Not by Sight by Kate Breslin

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
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Five Gold Stars

Not by SightNot By Sight by Kate Breslin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Things aren’t always as they appear.

It’s a wonderfully executed theme that runs through author Kate Breslin’s historical romance novel, Not by Sight. Young suffragette Grace Mabry feels it’s her patriotic duty to hand a white feather of cowardice to able-bodied men in Britain like Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, who won’t enlist to fight in World War I. Yet, Grace has some hard lessons to learn about precisely what she’s doing.

This was one of those very rare occasions when I finished a novel less than twenty-four hours after starting it.

Grace is an admirable heroine, a good balance of determination, compassion, and imperfection, and the bonds of sisterhood she forms with fellow members of the Women’s Forage Corps are believable. The author does a great job of conveying how the propaganda about war may differ from the harsh realities of war, where even individuals who aren’t on the frontlines are forced to make tough life and death decisions.

The story’s message of hope comes through nice and clear. I would have preferred to see the novel’s suspense thread resolved a bit differently, as the narrator eventually just reveals some of the vital, hidden information to the reader instead of the characters themselves discovering or disclosing that information. Also, the story’s wrap-up started to feel a little too perfect for everyone involved, but due to an important and tragic turn of events and the illustration of how the war must yet continue, the story does steer away from tying everything up in one neat bow.

I’d highly recommend this novel of romance, intrigue, betrayal, and faith to other historical Christian Fiction fans.

The Midwife’s Tale by Delia Parr

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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9780764217333The Midwife’s Tale by Delia Parr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Before she worried about facing her friends and neighbors, as well as her family…she had to face herself. Honestly. And without pretense.

I’ll confess that The Midwife’s Tale by Delia Parr is yet another book for which I didn’t remember whatever the book blurb had said before I started reading the book. I barely skimmed the blurb, but the cover of the novel is what got me, not so much on account of its loveliness but because the heroine depicted has gray in her hair. It’s nice to read about a more mature protagonist when I can, and Martha certainly has her hands full in this story of small-town life, some suspense, and hints of romance.

As far as midwifery goes, it was interesting to see it as a system and culture, not just a lone woman who appears to deliver a baby and disappears from the story again. Though the novel is officially labeled as historical romance, it’s rather light on the romance piece, but it’s more a story of Martha’s journey of grief, joy, self-discovery, and faith. There are some pretty endearing moments of character interaction, humorous or downright cute, and one duo of ladies in town couldn’t help but to remind me of the Baldwin sisters from The Waltons.

While much of this novel is easy reading, not unpleasant, it does move slowly, and halfway through the book, the story didn’t seem to have hit a clear stride yet, like it was still in the introductions stage. Martha’s feelings about her daughter who has run off, Victoria, are well-expressed, but since I as a reader didn’t get to see or meet Victoria for myself, I couldn’t connect with Martha’s sentiments about who her absent daughter is.

The novel’s strength is in its final fourth or so, and though it was a long time in coming, reading wise, it turned out to be enough to interest me in continuing on with the At Home in Trinity series.

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The next book in the At Home in Trinity series, The Midwife’s Choice, is scheduled to release in December 2015. The books are republications of novels first published in 2002 and 2003, originally titled A Place Called Trinity and Home to Trinity.

.The Midwife's Choice (At Home in Trinity #2)

Christmas Book Picks 2014

Christmas Book Picks

I received complimentary copies of most of the books I mention here from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews, which you’ll find in the posts I’ve linked to.

Yes, so, I initially planned on posting my Christmas Book Picks right after Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. on the 27th, but I figured posting a little over a week early wouldn’t hurt, in case any of my dear blog readers would like to procure and read a title or two from this list, which I hope you will! Consider the extra week to be more reading time. 🙂

The 20th Christmas

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The 20th Christmas by Andrea Rodgers

Christian Fiction

 from me

A serious-but-still-Christmassy novel from a debut author. Really, how could I not read this book after coming across this beautiful cover that effectively and accurately speaks volumes about the story? Hopefully Rodgers has got more books up her sleeve.

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From Dishes to Snow

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From Dishes to Snow by Kathy M. Howard

Christian Fiction

from me

Another serious read from a debut author here, and, okay–this isn’t technically a “Christmas” novel. However, there’s quite a joyful holiday theme that runs through it from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and with the snow and all to boot, I feel this book is wholly worthy to be on this list.

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Clara's Wish

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Clara’s Wish by Beth Shriver

Amish Romance

★ from me

Nope, I still don’t read much Amish fiction, but yes, I’m glad I read this. It has pretty much everything a good Christmas novel set in modern times in an Amish community should have. (I may not be the ultimate authority on that, on account of my limited experience with this subgenre, but I know when a book leaves me with a nice Christmassy feeling. 😀 )

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Where Treetops Glisten

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Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin

Christian Historical Romance

 from me

With all of the World War II fiction I’ve read (and still plan to read) this year, of course I had to include a holiday-themed one in the mix. Here are three romance novellas by three authors that tell the story of one family, the Turners, in a smooth flow from one novella to the next. The second, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, is my favorite of the three.

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A Christmas Carol

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Classic Literature

 from me

I finally got to see why this story is such a classic! Well, I’ve seen why by watching its best film adaptation, Scrooge (1951), countless times since my childhood, but I’ve read the book at last, and it’s a delight of a tale. Admission: this isn’t the cover of the edition I read, but the Puffin Classics copy I have pictured captures the story’s delightfulness so very well. God bless us, every one!

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Merry Christmas Darling

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Merry Christmas, Darling by Denise Devine

Sweet Romance

 from me

This book was the biggest surprise for me on this list. It’s exceedingly rare for me to pick up a book with an animal so prominent on the cover, especially if there are no people accompanying the animal, as that makes it come off as an animal tale–which this book, despite the cat, is not. I found this in a collection of sweet Christmas romances; while readers’ expectations of sweet/clean romances vary, nothing here made me blush, personally. Good holiday fun!

There, now. I believe I’ve officially kicked-off Christmas!
Publicly, anyway. I’ve been having Christmas myself since October…

Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Four Silver Stars

Where Treetops GlistenWhere Treetops Glisten: Three Stories of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title for the book description/blurb.)

“It’s amazing, don’t you think, that the holiday spirit can be so strong even in the midst of war?”

World War II, that is.

Where Treetops Glisten is just dripping with Christmas and laced with romance in its wartime holiday accounts that take place from 1941-1945. The three novellas are sandwiched in by Christmastime sentiments from Grandma: Louise Turner, the wise, loving, smart cookie who turns out to be my overall favorite character.

I like how Cara Putman’s White Christmas goes so far as to include candy cane making in a story that raises a worthwhile question: after one has spent so much time settling to live according to fear, what does one do when fear no longer satisfies? Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas takes the reader closest to the front lines and wastes no time in giving a compassionate reminder that international conflict doesn’t hurt only one nation or nationality of people: “While it wasn’t popular to say, German mothers loved their sons as much as American mothers… German hearts loved too.”

I especially enjoyed Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, with its quite human hero and heroine and a clever and spunky little girl who got a laugh out of me. Sundin has a poignant way with words in the right places as well as a flair for romance that’s not only sweet but has a good sprinkling of complementary spice.

With wartime trials of the heart and all the warmth of giving and Christmas, this novella collection is worth picking up.

“It’s a reminder that God has not forsaken us. That even in the war there is hope of a future.”