Welcome! I'm Melissa Gross, a dynamic and interactive teacher and speaker called to lead and encourage Christian women in their walk with the Lord through classes, workshops and retreats incorporating Bible study, devotionals, illustrated Bible journaling, paper crafting and mixed media projects that merge faith and art bringing God’s Word to life so you can find renewed excitement to dive into the Word, use your creative gifts, and apply the Truth as you draw closer to the Lord and serve Him in your everyday life. This site is where I share my everyday adventures, Bible Journaling pages, scrapbook layouts, handmade cards, and other crafty projects, as well as information on my upcoming workshops and events. I also post photos, ramble about books I'm reading, stuff I'm organizing, and other FUN bits & pieces of my wonderful life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Amish Markets, Safe Friendships, A German Soldier & A Dog

Over the past couple of weeks, I've completed four books . . . none of which count toward any of my goals or reading challenges for this year! While I definitely want to focus on those goals and challenges, my main reasons for reading are for enjoyment, entertainment, inspiration/motivation and education, all of which I received from this group of books.


An Amish Market is actually four novellas, each by a different author. I thoroughly enjoyed these easy-to-read love stories. The stories are not related, however each one is set in or around a store or shop located near an Amish community and provides a glimpse into Amish customs and family life. As in many relationships, there's some type of obstacle or misunderstanding which must be overcome for the main characters to find love. I recommend this book for those who enjoy charming love stories and reading about the Amish and their way of life. (I received this book free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.)


I actually won a copy of this next book by leaving a comment on Pamela Havey Lau's post on the womensministry.net blog. A Friend in Me: How to Be a Safe Haven for Other Women is about older women building relationships with and mentoring younger women. The author shares stories from difficult times in her own life: her mother left the family when she was 14-years-old and her brother-in-law and his fiancee were killed in an accident when she was a newlywed. She shares about her need for friendship with other women who would provide a safe place for her to process her feelings and confusion during those times. I thoroughly enjoyed the encouragement to be committed to relationships with younger women, to be non-judgmental and build trust, to talk about faith and forgiveness and vocation and sex and pain and suffering, and to share our own stories to help others.

I have to admit that I only had a vague idea about the book when I won it, however I moved it to the top of my (rather intimidating) to-read pile because mentoring is a topic that I believe is so important. For several years,  I mentored teen girls in my church and encouraged women to build friendships with other women. I believe these types of relationships are so important for us as women. I highly recommend this book! (Pamela Havey Lau also has a free A Friend in Me video series, which you can sign up for on her blog, that I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend as well.)


Robbie and I spent almost 8 hours listening to the audio book of Summer of My German Soldier by Betty Greene. This is an extremely well-written book (and well read by Dale Dickey) set in Arkansas during World War II. The story centers around 12-year-old Patty Ann, who helps a German soldier who runs away from the POW camp near her home. Patty Ann has an abusive father and a mother who is rather distant and self-absorbed, along with a pretty sister who is well-loved by everyone. Ruth, the family's housekeeper and nanny, a black woman, is Patty Ann's only friend until she meets Anton, the German soldier. This is a very interesting story that is well-paced, however we were both disappointed by the anticlimactic ending that did not resolve/wrap-up many of the stories in the book. (Robbie did some research later and discovered that there is a sequel that continues the story.)

There were numerous wonderful quotes in this book, and I admit to pausing the audio to write a few of them down. Here are some favorites:

Ruth tells Patty Ann to "Keep your jubilee in easy reach."

Anton tells Patty Ann the first time they meet: "Genius is the ability to give an adequate response to a great challenge."

Ruth talking about Patty Ann's mom and her self-absorption: "A fruit-bearing tree knows better than to try to look like a young sapling."

Anton, when he gives Patty Ann the ring he received from his grandfather: "The greater the value, the greater the pleasure in giving it."

Anton tells Patty she is "a person of value."


We also listened to the children's book, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, winner of the Newberry medal. This is a great story about a young boy,  Marty, who finds a dog that's been abused by its owner, Judd Travers. Marty hides the dog, but it gets hurt and he ends up working to earn the dog from Judd ... and as unlikely as it seems, along the way, Marty and Judd learn to get along. Marty also discovers that it's often hard to discern right from wrong, that telling one lie often leads to another, and that his actions affect his entire family (his parents & 2 younger sisters). A wonderfully read (3 hour) story that we thoroughly enjoyed.

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

6 comments:

Karen said...

Shiloh is one of my favorite children's books. I've read it many times since it was appropriate for lots of fifth graders. I read The Summer of My German Soldier so many years ago now, I barely remember it. I'm pretty sure I didn't read the sequel. Love the quotes you've shared!

alexa said...

I don't know these and I am always delighted to read book reviews - glimpses into the Amish way of life would be fascinating. I was just think it recently how the role of the Old Chrone or the Wise Woman has faded in our culture.

Sian said...

I haven't read any of these; but like many my age I have been fascinated by the Amish way of life since watching "Witness" all those years ago. I'd like to read this one.

Sandra said...

I've not heard of any of these, I'm a bit out of the loop where books are concerned at the moment, but hoping to change that this year x

Becky said...

Not read any of these books but I do love to read your reviews for some ideas of books to read. The Amish one sounds very much to my taste :)

Susanne said...

Oh those middle two looks very interesting.