A SEASON FOR TENDING By Cindy Woodsmall

I can always count on Cindy Woodsmall for a good book, and A Season For Tending was just that!  Rhoda Byler is a young Amish woman with a strong discernment for the needs of others and a true gift of using herbs as medicine.  Unfortunately, one in her Amish community that has a grievance against her has led many to believe she delves in “magic”.  She and her family suffers greatly because of the gossip and slander.  In spite of the hardships her family remains close and supports her.

She is a gentle, peace loving woman, but one true to her convictions.  Isolated by wagging tongues she finds her joy and purpose in her magnificent garden.  Her green thumb and love and knowledge of plants makes it produce like no other, which unfortunately fuels the fire the wagging tongues fan.  From this amazing garden, she has created a small but successful business.  Her accomplishments are always overshadowed by the false guilt she carries over the death of her younger sister.

Samuel King and his brothers are fighting another kind of battle struggling to keep their famous apple orchard running.  Family failures, careless choices, sibling’s secrets, and natural disasters make it an uphill battle. One they seem to be losing.   Rhoda and Samuel’s lives and futures are thrown together when Leah, Samuel’s little sister, is found in Rhoda’s garden after a night of rumschpringe gone bad.

Upon meeting Rhoda and finding out more about her talents, Samuel is convinced that they both hold the solution to each other’s business woes.  Rhoda isn’t sure and wants to make sure it is God’s will.  Her distrust of people and rejection by the Amish community continue to cloud her judgment.  The more unconvinced she becomes the more convinced Samuel becomes.  Will Samuel’s plan work?   Can Rhoda risk all she has to see?   You will find yourself caught up in the frustrations and doubts of the characters as they struggle to find an answer.   There were times I wanted to step into the book and have word with each one!   I found it inspiring that in all the unfair losses Samuel and Rhoda faced, they had the courage not to quit, even though they had every reason to.   Each time they looked past themselves and saw how their choices would affect those around them.

I liked that this book showed the Amish as real flesh and blood people with struggles the same as everyone else.   I had never really considered what worldly activities Amish youth dabble in nor the heartache and difficulties it causes their families.

Ms. Woodsmall brought to light the damage superstition, vengefulness, and unforgiveness of others and oneself can do to not only individuals but also families and communities.  This is a beautifully written book.  I can’t wait to read the sequel!

I received this book free from Waterbrook Press.  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

 

 

 

Unclaimed Legacy By Deborah Heal

This was my first book of Ms. Heal’s and I was very impressed to say the least!  What a fun book!  It has so many different aspects, suspense, mystery, history, social issues, and humor, challenges faced at different stages of life.  She blends and weaves all these into a very enjoyable and interesting story! I must say I have never read a fiction book quite like it!  I especially liked the interaction between the characters.  The humor and conversations made them very real!  Some were so clever I even read them to my husband!

Abby is a personal tutor to teenager, Merri.  They accidently stumble upon a computer program that allows them to go back in time and see the day to day lives of those in past.  There are only certain places it will work and it reveals details of those who have lived at that location.  A true life version of “If Walls Could Talk”!   Something I have always wished I could experience!   When they share this information with their friend John and he becomes involved in their exciting adventure.

They accept a job house sitting a beautiful Victorian home and looking out for two 85 year old twin sisters next door, Eulah and Beulah.  The pair, dubbed the “Old Dears”, is hilarious in their antics and ideas.   Very quickly Abby and Merri log into their program and find the house they are staying in was the twin’s childhood home.  In fact, they learn more than they are comfortable with about the sister’s past.  Through the twist and turn of events and their computer, they are taken back to the time of Lewis and Clark find themselves even witnessing a murder! There were so many times I wished I could grab their laptop and control the program myself. Not to mention take it a few places of my own!

Ms. Heal didn’t just include history, she brought it to life with detailed descriptions of not only the daily lives of the people, but also the thoughts and feelings they might have experienced.  At points I truly felt “transported” back to that time.  She also touched on the important subject of domestic violence.  It isn’t just a problem now but has been throughout history too.  Something I had not considered.

I thought her involvement of the elderly sisters as respected, valued and loved was wonderful. It sends a strong message that our senior citizens and their life experiences are not only important, but also how very enjoyable spending time with them can be.  A much needed point to be made in a time with the elderly are neglected and not appreciated and esteemed.  Their love and delight in being with the John, Abby, and Merri, reminded me of how many older people are longing to open their hearts and homes to the younger generation.

Though not a major part of the book, Merri’s dealings with her mother’s constant working and overlooking her and her father’s neglect and drug abuse shows the effect such parenting failures have on children.

So many wonderful things in one book and a surprise ending too!   I look forward to reading Ms. Heal’s first book and her future ones!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to write a positive review.

 

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A Hidden Truth by Judith Miller

I always enjoy Judith Miller’s books and this one was exceptional.   She does an amazing job of not only writing a wonderful story but also giving such insight in to the beliefs and daily lives of the Amana Colonies during the late 1800’s.   I had not heard of this fascinating religious group until a few years ago.  They were a communal group that lived by very strict guidelines and shared all their resources and possessions.

Dovie Cates is a young woman who has recently lost her mother.  She knows her mother grew up in the colonies but is confused that she never spoke of her life there.  Wanting to feel closer to her mother and learn more about her past,  she persuades her father to let her go live her mother’s cousin, Louise, who still lives in the colony.  Her cousin, Karlina, Louise’s daughter is excited to have Dovie come because she wants to learn more about the world outside.  While thrilled to be there, Dovie does find some of the rules and guidelines in the colony difficult to follow.  She discovers herself in situations where she feels she must choose to follow God or the rules the colony implements for the protection of the members.

Much to Dovie’s disappointment her cousin Louise is very secretive about her mother’s past.  No amount of questioning loosens Louise’s lips, so Dovie takes matters into her own hands, snooping and doing a little detective work, even in places she shouldn’t be looking.   From the bits and pieces of information she gathers Dovie writes her own story of her mother’s past, but is all she imagines true?   She finds herself struggling with staying, fitting in, and breaking her heart and the heart of one she has grown to love.

This was an excellent book!  I had trouble finding a stopping place when I was reading.  The author’s detailed description of life in an Amana colony enabled me to put myself in that time and place!   I was also reminded of the valuable lesson of not assuming all I see or hear is true.  There may very well me important facts missing that can totally change what appears to be the truth.  Also, the wisdom in not making emotional and impulsive decisions based on circumstances which could result in causing me or others harm.  I highly recommend this book to everyone!  You won’t be disappointed!!

I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. 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