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I feel like I haven’t posted on here in forever! Well, it’s been about a month, which I think is the longest I’ve gone without posting since I started this blog. At the end of October I was so excited that I only had 11 books (and as many weeks) to finish my 2009 book list.

No, my blogging absence isn’t because I’ve been ferociously reading. And, sadly, neither is it not due to the completion of NaNoWriMo (but congrats to my friend Charlotte who did do it!) I’ve just been busy trying to make (yes, make) all our Christmas presents, plan and execute a 1st birthday party for my little man, and traveling for Thanksgiving.

Throughout the month I felt like I didn’t get much, if any, reading done, but I did!

I finished…

  • Emma (Jane Austen) – Technically, I think I finished this at the end of October, but I feel like it was November since I watched a few Emma adaptations.
  • Arms & the Man (George Bernard Shaw) – Funny. Sometimes laugh out loud funny. It’s a play, so it was a quick read.
  • Sacred Chaos (Tricia Rhodes) – Good. Making the chaos sacred. Much needed.
  • Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Don Whitney) – It’s done, because my class is done.
  • The Measure of a Lady (Deeanne Gist) – A fou-fou read. I needed something to get me through all the nonfiction. It was a less than 24-hour read…it had me sitting in the bathroom “brushing my teeth” after my husband went to bed.

Now I’m reading…

  • God is the Gospel (John Piper) – I started this on the drive to visit my family for Thanksgiving. I don’t think it should take too long. So far it’s simple, digestible, and good.
  • The Journals of Jim Elliot (edited by Elisabeth Elliot) – I thought this would be a pretty quick read given it’s simply journal entries, so far it hasn’t been. Do keep in mind I’ve picked it up all of twice.
  • The Little Prince (Antoine De Saint-Exupery) – Totally forgot I even had this on my list for November. I don’t know if I’ll read it or not this month. We’ll see.

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nightstand

It’s late and I’m tired, but I wanted to post this before I forget. Looking at my read list, I’m kind of surprised at how much reading I got done! Was October really that long?

After finishing Emma last week, I realized I only had 11 books left to read on my book list for the year which means I have to read about a book a week to finish. Unfortunately, but not too unfortunate, I had three books on hold that I picked up at the library today that weren’t on my original list (In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way, and Writing the Breakout Novel). I did have The Day the Falls Stood Still, but returned it when I realized I probably wasn’t going to be able to finish it and couldn’t renew it since there were other holds on it.

This month I finished reading:

I’m still reading:

Next month I plan to read:

I wonder if I’ll be as successful in the coming month as I was this last month!

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When the Soul Mends is the third and final book in the Sisters of the Quilt series by Cindy Woodsmall.WhentheSoulMends_001

Here’s the synopsis:

Rumors and lies left Hannah’s life in tatters; can the truth possibly stitch it back together?

Having fled in disgrace more than two years earlier, Hannah finally has found happiness in the Englischer world, as well as love with Martin Palmer, a man with whom she can safely entrust her heart. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl’s Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her reopens old wounds.

As Hannah encounters former fiancë Paul Waddell, truths unknown to her surface about the events during her absence and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she return to the Plain Life-and perhaps her first love?

I enjoyed When the Soul Mends the most out of this series. More than just the loose ends being tied up, you get to see more character development in Hannah and her relationships. She returns home after a desperate call from her sister, who she finds is suffering mental instability, and is forced to work with her former fiancee, the only one who is able to help Hannah’s sister.

As the story progresses, Hannah comes to know about what happened after she left particularly with Paul, whom she thought deserted her. It’s interesting as Hannah is faced with choices between her old way of life and family with the new life and family she’s made for herself. Even more so as Woodsmall pits her two loves against each other in a battle of character, which makes you wonder why Hannah choose one of them in the first place. One man is revealed to be more shallow and self-absorbed, while the other is humble and faithful.

The ending was very satisfying and, I felt, ended the way it should have albeit a bit predictable, but that’s the genre! If you like Amish fiction I’d definitely recommend the Sisters of the Quilt series as  a read.

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When-the-Morning-Comes_002The Sisters of the Quilt series continues in When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall. Here’s the synopsis:

When the Morning Comes is the sequel and continuation of the best-selling novel When the Heart Cries. Her relationship with fiance Paul Waddell in tatters, Hannah Lapp has fled her secluded Old Order Amish community in hopes of finding a new home in Ohio with her shunned aunt. Hampered by limited education and hiding her true identity, Hannah struggles to navigate the confusing world of the Englischers.

Will the countless opportunities in her new life persuade Hannah that her place is amongst the Englischers or will she give in to her heart’s call to return home and face the past?

It seems to me that the second book in trilogies (or at least Amish trilogies) is little more than a holding pattern for the third book. When the Soul Mends continued right where the first book left off and added a new set of characters, while maintaining the storyline with those introduced in the first book.

When the Morning Comes was good in that it continued the Hannah’s story without missing a beat and kept up with the details that were going on in her community. Where I felt it fell short was with the new characters. Relationships were introduced, but as the reader you didn’t get to see how they developed. I would have liked to see how Hannah got to know her long-lost aunt. Another aspect that seemed inconsistent with the first book was how quickly Hannah became accustomed to and embraced the Englischer ways.

Overall it was a good book for the genre. Definitely a holding place.

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nightstand

This month I finished reading:

I’m still reading:

  • Emma, by Jane Austen (I’ve finally made it over half way! Yeah for me! It is picking up…thanks for all the encouragement to stick with it. I’m enjoying Emma more and more. I watched the Kate Beckinsale version last week and it’s hard to believe there’s still so much book left knowing what part I’m at in the movie.)
  • The Montessori Method, by Maria Montessori (I don’t think I’ve even picked this one up since last month! I have been reading on the prepared environment in a few other Montessori books.)
  • Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Don Whitney (for my Discipleship class with the Seminary Wives Institute at my husband’s school. The author is also a professor at  the school and my husband is taking his class, however Dr. Whitney’s on sabbatical so Joe doesn’t actually have him for a professor. But Dr. Whitney did come and speak to our class, but I was so tired that evening I was having a hard time staying awake! )

Next month I plan to read:

  • When the Morning Comes, by Cindy Woodsmall
  • Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born, by Tina Cassidy (I’m super excited for this one! I first heard about it in my prenatal  Bradley class when we were getting ready for Joey’s birth. I thought I’d have to knock it off my list, because PaperBack Swap nor my old library had it! Good thing I thought to check if the new library had it…I’m picking it up tomorrow from the holds!)
  • Sacred Chaos: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life You Have, by Tricia McCary Rhodes (This is by my pastors wife. I love her! She’s a great writer and has such a heart for the truth. I have definitely been blessed by her teaching and guidance over the last few years.  Her passion is encouraging others to have an intimate relationship with Christ specifically through prayer and contemplation. I actually read half this book when it was first published, but life got busy and I didn’t finish it.)

I wanted to add the The Time Traveler’s Wife (and still do), but I’m having a hard time getting ahold of a copy. Both PaperBack Swap and the library have a long wait list and I’m pretty hestitant to buy a book if I’m not sure I’ll read it more than once.

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on_mondaysI’ve found a new reading carnival that’s not really new, I’ve seen it before, but just never joined in. J. Kaye’s hosts What are you reading? on Mondays.

This week my goal is to make some more progress on Emma. I feel like I’ve been reading it forever…but I’m over the halfway point.

I’m also picking up Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy and When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall this week from the library.

Last week I finished When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall and Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney.

So…what are you reading today?

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It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for Amish fiction. As you can tell, from time to time, I step off the beaten path (aka, my book list 5105oZ3P8ULfor the year) and devour a few Amish fiction novels. For awhile I’ve had When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall on my PaperBack Swap wish list, but decided to see if the library had it instead. I knew it’d be a quick read and it isn’t likely I’ll read it again, and who wants to waste a good PBS credit on a book you can easily get from the library?

Of course, they had it. It’s a good thing they have the whole series, because I read it in one day. It’s one of those quick, refreshing reads you need (or at least I do) between heavier reading. It fits the bill for me.

(I just have to say that my son has been sitting for at least 10 minutes now flipping the pages of his little board books back and forth, over and over again. He’s so quiet that I keep going to check on him thinking he’s getting into something he shouldn’t, but he’s being a good little boy.)

On to the review…

Here’s the synopsis:

Hannah Lapp was born and raised in an Old Order Amish home, without electricity, a telephone, or the right to follow her heart. Without her parents’ knowledge, she’s been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for years. When he asks her to marry him, she accepts, even though to do so will cause her family to avoid her for the rest of her life.

Before Hannah and Paul reveal their relationship, tragedy strikes. In one unwelcome encounter, all that Hannah has known and believed is destroyed and she faces losing everything: her family, her fiancé, and even her faith in God. (from CindyWoodsmall.com)

I enjoyed the book, but what I was surprised at was that the synopsis happens all in the first chapter with a tragedy that progresses throughout the novel.  It’s hard to review the book without being a spoiler. It keeps you hanging on as one bad thing after another is added on to the initial tragedy, which Hannah has to deal with in near secret. As she tries to leave the past and move on in her future life with Paul there is a hindrance at every corner that puts her against her family, community, and faith.

The writing is well-crafted, better than the Sisters of Holmes County series, and the plot keeps you hooked sympathizing with Hannah and her pain as she’s posted closer and closer to being unofficially shunned. I even cried a bit.

What story does is highlight the how living under the law of the Old Order isn’t always the right thing. It’s amazing to see how such a community that is so tight-knit and willing to help others in their time of need is also the same one that with turn and shun a person if they don’t follow the Ordnung or if there is even a hint of suspicion, even their families. They’ll  stick closer to the Ordnung than to family.

It was interesting to see how Woodsmall pitted the letter of the Ordnung against the spirit of Ordnung throughout the novel. In this community of faith little forgiveness is freely given and compassion is replaced with abandonment.

I’m looking forward to reading the next installment of the series, When the Morning Comes.

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