Category Archives: Amish 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.”

Interview with Amy Clipston (Plus Giveaway!)

A Mother’s Day Q&A with Author Amy Clipston

Amy and sons

Amy Clipston with sons Matt and Zac

What was your favorite Mother’s Day? 

My favorite was after Matt was born because I had my two wonderful boys.

What was your most favorite book to read to your boys when they were little?

Zac absolutely loved Big Joe’s Trailer Truck by Joe Mathieu! He knew it by heart! It’s the cutest book, and I read it to Matt also. We kept it and will pass it on if they have children.

Do you get any book ideas from your sons’ shenanigans?

I haven’t really included any of their shenanigans, but I did model a character after Zac. In my young adult book Roadside Assistance, Logan, who is Whitney’s younger brother, was inspired by Zac. Logan likes Star Wars and video games, and his room is decorated similarly to how Zac’s room used to look.

What’s one of your favorite memories/stories of your boys with your books?

For the past four years I’ve spoken to the 6th grade at my boys’ middle school. I don’t think I embarrassed them too badly when they were members of the audience. One of my sons doesn’t tell many people that I write books, but my other son proudly shares it with friends and teachers. He frequently comes home from school and tells me that the girls in his classes are reading my books. I’m thankful he’s not embarrassed by me or my books.

As a mother, what is your prayer for your boys?

My prayer is that they stay healthy and they find a profession they love. I also pray that if they chose to marry, they find someone who is nice and who will treat them with love and respect. I tell them repeatedly that love should never make them feel bad about themselves. I pray with all of my heart that they will be happy.

About Amy

Amy

Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and three spoiled rotten cats.

Amy Clipston’s Website
Amy Clipston at Zondervan

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Don’t Miss Amy Clipston’s May Giveaway!

Click through on the photo to enter for a chance to win the prizes shown below, including Amish doll clothes that fit American Girls size dolls!

Amy Clipston May Giveaway

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.”

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


Buy the Book

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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.”

The Week in Reviews: ReadLove Recap For the Week Beginning March 7, 2016

 

Another week has come and gone at ReadLove ! Here’s what you may have missed:

Monday:

Music Video: “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin ft. Pat Barrett

“We all have a picture of who we think God is. When we get down to the foundation of what we believe, the truth is that God is exactly who He says He is – a good, good Father.”

[Read the full post]








Tuesday:

Christian Chapters: An Unbroken Heart by Kathleen Fuller

5 of 5 Hearts. Kathleen Fuller Affirms That God Can Heal the Most Broken of Hearts.

Thematically, alongside its message of courage in adversity, Kathleen Fuller’s An Unbroken Heart is a moving and instructive story of love and forgiveness, pain and healing, endings and new beginnings.

[Read the full review]

 

 

 

Thursday:

Fiction Shelves: The Newsmakers By Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart

4.5 of 5 Hearts. Forget ‘Page-Turner’ – This Thriller is a Chapter-Turner!

Lis Wiehl’s latest novel is the first in a new series. She’s done an excellent job of establishing her heroine and filling her world with likable characters. More thriller than mystery, the real pleasure of The Newsmakers is in tagging along with smart, savvy, and strong Erica Sparks on her investigations, rooting for her to figure out what we already suspect and hoping that she can save the day!

[Read the full review]

 

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That’s everything that happened on ReadLove this week. See you next week!

Until then, I’d love it if you shared a bit about your week in the comments!

Christian Chapters: An Unbroken Heart by Kathleen Fuller

Kathleen Fuller Affirms That God Can Heal the Most Broken of Hearts

An Unbroken Heart
by Kathleen Fuller


Series: Amish of Birch Creek (Book 2)
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Length: 289pp
ISBN-13: 978-0718033279

Related Links:
Kathleen Fuller’s Website

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Buy the Book

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Publisher Synopsis

An argument. A crash. In an instant, Joanna’s world is changed forever.

One minute, Joanna Schrock was arguing with her parents, and the next, her parents’ lives were claimed in a hit-and-run buggy accident. Her body is broken, but her heart is in even deeper pain— after all, how do you cope with your parents’ deaths when your last words were spoken in anger?

After an extended stint in a physical rehabilitation center, Joanna re-enters her Amish life. But nothing is the same—not even her feelings for Andrew Beiler.

Joanna has loved Andrew since the age of twelve, and her feelings have not changed throughout the years. She is thrilled when Andrew wants to get married, but she wonders whether it’s love he’s feeling, or pity. As the couple’s wedding date approaches, Joanna isn’t overcome with the deep joy she was hoping to feel; instead, she’s wracked with anxiety and guilt.

Joanna hears God whispering to her, Be strong and courageous, but she’s afraid that courage looks a lot like walking away from her dreams and into the plan of her Heavenly Father.

If Joanna takes the first step toward healing, will it cost her everything she’s ever wanted? Or could God be changing the desires of her heart?


Click here to read my review of A Reluctant Bride,

the first book in the Amish of Birch Creek series.


My Review

An Unbroken Heart/Joshua 1:9

Lately, God’s been teaching me lessons in trust, and He’s not been subtle. He is nearly hitting me over the head, coming at me from all sides. Messages in my daily devotional readings have been aligning with ideas in my recreational reading. “Make friends with the problems in your life…I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent that you trust Me. Every problem can teach you something,” said Jesus Calling on March 5th, the very same day I finished reading An Unbroken Heart. 

Kathleen Fuller begins An Unbroken Heart by referencing Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” God never promised things would be easy, but He does promise to stay by our side. And He makes sure that our suffering does not go for naught. Kathleen Fuller communicates these sentiments with beauty and feeling in An Unbroken Heart.

Having survived the buggy accident that killed her parents, Joanna finally returns home from her stay at the rehab center in Middlefield. But the girl who comes home to Birch Creek clearly isn’t the same. We suspected something was wrong in book one, and our instincts were good. Joanna is broken – physically, emotionally, even spiritually. Lest she forget, she’s got a scar to remind her. Indeed, when God whispers the words, “Rejoice in suffering” into her thoughts, Joanna can’t fathom how she could possibly find reasons for rejoicing over over her parents’ deaths or her broken heart.

As in book one of the Amish of Birch Creek series, this second book follows several characters (Joanna, Andrew, Cameron, Asa) going through seasons of adversity. Again, folks are keeping secrets for varied reasons including shame and fear. Though this is principally Joanna’s story, she’s not alone in her attempts to live according to her wishes and dreams (or sometimes those of others). Though you’d think forging her own path would make her happy, it only increases Joanna’s hurt. To help demonstrate her lesson in trust, Fuller introduces an interesting character: Asa. In his own words, Asa recounts his story of receiving a call from God and what happened when he doubted and disobeyed. Hint: It’s NOT good.

Fuller succeeds in showing how obedience to God can make our paths straighter and ultimately lead to true satisfaction. God knows even better than we what we need. And if we remember to walk with Him in trust, giving our pain and fear over, we’ll find that, even in the darkness, He never left our side. He was taking the broken pieces of our lives – our hearts – and piecing them back together, stronger and better than they began.

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 of 5 Hearts. Kathleen Fuller Affirms That God Can Heal the Most Broken of Hearts.

Thematically, alongside its message of courage in adversity, Kathleen Fuller’s An Unbroken Heart is a moving and instructive story of love and forgiveness, pain and healing, endings and new beginnings.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Booklook Bloggers for providing me with a copy of An Unbroken Heart 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.”

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The Week in Reviews: ReadLove Recap For the Week Beginning February 29, 2016

 

Another week has come and gone at ReadLove ! Here’s what you may have missed:

Monday:

Christian Chapters: Hannah’s Choice by Jan Drexler

3.5 of 5 Hearts. An Engaging, Yet Somber View of Amish Life in Conestoga, Pennsylvania, 1842.

Jan Drexel gives the reader a carefully researched, historically rich look at the forces which may have led Amish settlers, including some of her own ancestors, to leave Lancaster County and travel westward to Indiana. Though somber, Hannah’s Choice never loses hope while carrying its message that nothing is more important than faith and family.

[Read the full review]






Tuesday:

Non-Fiction Shelves – You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide by Holley Gerth

5 of 5 Hearts. An Encouraging, Empowering, Scripturally-Sound Guide To Becoming the You God Created You To Be.

If you’re feeling lost, broken, unloved, imperfect, insignificant, overwhelmed, or all of these things, don’t fret. Holley Gerth’s You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide can help. You might say it’s like a road map, or, if you’re directionally challenged like I am, a GPS for your heart. What’s more, it’s as comforting as chocolate, hot cocoa, coffee, or ice cream! My advice? Set down your burden, dry your tears, pour a cup of tea or grab a cookie, and sit down for a “talk” with Holley!

[Read the full review]

 

 

 

Thursday:

Christian Chapters: A Reluctant Bride by Kathleen Fuller

5 of 5 Hearts. A Beautiful Testament to God’s Ability to Rebuild, Renew, and Restore.

A Reluctant Bride is not a fairy-tale romance or swoon fest, but it demonstrates clearly how God can take broken pieces of shattered hearts and create something not only beautiful but unbreakable. For that reason, it may just be the perfect love story.

[Read the full review]

 

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That’s everything that happened on ReadLove this week. See you next week!

Until then, I’d love it if you shared a bit about your week in the comments!

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