June has been a weird month, with two days a week devoted to non-stop homework – I’m too distractable to break it up more than that – and the other days flying by with an odd mixture of busy and boredom. I’m devoting most of my reading to a pair of autobiographies assigned in my US History from 1877 class, but I managed to read a few other things, too…
Fraying at the Edge by Cindy Woodsmall was one of the more unusual Amish fiction novels I’ve read, telling the story of an Old Order Amish girl whose world is ripped apart when it’s discovered that she and an English (non-Amish) girl were switched at birth in a local hospital. This is actually the second book in a trilogy, and while I haven’t had a chance yet to read books one or three, I found it very interesting, and was able to follow the plot pretty easily.
A Love Made New is an Amish of Birch Creek novel, and another smash hit in this great series by Kathleen Fuller. This one struck close to home, because the main character, Abigail, struggles with emotional eating and body image, which are two things I have struggled with, myself, over the years. I love the way Fuller handles this delicate issue, with respect, understanding, and completely believably. I don’t keep many books for my personal collection, but I’ve enjoyed all of the books in this series, so I’m debating. Highly recommended!
Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson is a fantastic and engaging biography of the 3rd President of the United States of America. It was required reading in my spring semester US History to 1877 class, and while I wasn’t enthused at the thought of slogging through a biography, I was gratified to find that I really enjoyed it. Jefferson was a really interesting, if not always likable, person. If you’re interested in learning about our founding fathers, this is a great place to start.
The Forgotten Recipe by Amy Clipston is the first novel in the Amish Heirloom series, and it is excellent!! I am not usually a huge fan of Amish fiction, but this moving story of a young woman who loses the love of her life just as they’re about to get married, and then finds love again against her very concerted effort to deny it, gets two thumbs up from me.
The Cherished Quilt is the second novel in the Amish Heirloom series, and is another excellent story in an excellent series! Amy Clipston infuses her characters with a depth of individuality and sincerity that they come alive on the page, and jump right into your heart (and yes, I realize how cheesy that sounds). Emily and Christopher are two of my favorite characters in this series, and that’s saying something.
12 Years a Slave is the incredible autobiography of Solomon Northrup, born a free man in the state of New York, then kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South, where he languished under deplorable conditions for twelve years until he was rescued and was able to return to his family in the North. Another assigned reading for my US History to 1877 class this spring, I found this one almost impossible to read, because it was so intensely violent and appalling, especially knowing that it is a true account of a man’s life. I kept having to stop reading to take a moment (or an hour, or a day) to catch my breath and calm down. As upsetting as this story is, I highly recommend it, and will be watching the movie version recently released as soon as possible. I think it’s very important to know what has happened in the history of our nation, even when it’s ugly, even when it hurts. Maybe especially then. Northrup’s account is brutal, and it is necessary.
Upon a Spring Breeze by Kelly Irvin is an Every Amish Season novel, the first I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and hopefully not the last. This is another story of a young Amish bride, pregnant with her first child, suddenly widowed under tragic circumstances. Utterly devastated by the loss of her husband, Bess finds bonding with their tiny son nearly unbearable, and struggles to accept her husband’s death, and move on with her life. I found this book difficult to read, because while I haven’t lost a husband, I have lost babies, and the platitudes and lack of compassionate understanding Bess faces from family, friends, and her community reminded me of ones I have heard, and her grief and the feeling of being rushed through it resonated with me. This is a really good book, and I highly recommend it.
So, I somehow managed to read a ton of Amish fiction (a genre I enjoy, but still, my least favorite genre of the genres I enjoy), and a pair of early American historical non-fiction titles…and that’s it. Like I said, it’s been a weird month. So now, moving into July, I’m working on a pair of WWII autobiographies, another Amish fiction title, and I’m rereading a fantasy novel I read in college a decade ago (the jury’s out on whether that was a good idea, so far).
I also got to check out a lovely new album of self-penned and classic lullabies by Daniel Martin Moore, titled Turned Over To Dreams. It’s full of soothing, smooth vocals, beautiful piano and guitar work, and its meditative quality wins over children and adults alike (in our house, for certain). I played it in our van several times, though I’ll warn you not to do this if you’re at all tired because it’s extremely relaxing. Serenity told me to turn it off at one point, because she didn’t want to go to sleep, and it puts baby Arlo right out! #momwin It’s a beautiful collection of songs, and I can’t listen to it enough! Also, can I say enough how beautiful this CD case is?? I love clover and shamrocks, and looking at this case just makes me happy.
What are you reading? Anything you’d recommend to a die-hard book fan on a slump? How about music? Enjoying anything good, lately? I’m all ears!
Disclosure: I received some of these titles free from their publishers in order to provide an honest review. All opinions are my own. Find my review policy details on my disclosure page.