Saturday, 22 October 2011

What else have I been reading?

Due to the vast amount of novels I've received to review over the last few months, I've become a bit lazy about writing full reviews of the books I choose to read for pleasure. So, without further ado, I present some condensed reviews of my summer reading, most of which was consumed on the wonderful 90 minute commute I had to and from my summer job every morning and afternoon! Plenty of time for reading, but sadly not enough to write full reviews. Enjoy!

READ: JULY 5 - 6, 2011

Amish widow Hannah Yoder prays her daughters will each find a husband someday. Still, sensible Ruth believes it's God's will that she stay home and help care for her younger sisters. But when a handsome young man comes to Kent County, Ruth starts to rethink her plans. Not yet part of the church, Eli Lapp is allowed to run wild. Yet something in Ruth's sweet smile and gentle manner makes him yearn to settle down—with her at his side. Can Eli convince her that their lives should be entwined together on God's path?

I ended up completely adoring this book, all of the characters were unique and realistic and I'm fairly certain I was grinning my head off when I finished reading it today on the bus. A simple plot for the people who live the simple life, but not entirely predictable. Ruth seemed a bit young for her age in places and some problems could have been resolved with a conversation, but I did love the setting, the family and all of the secondary characters. Definitely going to be reading the other books in the series. 

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READ: JULY 8 - 9, 2011

This Christmas, Emily Merkle (call her Mrs. Miracle!) is working in the toy department at Finley's, the last family-owned department store in New York City. And her boss is none other than…Jake Finley, the owner's son.
For Jake, holiday memories of brightly wrapped gifts, decorated trees and family were destroyed in a Christmas Eve tragedy years before. Now Christmas means just one thing to him—and to his father. Profit. Because they need a Christmas miracle to keep the business afloat.
Holly Larson needs a miracle, too. She wants to give her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe, the holiday he deserves. Holly's widowed brother is in the army and won't be home for Christmas, but at least she can get Gabe that toy robot from Finley's, the one gift he desperately wants. If she can figure out how to afford it…
Fortunately, it's Mrs. Miracle to the rescue. Next to making children happy, she likes nothing better than helping others—and that includes doing a bit of matchmaking!
This Christmas will be different. For all of them.

I didn't enjoy this quite as much as Mrs Miracle but it was a lot better than A Cedar Cove Christmas. For a novella, this book included a significant amount of character development, enough to make me really care about the characters and their struggles. And as with Mrs Miracle, I really liked the quotes at the start of each chapter. Obviously, this is a fairly predictable, romantic Christmas tale but it didn't verge on being cheesy at any point, and had interesting secondary characters to keep the story original. My one complaint would have to be the fact that the main character agreed to buying her nephew a £250 Christmas present! The only time I've had a present that cost that much was when my parents bought me a laptop when I went to university, never as a child. Whatever happened to dolls and bricks and footballs? Although the rest of the message was good, this present seemed to matter far too much to the main characters and it didn't seem like a reasonable thing to be spending money on, especially when Holly was struggling financially. While I did really enjoy this story, the obsession with the expensive robots did irk me.

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READ: JULY 11 - 14, 2011

Grace Metallious, the author of PEYTON PLACE, a revolutionary novel about sex and secrets in small town America, inspired Annie Barnes to leave Middle River, the tight knit community that believes itself to have been Grace's model, and pursue a career as an author. Now, Annie's success has allowed her to distance herself from the world she left behind -- and from her family, who are still smarting from their decades-old associations with Grace's PEYTON PLACE. But after her mother dies under circumstances Annie can't help questioning, Annie returns to her home in New Hampshire to search for answers. When she discovers evidence of dangerous pollutants emanating from the local paper mill -- poisons she suspects contributed to her mother's fatal illness -- Annie finds herself butting heads with many of the town's inhabitants -- including her sisters, who are strangely apathetic about the incriminating evidence Annie discovers. All the while, Annie must war with the memory of Grace Metalious -- and the realization that not much has changed in small-town life since Grace wrote her groundbreaking book.

I'm afraid I didn't enjoy this as much as other Barbara Delinsky novels. It was mainly written in first-person POV from one of the most arrogant, self-assured main characters I've ever known, yet I still never felt like I got to know her properly. Barbara Delinsky has written some wonderful novels in third-person POV and I just don't think she can pull off first-person, it isn't in keeping with her style. And while the mystery was pretty interesting - although perhaps a bit too similar to the movie of Erin Brockovitch's life - the story didn't have the same saga and scandals of Delinsky's best novels. I think she tried to do something new with this book and strayed too far from her niche. I expect that those who are interested in Peyton Place and its history would enjoy this book more than I did, but I found the references a bit forced in places and the idea of Annie "conversing" with Grace was just too weird for me. I did want to keep reading to find out whether there was mercury poisoning, but I just didn't connect with the characters in this book. 

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READ: JULY 22, 2011

Miriam Lapp, who left the Amish community in Pennsylvania three years ago, is heartbroken when her sister calls to reveal that her mother has died suddenly. Traveling home to Pennsylvania, she is forced to face the heartache from her past, including her rift from her family and the break up of her engagement with Timothy Kauffman.Her past emotional wounds are reopened when her family rejects her once again and she finds out that Timothy is in a relationship with someone else. Miriam discovers that the rumors that broke them up three years ago were all lies. However, when Timothy proposes to his girlfriend and Miriam's father disowns her, Miriam returns to Indiana with her heart in shambles.When Miriam's father has a stroke, Miriam returns to Pennsylvania, and her world begins to fall apart, leaving her to question her place in the Amish community and her faith in God.

Amy Clipston is one of my favourite Amish authors and the third book in her Kauffman Amish Bakery series was a excellent addition, but I felt like something was missing. The spark that had made me rave about A Gift of Grace and A Promise of Hope just wasn't there. It took me a while to figure out what it was about this book that had irked me, and ultimately I think it was the lack of communication between Miriam and Timothy. There were so many times when I wanted to grab them, sit them down in a locked room and make them talk everything out! While I realise that this book probably wouldn't have existed if they'd ever bothered to confront each other to begin with, the number of misunderstandings and missed opportunities did eventually get quite annoying. I just didn't connect with Miriam the same way I did with the heroines from the first two books in the series, and perhaps the lack of communication between her and Timothy contributed to this since it made her seem a bit immature in comparison. However, I did really enjoy reading this book (other that a few frustrating moments!) and it was quite impossible to put it down at times. Despite the issues I've mentioned, this was a good addition to the series and I'm looking forward to #4 and finding out what's happening to Rebecca's nieces. This is a lovely family and community to read about, and even if I didn't enjoy this book as much as the previous novels I'd still rate it 8 out of 10 for the compelling storyline and great characters.

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READ: JULY 31 - AUGUST 2, 2011
A dusty carved box containing two locks of hair and a century-old letter regarding property in Switzerland, and a burning desire to learn about her biological family lead nurse-midwife Lexie Jaeger from her home in Oregon to the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country. There she meets Marta Bayer, a mysterious lay-midwife who desperately needs help after an Amish client and her baby die.
Lexie steps in to assume Marta's patient load even as she continues the search for her birth family, and from her patients she learns the true meaning of the Pennsylvania Dutch word demut, which means 'to let be' as she changes from a woman who wants to control everything to a woman who depends on God.
I loved this book! The start of a fantastic series. I've only read one book from Mindy previously (Secrets of Harmony Grove) and I'd found the mystery to be quite complex and a little too dark for my liking, so naturally I was intrigued to see what her joint series with Leslie Gould would entail. While the complex storyline and mystery aspect remained, I felt far more connected to the characters in this book. It was fascinating to learn a bit about the Anabaptist history of the Amish (which is dealt with in more depth in #2) and trying to figure out the family tree was a lot of fun. A wonderful book about family relations and figuring out who you are and how your family defines you. I'd definitely recommend this book to Amish fans, particularly those who're looking for something different from the usual romantic storyline. Romance didn't really feature in this book, focusing more on the relationships between the women in the family and uncovering Lexie's past. So if you'd like to try an Amish novel but aren't a massive fan of romantic fiction, this is definitely the one to start with. 


  1. The Amish Mid-Wife sounds intriguing! I might have to put that on my reading list!

    I've also nominated you for the "Tell Me About Yourself Award"!

  2. I saw from your blog that you want to be a midwife, I definitely think you'd like this book! It was fascinating, almost made me want to go into midwifery and I'm quite squeamish! Thanks for the award :)