25 Book Reviews

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A New Book by Wanda Brunstetter- coming out in April!! Don't miss this one.

"The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club"Product Details
    By Wanda Brunstetter
I have always loved Wanda's Amish fiction but this one was the most thought provoking that she has written for a long while, in my opinion. Wanda has used her knowledge of the Amish to its greatest advantage, while bringing in Englischers to enhance her storyline. 
From her description of the book:
Amish widow Emma Yoder’s first quilt class brings the most unlikely people together. there’s Star, a young woman yearning for stability; Pan and Stuart Johnston, a struggling couple at odds in their marriage; Paul Ramirez, a young widower hoping to find solace in finishing a quilt; Jan Sweet, a rough and tough biker doing some creative community service; and Ruby Lee Williams, a preacher’s wife looking for relaxation when parish problems mount. But as these beginning quilters learn to transform scraps of material into beauty; their fragmented lives begin to take new shape with the helping hands of each other and the healing hand of God.

These unlikely characters appear to take quilting lessons from a conservative , Amish widow, to each fullfill a need they have , although they know not what it is. Unknowingly,they become part of a group that truly needs love, care and faith. Each has their own troubles, some more serious than others. and who would ever think that quilting could bring these somewhat  unappealing characters to a place in their lives where they learn that they need God. I could not imagine how Emma, the main character , could ever deal with these  people, who have no knowledge of sewing, let alone, quilting. It becomes apparent that the teaching is not needed in the craft of quilting but in that of living happily and peacefully, enjoying the companionship of others. Emma is a motherly sort who guides her little flock towards success, not only in quilting, but in their personal challenges.
Wanda has a complete surprise at the conclusion of her book, which totally shocked me. Her talent is outstanding in keeping you engrossed in the many changes in her plot and her character development.  
God uses Emma in a way that I found inspiring and amazing.!! A very different twist on Amish Fiction!! Extremely well done, a real page turner!  Loved it!!
EBook provided by NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Great New Amish Mystery

  "A Perfect Square"Product Details
By Vannetta Chapman

Vannetta has again succeeded in writing a winning Amish mystery, the second book in her series, involving a quilt shop, its owners and the community of Shipshewana , Indiana. I thought that nothing could surpass her first book, "Falling to Pieces", however, I am glad to say that I was mistaken. Each mystery is getting better than the last. This new book, "A Perfect Square" involves more than one plot line that keeps you engrossed throughout.  A murder in an Amish book???? Yes!!! And the circumstances surrounding it are certainly not what we think of as typical of Amish life. Yet, these people do have the same challenges and  problems that we have. They may have their faith and peacefulness, however they do not escape everyday life and difficulties. Vannetta is sensitive to their way of life and approaches the problems in a way suitable, yet at times, unusual for them.

The characters are well developed , so that you get to know them in a very personal way. You feel their hurts, pain and suffering. The mixture of Amish and Englischers within the story is unique. They work together to solve a crime that is disturbing to the entire community surrounding Shipshewana. A second mysterious event appears midway through the book. This was a total shock and surprise to me. Vannetta then uses her creative talents to connect the  startling events and makes it all come together.

This is definitely a page turner. Just when you think you have it figured out, the plot twists and turns once again.  What started as a story about a quilt shop, ends up being about murder , crime and the court system's injustice (that is my opinion!).  

I am eagerly waiting for the next book in this series. A totally different picture of Amish life!! Loved it !!!

Great job, Vannetta!!! Just keep writing!!

ebook was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Another Winning Book by Jerry Eicher

"Missing Your Smile"
      By Jerry Eicher

Jerry has again written another fabulous Amish novel, Book 1, of a new series, entitled "Fields of Home". "Missing Your Smile" intoduces us to the main character, Susan Hostetler, who has a falling out with her Amish boyfriend, Thomas, resulting in her leaving home, faith, family and community.  This venturesome, young lady makes her way to Asbury Park, New Jersey, where she gets a job and goes on to experiment with the English life. This novel is unique in its description of this innocent girl in strange surroundings, learning to drive a car, taking her GED test and dating the handsome, Englisher, Duane Moran. Living in an area where are there crimes, dealing with new situations, Susan is described a very courageous Amish woman, totally at odds with her background. Of course, her family is devastated by her decision to leave them.

The story has a quick and fascinating change of events, interrupting Susan's plans. A new character enters the scene - a young unwed lady, who gently leads Susan back to her home and her faith, although not aware of the importance of doing it. Will Susan reconnect with Thomas? Will she stay in the Amish community? We are left hanging  at the end of this book.

Jerry has once again used his great ability to make you part of the character's problems, challenges, fears and joys. You feel with Susan as she walks her road to finding herself.

The plot is well developed with enough variety and surprises to keep you spellbound as to what will happen next!
Myself, I am eagerly awaiting Book 2 in this series, to answer at least some of my questions remaining with me when I finished reading this book.
A great book!! Well done, Jerry! Loved it and looking forward to more in this new series.

Book provided by Harvest House Publishers and Jerry Eicher in exchange for an honest review.

A VERY different setting for an Amish novel!

"The Captive Heart"
    By Dale Cramer
This is the second Amish fiction book in Dale's series, entitled, "The Daughters of Caleb Bender", following "Paradise Valley". It continues the story of  the Bender family who have abandoned their roots in Ohio, due to what the father considers religious  persecution.  He brought his family to settle in what he considered a land of freedom in Mexico. Along with them, came a few other families, with more to follow later to form a settlement in this  place where they could worship in the way they desired, with land readily available for farming. What they did discover, was that there were many dangerous perils awaiting them.  Caleb's daughter , Miriam, was compelled to leave her intended husband, with whom she had been friends for many years. It is her hope that he will soon join them, or she would have to return to Ohio, without her family.
 In this second book of the series, the family encounters a killing disease, as they are preyed upon by bandits who act as wild animals, taking what they want, caring nothing of the damage and hurts they leave behind.The Bender family encounters unbelievable challenges. Miriam, must make the hardest choice of her life, involving a somewhat dangerous, threatening character, Domingo. Although his appearance can be somewhat frightening, Miriam sees the goodness in his heart. Will she sacrifice all she believes in to follow a man who saves her family while in danger? OR, will she go with the safety of a man  she has known for years?  Is she willing to pay the price to have him as MORE than a friend?  

This book is one that kept my attention from beginning to end. It is NOT the traditional Amish fiction!!  The plot is full of mystery, twists and turns and you never know what is going to happen next. The location of the story is one of danger and  intrigue. 
Characters become one with you. You definitely feel their fears, and challenges- AND there are many!! You are torn by what you believe the Amish faith requires and what Miriam decides to do, when in a difficult situation. This book is a page turner, from beginning to end!!! A surprising twist at the conclusion makes you want the story to go on and on and on....
Dale Cramer has done it again!! A real winner of a book!!!  Well done!!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Friday, January 6, 2012

Suzanne Woods Fisher begins a new series!!!

"The Keeper"
By Suzanne Woods Fisher

Suzanne has done it again!!  "The Keeper" is the first in this new winning series- "Stoney Ridge Seasons".  This book is no different from any of her others!!  The first chapter grabs your attention and keeps you enthralled throughout the story by making each character unique and so well described , that you become part of them.  Her character development is outstanding. You live their dreams, heartaches, fears and rejoice in their joys.

The subject matter is very different from most Amish fiction. One of her main characters is a beekeeper. I learned so much about this occupation, as it is described in detail, as the story develops.  Organ transplant is also an important part if the storyline- a very controversial subject, especially for those of the Amish faith. Your heart breaks as the plot develops . There are constantly surprises as the book progresses. Twists and turns are present !! NO sleep for this reader, until I had finished the WHOLE THING!!  

The story takes place on Windmill Farm, with Julia Lapp, and her family. Her father has had very serious health problems- with his heart. As Julia takes on more responsibility, she never gives up hope for a brighter future.  Her marriage to Paul Fisher has been planned for many years, and then comes the pulling of the heartstrings. He postpones the wedding AGAIN!  Julia blames the Bee Man , who is travelling through the Amish communities, often causing mysterious happenings- or at least is blamed for them.  

Roman, the Bee Man, loves his nomadic way of life and is quite the character. I was completely mystified by this caring individual who showed so much consideration and love for Julia and her family, particularly her ailing father. Will he give up his freedom for a new love??

Julia is completely confused by her mixed feelings of love. Who does she really love?? Is this God's plan??  Can Julia find peace and security in this change in HER plans??   I dare not give any spoilers here!! You will have to read to find the answers!!

A fantastic book, showing us that God's plan is not always what we think it is!  We have to listen and wait!! There is hope for all situations and Julia and her family show us this! 

 This is a book NOT to be missed!!

About Suzanne:
Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. She has many, many Plain relatives living in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and travels back to Pennsylvania, as well as to Ohio, a couple of times each year for research.

Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world.  In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don't have to "go Amish" to incorporate many of their principles--simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily-- into your life.

When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.
Suzanne can be found on-line at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.

Link to buy the book:
To read other reviews of The Keeper, click on Blog Tour Schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13447903)

This novel was provided by LitFuse in exchange for a review.

It's a "honey of a giveaway"!

Enter to win an iPad2 from Suzanne and connect with her on January 17th at The Keeper Facebook Party!

During the giveaway one Grand Prize winner will receive a Prize Pack valued at $600:

A brand new 16 KB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
A $25 gift certificate to iTunes
A copy of The Keeper
But wait there's more! Just click on the icon in the sidebar to enter, then on 1/17 join Suzanne for The Keeper Facebook Party! During the party Suzanne will announce the winner of the "Honey" of an iPad Giveaway and host a fun book chat and give away some fun "honey" inspired prizes - It'll be 'sweet"!

RSVP early and tell your friends!

Tell your friends on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Good luck and we hope to see you on the 17th at 5:00 PM PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST, 8:00 EST)!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Wonderful New Magazine: Recipes and Articles reflecting the Plain Life

I must say, when I subscribed to this magazine, I expected it to be good, knowing the editor's reputation - in producing cookbooks and recipes, BUT was totally shocked by the stunning photography and creative, delicious recipes that were there!! It is more than a magazine, it is a book to be on your coffee table to be perused by all who enter your home. In fact, my daughter's boyfriend picks it up and studies it every time he sits in the living room!!! And- to top it off, he realizes that he will get to taste some of these wonderful meals!!

The recipes are not only shown in outstanding photography, but they are easy to make and taste as good as they look. Trust me, I have already made several, and I am not a talented chef, by any means. Sherry has come up with prize winning treats to satisfy every palate. There are scrumptious desserts, main courses, treats and the old favorites- tomato soup and grilled cheese- with a special twist. Fantastic recipes that appeal to those of all ages!!

There are articles among the recipes that are written by the Plain People (Amish) that add a special little touch to an already outstanding magazine. They add that personal note that just adds to the attraction.

I can hardly wait for the next magazine to come out. To be honest, this will become one of my most used "cookbooks" that I own. Yahoo, Sherry!!! You have another winning publication !!!

I highly recommend that you subscribe to this magazine! All I can say is WOW!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"The Keeper" By Suzanne Woods Fisher

It's a "honey of a giveaway"!

Enter to win an iPad2 from Suzanne and connect with her on January 17th at The Keeper Facebook Party!

During the giveaway one Grand Prize winner will receive a Prize Pack valued at $600:

A brand new 16 KB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
A $25 gift certificate to iTunes
A copy of The Keeper
But wait there's more! Just click the icon on the sidebar to enter, then on 1/17 join Suzanne for The Keeper Facebook Party! During the party Suzanne will announce the winner of the "Honey" of an iPad Giveaway and host a fun book chat and give away some fun "honey" inspired prizes - It'll be 'sweet"!

RSVP early and tell your friends!

Another Fantastic Read by One of My Favorite Authors, Vannetta Chapman!

An Amish Proposal for Christmas  By Vannetta Chapman Synopsis: Her deepest Christmas wish will bring more than she imagined…in this novel by...