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Anything but Plain by Suzanne Woods Fisher Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Anything But Plain

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre: Amish fiction

Release date: October 4, 2022

It’s not easy being the bishop’s daughter, especially for Lydie Stoltzfus. She’s not like other Amish girls, as much as she wishes she were. The only thing she does well is disappoint others. Leaving her family and church seems unbearable, but staying might be worse.

Knowing Lydie is “between” jobs, the local doctor asks her to fill in at the front desk for a few months. To Lydie, this is a boon. It gives her time to figure out how she’s going to say goodbye to her neighbor, Nathan Yoder–the main reason she needs to leave Stoney Ridge. Nathan claims he’s in love with her, but she knows she’s not good enough for him. If in doubt, Nathan’s father reminds her frequently.

As Dok spends time with Lydie, she recognizes symptoms of an uncommon disorder among the Amish. She offers treatment for Lydie. But will it be enough to make her stay? Or has help come too late?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Stoney Ridge and especially Bishop David Stoltzfus’s home is my favorite setting that Suzanne Woods Fisher has penned. While Anything but Plain could be read as a stand-alone, it is sweeter if you have read the preceding books.

Everyone loves Lydie, but having the Bishop’s youngest daughter work for them is another matter. As Edith says, ”Everyone says you’re an accident waiting to happen.” (How can some people be so cruel to others?)

Mammi, David’s widowed mother, comes for a visit. Before long, she informs Lydie, “‘You’re the reason I’m here.’ Mammi smiled. ‘You’re going to be my special project. We are going to fix you.’” Oh, the angst in that household , and not just for Lydie, as Mammi settles in! I love how Fisher weaves that one event into so many subplots.

I was slightly dismayed to find in this book that David himself is not perfect. He has always been such a humble, wise, and godly bishop. To find he has faults was indeed sad. May it be a reminder to all of us that we cannot put church leaders on pedestals. The only one we worship and adore is God. He alone is perfect.

I loved Nathan. He is humble, kind, knowledgeable about his organic farming, and eloquent as well. He is very forgiving, more than most.

One plot twist did throw me for a loop. I did not feel the reader had been properly prepared or armed with enough understanding to receive that twist as plausible.

Still, this is probably my fave Fisher novel so far for the unusual subject matter, (ADHD among the Amish) and the way Fisher deals with it.

I received a copy of the book through Celebrate Lit, and also NetGalley, plus I bought a copy to give away. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“Act first and think later. Lydie’s life in a nutshell.”

“He needed to seek things to be grateful for, something Birdy was always reminding him of. Search for them like a lost coin, she would say, because his mind didn’t naturally go to gratitude.”

“The Lord God did not make a mistake when he made you. Everything about you was ordained from the beginning. You have to start believing that.”

“She had a knack for solving problems, for seeing things he couldn’t see.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! Fisher’s Best Yet!!

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a Christy finalist, a Carol Award winner, a two-time ECPA Book of the Year finalist, and the Publishers Weekly, ECPA, CBA, bestselling author of more than thirty books. Her genres include contemporary and historical romances, Amish romance, and women’s fiction. She and her husband live in a small town in California, where everyone knows everyone else, knows what they are doing and why. Most folks act a little nervous around Suzanne because they usually wind up in one of her novels. She has four grown children and enough grandchildren to keep her young. Visit Suzanne at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

More from Suzanne

Easily Distracted? 8 Strategies to Help Stay Focused 

Anything but Plain is a story about a young Amish woman with undiagnosed ADHD. Lydie Stoltzfus feels like a square peg in a round hole. She just doesn’t fit in and, to make matters worse, she’s the bishop’s daughter. At this point, the only path forward she can see is to leave Stoney Ridge. Leave her church, her friends, her family, her neighbor Nathan Yoder. It’s better to leave, Lydie decides, than to keep disappointing everyone she cares about. I won’t say anymore so that I don’t spoil the story for you.

ADHD is not a common diagnosis among the Amish and many might assume it’s not a real thing. Of course, they’re mistaken. ADHD is a real thing. While I don’t have ADHD, I do have many friends and family members who have been diagnosed. It’s challenging! And something we should all take seriously. Here’s why:

Evidence is mounting that a growing dependence on digital devices could be giving all of us some ADHD-like symptoms. Have you wondered if distractibility is becoming a problem for you? Or has a spouse or child or friend remarked on how often you pick up your phone to check a text message or scroll Instagram? You might remain physically present but your mind has wandered away. For me, the answer is, regrettably, yes.

There’s a recurring phrase in Anything but Plain that comes from an old-fashioned farming term: Walking the beans. Literally, it means weeding by hand. Figuratively, it means paying attention to our priorities. To pull the weeds before they take root.

One of the takeaway lessons of this book is to “walk the beans” of technology’s role in my life. So…I’ve been working on a few strategies. When I practice, I see a difference. Life is calmer. More manageable.

So…I wanted to pass these tips along to you. (If you have little children, these might not work for you. Not when your little ones are awake, anyway.) Hopefully, you’ll find them to be useful, and maybe spark some strategies of your own.

  • Make a plan. I start the day with an index card and write down the day’s priorities. And I check off tasks as I finish them!
  • Go off-line. Create an environment that helps you stay focused. Turn your cell phone to silent. If working on the computer, close your email app. Put yourself in distraction-free mode until you’re accomplished what you need to do
  • Finish one task before moving on to the next. Even little tasks.
  • Distractibility is at its peak during transitions. Build in margin. For example, arrive a few minutes early instead of rushing in a few minutes late.
  • When distractions are high, make tasks smaller and break down your large projects into smaller tasks to help you concentrate and give you a sense of accomplishment and progress.
  • When I’m facing a big task, I’ll break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • Set a deadline for a task. Beat the clock! Use a timer.
  • Rewards! When I beat the clock, I’ll take a break from computer work and pop up to the garden, text a friend, walk the dog. Something that feels good.

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, October 7

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 7

She Lives To Read, October 8

The Write Escape, October 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 9

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 9

Vicky Sluiter, October 9

lakesidelivingsite, October 10

Texas Book-aholic, October 10

Lighthouse-Academy, October 11

Simple Harvest Reads, October 11 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 11

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 12

Inklings and notions, October 12

Southern Gal Loves to Read, October 12

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 13

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 13

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 14

Blogging With Carol, October 14

Elly Gilbert, October 14

deb’s Book Review, October 15

For Him and My Family, October 15

Holly’s Book Corner, October 15

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 16

Jeanette’s Thoughts, October 16

Splashes of Joy, October 16

Empowermoms, October 17

SusanLovesBooks, October 17

Mary Hake, October 17

Bigreadersite, October 18

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 18

Blossoms and Blessings, October 18

Cats in the Cradle Blog, October 19

Pause for Tales, October 19

Spoken from the Heart, October 19

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, October 20

Cover Lover Book Review, October 20

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife, October 20

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/21e05/anything-but-plain-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, NetGalley, Revell

A Season on the Wind by Suzanne Woods Fisher Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: A Season on the Wind

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre: Amish Fiction

Release date: October 5, 2021

Fisher_SeasonOnWind_3D

Ben Zook had only two loves in his life: books and birds. In a stroke of good fortune, he’d stumbled onto a way to cobble together those two loves into a career, writing books about rare birds. He was as free as a bird–until a chase for a rare White-winged Tern takes him to the one place on earth he planned to never return: his Amish home in Stoney Ridge.

Desperate for photographs of the elusive tern, Ben hires a local field guide, Micah Weaver, and boards at Micah’s farm, planning to “bag the bird” and leave Stoney Ridge before anyone recognizes him. But he neglected to plan for Micah’s sister, Penny. One long-ago summer, Penny had introduced Ben to birding, even sharing with him a hidden eagle aerie. That eagle became his spark bird–the one that inspired his lifelong love.

Ben. He was Penny’s spark bird. That was when she knew true love. She’d always hoped Ben would come back to Stoney Ridge. Back to his Amish roots. Back to her. The only problem? Ben has absolutely no memory of Penny.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

Wow! A fiction book with birding as its subject matter!! I am a fan!! Suzanne Woods Fisher pens a most engaging tale of Amish and Englischers hunting both birds and fulfillment in A Season on the Wind. I loved this book on so many levels.

First, it starts with descriptions of birds. It was so hard to not look up the birds’ pictures in my phone app as I went. Each chapter includes a page out of Micah’s bird diary about a different bird: its plumage, nesting and mating habits, and habitat.

Second, personalities and relationships are complex. Nothing is as simple as it seems it should be. Because the novel is written in a non-linear way, we slowly discover the motivations behind Ben’s attitude and life. We also slowly see what makes his cousin Natalie tick. I love the way Woods surprised me more than once with twists well-placed that make perfect sense, yet I hadn’t seen them coming.

Third, a return to some of the characters of Stoney Ridge. The more Amish stories I read, the more I love and respect David Stoltzfus, Bishop of Stoney Ridge. “He was a true Spirit-led leader. Just the right combination of depending on the word of God in Scripture, and the word of God in hearts.” Such wisdom and care for his flock. Then there’s Hank and Edith. This unlikely couple adds so much color and sometimes confusion to their community.

Fourth, I love that Fisher is careful to point out that while the Amish life seems peaceful, it has its share of troubles and heartaches. It’s not their lifestyle that is the panacea for troubles. As Boyd says, it’s about what’s on the inside, not the outer trappings. “Wherever God puts us, he wants us in relationship with him. That’s for everyone, wherever they are. Amish or Englisch or any other label.”

A beautifully complex novel, presenting pain, fear, romance, faith, and ultimately, forgiveness. I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit via Net Galley. I was not required to leave a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent! A Sweet Amish Stoney Ridge Romance with Twists and Birds!! If you like birds at all, don’t miss this one!!

About the Author

With over one million copies sold, Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling, award-winning author of over 30 books, ranging from novels to children’s books to non-fiction. She is a Christy Award finalist, a Carol and Selah award winner, and a two-time finalist for ECPA Book of the Year. She writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. Suzanne lives with her very big family in northern California.

More from Suzanne

Did You Know? 8 Facts about the Christmas Bird Count

1) The year 2021 marks the 122nd National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) which, ironically, wasn’t always about counting live birds.

2) In 1900, the first CBC was launched as an alternative to the traditional Christmas “side hunt.” This holiday tradition encouraged people to go out into the woods on Christmas Day, choose “sides” to team up with and then, in the words of Frank Chapman, “kill everything in fur or feathers that crossed their path – if they could.” The winner was the “side” with the largest pile of dead birds. (Ugh!)

3) Frank Chapman was a prominent ornithologist, conservationist, and writer/editor who published Bird Lore magazine. He led the charge to end to this senseless slaughter and invited his readers to begin a new holiday tradition of counting, rather than shooting, birds.

4) Twenty-seven people participated in 25 counts that first year (in 1900). They counted 90 species of birds.

5) The idea caught on. Big time.

6) During December and January of each year, thousands of Christmas Bird Counts take place across the U.S., Canada, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. The purpose of the CBC is a scientific census—to assess the health of bird populations and help guide conservation action.

7) Each CBC has an established 15-mile diameter circular count area. On a pre-arranged date, registered teams go out (with an assigned volunteer observer) and count the number of birds of each species they can identify within their assigned area. Each count has a volunteer compiler who sums up all of the lists and inputs the total numbers for each species into Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count database.

8) The CBC is the longest-running citizen science project and wildlife survey in the world. In fact, the CBC is considered the gold standard in citizen science.

And you don’t have to be an experienced birdwatcher to participate in the CBC! Bird lovers of all skills are welcomed. Even me! I’m a very enthusiastic amateur.

To learn more about the Christmas Bird Count, or to find a survey near you, go to https://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count

To learn more about Suzanne and the story about the Christmas Bird Count featured in A Season on the Wind, go to http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, October 23

Lighthouse-Academy, October 23

She Lives To Read, October 24

lakesidelivingsite, October 24

Southern Gal Loves to Read, October 24

Artistic Nobody, October 25 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

For Him and My Family, October 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 26

CarpeDiem, October 26

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 26

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 27

Inklings and notions, October 27

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 28

Blogging With Carol, October 28

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 29

Texas Book-aholic, October 29

deb’s Book Review, October 30

Simple Harvest Reads, October 30 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Jeanette’s Thoughts, October 30

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 31

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 1

SusanLovesBooks, November 1

Mary Hake, November 1

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 2

Blossoms and Blessings, November 2

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 3

Splashes of Joy, November 3

Pause for Tales, November 3

By The Book, November 4

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 4

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 5

Spoken from the Heart, November 5

Vicky Sluiter, November 5

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/126b3/a-season-on-the-wind-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, Revell

Two Steps Forward, #3 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

46125028

About the Book

Title: Two Steps Forward

Series: #3 The Deacon’s Family

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Released: February 2020

Genre: Amish Romance

Length: 319 pg

Back and broke in Stoney Ridge, Jimmy Fisher has coasted as long as he could through life on charm, good looks, and deep-set dimples. They always worked just fine for him–until they didn’t. His smile has no effect on the violet-eyed beauty he met at the Bent N’ Dent, the one with that stunning horse. She’s offered him a job, but nothing else.

The last thing Sylvie Schrock King needs around Rising Star Farm is a grown boy working for her, especially her neighbor Edith’s son. The woman holds a serious grudge against Sylvie and her son, and hiring Jimmy Fisher will only fan the flames of Edith’s rancor. But Sylvie is desperate for help on the farm, and Jimmy understands horses like no one else.

While Jimmy’s lazy smile and teasing ways steal Sylvie’s heart, Edith is working on a way to claim her land. Has Sylvie made another terrible mistake? Or is it too late to outfox the fox? More importantly . . . just who is the fox?

Writing with both wit and warmth, Fisher delivers a supremely satisfying conclusion to the popular Deacon’s Family series.

 

My Review

In this heartwarming, soul-searching tale, Suzanne Woods Fisher invites us back to Stoney Ridge. In Two Steps Forward, we see Luke Schrock maturing as a deacon; Izzy still looking for her missing childhood, and Jimmy Fisher returning from Colorado. Unsure of his plans, Jimmy accepts an unexpected offer from widow Sylvie Schrock King to help with her horse and farm.
Sylvie is a very likable character. She is independent, a hard worker, and she will defend and protect those she loves. For her, the question seems to be, is Jimmy worth loving?
I really couldn’t decide how I felt about Jimmy. Fisher drew him in such a way that I liked him, felt sorry for him, but despised and wanted to be done with him.

Two Steps Forward 1


The creek, which divides Sylvie’s property from Edith Fisher Lapp’s, is slowly meandering closer and closer to Edith’s house. Perhaps symbolic of the way Edith’s sphere of influence gets smaller and smaller the more in control of others she tries to be.
Edith is NOT a nice person, but Bishop David Stolzfus gives her lots of room (grace) to be herself. In our time in Stoney Ridge, I have enjoyed watching his people-handling skills, honed by hours of prayer. David is a very patient and wise bishop and is teaching Luke well by example.
While Luke has grown by leaps and bounds, Izzy is still chained to her unfulfilled childhood longings. Will she ever feel that she can move on without the ability to settle her past?

Two Steps Forward 2


Themes include righting wrongs towards others (mending fences); forgiveness (can those already given grace pay it forward)?; protecting those who can’t defend themselves (adoption or fostering). It’s important to take action, realizing by being part of the solution, we can help people, one by one.
Yet, a fourth theme was the importance of a loving father in the home.
I totally enjoyed this story and recommend it. That being said, I wish there had been one less twist at the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and the author through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot and makes me want to stay in Stoney Ridge.

 

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine.

Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living.

Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found online at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com