It’s RELEASE DAY for ROOM ON THE PORCH SWING!! Join Amy Clipston TONIGHT at 8 p.m. EST for a Facebook LIVE party! Amy will have a special guest! Join us!!
It’s RELEASE DAY for ROOM ON THE PORCH SWING!! Join Amy Clipston TONIGHT at 8 p.m. EST for a Facebook LIVE party! Amy will have a special guest! Join us!!
Oh, my! Amy Clipston gets the waterworks going in the first chapter, and it continues into the second chapter, so be sure to have your Kleenex ready. However, DON’T let this stop you from reading Room on the Porch Swing!
Clipston writes a story of tragedy with keen insights and observations. She brings just the right notes of loss, despair and healing to the novel.
I felt for each of the characters and their struggles; my heart especially broke for little baby Mollie. I cheered for some people, who exhibited kindness and compassion, and booed at others while wondering how they could be so blind, indifferent and callous.
I also relished seeing more of the individuals from A Place at Our Table, and even though Room on the Porch Swing is the second in the series, it works well as a standalone.
I have always enjoyed the books Amy Clipston writes. She doesn’t shy away from difficult, stressful situations and weaves wondrous tales of love, redemption and Biblical values without being didactic.
Room on the Porch Swing is Amy Clipston’s second novel in the Amish Homestead series.
I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
When tragedy strikes, can two young Amish people find the hope that lies on the other side?
Laura Riehl is no stranger to heartache. Less than a year after her mother’s death, Laura finds herself burying another loved one: her best friend, Savilla, who has died after a brief and sudden illness. Laura feels heartbroken and alone, but her pain is nothing compared to that of Allen, the husband Savilla has left behind. He now faces a life so different from the one he imagined—plus a baby to care for on his own.
When Laura offers to help Allen with baby Mollie, he jumps at the opportunity until a permanent solution can be found. She’d do anything to lend a hand to Allen and to honor her best friend’s memory. Rudy, Laura’s boyfriend, is initially supportive of her plan, but the more time Laura spends with Allen, the more jealous and frustrated Rudy seems to become.
As Laura and Allen face hardships together, their friendship takes a surprising yet comforting turn—and she discovers an attraction she’s never felt with Rudy. Would falling for Allen betray the people she cares about most, or would denying those feelings betray her heart? This latest installment in the Amish Homestead series returns us to Lancaster County, home of the beloved Riehls, where a family’s strength—and advice from a new friend—may help Laura find God’s direction.
Cevilla Schlabach, Noah Schlabach (Cevilla’s nephew) and Ivy Yoder are the three main characters in Kathleen Fuller’s 3rd installment of Amish Letters.
Ivy and Noah had both been hurt in the past and danced around the outskirts of friendship with each other. Cevilla had promised God she wouldn’t interfere, but she had a hard time keeping out of their budding friendship. I loved how she would look at the ceiling and sheepishly address God about keeping her nose out of their business.
I really enjoyed Cevilla; she was older, wiser, quirkier and just plain fun to get to know. However, her life had not been easy or without sacrifice. I enjoyed the way Cevilla brought Noah and Ivy together, and even though the story has a lot of depth to it, it was fun to read, too.
As with the other two books, Words from the Heart, can be a stand-alone novel. It was nice though, to be able to catch up with characters from the other two stories, Written in Love and The Promise of a Letter.
Kathleen Fuller’s stories all resonate with the love of God, healing, and restoration. She does a wonderful job of character development, leaving you eager to turn the page in order to know more about her endearing characters.
I received this book from the Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
Her fingertips brushed against something else in the box of doilies. She lifted a bundle of letters, neatly tied with a thin red ribbon . . . Ivy Yoder hasn’t heard from John King in over a year. She knows it’s time to let go of the idea that they will one day marry, but she’s humiliated to be one of the oldest single women in her Amish community of Birch Creek. When quirky Cevilla Schlabach asks her to help clean out an attic, Ivy is grateful for the distraction. Noah Schlabach isn’t from Birch Creek, or even Ohio. His job as an auctioneer takes him around the country and away from a typical Amish life, but he still remains devoted to his family. So when his aging aunt asks him to help clean out her attic, he agrees. Plus, who knows what curious items he might find up there? As Noah and Ivy work side by side, they come across a different kind of treasure: a packet of letters written during the Korean War. Soon they are swept up in the story of two young people falling in love-even as they remain determined not to fall in love themselves. Words from the Heart is a moving story of lost love letters, fragile fears, and the beauty of taking another step forward.
I enjoyed the third and final installment of the Amish Cooking Class series, The Celebration. The story was different in that Heidi Troyer, the cooking instructor, encouraged by her husband, decides to offer her cooking classes to children. This, indeed, makes sense because Heidi and Lyle are now foster parents to two adorable children, Marsha and Randy.
There are many things to like about The Celebration, and it is aptly named. However, there are many discordant notes, too. The book has a plethora of characters, necessitating LOTS of POVs which sometimes get confusing. Five children and their parents attend the cooking class, along with Randy and Marsha. Later a family from Heidi’s neighborhood who enroll more children in the class. One child is beyond the point of being a spoiled brat, and quickly becomes tiresome, as does her mother, who seems initially to have no idea what to do! One situation really took me out of the story when Brunstetter referred to a mess a dog made in the front yard as “doggie doo-doo/doo-doo.” Heidi apologized to the child who stepped in it and explained the dog usually used the backyard as a bathroom. I felt these were strange word choices, and they didn’t seem to fit into the overall narrative.
The Celebration also uses Bible verses on the back of recipe cards as a teaching tool. I like how this was incorporated into all three stories. Also, there are recipes at the end of the book, just like the other two.
The Celebration can be a stand-alone, though I feel you will get more out of the novel if you read the series in order.
I read and reviewed the other two books in the series, The Seekers and The Blessing. https://captivedreamswindow.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/amish-cooking-class-the-seekers-by-wanda-brunstetter/
I received this book from Barbour Publishing. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
Return to Holmes County, Ohio, for Amish style cooking class.
Lyle and Heidi Troyer have taken in a brother and sister, who were orphaned when their parents were killed in a car accident. Hoping to help the children adapt and make friends, Heidi decides to hold a series of cooking classes for kids. But kids are always accompanied by an adult—and that is where the trouble arises.
Miranda Cooper is living the life of a single mom to her two kids while separated from her husband, but Trent is trying to worm his way back into her heart.
Denise McGuire’s life as a wife, mom, and real estate broker is full and spilling over.
Darren Keller, single dad and firefighter, and Ellen Blackburn, single mom and nurse, find a few things in common.
Will hearts be healed over plates of Amish food?
This is the third book in The Amish Cooking Class series.
Book #1: The Amish Cooking Class – The Seekers
Book #2: The Amish Cooking Class – The Blessing
First off, I have to say, that even though it admittedly took a while, I have now come to love novellas. I especially like when there’s a book of novellas by the same author. Having said that…
Amy Clipston’s book, Amish Sweethearts, is a book with four novellas. I appreciated the development of each story. Even though they are novellas, as a reader you won’t feel left with a lot of questions, left hanging or frustrated in a hurry up and finish pace as you reach the end. The only complaint (if you could really call it that) is I would like to know more about each character. However, I feel that way about almost every story I read, be it novella or novel.
A Home for Lindsay surprised me. There were situations depicted that I never realized were a part of the Amish community (no spoilers, so I won’t say what). I truly hurt for Matthew Glick and Lindsay Bedford, though I felt Matthew’s decision was a little impetuous. They were both thrust into a complicated, challenging situation.
I enjoyed Love and Buggy Rides because it dealt with tough issues such as obedience to your parents, plus acceptance of difficult situations just to name a couple. Throughout the story, I could relate to the struggles that Janie Lantz and Jonathan Stoltfutz faced.
In Where the Heart Is, Clipston portrays the cost of anger and poor decisions, along with their consequences for others. Tobias Smucker has a rough time, most of it caused by his own thoughtlessness. However, he is willing to do anything he can and needs to do to make the situation right.
Love Birds deals with much more profound issues. Ellie Lapp is coping with grief and loss. Lloyd Blank is dealing with frustration over his father’s behavior, and from a betrayal he would never have imagined.
Clipston’s familiarity with the Amish way of life shines through in each novella. She deftly weaves stories of love, redemption, hope and forgiveness throughout the entire book. If you are looking for something to read quickly, or you want something a little longer, you can’t go wrong with Amy Clipston’s Amish Sweethearts.
Each of the four stories brings back characters in earlier series, and two, Love and Buggy Rides and Love Birds, are also published in other anthologies.
I received this book from Fiction Guild and Amy Clipston as a member of her Bakery Bunch. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
Love and Buggy Rides (previously published in An Amish Harvest)
Janie Lantz is a cashier at Lancaster Souvenirs and Buggy Rides, where Jonathan Stoltfuz is a buggy driver. A frightening accident brings Janie and Jonathan together in a blossoming friendship, yet daunting obstacles stand between them and something deeper. Can love kindle into flames that burn away fear and regret—and lead them to a life together?
A Home for Lindsay
From Amy Clipston’s beloved Kauffman Amish Bakery series comes Lindsay Bedford’s story. Lindsay is happily looking forward to the day she becomes Matthew Glick’s wife and is excited for the plans he has for the house he will build her. So, when Matthew suddenly calls off the wedding, she is blindsided. She knows there is more to the story than what he is telling her, but will he open up and let her in on his own heartbreak?
Where the Heart Is
Tobias Smucker is back home, and it’s no secret he and his father are still not on the best of terms. But what is surprising is that his little sister’s best friend, Mariella, has been harboring her own secret feelings for Tobias. With her help, he begins to unravel a family mystery and learns that everyone has their own hidden depths, including his father.
Love Birds (previously published in An Amish Market)
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?
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.
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.
Miralee Ferrell’s book, Runaway Romance, is not only an interesting story about actors and actresses, but it’s going to be a movie on UP TV, too!
Ann Stanway thought life couldn’t be any better. She and the love of her life, Scott Adson, starred in the blockbuster reality show, Life with the Adsons. However, things aren’t as rosy as they seem, leaving her reeling. Hurt and confused she takes a trip to get away and ends up in a charming Amish community in Cave City, Kentucky.
The juxtaposition of a Hollywood lifestyle and an Amish way of living is striking. Ann’s turmoil over what was real and what her perception of reality was creates an intriguing dichotomy. As she tries to navigate her way through a quagmire, some of her own making, she begins to realize her real problem is not being true to her faith.
The characters run the gamut from sweet and endearing to cruel and calculated, making you love some of them and be repulsed by others. The novel is well-written, and the characters well developed. The plot is unique and out of the ordinary, with not just romance, but a small touch of mystery, too.
I received Runaway Romance from the author. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.
When a reality TV star meets the reality of life, will it be her downfall or her salvation?
Ann Stanway had it all—a starring role in a reality show, an adoring boyfriend, and a sparkling future with limitless possibilities. Until the rules changed and the life she’d thought was real no longer existed. Leaving L.A. seems like her only option, and she lands in Kentucky at a quiet Amish inn—as far removed from her past as possible. Now she knows what was missing in her life–peace, true friendship and, dare she hope, a man who accepts her for who she is–or at least who he thinks she is.
Hunter Lewis is intrigued by the new woman staying at his friend’s Amish inn. Annie appears to be what she claims, but she’s secretive and won’t open up. He’s been burned by a woman before and can’t tolerate deception. But his interest in Annie is growing, and the attraction seems to be mutual—until something happens that makes Hunter question everything he’d thought was real. Dare he risk his heart, when he’s certain Annie is keeping secrets?
Can their new romance withstand the pressure, or will Ann choose to run again?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
BIBLICAL TRAINING ACADEMY—Apologetic Defense of the faith, the Bible, and Christianity
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