Courting Cate (review)

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Courting CateCourting Cate by Leslie Gould
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At 23, Cate Miller is considered practically on the shelf by the Amish community of Paradise, Pennsylvania. A serious bookworm of a girl, tall, with dark hair, she lacks everything her small, blonde, happy sister Betsy has at 17, including a boyfriend. That’s something their widower father is determined to change, however, when he announces, one spring day, that Betsy will not be allowed to marry before Cate does.

Cate meets Pete Treger at the bookmobile and there’s instant interest on her part. But the way his eyes sparkle when they first light on Betsy convinces Cate he’s just another of Betsy’s potential conquests.

Lots of plot twists and turns make this an Amish fiction like no other I’ve read. There’s no focus on a Rumschpringe (an Amish teen girl or boy’s running-around time), no hankering after the non-Amish life, no Amish girl falling for an outsider or vice versa. But there are lots of complicated family dynamics in this book about loyalty, sacrifice, and love.

Courting Cate is another book I read just for fun this summer and I found it a great read!

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Plain Peace (review)

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Plain Peace (A Daughters of the Promise Novel)Plain Peace by Beth Wiseman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eighteen-year-old Anna Byler has never been on a date. No one has asked her. She suspects it is because her grandfather and guardian, Bishop Isaac Byler is at least partly to blame. His gruff manner and strict enforcement of all their Amish colony’s rules is enough to keep even the most charmed young man at a distance. But Jacob Hostetler is new, handsome, and when he shows more than a passing interest along with the courage to talk to Daadi, she can’t help but be hopeful.

Their friendship is anything but a smooth affair, however in Beth Wiseman’s novel Plain Peace. In it Wiseman delves as well into the Hostetler family’s painful history, the strange behavior of Marianne Byler the bishop’s own wife, and Lucy Turner, a non-Amish woman whose life has become inextricably bound to the Amish community through an affair she has had with one of their own.

Wiseman tells the story through the eyes of several characters—Anna, Marianne, Cora (Jacob Hostetler’s mother), Jacob, and Lucy, and so we get lots of perspectives. Even so, I found the characters somewhat flat and one-dimensional.

The book has lots of plot turns and is entertaining enough. Theme-wise, though I felt its message was morally confusing. Marianne Byler takes on the role of credible spiritual advisor and confidante while busy hiding a secret of her own. Later, when she has a change of heart, her generosity seems to serve as a sort of cover-up or justification for her years of wrong-doing. As well, the habits she has formed are of the pathological sort. How she overcomes them almost overnight and with no distress on her part seems unrealistic.

The book is full of Amish-isms (explained in a glossary) so in that way it feels authentic. A collection of recipes (some of the foods mentioned in the book) and a set of discussion questions add value and round out the book’s offering.

Plain Peace is a quick, light read that I’m sure those who enjoy Amish fiction will want to add to their collections.

I received Plain Peace from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for the purpose of writing a review.

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