The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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The Bashful Bride by Vanessa Riley

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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My Review:

The books in this series are stand alone, but I found that I believe more enjoyable when read in order. Vanessa Riley brings to life a time period and culture from a time period that is rarely written about. She does so in this beautiful tale of love, where people are willing to do anything for another person’s care and devotion.

However, there are also forced marriages, evil uncles, and controlling parents to add to the mix, along with racial prejudices. This novel is both entertaining and educational, all wrapped in a well written package. Check this one out!

“The Bashful Bride” is available on Amazon.

This was obtained through Netgalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

 

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A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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My Review:
So, if the cover and the beautiful hair adornments on the front of this book were not enough to get you to pick it up, you have to pick it up for the history. I never knew plumbing, and the chemistry of the purification of water could be so interesting. I mean, forget history books, put a few more of these on the shelves and  history is fascinating.
Was there a storyline besides that? Oh, of course. What is  a book without a storyline? Well, a textbook, but this was no textbook. I found myself wanting to pull out and study them though. I cannot wait for the next book in this series when I was done, but this story throughly wraps up the details in the end. It is not one that you are upset that you have a year to wait, but you are wanting more of the story and the characters.
I am not sure that I have seen a narcissistic character so well portrayed as in this book. She had nice moments, but in the end, she seeks to make her own way by hurting others to make herself better. Secondary character, one you will recognize from the first book, but a memorable one.
Life lessons learned from this book? 
  • -Thankfulness that so far, chlorine has not been proven deadly when used in small amounts to purify water.
  • Deceit never pays off. Not in books, nor in real life. If you think you are stuck in a jam and can’t tell anyone, likely that is when you should tell someone.
  • Don’t try to understand a narcissistic person. They will end up just hurting you more in the end, no matter your good intentions.
  • Cholera was awful. I am so thankful we don’t have that anymore.
I highly recommend this series. It is the second book in the series, but they could be read as a stand alone, I would recommend you read the first book before this one, as I feel you will enjoy it more and know the characters better.
This series would be excellent to make a whole high school unit study from as well.
This book was just recently released, but is available at your local booksellers (hopefully) and Amazon.
I obtained this book from the publisher and NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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The Orphan’s Wish by Melanie Dickerson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Value. Worth. Inspiration.

What do those words mean to you?

“I am valued.”

“I am worth something.”

“I inspire others.”

While they may sound like a bunch of self help statements that you are supposed to tell yourself, what if you actually started to look at how you could tell others those messages?

Today I had the experience of being beat up by words. I have many thankless jobs that I don’t get paid for. I have a few that I get paid for, that also are quite thankless, but in the end, I am the person behind the scenes that most people don’t see. I am blessed with people that are grateful and do thank me, even when they don’t have to.

Today was not one of those days. In fact, I felt rather like giving up. I wanted to take a break from life. It doesn’t really work like that though. Life is generally not something you can just “take a little break from” as it is all there to catch you when you come back.

My sink was piled with dishes. There was food that needed to be cooked. The yard was overgrown, breeding mosquitoes and mail was piling up. I am scheduling work at different rentals and there are three of us sharing one car. My husband prefers that we do not use his car, so it makes life a bit challenging and we have to get creative. Yesterday, I walked 5 miles to get my errands done. It was nice, but my feet sure hurt when I was done.

When you sit down, you think, “I can do this. I am doing this for others. I am of value to others. I can inspire them. I can make their life better because I am here.”

Sometimes though, that is not enough. There are times when I have to want to live life because of not what I can give to someone else, but because I have determined to stay alive. A friend challenged us this last month about making a life pact with ourselves. This life pact was the fact that we would stay alive without harming ourselves.

“I would never kill myself.” you might say. “Sure, I might think about it, how nice it would to not have to face tomorrow. But I wouldn’t act on it.”

How many times have you not taken care of yourself though? Unhealthy eating patterns?

It is easy when those hard days hit and you realize that not only are you not making a difference, you are kind of messing with everyone’s lives too. You start to think that maybe this is not worth it. That is one of the reasons you have to live, because you believe in yourself, as cheesy as that sounds. You were created with purpose, to live, to serve, not just for others, but as an individual.

I get in trouble a lot for reminding others that we should think about what we say. Words have value. I was crushed by the actions of others recently towards other people. They may have felt they had a right to do and say what they did, but indeed, it changed the way I think of them. When we claim to have a relationship with God, then treat our fellow human beings with contempt using pious words to make it sound good, well, it is like a sounding brass and a clinging cymbal. It means nothing.

So, two messages… think about why we are living and the whole picture. See value in yourself, not just what others need you for, but who you actually are. Secondly, love others, not just how you think  they should be loved because you dislike what they are doing, but actually seek love for them. It might look different than you think it does.

 

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The Weaver’s Daughter by Sarah Ladd

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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My Review:

You know, any book that reminds me of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, will pull me in. This one had the feel of the time period, even though it was a totally different story.  the characters are strong in their own right. The touches of mystery keep you reading and wanting to find the answers along with them.

The romance is light, more in undertones, but with an overall feeling of fighting the fact that there was romance included. The history of the weaving of cloth, the business behind it and child labor makes you stop and think a bit. I would say this book would be a great novel to use in history class as something to pique your interest in the industrial age.

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

The book is on sale from your local booksellers and Amazon.

“The Weaver’s Daughter” 

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Dancing in the Rain by Jennifer Slattery and Eileen Rife

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko 

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About the book:

On the verge of college graduation, Loni Parker seeks employment as a music teacher, but no one will hire her since she’s blind. Or so she thinks. To take her mind off her troubles, her roommate invites her to spring retreat at Camp Hope in the gorgeous North Carolina mountains.

Camp director Michael Ackerman recognizes Lonie instantly from his past and wants to avoid her at all costs. Yet, despite the guilt pushing him from her, a growing attraction draws him to the determined woman. She sees more with her heart than the average person does with his eyes. But her presence also dredges up a long-buried anger toward his alcoholic father that he’d just as soon keep hidden. When circumstances spin out of control, Michael is forced to face a past that may destroy his present.

My Review:

I think one of the first things that would have pulled me into this story, if I had not already been familiar with one of the authors, would have been the cover. I loved the premise of a blind main character as well. I found myself intrigued by Lonie’s struggles as I read. She struggled with self worth and value, and yet, we see her through others eyes since she cannot see herself.

It is fascinating to me to see as this story weaves itself, it tells us a tale of forgiveness and value. How do we value ourselves? Are we of value in spite of our mistakes and flaws or because of them?

I would recommend this book!

This book was obtained from the author. The opinions contained herein are my own.

The book is available for purchase through Amazon on Kindle. The release date is June 4th, 2018

“Dancing in the Rain” 

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Helpful vs. Not Helpful

You know, we all have those days. You know the ones when everything irritates you.

I think of Michel on Gilmore girls saying, “People are particularly stupid today; I can’t talk to any more of them”

Those kind of days, when you just can’t even think of a way to reply, I found, that it is so important to take a deep breath and really try to listen.

Sometimes people are ignorant, but how often have you ever heard someone say, “I was really ignorant about such and such, but then some stranger on the internet or moderate acquaintance  reamed for it and I completely changed my ways.”

I bet you haven’t. Yeah, I haven’t either.

 

It made me think though, how often do we see something and want to reply sarcastically, when truly on the other side of the keyboard, there is a person in need?

Yes, they might be asking for something that is hard to find, maybe impossible.  Or perhaps it could be a post discussing  their latest read, the carseat they chose for their child, what mode of education their child is enjoying or perhaps the kind of car they drive. No matter the topic, there is always someone that will have something to say to the negative if they listen to the temptation to criticize.

A friend was looking for child care recently. He is not paying a high wage, but a decent one, and based off state standards, above normal rates. In looking for child care, someone decided to take the time to make sure he knew how stupid it was to even think that someone would be willing to work for that amount of money in taking care of his child. Since they were replying to me, instead I got to hear it.  It stung a little. Why? The person had not a shred of kindness in her replies. It was not said to be helpful, but to mock, cut down and make you feel like an idiot. You know what? Maybe my friend was needing to change the approach. However, there could have been ten dozen ways to tell me that, that could have been helpful, and the way this woman went about it was not one of them.

Another family was looking for housing and it is hard to find in the area. There are a million and one ways to reply to an inquiry, but I always hope that in the end, someone inquiring of me, even if I cannot help them, goes away feeling like maybe there is a little hope and human kindness out there.

It is hard in a world of digital words, to remember the people behind the keyboard. We tend to encourage others, “Oh, step away from the screens. Get out into the “real world” The meanness is all on the social media sites.”  You know, while that may be true, it is even worse when you hear it from the lips of a human standing before you and it is plentiful out there.

Both online and in person, let us seek to be more helpful, and not cut others with our words. They might not have asked a question you thought was very smart, or ignorance might be bubbling from their ears. In the end,  look into their eyes, think of the person behind the screen, find a kinder way to say what you need to say. Or if you can’t, skip it. There is often no use in saying anything if you can’t say something nice.

 

 

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Storm Front by Susan May Warren

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko
Description
A tornado has destroyed a small Minnesota community and among the missing are not only a group of students but PEAK Rescue team leader Chet King. Ty Remington will stop at nothing to rescue his mentor, not even when the girl he loved–and lost–walks back into his life. But Brette needs his help more than he knows, despite her stubborn determination to push him away. And when he gets a second chance, loving her just might cost him more than he can imagine.

A blogger for Vortex Storm Chasers, Brette Arnold didn’t expect her adventures to land her in the same place as Ty, the guy who she walked–no, ran–from over a year ago. She had her reasons–good ones. The kind that tell her that falling for him again would only lead to heartache. But Ty isn’t the kind of man to give up–not on the missing students, or on her.

Life and love hang in the balance in Susan May Warren’s breathless story of holding on to hope during a deadly summer of storms.

 

My Review:

What could be more fun? Mention of Montana? Echo Lake Cafe? Or following storm chasers in the book. Susan May Warren sure had my heart pounding a few times in this book, from feeling the bookshelves crashing in on them with flying glass and other heart pounding events.

I think my favorite part of this book was the non-typical romantic storyline. Yeah, sure, it was boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. But there are complications. That was typical. But I loved how the author took a story and put in the complications of real life pain into this book from cancer, abandonment, grief, PTSD, and other issues that the real living heroes of our everyday life face. You could totally relate to them as they faced their human weakness, and saved lives or tramped after tornados in Minnesota.

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

This book released today and is available for purchase from Amazon or your local booksellers. I would recommend you read the others in the series before reading this one, if you like to read things in a row.

“Storm Front”

 

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The Man He Never Was by James L. Rubart

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Book Description

What if You Woke up One Morning and the Darkest Parts of Yourself Were Gone?

Toren Daniels vanished eight months back, and his wife and kids have moved on—with more than a little relief. Toren was a good man but carried a raging temper that often exploded without warning. So when he shows up on their doorstep out of the blue, they’re shocked to see him alive. But more shocked to see he’s changed. Radically.

His anger is gone. He’s oddly patient. Kind. Fun. The man he always wanted to be. Toren has no clue where he’s been but knows he’s been utterly transformed. He focuses on three things: Finding out where he’s been. Finding out how it happened. And winning back his family.

But then shards of his old self start to rise from deep inside—like the man kicked out of the NFL for his fury—and Toren must face the supreme battle of his life.

In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul.

My Review:

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.

I will say while this book is not about domestic abuse or child abuse, it touches on both of those. There are a couple of descriptive scenes that if you have been there, will either endear you to the characters, or will cause a trigger to arise depending on where you are in your healing. For me, it was healing.

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.

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

This book is available for purchase from your local booksellers, (hopefully) and Amazon as well as many other places. I highly encourage you to purchase a copy for yourself. It will be a  journey that you will want to go on.

“The Man He Never Was”  (Plus, it is only $1.99 right now on Kindle)

 

 I review for BookLook Bloggers

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