Monday, November 4, 2013

Christmas in Apple Ridge Collection: The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, The Dawn of Christmas

 Paperback: 576 pages Publisher: WaterBrook Press; d edition (October 9, 2012) Language: English ISBN-10: 0307730999

The Sound of Sleigh Bells

Beth Hertzler is unable to let go of a past tragedy, but when she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds. Determined that her niece meet the gifted artist, her aunt tracks him down, but it’s not that simple – will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love?

This was a very sweet Christmas story that held so much, despite its length. It was charming, well wrote and did not dwell too long with describing scenes which, in my opinion, made the book even more enjoyable.  The book had a good plot with lots of fascinating details that moved it along quickly and left you wanting more. The characters were well developed and likable.This book had a wonderful theme of family, friendship and overcoming hurt by relying on God. What I really liked about this book is how Cindy manages to capture the Amish spirit of hard working, God-fearing, devote people while portraying real emotions and struggles that are relateable. The book is well crafted and easily recommendable to book lovers everywhere.

Amazon Review

The Christmas Singing 

Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Brokenhearted, Mattie moves away and pursues her longtime dream of becoming a cake decorator, and even finds a new beau. But when Mattie is forced to return home three years later, will learning the truth behind Gideon’s rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

Cindy does not disappoint in ths book. As always she lets us get a glimpse into the challenges of Amish life and how the fear of what others might think about a situation cross all people alike. We all suffer from  pain, rejection, loneliness, and guilt at mistakes made by us and others. This was a heart warming romance that defies obstacles and shows the love and grace of God and His people. Although this book takes place around Christmas, it really is more about the people in the story than the season. The real theme or message of this story is all about being truthful, no matter what the circumstances. I found this book to be charming and although a quick read it was not lacking in emotional depth. 

Even if you don't particularly enjoy Amish romance, I believe that you would enjoy this short glimpse into the life of Mattie and Gideon and their unique and loveable story.

The Dawn of Christmas

Sadie enjoys her freedom away from home and her mission trips to Peru, but after four years, her Old Order Amish family insists it’s time to come home and settle down. Levi, a bachelor who distrusts women after a family heartbreak, also has no desire for romance. To keep their families from meddling in their lives, Sadie and Levi devise a plan—but soon discover that the walls around their hearts are breaking down. Can they let go of their prejudices, learn to trust each other, and embrace a future together?

The Dawn of Christmas is a novella, so it is a pretty short read and can be read in a couple of hours easily. When you go out to choose Christmas stories to read for the coming season,you need to place this one on your list of book to get. This was a delightful story of love thrown together and the fear of new relationships after past hurts and betrayals. I loved the combination that Cindy out together in the main characters, both distrusting of the opposite sex, yet both drawn to each other. Funny, heartfelt and engaging book.
I can easily give this novella set 5 stars with no problems. Each story stands easily on its own or in conjunction. Short and sweet reads that are still in-depth and inspiring on their own accord.
About the Author: 

Cindy WoodsmallCindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written a dozen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as the second most popular author of Amish fiction, following Beverly Lewis.

She's a veteran homeschool mom who no longer holds that position. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

She's won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer's Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings' Best Books of the Year. She's been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Though she didn't realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and cape dresses. Her parents didn't allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy's house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them--afraid that if they didn't, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann's because her family didn't own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults' disapproval and the obstacles in each other's lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy's family moved to another region of the US.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children. Over the years Cindy has continued to make wonderful friendships with those inside the Amish and Mennonite communities--from the most conservative ones to the most liberal.

Disclaimer: “I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah blogging for books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55"
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