A Place at Our Table (An Amish Homestead Novel) by Amy Clipston

My Review

Amy Clipston’s novel, A Place at Our Table, deals with heartbreaking family situations. Throughout the book, however, the characters seem real and relatable. I could see myself reacting in much the same way under similar circumstances.

Kayla Dienner is working hard to overcome grief from the loss of her oldest brother, who was a volunteer firefighter and died while fighting a fire. In addition, her boyfriend, for no apparent reason, broke off their relationship.

Jamie Riehl is a volunteer firefighter and workaholic. He feels responsibility for his family, and even though he has a brother and father, he takes on more and more of the farm work-leaving him exhausted because he only gets a scant few hours’ sleep a night. When tragedy strikes his family too, he takes on more of the burden of farm work and bears guilt for his part in the tragedy.

A Place at Our Table is an interesting book. Amy Clipston shows us a different side of Amish life by giving Jamie a firefighter role. However, some aspects of Kayla’s personality and character are frustrating for me. I want to see her as a sympathetic protagonist, but she comes across as overly clingy and needy. I needed to remind myself that she lost her brother to a fire and inexplicably lost her boyfriend’s love. She is reeling in pain. Then, while fighting the attraction, she finds herself falling in love with Jamie, a firefighter. He embodies both losses. It’s no wonder she petulant at times.

I’m looking forward to reading more of the Amish Homestead series. I’m excited to see who is featured and to learn more about Jamie and Kayla.

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

Publisher’s Summary

Kayla Dienner has suffered her fair share of heartache, which is why she vows to protect her heart at all costs . . . until she meets Jamie Riehl.

Along with his volunteer work at the local fire department, running his Amish farm keeps Jamie Riehl busy. He barely has time to eat at the family table, never mind find someone to date. But when he meets Kayla Dienner, he is smitten.

Kayla tries hard to deny her attraction to Jamie. After all, she’s spent the last year discouraging her younger brother, Nathan, from becoming a firefighter. The death of their older brother in a fire a year ago is fresh in her mind—she can’t bear the idea of putting her heart on the line every time the sirens blare.

Then tragedy strikes, and Jamie wants to extinguish any flame between him and Kayla. Can Kayla set aside her own fears to save the love she was determined to deny?

The first book in the Amish Homestead series, A Place at Our Table invites us to a quiet community in Lancaster County where love burns brightly no matter the cost.

 

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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.

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?

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.