Annie’s Recipe: Review by Susan Scott Ferrell

Annie’s Recipe – Lots of Chaff

Annies RecipeWhen I was given the opportunity to read Lisa Jones Baker’s latest novel, Annie’s Recipe, I was hopeful. I had read one of her Amish novellas earlier, and although it was not my favorite, I had high hopes that perhaps her next Amish endeavor would be better. Although there are a plethora of writers in the Amish genre, it is easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, Annie’s Recipe looks to be more chaff.

I do not write this lightly. I want to be constructive in my review of this book. At the heart of the problem is that it appears the author has not done enough research on the Amish, and her writing, in general, could use some fine-tuning and editing.

Examples of Amish errors: A bridal party is overly concerned about having enough dishes and utensils (the weddings are well-planned and run like clockwork.) The characters were WAY too familiar with one another (especially since they had not seen each other in 10 years – Levi refers to Annie as “my Annie” almost right out of the gate.) Both Annie and Levi are anything but humble (a trademark in the Amish culture.) Levi boasts and Annie has no problem with it…what happened to gelassenheit? In the story, it was a surprise that Levi would be a volunteer firefighter (when the Amish, in real life, volunteer for the local fire departments all the time.) This is just a small sampling.

Examples of a need for more editing: Levi had ‘green flecks in his pupils (not his irises.) There was repeated internal and external dialogue – and by that I mean: A character would think something and then say the exact same thing. Much too repetitive. Word choice was also a problem. The characters were constantly putting their hands in the air, or drawing their hand to their chests, and pressing their lips together. I’m sure the thought was to create more “action” with these words, but it just did not happen. Most frustrating was that Annie giggled throughout – not just a couple of times, but at least 10 within the first third of the novel. It was frustrating because the character wasn’t a very comical character, and yet, with all of this giggling, it made the character seem like she was 12 instead of marrying age.

I was given Annie’s Recipe in exchange for my honest review. I had such high hopes, but was disappointed. Hopefully, Lisa Jones Baker will do more research on the Amish, and hone her craft a bit more, before writing another novel in the Amish genre.


Susan Ferrell and her husband make their home in the Atlanta Metro area. Although Susan struggles with chronic migraine headaches, she stays very busy as a stay-at-home mom to one very precocious little girl. While catching her breath, she feeds her Amishaholic tendencies by reading vast amounts of Amish literature!

The Amish Christmas Kitchen: Review by Susan Scott Ferrell

The Amish Christmas Kitchen – Bittersweet

The amish christmas kitchenIt is always great to get a book that you know, just from the title, will be full of three things: Amish stories, Christmas spirit, and food! On those main points, this collection of novellas does not fail. However, as I dug deeper, I found that not all of the novellas lived up to their full potential.

Kelly Long’s Baking Love on Ice Mountain takes readers back to famed Ice Mountain (for those readers that have been shy about previous books in this series: No worries here.) Long gives readers an endearing story of young widowed Clara Kauffman, who has isolated herself in her little cabin on the mountain – well, she does have a rather precocious little goat, but I digress. Seth Loftuz is not just a friend of Clara’s – he was her husband’s best friend and he promised to marry Clara before his friend died. Clara knows nothing of this arrangement and she’s certainly not going to just marry someone (even when two years have passed.) With the help of a loving community, a cookie bake-off stirs the embers of their friendship.

In Jennifer Beckstrand’s The Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill, readers are once again joined with joyful, cook-wannabe, knitting maniac Anna Helmuth and her gadget-loving, tastebud-less, ever-faithful husband Felty. Anna is back to her matchmaking, and her newest target is her grandson, toothpick extraordinaire Titus. She plans to match him up with the shy, apprehensive (but one amazing baker) Katie Rose, who will be staying with the Helmuths for the next month…as she gets to know her soon-to-be fiancé, Adam Wengerd! Adam is…persnickety. With the help of a goat or two (yes, you read that correctly!), Anna’s hard work just may pay off.

In Lisa Jones Baker’s The Special Christmas Cookie, readers are taken to Arthur, Illinois, where teacher Emma is helping sickly little Amos Troyer, who is learning from home as he awaits a trip to the Mayo Clinic for heart surgery. Emma organizes a fundraiser (adding her own infamous star cookies) to help offset the tremendous amount needed for the surgery. But Amos’s older brother, Jonathan, is not keen to have others help out when he is the head of their family. What will become of Amos? The fundraiser? The friendship between Emma and Jonathan?

I was given The Amish Christmas Kitchen in exchange for my honest review. I was really looking forward to this book, and both Long and Beckstrand delivered. Their characters were well thought-out, engaging, and witty. I found myself wanting to read the next chapter of their characters’ lives. That being said, Baker’s story really fell flat. It was long and laborious, lacking any real depth. Additionally, some phrases and words were so overused that it became bothersome. It is unfortunate that The Amish Christmas Kitchen ended with Baker’s novella, as it left a bitter taste on the book as a whole.


Susan Ferrell and her husband make their home in the Atlanta Metro area. Although Susan struggles with chronic migraine headaches, she stays very busy as a stay-at-home mom to one very precocious little girl. While catching her breath, she feeds her Amishaholic tendencies by reading vast amounts of Amish literature!