THE FIRST LOVE

14 01 2019

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I absolutely loved this book!  Of course, with it being Amish, that is my favorite genre.  You feel for Maggie, who turns 18 during this book, who has a debilitating illness.  With her using a cane because of this illness, she feels as if no boy would want the added responsibility of taking care of her and she is unable to be the vibrant woman that a man would want.  

She then goes to a Mennonite tent revival and gets turned on to Jesus.  She is now reading her Bible all the time.  She hears about healing and wants that more than anything.  Will she get her healing?  Will she fall in love and be a wife to someone special?  You will need to read it yourself to get those answers.

It’s the summer of 1951, and Maggie Esh is in need of some hope. Sweet-spirited and uncommonly pretty despite struggling with chronic illness, she is used to being treated kindly by the young men of her Old Order Amish church district. Yet Maggie wishes she were more like other courting-age girls so she could live a normal, healthy life.

To make matters more complicated, Dat has recently remarried, less than a year after her mother died. And while her stepmother is kind, Rachel is much younger than Mamm, and she simply doesn’t understand Maggie or her illness the way Mamm did.

When tent revival meetings come to the area, Maggie is curious, and the words of the Mennonite preacher challenge her to reconsider what she knows about faith. Can she learn to trust God even when hope seems a distant dream?

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Beverly Marie Jones (Lewis) was born in the heart of Amish country—Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At the tender age of nine, she began writing short stories and poetry. Prior to that, she made up lyrics to the “little fingers” piano pieces she learned, at the age of five.

“My mother saved everything I wrote, even the stories I dreamed up during my grade school years,” Beverly says. One such tale is semi-autobiographical, about a young girl whose parents can no longer afford to give her piano lessons. The manuscript was 77 pages long and titled “She Shall Have Music,” penned under the shade of a lone willow tree. “Reading, writing, and playing piano have been top three on my list of favorite things,” she says.

Not until her own children were well into middle school did Beverly seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular Cul-de-Sac Kids series of chapter books—see list of Bev’s children’s books).

The First Love became available for purchase September 4, 2018.

I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from NetGalley for this review.

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THE SOUND OF DISTANT THUNDER

22 10 2018

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Book One in “The Amish of Weaver’s Creek Series”
Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver are both romantics. Seventeen-year-old Katie is starry-eyed, in love with the idea of being in love, and does not want to wait to marry Jonas until she is eighteen, despite her parents’ insistence. So much can happen in a year. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother’s name comes up in the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother’s place. But can the commitment Katie and Jonas have made to each other survive the separation?

To admit it, it was difficult for me to get going in this book.  So, that is why I give it a 4-star.  It seemed dragged out for the introductions.  But later on, you understand why Jan Drexler took her time in the introductions.  You got to know these people in a personal way.  

Katie and Jonas are so in love with each other, but she is young yet.  Her father has told her she has to wait until she is 18.  But also for Jonas, there is the Civil War.  He believes strongly against slavery.  He wants to help – somehow.  He prefers not to shoot anyone.  When his brother ends up on the draft list, Jonas feels the only option is to take his brother’s place.  This definately turns 2 families upside down.  Katie feels as if he is going to get killed.  The question is: will he?  You will need to read the book to find out.

So, I give this a 4-star because of the slow beginning, but once I got into it, was hard to put down.

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Jan grew up surrounded by books and storytellers. With Pastors and Teachers populating both sides of her extended family, we aren’t surprised that she wanted to be a first-class storyteller herself.

Born and raised in Michigan, Jan is the descendant of Amish, Mennonite and Brethren immigrants who settled in Berks, Somerset and Lancaster Counties in Pennsylvania in the mid-1700’s. The descendants of these immigrants pioneered in Maryland, Ohio, and finally Elkhart and LaGrange Counties in Northern Indiana in the 1850’s.

During the years when Jan was raising and homeschooling their children, she and her husband moved nine times in thirty years, finally landing in South Dakota where they enjoy incredibly Michigan-like weather. A northerner is always a northerner!

The ideas for Jan’s books come from the stories told by her parents and grandparents, seasoned with a lot of research and imagination.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for this review.





A SIMPLE SINGING

14 09 2018

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For years Marie Bachmann thought of herself as the “good” daughter. She was the most loving to their mother, the most dedicated to their Amish way of life. But when a Mennonite farmhand, Gordon Martin, shows interest in her she can’t help but be flattered–until her mother sends her off to Florida. While there, Marie begins spending time with bad-boy Eli Jacob, the bishop’s son from back home.

When Gordon shows up in Florida to volunteer in a homeless shelter, her life becomes even more complicated. At the same time her aunt begins telling her of a Civil War-era ancestor and the woman’s uncommon bravery . . . a story that begins to work at Marie’s heart.

Marie hopes returning home may simplify life, but Eli soon follows. As Marie grapples with whether she should court Eli or leave the church for Gordon, the story of Annie Bachmann shines a light on what God has for Marie’s future.

This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.  A Simple Singing has two of my favorite types in one book – Amish and the Civil War.  When Marie’s aunt begins telling her about her ancestor, Annie, who lived through the Civil War, I was enraptured.  Leslie Gould has a flair about her writing that pulls you right in, as if you were Marie yourself.  You understand her learning to be more thoughtful of others instead of herself.  She was so wrapped up in the rules and regulations of the Amish faith that she forgot about God and what He wanted her to do.  There were times you felt she was going to go one way and she ended up going another.  You begin pulling for her.  Your heart goes out to her to learn a very valuable lesson.

L Gould

Leslie Gould is the coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny. She is also the author of numerous novels including two Lancaster Amish series. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She resides with her husband and four children in Oregon. Learn more at www.lesliegould.com.  

Look for the third book in this series, A Faithful Gathering, set to be published February 5, 2019.

I received a copy of this ebook from NetGalley for this review.

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HOME ON HUCKLEBERRY HILL

31 05 2018

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Mary Anne Neuenschwander knows she should be content with what Gotte has given her. She has a comfortable house, a fruitful farm, and a good, steady husband. But after nearly six years of marriage, she still longs for a baby. Yet her husband, Jethro, seems to care more about fishing than about his wife. Unable to bear Jethro’s indifference, Mary Anne moves into a tent in the woods where he won’t have to be bothered. But when her mammi and dawdi find out what she’s done, they’ll stop at nothing—including a little camping trip of their own—to help save their granddaughter’s marriage . . .

Jethro’s greatest blessing is his beloved wife, Mary Anne. Nothing else in his life has turned out anywhere near the way he expected. Rather than burden Mary Anne with his disappointment, he shields her by spending less and less time at home and more time on the river. But when he finds that she’s moved out, he’s shocked. What will people think? What is Mary Anne thinking? And what clever plans are her grandparents hatching?

 I truly enjoyed this book.  I did notice that this is not old order Amish, but it was enjoyable.  You get to feel for Mary Anne.  You understand why she left Jethro, but the elders were none too happy about it.  Her family stood with her and they all were camping in the woods behind the house.  What was most enjoyable was when Jethro began to understand why she left and started to court her again.  A truly enjoyable romance.

Jennifer Beckstrand

Jennifer Beckstrand is the RITA nominated and award-winning author of the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill and The Honeybee Sisters series, as well as a number of novellas. Novels in her Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series have been RITA® Award and RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award finalists. Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for inspirational fiction and Huckleberry Hearts was named a Booklist Top 10 Inspirational Fiction Book of the Year. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people. She and her husband have been married for thirty-four years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and six adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

 

I was given a complimentary copy of this ebook for this review from NetGalley.

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THE ROAD HOME

18 05 2018

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Grieving the death of her Amish parents and the separation from her nine close-knit siblings, Lena Rose Schwartz consoles herself that her new life in Lancaster County won’t be forever. Surely someday soon she will return to her beloved Michigan settlement, including her beau. But even as she holds on to hope for a reunion with those she loves most, she discovers that Lancaster holds charms of its own. Will she find the courage to open her heart to other possibilities?

I loved this book!  It was very difficult to put down.  I felt for Lena – having to leave the only home she knew in Michigan and go to Pennsylvania to family she didn’t even know.  The sorrow of her parents dying in an accident and leaving all her siblings and her beau – I can’t even imagine it.  By the end of the book, I was in tears of joy.  You got to feel as if Lena Rose was your friend.  What was especially good, was how she learned to completely trust in God and step out of His way.  That is something we all have to deal with.

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Beverly Lewis was born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country and she has more than 17 million books in print. Her stories have been published in 12 languages and have regularly appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today. Beverly and her husband, David, live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, making music, and spending time with their family.

 I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for this review.





THE AMISH QUILTER

20 04 2018

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Linda Mueller lives an orderly, uneventful existence, content to divide her time between creating the beautiful quilts for which she is known and working at an Englisch fabric shop.

Idealistic to a fault, Linda has never found a man worth marrying—until she meets Isaac Mast, a newcomer to Lancaster County and a talented painter. As they bond over their respective crafts, Linda is drawn to Isaac’s kind ways, humble spirit, and intriguing personality, and soon the seams of her carefully-constructed world begin to loosen.

With Isaac’s help, she explores the story of her late grandmother, also a gifted artist. But when an astonishing truth comes to light, Linda faces a grave decision, one that could destroy any hope of a future with Isaac. Will their dreams of a life together completely unravel? Or can she find some way to stitch them back together again?

 I really got caught up in this book about Linda and Isaac.  It is a mystery/romance, which happens to be some of my favorites.  I wanted to tell and shake her to get rid of her idealism about “the perfect man” for a husband.  The Knight in Shining Armor is only in fairy tales.  But it takes going through the mystery of finding her grandmother was a twin and getting to know the whole background of that side of the family that no-one knew about.  Through that, everyone’s lives got changed – and for the better.

 The Amish Quilter is a joint effort of two authors:  Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould.

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Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 30 books, both fiction and nonfiction, and has received numerous literary honors, including two Christy Awards and RT Book Reviews 2012 Career Achievement Award. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

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Leslie Gould is the best-selling and award-winning author of thirty novels. She loves traveling, research, Shakespeare’s plays, and church history. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon and are the parents of four children.

 I was given an ebook copy of this book by NetGalley for this review.

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