Judge Thee Not (A Quaker Midwife Mysteries #5) by Edith Maxwell

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Pages: 327

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Quaker midwife Rose Carroll must fight bias and blind assumptions to clear the name of a friend when a murderer strikes in nineteenth-century Massachusetts . . .

No stranger to judgmental attitudes in her small town of Amesbury, Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is nonetheless stunned when society matron Mayme Settle publicly snubs her good friend Bertie for her nontraditional lifestyle. When Mrs. Settle is later found murdered—and a supposed witness insists Bertie was spotted near the scene of the crime—the police have no choice but to set their sights on the slighted woman as their main suspect.
Rose is certain her friend is innocent of the heinous deed, and when Rose isn’t busy tending to her duties as a midwife, she enlists the help of a blind pregnant client—who’s endured her own share of prejudice—to help her sift through the clues. As the two uncover a slew of suspects tied to financial intrigues, illicit love, and an age-old grudge over perceived wrongs, Rose knows she’ll have to bring all her formidable intelligence to bear on solving the crime. Because circumstantial evidence can loom large in small minds, and she fears her friend will soon become the victim of a grave injustice . . .

My Review:

This is the second book I have read in the series and I really need/want to read the ones I have missed. Rose is a spitfire whose escapades I enjoy.

I find I not only learn about midwifery and how people lived in the 19th century but I also learn about the Quaker faith. The Quakers are very interesting and I have high respect for how they stood up to others to stay true to their faith.

Maxwell is not afraid to touch on themes such as lesbianism and rape. She handles them with such poise. I like how she includes them but does not feel the need to make it the focal point.

The Quaker Midwife series is a noteworthy addition to the genre of cozy mysteries.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Beyond the Page, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Blessed by Sherry Robinson

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Pages: 256

Publisher: Shadelandhouse Modern Press

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

A STORY OF HOPE AND THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
Grayson Armstrong’s vision for a dying church has everyone in small-town Mercy, Kentucky, talking. The truth is everyone has been talking about Grayson ever since this dark-haired twenty-eight-year-old preacher with shoulder-length hair and an ill-fitting suit drove into town twelve years before in his silver convertible with his pretty wife and two rambunctious boys. It’s his untimely death, though, that has everyone trying to understand who they thought he was.

This vivid, poignant, and heartbreaking story is told by multiple characters whose paths intersect with Grayson: a homeless Vietnam veteran haunted by demons of war; the local diner’s young waitress grappling with her family’s dark history; aggrieved and supportive congregants and townspeople confronting change and the power of love and hate; and Grayson’s wife and his coming-of-age gay son, struggling to understand their own feelings about Grayson.

During a time when communities and countries are split apart, Robinson’s calming prose and timely story encourage us to put aside our fears, hate, and biases and to open our hearts and challenge our perceptions. Blessed is ultimately a story of hope and of the power of forgiveness.

My Review:

A deeply moving novel that makes you look into your soul and analyze your beliefs. You will be forced to think about how you treat others, not just those close around you but everyone you come in contact within your life. You will be forced to ask yourself, “Are you following God’s word?” and “Would God be proud of you?”

I expect this book will be with me for a long time and will jump into my thoughts when I least expect it. The question you need to ask yourself is, “What do you think being BLESSED means?”

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher, Shadelandhouse Modern Press. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Friendship Lie by Rebecca Donnelly

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Pages: 272

Publisher: Capstone

Published: August 1, 20149

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Cora Davis’s life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels–to be thrown away. Between her mom and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster. But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents’ trash-tracking studies: Things don’t always go where they’re supposed to, and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems. Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself. Written by Rebecca Donnelly, author of How to Stage a Catastrophe (an Indies Introduce and Indie Next List honoree), The Friendship Lie will speak to any reader who has struggled with what to hold on to and what to throw away.

My Review:

I found this book enjoyable and enlightening in regards to recycling. In being a substitute teacher, I have learned that fifth grade is a lot harder than I remember and The Friendship Lie shows that very well. More and more kids deal with situations that when I was younger were few and far between like parents splitting and one moving away and I am not talking about just across town. Kids worry more about the environment than ever before. They understand that we are depleting our natural resources and there is no way to recreate. They also start realizing that once what bound them to their best friend may not be something they like or enjoy anymore. They start coming into their own person.

Donnelly has done a good job in showing all the dynamics above between Cora and Sybella. The most important lesson taught in this book is that sometimes all it takes is a conversation to clear the air in a positive light but sometimes that conversation is the hardest thing of all to start.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Capstone, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Under Currents by Nora Roberts

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Pages: 436

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 9, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon:

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back…

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.

My Review:

This book is more about Zane than Darby but Darby’s character ended up being a powerhouse.

If you are sensitive to any type of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, etc.) then read with caution. There are sexual situations and coarse language but nothing irrelevant to the story.

Book a vacation day ASAP and dive into this book. I promise you will not be able to put down.

The Farmer’s Bride (An Amish Brides of Birch Creek #2) by Kathleen Fuller

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Pages: 304

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: June 6, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon:

Martha Detweiler has a problem many Amish women her age would envy: she’s the only single woman in a community of young men, and they’re all competing for her favor. Overwhelmed by the unwanted attention, Martha finds herself constantly fleeing from her would-be suitors, dismayed at what her life has come to.

Birch Creek’s resident matchmaker, Cevilla Schlabach, suggests a solution: Martha and the bishop’s son, Seth Yoder, should pretend they are dating. What better way to keep the other young men away?

But Seth is the only man around not interested in Martha. He has a secret hobby that keeps him away from social gatherings: woodcarving. Having grown up in poverty, he’s determined to keep his father’s farm successful, even if it means he has no time for dating. Then Delilah Stoll, a new resident of Birch Creek, eyes Seth as the perfect man for her granddaughter. Suddenly Cevilla’s proposition doesn’t seem all that ludicrous. Can Seth and Martha convince their family and friends to leave them alone?

My Review:

My second visit to Birch Creek was as enjoyable as my first. In The Farmer’s Bride, we follow the path of love through Martha and Seth’s journey filled with many ups and downs.

I was thrilled to learn that Martha had an interest in a profession that is not typical of an Amish woman. I was even more thrilled that Fuller highlighted in such a beautiful light. She let Martha have this joy and didn’t keep her confined to the norm.

The Farmer’s Bride is a perfect addition to any Amish reader’s collection. It will leave you smiling and happy after you turn the last page.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Zondervan Fiction, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

 

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

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Pages: 329

Publisher: Forge Books

Published: July 16, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Bookbub:

Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Cafe.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the cafe and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.

My Review:

Evocative. Magical. Heartbreaking. Hopeful.

A beautiful novel that will move you to your core. Heather Webber is a fresh voice to women’s fiction. You will want to eat this novel up in one sitting but I promise you it is worth taking your time and savoring every bite. Let the story seep into your soul and fulfill you.

Fans of Southern fiction will not want to miss this. I am already missing my time at the Blackbird Cafe.

I received a complimentary copy from the author. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Andrew (The Petersheim Brothers #1) by Jennifer Beckstrand

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Pages: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Handsome, hardworking, and godly, Andrew Petersheim has always been sure of his place in his Wisconsin Amish community. He’ll be a welcome catch for the local girl who finally captures his heart. Mary Coblenz certainly isn’t that girl. Two years after “jumping the fence” for the Englischer world, she’s returned, unmarried and pregnant. Yet instead of hiding in shame as others in the community expect, she’s working at the Honeybee Farm, ignoring the gossips—and winning over Andrew’s eight-year-old twin brothers . . .

For all Andrew’s certainty about right and wrong, it seems he has a lot to learn from Mary’s courage, grace, and resilience. She’s changing his notions about forgiveness and love, but will she, in turn, accept the challenge of starting over and choose to stay—with him?

My Review:

A great book to show what true forgiveness of one’s sins means. There is only one true judge and He is in the heavens above. I also think it shows us bravery. It takes a strong woman to decide to walk through pregnancy on her own without the man she thought was her forever. It takes bravery to leave a bad situation.

I enjoy Beckstrand’s creative license with some of her Amish characters. Fans of Beckstrand all know the quirky grandma, Anna, from her Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and now we have Bitsy, who definitely marches to her drummer. These characters make her books fun and entertaining.

I am looking forward to reading book two, Abraham, releasing November 2019.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington Books, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Root of Magic by Kathleen Benner Duble

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Pages: 216

Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishing

Published: June 11, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Willow knows the unknown is scary. Especially when your little brother has been sick for a long time and nobody has been able to figure out why. All Willow wants is for her brother to get better and for her life to go back to normal.

But after a bad stroke of luck, Willow and her family find themselves stranded in an unusual town in the middle of nowhere and their life begins to change in the most unexpected way. Willow soon discovers that the town isn’t just unusual—it’s magical—and the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined.

Will Willow find that this could be the secret to saving her family—or discover that the root of magic could lead them to something greater?

My Review:

Would you want to know what each day would bring before it happened? This is the question Willow must answer when a terrifying accident brings her and her family to Kismet, Maine.

The Root of Magic is a story filled with the wonders of magic, love, and acceptance of yourself and others.

Appropriate for children of ages 8 – 12. There is no foul language and no sex (a first kiss only). It would make a great read-aloud for families. Discussions will abound.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Children’s Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Window on the Bay by Debbie Macomber

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Pages: 321

Publisher: Random House Publishing

Published: July 16, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Jenna Boltz’s life is at a crossroads. After a messy divorce from her surgeon husband nearly twenty years ago, she raised her two children on her own, juggling motherhood with her beloved job as a Seattle intensive-care nurse. Now that Paul and Allie have gone to college and moved out, Jenna can’t help but wonder what her future holds.

Her best friend, Maureen, is excited about Jenna’s newfound independence. Now is the perfect time to finally book the trip to Paris they’ve been dreaming of since their college days. But when it comes to life’s other great adventure—dating—Jenna still isn’t sure she’s ready to let love in . . . until an unexpected encounter begins to change her mind.

When Jenna’s elderly mother breaks her hip, Dr. Rowan Lancaster saves the day. Despite his silent, stoic exterior, Rowan is immediately smitten with Jenna. And even though Jenna is hesitant about becoming involved with another surgeon, she has to admit that she’s more than a little intrigued. But when Jenna’s children approach her with shocking news, she realizes that she needs to have faith in love and embrace the unexpected—before the life, she has always dreamed of passes her by.

My Review:

Debbie Macomber is my “go-to” comfort author. I know I am guaranteed when I pick up one of her books I will read a story filled with love and friendship. Window on the Bay was no exception.

The friendship between Jenna and Maureen was what every female relationship should strive for: no jealousy and cheering one another on in life. I am lucky to have two such friendships.

This is a perfect read to share with your teenage daughter as it is a clean read (no sex, only kissing) and no foul language.

I received a copy from the publisher, Random House Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Surfside Sisters by Nancy Thayer

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Pages: 305

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Published: July 2, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Keely Green always dreamed of leaving the beautiful shores of Nantucket to become a writer. Now she’s a bestselling novelist living in New York City, attending glamorous cocktail parties and mingling with the literary elite. Keely is also dating a charming, perfectly fine pediatric surgeon who looks good on paper but isn’t “the one.” She just can’t bear to break it off—until he declares his desire to settle down. Then Keely’s editor rejects her latest novel. With her personal and professional lives suddenly in shambles, Keely longs for the soothing island way of life.

Growing up, Keely and her best friend, Isabelle, were inseparable. Nothing could come between them—except, as it turned out, Keely’s high school boyfriend, Tommy. Returning home would mean facing Isabelle’s bitter betrayal and seeing for herself the family Tommy and Isabelle have created, the life that might have been Keely’s.

But when Keely’s mother falls into a deep depression, Keely knows what she must do, even though she is reluctant to face her estranged friend. And encountering Isabelle’s older brother, Sebastian—Keely’s longtime crush—only complicates things.

In one incredible summer, Keely must confront the mistakes of the past if she has any chance of finding true happiness in the place she will always call home. Nancy Thayer shines yet again in this uplifting tale of forgiveness and self-discovery.

My Review: Nancy Thayer has joined the cast of my MUST read authors for summer. She joins Mary Alice Monroe, Elin Hildebrand, and Dorothea Benton Frank. It doesn’t feel like summer until I read these authors. Thayer has written another hit. I found myself ignoring everything around me as I read. The heartache Keely felt many times throughout the book tugged at my heartstrings and I wanted to jump into the book and try to fix it for her.

The descriptions of Nantucket make the reader feel as if they are there playing in ocean waves, eating yummy food in the summer sunshine and listening to families excitement on vacation. You will be wishing you could hop on the next flight out.

If you haven’t read Nancy Thayer then start with Surfside Sisters. You will thank me when you are finished.

I received a complimentary copy from Random House Publishing – Ballantine through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.