Amish Cooking Class: The Blessing by Wanda E. Brunstetter ~ Review

Amish Cooking Class book 2: The Blessing by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Amish Cooking Class The Blessing

The Blessing is the second book in the Amish Cooking Class series. I read this book without knowing about the first one, and didn’t have any feeling of missing something vital. So I would say this book can stand alone on its own. But I am intrigued now that I have read this one; I want to go back and read the first book. That is how well written this book is.

The story’s premise is about an Amish couple, Heidi and Lyle Troyer, living in Walnut Creek, Ohio. They have been married about 9 years and do not have children. Lyle is an auctioneer while Heidi teaches cooking classes in her kitchen. At the opening of the story, Heidi is anticipating the birth of her friend’s baby, which she and Lyle were going to adopt. Kendra had been living with them for several months now. Kendra really wanted to keep her baby, but she was a single young person and it wouldn’t be the best thing for the little one if she couldn’t support it.

Just as Heidi had decided not to teach another class, in preparation of the babe’s arrival, Kendra’s parents reversed their decision not to help her rear the child, and suddenly Heidi finds herself bereft of the baby she wanted to adopt. She decided to go ahead and teach another cooking class to help her stay mentally occupied while she grieved her loss.

Amish Cooking Class The Blessing quote 1

We eventually become acquainted with the six members of this new cooking class, and they are as diversified as they come! There’s an overburdened high school student, a custodian, a food critic, a mother in a shaky marriage, a widower, and a caterer. It’s the clashing and meshing of these lives that makes this an intriguing read.

What I appreciate most about this book is that regardless of Heidi’s background, she is centered on honoring God with her life. She is genuine and caring, someone that her class of students need in their lives. Without being preachy or overly Amish in her behavior with her students, she quietly relayed to them what each person needed at this point in their life journey, even for the one who cared nothing for God. I loved how all these individual stories wrapped up neatly at the conclusion of the book. If at first you feel the story moves along slowly while we become acquainted with all the characters, be patient. The character development is worth the wait.

God heals broken hearts

The second thing I enjoyed about the book are the cooking tips and recipes included in the back. I am always open to learning something new, and I wasn’t disappointed. If you enjoy cozy character-driven stories that warm your heart, then this is the book for you. I enthusiastically recommend it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Barbour Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Ocean of Storms by Christopher Mari and Jeremy K. Brown ~ Review

Ocean of Storms

Ocean of Storms by Christopher Mari and Jeremy K. Brown

I am a fan of old-fashioned early and mid-twentieth century science fiction. In fact, I also love the science fiction that was generated in the nineteenth century as well; I believe this is called Steampunk today. While I was growing up, it was simply considered a classic genre of literature. The reason I hark back to that time era is because science didn’t overwhelm the plot and the characterization of the protagonists and antagonists. Subplots and supporting characters were not overtaken by the glitz and glitter of modern technology. They were simply an element of good story telling.

I have since lost interest in the current run of sci fi trends. I rarely read any book of that genre. Technological glitz tends to become outdated too quickly for readers not to get distracted by what’s considered old news. I empathize with authors of that genre trying to please all schools of thought. It’s difficult to hold a reader’s interest. Maintaining a good balance is key. Only once in a rare while does a book appear that manages to hold up to the ideals of literature with science at it’s core. I believe Ocean of Storms has successfully crossed this invisible barrier.

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In my opinion, Ocean of Storms is an instant classic. It has everything it needs to qualify it as an adventure: solid storytelling, development of suspense, a twist on a classic theme, drama with well developed characters, international intrigue, traitors, greed, mystery and more. It is a fast-paced complex tale that does not get so overly tangled that the reader gets lost in too many heads.

The story begins when an EM pulse knocks out communications over the entire planet, setting governments scrambling to gain control over panicking and perturbed citizens. When the source of the pulse was pinpointed to the moon, an immediate second space race ensues. Which country would arrive on the moon first? What the mission discovers in the deep cavern becomes an unexpected twist to a classic theme. For me, the conclusions are memorable. I would love to see a movie made based on this book.

If you are a fan of fast-paced adventure with a touch of drama and intrigue without the cruelty, darkness and gore often dogging the modern genre, I highly recommend this book to you. It even improves on multiple subsequent readings. That’s something I don’t find very often in any genre.

Warning: There is some language that seems inevitable; However, I am pleased that it doesn’t contain the evil presence of venom and lack of value for human life we see often in current books.

Also note that this is not a Christian book. But it is a good book. I will occasionally post one on this site.

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Review for: The Winnowing Season [Amish Vines and Orchards series Book2] by Cindy Woodsmall

Amish couple in a horse-drawn buggy in rural H...

Amish couple in a horse-drawn buggy in rural Holmes County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Winnowing Season [Amish Vines and Orchards series Book 2] by Cindy Woodsmall

A written review of the first book can be found here.

After a tornado ripped through King’s Orchards, owners and business partners Samuel, Jacob and Eli King and Rhoda Byler decide to purchase an abandoned orchard in Maine to restore, and give the damaged orchard time to recover. To do that, a new Amish community needed be established around the orchard. There were no other Amish in Maine. Several families purchased the orchard together and prepare to move to Maine. Samuel and Jacob King have gone with their sister Leah, along with Rhoda and her brother Steven’s family, and Rhoda’s business assistant Landon. They began restoring the farmhouse and the orchards while waiting for two other families to join them later.

English: An old apple orchard in Ottawa, Canada.

English: An old apple orchard in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, before they even arrived in Maine, complications overtook them. Jacob, who was courting Rhoda, was called away suddenly, and was unable to explain why because he was still keeping secrets from her. Samuel was being unbearably rude to Rhoda to keep his distance, although Rhoda didn’t know why he was treating her so coldly. Landon was attracted to Leah, but felt conflicted because even though he knew Leah wanted to leave the Amish, she hadn’t told her brothers yet and Landon did not want to get into trouble with Rhoda, his boss. Once they arrived in Maine, they had no heat in the house or cooking fuel. Delivery of the cattle that were in Steven’s care was delayed. So on the first night in the farmhouse, the children and women were alone and the men were absent.

Only a few weeks later Rhoda found some teenage girls camping in one of the greenhouses. She gave them a firm but kind warning to leave and she would not report them to the police. But a short time later police arrived at the farmhouse and informed Rhoda she was being investigated for possession of drugs, thanks to accusations from one of the girls’ parents, the wife of a US senator. With police trudging in and out of her greenhouses, confiscating her seedlings and new plants, their containers and things in her room, orchard and garden development was delayed. And Jacob, who had finally arrived after the first personal crisis had to leave again, to stay away from the press and the police again, due to secrets he was harboring. Tensions were high at the new settlement.

In addition to the disturbing circumstances, Rhoda realized that the problems she had in the community where she grew up weren’t left behind as she had hoped. When she befriended an older couple who lived nearby, a non-Amish couple, she began receiving flashes of insight, voices and intuition that something was wrong or unresolved. But unlike her previous experiences, she did not tell anyone about her insights, even when she realized in a flash of intuition that Jacob had been with another woman when he was away.

Orchard in winter

Orchard in winter (Photo credit: Arlette)

With all the trials besetting the residents of the new Maine Amish community, came spiritual growth. Many of the residents searched within themselves, turning to God and each other for the comfort, renewal and strength they needed to meet so many challenges. There’s room for a multitude of small victories in the private lives of our characters, but the final scenes leave the reader in suspense. The police investigation ended well, but resulted in the loss of the two investing families when they decided not to join the small group in Maine. Jacob returned home but broke his courtship with Rhoda, who has decided to stay with her friends nearby to recover from the loss. The future of the orchard hangs in the balance. We must wait for book three in the series to find what will become of the new Amish community.

The draw for me in this series is the personal journeys each character has embarked. The setbacks they experienced were merely surface problems compared to the inner struggles suffered by ones I, as a reader, had come to care about. The author skillfully crafted a world where I’ve felt comfortable, and people I empathize with. When reading this story, I feel as if I were coming along side of a friend, to listen to their fears and indecision, or to be the sounding board when they question decisions they had already made. Some were disheartened and discouraged. Relationships were strained, especially between Samuel and Rhoda. Landon felt conflicted about keeping his relationships with Leah and Rhoda balanced. Rhoda even wondered if she attracted trouble wherever she went. Without Rhoda’s expertise in horticultural arts, the new orchard was doomed to fail if she didn’t help the Kings. But was all the strain worth it?

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by the Edelweiss website which services WaterBrook Press . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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