Special Guest Isabella Alan – Author of Murder Served Simply (Giveaway too!)

special guest blue

It has been a busy week!
Today I am excited to have Isabella Alan,
also known as Amanda Flower drop by for a visit!

Amanda Flower photo

An Amish Christmas

By Isabella Alan


I love Christmastime. I love the twinkle lights wrapped around bushes and trees outside, the hubbub of shopping for that perfect gift, and the time spent with family friends near and far. So when it came to write the third novel in the Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series, I knew it had to be a Christmas book.

The Amish don’t celebrate many holidays, but they do celebrate Christmas. Just like us English (non-Amish) folks the Amish have Christmas traditions. Their traditions vary from family to family and Amish district to Amish district, but here are some quick facts about an Amish Christmases I’ve learned.

• The Amish don’t have Christmas trees, but they do decorate their homes with pine and greens from the garden.

• The Amish do exchange small gifts at Christmas. Many of these are handmade, but store bought gifts are becoming popular too.

• A favorite Amish Christmas treat is flavored popcorn. Caramel corn is the far and away most popular flavor.

• The day after Christmas, December 26th, is a holiday for some Amish districts and is called “Second Christmas.”

• The one-room schoolhouses will traditionally have a Christmas program for the children’s parents.

• There is no Santa Claus in the Amish world. The focus of Christmas is on the birth of Christ.

Check out Murder, Served Simply to find out how I incorporate these Amish Christmas traditions in the novel while a murderer is on the loose in my tranquil Amish town of Rolling Brook, Ohio.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Isabella


National Bestselling Author Isabella Alan is the pseudonym for Amanda Flower. Amanda Flower, a two time Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.

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Murder, Served Simply:
An Amish Quilt Shop Mystery

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
An Obsidian Mystery (December 2, 2014)
An Imprint of New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451413659
E-Book File Size: 1517 KB


Amish quilt shop owner Angie Braddock has a lot on her plate this Christmas. But things only get worse after someone develops a taste for murder…

Angie’s parents are visiting Rolling Brook for Christmas—but unfortunately, her ex is joining them. Luckily, Angie has no time to dwell on her romantic troubles as she prepares her store, Running Stitch, for the town’s traditional progressive dinner, featuring a sleigh ride stopping at each shop for a different course of the meal.

The meal ends with an Amish-themed Christmas play at the Swiss Valley Hotel and Barn. But the performance is cut short when an actress falls from the scaffolding to her death. After the sheriff suspects foul play, tensions between the Amish and Englisch heat up, as do rivalries among the acting troupe. Now Angie and her quilting circle must stitch together clues before they’re the ones running for cover…


Dollycas’s Thoughts

I love this series more with each new story.

Angie’s parents arriving to spend the holidays was great even though they brought her ex with them and that her mother still expected them to patch things up and have Angie move back to Texas.  But Angie has gotten stronger and made a home and friends in Ohio. One very special friend but will their new relationship be tested by Ryan’s arrival?

Several years ago I was part of a progressive dinner so I loved that part of the story. Sadly we didn’t travel to each stop by sleigh, that would have been so awesome.  In the story it was a great way for Angie’s parents  and Ryan to meet the people of Rolling Brook.

The Amish-themed Christmas play was the catalyst in this story because the actress in the leading role had been Amish and left for the Englisch way of life to follow her dream in New York only to return to star in this play. Could someone from her Amish life have something to do with her death or was it someone from the troupe? Alan takes us down some cold and slippery slopes as we follow the clues with Angie.

The characters a very fleshed out. You can tell the author has taking a lot of time researching and developing them and their personalities. Amish people generally keep to themselves and their orders. We only get to meet them if we visit their shops and farms. Isabella Alan shares their way of life with us in a very identifiable and engaging way. She only brings the Englisch folks to life in a way that the interactions between themselves and with the Amish feel very real and true. Angie goes between both worlds and because of her aunt’s influence she seems very comfortable doing so.

The story had a more serious tone than Murder, Simply Stitched but it was such a fantastic read.  I had a very hard time putting it down even to eat dinner. Trying to relate to a mother whose child leaves a way of life behind. A way of life that basically demands that child be forgotten. Then to have them be so close only to have them die before any chance of communication was possible just ripped my heart apart. It made me want to hug my kids and call them just to tell them I loved them.

There are lighter moments like the way the pets play with each other. The Christmas theme runs throughout the entire story. Angie’s mother takes on the project of decorating Angie’s house for the holidays. You won’t believe what she does but that entire part of the story will have you giggling. There is also a major announcement that sets the readers up for the next installment to this wonderful series.

I am so looking forward to my next visit to Holmes County!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

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Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
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Contest Will End January 2, 2015 at 11:59 PM CST
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and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

34 thoughts on “Special Guest Isabella Alan – Author of Murder Served Simply (Giveaway too!)

  1. I love this series and am really looking forward to reading this new installment. I’m sure life is about to get extremely interesting with Angie’s parents coming to town. Angie is a wonderful character, and I really enjoy the secondary characters too. Thank you for sharing such interesting facts about Amish life as well.

  2. As a person who left behind one lifestyle for a completely different one, I think I will identify in some small way with this story. Thank you for your generosity.

  3. I’ve read the Appleseed series, so I can’t wait to start this series. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

  4. I love Amish fiction. And Isabella Alan is a new author to me. We have a lot of Amish in our county in Kentucky. They operate several country stores, a fabric/dry goods store and one is a butcher.

  5. As a child, it was tradition to have a tangerine and nuts in shells in our stockings (plus some other fun things).
    I need to remind my children that the tradition goes back to when Christmas gifts consisted of (if you were lucky) a rare piece of citrus, some nuts, and maybe one small toy.

  6. I really enjoyed Isabella’s guest post – I knew some of the things that the Amish do for the holidays because of reading Amish romance books but it’s always nice to find out something new. I love the sound of Murder Served Simply – it sounds just like a book I would enjoy and I’ll definitely be checking out this series. Thanks for the post and giveaway!

  7. I live in Ohio, so I see Amish people all the time. I’m close to Holmes Co. actually! It’s so funny to me when people who are from other states have never seen the Amish. This sounds like a good book!

  8. What a wonderful review, Lori. You make me want to rush right over and grab all of the series. Such a sweet cover too!
    We used to do popcorn sting for our tree. And we did the popcorn balls too.

  9. Thank you Lori for the review…well done & I agree! I just love Isabella/Amanda’s books. This series is a delight!

  10. I have raed two books in the series and hope to read this one as well. I always wondered how the Amish celebrated Christmas. When we travel, we often stop to shop in several Amish areas we pass through. Have a taste for Sho0 Fly Pie!

  11. I am not sure what happened to my first post but I will try again… Murder, Served Simply sounds like a great read! I can’t wait to read it.

  12. Looks like another series I’ll have to read! New year – new TBL starting. Thank you for the giveaway!

  13. Thanks for the interesting information on the Amish Christmas. I have the first in this series. Very well done.

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