Monthly Archives: May 2016

Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the Book:

In college, Griffin McCray and his four best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore PD. Declan Gray would head to the FBI and Parker Mitchell would go on to graduate school as a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world–and friendships–crumbled.

Now Griffin is a park ranger at Gettysburg, having left life as a SWAT-team sniper when a case went bad. The job is mostly quiet–until the day he captures two relic hunters uncovering skeletal remains near Little Round Top. Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott determines that the body is modern–a young social justice lawyer missing since spring–and all evidence points to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Gray takes over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he’ll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he–and those he cares about–are going to escape a downward spiral of murder that crosses continents.

My Review:

This book was easier to get into for me than some of this authors other books, but still a slower moving suspense book.
I enjoyed so many little pieces of it, and found that in looking for the killer, I lost some of the relationships that were building. It got a little choppy in places for me, and was difficult to follow, but in the end, I did want to continue on and enjoyed the majority of it.

I would recommend this book for more teens that enjoy suspense, although it does have mention of a few more graphic crimes, it is fairly light stuff and not inappropriate or heavy on the romance.

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

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The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the Book:

What is revealed when you pull back the curtain of the greatest show on earth?

Rosamund Easling is no stranger to opulence. As the daughter of an earl, she’s grown up with all the comforts money can buy. But when hard times befall the family’s Yorkshire estate in the aftermath of the Great War, the stage is set for a series of events that change her world beyond even her wildest dreams.

Though expected to marry for a title instead of love, Rosamund feels called to a different life—one of adventure outside the confines of a ladies’ parlor. When her father sells her beloved horse, she abandons all she’s known and follows in pursuit as her horse is shipped to the new owner—an American entertainer by the name of John Ringling. Knowing she has much to learn, Rosamund agrees to a bareback riding apprenticeship in the shadow of the Ringlings’ home—the Ca’D’Zan. In what would become the last days of the enigmatic Mable Ringling’s life, Rosamund finds a deeper sense of purpose in her new life and begins to experience the awakening of faith.

With a mysterious and dazzling supporting cast of characters, Rosamund journeys far from the traditions of the English countryside to the last days of the Roaring Twenties—a journey that forever changes what her life might have been.

My Review:

I had not read much about the establishing of the circus, and certainly did not know the depth of the history that is contained in this novel.

As you follow the stories of Mable, Rosamund, and others, you find yourself being given a lesson. What kind of a lesson?

It is the tale of the search for oneself that can end you either in a bar under a table, or sometimes at the end of a hangman’s noose.  In this case, at the hands of a loving heavenly Father that wants what is best for all of us, if we will only let Him.

We see how with each seeker, they had the chance to change a life, be it their own or another persons. They could choose to wrong them or to give them grace and a hand up.

I found as I read, the real story of Mable and John Ringling was so brilliantly told, that the fiction part of the story was more believable because of that. I forgot who was a real person and who was not. When I read the end, where Ms. Cambron explained her path of research, I found it even more amazing!

Ms. Cambron has a knack and talent for research. While this book started out slowly, and the characters are slower to warm up for you, at the end, you find you are not willing to let them go. It ended too soon, in my opinion, and I found myself craving more.

While there is some romance in this book, it is not the focus of the story. I would recommend this book to high school students and adults.

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

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When do reviews cross a line?

As a book reviewer, I tend to read a lot of reviews as well. I like to see what is helpful, what is not helpful and I try to hone my reviews as well.

I was reading some 1 star and 2 star reviews on a book by an author that I know and respect, and it was interesting to me as you could see a difference.

There were some of the reviews that were very helpful, they explained the things they liked and disliked, without attacking the author’s moral code, spirituality, and her person.

They still disliked the book and would not recommend it, but it was done in a very helpful way, so that a reader could be discerning if the book was one for them or not.

Then there were the myriad of others. You knew from the title, the book was not one they enjoyed, but instead of talking about why they didn’t enjoy it in helpful terms, they attacked the author. There were cutting words that if you truly believed you were offended on the basis of Christianity, it called for following Matt. 18, not trashing a person in a public arena.

I actually encourage people to leave lower reviews as I believe they are helpful in deciding if a book is right for us or not. But I never, ever find it helpful to read reviews that attack, cut and leave someone feeling hopeless. That doesn’t help anyone. If you are truly saddened by the author, write her/him privately. Give them a chance to respond. Authors are  encouraged to never respond to poor reviews. It just doesn’t look good. So, there is nothing that would apply to Matt 18 here. If you use bible verses to condemn what an author put in her book in warning, but refusing to contact them personally first, but claiming Christianity as a reason, you lost the whole meaning.

We are responsible for our words, both online and off line. Writing an opinion in an review, while it might be my opinion, does not make it any less kind than if I had an opinion about the neighbors clothing choices. I am free to have that opinion. Should I post online about it under the guise of the name of Christ?

I will underline this with the fact that there is a time to put warnings online about those that are not responsive, but still in a Christlike manner. That doesn’t always mean gentle. But divisive and mean, is never helpful.


“Let your words be seasoned with salt..” and I could finish that by saying “when posting online, and book reviews as well.”

It doesn’t witness to anyone to see the cruel words that are spoken in the name of reviews, and in the name of Christ on Amazon or elsewhere.

Think before you type. Think before you speak. Think before you you write a review. “What will help other readers hear what I feel about this book?” If you don’t like the book, “What will help other readers determine if this is the book for them, without cutting down the author to pea sized mush in the process?” and finally, “If I feel this book was beyond what I felt were Christian standards (if it is a Christian book), how biblically should I address that issue? Is it something I should go to the person about?”



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Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the book:

Lauren Summers is hiding. Her fashion house internship should have launched her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she finds is unpaid, but comes with free lodging–a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Unsure of what comes next, she’s surprised to be contacted by a reporter researching a reclusive former Hollywood ingEnue who lives in the nearby mansion.

Kendall Joiner wants Lauren’s help uncovering the old woman’s secrets. In return, she’ll prove the red carpet accident was a publicity stunt so Lauren can regain her former job. With all her dreams in front of her, Lauren’s tempted by the offer, but as she and the old woman get to know each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.

My Review:

I was not sure what to expect when I opened this book. The cover almost seemed to insinuate it was historical, but when I was on the red carpet in the beginning, I realized that was not the case.

I am not a seamstress, but I have been involved in theater now, and I have to say that I likely enjoyed this book more because of that little tidbit, more than I would have even last year. Kathryn made a sympathetic character in Lauren, where you felt for her.

There is little to no romance in this book, while there is the potential of it, but to those that enjoy no romance, this is one. The mention of scandals in Hollywood from the past are mentioned briefly, like mistresses and murder, but very briefly. I believe teens would enjoy this book and learn some wonderful life lessons from it as well.

Overall, the lesson I saw from it was kindness, when someone does not deserve it. Lauren showed love and kindness to someone that was cruel and believed the worst of her. She did this multiple times throughout the story, even though a falsehood seemingly ruined her life and she was being taken advantage of.

This book was given to me for review by Bethany House Publishers. The thoughts and reviews herein are my own.


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Close to Home by Deborah Raney


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Can a widowed Bree Whitman find love again without breaking the hearts of her late husband’s family?
Bree Cordel Whitman is a Whitman by marriage, but sometimes she forgets she wasn’t born into Grant and Audrey’s family. Her late husband, Timothy Whitman, gave his life for his country on a windblown hill in Afghanistan. Bree has let the love of Tim’s family keep her ties to him strong—in the same way she keeps Tim’s memory alive for them. But it’s been almost five years, and she can’t hang onto the past forever.

Fighting the guilt she feels for wanting to love again, she can’t help her dreams about a tall, dark, and handsome man—a man who is not her Tim. How can she accept the flirtations from Drew Brooks without throwing the Whitman family back into grieving? And how can Drew compete with the ghost of a hero and the hero’s very alive family who seem to hold some spell over the woman who shares their name . . . a woman he might just love?

My Review:

I am going to miss this family! I really enjoyed getting to know each member of the family as they walked through the various struggles and joys. Bree, a widow, struggles with feeling a part of a family that she has been a part of. Death changes things.

I could really feel each emotion deeply as she struggled with the ins and outs of relationship choices.

This book series is great in so many ways, but this one addresses young widowhood in a way that not many do. For a newer widow, it might be too raw, but in one that is struggling with the moving on factor, and life in general, it would be very helpful as you walk with Bree through it.

I love how Deborah Raney pulls out real life issues and yet makes it so part of the story, you don’t realize. My favorite part was the grandmother, and dealing with having to keep her safe, but battling the independence. As someone that has cared for grandparents as they aged, I found this so relatable.


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

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The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the book:

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

My Review:

I don’t preorder very many authors. Melanie Dickerson is an exception to my rule. I know that I can give her books as gifts, order them for myself and always be pleased with the quality of the writing and the story.
The Beautiful Pretender was no exception. I found myself in a room of almost 60 noisy theater students and yet, I was able to concentrate and transport myself to another world beyond the theater room. It takes a skilled author to be able to do that for me!
One of the things I loved about this story, was that while it was a rewritten fairy tale, it was filled to the brim with redemption, forgiveness and life lessons that could be applied today to anyone’s life. This book was great entertainment, but also so uplifting for me. It made me stop and think several times. While still light reading, it had a richness of a deeper story. Great job, Melanie!


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Busy, Busy, Busy…

It seems life tends to go in spurts of busy times. For us, this is a very busy time. Generally, in May, I have a chance to breathe and relax. School is mostly over, but not this year. I have been contemplating when I will have time to fit my breakdown in.

It sounds funny, but  really, I just don’t have time to schedule it in.

We have sports that consume the first half of the school year and then the theater consumes the other half. This fulfills our P.E. and Fine Arts credits, which we use for school, but it takes a lot of time and effort. The other time, we fit in all the other subjects, but like this week, they seemed to conflict an awful lot and we were working on learning on the road. I had a son that was sitting and staring at a vocabulary worksheet blankly for almost an hour. He was worn out, tired and just could not think.

We spent today working on catch up and I am not sure if any of it sunk in, but hoping so.

We had a snafu with math with computer glitches earlier in the year, so we are still working away on math and will be hitting it harder and harder in the next while. In the last calendar year, so far, we have had three deaths in the family, or near family. We may have a fourth soon and it is hard to emotionally prepare.

This was one of the scenes from the play we were in…

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