Monday, May 25, 2015


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


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 fiancĂ© 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


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


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


 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


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,