Monday, July 2, 2012

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms

I have been a long time fan of Amish fiction, beginning with Beverly Lewis's books. To this day, it remains one of my favorite genres. I have previously read some of Cindy Woodsmall's books, and The Scent of Cherry Blossoms definitely lives up to my expectations of her writing.

In this novella, we meet Annie Martin, an Old Order Mennonite and Aden Zook, an Old Order Amish man. Annie, one of several children in her family, has a poor relationship with her mother, which ultimately leads to Annie being sent to live with her grandfather in Apple Ridge.  It is there that Annie runs into her old friend, Aden.

Aden's family owns a diner that is dependent on Annie's grandfather for the electricity that is required of all eating establishments, as the Amish are not allowed to have electricity themselves.  When Aden's brother, Roman, is called away to help fix some equipment at their uncle's farm, Annie offers to assist Aden and his family with their diner.

During this time, Aden and Annie re-kindle feelings for each other that they had long ago buried.  Since both had taken vows for their respective religion, it was inappropriate for the two to spend time together and completely unacceptable for them to begin a relationship.  When Annie's grandfather found out about their fondness for each other, he threatened to take away the electricity that was so important to Aden's family.  Annie and Aden must decide between pursuing their relationship despite their families' objections or letting go of their new-found love.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that it examines both Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite faith.  This is definitely a love story, but it also focuses on family relationships.  Annie's relationships with her mother and grandfather develop during this story, as does Aden's relationship with his brother.

Woodsmall writes in such a way as to make it easy to connect with her characters.  When I finish the book, I really feel as though I know these characters.  That makes it much easier for me to get interested in a story.  In this case, I found I couldn't put the book down after a few chapters and finished it easily in an evening.  A highly recommended read for anyone who likes Amish fiction or just a good all-around read.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The One Day Way by Chantel Hobbs

I typically do not enjoy reading nonfiction books, but as someone who has struggled with my weight for several years, I found The One Day Way by Chantel Hobbs to be a very inspiring read. It is very refreshing to hear advice from someone who has been there and has lost the weight herself vs those who have never known what it is to be overweight but think they have all the answers for fixing your problems. During the course of the book, Hobbs reveals pieces of her own story to allow readers to connect with her. Stories of feeling defeated and dwelling on mistakes made in the past are definitely things that I can relate to! Hobbs encourages the reader to forget about mistakes that have been made in the past (that oops from yesterday) and focus on what you can do today and then celebrate your accomplishment. Maybe you only walked for 5 minutes today, but if that's 5 minutes more than you walked yesterday, that's an accomplishment. Celebrate it. Then do it again tomorrow. The main point Hobbs makes sounds too simple to be true, but it really stuck with me. All you have to do is tell yourself that you'll make a simple change for 24 hours. You can do anything for 24 hours. Then the next day you have to get up and do it again for another 24 hours. I also really enjoyed that Hobbs made a point to tell readers to celebrate each and every accomplishment, no matter how small. Overall, if you are someone who has struggled with finding the motivation to lost weight and keep it off, I would highly recommend this book. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

2012 Reading Challenge

Well, after missing my Reading Challenge last year by only a couple books, I decided to give it a go again this year.  Unfortunately, I haven't been blogging much lately.  My goal is to blog more this year and actually reach my goal.  At the moment, I'm only at 15 of 50 books, which means I'm about 9 books behind.  I need to get a move on!  Look for some new blog posts soon!

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Desi has read 15 books toward her goal of 50 books.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner

Just last night I finished Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner.  My overall impression of this book is that it is a great read!  I must admit, though, that it took me awhile to get into the book.  I read the first couple pages when I first got the book in January, but it was hard to stay focused.  I finally made it through the first 5 chapters and pretty much had given up on it.  After a couple of months of putting off trying to finish the book, I finally picked it up yesterday afternoon and made myself sit down and read some more.  I ended up getting so caught up in the story that I finished it around 3:00 a.m. this morning.  I just couldn't put it down!

In the beginning of the book, we are introduced to modern-day Jane whose husband has left her.  I think the reason I had so much trouble getting into the book is because I couldn't connect with that character very well.  She is the owner of an antique shop in Manhattan and has a friend in England, Emma, who shares old books and antiques with Jane.  I was intrigued when I first learned about the mysterious ring that she finds hidden in the spine of an old prayer book.  We follow her as she searches for the origins of the ring and for the strength to rebuild her failing marriage.  The initial few chapters seemed a bit slow while Jane's storyline was being set up.

Then, we are jumped back in time to meet Lucy and sixteenth-century Jane.  Lucy is a seamstress who is commissioned to make dresses for Jane Grey.  Jane is a young girl who is living away from her parents and has just lost the woman who was more of a mother to her than her own mother had ever been.  Lucy and Jane become friends and we learn about the struggles of a young noblewoman vs those of a commoner in the sixteen-century.  Being somewhat of a history buff, I really enjoyed this storyline most of all.

Ms. Meissner alternates the two storylines several times through the course of the book.  By doing so, I was able to learn about the characters (mainly the two Janes) not only in their own storyline, but also in little clues that were mentioned in the other's storyline.  I found this to be a very appealing choice by the author.  It also helped me to make connections between the lives of the two Janes.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  It is somewhat of a love story, but not overly so.  More prominently, I would describe this book's message to be one of self discovery and confidence.  Both Janes learn much about themselves during the course of their stories.  This is the first book that I have read by Ms. Meissner, but I have already put The Shape of Mercy and White Picket Fences on my "to read" list.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reading Challenge

I've decided to partake in a Reading Challenge for 2011!

I am going to start out relatively easy and say my goal 50 books finished on or before December 31, 2011.

So far I have two down and am in the middle of 2 more!  I typically have two books going at once -- one physical book and one audio book.  With any luck, I'll reach the 50 book mark well before my deadline.  If that's the case, I'll up my goal.  We shall see.

I've been trying to figure out how to link to my Goodread account that has a widget for my books read in 2011. I'm not having so much luck with that at the moment...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul

How exciting!  I just finished the first review book I received from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing!  The book is Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book.  It wasn't very long, only 226 pages with relatively large print. The main plot was your basic love story.  Cora and Simon had worked together in the same office for several years but had never really noticed each other.  Then, they unexpectedly run into each other at an out of the way bookstore and circumstances seem to keep throwing them together.

I found the little magical touches that the author added really made the story more enjoyable.  She doesn't create a whole new fanciful world for her characters, but she does toss in just enough magic to help combat the predictability of her plot.

The characters of Cora and Simon were very well constructed.  They were written to be characters that you know from work or from church or the community.  Cora is that woman who is always struggling to find true happiness and overcome a tough past.  Simon is that guy who is so focused on his work that he forgets about the people that come in and out of his life.  I think that everyone can relate to these characters, whether they are like Simon and Cora or just know someone like the characters.  This aspect of the book was really what kept me interested.  Since it was so easy to get invested in the characters, I was eager to see how their story would unfold.

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball is a quick read.  Its light, feel-good message is one that everyone should hear, especially during the stressful time of Christmas.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys whimsical fairy tale-type stories.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just starting out

I've set up this blog to allow me to review all of the great (and maybe not so great) books that I read.  I love to read and this will give me a chance to share my opinions.

Check back soon to see what I've been reading!\