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review 2018-12-10 22:24
You Better Watch Out, You Better Be Good
Benjy and the Belsnickel - Swinehart, Bonnie

Heartwarming and charming, “Benjy and the Belsnickel” is an all-around fun read for children whose reading skills are advanced enough for chapter books, and the hand-drawn illustrations add to the appeal. With Christian underpinnings, this book reminds me of the Little House on the Prairie series as well as the lesser-well-known “Younguns of Mansfield” by Thomas L. Tedrow. Benjy is an eleven-year-old boy growing up in the Pennsylvania Dutch town of Landisburg in the 1930s, and this quaint setting includes a one-room schoolhouse and rural farms where adventure is never far away. Unfortunately for Benjy, neither is trouble. Poor Benjy doesn’t mean to be so naughty, but he can’t seem to help himself, and as a result he fears a visit from the Belsnickel at Christmastime. A more benign version of Krampus, the Belsnickel is associated with southwestern Germany and also the Pennsylvania Dutch. Benjy’s encounter with this mysterious creature might be slightly scary for younger kids, but the overwhelming majority of this delightful book is amusing and pleasant. Reading about a time when kids played mostly outside and used their imaginations to have fun is such a relief from today’s technological age and will hopefully inspire young readers to engage in some of these “old-fashioned” activities!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required.

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review 2018-12-10 00:49
Compelling, with a Caveat
Gone Too Soon - Carlson, Melody

Whew. This is a tough one to review, because of the subject matter itself and because it’s difficult to discuss without giving spoilers. The first half of this book is very dark. Although there are important peripheral characters, the main characters are sixteen-year-old Kiera, her mom Moira, and her recently-deceased older sister Hannah. Kiera’s part of the story is told in the first person and Moira’s in third-person limited point of view; Hannah’s story is told through diary entries. As such, the reader is really placed into the mind of each character, and let me reiterate: it’s very dark, especially for the first half of this novel. On the one hand, this really makes the experience realistic and enables the characters to come alive and evoke sympathy, but…maybe it’s a bit too much for too long.

The target audience for “Gone Too Soon” is young adult, and as an adult reading this, I would categorize it as mature young adult or even adult. I loved that this became a story about redemption and coming to terms with grief, with all of the baggage that involves: shame, guilt, anger, depression, etc. However, I feel the need to add a major caveat here. A large percentage of this book is not a feel-good story, and it’s not meant to be. This is about a family truly coming apart at the seams, and it is anything but pretty. It is raw and real, and the first two-thirds or so of the story could be included in a manual about how not to deal with grief. There are plenty of unhealthy coping mechanisms, and for this reason I would issue a trigger warning for suicide, rape, and drug and alcohol abuse. There are no graphic details, but the mindset of the characters are described thoroughly. Given this, I would only recommend this book to those who are looking to help people who are dealing with grief and/or those who are looking for a heartfelt read but who are approaching it from a stable mental health perspective. The later part of this book, about the resolution of the plot, could be helpful as a Christian approach to grief. My main bone of contention with the book as a whole is that while I found it to be an absolutely compelling read and loved that it dealt with real-life issues and brought in a Christian perspective in a realistic, non-preachy manner, I feel that the darkness was too heavy without any whispers of hope for too long before any relief entered the narrative.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required.

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review 2018-12-08 04:12
I Will Never Leave Thee Nor Forsake Thee
Woman of Courage: Collector's Edition Continues the Story of Little Fawn - Wanda E. Brunstetter

“I am a woman of faith who is trusting in the Lord to give her courage.”

“Woman of Courage” has been on my reading list for a few years now, and I am glad that I was able to read this collector’s edition, which includes the sequel novella “Woman of Hope.” Expecting “Woman of Courage” to be a travel novel and an Oregon Trail-like experience, I was surprised to discover that it fell more into the genre of wilderness survival and mountain living. Traveling was still a part of the tale, but most of the narrative was focused on the characters’ experiences and interactions with each other rather than on the trek itself. Fraught with omnipresent danger, this story did not have any lulls or tedious sections and proved to be a quick read, even taking into consideration the appended novella. The situations seemed realistic and not contrived, and there were several twists that I did not expect, which I always appreciate. Amanda, the eponymous heroine, was a sweet character, and I would have liked to have more of her background; other than being unerringly Christian and using quaint language (“thee” and “thou”), there were no other indications that she was a Quaker. It would have been worthwhile to add more information about this particular religious group to the story, in my opinion. However, I did appreciate the author’s use of Native American and mixed-race characters.

Despite very much enjoying this story, there were a few points with which I had issues, and I wavered between a four and a five-star rating. Some of the language and slang used in the narrative was not period-appropriate, and several of the characters were stereotypical, including Amanda. She was too perfect and therefore did not seem to grow or change throughout the course of the story, whereas Jim Breck’s attitudes and place in the story shifted too quickly. Yellow Bird and Buck McFadden were my favorite characters, as they were the most dynamic and realistic, given their pasts and what became of them. Because Amanda was a missionary, the Christian underpinning of the novel did come across as preachy, but not overbearingly so. Amanda’s story dovetailed well into that of Little Fawn’s in “Woman of Hope”, and this novella is what ultimately bumped up my rating. Little Fawn’s story was not as idealistic and yet it was still hopeful and inspiring. Amanda’s character was also more realistic, and all of the characters’ actions were credible. The story was well written for its short length, as well, and it did not seem like it was too abrupt. Being able to see how circumstances changed for the characters from “Woman of Courage” in the approximately seventeen-year time gap and being introduced to the next generation of characters was a fitting way to end the saga.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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review 2018-12-07 15:00
The Amish Midwife's Secret Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 



Book: The Amish Midwife’s Secret  
Author: Rachel J. Good  
Genre: Inspirational Amish Romance  
Release Date: November 27, 2018

A beautiful story of forgiveness and second chances.” -Shelley Shepard Gray, New York Times bestselling author
 
They won’t see eye-to-eye until they meet heart-to-heart…
 
Kyle Miller never planned on becoming a country doctor. But when he’s offered a medical practice in his sleepy hometown, Kyle knows he must return… and face the painful past he left behind. Except the Amish community isn’t quite ready for Kyle. Especially the pretty midwife who refuses to compromise her herbal cures and Amish traditions with his modern medicine…
 
The more Leah Stoltzfus works with the handsome Englisch doctor, the more she finds herself caught between the expectations of her family and her own hopes for the future. It will take one surprising revelation and one helpless baby in need of love to show Leah and Kyle that their bond may be greater than their differences… if Leah can find the courage to follow her heart.

Click here to purchase your copy!


About the Author

 



Inspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. The author of several Amish romance series, she grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for many of her stories. Striving to be as authentic as possible, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farm and attending family events.
 
Rachel’s Amish series include Sisters & Friends (Charisma House/Harlequin), Love & Promises (Grand Central), Hearts of Amish Country (Annie’s Book Club), and Surprised by Love as well as several anthologies—Springs of Love, Love’s Thankful Heart, Plain Everyday Heroes—and the Amish Quilts Coloring Books.
 

Guest Post from Rachel

 

 

The Amish and Herbal Remedies
 
As many of you know, my Amish novels are based on real life. I get ideas from hanging around Amish friends, hearing their stories and observing their lives. I’d never invade their privacy by telling their stories exactly as they happen, but the things I learn trigger plot ideas.
 
I’ve always been fascinated by the way the Amish approach healing. Once thing I’ve learned is that, although they’re usually willing to visit doctors, they don’t always take the medicines that are prescribed. Instead, they often substitute herbal remedies. That, and several visits to one of my favorite Amish natural products stores, gave me an idea for one of the conflicts in The Amish Midwife’s Secret.
 
Leah, an Amish midwife, prefers herbal remedies. Of course, that puts her in direct conflict with Kyle, the new Englisch doctor in town, who only believes in science and traditional medicine. Put the two together and lots of sparks fly. Of course, some of those sparks are also of a romantic nature.
 
Leah is not only a midwife, but her family owns a natural products store. She knows the best herbs for healing. Rather than sending a small boy to the hospital for pneumonia, Leah covers the baby’s chest with a warm mixture of onions and other herbs and spices (some Amish friends prefer raw onion for congestion), and she feds the baby fresh pineapple juice for his cough.
 
As a doctor, Kyle is horrified. He wants to admit the baby to a hospital at once. And he expects the old country doctor he’s replacing to back him up. Instead, Dr. Hess informs Kyle that many of the Amish go to doctors for a diagnosis, but then rely on herbal treatments rather than prescriptions.
 
Kyle, who’s been debating about whether to stay in Amish country or move to a big-city hospital, decides to remain in Lancaster and make it his mission to prevent the Amish midwife from harming newborns and their mothers. He certainly doesn’t expect to have his eyes opened to other ways to handle illnesses. But he has to admit, Leah’s methods do seem to work. When a crisis comes, they soon discover that it takes both of them to save a baby.
 
***
 
A extra little secret: Those of you who get my newsletter already know this, but Kyle in The Amish Midwife’s Secret appeared in two earlier books. The Midwife story stands alone, but if you want to know more about Kyle and Emma’s past, you can find it in the Sisters & Friends series, Book 1, Change of Heart, and Book 2, Buried Secrets.


My Review

 
My feelings going into this book were a mixed bag. On the one hand, I loved that it had a medical aspect and that it featured many Amish characters, but I wasn’t so sure about some of its other aspects. It’s a contemporary romance, and I prefer historical settings and, although a romantic at heart, I’ve never been a fan of the romance genre. However, so much of Christian fiction is romance-oriented that I’ve come to accept that it’s most likely going to be part of the story. What sets some Christian fiction authors apart for me as a reader is the ability to craft a narrative in which the romance is not overdone. The romance is definitely there, but it’s not overdramatized and it coalesces well with the other primary storylines. To my delight, this was the case with “The Amish Midwife’s Secret”. Even though it was clearly evident from the beginning that Leah and Kyle were attracted to one another, knowing this early on did not detract from the story.

Something that really stood out in this novel was Good’s ability to weave together the Amish, Mennonite, and Englisch cultures and customs. The characters were all dynamic, facing challenges to their beliefs and traditions, and this conflict added emotional depth to the story. Both Leah and Kyle had to come to terms with defining moments in their past and learn how to move forward in faith. They each had dreams that pulled their hearts in different directions, and it was interesting to watch this play out. One of the main lessons, in my opinion, was about compromise. Sometimes the answer isn’t always black and white but rather a mixture of the two. Balancing complementary medicine such as herbal remedies with prescription medication and more invasive procedures is one example of this. Seeing how the Englisch and Amish can coexist and learn from one another made this book stand out, and the strong faith element was a good reminder that God is always working things out and making a way for us. What a blessing it is when we, like Leah and Kyle, realize how things are coming together and falling into place!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
 

Blog Stops

 

Among the Reads, November 27

Christian Bookaholic, November 27

KarenSueHadleyNovember 27

The Avid Reader, November 28

A Baker’s Perspective, November 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 28

Genesis 5020, November 29

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 29

cherylbbookblog, November 29

Because I said so- adventures in parentingNovember 30

BigreadersiteNovember 30

Quiet Quilter, December 1

Blossoms and Blessings, December 1

Wonders of Anomalies Book Reviews, December 1

Bibliophile Reviews, December 2

Britt Reads Fiction, December 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 3

Captive Dreams Window, December 3

Cafinated Reads, December 4

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd CornerDecember 4

Carpe Diem, December 4

Maureen’s Musings, December 5

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, December 5

Christian Centered book ReviewsDecember 6

Janices book reviewsDecember 6

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 7

For the Love of Literature, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 8

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 8

Moments, December 9

Random Thoughts From a Bookworm, December 9

Texas Book-aholic, December 9

Miss Tinas Amish Book Review, December 10

The Becca Files, December 10

Vicky Sluiter, December 10

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
 
To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a grand prize package of two faceless Amish dolls and an autographed copy of The Amish Midwife’s Secret and Plain Everyday Heroes!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d66f/the-amish-midwife-s-secret-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

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review 2018-12-06 15:06
Amish Celebrations
Amish Celebrations: Four Novellas - Beth Wiseman

Amish Celebrations is really a combination of 4 stories in one book. They are all different but have something in common. They all are about celebrations.

 

Here are all the books and there reviews for each one.

 

The Gift of Sisters

Hannah and Elizabeth are twins. When a new boy comes to town, he seem to attracted both girls. They both fall for him in there own ways. He seem to have them pulling them away from each other. Will either one of them choose this new boy or will they both leave them.

 

Will it be two late to reunite to be sisters. One is doing something to protect her sister and the other think the other is trying to ruin her life and her love life at that. Will they find what best for them.

 

A New Beginning

Noah and Rebecca seem to be heading for marriage? Noah does something and make Rebecca think about getting married? What was it that Noah did? Will Noah walk way or will he forgive himself. What could Noah be struggling with? Rebecca is also navigation their relationship as well. Does she want to be with Noah or trust him?

 

A Perfect Plan

Priscilla knows who see was marrying since she way sixteen years old. Once the question is pop to her. They seem to think they know the prefect plan. God seem to have another plan or a bit of changes to that plan when one disaster will occurs after another. Is God testing there relationship?

 

There seems to be a special person who has something for both Chester and Priscilla. They each receive it at different times and separately. They are both told to not open it until there wedding day and not before and promised. Will they even get married or will they not?

 

A Christmas Miracle

Every feel overwhelmed with life or motherhood? Well, Mary feels this and does not know how to cope with her children. She seems to feel like she a bad mother. Though she got her husband and her husband seem to try and help. He for a loss to help her as well. Though he suggest that she ask her mother in law to help her.

 

There seem to be something more to stress of the marriage. Will her husband get some advise to help his marriage and his wife before it to late? There seems to be someone really important that happens when Mary befriends an elderly man in a red suit and his side kick elf?

 

I really like how this story outcomes turn out. Will Mary really get what needs and help she needs to cope with her situation. Does Mary's mother in law dislike Mary or is it something else.

Source: nrcbooks.blogspot.com/2018/12/amish-celebrations.html
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