Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas In Apple Ridge!


{Christmas in Apple Ridge contains three Cindy Woodsmall novellas, The Sound of Sleigh Bells,
The Christmas Singing, and The Dawn of Christmas.}

You know, with all the stereotypes about Amish fiction, I had mixed feelings when I began this collection. Let me tell you, put those stereotypes on hold and prepare to enjoy this book!
Christmas in Apple Ridge really surprised me. The stories are so good, and I enjoyed them so much!

This 500+ page  brought me right into the Christmas spirit with its three tales of miracles and magic.
They are tales of family love, first love, new love and true love.
Each couple's story is genuinely sweet, and each story gently brings out a different theme that is important in relationships.
For example, we see the need for forgiveness, honesty, and intentional communication. We see the delicate balance between appreciating each other's strengths and bolstering them in their human frailties. We see the desire for security in a relationship, and at the same time the inherent risks that come with vulnerability.
We see how blessed human love can can be when it points a person to their Lord and His mercy, and provides a place for them to heal.

These three stories are full of moments when the characters became real to me. They may be Amish, but they are people first, and their struggles and joys rang true.

So whether you are reading Beth and Jonah's story where his wisdom helps her through deep grief and misplaced guilt, or Gideon and Mattie's story as they navigate the unfinished business of a bad break-up and a revelation that could give them both the freedom to love, or even Sadie and Levi's story, of a spirited young man and woman who are *almost* content being single, you are in for a treat!

I can't decide on a favorite, because there are portions of each that made me smile inside and outside, and that touched my heart.

Thank you Blogging for Books program for my copy!

Cindy Woodsmall's 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.
Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest.

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