5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I just finished reading the last of the three books in this collection by Cindy Woodsmall. Since all of the books are centered around Christmas it can start to put you in the mood for the true reason of that season. These books center their activity in Apple Ridge, PA. However they also travel outside this town to bring others into the love of that Amish community. They are stories about men and women whose lives become entangled into a time of love and understanding when they need it the most. Difficult circumstances are dealt with and all the emotions that go with them. Accidents that leave a person crippled not just in body but in spirit. A cheating Fiance found out the day before the wedding and how many didn't believe the truth. Serious life threatening disease that causes a man to pull away from the woman he loves to protect her from the pain of loss. Parents with life threatening diseases. A young business that burns down because of the owners carelessness that causes her whole life to be turned upside down. But it is also about a community in Apple Ridge that pulls together to help, nurture and encourage.
Read about Beth and her Aunt Lizzy and their lives running a successful dry goods store that reaches way beyond their boundaries in Apple Ridge and ends up involving others throughout the books. Aunt Lizzy is about 10 years older then Beth. They share the same names and Lizzy is afraid that Beth is headed into the same direction her life took, never getting married. Beth is extremely talented at running the business and expanding it to other Amish communities in other states as well. But Beth still wears black, the color of mourning, because her fiance was drowned over a year before and she just couldn't get past her loss and her grieving. She finally agrees to go on a road selling trip which she is very good at doing and becomes aware of a man named Jonah who carves beautiful scenes out of wood. She wants to sell his carvings in her and other stores that she is associated with. He was called "old man". Find out how this business relationship grows.
Mattie moves away from her home to start life new in Ohio with her brother and her family. She is very talented at designing and decorating cakes, starts her own shop called Mattie's Cakes then deals with the business burning to the ground. She returns to Apple Ridge and her life takes very interesting turns. Her life continually crosses paths with Gideon. They were to be married but she found him with an Englisher girlfriend and he broke off the relationship with Mattie which is why she moved away to begin with. She assumed it was because of his interest in Englisher girls. But now their lives keep crossing paths. Find out the truth of why Gideon broke off his relationship with Mattie even though he loved her with all his heart.
Then there is the story about Sadie who found her fiance in a shed with her cousin taking many liberties with her the day before they were to be married. It seems only her father really believes she saw what she did as her fiance and cousin speak mountains of lies about what really happened that day in the shed. If the truth came out they would be shunned. She is able to talk the Bishop and elders, due to her father's support, into letting her move away to Ohio to work in a Mennonite store and go on the missionary field to Peru. For four years she is able to hide in this new life but then her family wants her to come home and start new. At the same time in Apple Ridge a young man with a son has his wife take off and move away. His brother,Levi, moves in with him to help him adjust to life without his wife and the raising of his son. This leaves a bitter taste in his brothers mouth about women. The two brothers have a successful business training horses. Levi may not have a sensitivity for women but he sure know horses and how to understand their individual needs to be able to train them thoroughly. See how Levi's life crosses Sadie's life and how they become friends due to their distrust of others. They agree to disagree.
I laughed out loud, so many times, to the point of tears. My sister would just look at me and shake her head. The author has a great way of incorporating humor is such serious situations. I loved it.
Now all these lives are entwined together in the community of Apple Ridge. Read the books. You won't be sorry.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2012
Just to let you know this book is 3 novellas and the first two novellas came out in 2009 and 2011 in hard back and both of them were great. As with all of Cindy's books I already had these two. This book Christmas in Apple Ridge has a new novella The Dawn of Christmas I just has to have it so that I could enjoy the new novella. You are going to fall in love with Sadie and Levi and cheer them both on. I think it was the best of the three. But with all of Cindy's books you are going to find you can't put this book down. The stories and characters are all connected so it will all make since and you will love all three of them.
There are recipes at the end of two of the novellas, and they sound very good!
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2014
~The Sound of Sleigh Bells~
The first novella, The Sound of Sleigh Bells, was a good Amish read. It took a while for me to get into the story; but, once I did, I really enjoyed it. I loved the message of the book and the story of forgiveness. The role "sleigh bells" played in this novella was cute, too. :)
~The Christmas Singing~
I really enjoyed this novella. I loved how Mattie was a baker/cake decorator and owned her own store. I also really liked how Gideon loved Mattie so much he was willing to sacrifie his happiness for what he thought was her better good. Great characters and interesting story.
~The Dawn of Christmas~
I think this one is my favorite of the three novellas. I liked how it started out in the past, and we got to see firsthand what had happened to cause Sadie's breakup, then jumped to the present story. There were a couple scenes with a lot of danger/intense elements, which was great.
This was a great collection of novellas. I don't read a lot of Amish books, but I enjoyed these. I loved how each of the couples from the previous novellas were in the next ones, as I always enjoy finding out what's going on in past characters' lives. If you like this genre, I recommend Christmas In Apple Ridge - it's a good read.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2012
Reading Christmas books is a great way for me to get into the spirit of the season. I recently finished reading Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall. This book included 3 separate novellas in one volume. The titles included are: The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, and The Dawn of Christmas. The first two titles were previously published and the third is brand new. I vaguely remembered reading The Sound of Sleigh Bells, but didn't remember all the details, so I enjoyed reading it again.
Each novella is the story of an Amish couple who faces past hurts and various adversities on their path to love. The Sound of Sleigh Bells is the story of Beth and Jonah. Beth can't let go of a tragedy that haunts her and keeps her from living her life. Jonah is an Amish man that is a talented carver. When Beth discovers his talent, she is captivated, but is he who she thinks he is? The Christmas Singing is the story of Mattie and Gideon. Mattie leaves home to become a cake decorator after Gideon breaks off their engagement. When she returns home unexpectedly after 3 years, she finds Gideon there again and finally discovers what really happened to end their relationship. The Dawn of Christmas is the story of Sadie and Levi. Both have been hurt badly in the past and have difficulties trusting. They forge a friendship and an unlikely alliance, but can it be more than friendship?
These stories are wonderful, heartwarming, and infused with the spirit of Christmas. They are perfect for reading under a quilt next to a fire - with some hot chocolate. :)
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review; all opinions are my own.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2012
Christmas in Apple Ridge is a collection of three novellas: The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, and The Dawn of Christmas by Cindy Woodsmall. The Dawn of Christmas is her new novella and finishes this collection nicely.
I liked the characters in these books and the delicious looking recipes at the end of the second two books. There is always good food in Woodsmall's books and I love that she includes recipes.
I really enjoyed the first book in this collection because the two characters end up writing letters to each other throughout the story. I love it when people write letters, as I used to do the same with my husband before we were married. The Sound of Sleigh Bells was a little bit more difficult for me to get into, but it ended up being a good story. The Christmas Singing is a good light read as is the Dawn of Christmas. Beth Hertzler, Mattie, and, Sadie are fun characters to read about because their lives and problems are real and honest.
I recommend this collection to anyone wanting to read light Christmas stories. (I tried to imagine myself curled up by a warm fire while reading this!)
I will say that I do love Woodsmall's writing, but her novels I enjoy better than her novellas.
Cindy Woodsmall's website has a lot of information on this book and the making of the book collection.
"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. This is my honest opinion of the book."
on March 19, 2014
This is a 3 in 1 book collection about Amish life and Amish people.
In the first story:
This one is mostly about Beth & Jonah, but also has some story on Beth's aunt.
Beth is widowed, young & depressed. Her first husband dies tragically and quite mysteriously. She refuses to talk about the details.
Her family attempts to help her find a new love, but Beth isn't having it.
Beth and her Aunt Lizzy own and run an Amish general store. Through one of Beth's outings to find more items to sale in the store, she sees an exquisite wood carving of Amish children playing in the snow. She is so enthralled by it and wants it, not for the store but to keep for herself. She wants to find out more about the artist and interest in selling his work at her store.
Beth asks for the permission from their bishop (preacher) to sell the items which might fall under the rule of vanity and worship of Amish people which they don't allow.
Lizzy travels back to the store where Beth found the carving to gather info about the artist. He's called "The Old Man" by the man who owns this store, but he's really a young man. His name is Jonah.
Lizzy knows he'd be perfect for Beth so she concocts up a scheme where she keeps in contact with Jonah through snail mail. Jonah believes he's writing Lizzy, and Beth thinks she is writing "The Old Man".
What happens after the lie is revealed?
Will Beth ever let another man into her heart?
Will Lizzy ever find love?
This was my favorite story of the three.
After a disastrous break-up with her boyfriend, Mattie moves to a new town. She moves in with her brother and his family. She does something she's always wanted to do. She opens her own sweets shop. Cakes, cookies, cupcakes. Yum! Her business is very successful.
Then a fire burns her shop to the ground. She loses everything. Her family prods her to go live back home, but she is reluctant because Gideon still lives there.
Gideon still loves Mattie and he never meant to hurt her. He only broke up with her because he found out he had cancer and the future didn't look promising for him or for them. He broke it off will Mattie to set her free from a life living in misery.
While Mattie is in town, Gideon is putting the finishing touches on a house built for a new couple. I won't say who. =)
Gideon is now free of cancer.
They get to know each other all over again, and his secret's unveiled.
What does that mean for Mattie and Gideon?
Sadie saw something she didn't want to see or believe. Her soon-to-be husband embracing another woman, her cousin! She breaks it off with him. They claim she fell off a ladder and he caught her. (Yeah, right.) Her family isn't sure what to believe.
Did he cheat?
Sadie is a rebel, but she also has a good heart. She wants to go back to Peru for another mission camp to help people.
On one of Sadie's late night rebellious horse rides, She finds Levi. He's been thrown off his horse and he's hurt bad. Luckily, Levi carries a cell phone (for work) and she dials 911.
Levi's alright now, but he's in a cast. Sadie starts dropping by to see Levi. They become fast friends. They have a lot in common.
Levi trains horses for a living. He also makes cradles and high chairs. Sadie makes baby dolls, candles, etc.
Soon, she starts sending him packages (dolls) to sell with his items at Beth and Lizzy's general store.
They also have in common that they are both unmarried and their families are pushing them to get married. They are both fed up with it, so they pursue to "date" each other to hush their families up. It works.
Of course, they start to spend more time with each other. You can guess what happens next. =)
Levi does horse trading business with Sadie's ex-boyfriend. When he finds out that Sadie is "dating" Levi, he tells Levi a bunch of lies.
Sadie straightens it out. Go rebel girl.
One thing I REALLY liked about this book is that everything connects. Beth, Jonah, & Lizzy are also in stories two and three. Mattie and Gideon are also in story three. It's a full circle.
(This collection isn't as complicated as I made it out to be! There was a lot going on in three stories. I had a lot to say.)
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.
on January 10, 2014
What a delightful collection of novellas by Cindy Woodsmall! I didn’t realized when I first requested this book, that I had already read the third installment as a stand alone. I was pleasantly surprised that I had the first two books in the collection and could fill in some of the blanks left by reading that last book out of order.
Although I think you could read any one of these novellas as a stand alone, I got a lot of enjoyment from reading them like this. The author weaves the lives of the characters from The Sound of Sleigh Bells into the story of the second book, The Christmas Singing. Both sets of characters are then mentioned and referred to in the third book, The Dawn of Christmas.
All of these stories are told by the POV of the two main characters. Sometimes there is a secondary character who is brought to our attention by having a voice, but it is mostly the two main characters from each novella.
Each story highlights a struggle of some kind – in love. Each woman was hurt or betrayed at some point by the man she loved and afraid of love. She each chooses a different way to deal with it. Beth Hertzler throws herself into working in her aunts dry good store, Mattie moves away to live with her brother and open a specialty cakes shop and Sadie moves away and goes on missions trips.
Although I felt the women had very similar issues, their stories all resolved themselves in completely different ways and the men they ultimately fell in love with were all very different from one another. Each had a different story of redemption and I was surprised that I enjoyed each story so much and didn’t get tired of the repetition.
Of course, each novel is immersed in Amish culture and I am a sucker for good Amish fiction. This was an excellent collection and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves Amish fiction.
Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book by Waterbrook Press for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.
on December 24, 2013
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 Sound of Sleigh Bells, we meet Beth and Jonah. Beth is a business woman, mourning over the loss of her fiancé. Each year, she travels to find Amish goods to sell in the shops her family owns and one trip, she finds a carving that unites her with Jonah. Let the match-making begin! Jonah also has his own story and it’s their grief that brings them together – and together, they overcome and find more than they were looking for.
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.
on November 29, 2013
"Christmas in Apple Ridge" by Cindy Woodsmall is a collection of three novellas taking place in the Amish community of Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania. All three stories, presented in one volume, could easily be read separately but do flow together as you revisit characters from previous stories.
Each novella tells the story of a young Amish woman suffering from the pain of a past broken relationship. The women depicted in each story try to mask this pain from their families by hiding behind their careers. Eventually each character meets up with a new or old love, faces the reality of their past pains and turns a new leaf.
When I first received this book in the mail I was fairly excited. I love Christmas books, and in the past have enjoyed other works of Amish fiction. But this book proved to be a disappointment to me. Each story followed along the same pattern and the depiction of the Amish characters and their lives seemed rather unbelievable to me. There are Mennonite communities, as well as Amish, in the area where I live. Over the years I have known and worked with Mennonite families. I always thought the Amish were more strict in their lifestyle than Mennonites, but the characters presented in this book were not.
A few of the instances that puzzled me: an Amish girl wearing pants, watching T.V. and comparing life feelings with those depicted in movies, text messaging. All of these things surprised me, as well as the personalities of these young ladies. They were all independent career women, in the last story the main character was disrespectful of her father and grandmother. I found this disappointing, especially when you consider how family oriented the Amish are.
With all this said, the Christmas Eve climax of each tale was heartwarming and romantic. It is an easy read, perfect for evenings when you aren't in the mood for anything that is too serious.
You can find more information about Cindy Woodsmall as well as "Christmas in Apple Ridge" HERE.
*I was given a copy of "Christmas in Apple Ridge" by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
on November 28, 2013
Since this is a three-in-one, I'm going to briefly review each novella individually.
The Sound of Sleigh Bells: I thought this novella was really good. It was an interesting read, and I loved that it had a secrecy strand running through it. The secret that Beth carried throughout the better part of the book added depth and built up the story well. It ended up not being quite as dramatic as I had expected--however I over exaggerate things in my head--but I thought it was a real life issue that can be relatable to the guilt felt by many people today. I loved Jonah to death. He was such a cool character with an awesome background. My favorite part was probably that they wrote letters to each other, which I love the idea of!
The Christmas Singing: This was probably the most unique Amish story I've read, hands down. Mattie is a professional cake decorator, who was once in love with Gideon before he brutally dumped her with the misleading belief that he was having an affair. As it turns out, the real story behind his reasons were heartbreaking and made the story so much more deep and real. Loved it!
The Dawn of Christmas: First off, I just need to say that I absolutely love the name Levi. Definitely one of my favorite guy names. Anyway, I thought this novella was very interesting and had a lot of unexpected twists and turns to it. It starts off with Levi getting hurt, and Sadie saving his life by coincidentally finding him. Both characters have scars from the past and an intriguing fear of commitment, that I think most people can identify with on some level. I thought this was really great and well worth the read.
Overall I thought these three novellas were fantastic, and definitely got me in the Christmas mood! Highly recommended! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.