Friday, August 30, 2013

The Winnowing Season

The tornado that devastated Kings’ Orchard pushed Rhoda, Samuel, and Jacob to make a new start in Maine. Are they strong enough to withstand the challenges of establishing an Amish community—and brave enough to face the secrets that move with them?

On the eve of their departure to begin a new Old Order Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is shocked to discover that choices made by her business partner and friend, Samuel King, have placed her and her unusual gifts directly into the path of her district’s bishop and preachers. She is furious with Samuel and is fearful that the Kings will be influenced by the way her leaders see her, and not what they know to be true—that Rhoda’s intuition is a gift from God.
Jacob King won’t be swayed by community speculation. He loves Rhoda, believes in her, and wants to build a future with her in Maine. But when the ghosts of his past come calling and require him to fulfill a great debt, can he shake their hold before it destroys what he has with Rhoda? Samuel has a secret of his own—one he’ll go to great lengths to keep hidden, even if it means alienating those closest to him. Throwing himself into rehabilitating the once-abandoned orchard, Samuel turns to a surprising new ally.
Book 2 of the Amish Vines and Orchards series asks: can the three faithfully follow God’s leading and build a new home and orchard in Maine? Or will this new beginning lead to more ruin and heartbreak?

I have not read the first book in this series, but the second book sounded good, so I requested a complimentary copy from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing's Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review. 

The plot of this story was very engaging. There was a lot going on at all times, and it became difficult to see anything turning out favorably for the characters. So many things went wrong for almost every character that I couldn't wait to figure out how the author would resolve everything. But she didn't. I was really angry about that at first-I realize it's a series, and I'm glad the next book is already out because if I had to wait, I'd be kept in intense suspense for way too long. It was a great book, and I am looking forward to the next one. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Outcast

Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop. 

But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.

I received a complimentary copy of Jolina Petersheim's The Outcast through the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review. 

The fine print of this title states "A Modern Retelling of The Scarlet Letter," which I did not notice when I requested this book from Tyndale. I read The Scarlet Letter in high school, but it's been too many years to remember the details and notice the parallels between the two books other than the main storyline. It took me a couple of chapters to really get into the book, but once I did I found myself entranced with the complexities of the situations within the book. Each character has a heartbreaking history to overcome in order to feel they are worthy of continuing with their lives. Secrets that lay buried under layers of lies must come to light despite the risk of loosing everything and at the bottom of it all lies a baby's life that is in danger. I really enjoyed Petersheim's retelling of this story, and it almost makes me want to re-read The Scarlet Letter.