Book Review, Publishing, Stories
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Book Review: Christmas In Apple Ridge

About the Book

Christmas In Apple RidgeExperience the holidays with the Plain folk of Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania, in these touching novellas centered around love, romance, heartache, and restoration from best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall.

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?
 
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?
 
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?

My Rating

4 out of 5

My Review

The Sound of Sleigh Bells

This story was such a delightful read it gave me tingles. It started out a bit slow, but once I got to the heart of it, I couldn’t put it down.

I love and admire the way Cindy dealt with the dark, painful issues of the heart—how we respond to loss and pain, how dark and misty the heart could be and how lost, past events could leave us. I love that the truth about it was raw but spoken with a clear, sound and gentle voice. It couldn’t have been more truthful.

Cindy showed in an amazing way how God could connect two lives, broken in different ways—in body and in heart—to grant healing. Beth and Jonah were two beautifully crafted characters. And adding to the spice of the story of course were Lizzy, Omar, Amos, Kate and Gloria.

Something Jonah said of Beth to Lizzy, caught my attention. “We would have met properly soon enough. By then she’d be past such grief, and we wouldn’t have all the difficulties you’ve put in our path.” Those words rang so true. I was reminded of something important. If we are patient enough with God, our heart desires just might be fulfilled. No matter how good our intentions are, deceit is never the way.

Although the story was short, it didn’t stop Cindy from getting into as much detail as was required to make it a superb story. The characters were well crafted and their personalities properly developed. I’d say Cindy did a marvelous job, and I enjoyed this story immensely.

 

The Christmas Singing

The characters Gideon and Mattie were sweet to follow. I love Mattie’s tender strength and Gideon’s will to sacrifice for the one he loved. It was quite a touching story.

Mattie’s relationship with her mother is what I would consider a model one. It was blessed with love, reality, faith and hope. Though not often mentioned, but their bond was easily noticed.

James and Dorothy were secondary characters, but as small as their part in the story was, they played a major role in swaying Mattie’s decision in the end. They taught a valuable lesson.

I also loved that this story exposed the extent of damage that could be done when truth is kept from the ones we love, even if it is to protect them. Cindy showed this well.

There wasn’t one thing I didn’t like about this story. I found myself trying to decide between the first and second which one of them I preferred, but decided to wait until I had read the third.

 

The Dawn of Christmas

This was my favorite of the three. Probably because of Sadie. I loved that she faced her challenges with such strength and determination, despite community and culture expectations and pressure.

Levi was an interesting character to follow. I was more curious to see how he would react to falling for Sadie, than Sadie him. Although I felt his monologue was not as well developed as Sadie’s, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying his side of the story.

I also love that Beth’s and Jonah’s story were steadily intertwined and brought to a satisfactory finish in this third book of the series. It couldn’t have ended better. And I wish that Mattie’s and Gideon’s story were woven in more. I wonder if Cindy is writing a fourth book so we can hear more of them.

Of the three books, I tasted Christmas more in book two than I did in one, and the least was in three. Nonetheless, all three stories were a wonderful read. None was fast-paced or read that way. As Camy Tang would say, Amish stories ought to be read slowly.

Although I offer this review to the public, it is my opinion and simply that. Many thanks to Water Brook Multnomah for a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the Author

Cindy WoodsmallCINDY WOODSMALL is a New York Times best-selling author with ten works of fiction and one of non-fiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely on national media, including ABC Nightline, the front page of Wall Street Journal, and National Geographic. A mother of three sons, two daughters-in-law and one granddaughter, Cindy lives outside Atlanta with her husband of thirty-five years. You can find Cindy on her website www.cindywoodsmall.com or her Amazon page.

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