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We all have troublemakers in our lives.IMG_6776

But occasionally, even the best of us become a troublemaker. But why, you might ask?

Sometimes it can be when something happens to stimulate us into action.


It could be that it is something we are passionate about, and it is a hot topic.

It might be an issue that has personally impacted your life, which makes it personal when you jump into the fray.

Whatever it is, what is something that has made you a troublemaker lately?

Recently I was a part of a conversation that had a lot of deeply felt opinions on all levels.

Many of the participants had different experiences, and some had no experience on the topic they were talking about, others had personally had multiple layers of experience.

It sparked something for me, about participating in a discussion online.


Discussions are amazing. They help us learn from others, they offer us different lessons that others have learned,  and they give us the chance to express our opinion.

But if we are not open to learning, it is not a discussion, it is a open disaster session. It is kind of like inviting someone over, and giving them food that you know they are allergic to. It may not kill them, but it likely will make them very sick. It could kill them though. It could cause them severe anxiety.  And if you say, “I was just wanting to see what would happen. How dare you accuse me of trying to hurt someone!”  It feels painful for the others that are used by you.

1. Ask a question with an open mind. Be willing to learn from others that may have had different experiences than you.

2. Give an open and honest opinion on what you think, right from the beginning. Don’t wait until they have all stated their opinions and then go through and shoot down every single one of them.

3. When someone points out that because of their experiences, your opinion is less than gracious, be humbly apologetic. It doesn’t mean you have to change your opinion. But you do not have to tell them things like, “You are too close to the situation, therefore you cannot have a clear opinion.” This is a ridiculous statement for so many reasons, but often the best person we can learn from, is someone experiencing it.  If someone is learning something through trial and error and shares with you their hard lessons, maybe you can learn from it without having to experience it.

4. Refrain from patronizing statements. I am guilty of this myself, as it is easy to do. But check yourself before you do so. It can be really hard to listen and not just retort back when you disagree or you know differently. For me, sometimes things are just the way they are. Hard life lessons have taught me, “Um, nothing is black and white.”

5. Overall, respect others. These are real life people behind the keyboard. Don’t be cruel. Pain through words has a deeper impact than you know.

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The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko



My Review:
In this continuing story about the next brother in the tale of brothers, we get to meet Adler. I found myself loving how these books need to be read in order to get the most out of the story. Violet was different for me, with her height and draw to the mission field. I related to her on the mission field calling, and as she fought through what that meant to her, I loved it.
This book was an expert tale of giving you insight into WW2, and what happened on the ground and in the air. It gave you insight into the family dynamics and struggles some people faced, and how they used their faith to battle them out and win.
I felt like I lived through that part of the war when I finished this book, it was so vividly portrayed, yet I didn’t feel like it was overly graphic and violent. It still though gave a very accurate picture that I see.
Excellent storytelling! I would highly recommend.
I obtained this book from the publisher. My opinions contained herein are my own!

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Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko



My Review:
      Do you ever think, “I just want a historical novel that really gives you a feel of what it was like to live then?”
If so, pick up a copy of this author’s books. Between Two Shores is set in a time period that is not always written about, so you will find yourself learning a ton. While this is not a romantic historical fiction book, it does have the struggles that someone might have faced with relationships. As with her other books, it doesn’t sugar coat the hard stuff. I would encourage you to expect descriptions of reality from history.
This book is beautiful though. It is about strong women that live through incredible pain and come out on top, although banged up, thriving.
You want depth in your historical fiction? Look no further than this read!
I obtained this book from the publisher and NetGalley. My opinions contained herein are my own.
This book is available to purchase here! “Between Two Shores” for preorder. The book releases on Feb. 5th.


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Top Ten Reads of 2018

It is cliche to be sure, but it is hard to even narrow it down to the top ten, so I decided to go with top twenty and then changed my mind and went back to top ten. When you have read about 214 books, it is easier that way.  I figured I would put a synopsis of my review on each one and if you click on the title, it leads you to how to purchase or add to your wish list.



Running From Monday by Lea Sims

“I read “Running From Monday” by Lea Childers Sims last night, while I was without sleep from having to deal with business issues without the internet. It was amazing. I will tell you, if you have not added this book to your wish list, TBR pile, and move it up on the list, you will be sorry. You want a real story that moves you? This is one. It does discuss some hard trauma topics, but I loved how it was done, in such a well written story.

I am not someone that is drawn to churches, especially in a story. However, in this one, the church with how it was set up, made me wish that churches patterned their ministry more after this one. Even though I related more to the older characters in the book as far as music taste, I really loved how even that was told in the story.

The characters were flawed, which makes this a tougher read, but so real and you could relate to them. I found myself tearing up a couple of times.”



The Man He Never Was by James L. Rubart 

“I never quite know what to expect when I pick up a book by James L. Rubart. This one really had me stopping, setting the book down and thinking before I could pick it up again.
There is never a book that touches everyone. For me, this genre is not my normal genre. I love women’s fiction and historical. This is nowhere near either of those genres. For me, this story is a tale of a man that allowed the evil to control him, the evil that is within many, and it nearly destroyed his life and his family. It is the story of the journey that he takes to conquer it, which when done in your own strength is impossible.
I was deeply touched at certain parts of the book. Some of the thoughts were so deep, it made me have to wrap my mind around it.

If you read this book with the mindset that you are just going to read a nice story, you may not get the meaning of this one. It is much more than that. But if you are reading this book to see what true love and repentance can look like, this one does share that.
Very unique story, that I highly recommend.”



No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

“In the times we live in, this book struck a nerve that I think everyone should feel deeply.  From racism to attachment issues with adoption, this book hits some strong points. I have come to expect not just hard topics, but a well written novel by Ms. Ganshert. I was not disappointed. This will be one that I would recommend as a book club read, book group or anything like that, as you will want to talk about it with someone.

You won’t want to miss this book. You know how you can’t stop thinking about a book after you read it? This is one of those.”



Pandora’s Lunchbox 

“You ever want to read a book that confirms everything your mother taught you? This is the book.
While a little deep maybe for some people, this is one I was pre-reading for a high school required reading science class I will be teaching. This is a book that will confirm to you that likely most of the issues that people have with food, is not actually with food at all, it is with the preservatives that are even often in what we think of as “healthy food”.
It has been something that has fascinated my boys and they have gotten a tiny bit obsessed with, so I think they will really enjoy this book and learning what can make you feel better. From overloading our bodies with vitamins that is not from food to additives in meat, this book covers it all. I would recommend it!”



A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

“You ever read a book and think, “Wow, that is why this is a classic!”

That doesn’t happen terribly often for me, but it did with this book.
You like stories about strong, brave women? This is for sure one of those stories. From Sissy, who “didn’t believe in divorce” and all her heartbreak to Francie, the main character, I found myself savoring every word picture.
They were painted so vividly, you just wanted to soak it in.

I had remembered liking this book at the age of 17. More than twenty years later, it was even more enjoyable.”



The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

‘I read this book last Friday and I cannot stop thinking about it. In fact, I have likely referenced it several times this last week.
The storyline, while nothing unique, brings completely flawed characters that judge one another as being something they are not in the beginning.
I loved seeing the journey of the raw characters, woven throughout the story, while still leaving you with a few unanswered questions, just as life tends to do.
I am not an artist, have never really gotten the appeal of tagging, and yet, I was able to relate to both characters, in totally different ways, and yet, get the heart of their pain.

Please note, it does discuss foster care, drug use and a few other key elements, but nothing is graphic. It is a Christian fiction book, so while one of the main characters is proclaimed atheist most of the book, it also discusses the problems that are front and present in Christianity.
I would recommend this book to those that enjoy a read that will challenge them and make you think.”



Violence Among Us by Brenda Branson

“This important book is good for anyone in ministry, but really for anyone that is around people. If you attend church and have people around you, read this book.

It gives you key points on what to do and what not to do when supporting those that experience different forms of violence, whether it be physical, mental, financial or other types of abuse. With a well laid out way, it gives you the tools to be the hands that heal instead of the hands that harm as so many Christians and churches are.”



Jesus Feminist  by Sarah Bessey

“I know, I know. The title is going to be off-putting to many people, but try to see past that and read this incredible book of freedom in Christ for both men and women.
I don’t often read a book where I set it down and think, “I need to buy this book.” when I have gotten it from the library. I also don’t read a ton of books that bring me to tears multiple times. This one hit both of those. I wanted to buy it so I can quote from it. There were lines that were just so powerful in here. I loved when she said someone asked her what kind of feminist she was, and she said, “I am a Jesus Feminist.” While I may not agree with everything 100% in this book, as it always is in most books, this is one that was a breath of fresh air of freedom in Christ.

It is not anti-men or any of the stereotypes you think of, but lives up merely to the definition of what feminism is. I loved the biblical viewpoints throughout, but also the Church Ladies chapter was my favorite. Think outside the box and read this book, even if you think you will hate it.”



Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels 

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.





Where Hope Begins by Catherine West 

“It has taken me awhile to write this review. It was not because I didn’t know what to think. It was because there were so many feelings when I finished this book. I am not someone that cries. If I tear up in a book, it means that it deeply touched me. This book was one that deeply touched my soul.

I know many people that avoid books that might make them feel or deal with pain. Please don’t avoid this book. The well written prose from this amazing author, will not only cause you to dig deep, but I would also hope you would find yourself changed by it. She is one of my favorites and I never miss a book written by her.

Grief. It is a tough topic. It is not one we ever want to talk about, and may not want to read about. Sometimes people might avoid a book that talks about it, because they are afraid they will relate to it. Again, please don’t do that with this book. This book is filled with hope, healing and just a passion for discovering life after loss that I believe it will be a read that most people will not only enjoy, but benefit from. I loved the greenhouse in the book and the quirky secondary characters just warmed my heart.

I can’t wait for her next book and this one is not even quite released yet.”


There are so many more favorites that I did not mention! I was trying to give a bit of a variety! If you want to check out all of them, check out my Goodreads “Martha’s Year of Books”


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End of the Rope?

“I am at the end of my rope!”

“I just can’t do this anymore.”

“This isn’t working for me.”


These are statements that while some of us might not say them aloud, we have surely thought them more than once.

It can be something little that sends us “over the edge”. It might be a comment that someone makes that sends us there. It could even be well intentioned.

What are some ways to combat this feeling?

I don’t think I have the answers. I have seen the results of the feeling when you are up with a child in the night and they just won’t sleep. Or that child that refuses to eat, no matter what you put in front of them. The other one that is angry, because his dad is gone, but he is taking it out on you, because you are the one in front of him.

Then there are the more drastic things.

Your child died.

Your husband left you.

You were injured severely.

It gives us that feeling of helpless anxiety when you can’t change the reality you are in at the moment.

When you can’t go on, see what you can do.

What is something small you can do to change the situation?

Can you feed your kids? Can you give someone a hug?

Sometimes the small things make the difference!

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The Dressmaker’s Secret by Kellyn Roth

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko



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

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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




Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


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”



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


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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