Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life—and love—altered her plans. Now she’s home again—with a floundering farm to run…a tragic secret…and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives—including their own.

My Review:

It is amazing to me when a suspense author writes contemporary fiction. It is even more astounding to me when she rocks at it, better than her suspense books (which are very good). I have not just liked each one of Irene Hannon’s newest contemporary books, but sincerely enjoyed them. They hit nerves in places that you do not expect to be touched in.

This book touches on two individuals with pain in their past. The set up of building a relationship is subtle and skillfully woven. While not filled with suspense as to what will be the ending, you feel the build up is so relatable. I loved the backstory of secondary characters as well. I highly recommend this read!

This book was provided for me by NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren

The Wonder of You

The Wonder of You

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Mortified after her semester abroad is cut short, Amelia Christiansen returns to Deep Haven, certain she isn’t brave enough for the adventures she’s dreamed of. The last thing she expects is for the man who broke her heart to cross the Atlantic and beg forgiveness.

Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance—even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.

While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her new place mean leaving home behind?

My Review:

Ms. Warren’s books hold a special place on my shelves and my heart. The Russian interjections always make me smile, and this book was no exception.

I loved the orphaned Russian girl story line. Amelia’s romance was good, but I enjoyed seeing what the rest of the family was dealing with as well. You will want to get and read the rest of the series before reading this one. It, however, should be on your must read list.

The cover is so pretty. I think you have to fall in love with the characters just from the cover, but even with that aside, the description prose of the life of a Christian family will make you dig deep. It will help you deal with things in your own heart and family as you live it with the Christiansen’s.

This book was provided for me for review by Tyndale Blog Network. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

 

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Book Description:

For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.

Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to her brokenness—so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but always falls short. So she keeps her passion for her secret art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée in a car crash. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater, and is shocked to learn former flame Stella is the designer for the project.

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and their pasts as they struggle to compromise and come together on a vision for the theater. Chase doesn’t understand why Stella is such a subdued version of herself, while Stella doesn’t get Chase’s constant need for productivity and speed. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase breaks through Stella’s walls and convinces her to enter her mosaic tile art in a contest.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force both Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from the broken.

About the Author

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her young daughter and has a heart for sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. A freelance journalist, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing. Visit her website at http://www.betsystamant.com Facebook: BetsySt.Amant Twitter: @betsystaman

My Review:

This is my second book to read by this author and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I really connected with Stella, the main character of the book. Betrayed, broken and feeling worthless, she is pushed into a job she doesn’t want with someone she doesn’t like. Yet, she gracefully pushes herself to do the job. While this book does not claim to talk about PTSD, it covers it in one of the best ways I have seen it portrayed in a fictional story. She makes you taste it. I could feel the despair and pain in the words. It takes a talented author to do that, and Ms. St. Amant does this skillfully. Yet, she also causes you to feel the hope as well. Despair and Hope that go hand in hand, make for the perfect combo. She has to have cupcakes mentioned in here, but no recipes in this one.

I really was touched by the story, as well as the awareness of the homeless plight as it is mentioned as well. It gets to a root of many issues that Christians have with homeless people by teaching you to know and love with Stella. Plus, you have to just love the cover! For me that was icing on the cupcake!

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

 

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A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the little girl entrusted to her care after her mother’s death. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When the teacher he’s after produces documentation that shows she’s the little girl’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is Miss Atherton villain or victim? She acts more like a loving mother than an abductress, and the children in her care clearly adore her. Should Stone break his perfect record?

Then a new danger threatens, and Charlotte is forced to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone becomes determined to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart.

My Review:

Karen’s books have a lighthearted feel to them, even though they touch on some heavier topics, it never goes too deep. This particular one involves a lot of what almost feels like Laurel and Hardy type bumbling between a strict school teacher and a  tracker. While you may end up shaking your head at the antics, questioning a few parts of the storyline, and wondering where on earth it is headed, you will enjoy it all around.

This was not my favorite of Karen’s books, but it was for sure entertaining and sometimes that is what you need.

This book was provided for me for review by Netgalley and the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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A Promise to Protect by Patricia Bradley

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the Book:

Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn’t heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn’t mean he can get her–or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago–out of his head. When she calls out of the blue, it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. When Tony dies just days later, Ben is charged with a different task–protecting Leigh and her nine-year-old son, TJ, from the killers. But how can Ben keep an eye on Leigh if she’s doing everything in her power to avoid him? And could the secret that Leigh is keeping change Ben’s life forever?

Suspense, intrigue, and a touch of romance make A Promise to Protect perfect for readers who like their stories with a hearty dose of mystery.

My Review:

Are you looking for a suspense book that is not graphic or gory, but with enough of a mystery that it keeps you on the edge of your seat? This is the ticket!  From murder to bombs, this book has it all, with a hint of romance to keep your faith in humanity, I really enjoyed this read. It has some typical cliches, but it also had some depth in the story with personal foibles that the main characters carried on their backs. I enjoyed the personal stories as well as the good mystery storyline!

This book was provided for review from the publisher and NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor

Book Description: 
When Heather Toulson returns to her parents’ cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a sixty-year-old murder.

Libby, a free spirit who can’t be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver’s death.

Sixty years later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family’s cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She’s mourning her father’s passing but can’t let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family’s belongings left behind in the cottage. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family’s history.

Award-winning author Melanie Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery and reveals how the characters are connected in shocking ways.

Set in a charming world of thatched cottages, lush gardens, and lovely summer evenings, this romantic and historical mystery brings to light the secrets and heartaches that have divided a family for generations.

My review:

It takes a special book to cause me to think of purchasing a book at full retail price. This is one of those books. I have not so throughly enjoyed a book as this in a long while.

Melanie weaves a tale, which could have been cliche, but is really the story of what families faced with unwed pregnancy and special needs in another time period. There is a sweet thread of romance, but romance is not the focus here. The focus is more on how secrets can live in the shadows and destroy relationships when we allow fear to control us. The shadows will live to haunt us if we let them.

The fact is exposing shadows to the light, turns them into nothing. This tale vividly shows us this, placing us in the English countryside. Libby, Heather and Maggie all play a role in the story, while we experience the mystery with them.

I would encourage you to order this book if you love historical fiction! It is amazing! What I really enjoyed is how she told the story of an adult with autism in the historical time period.  It really is something many people will relate to.

Loved it!

This book was given to me for review by the publisher and NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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A Crazy thing called Love by Beth Vogt

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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Description

Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

Married at a young age and divorced before they had a chance to really be married, this couple has not seen each other in years.

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

My Review:
I have enjoyed Beth’s books in the past as they are not your typical romance. This one brings up the topic of divorce, remarriage as well as when it is right. I personally loved the angst that the two faced throughout the novel. It felt so real. they had been young, willful and chose their own path. It was not the right thing to do, but they were stuck with it.
It seems as if God throws them together again, but each facing huge life choices that will determine their future apart from each other.

You will enjoy agonizing along with this couple, whom is not really a couple. Just as with Ms. Vogt’s other books, this one is amazing! 5 stars!

This book was given to me for review by NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Good Literature?

What defines good Literature?

The definition for each person varies somewhat as, we have to face our own humanity. We all vary in our likes and dislikes. There is a term that floats around in homeschool circles. Twaddle. The definition of it varies based on, you guessed it, humanity.

So, what makes a good read? What is worth reading?

The four E’s are some determining factors.

Enjoyment.

Education.

Entertainment.

Edification

But what takes a book from this….

IMG_0108 Sweet Rolls with oozy, gooey frosting to

P1070535 Whole wheat bread dough stuffed with meat and cabbage?

Is the one wrong to eat? If that was your diet constantly, it would not be healthy. If the second was your diet constantly, it even would not be that healthy.

Even a diet full of bitter greens constantly would be lacking. We need a balance in our lives. Stories are what often define us. Even people that are not readers, allow story to dominate their lives. Just think of the last movie you saw, or TV show? Or even the things you are passionate about. If you cannot think of of a story and how it effected you, you need to search deep within and see if you are too self focused. However, I digress.

Good literature is a story that defines you. This means it often needs to have some sort of depth to it. A light, fluffy story can give you some depth in helping you live outside of a hard circumstance at times. There are times when that is needed. A romantic story can give someone hope for love, but a dirty romance story can often inspire thoughts of lust.

There are times when I have seen a set of books recommended as “good literature”. Sometimes I think instead of the four “E’s”, other words come to mind.

Boring.

Blah.

Choppy.

Lacked imagination.

I was surprised in a recent conversation when a reader referred to a book as “silly”.  She said something that made me think a bit. “If you took out such and such (the main premise of the story), you would have an empty book with just silliness.”

While this may have made perfect sense to her, it left me pondering. “If we took out the main premise of most books, what would we be left with?” Of course they would seem a bit silly, they would be lacking any substance. I get that tastes vary, and in this case, she could not identify with the main premise of the book. That is totally and completely okay. But she shared her opinion with other readers, bashing the book by calling it “silly”. This causes other readers to feel that they are somewhat ridiculous if they happened to enjoy it. They are now “readers of twaddle” in this person’s mind.

Do you see where I am going here?

Another person can pick up a book and experience the four “E’s” or even just two of them. Another reader picks up the same book and experiences other emotions. Does that mean the book is classified as “twaddle”, “Empty literature” or something else?”

Often it simply means that book was not for that reader. It did not meet their needs at that time.

When we are reviewing books, searching out books for our children, the search for high quality literature is intense. However, we must take into consideration that all readers are not created the same. All movie viewers are not created the same. Yes, there are some movies and books that are just kale mixed with manure. While we love kale, we are not interested in trying to get rid of the manure to eat it. It just is not healthy.

But, sometimes what seems like manure for you, can be fertilizer for another person. We are not all created equal. We have different life experiences that define each of our lives.

Our review of a piece of literature means something, more than ever now. Authors are always seeking how to be better in the marketplace of literature. Each new movie tries to do better, with more special effects. When we lightly throw out a review, we often do not realize how it can effect someone. For us, it is just a book we read. Often, for an author, it is their child. If we plan on dismissing their child, we need to make sure we speak clearly, with reasonable comments.

If we are judging another mother for allowing her child to read Geronimo Stilton, and dismiss it as twaddle, we may not know the reason why she allows them to read those books. Our hearts need to remember that not everything that is manure for us, is for everyone. There are times that manure can be fertilizer to grow a long term reader!

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A Stranger’s Secret by Laurie Eakes

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

A Stranger's Secret by Laurie Eakes

A Stranger’s Secret by Laurie Eakes

About the Book: (From publisher site)

As a grieving widow, Morwenna only wants to make a life for herself and her young son at her murdered husband’s estate. Until an unconscious man washes up on her shore, entangling her in a web of mysteries that threatens everything she holds dear.

Still grieving the loss of her husband, Morwenna Penvenan fills her days preserving her son’s heritage: the dilapidated estate his father left them. But all attempts at restoration are thwarted when she is accused of deliberately causing ships to crash on her shore in order to steal their cargo. While seeking clues to the true culprits, she finds an unconscious man wearing a medallion with the Penvenan crest enameled upon it.

Upon learning of his father’s death, David pursues answers to the many questions left in his father’s wake: Why was his father in Cornwall when he said he would be in Scotland? Why did he die in possession of a medallion belonging to a prominent Cornwall family? Why did his father take money from the family’s ship-building business? And why did someone kill him? Only after waking up at the Penvenan estate under Morwenna’s care do the pieces start falling together.

My Review:

Located on a beach, I found the story seemed to be haunted with ghosts of the past to begin with. Morwenna, devoted to her child, still allows pride to keep her from accepting her grandparents offers of help.  There is a slight mystery in this story, but it is mostly a battle between the inner self of Morwenna mostly. Romance does come into the picture, but mostly the story I enjoyed was Morwenna seeking to forgive herself, her dead husband and even her parents. If I was to say what the theme of the story was, I would say that it was forgiveness in the face of wrongdoing.

If you are looking for a book with a slightly brooding romantic heroine, this will be one you will want to pick up.

This book was given to me for review by NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description: 

Two women, one in the present day and one in 1942, each hope for a brighter future. But they’ll both have to battle through their darkest days to reach it.

Today. With the grand opening of her new gallery and a fairytale wedding months away, Sera James appears to have a charmed life. But in an instant, the prospect of a devastating legal battle surrounding her fiancé threatens to tear her dreams apart. Sera and William rush to marry and are thrust into a world of doubt and fear as they defend charges that could separate them for life.

June 1942. After surviving the Blitz bombings that left many Londoners with shattered lives, Kája Makovsky prayed for the war to end so she could return home to Prague. But despite the horrors of war, the gifted journalist never expected to see a headline screaming the extermination of Jews in work camps. Half-Jewish with her family in danger, Kája has no choice but to risk everything to get her family out of Prague. But with the clutches of evil all around, her escape plan crumbles into deportation, and Kája finds herself in a new reality as the art teacher to the children of Terezin.

Bound by a story of hope and the survival of one little girl, both Sera and Kája will fight to protect all they hold dear.

My Review:

When a debut author blows you away with their first book, there is always the fear that the second one will not touch you the same way. The second book in the series, The Sparrow of Terezin did not disappoint this reader. I savored each word, wishing it would last. The music of the story sang to me as I experienced the beauty that I know truly happened in history. While this book is fictional, it was based on enough truth to give you that feeling of awe when you set it down. I was in awe of the brave men and women that lived long ago, ministering to the weak ones and giving their lives to save others.

The heartbreaking stories are woven with happier stories, so you are not taken down by them, but raised up. Ms. Cambron has succeeded in carrying on the tradition. Keep writing! We love it!

This was provided for me for review by NetGalley and BookLook Bloggers. The opinions contained herein are my own.
 

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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