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Ratings and Book Reviews (3 10 star ratings
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    An incredible Amish novel filled with heartache.

    After Lily Esch disappears everyone connected with the family is heartbroken. I really loved the sensitive way that this subject was dealt with. She is considered an adult and she left a goodbye note for her sister Eva. Therefore the biggest concern is determining how far to go in trying to find her. When should they give up and let her live her life? How much should be done to try and bring her back into the fold of the Amish believers? In the midst of this, Eva and Jed Stutzman meet. Is their meeting God’s direction for their lives? How will they know? They are both dealing with grief. There is an amazing amount of sound advice given and received about this difficult issue as well. It is something that we will all have to face at some point in our lives and I really felt that the information about how to help others going through it was fantastic. The characters are so well written that I connected with them almost immediately. There were a number of sweet gentle people that were easy to love. There were also a few that were overbearing and difficult. It was wonderful to read about how the different personalities interacted with each other. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
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    The Photograph

    The Photograph by Beverly Lewis is one of her stand-alone novels that I have been anticipating reading for quite some time. I’m a huge fan of Beverly’s, and have read almost every single one of her books, so I knew that this novel is one I would enjoy. I wasn’t wrong, and I’m so glad that I didn’t have to wait any longer to finally figure out the story behind the photograph mentioned in both the title and the description. Eva Esch is such a sweet character, just about as sweet as the candies she excels in making. I love her devotion to her sisters, especially after all that has happened, and I really loved watching her endlessly search for Lily after she disappeared. On top of that, she and Jed were the perfect match, so I definitely enjoyed seeing their relationship unfold. Who doesn’t love a good happy ending? Jed Stutzman is completely perfect. I don’t know what could’ve made him any more so. I can’t really describe to you all of the reasons he’s so perfect, but just trust me when I say he is. His kindness, his compassion, know no bounds, and he couldn’t be any more perfect for Eva if he tried. I know, I know, I’ve used the word “perfect” when speaking about Jed far too many times, but I just can’t help it. There’s no better way to describe him. All in all, I really enjoyed this story, and can happily give it four out of five bookshelves. I wish I could give it all five, but it just never really touched my heart quite like I wanted it to, so I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe four and a half, but not all five, possibly just because a lot of the book’s I’ve read over the last few days (other than this one of course) have touched my heart so much I’ve cried at least once while reading them and I was disappointed that this one didn’t cause near the same reaction. No matter the reason, I still did really love this book, and I highly recommend it as one worth trying! (This review is from my blog, spreadinghisgrace.blogspot.com)
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    Lovely novel!

    The Photograph by Beverly Lewis is her latest Amish fiction book. It is 1980 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Eva Esch lives with her sisters Frona and Lily in the family home. Both of their parents have passed away and the farm went to the youngest son, Menno (a pompous blowhard with a big head). Menno has been working the farm since their father passed away, but his family does not live on the farm. Menno has decided to take over the farmhouse and the three sisters cannot stay (can you believe him). Menno said that there would be room for one sister if she would agree to be his wife’s helper with the children (how considerate of him). Eva has helped support the sisters with her candy shop, The Sweet Tooth. Their father added the structure to the house when Eva was a young teenager and showed a gift for making confections. Menno considers it a nice hobby, but told Eva that she cannot expect to do it forever (you just want to slap him). Lily is the youngest sister and she has been acting strangely since their mother passed away. The day after Menno announces he is going to move in, Lily is gone. She left a note stating she does not wish to stay Amish. She is going “fancy” and does not wish to be found. The family wants to find her as well as the bishop. They start sending out letters of inquiry to family and friends. Can they find Lily before it is too late? Jeb is an apprentice buggy maker in Berlin, Ohio. He lost his fiancé, Lydiann a year ago. He had been hoping to take over his Uncle Ervin buggy business when he retired, but things have changes since a new apprentice has arrived. The new apprentice, Perry Hostetler is already a member of the church and has plans to marry. Just the type of person Uncle Ervin wants to leave his business to. Jeb had planned to join the church with his fiancé before their wedding. Uncle Ervin is sending Jeb to Pennsylvania to learn how they make their buggies (just for a week) from Jonas Byler. While on the train, Jeb discovers a copy of Little Women. It has notes in the margins about the book (he likes how thoughtful and insightful they are) as well as a photograph. He finds himself intrigued about the woman who wrote the notes (as well as the photo) and wonders if he will meet her. A couple of days later at an auction, Jeb is pleasantly surprised to meet the woman in the photo, Eva Esch. Jeb and Eva get a chance to spend a little time together before he has to go home. But then he shows her the photograph. Will these two be able to overcome a misunderstanding (as well as a lack of communication)? Who will find Lily and will she be willing to come home? You will just have to read The Photograph to find out. I enjoyed reading The Photograph. It is just a lovely book. It is well-written and makes the book so easy to read (the book just flows beautifully which makes it pleasurable to read). I did get frustrated by the lack of communication between people in the book. Speaking plainly would be so much easier than all the misunderstandings (and confusion). I also could not understand how a father could leave his daughters without a home or any provisions in his will (or even making sure that the brother would always give them a home). The brother who inherited can just walk in and toss them out. To me this seems to go against what we hear about the Amish (how they embrace family). Without these things, though, we would not have the book to read! I give The Photograph 4.5 out of 5 stars. I look forward to reading Beverly Lewis’ next book. I received a complimentary copy of The Photograph from NetGalley and won a copy from the publisher through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are strictly my own.
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