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notdeniseNorthern IndianaAge: 35-44Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Good story of grace & reconciliationFebruary 4, 2012notdeniseNorthern IndianaAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall is the 3rd book in the "Ada's House" series. Even though I had not read the first two books I was able to enjoy this story on it's own. I live in the midst of a large Amish community in northern Indiana, and am usually not a fan of Amish fiction, feeling that it doesn't portray the real life of the Amish, at least in my experiences with them. Cindy Woodsmall's books are the exception to me - her stories are believable yet entertaining.
In this story, Sylvia is a mid-20's Amish woman who loves working on her family's dairy farm. She is the oldest of 9 daughters, so there are no sons to take over the farm (Amish tradition is that the males usually have priority in inheriting land). She has been dating an Amish man, but this relationship falls apart and she leaves her family to go to work on another dairy farm a distance away without telling her sisters where she is going. Once on the Blank farm, she meets the sole surviving Blank child, Aaron, who is returning from treatment for alcoholism. Aaron has dreams to sell his parents farm, which is deeply in debt, and buy an appliance shop, but Sylvia is determined to work at all costs to save the farm. They end up working closely on the farm and their strong personalities and differences of opinion clash frequently. Sylvia does end up reconciling with her family, and they find a way to save the farm and keep it operating. I enjoyed reading this book.
You can read an excerpt of the first chapter at the publisher's website.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, but the opinion of the book is mine.
tammycookblogsbooks5 Stars Out Of 5The Harvest Of GraceJanuary 28, 2012tammycookblogsbooksSylvia Fisher loved living on her family's farm. From the time she was little, Sylvia helped her grandfather while he was working. He taught her everything she knew about dairy farming. She even inherited a part of his farm after he passed away. Being the oldest of nine children, all girls, she also helped on her family's farm. Something unexpected happened and she had to leave the farm. She started working at Michael and Dora Blank's farm. She was in charge of all that was dairy.
One day the Blank's son, Aaron, showed up out of nowhere. He was an alcoholic and had just finished rehab. He was determined to keep on the straight and narrow. Michael and Dora didn't fully trust he would be sticking around, but they put him in charge of the rest of the farm. Micheal had health issues that prevented him from being able to work a lot. The Blank's were going to lose their farm if the crops didn't produce and the cow's milk production didn't increase.
Aaron and Sylvia butted heads but they worked together for the one purpose of keeping the farm afloat. Aaron's goal was to sell it. He wanted his parents to move to a new town with him and help run an appliance store. Sylvia's goal was to make it profitable so the Blank's didn't lose it. This story revolves around the struggles of trying to keep the farm running. Whether they succeed and keep it, end up losing it, or moving, you'll have to read the story to find out.
The Harvest of Grace focuses mainly on Sylvia and her struggle to accept God's grace, His forgiveness. Along the way she encounters friendships and romance that she never expected. There are several smaller story lines within this story. There are the stories of Grey and Lena, Ephraim and Cara, Trevor Atwater, Ada and Israel, Deborah and Jonathan, and Michael and Dora. This book is close to 600 pages but I could have kept on reading. Cindy Woodsmall drew me into the lives of the characters. I felt I like knew them when I finished the book. Read The Harvest Of Grace, you'll be glad you did!
This is the third book in the Ada's House Series.
I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah for my honest review.
MoonpiePRYORAge: 55-65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5OUTSTANDING BOOK!January 27, 2012MoonpiePRYORAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is the 3rd book in the Ada House Series. I have read the first one but have not read the 2nd one. At the beginning of the book it had a short synopsis of the first two books. It was perfect and just right to let give me an idea about what happened in the 2nd book without giving too much information! I really appreciated the author including this. I didn't' feel left out at all! I can also go back and read the second book and not feel I did so out of line.
Sylvia Fischer isn't the norm for a housekeeping, sewing, cooking Amish woman. She shows great skill in helping her father manage the family dairy. She is content to care for the cattle and be with her beloved family. The surprising unfaithfulness of her beau and her continued attraction to him drives her away from her family. She does the unusual for a young Amish woman and finds a job many miles away from her home helping an elderly couple revive their failing dairy farm. Her new life seems perfect until their prodigal son returns home from an alcohol rehab with plans to sale the farm and move his parents to town with him.
Aaron Blank's homecoming stirs many conflicts for the family and Sylvia. There were points in the story where it appeared there could be no resolution to the problems. Ms. Woodsmall beautifully illustrates it is always darkest before the dawn and that with God, all things are possible. Sometimes I saw myself in Sylvia and Aaron when in periods of my life I became so focused on my plans that I had no room for God's. I felt their feeling of hopelessness and frustration that resisting God brings. I was also reminded of how God's plans are always better than the best plans we can imagine for ourselves. I found myself gripping the book tightly in suspense as it looked like all the progress the characters had made would be lost.
This is a beautiful story of how God can work to soften the hardest hearts and right the worst misunderstandings with His grace and forgiveness.
Another outstanding book by Cindy Woodsmall! This is a wonderful series and I hope there are more!
I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing 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
Eleanor AndersUSAGender: female4 Stars Out Of 5I recommend THE HARVEST OF GRACE!January 27, 2012Eleanor AndersUSAGender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5My Look:
The betrayal of a sister who marries the man Sylvia Fisher loved gets even more complicated. Years later, Sylvia indulges her sister's husband in an adulterer's kiss, and she must give up her family. She takes a job on a farm, the Blank's farm.
Cara Moore is discovered living with her daughter in Ephraim's barn. Alone with her daughter, Cara's background is heartbreaking; her mother died and her father left her alone at a bus station. She's an abandoned child whom Social Services takes into foster care. After knowing her plight, Ephraim Mast takes care of them and endures a shunning for refusing to make her seek help elsewhere. Now, she's in love with Ephraim and dedicated to become an accepted member of the Amish community. However, her father comes back.
Meanwhile, Aaron Blank's parents will not answer his letters from rehab, but that's not going to stop him from going home. He's going to take care of his parents, and Aaron has a plan. Putting money down on business, he goes home intending to do the right thing for them. Can he make amends? Aaron wants to take care of his parents, but it was only months earlier that he had left them alone on a dairy farm.
Lena Kauffman is in love with Grey Graber, but she's prepared to wait for his official mourning period to end. Grey is a widower and wants to do right by his first wife's family. How would they feel having their daughter replaced too soon? Will time do more than keep them these two apart?
THE HARVEST OF GRACE delves into the lives of these and others characters. However, the most central theme is the family struggles and rejection is a large part of these stories.
Cindy Woodsmall demonstrates that hurt begets hurt and forgiveness needs to follow. She does not concentrate on the Amish themes; she zeros into the characters, their flaws, and the many human emotions that we all share.
I recommend THE HARVEST OF GRACE!
Cindy Woodsmall writes from a background with a strong Amish connection, but she writes about non-traditional Amish issues in this book and will keep you turning pages.
She provides more than just a love story and does more than teach you about the Amish traditions, Cindy Woodsmall writes about issues that face all of us and shows us all forgiveness is possible.
This is a stand-alone novel, but is part of a series. You will want to catch up with the other titles in the Ada's House series. They are THE HOPE OF REFUGE: ADA'S HOUSE BOOK 1 (August 2009), THE BRIDGE OF PEACE: ADA'S HOUSE BOOK 2 (August 2010), and THE CHRISTMAS SINGING (October 2011).
Through WaterBrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books Program, I received this book for free in exchange my honest review. ***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***
Miss TinaChicagoAge: 35-44Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5The Miracles of GraceJanuary 25, 2012Miss TinaChicagoAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4I have to admit this book started off a little confusing by shifting very quickly between characters, places and stories. It wasn't until the end of the book, that I realized that "The Harvest of Grace" was the 3rd book in a series. The author does a very good job about giving enough background information so that the reader won't feel totally lost. I will definitely read the two previous books in the series.
The story involves 5 couples, but only 3 of them are the very main characters. The author bravely tackles tough, real life issues with each story line, from widowhood to alcoholism to sibling betrayal. I was very impressed with these "sticky" topics were handled. Typically, many novels about the Amish don't address alcoholism or genetic diseases. However, Cindy Woodsmall presented a fresh and refreshing perspective on each of these that highlighted forgiveness, unconditional love and the need for treatment of diseases, even by people of faith.
The main couples were Lena, a 20-something Amish lady who lives with her widowed father and Grey, a widowed father who is living with a daily reminder of a possible genetic abnormality that is in his bloodline. Both of these characters seem very faithful to their religion and also family oriented. In the end, love and perseverance win out. The care and concern shown by them to Grey former in-laws was very selfless and revealed a great love for them.
The next couple is more of an "odd couple" in that Ephraim is Amish, but Cara is English and seeking to become a member of the Amish community. The dialogue and interaction between these two was very light and a lot different from traditional Amish novels. Cara is quite outspoken and feisty, which seems to be very attractive and amusing to Ephraim. Ephraim is the epitome of love and support as Cara seeks to work through dealing with the ghosts of her past, which seem to keep reappearing. One awesome event in the book happened when Cara feet "arms embracing her as she cried". She thought it was of the love of her life Ephraim, but it turned out to be the lover of her soul, consoling and restoring her resolve to love and forgive.
Finally, there is Sylvia and Aaron, an unlikely couple who found their way to each other through hard work, arguments and reconciliation! Both seem to be running from their pasts, but find that their futures are contingent on the things that they are trying to hide, bury and forget. Sylvia's ability to shatter the stereotypical, domesticated picture of a single woman living in an Amish home was portrayed very well. She did come across a little rude and suspicious at times, but I guess that's natural if you have dealt with betrayal of two people who were supposedly close to you and who loved you. Aaron's willingness to share his struggles and his faith with his friend, Sylvia and finally his father was quite courageous. Though his motives weren't quite as pure initially, he eventually saw that God had placed him where he was supposed to be. The love that blossomed between these two was quite heartwarming and a symbol of how the heart can heal and go on.
Overall, Woodsmall did a great job with depicting the bountiful blessings of love, joy, contentment and peace that can come from a harvest of grace!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Press. 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.