Doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children

Category Archives: Book Reviews

Boy, has the last 3 weeks been a whirlwind. I started working as a nurse practitioner and well, that’s kept me pretty busy. That and the kids activities. My son’s soccer season just finished up and my daughter’s dance is picking-up as the Nutcracker approaches. I am deep in the trenches of mommiehood.

Despite everything I was able to read a fantastic read. Below is my review.

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall & Erin Woodsmall

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Hadley is trying to get free of her past and at 27 is trying to finish her degree in speech therapy. Monroe owns a therapy company that helps children with speech needs. Hadley and Monroe dated while Hadley was in foster care. Unfortunately, Monroe being from a wealthy family is made to choose between Hadley’s future and the two having a future together.

Woodsmall and Woodsmall has written book that will touch your heart. This story is a story of overcoming life obstacles. The characters all must find ways to get beyond life circumstances. Even Monroe mush overcome his parents gifts in order to self actuate. I fell in love with the characters. I found myself cheering them on for success  in both their relationships and their professional success.

This book is a good, fun read for the holidays. It has a heartwarming ending leaving which is perfect for the Christmas season.

I recommend this book for any young adult or adult who enjoys a romance with a hint of medical information. The content is wholesome and older teens could read and enjoy it.

I give this book a 5 out 5 bookends.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author for an honest review.

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If you’re a following of my blog, you may remember prior to graduate school I was part of a book club at my church. We read quite a variety of books. Some were light “free-reading” books and others were more serious books. I decided to return to the book club this year. Last month’s book was a nice light book. This month, we tackled a more serious book. Here is my review of this month’s selection.

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The IMAM’s Daughter: My Desperate Flight to Freedom by Hannah Shah

Shah tells her story of growing-up the daughter of a Muslim’s religious leader’s daughter. She tells her story of enduring her father’s physical, sexual, and mental abuse. She addresses the issues associated with the closeness of Muslim community. She decides to run-away at age 16 once she realizes she is being sent away to marry one of her cousins in Pakistan. After running away, Hannah converts to Christianity which forces her to live a life running away from her family who wishes to execute an “honor” killing.

Hannah’s story of her life is heartbreaking. Because of the closeness of the Muslim community, her tragic abuse which started at age 5, was never addressed by anyone. Its hard to believe that this occurs in today’s society. Its hard to believe its widespread. The abuse made parts of this book very difficult to read. However, Shah explains that many Muslim woman experience the arranged marriages and physical abuse. It breaks my heart knowing there are woman and children enduring this.

This book provides a firsthand telling of growing up Muslim in England. It sheds some light in how the family interacts with the non-Muslim world. I know its only 1 family and 1 person’s view, but it does provide some insight. It was eye-opening to realize that her family (especially her father) was polite to non-Muslims to their face but behind closed doors the hate was over-powering. The book provided insight on how Muslims learn about their religion. The memorizing of verses without any instruction on their meaning was the mainstay of her teaching. The dependence on those telling you what those passages mean is the mainstay of their teaching.

It also was surprising to read that abuse didn’t just happen at home. Shah’s Muslim instructors would beat her if she got an answer wrong. Her brother went to Pakistan to become a religious leader and was abused. Abuse was common place in Shah’s life.

The book does tell the story of her finding love, peace and Christianity. She was able to leave her family and abusive past. She found Christianity and converted. She found Hope and found a way to help other Muslims. This is a story of escaping a tragic past and finding hope. Despite the dark parts of the book, it ends uplifting and positive.

It is an easy read. I was able to finish it in just a few hours of dedicated reading time.  At times, I felt the book bounced around a bit. It is written conversationally. This is a style I like, but it also tends to allow for some bouncing around in the story.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Muslim to Christian conversion. I would caution that child abuse is discussed openly in this book. I would not recommend this for children or anyone under the age of 18 due to the topics discussed.

I would give this book a 4 out 5 bookends.


School started about 2 weeks ago. It has been a crazy last few days. My daughter is now in 4th and the homework workload has increased quite a bit from 3rd grade. My son is in 2nd so he’s also no beginning to see twice weekly homework. Luckily his homework is still really pretty easy and not too time consuming. At least not yet.

With all of that taken into consideration, I had planned on finishing this book sooner. I want to finish a book lent to me and then I need to read my book club book too. With all of that, I’ll be pretty busy the next few weeks trying to get everything done.

None the less, here is my book review on The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

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Barnett tells the story of Margaret Lane and Chief Ranger Ford Brayden. It is set in 1927 with the National Parks Service. Margaret is from a wealthy political family whose dream come true is to spend some time in the National Parks. She is amazed by God’s artistry as she works as a naturalist. Ranger Brayden grew-up on the mountain. He is haunted by his father’s death and does not see the park in the poetic way Margaret does. The two work together to preserve the natural beauty of the park.

This book spoke to soul and I quickly connected to both Margaret and Ranger Brayden. Margaret’s appreciation of the beauty of nature paired with Ranger Brayden’s common sense and knowledge of the danger was a great combination. The author did a fabulous job of weaving the two points a view together to create a truly perfect picture of nature.

This book is a Christian novel. Margaret often refers to God’s handiwork and is confused by Brayden’s inability to see and/or acceptance of God’s work. She does pray to God and several of her conversations regarding nature does revolve around God.

The only negative to this book was there were some slower parts.

Overall, this is an excellent read. It connected with my soul and my desire to to be out in nature. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an historical novel of a slightly different sort. I would recommend it to young adults and adults.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookends.

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

What are reading now? Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? I’d love to hear form you.

 


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.