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Category Archives: Book Reviews

I am very excited to have finished the last book in the Amish of Summer Grove series. It is a well-written fantastic story. To be honest, I want to get to my review quickly, so I won’t delay!

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Gathering the threads by Cindy Woodsmall

This is the third and final book of the series. Ariana has returned to the Old Order Amish that she grew-up and loving. She finds herself feeling confused and uncertain of where she belongs. Skylar is also found struggling a bit figuring out how she fits in with the Brenneman family.

This book ties the entire series together and pulls everything into a wonderful ending. Woodsmall’s characters continue to grow. I grew to love all of them. I loved where they ended and the path we took along the way.  The book is a coming age of sorts as both Skylar and Ariana must find thier path and define who they are.

This book is a Christian novel. There are multiple references to God. The story is so much more than a Christian Amish novel. It evaluates what it means to be a family and how to be true to yourself and honor God at the same time. There are many underlying Christian themes such as honesty, forgiveness, and love.

I honestly did not find anything negatives about this book. It was an absolute delite to read and a fitting conclusion to the series.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Amish or Christian novels. I also would recommend this to anyone who enjoys stories about family relationships. This book is an innocent story with no sexual contexts. There is the mention of past drug use and smoking. I would recommend this book to young adults.

On a scale of 1-5 book ends, I give this book a 5 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I did receive this book free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

If you’d like to pre-order this book, click HERE. You can also pre-order it from Amazon.

What are you reading? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share a link to one of your recent book review.


Hello my friends! Sorry I’m posting a lot today. I’m trying to get caught and/or stay caught up on my posts. The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy. Today was a bit more relaxed which is why I was able to finish up a book. We also ran a few items to Good-will and played some video games. Overall, a pretty good day!

I finished reading The Tea Planter’s Wife today and here is my review.

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The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

Gwendolyn Hooper is a young, newly married woman who moved from London to Ceylon. Life in Ceylon is not at all what she expected. Her husband becomes distant, neighbors are difficult and the workers are resentful. She also quickly discovers her husband has a secret and he’s not willing to share it with her.

Jefferies does a great job of setting the stage and describing the environment of 1920’s Ceylon. She writes a rich story with themes of love, distrust, and prejudice. She tackled each of these topics while weaving a story with many twists and turns. This story does a good job of demonstrating how not being open with a spouse can lead to loss and poor decisions.

The cons of this story are a few. I had a hard time connecting with the main character. I found her immature and without much depth. In fact, I found many of the characters to be shallow. I believe the story would help flesh out the characters more. However, there were very little growth in the characters despite significant life circumstances. Her characters had wonderful opportunity to be fleshed out. I feel like the story would’ve been better if only one of the social issues/themes. This could provide more room to flesh out the character potentially. The lack of fleshed out characters and multitude of issues addressed in the book makes the book seem very long.

Overall I felt this book was just OK. Its not great, and probably wouldn’t come up in conversation for me to recommend.

On a scale of 1 to 5 bookends, I give this book a 3.

This book is not good for teenagers or younger as there are sexual scenes in the book. Although not completely explicit but they are written in the story.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher for an honest review.


Hello my friends! This summer has been flying by here in my house. I and the littles have gone on several fun adventures. I need to sit down at some point and share those with you all. All of the extra fun the last several weeks have decreased my time for reading. This is for a good cause of course, making memories with my littles.

None the less, I did finish the second book in the Amish of Summer Grove series. And what a great book it is! Here is my review.

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Fraying at the Edge by Cindy Woodsmall

This is the second book in Woodsmall’s Amish of Summer Grove series. This book continues with Skylar and Ariana’s switched at birth story. Skylar a typical college student in the English world with a drug addiction finds herself in an Amish family that she doesn’t want or need. Ariana an Old Order Amish girl who loves her Amish life and has plans to marry Rudy is now forced to live in a world that goes against her morals. Both girls count down the days of returning to their old loves while struggling to get through each day. God is working in both their lives and in the end, they must choose which home is truly home.

This book is superbly written. It examines the pressures both girls face living in different worlds. Woodsmall does a wonderful job bouncing back and forth between the Amish and Englisch worlds. This seamless transition makes the story a quick and enjoyable read. Each girl has different struggles and I enjoyed reading the perspectives of each one as they adjusted to their lives.

This book not only looks at the differences between the two worlds, but it also briefly looks at drug dependence. Skylar  is a drug addict and she is determined to get her drugs to help her feel better. It does talk about the feeling she gets when she uses. The character’s in the book have tremendous strength when confronting her about her addiction. To quote the book, “Decide that you, your family, your future are worth more than these stupid pills!”

This book is a Christian novel and it does a wonderful job weaving scripture and Christian themes into the book. Not only does it focus on the Amish viewpoint, but it also points out how others view Christianity. Through Nicholas we see debates and conversation on how Christians can be viewed. This is a good way to help us as the readers begin to evaluate how we could answer some of these very same questions.

I try to provide some cons to books. Its hard with this book to find something. Woodsmall’s talent and experience in writing is evident. The one thing, I think I would change is when Skylar saw her parents again after 3 months living with the Amish. I feel like this was rushed maybe or just didn’t go as I pictured. There was a lot of hurt from Skylar and although she stated it and the parents acknowledged it, it just seemed rushed. I don’t know. Just something about it didn’t seem 100% right. It was still quite good though.

Overall, this was a solid Christian book taking the atypical story one more step further. I look forward to reading book 3! Book 3 is now available for pre -order.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookends.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Amish stories and Christian novels. There is mention of drug use and addiction so I would recommend this book for 17 and older and/or with caution in younger ages.

Disclaimer: I did receive a copy of this book from the publisher for free in anticipation for the Book 3 launch.

What are you reading now? I’d love to hear about it. If you have a recent book you’d like to recommend, leave a link to your review in the comments.


Its a long weekend for the Fourth of July! Since I work part-time, I’m blessed with a 4-day weekend. We’ve used our time for both some obligatory things- grocery shopping, birthday planning, etc- and some leisure time- mostly reading and playing video games with the kids.

This weekend I finished a fantastic book. Here’s the review:

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Ties That Bind by Cindy Woodsmall

Woodsmall tells a switched at birth story with a twist. What would happen if an Amish baby was switched with an Englisch baby? In this story, Ariana’s and Skylar are now in their 20’s and found out they were accidentally switched at birth. This is the first of three books.

This book takes Amish books to another level. This book contains a sweet love story and takes you into the Amish world. But it takes you to another level. It tells the story of complex characters and relationships. This book introduces the complexities in both the Amish and Englisch worlds. The characters are far from perfect. This story introduces some of the flaws in both worlds. The first in the series, Woodsmall focuses mainly on Ariana’s part of the story while introducing Skylar and her family later in the story.

As I read this story, it was easy for me to connect with the characters for different reasons. I could connect to Ariana’s drive and need to protect her family. She loves and embraces the Amish life. She has been protected from the downsides of Amish life and is somewhat naive to the issues within the community. I can connect to this love and passion for her family. Her goal driven attitude and the desire to fix things for everyone. Skylar is faced with failure in college and an uncertain future. She brought me back to life as a freshman and my own struggles. As a parent I could connect to both Ariana’s parents and her sister.

Not only are the characters and their situations relatable (to an extant- I wasn’t switched at birth), but the story is rich and full of detail without feeling long and congested. Woodsmall expertly provides enough detail to help you feel like you’re in the story. The story isn’t a straight lined book, girl is switched at birth and reunited with biological family and happily ever after. It is instead filled with twists and turns which truly make this book a page-turner.

This is a Christian book and there are many Christian themes folded into the story. The book stresses the importance of forgiveness, accepting God’s Grace, and recognizes the legalism which at times plagues the Christian world.

The really own downfall to this book, if you can call it a downfall, is the ending. She left the readers and Ariana in an unfortunate situation. I do own and will very soon be reading the second book. As I must find out what will become of the girls.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookends.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves Christian or Amish books. This book is beautifully written without any inappropriate language or sexual situations. There is mention of Drug and alcohol use. But it is minimal. I would say it would be appropriate for older teens.

Disclaimer: I did receive this book free from the publishers.

What are you reading? Have you read these books? If so what did you think of Ties that Bind? I would love to hear from you.


It feels so great to be able to relax with a good book and to not have upcoming exams or assignments due. I can certainly get use to this! We took a road trip this weekend and I was able to read a whole book in less than two days. It was GLORIOUS!

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With you always by Jody Hedlund

Set in the 1850’s Hedlund tells the story of Elise Neuman and her sisters and Thorton Quincy. Elise Neuman and her sisters parents have died and are desperate for food and shelter. As a last resort Elise leaves her sisters in New York City and goes West to Illinois for work. Her goal is to send enough to New York to provide for her siblings and hopefully bring them to her. Thorton Quincy is a wealthy businessman’s son. He was given a challenge by his father in order to inherit the company. Desperate to gain his father’s approval and come out from under his brother’s shadow he begins the construction of an Illinois community.

This is a charming love story of two people from completely different worlds who find they have more in common than not. Hedlund provides just enough romance, heartache, and challenges to capture her audience. It is evident she researched this era and the backdrop of her story. I like the added information at the end of the book which provides additional information on the orphan trains. Her characters have depth and growth throughout the story. I enjoyed the depth she added to her secondary characters.

This book is a Christian novel. However, it is not filled with consistent Christian quotes or scriptures. There is mention of thanking God and general references to God. This is heavier toward the end, but not overwhelming. The book does clearly follow Christian themes such as kindness, charity, honesty, etc.

I look forward to additional Orphan Train stories.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical romances and/or novels and Christian novels. I would recommend it to a young adult. The book does reference prostitution but only as a backdrop to the story. There is one instance of post attack, but no actual details were provided.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookends.

I did receive this book from the publisher as part of the blogging for books program in exchange for an honest review.


Wow, what a whirl-wind start to summer! We had vacation/APRN graduation which was followed by another quick trip for me and then one month of studying for my certification test. With much excitement this last week I passed my APRN certification test. So my time significantly opened up and I immediately started reading.

I started a book which I am going to review now. I don’t typically review prior to finishing a book. However, I am not planning to finish this book. I hardly ever start and NOT finish. I think there’s only a handful of books I’ve done this.

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Still Here by Lara Vapnyar

Still Here tells the tale of Russian immigrants and their attempt to “make it” in America. One of the characters is trying to create an App which allows people to feel connected to dead loved ones through the preservation of online footprints. The four friends grew-up together in Russia and then moved to America for different reasons. Each trying to find their own American success story.

First, I want to say, I really wanted to like this book. I thought the idea was interesting and not something I’d read hundreds of times over. Unfortunately, the story fell flat and kind-of quickly at that. I don’t usually not finish a story, but I got to page 59 of the 310 pages and decided to not continue.

The writing style wasn’t bad at all. I believe the author has talent. And maybe that was part of my struggle with the book. It really made me feel sad and depressed reading the story. Vica and Sergey are married and seem incredibly unhappy. Vica especially seems depressed, angry and hugely jealous. These emotions are completely pouring out of the book and didn’t leave me feeling “good”.

The other downfall, I really hard time getting into this book. It has a very slow start and very slow build. I understand the author is building the back story, introducing us to the characters and (I think) trying to make things seem more realistic (no overnight success). Unfortunately, on my part, it seemed to slow. I just wasn’t being pulled into it and there was nothing keeping me up at night to see what happens next.

Overall, I’m not a fan of the book. However, those who I imagine would like this book would be the adult who is looking for an immigrant story and doesn’t need it to be fast paced. A book club may like to pick to up to read as a group, because I cold see how it could draw good conversation assuming they can make it through the book

I give this book a generous 2 of 5 book-ends for being well-written but boring.

I did receive this book free from the publishers through the blogging for books program for an honest review.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Are you reading a good book now? If so, share it below with a quick description.


So, with keeping up with getting my book reviews in from the books I’ve finished the last couple of weeks. I’m writing this review on this book that I read very slowly over this last six months. I read it slowly because with finishing up my degree, I grabbed reading time as I was able.

I had to go to urgent care one Sunday last fall. Upon arriving at urgent care, my wait was estimated to be 2 hours and I was allowed to leave and return closer to the 2 hour mark. So, I left ran to Target, grabbed a Starbucks coffee and browsed through the book section. I stumbled upon this little gem.

I’m a huge Marvel fan. Especially Black Widow. I’ve wanted to see more of her and things dedicated to her. Black Widow focused items seem few and far between. So I’m excited to have read and to have the opportunity to review this book.

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Black Widow Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

 

This book has three main characters. Ava Orlova is a teenage girl who escaped years before from S.H.E.I.L.D after being rescued by Black Widow from Ivan. Alex is a teenager who has a bit of a temper problem. He is also the boy from Ava’s visions. The two stumble into each other and they get into a an action-filled discovery of who they truly are. And then there is Natasha Romanoff (AKA Black Widow).

Most chapters begin with a DOD report. As I read these and Black Widow’s response, I believe they are spot on in regards to her language and how she responds. I like how it ties things together, foreshadows, and seems very Marvel’sh. I think it helps ground the story. I enjoyed the action-filled parts of the story. I also enjoyed getting a glimpse at Black Widow’s back story and her previous life. The psychic connection between Black Widow and Ava was an interesting concept. The story moved along nicely and I didn’t find any slow parts where I wanted to give up reading the book.

The Con’s of the story is its not a focused Black Widow story. The majority of it is following the two teenagers and then Black Widow is weaved in throughout the story. That was a bit disappointing as I really wanted a focused Black Widow story. The second con I felt was the love interest of the two teenagers. It was a bit crazy to think the two only knew each other several days and then were “in love”. I get the whole, this is exciting and dangerous and affection can develop. But I think it was a bit of a stretch, maybe a bit forced.

I believe this was a good story, it just wasn’t the Black Widow story I wanted.  I think the title made it seem that she would be the main character instead of a supporting character.

Black Widow still needs her own story. Her own move (please!) or at least something where she’s the leading lady and not a supporting role.

I give the back a 3.5 out 5 based on its a good story but not a Black Widow story.

I recommend this book to any Marvel fan or Black Widow fan (just don’t expect her to be the star) or anyone who enjoys an action book with nodding toward supernatural themes. There is no sexual context and the language is fine. The book does have written violence and child abuse (testing discussion by Ivan). This book would be approve for a mature teenager and young adult.