It’s an Amish Takeover.

Upon a Spring Breeze by Kelly IrvinI love Amish fiction because it generally transports you to a tranquil, calm world. However, Upon a Spring Breeze by Kelly Irvin is an obvious reminder that everyone suffers universal grief and tragedies. Before getting into my review, here is a synopsis of the book provided by the publisher.

After a devastating winter, a spring breeze promises more than new flowers.… It promises a new chance at love.

Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.

Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.

When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy and the possibility of love?

In many ways, this was a difficult book to read. If you’ve ever mourned a spouse or suffered from postpartum depression, this story may bring back emotions that hopefully the reader is prepared to handle. For me, being an animal person, I had a hard time dealing with 6,000 chickens getting killed due to the bird flu. I know that happens–but its extremely tough for me to read about after having rescued and loved a chicken.

If you’re looking for an Amish romance that is filled with quilting bees and courtship, I would look elsewhere. Bess, the widow, does find love at the end, but this is more a story about life’s seasons–going through endless rain to get to the sun.

It was well-written but definitely not a lighthearted read. Using GoodReads’ scale, I liked the book and give it 3/5 stars. This is the first book in the series Every Amish Season, and I would enjoy reading the subsequent books. This new 2017 spring title is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Beautiful cover photo by Jon Flobrant.

Thought of the day

Every now and again, a thought comes into my head that I just have to share. Today’s thought of the day:

“Books are like porn but not as embarrassing to be caught with.”

Granted, that’s a little bit of a generalization. I know for a fact that there are some sexually-charged romance covers out there though that would knock the knickers off of someone’s grandma!

tampa

I haven’t even read this book, but I’m actually embarrassed to share the cover and it is a BUTTON HOLE. I never again will view the button holes on my pink coat in the same way.

Is there a cover (or even a title) of a book that you’ve tried to surreptitiously hide while in public? Share in the comments below!

Finding the Christmas Spirit in a Darkening World

Union Square Christmas Market

Overlooking the Union Square Christmas Market from Burlington Coat Factory on a drizzly evening.

There’s is just something about this time of year that fills your soul with warmth even when the days are gray and chilly. A few days ago, as I was passing by bare-branched trees, I remarked to myself that it somehow just feels like Christmas is almost here. It truly is in the air! Last week, I was really excited to visit the Union Square Christmas market for the first time. I felt like a little kid going from twinkling stall to twinkling stall as the normally fetid NYC air smelled sweet with the scent of hot chocolate and baked goods. Unfortunately, the drizzle and Ferguson protests put a slight damper on the evening. I believe there is a time and a place to protest, but I don’t think a Christmas holiday market where families and friends are celebrating the season is the appropriate time or place.

Anyways, I digress since this post isn’t about the protests. It is about love, magic, warmth: Christmas.

One of the first things I love to do around Christmas is find good Christmas books that help remind me of what the season is truly about–love, family, and Christ. Unfortunately, this time of year is also about staying healthy when everyone else gets sick–something I failed to do this year. After picking up a couple of prescriptions yesterday after my doctor’s visit, I went to my local library and stocked up on some good Christmas stories as a way to celebrate the season from the comfort of my couch. Yesterday, I hunkered down under a blanket and thoroughly enjoyed a new November release from Harlequin Love Inspired entitled An Amish Christmas Journey by Patricia Davids. Little did I know that it was related to some other books I’ve read, so it was a sweet surprise to recognize some old friends as I made some new ones in this Christmas novel.

An Amish Christmas JourneyAn Amish Christmas Journey is a touching story about a young man and woman who meet after tragedy has befallen their families. Toby Yoder is caring for his little sister who is healing from a fire– a fire that took the lives of both of their parents. Greta Barkman is the lucky sister chosen to retrieve her abusive, dying uncle from the hospital–the same uncle that she and her sisters just fled from when they went to live with their estranged grandfather. Through a twist of fate, Toby and Greta share the same car driving service to take them and their family members from the hospital back to their respective Amish communities for Christmas. Along the way, the band of travelers discover a special stray cat named Christmas that has the unique ability to bring smiles to Toby’s little sister and can somehow predict when Greta’s Uncle Morris is about to have a heart attack. When a car accident leaves this band of travelers stranded together at Greta’s home, the magic of Christmas truly begins as old hurts are forgiven and hearts begin to fall in love in the midst of Christmas preparations.

One of the reasons why I love Amish stories is because the characters’ lives seem so much simpler, even though they have their own troubled times and their faith often gets tested. This particular Amish book discusses the darker topic of abuse, which Greta and her sisters suffered from while growing up with their uncle. The readers see the struggle that Greta has with forgiving her uncle, which is what the Amish are raised to do. As the story progresses, we realize that the uncle was abused as a child so he did not know how to show his love in a healthy way–not that being abused is a free card to abuse others. Although abuse is a dark topic frequently overlooked in the Amish communities, it is nice that this book addresses it in a way that does not put a damper on the Christmas cheer. In fact, this book inspired me to toss off my blanket, hang up my Christmas wreath, and light my favorite Yankee Candle scent, Sparkling Snow. Maybe one day I will feel well enough to put up my Christmas tree–before Christmas arrives. 🙂

Until then, I will continue reading my stack of Christmas stories–and doing my best to keep the books germ-free!

What activities or books are you enjoying to celebrate the Christmas season? Share below!