Category Archives: Adult Fiction

Christian Chapters: Upon a Spring Breeze by Kelly Irvin

An Honest Walk Through Heartbreak Toward Renewal

Upon a Spring Breeze cover - post sizeUpon a Spring Breeze
by Kelly Irvin


Series: Every Amish Season (Book 1)
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Zondervan
Length: 344pp
ISBN-13: 978-0310348054

Related Links:

Kelly Irvin’s Website


Buy the Book

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Publisher Synopsis

After a devastating winter, a spring breeze promises more than new flowers.… It promises a new chance at love.

Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.

Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.

When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy and the possibility of love?


My Review

Upon a Spring Breeze is the first in a new series (Every Amish Season) by Kelly Irvin. Kelly, one of my favorite writers of Amish Fiction, tends to come at her stories from a unique angle and never shies away from difficult topics.

Kelly’s no stranger to pain – she is living with two chronic, incurable conditions – and her personal life certainly helps to inform this novel. Readers are given a glimpse into the suddenly tragic life of young newlywed Bess Weaver who becomes a widow and a new mother in a few weeks’ span. Her baby looks just like his late daddy and he’s colicky. Bess can barely look at him for the pain and sinks into post-partum depression. While neighbors, family, and friends offer platitudes and epithets of faith, they seem to carry expectations and a timetable for Bess’ grief. They all talk about “Gott’s will” and “Gott’s plan” but Bess can’t begin to comprehend how so much heartache could be part of God’s plan for her life.

“Stiff upper lip and all that nonsense. It’s easy to say what we believe, but living what we believe, well, that’s another pot of potatoes.” (p. 79)

Like the character Mary Katherine says above, it’s easy to carry our faith around like a pair of unworn shoes, but it’s hard to actively walk in those shoes when they are worn and tattered. When life tosses us headlong into hardship and suffering, how do we hold on to hope?

The strength of Kelly’s writing takes what begins as a very sad circumstance and brings it to a hopeful conclusion. Just as God makes beauty out of ashes. And that’s the very heart of Upon a Spring Breeze.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

4.5 Hearts - Final

4.5 of 5 Hearts. An Honest Walk Through Heartbreak Toward Renewal.

Irvin’s beautifully touching novel unflinchingly deals with loss, guilt, despair, family relational dynamics, and other challenges of life, while showing that no matter how dark things may get, help and hope are never too distant, and joy and love can still be found.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Fiction Guild, Thomas Nelson, and BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a copy of Upon a Spring Breeze in exchange for a fair and honest review. 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.”

Christian Chapters: The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston

A Perfect Conclusion to a Heartwarming and Inspiring Series!

Beloved Hope Chest - postThe Beloved Hope Chest
by Amy Clipston


Series: Amish Heirloom (Book 4)
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Zondervan
Length: 320pp
ISBN-13: 978-0310341970

Related Links:
Amy Clipston’s Website
Amy Clipston at Zondervan

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Publisher Synopsis

In the final installment of the Amish Heirloom series, the Fisher sisters learn the mystery behind their parents’ marriage—and about the sibling who has never been spoken of.

Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.

But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?

Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it’s a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it’s past time to share it.


My Review

This morning, immediately after I finished The Cherished Quilt, book three in Amy Clipston’s Amish Heirloom Series, I dove into the final installment, The Beloved Hope Chest. Yes, I started and finished the book in the same day. And what a bittersweet feeling it is to be done!

With each novel in the series, Clipston has given another glimpse into the Fisher family. The first three books focus on one of the Fisher sisters: Veronica, Rachel, and Emily.  We get to know them at a trying but ultimately happy time in their lives, and with each of their stories, we get a peak into their mother’s past, which she keeps safely locked up in her hope chest.

Now, in The Beloved Hope Chest, we’ve come full circle as mother Mattie recounts her painful past that she has, until now, left largely unspoken. Having come to know the family so well through her daughters, it was neat to take a trip back in time to see the early days of Mattie’s marriage to Leroy. Rather than getting to see the genesis of a relationship and then having to guess at their future, we know this couple’s happy ending and instead see their rocky beginnings. And although you know it will all turn out, their futures don’t feel any less precarious as you witness Mattie’s losses and the Fisher couple’s individual anxieties and heartaches.

The Beloved Hope Chest is a story of deep loss navigated through faith, followed by healing and renewal. Above all, though, it’s a story of love. But before you tuck that thought into a tidy little box, hear this: it’s not another sappy love story. The Beloved Hope Chest is a thoughtful exploration of what love really means — it shows love in action, the kind of love we promise to one another when we take our wedding vows. The kind of connection between two people that only God can forge and that no human being can sever.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 Hearts - Final

5 of 5 Hearts. A Perfect Conclusion to a Heartwarming and Inspiring Series!

Amy Clipston has created a host of lovable characters in her Bird-in-Hand community, and her readers will be fully invested in the outcome as they watch the early days of the Fishers’ marriage unfold.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Amy Clipston and Zondervan for providing me with a copy of this title. 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.”

Fiction Shelves: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

A Pleasant Historical Romance That Stumbles as a Mystery

The Illusionist’s ApprenticeIllusionist - posting size
by Kristy Cambron


Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Length: 356pp
ISBN-13: 978-0718041502

Starred Reviews:
Publisher’s Weekly

Related Links:

Kristy Cambron’s Website

Publisher’s Website


Buy the Book:

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Publisher Synopsis

Not all illusions happen on the stage.

Wren Lockhart, apprentice to master illusionist Harry Houdini, uses life on a vaudeville stage to escape the pain of her past. She continues her career of illusion after her mentor’s death, intent on burying her true identity.

But when a rival performer’s act goes tragically wrong, the newly formed FBI calls on Wren to speak the truth—and reveal her real name to the world. She transfers her skills for misdirection from the stage to the back halls of vaudeville, as she finds herself the unlikely partner in the FBI’s investigation. All the while Houdini’s words echo in her mind: Whatever occurs, the crowd must believe it’s what you meant to happen. She knows that if anyone digs too deep, secrets long kept hidden may find their way to the surface—and shatter her carefully controlled world.

Set during one of the richest, most vibrant eras in American history, this Jazz Age novel of illusion, suspense, and forgotten pasts is perfect for fans of The Magician’s Lie, challenging all to find the underpinnings of faith on their own life’s stage.


My Review

WARNING:

At ReadLove we try hard not to include spoilers in our reviews. But in order to explain the low rating this book receives, spoilers are unfortunately a necessity. So if you haven’t read the book yet and wish to make up your own mind about it, then please do not read below the line!

——————–

There is no way to say it but bluntly: For all its good points, The Illusionist’s Apprentice begins and ends problematically, and abounds in inconsistencies throughout. It’s a shame, too, because Cambron writes clearly, has a talent for characterization and chronicling a budding romance, and is certainly skilled at bringing to life an historic era, in this case the Jazz Age. In fact, her easy-to-read prose kept me turning the pages long after my disappointment urged me to abandon the book. I won’t list every troublesome moment in the novel, but I will present a sample.

A quick summary before moving on: On New Year’s Eve in 1926, a resurrection is staged in a Massachusetts cemetery by a famed illusionist. The dead man is revived (supposedly), says a few halting words, then dies. The illusionist is arrested for murder and the FBI investigates.

The first problem is that the mystery should be in ruins by page 14. The corpse to be revived has been buried for twenty-three years. A doctor, not involved with the deception, is asked to attest that the corpse shows “no signs of life”. He solemnly states that it doesn’t. And yet, he does not find it significant that the body — before being recalled to life — is not the least bit putrefied or decomposed, a sure sign of either life or a very recent burial. Even the author comments that it should be “a decayed corpse” with “rotting flesh”.  (Additionally, the man’s clothing and his simple “wooden box” had apparently undergone no deterioration after a quarter of a century underground, which surprises no one, not even the inquisitive press.)

Skipping ahead to the end: The solution to the resurrection trick is given casually, with a vague reference to a tunnel and a “piping system” for air. The reader is left with gaping jaw when she considers the myriad difficulties such a feat of engineering would encounter in 1926. The logistics of digging a long tunnel, especially in secret, are staggering. How do you precisely locate the coffin you’re aiming for? How do you remove hundreds of cubic feet worth of dirt, and where do you put it? How long would the project take — days, weeks? And all this occurs while the ground, we are told, is so frozen that a hole can’t be dug to plant a tree!

As regards the “piping system”, it would be interesting to know what air recycling technology was installed that prevented an unconscious man confined for hours in a narrow box from suffocating on his own CO2. How did evidence of that system vanish when the box was exhumed? And, given that the weather above ground was “frigid”, how did a man whose heartbeat had been artificially slowed to the point where a pulse was undetectable not freeze to death lying all those hours in thin clothes six feet below the surface?

Occasionally, the reader runs into oddities such as these:

— Even after being shot, Wren, our heroine, adamantly refuses to help the FBI, saying, “I can’t continue with the investigation, not if it means giving up my privacy.” A few chapters later, when Amberley Dover does the same thing for the same reason, Wren expresses her disbelief that her one-time friend won’t help the agents: “When people were dying, matters of reluctance should be the first to fly out the window.”

— While discussing details of the case, agent Elliot remarks on how the name of the revived-then-dead man matches that of the original occupant of the grave: “Stapleton wants us to think they were one and the same, but it has to be two men going by the same name. It’s the only possible explanation…” Three pages later, Wren mentions that the man who died had no identification (and therefore, no verifiable name at all).

— On page 158, Elliot states that the original toxicology report “showed nothing of substance”. Later, on 261, he tells Wren that “the original report named the foxglove plant as the probable culprit…”

Elsewhere, while the Jazz Age generally comes across well, all its glitter can’t hide an anachronism or two. But as with Shakespeare’s mechanical clock, we can read over small lapses without a blink. Harder to ignore is the fact that the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for whom our hero works, did not operate under that name until 1935, years after the events in the book. Before then, it was known as the Bureau of Investigation, or the BOI. What an excellent opportunity was missed to add realism and color to the novel, and to educate the reader!

In her Acknowledgments, the author mentions that a circle of Suspense/Mystery writer friends laid out the early framework for her plot. Continued assistance from them would have been helpful. Rightly or wrongly, my impression is that while she excels at writing Romance and can maintain a suspenseful plot, Ms. Cambron has yet to master the intricacies involved in creating a seamless mystery.

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict

2 Hearts - Final

2 of 5 Hearts. A Pleasant Historical Romance That Stumbles as a Mystery.

It hurts my heart to have to say negative things about a writer who’s so obviously earnest about her craft and her faith. But the fact is, The Illusionist’s Apprentice lacks cohesion and believability. It has style, occasional wit, smooth prose, and a strong Christian element, but only the romantic storyline is fully worth the reader’s investment of time.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice in exchange for an honest review. 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.”

Christian Chapters: If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

Top-Notch Christian Suspense That Teaches and Inspires


If I’m Found
by Terri Blackstock


Series: If I Run (Book 2)
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Zondervan
Length: 384pp
ISBN-13: 978-0310332480

Related Links:
Terri Blackstock’s Website
Terri Blackstock’s YouTube Channel

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Publisher Synopsis

Is Dylan hunting Casey to prosecute her or protect her?

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.


My Review

The adventures of Casey and Dylan continue to provide a high level of entertainment. If you haven’t read book one in the series, though, please do so before picking up If I’m Found. Both are outstanding Christian thrillers, and everything I wrote in my review of If I Run applies to its sequel. I won’t risk giving anything away by delving into the plot, but be assured that you’re in for another suspenseful outing as the mystery deepens and the danger mounts.

As in the first book, this story unfolds through the eyes of several narrators. What Terri Blackstock does as well as or better than any of her contemporaries is recognize where to end an arc of chapters devoted to the same speaker. Some authors — most in fact — who employ this device choose to cut off their narrator at cliff’s edge and proceed directly to another character’s viewpoint, thereby ensuring that the reader remains in suspense. Or so they hope. Too often, what actually happens is the reader’s interest level plunges as the next chapter begins, and that chapter becomes a stumbling block, interrupting our concern about a character’s fate. Blackstock sticks with her narrator until the current crisis finds, if not resolution, then a natural resting place. It’s as if she composes long chapters, and later divides them into shorter ones, keeping them unbroken by other narrators. This gives the reader the ability to dive wholeheartedly into a narrative arc knowing she won’t be jerked out of it prematurely.

Where If I’m Found outdoes its predecessor is in its religious discussions. If I Run did not hide its light by any means, but here, as the characters grow closer to God and begin to see His hand active in their lives, the meaning and power of Christian faith are expounded upon in greater detail. Such is the author’s ability that never does anything seem contrived about those moments; instead, they occur as part of the familiar and inborn path one travels when moving towards a fuller understanding and a deeper faith. At the conclusion of the book, there’s even a multi-page author’s note where Blackstock discusses her personal efforts at striving to see God in everything and giving thanks to Him. It’s an excellent wrap-up to the novel and reminds the reader that the three hundred plus pages she has just read contained more than a fictional story. (To emphasize: Last year, I placed my review of If I Run on ReadLove‘s “Fiction Shelves”; this time around, If I’m Found has landed squarely in our “Christian Chapters” category.)

I’ll end this review paraphrasing the sentence I used to conclude my review of the first novel: When the final page is turned, the reader feels perfectly satisfied with the present book, but is eagerly looking forward to the next!

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


5 of 5 Hearts. Top-Notch Christian Suspense That Teaches and Inspires.

It’s another heart-pounding, page-turning Christian thriller from the pen of Terri Blackstock. But If I’m Found is more than its sub-genre. It’s the story of two people learning to trust God and each other while battling seemingly impossible odds, their wits their only weapon, their faith their only shield.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a physical copy of If I’m Found in exchange for an honest review. 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.”

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Netgalley and Zondervan for providing me with a digital copy of If I’m Found in exchange for an honest review. 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.”

Christian Chapters: The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Thoroughly Historical and Wholly Enjoyable Amish Fiction

The Newcomer
by Suzanne Woods Fisher


Series: Amish Beginnings (Book 2)
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Revell
Length: 336pp
ISBN-13: 978- 0800727499

Related Links:
Suzanne Woods Fisher’s Website (Tons of info!)

Publisher’s Website

 

 


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Publisher Synopsis

A fresh start in the New World will test Anna’s resolve . . . and her heart.

In 1737, Anna König staggers off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. It’s a time of new beginnings, and for Anna and Bairn’s shipboard romance to blossom.

But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World, his enthusiasm evaporates. When a ship captain offers him a first mate position, he grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?

As a newcomer joins the church, Anna is torn. This man is everything Bairn is not – bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And he is here. Bairn is not.

Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves the lives of Bairn, Anna, and the newcomer together. When the secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?


My Review

The Newcomer is the second book in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s Amish Beginnings series. Let me assure you, since I’ve not yet read book one, Anna’s Crossing, you can pick up The Newcomer without any prior knowledge and completely enjoy it. In fact, Ms. Fisher originally wrote Anna’s Crossing as a stand alone novel. It was only after years of readers’ requests for a sequel that the tale developed into a series. And it’s only natural that readers wanted more since The Newcomer begins in late 1737, soon after a group of German Amish immigrants emigrate to the New World. Anna’s Crossing chronicles Anna’s group’s voyage to the New World, and The Newcomer tells us about their journey toward settlement.

Indeed, in many ways The Newcomer is about journeys – physical and spiritual, personal and communal. Other thematic elements include pain and loss, dealing with the past, forgiveness, freedom, family, community, leadership, faith, God’s providence, and perseverance.

A true historical novel, The Newcomer will teach you a thing or two! For instance, you might learn about ships, naturalization (there’s an interesting story about the Amish immigrants’ views on the Oath of Allegiance and the resultant changes that were made so they could take the oath in good conscience), Penn’s Woods, or about what led the Amish to leave their homeland. You might even learn a bit about Benjamin Franklin: Good ol’ Ben appears in the novel, working as a printer in Philadelphia. You’ll really enjoy his character and his wit, including the wise sayings of his alter ego Poor Richard — and their German counterparts (and possible origins). One of my favorite proverbs mentioned in The Newcomer is “Ken Rose ohne Dornen,” which translates to “there is no rose without a thorn.”

On top of Mr. Franklin’s humor, a young Amish boy named Felix supplies plenty of smiles and laughs. In addition to levity, Fisher uses short chapters with brief, alternating story lines to carry her plot along without delay. The result? You’ll be turning the pages so quickly you’ll forget you’re reading historical fiction!

I certainly enjoyed my stay in early 18th century Pennsylvania. Though it was definitely not a place for the faint of heart, it’s easy to see the promise that our then young country held for those who faced oppression and possibly even danger for simply practicing their faith, as well as understand why they were willing to endure hardship and combat fear to secure their religious freedom.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

4.5 of 5 Hearts. Thoroughly Historical and Wholly Enjoyable Amish Fiction.

With her latest novel, The Newcomer, Suzanne Woods Fisher has successfully accomplished several ticklish feats. She has written an engrossing sequel that also reads perfectly well as a stand alone; her novel is thoroughly researched yet fast-paced and easily read; she’s crafted likeable and memorable characters (some of whom are even based on real people!); and she’s tied it all together in a beautiful bow that teaches her readers about faith and leaves them with an uplifting message: “There is always something to fear. There always will be. But God will be with us wherever we go.”

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Revell Reads for providing me with a copy of this title. 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.”

Fiction Shelves: The Candidate by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart

Grab It, Read It, Savor the Thrills!


The Candidate
by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart


Series: Newsmakers (Book 2)
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Length: 334pp
ISBN-13: 978-0718037680

Related Links:
Lis Wiehl’s Website
Lis Wiehl Podcast on The Newsmakers

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Publisher Synopsis

How far will a candidate go to become president? Erica Sparks—America’s top-rated cable-news host— is about to find out.

Mike Ortiz is a dynamic war hero favored to win the White House. Standing by his side is his glamorous and adoring wife, Celeste. But something about this seemingly perfect couple troubles Erica. Is Celeste really who she seems? And most importantly, what really happened in that squalid Al-Qaeda prison where Mike Ortiz spent nine months?

But more than the nation’s future is at stake. Erica’s relentless search for the truth puts the life of her preteen daughter Jenny in danger, even as Erica’s own dark past threatens to overtake her.


My Review

[Click the title to see my review of the first book in the series, The Newsmakers.]

Once again, Lis Wiehl and Sebastian Stuart have turned out a barn-burner of a thriller. Top flight journalist Erica Sparks has her hands full — overly full, I should say — combating a villain that no one else even suspects. And this villain is wickedly, viciously, coldly, frighteningly evil.

If you have not read the first book in the Newsmakers series, I suggest you do so before plunging into this one. Many of the same characters reappear, and it helps to know one of them in particular in order to understand Erica’s romantic plight. Also, Erica’s background is explored more thoroughly in book one, as is usual in a series, and there’s much in her history that will enable the reader to better grasp our heroine’s struggles at being a mother.

Those readers seeking an overtly Christian thriller will not find it here. There is little time for Erica to pause and reflect, other than about her worries. (Yes, she could have used some praying.) But despite the presence of a cruel and heartless antagonist, the book’s language never crosses a line that might offend. So this is a clean read, if that concerns you, though at times a heartbreaking one, as not everyone makes it out alive.

Of course, if you read and enjoyed The Newsmakers, then you know what to expect in The Candidate, and you will not be disappointed!

— Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


4 of 5 Hearts. Grab It, Read It, Savor the Thrills!

The Candidate is the second in Lis Wiehl’s latest series. In it, she takes her heroine to even darker places, physically and mentally, than in the first book, and the ride this time is bumpier and more painful. But as before, it is the keen wit, courage, and perseverance of Erica Sparks that provides the real entertainment.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of The Candidate in exchange for an honest review. 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.”

Christian Chapters – An Amish Home: Four Novellas by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid, & Kathleen Fuller

An Outstanding and Uplifting Collection of Amish Novellas!

An Amish Home: Four Novellas
by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid, & Kathleen Fuller


Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Length: 406pp
ISBN-13: 978-0-5291-1869-1

Related Links:
Beth Wiseman’s Website
Amy Clipston’s Website
Ruth Reid’s Website
Kathleen Fuller’s Website
Publisher’s Website


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Contents

A Cup Half Full by Beth Wiseman

Home Sweet Home by Amy Clipston

A Flicker of Hope by Ruth Reid

Building Faith by Kathleen Fuller


My Review

Early last month, when Amy Clipston surprised those of us in her Bakery Bunch with a beautiful purple welcome package, it was Christmas all over again! She had put together the contents with so much love that it was like receiving a care package from your mom, and amid all the lovely surprises inside was An Amish Home.

I couldn’t have been more excited or felt more welcomed — more at home! I have grown to love these seasonal Amish Novella releases by Thomas Nelson. Typically, I buy each new offering as soon as it hits the bookstore shelves, so to have one early and gifted to me by one of the authors — well, that’s a rare and happy treat!

Why do I like them so much? These little beauties are the perfect introduction to Amish Fiction, or for those like me who may have started with Beverly Lewis, they are a great way to sample the work of other authors in the stable, so to speak. The novella format is also the perfect length to read in one sitting, and there’s always something satisfying about starting on page one and reading a story to its conclusion.

As the title makes plain, the four novellas share the common theme of home and hearth. Wiseman and Clipston each look at home through the eyes of young newlyweds. Wiseman’s Sarah returns from the hospital following a serious accident to find her house remodeled and her imagined future altered. While Clipston also shows us a young married couple, Chace and Mia are Englishers whose circumstances bring them and their young child to Bird-in-Hand to live in the daadihaus of Chace’s boss. Each couple struggles against circumstances to create the home and family life they desire. Meanwhile, Reid’s novella, the book’s longest, stands alone in its portrayal of an older couple. Rather than just having established their home and marriage, Thomas and Noreen lose their house to a fire and appear on the brink of losing their marriage. Finally, Kathleen Fuller brings us a young woman named Faith who has an unusual hobby for an Amish female: carpentry. When she’s asked to make cabinets for her cousin’s new house, she finds herself having to work through some painful memories from her past.

Did An Amish Home live up to my expectations? You better believe it! I like how each author gives us a different look at home. In A Cup Half Full, the characters demonstrate a lot of bravery and love, and Beth Wiseman shows us that physical challenges leave no community untouched — even the Amish have members living productive lives despite adversity. Though neither of Amy Clipston’s characters come from an ideal home situation, they find that with God’s help they can create their own home life in each other. I especially enjoyed how Ruth Reid developed Thomas and Noreen’s story through alternating looks at their present and past. And lastly, Kathleen Fuller illustrates how a home and marriage must be built on trust.

An Amish Home reminds us that there is no perfect or ideal home — each has a unique set of circumstances to celebrate or even to endure. But take heart: Home is not the sum of our accumulated things or the safety of the walls that surround us. These can be swept away in a heartbeat. That’s why the true measure of a home is not found in its size or its material contents, but in the strength and depth of the love found in the conjoined hearts residing within.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 of 5 Hearts. An Outstanding and Uplifting Collection of Amish Novellas!

Once again, Thomas Nelson has published a quartet of novellas around a common theme, this time An Amish Home. In these four stories by top Amish Fiction writers, you’ll find many of the same things you have at home — good things like comfort, love, and faith, and difficult things like hardship, pain, and loss. Most importantly, though, you’ll finish your reading with a greater appreciation for what makes a house a home.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Amy Clipston and Thomas Nelson for providing me access to this title. 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.”

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