Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Katie Opens Her Heart by Jerry S Eicher - Review of the first book in Emma Raber's Daughter series

Emma Raber has been a widow for many years and has one child Katie. Emma has only loved two men, one in her youth but when he married someone else she made a fool of herself then agreed to marry Ezra Raber even though she didn't love him. When Emma became pregnant she did fall in love with Ezra and they were a happy family until the day he died. After Ezra's death she became withdrawn and refuses to let anyone into her or Katie's life, she is now known as 'strange' Emma and Katie is known as 'plain Katie', Emma Raber's daughter. Katie doesn't have any Amish friends and was not allowed to participate in rumspringa. Katie works at Byler's Store with other Amish and some Mennonite's.

Jesse Mast has been a widower for about a year and has five children. He has been doing a good job but feels there is too much responsibility put on his oldest daughter Mabel and even his younger daughter Carolyn did more than she should have too. He gets the idea that he needs a wife and his children need a mamm.

Widow Ruth Troyer, who has no children, is teaching school this year and uses this to her advantage to get involved in Jesse's family life. The children like her but she has some work to get Jesse to be convinced that she would make a good frau for him and mamm for his children.

Katie has eyes for Ben Stoll, which Emma senses and sees Katie on the same path she was on in her youth so she refuses to let Katie court or even think about boys. When Katie is invited to the birthday party of a Mennonite boy she accepts and goes against her mamm's orders and goes anyway. She really enjoys herself and continues going to their activities. Now Emma has another problem, she feels like Katie is going to leave her Amish faith and become Mennonite.

Emma has to find help somewhere but who can she turn to? Ruth is inviting herself to Jesse's house more than he appreciates so what can he do about this situation? Katie is trying to push her mamm into Jesse's life, Jesse's children don't like Emma or Katie but they adore Ruth. Emma, Ruth and Jesse have known each other since their youth but have never been close friends, will everything turn out for each of them?

Jerry did a good job of keeping me reading, I think it took me about two days to finish this book, which is good for me, lol. I'm anxious to see what comes next in this series. I see there are two more books coming, Katie's Journey to Love due out in April and Katie's Forever Promise coming out in October. At least April isn't too far away.

I would gladly recommend this book for any reader of fiction and especially Amish fiction.

Thank you to Harvest House Publishers 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

Monday, March 25, 2013

Though Mountains Fall by Dale Cramer - Review of the third book in The Daughters of Caleb Bender series

There is much turmoil as time progresses for the Bender family and other Amish families that are living in Mexico. The bandits have chosen a time to attack the Amish and just as the last of them are entering the safety of Hacienda El Prado the federales finally show up to protect them also. Once the bandits are captured and/or killed everyone returns home. A Bishop finally arrives so people can be baptized  and married, things are looking up.

After some time they find that the federales are just as bad, if not worse, than having bandits in the area. Now there is nothing they can do but give up their horses, food, hay, etc for little or no money or it will be taken from them anyway. Men get drunk, women are raped and men are beat up, all of this is after the fedearales arrive, things aren't going as well as they should be with the Bishop among them and officers of the law to protect them.

What will they do? They have lost family members in this land and if they return to America they'll never be able to visit their graves again. No one is buying land in Mexico, so the will all return broke if they decide to go. If you had to choose to leave loved ones behind and a beautiful land that has produced well for you or stay and feel like you were getting robbed by the government what would you do?

I felt that this book held my attention even more than the first two in the series and since I read before going to sleep, I found myself dreaming about things that were happening in this chapter of the Bender family's life. I definitely recommend this series, it's not your run of the mill Amish storyline.

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.”

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer - Review of the second book in The Daughters of Caleb Bender series

The second year in Mexico isn't going so good for the Bender family or the other Amish that have moved to Paradise Valley. El Pantera and his bandits are more of a threat since Pancho Villa is no longer alive. Even with the newest Amish arriving there is still no Bishop, no leader for them to make necessary decisions.

Miriam is getting older and finds herself falling in love with Domingo, which gives her no future since he is Mexican not Amish. Because of her age she agrees to marry Micah Shrock. When diptheria hits their community, Aaron Bender takes his sisters to the nearest doctor seeking treatment. Another doctor is sent for to treat the community to save as many lives as possible. On their way home they are attacked by El Pantera and his bandits. Two of them get away, one is kidnapped and one is killed.

This is a pretty fast paced storyline for an Amish story and keeps you on the edge of your seat. If you find your family and friends dying from disease and being kidnapped and killed do you think you would stay or return to your home country? You'll have to read the book to see what the Benders and other Amish decide to do. Myself, I don't think I would want to stay there.

I found this book better than the first and am looking forward to the third one, which I'm already over half done with. So don't cheat and wait for my review to see what they decide to do, read these first two books before you read that last review, PLEASE!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


A story about 2 little boys who loved jellybeans more than anything and wanted to eat them morning, noon and night, but of course Mom always said no. They come up with a plan to get their way, you'll have to read to see if the plan worked.

This is a cute book with bright colors and at the same time, as you are reading the story, you get to hunt for the "good eggs" throughout the book. A great way to read your child or grandchild to sleep, they will be dreaming about what else, jellybeans of course!

After seeing the cover and reading about the book on a blog, I knew I had to try to win it for my grandson, I was not disappointed and he will be so tickled with it when he gets it in the mail from Grandma!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer - Review of the first book in The Daughters of Caleb Bender series

Five Amish fathers arrested and thrown in jail, brought before a judge and charged with neglecting the welfare of their children and contributing to the delinquency of a minor all because they kept their children home from the consolidated school. The men tried to convince the judge that they were giving the children an education by teaching them the ways of the farm and the ways of Gott, to read, write and figure so what more do they need since they grow up to be farmers and farmers' wives. The men refused to budge and were sentenced to sixty days in the county jail unless and until they each paid a fine of twenty dollars per child, plus expenses, AND submitted a signed statement agreeing to comply with the conditions of the Bing Act by seeing to it that their minor children attend public school five days a week from then on.

Three days later the sheriff made the rounds to the five homes again, this time to pick up all of the school age children and take them to the county children's home, because they had been neglected. They told the children they were going to clean them up, like they were dirty or something. The boys got haircuts and all of the children were given new clothes, now they looked like Englisch children instead of Amish.

When the father's heard about this, they paid their fines and agreed to send the children to public school, they didn't want their children to suffer. Father's and children were all returned to their homes. The children didn't like attending school any more than their Dad's wanted them to go there. No one was happy with the situation.

Caleb Bender found an advertisement for land in Mexico, Paradise Valley. After some research and talking among themselves it was decided that he and his family would move to Paradise Valley so they could raise their children the way they wanted. Once the Bender's were there they would keep in touch and other Amish would follow them.

There were problems and fears in Mexico, rattlesnakes, scorpions and the biggest fear, bandits. After hearing about some of the difficulties, some of the families backed out, but there were also some families from other Amish communities that decided to move to Paradise Valley.

If you think the Amish are hard workers in America, wait until you read about the work they did in Paradise Valley. Not only that, the obstacles and fears they now have, was it worth the move? You will read about the bandits and everything they do to the Benders, but Caleb still sticks to the Amish way, no violence, no guns to deal with them. How does that work out for them?

The Bing Act, the Ohio law that got the men in trouble, stipulates that all children shall attend public school five days a week from the age of six until eighteen with a possible exemption at sixteen, providing they obtain a valid work permit.

From the author's notes in the back of the book:
The author's great-grandfather was the elder statesman of the colony, his grandparents lived in Paradise Valley, and his father was born there. However written records are scant and few firsthand accounts have survived, so the author used the known history and geography of the colony to create a backdrop. But this is a work of fiction. While the historical context of the novel is fairly accurate, the characters and their stories are entirely the author's creation.

This is a very interesting story, one that I think other readers of Amish books will enjoy. I am on to the second book in the series, The Captive Heart and after that I've already got the third one, Though Mountains Fall.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Over the Edge by Mary Connealy - Review of the third book in The Kincaid Brides series

Since receiving the letter from Callie, his wife that he didn't remember having, Seth Kincaid or one of his brothers had been riding to meet every stagecoach coming to town because she hadn't put in the letter when she would arrive.

Little did he know that the 'man' fighting off robbers in an overturned stagecoach was his wife. When Callie saw Seth she wanted to kill him as much as she wanted to kill the robbers. After all he took off and left her without a word. Luckily some help came and they managed to fight off the thieves then Seth took Callie to the doctor as she had many wounds from fragments of the stagecoach. She was a fighter this one!

Once back in town Seth meets up with some of the other passengers and discovers Cassie has a baby boy, his baby boy, another thing he didn't remember. After Callie was treated by the doctor and rested overnight, Seth gets another surprise for himself, he discovers that he has a half-brother, and he is none to pleased about that. Cassie steps in and insists Heath go 'home' with them. Needless to say this is not a pleasant ride, a winter storm is about to hit, an injured wife who seems to despise him and an unwanted brother.

Things don't go any smoother once they reach the Kincaid property, they soon find that they are being watched and followed you might say by the thief that is looking for the diamonds that Julia's father, Audra's first husband, had stolen from him.

Why did Cassie look him up if she hated him so and why did Heath look the Kincaid brothers up if he wanted nothing to do with them? Was it just to cause turmoil for the Kincaids? What will happen when Jasper actually catches up with them?

Mary continues to keep the reader interested enough that it's almost impossible to put the book down. This was a very intriguing series and when she talks about the caves you almost feel like you are right down in there with the characters. If you are claustrophobic I would think you'd be having a hard time breathing, sometimes I was just about there.

A great series that I would highly recommend.