Winner- The Sound of Sleighbells

I did the Random.org thing and this popped up…

So, off I went to the site to find out who might have won this delightful story (and I just typed out ‘one’ it so I’m guessing that I am sleep-deprived or going senile… or both.  Just thought I’d throw in another freebie for good measure.)

There was quite a bit of anticipation… scroll down to number nine… who might it be… who signed up for it.. let’s see…

Waiting.

Waiting…

Yippee!  Kirstin.  Then, because Kirstin isn’t the kind of name like Chautona where you know that you’re the only one… I had to click on the name to see which one…

So, I snuck over to my dashboard, checked out the name, and what do you know… it’s my friend Kirstin from Kansas!  Yippeedoodle!  So, Kirstin, I’ll be shipping your book sometime this week.  (Gotta make room for more books don’tcha know.

If you didn’t win this time, I do recommend dashing over to Random House’s website and snagging yourself a copy.

Book Review: The Sound of Sleigh Bells *WIN FREE COPY*

Title: The Sound of Sleigh Bells

Author: Cindy Woodsmall

Publisher’s Synopsis: Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancé. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work–including Lizzy’s dry goods store. But she doesn’t know if her bishop will approve of the gorgeous carving or deem it idolatry.

Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking, and after Lizzy hunts down Jonah, the artist, she is all the more determined that Beth meets this man with the hands that create healing art. But it’s not that simple–will Lizzy’s elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work? Will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love–or just more heartbreak?

Oh my word.  What a huge blessing this book was for me.  So much wisdom, such a tender story, even the romance appealed to me in a way that it rarely does.  I felt the heartache of Beth and guessed its source.  I loved how Mrs. Woodsmall managed to show the weaknesses and humanity of the Amish without feeling the need to portray them in an excessively negative light.

It seems that modern Christian fiction likes to romanticize the Amish as though they’ve attained a higher plane of Christian existence where sin is limited to wanting to wear skirts an inch or two longer or shorter than the Bishop likes.  Swinging the pendulum to the other side, other authors try to ignore the beauty within the Amish lifestyle and root out deep evil as though the Pennsylvania or Ohio hillsides are deep dens of Amish iniquity that resemble an inner city in their criminal activity.  Cindy Woodsmall created real people, with real problems, who happen to be Amish.  It was refreshing.

I want to meet these characters– they’re that real to me.  I want to see Jonah’s carvings and cup Beth’s face in my hands and encourage her to heal.  I want to buy one of those carvings to remind me of lessons learned in reading this book.

Buy the book.  Read it.  Then read it again.

And don’t forget to comment– I’ve got a HARDBACK copy to give away thanks to Waterbrook’s generosity.  Not only did they provide the book that I reviewed, but they also provided one for me to give away to my readers.  I’ll be doing a drawing for several of these books on Friday.

Amish Love ~

What’s all the hubbub about Amish fiction? Major media outlets like Time and ABC Nightline are covering it, and authors like Cindy Woodsmall are making the New York Times bestseller list regularly. What makes these books so interesting? Check out the recent ABC Nightline piece about Cindy and her titles When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. It’s an intriguing look at Amish culture and the time Cindy has spent with Amish friends. And don’t forget that Cindy’s new book The Hope of Refuge hits store shelves August 11, and is available for preorder now.

I think Americans who live lives of busyness and business envy the apparent simplicity in a lack of drive to be busy for busynesses sake and who don’t see business as the ultimate goal in life.  It makes me think of that line in Gaskell’s North and South when Margaret says about southern England, “It may be a little less energetic in its pursuit of competitive trade…”  I think that is the difference.  While life isn’t necessarily easier for the Amish (they certainly work harder than anyone I know), it is much less complicated and we crave that.  I just think we have a tendency to romanticize simplicity to mean ease as well as a lack of complication.

I’ve never read anything by Cindy Woodsmall but I can guarantee I’m off to find out more!