Category Archives: Book Reviews

With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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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

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Description

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

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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

 

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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.”

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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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The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

My Review

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.

I have never been disappointed by one of Elizabeth Camden’s books, and this one was no exception. I found myself pulled into the story immediately. The short heroine, of course, which I don’t see as often as I like, being only five feet tall myself, made me laugh. I could see myself in her.

As I stated earlier, I totally want to know what becomes of the siblings of the main characters, and just get more from this author. You will be entertained, but learn at the same time. Romance? Yes, but not exactly in the way you think. It was less the focus of the story and more a background story. The relationship and friendship was what you really saw as you learn how this country changed history with spices and food.

Plus, with that cover, I mean, you just have to get it!

 

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

You can purchase this book here or wherever books are sold.  It is being released Sept. 3rd.  This book is available on kindle and audible as well.

 

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Protecting your Child From Predators by Beth Robinson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

My Review:

 

I thought the premise and set up of this book was good, but failed in the execution.
The great things about this book:
It was set up well, by age level. It was clear and easy to understand without using a ton of big words or babbling.
The poor side of it was that it was quite fear laden. I would be the first one to tell you that we need more info for parents on how to protect their children from predators. But I felt this book did a poor job of that. It instead let you know that they are everywhere. (Truth), but gave very few stats on how these things they recommended you do to protect your children actually work. Instead, there was a underlying tone of blame that I felt.
One huge issue was an encouragement for isolation, from those that were in foster care, family members, church members, to almost a paranoid level, never hiring teenage babysitters, avoiding sports coaches, making sure you are always in the room with doctors and so on.
It did have some good info on educating your child to be empowered and to be their own warrior. I liked that part. This was really good. But the key element faltered in that parents cannot prevent child abuse. We can educate, protect and seek to put safety guidelines in place, but in the end, it is not us that protect. In fact, isolation has been one of the keys that sex offenders look for and take advantage of.
I wanted to like this book, I really did. It is a great need in our society. I would recommend Jimmy Hinton’s articles over this book though.
I obtained this book from the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Description

My Review:
Wow. When you think this author can’t surprise you with a better book than she has written previously, and when she does, you end up sitting on the couch staring at your book for a bit.
That is what I did when I finished this story.
The honor of showing the Prodigal son story, set in the old testament was so touching, I felt every heart strong being pulled. Sacrifice, but also a temptation to sacrifice oneself when you did not need to as well as a clear lesson portrayed well. I loved this series and cannot wait to see more from this author. You want the bible to come alive? Get these books!
I obtained this book from the publisher.
You can purchase your own copy here or wherever books are sold.
It is also available on Kindle and Audible.

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The Pages of Her Life by James L. Rubart

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the Book:

Allison Moore is making it. Barely. The Seattle architecture firm she started with her best friend is struggling, but at least they’re free from the games played by the corporate world. She’s gotten over her divorce. And while her dad’s recent passing is tough, their relationship had never been easy.

Then the bomb drops. Her dad was living a secret life and left her mom in massive debt.

As Allison scrambles to help her mom find a way out, she’s given a journal, anonymously, during a visit to her favorite coffee shop. The pressure to rescue her mom mounts, and Allison pours her fears and heartache into the journal.

But then the unexplainable happens. The words in the journal, her words, begin to disappear. And new ones fill the empty spaces—words that force her to look at everything she knows about herself in a new light.

Ignoring those words could cost her everything . . . but so could embracing them.

My Review:

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.

You have several characters in the book, the sibling pair along with their mother. I hardly have words to describe it, other than this story brings to life how sometimes totally confusing life can be, when you think you are doing the right thing and maybe you are, yet things are just going worse and worse.

Do you get down to the nitty gritty and just write/talk or look to God for the true guidance in your life?

I just went through a tough year, and it is not likely to get easier. But reading books like this with deep spiritual encouragement, along with just the love of God seeping through every page really just brightened my whole life. I was refreshed and ready to keep going. I am thankful to authors that take the time to create stories that inspire.

It is so hard for me to stand up for myself, and when you know you can lose everything if you do? Wow. It is even harder. I related so much to Allison and wanted to just be her best friend when I was done.

I highly recommend this book.

 

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The Heart of a King by Jill Eileen Smith

 

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description:

Four women captured King Solomon’s heart in different ways, and he indulges his desires despite warnings. For all his wisdom, did Solomon or the women he loved ever find what they were searching for?

My Review:

I love reading biblical fiction and this author is talented in telling a story. 

They do a very good job of capturing the life of a king with the love for God, but also the draw to women to obtain more peace, power and lands. 

Her skill weaves a tale of the confusing facts of polygamy, and its downfalls, even when you think it is sort of ok. I loved Solomon, and yet, I didn’t like him at all. He was the hero that you wanted to do the right thing, but felt like he kept going back to his desire for power, but had a good heart in it all. 

If you want to understand more about this unique king that married, what seems like half the world’s princesses, pick this book up. It is fascinating with a lot of stories in it. 

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