Category Archives: Book Reviews

A Cinderella Christmas by Amanda Tru



My Review:

When I picked up this book, back around Christmas time, I assumed it would be a light, happy, fun Christmas read. I didn’t think it would have a life changing message. I wanted to review it so that others would look it up!

In the story, it begins with a car accident, and one that is the characters fault. She struggles with the guilt of it, even though it was an accident. When she is distressed, no one stopped to check on her. She made the comment in her journal about how many times she walked by someone or walked away when she should have spoken up. The story goes on to show how her thought on that, changed many lives, from young to old.

I read this book last week, and yesterday, I noticed a girl sitting on a bench. She looked very serious, almost upset. I smiled at her and our eyes caught. Before I could stop myself, I asked her, “Are you ok?”

She smiled and I realized she was probably just deep in thought and I moved on. But she seemed relieved to be noticed, someone cared… I don’t know her story and likely never will, but the book gave me a lesson that sometimes it is the little things that speak to someone.

If you are looking for a fun inspirational read, check this one out.


A Cinderella Christmas

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Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green




My Review:

This novel takes us to the Great Chicago fire, to give us an inside view of other stories happening at the same time. The eye opening experience of soldiers suffering from PTSD or “Soldier’s Heart”, was really sad, but also so educational. You live through the trauma of the fire with the characters, see what they saw, and live it. The trauma from the fire, also demonstrates a great example of PTSD from a traumatic event as well.
The book is well written, well researched and highly enjoyable. It has one of the most beautiful covers ever as well. This author takes her time on research, and while some of her books have a small romance thread, this is a historical novel, not a romance. It would appeal to both men and women, in my opinion.

I obtained this book from the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.


This book is available for purchase wherever books are sold. It is also available on audio. 

Veiled in Smoke 

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The Joy of Falling by Lindsay Harrel




My Review:


Sometimes you wonder if a favorite author can top her last book. This author did just that. She captured the grief process for the two women, life issues and wrapped it all up with a bow of conquering something together.
I related so much to Angela in this story, especially with her early struggles with running. Romance is not the focus of this novel, but there is hints of it all throughout. The theme would be healing, forgiveness and changing oneself.
If you have been looking for a book that will touch your heart for 2020, this is the book for you. It is such a beautifully told story, plus, you can almost hear the accents as you read it since part of it is set in New Zealand.

I obtained this book from the publisher. All opinions contained herein are my own.

The Joy of Falling  is available for pre-order! I would recommend you do that! It also available on audio and kindle.


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Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar



My Review:

When you read biblical fiction, there are always spoilers. However, this book since this was a less commonly known character or characters from the bible, it didn’t feel that way totally.
I loved the history thinking about a Gentile marrying a Jew because of Christianity. The racial divide was pronounced and as I see this often now, with the rampant racism, this book is so applicable for today.
The message of allowing Christ’s forgiveness of your sins spoke to me, as I read about someone that had committed sin, had flaws and struggled to forgive herself. It is well written, a bit gritty at times, and wholly challenging to my faith.
I obtained this book from the publisher. All thoughts contained herein are my own.

This book is available for purchase from your local booksellers and online.

Daughter of Rome is available on Kindle, audio, hardcover and paperback.


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Top Ten Reads 2019


What is a Girl Worth by Rachael Denhollander

Quote from my review:

“The quote from one of the women that testified in court was stated in this book, and it stuck with me. “Perhaps you have figured it out by now. Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”

This woman writing the story enabled many, many women to testify against their abuser. I believe this story will continue to inspire many more to speak out against abuse in every way. We are not seeking revenge, but justice and safety for every child.”


How much is a Little Girl Worth by Rachael Denhollander

You’re beautiful, worthy, and you should be loved
Because of all that you are.
Different from anything else in the world,
You are precious beyond the stars.”

A book that is applicable to both young and old, male and female, and will have you choking up if you try to read it aloud. Worth every penny to buy.


One Woman Falling by Melanie Campbell

“It is rare that a novel is written talking about the topic of domestic violence in an accurate way without being too graphic or not very accurate.
Take a walk through the life of a woman experiencing domestic violence and her journey to safety, done in one of the best ways I have ever seen in a novel. The author did her research when she wrote this book, and while some, the fear would be that this book could cause triggers to arise. I would say that this book will be empowering for you. It will can help you go through the steps of seeing the abuse, achieving safety, Finding hope and establishing new patterns. This is a manual packed into a novel without feeling like you got preached at.
It is also an amazing story.”


The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden 

“I loved the history with Washington politics, Good Housekeeping, and also the secondary characters with blindness. I am so thankful to people that fought to have ingredients disclosed on labels for us. I am really excited to see this is a series as well, as I want to know more about the siblings.”


As the Light Fades by Catherine West 

“This story was so meaningful to me. She shows how a realistic women’s fiction story can be inspiring and not depressing in the least bit. I loved every second of reading it and highly recommend it.”


The Pages of Her Life by James L Rubart 

“Do you ever read a book and stop to wonder if it was written just for you (but you know it wasn’t)?

I can’t count many times I did that with this book. I was sitting there, absorbing the story and thinking about how real and just amazingly deep this story was.”


Educated by Tara Westover

“It is weird when you read a book that you relate to so well, without feeling like she placed blame where it was not due.
I would say if there is a tone to describe a book, this one is gentle…..
She told her story of her journey. The stories of her family, which I was not surprised to see a backlash from her family that believe they are doing what is right, and she did not judge them, but protected herself by having to be separate from them.”


Broken Heart Strings by Staci Stallings

If there can be an author that combines non-fiction and fiction, it is Staci Stallings. I learned so much from this novel in addressing hard life issues. You walk through it with Nelson and Paige.  I loved the way the teacher was teaching with film as well.



Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay 

“If you are a book lover, a book that features other book lovers warms your heart. This book is totally that way.
The author takes a story of friendship surrounding books that will make you wish the bookstore truly exists somewhere. One thing that is unique about this story is that none of the characters have it “all together”. They have messed up, some more than others. They were not really destined to be friends, until life throws them together.

Love, forgiveness and finding what is truly important in life are the themes of this novel. It is published as Christian fiction, but it is more for the thread of hope, love and forgiveness throughout the novel than for sermons, bible verses and quotes.

I found myself wanting to highlight portions of the novel and remember what was said. I would highly recommend it.”


An Hour Unspent by Roseanna White 

This book has such an intriguing hero that he overshadows the heroine. I loved the history, but also the family that chose themselves.




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With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko



About the book:


As a young soldier lies dying in Lizzie’s arms, she vows to relay his final words to his mother, but knows little more than the boy’s first name. That same night, decorated Mississippi sharpshooter Captain Roland Ward Jones extracts a different promise from Lizzie: that she intervene should the surgeon decide to amputate his leg.

Lizzie is nothing if not a woman of her word, earning the soldiers’ respect as she tends to the wounded within Carnton’s walls. None is more admiring than Captain Jones, who doesn’t realize she is pledged to another. But as Lizzie’s heart softens toward the Confederate captain, she discovers that his moral ground is at odds with her own. Now torn between love, principles, and promises made, she struggles to be true to her heart while standing for what she knows is right—no matter the cost.

From the pages of history and the personal accounts of those who endured the Battle of Franklin, Tamera Alexander weaves the real-life love letters between Captain Roland Ward Jones and Miss Elizabeth Clouston into a story of unlikely romance first kindled amid the shadows of war.


My Review:

As always, the tale set in the time of the brutal war is beautifully captured in this novel set with a caregiver of soldiers. It has some detail that would be hard for sensitive readers to read, but not in an excessively graphic way, but more giving you the raw details.

There was so much of this that happened in history and reading a novel like this will open students, parents and others eyes, while enjoying a truly well written novel.


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One Thing I know by Kara Isaac

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko



My Review:
A trope of being forced to keep a secret is not always my idea of a great book as I am generally screaming at the author, “Just let her tell him.”
This one did a good job of not making me as frustrated because the writing is so good. I love her characters. They are real. Rachel wasn’t seeking out romance, fame or the limelight. She wanted to write and that is what she did well.
This more unique story will make you think that you love contemporary stories and will want to read all her other books too.

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As the Light Fades by Catherine West



When I read, “The Things we knew”, I hoped for a sequel, which this is not a sequel, but a stand alone. I wanted to read more about the siblings.
There are a lot of family dynamics without even extra things added in because you have a lot more people making different choices. This story follows another sibling, but you can read it as a stand-alone. I think you would gain more from reading “The Things We Knew” beforehand, but you will totally enjoy it on its own.

I loved the art threads throughout, the therapy done with elderly people, as well as how there were the stories of the secondary characters woven all throughout. I don’t know that there is another author that can have the story encompass more than one point of view, but still not make you feel dragged all over the place with such talent.

This story was so meaningful to me. She shows how a realistic women’s fiction story can be inspiring and not depressing in the least bit. I loved every second of reading it and highly recommend it.

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What is a Girl Worth? By Rachel DenHollander



My Review:

As I read through this book, I felt the pain of a person that survived sexual abuse in a way like no other book has touched me. This book is not filled with graphic descriptions of abuse. It is not about a story of someone you struggle to relate to.
This is the story of a little girl that grew to be a woman, and led an army to challenge an abuser. In doing so, so gave hope to millions of people, I would say. She gave hope that while there are so many people that will hear a story of abuse, attack it, reject it or downplay what happened to you, it is worth speaking out. The pain is worth it if it saves one other little girl. How much is a little girl worth? She is worth everything.
The quote from one of the women that testified in court was stated in this book, and it stuck with me. “Perhaps you have figured it out by now. Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”

This woman writing the story enabled many, many women to testify against their abuser. I believe this story will continue to inspire many more to speak out against abuse in every way. We are not seeking revenge, but justice and safety for every child.

Some readers might be afraid that if they read this book, they may be triggered by the topic. I would say that the triggers you will have from this book might be hard, but worth it in the end as I believe they will empower you. They will show you that sometimes people that are victimized, get justice. It is worth it in the hard times to push through, even when it seems like no one is listening. In the end, even if one person, namely, yourself, knows you are of value, it is worth it.

I obtained this book from the publisher. All the opinions and thoughts contained herein are my own.


You can purchase this book on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

“What is a Girl Worth” 

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The “Bad” Book.

“That’s a bad book.” The voice of a child, about 12 years old startled me as I heard them telling their sister to not touch a book on my table. I looked to where they were pointing to see “A Tale of Two Cities” there.

“Well, it is a matter of opinion.” I smiled and kindly replied.

Her stare could have melted through concrete. “My parents said it is a bad book.”


I was struck by the interchange for several reasons.

  1. I had never heard that particular book have any description that it was “bad”. My mind went nuts thinking that maybe it was because it spoke of executions, compared the good vs. evil among the characters and that the playboy in the story, had detailed exploits with drinking.
  2. She believed her parents were absolutely right. No matter what. They were right. Others were wrong, and her sister needed to be warned from it.
  3. She didn’t even think to judge for herself at all. She simply accepted what had been told to her.
  4. It is highly likely her parents told her that it was not a book they wanted her to read at her age, and forbade it at the moment. They likely did not explain beyond, “It’s bad.”

All of these things are not wrong, but in combination, can set up for a very dangerous cycle. It wasn’t really anything I could fix with this, nor was it my place, but it taught me a lesson. It wasn’t really about the interaction. It was more about the life lesson that I observed.

What happens if in high school, her parents assign her to read “A Tale of Two Cities.”? They will have brought up doubts in her mind as to what else they have not told her the truth about.  If they don’t ever require her to read it, and she finds out as an adult the premise of the story, she may then begin to doubt everything else she was taught.

Often it seems easier to just tell our children what they should or shouldn’t watch. What they should read or shouldn’t read. We pre-screen everything, protect them from the possible evils that we know are out there, but forget that children grow into adults.

When is it time to stop protecting and teach wise judgment?

  1. We should be teaching our children right, wrong and ethics from a young age.
  2. We should be teaching kindness vs. judgement of others that do differently than we do.
  3. We should have a time, ages 8-12, where we start to allow them to make more choices that we guide, rather than dictate. Instead of saying, “That is a bad book.” we would say, “I am not sure that this book is appropriate for your age. Let’s take a look at the back.  What do you think?” You can still make the final call, but asking them to take a look themselves, gets them to think for themselves.
  4. When they start to hit ages 12-18, you want them to be working more and more to make wise choices on their own. This means, you should be a guide more and more to the point that you work yourself out of a job. Give them chances to choose their own books, after guiding them for the previous four years, see how they put it into practice. When they choose something you don’t like, instead of forbidding, ask questions. “Why do you think I might not like this book/movie?” “How do you feel after reading this?”


When we work from this direction, we will find that instead of children that walk away from our beliefs, morals and ethics, you will have individuals that you have raised that may not always agree with you, but they will know how to do so with aplomb. They will have grace in it.

I smiled at the young girl at my table, sadly. I was saddened by the choices I saw, in that in their desire to protect, they had harmed.  A comment from someone else that heard it, “That is homeschooling for you.” or something similar.

In reality, it doesn’t have to be.  Those parents were truly doing what they believed was best for their children. But, I believe we can change this and be better. Teaching our children kind, wise and ethical judgement is something we can change for the future.  We can change the future, but changing how we teach our children.


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