Sunday, January 30, 2011

If you like Amish fiction, this is the book for you!!

The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall
This book is book two in the Ana’s House series. I must admit that I haven’t read the first book., I think it would have been easier to follow the characters if I had read it, however, the author does a fairly good job of acquainting the reader with them. There is a ‘cast’ of characters in the back of the book along with a glossary of Amish terms that is very helpful.

The story revolves around Lena, a young, old order Amish school teacher who is born with a large birthmark on her face. Her strength of character, support and love of her father, and her faith in God help her to overcome the stares, whispers, and jokes. She overcomes whatever feelings of insecurity she might have in all areas except in the area of marriage. She resigns herself to the possibility that no man could overlook the birthmark. In her zeal to provide the best she can for her students she oversteps her authority and runs into trouble with the school board. Amid all the trouble and turmoil, the author intersperses areas of ‘laugh out loud’ situations. Lena and her friends love to play pranks on each other, and the Christmas play is an all out hoot!

This book demonstrates that things happen to the Amish just like they do to everyone else. Stressful home situations, health issues, troubled marriages, misbehaving teenagers, mental illness, addictions and handicaps are things everyone deals with, including the Amish. Cindy Woodsmall shows that everyone in the Amish community is not happy and life isn't always simple for them but their deep rooted faith in God sees them through many difficult situations.

There were some disturbing moments in the book that took me by surprise like the murder of Lena’s friend’s wife, and the episodes of animal cruelty. These elements all work to give this book a realistic feel. The dark moments are balanced with moments of joy, friendship, love, and romance. This book will keep you interested and feeling like you’re part of the story.

Cindy Woodsmall shows that she understands the Amish and their desire to remain separate from the world. Her personal acquaintance with many old order Amish lends authenticity to her books.

When the third book of the series is published, I plan to read all three in sequence.  I can't wait!!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Press through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Amish Love book review

An Amish Love – 3 Novellas by Kelly Long, Kathleen Fuller and Beth Wiseman

I live in a part of New York State with a considerable Amish population. It’s not unusual to hear an Amish buggy rolling down the road, or see one parked on the side of the road selling baked goods. I’ve always been intrigued by our obvious differences but until I started reading Amish fiction, I never realized what our likenesses are - our love of family and our faith in God just to name a couple.

I appreciate that most of the authors who write Amish fiction try very hard to be accurate in their depiction of their characters. Many are personal friends with the Amish community and they treat their characters with respect.

Anyone who reads Christian romance fiction expects a happy ending and these stories don’t disappoint. We leave each story happy and hopeful.

The three stories in this volume are independent of the others, but overlap and are connected by characters, places and happenings.

The first story is by Kelly Long. “Marriage of the Heart”, is the story of Abby, a spunky young woman, whose has grown up without her mother and Joseph, who has been living outside the community and has just been accepted back in. Abby tricks Joseph, by lying about him, into marrying her so that she can get away from her authoritative father. However, Joseph, her new husband, turns the tables on her and declares that they will live with her father. Sparks fly! Abby wants out, Joseph wants back in, deception throws them together, love sneaks in, secrets are revealed and faith binds them together.

“What the Heart Sees” by Kathleen Fuller, is the second offering. Christopher Miller’s fiancĂ© is killed in a car accident and her friend, Ellie, is blinded. When Christopher goes against the doctrine of his Amish faith and tries to have the young Amish man, who he feels is responsible, arrested he comes under the bann and leaves to live among the English. He returns to the community desiring to be restored but struggles to forgive the young driver, Isaiah. Upon returning he discovers his sister has become engaged to Isaiah. His late finance’s best friend, Ellie, tries to encourage him to forgive and make peace, and through their friendship he discovers a stronger faith in God.

Beth Wiseman is the author of the last story. “Healing Hearts” is unusual in that the main characters are not a young couple discovering love. Rather, its about a married couple married for more than 30 years suffering from the empty nest syndrome and working to rediscover the love that they had when they were young. The husband, Naaman, has come home after leaving his family for a year. His older children are not as forgiving as his younger children and his wife struggles with trying to be the wife she feels God wants her to be and her own feelings of doubt and resentment. This is a story of forgivness and rediscovered love.

All three of these novellas have similar themes of spunky characters, comical situations, tender moments and sensitive intimacies. They are stories of love, loss, secrets, hope, courage, patience, forgiveness and a reliance on deep faith in God.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars only because I wish each story had been a longer, stand alone novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

As promised, a book review

Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner

There were many things I liked about this book. There were some things I think could have been done better. Overall, it is an interesting story of two Janes, one contemporary and one historical. Susan Meissner interweaves a fictional interpretation of the historical story of Jane Grey, Queen of England and the modern day Jane Lindsay, Manhattan wife, mother, daughter and antique store manager. The author takes extreme liberty with the historical Queen Jane, of which very little is known, and makes that part of the story very interesting. I found the current day Jane much less interesting and I wish she had developed the character more.

The gist of the story is that New York Jane finds an antique ring with a puzzling inscription and the name ‘Jane” inscribed on it and she theorizes it could have belonged to Queen Jane. We are transported through the eyes and voice of Lucy Day, a dressmaker, to 16th century England and all the political and religious upheaval of the day, and a fictional account of a young girl who seemingly has no say in the choices that are made for her. Then we are brought back to New York Jane , who it seems has also let others make decisions for her. Her husband has decided they need time apart, and she is taken completely off balance, not expecting it and trying to make sense of the situation.

Meissner’s writing style is not what I am used to so it took me a long time to get the rhythm of her style. The character development of Queen Jane was fuller, albeit mostly fictional, than the modern Jane. I wish the author had developed her character more and the character of her son, Connor. It would have been interesting to see how the decisions his parents made impacted him.

I did find it difficult to keep track of all the characters in the 16th century story, and even though there was a brief character ‘tree’ at the beginning of the book, it would have been very helpful to have a complete list and explanation of characters. I also would have liked a dictionary of 16th century terms.

All in all, after I finally got into the rhythm of Meissner’s style, I found I could not put the book down. While she couldn’t change the historical outcome of Queen Jane’s life, it was very enjoyable and intriguing to imagine what her life may have been like. Even days after reading this book, I am left wondering why there is so little know about the Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England. However, the reader is left with doubts as to the outcome of New York Jane’s life.

In the end, I think what Meissner wants the reader to come away with is that life if full of choices. It doesn’t matter where you live, what century you live in, what your circumstances are, we all have choices. Even to not make a choice, to go along with the status quo, is a choice in itself.

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to WaterBrook Press who provided me with a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Book reviews

Coming first book review.  Let me explain.....Occasionally, I will be receiving books from certain publishers, to read and review.  I do not get paid and the books are sent to me for free.  My reviews will be my honest opinions, I might like them, I might not. Whichever, I'll let you know!  Most of them will be from the Christian romantic genre because that's what I enjoy reading.  I'll tell you right now, I read for enjoyment.  I don't like to have to work to understand or follow a story, however, it has to be interesting enough to hold my interest.  Some of my favorite authors are Beth Wiseman, Cindy Woodsmall, Beverly Lewis and Lori Wick, just to name a few.  I hope, through this venture, to find many more favorites!  Stay tuned..............
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...