Thursday, November 21, 2013

An Amish Miracle by Beth Wiseman, Ruth Reid and Mary Ellis

An Amish Miracle by Beth Wiseman, Ruth Reid and Mary Ellis is a collection of 3 novellas, each one written by one of these women.  They each highlight a different woman in the same Amish community of Paradise, Pennsylvania.    These women are all good friends and each one is about to experience a miracle from God.  Hope Bowman believes that God is punishing her by giving her only girls for children because when was a very young teenage girl she was raped and her father made her give up the boy child for adoption.  Hope has 4 beautiful loving daughters whom she loves dearly but so wants a son not only for her husband but also for herself.  She prays for a miracle then the day after she admits to her husband, Stephen, of her shame she awakens to a knock on her door and finds her 15 year old son, James, standing there with quite a story to tell the family of his adoption then life in foster care.
The next story continues to tell of Bowman family but the story centers on Hope’s good friend Rosa Hostetler who is about to lose the farm to back taxes after the untimely death of her husband.  Rosa hates depending on anyone for anything but her pride is getting her further and further into debt and then when the English neighbor’s dog start killing her chickens that is the last straw.  Those chicken’s eggs are her only means of supporting herself.  Not only are her chickens being depleted but since they are now scared the ones that are left have quit laying.  One day that she lost her temper and shot the dog leaving it wounded and limping back to its master.  Her neighbor brought her the vet bill.  It took all the money she had been saving to pay for it.  She gave up.  She couldn’t sleep, she couldn’t pay her bills, she would have to go live with her aunt and she didn’t want to.  That night she prayed for a miracle.
The last of the novellas continues these 2 women’s stories to a minor degree and Becky Byler is the lead character.  Becky had been discussed in the two prior stories as a lovely though overweight teenage girl.  Everyone loves Becky but Becky has no confidence in herself or believing that her neighbors especially the boys would like her just for herself—even her overweight self.  Becky learns to love herself and trust that people would love her also even if she doesn’t look like what the world see’s as beautiful.
I liked this collection of stories.  I especially liked that though these stories could all stand alone that they all are also connected.  These 3 writers have done a fabulous job of intertwining the stories to make this book.  I would recommend this as good reading for any woman or girl of most any age.
This book was provided by Booksneeze for this review.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Samson by Shawn Hoffman

Samson by Shawn Hoffman is book written based on true events which happened during World War II in Auschwitz.  Dr. Josef Mengele who was conducting horrible surgical experiments on Jews especially children using no anesthesia and Rudolf Hoss a high ranking military official in Nazi Germany discover that Samson Abrams is a former boxing champion.  They have been having boxing matches for the entertainment of the troops and high ranking officials.  The Nazis enjoy the watching and betting on the outcomes and the Jewish participants fight the fight of their life—the winner getting extra food rations and the loser get death in the gas chamber located within the camp.  This truth was hidden by the German forces running the camp both during and after the war.  This book tells some of the horrors of this war and life in the concentration camps.  It tells of the tireless work of Maximilian Kolbe a Polish Catholic priest imprisoned for hiding Jews who never gave up hope nor gave up working for the good of mankind right up until his death. 
To say that this book is difficult to read is an understatement but it needs to be read by all adults “lest we forget and repeat history”.  I had to stop reading this book many times just in order to get over the horror contained in the writings.  I would stop and clean a room to get my mind off of the atrocities not only of life during a war but of the things that Nazi Germany subjected these concentration camp prisoners.  Though I believe that this book needs to be read by all adults I also think that if a parent allows a child to read it, even an older child that the child needs to be closely observed for signs of trouble digesting the horror of this book and definitely needs to be read by both parents before allowing the child to read it.  This book is well written and I am glad to be given the opportunity to read it.
This book was provided by Booksneeze for this review.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Dawn of Christmas by Cindy Woodsmall

The Dawn of Christmas by Cindy Woodsmall is about the loss of the dream that Sadie had at the age of 19 to have the life of being a wife and mother just like the other women in her Amish culture.  On the day before her greatly anticipated wedding day she caught her fiancĂ©, Daniel, in the arms of her cousin.  She answers the call of the Lord to go to a missionary tour for 2 years in Peru.  She finds and learns to love the native people in the area but needs to return home to raise the money to return.  Upon her arrival home she finds that her parents have not changed much and still are planning her return to the family and start planning for her to start a family of her own.  Sadie finds herself drawn to Levi as a friend only and Levi accepts her as a friend only also.  It seems like the perfect solution for both of them to get their respective families off their back—pretend to be lovers and their family will leave them alone.  Sadie can be busy raising money for her return to Peru and Levi can work on growing his business then they can stage a fight and “breakup”.  That works for a while, until they start to fall in love with each other.  The two best friends start to accept that they may have a relationship worth saving until that is Levi starts to talk to his business partner, Daniel, and finds out that he is the jilted Daniel of Sadie. 
I, just like all the rest of Ms Woodsmall’s books, loved this one.  It is written on the premise that if we would all just take the time to become friends first and lovers second we would find our self married to our best friend.  Would not that plan be the one that we all wish for our children as well as for our self?  Are there pitfalls in this plan?  Would the passion still be there?  Would we find it like being married to our brother or would the relationship change to one of passion?  How important is passion anyway?  Doesn’t it always just go away after awhile?  These are all questions that all couples find themselves answering before marriage whether marrying a best friend or experiencing love at first sight.   Once again Ms Woodsmall looks at the life of the Amish and we find at that the more we discover the differences the more we see that we are more alike than different.
I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Press for this review.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay is a novel about Samantha Moore who has been in the foster system on and off since she was a little girl.  She was placed with her mother who somehow passed a program to get her back but then was found on the streets after her father traded her to pay off a debt to the group of men he owed money.  After graduation she is offered an opportunity by Father John from the Home and a Mr. Knightley.  She is given the chance to go to graduate school and all she has to do in return is write regular honest letters to Mr. Knightley about her progress and her life.  Mr. Knightley is the only person who she feels comfortable enough to be honest with except of course Father John who know some of her history through her case records.  To say that Samantha has had a rough life is an understatement.  Her father tried to strangle her in front of a mirror so that she had to watch.  Her mother was a drug addict who only cared about herself and her drugs and maybe Sam’s dad.  Now Mr. Knightley was offering her one last chance but she had to go to school in journalism and she loved fiction.  Sam lived in the fictional world of Dickens and all the old classics.  Her speech was peppered with quotes from all those books.  Could Sam live an honest truthful life and trust those around her into her dark secrets?

I liked this book but you can’t judge the book by its cover.  I didn’t like the way it ended though I could see it coming.  It made me cry so often just seeing how the foster system works against the children it is supposed to help.  If this is the first book that Ms. Reay has written I look forward to reading more of her works. 
This book was provided by Booksneeze for this review.