Thursday, October 25, 2012

Faithful to Laura by Kathleen Fuller - Review

Laura Stutzman came to Middlefield, OH to find the man who had pledged his love to her, then left leaving her with a broken heart, broken spirit, and with all of her family's money that they'd saved for 30 years. She blamed herself for the loss of the family savings and that's why she went looking for him, not because of her broken heart. When she did find him he attempted to kill her. Now she felt like she couldn't go home until she could earn the money to replace what they'd lost, but who would hire her looking the way she did now.

Sawyer Thompson, an Englisher, was adopted by Lucas and Anna Byler after his parents had died and he got abused while in foster homes. He loved his parents, biological and adoptive, he was allowed to mix both worlds and it was his decision as to whether he'd join the Amish Church or not.

Adam Otto's parents still are not talking to each other but Emma has agreed to marry him. Emma's grandma is happy for them but Adam's parents are showing no excitement over what he felt they had always wanted. When he told his mom and she told him to tell his dad, when Adam finds him, all he can talk about is Adam's time living as an Englisher. Adam admits to sleeping with a girl twice, so his dad tells him that he has to inform Emma. Deciding his father is right, Adam goes to Emma, Emma doesn't know quite how to handle this information until she has a talk with her grandmother.

Leona, Emma's grandma, goes to talk to Norman, Adam's dad, and tells him that he has to share his secret with his wife. Norman follow's Leona's advice and confesses his sin to Carol, but they are still two people living separately in one house and trying, although not doing a very good job of it, to hide what is now their secret from their son.

Laura gets a job working for Lucas Byler and isn't working their very long when Cora Easley bursts onto the scene and disrupts the happy Byler family. She's trying to get Sawyer to leave and move to New York with her, claiming to be his grandmother. Cora goes so far as to pay Laura off so she'll help convince Sawyer to go with her.

This was a great read with a several story lines intertwined somewhat. Kathleen really held my interest with this one. You will have to run out and get this book because you really have to see what the secrets are, does Laura ever confront the thief that stole her heart and the family savings and is Cora really Sawyers grandmother. Wonderful writing Kathleen.

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.”

Monday, October 22, 2012

Treasuring Emma by Kathleen Fuller - Review

Emma Shetler doesn't know if she'll ever get used to losing those she loves, first her father three years ago, now her mother to cancer and in between, two years ago, the love of her life Adam Otto walked away to go live among the Englishers. She did still have her beloved grandmother, her father's mom, and her sister Clara, who she didn't get along with very often, and her family. Leona, her grandmother, and Emma have piles of medical bills to pay along with the expense of keeping the farm up, her horse, Dill, is lame and can't pull her buggy. Things don't look good, the bills just seem to keep piling up.

Unbeknownst to Emma, Leona has written to Adam to let him know about Emma's mom and to tell him that there is something wrong with his mother. She isn't sure what, but she thinks it would be a good idea if he came to check up on her. Adam does come to Middlefield against his better judgment, when he left it was not on good terms with his dad, but he had to see his mom for himself.

To say the least, Emma is surprised to see Adam and even more surprised when she finds out it was her grandmother that asked him to return. He tries to help her by checking on Dill and anything else she needs, she refuses any help. She's afraid to let herself get used to having him around only to have him leave again. Clara dislikes Adam even more than Emma, she has contempt for him.

After the funeral Peter King, Clara's husband, invites Emma and Leona to move in with them. This irritates Clara because they can't afford two more mouths to feed. Peter's been out of work for a long time, their pantry is about empty and they only have two bedrooms, one for their two boys and baby Magdalena was still in their bedroom.

When Peter's cousin Mark shows up on their doorstep she gets mad that Peter asks him to stay on with them. She'd just explained things to Peter about their situation, as if he didn't know, but since he's family Peter feels he has to offer. Now Peter, Clara, Junior, Melvin & Magdalena were all in one bedroom. Mark soon befriends Clara though and backs her up about an idea to turn her grandfather's wood shop into a yarn and fabric store. Emma strongly disagrees, that would mean selling her grandfathers tools and she couldn't stand losing all the memories after just losing her mom.

Even though Adam is back and trying to be her friend again and help her around the farm, Emma knows he'll leave soon. Clara doesn't trust Adam and thinks it might be a good idea for Mark to get to know Emma, after all he's family and Adam isn't. Adam doesn't trust Mark, Mark doesn't like the way Adam acts around the family, and Emma really wants nothing to do with either of them.

When Emma's grandmother gets sick and has to stay in the hospital for two weeks a lot of things happen around the farm, some very devastating things. You will want to find out for yourself.

I really enjoyed this book, it always interests me when people leave the Amish and have to come back home when they are under the bann. I have seen banned people treated different ways and it's interesting as to why they left in the first place and what their feelings are once they return.

I purchased this book because I received the second one in the series, Faithful to Laura, to review and I think it's so much better when you can read the books in order. I will say that I'm looking forward to reading the second book and I'm not telling you how she fits in the first book.

The Memory Jar by Tricia Goyer - Review

Sarah Shelter still misses her best friend several years after she drowned. Patty taught Sarah a lot about life, she is the one that got Sarah started on her first memory jar. Not only did she lose Patty, but after the drowning she lost Patty's brother, Michael, who she had a huge crush on. Patty's mother could not take living in Montana with so many memories so they moved.

Sarah has had a hard time moving on with her life and throws herself into baking, mainly cupcakes. She has found a new man she thinks she'd like to spend the rest of her life with, Amos. Amos doesn't show her much interest, although he's friendly, he's not ready to see any one girl.

Jathan has come to Montana from Berlin, OH to find himself, he is being forced into working in a factory so his dad and brothers can build furniture in their small shop. They need Jathan to bring in some steady money to help support the entire family. Jathan isn't interested in woodwork, he likes to bake and do bookwork.

Sarah, Amos, Jathan and some others go on a hike in the mountains, the same mountain trail that leads to a cabin Patty and Sarah had found when they were young and it leads to the lake where Patty had drowned. Sarah twists her ankle and decides to wait while the rest of the group proceed. When it starts getting dark she's afraid they forgot about her and starts limping back down the trail. On the way she sees a different path and decides to take that, she soon comes to a dead end and it's too late to try to make it all the way back down so she decides to wait the night out there and prays a bear doesn't find her.

Jathan is worried about Sarah and tells the rest of the group to go ahead on down the other side of the mountain and to send for help if he and Sarah don't meet them at the bottom. When Sarah is not where they left her, he sees her footprints and follows her trail, luckily he takes the same trail she did and finds her sitting on a log. They end up spending the night in the woods and getting to know each other. In the morning they wake up early and head on down, where they meet the rescuers heading up the mountain along with her parents.

During Sarah's recovery Jathan helps her with her baking and they get to know one another better. They are soon talking about his mother's bakery back in Ohio and they are both having ideas of their own that seem to be about the same things, baking together and spending more time together so they can get to know even more about each other. When Jathan gets called home after his dad had a stroke and they aren't sure he'll even survive, things don't look too good for their future.

When Jathan gets home and sees his dad, he can't talk, he feels even more like he's being forced into working at the factory. Not only that, Anna, his mother's friends daughter, thinks they will be married. The two mothers have talked about their marriage since they were little kids. Jathan talks to his dad, even though he can't answer, and tells him of his new plans, plans to bring Sarah to work in the bakery with his mom and his aunt. They will start selling cupcakes, he will do the books and he is not going to work at the factory.

Sarah arrives in Berlin, goes to work at the bakery and soon business is booming. There is a problem though,  the regular customers are no longer coming in because of the changes that have been made, suggestions made by Sarah. Jathan's mom and aunt voice their opinion and he finds himself firing Sarah immediately and going to work in the factory. It seems the mother that wanted her son to marry Sarah now wants nothing to do with her, not only that she doesn't want her son to have anything to do with her.

Now Sarah has to figure out what she's going to do, she likes Ohio but can she stay there, should she go back to Montana to her family and how soon does she have to make a decision.

Tricia does a wonderful job of keeping you interested in this story, she tugs at your heartstrings for sure. There are ups and downs, just like life has, and what a wonderful friend Sarah had in Patty and it's amazing the things she taught Sarah about life in their young lives that helped her later on. The idea of a memory jar is a beautiful idea and the things Patty says it can teach you. Tricia gives you a lot of things to think about are plentiful.

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.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

Susanna's Christmas Wish by Jerry S Eicher - Review

Susanna Keim married Herman Wagler after being jilted by Matthew Yoder who happened to be her sisters brother-in-law. Matthew and Susanna had been going out for two years and were engaged when he decieded to leave the Amish. He wanted Susanna to go with him but she refused so the engagement was broken since he is under the bann.

After a few months she finally agreed to let Herman take her home and since his Mamm agreed, he asked Susanna to marry him. She agreed even though she wasn't as in love with him as she'd been with Matthew, she thought she could grow to love him just as deeply.

Thanksgiving is around the corner and then there will be Christmas, she could hardly wait until Christmas day to spend with her family at her Mamm and Daedt's house. They always had a large family breakfast with everyone then spent the day enjoying the visiting and snacking before everyone would leave to go home. She knew that the Wagler's didn't celebrate new Christmas, they kept with the old Christmas, but she didn't think it would be a problem. Herman finally told her that they would not be going to her parents home because their family tradition would be as the Wagler tradition was always celebrated, the old Christmas. Susanna just didn't know how she would tell her family this and how she was going to get through this holiday season.

To make things worse, when she goes to her sister Mary's house to help prepare for Thanksgiving dinner she sees an Englisch car parked by the barn, she doesn't think too much about it until Mary meets her at the door and tells her that Matthew showed up the night before. Now she has to tell Herman that Matthew is back just after they'd had their first argument. When they return to Mary's for Thanksgiving dinner, Matthew still hasn't left like he said that he would, making the day very stressful for them. Not only is he there, he wants to talk privately to Susanna, she refuses, but he does catch Herman as he's getting the buggy ready to leave.

On the way home Susanna and Herman have quite the conversation and all does not go well. Herman stays out in the snowstorm until early morning making himself sick. Matthew has talked to the preacher stirring up trouble, and meddling Ivy, Herman's mother, comes over and stirs up more problems. This marriage doesn't seem to be going too well at this point.

I really did enjoy this short story! It gives you a glimpse into how, what I get the impression of anyway, a lot of Amish marriages start out. The bride and groom are just friends, marry for convenience (marrying a widow or widower to help with children for example), or because they are getting past the 'marrying age' and want to hurry and do so. Some couples grow to love one another and some don't, but they stay married regardless. Herman and Susanna have a lot of things working against them at a time that is supposed to be happy, being newlyweds and the holiday season. You'll have to read to find out what happens.

I would recommend that you get this book to read this holiday season, you won't be sorry.

I received this book from Harvest House Publishers for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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, October 11, 2012

A Season for Tending by Cindy Woodsmall - Review

Rhoda Byler has enjoyed working in her garden since she received her first blueberry bush from her Daed as a birthday gift when she was a little girl. He continued giving her one plant every year on her birthday and now she has a garden of all kinds of berries and herbs. She owns Rhode Side Stands, selling home canned goods by mail order and in stores. She had other uses for her herbs and that along with her intuitions cause everyone in town, Amish and English, to think she practices witchcraft.

She loves gardening so much that she ignored her sister's plea's to go to town one day so Emma went by herself. Suddenly she had a feeling that Emma was in trouble, went looking for her and tried to get to town because she knew that Emma was about to get shot. This didn't help her reputation with the people in town. Rhoda now blames herself for Emma's death and other than her family, she only has one friend, Landon, and English man who helps her mail her in Rhode Side Stands.

The King family comes to know Rhoda because Leah King went to a party at her neighbors house and passed out in Rhoda's garden. Samuel, Leah's brother, comes to get her and shows an interest in Rhoda's garden and canning business. When they run into trouble with King's Orchard apple trees, Samuel remembers what he saw there. He and his brothers, Jacob and Eli, go to Rhoda and try to talk her into helping them out by canning their salvageable apples.

Rhoda is very reluctant but the King's keep trying to talk her into it. She is forced to dig up her herb garden because of rumors and one night when everyone is gone, someone comes and runs over all of her berry's and ruins the rest of her garden. Will this influence a change of mind for Rhoda and what happens when a tornado hits King's Orchard?

Cindy did her usual good job on this book. I wondered at first what kind of story this would be, but there is a wonderful story here. The bad thing, at the end of the book you think you know what is going to happen in Rhoda's life but there is that hint that things may take a different path in the next book. Come on Cindy, how long do we have to wait? ? ? ?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) free from the publisher through the <> 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.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

When Hope Blossoms by Kim Vogel Sawyer - Review

Amy Knackstedt is looking for a new start in Weaverly, Kansas after losing her husband in a grain elevator accident. She hopes to leave the questions behind as to the reason for his death, the insurance has paid her and she wants to move on with her three children. With the help of her community they helped her to find a house and get her moved, now she won't have to face the questioning looks, whispers and turned heads when she walks down the street.

When Tim Roper, a former Mennonite, left home as a young man, his father told him never to return. Tim moved to Weaverly for a new start, which he got. He eventually bought an apple orchard, married Julia and they had a son. One day everything changed for him, after the loss of his wife and son, he started playing the 'what-if', game. Then when a new Mennonite group moved to town, he hated his life even more, he wanted nothing to do with them because of his old memories.

Tim discovered his new neighbors when Porter and Adri were found in his orchard. Porter had climbed one of the apple trees and little Adri was picking the blossoms. After Porter fell out of the tree, Tim took the kids home and informed Amy to keep her children off of his property. Not only did he not want kids living next door to him and invading his memories, they were also Mennonite. Then the dreams started and he didn't know what to do.

Shortly after getting settled the men of her new community came to Amy and asked if they could have their Sunday meetings in her house until they could find another place large enough to meet. Amy agrees but when Tim hears their singing for the services and the friendly mingling afterwards, he gets more irritated than ever.

This is a story about dealing with the loss of loved ones and trying to move on. The stories they have will pull at your heartstrings. Kim does a great job of keeping you interested and wanting more. It was hard to put this book down. Have you ever lost a spouse and/or child, how did you deal with it?

Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. 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