Review: The Amish Christmas Kitchen by Long, Baker, Beckstrand

This book is a collection of three novellas that center around Amish kitchens at Christmas time. 

Baking Love on Ice Mountain introduced Clara, who managed to bake up a storm even while grieving … and moving on. I enjoyed this well-written story and the mountain setting, as well as the wisdom of the older people being passed down to the next generation. 

The Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill is by one of my most favorite authors, Jennifer Beckstrand. Beckstrand didn’t disappoint, bringing her signature silly grandparent pair Anna and Felty to Katie’s life, ready to be matchmakers once again. I loved that they maintained a sense of humor even when the wrong boy was trying to court sweet Katie – for the wrong reasons… her triple chocolate cakes! 

The Special Christmas Cookie contained a fun twist on one of my favorite tropes – governess/nanny/tutor falls in love with guardian of a sweet child. Problem was, the writing was sloppy. Many repetitive paragraphs and pages should have been cleaned up during editing – especially when it came to telling (in addition to the already sufficient showing) how independent and strong Jonathan wanted to be. 

The three authors send a common message with these novellas: loneliness can be overcome by taking a step forward. Each novella had a character that suffered loneliness because he or she was afraid to reach out. Once they could extend themselves, they found a brighter, more joyful season waiting for them. 

And at the end of each novella, you’ll find a recipe waiting for YOU. šŸ™‚

-calliope

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Review: A Bee in Her Bonnet by Jennifer BeckstrandĀ 


Book two in The Honeybee Sisters series is a fun read! Poppy has always been headstrong, hard-working, and no-nonsense. She displays a tough exterior that hides any emotion that men might construe as weak. So heaven help Luke when he puts his foot in his mouth, being chauvinistic without even realizing it. Poppy wishes Luke would stop trying to “rescue” her … and when he finally looks at her as an equal, it changes everything. 

I adore Beckstrand’s Amish tales. They are well-written, entertaining, and often educational for this Englischer!  Beckstrand writes Poppy’s beautiful story with heart and authenticity. I appreciate the relationships she has with her sisters and aunt… and Luke. The best part about getting to know Poppy was watching her realize that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, and that accepting help is sometimes the best way to start a new friendship. 

-calliope

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Review: Sweet As Honey by Jennifer BeckstrandĀ 


Jennifer Beckstrand wrote the Huckleberry Hill series, and I enjoyed every one of them. I was excited to start this new Honeybees Sisters series — and Sweet As Honey is every bit as good as the Huckleberry stories. 

Beckstrand masterfully blends strength of character and physical strength with humbleness, faith in God, and love for neighbor. I especially liked that the Honeybee sisters and their aunt take care of themselves and their land, demonstrating that many hands make light work. 

This first book in the series illustrates a romance between Lily and a young Amish gentleman. Beckstrand realistically wrote the  roller coaster of emotions and the tension between families. Family relationships, beekeeping, and being neighborly rounds out the story, making it much more than a romance. Excellent! Can’t wait for book two. 

-calliope

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Review: Huckleberry Hearts by Jennifer Beckstrand

  
This is the perfect book to read around Thanksgiving – when you’re full and happy, and maybe a little nostalgic… or when you’re remembering the dearly departed and hoping new memories fill up the empty spaces. 

Amish grandparents Anna and Felty use their matchmaking skills – and love! – to bring Cassie together with her meant-to-be. Nevermind that Cassie’s mom wants her to marry an Amish guy.  And come back home. And rejoin the church. What?!  While Cassie wants to remain in the modern world and find a moral Englischer, she doesn’t fight her family. But while Cassie tries to keep the peace, her soul mate is going through a crisis of faith.

I love all of the Huckleberry Hill books, but I especially appreciated the messages in this one. Beckstrand touches on love, loss, death, staying true to yourself, freedom of religion, and the popular question of why evil exists and why God doesn’t stop it.  

I stayed up late, I bawled my eyes out, and even though Beckstrand is taking a break from the series, I’ll be stalking her page to see if she changes her mind. Excellent read, with plenty of laughs, some tears at the end, and a whole lot of warm hearts. 

-calliope

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Review: Huckleberry Harvest by Jennifer BeckstrandĀ 

 

This is book 5 in a series, but no need to read the books in order, nor start at the beginning. Grandparents Anna and Felty join forces yet again to make a love match between a beloved young relative and a Bonduel citizen. 

The story depicts young love at its sweetest, and mature love at its best. Beckstrand writes with humor, tenderness, and honesty. I love the characters and dialogue, and always, always the adventuresome comedy! 

I highly recommend the Huckleberry series for young and old alike, especially those enamored with Amish culture. 

-calliope

To read more detailed reviews of other books in the Huckleberry Hill series, CLICK HERE.

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Review: The Love Letters by Beverly Lewis

 

Like much Amish fiction, The Love Letters ties together family love, religious obligations, and personal faith. Beverly Lewis successfully illustrates these themes when young Marlena agrees to move in with her grandmother and care for her baby niece. During this time Marlena finds conflict between her parent’s church and her new community’s way of worship… And it doesn’t bode well for her courtship with Nat back home. 

The plot, subplots, characters, and dialogue were all on point, and what I expected from a well-known and -loved author. However, I struggled with the uneven pace. The beginning was slow and drawn out, with each day taking several pages to describe. When I approached the last 20% of the book, the plot suddenly fast-forwarded. Lewis described several months’ time in one page, and then another length of time on the next page. I wish the beginning of the book had gone a little faster (editors! so much could have been tightened up)! If it had, there would have been plenty of room for a fleshed-out ending. 

The story was satisfying, though. Beautiful sub-plots surfaced in the middle of The Love Letters: a boy’s readiness to grow up, a wife’s love for her flawed husband, and a father’s heart softened by God. Lewis’ characters demonstrate a peace and love that truly comes from Above. 

You know I’m a fan of the romantic happily-ever-after, right? Well, I was pleasantly satisfied with Marlena’s new romance, the doctor’s reunion, and the rekindled love of a long-married husband and wife. 

-calliope

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Review: Where Secrets Sleep by Marta Perry

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I just love when my three favorite genres converge. Amish life, suspense and romance all play a part in this novel about Allison Standish, a city girl who inherits her estranged grandmother’s fancy house-turned-small-shops-building near Amish country.

While the conditional inheritance trope might not be original, it’s the perfect foundation for mysterious shadows, doors ajar, and electrical problems. The protagonist moving to a different town also provides impetus for a love story. I always enjoy the novelty of watching a new relationship grow.

I found this story comforting and homey. The Amish characters provided serenity and hope. Nick, the love interest, lent an easiness and a smile. His interactions with his dad, brother, and son warmed my heart and made me laugh. The mystery moved the plot forward and gave me plenty to ponder and wonder about.

I’ll always be a fan of Amish fiction, suspense, and romance as individual genres. But it’s a nice surprise to find them all together in a well-written novel. Three fixes in one. #addictedtoreading

-calliope

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