Book Review: An Amish Cradle

About the book:

An Amish Cradle is a collection of four novellas all centered around the theme of “babies.” In all four stories, the An Amish Cradle coverprotagonists are either expecting or have just had a baby, and they each have to deal with unique challenges and circumstances.

The first novella, written by Beth Wiseman, is called “In His Arms.” This tells the touching story of a young couple whose first child is born with Down’s Syndrome.

The second, written by Amy Clipson, is “A Son for Always.” As a teenager, Carolyn had a child, Ben, out of wedlock. Now, she is married and expecting another child. She worries and fears that her husband, Joshua, will not accept Ben or love him as much as his biological child.

The third novella, “A heart Full of Love” is by Kathleen Fuller. In this story, the protagonist, Ellie, is blind, and must deal with an overbearing mother who questions Ellie’s ability to take care of her child.

The fourth, “An Unexpected Blessing” is by Vannetta Chapman. In this story, Etta finds herself expecting at the age of 42 and stuck in a snowstorm as she tries to get to the birthing center. Plus, she has concerns for her other children, especially her one son, David, who has left the Amish community.

My Comments:

I completely enjoyed An Amish Cradle. It is an easy, sweet, and quick read; and with summer fast approaching, it is a great book to read while lounging at the beach. There are no real plots or drama in the stories because they all center on relationships, but that is okay, because it is impossible not to be drawn into characters and their lives.

All the stories are touching and sweet, but out of all of them, my favorite is “In His Arms.” Maybe I am biased because I am a huge fan of Beth Wiseman (although I’m a big fan of Amy Clipson, too), or maybe it was the topic. It is not very often that topics such as people with physical or mental challenges (formerly known as disabilities) are portrayed in novels. And Beth Wiseman does so with aplomb and sensitivity. Either way, “In His Arms” is a story that I will not soon forget.

But, that is not to take anything away from the other stories. They are all good, and they all are written very well. They all have interesting characters, and they all have the same comforting “feel,” as if you are being wrapped in a warm blanket when  you read it. 🙂 I am sure you will enjoy all the stories.  In fact, when you read the book, you will probably think one of the other stories are your favorite instead.

On top of all this, like many recent Amish novels, there are a few recipes for some of the meal items mentioned in the book, like the homemade stew and mock pecan pie.

If you enjoy Amish fiction, you will enjoy this collection. I give An Amish Cradle four (4) stars.

 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: 20 Short Ones

From the description_80_140_Book.1182.cover20ShortOnes

Human relationships can be intriguing, heartbreaking, funny, frustrating, and soulful – sometimes all at the same time. Journey through the relationships of 20 separate and unique sets of characters in the new short story collection 20 Short Ones. As you travel the world, from Northern Ireland to New York, and places in between, you’ll get a snapshot experience and an opportunity to emotionally relate to the age-old mystery of how friendships (romantic or otherwise) happen.

My Comments

I have to admit, I was at a loss as to how to approach this review when it came time to sit down and actually write the review. Writing is such a personal thing and to publish one’s writing takes courage and faith. Therefore, when I read a book I try to approach it with an open mind, especially if I am going to a review on the book. A piece of writing can almost be like a “child” to an author, especially when he or she spends a lot of time working on a particular piece of writing. I always want to, and try to, honor the work the author put into his or her writing, and 20 Short Ones is no exception.

In fact, with all the 4 and 5 star ratings, I was genuinely looking forward to reading this book. I love short stories, especially ones focused on relationships, and so when I had the opportunity to read 20 Short Ones, I jumped at the chance. Then I read the book – and promptly procrastinated in writing the review. I just wasn’t sure how to be honest without sounding harsh or too critical.

My biggest problem with the book has to do with the point of view in which the stories are written. They are written from an omniscient point of view (POV), rather than a limited third person point of view, at least that is they way it seems to me. In the omniscient POV, the narrator is “all-knowing” and flits in and out of the minds of all the characters instead of the story being told from one (or two) main characters. Writing from an onmiscient POV is hard to pull off, and in the case of 20 Short Ones, the omniscient POV makes the stories disjointed and sometimes hard to follow.

To make it worse, every story had at least two or more parenthetical asides that are unnecessary, disruptive, and often add nothing to the story.  I can be wrong, but I think the parenthetical asides are included to flesh out the back story of many of the characters or to include information that author thinks the reader needs to know, however, they don’t work. Instead, the asides seem like they are there to act as filler just to make the stories a little longer, as opposed to moving the stories along or adding value.

Also, the author makes it beyond clear that he has a problem with organized religion, of all kinds. I don’t have an issue with the belief itself, even though as a devout Catholic, I disagree. I completely respect his right to his beliefs. However, he pushes his point to ad nauseam. His distaste for organized religion is so in your face that by the time I was halfway through the book I was thinking, “Okay, I get it. You don’t like organized religion. Let’s move on now.” To his credit, all organized religion, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc is fair game, and he is respectful in the way he “puts down” (for lack of a better expression) each faith. I do wish he had done a little more research about the Catholic faith because his understanding of the faith, particularly purgatory, is way off base. Then again, I know many people born and raised Catholic whose understanding and knowledge of the faith is way off base too. 🙂

As for the stories themselves, the basic story lines of most of the stories are good, and I like how the various stories centers on different types of relationships and that they aren’t all romance. The first story, “Agee” is a little odd, and as the mom of a nine-year-old, disturbs me. The last story, “For Emily” confuses me and it seems like it is two separate stories thrown together instead of one. Moreover, some of the other stories feel incomplete as if they are chapters of a longer book instead of stories in and of themselves.  However, “Lunch Among the Aliens” is cute and kept my attention,  and “Mercy” does tackle forgiveness in an interesting way.

Unfortunately, at this time, I cannot recommend 20 Short Ones; however, with some editing and shift in point of view, the book can be improved drastically and be really good. I give 20 Short Ones two (2) stars.

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(Linked to Sunday Snippets)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Book Review: The Gift of Love by Amy Clipston

Gift of LoveFrom the Book Description:

Bestselling author Amy Clipston overcame hardship and tragedy early in her marriage, but nothing could have prepared her for the trials she would face when her husband was diagnosed with kidney disease shortly before the birth of their first son. With nearly 100,000 people needing kidney transplants, Joe was on a long list of recipients waiting for a match.

After watching her husband suffer through transplants, a rejected kidney, and interminable dialysis, Amy took the ultimate risk in the hopes of saving her husband’s life and the life of a woman she didn’t even know. Through the John Hopkins paired donor program, Amy donated her kidney so that Joe would receive one from a matching donor.

Amy’s story is one of strength, courage, and patient endurance in the face of an uncertain future. Readers will be inspired by her resilience, encouraged by her faith, and humbled by the realization that they too are ultimately helpless without the power of God.

The Gift of Love will appeal to readers who are fans of Amy’s fiction and those who are facing health challenges of their own.

My Comments:

I am going to get right to the point: I loved this book!

I have had to opportunity to read and review a few of Amy’s books in the past so I was thrilled to have the chance to read this as well (thanks to the BookLook Blogger’s program). Amy’s writing is honest, vulnerable and her faith in God during her struggles is inspiring.

One of the reasons this book resonates with me is because my husband, like Amy’s, is a transplant recipient. He had a liver transplant in his early 20’s and thankfully has done very well. He is required to take expensive anti-rejection medication every day and has to be regularly checked by his doctor, but other than that, he is doing fine. So reading her story about her husband’s initial rejection, and her courageous choice to donate one of her kidneys to save the life of her husband and another person blew me away.

Another thing that blew me away is the fact that Amy has written her books while working full-time, taking care of her children and husband and parents. Re-reading the Kauffmann Amish Bakery series will never be the same. Amy is an inspiration to all aspiring writers and authors. I know that it has me re-thinking my excuse of not having time to write!

Finally, I appreciate how honest and open Amy is about her struggles. She doesn’t sugar coat her fears or her imperfections. She admits to her breakdowns and at one point, she admits to yelling at her husband when she couldn’t take his selfishness any longer. She is real and vulnerable and that makes her story that much more real and moving.

If you want to have your faith strengthened and have your heart uplifted then I highly recommend you read this book! I absolutely give the book five (5) stars (which I rarely do!).

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