Thursday, January 5, 2012

Amish Romances (Inspirational Fiction)

Green means best in my opinion, purple means I have it, yellow means I would like to have it (a.k.a. wish list), turquoise means look for it to read.

I've been thinking about the Amish romances I have enjoyed, those I haven't, & how nonfiction studies about the Amish have influenced my feelings/thinking. My usual criteria apply: there are those that are well-written, fairly true to what I understand about the culture, and tell a good story.

  • Bender, Carrie (pseudonym). She is an Amishwoman (Old Order) given permission to write under a pen name. Her series are light and joyous. I have 3 of her series.
  • Byler, Linda. Another Amish writer. I didn't like the Lizzie Searches for Love series, but I did enjoy Keeping Secrets, book 2 in the Sadie's Montana series. Byler's writing seems very immature but is improving.
  • Cameron, Barbara. Her series The Quilts of Lancaster County are fascinating books: requested Annie's Christmas Wish, book 4, but was very disappointed with it - flying in a plane, everyone carrying cellphones, unrealistic. Loved Her Restless Heart: Stitches in Time Book 1 too; enjoyed Heart in Hand (Stitches in Time 3). Also read Twice Blessed: Two Amish Christmas Stories about twins. The Amish Roads series sounds familiar, as if I have already read them. But next is Return to Paradise: The Coming Home series, KDL book, then Seasons in Paradise, then Home to Paradise.
  • Chapman, Vannetta. Loved A Promise for Miriam, A Wedding for Julia, and A Home for Lydia; enjoyed The Christmas Quilt and the Amish Bishop mysteries: What the Bishop Saw (1); When the Bishop Needs an Alibi (2), and Who the Bishop Knows (3). To read: Plain and Simple Miracles series, Brian's Choice (e-novella, prequel), Anna's Healing (bk 1), Joshua's Mission (2), and I read Sarah's Orphans (3), which was very good. While I enjoyed the story "Mischief in the Autumn Air" in An Amish Harvest set in Shipshewana, I'm not as sure about the Shipshewana Amish mysteries:
    1: Falling to Pieces; 2: A Perfect Square; 3: Material Witness; C1: Murder Simply Brewed; C2: Murder Tightly Knit.
  • Cramer, Dale. I have his Paradise Valley, which is the best of the Amish romances! Well-written, historically accurate, & with an excellent romance. The others were sadder, though.
  • Davids, Patricia. Katie's Redemption - fine, other than a distracting reference to a "wingback chair."  I'm sure I read An Amish Christmas (Love Inspired).
  • Duerksen, Carol and Maynard Knepp. Runaway Buggy. An excellent young adult novel about Knepp's youth (he grew up Amish). Although self-published, it is well-written, informative, enjoyable. Not truly an inspirational romance, it does have romance in the story, and doesn't sugarcoat the costs of rumspringa. There are many books by this pair, and also several by Carol Duerksen and other authors.
  • Fisher, Suzanne Woods. Stoney Ridge Seasons series beginning The Keeper kept my attention & I have the 3rd in this series: The Lesson. I also have The Letters (The Inn at Eagle Hill series). I enjoyed the rose mystery in Christmas at Rose Hill Farm: An Amish Love Story. Requested 11/11/16 The Imposter (The Bishop's Family series#1) and The Quieting (The Bishop's Family series #2). However, Fisher's writing is that of a junior-high-school girl showing off her vocabulary, and she has her characters doing things like doffing their hats and bowing. Please, enough already!
  • Flower, Amanda. She's a librarian who hasn't done quite enough research (Amish praying aloud) but whose Appleseed Creek series' protagonist is a director of IT at a small college in central Ohio.  They're light fun, not great. Next (print bk): A Plain Disappearance.
  • Fuller, Kathleen. Has a decent story, "The Treasured Book" in An Amish Heirloom.
  • Gould, Leslie. Adoring Addie - like Saloma Miller Furlong. The series Neighbors of Lancaster county, #1 Amish Promises was all right; #2 Amish Sweethearts was excellent! Less idealistic than most inspirational romances, more realistic. Book 3 was just ok - too much narrative - Amish Weddings. Then a new series, The Sisters of Lancaster county, #1 A Plain Leaving (very good, different - shows the harshness of those who don't forgive). Also, in the Women of Lancaster County series, book 5 is coming out in 2018: The Amish Quilter.
  • Goyer, Tricia. Big Sky series: like Marta Perry, Goyer is able to tell a good story while not idealizing the Amish. The Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series--loved the Promise Box; the Kissing Bridge was so-so. Also, she has an excellent story in An Amish Second Christmas ("The Christmas Aprons") as does Ruth Reid, "Her Christmas Pen Pal." Read Made with Love (Pinecraft Pie Shop series): it showed a more relaxed Florida community but like Lewis preaches evangelical as better than Old Order Amish; Planted with Hope, the 2nd, and Sewn with Joy, 3rd in the series were also good.
  • Hoff, B. J. The Riverhaven Years books are about the Underground Railroad, so I enjoyed that aspect. These are the only 3 Hoff has written about the Amish. I have the 3rd book, River of Mercy.
  • Irvin, Kelly. Has a decent story, "The Midwife's Dream" in An Amish Heirloom
  • Kertz, Rebecca. Loving Isaac. all right.
  • Lauer, Rosalind. A Simple Winter (Seasons of Lancaster series) -- I enjoyed the story, which seemed to draw upon some of David Kline's work, but Lauer doesn't seem to know that children don't usually learn English until they go to school and some other typical things about Amish culture. I enjoyed A Simple Spring & A Simple Autumn. I also read the Lancaster Crossroads series: A Simple Faith, A Simple Hope, A Simple Charity.
  • Lighte, Carrie. Amish Triplets for Christmas - pretty good story.
  • Lillard, Amy. Katie's Choice (Clover Ridge series). Loved it! Wells Landing series: read Caroline's Secret; did not like Courting Emily. Seems like Lillard is going in the direction of Lewis with Courting Emily, Lorie's Heart, and Just Plain Sadie (didn't read but summaries indicate they leave the Amish for the Mennonites or English). However, try Titus Returns and Marrying Jonah.
  • Newport, Olivia. Wonderful Lonesome. About a failed Amish community in Colorado; Abbie seems unrealistically blindly optimistic. However, I would like to read the 2nd book, Meek and Mild, about the formation of the Beachy Amish.
  • Perry, Marta. Perry seems to have a solid understanding of the Amish and Mennonite, is a good writer, and mostly tells a good story. My favorites so far in the Pleasant Valley series are the 1st & 5th: Leah's Choice & Katie's Way (I have both). Leah's Choice deals with those who choose to leave the Plain community, their interactions with those they left behind, and the common birth defects among the Amish. Katie's Way shows the negative effects of gossip in small communities & positive interactions between Amish & "Englisch." I've read all: Naomi's Christmas is #7 and the last pair in the series are The Lost Sisters of Pleasant Valley: Lydia's Hope, and Susanna's Dream. I also read Amish Christmas Blessings. Perry has piggy-backed on Pura's story of WWII in The Forgiven: Keepers of the Promise book 1, which I liked very much, and book 2 was about allowing the Amish not to send their kids to high school: The Rescued: Keepers of the Promise. Book 3 wasn't as good: The Rebel. New series: Brides of Lost Creek; book 1 is Second Chance Amish Bride - enjoyed it and book 2, The Wedding Quilt Bride, 2018.
  • Reid, Ruth (A Miracle of Hope). Other than overuse of "amble," pretty good story set in the UP, MI. Reid, Ellis (Mary) & Wiseman are collected together in a set of 3 novellas: An Amish Miracle.
  • Roper, Gayle. Undecided...Amish are background, not the focus of her stories.
  • Senft, Adina The Wounded Heart had an interesting story line about MS (multiple sclerosis), & I loved the closeness of the 3 women friends. The other 2 in this series are: The Hidden Life and The Tempted Soul. I would like to get these. Next series: Healing Grace (1: Herb; 2: Keys of Heaven; 3: Balm of Gilead). New series: Whinburg Township Amish. Book 1: The Longest Road.
  • Schmidt, Anna. Enjoyed A Groom for Greta
  • Wiseman, Beth. She occasionally shows her lack of deep understanding of the culture, but overall writes fairly good romance. Unfortunately, she uses stereotypical expressions which the Amish don't really use, such as "wunderbaar gut." Home all along was ok.
Some of the writers overuse the word "shuffles," but at the moment I can't remember which. It's very off-putting and distracting!
OK, the writers I haven't enjoyed so far, though I wouldn't want to keep others from reading:
  • Bayarr, Samantha Jillian. Clearly doesn't know the Amish; bad writing. Self-published.
  • Brown, Jo Ann. OK, not great writing.
  • Brunstetter, Wanda: Amish good, English bad, every time.
  • Clark, Mindy Starts & Leslie Gould: Another case of Amish vs. Mennonite vs. English, in which "exciting drama" gets more attention than getting the details of Amish life correct. Although I admit I am going to try their 2nd novel, to give them a fair chance. Leslie Gould's novel Adoring Addie was very good, however.
  • Clipston, Amy. Bad writing, using cliches & words repetitively, e.g., "snatched."
  • Copeland, Lori and Virginia Smith. No need to read any more of theirs....
  • Eicher, Jerry. Contrived plots, strange details, 1-2 sentence paragraphs....
  • Ellis, Mary. The Miller Family series were quite entertaining, yet there are so many inaccuracies that it makes it very distracting. I have The Way to a Man's Heart. I read the Wayne County series. I also have Living in Harmony, the 1st in the New Beginnings series, but I haven't read Love Comes to Paradise. A Little Bit of Charm (KY thoroughbreds) was entertaining. I read A Plain Man and the 7th.
  • Ellis has also written The Quaker and the Rebel - maybe try - although I can see if the 1st few pages that she has done as little research on Quakers as she has on the Amish (ribbons on her dress, curtseying, using "sir" and "ma'am" and the title of "Miss" to introduce herself. Meh.
  • Fisher, Suzanne Woods. Poor plotting, caricatured characters, & trite language with overuse of adjectives (Lancaster County Secrets series).
  • Hilton, Laura V. Patchwork Dream, Amish of Seymour series: yet another bad writer trying to do the Amish romance.
  • Keller, Cynthia. Caricatures of both English & Amish in An Amish Christmas. But maybe I should try the 2nd novel: A Plain & Fancy Christmas.
  • Lewis, Beverly: dislike. The couple of novels I read by her seem to imply that it is better to convert to the more evangelical forms of Christianity than to be Old Order Amish; they seemed preachy and unbelievable.
  • Lloyd, Kate. Bad writing, trite language with overuse of adjectives and adverbs.
  • Long, Kelly. Odd characters, plotting, resolutions; romance unlike the Amish culture.
  • Price, Sarah. Juvenile writing.
  • Pura, Murray. Snapshots in History series about Amish during WWI and after, and the Civil War. Good historical information about the wars but not so good on the Amish details. 
  • Reid, Ruth. While I enjoyed her 3rd book (see above), her 1st 2 are poorly written, confusing, and definitely not well-versed in Amish culture. It's too bad, since they're set in MI.
  • Woodsmall, Cindy. I read 5 of her books before giving up. My favorite was The Sound of Sleigh Bells.
Amish-themed mysteries:
Fowler, Earlene's Benni Harper quilting mysteries have Amish characters.
Gaus, P.L.  has several mysteries (definitely not romance!). I read at least one, perhaps more.
Myers, Tamar's mysteries have a very sour protagonist & atmosphere.
Picoult, Jodi. Plain Truth is very dark.
Workinger, Barbara writes cozy mysteries with an Amish protagonist.

Toews, Miriam. Irma Roth. Hated it.
Unknown/to try:

Drexler, Jan (Hannah's Choice)
Ellis, Marianne (Summer Promise, Autumn Grace),
Kingsbury, Karen.
Lodge, Hillary Manton (Plain Jayne)
Peterson, Tracie.
Rivers, Francine.

Literary fiction:
Lowenthal, Michael. Avoidance, gay man researching shunning.

Children's books:
De Angeli, Marguerite. Henner's Lydia, Yonie Wondernose


Choice said...

Oh, very nice reviews and comments! Thank you so much for sharing!

Kim Ranger said...

all this time I thought you were snoozing while I read excerpts to you out loud!