Thursday, May 17, 2012

Following Your Heart by Jerry S Eicher - Review

Following Your Heart
Second in Fields of Home series
by Jerry S Eicher

Susan Hostetler, her friend Teresa Long and Teresa's baby, Samuel, are settling in at Susan's parents, Menno and Anna, home. Teresa is loving the Amish life and looking forward to going to her first church services. The women are busy doing their Saturday cleaning when they hear a buggy pulling in the drive way, it is Deacon Ray, coming to talk to Menno. After the Deacon leaves, Menno goes inside to deliver the bad news, Teresa is not allowed to go to services! She is disappointed but it doesn't deter her, she asks if they can at least take Samuel with them, she is determined to give him a better life than she had.

Susan's former beau, Thomas, wants to win her heart back and comes up with a plan. He thinks if Teresa can find a beau and get married maybe he'd have a better chance. Thomas goes to Yost Byler, a man old enough to be Teresa's father, has a filthy house, doesn't clean up himself even and hardly talks to anyone, and convinces him to go to Deacon Ray and offer to marry Teresa on the day of her baptism if he'll let her go to classes. Deacon Ray thinks it over and talks to Menno about it. When Menno explains the plan to Teresa, she gladly agrees to it. After all, she'll get to join the Amish and will have a father for Samuel, a father that will raise him to be a good Amish person and support him. She will do anything for Samuel.

When Deacon Ray's son, James, see Teresa for the first time, he can't take his eyes away. As he studies her he tries to figure out what she's up to, what she and Susan have going on. He does do a pretty good job of figuring Teresa out in his mind.

Susan is not happy at all that Teresa is required to marry Yost and throughout the book tries to talk her into going back to Asbury Park, and she'll go with her. Susan isn't very happy being back at home even though she knows her parents are getting older and need help on the farm. It is Teresa that keeps Susan home, she refuses to leave and feels she deserves old Yost Byler, no matter how bad he is, for the sins of her past.

Teresa is the stronger and more determined one of the two girls. Teresa's coming stirs up a few problems not only in the community but also with Menno, he starts having trouble sleeping because he remembers his past and wonders if an Englisha girlfriend really did lose his child that she was carrying. James has strong feelings for Teresa but his father, the Deacon, orders her not to even talk to him.

I think I enjoyed this book more that the first one, it held my interest. I know that Susan had left the community and came back because of Teresa and Samuel, but I was still impressed at how she wanted to return to the English world and Teresa was the one to encourage her to stay and to give Thomas a second chance. What a strong person Teresa turned out to be, giving the lifestyle she was raised in.

Wholeheartedly recommended as a good read!

I received a print copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers and a ebook copy for my Kindle from Net Galley. I was not required to give a positive review, this review is my opinion.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley <> book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Arms of Love by Kelly Long - Review

Arms of Love
by Kelly Long

This takes place in Pennsylvania in 1777, what was once called William Penn's Woods. The area is populated with several different faiths, including a small and struggling Amish group, living together for the first time in American history. The British and Patriots are pillaging land and goods for the war, so the Amish are not safe.

Adam Wyse, fighting a personal battle and in love with Lena Yoder, is thinking about leaving the Amish faith and enlisting. He has had a harsh life, his father has been beating him since he was nine years old, although his older brother Isaac never got beat. Isaac loved books and spent his time studying the Bible and making plans to become a Bishop while Adam worked with his father, Joseph.

Lena's father, Samuel, is in prison because he refused to turn over his last milk cow to the Patriots. He refused because his wife was pregnant and not doing well, he needed the milk for her. Even though Samuel doesn't like Adam, Adam would still go to the Yoder's to help them out, he would even take food and coin to the prison so Samuel would get extra food. Adam was there when Mary Yoder gave birth to Faith. Mary knew she wasn't going to live long so she asked him to promise her that he'd give up Lena's love, to give her up, until he was free from his father's rule and ready to build a new and free life for the two of them away from his father, which he did. She feared for Lena because she thought Adam would turn out like his father, a mean person.

Adam helps Lena get through the next few days, gets a wet nurse for baby Faith, sends his family over to do services for Mary and when these things are taken care of, he breaks things off with Lena, not telling her about the promise to her Mother. When Adam hears that Samuel is about to be tried, he gets Lena and takes her to town, he even trades his horse for Samuel's freedom, these things still don't bring Samuel around to liking Adam. Soon Lena and Isaac are pushed to marry, even though they are not in love. With Joseph and Samuel pushing them, they agree to marry when the Bishop comes around.

Throughout the story you know that something happened in the past, but just can't figure it out, what is it and is that what's causing Adam to think about going to war? Will Lena be able to follow through with the wedding plans to marry Isaac? Where does Adam end up?

I thought the book started out kind of slow, but as I read, I was anxious to see how things worked out for everyone. It was an interesting time period to be reading about and the additional struggle the Amish had during that period. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes historical Amish stories.

Kelly has put a reading group guide, as well as a four week Novel Bible Study on the Arms of Love in the back of the book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Missing by Shelley Shepard Gray - Review

First in The Secrets of Crittenden County series
by Shelley Shepard Gray

Three Englischer girls were on their way home from school and trespassing on the Miller's farm, but Abby Anderson didn't feel comfortable being there. She knew the Amish owner, Mr Miller, didn't like people cutting across his land, she knew her parents wanted her to come straight home from school and she definitely didn't want to be sneaking around smoking, she was a good person but just couldn't find a place she felt comfortable. She finally got up enough nerve to tell the other two that she was going home so one of them threw her backpack, when Abby went to find it she found that it'd fallen in a hole right on top of a dead body!

Everyone thought Perry Borntrager had jumped the fence when they no longer saw him around town. He hadn't been seen for several months on that fateful day when Abby discovered his body. Perry was a good Amish boy that had gotten messed up with drugs and was soon dealing drugs. That change in his life caused him to lose his Amish sweetheart Lydia Plank and the rest of his friends. He started stealing from the cash register where he worked at Schrock's Variety, Walker Anderson caught him and threatened to tell the owner but he knew it would be his word against Perry's. Thinking people would suspect an Englischer of stealing before any Amish person and Perry would probably accuse him, Perry being Amish would be believed, so Walker didn't say anything, instead, he quit his job. Later after Perry no longer worked at Schrock's Variety, Walker went back to work there.

When Deputy Sheriff Mose Kramer, raised Amish but jumped the fence himself, couldn't solve the murder he called his old friend Luke Reynolds, a Detective in Cincinnati and on sick leave recovering from a gunshot wound. Luke agrees to help but when he gets to town he finds that things won't be as easy as he thought they would be. It seems everyone is pretty closed mouthed, they say Perry was a good person and he could be bad, that's just Perry. Luke feels solving the case is a lost cause until Lydia and Walker finally call him, each had agreed to keep a secret about Perry, but now each one, not knowing the other one has called Luke, gave him a few more tidbits. Maybe the tide is turning on the case.

Lydia and Walker only knew each other in passing, so to speak, until Perry's body was found, then they both felt a great loss and carried quilt by blaming themselves for Perry's death. With Luke being called in to investigate they start talking, they become even closer after Lydia finds out that she's adopted. Her parents decided after 20 years she should know about her adoption, they didn't want to keep it a secret any longer because they felt that keeping secrets contributed to Perry's death. Lydia sought Walker out when she was even more confused with her life after hearing that. He helps her find out who her birth parents are then they have a bad argument and decide they don't want to see each other anymore.

Does Luke solve the murder, will Lydia be able to connect with her birth parents, will she continue to be Amish or jump the fence and what will happen between Lydia and Walker, will they stay mad at each other?

You will get a chuckle at the shenanigans that take place in Schrock's Variety, watch for flying hens, guinea pigs and big black snakes. Shelley did a great job on this book and I'm anxious for the second and third books to come out. She is tricky, she leaves you hanging so you have to continue the series, lol, so now the wait begins. The Search will be out in June of 2012 and Found in September of 2012.