The Beloved Christmas Quilt: Three Stories of Family, Romance, and Amish Faith by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter and Richelle Brunstetter

My Review

I enjoyed how The Beloved Christmas Quilt mirrored three generations, just like the authors – grandmother, Wanda E. Brunstetter; her daughter-in-law, Jean; and granddaughter, Richelle. Each of the stories focuses on the Christmas quilt inscribed with the Bible verse, Psalm 31:3, “For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” The quilt is initially given to the mother/grandmother and is then passed on to the eldest daughter in successive generations.

Amish stories are always fascinating to me. The traditions passed on, the values exhibited, their strong faith embraced and the non-traditional style of life preserved are inspirational. The three novellas highlight each of these qualities.

The Beloved Christmas Quilt is an enjoyable book to read. However, because it showcases three stories, the depth of development isn’t there, which tends to be a downfall for many novellas, unfortunately. There just isn’t enough time or words to truly tell a deeper story. Nonetheless, the stories focus on real-life situations and dilemmas, while using the verse on the quilt as a beacon of hope for each of the women.

I also appreciated the recipes included at the end of the stories. I can’t wait to try some of them out; they seem perfect for a Thanksgiving or Christmas treat!

I received this book from Barbour Publishing and NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Review

One Quilt Binds Three Generations of Amish Women

Enjoy the gift of a brand new romance from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, along with stories by her daughter-in-law, Jean and granddaughter, Richelle.

For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me. Psalm 31:3
The scripture embroidered on the back of a beloved quilt brings hope to three generations of Pennsylvania Amish women at Christmastime.

Luella’s Promise
By Wanda E. Brunstetter
Luella Ebersol has been caregiver for a dying woman and her young son. When Dena Lapp gives Luella her favorite quilt, she makes Luella promise to pass it down to her daughter. But Luella isn’t sure she will ever marry if she can’t find someone with maturity and faith like Dena’s husband Atlee Zook.

Karen’s Gift
By Jean Brunstetter
Karen Allgyer and her husband moved to a slow-paced village to raise their children, but Karen longs for the closeness of family to help her through the challenges of managing three girls with one on the way. When life’s pressures rise, will Karen cave to her fears?

Roseanna’s Groom
By Richelle Lynn Brunstetter
When the unexpected happens on the day of her wedding, Roseanna Allgyer can’t help blaming herself, despite not understanding why. Then an old friend returns to town, and she battles feeling for him—afraid of being hurt again.

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The Promise of a Letter (An Amish Letters Novel) by Kathleen Fuller

My Review

I think Leanna Chupp is my favorite character. She’s not your typical Amish which made her uniqueness even more pronounced. In fact, she’s not your typical female, especially in an Amish community. Leanna is 24, unmarried and has no plans or desire to marry; she works on machines better than most men do, abhors cooking and housekeeping (and isn’t good at either), lives alone and is six feet tall. The combination can sometimes be intimidating to the men in her community. I, like almost everyone in her community, really liked and cared about her.

As I read, I was heartbroken over the coldness of Daniel and Roman Raber’s parents, but thankful their grossmammi (grandmother) stepped in to fill the role of a loving relative. Nonetheless, neither young man felt genuinely loved, and Roman was continually running away from home, his life and God. Additionally, Barbara and Daniel’s story is so poignant that several times I was brought to tears.

Kathleen Fuller’s novel, The Promise of a Letter is a very different type of Amish fiction from most Amish stories. She deals with many issues people face, not only in the Amish community but also in the lives of non-Amish, too. The story is replete with themes of restoration, forgiveness and God’s grace. Furthermore, several tough issues are addressed- gossip, anger, bitterness and misunderstandings among family members. There are several others, but I don’t want to give any spoilers. Miss Fuller does an excellent job of showing the development and growth of her characters. It’s a pleasure to be taken along for the ride.

The Promise of a Letter is the second book in the An Amish Letters Novel series. However, it works well as a standalone.

I received this book from the Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

A letter brings him back to his Amish family. It will take someone truly extraordinary to make him stay.

Roman is on the verge of leaving the Amish ways. Feeling confined by the strict rules, he longs to do something more with his life. But when things don’t go as planned, Roman’s prospects outside of the community dwindle. Upon learning that his beloved grandmother has died and left a letter urging him to reconcile with his brother in Birch Creek, Roman decides to return home. But he doesn’t plan to stay for long.

Leanna Chupp has always made her own way in her small community of Birch Creek. Though some may call her unconventional—strange, even—Leanna is happy. Her unique outlook on life has meant she’s never had many suitors pursuing courtship, which Leanna doesn’t mind. She is content being single.

But when Roman and Leanna find themselves working together again, everything changes. Though neither fit squarely within the strictures of the Amish faith, their differences could be the very thing to help them form a deeper connection to their community and to each other. The question remains: will this strengthening bond be enough to make Roman stay for good?

An Amish Summer: Four Novellas by Shelley Shepard Gray, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller and Kelly Irvin

My Review

An Amish Summer is a wonderful collection of novellas by four well-known authors of Amish fiction. Each story focuses on difficulties encountered between prospective young couples.

They each teach a valuable lesson, and the plots vary greatly as does each lesson.

I think my favorite is One Sweet Kiss by Kelly Irvin. There is an interesting mixture of Amish on their rumspringa, Englishers, and devout Amish. The story has a very unusual twist, one you would not expect from a story about Amish. However, it makes the story more interesting and intriguing.

The individual novellas are appealing in different ways. Shelley Shepard Gray’s A Reunion in Pinecraft makes you wonder if the easily understood confusion between sisters Sharon and Sherilyn’s names can ever be straightened out. In Summer Storms, by Amy Clipston, we learn sacrifices are sometimes necessary to obey our parents, even when it seems unfair. Lakeside Love, by Kathleen Fuller, shows how outward appearances aren’t everything, and beauty only lasts for a season. In One Sweet Kiss, by Kelly Irvin, a very unusual plot gives way to a satisfying ending.

I received a copy of An Amish Summer from The Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to provide a review.

Publisher’s Summary

A Reunion in Pinecraft by Shelley Shepard Gray

When sisters Sharon and Sherilyn Kramer attend a wedding in Shipshewana, one of them returns with a new penpal while the other returns to her job at the bakery. After sending weekly letters back and forth, Sherry and Graham Holland arrange a reunion in Pinecraft. Upon Graham’s arrival, however, he realizes he’s been writing to the wrong sister. He decides to use the reunion as a way to get to know both sisters, but can he sort through the confusion in time to turn the worst vacation ever into something truly wonderful?

Summer Storms by Amy Clipston

Ariana is counting down the days until her wedding to Jesse. They have been friends longer than Arianna can remember, and that friendship turned into love over the past couple of years. But when Arianna’s brother Tobias, who happens to be Jesse’s best friend, gets them both into trouble, Arianna’s father puts an end to her engagement to Jesse. Some summer storms pass quickly, but Arianna is afraid the damage from this one may be too much to repair.

Lakeside Love by Kathleen Fuller

Esther has always lived in the shadow of her beautiful younger sister Sarah. Even the boy she has known—and loved—her entire life, Judah, only has eyes for Sarah. But when a handsome young Englischer comes to live with the family for a summer, everything begins to change.

One Sweet Kiss by Kelly Irvin

Everybody in little Bee County, Texas, can see the obvious: Jacob King and Martha Byler are meant to be together. Everyone, that is, but Martha. Ever since her mother died when Martha was a young girl, she has taken over the role of caregiver to her large family. And reckless Jacob, who has had a little too much fun on his rumspringa, only seems to add to the list of people to manage. But one summer changes everything, and these two may just find a way to meet in the middle and share one sweet kiss.

The Blessing (Book 2 of the Amish Cooking Class Series) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

My Review

Heidi and Lyle Troyer, unable to conceive a much-wanted child, are given an opportunity to adopt a baby. Like all things in life, circumstances begin to pile up, and Heidi needs an outlet, so once again she opens her home to six strangers wanting to learn more about Amish food.

Each person in the story is as different from one another as possible. The cooking class consists of three men and three women. The men include a food critic hiding his true identity, an avid hunter and a school janitor. The women include a mother of two small children, a woman wanting ideas for her catering business and a teenager stressed out from having to keep her family together after her mom walks out on them.

I enjoyed finding out about Heidi’s previous students, whom we met in book one, The Seekers (The Amish Cooking Class Series). I felt like I was catching up with old friends.

Wanda Brunstetter’s ability to portray her characters makes you feel as if they are your next-door neighbors. However, one aspect of her writing that is a little off-putting is the way she jumps from one character to another in each chapter. Sometimes focusing on several characters helps show readers how the different individuals interact, but sometimes it is hard to determine which individual the author is referencing.

The Blessing is the second book in the series; however, it works well as a standalone.

There are two bonuses in the back of the novel. First, Miss Brunstetter includes the Amish recipes Heidi taught her students. Second, she lists discussion questions.

I received this book from NetGalley and Barbour Publishing. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Return to the Troyer farm where Heidi welcomes six new cooking class students who experience the healing hand of God.

Despite stressful changes occurring in their lives, Lyle and Heidi once again open their Ohio home up to those seeking to learn about Amish cooking. This time a teenager helping her divorced dad cook for the family, a caterer needing new recipes, a food critic, a hunter looking to impress his buddies, a wife given the class as an unwanted gift, and a mailman lured in by the aroma of good cooking gather around Heidi’s table.

During each class, Heidi teaches culinary skills, but it is her words of wisdom that have a profound effect on her students—though, this time Heidi’s own hurting heart will need some healing nourishment.

Ties That Bind (The Amish of Summer Grove) by Cindy Woodsmall AND GIVEAWAY!!!

My Review

Arianna and Quill were childhood buddies. But, Quill left the Amish with Arianna’s best friend, hurting her more than she thought possible. However, Arianna may be hurt deeper and more anguished than anyone can predict.

Cindy Woodsmall’s first story in the Amish of Summer Grove is full of surprises. The tension holds you spellbound as the suspense begins to mount. This is truly not your typical Amish story.

There are several threads sewn together in Ties that Bind leaving many of the characters at a loss as to what is and isn’t true or real. The mystery pulls you in and doesn’t let go.

I really came to care for the people in the story. I cried on many occasions as I read it, especially the ending. If I had any complaint, it would be that the ending was a HUGE cliffhanger. Fortunately, I had the next book in the series and could begin reading it immediately.

I received Ties that Bind and Fraying at the Edge from Waterbrook Press through Cindy Woodsmall’s Launch Team. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Guess what? I received an extra copy of both Ties that Bind and Fraying at the Edge, so I’m having a giveaway! Plus, if you win, you won’t have to wait like I did for the second novel, and can relish the next book in the series.

Publisher’s Summary

Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together—or simply tear them apart?

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a café in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.

Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the café—because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.

Ties That Bind is the first novel in the Amish of Summer Grove series.

*********GIVEAWAY CLOSED**********

Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

Drawing will be open August 9th to August 13th.

One name will be randomly drawn as winner.

Check back on Monday, August 14th  to see if you won!

GOOD LUCK!

I’m sorry I forgot to add this: This giveaway is open to U.S. only, it is void where prohibited by law and you must be at least 18 to enter. The odds of winning depend on the number of comments received.

Blessings to everyone~

This giveaway has ended.

The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher

My Review

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s newest book, The Return, centers around the Amish in Beacon Hollow, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1763 and is inspired by real events.

Betsy Zook and her little brother Johnny are captured by Indians and forced to march on a long, arduous journey, only to be separated at the end.

Ms. Fisher draws you into the story and doesn’t let you go. Even after the story is over, you relive the events.

I greatly enjoyed this story. The extensive research was very evident, and the story heart-rending and spellbinding. However, there were a few scenes (due to PTSD) that were deeply disturbing. Nonetheless, they were authentic to the circumstances. This is not your typical Amish tale. Intrigue, heartache, betrayal and revenge factor into the account along with redemption, forgiveness, love and hope.

The Return is book three of the Amish Beginnings by Suzanne Woods Fisher. However, I have not read the other two books, and I seriously doubt I would love Betsy or enjoy the book more had I read the other two stories first.

If you are looking for a fascinating story of early America with Amish as the protagonists, you need look no further.

I received this book from LibraryThing. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family’s rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans, but then she never had to. Not until the night when she’s taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. During her captivity, Betsy faces brutality and hardship, but also unexpected kindness. She draws strength from native Caleb, who encourages her to find God in all circumstances. She finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the intense new feelings this compelling man awakens within her.

Handsome and complex, Hans is greatly anguished by Betsy’s captivity and turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. Eagerly, Tessa responds, overlooking troubling signs of Hans’s hunger for revenge. When Betsy is finally restored to the Amish, have things gone too far between Hans and Tessa?

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.

The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston

Publisher’s Summary

When Mattie packed her hope chest, she put away the heartache of her past. But as her daughters begin to unpack it, she discovers a healing more powerful than she ever hoped for.

Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.

But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?

Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it’s a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it’s past time to share it.

My Review

Mattie’s daughters discover their mother’s hope chest, and along with it secrets she has kept from them. She struggles with how to tell her story and yet not change their views of her or their father. Can she do it, does she want to and should she? These are all questions she must face.

Leroy, Mattie’s husband, is a wonderful character. His love for Mattie began when she was a little girl and never wavered through much adversity and hardship. I enjoyed Leroy’s character so much. He had little (and big) ways of demonstrating his love to Mattie that were so endearing.

Amy Clipston’s final installment of An Amish Heirloom Novel,  The Beloved Hope Chest, deals with very heavy subject matters. Mattie has endured much in the past, and the pain still remains so how can she explain to her girls that she is happy despite her tragic early life?

The Beloved Hope Chest demonstrates how love, forgiveness and redemption can and will overcome grief, loss and hidden secrets.

Miss Clipston’s story resonates with faith, inspiration, forgiveness and restoration; it makes me want to read the other three in the series!

I received a copy of The Beloved Hope Chest from three different sources: Celebrate Lit, NetGalley and The Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

An Amish Home: Four Novellas by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid and Kathleen Fuller

An Amish Home

Publisher’s Summary

A Cup Half Full by Beth Wiseman—Sarah Lantz always dreamed of the perfect home, the perfect husband, the perfect family. When she married Abram, she knew she was on her way to securing her perfect life. All of that changes in one moment when an accident leaves her unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair, dashing all of her dreams. As Abram starts to transform their home, Sarah begins a transformation in her spirit, and she begins, once again, to see her cup as half full.

Home Sweet Home by Amy Clipston—Down on their luck and desperate after they are evicted from their small apartment, Chace and Mia O’Conner reluctantly take Chace’s Amish boss up on his offer to rent them the daadihaus located on his property. They are certain they will never feel at home in the rustic cabin without any modern conveniences, and they start to blame each other for their seemingly hopeless situation. But with the help of their new Amish friends, Chace and Mia begin to enjoy their cozy cabin and realize that home really is where the heart is.

Building Faith by Kathleen Fuller—Faith Miller knows that carpentry is an unlikely hobby for a young Amish woman, but she loves the work and it keeps the memory of her grandfather alive. So, when her cousin asks Faith to build the cabinets in her new home, Faith is only too happy to take on the job, even if it is the most ambitious project she has ever taken on. The only catch is that she has to work with her ex-fiancé, Silas. As they work to build Martha’s kitchen, can they put the past behind them and start to build faith in one another again?

A Flicker of Hope by Ruth Reid—Fifteen years ago, Thomas and Noreen King were blissful newlyweds. Young, naive, and in love, life was rosy . . . for a while. Then trials and tribulations rocked their foundation, shattering them emotionally, and soon, their marriage was in shards. All hope for restoring their previously unshakable union seems lost. When fire destroys their home, Thomas and Noreen are left to sift through the rubble. As uncovered items from the remains of the house shake loose memories of the past, Thomas and Noreen begin to draw closer and a flicker of hope—and love—is re-ignited.

My Review

Sarah Lantz is unable to walk due to an accident. Her husband, Abram, blames himself for her disability. They each struggle with their feelings, and as the reader, you get caught up in the feelings and reactions they both have.  Beth Wiseman addresses the situation in a convincing and true-to-life way in A Cup Half Full. 

Home Sweet Home by Amy Clipston is about Chace and Mia O’Conner, who are one step from being homeless when Chace’s boss offers to let them rent his daadihaus (grandparent’s house). My heart breaks for this young couple’s hopelessness as they struggle their way through a new marriage and baby, having to accept someone’s charity and adjusting to living in an Amish home even though they aren’t Amish.

In A Flicker of Hope by Ruth Reid, Thomas and Noreen King’s marriage is hanging on by a thread. Circumstances have overwhelmed them, seemingly beyond repair. Any married couple will be able to relate to how not addressing a situation can cause one day to slip into another until it devastates a relationship beyond repair.

Faith Miller is an unconventional young Amish woman, she loves carpentry work and is good at it, too. However, her skills create a problem for her when she’s forced to work with her ex-boyfriend. Even though Building Faith, by Kathleen Fuller, has some unexpected surprises, I think it is my favorite of the four because I can understand Faith’s love for and desire to be a carpenter.

An Amish Home is a compilation of four novellas written by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston and Kathleen Fuller.  Each of the authors did an excellent job of incorporating the importance of family, home and faith in God into their stories. I have read other books or novellas by these four authors and have never been disappointed. I wasn’t with this collection either.

I received this book free through the Fiction Guild program in exchange for an honest review.

Amish Cooking Class-The Seekers by Wanda Brunstetter.

the-amish-cooking-class

About the Book

Join a class of unlikely Ohioans who take cooking lessons at Lyle and Heidi Troyer’s Amish farm. A woman engaged to marry, an expectant mother estranged from her family, a widowed mom seeking to simplify, a Vietnam vet who camps on the Troyer’s farm, and an Amish widower make up the mismatched lot of students. But Heidi’s cooking lessons soon turn to life lessons as they each share the challenges they are facing. Is this what God had in mind when Heidi got the idea for cooking classes?

My Review

Heidi Troyer, an Amish woman, needs something to occupy her time. Taking a page from her Aunt Emma’s life, she decides to give cooking lessons similar to her Aunt Emma Miller’s quilting classes (Many of you may remember Emma from The Healing Quilt). Little did she know that she and her students would learn many life lessons along the way.

The Seekers has a motley crew of cooking learners that include a Vietnam vet with PTSD, a young woman who was kicked out of her home when her parents found out she was pregnant, a widower still grieving his wife’s death, an amateur photographer who becomes engaged and a widow with two small children yearning for a simpler life. Each person, including Heidi, is searching for answers.

Wanda Brunstetter does an impressive job of developing each of the characters and relating the story from each one’s viewpoint.  As you read and watch each one change, you are cheering or jeering for the individuals, depending on what the circumstances are, and come to care about each one.

Heidi’s recipe cards (recipes are at the end of the story) include an apt and applicable Bible verse, and it’s neat to see how each person reacts to the different verses.

Even if cooking isn’t your forte, I believe you will still enjoy reading Amish Cooking Class-The Seekers by Wanda Brunstetter.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Joshua’s Mission

Josua's Mission

About Book

Joshua’s Mission is a new standalone novel in the Plain and Simple Miracles collection from popular author Vannetta Chapman. These stories of love and family and Amish community in Oklahoma tell of the miracles that can happen when lives are lived in service to God and to one another.

Joshua Kline travels from his farm in Oklahoma to offer aid to an Englisch town on the gulf coast of Texas after a category 4 hurricane has ravaged the area. He brings his brother with him, who needs a change of environment. The last thing he wants for Alton is another brush with the law. He is pleasantly surprised when he hears that Becca Troyer, the bishop’s granddaughter, plans on joining their team.

What will Joshua find when he arrives in Texas? A lack of electricity, certainly, which poses little problem for the Amish volunteers as they help restore order from destruction. But a budding romance? A call from God? And a possible healing of his relationship with Alton?

Joshua’s Mission is a story of love, forgiveness, and the grace of God that carries us through even the worst situations.

My Review

Vannetta Chapman’s, Joshua’s Mission is book two in her Plain and Simple Miracles series. It can, however, be read as a stand-alone.

Charlie Everman, a resident of Port Aransas, Texas, is helping his friend, who is like a daughter, and her children evacuate because of an impending hurricane. Charlie has promised he’ll be right behind Alice and her children, but unfortunately, stays too long helping other friends evacuate and is caught in the hurricane.

Joshua Kline is the oldest child in his family. His younger sibling, Alton, is ten years his junior. Joshua is steady, responsible and reliable – everything Alton is not. In fact, Joshua has to rescue his brother from trouble one more time and is encouraged by his family and their bishop to take Alton on a mission with him to help restore Port Aransas.

Becca Troyer, the granddaughter of the bishop, is encouraged by her family, including her grandfather, to go on a mission to help rebuild Port Aransas.

As the main characters grapple with rebuilding after the devastation of the hurricane, they also learn to trust each other and others in spite of their differences.

I haven’t read the first in the series, yet I didn’t feel lost while reading Joshua’s Mission. The story is different from most Amish stories, in that it focuses on both the Englishe (non-Amish) and the Amish in about equal measure.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.