Monday, January 30, 2017

The Midwife's Dilemma (At Home in Trinity #3) by Delia Parr book review


The Midwife's Dilemma (At Home in Trinity #3)

Midwife Martha Cade has decided. When he returns in February, she is going to marry Mayor Thomas Dillon. That is the only decision in life in which she feels confident these days. Everything else around her feels like it's changing too fast, from her daughter's obvious affection for the town's young doctor to Martha realizing she's ready to pass on her role as midwife to someone younger. Even her beloved town of Trinity is changing.

The 1830s Pennsylvania town, having mushroomed in size and population, is becoming an important agricultural and economic center for the region, and soon a canal will connect it even more to the outside world.

It is a season that will set the course for the rest of her life. Martha will need every ounce of confidence, courage, and faith she possesses to overcome the obstacles that will make her life far more challenging and difficult than she can dare to imagine.

My Review: 6/10

I struggled with this book. The first aspect was the rewrite- taking this story from two books and changing it into a trilogy. Not much changed in the beginning. However, one key storyline was completely reworked. Initially it was bittersweet. I spent much of this story wondering if it was still going to play out the way it originally did. It did not and keeping these couple of characters around seemed to serve almost no purpose, other than to maybe accentuate the feel of community and close knit family Martha had built. Maybe it wouldn't have bothered me if I didn't know what I was missing.

The story itself felt like one being strung along. The things I had loved about the first two books ( the spiritual journey) and Martha's character (her strength and shortcomings, her ability to be wrong and change ) fell short for me. Martha (and Thomas) seemed to be overcomplicating things. Why exactly did she NEED to have a midwife replace her? There was a doctor there now and her daughter was publishing their specialty knowledge. She was complaining that she didn't want to be a midwife anymore and that she was losing more and more work to the doctor... so her need for a replacement just didn't make any sense to me.

Additionally, while I agreed with Martha that Thomas was pressuring her too much and damaged trust by changing his mind, I thought she was wrong to continue delaying and hiding their relationship. She set a pretty bad example for her daughter there and probably added to Thomas' doubt and insecurities. And I understand that she didn't want to start their relationship off with such a challenge, but that's life. And that's marriage. You weather the storms together. You compromise. You sacrifice. Your spouse should be second only to God, not fall somewhere behind your career, your kids, and your family legacy. She wasn't willing to commit unless everything else fell perfectly into place and she got everything she wanted. That's not commitment.

Jane's story was not a surprise. And felt way too easy. And I had no idea why Martha never shared the information with Thomas.

I did like the way Martha and Jane prayed together and leaned on God. But that was the only spiritual aspect that really touched me. For the most part, this book was all too realistic; an accurate portrayal of how misguided we can be keeping ourselves bone weary with busyness, accomplishing little of actual value and often missing the blessings that God has given us: relationships.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

An Uncommon Courtship (Hawthorne House #3) by Kristi Ann Hunter book review


An Uncommon Courtship (Hawthorne House #3)

When her mother's ill-conceived marriage trap goes awry, Lady Adelaide Bell unwittingly finds herself bound to a stranger who ignores her. Lord Trent Hawthorne, who had grand plans to marry for love, is even less pleased with the match. Can they set aside their first impressions before any chance of love is lost?
My Review: 9 stars

Ms. Hunter has quickly become one of my favorite authors and I have been super excited and anxiously awaiting this book.

I hadn't reread the other books to set myself up for this newest one, so I can say that it stands alone well enough, but would probably feel more complete with having recently read the previous stories.

The pacing of the story fluctuates. It immediately pulled me in and there were times I could not put it down, but then there seemed to lengthy lulls, just chunks of the story where pretty much nothing happened.

I loved that the story didn't revolve around the "wedding night" but rather a quest to understand what love actually is (with a sound Biblical foundation) and a determination to live it out.

Though I related more naturally with the outspoken Hawthorne lades, I found Adelaide's disposition sweet and refreshing. I certainly felt for her over her past neglect, her craving to have proper relationships with her mother and sister, a desire for a close knit family, and ultimately feeling pulled in opposite directions. I understood why she felt confused about how God wanted her to handle her relationships. I found Adelaide's quirks charming and appreciated Trent's failings and honest feelings, even when they weren't fair.

There were a couple of minor things that bothered me- it seemed like some minor issues were resolved, and then resurfaced just to induce insecurity and keep the story suspenseful. like Adelaide worrying that Trent had a previous relationship after he explicitely told her that he had never had the slightest involvement with anyone. Thankfully, these  instances were few and they were forgotten quickly enough, but I felt the story would have been a lot stronger if there hadn't been needless worries heaped on top to try to make things worse.

On the whole, the characters are so warm and witty, and their dreams so genuine and relatable that you just want to be part of this (growing) tight knit family unit, where you're safe, protected, accepted, and loved. Thankfully, living vicariously through their stories allows you to be. I can't wait for the next one!

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (Tales from Ivy Hill #1) by Julie Klassen book review


The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (Tales from Ivy Hill #1)

First Series from Bestselling Author Julie Klassen!

On a rise overlooking the Wiltshire countryside stands the village of Ivy Hill. Its coaching inn, The Bell, is its lifeblood--along with the coach lines that stop there daily, bringing news, mail, travelers, and much-needed trade.

Jane Bell lives on the edge of the inn property. She had been a genteel lady until she married the charming innkeeper who promised she would never have to work in his family's inn. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Jane finds herself The Bell's owner, and worse, she has three months to pay a large loan or lose the place.

Feeling reluctant and ill-equipped, Jane is tempted to abandon her husband's legacy and return to her former life of ease. However, she soon realizes there is more at stake than her comfort. But who can she trust to help her? Her resentful mother-in-law? Her husband's brother, who wanted the inn for himself? Or the handsome newcomer with secret plans of his own . . . ?

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane struggles to win over naysayers and turn the place around. Can Jane bring new life to the inn, and to her heart as well?

My Review: 8.5/10 

I thought this book was set up in a way to allow for sequels. And lo and behold, I look it up on Goodreads and it's right there in the title: #1.

I have mixed feelings about that. I found it refreshing that there were a lot of things left open ended. Now it just kind of feels like an exceptionally long story. Although I did really enjoy the story, so I guess I am happy over all.

I could not really relate to Jane. She is every bit the gently bred woman, and her mild temper and meek nature had me gritting my teeth for the first half of the book; I hate to see characters struggling privately. I always want to grab them by the shoulders, shake them, and shout, Speak up! Maybe then this can be solved and you won't be suffering! Or at the very least, you won't be suffering alone!

But despite that, I still liked her. And I liked that this story followed the lives of several women, intertwining in daily life or past remembrances.

This was one of those rare books (particularly for this genre) whose primary plotline was not a romance, but more of sisterhood. Despite that, several romantic interests were set up for multiple characters, and I really liked that there were no obvious choices- very unique men with different things to offer and a future that could take shape with any of them.

There were a number of times when connections or opportunities seemed too easy, just too lucky. I could have found it more believable if prayer had been the link, if God had been credited. The story and themes (forgiveness, healing, rising to your circumstances, a change of heart, courage, new beginnings, etc) could have resonated a lot deeper if God had been reflected in them.

But on the whole, I really enjoyed this book. If this review seems a bit scattered, it's because I've been sleep deprived all week thanks to not being able to put this book down.