Amish

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Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport



MY REVIEW:

I have very mixed feelings about “Gladden the Heart”. It has an intriguing and unique plot that is filled with quite a few very interesting events. Unfortunately I did find it to move along at a snail’s pace and I had difficulty connecting with its many characters. I will also admit that my difficulty reading it may have just been a matter of timing and could have an entirely different opinion if I picked it up again at another time. The author’s skill is excellent and I found no real complaints with the book itself. As I said, it was probably just not the right time for me to read it.

I enjoyed reading this historical novel about an Amish community that lived in close proximity to evangelical Methodists who often held tent meetings. Knowing how strictly the Amish adhere to their own beliefs, it was a surprising twist when one of the Amish men suddenly began to have frequent “episodes” where he began preaching in his sleep in the style of the Methodists. As can be imagined, this caused no lack of controversy and curiosity within the Amish community. Was it really the Holy Spirit or was Noah trying to pull something over on them all?

This is one book that devoted Amish fiction lovers should enjoy. I personally learned a good bit about how many of the Amish were taught to dwell on their trials and suffering as what God expected from them and resisted the good news of His love of His people.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

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“When you have experienced the Holy Ghost as I have, you would see that it is difficult to turn back.”

When the lively fervor of nineteenth century revivalism endangers the staid customs of the Amish community in the lush but rugged Kishacoquillas Valley of central Pennsylvania in 1847, the Amish church must deal with a divisive question: What is a genuine spiritual experience?

The question turns personal when Susanna’s beloved cousin Noah begins preaching while under trances and even though he is not a minister he gives long sermons that attract increasing attention. Curious, she helps to keep Noah safe during his trances. At the same time Adam, Susanna’s intended, feels pressure from the bishop to speak out against the ways of revivalism.

Susanna and Adam are pushed to opposite sides of a controversy that threatens their traditional Amish faith.. Now they must grapple with whether love is possible…even if they come to different conclusions.

When Noah goes missing at a time of day when he often preaches while asleep, circumstances thrust community members with divergent opinions into a crisis that demands they recognize the humanity they share regardless of beliefs. But can strong-held opinions be softened by the truths that shape their lives?

Click here to purchase your copy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to discover where faith and passions meet. She chases joy in Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is. Her books include the Avenue of Dreams series set in 1890s Chicago; the Valley of Choice series, which intertwines contemporary and historical Amish stories; the historical Amish Turns of Time series; and Hidden Falls, a warm, contemporary, small-town novel.

GUEST POST FROM OLIVIA NEWPORT:

Sleepy Sundays

Now don’t laugh, but my guess is that if you looked around your church on any given Sunday morning, you’d see somebody sleeping. It might be an infant or toddler whose nap time collides with the worship time resting in a parent’s arms, or it might be a senior citizen who has perfected the art of dozing in an upright position.

What you don’t expect is that the person sleeping will be the preacher.

I’ve always been interested in church history. I even read a magazine called Christian History on a regular basis and consider it pleasure reading. In my ambling through church history, I came across a notation about “sleeping preachers” in the nineteenth century in various denominations, including the Amish. The accounts suggested that individuals who were not ministers would fall unconscious, wake up to preach for lengthy periods, sleep again, and have no recollection of their actions.

Could this possibly be true? Or a giant hoax? What’s a genuine spiritual experience, and what do we do when don’t agree on how to answer that question? Let’s face it, even now, 150 years later, we still don’t quite know what to do with our varying traditions when we don’t agree on how to answer that question.

I knew I had the makings of a story. Gladden the Heart travels back to 1847 and wrestles with these questions. When a divided community faces a life-or-death situation, they must respond to a crisis that challenges them to look past their differences. But can strong-held opinions be softened by the truths that shape their lives?

Gladden the Heart is the fifth story in Olivia Newport’s Amish Turns of Time series of historical Amish novels. Olivia chases joy in Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

BLOG STOPS:

July 4: Cafinated Reads

July 5: Book by Book

July 6: Genesis 5020

July 6: A Baker’s Perspective

July 7: Reading Is My SuperPower

July 7: Connie’s History Classroom

July 8: Daysong Reflections

July 9: God’s Little Bookworm

July 9: Inklings and Notions

July 10: A Reader’s Brain

July 10: Zerina Blossom’s Books

July 11: Bibliophile Reviews

July 11: Artistic Nobody

July 12: Karen Sue Hadley

July 12: Blogging With Carol

July 13: The Fizzy Pop Collection

July 14: Have A Wonderful Day

July 14: cherylbbookblog

July 15: Bigreadersite

July 15: Carpe Diem

July 16: Splashes of Joy

July 16: The Power of Words

July 17: His Grace is Sufficient

July 17: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away a Grand Prize that consists of:

All five books in the Amish Turns of Time series
(http://www.olivianewport.com/amish-turns-of-time/)
PLUS
Bonus: All three books in the Valley of Choice series
(http://www.olivianewport.com/valley-of-choice/)
PLUS
$25 Amazon Gift Card!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!
https://promosimple.com/ps/bc59

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Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson



MY REVIEW:

“Freedom’s Price” is the third book in Christine Johnson’s Keys of Promise series. Although there are some crossover characters, this book easily stands on its own. I would also recommend both of the other books in this series, “Love’s Rescue” and “Honor Redeemed”, not because they are necessary but because each is an enjoyable read.

I personally have enjoyed this series that has seemed to get better with each book. In my opinion “Freedom’s Price” was amazing with it’s steady plot that seemed to move from one dangerous situation to another as the mystery and suspense escalated. Strong characters whose faith saw them through trials and seemingly impossible circumstances were well crafted and natural. An equally convincing villain brought a compelling sense of evil to the story.

I liked how the relationship between Catherine and Tom developed slowly despite their opposing ambitions. I particularly admired Tom’s determination to protect Catherine even when her stubborn choices put her at risk. It goes without saying that romance was inevitable but was not the primary focus of the story.

I would be quite happy if “Freedom’s Price” is not the last book of this series as is the usual practice. I would enjoy reading more novels set in historic Louisiana and Florida.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Sometimes the hardest step to take is the first step forward

When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her father and her home in 1856, she decides to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother’s family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships.

When Catherine arrives at the plantation, she finds that her family has left it in the care of a manager–who’s let it fall into disrepair. Torn between returning to Key West with Tom and beginning the hard work of restoring the plantation, Catherine soon finds herself snared in a plot to steal her inheritance. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice: grip their dreams ever tighter or step forward in faith–even if it costs them everything.

Read an excerpt from “Freedom’s Price” HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

© E.A. Creative Photography 2013

Christine Johnson is the author of several books for Steeple Hill and Love Inspired and has been twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® award. When not writing, she loves to hike and explore God’s majestic creation. These days, she and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys.

 

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Return to Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand



MY REVIEW:

I have read and enjoyed several novels by Jennifer Beckstrand and fully expected “Return to Huckleberry Hill” to be as entertaining. Although the story was a bit different from the others, it was definitely entertaining. I couldn’t help laughing each time one of Anna’s new recipe creations was mentioned. Who would ever think of actually combining some of those ingredients?! On the other hand the romance was a bit frustrating. Then there were those “mean girls”. I never imagined that you would find their type among the Amish. Goes to show how much I know.

Reuben had to be one of the most annoying romantic interests of any book I have ever read. He was so full of himself that he often neglected to think of others. It was a bit difficult to understand why Fern was willing to sacrifice so much to help him when he seemed to look down on her and her family so much. But as can be expected from most good books, circumstances eventually forced Reuben to examine himself and realize how much his actions had hurt others.

“Return to Huckleberry Hill” is an excellent story of forgiveness, reconciliation, and love. Reuben turned his life around and as we all know, found his happy ending with the girl he really loved.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Click here to purchase

When it comes to matchmaking, Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin’s unstoppable octogenarians Anna and Felty Helmuth never seem to run out of opportunities—or grandchildren…

Reuben Helmuth is plenty bitter. John King, his best friend—or so he thought—is engaged to the girl Reuben loved. Humiliated, Reuben flees from Ohio to his grandparents’ home on Huckleberry Hill, where he knows he’ll find comfort. He’s enjoying wallowing in his misery—until John’s sister, Fern, shows up. She won’t stop pestering Reuben about forgiveness—or trying to help him find love again. Yet Fern’s efforts only reawaken Reuben’s long-buried feelings—for her…

With her brother too ashamed to face Reuben, it’s fallen to Fern to help mend fences. But as she and the Helmuths do all they can—even organizing a knitting club event filled with eligible girls—it may take one more challenge to inspire Reuben to forget his heartache, recognize his own blunders, and embrace the true love that’s right in front of him…

Click here to purchase your copy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Beckstrand is the award winning Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hillseries and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth and the Honeybee sisters’ aendi Bitsy. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a passion for Jane Austen and Shakespeare. She and her husband have been married for thirty-two years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and soon-to-be six adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

GUEST POST FROM JENNIFER BECKSTRAND:

Anna Helmuth is starting a knitting club, but that’s not all she’s got up her sleeve.

My family. I have five sisters and no brothers. I think my mom made every dress in this photo, including her own.

In Return to Huckleberry Hill, Anna Helmuth and Fern King decide to start a knitting club in order to introduce Anna’s grandson Reuben to some girls from Bonduel, Wisconsin. Anna is a very good knitter, with years of practice making baby blankets, scarves, mittens, and potholders. One of Anna’s scarves actually saved someone’s life, and her potholders have helped her make many a match.

When I was a young teenager, I learned how to knit and crochet. My mom taught me how to sew and quilt, and I made several of my own dresses in high school. I never learned to love sewing, but it was an invaluable skill that I am so grateful to have. Now that I’m a little older, I love putting together simple quilts for baby gifts and making quilts for the local children’s hospital. There is nothing like a homemade gift to say, “I care about you.”

I have a friend who is a wonderful cook. Making a delicious, beautiful meal is how she tells her family she loves them. I don’t consider myself a great cook, but I still take pride in putting something nutritious and satisfying on the table for my family.

It seems to me that some of the “home arts” that our mothers and grandmothers practiced are dying out. Who knows how to tat anymore? Or embroider? Some of these arts have died because of expediency. Who doesn’t think today’s stocking choices are more comfortable and practical than knitted wool ones? Others have died out because so few people want to learn.

What about you? Do you still practice any of the home arts that your grandmother did? What do you want to pass on to the next generation?

BLOG STOPS:

May 23: cherylbbookblog

May 23: Lighthouse Academy

May 24: Reading Is My SuperPower

May 24: A Greater Yes

May 25: Just Commonly

May 25: God’s Little Bookworm

May 26: Have A Wonderful Day

May 26: Edits and Reviews by Leslie McKee

May 26: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

May 27: Faithful Acres Body Soul Spirit

May 27: A Bakers Perspective

May 28: Christian Bookaholic

May 28: The Power of Words

May 29: Karen Sue Hadley

May 29: Daysong Reflections

May 29: Inklings and notions

May 30: Quiet Quilter

May 30: my site/autism mom

May 30: Donna’s Bookshelf

May 31: Bibliophile Reviews

May 31: Bigreadersite

June 1: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

June 1: Southern Gal Loves to Read

June 2: Pause for Tales

June 2: Blossoms and Blessings

June 2: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

June 3: Moments Dipped in Ink

June 3: Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting

June 4: A Room without Books is Empty

June 4: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

June 4: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

June 5: His Grace Is Sufficient

June 5: Jeanette’s Thoughts

June 5: A Simple Life, really?!

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card to three lucky winners!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b3b2

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The Amish Wanderer by Laura Hilton



MY REVIEW:

If asked to describe Laura Hilton’s books, I might tell you that they are “gritty” Amish fiction. This author has chosen to write stories that reveal the fact that like in all other walks of life, at their core, the Amish are also human and not all are the perfectly upright people portrayed in many of the popular novels. In “The Amish Wanderer” the reader will find that each of the two primary protagonists have secrets and carry heavy burdens from their past.

Bethany longs to run away from the town that knows about her father’s disgrace but her pain goes even deeper and there is one man she wants to leave far behind. Silas has spent his entire life in a dysfunctional and violent family and probably carries the scars to prove it. He is one the road to what he hopes will be a new life away from his family and the man he believes wants him dead. When he takes shelter one night in the Weiss barn and agrees to stay and help out on their farm, he and Bethany will find their lives changed forever.

I have read only two of Laura Hilton’s books but if they are indicative of her others, I have found another author to add to my “Don’t Miss” list. “The Amish Wanderer” grabbed my attention from the very beginning and I found myself reading well into the night. I did not want to do anything other than read this book. The story is so compelling although it does contain at least one scene that may be offensive to some readers. I personally believe that the scene was necessary to fully make the point of the danger to Bethany and it was handled very tactfully.

I liked Bethany and Silas’s characters very much and enjoyed reading about their road to romance, forgiveness, faith, and restoration. A good amount of scripture was woven seamlessly into the plot and was all quite applicable to their situations. Some suspense, drama, humor, and of course romance were blended perfectly to make the perfect read. Several plot twists and surprises made it all the more enjoyable.

If you have not read any books by Laura Hilton, please do yourself a favor and give one or more a try soon. I do not think you will regret it.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book that was provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Click to purchase

Bethany Weiss is ready to leave town. Tongues haven’t stopped clacking in Jamesport, MO, since her daed, the bishop, was admitted to a mental hospital after hurting their small Amish community. But her sharpest wounds Bethany hides from prying eyes, quietly biding her time until she can take a chance at a new life—away from Jamesport and away from God.

Silas Beiler was kicked out of his own home. Dogged by a rough childhood and a family who blames him for each new disaster, he begins hitchhiking across the country, sleeping in barns where he can, working for food when possible—headed for Pennsylvania in the hope of some stability.

When Bethany spies a man asleep in the hayloft, she first fears the return of an unwelcome suitor. But when it is Silas who turns and speaks, the memories flood back: a happy summer six years ago full of lemonade, long walks, and budding courtship. Now, however, those months of bliss seem naïve and idyllic. Was their old love strong enough to overcome new pain? Or will hurt and rejection continue to haunt their path?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amish fiction lovers responded positively and immediately to Laura V. Hilton’s debut novel, Patchwork Dreams, when she burst on the scene in 2009 with her unique series, The Amish of Seymour, set in the tiny town of Seymour, in Webster County, Missouri. Fans of the genre immediately recognized Hilton’s insider knowledge, not only of the Webster County community, but Amish culture in general. Her natural speech and writing patterns, she says, are uniquely “Amish,” acquired from her Amish maternal grandparents. The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, is comprised of Healing Love, Surrendered Love, and Awakened Love. A stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County, was released in September 2014. The Amish of Jamesport includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard and The Birdhouse. In spring 2016 she released The Amish Firefighter with the setting in Jamesport, MO, the same as for The Amish Wanderer.

Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

GUEST POST FROM LAURA HILTON:

I didn’t intentionally set out to write an Amish story loosely based on a true story. If fact, when people asked me if I would write my maternal grandparents’ story, I told them no.

But when time came to write Bethany’s story, all I knew was a short paragraph blurb about it. Bethany and her once-upon-a-time boyfriend Silas who left that particular Amish district and her before their relationship became serious. I didn’t know their backstories, really, and had no idea how the story would proceed. And since I don’t plot, I spend a lot of time praying about the story, because really, I want to write what He says to write. He knows who He wants it to reach.

So I sat down to pray about it. And God gave me a verse. Which is unusual at the beginning of the story. Usually, for me, it’s at the middle when God reveals His theme for the book. But this time, it was at the beginning. The verse is:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

And the verses caused more prayer. What am I supposed to do with it?

I was driving to Melbourne (Arkansas, not Australia) to pay property taxes and get my vehicle tags renewed, listening to the radio as we (my three daughters and I) drove down Larkin Road (that’s not the real name, just what everyone calls it—we have a lot of those around here: Day Road, Moko Road, etc—because there are ghost towns on these roads so they are called by the name of the ghost town). A song came on the radio and I don’t remember the name of it, or even who the singer was, but when I arrived in Melbourne, I had the opening line to my story.

The sky is falling and I’m searching for somewhere to hide.

I’m sure the people at the county clerk’s office might have been a little concerned about the state of my mental health when they saw the words scribbled at the top of my bill. I did get a strange look. I didn’t offer an explanation. And they didn’t ask.

When I got home, I started writing and paying close attention to Bethany’s mental clues (and Silas’s) to figure out what their stories were. And how they tied into the verse God had given me.

And then, without even realizing it until it hit, I knew who’s story I was writing.

My grandmother’s. My grandfather’s.

Except they are different. My grandmother wasn’t date raped. It was a member of her own family. And she wasn’t in love with my grandfather. She just discovered he was leaving the Amish and she wanted—needed—to escape.

Neither were Christians at the time. My grandfather was saved on his death bed. My grandmother’s youngest child was a teenager when she was saved. My mother, her sister, and all their girlfriends went to a tent meeting for a United Brethren Church and my grandmother attended one of the meetings with her daughters and was saved as a result. And their testimonies ultimately led to the salvation of my uncle and my grandfather.

Both of my grandparents had a lot of issues to work through as to why God allowed the bad things in their lives to happen. That they eventually came to Christ is a miracle but I’m glad they did, as I was raised in a Christian home.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to people? The short, pat answer is: because sin entered the world. Yes, God could stop them. But what if He uses the bad thing to refine a person’s faith, to draw them closer to Him as a result?

How a person reacts to the bad things directly ties in to how they affect them. In my story, Silas chose to trust God even though he feared for his life. No, he didn’t like what had happened, but even though he didn’t see how, he trusted God was working behind the scenes to bring Silas to where he needed to be, spiritually and physically. On the other hand, Bethany believed God had rejected her. Pushed her away and didn’t care about her. If He didn’t care for her, why should she care about Him? So she went into a stand-off with God.

The lessons ultimately learned, for both my grandparents and my characters, brought them to their knees before the living and holy God who was, and is, and is to come. And I trust God will use this story to help a reader out there who might be questioning something terrible that happened in their life.

You might not see how now and may not know why until eternity, but God has this. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

BLOG STOPS:

February 14: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

February 14: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

February 14: inklings and notions

February 15: A Rup Life

February 15: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

February 15: Lane Hill House

February 16: Daysong Reflections

February 16: A Simple Life, really?!

February 16: Blogging With Carol

February 17: Reading Is My SuperPower

February 17: Bigreadersite

February 17: Rockin’ My Mom Jeans

February 18: Rhonda’s Doings

February 18: Jeanette’s Thoughts

February 19: A Greater Yes

February 19: A Holland Reads

February 20: Connie’s History Classroom

February 20: Blossoms and Blessings

February 21: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

February 21: Mom Is Forever

February 22: A Baker’s Perspective

February 22: Splashes of Joy

February 23: Moments Dipped in Ink

February 23: Carpe Diem

February 24: Pause for Tales

February 24: Quiet Quilter

February 25: For The Love of Books

February 25: Donna’s BookShelf

February 26: Christian Bookaholic

February 26: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

February 27: Giveaway Lady

February 27: Autism Mom

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away  Amish Wanderer, Patchwork Dreams (Amish of Seymour #1), Snow Globe (Amish of Jamesport #1),
a 10 x 17” canvas banner: “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly” (Micah 6:8), and
Abba Scripture Candle (3” natural, clean-burning wax, scented) – “With God All Things Are Possible”! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b0d8

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‘My Daughter’s Legacy’ Blog Tour, Author Chat Party, and Giveaway
My Daughter's Legacy Mindy Starns Clark Leslie Gould


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