated life beginning, but she spins a tale in this easy to read book of raw encouragement, without holding back any of the hard hitting punches.

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Prayers that Changed History by Tricia Goyer



Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description

Twenty-five stories of historical figures who prayed to God and as a result, history was changed.

One prayer can change everything.

Martin Luther. Sojourner Truth. Helen Keller. St. Patrick. We read their stories, and of other people like them, in history books, and hear about the amazing things they did to change the world. But one part of the story is often left out: Each one of them wouldn’t have accomplished what they did without prayer.

In this book from bestselling author Tricia Goyer, the stories of twenty-five notable people are presented along with the major prayer that changed their lives and changed history. Following each historical example is a biblical story that ties to that person’s life and actions, as well as ways you can use the power of prayer in your life as well. Because God isn’t done changing the world yet, and he would love to use you to make history.

My Review:

As I read through this lovely little book over the past while, I was impressed at how each story, it brought it back to prayer. Each person depicted in this book may not have been the world’s greatest person. Some of them may have truly done other things that we do not extoll, but their prayers, we can always praise.

Each story has daily life applications that can be used in your homeschool, daily devotions or just family time of discussion. You will read about the person, a biblical person, and life applications and questions.

I found myself wishing this book was included and scheduled in many of the yearly cycles of My Father’s World as it will go perfectly with it. There is much to learn in this little book!



To Purchase a copy, you can find it available here!
Prayers that Changed History

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody



Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

Two decades ago, Not Without My Daughter (a global phenomenon made into a film starring Sally Field) told of the daring escape of an American mother and her six-year-old child from an abusive and fanatical Iranian husband and father. Now the daughter tells the whole story, not only of her imprisonment and escape but of life after fleeing Iran: living in fear of re-abduction, battling recurring nightmares and panic attacks, taking on an assumed name, surviving life-threatening illness—all under the menacing shadow of her father.

This is the story of an extraordinary young woman’s triumph over life-crushing trauma to build a life of peace and forgiveness. Moving from Michigan to Tehran, from Ankara to Paris, Mahtob reveals the profound resilience of a wounded soul healed by her faith in God’s goodness and his care and love for her.

My Review:

I was in my teens when I first read Betty Mahmoody’s story and it stuck with me. When I viewed the movie, I was struck by how they had downplayed the abuse for the movie. When I read Mahtob’s story, I was once again struck by it. What brave women!

These two women, experienced horror. They survived. But not only survived, they became conquerers through it all. They did not allow it to embitter them, but instead sought out to enrich others lives. Mahtob became a mental health professional, while her mother fought to change policy and promote safety for others in her position.

As much as I hated to see their experiences, this book is amazing! The letter at the end was one that I would say was a work of art. She is the prime example of forgiveness, love and care, yet she never spoke to her father again.  She was able to remember the things she loved about him, the culture, the food and yet reject the evil narcissistic and abusive behavior that separated her from him. She, despite his evil and the harm he did to them, conquered and went on with her life.

I loved how she pointed out that it didn’t mean that they were healed because they forgave. It did not mean they had a relationship with her father, even as she prayed for him. Most of all, I loved seeing the relationship with God that grew through her years afterwards.

This is only my third book of 2016, but I can tell you now, it is going on the top reads of the year already. What an incredible, life changing story! If you have not read “Not without my daughter”, check it out as well, but don’t miss reading this incredible book as well.

Available for sale from Amazon or where books are sold.

My Name is Mathob 

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2016 Reading Challenge

I have seen some great reading challenges on Facebook, GoodReads, and on blogs here and there. However, I thought I would try my own.

January :

Read one Series that was a Favorite in the past.

(For myself, I am thinking one of these)

The Daughter’s of Boston Series by Julie Lessman

Wings of Glory Series by Sarah Sundin


Read a book by an author that I have never read before. This one is going to be a bit hard on me.

I am thinking about this one.

The Sound of Diamonds Series by Rachelle Rea

or This one.. From Dishes to Snow by Kathy Howard 


Read a Book that is only available on an eBook.

I was looking for one that fit this on my wish list.

A Month in Cologne by Felicia Rogers

Match Made by Erynn Magnum 



Read a non-fiction book that is on my Amazon wish-list

I was looking at these ones.

In My Defense by Leigh Ann Bryant 

The Blue Cotton Gown: A midwife’s Memoir- Patricia Harman


A Fiction novel with travel in it. They can travel in the USA, but they have to travel.

Any suggestions?


Read a book that is spring colors- pink, green, yellow, or the like…

Love Finds you in Mackinac Island, Michigan by Melanie Dobson 



We always end up doing church camps or camping in July. For this month, I am challenging myself to find a book that has camping in it.


Read a book about couples that are already married….


Read a book with childbirth in it: either fiction or non-fiction


Read a book about gardening- Fiction or non-fiction


Read a non-fiction book that is self improvement

I am thinking about a writing book!


It would seem normal to read a Christmas book, but I was thinking of a cookbook. =)




Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Romance, Uncategorized

Touching Bellies, Touching Lives: Midwives of Mexico by Judy Gabriel


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Judy Gabriel gives humble, authentic voice to the personal experiences and practices of scores of traditional midwives in rural Mexico. The midwives talk about their childhoods, marriages, losses, rituals, and techniques. The rich narratives describe childbirth before modern medicine redefined it.
Intended to engage, enrich, and inspire, Gabriel’s work tells of the women who received generations of babies into their hands when knowledge about childbirth came from women’s bodies, from instinct, from dreams, and from other women. The stories unfold in the context of high-intervention obstetrics and soaring Cesarean rates, a world that often degrades women and violates the sanctity of birth.

My Review:

I was unsure of what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised at the content in this book full of stories. As I read I was amazed at while some of the practices of the midwives from Mexico were a bit barbaric in our modern medical minds, they had some very practical ways of dealing with things we classify as emergencies. The perspective of this book being written from the standpoint of a doula, that is knowledgable, but not medical was especially appealing to me. Ms. Gabriel takes down the interviews with a long list of midwives from all over Mexico. As we travel with her over time and years, you will find yourself wondering what we can learn from the hands of these skilled women that have fallen by the wayside.

This would be a great book to gift to any midwife that you know, or if you are a birth worker, to have on your shelf to look back on and learn from.

You can purchase it here… Touching Bellies, Touching Lives...

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2015 In Review

There are so many of these posts, and as I paused to think over 2015, I sort of wanted to just skip the year.

I was asked to describe 2015 in one word and for me, the word was sorrowful. There is always joy in sorrow, but the sorrow runs deep for me this year.

I got a new nephew this year, whom is adorable! I was privileged to help work with the local homeschool theater club on their play production.

One of my best friends came to see me on the train and spent the week with me. We hardly slept the whole week!

I was able to spend ten days with my grandparents, a week in Glacier volunteering at a camp, as well as at a writing conference.

The sorrows were when I lost my dear grandfather and one of my best friends suddenly this year. Death touched me deeper in seeing loss in others lives as well. Hardships throughout the year tested my strength and faith making push through it all. Health issues in the family and perseverance in school and life has been a constant struggle.


Basketball, school, friends and family have kept me busy. I am working hard on writing and staying focused on the goals set before me.

2016. I don’t want to expect much, but I just really am praying that I don’t lose anyone I love this year. I am not sure my heart can take it.


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