Along Wooded Paths

Not your traditional Amish fiction — and what a relief!  I have just finished reading, Along Wooded Paths, book two in Tricia Goyer’s Big Sky Novel series. (I reviewed book one, Beside Still Waters, here.)   My favorite thing about these books is the way Goyer depicts the Englischer community.   In most Amish novels the Amish are portrayed as “good” while the “Englishers”, anyone not Amish, are portrayed as bad — and of course, if there is a villan in the book, he or she is an Englisher.  In Tricia Goyer’s Big Sky Novel series, the Amish and the  Englishers live, work, and socialize in the same circles and both communities have a mix of individuals who really are individual, and God-fearing.  In fact, the Englischer, Ben, seems to have a closer relationship with God than anyone Marianne has ever known, which is why she is so drawn to him; but her heart belongs back home in Indiana with Aaron, doesn’t it?

About the Book:
All she wanted was a simple Amish life . . . But now Marianna Sommer finds herself depending on Englisch neighbors. Although proud of living apart from the world, she and her newly relocated Amish family have discovered that life in the remote mountains of Montana requires working together.

As Marianna begins helping those different from herself—and receiving their help—her heart contemplates two directions. She’s torn between the Amish man from Indiana whom she has long planned on marrying and the friendly Englischer who models a closer walk with God than she’s ever seen before.

Who should have young Marianna’s heart? What is God asking her to sacrifice? Her traditions? Her community? The answer is found along the wooded paths.

Find out about book 1, Beside Still Waters, here and read an excerpt.

Watch a video:

About Tricia:
Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including, Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia’s book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

For more about Tricia and her other books visit www.triciagoyer.com

To find out what others are saying about these books, click here.

Come to a Facebook Party and Live Author Chat!

Tricia is celebrating the release of Along Wooded Paths with a Fabulous Facebook party on October 18th. She’ll be giving away prizes and a sneak peak at the next book in the Big Sky series.

Then during the second half of the party she’ll be hosting a LIVE AUTHOR CHAT on her website and announcing something BIG! CLICK the button (below) to RSVP for the party – then go here to sign up for the Live Author Chat.

Along Wooded Paths Party

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from LitFuse Publicity Group. 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.”

Beside Still Waters

This is not your typical Amish romance novel. Hooray! In Beside Still Waters, Tricia Goyer looks beyond the usual Amish-story stereotypes. Rather than contrasting the Amish and Englischer differences, with the Amish being “good” and the Englischers being “bad”, it shows the likenesses shared by the two Christian communities. I found the positive contrasts quite refreshing.

Marianna, the story’s main character, went from upholding the tradition of her faith simply for tradition’s sake, to scrutinizing her values and beliefs and coming to terms with why she believes the way she does.  Marianna also had to decide whether or not she could be Amish while living in a primarily Englischer community.  To me the romance in this book was not whether Marianna would choose Aaron or Ben, but whether or not she would choose a close and personal relationship with God.

About the Book:

Marianna Sommer believes she knows where her life is headed. Nineteen years old and Amish, her plan is to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and live in the only community she’s ever known.

When Marianna’s family moves from Indiana to Montana she discovers life and faith will never be the same. As she builds an easy friendship with local guy, Ben Stone, Ben not only draws her heart, he also gets her thinking about what loving God and living in community is all about.

As Marianna struggles to find “home”, she also encounters God in intimate ways.

Watch the Book Trailer:

About the Author:

Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-six books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia’s book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. Visit www.triciagoyer.com for more info.

Listen to Author, Tricia Goyer, Talk About Beside Still Waters:

About the Beside Still Waters Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of the first book in the Big Sky Amish series Tricia is giving away 10 copies of Beside Still Waters and a pair of super cute antique Amish salt & pepper shakers.

Details at Tricia’s blog, It’s Real Life.

BONUS! Each person who enters the giveaway will receive a FABULOUS Montana Amish Calendar. Hurry, it’s only available while supplies last!

Don’t forget to check out what other bloggers are saying about this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from LitFuse Publicity Group.  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.”

When Worlds Collide

Can the truth set two young women free?
(And get free roses delivered to YOUR door?)

If you are looking for a read that will suck you in an make you hold your breath from beginning to end, you are looking for The Search, by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  The twists and turns in this book will keep you turning page after page as you both dread and anticipate the outcome.  Suzanne Woods Fisher is a master at creating intricate plots and subplots and creating true to life characters able to make the reader laugh and cry.

This is book three in Suzanne’s Lancaster County Secrets series, but it can be read as a stand alone novel — however, it is so good that you will immediately want the others!  My review of The Waiting, book two in the series, can be found here.

From the Back Cover:

Fifteen years ago, Lainey O’Toole made a split-second decision. She couldn’t have known that her choice would impact so many.

Now in her mid-twenties, she is poised to go to culinary school when her car breaks down in Stoney Ridge, the very Amish town in which her long-reaching decision was made, forcing her to face the shadowed past.

Bess Reihl is less than thrilled to be spending the summer at Rose Hill Farm with her large and intimidating grandmother, Bertha. It quickly becomes clear that she is there to work the farm–and work hard. The labor is made slightly more tolerable by the time it affords Bess to spend with the handsome hired hand, Billy Lapp. But he only has eyes for a flirty and curvaceous older girl.

Lainey’s and Bess’s worlds are about to collide and the secrets that come to light will shock them both.

“Beautifully written, ‘The Search‘ is a skillfully woven story that takes readers through unexpected twists and turns on the long country road toward truth. Fans both old and new will find themselves immersed in this heartwarming–and surprising–tale of young love, forgiveness, and coming to grips with the past.”

About the Author:
In no particular order, Suzanne Woods Fisher is a wife, mother, writer, lifelong student of the Bible, raiser of puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind, a gardener and a cook…the latter two with sporadic results.

Suzanne has loved to write since she was a young teen. After college, she started to write for magazines and became a contributing editor for Christian Parenting Today magazine. Her family moved to Hong Kong for four years, just as the internet was developing, and she continued to write articles in a 44-story high-rise apartment, sending manuscripts 7,000 miles away with a click of a key.

After returning from Hong Kong, Suzanne decided to give her first novel a try. For four and a half months, she worked on an antediluvian computer in a cramped laundry room. She didn’t even tell her husband what she was up to. When the novel was completed, she told her family at dinner one night that she had written a book. “That’s why there’s no food in this house!” said her slightly insensitive sons.

Undaunted…Suzanne found a small royalty publisher for that book and wrote three more (all earned multiple awards). With help from an agent, she now has numerous books under contract with Revell. Also look for Suzanne’s Amish non-fiction, Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World, a non-fiction book of stories and examples about the Old Order Amish, as well as Amish Proverbs, and coming in Spring of 2011, look for Amish Values for Your Family. The Choice and The Waiting are the previous books in the Lancaster County Secrets Collection.

Writing, for Suzanne, is a way to express a love of God and His word. With every book or article, she hopes readers get a sense of what faith really looks like in the daily grind. She hopes they realize that life can be hard, but God is good, and never to confuse the two.

Suzanne can be found on-line at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

The Contest:
Suzanne Woods Fisher’s latest installment of the Lancaster County Secrets, The Search,  is just out and to celebrate Suzanne is hosting The Search iPad Giveaway!


One Grand Prize winner will receive an iPad Prize Package worth over $500 and includes:

To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form/s, then tell 5 or more friends about the contest. Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on February 3rd at Suzanne’s Everything is Coming Up Roses Facebook Party. (Did you know The Search takes place on a rose farm?)

Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter
Facebook Party:
Join Suzanne for the Everything is Coming Up Roses Facebook Party on February 3rd! She’ll be announcing the winner of the The Search iPad Giveaway, hosting a book club discussion of The Search, giving away copies of all three books and HEAPS of other readerly prizes! Including roses delivered to your door for three months for you AND a friend! Be sure to join us on Thursday, February 3rd at 5:00 PM PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST & 8 EST) at Suzanne’s Author Page.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from LitFuse Publicity. 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.”

When Strawberries Bloom, by Linda Byler

About the Book:
A romance novel by an Amish writer, based on true experiences!

New love and even more questions enter Lizzie Glick’s life in When Strawberries Bloom, the second novel in this series written by an Amish writer and based on true life experiences.Lizzie’s dream of teaching school has finally come true. She loves the brand-new school building, the sound of the children singing, and the independence she has in the classroom. Even the occasionally unruly boys can’t ruin the excitement she feels each morning when she starts the school day.

But at home things are in turmoil again. What do Dat’s sudden health problems mean for the future of their farm? And what about Lizzie’s future? Emma and Mandy are so certain that Joshua and John are their perfect matches, but Lizzie doesn’t know what to think about Stephen and how he might fit into her life.What will Lizzie decide? Will she continue to teach school? Or will she give up that dream so that her wish for marriage and a family can come true?

About the Author:
Linda Byler is an active member of the Amish church. She writes about the culture and convictions of Amish society with accuracy, insight, compassion and candor. She reveals well rounded people with the same hopes and dreams and wants and needs as “Englishers”. The only difference between the cultures is the faith-based tenants used for measuring and meeting those needs.

My Thoughts:
When Strawberries Bloom is book 2 in the Lizzie Searches for Love Series. I reviewed book one, Running Around (And Such) here.  You’ll note that I was hoping this book would be better.  Alas. It was not.  In fact, it has taken me these many long weeks to finish it because I would keep putting it down and forgetting to pick it back up again.

Technically Ms. Byler’s writing is flawless.  And her prose, though simple and straight forward in nature, has some sparkling moments.  The problem with this story is that it isn’t a story yet.  Unlike the first book, the reader has very little reason to connect because too many of the scenes are narrative overviews rather than actual character interaction.  I know Linda Byler is a woman of God.  I know He wouldn’t let her work be in vain.  These stories will likely bless more people than I can imagine, but I will forever mourn that they didn’t get the audience they could have if Linda Byler had had a decent editor and better writing support.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from FSB Associates. 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.”

Running Around (and Such), by Linda Byler

About the Book:
A romance novel by an Amish writer, based on true experiences!

It isn’t that Lizzie doesn’t want to stay Amish. It’s just that there is so much to figure out. Like why can’t she let her hair a little looser on top? And why can’t she wear shoes with a little bit more of a heel? And will she ever really just know for a fact who she is going to marry like her next-older sister, Emma, does? And how does it happen that her just-younger sister, Mandy, is going on a date before Lizzie ever has a real one? So does it matter at all if she’s fat and eats another whoopie pie?

Amos seems to like her a lot when she pounds out the ping-pong games. He even asks her to be his partner in doubles. But then he asks Ruthie if he can take her home! It has been this way Lizzie’s whole life.

She has too hot a temper. She hates housework and dislikes babies. She loves driving fast horses but is petrified of going away from home for a week to work as a maud (maid).

Now that Lizzie is running around, will she scare off the Amish boys with her hi-jinks manners? She has certainly attracted the attention of the egg-truck driver. A scary thrill runs through her every time the worldly man comes to pick up an order, each time extending his stay a little longer. How long will she keep this a secret from Emma-and from Mam and Datt? (excerpt from Amazon.com)

What will become of Lizzie? Isn’t she too spirited, too innocent, and too uninhibited for a young Amish woman?

About the Author: Linda Byler is an active member of the Amish church.  She writes about the culture and convictions of Amish society with accuracy, insight, compassion and candor.  She reveals well rounded people with the same hopes and dreams and wants and needs as “Englishers”.  The only difference between the cultures is the faith-based tenants used for measuring and meeting those needs.

My Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about Running Around (And Such), by Linda Byler.  I read it from cover to cover. It didn’t bore me, but it didn’t thrill me, either. Part of my mixed feelings about this book have to do with the main character, Lizzie. I didn’t much like her.

Lizzie is very self-centered and often ignorant of the wants, needs and expectations of others. She is a whiner, shirks her duties and plays the “I’m ugly and no one loves me” card way too often. She irritated me and I wanted someone to tell her what’s what. In fact, one of the reasons I kept reading the book was my expectation that someone would tell her what’s what and instigate change. Story is supposed to be driven by character change. Since this is a sweeping, three-book coming-of-age saga, Lizzie isn’t showing as much change in this first book as I wanted her to. Even so, she is making progress and I have faith that she will change before the end of book three.

Byler’s writing style is clean, easy to read and very visual. Her characters are lively and well drawn. Yet, despite those pluses, her storytelling techniques left me confused on more than one occasion. She jumps back and forth through time with little or no warning to the reader. Often Byler tells the end of an event and then goes back to tell the beginning. At first her muddy timelines had me going “huh” and rereading, but that got to be too much work so I just continued on without clarifying issues. Doing so didn’t seem to impair my overall comprehension of the story.

There were also a couple of instances in the book when details changed from one section of story to the next. For instance: Lizzie and her sister went to be mauds (maids) in a brand new home. They were to help the farmwife with setting up and painting her “new, built only a few month earlier” farmhouse, yet somehow the walls the girls painted “were old plaster with deep cracks, some broken spots, and peeling paint”. Why would anyone put up (and how could they put up) old plaster walls in a brand new home?

I guess the best way to sum my review up is to tell you that I plan to read book two in this series and I will likely read book three as well because I have seen some positive changes in Lizzie and I have come to care about her and her family. However, I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book without warning you that it isn’t a stellar read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from FSB Associates. 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.”