Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie

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Pages: 295

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: October 22, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am absolutely horrified such a person as Georgia Tann existed. The pain suffered for generations is a tragedy. It’s also horrifying to think she was never officially brought to justice.

While I agree some children went on to live extraordinary lives it still doesn’t change how crudely they were adopted. I do believe you should have the right to your adoption records. I do not know much about adoptions but if there is one thing I hope is learned is that adoption facilities should get detailed health information of the families from the families for the children.

My eyes have been opened and my heart hurts for the Georgia Tann kids. Hopefully, nothing like this happens in the USA again.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: The compelling, poignant true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal—some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s bestselling novel Before We Were Yours and were reunited with birth family members as a result of its wide reach

From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents—hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.

The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought a new awareness of Tann’s lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.

Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. Christie and Wingate tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, many of the long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with the authors to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.

An Amish Christmas Kitchen (3 Novellas) by Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler and Kate Lloyd

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Pages: 304

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Published: September 19, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:

An Amish Family Christmas is a great story to show how gossip is usually incorrect and hurts those involved. Sometimes the hurt can be mended but not always.

An Amish Christmas Recipe Box is a fast-moving love story filled with sweetness to get you in the mood for Christmas baking.

An Unexpected Christmas Gift was a surprising story of how even in close-knit families we don’t always know everything.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: As the weather grows cold and the nights grow long, the cheer and warmth of the Christmas season is one thing all readers can find comfort in. This collection from bestselling Amish fiction novelists Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Kate Lloyd finds the beating heart at the center of the holiday and offers three novellas that celebrate family, faith, and especially the sights and smells of a bustling holiday kitchen.

Leslie Gould tells the story of how, in the wake of a heartbreaking loss, a young Amish woman finds unexpected comfort and hope in a yearly baking tradition surrounding the local Lancaster Christmas market. Jan Drexler offers a sweet tale of a shy Amish woman who decides to use her gift for sweets to woo a local Amish boy with her beloved Christmas cookies. And Kate Lloyd offers a heartwarming tale of a woman’s unexpected discovery about the truth of her past, and the warm and welcoming Amish family table she finds herself invited to on Christmas.

The Bake Shop (Amish Marketplace #1) by Amy Clipston

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Pages: 336

Publisher: Zondervan

Published: November 5, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A warm, delicious read that will leave you full of love. The story between Christiana and Jeffrey is romantic but like all relationships there is strife. I admire their persistence to keep believing all will work out.

The only complaint and it is not a big one: I wish there were recipes for Christiana’s yummy bakery items. Clipston makes them come to life.

I’m excited about this new series and am already counting down the months to book two.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Zondervan, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Return to Lancaster County with the first installment of Amy Clipston’s charming new Amish Marketplace series.

Christiana Kurtz loves to bake, but when her bake stand becomes too busy, her mother encourages her to move her business to the local market. Her new bakeshop becomes so inundated with customers that the line blocks the leather and woodcraft shop next door, which is run by Jeffrey Stoltzfus. When Jeffrey complains that her stand is driving away business due to the lines, she complains to him that his personalization machine smells. Though their relationship starts off on bad footing, they eventually forge a friendship.

When Christiana’s father makes a surprise visit to the market, he is upset to find that Jeffrey uses the building’s electricity to personalize his items. He tells Christiana that Jeffrey is too modern for her, and she’s forbidden from dating him. Christiana is crushed, but she knows she must obey her father.

When Jeffrey’s shop catches fire one day, he puts the entire market in jeopardy—including Christiana’s bakeshop. Christiana, however, can’t deny how she feels about Jeffrey despite his mistakes. Though the odds are against them, can two young people find a way to rebuild both their businesses and their relationship?

A Christmas Haven by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

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Pages: 208

Publisher: WaterBrook and Multnomah

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: If you enjoyed The Christmas Remedy last Christmas you will enjoy A Christmas Haven. It is filled with friends, family, and romance along with a lot of hope and kindness.

Woodsmall has taken the time to research the Swartzentruber Amish sect and how it differs from Old Order and written a romance that leaves you all smiles.

Ivy’s progression from short-sided adult to one who sees the picture is a beautiful journey.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, WaterBrook and Multnomah, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Old Order Amish Ivy Zook is wrestling with her need to shed her community’s ways so she can grow the business of her dreams: planning parties. As long as she’s stuck living without modernization, she can barely get her business on its feet. But if she leaves too soon, she’d cause trouble for her sister, Holly, who is planning her wedding to Joshua Smucker. All of their plans become twice as complicated when an old car crashes into the storefront of Greene’s Pharmacy, carrying a Swartzentruber (ultra-conservative sect) Amish man, Arlan, and his very ill sister.

The Zooks take in Arlan and Madga, tending to the woman’s illness and Arlan begins helping around the family farm. Ivy and Arlan are on different tracks, one wanting to leave her community and the other to return to his. But both young people are trying to discover what God has in store for their futures and what miracles might lie around the corner this Christmas season.

The Brides of the Big Valley: 3 Romances from a Unique Pennsylvania Amish Community by Wanda Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter and Richelle Brunstetter

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Pages: 450

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Published: June 1, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This collection of three stories set in Pennsylvania was a quick but great read. I enjoyed that each story focused on the different “toppers” in the Amish community.

My favorite story was Deanna’s Determination. You have a widowed mom with a son with Downs Syndrome who is trying to create a life for both of them. There are so many misconceptions regarding special needs children and in this story, we get to see their loving and curious side. No different than other children their age. Beautiful!

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Shiloh Run Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: In an area of Pennsylvania called The Big Valley, a uniquely blended Amish community thrives in which 3 distinct groups of Amish identify themselves by the colors of their buggy’s top—white, black, or yellow. Join New York Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in experiencing the stories of three young women who search for faith and love within this special place. Deanna is a widow who sees her second chance of love slipping away. Rose Mary is at a point in life where she must choose the path of her faith and the right man to walk with her on it. Leila is burdened with family responsibilities and wonders when she will ever start a family of her own.

The More the Merrier by Linda Byler

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Pages: 200

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: A Heartwarming Christmas Romance Set During the Great Depression

It’s 1931, and times are tough for the Miller family, who are raising eight children in the midst of the Great Depression. When Eli Miller passes away unexpectedly, and then a fire destroys their barn, Annie has no idea how she’ll make ends meet. The Amish community rallies around her and the children, as is their custom, but as days turn into weeks and then into months, Annie’s friends and neighbors return to their own routines and seem to expect Annie to do the same. Annie knows she needs to stay strong for the children and figure out a way to keep everyone warm and clothed and fed, but she is heartbroken and exhausted. She reminds herself that God will provide, but every day feels like an uphill battle.

When Annie receives a letter from a widower with six children of his own, she tries to put it out of her mind. Her critical mother reminds her that it’s too soon to start a new friendship with a man, and warns her that blending a family will be complicated. In the weeks and months to follow, Annie must learn to make her own decisions—and accept the consequences, good and bad—face her past, and embark on a new journey that will transform her and her large, complicated family. When life seems especially complicated one summer, she finds herself saying that by Christmas everything will start to come together, but she has no idea the challenges—and ultimately blessings—headed her way.

My review: My dad was born in the depression and the stories he tells of growing up with little to nothing is heartbreaking but the love his family had was beautiful. Annie’s story is one of heartache and despair but also one of resilience and love.

This is a beautiful Christmas read that is worthy to read no matter the season. An Amish love story from a real Amish author.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Skyhorse Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

An Amish Second Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray, Patricia Johns and Virginia Wise

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

For the Amish, the day after Christmas is for family, feasting, and exchanging simple gifts. And for three different couples, it will bring another precious chance for love . . .

THEIR SECOND CHANCE
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray
Amish nanny Hannah Eicher never thought she’d ever see Rob Prince again. There was no way a relationship between her and the handsome English fireman could overcome her family’s objections—and their personal differences. But when he saves her from a sudden blaze, Hannah longs to see if they can turn holiday hope into a lifetime of happiness . . .

HIS AMISH ANGEL * Patricia Johns
She’s too outspoken to be a proper Amish wife. So as advice columnist “Miss Amish,” Maggie Lapp helps Amish and English with their romantic problems. But when her tradition-minded former fiancé accidentally reveals her secret, Maggie will need more than a miracle to make things right—and find a perfect love for all the Christmases to come . . .

AN HEIRLOOM CHRISTMAS * Virginia Wise
Rachel Miller won’t let her disability keep her from selling heirloom plants and proving she can be independent. She certainly doesn’t need reckless Joseph Webber working at her greenhouse to pay off a disastrous Rumspringa stunt. But she and Joseph have more in common than they think—and their surprising holiday partnership might just blossom into forever joy . . .

My Review:

THEIR SECOND CHANCE
Shelley Shepard Gray

I was so happy to finally get the rest of the story between Hannah and Rob. It will make you smile and cheer out loud.

HIS AMISH ANGEL
Patricia Johns

My favorite sentence in the entire book, “married people realize what they have to lose and it is only then that they choose to bend for each other.” I find this beautiful and so true.

AN HEIRLOOM CHRISTMAS
Virginia Wise

A good reminder that sometimes the time we speak in and our actions are not always how we truly feel. A harsh tone may be covering a lot of pain. This is my first Virginia Wise book and won’t be my last.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Summer of Suspense: Sixteen Tales by Some of Christian Fiction’s Most Poplar Mystery and Suspense Authors

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Pages: 911

Published: August 6, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 4 stars

Summer of Suspense: Sixteen Tales of Suspense

Amazon:
Start your summer off right with 16 gripping and never-before-published tales of Christian suspense from today’s most popular mystery and suspense authors.
Join Mary Alford, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Vannetta Chapman, Mary Ellis, Debby Giusti, Rachel J. Good, Ruth Hartzler, Shaen Layle, Ruth Logan Herne, Loree Lough, Elizabeth Ludwig, Nancy Mehl, Serena B. Miller, Samantha Price, Alana Terry on a dangerous journey filled with mystery, suspense, and faith that that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

My Review:

I enjoyed most of the stories but there were a few I didn’t. The ones I did not enjoy were stories I wouldn’t normally read. They were good just not my cup of tea.

My favorites: Vannetta Chapman (takes place in Shipshewana and involves an Amish man and a lady FBI agent), Christy Barritt (part of her Lantern Beach series, which I have put on my TBR list) and Rachel J. Good (Amish Twins – one good and one very bad seed. I’m still shivering at the thought of being confused with an identical twin).

I have found several new to me authors that I will be looking to read in the future.

This is the perfect book for the person who likes to read but has a busy schedule. You can read a story in one sitting and not worry about stopping in the middle of a book and forgetting what is happening by the time you get back to it.

The Healing Jar (Prayer Jars #3) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Published: August 1, 2019

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

NetGalley:

What if you have waited to find love only to be rejected when it finally comes?

Lenore Lapp is an Amish schoolteacher in her late twenties still living at home with her parents and grandparents. She thought love had passed her by until she meets Jesse Smucker, a widower with a baby daughter. She quickly falls in love with them both and accepts Jesse’s proposal of marriage, but Jesse breaks off their engagement when he realizes he can’t marry only for convenience.

Resigned to living single, Lenore throws herself into caring for her elders. While working in her grandmother’s garden, she digs up an old jar. Will Lenore find healing for her broken heart and solve long-buried family secrets by reading the note contained inside?

My Review:

Let me start with that I enjoy reading Wanda Brunstetter books and I have struggled with giving this 3.5 stars. My reasoning is I felt disappointment while reading. In some ways, the prayer jar story seemed like a second thought. Almost like, oh I need to include the jars in the story. Also, the story seemed to drag along slowly. The ending was beautiful and I’m glad everything worked out.

Is it worth your time to read? Yes! Especially if you have read the previous two books in the series. You can read this as a standalone and I think you will be just fine.

I would recommend to others. My 3.5 stars are my opinion and should not be used in your decision to read the book or not. I will continue to read her books. In fact, I have three waiting in the wings.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Shiloh Run Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

A Welcome at the Door (An Amish Homestead Novel #4) by Amy Clipston

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Pages: 318

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Over the last few years, Cindy Riehl—the youngest of the Riehl children—has watched her siblings find love and happiness in Lancaster County. But as her family has settled down and grown, Cindy has continued to grieve her mother, whose death left an enormous hole in her heart. Since that haunting day, Cindy has struggled to find peace and wonders if the community is the place for her—and if her faith in God will ever feel the same as it once did.

When a handsome and kind Englisher named Drew crosses Cindy’s path one surprising day, the two of them become fast and easy friends. Drew dreams of starting a family after some losses of his own, and before long, he and Cindy discover that their feelings for each other are romantic. As they spend more time together—often in secret—Cindy is drawn further and further away from the Amish community and the family she loves. In time, she is faced with a difficult choice that threatens to upend her world.

Will Cindy find contentment and love, and will she ever find restored comfort in God and her beloved community? In this final installment of the Amish Homestead series, we return to the charming town of Bird-in-Hand for a story of healing, family, and God’s perfect provision.

My Review:

Amy Clipston has written a stunner of a conclusion to a great family series. There is so much emotion jumping from the pages that you would have to be heartless not to feel the pain Cindy experiences in her decisions when it comes to Drew.

You do not have to read the series in her order but I would suggest you do. You will appreciate Cindy’s story more.

  1.  A Place at Our Table
  2.  Room on the Porch Swing
  3.  A Seat by the Hearth
  4.  A Welcome at Our Door

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Zondervan Fiction, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.