An Amish Market – Four Novellas

Book description:

Love Birds by Amy Clipston

While Ellie Lapp and her mother are still mourning the loss of her brother, Seth, Ellie starts working at one of the gift shops in town. Seth’s friend Lloyd is talented at carving wooden birds, but his father disapproves and expects him to take over the family farm someday. Ellie sees the beauty in Lloyd’s creations and insists Lloyd sell the birds in the gift shop where she works. As Ellie and Lloyd spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for one another, but she accidentally betrays his trust. Will she lose any hope of a future with him?

A Bid for Love by Kathleen Fuller

Every week, Hannah Lynne brings her home-churned butter to the local market. And every week Ezra stops by to purchase some. Hannah Lynne knows not to read too much into it—Ezra is a confirmed bachelor and barely even glances her way, despite any hope to the contrary. But when Ezra bids an exorbitant amount to win the quilt she had her heart set on, Hannah Lynne can’t stop her heart from taking over her mind. Could Ezra finally be in the market for love?

Sweeter Than Honey by Kelly Irvin

Shattering a jar of pickled beets wasn’t the impression Isabella hoped to make on her first trip to the local Combination Store of Bee County, Texas. But as embarrassed as she was by the accident, she didn’t think it warranted the frosty reaction from the handsome manager of the store, Will Glick. As she soon learns, though, Will’s heart has been broken one too many times. And now, for some reason, Isabella finds herself determined to be the one to repair that broken heart and renew his faith in love.

Love in Store by Vannetta Chapman

Stella Schrock works at the Old Mill in Nappanee, Indiana, with new employee David Stoltzfus, a recent widower. When strange happenings begin occurring around town, it appears as if someone wants to close the mill. Stella and David have to work together to solve the mystery of what is happening at the Old Amish Mill, and in the process they might just find that God has more in store for their future than they would ever have dreamed possible.

My review:

I have to admit that these kinds of books – a group of several novellas – are not my favorite type of book to read. I tend to find that each story is not as fully developed as it could have been and either ends too abruptly, or is not as detailed as I would have liked.

I enjoyed this grouping very much, however. Perhaps the novellas were a little longer than some I have read, or perhaps the authors did a great job developing the characters, but these stories were not lacking depth or details.

I kept thinking, “This one is my favorite” until I remembered the previous one. I guess they are all my favorite! I do have to admit that I particularly enjoyed “Love Birds” because I had met Ellie in “The Forgotten Recipe”. It was nice to read about her from a different perspective.

This book has a lot of appeal for any reader. If you are a fan of Amish fiction, this is a great choice!

If you are interested in The Forgotten Recipe, click on the picture:

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Why is Great-Grandma So Sad by Susan Heagy

Book description:

Though this book is written for children ages 7 to 14, it is also intended for any age of people who have difficulty reading anything having to do with the Holocaust of WWII. This story is presented from the personal perspective of a family in the midst of the Holocaust, without trauma but historically correct. Sarah, at the age of seven, does not understand the extreme sadness her great grandmother portrays, prompting her to ask her mother the question, Why is Great Grandma so sad? Her mother decides it is time to relate the Holocaust experience of Great Grandma Hannah beginning at the same age as Sarah. This story gives an account of a family experiencing the onset of WWII, ghetto life, being sent to a concentration camp and the unusual circumstances surrounding their struggle to survive. Through the dialog Sarah comes to have a new view of her great grandmother, Hannah, as a child. Hannah, through necessity, grows up all too quickly. But while she endures these changes and experiences and during times of hiding, her doll Rachael is always there as a confidant and constant companion in her loneliness. She hears also of an unbelievable time when the Jewish people were treated horribly and unfairly. Sarah comes to realize how the Jews, her own people, demonstrated strength and resilience when under pressure, determined to survive. This story brings to life the sadness, and the hope, tightly interwoven in the lives of those who survived the Holocaust culminating with a surprise ending. Throughout this dialog Sarah learns along with the child Hannah about a time in history no one should ever forget. It is the hope of the author that those reading this book will also learn the truth of that time and not allow the voices of those who experienced it to be silenced. This story of Great Grandma is historical fiction. The family is not real but the experiences are. Based on several Survivors of the Shoah, their true life war accounts are included in the book.

My review:

This book does a great job of introducing children – the target audience is children ages 7 – 14 – to the Holocaust in a way that is informative, yet not too graphic. Heagy does not sugarcoat the horrible experiences that the persecuted suffered during the Holocaust, but explains it in a way that children can understand.

The idea of the book is genius. Sarah asks her mother why Great-Grandma is so sad and her mother answers her questions in a loving, maternal way. The details and the information Sarah’s mother shares with her clearly gives Sarah – and the readers – a clear understanding about why Great-Grandma is sad. It was an honest look at the Holocaust.

I think this book is so timely. The reality is that Holocaust survivors are getting older and soon there will be none left to tell the stories. I liked the way that Sarah is tasked with continuing her Great-Grandmother’s legacy. It is a legacy everyone who learns about the Holocaust is responsible to carry to future generations.

I enjoyed this book so much that I passed it on to my oldest right away to read. It is a very short book that is easy to read in one sitting, but it stays with you. I particularly enjoyed the stories of actual survivors at the end that Heagy included. It was inspiring to look at their faces and know what they have been through and survived.

If you are looking for a book to give children a realistic look into the Holocaust, this is the best one I have come across for a younger age group.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Book Crash in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Riven by Jerry B. Jenkins

Book description:

A boy with a troubled childhood . . . becomes a reluctant criminal . . . becomes a broken man on death row who just wants to die. A failed pastor . . . rejected by those he only wants to help . . . finds a new calling. Thomas Carey and Brady Wayne Darby couldn’t be more different. One is a washed-up pastor hoping desperately to make a difference; the other is a criminal who’s worst crime is always the one he’s about to commit. One diligently serves God; the other diligently serves himself. And yet . . . both are sinners in need of grace. So take the first step on a journey to transformation. Join the murderer and the chaplain. Choose between a life of crime and a life of purpose and prepare to leave the ranks of the hopelessly lost and find the One who can save even the most troubled soul.

My review:

I am a fan of Jerry B. Jenkins and have been for many years. This book reminded me of why I enjoy reading his books so much.

The book shifts from Brady’s story to Thomas’s story throughout most of the book. I kept wondering when their stories would intertwine because it seemed like they were destined to meet, but I wasn’t sure when or how it would happen. The pace of the book is storytelling at its finest. It is so very slow throughout much of the book, but then accelerates until the end. It could not have been better.

In a note from the author, Jenkins wrote that he hopes “it stays with you long after the final page”. This one certainly does. I find I cannot stop thinking about it. Even though it is such a sad story, it is one filled with hope. It reassures readers that perseverance pays off. Thomas remains committed to his calling, even when he see no progress or fruit. Thomas and Grace remain committed to praying for their prodigal, even when she assures them time and again that she will never return to church.

I love books that leave readers thinking after the last page has been read. I also love books that are realistic; life isn’t always neat and clean.

This is an example of storytelling at its finest. I think a lot of readers would enjoy this book.

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Eternity by Tony Evans

Book description:

We often think of heaven in two extremes: It’s either a dreamy existence where we float around on clouds with nothing much to do, or it’s something far off in the future that we don’t want to happen until we accomplish all that we want to in this life.

Both of these are flat wrong, and Tony Evans looks to Scripture to set the record straight. Simple and straight-forward, Eternity is a short book on what eternity with God will really be like.

“God hasn’t told us everything [about heaven],” writes Evans, “but Scripture gives us enough glimpses and enough promises about heaven for us to know we don’t want to miss this place of eternal joy.”

Walk through Scripture with Evans as he plainly explains what heaven is like, who will be there, and what they’ll be doing. With engaging illustrations and practical insights, you’ll know what awaits believers forever and how that matters for life today.

My review:

I was surprised when this book arrived in the mail. It is a very small, thin, book and only has about 80 pages. However, there are a lot of thought-provoking ideas within the pages.

I appreciated the detailed explanation about what believers can expect heaven to be like. Certainly it is something that all believers already eagerly anticipate seeing. I also really appreciated the way that Evans backed up his description about what to expect in heaven with references to what the Bible says about heaven.

A surprising effect of this book is the way that it motivated me to tell others about heaven, especially loved ones who are not believers. The thought of them missing out is too painful to contemplate.

If you have questions about what heaven will be like, this is the book for you. It provides a Biblically-based description of what we can expect and answers a lot of questions that I had and that I have heard others ask over the years.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

Book description:

Abandoned by his no-good father and forced to grow up too soon, Noble Burden has set his dreams aside to run the family farm. Meanwhile, James Horton, the pastor of the local church, questions his own calling as he prepares to close the doors for good.

As a severe storm rolls through, threatening their community and very livelihood, both men fear losing what they care about most . . . and reconsider where they truly belong.

My review:

The best part about this book for me was the setting in Indiana. It brought back a lot of memories of life in small-town Indiana and the acres and acres of grass and cows. It was also nice to remember the small-town churches on many corners in rural America.

The characters of James and Noble and the struggles they experience are easy to identify with. Noble feels such pressure to provide for his brother and mother and is willing to give up his dreams to do so. However, it is so difficult to forget about the desire to follow a dream. James is at an opposite place in his life, where his church is closing down.

There were a couple places in this book where the plot took a strange turn for me, especially with James. I would have liked to have seen more of Shelby to get more insight into her thought processes. However, obviously the focus of the book was on James and Noble, so it is easy to overlook the lack of depth in Shelby’s character.

Overall this is a nice story of the struggles of people that you could imagine encountering in real life. If you are looking for a nice, easy comfortable read, this makes a great choice.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

Book description:

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

My review:

This is one of the best books of the year so far that I’ve read. Parts of it were so difficult to read and other parts took my breath away. However, Cantrell delivers a story that is real.

I thought the setting of the book was interesting. It brought back so many memories of when Katrina hit New Orleans and watching the levees fail and the city flood. It was interesting to read a fictionalized account of how it might have been for people living in the area.

However, the story is of the horrible situation that the characters experience. While reading this story, I had no idea where it would end up. There are no clues as to whether Sarah will be found or not. Even Amanda and Carl’s relationship status is questionable. Clues are given from the very beginning that their marriage is not the best, but I could not tell if they would reconcile or divorce, or just continue on in the way of their marriage.

This is the first book I have ever read by Cantrell, but it won’t be the last. She is a master storyteller of human nature and emotion.

I can imagine that this book might be too difficult for some readers to get through because it deals with heavy, horrible realities of life. However, it is also a story of the strength of humanity. I really enjoyed it and have already recommended it to fellow readers.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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The 4 X 4 Diet by Erin Oprea

Book description:

Discover the 4 key foods and the 4-minute workouts that will change the way readers look and feel in just 4 weeks. Celebrity trainer and former marine Erin Oprea’s motto is “lean and clean.” Her unique 4 x 4 diet shows readers how to get clean by reducing the 4 major hitches in most diets: sugar, starch, sodium, and alcohol. She also tells readers how to get lean, using her 4-minute tabata workouts: 8 repititions of 20 seconds of high-intensity moves, then 10 seconds of rest. Within 4 weeks, the average person will be able to reduce bloating and belly fat; gain increased muscle definition in the arms, legs, and stomach; improve cardiovascular endurance; and break sugar and sodium addictions. Complete with meal plans and recipes, the 4 x 4 diet is perfect for anyone looking to streamline their body and lifestyle.

My review:

I found this book to be filled with really good information. I liked Oprea’s stance that you can be thin without being fit and that fitness is what we should strive for.

I thought the 4 clean eating habits were more common sense than new information. It is pretty much common knowledge that we should all reduce sodium intake, sugar, and starch. Other eating plans encourage followers to stop eating at a certain time. I did, however, enjoy the recipe section and the clean eating kitchen guide. I thought they were very helpful and the recipes were easily accessible and the ones I tried turned out really well.

The most valuable part of this book was the tabata workouts. They totally blow away anyone’s excuse for not having time to exercise. A tabata timer app was easy to get on my phone and you don’t need any special equipment for most of the tabatas. I also really appreciated that there were so many different tabatas to choose from. There is a lot of variety in the tabatas so boredom isn’t a factor.

Overall, if you are looking for an innovative way to incorporate more exercise into your life, this book is a can’t miss. I would recommend it for the tabatas alone!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Dr. Todd Cartmell

Book description:

Whether you find parenting intuitive or impossible, we could all use a hand here and there. Let child psychologist and father Todd Cartmell walk you through the nuts and bolts of healthy, effective parenting.

Using examples from his home and 20 years of professional practice, Todd gives eight essential and practical tools to help you:

Maintain a healthy relationship with your child
Develop a nurturing home culture
Correct behavior in lasting ways

Designed for busy parents, 8 Simple Tools breaks each tool into five short chapters that include a summary tip and application questions. Use even half of the tools in your parenting, and your family dynamics will thrive. Your relationship with your child will be built on love and trust, providing you with fertile ground for planting God’s wisdom in their heart, and ultimately, seeing them flourish.

My review:

This is the best parenting book I have read in a very long time. Although the title says 8 simple tools for raising great kids, there are far more than 8 strategies or tips for deepening a relationship with your child or improving home life.

What I really liked about this book is that it made me a lot more thoughtful in a deliberate way about how I speak to my children. I liked the idea of practicing positive behavior and had to laugh when, two days after I read that section of the book where the parent and child practiced putting her backpack away, I walked into the kitchen to find two backpacks left on the kitchen floor. I called the offenders to the kitchen and walked through the process of arriving home and putting their backpacks where they belong. I think the strategy of repetitive practice is far more effective than all the nagging in the world. It also takes a lot less energy out of mom!

However, I don’t think this book is just for parents. I found myself utilizing a lot of strategies from the book in my job as a teacher, too. For this reason, I think this book would be great for anyone who deals with children.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has children or interacts with children. It is the best book about parenting I have read in a great while.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Critical Conversations by Tom Gilson

Book description:

Christian parents need to be prepared to answer the myriad challenges teens might hear in today’s increasingly pro homosexual culture. “Why shouldn’t gays get married?” “Who says gay sex is wrong?” “Does the Bible actually say there’s anything wrong with homosexuality?” “Don’t you care that kids are being bullied just for being themselves?”

To start the discussion, Gilson provides a brief history of the issues beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He explains how and why cultural attitudes have reversed on this subject in such a short timespan, leaving Christians scrambling for answers.

This is perhaps the most complicated and contentious issue Christians face in today’s culture. Most churches are poorly equipped to handle it; parents are even less prepared. The good news is that parents need not have pat answers ready before they dive into conversations with their teens and preteens on this difficult topic. Learning together―parents struggling through these issues alongside their kids and leading them to biblical answers― has relational benefits.

Answers are important, though, so manageable, nontechnical answers to common questions surrounding this issue are provided, as well as a guide to further resources.

My review:

The topic of homosexuality is everywhere. Children are exposed to the reality of homosexuality everywhere. They can see same-sex couples on television, magazine covers, walking around at the shopping center, or at their schools.

How are Christian parents to handle the topic of homosexuality with their children? Frequently Christians are painted as the bad guys in regard to homosexuality for their “intolerance”. What are we to tell our children?

This book contains much wisdom and advice for parents who want to open discussions with their children about homosexuality. It is down-to-earth, but also keeps with Christian principles.

My favorite part was the section where the author explores different comments Christians face and how to address them. Furthermore, they are arranged by audience, such as when confronted with accusations of intolerance or hatred, social policy, and what it says in the Bible about different ideas related to homosexuality.

I find it helpful to read over hypothetical conversations to help prepare myself for when I am in the moment. The most important result of reading this book is that I am a lot more comfortable talking about the topic of homosexuality, not just with my children, but with others as well.

Whether you are for or against homosexuality, this book gives readers solid information based on biblical principles. It is a must-read for anyone living in the American society today.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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The Last Ride by Susan K. Marlow

Book description:

Andrea Carter is turning sweet sixteen and life could not be better. School’s almost over for good, and there will be plenty of time to train the colt of her treasured horse, Taffy. Best of all, big brother Chad is giving Andi more responsibilities on the ranch she loves.

Her first job is to teach city-slicker cousin Daniel how things work on the Circle C. There’s just one big problem: Daniel wants nothing to do with ranch life. Charming one minute and outrageously rude the next, he ignores common sense, defies authority, and proves a danger to everyone, including himself.

When Andi stumbles onto a horrifying secret about Daniel, he warns her to stay silent or face the deadly consequences. But all bets are off when Daniel’s actions set off a chain of events that leave Andi brokenhearted and bitter. Can anyone break through the wall around Andi’s heart and help her find healing?

My review:

From the title of the book, I anticipated that this was going to be the last installment in the stories of Andrea Carter. Thankfully, that is not the case! There is another book coming out in 2017.

This series gets better and better for me. It has been great watching Andi grow and mature. It was especially exciting to see her finally working on the ranch. However, trouble always seems to find Andi, this time in the person of her cousin.

Marlow has a gift for writing characters that are easy to love and putting them in situations that are difficult. In this one, Andi has to deal with excruciating loss and pain. Marlow draws readers in so much that it seems like we are right there with her. Some parts of the book were very hard to read.

The best thing about this series is that you can start with any book without having read the previous ones. Of course, I would recommend reading them in order so that you can see Andi grow up, but this book is definitely a stand-alone novel. If you are looking for a wholesome novel for tweens and up, this is a great book and a great series!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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