Every so often I have the privilege of being asked to read books for author friends.
The privilege comes when I get to read a book I really enjoy and then I get to tell others about it.
This time, I want to sing the praises of author Olivia Newport and her new novel, Accidentally Amish.
I used to read Amish fiction, years ago, but I sort of got away from it because I fell into the belief of “you’ve read one, you’ve read ‘em all.” At least that’s how it seemed to me.
But then I saw a copy of the cover of Olivia’s book, and I was intrigued. A novel about a woman who somehow ends up “Accidentally Amish.” Interesting.
Plus, I’d already had the pleasure of reading her previous release, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, so I knew that I enjoyed her writing.
When I got my hands on Accidentally Amish, I was thrilled! It was just what I thought it was going to be– a novel set in contemporary times about a regular woman (Annie) in a contemporary job (software creator) who somehow gets mixed up with the Amish (namely, a handsome Amish man!).
Sounds intriguing, yes?
Oh yes, it was that and SO much more. The story grabbed me from the first page. But here’s the coolest part– and I was unprepared for this– the book jumps back and forth in time, following one Amish family line from the time they came to America to present day, and how it wraps into Annie’s story.
As a history lover, I devoured the historical parts of this novel and found them fascinating. Definitely some of my favorite chapters.
So, in short, this book is for everyone– contemporary romance readers, Amish fiction readers, and historical readers. Basically, everyone on your Christmas list.
And there’s more good news– Accidentally Amish is the first in a new series from Olivia, called the Valley of Choice, so we’ll get to enjoy a continuation of Olivia’s focus on the Amish in today’s America.
Fun Christmas Giveaway– See below for your chance to win a copy of Accidentally Amish from Olivia Newport!!
I asked Olivia if she’d be willing to answer some fun holiday-themed questions, and she sweetly obliged. (Seriously, people, Olivia Newport is such a funny, kind, quick-witted person. I’m lucky to count her among my author friends!)
You can learn so much about someone from their holiday traditions, so enjoy learning a little about Olivia and some of my responses to her traditions.
1. What is your favorite Christmas song/carol and your least favorite?
Olivia: I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas music. I love the carols from the hymnal. “Once in Royal David’s City” is a certain favorite. Least? That would be “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Jennifer: I didn’t think it was possible that there was a Christmas carol I haven’t heard, but I’m not sure I’m familiar with “Once in Royal David’s City.” I’m going to have to rectify that ASAP.
2. What is your favorite holiday treat?
Olivia: That’s a tough one. Over Thanksgiving I was introduced to white chocolate lemon truffles. I may have to learn to make those.
Jennifer: Yummy. Send me the recipe.
3. Favorite holiday movie?
Olivia: It’s a Wonderful Life. I’m a sucker for James Stewart.
Jennifer: I think that movie is a Christmas-viewing requirement.
4. Which ornament on your tree holds the most special meaning for you and why?
Olivia: Does a set of ornaments count? Years ago I cross-stitched a set of symbols of Christmas in gold thread on white fabric—a star, a stable, an angel, a lamb, and so on. Then I set them in little round gold frames. When I bring them out, I’m always surprised at how many I did in one year!
Jennifer: My mom has some ornaments like that on her tree! She taught me to cross-stitch when I was a kid, but I haven’t done it in years. I’m impressed with your ornament-making talents.
5. White lights or colored?
Olivia: White, as of last year when the ancient blinking colored ones gave out.
Jennifer: White are so classic. Always beautiful.
6. Open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Olivia: I’m the one who tries to persuade my adult children that we could exchange gifts on Christmas Eve and all sleep in the next day. They refuse. Will. Not. Budge.
Jennifer: I’m a Christmas morning traditionalist, too.
7. What three items are on your “grown up Christmas list”?
Olivia: I would love some cozy winter boots, a fleece-lined corduroy shirt, and a new computer monitor. (I may or may not have been looking at catalogs lately.)
Jennifer: Seems like you have your list all set. I hope you’ve written your letter to Santa!
8. Do you do holiday baking? If so, what do you usually make?
Olivia: Not much of a baker at any time of the year. My oven is too old and cranky to cooperate, for one thing. But a family tradition is chocolate covered shortbread squares.
Jennifer: I’m gonna need that recipe, too.
9. What is your favorite childhood Christmas memory?
Olivia: It’s a recurring one, actually. We always went to a late Christmas Eve service as a family, and I still remember the wondrous sensation of coming home past midnight knowing it was Christmas! I’ve tried to give my own children that same memory.
Jennifer: That is a very cool memory. I think those sorts of traditions are neat, and what makes each family special.
10. Do you spend as much time on the wrapping as on the gift?
Olivia: Nope. Not even close. I do try to have a variety of papers so that gifts look cheery under the tree.
Jennifer: I’m with you on this one. Why spend tons of money on something that gets trashed as soon as the gift is opened?
**You can connect with Olivia via her website, or follow her on Twitter.
If you’d like to win a copy of Olivia Newport’s Accidentally Amish, leave a comment below answering one of the same holiday questions I asked Olivia. You’ll want to read this book yourself, but it also makes a great Christmas gift!! Good luck! Winner will be announced next week, so check those posts!