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The Rules of Communication

“No More Quiet”

A bumper sticker that our local library gives out, loudly proclaimed the message of change, but the carefully penned words underneath gave voice to the way some of the users felt about it.

“Talking is okay. But no cell phones.”

Who makes the rules?

It seems everywhere I look, read, turn, I hear a rule about what you should say, shouldn’t say, how you should visit, how you should talk, and so on. I was struck by the above statement as when I was a young mom, sometimes the only quiet time I got was at the library.

I would take my children and they were occupied by the activities, the computer, new books, and toys and I got a moment to sit and read for a minute. The way the library is set up now, it is conducive to visiting, children playing, reading, learning and all that combined.

As I read the message about cell phones, I have noticed that people have a lot of anger about what they believe to be out of place or wrong. I encouraged someone recently, whose life was jam packed with impossible expectations, to take 5 minutes in the car and call someone. She needed it to regain some focus. But when you were the car passing her in the turn lane, and saw she was on her phone, anger could strike you. “Why is she on her phone? She didn’t speed through that light with the speed that I think she should have. I am now 10 seconds later than I would have been otherwise.”

No, we don’t really say all that, but we might think it. What if we instead looked at the young mother on the phone in the library, while her kids playing and realized that might be the first minute she had to talk to her mom all week. Maybe we can see the person in the car and realize that this is the first time her grandmother had heard her voice in several months. It could be that it was a phone call from the doctors office, letting her know that her tests had come back with questionable results.  Perhaps that student you called out in public, was answering a phone call from her mother that she had to take or checking the text to see that her grandma died.

Cell phones, social media, computers, technology are all a part of our lives now. When we react to others that use them with anger and frustration, we become part of the problem. We set rules that are impossible to follow.

I would ask. Do you think before you react?  Do we stop to listen to the conversation to see what it is about? It may not sound important to you, but who are you to say that you are more important than the phone call?

I recently had a text letting me know of a death from someone I knew. I was in a public place, in a bible study. I knew I had to answer it. I could not ignore it, yet it would be rude to withdraw from the group. It took me 10 seconds to send condolences and comfort. I did not explain to the group, but it is hard to not wonder if someone wonders why.

My job ends up putting me in the path where I am a bit tied to my phone and social media. I hate it sometimes. But I have learned to have mercy on those on the phone in their cars, in public places and lend a little love when they are distracted.

So, as I seek to find grace, I also seek to not make more rules of communication for others.

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Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels

 

 

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Description

My Review:

I found this book to be a refreshing change from some tales similar to this. It addressed the topic head on without skirting the huge issues.
Adultery and infertility were two key topics in this book. I loved the mention of doulas, grants for those in need of their services and found that especially wonderful as a doula myself.
The writing style is excellent and touched on many key phrases that would be said to a Christian woman in a marriage that is falling apart. My only complaint would be that it left me many questions in the end, which again, is real life.

This women’s fiction novel is a breath of fresh air, speaking truth and reality, without giving pat answers that suddenly fix everything.

This book was obtained through NetGalley and the opinions contained herein are my own.

This book is available for preorder from Amazon

Shadows of Hope 

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The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron “Giveaway”

 

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

A thirteenth century castle, Chateau de Doux Reves, has been forgotten for generations, left to ruin in a storybook forest nestled deep in France’s picturesque Loire Valley. It survived a sacking in the French Revolution, was brought back to life and fashioned into a storybook chateau in the Gilded Age, and was eventually felled and deserted after a disastrous fire in the 1930s.

Sparked by the discovery of a long forgotten family heirloom, Ellie embarks on a journey to French wine country to uncover the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty–the castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale–and unearth its secrets before they’re finally silenced by time.

Set in three different time periods–the French Revolution, World War II, and present day–The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged, and an enchanted castle that inspired the epic fairy tales time left behind.

My Review:

Wow. Just, I mean, wow. It is not often that I have read a book that is set in three different time periods and been able to follow it so well. This book is masterfully written and woven to connect the time periods, the characters and to be so engaged. I loved it. I found myself wanting more as I read, wishing for each one to have the desires of their hearts. Romance? Not really. While there is a faint romantic thread to the storyline, that is not the focus of this book at all. It is so much more the fight from each character to preserve history, a legacy and grant them a reason to keep going.

If you are a historical fiction lover, pick this book up. The author will have you hooked on her books with this one. Don’t usually read historical fiction? Well, give this one a try.

I ended up with an extra copy of this book, so if you would like to enter for it,  comment on this post and tell me your favorite historical fiction book, and leave a way for me to contact you.

This book was obtained through the publisher. The opinions found herein are my own.

You can buy this book from local booksellers, but also on Amazon. “The Lost Castle”

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The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

In 1927, Margie Lane, an avid naturalist, convinces her Senator father to procure her a position at the fledgling Mount Rainier National Park. Since Ranger Ford Brannon lost his father in a climbing accident, he doubts his ability to protect the park and its many visitors. He certainly doesn’t relish the job of watching over an idealistic and privileged young woman with no practical survival skills.
When Margie’s former fiance sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, Margie and Ford will have to work together to preserve the beauty and simplicity of this mountain hideaway, but the developer’s plans might put more than just the park in danger.

My Review:

I was not sure what to expect from this novel and it sat on my “TBR” pile for a bit waiting for the right moment to pick it up. When a review came across my feed letting me know that others found it humorous, it was the encouragement I needed to pick it up.
While I did not find it over the top humorous as it is really not that type of book, I did find the history of Mount Rainer and Tacoma fascinating. I lived in Tacoma as a child when my parents were in YWAM, so it gave me a point of reference.
This book, while on the lighter side in many ways, does briefly touch on abuse by a significant other and parents that are controlling.
I found that I loved the quirky packrat, and her adventures with wildlife as those made me smile!
If you enjoy history and would love a great story about national parks, pick this one up.

It is available for purchase from Amazon. “The Road to Paradise”

This book was received from Blogging for books. The comments are my own and no one else.

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When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Tess Beaumont is tired of being thought of as just a pretty face. Eager to do her part for the war effort, she joins the Navy’s newly established WAVES program for women. Perhaps there she can convince people that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills in the fight against German U-boats and hoping to make admiral. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. Convinced that romance will interfere with his goals, Dan is determined to stay the course, no matter how intriguing a distraction Tess is.

But love, like war, is unpredictable. When Dan is shipped out at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he finds himself torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help the beguiling Tess root out a possible spy on shore. Could this fun-loving glamour girl really be the one?

 

My Review:

From the name change to hating her looks, Tess seemed like she had something to prove. Dan Avery has his own insecurities, yet for both of them they try to cover it up well.

This is one thing that I love about Sarah Sundin’s books. Her characters are strong, smart, often beautiful/handsome and the like, but they are flawed. They are like normal people, but we get to see what they fear the most. Then top it off with a good spy ring, this book has it all.

I really enjoyed learning more about the WAVES and what the USA did on this end against the German U Boats. I always think there is nothing new to learn about WW2 history and then I am surprised! If you like WW2 history, pick this one up!

 

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The Separatist’s by Lis Wiehl

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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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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The Witnesses by Robert Witlow

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Book Description

Young lawyer Parker House is on the rise—until his grandfather’s mysterious past puts both of their lives in danger.

Parker House’s secret inheritance is either his greatest blessing . . . or his deadliest curse. The fresh-faced North Carolina attorney shares his German grandfather’s uncanny ability to see future events in his mind’s eye—a gift that has haunted 82-year-old Frank House through decades of trying to erase a murderous wartime past.

While Parker navigates the intrigue and politics of small-town courtroom law, Frank is forced to face his darkest regrets. Then, a big career break for Parker collides with a new love he longs to nurture and the nightmares his grandfather can no longer escape. Sudden peril threatens to shatter not only Parker’s legal prospects but also his life and the lives of those dearest to him.

Two witnesses, two paths, an uncertain future.

My Review:

There are times when a book hits you just right and there are times when it doesn’t. I have enjoyed Robert Whitlow’s books previously and thought this one sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete this title and so my review is sadly lacking. I just kept setting it aside for other titles and it just was not something that grabbed me.

This author does an amazing job of detailing the courtroom, the law and giving you and insiders look at the suspense that can build up in that job. However, there is also a lot of other behind the scenes work that he gives you a wonderful glimpse of as well. Check out his books if you are a fan of legal mysteries.

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

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The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost.

Evangeline is the ward and cousin of King Richard II, and yet she dreams of a life outside of Berkhamsted Castle, where she might be free to marry for love and not politics. But the young king betroths her to his closest advisor, Lord Shiveley, a man twice as old as Evangeline. Desperate to escape a life married to a man she finds revolting, Evangeline runs away from the king and joins a small band of servants on their way back to their home village.

To keep her identity a secret, Evangeline pretends to be mute. Evangeline soon regrets the charade as she gets to know Wesley, the handsome young leader of the servants, whom she later discovers is the son of a wealthy lord. But she cannot reveal her true identity for fear she will be forced to return to King Richard and her arranged marriage.

Wesley le Wyse is intrigued by the beautiful new servant girl. When he learns that she lost her voice from a beating by a cruel former master, he is outraged. But his anger is soon redirected when he learns she has been lying to him. Not only is she not mute, but she isn’t even a servant.

Weighed down by remorse for deceiving Wesley, Evangeline fears no one will ever love her. But her future is not the only thing at stake, as she finds herself embroiled in a tangled web that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to save the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

My Review:

Oh, the joy that always fills my heart at another Melanie Dickerson book to read. I am not the most versed person on Disney fairy tales, but I love these retellings in a way that only Melanie can do.

This story had me grinning throughout, hoping for the best, and wishing for the communication issues to end. The medieval feel to the story gives it a romantic feel, despite the reality of the time period. I enjoyed how she wove the reality of the hardship of the times into the story, realizing that it was so much work for the common people to work then.

My Christmas tradition of reading a new book by Melanie Dickerson has thrived and I am glad she has some that come out at other times of the year, but I may have to go back and re-read the others.

These books are enjoyable for adults, and teens. The romance is there, but nothing to uncomfortable with. This book hints at domestic violence in arranged marriages, but only hints, no detailed descriptions, but enough to know that it was common. I think sometimes we can think that would be easier or more romantic, and this dashes that theory on the rocks (or the stairs as it were).

You can purchase this book wherever books are sold, or online here. “The Silent Songbird”

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Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Now remembered as the author of the world s most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father until the night he hears Polly Catlett s enchanting voice, caroling. He s immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.
An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John s reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?
Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.”

My Review:

In the somewhat different style of Jody Hedlund, the famous story of John Newton and his conversion is told in a fascinating way.
I found the story uplifting and inspiring. even though it was familiar to me, it was told in such new way, it seemed like a new story. I found myself realizing the cultures and customs of the time, while different from ours, Polly’s father had many reasons to dislike John as a suitor, and Polly needed to have the wisdom to listen. Often we can see a story as “just a story”, but in this case, this book would be excellent for young women to read to see the “behind the scenes” of what we might think is “romantic”, but realize that in knowing the story of John Newton, why at times our parents may think otherwise.
If for nothing else, pick up this book and just stare at the cover. It is so pretty! I loved it!

 

This book was provided for review by “Blogging for Books”. The opinions contained herein are my own.

It is available for purchase wherever books are sold, but also on Amazon.

Polly and Newton 

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Child of the River by Irma Joubert

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko 

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About the book:
Persomi’s dreams are much bigger than the world of poverty and deprivation that surround her in the Bushveld of the 1940s and 1950s in South Africa.

Persomi is young, white and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her. Her older brother, Gerbrand, is her lifeline and her connection to the outside world. When he leaves the farm to seek work in Johannesburg, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her—dreams of an education, a profession, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her—the tragedies of WWII and the devastating racial strife of her homeland—she finally discovers who she truly is and where she belongs.

A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Persomi’s English language publication solidifies Irma Joubert’s important place in the canon of inspirational historical fiction.

My Review:

This book is written with the flavor of a book written in first person, but it you look, it is not first person. The culture and language of the story are unique in their style, but I was drawn into the story from the first pages.

There is heartbreak in these pages, intertwined with the determination of a young woman trapped in a system that could seek to destroy her. I really enjoyed the history in this story that encompasses many years.

It really is more historical fiction although it has relationship elements, it is not a romantic story at all, but more gritty without details, but told in a more subtle way about some of the harder parts of life.

I really enjoyed this book, even with the different style of writing. I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys historical fiction.

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

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