An Amish Family Christmas by Murray Pura

About the book:

After tragedy strikes the family of young Naomi Miller, her friend Rebecca Bachman does all she can to help. But things get complicated when Rebecca’s brother, Micah, returns from a combat tour in Afghanistan. For one thing, he chose to serve in the military even though he served as a medic and never picked up a gun. For another, he is under the Meidung—the shunning— because of that and none of the Amish are permitted to speak to him or eat with him. And finally, he is not only Rebecca’s brother, he is Naomi’s husband! But how can Naomi pick up where their marriage left off after he turned away from her and his people to enlist in the army? How can Naomi and Micah even begin the process of healing their relationship when he will not repent of what he has done and the Amish will not forgive him for what he has done? Naomi despairs of ever again having a happy married life with her husband.

But God has a way of working on the hearts of His people—especially at Christmas time. When an unexpected turn of events sets things right, miracles happen to the Amish community, to the Miller family, and to Naomi and Micah, miracles that transform everyone.

Here is warm and tender story of faithfulness, love, and reconciliation at the most wonderful time of the year.

Publication Date: October 1, 2013

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers

Genre: Amish fiction, Christmas

My thoughts:

This book was my introduction to Murry Pura. To be completely honest, I didn’t pay attention to the author’s name and had no idea that the book was written by a man until the end. Before reading this book, I had only read Amish fiction written by women. Murray won me over with this book. His writing style is wonderful and he gently pulls you into the story and keeps you there until the last word.

This book was wonderfully written and realistic. The characters are genuine and complex. They have problems and aren’t living the perfect stress-free life so many people think the Amish live.

The storyline of this book was different from any I had read in the Amish fiction genre. I found this unique and refreshing. It added to the authenticity of the characters are made for a wonderful read. In fact, there is a lot packed into this 146-page book but it is so well written that I finished the book quickly.

This book will leave you with a happy heart. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction.

About the author:

Murray Pura was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, just north of the Dakotas and Minnesota. His first novel was released in Toronto and was a finalist for the Dartmouth Book Award. He has been a finalist for several awards in the US and Canada and in 2012 won the Word Award of Toronto for Best Historical Novel. Murray lives and writes in Alberta and is currently published by Barbour, Baker, Harper One, Zondervan, Harvest House, Harper Collins and Harlequin. His diverse writing spans many genres including: historical fiction, contemporary fiction, literary fiction, romance, adventure, western, suspense, fantasy, Amish, and inspirational. His most recent releases include Petals (2016); Beautiful Skin (2016); All My Beautiful Tomorrows (2017); Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (2018). Murray has traveled extensively and lived abroad including such places as: Scotland and the UK; Ireland; France; Belgium; Holland; Germany; Switzerland; Austria; Czech Republic; Slovenia; Italy; Greece; Israel; Egypt; Iran; Afghanistan; Pakistan; Nepal; India; California; New Mexico.

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The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

About the book: A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England–a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author–and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.

Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.

Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.

The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Timeslip

My thoughts: After reading The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel I knew I had to read whatever she released next. That just so happened to be The Secrets of Paper and Ink. I didn’t even read the description of what the book was about. I just knew that I loved her writing and wanted to read whatever she wrote. I wasn’t disappointed.

This book was everything I was expecting it to be and more. The story centers on two modern-day women who meet when Sophia decides to get away and go to England. She has just faced the death of her fiance but readers soon learn that there’s more to her story than just the grief she is going through. In England, she meets Ginny, who has been left by her husband with a bookstore that is on the verge of closing. Sophia rents a room from Ginny and works in the bookstore. There she comes across a notebook in which there is a fascinating story about Emily Fairfax. Sophia isn’t sure if Emily is real or just a character but she is drawn to her story and it was a story that I was drawn to as well. It was so easy to like and relate to each of these three women. The author does an excellent job of writing three original characters that worked well in the same story.

The chapters in the book jump from character to character but that was something that I really enjoyed. I liked learning Emily’s story in bits and pieces and slowly over the course of the book. I (correctly!) guessed some of the events in Emily’s story and how she would be connected to the main story fairly early into the book but that didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I found that I enjoyed learning that my guesses were correct as the story unfolded.

Whether reading about modern-day Cornwall or the 1860s Cornwall the author does an excellent job of describing the scenes and transporting readers to England and letting them go on a journey with three very unique women who are facing difficult times in their lives. The author does an excellent job of writing a timeslip novel that gives readers two complete stories to enjoy as they combine into one fantastic read!

With her YA-leaning The Heart Between Us and now The Secrets of Paper and Ink this author has earned a spot on my must-read list. It doesn’t matter what genre or era she is writing, I will be reading it. I highly recommend this book which is quite possibly my favorite read of the year.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way.

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The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse

About the book: The Wilderness Is a Great Place to Hide
Jacqueline Rivers manages a Pony Express station in 1860 Utah territory after her father’s death. There are daily stresses placed on her in this unconventional role—and now a government official is asking her to sniff out counterfeiters. When Elijah Johnson passes through on the stage while on an exhausting quest to find his boss’s heir, he doesn’t want to leave the beguiling station manager. In fact, he may never leave when caught in the crossfire of the territory’s criminal activities. Can she remain strong when secrets of the past and present are finally unearthed?

Publication Date: July 1, 2019

Publisher: Barbour Books

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: The Daughters of the Mayflower, #9

Can Be Read As Standalone: Yes

My thoughts: Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I love when they take place in the unsettled West. Add in an independent woman and men willing to protect her if needed and you have a story that I can become engrossed in and enjoy from start to finish. The Express Bride was everything I was looking forward to and more.

From the very beginning, I was hooked by this storyline. I enjoyed learning about the Pony Express and reading about the unsettled Utah Territory. I also enjoyed the cast of characters in the story. Each had a unique personality and was in the story for a purpose which, for me, made the story so much more enjoyable. The author did a fantastic job of bringing the story to life through her descriptions of the area.

This is a must-read for fans of America historical fiction. While it is book number nine in the series it completely stands on its own. I’m sure that, like me, once you read this book you will be adding the author to your must-read list. Happy reading!!!

About the author: Kimberley Woodhouse is the best-selling author of more than twenty books who loves the JOY of story. A lover of history and research, she often gets sucked into the past and then her husband has to lure her out with chocolate. She’s spoken to more than 800,000 people at more than 2,000 venues and has taught the craft of writing around the country. Married to the love of her life for twenty-five plus years, she makes her home in Montana.

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Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber

About the book

Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

Publication Date:  October 3, 2017

Publisher:  Ballantine Books

Genre: Contemporary fiction, Christmas

My review

This book is classic Debbie Macomber! After not really enjoying the past couple of books by her I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this story. It was a quick and easy read.

Everything about this story was perfect. The characters, the situation they found themselves in, and the pace of the story were just excellent. Once I started reading this story I really didn’t want to put it down to go to bed. The story pulled me in and I just couldn’t get enough of these characters. There were moments that made me smile and even chuckle out loud. This book is a perfect Christmas read.

Fans of Debbie Macomber will enjoy this book. This would also be a great introduction to those not familiar with her work. This is a fun read and one that could easily be read more than once without becoming boring. Definitely one for the keeper shelf.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author

Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Thirteen of these novels hit the number one spot.

In 2017, Macomber’s all-new hardcover publications include If Not for You (March), Any Dream Will Do (August), and Merry and Bright (October). In addition to fiction, Macomber has also published two bestselling cookbooks, an adult coloring book, numerous inspirational and nonfiction works, and two acclaimed children’s books.

Celebrated as “the official storyteller of Christmas”, Macomber’s annual Christmas books are beloved and five have been crafted into original Hallmark Channel movies. Macomber is also the author of the bestselling Cedar Cove Series which the Hallmark Channel chose as the basis for its first dramatic scripted television series. Debuting in 2013, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove was a ratings favorite for three seasons.

Macomber owns The Grey House Café, which also features a gift shop and a Hallmark Gold Crown store inside. It is located in the Village Square campus, which also serves as Debbie’s corporate headquarters.

She serves on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, is a YFC National Ambassador, and is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington, the town which inspired the Cedar Cove series.

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Underestimating Miss Cecilia by Carolyn Miller

About the book:

Will a shrinking violet and a prodigal son come together to better their world?

Cecilia Hatherleigh has many secrets in her shy, sweet heart–but none bigger than her unrequited love for Edward Amherst, the earl’s son next door. Her love has persevered over many years, even when he grows to be a bit of a rake. Yet despite his fondness for females, he never seems to see her as anything more than the quiet younger sister, and nothing Cecy does has changed that. Rather than pining after his perhaps unworthy love, she decides to turn her focus toward living out her newfound faith. Now she’s determined to follow God’s leading to make a better world for the poor and dispossessed around her.

A London riot awakens Edward to the responsibilities due his family name. It’s time to turn his life around to please his noble father–and that means restoring his abandoned legal career and making a marriage of convenience. Neither will be easy, given his past and the prejudices of the upper echelons of society to which he belongs.

When misadventure strikes at a house party, these two are thrown together even as their lives are upended. If Cecy can’t trust God, overcome her shyness, and find her inner strength, the good work they’ve both done may be for naught-and neither will ever find true love . . .

Well known for her authentic Regency romances set against less-explored, true historical backgrounds, best-selling author Carolyn Miller continues her newest series with a clean, wholesome tale sure to please her many fans.

Publication Date: July 23, 2019

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Genre: Regency, Historical Romance

Series: Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley, #2

My thoughts: Not really loving the first book in this series I was anxious to read this one. I was hoping to get all those wonderful feelings back that I normally have when reading a Carolyn Miller novel. I’m excited to say that those feelings were back and I enjoyed this story immensely.

The premise of the story sounded interesting and the author didn’t disappoint. The story moves along at a respectable pace and the buildup to the climax is perfect. I have to admit that some of my favorite parts are between Cecilia and her mother towards the end of the story. The author made me laugh at some of the dialogue between the two and it was such a bright spot in the story and added to Cecilia’s likability.

As far as the characters go in addition to liking Cecilia I found Ned to be a likable character. He was very believable in his feelings and the fact that he struggled in overcoming the actions of his past made him that much more realistic. I also liked Verity and can’t wait to read her story. She is a fun character and adds mischief and lightness to the story.

Regency romance fans won’t want to miss out on this book. It’s an easy read and one that will stay with readers long after the last page is read. Definitely one for the keeper shelf. Happy reading!!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn’s previous novels have won several contests, including the 2014 RWA “Touched by Love” and 2014 ACFW Genesis contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy.

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The Brides of the Big Valley: 3 Romances from a Unique Pennsylvania Amish Community

About the book: In an area of Pennsylvania called The Big Valley, a uniquely blended Amish community thrives in which 3 distinct groups of Amish identify themselves by the colors of their buggy’s top—white, black, or yellow. Join New York Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in experiencing the stories of three young women who search for faith and love within this special place. Deanna is a widow who sees her second chance of love slipping away. Rose Mary is at a point in life where she must choose the path of her faith and the right man to walk with her on it. Leila is burdened with family responsibilities and wonders when she will ever start a family of her own.

Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Genre: Amish fiction

My thoughts: If you follow my reviews you know I’m not a big fan of novellas or collections. I prefer to have a full-length novel in which I can really get to know the characters and their stories. Having to read several novellas/collections as a reviewer I am slowly becoming more of a fan of them…when they are done right. This set of stories from the Brunstetter women is done right. The stories captured my attention and were all quick and easy reads.

The three stories focus on different groups of Amish in a community. I found the stories focused more on the characters and not so much on the differences of the communities. At times it was easy to forget I was reading about different Amish groups. I did like that the authors all took the time to develop the characters and stories so that nothing really felt rushed or hurried. I feel like I got a full story from each one. I also liked the fact that the writing styles are similar enough that these could have all been penned by the same author and not three individuals. I feel like this made the collection seem more complete and it held my attention from the beginning of the first story to the very last page of the last story.

Fans of Wanda E. Brunstetter are sure to enjoy this collection. Jean and Richelle are proving themselves to be accomplished authors as well and their stories are writing are soon to be just as polished as Wanda’s. This book would be a great addition to a collection or a fantastic way to begin a collection. Happy reading!!!

About the author: New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda’s stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.

Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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A Welcome at Our Door by Amy Clipston

About the book:  

In the final installment of Amy Clipston’s Amish Homestead series, Cindy Riehl finds herself searching outside of her community for fulfillment and, with the help of a special friend, realizes what she was looking for was right in front of her all along.

Over the last few years, Cindy Riehl—the youngest of the Riehl siblings—has watched her brothers and sister find love and happiness in Lancaster County. But as her family has settled down and grown, Cindy has continued to grieve her mother, whose death left an enormous hole in her heart. Since that haunting day, Cindy has struggled to find peace and wonders if the community is the place for her—and if her faith in God will ever be like it once was.

When one of the Riehl cows escapes to visit another cow down the lane, Cindy chases after it and meets a handsome Englisher named Drew. As they become friends and eventually much more, she is drawn further and further away from the Amish community and the family she loves. She is suddenly faced with difficult choices that threaten to upend her world.

Will Cindy find happiness of her own? And will she ever be able to overcome her grief and find restored comfort in God and her community?

Publication Date:  May 7, 2019

Publisher:  Zondervan

Genre:  Amish fiction

Seires: Amish Homestead #4

My thoughts

Amy closes her latest series with the story of Cindy Riehl. Cindy is the youngest of the Riehl children and has been struggling with joining the Amish church. This struggle has been highlighted in previous books in the series so it was nice to finally discover what would happen in Cindy’s life.

I enjoyed this story and found it to be a quick read. Knowing a lot of the characters in this book from reading the series it was like meeting up with old friends and finding out what was going on in their lives. Amy has the gift as a writer of making readers forget they are reading about fictional characters instead of living, breathing people. In addition to catching up with the human characters in the book, we are also introduced to a cow named Cucumber and a dog named Bruce who brought a bit of fun to a story that had its fair share of sadness.

Although I loved the story I would have liked to see a bit more conflict and struggle between Cindy and Drew as they decided what path their lives should take as far as being Amish or not. It seemed as if they were just a bit too agreeable when it came to the big decisions of their lives and were a bit too willing to just go along with what the other one wanted. I would have liked to have seen a bit more as far as the decision making for what would be a tremendous life change for either of them based on the decision they ended up making.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read and one that will be going on my keeper shelf. Fans of the genre are sure to enjoy this story from one of the best authors of Amish fiction. This book could be read and enjoyed as a standalone and would be an awesome way to introduce someone to Amy’s books.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author

Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats.

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