The Scent of Cherry Blossoms – Review

I don’t normally care for romances but I chose this one because of the Amish twist.  The Amish fascinate and inspire me.  Ms. Woodsmall does an excellent job of introducing and acquainting us with her main characters.  She is generous with information about them and their backgrounds.  She paints pictures of landscapes and situations that play like a movie in the imagination.

Annie comes from a broken Old Order Mennonite home in which her mother has struggled to raise several children amid the shame of her husband abandoning the family.  Aden’s Old Order Amish father and brother, Roman, were injured in a farming accident which left them unable to continue to provide for the family in quite the same way as before.  Annie’s struggles with her mother are emotionally charged.  Roman’s struggle to come to terms with his disability rings very true.  The way these people of faith handle their challenges and ultimately turn to their Creator to help and heal them is inspiring.  The problem of forbidden love between childhood friends Aden and Annie is resolved amid surprising twists and conflicts.

This is just a good old story, with characters who are real people with real problems, which today’s Old Order families are not immune to.  They have their warts and their roses (or should I say cherry blossoms?) and it is inspiring to see them grow and improve in the course of resolving their problems.  I really enjoyed this book. It’s a pleasant escape to Amish country and a “simpler” life.

Cindy Woodsmall is an award-winning and New York Times Bestselling author.  She has written several other books, including When the Soul Mends and Plain Wisdom.  Her friendships with Amish and Mennonites began in childhood and continue to this day.  She homeschooled her children as they were growing up.

Cassandra Campbell has recorded over 100 audiobooks and is an accomplished actress and high school teacher.  Her narration is clear and expressive without distracting from the story.

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms, “A romance from the heart of Amish country”, by Cindy Woodsmall, copyright 2012, audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell is available from  Christian Audio for $10.98.

22 chapters, 335 minutes (6 hours)

I would like to thank Christian Audio, for providing me with a free review copy of this audiobook.  No other compensation was received for this review.

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The Touch

by Randall Wallace, (c) 2011, published by Mission Audio

“The Touch” is that rare, life affirming sensitivity that a few medical professionals and others posses.  Doctor Andrew Jones is one of them.  After a tragic accident in which his fiancee is killed, he abandons his gift and loses himself in teaching instead.  Lara Blair is the billionaire heiress of a medical research and equipment company.  For years her firm has been trying to perfect a surgical instrument that will duplicate a surgeon’s movements and allow never-before-possible deep brain surgeries to succeed.  When one of Lara’s executives stumbles across an exhibit containing a highly detailed micro-miniature sculpture of the Lincoln Memorial, and discovers the identity of its creator, Blair Pharmaceuticals begins a relentless pursuit of the talents of Dr. Jones.

There is a higher power at work, however, as Lara and Jones find themselves facing old fears, and questioning whether their lives should continue on their current paths.  The most compelling question is, will Andrew be able to defeat the demons that have tormented him since the death of his fiancee, in order to save his new love?

This audiobook contains a powerful message about the dignity of life at all stages, as well as the healing power of God’s grace.  It is a touching romance, without vulgarity, though one brief passage is probably not suitable for young ears.  Paul Mitchell delivers an exceptional reading, his voice resonating with the different emotions conveyed throughout the story.  Available for $12.98 from http://christianaudio.com/the-touch-randall-wallace.

I had trouble loading the MP3 files onto my ipod directly from the website, but no problem whatsoever downloading it to the computer and then transferring it to my ipod from there.  The complete zip file loads really fast and opens easily.

Thank you to Christian Audio Reviewers Program for providing me with this free review copy.  No other compensation was reveived for this review.

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Love Amid The Ashes

I found this book in our public library’s NEW section.  Looking at the title I thought ‘ick, another Harlequin or Avon romance type’.  But the cover illustration drew me in, and I picked it up and read the back, then glanced inside.  Hooked, and intrigued by our librarian’s seemingly sudden propensity for Christian fiction, I checked it out at the desk.

Set in Uz, (actual location lost, but several possibilities in Middle East) Love Amid the Ashes interlaces the Biblical stories of Job, Jacob and Esau, Joseph (of the many colored coat), the migration of the Hebrews to Egypt, and Dinah (sister of Joseph), in a very compelling way.  By the end, I was ready to reread the book of Job, and start my own investigation to see if I could pick up on the threads Mesu Andrews so skillfully weaves together from the Bible as well as other ancient texts and rabbinical tradition.

As Dinah nurses and cares for Job during his long suffering, the story of her ill fated love, betrayal by her vindictive brothers (the same ones who sold Joseph into slavery) and her subsequent rejection by her clan as “ruined” is presented.  The distinctive stories finally combine in Egypt, when it is discovered that the great vizier and “Father of the Pharoah” is none other than Joseph himself.  Job and Dinah’s tale comes to a gratifying conclusion and the reader is left hungry for more.

A little research on the internet and a look into Biblical, as well as ancient Egyptian timelines, convinced me that Ms. Andrews did, in fact, do her homework.  That yes, it is just possible that these stories which we normally take separately in the Bible and in history, could maybe have intersected with each other in this or some other way.  Which makes it all the more fascinating for me.

Love Amid the Ashes, by Mesu Andrews, (c) 2011, is available from http://www.revellbooks.com/ and other booksellers.

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