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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A Seat by the Hearth by Amy Clipston

About the book:

 Priscilla Allgyer left the community to escape the expectations of Amish life. Now, years later, she is forced to return—along with her six-year-old son—to the place she thought she’d left behind forever. Though once estranged from her family, Priscilla is welcomed by her mother, but her father is cold and strict. He allows Priscilla to stay with them provided she dresses plainly, confesses her sins, and agrees to marry within the community. Once again, she feels suffocated, trapped, and alone. As Priscilla reluctantly completes her shunning, she catches the eye of Mark Riehl, a farmer with a playboy reputation. Wary of Mark, Priscilla barely gives him the time of day—while Mark, unused to being ignored by the women of Bird-in-Hand, won’t give up the pursuit of her friendship. Priscilla desperately needs a friend in Mark, even if she doesn’t realize it—and after Priscilla’s father and the bishop catch her and Mark in a compromising situation, their relationship becomes more complicated than ever. As affection quietly grows between them, Priscilla struggles to open her heart and reveal the painful secrets of her past. As Mark works to earn her good faith, can they both learn the hard lessons of love and trust? And can two friends discover a happiness that only God himself could have designed? The third book in the Amish Homestead series, A Seat by the Hearth invites us back to the Lancaster community where friendships are forged and love overcomes all.

Publication Date:  November 13, 2018

Publisher:  Zondervan

Genre:  Amish Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction

Series:  Amish Homestead #3

My thoughts

I LOVED this story!!!!!!!! I think the author has written her best work ever with a compelling story and characters it is impossible to dislike (ok, with the exception of a couple). I found this book heartbreaking and heart-stopping at the same time. This book is just magnificent!!!!!!

I instantly fell in love with Priscilla and Mark. Priscilla has been emotionally and physically abused by her ex-boyfriend and son Ethan’s father, Trent. It was easy to feel her emotions as she returns to her childhood home where she encounters Mark, her childhood best friend’s brother. Mark is known to be a bit of a flirt but instead of me being turned off by this I found him to be friendly and charming. The way he cares about Priscilla without even knowing it just made my heart skip beats at times. Now some readers may not like the slow pace of the relationship between these characters, but I liked it. I liked the way Priscilla slowly let her guard down and how Mark’s actions towards her spoke so much louder than any words. The author did a wonderful job in creating these characters and their personalities. They are a perfect match for each other and it is revealed page after wonderful page.

In addition to the abuse Priscilla received at the hands of her ex, there is also a very strained relationship with her father. There is a bit of a plot twist that I wasn’t expecting in regards to this aspect of the story. I thought I knew how this story was going to progress and then *BAM* there it was and I was left rereading sentences to make sure I had correctly read them the first time. Once again Amy Clipston is proving that she is a top-notch author and can keep the reader’s interest from beginning to end.

The pace of the story was perfect though at times I became a little impatient for these two characters to hopefully find their happily ever after. I chalk this up to the author’s ability to create characters I loved and cared about so much. The descriptions made me feel as if I were there with the characters and experiencing everything along with them.

If I could only recommend one Amish fiction book to someone this would be the one. Everything about the book is perfect and showcases why Amy is one of (if not the) best writers of Amish fiction. This is the third book in the series but I feel like it would be ok to read as a standalone. You will have missed out on the backstory of some of the other characters but you won’t feel lost. You can always go back and read the first two books later but this is one you definitely won’t want to miss out on. This book is definitely going on my keeper shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a review and 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 three spoiled rotten cats.

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