Category Archives: Rated A

Review: The Year of Jubilee by Cindy Morgan

Title: The Year of Jubilee by Cindy Morgan
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Genre: Historical (60s), Fiction
Length: 363 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through LibraryThing


The Year of Jubilee is a lyrical coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of the turbulent South in the early 1960s.

The Mockingbird family has always lived peacefully in Jubilee, Kentucky, despite the divisions that mark their small town. Until the tense summer of 1963, when their youngest child, Isaac, falls gravely ill. Middle sister Grace, nearly fourteen, is determined to do whatever it takes to save her little brother. With her father and mother away at the hospital, Grace is left under the loving but inexperienced eye of her aunt June, with little to do but wait and worry. Inspired by a young teacher’s mission for change, she begins to flirt with danger—and with a gifted boy named Golden, who just might be the key to saving Isaac’s life. Then the unthinkable happens, and the world as she knows it shifts in ways she never could have imagined. Grace must decide what she believes amid the swirling, conflicting voices even of those she loves the most.

From gifted songwriter Cindy Morgan comes this lyrical, tender tale of a girl standing at the threshold of adulthood, learning the depths of the human heart and the bonds of family that bend, break, and bind together over and over again.


The Year of Jubilee by Cindy Morgan is a thought-provoking novel with an undertone of sadness.

Written from thirteen-year-old Grace Mockingbird’s perspective, this moving story of life in small Kentucky town is incredibly engrossing. Grace is devastated by her younger brother and best friend Isaac’s illness. Her older sister Sissie is causing the family problems with her unexpected rebellion. While their parents are at the hospital with Isaac, their Aunt June stays with them and provides minimal yet loving supervision.

In the midst of their family’s turmoil, the civil rights movement comes to the forefront as the local Ku Klux Klan becomes more active. One of Grace’s teachers is instrumental in introducing Grace to her neighbors who just happen to Black. For the first time in her life, Grace finally finds unconditional friendship but will there be a price for and her family to pay?

With a subtle undercurrent of faith, The Year of Jubilee is a poignant novel that is beautifully written with relatable characters. Grace easily captures the reader’s heart. All of the characters are extremely well-drawn and vibrantly life-like. The small-town setting springs vividly to life as do its residents. The storyline is engaging and provides an intimate peek into the Mockingbird’s household and the tragedies they have experienced. Cindy Morgan brings this heartfelt novel to an uplifting, realistic conclusion.

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Filed under Cindy Morgan, Fiction, Historical (60s), Rated A, Review, The Year of Jubilee, Tyndale House Publishers

Review: These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant

Title: These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A father and daughter living in the remote Appalachian mountains must reckon with the ghosts of their past in Kimi Cunningham Grant’s These Silent Woods, a mesmerizing novel of suspense.

No electricity, no family, no connection to the outside world.

For eight years, Cooper and his young daughter, Finch, have lived in isolation in a remote cabin in the northern Appalachian woods. And that’s exactly the way Cooper wants it, because he’s got a lot to hide. Finch has been raised on the books filling the cabin’s shelves and the beautiful but brutal code of life in the wilderness. But she’s starting to push back against the sheltered life Cooper has created for her—and he’s still haunted by the painful truth of what it took to get them there.

The only people who know they exist are a mysterious local hermit named Scotland, and Cooper’s old friend, Jake, who visits each winter to bring them food and supplies. But this year, Jake doesn’t show up, setting off an irreversible chain of events that reveals just how precarious their situation really is. Suddenly, the boundaries of their safe haven have blurred—and when a stranger wanders into their woods, Finch’s growing obsession with her could put them all in danger. After a shocking disappearance threatens to upend the only life Finch has ever known, Cooper is forced to decide whether to keep hiding—or finally face the sins of his past.

Vividly atmospheric and masterfully tense, These Silent Woods is a poignant story of survival, sacrifice, and how far a father will go when faced with losing it all.


These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant is an atmospheric novel that is emotionally compelling.

Cooper and his eight-year-old daughter Finch live off the grid in a cabin nestled in woods. Coop is an Army veteran whose tours in Afghanistan have left inner scars. His transition back into the civilian is aided by his longtime crush and friend Cindy Loveland. As friendship deepens into love, Cooper struggles with PTSD. In the aftermath of terrible loss, Coop is left in an untenable position and he does what it takes to keep him and his daughter together.

Retreating to his army buddy Jake’s cabin, Cooper and Finch live a surprisingly idyllic life that is only marred by his distrust of his nearest neighbor Scotland. Jake’s failure to show for his yearly supply drop is just the first of unexpected changes for Cooper and Finch. Cooper’s risky but necessary decision to briefly go into town results in worrying consequences for their continued ability to keep their identities hidden.

Despite his mistakes, Cooper is a caring, decent man who is very hard on himself. He is a quiet man who mostly lives in the moment. He is very patient with Finch as she chatters and asks him hard questions. Cooper is trying to be the best father he can and his bond with his daughter is palpable. He remains suspicious of Scotland who keeps a closer eye on them than Coop would like. But Finch loves the hermit and Scotland cherishes their friendship.

An unanticipated visitor gives Cooper a glimpse of what life could be if he had not made the missteps that brought them to the cabin.  When a shocking event brings more people into his orbit, Cooper is faced with untenable choice that could be bring peace to one family while destroying another. He is forced to take a hard look at himself and decide whether or not he can live with himself if he does not do what is right. But will Cooper be able to take that final step in his own probable downfall?

These Silent Woods is a riveting novel of love and grace. Cooper is a well-drawn character who is deeply flawed but he is surprisingly appealing. He carries the heavy weight of his tortured past but his love for Finch is pure. Finch is a precocious and loving with a natural curiosity for the world around her. Scotland is eccentric yet caring and does not let Cooper’s antipathy deter him form looking out for them. The storyline is unique with Cooper’s secrets slowly unfolding throughout the novel. After Coop makes a heartbreaking yet morally right decision, Kimi Cunningham Grant brings this captivating story to a heartfelt, fraught conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Kimi Cunningham Grant, Minotaur Books, Rated A, Review, Suspense, These Silent Woods

Review: A Season of Change by Beth Wiseman

Title: A Season of Change by Beth Wiseman
The Amish Inn Novels Book Three
Publisher: Zondervan
Genre: Contemporary, Amish, Romance
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Finding peace means letting go of the past—and embracing the change that is to come.

Sisters Esther and Lizzie have a new employee, Rose Petersheim, to help them tend to The Peony Inn. But their old matchmaking ways have stayed the same. The sisters focus their efforts on the lovely twenty-five-year-old Rose. Though Rose is witty and outspoken, her nervous chattering makes her the best match for someone calm and good at listening. Someone like Benjamin—the handsome handyman who recently moved to town.

But when Esther receives an anonymous love letter and flowers, Rose’s love life is no longer the only one capturing the sisters’ attention. As they sleuth around searching for Esther’s secret admirer, they uncover that their grumpy renter, Gus, has a secret of his own that could bring about a difficult change in all their lives. And their continued meddling in Rose’s affairs reveals she, too, is hiding something—an old wound that could threaten her future happiness.

As Rose, Lizzie, Esther, and Gus struggle to release the weight of their pasts, they discover that although people are complicated, love doesn’t need to be.

This charming third installment of the Amish Inn series from bestselling author Beth Wiseman is a picture of loss and healing in which forgiveness will prove to be the greatest act of love.


A Season of Change by Beth Wiseman is a poignant yet uplifting Amish romance. While this newest release is the third book in The Amish Inn Novels series, it can be read as a standalone. However, I highly recommend reading the first two novels as well.

Lizzie Glick and Esther Zook are widowed sisters who turned their home into a bed and breakfast. Since the summer has been unusually hot, The Peony Inn does not have many visitors. This turns out to be a good thing as Lizzie and Esther continue their matchmaking and learn their longtime boarder Gus Owens’ secret.  Esther also seems to have a secret admirer whose identity Lizzie is determined to uncover. Neither sister is looking for romance but they are curious who about who sent Esther a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a very unexpected message.

Twenty-five-year-old Rose Petersheim is a hard worker whose endless chatter sometimes wars on Lizzie and Esther’s nerves. They have counseled her to listen more and talk less but Rose finds it difficult to keep her thoughts to herself. When newcomer Benjamin King asks her out for a date, she is determined to follow their advice. But since he is very shy, their evening out is rather awkward.

Ben is frustrated with his inability to turn his sometimes tangled thoughts into words . He is tired of blind dates but he would like to marry and start a family. Ben is willing to give Rose a chance, but if their evening out does not go well, he is done with dating. Which is why he is very disappointed his dinner with Rose is so uncomfortable.

Ben remains intrigued by Rose, so he is delighted when she inadvertently reveals her true self to him after their disastrous date. Rose agrees to go out with him again and their romance begins in earnest. But the closer they become, she grows increasingly troubled by memories of her past.  As she tries to come to terms her fears, will Rose decide a future with Ben is not possible?

A Season of Change is an emotionally compelling novel with a heartfelt storyline and appealing characters. Rose is a spirited young woman who must decide whether or not to forgive the people who have hurt her. Ben is a charming man who is transformed by his relationship with Rose. Esther patiently continues her lessons of forgiveness and grace. Lizzie’s outspokenness leads to trouble when her well-intentioned interference backfires. With touching life lessons, Beth Wiseman brings this final installment in The Amish Inn Novels series to a bittersweet conclusion.

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Filed under A Season of Change, Amish, Beth Wiseman, Contemporary, Rated A, Review, Romance, The Amish Inn Novels, Zondervan

Review: The Gathering Table by Kathryn Springer

Title: The Gathering Table by Kathryn Springer
Publisher: Love Inspired Trade
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Women’s Fiction
Length: 332 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From USA TODAY bestselling author Kathryn Springer comes a tale of starting over when life takes an unexpected turn.

Winsome Lake, Wisconsin, is postcard-pretty, but for chef Jessica Keaton it’s also a last resort. Fired from her dream job, Jess is starting over as a live-in cook and housekeeper. When she arrives, she finds her new employer is in rehab after having a stroke, and Jess expects she’ll be all alone in Elaine Haviland’s quaint house. A chef with no one to cook for.

But instead, she encounters a constant stream of colorful visitors who draw her back into the world. As Jess contends with local teenagers, a group of scrappy women and a charming football coach, Elaine faces some battles of her own that extend past her physical challenges. For both of them, all the ingredients for a fulfilling life are within reach, if they’re willing to take a leap. And maybe Jess will start to see that it’s not just what’s on the table that matters—it’s the people gathered round it.

A must-read novel from Love Inspired: Stories to Uplift and Inspire.


The Gathering Table by Kathryn Springer is a heartwarming novel of new beginnings, friendship and faith.

Jessica “Jess” Keaton is at an unexpected low point when she loses her job as a personal chef. Answering an ad in the paper, she is hired by Elaine Haviland as a cook and housekeeper. With little to lose and hopefully much to gain, she sets out for Winsome Lake, WI. The town is picturesque and Elaine’s neighbors are friendly, but the last thing Jess wants or needs are close relationships. She also tries to keep popular high school teacher and coach Nick Silva at arm’s length. However,  he and everyone else slowly slip past her defenses. When an unanticipated opportunity comes her way, will Jess take a risk and keep the new life she is starting to love but fears trusting?

Jess’s previous employment arrangement was perfect for her. She was able to keep everyone at a distance and she hopes her new job will work the same way. Jess relies only on herself and she keep her emotional wall firmly in place as she meets Elaine’s eclectic neighbors. The women are warm and inviting and she cannot help becoming invested in their lives. When Elaine finally comes home, Jess suddenly hopes things won’t work out because she feels extremely uncomfortable by how deeply invested she has become in her new friends. And Jess is also concerned about how much she enjoys Nick’s company. But can she exchange her suddenly full life for another version of her former safe, but empty, one?

Elaine is very frustrated by all of the health setbacks that prevent her from returning home. She is also avoiding a decision that needs a resolution sooner rather than later. Elaine has begun to depend on former military chaplain Matthew Jeffries’ visits which leave her feeling happier and more settled. She is looking forward to seeing her friends and meeting Jess face to face.  Once she does, Elaine is surprised by how little her life before her stroke seems to fit her now.  But is she willing to make the necessary adjustments in order to find happiness?

The Gathering Table is a heartfelt novel with a gentle undercurrent of faith. The characters are richly developed and very relatable with all too human foibles and hidden (to them) strengths. The storyline is very well-developed with themes that are sure to resonate with readers. As the story unfolds, Jess and Elaine experience considerable personal growth as they conquer their fears. With unanticipated conflict to resolve, Kathryn Springer brings this sweet, thought-provoking novel to an incredibly gratifying conclusion.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Kathryn Springer, Love Inspired Trade, Rated A, Review, The Gathering Table, Women's Fiction

Review: What We Carry by Kalyn Fogarty

Title: What We Carry by Kalyn Fogarty
Publisher: Alcove Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Fans of Caroline Leavitt will relish this rich, complex novel born of the author’s own loss and grief, about how one can overcome tragedy through bravery and self-discovery.

Cassidy Morgan’s life has always followed a carefully laid track: top education, fulfilling career, and marriage to the love of her life, Owen. The next logical step was starting a family. But when a late-term miscarriage threatens to derail everything she’s worked so hard for, she finds herself questioning her identity, particularly what it means to be a mother. Unable to move past her guilt and shame, she realizes there’s more to fix than a broken heart. Grief illuminates the weaknesses in her marriage and forces her to deal with her tumultuous relationship with her own mother.

Cassidy hopes her work as a veterinarian specializing in equine reproduction will distract her from the pain but instead finds that one of the cases she’s working on shines a spotlight on the memory of her unborn son. For once in her life, Cassidy is left untethered and wondering why she wanted to become a mother in the first place.

Then the unexpected happens when Cassidy becomes pregnant again. But the joy over her baby is tempered by her fear of another loss as well as her increasingly troubled marriage. Now, she must decide whether to let her pain hold her back or trust that there’s still something to live for.

What We Carry is a thought-provoking response to the author’s own miscarriage and lack of fiction surrounding the topic, that she and other women in her situation crave.

What We Carry by Kalyn Fogarty an emotional novel about loss, grief and ultimately, healing.

Cassidy Morgan and her husband Owen have been trying to get pregnant for several months without success. Like many women dealing with fertility issues, Cassidy is completely focused on finally getting a positive pregnancy test. As a consequence, her marriage is suffering as Owen grows tired of their intimate life revolving around the optimal time for conception. Finally he finally decides to it is time to speak up, the couple put baby-making on hold for a few months to reconnect with each other. And as sometimes happens when conception is put on the back burner, Cassidy finally gets pregnant. Happily planning for their growing family, Cassidy and Owen are devastated by a late term miscarriage.

Cassidy is a large animal veterinarian who is close to her sister Claire. Her relationship with her mother is tumultuous but Cassidy and her dad share a tight bond. She is a bit of a tomboy who is happiest when taking care of horses. Cassidy is a bit closed off and pulls away during stressful situations. After her miscarriage, she clings tightly to her grief and mostly shuts Owen out.

Owen deeply loves his wife but he is frustrated by how much getting pregnant dominates their life. He is slowly building his business which is poised to take off after winning a prestigious contract. Owen has difficulty expressing his feelings and desires to Cassidy who uses any excuse to continue to push him away. After their loss, Owen must deal with his grief on his own because Cassidy is lost in her own pain and grief.

After undergoing testing to find out a possible cause for the late-term miscarriage, Cassidy and Owen are soon pregnant again. But having dealt with such a heartrending loss, Cassidy is plagued with worry that her body might again betray her. With such complicated feelings, she continues attempting to overcome her fears and fully celebrate the impending birth of their longed-for child.

What We Carry is a multi-layered novel with a deeply affecting storyline. Cassidy is multi-faceted character whose pain after her miscarriage is palpable. Owen is a wonderful man who must change his approach to his wife if they are to move through their grief and save their marriage. Cassidy’s struggles with fertility issues and subsequent heartbreaking pregnancy loss with resonate with readers. Based on her personal experience, Kalyn Fogarty’s debut novel is a thoroughly captivating story that does not shy away from a painful, yet rarely discussed, issue that affects ten to twenty percent of known pregnancies.

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Filed under Alcove Press, Contemporary, Kalyn Fogarty, Rated A, Review, What We Carry, Women's Fiction

Review: The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle

Title: The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From USA Today bestselling author Nancy Naigle, The Shell Collector is a touching novel of a friendship that crosses generations, and learning how even the smallest gifts can change a life for good.

Two years after her husband’s death, Amanda Whittier has two children to raise alone, an abandoned dream of starting a business, and a fixer-upper cottage by the sea. She has no room in her life for anything else and little interest in moving on after losing the man she loved.

Paul Grant is a relative newcomer to the area, and his work with former military dogs needing rehabilitation has been good for the town. Though he loved once before, he’s convinced he’s not suited for romance and is determined to find meaning—alone—through his work and role in the community.

Widowed Maeve Lindsay was born and raised on Whelk’s Island. Spirited, kind, and a little mischievous, she pours her life into the town. But she carries a secret that shapes her every move.

Together, these three souls find encouragement in the most mysterious places and discover a love that’s bigger than their pain, healing their wounded hearts in ways none of them could have hoped for or expected.


The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle is a deeply moving novel about friendship and new beginnings.

Two years after the loss of her Marine husband, Jack, Amanda Whittier and her two darling children, Hailey and Jesse, relocate to Whelk’s Island, N.C. Their bungalow by the sea needs a little TLC but it is a cozy haven for Amanda and the kids. She and the children take full advantage of the beach where they spend a good part of their days. But the very best part of their new life is the unexpected friendship of island native, Maeve Lindsay.

Maeve enjoys daily walks on the beach where she also picks up seashells and other gifts from the sea. She shares an immediate rapport with the Whittier family and she hits it off with the kids as well as Amanda. Maeve’s calming presence is a balm to Amanda’s aching heart and through their newfound friendship, she begins to truly heal from her loss.

Amanda also surprisingly reconnects with her and Jack’s best friend, Paul Grant. Unbeknownst to Amanda, Paul has made a few changes in his life since they last spoke. She is grateful for the opportunity to repair the damage she wrought on their relationship during her grief over Jack’s death. Paul is unwavering in his support and she is caught off guard by how much she loves spending time with him.

The Shell Collector is a heartfelt novel with a cast of charming characters and an endearing storyline.  Amanda is a wonderful woman whose loss has shaped her life but she does not want it to define her.  Maeve is quite wise and she does not hesitate to share her advice with the grieving family. Paul is thrilled to be back in Amanda’s life and he does not push her to make a decision she is not quite ready to make. Whelk’s Island is an idyllic setting and the beach is a soothing location for the Whittier family to begin anew. Keep the tissues handy as Nancy Naigle brings this captivating novel to an intensely emotional conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Nancy Naigle, Rated A, Review, The Shell Collector, WaterBrook, Women's Fiction