Tag Archives: Cindy Woodsmall

Book Review: The Gift of Christmas Past

6 Dec

Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them.

Promises shattered.

Lies spoken.

She was arrested.

He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.

Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire.

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.

Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

 

Cindy Woodsmall is the “New York Times” and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction. She’s been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s “Nightline” and the “Wall Street Journal”. Cindy has won numerous awards and has been finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in Flowery Branch, GA.

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

Find out more about Cindy and Erin at http://www.cindywoodsmall.com.

 

My Impressions:

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law Erin Woodsmall is a departure from the best-selling author’s usual Amish genre. This new venture is a treat! While the setting may be different, this Christmas novella is still filled with the same heart that fans have come to love. My book club is reading this book later this month, and I look forward to a lively discussion.

Hadley and Monroe are just seventeen years old when they fall in love. Vowing to stay together, they are soon ripped apart by false accusations, family pressures, and obstacles stacked against them. Nearly 10 years later, as Hadley is close to reaching her dream of becoming a licensed speech therapist, another unfortunate fire and a hurting little girl throw the two together. But there are a number of past secrets that work to keep them separated yet again.

The authors set up a no-win situation for Monroe and Hadley in their early years. Both characters feel deeply, but their vulnerability, inexperience, and young age work against them. They are trapped by others’ perceptions and prejudices. I felt they were realistically portrayed in the early part of the book. But while Hadley’s character continues to be credible (I really liked her!), I found Monroe naive and immature even as an adult. For someone with many achievements and a great deal of responsibility, his reliance on his parents seems a bit unbelievable. But his character grows up and grew on me. By the end of the book he is a man of convictions and principles. Supporting characters are well-developed, especially Elliott and Trent. The Gift of Christmas Past is no fluffy novella. Serious issues are explored, and I found myself intrigued by the speech problems presented and the plight of at risk teens, especially those in the foster care system. This book is a meaty read without being too heavy — its great strength. In the epilogue, readers find the characters 4 years in the future — and what a great future it is. This one has a happy ending!

The Gift of Christmas Past promises great things for the duo of Cindy and Erin Woodsmall. I look forward to more from the two in the future.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the authors and LitFuse for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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December Book Club Selection — The Gift of Christmas Past

3 Dec

This month, By The Book is reading a book by one of our favorite authors and her daughter-in-law! The Gift of Christmas Past is the collaborative effort by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall. We would love for you to join us!

Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them. 
Promises shattered.  
Lies spoken.
She was arrested.  
He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.
 
Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire. 



Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.



Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written seventeen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction.

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

If you’d like more information or to contact her, you can go to her website: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorcindywoodsmall

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Winter TBR

28 Nov

Although winter is officially a few weeks away, it is never too early to make a list for those long evenings when only a cup of something warm, a cozy chair and afghan, and a good book will do. Here’s my Top 10 Winter TBR — including review books and book club selections. Looks like I have a lot of good reading ahead! For more reading lists for the long winter months, check out The Broke And The Bookish.

 

Top 10 Winter TBR

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert

The Heart Between Us by Lindsey Harrel

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman

In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury

Life on The Porcelain Edge by C. E. Hilbert

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

 

What’s on your winter TBR list?

 

 

If You Liked The Amish of Summer Grove Series . . .

31 Oct

The Amish of Summer Grove series by Cindy Woodsmall was a big hit with my book club. Whether you are a fan of Amish books or are new to the genre, I can recommend the following series. All are great!

The Sister’s of The Quilt series was Cindy Woodsmall‘s debut. As a book club we read it and were hooked on anything by Woodsmall. Here is the blurb from book 1, When The Heart Cries.

Despite being raised in a traditional Old Order Amish family, seventeen-year-old Hannah Lapp desires to break with custom, forgo baptism into the faith, and marry outside the cloistered community. She’s been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for three years, and before returning to college for his senior year, Paul asks Hannah to be his wife. Hannah accepts, aware that her marriage will change her relationship with her family forever.

On the evening of their engagement, tragedy strikes and in one unwelcome encounter, all that Hannah has known and believed is destroyed. As she finds herself entangled in questions that the Old Ways of her people cannot answer, Hannah faces the possibility of losing her place in her family, in her community– and in the heart of the man she loves.

 

Tricia Goyer writes in a variety of genres, but her Big Sky series is one of my favorites. It is unique in Amish fiction, because much of the series is set in an Amish community in Montana. Check out book 1, Beside Still Waters.

Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known. But when her older brother chooses the world’s path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna’s parents move the family to Montana.

Although she is also in her rumschpringe years and not obligated to move, Marianna makes the journey to dutifully help her mother who is expecting another child. Surprisingly, from strangers on the cross-country train ride to the less rigid stance of the new Montana community, many Englisch influences awaken within Marianna—and even her father—the desire to pursue a deeper kind of joy and love for God.

After an accident, Marianna tells her friend Ben a defining story about the Sommer family, and his response further illumines the active relationship God seeks with His followers. In due time, she learns the move from Indiana was not about losing anything, but finding out who God really is. Despite all the shake-ups, Marianna feels a sweet peace, like still waters, in her soul.

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes Amish contemporary and historical fiction. For something a bit different check out her Amish Beginnings series. The first book is Anna’s Crossing.

On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna König reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home–assuming she survives. She’s heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.

Ship’s carpenter Bairn resents the somber people — dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands — who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.

Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing — and the lives of two intrepid people who braved it.

 

What’s your favorite Amish series?

First Line Friday + Giveaway!

13 Oct

Welcome to First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books! I am so excited to join in on the fun! To participate all you have to do is grab the closest book handy, open it to the first page, and share the first line in the comments, then head over to Hoarding Books to find other participating blogs (look for the linky in their post). Easy peasy!

 

I am featuring a contemporary Christmas romance for my first foray into FLF — The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall.

 

To sweeten the experience I am giving away a copy of The Gift of Christmas Past and a copy of Cindy’s final book in the Amish of Summer Grove series, Gathering The Threads! Your first line comment will enter you in the giveaway. The winner will be notified next Thursday (10/19/17).

 

October Book Club Selections

1 Oct

This month my book clubs have very different books on tap. By The Book is reading the final book in Cindy Woodsmall‘s Amish of Summer Grove series, Gathering The Threads. We have been anxious to find out what Skylar and Ariana are going to do about their family situations and whether true love will find them. I have already read it, and I loved it! Page Turners is reading a new-to-us author, Amy Sorrells, and her first book, How Sweet The Sound. I am over half way through, as are others in the group. From the response so far, we will probably be reading more books by this talented author.

What about you? Have you read either of these books? We’d love to know what you thought.

After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family? 
 
Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart.

Wealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.

Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.

Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.

While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.

Book Review: Gathering The Threads

23 Aug

After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family? 
 
Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart.

Gathering the Threads is the third and final novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written seventeen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as the one of the top three most popular authors of Amish fiction.

She’s won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings’ Best Books of the Year. She’s been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Her 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.

If you’d like more information or to contact her, you can go to her website: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorcindywoodsmall.

My Impressions:

My book club will be reading/discussing Gathering The Threads by Cindy Woodsmall in October. We have been anxiously awaiting the final installment in the Amish of Summer Grove series, and I might be a bit sorry that I got the jump on my group. But only a little bit! 😉 Seriously, I was not disappointed in this book. Woodsmall did a great job in concluding this complex story of babies switched at birth and the ensuing emotional upheaval as the truth is revealed twenty years after the fact. As can be imagined, the news has been devastating to all involved and challenged the self-image of the two young women. The situation is further complicated by the fact that one was raised Amish and the other English. A good story is made better by the inclusion of the spiritual journeys all must take. Gathering The Threads is great!

In book 3, Ariana has returned to her Amish home after she was forced to live with her birth parents. She has learned a great deal, but confusion reigns as she reenters a community that agreed that she leave, but is not pleased with the changes that she has undergone. Skylar is threatened by Ariana’s return and works to sabotage Ariana’s position in the family. Both Ariana and Skylar can never go back to the way things were before. Will the two come to find their true home?

The two women who are at the heart of the switched at birth story line could not be more different. It is interesting to ponder what effects nature/nurture have on their personalities. One thing is sure — new experiences and people are sure to influence how one views life and self. Ariana is challenged to examine her blind obedience to authority, while Skylar is confronted with her selfishness. I loved that Woodsmall builds on each woman’s strengths and allows them to deal with their weaknesses. Each woman learns to appreciate both their Amish and English roots. While the switched at birth storyline is intriguing, it is the message of God’s grace and freedom that shines throughout the narrative. More than Ariana and Skylar are freed from bondage — bondage to legalism, self-righteousness, addiction, self.

A wonderful ending to a great series, Gathering The Threads does not disappoint. This one is a recommended read from me. Please note: don’t attempt to read just this book. You must read books one and two. And you are in luck! Book 1 is currently $1.99 for Kindle!

Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)