Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Waiting - A Book Review

The Waiting

The true story of a lost child, a lifetime of longing, and a miracle for a mother who never gave up.

                 By Cathy Lagrow
                       with Cindy Coloma

Minka, a young girl of sixteen has lived a sheltered life.  Although she lives on a farm she is unaware of where babies come from.  She has always believed that "the stork" brings babies to married women.  On the day of Minka's sewing class picnic her world is flipped upside down.  Cornered in the woods and assaulted by a stranger, Minka is left feeling scared and alone.  She decides to never tell anyone what has happened...then three months later she discovers she is pregnant.  Her mother and stepfather along with the families pastor decide that the best course of action will be to send Minka away to a distant relative until her confinement time at which time she will then go to the House of Mercy, a place that helps young girls in "delicate" conditions.  The plan is for her to have the baby and give it up for adoption.

At the House of Mercy a young girl has her baby and then cares for the baby for 6 weeks before giving it up for adoption or leaving with the baby and having a fresh start.  When Minka has her baby she calls her Betty Jane and instantly loves her.  She cherishes every moment of the next few weeks and does not want to give her up.  She struggles with knowing that both her and her daughter will be "marked" as bad and that her daughter will live a rough life.  After much consideration she makes the sacrifice to give her daughter a chance for a better life and gives her up for adoption.  When her mom and step father come to pick up Minka they take a picture of Minka and Betty Jane.  Minka will cherish this picture for the rest of her life.

Minka never stops loving her daughter.  She continues to write letters to the House of Mercy inquiring about the baby.  It is against policy for them to give any information, but Minka writes anyway.  It is her only link to her baby.  She prays for her daughter every year and never forgets Betty Jane.  Now an elderly woman in her 90's she finds herself praying a new prayer...that God will let her see her daughter before she dies.  Little does she know that two thousand miles away Ruth Lee (Betty Jane) just got word that the court has authorized release of her adoption records.

This book is so good.  I couldn't put it down and read it from cover to cover in 24 hours.  It is a story of love, a mother's love that runs so deep that no adoption, miles or even years gone by could stop it.  I felt like I was sitting down with this family and hearing them recount the story to me first hand.  The fact that Minka did not let the circumstances of her life turn her into a bitter woman was inspirational.  She continued to love and she made and donated clothes and turkeys to the the home where she stayed.  What a remarkable woman!  The miracle of them being reunited is a story of faith and God's love as well.  In the middle of the book there are pictures of the family and included is the picture of Minka and Betty Jane, the very same picture that Minka treasured all those years.   I love that these pictures were included and found myself pausing from reading and flipping the pages to look at the pictures again and again.  It helped me to connect even more to the characters.  I would normally say that I would love to sit down with Minka and have a cup of coffee and hear her story, but that is exactly what I felt like I did.  Very well written!

***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Seasons of Tomorrow - A Book Review

Season of Tomorrow by Cindy Woodsmall is book 4 of the Amish Vines and Orchards Series and definitely my favorite in the series.  I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this book and it was well worth the wait.  I have read each book in the series and have become quite "attached" to the characters.  The author did an amazing job of wrapping up the stories and tying up all the loose ends.  There are so many different characters in this series and several story lines going on, but it's never confusing and there is never a dull moment.  I do recommend reading the series in order.  I know there are a lot of series that you can read out of order and it not matter, but I would strongly suggest reading this one in order.  There are so many details that you won't want to miss out on anything!  Another thing I love is that the author includes a section in the front of the book of "our story so far" so if it has been a while since you have read the other books you can quickly refresh your memory without having to go back and read all the books again.

In book four Rhoda is feeling more content in her heart than ever before.  The Orchard and canning business is running smoothly, her relationship with Samuel is progressing, she is coming to terms and finding peace with her "premonitions" and life is going well, but Rhoda's world gets turned upside down when tragedy strike their settlement.  There are many hurts and struggles that many of the characters have to overcome and they must learn to trust in God for their future.

I am a huge fan of Cindy Woodsmall and always enjoy her books and have to say I am a little sad to see the stories with Rhoda come to an end.  I would love to read more of this family that I have come to love. :)

***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Shining Light - A Book Review

A Shining Light by Judith Miller begins when Andrea Wilson finds out that her husband has been lost at sea.  It is hard for her to grieve over him since he was abusive to her and their son Lukas.  Andrea makes the decision to return to her father's farm, but when she arrives she only finds more heartache.  The family farm has burnt to the ground and her father has died.   On top of that her father had sold the farm to the Amanan's before he died.  Andrea has no money and no place to go.

The people of the nearby Amana village invite Andrea and Lukas to stay with them until she makes other plans.   The people are so kind and it doesn't take long for Andrea and her son to find their place among the people.  Lukas befriends Dirk Knefler, the village tinsmith and sparks soon fly between Dirk and Andrea.  It seems as if Andrea and Lukas have finally found their place and are content with the life they are now living, but right when everything seems to be falling into place in Andrea's life the unexpected happens and Andrea has to learn to trust in God for her future.

    I am not really fond of books written from first person narrative.  It is just a personal preference of mine.  This book is written from that perspective and because of that I struggled with it a little bit.  The author writes from each character's point of view and has it laid out in a way that is easy to keep up with the changes in perspective.  It took me a little while to really get into the book and I do think it has to do with my preference of the first person narrative, but once I got into the book I could hardly put it down.  It was a great story line although somewhat predictable.   I really enjoyed reading about the Amana people and would like to check out some of the author's other books.  This book was actually the third book in the Home to Amana series, so I guess I'm going to go backwards. : )

If you would like to check out Judith Miller's website you can do so by clicking HERE.

***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Murder Simply Brewed - A Book Review

Amber Wright is an Englischer who runs the shops in an Amish Artisan Village.  Hannah is a young Amish girl that works at the quilt shop located next to the coffee shop.  When Hannah finds Ethan, the manager in charge of the coffee shop dead it is quickly determined that the cause of death was a heart attack.  Amber asks Hannah to take Ethan's place in the coffee shop and it doesn't take long before "evidence" of foul play start showing up.  When Amber goes to the police with her suspicions they do not take her seriously.  Amber and Hannah join forces and begin to investigate on their own.   Will they be able to fit the puzzle pieces together before anyone else gets hurt?

I don't usually read murder mysteries, but something about an Amish murder intrigued me, plus, I had recently read a short story by Vannetta Chapman and really enjoyed it and was anxious to read one of her books.  Murder Simply Brewed was a really great novel.  If you are like me and don't want to read something that is dark and sinister, but still like a good mystery then this book is perfect.  I couldn't wait to discover "who-done-it" and it held my attention from cover to cover!  I loved the fact that an Amish lady and an Englischer worked together to solve the "crime" and there was a perfect balance of mystery, suspense and romance that kept me wanting more.   This book was a refreshing change for me and I can't wait to read more of this author's writings!

***This book was provided to me by the publisher through the booklook blogger review program in exchange for my review.