Tag Archives: Cindy Woodsmall

Audiobook Review: Fraying at the Edge by Cindy Woodsmall

Title: Fraying at the Edge
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Print Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Stina Nielsen
Published: August 2016
Series: The Amish of Summer Grove, Book 2
Genre: Amish Fiction
Length: 12 hours, 6 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Family, community, faith, and love. These “quilt blocks” sewn together made Ariana’s beautiful life. When they are pulled to pieces, will anything familiar remain?

The Old Order Amish life Ariana Brenneman loved vanished virtually overnight with the discovery that she was switched at birth twenty years ago. Now she’s immersed in the Englischer world, getting to know her mother and under the authority of her biological father, an atheist intellectual with resolute plans to expand Ariana’s worldview. Only Quill Schlabach, a childhood friend living Englisch, can steady the tilting ground between Ariana’s two worlds, but can she trust him after so many betrayals?

 At the same time, Skylar Nash is forced to choose rehab or spend several months with her true relatives, the large Brenneman family and their seemingly backward life—no electricity, no technology, no fun. What the young woman can’t leave behind is her addiction to illegal prescription drugs and a deep emptiness from the belief that she doesn’t belong in either family.

New ties are binding Ariana and Skylar to the lives they were meant to have. Can they find the wisdom and strength they’ll need to follow God’s threads into unexpected futures?

My Thoughts on the Book:

If you read my review of the first book in The Amish of Summer Grove series, you know that Amish fiction isn’t my usual cup of tea, but that I particularly enjoyed the start of this series. Enough that I had to know what would happen next. Well, the story of the switched-at-birth Ariana and Skylar, and their friends and families, continues with Fraying at the Edge, and in my opinion, it does not disappoint.

This is a satisfying middle-of-the-series read, picking up where the previous book left off, shaking up our characters’ lives in new ways, and answering some questions, while leaving others to be addressed in a future book. Ariana and Skylar both grow and change for the better over the course of this story, but their futures remain unresolved. And I for one, cannot wait for the next book…though I guess I’ll have to.

I found this story very thought provoking. In particular, I was fascinated by the closer look it takes at what the Amish believe and why, as compared to the “Englisch” world I’m more familiar with. The story also takes something of an oblique look at nature vs. nurture as we see similarities and differences between the girls and their biological and non-biological families. And it was interesting to see each girl react to challenges to her belief system.

I would recommend this book to fans of Amish fiction, as well as to book groups and to anyone who enjoys a good thought-provoking read.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

This audiobook was recorded by the same narrator who read the first book in the series, and I’m happy to report that this encore performance is just as well done as the earlier one. The narrator does a great job at giving different voices to the various characters within dialog and expressing their emotions in her reading.

I borrowed a copy of this audiobook from my local library. I was not expected to write a review. But I wanted to.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Audiobook Review: Ties That Bind by Cindy Woodsmall

Title: Ties That Bind
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Print Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Stina Nielsen
Published: September 2015
Series: Amish of Summer Grove, Book 1
Genre: Amish Fiction
Length: 11 hours, 55 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together—or simply tear them apart?

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a café in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.

Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the café—because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.

Ties That Bind is the first novel in the Amish of Summer Grove series.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I don’t read a lot of Amish fiction. It’s not that I dislike it, or anything, but there are other genres I tend to gravitate toward first. That said, I loved this story and these characters, and I’m looking forward to reading more from this series.

Ariana is a sweet and likeable young Amish girl, and I found myself rooting for her to achieve her dreams, even as complications arose to throw those dreams into disarray and cause her to question her own identity, purpose, and family ties.

Skylar is a young woman with a lot of hidden pain, and while her story seems only to have started in this book, I am very curious to see how her life might be changed within a future book in this series.

Quill is a particularly interesting character, and one whose perspective I can appreciate on a number of issues, particularly his perspective on faith. I will be very curious to see what the future holds for him. Hopefully something good!

This book has a number of romantic threads running throughout, and I’m curious to see if I’m right about who’s going to wind up with whom. But at the same time, I liked the fact that the story takes a broader perspective than many romances, looking at a variety of relationships within and outside families. It raises many thought provoking questions on issues of identity, religion and more, leading me to wonder how I would respond if I found myself in a situation similar to the ones these characters are facing.

This novel’s ending leaves me more than ready to find out what will happen with these characters in the next book. Thankfully Fraying at the Edge is already available. I just need to track down a copy.

Overall, it’s a book/audiobook I would gladly recommend, but don’t go into it expecting to read just one! This story reaches a comfortable stopping point, but there are a lot of unanswered questions remaining to be addressed.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Stina Nielsen does a great job narrating the audio edition of Ties That Bind. With quite a few viewpoint characters, this story must have been quite a challenge to narrate, but she makes it seem effortless! Male and female voices are well done and distinct, and characters’ emotions are clearly portrayed in the reading. I am very happy to see that the next book in the series has been recorded by the same narrator.

I listened to a copy of the audiobook that was borrowed from my local library.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site