Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book review: Sarah's Choice

Sarah's Choice by Wanda Brunstetter is the third book in the Brides of Lehigh Canal series.  I did not read the first two books at all, so this book is fine to read alone.  Sarah's Choice is about Sarah Turner a mother of  three.  Sarah's husband got killed in an accident working the canal locks.  Sarah is forced to take his hard labor job and do the best she can for her children.  She also sells bread to the boatmen to help bring in more money.  She also dreams of opening a bakery someday as she is an excellent baker.  Sarah gets help from family and church friends to help with watching her children.  We also meet Elias who inherits his grandfathers boat and decides to give up his newspaper job to run the boat since he felt his grandfather wanted him to care for it.  We also meet the town blacksmith who grew up with Sarah and always had an interest in her.  Sarah has decided too many accidents have happened on the canal and she grew walking the mules on the trail.  She has bad meomeries of the canal and vws to get her kids out of there.  That means she will not marry a boatman.  She is asked by both Elias and the town blacksmith to marry.  What will she choose?  That's the choice Sarah has to make.

I have read a lot of Wanda Brunstetter's books.  They have all been about the Amish, so this one was a little different for me.  I had a hard time reading at first for several reasons.  First, there was nothing to tell you that she was changing scenes.  Like in the beginning it goes from meeting Sarah and her kids to meeting Elias with his family.  That may be because this is an advanced copy of the book, but that took me a little while to get used to that happening.  I also was kind of lost when she started talking about mules leading the boats.  This could be because I did not read the previous books in the series.  I did learn about the canal from reading this book though.  I also liked how this was a romance but without all the romance.  The characters did not really spend a lot of time together but fell in love.  I really liked this book.  It was a quick read once I got into it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing for allowing me to read this book.  I was given the galley to read but not paid for this review.   The book comes out on December 1st.  I'd recommend it to readers who enjoy Wanda Brunstetter's other books.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review-Seek Me With All your Heart

Seek Me With All Your Heart is the first book in a new series, Land of Canaan, by Beth Wiseman.  I have been waiting for this book to come out every since I read the last book of the Daughters of the Promise series.  In that book we learn that several of the characters are going to move to Colorado to start over and go where there is more farm land.  We learn the reason for those moves in this book.  We also meet the Detweiler family who move to Canaan for their own reasons.  There are several stories going on in the book, but I think the main one was the story of Emily and David.  David was a character from another The Daughters of the Promise series who feels he can never marry because he had a kidney transplant and it he might not live a long life and Emily is an new character who we learn was raped and her family moved to get away from the situation.  Emily feels she is unworthy to marry because of the rape.  David and Emily have a rocky beginning but soon become good friends.    When that friendship feels more like love what will they do since both have decided marriage is not the route for them?  You will find out in this book.

I really enjoyed getting to see the characters from the Daughters of the Promise series and really enjoyed meeting the new characters as well.  I have waited so long to find out why they decided to leave all they knew and loved to go to Canaan.  I did have some issues with the rape storyline.  I thought the Amish did not take people to court.  They tried to handle things in their communities.  So, that part of the story had me wondering a little. I did like how her parents handled the rape.  In other Amish fiction stories I've read, it felt like the parents would not even believe the girl. Other than that I totally loved the book and would recommend it to people who love Amish fiction. I look forward to reading more in this series. This is the first book I have bought for my Kindle for Android and I really enjoyed reading it that way.

Monday, November 15, 2010

October Gone! November Reads...

I have been so busy with my kids that my reading time has not been as much as I would like it to be.  November is half over too.  I got a lot read in October, but only have a few November reads.  A lot of things that  wanted to read over on Netgalley got poofed away.  So, here's my plan for November. 

Seek Me With All Your Heart- Beth Wiseman
The Thorn- Beverly Lewis
Shadows of Lancaster County- Mindy Starns Clark
Sarah's Choice- Wanda Brunstetter

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book Review: Blown Away By Nancy Mehl

Blown Away: A Curl Up and Dye Mystery by Nancy Mehl is the second book in her series about a hairstylist for the dead. Hilde is back and her boyfriend, Adam Sawyer is in the center stage in this book. Hilde goes to check on a grave at the cemetery and finds a dead body in a grave. Adam is accused of the murder. Hilde and her friend from the antique store, Gabe work to help prove Adam’s innocence. A lot of other things happen like a tornado, but why wouldn’t you add a tornado to a book with the name Blown Away. We also learn about Gabe’s background. Hilde has a lot of issues in the book that go back to her father leaving her family at a young age. She has to learn to trust men and especially Adam if their relationship is going to survive.

I thought this book had more to it than the first. I was hooked at trying to figure out who did it. I did have a few problems with the book. In the book, we learn that Hilde is scared of clowns. She learns it was from her stay in the hospital. Somehow though she magically puts that fear behind her and attends two clown funerals and is dating a clown. I also love inspirational books. The religious stuff in this book seemed very forced at times. There is also a lot of fluff stuff in this story to get to the heart of the story. While this stuff is sometimes cute it does get old after awhile. Finally, I really did not like the ending again. Like in the first book, Hilde says she knows who the murder is and then we go to a point in the future where they are talking about how it all went down. As a reader I felt like I missed something big and that was the big climax of finding out who the murder was in the action of the story not at a table with others when it is all done and said. Hilde is at it again in this book with her SPAM recipes. The reader is also given another recipe which I thought was kind of nice.

If you have not read the first book, Missing Mabel you will probably be okay reading this one on its own. The author does a really good job filling you in on what happened in the first book. I really enjoyed the first book though so you might want to check it out too.

Even though I had a lot of issues with this book, I still really enjoyed it, except the ending which was a letdown. I thought it was a pretty good cozy mystery. This book also says that it is part of the Hometown Mystery series. I really have not figured that out yet as there are a lot of hometown mysteries but they are not all about the same town. I’ll have to read another one on my list and see if I can figure that one out.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy cozy mysteries. I would like to thank Barbour Books for allowing me to read this book through NetGalley. This book comes out February 1, 2011.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Fang of the Vampire and Blood of the Witch

I reviewed some books at another site I write for called Busy Mommy Media.  These books are for 8-10 year olds.  You can read my review here. Go check it out. They make great Halloween books.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review: Missing Mabel

Missing Mabel by Nancy Mehl is the story of Hilde Higgins, a hairdresser for the dead. Hilde goes to the funeral home to do Mabel's hair when she is told that person is not ready. Hilde sees the body and the hair. The next time she comes to the funeral home to do Mabel's hair she knows from seeing her before and the picture given by the family that this is not the same body. Hilde tries to tell the funeral home director, but he does not believe her. She sets out to make things right for Mabel and find her. We met several other interesting characters in the book. Adam is a friend from her childhood that she does not have good memories about. Gabe is an antique store owner across the street from her boarding house who becomes friends with Hilde. These are just to name a few that stand out to me, there are many more. Hilde and her friends try to find out who took Mabel and Hilde uses her friends to help her.

I have to be honest here, I did not read the description of this book before reading it. I had recently read Simple Secrets and Simple Deceit by the author and loved them and thought I'd give this book a try. After reading the first chapter, I really thought I would not like this book. The thought of reading a book about a hairdresser for the dead just did not appeal to me. I am glad though that I kept reading. The book seemed to me to be more about the other people in Hilde's life. I love reading books about women sleuths. Hilde is such an interesting character I wanted to read more about her. I really liked that she loved to read mysteries and that she loved to cook with SPAM. The author even includes a recipe using SPAM at the end of the book. I also liked how the reader finds out that Mabel and Hilde had a lot in common. I also like the subtle hints of religion throughout the book. I never guessed the who done it part, until it was revealed. As a reader, I was a little confused at the end. We are left with Hilde saying she knew who done it and then the reader is moved to a new chapter where almost all the characters attending a dinner and learning about how she found out about it. It kind of downplayed the figuring out part in my opinion. All in all I really enjoyed this book. I also really like this author's writing style. Missing Mabel is available now and I would recommend giving it a try. I plan to read the next book in this series called Blown Away: A Curl Up and Dye Mystery. I love the way the author uses the title to link to hairdresser words. That book comes out February 1, 2011. Look for a review of that book on my blog soon.

I was given a copy of the book by Barbour Books through NetGalley for this review. I was not paid for this review and was not required to give a positive review.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review: A Simple Amish Christmas

A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman is her first novel. It is the story of Annie Weaver, a young Amish girl who has lived in the city with her aunt during her Rumschpringe. She becomes a nurse at a children’s hospital. She receives a phone call at the hospital one day that will change her life forever. Her mother calls to tell her that her father has had an accident and they need her to come home and take care of him. They do not know that she is a nurse though. Annie ends up coming home and getting baptized and helping her community by using her skills as a nurse to help them. She immediately dislikes the town “doctor,” Samuel. Samuel is older than Annie and lost his wife and child in a buggy accident. We learn about other people in the community through her medical calls. One woman experiences a hard birth and another teen girl is pregnant possible by rape. Along the way Annie begins to fall in love with Samuel and learns her place in the community.

I really enjoyed this book. This is a perfect read for the winter. It made me want to pull out the blankets and drink some hot chocolate. I really enjoyed learning about the unusual characters. I would love to see this as a series. There was so much left to the reader’s imagination as to what happens to Samuel and Annie and the other characters. I wonder why the author picked the tile of, A Simple Amish Christmas. None of the plots seemed simple and neither did the romance between Samuel and Annie. I also was left wondering about the store in town. We seem to learn something is going to happen to the ownership, but we never really learn anymore about that, which lead me to believe the author may be planning a sequel. I definitely would read another book by this author and highly recommend this one. This book came out October 1, 2010. You should really check it out for a great fall/winter read. I received a copy of this book from Abington Press through NetGalley and was not paid for this review.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Review: Simple Deceit

Simple Deceit by Nancy Mehl is the second book in her Harmony series. I was given an advance copy of this book to review through NetGalley and Barbour publishers. Grace Temple is returning to Harmony, a small Mennonite Commuinty after finishing her job and moving out of her apartment to live in the house her late Uncle Benjamin left her. She also going back to work on a freelance project her boss has given her. She is working for a group who is trying to build a retirement center close to Harmony that is anticipated to bring lots of needed customers for the small town of Harmony. Once again, as soon as Grace enters Harmony she is dealt with conflict, as she sees a mother leaving her baby on the steps of the church. That starts lots of conflict going on in Harmony. The community members start to blame Grace for what is going on in Harmony. Gracie and her boyfriend Sam also get into a fight and Gracie thinks the relationship might be over. The people in Harmony also get caught in a huge blizzard and once again the community comes together to help each other. Once you thought nothing else bad could happen more awful things happen to the community. At the end, we learn of the deceit that had been going on the entire time. We also understand the secrets and mysteries that the reader has been trying to figure out are finally revealed and just when you think they have all been revealed we learn of another secret that I feel sure the author will deal more within the next book to the series.

This is the second book that I have read by this author and I really enjoy her writing style. I just can’t seem to put the book down. So much happens in one day in the story and in the few days that the story is happening that the reader is trying hard to guess or find out who did it and what the real story is behind the things that are happening. I would highly recommend this book, but read the first book in the series first. That book lays a lot of groundwork for the second. This book would be a perfect read during a winter storm. I felt like I was right there with the characters in the storm. Simple Deceit comes out December 1, 2010.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Review: Simple Secrets

Simple Secrets by Nancy Mehl is the first book in her Harmony series. I was able to read this book through Net Galley and Barbour Books and was provided with a digital copy for this review. I love Amish fiction and after recommendations from friends, I decided to read this book. While it is not about the Amish it is about Mennonites, a close relative of the religion. The Simple Secret in the book really is not so Simple! The story starts off introducing us to Gracie Temple, a graphic designer who loves her job in the big city. Gracie gets a phone call at work from her dad telling her that her uncle Benjamin, who has placed the Bann on his family, has died and left her his house, land and everything in the house. She decides to take two weeks off from work to go to the Kansas Mennonite Community of Harmony and collect some family heirlooms and sell the property. When she gets to the house, she discovers a letter her uncle left her about a secret he has been keeping. The secret told her that a man was killed and he buried the body on his land to protect Gracie’s father who he thought killed the man. Gracie and a neighbor, Sam Goodrich, who befriends her and introduces her to the town and then later helps her try to solve the mystery of who is the real killer. Gracie finds out that Harmony has a lot of secrets and someone even tries to scare her out of town. Will they find out who the killer is? Will the town secrets come out? Read to find out how the story all comes together. Sam and Gracie also seem to be falling for each other after only knowing each other a few days. How will they act on those feelings since Gracie has her dream job in the big city and Sam has no plans of leaving Harmony?

I was drawn to the story from the first chapter. My friends were right. If you like Amish fiction, you will love this book. This book had mystery, romance and even suspense. Sometimes I felt like the day in the life of Gracie and Sam went on forever since so much happened in one day. Overall, I LOVED the story and can’t wait to read the second book to the series called Simple Deceit. Simple Deceit comes out December 1, 2010. You can find Simple Secrets in stores now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review: A Time to Love

A Time to Love by Barbara Cameron is the first book I have read by this author. I was able to read this book though NetGalley and Abingdon Press. I was given a copy of the book for this review. The book is about a young woman named Jenny King. Jenny has been serving as a reporter in the war zone. Her goal was to bring the story of the innocent children to the people back home. As she is doing her job, she is involved in a car bombing. She is badly hurt and rushed back to the states for medical care. Jenny wakes up with a quilt on her that brings back memories of summers she spent with her Amish grandmother. Jenny’s dad left the faith and Jenny was raised as an Englisher. She has a lot of memories from the times she spent with her grandmother. She decides to go heal at her Amish grandmother’s home. Jenny has speech, memory and walking problems. As she spends time healing, she is able to reconnect with a love she found one summer visiting her grandmother. Matthew is now a widower and has three children . His sister, Hannah, lives with the family to help with the house and kids. Jenny goes through a painful recovery and finally finds love. Will she leave the work she loves behind and become Amish for love? Find that out in this book.

I really like this author’s style of writing. It reminds me of classic Amish fiction and I really like those kinds of books. The one thing that is not so classic though, is how the author added in the aspect of war and war victims and the problems the children in a war zone face. That was really unique and something I have not seen in a lot of other Amish fiction books, especially since the Amish do not believe in fighting in wars. The book gives you a look at the next book in the series and I have to admit that I wish I had not read it because it will now be hard to wait for the next book in the series. There is also a recipe at the end of the book. The cook in me likes the novels that include recipes for me to enjoy. I also enjoy reading about the food in the book. I stay hungry reading Amish fiction. This book left me wanting tea, hot chocolate, and friendship bread to name a few.

I think that Barbara Cameron will be added to my authors I love list. I highly recommend this series. A Time to Heal comes out November 30, 2010. You won’t want to miss it!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: Murder in Plain Sight

Murder in Plain Sight by Marta Perry is a book that I recently read through NetGalley. I was given a copy of the book to review for the publisher, Harlequin Books. The book centers on a teenaged Amish boy named Thomas Esch, who is accused of brutally murdering a young woman named Cherry. The town of Springfield has already decided he is guilty before he even has a trial. Geneva Morgan believes in his innocence and decides to hire a lawyer from a big firm in Philadelphia. Jessica Langdon, a young lawyer who has not made her employer happy is told she must go represent the boy or lose her job. Jessica decides to go and represent the boy. She finds trouble all along the way such as not knowing enough about the Amish, trying to get run off from people in the community and even being put in physical danger. Jessica decides she will not be run off and fights to find evidence to get Thomas freed. Jessica meets Geneva’s son, Trey, who tries to run her off from the beginning. They seem to hate each other in the beginning. She starts to trust Trey to help her. The two begin to fall in love as they are putting together the clues. But when the clues start to come together, Jessica wonders if he’s lied to her the entire time. Will they figure out who actually killed Cherry? Will Jessica be able to trust Trey and be happy with him? Find out the answers to all these questions as you read the book.

This book is not like the normal Amish fiction I usually read. The main characters are not Amish and you don’t get to look in the Amish lives very much, but I still loved this book. The characters were very easy to fall in love with and the” who done it part” of the story kept you guessing to the end.

I like the “Plain Sight” in the title. It’s catchy and describes the book being in a Plain or Amish setting. I recently read another book of this author and it was called Hide in Plain Sight, but it is from a different series. From what I understand, Murder in Plain Sight will have other books to make it a series, and the others will probably have the “Plain Sight” titles too.

I highly recommend this book. It will be released in December 2010. I like how the book ended with lots of things look forward to in the next in the series.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: Grace: A Christmas Sisters of the Heart Novel

Grace written by Shelley Shepard Gray is the fourth book in the Sisters of the Heart series. I was able to read this book through NetGalley and HarperCollins publishers.  I was given a advance copy of the book for this review. This book gives us a look back at the characters in the series and takes place at the Inn. I have read all of the books in the series, but I think this book could be read without ever reading the other books in the series because it is more about the new characters. I will warn you though that lots of information is given away about the other three books, so if you should decide to go ahead and read those you may know more than you want to know.

Grace gives us a look at where the characters from the series are now. I really liked seeing how they were doing. Katie and Jonathan had a 3 month old baby now named Eli. The other "sisters" in the series, Winnie and Anna, are happily married. It was really nice to get to see these characters again but the book was not really about them.

In the novel, the family is excited about Christmas and the fact that all of them will be staying for a week at the Inn to celebrate Christmas as a family. Just as they are getting ready to start the holidays, they get an unexpected piece of mail. That letter had gotten lost in the mail, so they did not get a man's reservation for his stay during the Christmas holiday and he is expected that day. We soon learn that this man is named Levi and he is also Amish. They also get another guest a young Amish woman named Melody who is almost nine months pregnant. Melody's boss gave her a gift certificate to the Inn to get away. During Levi's and Melody's visit to the Inn, they both came there to get away from unhappy events in their past. As they come to terms with those events, a friendship is formed between them that soon turns into a little more than friendship. Katie is so upset that they came and ruined the family's Christmas. She has to learn to accept them being there during the book. We also meet Melody's Englisher friend, Leah. Leah also decides to come to the Inn to be with her friend because she does not want her to be alone for Christmas. Leah takes a long time to get there, as the roads are bad from the winter weather. She meets Zach, a highway patrolman, and they instantly are attracted to each other.

God's Grace was a central theme in this book. I believe that things happen in life for a reason. You see God's hand in a lot of things going on in the book. While meeting a police officer on a road trip who you end up having a relationship with and being the only two guest at an Amish Bed and Breakfast and you find yourself falling for each other seems unlikely, I think that all things are possible with God's help. You see this theme in a lot of the books in this series too. Events seem to happen to bring people together or people just being in the right place at the right time. I really liked this central message in the story. I also like the fact that some of the events mirrored the Bible story of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Shelley Shepard Gray got my interest in the book from Chapter one. I like books like that! I could not wait to see what was going to happen next. I also love reading books about Christmas. The story was described in a way that you felt like you were at the end during Christmas in the middle of a winter storm. You could see Christmas themes throughout the story, love, togetherness, and family. I also like that a lot of the recipes in the story were added to the end of the book.

I highly recommend this book. It would be a great read for the holiday season. The book comes out on November 1, 2010.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Review: Forgiven

Forgiven written by Shelley Shepard Gray is the third book in the Sisters of the Heart series.  This book focuses on Winnie.  Winnie lives with her brother and one night their barn catches on fire. Winnie is hurt and taken to the hospital.  It is that barn burning that sets her on the road to finding someone to live the rest of her life with.  Anna and Henry also finally get married in the book.  Winnie’s brother also has to learn to forgive the person who burned his barn and almost caused the death of his sister. I really liked how this book brought all of the sisters Anna, Katie, and Winnie together at the end of the book.  I loved the characters and the stories in this book.  I did get a total different view of Winnie.  I did not like her very much in the second book, but she seemed so sweet and lovable in this one. I thought this was the end of the series, but it seems like Shelley Shepard Gray is coming out with a Christmas novel that takes place with all of these characters. I loved the whole series and can't wait to read the Christmas book.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Review: Wanted

Wanted by Shelley Shepard Gray is the second book in the Sisters of the Heart series. The first book of this series, Hidden, focused on Anna coming to hide out at her friend Katie's Family Amish Bed and Breakfast. I knew that I enjoyed the first book so much that I wanted to read the second book. My library had a copy, but it was on the bookmobile. I asked them to keep an eye out for it and then one day, I found it on the shelf. Wanted is the story of Anna's friend Katie. Both of them like sisters now, hence the series title, Sister's of the Heart. Katie has a lot of secrets from her Rumpringa that she has to deal with and learn to forgive herself before she moves on in life. Those secrets that she thought she had put in the past finally come back to haunt her. She deals with them in this book. She also has taken a fancy to a widower named Jonathan. She started having eyes for him soon after his wife was killed in a buggy accident. Now Jonathan sister, Winnie, who has been taken care of Jonathan’s two daughters, wants to go meet a man she has been writing to and thinks he's her future. Jonathan asked Katie's family to let her come and help out for the two months that Winnie is out of town. It will be so hard on her to go and live with him when she has feelings for her he appears not to have any for her. Will she go and will she find the future she dreams about. All of this unfolds in this book. Katie really seems to grow up more during this time and let God help her figure out her future.

I really enjoyed this book. Shelley Shepard Gray is one of my favorite Amish fiction authors. I missed the inn setting in this book, as it was what I feel in love with in the first book. There is however still glimpses of the inn in it. This book reminded me of the importance of prayer in making important decisions in life. I can't wait for the next two in this series.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My October Top 10 Wish List

I have 141 books on my to read list on Goodreads.  These are just books that I found online or someone told me was good and I decided I wanted to keep a record so I could remember which books I might find appealing.  I don't ever know when I will get to all of them.  So, I decided to post my top 10 that are on my wish list right now. I plan to update these every month.

1. Wanted- Shelley Shepard Gray
2. Forgiven- Shelley Shepard Gray
3. Grace- Shelley Shepard Gray
4. The Thorn- Beverly Lewis
5. Anna's Return- Marta Perry
6. Sarah's Garden- Kelly Long
7. A Promise for Ellie- Lauraine Snelling
8. The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins
9. The Sister Wife- Diane Noble
10. Down to the Bone- Karen Harper

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: Hide in Plain Sight

Hide in Plain Sight is the first book in The Three Sisters Inn series by Marta Perry. I read this for the Fans of Amish Fiction group on Goodreads for the book of the month.  I got it free from the Amazon Kindle site.  It was a short, quick read.  This is the first book I have read by this author and on my Kindle.  I love the Kindle and will be adding more books to it to read that way. I never really thought I would like it but I did! The book was a love story, but I liked the suspense and trying to find out who done it. Someone is targeting the Inn to prevent the opening of it. The love story was about two people each trying to get away from the world the other one wanted so badly.  So, how would it ever work out between them? I loved the detail that the author put into describing the mansion.  It felt like a place I'd like to visit. I was surprised by who actually was taunting the inn. The story is located in 'Amish country, but really the main characters were not Amish.  There were a few Amish characters added in, but mostly the book was about, "Englishers." I will look forward to reading the other books in the series. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review: A Promise of Hope

A Promise of Hope by Amy Clipston is the second book in the Kauffman Amish Bakery series.  This book focuses on Sarah whose husband dies in a fire at the end of the third book. Sarah is expecting the couple's first baby.  She decides that while she is grieving she will go and live with her parents so she can have the help and support she needs as she is pregnant and raising her new baby.  Things seem to be going well, until a stranger, Luke, shows up and claim to be a relative.  He tells her things about her husband that she never knew, deep dark secrets.  Sarah must learn to forgive her dead husband for all the things he lied to her about while they were married.  She talks a lot with Norman who really seems to understand her since he recently lost his wife.  Sarah also begins to enjoy spending time with Luke until she finds out maybe he was not so truthful with her either.  Who will she choose to spend the rest of her life with? Norman or Luke?  I really enjoyed the setting of the Amish Bakery and how all the women in the family worked together to make it a success.  I also fell in love with the characters and the problems in their lives and how they were able to solve them all.  I really liked how they relied on verses from the Bible to help guide them in their lives too.  The book, like the first in the series also had a lot of Amish recipes scattered throughout the book.  I am really looking forward to the next one in this series.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review: The Help

 The Help is a book that I read because it was my book clubs book of the month for October. I don't think I would have ever picked it up and decided to read it if the book club was not reading it. The Help is written by Kathryn Stockett and is her first novel. I was really impressed with the book. The novel is about the early 60's when Segregation was in full force. The novel takes place in Jackson Mississippi where white folks have hired help that are the Negros. The book took me awhile to understand as the help speak a little differently than the average person. The chapters are also broken up and have different people telling the story. The story revolves around a young white woman, named Skitter, who comes home from college and tries to figure out what to do. Skitter is a little different than the average white person. She is tall and not that pretty and her mom is always trying to work on her hair, make-up or clothes. Skitter wants nothing more than to be a writer, but with no experience that is a little hard. After a publisher in New York gives her advice, Skitter gets a little job at the newspaper. She can't do her job well because it is a column about cleaning and the help have always done those things for her. She decides to get help for her column by interviewing a friend's maid. Skitter loved her maid in her house, but she left suspiciously before Skitter came home from college. Many of the maids also basically raise the family's children until the kids learn how the help is to be treated. Skitter decides to write a book in secret about how the help is treated. She works in secret to get stories from the maids.

I really enjoyed the story and learned about things that that happened during that time period that was hard for me to imagine. I also found it hard to believe that my parents grew up during that period of time.

I wondered about the cover and how it went with this story and the only thing I can figure out is that one bird is darker than the other two and it is turned from the other two lighter colored birds probably because of segregation. The other two birds are lighter colored and represent the whites but they are still not together so they have issues with the segregation too. I thought this was really interesting for a cover. I also enjoyed reading about the author's life and her experience with having a maid in her home as a child. The author seemed to have a lot in common with the Skitter character.

I loved the story and am so glad it was picked for a book of the month in my book club. I would highly recommend it. I also read online that this book is in the works of becoming a major motion picture by Dreamworks. I can’t wait!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review: A Gift of Grace

A Gift of Grace by Amy Clipston is the first book I've read from this author and I really enjoyed the story.  If you remember The Redemption of Sarah Cain by Beverly Lewis, this story is like that but it is reversed.  The English girls go to live with the Amish family.  The two teenage girls are forced to live the rules  of the Amish community even though they are not Amish after their parents die in a car accident and their mom (Grace) wants them to live with her sister, Rebecca,  who is Amish.   Rebecca and her husband have been trying to have children of their own for many years, so Rebecca welcomes this challenge. I found it really interesting how it all works out.  I think that one thing I don't like about the Amish in this book is all the gossiping and this is a great example of how gossip can really hurt others.  I also enjoyed the romance that starts with one of the teenagers and a boy at the factory she works at with her Uncle. Great read, can't wait to read the sequel!  Also lots of Amish recipes included throughout the book.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review: Lydia's Charm

Lydia’s Charm by Wanda Brunstetter is the story of Lydia King.  At the beginning of the book Lydia finds herself trying to survive and care for her child after the death of her husband and the loss of her job.  She tries to figure out what she is going to do when her mother sends her a letter and tells Lydia to come and live with her and her father.  Lydia’s mom cares for her ill father and she tells Lydia that she would watch her son if she found a job. Lydia did not have a good relationship with her mother so it was a hart choice for her to make.  She decides to go live with her.   Lydia ends up having two people who are interested in her.  Lydia’s mom prefers one.  Who will Lydia choose?  The subject of dwarfish is discussed, as one of the families has the gene and most everyone in the family is a dwarf.  I also loved the Amish recipes that were throughout this book.  It was a sweet love story and a story of a woman struggling with life.  It reminds me that we have to go through challenges in this life and experience pain to know true happiness and joy.  I have read a lot of Wanda Brunstetter’s books and really feel this was one of my favorites.  The characters are just so interesting.  I could not wait to see what was going to happen in the story.   I would highly recommend this book.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Review: Hidden

Hidden by Shelley Shepard Gray is the first book in the Sisters of the Heart series. Anna, an Englisher, is tired of her abusive boyfriend. Her boyfriend is a big political figure, so Anna does not get much help from the police. Her parents think he's wonderful for her and don't help her much either. So, with no help insight from the abuse, Anna does the only thing she knows to do, she runs away. She does not tell anyone where she is going except a lie about going on vacation. She runs to an Amish Bed and Breakfast that her mom and her stayed at and took quilting classes. Her friend Anna's family lives in the inn. The family decides to let Anna hide out. Henry, Katie's brother, thinks she puts the family in danger and the two do not get along very well. Finally Anna and Henry start to notice each other in different ways but will they be able to share that love since they both come from different backgrounds and will she be willing to become Amish to be with Henry? All of these things are figured out in the book.

This was the first book that I have read by this author. I loved the setting at the inn and really got into the characters. I know that I will be reading more of her books and finishing the Sisters of the Heart series.