A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

cover101125-medium.png

Description:

A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to wheedle her way into an audition with the new maestro at the Nashville Philharmonic. But women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed when the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. To make matters worse, Adelicia Cheatham, mistress of Belmont Mansion and Rebekah’s new employer, agrees with him.

Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s youngest orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head, he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city’s new symphony hall. Even more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music–his dying father. As Tate’s ailment worsens, he knows Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how can he win back her trust when he’s robbed her of her dream?

My Review:

It is hard to describe this book. I am not a instrument lover. In fact, many of my siblings would testify of my desire to destroy piano’s during many years of my life based on how annoying they were to me. But I do love beautiful music, when well played. This book is music, well played. The subject of music is artfully woven into the story of a pair of people struggling to find their proper place in life. The romance is here, but is not the focus of the story. It is a subtle part of the novel, but you could almost miss it, but yet you cannot. Instead, the music, life and the desire for freedom from abuse, standards placed on the characters by society, and a desire to belong is stronger throughout. I really enjoyed this closing novel of the Belmont series as well as the true, historical tidbits sprinkled throughout.

You can purchase your own copy here.

“A Note Yet Unsung”

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Romance

The Witnesses by Robert Witlow

_140_245_Book-1.1949.cover.jpg

 

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook by

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

30091913.jpg

(From the back cover)

 

One of the most sought out food destinations in New York City sits at the end of the number 7 train in Flushing, Queens, where adventurous eaters trek for the best Chinese dumplings. Now you can easily make them at home with recipes for the classic and unexpected fillings and folds along with dipping sauces, salads and other dim sum.

My Review:

Looking for a cute little cookbook to add to your repertoire? This is a great one to pick up. I remember when I first made my own dumpling wrappers, simply because I was too poor to buy them. I was introduced to a new world! This little cookbook will have your mouth watering. The recipes are easy and so simple you will wonder why you ever purchased pot stickers or wonton wrappers at the grocery store before. If you are a healthier eater, this book has healthy recipes that you will enjoy as well.

I loved the photos throughout the book and the stories  in the introduction. You will love this lovely little book as well.

You can purchase your own copy here. “The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook” 

Blogging for books provided me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bargain Dinners, Book Reviews, Recipes

A Life of Service

There are many people in my life that have a life of service. I can look around and name people that I see on a daily basis.

I know that they have not only spent their life serving others, but they will continue to. Not only that, but their children are continuing the tradition.

Volunteering has always been a part of my life. It is something you do for others, as much as yourself. It enriches our lives as well as others.

However, how much is too much? When does serving others become a means of avoidance of living our own lives?

I recently gave a little talk on self-care for a group of homeschooling mothers. It was very simple and not terribly formatted. I realized though, that often what some people take for granted as normal, every day activities, constituted self-care for many homeschooling mothers and I believe mothers in general. This was the basic checklist we went over.

Self Care Checklist

 

  • Have I scheduled my physical this year?
  • When did I last shower?
  • Have I had a new haircut in the last year?
  • Does my bed have fresh sheets on it?
  • What hobby have I not touched in awhile? Find one that takes 15-20 minutes and set aside time in the day to do it for only 15-20 minutes.
  • Do a series of exercises that take 5-10 minutes every day
  • Did I eat today something with protein, a green leafy vegetable and fruit? How many times did I do that?

Many of us, as mothers, moms, would not hesitate to jump in to volunteer for a good project, but we might look at this list and feel overwhelmed. “A hobby? What is that? I shouldn’t be wasting time on stuff like that.”

I love volunteering. I love doing things to serve others. But I have had to realize that sometimes in order to be a healthy servant to others, I have to take care of myself first.

Sometimes this means taking a day of resting and doing nothing, even if you don’t have the time. When I feel I am fighting sickness, I force myself to stay in bed or on the couch for a day. I drink lots of fluids and just sleep or rest all day. It really knocks out sickness faster than anything and revives me for the week. If I go a week without a day of rest, even from going to good places, I end up depleted and worn down. I tend to snap when I don’t want to, have less patience and really just am not the nicest person.

If you can’t take care of yourself for you, do it for others. It is one of the best gifts you can give to other people. Be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Happenings

The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

 

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

30259051.jpg

About the book: 

All Parisienne Julianne Chevalier wants to be is a midwife. But when her patient dies in childbirth, she’s branded as a criminal and is exiled to 1720s Louisiana where her brother, Benjamin, serves as a soldier. When she arrives there’s no sign of him. Does military attache Marc-Paul Girard know more than he’s telling?

My review:

I had to wait awhile to read this one, but it was worth it. I have enjoyed Jocelyn Green’s other books, but this one was unique.
First of all, as the daughter of a midwife, I am always particular about books speaking of midwives. While I could have been critical of certain points, I felt she did an outstanding job of portraying this life work.
The flow of the book just would not let me put it down. I just wanted to sit, read, absorb and live in the story. I didn’t want to finish, but I didn’t want to go out of it. I wanted to keep experiencing and living with the character’s, their sorrows and their joys.
If you are looking for good, deep historical fiction, you will find it here in this book. As with her other books, this book would be excellent for those studying parts of history not often spoken of. I am well versed in history and had not read much about this before. I am fascinated to get some of the books mentioned by the author in her notes. It will have me digging deeper in history and doing a bit of my own research. If you like historical fiction, pick this one up.

You can purchase it here. “The Mark of The King” 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

29492025.jpg

About the book: 

Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.
But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

My Review:

This book was one that I wanted to savor, so it took me longer than normal to read. In fact my only complaint with this book was that I didn’t want it to end.

I felt as though the words were somewhat living themselves as they leapt off the page, in a swirl of color and culture. The Italian flavor, the art, and tale of forgiveness intertwined had me longing for more when I finished the story.

Katherine Reay always surprises me. I think I know what to expect from the story, and then she throws me. This one was no different. I found myself experiencing a totally different story than I ever imagined. Highly recommend.

This book is on Kindle for only $1.99 today. A Portrait of Emily Price

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

cover90787-medium.png

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”

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix

_140_245_Book.2091.cover.jpg

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description

“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

My Review: 

I was unsure of what to expect from this novel when I began the story. So, for those of you that are unsure of what this story is about, I will share a little.
This is the story of the raw and real side of some missionary living. There are good times and bad times, but through it all, it is the stark reminder that when ministering to others, our families must come first.
It is not really anything you could finish and think it was a “HEA” story, or think, “Yay, that was sweet.” More so, you will be left with the desire to reach out and touch some of the out of the country missionaries, people serving others in other lands in a tangible way.
I think every person that works with ministry and missions should read this book. It can help us to realize how we can minister to those that are in ministry. We often focus on the excitement aspect of it and no one really wants to hear about diarrhea or children that are struggling with the adjustment.

This story takes one of the reality of mission life, and brings it to life. I thought the drastic part of the story, showing how the imbalance of seeking to do “God’s work”, took precedence over the needs of family, and left everyone in the family more emotionally vulnerable.

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

It is available for purchase here. “Of Stillness and Silence” 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

The Power of Assumptions

You ever let your mind get carried away with assumptions? It can be easy to do.

I know that I have been very distressed that someone was upset with me, based on a cryptic  text or email, only to find out that once again, I thought it was about me, when in reality, they were super tired and just didn’t communicate well.

IMG_0622.jpg

We can look at a photo and assume laziness, disobedience, or even abuse, when truly we read the photograph wrong.

Assumptions can ruin someone’s life. They can go too far and make someone feel absolutely horrible about themselves. It hurts when someone assumes that my children’s learning disabilities are because of a lack of teaching or because of lack of smarts.

It truly pains me when someone feels that assuming that they know why someone is treating you badly, and assume it is because of a fault you committed.

It is also easy to assume that everyone is thinking ill of you when they are not.

If we did a little less assuming and a little more listening, seasoned with grace, it would make life much easier and smoother.

When we get the cryptic email, writing back and asking if they are okay could solve and clear it all up.

If we hear someone was sick, we don’t assume they have not tried essential oils. Instead, you might ask before you flood their inbox with expensive vitamins and oils they can purchase from you. On the flip side, I can assume they meant the best when they did that, but also send back a firm reply with my wishes and boundaries on the topic.

Assumptions can kill friendships, ruin families and destroy marriages. We can do better with reframing how we think and how we assume.

Don’t assume the worst or even the best of someone.

Don’t assume someone is safe that has abused others in the past because you want to think the best of them.

Don’t assume that when someone gets divorced that “there are two sides to every story”. Sometimes there is only one.

Don’t assume that someone is out to get you. Be wise, careful and safe. But don’t go on the offensive to start.

The power of the assumption can control our life. It can make us believe in ourselves or doubt our decision making. We can assume that we are worthless because others have told us so in their assumptions. We can believe a lie because everyone else assumed along with you.

Break the power of assumptions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Happenings

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

 

cover83815-medium.png

About the book:

Romulus White has tried for years to hire illustrator Stella West for his renowned scientific magazine. She is the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry.

But Stella abruptly quit the art world and moved to Boston with a single purpose: to solve the mysterious death of her beloved sister. Romulus, a man with connections to high society and every important power circle in the city, could be her most valuable ally.

Sparks fly the instant Stella and Romulus join forces, and Romulus soon realizes the strong-willed and charismatic Stella could disrupt his hard-won independence. Can they continue to help each other when their efforts draw the wrong kind of attention from the powers-that-be and put all they’ve worked for at risk?

My Review:

I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Camden’s books. However, this one, dragged a bit for me. The characters were not as vibrant as I generally feel her characters were.
But we all enjoy a lighter book, and this one felt light, despite some of the content that tried to go deeper.
I love the cover, and it kept pulling me in. When I finished, I was satisfied with the storyline. I loved the historical facts of crime investigation, the building of transportation in that time and magazine writing.
It fascinated me, but took me awhile to read it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Romance