Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: The Blessing


The Blessing
By Wanda E. Brunstetter
Amish Cooking Class #2
Barbour/Shiloh Run, 2017


Summary

Six new cooking class students.  New friendships form, a romance blossoms, and hearts receive healing nourishment. Will Heidi’s own hurting heart also be healed?

Despite stressful changes occurring in their lives, Lyle and Heidi once again open their Ohio home up to those seeking to learn about Amish cooking. This time a teenager helping her divorced dad cook for the family, a caterer needing new recipes, a food critic, a hunter looking to impress his buddies, a wife given the class as an unwanted gift, and a mailman lured in by the aroma of good cooking gather around Heidi’s table.

During each class, Heidi teaches culinary skills, but it is her words of wisdom that have a profound effect on her students—though, this time Heidi’s own hurting heart will need some healing nourishment.


My thoughts

In the Amish fiction genre, Wanda E. Brunstetter is a solid, dependable writer; I know what to expect and am never disappointed. Her characters are relatable and have depth, it’s easy to get caught up in the storyline, and spiritual themes are gently woven throughout, in a way that comforts and even makes me think.

The Blessing, continuing the Amish Cooking Class series that began with The Seekers, is about family and relationships. While there’s some overlapping of characters and themes, sufficient background is given so that this book can stand alone. But if you’re like me, you’ll want to go back and read the previous one if you haven’t already.

I loved the cooking class theme because ordinary people from various walks of life are pulled into the story. They all have some type of problem or insecurity, because that’s life – and the story reflects how life in Christ is to be lived. I was entertained and impressed by how the lives of all these characters interconnected. But best of all was the way Heidi, while dealing with her own personal struggles, shared her faith in a creative way – by writing a Scripture verse on the back of each lesson’s recipe card. Each verse seemed to be exactly what someone needed to hear at the time, and this reminded me of how easy it is to witness in the simplest of ways, then step back and let God work.

The Blessing comes to a satisfactory conclusion, but with the promise of much more to come. Several recipes are included at the end … “Chicken in a Crumb Basket” sounded delicious (also easy) and I will be trying it soon.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to The Celebration in February 2018. Recommended.





I was provided a free copy of this book from Barbour Publishing. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

_________________________


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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Sunday, August 20, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Scavenger Hunt Tour Featuring Molly Jebber




I am honored to join with Celebrate Lit for a Scavenger Hunt featuring Molly Jebber. Enjoy all that’s shared here, get to know more about Molly and her Amish fiction, and discover today’s word for the scavenger hunt sentence.

About Molly’s Books:


Change of Heart

A modern new century brings a young Amish woman an unexpected new life —and a chance to discover love’s true way home...

Ohio, 1899. Soft-spoken midwife Becca Yost lived by her Amish faith’s strict rules—until her fiancĂ© jilted her before their entire community. She ’s never been away from home, but the bustling Englischer town of Massillon, Ohio, is a welcome unexpected refuge. Especially when she goes to work for Dr. Matt Carrington, who shares her passion for healing those in need. His outgoing spirit and gentle strength show Becca a surprising new world of choices—and irresistible love. But there is one formidable obstacle: Matt’s wealthy mother is determined her son will marry a society woman.

With her newfound resolve challenged, Becca decides that she and Matt must not be destined for each other after all. She accepts that she will have to forge a life alone—until a wrenching crisis and life-changing revelations teach her that true faith lies in all things, especially impossible second chances...



Grace’s Forgiveness

A handsome newcomer with secrets shows a yearning Amish woman a chance at happiness—but their love will need all their courage to keep . . .

Grace Blauch is skilled at midwifery—and crafting quilts that help others pass on messages of enduring family love. But a disfiguring birthmark keeps the young Amish woman from a husband and home of her own—until Mark King arrives from another community. His helpfulness and independent nature earn Grace’s respect. And he finds her outspoken ways and determination to do right irresistibly appealing. Soon Grace is planning a wedding quilt of her very own . . . until her father discovers that Mark’s shunned brother is hiding somewhere in town . . .

Grace can well understand why Mark took such a risk once she hears his wrenching reasons. But she fears even prayer will not convince her father to restore his blessing on their union. She wills herself to face the end of her dreams, but sudden danger and an impossible act of generosity will show her that abiding hope can inspire the most precious of miracles  . . .



Two Suitors for Anna

In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for and a new, very different future...

Since Anna Plank moved to Berlin, Ohio, with her widowed mamm and two schweschders, she’s found a real sense of belonging. As soon as her beloved Noah Schwartz proposes, they’ll begin a new chapter here together. But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they’re married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves.

Daniel Bontrager’s arrival adds to Anna’s confusion. Since taking over his late brother’s farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share...


About Molly:


Molly Jebber’s books have been featured in Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today’s HEA, and Romantic Times has given them a near excellent rating. She’s on RWA’s Honor Roll. She’s a speaker for Women’s Christian Connection, and she offers presentations on writing, publishing, Amish lifestyle and traditions. She has received widespread media coverage, including live interviews, across the United States for her books and speaking engagements.

Molly has just signed a new contract for four more Amish books! She loves interacting with her readers. She loves God, her husband, family and friends. She has a hard time saying no to cupcakes, swimming, nine holes of golf, and walks on the beach. Coconut, oatmeal, and onions, on the other hand, are not hard to say no to!


Guest Post from Molly:
In TWO SUITORS FOR ANNA:
Anna and her sisters are hiding a secret. One Anna knows is wrong to keep. The love of her life wants her to leave her family behind and travel with him. Her life is in turmoil, and she isn’t sure which way to turn? What does the future hold for Anna?

Have you read CHANGE OF HEART and GRACE’S FORGIVENESS? The first two books in the Keepsake Pocket Quilt Series? They are available in and online in bookstores. I love interacting with you, and thank you for participating!


Scavenger Hunt Stops:
Stop by each blog to collect their special word then input the sentence it creates into the giveaway for NINE extra entries! While you are at each stop, don’t forget to comment to claim your bonus entries in the giveaway (the bonus entries for a comment on a blog can be claimed multiple times but only once in a 24 hour period).

August 8: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses
August 9: Quiet Quilter
August 10: Smiling Book Reviews
August 11: Have A Wonderful Day
August 12: With a Joyful Noise
August 13: Bigreadersite 
August 14: A Baker’s Perspective
August 15: Karen Sue Hadley
August 16: Blogging With Carol 
August 17: cherylbbookblog
August 18:  Baker Kella
August 19: His Grace is Sufficient
August 20: The Power of Words
August 21: Blossoms and Blessings


Giveaway:
Blog Tour Prize is an Amish/English Basket!
One big item: Brand New Coach Purse!

Each day, visit the designated blog, comment, and your name is entered in the contest for a chance to win!

The word you are looking for on my stop is SWEET





Saturday, August 19, 2017

Spotlight (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Out of Darkness



 
To purchase your copy, click here.


About the Book

Book title: Out of Darkness  
Author: Erynn Newman  
Release date: May 18, 2017  
Genre: Romantic suspense

Elisabeth Allen gave her heart to Jesus as a little girl and to Drew Marek as a teenager. When their wedding day finally arrives, it’s the happiest day of her life–until a car bomb transforms her dream come true into a living nightmare. 

As Best Man at the wedding, Gabriel Di Salvo promises Drew–his best friend and CIA partner–he’ll look after Elisabeth, but he never dreams it will become necessary so soon. As Elisabeth struggles to put the pieces of her life back together without Drew, Gabe becomes her rock, and as they share their grief and begin to heal, their friendship gradually deepens into something more. 

Three years later, Gabe and Elisabeth are planning a future together when he receives a shocking call from the one man who can upend his happiness: Drew. Suspecting someone at the CIA is behind his abduction, Drew refuses to come home. Instead, he asks Gabe to bring Elisabeth to him. Now Gabe just has to figure out how to let her go. 

Drew and Elisabeth race across Europe, dodging international arms dealers and attempting to reclaim what was stolen from them. But years of captivity and torture have left their mark on Drew. He is no longer the same boy Elisabeth fell in love with, but he is still her husband, and she’s determined to build something new and leave her relationship with Gabe in the past, if her heart will get the memo. 

When their enemies close in and the threat of a terrorist attack escalates, Gabe may be the only person they can trust. Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe are thrown into a fight for their lives–one that will test their loyalties to God, country . . . and each other.  




About the Author

Erynn Newman is a pastor’s kid, raised in churches all over the Eastern Seaboard. Since earning her degree in Christian Studies, she has traveled the world and served as a missionary, a counselor, an ESL teacher, and a nanny. Though she has never worked with the CIA, her DVR contains a veritable Who’s Who of international spies. 

She is a Carolina girl, a wife, and Mama to a very busy little boy, two cats, and a gaggle of characters that live inside her head.





20 Facts About Out of Darkness

  1. I write novels while the rest of the house sleeps. That’s also when I do most of my editing work and social media stalking. During the day, I get to hang out with an awesome 4-year-old who is the reason I get up in the morning (both because he’s my heart and because he’s staring into my soul asking me to make pancakes).
  2. I don’t like wine or coffee. My writer fuel is partially frozen Cherry Pepsi.
  3. It took me a long time to realize I was a writer. I thought that everyone made up imaginary people and back stories for them and imagined the lives they lived and sometimes talked to them in traffic. Turns out no. Fortunately other writers found me and helped me figure it out.
  4. My greatest nemeses are also my greatest inspirations. Facebook and Netflix. Finding the balance of hanging out with other writers and readers and being inspired by great story telling and actually doing the work is the hardest thing for me.
  5. I am obsessed with casting characters. Finding the perfect actor/actress or model who embodies my characters is one of my favorite parts of the process. I also do this for every single book I read.
  6. So, of course now you want to know who I chose for Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe. I’m glad you asked.
    • Drew is based on Matt Bomer’s portrayal of Bryce Larkin in the show Chuck (there are quite a few nods to this show hidden throughout Out of Darkness).
    • Elisabeth is partially based on a character from a show I watched when I was in college (also a waitress and artist), but she looks like this model.
    • Gabe is based not that loosely on (young) Anthony DiNozzo from NCIS.
  7. Our house has a really great office with a nice desk and comfortable chair that looks out on our wooded back yard. But I work almost exclusively while sitting on the couch with my laptop propped up on the back of it. My uniform is yoga pants and an old t-shirt. The author life is G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S.
  8. I got my start writing fan fiction. Most of it has been obliterated from the interwebs, but there may still be a few Star Wars stories floating around out there (I owe this to my love for Ewan MacGregor and my hatred of Annakin Skywalker). Fan fiction is also the way I found my very first critique group. And our leader, Susan Kaye Quinn, best-selling author and real life rocket scientist, helped me realize I could be a real author. And later she taught me how to publish. I want to be her when I grow up.
  9. Speaking of fan fiction, the original idea for Out of Darkness was a fan fiction based on that character from that show I talked about above. The waitress/artist who lost her first love and then fell for someone else. And then when her love returned, he was… recast. And terrible. And she forgot who she was and made every wrong decision. And everyone was miserable ever after. And I was like, what even IS this show?!?! So I started writing my version of how it should have gone. But then a surprising thing happened. My characters took on lives of their own, and I fell in love with ALL of them, and I knew I had to tell their story. So I started creating a different back story for them (and I introduced them to Jesus), and then they became their own characters and started telling me what to do. And I’m a little insane now, but I’m not even mad because I love what this story has turned into (and turned ME into).
  10. I started writing Out of Darkness in its earliest form in 2006. I stopped and restarted several times. I wrote other things that may or may not ever see the light of day. I learned that I was writing all wrong, and I ripped it apart, started over and stitched it back together piece by piece. In fact, my original chapter one is now chapter FOURTEEN. And all of that is after the first fifty pages that now comprise First Light, the prequel novelette that tells the story of how Drew and Elisabeth met and fell in love.
  11. Of all the exotic locations mentioned in Out of Darkness: Venice, Italy; Paris, France; Cordoba, Spain; Trim, Ireland; and even Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, I have been to two—Baltimore and Paris. Google Maps Street View and Wikipedia are an author’s best friends.
  12. Music inspires me to write, but I can’t write to music. I often hear a song that makes me think of a scene or helps me get the emotion right. And I add those to my play list, but when I write, I prefer quiet (or instrumental music).
  13. I want the Gospel to be front and center in every story I write (including my own), but there were two scenes in particular that I really felt like the Holy Spirit guided me in writing. One is when Drew finds his Bible in the backpack Gabe packed for them, and the other is Gabe’s argument with God when he decides to let Elisabeth go. In both instances, I feel like God really led me to the right Scriptures and gave me the words in a way I didn’t experience with any other scenes.
  14. The hardest scenes were all of the ones with Drew and the gas. Both because I don’t like to torture my characters (contrary to what you may believe) and because the science behind the weapon is way above my head. I worked with a couple of microbiologists to get it at least to plausible/possible, but I’m sure there are still some issues with my science there.
  15. I cried several times while writing this book. Elisabeth and I grieve much the same way, so I saw a lot of myself in her moments crying out to God—especially in the ones where she just wanted to feel Him and couldn’t. I cried when Drew fell apart reading his Bible, and I cried at the end when I wasn’t sure who would live or die.
  16. Gabe was the biggest surprise of the writing process. He was supposed to be out of the picture after chapter sixteen. He was just supposed to be a supporting character in the first half of the book, but at every turn he was tapping me on the shoulder and telling me, “there’s so much more to my story.”
  17. A few scenes didn’t make it into the final book. Two of them are in the outtakes section of my website, but don’t read those until after you’ve read the book. Seriously.
  18. After being told by one agent that Out of Darkness would never sell because it didn’t fit neatly into a genre category, I signed with my current agent in 2012, and we submitted it to several publishers. I received lots of compliments on my writing, but ultimately, people didn’t seem to like the fact that both of my leading men were good guys, and there was no one to root against. One even suggested that I make Gabe complicit in Drew’s abduction. And one suggested I kill Drew (again!) so Elisabeth and Gabe could end up together. Both interesting ideas, but neither were the story I wanted to tell. In the end, I decided to indie publish, which has been really challenging, but I’m so happy with the way everything turned out. We all got the ending we were supposed to have.
  19. Speaking of endings, the one in the final version is very different from the original. I’ll try not to be too spoilery, but let’s just say that the original ending was far less happy, but I felt like it was the only way out. One of my characters made a choice that I couldn’t see any way around. And I thought that a happy ending would be too fake. I didn’t want to tie everything up with a pretty pink bow and say “they all lived happily ever after,” because after everything they’d been through, that wouldn’t be real life. But a very good friend of mine convinced me that I could instead tie everything up with a frayed knot. It’s still messy and difficult and a little raw, but I think it’s real… and full of hope and possibility.
  20. So what’s next, you ask? There’s more to explore here perhaps, but I honestly don’t know what comes next for these characters. That’s something I’m still thinking about. The story I’m working on right now also begins in D.C. but takes place mostly in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the story of an ex Army Ranger who has to protect his three little brothers when the youngest witnesses their parents’ murder. And there may also be a girl involved.

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Erynn is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of Out of Darkness, a signed copy of First Light, The Joy Eternal~A Sweet and Bitter Providence CD, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and Italian Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Cookies.!! Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!




Friday, August 18, 2017

Review + GIVEAWAY: A Name Unknown


A Name Unknown
By Roseanna M. White
Shadows Over England #1
Bethany House, 2017


Summary

She's out to steal his name. Will he steal her heart instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets-now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary's challenge of a lifetime comes when she's assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family's history, their very name?

Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can't help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown-so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she's the right person to help him dig through his family's past.

Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they're in a race against time to discover the truth-about Peter's past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

Learn more and purchase a copy.


My thoughts

I have enjoyed several of Roseanna M. White’s excellent novels, but there is that intangible “something” that sets A Name Unknown apart for me. Sometimes a story simply resonates in a special way … maybe it has something to do with how the setting (Cornwall), characters (fascinating and complex), storyline, and spiritual theme all blend together. Whatever the reason, I loved A Name Unknown and am excited about the whole Shadows Over England series. I believe these stories wonderfully reflect the author’s God-given creativity.

Cornwall Coast
For someone who loves British settings as much as I do, it doesn’t get much better than the rugged, majestic coast of Cornwall, which is vividly conveyed. And then there’s the hero and heroine, Peter and Rosemary – so real, sympathetic and endearing. Honestly, could there be two more opposite characters? Peter is kind, good, with a great sense of humor, and he stutters! Rosemary is a Cockney girl who became a thief in order to survive, and acquired a unique “family” in the process (I’m already in love with Willa and look forward to her story). Peter, with German family connections, faces doubts as to where his loyalty lies – and Rosemary is out to steal that name. Peter is a believer, and applies those beliefs to his daily life. Rosemary believes in a God who doesn’t hear.

Avid readers will love that Peter is a writer, with a totally messed up home library that Rosemary is hired to organize. Just imagine this … “Shelves lined the walls, floor to towering ceiling. Lined with books, all of them. Then with books stacked in front of them. Books stacked on the floor. Books stacked on the chairs, the tables, lining the windowsills. Boxes of them. Random cases of them at odd places.”

Rich in historical detail and accuracy, the pre-World War I years make a fascinating backdrop for this story. Peter and Rosemary are compelling characters with great chemistry between them. Best of all is how Peter shares his faith and the growth we see in Rosemary. I enjoyed A Name Unknown so much and hated to reach the last page.

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

http://litfusegroup.com/author/RWhite

_________________________



Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself.

Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. She passes said boring life with her husband and kids in the beautiful mountains of eastern West Virginia.

WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram


GIVEAWAY

A special thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Bethany House for making this giveaway possible.

To enter the drawing, please click on this link and share my Facebook post, then leave a comment here. If you’ve enjoyed any of Roseanna’s books and maybe have a favorite, please share. (It was the first Culper Ring novel, Ring of Secrets, that drew me to Roseanna’s writing.)

BE SURE to leave your name and your email address in a safe format - [at] and [dot] - for the drawing. E-mail required for entry. Contest ends at midnight PST on August 24, 2017. Winner will be chosen by random.org and contacted by e-mail.

Eligibility: US residents

 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Review: Wilderness Reunion


Wilderness Reunion
By Elizabeth Goddard
Wilderness, Inc. #4
Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense, 2017


Summary

After stumbling on a drug operation, Alice Wilde races through the woods as bullets whiz past, using her skills as a wilderness guide to elude her pursuers. But she doesn't stay safe for long once one of the armed men recognizes her…and starts stalking her.

When the sheriff asks her to guide his men and photojournalist Griffin Slater—her ex-boyfriend—to the crime scene, though, she can't refuse. Alice knows Griffin's just there for a story, but after the two of them are separated from the rest of the group, he's the only person who can save her. And with someone willing to do anything to hunt them down, Alice must put aside their past if she wants to survive.


My thoughts

Wilderness Reunion is an edge-of-your-seat page turner, filled with non-stop action – also impossible to put down. With Elizabeth Goddard’s distinctive gift for conveying vivid imagery and bringing characters to life, I was transported into the Oregon wilderness and caught up in Alice and Griffin’s story from the very first paragraph.

Suspense isn’t my genre of choice, but I’ve consistently enjoyed the Wilderness, Inc. series. For one thing, the stories I’ve read are more action packed than filled with scary suspense or terror. Secondly, in a genre that isn’t known for its character depth, Goddard creates well-rounded characters that readers can immediately connect with.

Blossom Bar, Rogue River
Wilderness Reunion takes place in Oregon’s wilderness, and I could “see” its wildness, rugged beauty and majesty as I read. In the river rafting scenes, I could almost hear the water churning and roaring around me. Griffin, a photojournalist who captured the tragedies of the world, felt he was damaged goods because of all the horrors he had witnessed. Wonderful romantic tension is created when Alice, who literally finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, is forced to rely on Griffin in a life-or-death situation – and both struggle with emotional baggage from their past relationship.

Wilderness Reunion stands out to me because it calls attention to a growing and dangerous problem in our country today –marijuana farms located in remote wilderness areas. Goddard writes at the end: “I wanted to raise awareness of the devastation that’s being inflicted on public lands in our beautiful country. Not only are illegal marijuana farms catastrophic to the land, the wildlife and water, but they’re dangerous to people, especially nature enthusiasts.”

I thoroughly enjoyed Wilderness Reunion and look forward to Elizabeth Goddard’s next series.

Recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

_________________________


Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty-five romance novels and counting, including the romantic mystery, THE CAMERA NEVER LIES–a 2011 Carol Award winner. She’s a double finalist in the 2016 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for her books BURIED and BACKFIRE in the Mountain Cove series.

A 7th generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated from North Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to home school her children and fulfill her dreams of writing full-time. She currently makes her home in Minnesota with her husband and children.

Website │ Facebook │ Twitter │ Pinterest



Friday, August 11, 2017

Review: The Return



Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Book title: The Return  
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher  
Release date: Sept 1, 2017  
Genre: Amish  

In a wild country, the true cost of love may be more than they can bear

Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family’s rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans—but then she never had to. Not until the night she’s taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. Facing brutality and hardship, Betsy finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the feelings she’s developing for a native man who encourages her to see God in all circumstances. 

Greatly anguished by Betsy’s captivity, Hans turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. She responds eagerly, overlooking troubling signs of Hans’s hunger for revenge. But if Betsy is ever restored to the Amish, will things between Hans and Tessa have gone too far? 

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.  




My Thoughts

Lancaster, Pennsylvania – 1763

This New World, intended to be a holy experiment of tolerance, was anything but. All these devout people – Scots-Irish, Quakers, Mennonites, Moravians, Lutherans – they all distrusted each other. But let the talk turn to Indians, and they were instantly thick as thieves, united in their hatred.

As with all that Suzanne Woods Fisher writes, The Return is incredible. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s the best book she has written because each story is unique and never fails to touch me, but there is something special about this one.

From a descriptive standpoint, the narrative flows smoothly and every word has a purpose. Careful attention is paid to historical detail, characters are multifaceted – and in the midst of danger and discord for colonists of the New World, Fisher injects a subtle and delightful humor. We even get to see the meaning behind some common sayings heard today … such as hitting the nail on the head and I’ll be there with bells on. This story stands alone, but reading the Amish Beginnings series in order makes for a more fulfilling experience.

Precious and endearing characters abound … Bairn and Anna, whose story began in book one, Anna’s Crossing; Bairn’s now-grown-up brother, Felix, who was a handful as a child and hasn’t yet outgrown some childish tendencies; Caleb, who knows what it’s like to not be fully accepted in any culture; Betsy and Tessa, two pioneer women with strength and determination; and even Rumpled Martin, son of a Mennonite minister. Bairn and Anna, equally strong in faith and love for each other, have been favorites of mine throughout the series. I have to confess a little humanness here, but there’s just something about a Scotsman that gets to me, and when Bairn speaks in his Scotish brogue …

What sets this novel apart is the way readers will connect with the setting and characters, literally being pulled into the scenes. These characters may have lived 250 years ago, but their wisdom, faith and courage are timeless. Spiritual themes are especially relevant … 

   ... the need for grace, reflected in Bairn’s ministry style at Stoney Ridge 
   … how thoughtless words can incite an unquenchable anger and vengeance 
   … prejudice, how easy and tempting it is to paint all people of a certain nationality or belief system with the same brush 
   … that we must never allow evil to be victorious 
   ... and that God is sovereign in all circumstances.

The Return is a wonderfully entertaining and touching story – heartbreaking at times, but filled with the inspiration of grace and hope. I hope to see more from these characters, especially Betsy, Tessa, Caleb and Martin. “Best of the best” for me.

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and Revell. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

____________________

Favorite quotes …

“It often puzzled Tessa how personal significance was needed for men to see things clearly. Their secret pride.”

“Vengeance is a dangerous master to feed. Its appetite has no end.”

“What virtue does obedience have if it is not examined and then made to be a choice?”

“A bachelor is a man who’s too fast to be caught or too slow to be worth catching.”


About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Anna’s Crossing and The Newcomer in the Amish Beginnings series, The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish

She lives in California. Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.










Guest Post from Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Three Sisters’ Garden: Corn, Squash & Beans!

Corn was a new food to the immigrants to the New World, introduced to them by Native Americans. Soon, it became an essential part of their daily diet, in one form or another. Growing it brought yet another new discovery: companion planting in the form of the Three Sisters’ Garden.

According to Iroquois legend, corn, squash and beans were three inseparable sisters who only grew and thrived together. 18th century Native Americans wouldn’t have understood the science behind why companion planting worked, but they knew it did. Beans, like all legumes, have bacteria living on their roots that help them absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form that plants can use. Corn, which requires a lot of nitrogen to grow, benefits from the legumes and provides a pole support for the beans to climb. Low growing squash leaves shade the soil and prevent weed growth. Their sharp and prickly leaves deter pests. This tradition, of planting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, became a sustainable system to provide long-term soil fertility among Native American tribes that farmed. 

The wisdom of planting Three Sisters’ Garden was adopted by the immigrants, including our own Betsy Zook from The Return. Betsy learned of the technique while a captive among a tribe of Indians and later, after she had been returned to the Amish, shared her knowledge with Anna and Bairn.  

Have you ever considered growing a Three Sisters’ garden? All you need is the right kind of seeds, a mound of dirt in a sunny spot, and to not forget to water. Mother Nature will do the rest. 

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling, award-winning author of novels about the Old Order Amish. Her interest in the Plain People began with her grandfather, who was raised as a Dunkard (German Baptist) on a farm in Pennsylvania. Suzanne loves to connect with readers! You can find her on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.


*Images courtesy of Dream Home Improvement and Technology Exchange Lab