Saturday, February 12, 2011

Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer is the story of Edythe Amsel. Edythe has had a rough life. After her mother’s death, she is left to raise her brothers’ and sisters’. She feels like she has given up all her dreams because she has had care for her family. After raising all but one, Edythe decides to go after her dreams and accepts a teaching position at Walnut Hill in Nebraska for a one room classroom. Edythe is very headstrong and likes to be independent. She also believes in a well rounded education and this soon worries the parents in Walnut Hill who believe that children only need to be taught the 3 R's. She seems to have some unusual teaching methods. Despite these parent concerns, the kids love her because she gave up corpal punishment that the previous teacher used for discipline. Miss Amsel stays with Miz Kinsley a widowed woman in the community. Miz Kinzley shares with Edythe her love of the Bible and God.

Joel Townsend is a hardworking, church going farmer who raises his brother’s two sons’, Johnny and Robert. He wants to take a wife but wants her to also love the boys as much as he does. Joel thinks he is never going to find the love he once in his life again, but when he sees Miss Amsel he feels the love again. He tries to court her but she tells him that she already raised someone else’s kids and wants to start fresh. Joel is heartbroken. But, Miss Amsel turns down all the eligible bachelors who want to court her. She says she wants to teach and has no time for love other than her students.

Will Miss Amsel ever fall in love and with whom? You have to read the book to find out.

I really love books and movies from this time period. I grew up loving Little House on the Prairie and this book really resembles those books and the television series, especially the school settings and the town life. I also find it interesting that the town is called Walnut Hill and Little House on the Prairie it is called Walnut Grove. This really got me thinking Little House on the Prairie. I really loved the character of Miss Amsel. She really seemed to live a hard life before coming to Walnut Hill, but that only made her a stronger and more independent woman. I believe that in life we are given trials to help us become a better person. This was defiantly true for Miss Amsel. I also liked how the book went into the history of woman’s suffrage. We had so many strong women to help pave the way for women today. Miss Amsel’s past experience with her mother’s land really helped fuel her wanting to fight for women. I think she took a huge risk letting her students’ debate this topic in her class. The story and town and characters were so easy to fall in love with from Chapter one.

One quote I really liked from the book was, “The Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't. “ I lost my grandmother a few years ago and they said something very similar to this. You know how well a person lived their life by how worn out their Bible was. I really think this is so true. Taking the teachings from the scriptures and applying them to how we live our lives truly makes a difference and I think that was one of the themes in this book.

I was given a copy of this book to review from Bethanny House. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest opinion of the book. If you love historical romance with an inspirational side to it, you will love this book.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dark Road Home by Karen Harper

Dark Road Home by Karen Harper is the first book in the Maplecreek Amish trilogy. Brooke Benton, an attorney who won a case for a person who it was later discovered really did commit the crime, moves to Maple creek after being stalked from someone she thought because of the case she won. She stays with a friend of her deceased sister who owns a quilt shop. Brooke has also brought her sister’s daughter, Jennifer, Brooke promised her sister she would care for her daughter before her passing. Daniel Brand is a woodworker who left his Amish family to pursue his trade. Daniel buys the home next door to where Brooke is staying and plans to finally come home to be baptized into the Amish church. Daniel meets Brooke on the first night he comes home when he finds Brooke dancing with some Amish teens. As the teens leave on the dark road home, Daniel and Brooke hear a loud explosion like noise. As they get to the sight they learn that all but one teen, Katie, is dead and she later dies at the hospital. The driver of the car who hit their buggy left the scene. As an attorney, Brooke wants justice. This is not the way of the Amish and they frown on her trying to find the murder. Daniel decides to help her in the investigation and in the process they fall in love. The story also focuses on the depression and grief of Katie’s mom, Emma. Emma tries to take medication for her depression, but her husband frowns on the use of medicines to cope. Brooke tries to help her as loses the trust of a lot of the Amish people. As Brooke and Daniel investigate, someone starts to stalk Brooke again. Will he be safe in Maplecreek? What will happen to the forbidden love they find? Read to find out the answers to these questions.

I really enjoyed this book. There are several story lines going on at once and many twist and surprises in the story to keep the reader guessing. I have never lost a child but I think it would be hard not to be able to grieve. Emma’s husband wants her to just accept it as God’s will and move on. Emma can’t do that. I really liked this storyline. I also enjoyed seeing the growing love between Brooke and Daniel. I’ve read a lot of Amish fiction, but was able to still learn some new things about the Amish culture. The only thing I did not like is that I felt the killers were given away too early in the story, but other than that I loved it am really looking forward to reading the second book in this series, Dark Harvest.