This was a great collection of short novels/long novellas (about 200 pages each) focusing on a different couple in each novel, but always based in Apple Ridge, so that we can revisit the focus couples throughout the entire collection. This is the first time I've read Cindy Woddsmall's work and it wont be the last. Her stories are easy to read and the focus is not so much on the Amishness of the characters, but on the events, which are far more than just romantic happenings. Her characters are facing deep issues, adjusting their relationship with God and significant others, growing in faith and coming away stronger, better people for not shying away from interpersonal challenges. It was easy to read and keep up with who's who, and I recommend them to you highly.
All I can say is this collection was such a blessing to read! I have never read an Amish book that was so captivating and enthralling from beginning to end. I wasn't sure what to expect since I don't read a lot of books in the Amish category, but I was pleasantly surprised!
The Sound of Sleigh Bells features Beth and Jonah. Beth is a very no-nonsense, business-like woman who was deeply wounded in the past and determined not to let it happen again. Jonah is a damaged soul who learned that God is good no matter what. Can he teach Beth that despite her past, she can open up to love? I loved the message of the book. If you don't let go of your past, you aren't letting in all that God has for you.
The Christmas Singing features Mattie and Gideon. Mattie was heartbroken when Gideon broke up with her on Christmas Eve and has worked hard to hide her heart from anyone who tries to take it. Gideon has lived with a secret illness and brokenness since his break-up with Mattie. Can they get along enough to figure out they still love each other? The message in this book was to trust God with everything. You can't protect everyone, only God can do that.
The Dawn of Christmas was my favorite! Sadie and Levi suffer from the same affliction - aversion to marraige and the other sex. They have both seen or been hurt by someone and are determined never to let it happen again. So, when Sadie finds Levi injured in a field, neither expects anything to happen. Reading their story was amusing. I figured out long before the characters did that they were meant for each other. Can they open their hearts to let in what God has planned for them, or will they turn away out of fear? The message in this story is to not let fear rule your lives.
Overall, this was the most enjoyable Christmas book I've ever read. I would recommend it to anyone who loves reading about the magic of Christmas and the blessings it can bring.
**I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.**
Reading Christmas books always puts me in the mood for the season. I begin to anticipate the season of Advent, Christmas carols, decorating my home, doing a little shopping, holiday baking and rereading the story of Christ's birth.
Christmas in Apple Ridge: Three in One Collection was sent my way via WaterBrook Multnomah. It's a collection of three novels in one and tells the stories of three couples as they discover the true meaning of Christmas and life.
In The Christmas Singing, we meet Mattie and Gideon, childhood sweethearts who were pledges to be married, but just before the wedding, Gideon calls it off and marries another. Mattie, upset, moves away to start a business and be closer to family, only to return a few years later when Gideon finally tells her the reason for the failed engagement and the choices she has to make.
In The Dawn of Christmas, we meet Levi and Sadie. After both parties have experienced great heartache, life literally throws them together. Yet, after both make feeble attempts at staying single, they come to realize that life may have had more in store for them after all.
Overall, each story was a great read and I plan on rereading them again in the future (next Christmas, perhaps). I would recommend them to anyone looking for an easy and truthful holiday read.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review; all opinions are my own.
In the first novella - The Sound of Sleigh Bells - I was immediately drawn in to the story of Beth and Jonah. I liked both of them as characters, and I was rooting for them to get together the whole time. I also liked how they communicated through letters, even though it was kind of strange that neither of them completely knew who they were writing to. I was interested in Beth's past very much, but I did think that it got to be a little drawn out that the reader didn't know for so long what actually happened in Beth's past. I think her development would have been even better if I knew exactly what she was struggling with through at least half of the novella instead of just having it be revealed closer to the end.
Since I have already reviewed The Christmas Singing, I won't rehash it here. You can read that review here.
As for The Dawn of Christmas, I think it was my favorite of the three. I was truly rooting for them to get together throughout the course of the novella - maybe even more than I was rooting for Beth and Jonah in the first one! Sadie was such a realistic character, and even though the reason Levi had "sworn off women" seemed a little far-fetched, I still was sympathetic towards him. The Dawn of Christmas was probably the most humorous of the three as well, which helped to endear it to me.
I also liked how the characters from the first novella were in the second and so on. It was neat seeing these characters "later on" in the story.
For a nice, heartwarming read at Christmas, Christmas in Apple Ridge is a good bet.
Experience 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 planâ€”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?
Let me be honest and put it out there that I am not a Christmas fan. Maybe it's because I work in retail, or because I didn't grow up with a traditional Christmas. But I don't see the point, and it just isn't a special or magical time for me. That being said, despite this omnibus being portrayed as a Christmas novel, I almost didn't want to read it. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that while the stories lead up to and end at Christmas, the novellas did not center solely around the holiday. This factor was my number one reason for absolutely loving this work of fiction.
In the first novella, I had a time of an afternoon laughing at the relationship between Lizzy and Beth. They might as well have been mother and daughter, instead of aunt and niece. But Lizzy's antics and ideas had me hooting with laughter while I eagerly anticipated what would happen with the "Old Man" woodcarver. A very enjoyable way to spend a quiet evening, fast paced, but with developed characters and great back stories.
In the second story, Gideon and Mattie have been at odds for years. Gideon's betrayal still stings, and Mattie is not ready to forgive him. Knowing the truth will not ease her pain, but he has a side to the story he wants to tell. When circumstances force her to return home, she is also forced to come to terms with the past. I felt that these characters just drove each other crazy at some points in the story, but it was also a very enjoyable read.
In the last novel, Sadie catches her beau in a compromising position with her cousin. Angry and unwilling to remain in Apple Ridge, Sadie packs up and heads to Peru on a mission trip. She loves the work and the people there, but home beckons when her parents want her to return and get married. Levi, a neighbor, is also trying to convince his family he does not need a wife, and he and Sadie soon join forces to remain single. The concept of this one also got me laughing at several points, as it is rather humorous how two single people are determined to make it NOT happen.
A lot of laughs and good writing came forth in this omnibus, and I have to say I really enjoyed the entire work immensely.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.