Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review on The Christmas singing by Cindy Woodsmall

The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall is “A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country”.  It opens with Mattie, an Old Order Amish woman living in Ohio with her brother and his family, where she runs and operates her own cake shop called “Mattie Cakes” Mattie had come to Ohio from Pennsylvania, to help heal her broken heart as her intended Gideon had broken off their relationship on Christmas 3 years earlier.  After discovering what appears to be unfaithfulness on Gideon’s part, Mattie puts up a wall to keep her broken heart from being hurt again. And so she begins a very safe relationship with a man in Ohio named Sol.  They are comfortable with each other and allow each other their space.  But a tragedy strikes, and this brings Mattie back to Pennsylvania and to Gideon.  As they renew their friendship, and are completely honest with each other the true story comes out and new choices must be made. Love, sacrifice and understanding weave together and bring about things just as they should be.

  My thoughts on this book are that it does deliver a “Romance from the Heart of the Amish Country”. The characters were believable- I could really relate to the scattered character of Mattie, being a creative type myself, I get that. And Gideon was solid as well and I understood why he made the choices he made in the novel. For me, I wished that there would have been a bit more at the end.  I felt that it was a bit abrupt.  I would have loved to have seen one scene in particular with Gideon and Mattie towards the end of the book elongated a bit- I feel it would have helped the reader see a bit more what Gideon and Mattie looked like when they were good together.  Those are just my thoughts though. Overall, an enjoyable read, I just would have liked to have seen a bit more. One nice addition towards the end is that the author includes recipes to the cakes mentioned for the wedding, a nice addition, for sure.

3 stars.

I received this book from Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And the winner is................

I used a random name picker program to choose this winner- I promise that I did not cheat because I love you all.

Drumroll please.....................................................................

Loraine!  Congrats Loraine. She is a friend of mine through our group Christian Fiction Devourers on Goodreads. If you would like to join a wonderful Christian online book group, come and check us out over there. Here's the link- http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/742.Christian_Fiction_Devourers
Enjoy the book Loraine and again congrats! Cheryl

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Giveaway- Wonderland Creek.

All right friends, it's time once again for a giveaway.  It is Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin.( I kept calling it Sugarland Creek before- silly me!) Ok, so for this Giveaway, answer me this question-  What is the toughest job you ever held?  I'm sure that however you felt, was how Alice felt in this book!
Please leave me your email as well. This will run until next week which will be 11/22.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review on Wonderland Creek

Early on with my book reviewing I had to make a decision as to what criteria I would use with my marking system.  I mean to be honest, there are so many great books out there by so many great authors that I could give everyone 5 stars and feel fine about it.  But when I started to pay attention a bit more, I found that there were 2 things that really helped me pick out the 5 star books.  The first was writing that truly transported me to that place created by the author that I just couldn’t wait to get back to so that I could see what those characters were up to and how everything works out.  The second thing was even more impactful, that Christian fiction book that has the power to hit me right where I am and speak a word of truth in my life that actually make me take a look at myself and ask God to help me change something.  Lynn Austin has consistently done that in all of the books that I have read by her and Wonderland Creek is no exception.

Wonderlnd Creek opens with young Alice Grace Ripley, a recently hired librarian from Blue Island Illinois, being unceremoniously dumped by her year- long boyfriend Gordon.  I’m afraid that Alice was expecting a ring soon, not to be “let go”.  And unfortunately, right after being “let go” by Gordon, she is “let go” by her job as well. This novel is set in 1936 so the library where she was working was going through tough times financially as the depression was affecting the whole country. (Sound familiar?) As a result, Alice is left wondering what to do with herself.  From all of her extensive reading, Alice discovers that in the hills of Kentucky, they are in desperate need of books.  She had already been heading  up a book drive at her library for this need and since her aunt and uncle were heading to Kentucky , she decides to hitch a ride with them and deliver the books herself to a little town called Acorn , Kentucky.  She arrives to this very rural, and rustic little town, if you blinked you would miss it, and marches right over to Leslie MacDougal’s house, the resident librarian with whom she had been corresponding about the need for the books.  She rashly decided to come without waiting to see if she was invited, only to discover that “Leslie McDougal” is a “he”, not a “she”.  She is left by her aunt and uncle in this little town for 2 weeks, but that 2 weeks gets extended as she needs to help out with various things such as being a packhorse librarian and traveling a route to the different families of Acorn (who happen to be incredibly divided over a 100 year long feud regarding buried treasure).  She ends up in one scrape after another with having to learn how to exist with no electricity, learning to ride a horse, and oh yeah help with the staging of the fake death of the resident librarian Leslie MacDougal “Mac”.  Life is not boring in Acorn, Kentucky.

The characters in this book are a pleasure to read.  Alice has a lot of growing up to do in terms of engaging in life with others, more that keeping her nose stuck in a book.  As she grows and matures and learns the joy of helping others, loving others, and truly living life with those around you, you can’t help but come to really love this character.  Probably my favorite character is Lillie, a former slave, who really becomes a mentor to Alice, and needs to push Alice several times in her growing process, but her storyline is fascinating to read as it unfolds as well.  Leslie MacDougal or “Mac” is also a lover of books as the local librarian, but has struck that right balance of reading great stories and living a great story.  He is definitely a character that grows on you as well. 

All I can say is it is no wonder that Lynn Austin has won 7 Christy Awards as she writes with truth, humor and a clear moral to love and engage with those that God has brought your way.  I definitely recommend this book for those that love great historical fiction

I was graciously provided a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review of The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy

I’m a multi-tasker. I like to kill the proverbial 2 birds with one stone. And so that is exactly what I did while reading The Baker’s Wife by Erin Healy.  I headed to the gym, jumped on the elliptical and started reading away.  For me it’s a win-win situation, because my body gets that much needed work out in and my mind is otherwise engaged – perfect.  Lest you think that I didn’t really get a great workout while reading this book, I will tell you that because of the intensity of the book, the pacing, really engaging characters, and truly intriguing storyline, I found the pages turning, heart rate up, and an hour and 627 calories burned later, a great workout for sure, not to mention a great and suspenseful read.   As I doubt that you are really interested in my workout habits, let me just say that once again I have found Erin Healy’s writing to be quite captivating by giving her characters such fascinating back stories. She artfully weaves her story together a little at a time till all the pieces come together to produce quite a fascinating and beautifully done story.

   Geoff and Audrey Bofinger are former Pastor and Pastor’s wife stripped of their positions at the local church in Cornucopia, CA, by a man named Jack Mansfield who accused the Pastor of something that he didn’t do. The Pastor and Pastor’s wife turn Into Baker and Baker’s wife as they try to pull their lives together and buy a local bakery in town.   Sadly, Audrey is involved in an auto meets scooter accident that Jack feels has to do with his wife Julie’s disappearance.  The accident scene is filled with lots of blood, but no body.  Jack is convinced that the Bofinger’s, Audrey in particular, have master minded an evil plot that will somehow explain Julie’s disappearance and so he takes matters into his own hands and something snaps as He seeks to bring God’s justice to the Bofingers.

  Audrey is a special character in this story as her remarkable ability to empathize goes beyond a normal person’s extreme empathy.  She is able to relate to people with her extreme sensitivity that can’t be explained except as a special gift from God, she literally feels their pain.  Also in the mix is a character named Diane Hall who is an ex-con with an interesting story of her own as she just happens to show up in Cornucopia right as Julie has disappeared.  As her story comes to light, you can see how the author has woven everyone’s path’s together to meet for a very special and redemptive type story.

  I was definitely drawn into this story. Erin’s style of writing is just lovely to read and she paints such perfect pictures with words.  I have to say she developed a really interesting villain in Jack, one that views himself as the most righteous of righteous and the effects that has on the relationships around him.  Another aspect of the story that I liked was that things weren’t just tied up with a nice bow at the end of the story.  Where there is sin, there are consequences and things take a while to heal, but there was definitely a feeling of hopefulness for the characters that you most cared about.

So, work out done, check, great book read to add to Erin Healy’s other great books check.  Now it’s time to go and raid my kids’ Halloween stash, because that’s the whole point of working out, right?
Excellent read- 4.5 stars.