Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF LYDIA'S BONNET BY LILLIAN STOLTZFUS

Normally all the books that I review are for adults or at least teens, but I was recently asked to read and review Lydia's Bonnet (Eckschank Publishing) written by Lillian Stoltzfus.  This is a book for children and contains a lovely story with a lesson.  It is not heavy handed but beautifully written and is a perfect book for children or grandchildren to learn about and be introduced to the Amish lifestyle.  

Lydia's Bonnet is filled with beautiful pictures and there is a story behind those wonderful photographs!  The author, Lillian Stoltzfus has written about her mother, Lydia, and has used Lydia's own grandchildren, dressed in typical Amish clothing, as the models in the photographs to act out the story.  There are all kinds of fun facts about the Amish plus the photos also include shots of Lydia's real Amish home.

In the story, Lydia becomes jealous of her cousin's new bonnet, which is clean and smooth, with shiny new ribbons.  Lydia feels like her bonnet is ugly and shabby.  The cousins conspire to stomp on Lydia's bonnet to make it even uglier so Lydia's mother will make her a new one.

Well you know this is not going to go over too well with Lydia's mother.  Her mom finds out what actually happened to the bonnet and comes up with an appropriate punishment.

The book is nicely put together and would be such a lovely gift for any of the young people in your life.  Lydia's Bonnet is available on Amazon as either a paperback or Kindle edition.  This is definitely a book that I am putting aside for any future grandchildren in my life!  Lydia's Bonnet was published December 5, 2015.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF THE FORGOTTEN RECIPE BY AMY CLIPSTON



The Forgotten Recipe (Zondervan) by Amy Clipston begins a new series called Amish Heirloom.  Oh readers, this is a delicious novel.  I was entranced by the writing and characters from page one until the end.  The epilogue is not to be missed!  Amy’s writing is so exquisite, she is able to create characters that leap off the pages and become fast friends with you.

The story begins with Amish maedel, Veronica Fisher, losing her fiancé Seth in a terrible workplace accident.  Veronica is beside herself with grief and deep sadness for the loss of the life she had thought she would have with her long time love, Seth.  Veronica finds an old recipe in the attic for raspberry pie and begins a home based business selling these delicious raspberry pies.

Meanwhile, Jason Huyard is also suffering from the loss of Seth.  Jason was Seth’s best friend at work and should have been with Seth when he fell at work.  Jason is haunted by the memories he has of Seth and their conversations.  Quite unexpectedly, Jason finds Veronica’s pie stand and falls head over heels in love with her.  But his love is tainted by his inability to tell Veronica that he knows and grieves for Seth too.  But how can a relationship survive when it is built on a secret?

The author’s strong writing style and characterizations drive this novel to new heights of excellence in the Amish genre.  Readers will love getting to know Jason, his basic decency, and all his all too human failings.  His parents and younger brother Stephen are likewise very relatable.  Another plus are the numerous delightful food descriptions of pies, cookies, and cakes.  By the end of this book, you too will be craving a slice or maybe even the whole sweet raspberry pie.

This first book in the new Amish Heirloom series sets up volume two.  There seems to be a thread woven throughout The Forgotten Recipe that will lead to the next installment, The Courtship Basket which should be out summer of 2016.  After reading The Forgotten Recipe, I can’t wait for Amy Clipston’s next book.  She is, without a doubt, one of the top quality authors of Amish romance and fiction.  The Forgotten Recipe will be published December 8, 2015.


Monday, October 19, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF AMISH CHRISTMAS AT NORTH STAR BY CINDY WOODSMALL, MINDY STARNS CLARK, EMILY CLARK, AMANDA FLOWER AND KATIE GANSHERT



Amish Christmas at North Star (WaterBrook Press) is a collection of four stories of love and family with a Christmastime setting in North Star, Pennsylvania.  This collection of stories was entrancing.  As I read each one, I would think, surely this is the best story of the group, but each story was unique and wonderful.  Quite literally I believe Amish Christmas at North Star may be the perfect Christmas companion.  Settle in on a chilly December day with a warm afghan, creamy hot cocoa, and this book.  Pure bliss!

The characters of these four stories come from the lives of Rebekah’s Babies.  Twenty five years ago, three baby girls and one baby boy were all delivered on the same cold and snowy winter night by Amish midwife, Rebekah Schlabach.  An old newspaper clipping of the four births is found by a young Englisher, Chase Wellington, who decides it is time to write a follow up story on the four, Anna, Eden, Savilla, and Andy.

Katie Ganshert writes the story of the baby named Anna.  No one knows where baby Anna was taken twenty five years ago.  Anna’s mother, Ruth, took Anna from Rebekah’s home before her husband or parents could come for her and Anna.  Chase is determined to find Anna and discover why she and her mother disappeared twenty five years ago.  Neither Chase nor Anna is prepared for what is uncovered.

Eden’s story is told by Amanda Flower.  Her story is one of mystery and romance.  An elderly Amish man, Isaac, who befriended Eden has died in a horrible accident or is it an accident?  Eden is looking for clues when she meets Isaac’s great nephew, Jesse.  Could Jesse have caused his uncle’s death or is he the genuine nice guy he seems to be?

Cindy Woodsmall deals with a sensitive topic in telling Savilla’s story.  Savilla has broken up with her long-time boyfriend, Kore, after she receives some devastating news.  She won’t tell Kore why they are through and he is furious.  Both Saville and Kore are thrown together to save another family and in turn receive God’s blessings above all that they could ask or think about.

And the last novella is the story of Andy written by Mindy Starns Clark and her daughter, Emily Clark.  This is a powerful tale of forgiveness and I must tell you, this one made me cry, but they were good tears!  Andy has moved to Mississippi to try to get over his breakup with his girl, Nellie.  Nellie had left the Amish community of North Star to turn English but she had a change of heart and came back after three months.  Andy feels he can’t trust Nellie ever again.  Andy’s younger brother Sam is determined to get Andy back home and back in the arms of Nellie.  How can twelve year old Sam manage all of that?


This is a power packed book, one not to be missed.  Each story is a delight and there is a sweet epilogue at the end of the fourth story to wrap everything up with a big red bow.  Amish Christmas at North Star will be available on October 20, 2015.  Get your order ready as this is one you will read over and over.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF GATHER AROUND THE AMISH TABLE BY LUCY LEID


It was with great excitement that I cracked the cover of Gather Around the Amish Table (Herald Press) by Lucy Leid.  I enjoy cooking and an Amish cookbook is exactly perfect in my eyes.  This cookbook will not disappoint cooks or those who enjoy reading about the Amish!

The book is separated into sections on:
  • breakfast, 
  • breads and spreads, 
  • soups, sandwiches, and pizza, 
  • salads and pickles, 
  • vegetables and side dishes, 
  • meats and main dishes, 
  • cakes and pies, 
  • cookies, 
  • desserts and candy, 
  • snacks, beverages, and extras.  
The photography is beautiful.  There are photos of the recipes as well as lovely Amish scenes.  Lucy gives kitchen tips throughout the book, such as, “Just after removing homemade bread from the oven, cover the loaf in the pan with a tea towel for about 10 minutes.  The bread will then slip easily out of the pan.”  Little tips and words of wisdom are sprinkled liberally throughout the book.

Cooks will like that Lucy includes three different pie crust recipes; one does not even require you to roll the dough out with a rolling pin, the Oatmeal Pie Crust.  The difficulty level of each recipe varies.  There are plenty of simple recipes and then there are the five different doughnut recipes that intimidate me but look absolutely delicious!  I always get nervous when using yeast for some reason.

Most of the recipes start out with a little introduction of a story behind the recipe such as where the recipe came from, who they served it to, or at what time in their life they first made the recipe.  This makes the book so much more than just a cookbook.  Each recipe is a small peek inside the home of an Amish friend.


I highly recommend this charming cookbook to all who enjoy cooking as well as those who care for the Amish.  These are all tested recipes, sure to please your family and friends.  Personally I have found dozens that I want to try on my family and to give as gifts.  This is a book that will be reached for many times during the year.  Gather Around the Amish Table was published September 1, 2015.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF BALM OF GILEAD BY ADINA SENFT


Adina Senft has once again produced a simply sweet and engaging Amish romance novel, filled with twists and turns, enjoyable beyond compare with her new novel, Balm of Gilead (Faith Words).  The title, Balm of Gilead, refers to a species of poplar tree with fragrant, sticky buds that are used as a salve for certain skin conditions.  This is the third book in the Healing Grace series.  Characters from the prior two novels reappear in Balm of Gilead yet the book reads fine as a stand-alone novel but readers are strongly urged to read Adina’s two previous novels in this series, The Wounded Heart and Herb of Grace.

Reading this novel is an intoxicating experience as readers are pulled into the Amish experience of neighborliness, forgiveness, and Godliness.  The food descriptions will delight even the most talented cooks.  And the romance will surprise, confound, and in the end, gratify readers.

Adina Senft has done a beautiful job with character development as she tells the tale of widowed Sarah Yoder and longtime friend Henry Byler.  Henry grew up Amish but never was baptized.  He left the Amish to work among the English creating pottery pieces.  Currently he is engaged to an English woman, Ginny, who owns and runs the local inn, Rose Arbor Inn.  Henry’s hands are cracked and bleeding when he is creating his pottery pieces and he needs Sarah’s expertise with herbs for a remedy.  It is bittersweet for Sarah to spend time with Henry as she loves him but realizes he is off limits.  Henry is no longer Amish and belongs to another woman.  Adina does a fantastic job engaging the reader in the agonizing longing of a woman for a man.

Additionally, Balm of Gilead has several thought-provoking and topical side stories interspersed within its 294 pages.  All in all, readers will find the book eminently readable and inspiring in its strong Christian content.  Balm of Gilead was published July 21, 2015.




Monday, June 8, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF SECOND CHANCES BY SARAH PRICE


Once again Sarah Price brings to life a classic novel, this time Persuasion with an Amish retelling in Second Chances (Realm).  Second Chances is part of Sarah’s Amish Classic Series.  It is clever, entertaining, and filled with moral lessons that readers will find hopeful and helpful. 

The cast of characters could not be any more compelling.  Readers should expect that they may not get any work done until the book is finished; it is just too difficult to put the book down.  Our main character, Anna, is a 25 year old single Amish woman who doesn’t have the strength to stand up to the decisions made by others on her behalf.  She loses the love of her life as a result. 

So when is a persuadable mind a good thing?  When would it be a bad thing?  Is Anna too submissive and obedient for her own good?  Will Anna ever be able to stand up for what is good and right for herself or will she always be persuaded to do what others want to her own detriment?


Sarah Prices writes interesting characters that readers will be rooting for and against. At first readers may feel they know who the good characters and bad characters are, but it may not turn out to be that simple.  Sometimes things are not as they seem.  But in the beautifully written ending, even the villains prove to have a decent side.  Second Chances was published on June 2, 2015.

Monday, June 1, 2015

THE BEST MOTHER'S DAY PRESENT EVER!

The Carlisle Country Inn in Berlin, Ohio


For Mother's Day this year, my daughter Jillian and our son-in-law Ryan gave me the gift of a family overnight stay in Holmes County, Ohio.  As many of you already know, Holmes County is home to one of the largest populations of Amish families.
Here I am smelling the flowers at the Carlisle Country Inn.

Jillian knows of course how much I enjoy learning about the Amish so this gift was perfect but in addition, she gave me the gift of her time which is priceless.  Jillian is 27 years old and newly married.  She works over 40 hours a week plus has a house to care for so her time is precious.  I love you sweetheart and am so grateful for your Mother's Day gift.
Jillian and our son-in-law Ryan at lunch at Der Bake Oven in Berlin, Ohio.

So this past weekend was our trip to Holmes County.  All four of us (me, husband Ron, Jillian, and Ryan) set off from northern Cincinnati at 8:30 am on Saturday and drove north to Holmes County.  Drive time was about 3 hours and 30 minutes but it was fun talking about where we would eat and shop.  The time past quickly.

We drove straight to the Carlisle Country Inn in Berlin, Ohio.  I can not recommend this place enough.  There are only seven rooms to rent but this place is first class.  Our room was gorgeous with beautiful views and a huge bathroom that had both a Jacuzzi and separate shower.  Our daughter and son-in-law had an extremely nice and well appointed room as well.  Even though it was several hours before check in time, our host, Amy welcomed us warmly.

My lunch was a warm ham & swiss sandwich on a homemade roll and warm German potato salad, so good!

After we dropped our suitcases we went to the main strip in Berlin and found our lunch spot, Der Bake Oven Bakery and Cafe.  You must eat there if you are ever in Berlin.  This was the best lunch I think I have ever eaten.  I will be asking for their recipe for German Potato Salad, it was the best ever!  We all enjoyed our lunches and vowed to return.

We were looking for Amish made items only.

Next we hit the streets and went into shop after shop.  Now you need to be careful because not everything and every shop is Amish owned.  I saw many things with made in India labels.  Nothing wrong with that but I only wanted Amish souvenirs.  After a couple of hours of shopping we went back to the Carlisle Country Inn and rested up for dinner.

The Farmstead is known for it's delicious and filling buffet.

Dinner was at the Farmstead.  They have a huge buffet or you can order off their menu.  As we were eating a large Amish family came in and sat at the table next to us.  Mom, Dad, five sons and two daughters and they were as cute as could be.  What was funny was that the youngest four kept staring at us as we tried so hard not to stare at them.  The youngest boy had the most beautiful blue eyes and his baby sister waved bye-bye to us.  

Meanwhile we ate some delicious food at the Farmstead.  The roast beef was so tender, the fried chicken was piping hot, the mashed potatoes creamy and good, and I especially liked the chicken stuffing.  So after eating all of that and having a big lunch, we could hardly try dessert, but we knew we had to, after all my readers would be left wondering how good are the desserts!  Just as I arrived at the buffet station with the desserts, the buffet attendant brought out a huge tray of homemade cookies.  Talk about good timing!  On the tray were whoopee pies, molasses cookies, maple sandwich cookies, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter chocolate, and spice cookies.  There is nothing I love more than a good homemade cookie so I was thrilled.

How peaceful and lovely is this view from the side of the Carlisle Country Inn?

We then went back to the Carlisle Country Inn and sat outside on the wraparound porch in the rocking chairs.  There was a working farm next door and the horses and cows were out to pasture.  We enjoyed watching them and also a thunderstorm that was out in the distance.  

After an hour or so, the rain started so we came inside to the living room and decided to play a game, Apples to Apples that the Inn supplied.  Well, a game that was to take a half an hour lasted for a couple of hours.  We had so much fun playing this game, laughing at the dumb things we did in the game.  Meanwhile, Amy from the Inn had put out a stunning plate of homemade cookies.  We were so stuffed yet the cookies looked so good, my daughter and I each had one.  Delicious is all I can say.

We then went to our rooms for the night and slept so peacefully for the night.  Sunday morning we had a wonderful home cooked breakfast at the Inn, sausage patties, fancy scrambled eggs, thick cut toast, two kinds of coffeecake, and a fruit compote.  What a wonderful way to end our stay and begin our journey home.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF THE PROPOSAL AT SIESTA KEY BY SHELLEY SHEPARD GRAY


Shelley Shepard Gray wowed Amish fiction readers with Book One in the series Amish Brides of Pinecraft, The Promise of Palm Grove.  Book Two in the series, The Proposal at Siesta Key (Avon Inspire) is even better.  Readers will applaud the plot, interesting characters, and inspiration that Shelley puts into this book.

The plot reveals controlling parents that do not want to allow their adult children to be adults and make decisions and choices for themselves.  Twenty four year old Penny is slowly being suffocated under the watchful eyes of her parents.  Her parents justify their domineering ways due to Penny’s older sister being murdered years ago when the family lived in Ohio.  Twelve years later and they still question Penny’s every move and limit her freedom.  Penny is determined to break free, be able to go out to gatherings with other young people, and get a job.

Penny decides to go to a gathering to hear a missionary family, the Knoxx Family, speak in Pinecraft Park, against her parent’s wishes.  She is inspired by the main speaker, Michael Knoxx.  Michael’s testimony always told of his bicycle accident in the mountains of Colorado and falling twenty feet into a narrow ravine.  He had waited twenty-four hours to be found.  He had badly injured his leg and only his will to live and faith in God kept him alive.  He ended up losing the lower part of his right leg.  His family told him that his celebrity status was his cross to bear.  All Michael wants is to stop traveling and to have a normal life but he doesn’t see how that can happen when his whole family depends on him to speak to the crowds.

After the gathering in Pinecraft, Florida, Michael’s leg is hurting worse than ever.  Penny finds him leaning against a fence, praying the shooting pain will dull.  Michael rebuffs her offers to help him, but just a few days later, Penny ends up getting a job being his part time caretaker at the Orange Blossom Inn as Michael recovers from another surgery on his leg.  Michael’s family has gone onto the next stop on their tour to honor their commitments, but to Michael’s despair, his family expects him to join them as soon as he recovers. 

Michael suggests a proposal to Penny.  Michael suggests to Penny that they start learning to embrace each hour, each day; they promise to cherish each moment in their lives and to live life to the fullest. Can Penny and Michael break the chains that bind them to their over-protective parents?  Will they be able to lead their own lives and have a normal relationship with their families?   


This beautifully written book holds many surprises, character growth, and inspiration for all readers.  The Proposal at Siesta Key was published May 12, 2015.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF WHEN GRACE SINGS BY KIM VOGEL SAWYER


Kim Vogel Sawyer has delivered an excellent follow up to When Mercy Rains in The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy with the publication of When Grace Sings (Waterbrook Press).  It is the perfect continuation of the Zimmerman Family story, yet, When Grace Sings can stand alone on its own with no problem.  It takes a mighty fine author to achieve that level of clarity within each volume of a series.  However, readers would be well served by reading Book One, When Mercy Rains, since it is also one of the finest inspirational Amish novels.

The story opens with Briley Forrester, a mid-20’s journalist working for Chicago’s Real Scoop tabloid newspaper, getting his assignment to go live among the Amish.  Briley is to disprove the idea that Plain living brings peace and joy and show examples of discontent with their simple existence.  If he can come up with a compelling story, his story will make the front page of the Real Scoop, which is what Briley really craves.  He wants the recognition and praise that a front page story will bring.

Briley will stay two to three months in The Grace Notes Bed & Breakfast in Arborville, Kansas, a Mennonite and Amish community.  The Grace Notes B & B is run by Alexa Zimmerman, but is owned by her Grandmother.  Briley immediately starts flirting with Alexa when he arrives at the B & B, but Alexa quickly sets him straight and puts him in his place.

Another young man, Steven Brungardt from Sommerfeld, Kansas, is visiting at the B & B.  He’s about to marry Grandmother Zimmerman’s niece, Anna-Grace.  Steven has just been gifted a wonderful farm and a fixer-upper home in Arborville from his parents.  Everyone thought that Steven and Anna-Grace had it made to be able to start off with a paid off home and lots of acreage to farm.  Everyone but Steven is happy.  Steven is despondent with his future.  He is holding in a secret.

Steven’s fiancé Anna-Grace travels to Arborville to help Steven fix up and decorate their new home. Anna-Grace is a sweet Mennonite girl, the oldest child of her adoptive parents.  Anna-Grace is unsure about moving away from her family and all that is familiar to her in Sommerfeld.  Steven assures her that if she is unhappy in Arborville, he will sell the farm and they can resettle elsewhere.

There are so many problems, questions, and secrets to resolve in Arborville plus a nosey tabloid reporter butting in to hopefully find a scandal.  Thankfully Kim Vogel Sawyer is an excellent author who keeps the story fresh and eminently readable.  The book is first-rate, well told, and filled with the message to trust in the Lord.  When Grace Sings was published on March 17, 2015.



Monday, May 18, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF HUCKLEBERRY HARVEST BY JENNIFER BECKSTRAND


Just when Amish fiction readers think Jennifer Beckstrand could not possibly top her last Huckleberry Hill series book, Jennifer writes Huckleberry Harvest (Zebra Books) and proves readers wrong.  Huckleberry Harvest just may be the best book written by Jennifer Beckstrand so far.  Yes, it is simply that good.  This book is filled with humor, romance, Grandma Anna’s crazy cooking, and Grandpa Felty’s quiet wisdom in matchmaking.  This is book five in the Huckleberry Hill series.  Each book in the series definitely stands on its own, and each book is worth reading, for sure and for certain.  Please keep writing Jennifer Beckstrand!

The story begins with Anna and Felty’s granddaughter, Mandy, who lives in Ohio, coming to Huckleberry Hill to visit them and her friend, Kristina.  Right away, Kristina wants Mandy to go to Kristina’s ex-boyfriend, Noah Mischler’s house, to yell at him for breaking off their relationship.  That conversation doesn’t go too well when Noah tells Mandy she doesn’t know anything and shows no remorse for leading Kristina on in the relationship.

Grandpa Felty hired Noah Mischler to help repair some odds and ends around the house so Mandy has to put up with Noah hanging around every day.  Surprisingly, as rude as Noah was to Mandy previously, he now couldn’t be nicer or more polite.  Plus Noah is one of the most handsome men that Mandy has ever met.  What Mandy doesn’t know is that Noah is hiding a secret.

Meanwhile, Anna and Felty have rounded up all the eligible bachelors in the area to parade in front of Mandy.  Anna has knit a potholder for each bachelor and gives each a piece of pie that Mandy has made.  Mandy could not be less interested in any of the men.  Of course, Anna is not deterred, she just went out and got more bachelors.  Anna will not stop until she makes a successful match for her granddaughter, Mandy, and somehow, Anna gets Mandy set up on dates with numerous young men.

Huckleberry Harvest is just plain fun.  Jennifer writes convincingly of the antics of Grandma Anna.  Every young person should have grandparents like Anna and Felty:  caring, funny, a little crazy, and always in your corner.  This book also deals with addiction and abuse in a sensitive and compassionate manner.  There is no situation too big for God to help us handle.  Huckleberry Harvest will be published May 26, 2015.



Monday, May 11, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF CALLED TO BE AMISH BY MARLENE C. MILLER


Author Marlene C. Miller gives readers a look into the daily lives of her Amish family in this nonfiction book, Called to Be Amish (Herald Press).  This book is perfect for those who idolize the Amish way of life or those who may have wondered, “Could I ever live as the Amish do?”  Realizing that this is only one Amish family’s story, it still was ultimately eye-opening as to the extreme work ethic and sacrifice it takes to be Amish.

Marlene was born into a dysfunctional Englisher family.  As a child, her grandmother took her to church since her mother felt church was only for old people and children.  There was a lot of fighting, yelling, infidelity, and drinking by Marlene’s parents.  She did, however, enjoy many extracurricular activities in high school such as music, band, cheerleading, and being a majorette.

 As a teenager, Marlene started to date an Amish boy, Johnny, that she met ice skating.  After going together for three years, they got engaged at her high school graduation in June, 1962.  By the winter, Marlene was pregnant and no wedding date had been set.  Johnny was having second thoughts about marrying an Englisher.  He realized he didn’t want to leave his Amish faith behind.  But Johnny finally agreed to marry Marlene April 20, 1963.

By the fall, in October, 1963, Marlene realized she wanted to become Amish.  This started the beginning of a long, arduous process of proving herself before she could become an accepted, baptized member of the Amish faith.

When Marlene wrote of her children and their lives, the immense hardship, poverty, and daily exhaustion was almost overwhelming.  She had ten children in thirteen years.  So many children to cook and do laundry for, clean up after, and keep track of while she also tried to keep up on her garden, canning, and farm chores.  Marlene revealed the numerous injuries, accidents, poisonings, and hospitalizations her children endured during their growing up years, and it was simply heartbreaking.

There is a reason why so few Englishers ever successfully convert to the Amish faith.  Marlene capably pulls back the curtain into her Amish household and reveals the truth and the hardships behind the lifestyle of the Amish.  Readers are sure to be amazed by this insightful and inspirational book by Marlene C. Miller.  Called to Be Amish was published February 9, 2015.


Friday, May 8, 2015

A VISIT WITH THE ADAMS COUNTY OHIO AMISH

 What a fun day I had traveling to Adams County, Ohio with two of my sisters, Janet and Bonnie.  Our first stop was Miller's Bulk Food, Bakery and Furniture.  The picture above shows beautiful designs for the side of your barn.  They measure four foot by four foot - really huge and priced at $189.


Here is what was left at the bakery by the time we got there, around 11:30 am.  I'm telling you, this bakery smelled so delicious! 
 Everything in the Miller Bakery looked yummy, especially these turnovers.
 These donuts were as big as my head!  For comparison purposes, see the cream horns below the donuts?  Those were good sized cream horns and they look dwarfed by the gigantic glazed donuts.
 And of course here are the Whoopie Pies, Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Icing!  I purchased one for my husband.  He enjoyed getting a treat, especially since it was his first time trying a Whoopie Pie.

 This is the very generous sized homemade pretzels and in the lower right hand side of the picture are Miller's Fry Pies.  There was a very sweet and pretty young Amish girl taking care of customers.  She was a delight and had no problem with me photographing the bakery products.

Here are two of my sisters, Janet to the left and Bonnie to the right.  Our oldest sister, Lois, had to work and could not come on this adventure.  Janet and Bonnie are posing outside Miller's Bakery.  Behind them is a smaller version of the designs for barn walls.

 And here I am posing beside the Bakery.

Miller's provides hitching posts for those who come by horse and buggy.  To the left, outside the view of this picture, are the grazing animals.  On the day we were there, the animals closest to the fence were about five or six goats.

When traveling in Adams County, Ohio, don't be surprised to see that you are sharing the road with a horse and buggy.  You need to keep your speed down on these roads and be very cautious when passing a horse and buggy so that you don't spook the horse.

This is Keim's.  Notice all the solar panels on the roof?  Keim's has a bakery, deli, bulk foods area, and furniture.

Here is the canned foods aisle.  They have a huge variety of items to choose from.

They have a large selection of baking items.  

And that was a peek into our day.  Let me tell you, if I wasn't on a budget and a diet, I could have spent and eaten quite a bit.  We had lunch at a cute little diner called "Cruiser's Diner" in Seaman, Ohio.  I highly recommend the Grilled Chicken Salad, it was extremely good and the chicken was grilled just the way I like.  It was truly a wonderful way to spend a day with my sisters!

Monday, May 4, 2015

UPCOMING TRIP TO AMISH SHOPS IN ADAMS COUNTY, OHIO



I just wanted to let you all know that today, Monday, May 4th, I am taking a day trip to Adams County, Ohio with two of my sisters.  I will try to get a post up in the next day or two to let you know everything we saw, ate, and bought with plenty of pictures too.  

Also, next Monday, May 11th, I have an incredible book review of Called to Be Amish by Marlene C. Miller.  Marlene is an Englisher turned Amish and she wrote a autobiography of her life as an Amish wife and mother.  Please read this review and read the book.  I was amazed by the reality of her life and all the hardships she went through.  Believe me this book is incredible.  

All the best to my faithful readers and I will be posting more recipes soon as well.

Blessings to you all,
Gloria

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF THE SECRET VOICE BY BOB NAILOR



The Secret Voice (Shadow Street Press) by Bob Nailor is not a typical Amish romance novel.  This novel gives a historical view of early 1960’s Amish family life as well as the beginnings of the integration of an African American Chorus teacher in an all-white rural upstate Ohio high school.  The author skillfully weaves in the topical news of the early 1960’s, giving the reader an in-depth view of the times.  The Secret Voice is Book One in the new series by Bob Nailor entitled The Amish Voice.

The story begins in July, 1961 as the school board, on a close vote, has hired the first African American teacher, Julie Bronson, for the high school to teach Chorus.  Julie is offered a small trailer to rent since there would be no other rental opportunities for her in town due to her race.  Readers should be aware that crude and ugly language, typical for the 1960’s, is used throughout the book.

The protagonist, Daniel, is a 14 year old Amish boy who wants to continue his education beyond the eighth grade which is the time that Amish children stop attending school.  Daniel asks and receives his father’s and the Amish community’s bishop’s permission to enter high school.

Daniel begins his freshman year in high school knowing his father and the bishop have forbidden him to take General Science so Daniel has his Science class changed to Chorus.  As Julie Bronson listens to Daniel sing, she realizes what an extraordinary gift he has.  However, will it be possible for Daniel to convince his father and the bishop that he isn’t turning English with all this education and singing he is doing?  Will Daniel be able to compete in the state singing competition?

The author gives Daniel some romantic scenes as well.  He is confused between his attraction to a pretty English school friend, Molly, and an Amish girl, Ruth, that is attracted to him.  These scenes are well written and appropriately convey the angst of the early teen years.  The Secret Voice is an excellent new entrée in the Amish fiction genre.  It was published April 8, 2015 and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.



Monday, April 27, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF AMISH PROMISES BY LESLIE GOULD



Leslie Gould has begun an excellent new series.  Neighbors of Lancaster County, and Book One in the series, Amish Promises (Bethany House) more than lives up to the high standards readers have come to expect from Leslie.  She has penned a most interesting tale that will keep readers guessing until the end.  The characters are so well written that readers can’t help but care how their lives will turn out.

Englishers, Shani and Joel Beck and their twelve year old son, Zane, move into a home in Lancaster County.  Shani is hoping the move to this quiet county will help her husband recover from the war wounds he received in Iraq.  Besides serious leg wounds, Joel also suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  He has become withdrawn from both Shani and Zane and spends most of his time sitting in the dark watching television.

Right next door to the Becks live an Amish family headed by Tim Lehman, a widower, and his five children plus Tim’s sister, Eve, who takes care of the children and household.  Tim is a bitter, controlling man who is not happy that Englishers have moved next door and seem to constantly be in his home.  Eve and Shani have become fast friends and Zane is always over to play with Tim’s children.  Tim is constantly trying to eliminate the influence of the Englishers over his family.

The Amish bishop for the community is also a widower and has let it be known he is interested in Eve.  He is a kindly, decent man, although somewhat older than Eve.  Around the same time, Charlie, an Army friend of Joel’s comes to visit and is quite taken with Eve.  Eve, against her better judgement, is interested in Charlie too.  Tim is very emphatic that Eve is not to see Charlie ever.  Nothing good can come from an Amish girl and an Englisher boy having a friendship according to Tim.  Who will win Eve’s heart, the good natured Amish bishop or the Charlie, the ex-military Englisher?


This book is so enjoyable and readable.  It does deal with the emotional turmoil that serving during war time entails.  Also of note is the reminder that although neighbors are of different religions and beliefs, there is so much more that people share and have in common.  The timely message of “love your neighbor as you would love yourself” comes shining through.  Leslie Gould’s writing is very entertaining and uplifting.  Amish Promises will be published on May 5, 2015.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF AN AMISH MAN ON ICE MOUNTAIN BY KELLY LONG


Readers looking for an Amish romance novel with adult content will be thrilled by An Amish Man of Ice Mountain (Kensington Publishing) by Kelly Long.  Kelly has long been a favorite author of Amish fiction.  Her stories are different, with twists and turns to keep her readers interested.  This story does contain explicit sexual scenes as well as story lines involving domestic violence and sexual abuse by an adult woman and an underage male.  Readers should be aware of this as you cannot judge this book by its cover.  Having said that, the book is captivating, filled with adventure, challenges, and the good people of Ice Mountain.  An Amish Man of Ice Mountain is book two in the Ice Mountain series, but stands alone without reading book one, The Bride of Ice Mountain, an intriguing novel.

The story begins with two Amish brothers, Joseph and Edward, working on a gas drilling rig in West Virginia.  The brothers rent a room at the Bear Claw Inn where a single Mom, Priscilla, with her five year old daughter, Hollie, have just rolled into town trying to outrun her abusive former husband.  Priscilla gets a job waiting tables at the Bear Claw Inn where she meets Joseph.

Joseph is immediately drawn to her and Hollie, but they agree to start as friends.  When they find a “Missing” poster of Priscilla and Hollie in the local hospital cafeteria, Priscilla realizes her ex-husband, Heath, is after her again.  She and Hollie are not safe any longer and must immediately move on.  Joseph volunteers to take them to his family’s home in the mountains of Appalachia.

Joseph’s family accepts Priscilla and Hollie immediately.  Even the Bishop of the Amish community is willing to accept the divorced mother and child.  That of course is not the end of the story, but only the beginning.  What follows are more adventures, romance, terror, reconciliation, and realization of God’s plans for Joseph and Priscilla.


The ending of An Amish Man of Ice Mountain nicely sets up book three in the series, The Amish Heart of Ice Mountain, coming out in November, 2015.  An Amish Man of Ice Mountain will be published April 28, 2015.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF A SIMPLE PRAYER BY AMY CLIPSTON



Readers looking for a fascinating, cannot put down Amish romance novel, please look at A Simple Prayer (Zondervan) by Amy Clipston.  A Simple Prayer is the fourth book in the highly regarded Hearts of The Lancaster Grand Hotel series.  This series features books that are loosely intertwined with some of the same characters yet each book stands on its own.  Each book is fresh and has a new storyline.

This novel is entrancing and beautifully written with the setting of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania as a backdrop.  The main characters of Linda Zook and Aaron Ebersol are written with realism and grace and wonderful character growth.  Readers will be rooting for them through all the twists and turns of their relationship as both are pleasing, God fearing characters with tragic backgrounds.  Linda was orphaned at age four and was raised by unwilling relatives.  Aaron started running with a wild crowd as a teen and left the Amish community at age 15 when he felt his parents disapproved of him.  Both feel unworthy of love and find themselves still single in their early 30’s.

After 17 years gone and making a new life in Missouri, Aaron comes back to Paradise, Pennsylvania when he hears his mother has suffered a severe stroke.  Not everyone in his family is happy to see him return.  Aaron is determined to make amends to his family and the community for his troubling behavior as a young teen before he leaves to go back to Missouri.

Aaron was not baptized in the Amish faith when he left so long ago and Linda is unsure if she should get involved with him as she is a baptized member of the church.  He feels that Linda could be the one for him but how does he know he is reading God’s plans for him correctly.  Indeed, how does anyone know that?  Painful relationships can make even a strong person want to retreat and run away.  How does one interpret what God wants us to do?  Should Aaron absorb the pain, run away, or stand up for himself?  Can Linda and Aaron resolve the religious differences between themselves?  Amy Clipston answers all these questions in a thought-provoking and realistic way.

A Simple Prayer will entrench itself in reader’s hearts, not soon to be forgotten.  Amy Clipston is a top notch writer with a five star hit in A Simple PrayerA Simple Prayer will be published May 5, 2015.



Monday, March 30, 2015

FIRST YEAR AMISHREADER STATS


It was Monday, March 24, 2014 when I first started this blog.  Here is the first blog entree on AmishReader.blogspot.com.  Over time this first blog posting has been viewed 161 times and that doesn't include me checking and rechecking that it was as good as I could make it.

In the past year my blog has had 217,887 page views.  Now I am quite proud of that, as back on Friday, March 28, 2014 I noted in my calendar that I had 25 page views that day.  I was thrilled on Monday, March 31, 2014 when I had 119 page views.  As time went on, I probably averaged about 500 visitors a week UNTIL Sunday, September 14, 2014 when all the sudden I had 1,166 page views in one day!  



So what happened on September 14?  Pinterest and the internet discovered my Best Macaroni and Cheese Ever recipe.  Every time someone clicked on my Pinterest recipe, it linked them back to my blog where it originally appeared.  And because of the time of year, the pace of page views stayed up until it peaked at 6,408 page views on Thanksgiving Day.  How exciting it was to think of all those kitchens across the world making my Macaroni and Cheese recipe for their Thanksgiving dinner!

And speaking of across the world, the internet surely does bring us all closer.  As a beginner blogger I had no idea that people from other countries would pay attention to AmishReader.blogspot.com.  But here is our Top 10 Countries by page view:

  1. United States of America
  2. Canada
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Germany
  5. Australia
  6. France
  7. Russia
  8. Ukraine
  9. Poland 
  10. Netherlands
Of course all of this activity is due to you, the Readers of this blog.  I don't know how most of you found AmishReader.blogspot.com, but I thank you for reading my offerings and commenting from time to time.  Wishing you and your families all the best.

Happy Easter,
Gloria

Monday, March 23, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF THE POSTCARD BY LAURA V. HILTON



The Postcard (Whitaker House) by Laura V. Hilton will leave readers clamoring for more.  The book will more than live up to the highest expectations.  The Postcard will be book two in The Amish of Jamesport series.  Each book stands on its own, no need to read book one prior to book two, although book one, The Snow Globe, is excellent as well.

Rachel Miller is a kind hearted young Amish woman from Jamesport, Missouri, with a penchant to reach out to sick and injured people she finds in the Budget newspaper.  She likes to send letters and postcards, and from that, she has established a pen pal relationship with several of them.  One in particular is David Lapp, originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but now residing in Seymour, Missouri.  David has been severely injured in a buggy accident while in Seymour and now needs a cane to walk.

The letters to David from Rachel are so filled with kindness, that when David thinks to leave Seymour, Missouri, he decides to head straight to Rachel in Jamesport.  When David and Rachel see one another for the first time, it is love at first sight.  Oh, but there are problems!  Rachel is promised to Obadiah who is away in Ohio for a cabinet making internship.  Then there is the problem that Rachel’s older brother, Sam, seriously does not like David to the extent that he causes all kinds of damage and trouble.  Additionally the Bishop in Jamesport calls David a “stray” and seems to always be looking over his shoulder, waiting for David to mess up.  Is there any way for the true love between Rachel and David to triumph?

The biblical verses and prayers contained within the pages are very inspirational and significant, such as when David is afraid and fearful, he remembers Psalm 56, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”  David wants to begin a men’s bible study group, which is normally frowned upon in Amish circles.  David has found the passage in the bible stating, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”  He wants to spread the message that anyone can be saved by admitting their sins and confessing that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

Laura writes some of the most delicious romantic scenes in Christian literature.  Readers can’t help but cheer on the endearing characters within the pages of The Postcard.  Laura also knows how to write a villain or two into the script.  The combination gives readers a first rate, page turning, five star hit.  The Postcard will be published April 1, 2015.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

WIN WITH HARVEST OF BLESSINGS!

You can win a $50 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble by clicking on the notice on the right side of this blog.  Charlotte Hubbard and GoddessFish are generously sponsoring this giveaway.  Once you click on the block to the right, it will open up a new page where, after registering, you will have several different and easy ways to enter the contest.  Good luck to you all!

Now here is an interesting exerpt from Harvest of Blessings:

*******************************

Nora’s hand found the inside of Luke’s elbow. His skin felt smooth and warm beneath the short sleeve of his tan cotton shirt. His eyes were the deep green of the shaded cedar trees along the road, and the intensity of his gaze unnerved her. “Um, maybe before we get to Willow Ridge, we could . . .”

“Shall I pull over?”

Nora’s breath escaped her as she nodded. She felt like a nervous girl on her first date. Her heart hammered as Luke brought his horse to a halt on the side of the road. He just kept looking at her, waiting for her to make the first move. Nora was once again impressed by Luke’s control, because even as desire danced in his eyes, his hands remained on his lap.

When she reached for him, Luke pulled her close and kissed her for several long, lovely moments. His soft sighs mingled with hers as he explored her mouth. When she eased away, Nora knew she’d followed a path from which there was no retreat. No turning back.

“Wow,” Luke murmured as he caught his breath. “Wow.”

“You got that right,” she murmured. “This is the first time I’ve ever been kissed in a buggy—which sounds odd, considering the reason Dat sent me away. But before Borntreger took what he wanted, I’d led a very sheltered, good-girl life.”

“Maybe I can re-introduce you to Plain dating,” Luke replied as he took the lines in his hands again. “The basics between a man and a woman don’t require a car or cell phones or electricity, after all.”

Nora grinned, for it seemed they had generated their own type of electricity—and it was very different from what she’d known with Tanner Landwehr.

“Will you need a ride to pick up your painted van?”

“No, the Stutzman brothers offered to deliver it, to be sure everything drives the way it should after they’ve checked it over,” she replied. “Poor planning on my part, eh?”

Luke wrapped his hand around hers as the horse clip-clopped along the blacktop again. “The best parts about getting to know someone usually don’t follow a plan. Although I’ll confess that I accomplished everything on my agenda today. And I liked it. A lot.”

Nora smiled. Who could’ve imagined that cool, self-assured Luke Hooley would admit such a thing in a way that seemed so guileless? So sweet and open.

When the mill came into view, Luke kissed her once more, gently guiding her chin with his finger. He drove her to the front door of her house, and as Nora got out of the buggy she felt so giddy she wasn’t sure what she said to him. When she entered her front room, the fabric hangings stacked on her couch reminded her that she had a million things to do to get ready for her store’s opening, but she went straight upstairs. She changed into a cape dress and pulled her hair into a bun with a kapp over it. In the bathroom, she washed off her makeup.

Grabbing the wardrobe boxes she’d used for her move to Willow Ridge, she went to her closet and quickly took out every pencil skirt, silk blouse, and pair of tailored slacks, plus all the sundresses and suits and high-dollar shoes and purses that went with them. She bagged her jewelry and colorful scarves, and yanked her tee shirts, jeans, and shorts from her dresser drawers. Waves of emotion rolled through her as she recalled the occasions when she’d worn some of this stylish clothing, but before she lost her resolve, Nora sealed the boxes shut with packing tape. She would haul this stuff to the thrift store in Morning Star as soon as her van arrived.

She felt purged. Clean. Her English wardrobe represented a life she felt good about leaving behind, even though she’d known some shining moments and had gained a world of experience that would never leave her. But it was time to move forward, even if that meant stepping back in time to the simpler life she’d known as a girl.

Nora looked in the mirror and smiled. The woman gazing back at her belonged in Willow Ridge. No matter what her father thought of her, she had come home. To stay.

*********************************
 I just swoon when I read Charlotte's writing.  Now let's learn more about our author.


Charlotte Hubbard's Bio: 
Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz Hooley, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

Seasons of the Heart, Book 5
Zebra (February 24, 2015)
ISBN-13: 9781420133097 •• ISBN-10: 1420133098
Click on these links to buy this book now!
• The Book Depository •• Amazon •• Barnes & Noble •
• B-A-M •• Chapters •• IndieBound •• Powell’s •• Kensington Books •
Ebook: • Kensington Books •• Kindle •• Kobo •• iBooks •


Monday, March 16, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF HARVEST OF BLESSINGS BY CHARLOTTE HUBBARD



Charlotte Hubbard’s Seasons of the Heart series has a delightful new addition with Harvest of Blessings (Zebra Books).  Many of the same characters that were introduced in prior books in the series are back to entertain readers as well as a few new, interesting characters as well.  For that reason, readers are recommended to read prior books in the Seasons of the Heart series before beginning Harvest of Blessings.

The story begins with former Amish Nora Landwehr, age 32, moving back to her childhood town, to try to make things right again with her family.  At age 16, Nora left in shame to live with an out of town aunt, due to being pregnant but not married.  When the baby was born, Nora left the baby girl, Millie, to be raised by her brother and sister-in-law.  Millie is now 16 years old and has no idea that Nora is her real mother.

Nora, who has lived as an Englischer the past 16 years, comes back to town in a fire red BMW convertible, wearing short shorts, and raising eyebrows.  She has many decisions and changes in life style to make.  Should she return to the Amish faith or join the more liberal Mennonite church?  How will Nora make a living in sleepy Willow Ridge, Missouri now that she spent all of her divorce settlement buying a home there?  Can her splintered family ever find the love and forgiveness needed for the togetherness she seeks?

Themes of forgiveness for ourselves as well as our enemies and others are established throughout the book.  Charlotte’s excellent use of character development from beginning to end is stellar and creates some of the most romantic scenes ever in the history of the Amish genre.  Charlotte also writes convincingly of the darker side of human nature within the storylines of Hiram Knepp and Tobias Borntreger.

Charlotte Hubbard’s beautiful, descriptive writing will draw readers into the lives of the people of the small town of Willow Ridge, Missouri, making saying goodbye at the end of the book, very difficult to do.  Harvest of Blessings was published February 24, 2015.


Monday, March 9, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF THE PROMISE OF PALM GROVE BY SHELLEY SHEPARD GRAY



Shelley Shepard Gray, one of the top authors in the Amish genre, presents a new series of fun, flirty Amish romance novels set in Pinecraft, Florida beginning with The Promise of Palm Grove (Avon Inspire).  What makes this book even more delightful is the setting in Pinecraft, a real suburb of Sarasota, Florida.  Pinecraft is the vacation spot of many Amish and Mennonites from Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.  Busses regularly transport Amish and Mennonites from up North to Pinecraft, Florida during the cold winter months.  Supposedly there is a saying among the Amish, “what happens in Pinecraft, stays in Pinecraft”.  The meaning behind the quote is that rules are much relaxed in Pinecraft and your church community up North doesn’t need to know everything that you do on vacation.

The story centers on Leona and her two girlfriends, Mattie and Sara, all in their early 20’s, who have come down to Pinecraft for a two week vacation.  Leona is to be married in a couple of months to Edmond, but doubts have been piling up in Leona’s mind.  It is always Edmond’s way, he doesn’t seem to pay any attention to what Leona wants.  Edmond is dour, demanding, and doesn’t seem to have a romantic bone in his body.  Leona feels so free to be away from Edmond for a couple weeks.

The girls meet up with three Amish young men who live in Pinecraft year round.  The guys, Zack, Danny, and Jeremy are sweet, thoughtful, and kind.  Almost immediately, Leona is attracted to Zack.   After a second chance encounter, he quickly suggests that the girls allow him to be their tour guide to Siesta Key beach.  What follows that invitation turns Leona’s world upside down.

Shelley writes charmingly of the different restaurants, shops, beaches, and area attractions in Pinecraft and the surrounding Sarasota and Siesta Key area as the girls enjoy their days and nights in Florida.  Readers will be ready to book their next winter vacation to sunny Florida after reading The Promise of Palm Grove.  The new series is titled Amish Brides of Pinecraft and this first book in the series was published January 27, 2015.


Monday, March 2, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF ANNA'S CROSSING BY SUZANNE WOODS FISHER



Anna’s Crossing (Revell) by Suzanne Woods Fisher is an amazing new offering in the Historical Amish Romance genre.  The author has meticulously studied the real 1737 crossing of a group of Amish settlers from Germany to Port Philadelphia on the Charming Nancy and writes a fictional tale with clear eyed, heartbreaking reality.  Admittedly there are passages that are difficult to read but Suzanne keeps true to the historical times and does not sugar coat the story.

Anna’s Crossing tells the tale of Anna Konig, a pretty, young Amish girl with a kind and sweet personality, who is being sent to the New World by her grandparents.  Anna hates the idea of leaving her grandparents behind but does her best to help the others on board the overcrowded, odorous lower deck of the Charming Nancy.  Conditions decline daily on the ship but Anna keeps an optimistic outlook due to her faith in God.

The ship’s carpenter, Bairn, is captivated by Anna’s beauty and uplifting personality.  Suzanne writes of their slowly entwining feelings.  The ending of the book, will leave readers with goose bumps and tears in their eyes.  Bravo, Suzanne, very well done!

Also entertaining is the story of Felix, an eight year old Amish boy also on board the Charming Nancy.  Felix is like many eight year old boys who can’t stay still, especially while being confined  in the lower deck of a ship.  All Felix wants is to be hanging around the sailors and officers and exploring the top decks of the exciting ship.  Bairn takes Felix under his wing to keep him safe while Felix runs around where he doesn’t belong.


This books is beautifully researched and written.  It keeps true to the speech of the times but is not difficult to read.  Suzanne Woods Fisher includes in her Author Notes several interesting tidbits of information regarding the actual sailing in 1737 of the Charming Nancy.  Realizing that this was a real sailing makes the book all the more thought-provoking.  Anna’s Crossing will be published March 3, 2015.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF THE BEEKEEPER'S SON BY KELLY IRVIN



Incredible writing talent by Kelly Irvin is the first thing readers will notice about The Beekeeper’s Son (Zondervan Fiction).  Kelly’s vivid descriptions of the landscape and characters engage the reader and add immensely to the reading experience.  This enchanting and absorbing novel is hard to put down and is filled with messages from the Good Word.

Widowed Abigail Lantz is moving her children from their home in Ethridge, Tennessee to a small Amish settlement in Bee County, Texas.  Abigail’s brother John and his family live there in the middle of desolation, heat, and dirt.  The Amish in Bee County don’t take care of their property like the Ethridge Amish do.  It’s no wonder that depression begins to set in for the Lantz’s.

Oldest daughter, 19 year old Deborah, is missing her special friend, Aaron, back in Tennessee but he is already moving on, much to Deborah’s despair. Deborah’s mother, Abigail is making this move to see if she and an old friend, Stephen, are compatible for marriage.  Kelly Irvin’s writing surrounding this couple is engrossing.  Readers will be in suspense waiting to see how Stephen and Abigail’s relationship turns out.

One of the Bee County families steps up to befriend Abigail and her children.  Mordecai King and his family raise bees to sell their wax and honey.  His son, Phineas King, is physically and mentally traumatized from an accident that killed his mother when he was a small child.  Now as a young adult, he keeps to himself and rarely speaks to anyone as he feels too disfigured to mix with others. 

When Phineas and Deborah meet, sparks fly but neither want to acknowledge the attraction.  Phineas doesn’t feel like anyone could ever love him since he is facially scarred.  He tries to push Deborah away at every chance he gets as he detests pity and to protect his heart from more pain.  Deborah doesn’t understand why Phineas doesn’t believe her when she tries to express her feelings and she gets discouraged.


With two romances to develop, and a few calamities thrown in, this book is very noteworthy and a real page turner.  Kelly Irvin writes with a passion for prayer and Christian values that is woven throughout the pages.  The Beekeeper’s Son is a keeper, worthy of purchase for any book collection.  The Beekeeper’s Son was published January 12, 2015.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A BOOK REVIEW OF THE AMISH CLOCKMAKER BY MINDY STARNS CLARK AND SUSAN MEISSNER



The Amish Clockmaker (Harvest House Publishers) by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner is a five star entertaining delight!  This book has it all from romance to mystery.  But not just your run of the mill romance and mystery.  Both are written in depth and in a way that is unlike any other Amish novel out there.  Readers should keep tissues handy as the end is tender and touching.

While trying to enlarge the family tack shop, Matthew Zook is told there is a parcel of land they want to build on that does not belong to the Zook family.  It turns out that former land owners Mr. and Mrs. Clayton Raber still own that parcel of land and as a result, it had not been sold to the Zooks.

Clayton Raber, a clockmaker, had a terrible temper according to the Amish in the community that remembered him.  It was thought that Clayton killed his wife back in 1955, however, although he was arrested for the murder, the charges were dropped.  Clayton left the community and Amish church after being released from jail and it seems that no one knows where he went.

Matthew Zook desperately needs to find Clayton Raber to get him to sign a quick claim deed for the land before he can continue his remodeling project on his family shop.  The book is divided into three sections, telling Matthew’s story, Clayton’s story, and the conclusion, which is divine.  Truly, the writing is so beautifully done and out of the ordinary, that it makes this Amish novel hard to put down.


Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner have been geniuses in writing this series, The Men of Lancaster County. The normal Amish novel has a female as its protagonist, but in this series, it is always a man telling the story.  The Amish Clockmaker is Book Three in the series.  All the books are fantastic but this last one, The Amish Clockmaker, is a flawless piece of literature, and a book anyone would be proud to have in their permanent library, regardless if they are a fan of Amish genre or not.  The Amish Clockmaker was published February 1, 2015.