The Fiddler #Review

Growing up, I was always a fan of reading “hand me down” books from my grandmother. I remember being introduced to Beverly Lewis‘ books and falling in love with her style and stories. Lewis’ books are set in Amish Country of Pennsylvania and always have a message threaded within.

The Fiddler, Lewis’ latest book, one in the “Home to Hickory Hollow” series, is no different. The main characters are young adults who are at a cross-roads in their lives, making some difficult choices about what direction to take. One is an Amish man, deciding if the Church is right for him. The other is a concert violinist who is also (secretly) a fiddler. By chance, they meet in a rainstorm and discuss their lives and decisions at hand as if they were old friends.

Photo from Bethany House

This chance encounter takes them down a path of exploration of what is best–to do what their families believe is best or to follow their hearts. Michael takes Amelia back to his hometown, where she is able to reflect on her choices ahead (go on a tour as a concert violinist or do what makes her heart happy–fiddle and teach the love of music). There, Michael is also able to come face-to-face with some tough decisions about his loyalty to the Church and community, as well as his family.

Although the two struggle with their choices, they were able to come together and help out one of Michael’s nieces, a young Amish woman who went “into the world” and fell into a series of bad decisions. Personally, I was touched by their care for her and words of courage. Sometimes it’s easier to see the light in others’ situations when you can’t see the way in your own.

Throughout the story, I was reminded of the choices I made as a young woman. While not all are what others would have wanted for me, I took chances with my heart, and it lead me to the ‘lil family I have today. Stories that allow for me to make a connection are the kind I enjoy best, which is probably why I love reading Lewis’ work.

You can bet that I’ll be waiting for September when the next book in the series, The Bridesmaid, comes out. I have an idea who this is about, but I dare not spoil your reading of the book! 🙂

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Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of “The Fiddler” to review from Bethany House, but my opinions are 100% my own. You can order your own copy through them or any local booksellers.

#BHBC Review: “You Have No Idea” #spon

One of the things I often wonder is, “How would my life have been different if I would have just…” (listened to my mom?). Sure, some things would have been a lot different, but maybe some things turned out the way they did because I chose not to listen.

Helen and Vanessa Williams (from BlogHer)

One of my childhood idols, Vanessa Williams, and her mother, Helen Williams, teamed up to write “You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other)”. The two tag-team Vanessa’ biography…Helen sprinkles in the advice that she gave Vanessa, and Vanessa gives her take on what the life moments around that advice. From as simple as not riding with someone else on the back of her bike to not posing nude, they tell it all.

While I am not normally one for biographies/memoirs, I have to tell you, “You Have No Idea” had me captivated from the beginning. As a child, I loved singing along to “Save the Best for Last” and “Colors of the Wind”, and we all know the story about the photos that ended her reign as Miss America. But, there are so many things I didn’t know about Vanessa, like that she has four children and was married twice (Rick Fox was one of her husbands). Oh, and Vanessa and I connect on a level–traveling with a breast pump and no baby. You’ll have to read the book to hear about the time she was in an airport and got called out by security…oh, do I know the feeling! Vanessa and Helen each gave their own side of the story (there’s always two sides, right?) and this makes the biography feel light–something I appreciate.

Helen and Vanessa write about the pageants, the music, the Broadway dream. Through it all, the theme of surviving what life hands you sticks out. While reading Vanessa’s story and hearing Helen’s advice, I laughed, I cried, and most of all, it made me connect with my past on another level. I can look back at things my mom has told me and say, “Oh! She was so right”…and it makes me think of things that I will have to tell my daughter.

This book was a fun read, and I highly recommend you pick up a copy of it. It is almost Mother’s Day, after all, so perhaps pick up a copy for your own mom and pen a note about some of the advice she gave you in life.

Want to join in on the fun that BlogHer is having around the release of “You Have No Idea”? Head over to their Book Club page. You’ll be able to hear more about the book, and join in the discussions, and even read an excerpt from Chapter One. There will be a new question each week, and I encourage you to share your thoughts. The first question will be, “Did you follow your mother’s rules? Did you listen to her advice?“. So what are you waiting for? Go share!

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Disclosure: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

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