Thursday, December 20, 2012

Not just Christmas in Apple Ridge

As Christmas is just around the corner, I've been indulging a bit more than usual with Christmas stories. So I jumped at the opportunity to read Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall. I had not previously read any of Woodsmall's books so I wasn't quite certain what to expect although I knew they were Amish romances.

Christmas in Apple Ridge is a three in one collection containing The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, and The Dawn of Christmas. While each story stands on its own, as the location for each story is Apple Ridge the characters continue to appear in the subsequent tales. Thus, unlike some stories which leave you hanging as to what happens to the couple, you are provided clues and insights into their married lives as well. Unlike many Amish romances I have ride previously, the characters in these stories were all hesitant to marry, thought they would never marry, and had careers beyond what is typical among the Amish. The career focus of even the ladies, while well-respected in their communities, provided them opportunities atypical of most Apple Ridge residents. These opportunities, the older age of the couples, and the expectations of their community combine to create an enjoyable story.

Although this collection is titled Christmas in Apple Ridge and the climax of each story occurs around Christmas, these stories could be read at any time of the year. Several of the stories take place over several months and mention other holidays such as the Fourth of July. They would be an enjoyable read at any time of the year. Anyone who enjoys Amish fiction or pioneer stories would appreciate this book.

My copy of Christmas in Apple Ridge was provided by WaterBrook Multnomah Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Warm Christmas Story

If you are looking for a short, heart-warming Christmas story to read while you enjoy the lights of the Christmas tree or for someone on your gift list, do we have a book for you. Author Liz Curtis Higgs has written yet another winner set in Scotland in her Christmas novella A Wreath of Snow. However, this time the time period has changed to the Victorian era a la Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

In this brief novel, Higgs includes all of the trimmings of Christmas tied up with the customs of Scotland. However, in her usual style, Higgs also has several surprises up her sleeves which include romance, some mystery, and a good helping of a dysfunctional family. The overall theme of A Wreath of Snow is the importance of forgiveness and honesty. Although a large number of falsehoods and half-truths are utilized to carry the plot of the story along, Higgs definitely emphasizes that honesty is the best policy and shows how lies can effect families for years and generations. Fortunately, once the truth is allowed to emerge, the two main characters, Meg and Gordon, are finally able to act on their feelings toward each other. I'm quite hopeful that the story of Meg and Gordon will be continued in future stories as the reader is definitely left hanging at the end.

A complimentary copy of this e-book was provided by WaterBrook Press in exchange for an honest review.