Monthly Archives: July 2017

Summer Musings…

The summer heat is burning into my soul at the moment. It longs to impact my brain, my memory and my equilibrium if I choose to step outside of my home to participate in any activities.

I live in the north for a reason. I want to be able to live a happy life. For some reason, Montana has decided to be very hot for much more than just a couple of weeks of the summer.

You would think it would make the garden grow better, and it has, but not to the extent of producing the fruit I would like to see. The tomatoes are still green, the raspberries drying up even with copious amounts of water, and the cucumbers are being plagued by insects. Then there is the plants that are huge, producing amazing green leaves, and no fruit at all.

Fruit.  Sometimes I think that people are like plants.  Sometimes they can shout out their indignant posts on social media, comment on the news pages,  and appear to be living a fruitful and well intentioned life. Sometimes though, when we reach beneath the leaves, we can find that their fruit is lacking. Maybe it is insect ridden, or simply not there at all.

I observed recently in a book discussion we were having that sometimes the person that is crying out the loudest is not always the victim. I often wonder if when we stop, observe and see what we are hearing, and sought out the person they are speaking out against, what would we find?

Would we find beautiful fruit or half eaten peppers and squash hidden under the leaves?

I feel like for myself, this is a fear of mine as I do not want to be that type of person. I tend to error on the other side of this as much as possible. Seeking honestly when it comes to my flaws and faults, and not speaking evil of others unless absolutely needed.

I think and would hope that if someone knows me well enough, they would come to me and ask about anything that is abnormal. But also on the flip side, if I do have to speak out about someone, that I do it because it is the last resort.

I hope in the end, my plants have fruit under the leaves, and the bugs are not eating all my fruit.

Obviously, I have been spending a bit of time in the garden, so just a few musings as I putter around in my little hobby. Back to working to stay cool in the heat!

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Homeschooling. Getting started?

I was chatting with a friend today about getting started with homeschooling.

I was thinking of all the things that we tell people that want to start with homeschooling. You know, you start with the basics. The laws. The requirements. The curriculum.

What you don’t tell them is that often when you are 14 years into the journey or so, you sometimes feel like you are still just learning how to begin.

I haven’t been homeschooling that long compared to some moms that I know. But, since I am what is called a “Second Generation Homeschooler”, it feels a lot longer. Not only was I homeschooled, but I was an active participant in helping or teaching my siblings as well.

I think one of the best things I can say, is “You will mess up. You will spend all that money on a set of curriculum and sometimes it just does not fit with the way your child learns. Most days will not go as you plan. But the key here is that often you are homeschooling because it was what your child needed. If you are teaching him and educating, (I don’t mean the parents that claim to homeschool and really do nothing), you are doing what they need. It might not look like the pretty picture in your head, as your son is hanging upside down reciting his times tables. But keep it up.”

What is your mantra that you would tell someone that is beginning homeschooling?

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Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the book:

Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he’s remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana’s rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can’t seem to find his footing–or forget the woman he loved, who betrayed him.

Senator and former attorney Ella Blair spends much of her time in the limelight as the second-youngest senator in the country. But she has a secret–one that cost Gage his career. More than anything, she wants to atone for her betrayal of him in the courtroom and find a way to help him put his career back on track.

When Ella’s brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park’s most dangerous peaks, Gage and his team are called in for the rescue. But Gage isn’t so sure he wants to help the woman who destroyed his life. More, when she insists on joining the search, he’ll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain.

But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder–and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. But when Ella’s secret is revealed, can they learn to trust each other–even when disaster happens again?

My Review:

This book is set in my local area, so of course that made it a bit more fascinating. Of course, she changed names, added places that do not exist, but the main part was fun to find the real places.

I am not a skier or snowboarder, unlike many people in this area, but as a mother of a son that is a bit of a daredevil, I could relate to many of the parts of this tale. It was a fun, quick, summer read, dreaming of the snow coming back!

I enjoyed it, much like many of her other books, light, but with little moments of depth that can speak to you throughout.



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Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the book:

Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances–along with her father’s precious dye–help her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

My Review:

I love Tessa’s books and this was no exception. Her historical details that she puts in these stories is one thing, but the life changing lessons are another.

I loved how she mentioned characters from “Land of Silence” briefly in this story as well, one of my favorite books.

I was struck again by the character of Lydia, her strength, and the fact that she was likely a single woman that ran a successful business in a time where women were not respected. You just want to read this book slowly to make the story last, while letting yourself absorb every detail of the life experiences.

As with her others, this character does not have an easy life. It is fraught with turmoil and evil people that sought to destroy and harm. I found myself, throughout the week, as I read the books, marveling at the words that kept being spoken into my life as I read, encouraging me. This book is not romance at all, but does have a brief romantic storyline.

I highly recommend you go out and buy a copy of this book as soon as you can! Buy Land of Silence too!  This book was given to me for review by Netgalley and Bethany House. The opinions contained herein are my own!

It is available for sale from Amazon and wherever books are sold.

Bread of Angels  for $10.16


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The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the book:

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater which is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

An injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.

My review:

The world of the theater has been a new one for me in the past few years, but this book really brought the beginnings to life for me. Actresses and actors were not always the best people, and were not perceived as such in this time period, much as they are thought of today.

I loved the tie in’s with George Mueller, women’s medical school and veteran’s from military skirmishes at that time. It brought this story to life. The cover though, is gorgeous! I love it! The colors and just the detailing made me want to read it and savor it.

I did really enjoy this story, and treasured the story as it went on. Her older sister reminded me a bit of myself, so I am hoping that in further books, we get to see the rest of her story as well as her younger sister.



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Jane of Austin by Hilary Lodge

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the book:

“Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.”―Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn’t so far away.

My Review:

I love this author! Not only does she have amazing recipes throughout this book that make your mouth water, lovers of Jane Austen will be loving the familiarity of the story told in a new and contemporary way. I just loved every moment of reading this book. Tea, recipes, and Jane Austen, I mean, what is there to not love. So, even if you are not a Jane Austen fan, you will enjoy this well written novel of three sisters and making over their life.

Misused, abused and they still come up with smiling faces, you think of some of those flowers that never give up after being crushed. If you are looking for a good summer read, or one to give as gifts, this is one you will want to pick up.

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


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The Separatist’s by Lis Wiehl

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Book Description

From New York Times bestselling author Lis Wiehl comes the final book in her Newsmakers series. Journalist and newscaster Erica Sparks is only planning to report on an explosive story—until she gets caught in the middle of it.

After getting the green light from her network to launch an investigative news show, Erica flies to Bismarck, North Dakota, to investigate Take Back Our Homeland, the largest secessionist group. What she finds is profoundly disturbing – a growing threat to the future of our union.

Back home, her husband Greg is drinking more and talking less—and taking an unusual interest in the glamorous author Leslie Burke Wilson. Erica’s teenage daughter has also begun acting out in troubling ways.

Then she discovers a potential informant murdered in her Bismarck hotel. Take Back Our Homeland might be even more dangerous than she had thought—and she’s unwittingly become one of the key players in the story. Her fear and anxiety escalate – for her marriage, her daughter, and her own life.

Bestselling novelist and former legal analyst for Fox News Lis Wiehl takes us behind the anchor’s desk in this gripping look at high-stakes reporting in a country torn apart.

My review:

This fast paced suspense novel uses relevant political unrest that anyone can relate to in this day and age, especially living where I do. Erica tends to be a bit of a mess, learning lessons  at the end of each book, that she seems to forget at the beginning of the next one. I keep saying, “When is she going to learn?!!”

I have to say at the end of this one, I am hoping there will be at least one more book, where she does finally find some good balance between news and home, but as it is published as the final book, I can only hope for her lesson to stick this time.

This book is one of those that if you want to be absorbed in a story that may feel a bit realistic without reality, pick this one up!

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



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Egypt’s Sister by Angela Hunt

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


About the book:

Five decades before the birth of Christ, Chava, daughter of the royal tutor, grows up with Urbi, a princess in Alexandria’s royal palace. When Urbi becomes Queen Cleopatra, Chava vows to be a faithful friend no matter what–but after she and Cleopatra have an argument, she finds herself imprisoned and sold into slavery.

Torn from her family, her community, and her elevated place in Alexandrian society, Chava finds herself cast off and alone in Rome. Forced to learn difficult lessons, she struggles to trust a promise HaShem has given her. After experiencing the best and worst of Roman society, Chava must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and God’s will for her life.

My Review:

I was not sure how well I would enjoy this book as this time period has not always been my favorite. However, Angela Hunt did not fail me. She takes a time period that is often forgotten and brings it alive in a way that you want to read more about it. This book is not a “HEA” tale, but one of suffering, pain and turmoil, woven with the beauty of words.

I loved the midwifery angle that was put in the book as well, and struggled with the constant devotion to a friend that was not really a friend. In my own life, I have struggled with that, asking myself why I might stay loyal to a friend that has not returned the favor.

In this story of Cleopatra, it would be excellent for a student in high school to read. There is little to no romance in this book, but it does contain some harsher realities of the time period, but not in graphic detail.

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

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The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller



About the book:

Hope Irvine always sees the best in people. While traveling on the rails with her missionary father, she attracts the attention of a miner named Luke and a young mine manager. When Luke begins to suspect the manager is using Hope’s missions of mercy as a cover for illegal activities, can he discover the truth without putting her in danger?

My Review:

The cover on this book is gorgeous, which made me want to read it. It took me a bit to get into the story, as Judith Miller, though a talented author, has an older style of writing that is something I have to readjust to. You were able to overlook the missing pieces as you read through and enjoyed the sweetness of the story.

I enjoyed the history of the chapel train car, mines and the bootlegging thrown into this story. It was a happy, sweet story, with a happy ending for most in the story. I would not totally categorize this as a romance, but it has a romantic story thread throughout, but the historical aspect is more the forefront.

I was given this book to review from Bethany House. The opinions contained herein are my own.



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A Week away…

It is always fun to get away from home at times. I live a high stress life, which is not always enjoyable for me. But it is not really something that is going to change very soon, so I seek out ways to help me to cope in the middle of it.

Every summer, for the last four years, we volunteer at a beautiful camp in the middle of the mountains just outside East Glacier in Montana. It is rustic, by many people’s standards, but for me, it feels a little like going home.  It has the conveniences that I wish I had when we lived without electricity. The generator is set up to the run the camp when needed, but is only on for brief moments and about an hour in the evening.

I love technology, but I also hate it at the same time. My job and how I make money is linked to it, so I cannot live without it, but I love being away from it all.

When I do not have to work and have the stress of daily life pounding on me, I get a lot of reading done!

The view from the cabin. We were up near the tree line, so most of the mountains were below us as well.

20155979_10210246747664929_5164266823872110304_n.jpg20229112_10210246747224918_4438296154974285741_n.jpgMy little bedroom set up and ready for reading and napping.


One of the daily skits! 20228257_10210246746704905_2272606574586338845_n.jpgEach cabin put on a skit as well..




Singing time is always exuberant! 20246468_10210246742184792_3497062737534175458_n.jpg


One of the many meals we prepared! 20229288_10210246740904760_2541237538891886057_n.jpg


20245756_10210246741064764_599955545030869020_n.jpgSaying goodbye to the last camper before we headed out of camp!

If you ever want a great camp experience or volunteer experience, this is a good one!

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