About Me

My photo

Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Serials and Scenarios ~ Dale Cramer's Paradise Valley ~ Reviewed

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Paradise Valley
Bethany House (January 1, 2011)
Dale Cramer


Dale Cramer was the second of four children born to a runaway Amishman turned soldier and a south Georgia sharecropper's daughter. His formative years were divided between far-flung military bases, but he inherited his mother's sense of place—

He took on small construction projects at night to help make ends meet— "and to preserve the remainder of my sanity," he says. While building an office in the basement of a communications consultant, a debate over labor/management relations turned into an article on mutualism which found its way into an international business magazine. It was Dale's first published article, and he liked the feel of it. He bought books, studied technique, and began participating in an online writers' forum, writing during the boys' naps and after they went to bed at night. Before long he was publishing short stories in literary magazines and thinking about writing a book.

Three storylines vied for Dale's attention when he finally decided to write a novel. His first two choices were commercially viable secular stories, and a distant third appeared to be some kind of Christian saga about a broken-down biker. The process of determining which novel to write was settled by a remarkable encounter with his youngest son, a lost set of keys, and God. His sense of direction was suddenly clarified. In 1997, Dale began work on Sutter's Cross, which was eventually published in 2003.

His second novel, Bad Ground (July 2004), while it is not autobiographical, contains a great deal of material drawn from his own experience as a construction electrician.

He and his wife and two sons make their home in northern Georgia.


An Amish settlement in Ohio has run afoul of a law requiring their children to attend public school. Caleb Bender and his neighbors are arrested for neglect, with the state ordering the children be placed in an institution. Among them are Caleb's teenage daughter, Rachel, and the boy she has her eye on, Jake Weaver. Romance blooms between the two when Rachel helps Jake escape the childrens home.

Searching for a place to relocate his family where no such laws apply, Caleb learns there's inexpensive land for sale in Mexico, a place called Paradise Valley. Despite rumors of instability in the wake of the Mexican revolution, the Amish community decides this is their answer. And since it was Caleb's idea, he and his family will be the pioneers. They will send for the others once he's established a foothold and assessed the situation.

Caleb's daughters are thrown into turmoil. Rachel doesn't want to leave Jake. Her sister, Emma, who has been courting Levi Mullet, fears her dreams of marriage will be dashed. Miriam has never had a beau and is acutely aware there will be no prospects in Mexico.

Once there, they meet Domingo, a young man and guide who takes a liking to Miriam, something her father would never approve. While Paradise Valley is everything they'd hoped it would be, it isn't long before the bandits start giving them trouble, threatening to upset the fledgling Amish settlement, even putting their lives in danger. Thankfully no one has been harmed so far, anyway.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Paradise Valley, go HERE.

My Review:

I’m not a fan of Amish fiction. I know it’s all the rage in Christian Fiction right now, but, enough already.

That said. I do like Dale Cramer (Bad Ground = very good read) which is the reason I agreed to read and review Paradise Valley. Fortunately, the Amish details share space with plenty of 1920 era Mexican details and these add a whole new layer to an interesting story. Plenty of drama -- bandits, forbidden love, snakes, arrests and children taken from loving parents are some of the themes within this well-written novel. I found it fascinating that this story was based on factual events and is part of Cramer’s heritage. Cramer also writes some breathtaking prose interspersed with the "Jah’s" and the prayer kapps. Amish fiction fans should find much to love, and the rest of us can find a good story within these covers, too.


Ms. Craftsalot said...

Hello Auntie,

I am a fan of some Amish fiction because some authors include history, like placing them in the 1800's or 1950's, but most do take place in today's society, (I am a fan of historical fiction). I am amazed that people, (Amish) can still live like they did back in the 1800's. They have some things going for them, like living off the grid-they don't have to worry about power outages. But I like my electricity among other things.

I have been reading Amish fiction since right before I got married so it's not a new phenomenon to me. I don't like how everyone has jumped on that bandwagon though. I don't read because it's popular, I read because of the authors. Some are good few are great. I have to admit, the wave of people writing Amish stories do catch my eye because of such, but I'm mostly disappointed in what's out there. all that to tell you who I do like: Beverly Lewis, Wanda Brunstetter, (though I'm behind in her books, she's on the good list, Beverly is better).

But my very favorite Amish author is Cindy Woodsmall! Her books are a fast read, (which for me means I can't put it down, and I read them in like three days!) Her stories are riveting. Her characters go through so many struggles at times it seems they will never get a happy life. (Most books I'll read for a couple weeks depending on the story and what I'm up to.) The down side of Cindy is that she only puts out one book a year, but it is so worth the wait!!!

If you'd like to read her first book, my mom has it, so just ask her, saying I suggested it. I have the other 2 in that series, and 2 more from her newest series,( which I'd gladly loan out) and I'm waiting for the last one that comes out in September.

So I just wanted to say hi and that I like your blog. And I may have to give his book a try, since it sounds very interesting. Thanks!

Your Niece,
Amanda :)

Ms. Craftsalot said...

It tells me my comment is too large, but let's me leave it anyway, weird!

And sorry.

Kelly Klepfer said...

Hi Amanda.

Thanks for stopping by. I've read one of Cindy Woodsmall's and agree that she's good. I like historical fiction,too. But I'm at the weird spot where reading for enjoyment is hard because I read so many books and have so many I've agreed to read that just reading for fun is rare. But when I find a book I love it's fabulous.

I read a Memoir a few months ago about a woman who grew up Hutterite which I'd never even heard of...it was pretty fascinating. Have a great day, Amanda. Thanks for dropping in.

Ms. Craftsalot said...

We have some of those colonies near here, but I think most are in South Dakota. I don't know much about them, but Neal has worked with a few. I think men get kicked out sometimes, or they realize there's more to life, I don't remember. But I think they live completely modern. I too may have worked with a woman, but she did not talk about that life or look like one, did not dress conservativley other than jeans and t-shirts, and was a truck driver. Had an interesting life though and looked years older than she actually was. She'd gone through a bunch of stuff some of which included losing 2 children in a house fire, one of special needs. All those different sects are very interesting. Someday I hope to get an opportunity to visit if not Lancaster, Pa, then the Amana colonies in Iowa. Mom said they always wanted to take us but never did. Now that I know more about the Amish and Mennonite, I'm very interested in seeing them. Plus I love that they make a lot of handcrafts, being the crafty person I am, I relate to that.

Take Care!