Monday, May 28, 2012

Review of Following Your Heart

Review of Following Your HeartBook 2 in Fields of Home series

By Jerry Eicher

What an exciting book!   I was so sad when Missing Your Smile ended as I was anxious to find out what was going to happen to Susan Hostetler  and Teresa Long when they returned to Susan's Amish home in Indiana.   I was not disappointed in the book, but was surprised and upset when Deacon Ray banned Teresa from attending the church services or interacting with the Amish community. At least, he didn't say that Anna and Menno Hostetler could not allow her to remain living in their home with her baby son, Samuel.  

Good ole' Thomas comes calling to try to patch things up with Susan, but she refuses to forgive him and sends him packing yet again!  He then hatches a scheme that will cause heartache and trouble for many...he will fix Teresa up with an Amish husband and decided that Yost Byler fits the bill perfectly.  Well, Yost has quite a reputation among the Amish community.  His home is a pig sty and he goes around in dirty clothing. will this turn out?  Deacon Ray loves the idea though and so does Yost!   What will Teresa think?   What will she do?  She is willing to do anything to raise her son among the Amish.   But trouble, trouble, toil and trouble.....James, Deacon Ray's son, decides that he is rather taken with Teresa as well.  His father is furious and forbids them from seeing each other, but will he listen? or will he rebel against his father, the deacon?   

Meanwhile, as many seek and need forgiveness, and some refuse to give it, Menno, Susan's daed, wrestles with his own past and issues.   He is in need of some forgiveness and grace.  I won't reveal more as you simply must read this book yourself to find out whether or not the characters "follow their hearts" or betray their own dreams.    I can hardly wait now for Book 3 in the Fields of Homes series to come out!   I'll be watching for the release of Where Love Grows by Jerry Eicher and I'm sure you will too once you have read these two!  

What did I love about this book?  we got to see some in-depth baptismal instruction and even part of the service.   I love that Jerry's characters are so "real" with true emotions and are not perfect, even as Amish.  Many seem to feel that the Amish are "perfect" people and Jerry proves to us that they are ordinary folks like us.  
What did I not like about the book?   I did not like the deacon and church ministry refusing to allow Teresa to attend the church services.  The Amish are known for their forgiveness and this seemed to show the very opposite to a hurting young woman in need of forgiveness, grace, and love.  I also had many questions when the book ended and I think I know what might happen and can hardly wait to see if I am correct.   

About the Author:
Jerry Eicher is a bestselling Amish fiction author.  He has more than 400,000 in combined sales, including The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah's Heart books, and the Little Valley Series.  He grew up in a traditional Amish home, taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois.   Since that time, he has been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies.  Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.  
Visit Jerry's website: 

I was fortunate to receive a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.  Thank you, Jerry!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Review of Missing Your Smile

Review of Missing Your Smile by Jerry Eicher

Book one in Fields of Home series

Wow!   I love Jerry Eicher's books and this book, Missing Your Smile, is no disappointment!   
Susan Hostetler is all set to marry Amishman, Thomas Stoll, until she catches him with her best friend, Eunice.   She is so upset by this that she leaves the Amish community and flees to a big city, Asbury Park, New Jersey.  Leaving her Indiana Amish home and community is not easy.   She receives numerous letters from her Mamm, telling her that they are all "missing her smile".   
Susan works in a bakery with Laura, who hired her after receiving a glowing recommendation from their mutual friend, Bonnie.   Susan becomes close with Laura's son, Robby, who is like the brother she never had. Susan receives a visit from a young woman, Teresa, who is pregnant and unmarried.  Teresa wants Susan to adopt her baby and raise it in the Amish faith.  Susan feels she is unable to do this, but writes her Mamm to see if any one in the Amish community would be interested in adopting Teresa's baby.   Susan returns home, taking Teresa with her.  Susan's parents are most loving and caring towards Teresa, but trouble is brewing.  How will the bishop and deacons and Amish community react to Teresa?  Will they hold forgiveness in their hearts or turn against this young woman, who is so anxious for her baby to have a better life than she had growing up?
I love the vivid descriptive details in this book.  I almost feel like I'm in Laura's bakery, smelling the coffee and cinnamon rolls.  I feel as though I am actually sitting in the kitchen of Susan's parents' home, smelling the woodstove and breakfast cooking.  What I didn't like about this book: it ended too quickly!   
I highly recommend this book to readers!  Please check it out!   Coming of Following Your Heart, book 2 in Fields of Home series.   

About the Author:

Jerry Eicher was raised in the Amish faith.  He and his wife, Tina, are now practicing Mennonites. Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools.  They make their home in Virginia.   Please see my blogpost, Interview with author, Jerry Eicher, for even more information about him.    You may also want to see his website, for more on him and his writing.
I received a free copy of this book from the author, in exchange for my honest review.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

WINNER!!! Giveaway of Jerry Eicher's Books

WINNER!!!!!  WINNER!!!!!!!!!    WINNER!!!!!
Jerry Eicher's Missing Your Smile and Following Your Heart 
Debbi:  Deborah Spaulding!  
Send me your address on facebook, please, so that I can mail your 2 autographed books to you!!

Author Interview with Jerry Eicher

Interview with Author, Jerry Eicher
Jerry Eicher and wife, Tina Eicher

I am delighted to be able to share an interview with author of Amish fiction, Jerry Eicher, today.   Please see my questions in red and Jerry's reponses in black.   Enjoy!

1.  I see that you were raised in the Amish culture and faith.  Can you share some of your experiences with the readers?
    You grow up somewhat sheltered, which is not that unusual for any dedicated Christian community, I suppose. Our youth group was an absolute delight. Loving, supportive, and an inclusive bunch of people. Both Tina and I have pleasant memories of volleyball games, Wednesday night sewing, ice skating, etc. And riding in buggies.
 2.   You left the Amish faith.  Do you ever attend Amish church services and do you still have contact with your Amish relatives?
    We have contact at funerals primarily, and the occasional visit. My parents received a wedding invitation this summer from dad’s side of the family. They asked us to drive, since dad’s not that well. So I guess we’ll get to attend an Amish wedding for the first time since we left.
3.  I love how your characters seem more "human" than many Amish fiction authors portrayals.  Do you think this is due to the fact that you were raised in the Amish faith? or what would you attribute this to?
    I think you’re right on that point. They are human to me, because I grew around those kind of people.
4.  I see that you taught in Amish and Mennonite schools.   I am a retired teacher and would love to hear about some of your teaching experiences.  I'm sure the readers would also!
    My next book, coming out in June of this year, My Dearest Naomi, chronicles the life of an Amish school teacher. Actually, it’s closely based on my own year of teaching in a Mennonite parochial school in Illinois. Seventeen pupils in one room, all eight grades except for the second, which had no pupils. Loved every minute of it. All for $700.00 a month with room and board. The book is well worth the read. Just saying....
5.   Do you have any pets? 
    The wife and daughters do. Not me....I already have too many things going.
 6.  How did you get started in writing?
    For the sheer whim of it. I tried my hand at fiction in the eighth grade, and received an honorable mention in front of the one room school house.   
7.  What age were you when you started writing?
    I began my serious writing in my forties. A little late, I know. But that’s the way things turned out. 
8.  As a former teacher, can you pick a teacher in your own past who had the most influence on your writing and explain why you chose this teacher?
    That’s an interesting question. I discovered in writing my childhood memoirs, that the teacher I loved the most, I had nothing to write about. And I mean, like nothing. But the teacher I didn’t like took up several pages. I ended up showering him with profuse praise. Strange, but true. The book is due out in Jan. 2013, as “My Amish Childhood.” 
9.  Do you still follow some of the practices of your Amish faith? if so, which ones and why?
    I’m sure we do in more ways then we are aware of. Anything from speaking the Pennsylvania Dutch language at home to retiring at a decent time in the evening. I still can’t believe how one of our children had to have something going almost every night in his teenage years. Quite un-Amish indeed. 
10.   Thank you so much for sharing about yourself and your writing with us today, Jerry.   I personally love your books and am always on the lookout for new ones.  Which is your favorite of your own books and why?  and is there a new book on the horizon?  Inquiring readers (and bloggers) want to know!! 
    You’re very welcome. And of my published books I’d pick “The Fields of Home” series. I loved the community and the people we meet. I became deeply invested in Susan and Teresa’s story. But I do have a sweet love story coming up this Christmas which tops them all, Susanna’s Christmas Wish. It was a story where I served more as a scribe than a writer. 
For a full list of my writings, I keep things up-to-date at There’s a full series planned for both 2013 and 2014. “Emma Raber’s Daughter” and “The Byler Sisters of Lancaster County”.
Thank you so much for sharing with my readers and I today on Rhonda's Doings!, Jerry.  I am currently reading Missing Your Smile and then, Following Your Heart and look forward to posting a review of them here and on,, and    have a great day!   

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Giveaway! Jerry Eicher's Missing Your Smile and Following Your Heart!

Book Giveaway!!  

Jerry Eicher's Missing Your Smile & Following Your Heart 

Enter to win autographed copies of Missing Your Smile and Following Your Heart by Jerry Eicher
To Enter Contest, which begins today, May 17, 2012, leave a comment for me and be sure to leave your email so that I can contact the lucky winner!!!   
Contest ends Thursday, May 24, 1 p.m. EST 
To earn extra entries, share on facebook or twitter and leave me a separate comment that you shared.  
For another chance to win, become a follower of my blog: and leave me a comment that you have done so!  If you're already a follower, let me know and I'll give you an extra chance to win also!   
Missing Your Smile

       When Susan Hostetler has a falling out with her boyfriend, Thomas Stoll, she leaves her Amish home and moves to Asbury Park, New Jersey, to experiment in Englisha life.  There she learns to drive a car, takes her GED test, and dates young and handsome Duane Moran.  Back home,  her parents are devastated and miss their daughter terribly.  But what can they do?  Susan has a mind of her own.

      Just as Susan is enjoying her new life, her plans are interrupted.   She meets Teresa Long, a young, unwed, expectant mother who asks Susan to help her have her baby adopted by an Amish family. 

     As Susan is drawn into the young woman's life, she also finds herself drawn back to her Amish roots.   When her relationship with Duane ends, can her heart truly return to the life she has left behind........and to Thomas, who is waiting for her? 
Book 1 in The Fields of Home Series
Following Your Heart
When Susan Hostetler returns to her Amish community after life in the outside world, she brings trouble with her in the form of her Englisha friend, Teresa Long, and Teresa's newborn, fatherless son.  Teresa has come in hopes of settling with the Amish people and raising her son in the their faith.

Deacon Ray gets wind of the situation and forbids the unwed mother from attending the church services, fearing she will pollute the young people of the community.  But soon Teresa has two suitors among the Amish--Yost Byler, the community's resident bachelor, and Deacon Ray's son, James.

With two Amish men interested in her, Teresa has a decision to make.....and so does Susan.  Will Susan stay in the community and marry Thomas, the sturdy man who proclaims his love for her........or will she also follow her heart?
Book 2 in The Fields of Home Series
One lucky winner will receive autographed copies of both books on Thursday, May 24, 2012!!!    :)
Let's get this party started!!!  Enter to win!!!!! NOW!!! and Share with your friends!  

About the Author: Jerry Eicher 

Jerry Eicher's bestselling Amish fiction (more than 400,000 in combined sales) included The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah's Heart books, and the Little Valley Series.  After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois.   Since then he's been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies.  Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.   (so do fact, Jerry Eicher lives about 45 minutes "down the road a piece from me".)

Visit Jerry's website!!

Remember: to enter giveaway, leave a comment below with your email.   For extra chances, become a follower of my blog (or if you are already are a follower, let me know), share on facebook or twitter, and leave a separate comment telling me what you did.    Contest ends Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 1 p.m. EST.   Names will be drawn by chance.   

Monday, May 7, 2012

Memorial Garden to Mama Dorothy "Dot" Hall

Memorial Garden to my dear mom-in-law, Dorothy Marietta MacDonald Hall, who passed away in August 2011.    

She loved her plants, especially her irises so we dug up some of each color of her specimens from her garden and added them to a special memorial garden in our yard and at our front deck.  We also used the flower boxes that Harry & I made for her to add to our deck and bought flowers (verbena, zonal geraniums, and  a dahlia) from Anderson's Country Market in Madison Heights Va (the owners are Evangeline and John Anderson and they sell locally grown plants)...they also sell delicious Amish/Mennonite products...many from local farms and deli/meats/cheeses/fudge,etc from PA and Ohio Amish country businesses.   

When Mama Hall had to go to Westminister Canterbury this past summer for some rehab, we went every day and took her out for a walk.   We went thru the Nature Trail this particular evening.     I miss her so much!    This is my honey of a hubby, Harry Ross Hall, with his sweet mom.  He was her "baby boy"!   

Harry built this bird feeder for his mom many years ago and she also took great delight in feeding all the critters...birds, squirrels, bunnies, deer (she piled up her apples to make it easy for them to come eat the fallen cute!), and any others she happened we're making sure we feed the animals for her too!  

These are the flower boxes we made for mama Hall Christmas 2005, Harry built them and I painted them for her.    
Getting one of sister-in-law, Diane's, irises...she told Harry to get one of these by her horse barn to add to our garden for mom 

 mama Hall's collection...this is just one small cluster in her garden at her home beside us

This is my mini-rose bush that Harry gave me last year for Mother's Day...all abloom!   love roses!
Put these beautiful bright purple irises on the side of the house too!

Harry added a ramp to our deck and made this space for our memorial garden.

It is looking great with color.  I also added a huge geranium as they are supposed to repel mosquitoes.  I have several geraniums in the flower boxes on deck too

Still have work to do...need some more mulch on it.  I went out and put Epsom salts water on the rose bushes and then added Miracle Grow to everything late tonight.  
zonal geranium & dahlia

zonal geraniums and verbena


My honey bun of a gardener...he wouldn't let me touch them as he was working cause some poison ivy was in with them grass around some of Mama's irises and I break out if I get near to poison ivy!   

This is also a verbena from Anderson's Country Mkt

the window flower boxes we made for Mama Hall and now have on our deck with pretty flowers in her memory

    Verbena, zonal geraniums, and dahliettas were added to the 3 boxes from Anderson's Country Market in Madison Heights VA.  
This is the dahlietta....I love it!  so unusual!
love and miss you, Mama Hall.....we know you are smiling down from heaven at the work we have done with the flowers and birds.   Blue birds are in our blue bird house too!