Working hard to develop a new Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is fully committed to rehabilitating an orchard with business partner Samuel King. But an impulsive decision has created an unexpected strain in her relationship with her beau, Samuel’s brother, Jacob, threatening plans for the orchard. Amidst mounting tension in matters of the heart and business, Rhoda finds that this fledging settlement feels like the home she has always longed for, and she begins to embrace the God-given, heightened intuition that has always felt like a burden to her. She longs for Jacob to fully be free of his past, so they can work towards the future together.
But as Rhoda uses her gift to unpack an old secret with her Englisch neighbors, it is not her beau but an unlikely ally that cheers her on. With the orchard on shaky ground and Jacob’s plans in question, Rhoda is determined to see things through to harvest. But can she trust her insight to direct her path in matters of the heart?
What I thought
I was so thrilled to be able to continue reading this series, thanks to WaterBrook Press. Cindy Woodsmall’s Amish Vines and Orchards series was my very first Amish book experience. You can read my previous reviews from this series here and here. I am so in love with these characters and how Ms Woodsmall portrays them. You feel as if you are there with them and you truly wish nothing but the best for them. Ms Woodsmall’s writing style is easy and familiar. It isn’t simple though. She does a fantastic job of weaving an intricate, complex tale with an ease about it. I think this would be such a wonderful book for older teenage girls, however I love it at the age of thirty. It isn’t all rainbows and sunshines in real life, and this series doesn’t attempt build some sort of fairy tale view of Amish life, or life in general. It certainly isn’t a downer, but its real. That’s what drew me, and kept me, with these stories in the first place. As I’ve mentioned in past reviews, I’m not usually a Amish book reader. I was concerned that it wouldn’t be relatable, or just plain boring. Not the case. I can not believe that I have to wait until April of next year for the next book in the series!! I don’t want to wait!!!
5 out of 5 Stars! ( I will read this book again!!)
Here’s a peak at the cover for Seasons of Tomorrow
And *cough cough*, if you happen to read this Cindy, after watching the book trailer I know am hoping for a Hallmark Movie series based off these books! It was torture watching this!!
California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.
Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.
Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.
But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.
A powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.
Includes a six-part reading group guide!
What I thought:
I’m sure many of you have read this book, at least that’s how I felt when I first let people know that I was reading this book. So many of my friends expressed shock that I had never read it, many of them reading it while we were in high school and our early college days. Even my mom read it. How did I miss this?! Frankly, I have no clue how I did. Francine Rivers is a name that I’ve heard and seen, and I was surprised to find out that she had previously been a mainstream romance writer. Trust me, she’s got a knack for that particular kind of romance, that is more about the romance and less about anything physical. I would be willing to bet good money that most women know exactly what I’m talking about and are just as much of a succor for it as I am. The emotional connection one feels with someone can be more powerful than anything else. Redeeming Love is just that. It’s an emotional, and spiritual romance novel. I couldn’t put it down. I was absolutely addicted to it.
The story, it was just amazing. What kind of love is this?! It was a beautiful representation of the love Christ has for us. He never gives up on us! Ms Rivers painted a word picture like none I’ve read in a really long time. It is a rather long book but it didn’t feel like it, there was no real slow parts, which is a pet peeve of mine. Everything that was written mattered to the story.
I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone! If you have older teenage daughters…yes!! I’m already looking forward to my next Francine Rivers book. In the Spring of 2014 Francine Rivers’ new book, A Bridge to Haven, which takes places in 1950s Hollywood is being released. I’m so excited!
On the eve of their departure to begin a new Old Order Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is shocked to discover that choices made by her business partner and friend, Samuel King, have placed her and her unusual gifts directly into the path of her district’s bishop and preachers. She is furious with Samuel and is fearful that the Kings will be influenced by the way her leaders see her, and not what they know to be true—that Rhoda’s intuition is a gift from God.
Jacob King won’t be swayed by community speculation. He loves Rhoda, believes in her, and wants to build a future with her in Maine. But when the ghosts of his past come calling and require him to fulfill a great debt, can he shake their hold before it destroys what he has with Rhoda? Samuel has a secret of his own—one he’ll go to great lengths to keep hidden, even if it means alienating those closest to him. Throwing himself into rehabilitating the once-abandoned orchard, Samuel turns to a surprising new ally.
What I thought:
The Winnowing Season is book 2 in the Amish Vines and Orchard Series, and my second Amish book ever. If you read my review of book 1 you’ll know that I was kind of surprised to really like it. There were portions of this book that were slower than I normally like. However, I should be truthful and say that most of the books I normally read are of a much faster variety. A lot of the stuff that has to do with Amish tradition still got me and sort of broke up the story for me. I found that it sort of distracted me because I spent so much time being annoyed with that. It was almost like it got in the way of the story and it didn’t make sense to me. Some things are so Amish, and then other parts of the story just didn’t follow that same vein. I still am committed to continuing on with the series because I just want to know what happens next. So, to that end Ms. Woodsmall has done her job! The hardest part for me was the Jacob storyline. It became really frustrating, but I just don’t want to give away too much of the story to elaborate on that. All I will say is that it is quite emotionally taxing. The characters are developed well and you learn so much about the Amish culture, which I find extremely fascinating.
3 out of 5 Stars
I received this book in partnership with WaterBrook/Multnomah Publishing and Blogging for Books. I was not compensated in any other way. And, as always, my views and opinions are my own. Take them or leave them.
I am so excited to be taking part in Tyndale Publishing’s blog tour for Grace’s Pictures, by Cindy Thomson. Please visit Cindy’s blog to find out more about her and the other books she’s written.
Let’s learn a bit more about Cindy and her book
1. What was your inspiration for this book, Grace’s Pictures? When the Brownie Camera was introduced, it changed photography forever. What was before expensive and not very portable, suddenly became available for the average person. I read a contemporary commentary that expressed the concern that with everyone carrying a camera, someone could have his/her photograph taken without permission, and what an invasion of privacy that would be. That got me thinking…what if that happened, and at a time before there were very many mug shots available of criminals. I love writing about immigrants because their stories are a part of who we are today. If not for their bravery and ingenuity, our lives would be much different today, and probably more difficult. 2. Tell me about your main character, Grace McCaffery. Was her character based upon anyone in particular? Grace comes to America wounded by her experiences of having an abusive father, being evicted from her home by the police, and then having to survive in a workhouse. When her mother gets remarried, to a policeman no less, Grace is horrified. In her mind, avoiding the kind of people who hurt you is the only way to stay safe. When she is sent to America to start a new life, she is not certain she wants to go. She wishes for the confidence and joy she sees in others around her, and she tries to capture it in drawings and snapshots so she can better study it. I know a lot of people, me for one, who would rather observe for a while before stepping out and trying something new. But historically, immigrants could not do that. They were thrust into change and had to adapt and endure. Grace, like most fictional characters, is not based on any particular person. She is a conglomeration of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who came to this country seeking a better life, but without many options to support themselves. They must have been frightened at first by this vast new country, but somehow they overcame that fear and founded our American families.
3. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel? A lesson that I hope is learned in this story is that God provides what we need, but many times it requires us to put aside our preconceived ideas. No matter what disadvantages we start with, we can turn things around, with God’s help.
4. How do you expect Grace’s story to resonate with women? Grace, a young woman who was not nurtured much as a child, becomes a nurturer. She is a nanny with a role that becomes essential for the children she cares for. I think most women are nurturers. Unfortunately, Grace had a far from ideal childhood. I think many women struggle with not having been nurtured themselves. Grace’s story illustrates the hope that God can turn that around, and even in unexpected ways. Grace meets someone who cares for her, who just happens to work in that dreaded occupation—a policeman.
5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story? I loved learning about Ellis Island, visiting New York City, and imagining those immigrants of the early 20th century moving along the same paths I was exploring. I loved writing about how the children Grace cared for helped to change her. History is fascinating to me, and it’s a privilege to be able to write about it.
6. What is your hope for this story? How would you like it to impact readers? I hope readers will be transported to a time in history when everything was changing at a rapid pace and experience a bit of what their ancestors’ lives were like. I would like readers, through Grace’s Pictures, to not only appreciate the sacrifices their ancestors made, but also find the courage to meet their own challenges—everyone has them.
7. How has this novel helped you to grow as a storyteller? Grace was at first a difficult character to figure out. I had a loving father who passed away a few months before I started working on this book. Grace, who did not have a loving father, stretched me a bit, but it was good to explore what life was like for her and try to imagine how someone like her could not only survive but thrive.
8. What is it about this time period in history that made you want to write about it? New inventions were constantly popping up, things that we take for granted today. For instance, telephones were becoming more widely available, but immigrants were not familiar with them. Same with electricity. There was a huge disparity between the rich and the poor, and the middle class was the minority. Monopolies were not yet forbidden. The rich were extremely rich. The poor were extremely poor, and the conditions in the tenements were disgraceful. And yet, this was not overlooked. There were gangs and corrupt police, but also scores of charities working hard to protect, educate, and care for immigrants. And it was also a time period of huge numbers of immigrants coming to the country, most through Ellis Island, so in that way this time period has impacted a great many Americans today.
9. What lessons can we learn from the pages of historical fiction? The Bible tells us, “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16, NLT). Historical fiction uses the power of story to help us find those old ways. We deceive ourselves if we think no one has experienced the struggles we have. Someone has. Why not learn those stories and be led by them?
10. What is one of the best pieces of advice or encouragement you have received? I’m always open to sound advice. Here is one that has encouraged me. It’s from a tea bag quote.
What I thought:
I love a good historical novel. It can be a tricky thing because you’re messing with history. It is stuff that has already happened, so you have to be careful. Whenever I read one it has to be able to transform me to that time and place. I need to be able to imagine that this is something that could have actually happened. Perhaps my favorite part about this book is the inclusion of the Brownie Camera. It was such a revolutionary item, and something that gave just about everyone access to pictures and a way to preserve memories. In a time where memory was the only way to preserve the past, being able to take pictures was pretty much life-changing. This fact alone made the story so great.
The character of Grace was an interesting one for me. I really liked her, but as the story went on I felt it was harder to keep that going There were maybe a couple chpters there where the story seemed to be dragging a bit. There was a lot of stuff going on, several different stories and I really didn’t feel like they were explored to the fullest. At times it was difficult to also fully take in the reality of the times. Communication was difficult, people’s experiences were rough and sometimes down right horrible. As a result there were times I found myself frustrated with the character of Grace and her attitudes toward the police and her step-father. I kept having to remind myself that there is so much unsaid history that you can’t fit into a book. Our world and reality is so vastly different then the very real one portrayed in this book. Sometimes its hard to put yourself in the position of those during this time.
3 out of 5 Stars
**I received this book in partnership with Tyndale Blogging Network, in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I was not compensated in any other way. My opinions are my own.
Happy Saturday everyone! I am happy once again, to bring you a book from The Glenbrooke Sereis, by Robin Jones Gunn. Echoes is the third book in this wonderful series. I was able to get my hands on it and couldn’t wait to find, buy and receive number two, so I just went ahead and dove right in.
Summary: In this dramatic contemporary romance by bestselling author Robin Jones Gunn, Lauren Phillips enters the wild, uncharted territory of the Internet on her home computer and “connects” with a man known only as “K.C.” As she struggles to recover from a broken engagement, Lauren keeps busy by working full time and striving to finish her college degree. But her correspondence with K.C. quickly becomes the thing she loves most…and the source of dreams she cannot bear to relinquish. When the opportunity comes for them to meet after a year of corresponding, Lauren faces a tough choice: Is she willing to risk everything…including a broken heart? Readers will stay “on-line” to find out in this bestselling former Palisades release, now the third book in the new Glenbrooke series.
Will Lauren risk losing her heart…to a man she’s never met?
Lauren Phillips tries to keep busy while recovering from a broken engagement. Then one day, through her home computer, Lauren accidentally connects on the Internet with a mysterious man she knows only as K.C.
Lauren’s e-mail relationship with K.C. quickly becomes the thing she loves most in life..and the source of dreams she cannot bear to relinquish.
After a year of corresponding, the opportunity appears for them to meet. Lauren faces a tough choice: Is she willing to risk everything…including another broken heart?
What I thought: As I said in my brief introduction I am a huge fan of Ms. Gunn and this series. The Glenbrooke series is a sweet series all taking place in and around the lives of those of the small town of Glenbrooke. Book Three takes place in a time when computers, email and chat rooms are a new thing. I must admit it was kind of weird to be catapulted back to a time when that was all new. I remember that time! Despite that, the book was still relate-able and didn’t feel outdated in any way. It was sweet and cute and reminded me of You’ve Got Mail, or its older inspirations – The Shop Around the Corner and In the Good Old Summertime (movies I recommend everyone check out if you haven’t!). Its a timeless story, and one that I think most women would love. Sure, it might seem unbelievable at times, finding true love through someone you’ve never met. It is a beautiful story, one full of inspiration and lessons about trusting God. This is a Christian novel, make no mistake. It is carefully woven through the story, but also carefully not rammed down your throat in a offensive way. It is full of inspiration and life lessons of trust, and letting go. I highly recommend this book, and the series as a whole to be young and adult women.
5 out of 5 stars!
I received this book as a part of the Blogging for Books program with Multnomah Publishing. I was not compensated in any other way. My thoughts are opinions are my own.