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Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review~An Amish Cradle

An Amish Cradle is a collection of four novellas written by well-known authors of Amish fiction.  Here are each of the novella's descriptions, and my thoughts on this collection.

In His Father's Arms by Beth Wiseman: Ruth Anne has been dreaming about motherhood her entire life. Now she is doubly excited that she and her best friend are due with their children within the same week. But when Ruth Anne's baby is born with Down's Syndrome, she and her husband struggle to understand God's plan.  

My Thoughts: My heart broke for Ruth Anne and her husband Levi as they struggled to accept that they have been entrusted with this special child.  It is a strain on their marriage, and on her friendship with her best friend.  Will Levi be able to let his guard down and love this child, or will their marriage be forever in turmoil? In His Father's Arms touches on the topic of having a special needs child, forgiveness, acceptance, and love.

A Son for Always by Amy Clipston:  Carolyn and Joshua are thrilled to be pregnant with their first child together. Carolyn was just a teenager  when she had her son, Benjamin, and she still feels solely responsible to secure his future. As Joshua watches Carolyn struggle to accept his support, he knows he has to find some way to convince her that she-and Ben-will always be taken care of.

My Thoughts: Carolyn works at a local hotel to put money away for her son she had out of wedlock as a teenager.  When she takes time off to have her baby, she becomes the happy, relaxed person she used to be-everyone can see it.  Her husband has adopted her son Ben, and makes enough money for her to stay home with her family, but Carolyn cannot let go of the fear that he won't treat Ben the same in the future as their own baby.  Carolyn needs to forgive herself for the mistake she made years ago when she conceived Ben.  As an adoptee myself and having adopted one of my children, I was frustrated with Carolyn's mindset.  Here she has the wonderful family and home she dreamed of, and she just can't accept that Ben being Joshua's adopted son is the same as his biological child.  A Son for Always was a wonderful story of letting go and trusting God.

A Heart Full of Love by Kathleen Fuller: Ellie's mother hasn't stopped meddling in her personal life since Ellie lost her sight-and she's taken it up a notch now that Ellie's pregnant.  When Ellie gives birth to twins, her mother insists on moving in to care for them.  But when her mother's behavior becomes unbearable, Ellie is forced to take a stand-and finally find out why Mamm can't let go.

My Thoughts: The thought of having twins is overwhelming enough, but being blind with newborn twins?  In A Heart Full of Love, I completely understood Ellie's mothers concerns about her ability to care for her babies by herself.  But then her mother's caring for the twins goes too far-she takes total control.  After Ellie puts her foot down finally, she learns the truth about why her Mamm is so worried about the babies.  This is a good story about releasing long-kept secrets and the strength of family.

 An Unexpected Blessing by Vannetta Chapman:  At 42, Etta thought she was finished having children, but she's pregnant again.  After a frightening labor, Etta finally gives birth, but her constant worry over her estranged grown son, David, haunts her still.  As a new mother again, Etta must hold tightly to the promise that God will watch over her children-and that one day David will return.

My Thoughts: I'm in my 40s myself, and I've often thought how hard it would be to have a baby at this stage of life.  Etta must deal with this on top of worry of her estranged adult son, and financial trouble that may force them to sell their home.  An Unexpected Blessing was a sweet story of a family coming together through a tiny newcomer to the family. 

An Amish Cradle was a wonderful collection of novellas focused on new babies.  I thoroughly enjoyed all four stories.  At just under 100 pages each, they were easy to read quickly.

*Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Book Review~The Love Letters

Marlena Wenger was soon to take Old Order Amish baptismal instruction so that she could marry her beau, when her grandfather died.  She was sent to live with her Mennonite Mammi (grandmother) to help her.  This meant her wedding would be postponed for a year, but she and her beau decided that this was something Marlena needed to do.  Marlena soon finds herself caring for her infant niece, Angela Rose, whose mother has passed away.

Marlena is struggling with her faith-going to her grandmother's Mennonite church has opened up her way of thinking, and she is growing spiritually.  Her beau back home is not pleased with the changes in her. Her Mammi's neighbors have befriended a homeless man who seems to have amnesia of some sort, and they try to figure out who he is based on beautifully written love letters he has in his bag.  Will they find out who this mystery man is?  Will Marlena discover the path for her life?

My thoughts:  I've always enjoyed Beverly Lewis' novels, and The Love Letters was no exception.  This was such a sweet story with quite a lot going on in it!  There were several different stories and issues going on in The Love Letters.  I enjoyed Marlena's character-she is a sweet young girl who has only known the Old Order Amish ways.  Now that she has experienced different ways, she has to decide which direction to take her life.    The Love Letters has romance, heartbreak, and mystery, and was hard to put down!  There is also a lesson about respecting those with disabilities in the character of Small Jay and his family.  I would definitely recommend this book!

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Review~Called To Be Amish

Book Description:

Fewer than one hundred outsiders have joined the Old–Order Amish—and stayed—since 1950. Marlene C. Miller is one of them.

In this rare memoir, Marlene recounts her unhappy and abusive childhood, how she throws herself into cheerleading and marching band, and how she falls in love with Johnny, the gentle young Amish man who helps her lace her ice skates.

Against the wishes of both sets of parents, Marlene and Johnny get married and begin a family. Follow the author on this unusual journey to find out how God’s love called her out of bitterness and depression and into the warm embrace of her new Amish community.

Accompany her as she dons an Amish dress and prayer covering and gets baptized. Learn how she endures the strain of ten children, a hundred-acre farm, and accidents and tragedy, and find out how she comes close to walking away from it all. Turning Amish has proven to be anything but plain and simple for this former majorette. But nearly fifty years later, Marlene is still living out God’s call as an Old Order Amish woman.

My Thoughts: 
If you've read this blog at all, you probably know I am fascinated by the Amish and Mennonite, and love reading about them, both fiction and non-fiction.  Most non-fiction books about these faiths are about members leaving the community, so I was very excited to read Called To Be Amish!  Author Marlene C. Miller is one of the rare group of English who became-and stayed-Amish.  She has been Old Order Amish for 47 years.  

Called to Be Amish described the author's dysfunctional childhood, the rough early years of her marriage, and her eventual conversion to the Amish.  I found the stories of her life over the years fascinating and enjoyable.  Imagine living your entire life with all the modern conveniences, and then giving it all up.  The only negative for me about the book was I felt the story jumped around sometimes.  I would be reading about something that happened when she had seven children, and then all of a sudden she would be telling about an event that happened when she had three children. It did get a little confusing. Other than that, the author did a wonderful job of telling about her life, and she did so in a way that made me feel I was sitting down chatting with a friend.   

At the end of the book are some extras: A Day in the Life of the Author, Marlene's Favorite Recipes, and FAQs About the Amish: The Author Answers.  If you enjoy reading about the Amish or Amish fiction, Called to Be Amish is definitely a book you need to read!

Read more reviews of this book at Litfuse.  You can purchase your own copy from MennoMedia.

*Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Children's Book Review and Giveaway~Battle of the Grandmas

As an avid reader, books have always been an important part of my life.  As a mother, grandmother, and home educator of many years, one of my highest priorities has been finding good, quality books for children.  I'm talking about books that children delight in reading, and also impart a lesson or value.  I've discovered one of these great children's books in Battle of the Grandmas by author Anthonette Klinkerman.

In Battle of the Grandmas, a little girl has lots of grandparents, who live all over the country. Her Grandmas love to send her presents, and one day the three Grandmas sent the little girl the exact same book!  After that, the Grandmas were trying to outdo each other with the best toys, candy, and clothes they could find.  It got to be too much, and the little girl finally put a stop to it. She told her Grandmas that she would much rather have their time than all that stuff. So, the toys and clothes went to other children who needed them, and the little girl enjoyed the time and love her Grandmas gave her.

As you can tell from these pictures, my grandson Daniel loves Battle of the Grandmas!  It is 34 pages long, with half of the pages being delightful cartoon-like illustrations.  The illustrations were created by Justin Acquavella, a High School Senior!  The text is the perfect size for early readers, with just enough text on each page to not overwhelm.  As I said earlier, I LOVE when there is a lesson to be learned in a story, and in Battle of the Grandmas, the lesson is for kids and grandparents alike!  As a fairly new grandparent, I now understand that feeling of wanting to spoil my grandson.  But, I know that he just wants ME-my full attention, to play and make memories with him.

Anthonette Klinkerman is a public school teacher and public speaker.  She teaches English at a night high school for at-risk teens, and conducts her award-winning mobile etiquette school, Courtesy Bootcamp, for businesses during the days.  Battle of the Grandmas was written first, but is actually her second published book.  Her first book is titled Courtesy Bootcamp; a not-so-gentle reminder to live by The Golden Rule. 

Battle of the Grandmas is a Reader's Favorite Book Award Winner.  You can purchase your own copy of Battle of the Grandmas on Amazon.  Learn more about the book on its Facebook page, and visit the author at her website, www.courtesybootcamp.com .


a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.   

Children's Book Review~The Misadventures of Yia Yia and Lucey

When I saw the title of this book, I knew I had to read it.  I am called Yia Yia (Grandma in Greek) by my grandson, as I was raised in a Greek family.  The Misadventures of Yia Yia and Lucey, by author Patricia M. Linaris, is a delightful book for older elementary age children and up.  Adults would enjoy it as well. 

The book is all letters written by the author to her grandchildren while they were away at camp and feeling homesick.  The author created fabulous, funny tales to make her grandkids (and their campmates) laugh.  Included in the crazy tales is the author's dog, Lucey.  Instead of chapters, the letters are in order by date.  At the back of the book are some extra letters sent as Thank You notes and to her Book Club members.

The Misadventures of Yia Yia and Lucey would be a great book for an older child and/or adult.  It is light, fun reading.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Book Review~You Oughta See Me Naked

When I saw the title and description of this book: You Oughta See Me Naked, Life after eighty-a seriously funny report from the slippery slope, by Ed Bartlett, I knew I had to read it!  I also knew I had to pass it on to my parents.  They are both in their eighties, and the past several years I often hear from them that they look in the mirror and don't know who is staring back at them!  They feel young still, and tell me of all the sagging and other things that happen at this stage of life.  So I knew they would appreciate this book!

Author Ed Bartlett is a talented writer who has led an interesting life.  This is his autobiography, and tells how he got where he is today, as well as life as an octogenarian.  It is funny at times, and serious at others.  How wonderful to be able to look back with such a sense of humor.   You Oughta See Me Naked reminds you to find humor in the little things, and appreciate every step of the way.  I just passed this book along to my parents, and hope they enjoy it!

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.