Wrapping Up a Trilogy – Review of The Midwife’s Dilemma

midwifesdilemmaBook information – The Midwife’s Dilemma

Author – Delia Parr

Publication Information – Bethany House (April 2016, $9.99 digital, $5.52 print)

Reading Challenge book? No.

As readers of this blog may know, I enjoyed the previous two books in Delia Parr’s At Home in Trinity trilogy, set in 1830s Pennsylvania.  The heroine, Martha Cade, is a widow with grown children and I have enjoyed seeing her navigate the challenges of faith and life as a midwife in what can sometimes be difficult circumstances.

Throughout the series, we have seen Martha’s evolving relationship with her grown daughter as she moves into adulthood, and we have also seen the evolution of an old friendship with a local widower turn into romantic love. These themes continue throughout this book and eventually get resolved.

I enjoyed seeing how Martha’s sometimes difficult relationship with her daughter unfolded. The shift from child to adult for Victoria brought some strain with Martha, and I was happy to see the two of them learn how to deal with this evolving relationship. My main issues with the book sprang from the relationship between Martha and her (perhaps) intended.

It was obvious that this gentleman loved Martha and wished to marry her, but Martha kept finding reasons to put off making a decision.  I have to admit that I found her protracted dithering quite exasperating.  I could understand that she would not want to marry and leave her community completely devoid of a midwife. However, I felt like she used this as an excuse rather than facing any real hesitations she might have.

Things do eventually get resolved – on all the plotline fronts – though the ending did feel a tad rushed.  Aside from my quibbles with Martha’s treatment of the man courting her, I still enjoyed the book, though I’m not sure I’ll reread it. Rating: 3 stars

*Note: A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.*

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A Blast From the Past – Love Comes Softly

lovecomessoftly Book InformationLove Comes Softly

Author – Janette Oke

Publication Information – Bethany House (1979, $13.99 paperback, $8.72 digital)

Several posts back, I mentioned that I had been gifted with several boxes packed to the brim with Christian books read and loved by my grandmother and her sisters.  It’s a treasure trove of Christian reading that’s mostly from the 1980s/90s.

I wasn’t quite sure where to start with the stash of vintage books. And honestly, I’m still not sure how the ratio of long-lost treasures to cringeworthy reads will shake out.

I decided to start with a book that I read and reread as a young teen. It’s been a while since I last revisited Love Comes Softly and I wasn’t sure if it would stand up to my happy adolescent memories.

The good news?  It certainly does.  To someone who reads a lot of current inspirational fiction, this novel might seem a touch old-fashioned. However, I find it old-fashioned in a good, nostalgic way.  Oke has a way of carrying catchphrases and motifs through her story that make not just the story itself but the memory of how the book makes one feel linger in the mind. Continue reading

Looking for a Regency Read? Review of The Matchmaker’s Match

matchmaker Book Information – The Matchmaker’s Match

Author – Jessica Nelson

Publication Information – Love Inspired Historical (September 2015, $5.99 print, $4.99 digital)

Reading Challenge Book? No.

As I read it, I could tell that The Matchmaker’s Match would be a standout read. I’ve encountered some Christian romances that read very much like the worst of secular romances, complete with lust and unrealistic relationships, but with a thin veneer of religiosity. This book, however, is quite different.

The lead characters have a story that many readers will find achingly romantic, but there is also a strong focus on God and His leading in their lives. The hero, after all, once had a slightly roguish reputation that is only hinted at in the text. We learn fairly early on in the book that he spent time in America and during his travels, came to repent sincerely of his earlier ways and to become a Christian. Throughout the book, it’s a calling he takes seriously, seeking the Lord’s direction in many things, but most especially in his choice of bride.

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Still Enjoying Life in Trinity: Review of The Midwife’s Choice

midwife2 Book InformationThe Midwife’s Choice

Author – Delia Parr

Publishing Information – Bethany House (December 2015, $14.99 print, $9.99 digital)

Reading Challenge Book? No.

This book is second in a series, and I will start by saying that readers will probably want to read The Midwife’s Tale before reading this book because events in this novel pick up right where the first left off. I’ve enjoyed both books, so reading them was no hardship.

Set in the small Pennsylvania town of Trinity, much of this book covers the adventures and personal growth of Martha Cade, a widowed midwife. Mrs. Cade is in her 40s, and her children are now grown, but throughout this book she finds that she still has a lot to learn about faith and about life. Her character growth and the situations she encounters as midwife all make for interesting reading. Continue reading

A Sweet Confection – Review of Your Heart’s Desire

yourheartsdesire Book InformationYour Heart’s Desire

Author – Melody Carlson

Publication Information – Center Street(2016, $9.99 digital, $13.99 print)

Reading Challenge Book? No.

Your Heart’s Desire is a sweet postwar story that opens just after Christmas in 1946. Caroline Marshall lost her husband early in the war, and now the young widow is leaving her home in Minnesota to move in with her sister in California.

Her hope is that she will be able to find a good job to support herself and her young son, and that she can also help her sister with her growing family.

Upon arrival in California, Caroline discovers a basement apartment in her sister’s home that is less than ideal. However, she is happy to see her sister and her sister’s husband seems like a good man.

As Caroline fixes up her meager apartment and sets about looking for work in the local chocolate factory, we learn a lot about her. We can see as she furnishes the apartment that she is frugal, but knows how to make the best of what she has. Caroline works hard, but places her family first in her considerations. She also comes across as being bright and optimistic. Best of all, the author conveys all of these traits simply by showing Caroline in action rather than by telling the reader outright.

Caroline quickly comes to the attention of a man she meets in town and later sees in church. As it turns out, he is also the head of the chocolate factory where she lands her first job as a secretary. Their romance starts off very slowly first as mutual respect that then deepens into friendship.  Caroline had not counted on ever marrying again, but Terrence Gordon just might offer her a second chance at love.

Carlson’s book is a short read, and a truly sweet little romance, just in time for Valentine’s day. In terms of inspirational content, I would say that it’s fairly light. It’s obvious from the book that both Caroline and Terrence are regular churchgoers who take their faith seriously. However, there is not deep exploration of that within the story, which makes sense for a short novel that is lighter in tone.

If you’re looking for a sweet romantic story, Your Heart’s Desire is an endearing one. I love reading about the WWII generation both in fiction and nonfiction, and this is an adorable story. Grade: 4 stars.

An Amazing Adventure in Faith – Review of My Brother’s Crown

Book InformationMy Brother’s Crown

Authors – Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Publisher – Harvest House (October 2015, $14.99 paperback, $10.49 digital)

This is the review where I feel like I should start off with an apology. Harvest House very kindly lent me an ARC of this book, and I have been way too slow in posting my review. However, I am grateful for the loan because I enjoyed the book immensely, and I hope that you’ll read and enjoy it as well.

The book is something of a timeslip, featuring stories set in modern-day Virginia and 1680s France. The modern-day heroine, Renee Talbot, comes from a prominent Virginia family. At their latest reunion, a 17th century document that has been part of her family legacy is about to be unveiled. And as the family gathers, Renee finds herself on a search for truth that will take her not only far in distance, but in time.

I found the historical story even more captivating. In the 1680s, we follow Catherine Gillet, the daughter of a printing family, as her Huguenot community faces ever-increasing persecution in France. Though it is understood Catherine will soon marry, her life and that of her betrothed are deeply uncertain and even endangered.  Even from the early chapters of the story, I found myself concerned for Catherine and her family. As it becomes apparent that the family must flee France, I found myself on the edge of my seat reading through this book. Continue reading

Pure Melodrama – Reviewing A Heart’s Disguise

heartsdisguiseBook InformationA Heart’s Disguise

Author – Colleen Coble

Publisher – Thomas Nelson (March 2015, $6.99)

I’m more familiar with Colleen Coble via her books with contemporary settings, but I was aware that she had written historicals. When I read that she planned to re-release two early works that had been out of print for many years, I got curious. And when I saw that the release of the books would take place over several monthly installments, I felt more curious still.

Given the chance to pick up the first part of Journey of the Heart, I pounced. How would this Victorian-style reading experience go? After all, I grew up hearing how readers of Charles Dickens eagerly clamored at stores for the release of the newest part of each of his novels.

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Review – The Midwife’s Tale

parrmidwifeBook InformationThe Midwife’s Tale

Author – Delia Parr

Publisher Information – Bethany House (June 2015, $9.99 digital, $14.99 paperback)

This book was such a refreshing read, and I truly enjoyed it. First in the At Home in Trinity series, it details the daily life of the town midwife in Trinity, Pennsylvania during the 1830s.

Martha Cade, the midwife of the title, is a widow who has tended the women and children of Trinity for years, just as her grandmother did before her. As the novel opens, we see her attending the birth of a local woman. Shortly thereafter, she learns that her grown daughter has run off with a theater troupe, a poor decision that causes Martha no end of pain.

To add to Martha’s troubles, we also learn that the town has welcomed a new doctor. Unlike his predecessor, Dr. McMillan is young and his modern training causes him to believe that the local midwife cannot be anything but backwards. As a widow, Martha depends upon midwifery for her livelihood so competition from a doctor hostile to her trade poses a real threat. Continue reading

From My Library: The Honorable Imposter

honorableimposterBook Information- The Honorable Imposter

Author – Gilbert Morris

Publisher – Bethany House (1986, $4.99 digital only; secondhand print copies still readily available)

Those of us who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s may remember this book. The House of Winslow series was a popular one in just about every Christian household I knew. Telling the story of a family’s faith and history over many generations, the series stretched over 40 books to take the Winslows from colonial America into the 20th century. The books were immensely popular and went through several editions.  Currently, they are not available in print (though copies are easy to find), but you can still buy the digital edition.

I still have almost all the books, and I moved them from home to school, then back home and then off with us when I married.  My husband and I moved a few months ago into what I hope will be our forever house out in the country, and when I came across The Honorable Imposter one day while unpacking, I had to give it a nostalgia read. Continue reading

A Tale of Old Washington – Reviewing Beyond All Dreams

beyondalldreams
Book Information Beyond All Dreams
Author – Elizabeth Camden
Publisher – Bethany House (January 2015, $9.99 digital, $14.00 print)

I read Elizabeth Camden’s debut novel, The Lady of Bolton Hill, and remember vaguely enjoying it but I hadn’t read any of her books since. I picked up Beyond All Dreams simply because it’s set in Washington DC, and that historical setting appealed to me.  Random way of choosing a book, I know, but often it works for me.

The book centers on Anna O’Brien, a map librarian at the Library of Congress, and US Representative Luke Callahan. Orphaned at a young age, Anna grew up with her aunt and uncle, with whom she had a difficult relationship – to put it mildly. Now in her 20s, she lives in an all-women’s boardinghouse and works at the Library of Congress. In the course of her works, she comes across an error that convinces her that the story she had always heard about her father having been lost at sea could not possibly be true.

However, when she approaches the Navy about a correction to the record, the response she receives is unusually vehement. In fact, her attempts to get at the truth of the story get shut down at every turn and she has encounters with officials that leave her fearing for her job.
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