The Amish Clockmaker Review

The Amish Clockmaker is 354 page Christian Amish fiction novel written by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner and published by Harvest House Publishers.  To purchase a copy of the book through Amazon, click  here. To purchase a copy through Barnes and Noble, click here.

the amish clockmaker

Synopsis

From bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, The Amish Clockmaker (Book 3 in the Men of Lancaster County series) explores the men of an Amish community in Lancaster County, how their Amish beliefs play out in their unique roles, and the women who change their lives.

Newlywed Matthew Zook is expanding his family’s tack and feed store when a surprising property dispute puts the remodel on hold—and raises new questions about the location’s mysterious past.

Decades earlier, the same building housed a clock shop run by a young Amish clockmaker named Clayton Raber. Known for his hot temper, Clayton was arrested for the murder of his beloved wife, a crime almost everyone—including his own family members—believed he’d committed, even after charges were dropped. Isolated and feeling condemned by all, Clayton eventually broke from the church, left Lancaster County, and was never heard from again.

Now the only way Matthew can solve the boundary issue and save his family’s business is to track down the clockmaker. But does this put Matthew on the trail of a murderer?

A timeless novel of truth, commitment, and the power of enduring love, where secrets of the past give way to hope for the future.

Review

The Amish Clockmaker captivates you from the beginning and keeps your attention to the end.  Mindy and Susan create characters that are only authentic and real. Having the book written from men’s points of view gives this book a unique look on Amish life.

MIndy and Susan beautifully combine a family today with a flashback to a story from yesteryear.  By doing this, the reader follows the life of Clayton Raber knowing it is intertwined with Matthew’s family. This technique takes this book to a higher level and it is a wonderful experience for the reader.

The Amish Clockmaker is a story of forgiveness and love but also shows how to trust God’s sovereignty even when we do not fully understand his plan.  It is a story that allows you to reflect on your own life to see where you can trust, love and/or forgive more. The reader can see themselves reflected in the characters of this book. It is a book that you can not wait for someone else to read so you can talk about it.

I give this book five stars. It is a must read.

About The Authors

Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction (more than 800,000 sold) including co-authoring the Christy Award-winning The Amish Midwife. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania. www.mindystarnsclark.com.

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker, and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008 and a Carol Award winner. She is a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young adults. When she’s not writing, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website: www.susanmeissner.com, on Twitter at @SusanMeissner, or at www.facebook.com/susan.meissner.

A special thank you to netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

Murder Tightly Knit (An Amish Village Mystery) Review

Murder-Tightly-Knit-2In a town where Amish and Englisch mingle every day, a grisly murder leads to mutual suspicion. Can Amber and Hannah find the killer before fear unravels the community . . . or he strikes again?

Even before she heard of Owen Esch’s death, Hannah Troyer knew something was amiss at The Cat’s Meow yarn shop. The store has been closing at odd times, the ever-dependable Mary isn’t always at her post . . . and an Englisch man has been seen loitering around back.

Now, as leaves of brown, gold, and orange blanket Middlebury, Indiana, Owen lies dead on the Pumpkinvine Trail. The only clues to the murderer’s identity point in two very different directions—one of them leading right to The Cat’s Meow.

The police call in a federal investigator, but Hannah and Village manager Amber Bowman are in no mood to wait for them to figure out what they already know—that no one from the Amish Village could have killed Owen Esch.

Amber and Hannah will need to work quickly to solve the murder mystery and bring harmony back to the Amish community.

Murder Tightly Knit has all the makings of a good book: Romance, suspense, mystery and a great setting.  Vannetta goes back to a cute Amish village setting that was in her first novel.  It was wonderful to visit the characters once again to see how they are faring.

Vannetta starts the book right off with the murder. What makes the book so interesting is the snippets she adds from the killer’s point of view.  The book twists and turns and has you holding your breath in several places.  Most of her characters are interesting, if not a little bit eccentric, and she merges them beautifully.  Although there are a couple of characters you will want to scream at – the tension always makes for an interesting read.

Vannetta creates such a unique blend by using both Amish and English characters.  She includes many interesting bits about the Amish to make her story authentic.  The reader will see she has spent time researching this book and did not just throw it together. It will be a story that captivates, draws you in, and leaves you with a smile on your face!

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Murder Tightly Knit is an Amish Christian romance/suspense novel written by Vannetta Chapman and published by Zondervan Publishing. It was released on December 16, 2014.  Murder Tightly Knit can be purchased through Amazon for $15.99 in print or $7.99 for the e-book.

Vannetta Chapman is the author of the best-selling novel A Simple Amish Christmas. She has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. In 2012 she was awarded a Carol Award for Falling to Pieces. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania.  Visit Vannetta’s webiste: www.vannettachapman.com  Twitter: @VannettaChapman  Facebook: VannettaChapmanBooks

Giveaway!

Would you like to win a copy of Vannetta Chapman’s Murder Tightly Knit? Follow me on facebook.com/simpleharvestreads and leave a comment below answering the question: Several of Vannetta’s characters are managers – either of a specific shop or of the entire village.  What do you think makes a good manager? Giveaway ends Sunday, Feb 22 at midnight PST.  Be sure to come back Monday to see if you won!

The Matchmaker Review

Emma Weaver is twenty-one years old and has found a passion for playing matchmaker with her friends.  Her neighbor, Gideon King, warns her about interfering in people’s lives, but she disregards his advice and plans to set up Paul, the son of the bishop, with her friend Hannah.

The Matchmaker pic

But when Paul misinterprets Emma’s attention, believing she has feelings for him, he begins asking her to ride in his buggy after Sunday singings and shows up at her house for Friday evening visits.  As she tries to repair the damage that’s been done and mend the hearts that have been broken, she finds herself in trouble with the community.  Will she learn her lesson and stop meddling in the affairs of others?  Will she find a love of her own?

The Matchmaker is so enthralling you will not want to put it down! The main character, Emma, is someone we can all relate too.  We have all tried to help a friend and it ends in disaster! This book takes us down a winding road of twists and turns, not knowing what will come next but you can not wait to find out.

Sarah has done an excellent job  of giving us insight into each of her characters and the situations they are in.  Her characters have depth and I can see Sarah shine through in them.  Sarah shows us her characters – both their feelings and their situations – instead of just telling us about them.  This is what makes her work true literature.

Sarah’s intricate knowledge of the Amish language and culture merges lovely with her retelling of Jane Austin’s Emma to create a timeless book as unique as the original. Never read classic literature or Jane Austin? That’s okay! You will be drawn into The Matchmaker and will be waiting on the edge of your seat for Sarah’s next installment of Jane Austin’s classics. When you are finished reading The Matchmaker, you will have read a great book and you will want to reflect on how you can be a better friend.

The Matchmaker is a 304 page fiction book by Sarah Price and published in the Christian fiction Amish genre.  It was released on February 3, 2015 and can be purchased on Amazon for $9.99 for ebook or 14.99 paperback.

Sarah’s family settled in Pennsylvania when the first wave of Mennonites emigrated from Europe in 1705.  She divides her time between her home outside of New York City and an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she writes and reconnects with her Amish friends and Mennonite family.  To learn more about Sarah, visit her website at sarahpriceauthor.wordpress.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fansofsarahprice.

Giveaway!

In honor of Valentine’s day, I am giving away one copy of The Matchmaker. Want to win?  It’s easy! To enter, comment below and follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/simpleharvestreads. Want an extra entry? Follow my blog. Contest ends Sunday, Feb 15 at midnight PST. One winner will be chosen through Random Picker.

The winner of the giveaway is Susanlulu2013! Congratulations! Please e-mail simpleharvestreads@gmail.com with your information.

Review of Plain & Simple Traditions: Amish & Mennonite Holidays

For years, Sarah Price has entertained her readers with her Amish romance novels. Now, she shares her knowledge about how the Amish and Mennonites celebrate the holidays based on her first-hand experiences with her Amish friends as well as growing up with Mennonite family.

This book contains stories, hymns, decorating tips, and (of course) recipes so that her readers can also delight in having a plain and simple holiday, just like the Amish and Mennonites.

It is always fun and interesting to learn about the holiday traditions of others.  Sarah’s first-hand knowledge of the Amish and Mennonites makes Plain & Simple Traditions special because the reader can trust its truthfulness. This book contains pictures and stories of Sarah’s family which makes you feel like you are a part of it! As the reader, you feel as if you have a window into her family. With both recipes and decorating ideas, this will be a book you cherish and come back to for future holiday celebrations. My family has immensely enjoyed the recipes Sarah has shared. Waiting for another holiday to eat them again is not an option for them!

Whether you are looking to learn more about the Amish & Mennonite traditions, wanting to add to your own traditions, craving some new dishes to try or yearning to know more about Sarah Price herself, you will not be disappointed with this book!

Plain & Simple Traditions is 170 page non-fiction book written by Sarah Price and published by Price Publishing, LLC.  It was released on December 15, 2014. It can be purchased through Amazon for $2.99 for the e-book and $13.49 for paperback.

Sarah’s family settled in Pennsylvania when the first wave of Mennonites emigrated from Europe in 1705.  She divides her time between her home outside of New York City and an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she writes and reconnects with her Amish friends and Mennonite family.  To learn more about Sarah, visit her website at sarahpriceauthor.wordpress.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fansofsarahprice.

A New Year

Well friends, the holidays are past and a new year has begun! The decorations are all down and put away and I am reflecting on the past year along with what the future year holds. This year I am looking forward to getting to you, my readers better.  Readers, what are you looking forward to this year?

An Amish Buggy Ride Review and Giveaway!

An Amish Buggy Ride is a 218 page Christian Amish fiction novel written by Sarah Price and published by Waterfall Press. It was released in November, 2014 and can be purchased for $4.99 for the Kindle Edition or $9.99 for the paperback through Amazon.

An Amish Buggy Ride is a fast-paced novel about a young Amish woman named Kate who keeps a secret for her brother that ends in tragedy.  Katie is determined to make things right by caring for her brother, David, and helping her family by taking on extra chores.  This only serves to create anger and tension between David and her family until a young Amish man named Samuel steps in.  As tension and resentments grow, Katie must find a way to forgive herself or lose the possibility of love forever.

Sarah draws you in right from the beginning of the book and keeps you enthralled right to the end. It is a book that is very hard to put down! Her descriptions of both the characters and the setting creates the perfect picture in your mind; you feel as if you have been transported and are watching the story as it is happening. Sarah’s authentic use and knowledge of the Amish culture makes the story very believably authentic.

The characters Sarah creates in An Amish Buggy Ride are very real, believable characters whose struggles the reader can understand and empathize with.  Her characters also give the reader a real life application of Biblical principles such as giving grace and forgiveness. An Amish Buggy Ride is not only a great read but leaves the reader feeling encouraged.

If you are looking for a great Amish read, look no further.  This is not your typical Amish sappy romance, but a great piece of literature that leaves you wishing there was more!

Sarah’s family settled in Pennsylvania when the first wave of Mennonites emigrated from Europe in 1705.  She divides her time between her home outside of New York City and an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where she writes and reconnects with her Amish friends and Mennonite family.  To learn more about Sarah, visit her website at sarahpriceauthor.wordpress.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fansofsarahprice.

A special thank you to Sarah Price for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

Giveaway

An Amish Buggy Ride giveaway! I am giving away a copy of Sarah’s new book, An Amish Buggy Ride! There are four ways you can enter in the contest:

1. Follow Simple Harvest Reads blog site and post a comment below (you must do both to receive an entry)

2. Like the Simple Harvest Reads Facebook page: www.facebook.com/simpleharvestreads

3. Like and comment on the An Amish Buggy Ride review post on the Simple Harvest Read Facebook page (you must do both do gain an entry)

4. Share the An Amish Buggy Ride comment on the Simple Harvest Reads Facebook page.

The contest ends Wednesday, November 19 at midnight PST. The winner will be announced Thursday, November 20. Good luck!

Homeschool Organization

With the new school year underway, I thought it would be a good time to discuss organization. Homeschooling my three, organization was a challenge.  I was lucky to keep up with dinner, housework and the kids let’s not mention getting things organized! So, today I am going to start with curriculum planning.

I found planning school a month at a time worked well for us.  I planned out the curriculum for the year, dividing it up into 10 months or “learning record” periods.  I did this over the summer when my life wasn’t so hectic. Can you hear my sarcasm? Good.  Denial can be your best friend.  Back to curriculum… This gave me a lot of time to get it all done.  The best part – once I planned my oldest daughter’s curriculum, I was able to tweak it for the other 2 when they got to that grade or subject.

We have the curriculum planned out for the year.  Now what? Well I then broke it down into the monthly plan.  Once you set up your template for the first month, it is easy to tweak it each month after.  I put my form below.  Each day the kids would highlight the assignments they completed….Well, that was the goal anyways.  It worked pretty well.

If this is totally overwhelming to you, I understand.  Really, I do.  Another great resource is a homeschooling planner.  There are several free ones out on the net. If you are looking to purchase a planner, I would recommend www.aplaninplace.net.  The planners are easy to use and..wait for it…double as a yearbook!

What are some of your tips for organizing your curriculum?

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The Black Count by Tom Reiss Book Review

Book Review of The Black Count

The Black Count, 432 pages,  is a biography written by Tom Reiss and published by Crown Publishing Group. It was published on September 18, 2012 for the purchase price of  $16.00. It is divided into three books.

The Black Count begins with two prologues.  One prologue tells of a young boy whose father is dying.  The other prologue discusses how Reiss arduously researched his book.  Both prologues could be confusing to the reader. Reiss would refer to Alexander Dumas, along with his letters and memoir; however, there are three Alexander Dumas’ discussed in the prologue.  Also, the pages spent on Reiss’ research were many and dry.  Once the reader moves past the prologue, the story develops well.

The first book begins with how Alex Dumas’ father, the Marquis named Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie came to live with his brother on Saint Dominique.  While there, he fathered four children from his mistress that was a black slave he stole from his brother.  Deciding to return to his homeland of France, the Marquis sells his mistress and four children for passage back home.  His favorite son, Alexander Davy de la Pailleterie was sold to the captain of a merchant ship and became free by French law when he set foot on French soil.  His father brought him to live the life of royalty as a Parisian with him just outside of Paris.  He was trained as a swordsmen by the best protege in France, he danced at parties, was admired for his Greek like stature and coveted by all for being an “American” in Paris.  After a dispute with his father, Alexander gave up his title and enlisted in the Queen’s Army.  The book then documents how he was trained and became a soldier noticed by all for his courage, strength  and loyalty.

Book two, the shortest of the three, begins with the revolution in France.  Alexander meets his future wife while stationed as a soldier. The reader learns of his many accomplishments as a soldier, moving from a private to a general due to his heroism.

The third book follows General Dumas to Egypt where he fights alongside Napoleon.  Napoleon sees him for the excellent soldier he is, then becomes suspicious and jealous of Alexander.  Alexander is imprisoned for two years and returns home to find Napoleon has repealed the laws that gave him his freedom.  Due to his race, his marriage was no longer considered legal and he was never given another assignment in the military despite multiple requests.

The Black Count takes the reader on a journey of hope that a mulatto son of a Marquis can conquer, not only his enemy, but racism as well.  As as reader, one might question if  Riess’ use of the novelist Alexander Dumas’ memoirs of his father made the biography more exaggerated than factual. Reiss does note when he used the sons memoirs and if there were other documents to verify the stories.  Overall, Tom Reiss does an excellent job of interweaving historical fact with the story of General Alexander Dumas.  Interesting facts are noted with footnotes and gives readers vast insight into the novelist Alexander Dumas’ inspiration for his stories. The Black Count is a well written biography on a long lost war hero that changed history for generations to come.

Tom Reiss is an author, historian and journalist.  His previous work, The Orientalist, was an international bestseller and was translated into more than 20 languages.  Tom currently lives in New York City. For more information visit www.tomreiss.com.

Rainy Days

There is nothing better than staying home on a rainy day.  I love curling up on the couch with a good book in my hand and a fire on in the fireplace.  Add a good cup of coffee and that makes life is grand! It has been raining this weekend in CA so I have cozied up with a new book with a Christmas theme.  I am hoping to post a book review soon. Readers, what do you like to do on a rainy day? Is there a new book you have picked up lately? Wishing you the best of weeks! God bless, Sandra