I am sad to admit this but I have been going through a slump with books for a while.
When I graduated from my very reading intense degree (History) I couldn’t devour “fun” books fast enough. Then I started working at a bookstore. It was like a dream come true! Books EVERYWHERE, a discount on said books AND the wonder that is ARC books. Oh Advance Reader Copies, how I love you.
Then the pressure hit me. Reading books to hand sell books, getting books I have no interest in reading, never getting books in I could sell. I stopped reading when it books were picked for me. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
You see, I am pretty devoted to my own personalized genre of books. I primarily read Christian Fiction, certain YA books, some History, some Fiction, some Romance, and some classics. I’m even pickier within those genres. It HAS to be light, fluffy, and happy romance type books. I hate wasting my time on reading something depressing-no matter if it makes you have “the feels” or re-evaluate your life. No. I cry enough thanks.
So I was stumbling around looking for something new in my “genre” of choice: Christian Fiction. I was coming up with very little in the way of variety. Then, in December, I was introduced to Amy Lillard via the 12 Brides of Christmas e-books for the Advent season. Her book, the Gingerbread Bride was probably my favorite of the 12 weeks and I started reading through her works.
I have absolutely loved all the ones I have read so far but I connected the most with books 2 and 3 in the Wells Landing series. Courting Emily and Lorie’s Heart. What I loved was that they were NEW ideas. They felt fresh and didn’t follow the same old same old with Amish fiction that I have come to see and expect. As a bibliophile, and avid reader, I am ashamed to admit at times I skip ahead and read the last 2 chapters if I feel the story is not moving anywhere. I have yet to do that with Amy’s books.
Before I launch into how much I loved books 2 and 3, I want to mention I in no way did not enjoy book one Caroline’s Secret, I just felt more of a connection to the other 2.
First off, Courting Emily. **Be Warned Spoilers**
I loved it. I absolutely loved it.
For the first time, in a long time, I felt like I could connect with the hero of the story. Elam loved Emily from afar for as long as he could remember. There’s another man in the way of them ever being together (Emily’s longtime boyfriend Luke) but in addition, Elam has his own problems.
His father was kicked in the head by one of their dairy cows. He was lucky to survive but it landed him with a childlike outlook on the world. His once strong and capable Father now had trouble walking from room to room on his own. The family responsibilities and running their dairy now fall to Elam. How is he supposed to court anyone with this added burden, let alone the love of his life who is now unexpectedly single?
I loved this book so much because I know what it is like to shoulder familial burdens. Burdens, which should not be yours to carry in the first place due to a freak accident or because of someone realizing that “fatherhood is just too hard”. I needed this book because it restored my waning Faith in that all things truly do work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
Emily brought a fresh outlook on life and love to the Rhiel family. She helped with chores, she helped them heal, and found her heart softening towards Elam along the way.
Both she and Elam faced troubles, faced a crisis of faith (mostly in each other) and were too stubborn for their own good. Ultimately, there was a happy ending but what I love about the Wells Landing series is that they’re real. Real situations, real struggles, real heartache, REAL RESOLUTIONS.
I cannot say enough good things about this book.
Before I get into Lorie’s heart I want to thank Amy and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this advance e-book. I am honored to have been able to read it 🙂
Lorie’s Heart **SPOILERS AHEAD**
This book surprised me. I was not expecting the turn it was going to take.
More surprisingly, I didn’t expect to LIKE the turn it took! I think that’s what shocked me the most.
Lorie’s world is shaken by the death of her father. Upon his passing she finds out her father was living a double life (or so she thought).
Lorie goes on a journey of discovery as to who her father was and finds herself along the way. Never feeling like she fit in completely with the Amish the new information found on her father after his death drives Lorie to experience the English world.
I was very afraid that this would be another “love drove him/her to join/leave the Amish faith and because they have love nothing bad will happen” book. But, I love Amy’s books and she had already written a book like that (but it was AWESOME and I loved it and was not cut and dry like I made it seem above) so I kept reading.
I am so glad I did. I started reading it at about 7 pm and finished it at 7am before rushing off to work. THAT is how good it was. I stayed up late and woke up early because I HAD to know.
I loved the twist that Lorie was never Amish. Yes, she was raised as one but her father had hidden him and his daughter in plain sight to hide from his deceased wife’s family. They wanted Lorie and they had the money to fight for her. Henry took his daughter and ran. Too little to know the truth, Lorie assimilated, as did Henry and felt restlessness inside and had a talent for painting that she couldn’t explain and did not want to give up.
Through many twists and turns, Lorie finds the truth, finds 2 grandmas, finds herself, and finds love.
Both of these books were amazing and I highly recommend them and Amy’s other books. You should DEFINITELY check her out!