Review: Home on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

This book is part of the Matchmakers series (Ă  la Plain grandparents who try to fix up their loved ones with the perfect matches) – yet it’s about a married couple. And I loved that. Even married couples need a little nudge together once in a while. Mary Anne and Jethro certainly did. After ignoring some big issues for long enough, Jethro spent most of his time fishing, and Mary Anne spent most of her time trying not to be a disappointment. When Mary Anne finally feels so low she relegates herself to camping out in the back field, Anna and Felty Helmuth do their thing.

I think this world needs more stories about struggling marriages — where the witnesses to the wedding step up and support strengthening the marriage. Though it was heartbreaking to see Mary Anne suffer, and disgusting how some of Jethro’s relatives treated her, I could see the hand of God every step of the way. When Jethro finally took a quiet moment to think things through, his love for Mary Anne shone brighter than anything else. Mary Anne had a few lessons to learn too – as did both extended families. Sometimes a little fresh air will do that!

-calliope

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Review: A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

Through loving grandmother Anna Helmuth, author Jennifer Beckstrand successfully uses her matchmaking skills yet again – but this time it’s a little more difficult than usual.

Elsie comes to stay with her grandparents after taking a local teaching job. I loved seeing Elsie in action -she’s a firm, authoritative, fun, and loving teacher who wants the best for her students. I have to say, Elsie’s unconventional ways of dealing with troublemakers had me chuckling. When Wally — the boy with a missing leg — misdirects his anger and bullies his classmates, Elsie knows just what to do. And there starts a love/hate relationship between Elsie and Wally’s older brother Sam.

Sam and Elsie are one of my favorite Beckstrand duos. They’re spitfire. They’re full of love. They’re loyal. They’re stubborn. And I appreciate Beckstrand’s ability to make them so likeable despite their flaws.

I had fun watching Elsie’s class’ escapades, and Sam’s family dinners. And even though I’ll read the next Huckleberry Hill book no matter what, I’d totally love to see a cameo appearance by these two characters!

-calliope

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Review: Return to Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

This installment of The Matchmakers series is just as good as the rest were – and fine to read as a standalone. What sets this one apart is the angst! Most of Beckstrand’s other books are fun and flip, adventuresome and whimsical. In Return to Huckleberry Hill, Reuben deals with the demon of pride, and though I didn’t feel bad for him in the least, I did sympathize with those around him. 

Fern King, too, deals with demons. Oh how I wanted to cry for her — trying to be strong, always showing a cheerful face, never complaining, yet truly dying inside. Fern endures so much, and I really almost couldn’t take it! (I’ll never forgive you, Ms. Beckstrand, if Barbara Schmucker doesn’t get her due.)  But Fern also gets to see Reuben and her brother John in a new environment – and witness their growth (or lack of it). 

Anna and Felty remain the cute elderly couple that gets in everyone’s business trying to make love connections. I haven’t tired of them yet, and I’m almost endeared to Anna’s creative cooking.  

This is a non-traditional Amish novel in that it doesn’t center around faith and obedience as much as some might; yet Beckstrand gives the main characters the gift of self-reflection… something that made me want to be best friends with Fern, and let me forgive Reuben for almost all of his trespasses. 

-Calliope

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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. 🙂

-calliope

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Review: Like a Bee to Honey by Jennifer Beckstrand

I think this third installment of The Honeybee Sisters is my favorite! Josiah is the sweetest, most tender hearted boy. Having loved Rose for four years, he will stop at nothing to make her happy and comfortable. Rose has a few personal hang ups, though, and doesn’t want the expectations that come with a relationship – nor does she think she deserves Josiah. But when trouble starts on the farm, Rose has to depend on others for help- including Josiah. 

Beckstrand put together a wonderful cast of characters who really love each other. Rose and her sisters don’t always agree, but they find cute ways to figure out their problems. Josiah and his best friends rib each other constantly, but are there for each other when push comes to shove. And Aunt Bitsy shows her nurturing side to more than just the girls and their beaus: she helps out a couple of local boys beyond their expectations. 

Though I view this series as sort of light, relaxing reading, Like a Bee to Honey made me cry. The examples of forgiveness were so authentic and heartfelt – and not a preachy moment in the whole book. Beckstrand spoke to my heart through the honeybee sisters, their aunt, and their friends. 

-calliope

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Review: A Bee in Her Bonnet by Jennifer Beckstrand 


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 Beckstrand 


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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