Review – Fraying at the Edge (The Amish of Summer Grove, Book 2)

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A wonderfully crafted story about a young Amish woman and a young “Englisch” woman who have a very strange connection.

Ariana, a loving Amish woman, is happy with her life. Everything was going well. She had a loving boyfriend. An amazing family. A new café. But then she found out that her biological parents weren’t the ones she had been living with for the past twenty years.

Skylar’s world is slowly crashing. Her world and dream of acting has been ripped from her because of a failing grade. She’s struggling. Her family is a mismatched one. Her mother and father weren’t married when she was conceived. Her father didn’t want anything to with her for years. He remarried. Her mother married someone who already had a daughter. So much confusion and emotional stress caused her to be a little unstable. She turned to drugs. If an Amish couple and an ex-Amish young man hadn’t come digging up the past, she would have been able to live out her relatively comfortable miserable life without interruption. But an unexpected blood test leaves her with a choice: go to rehab for a year or live with her ‘real’ parents (who happen to be Amish) for a year.

Ariana and Skylar both struggle to get used to the new worlds they’ve entered. Ariana struggles to follow her parents’ wishes while trying to follow her own conscience, while Skylar struggles to get past her anger towards her parents and her prejudice against her new family.

This story is an incredible one. I love the way Cindy Woodsmall has woven this story. In this series, I have been delighted to find a very original story. At every turn in the plot, it seems, I am surprised. I expect the story to go one way because so many stories follow a certain plot, but it takes a different turn. The unexpected twists don’t annoy as some might, rather they add a certain sense of reality and freshness to the story.

This novel, like the first, deals with many mature themes. Drugs, adultery, etc. I really do recommend using caution when recommending or reading this book. For an older teen, I think the themes are perfectly acceptable (if the teen is mature and understanding), because the topics are presented in a good light.  Nothing is presented as good that should not be. (Exception: I will mention one part when *spoiler alert* Abram is speaking to Cilla and it almost seems as though they are implying asking the Bishops’ to use contraceptives.)

 

Ratings (# out of 5)

Romance: 2.5 (There were a few kisses, but this story really wasn’t centered around romance. It was the story of two girls coming to grips with their new surroundings. There was a scene in which Ariana sees a prostitute receiving money from a man (nothing further), but she knows that the girl is selling herself. This is why I gave this category such a low rating. It was presented in the right way, but it was weighty and would be/could be very disturbing to those of more innocent or sensitive natures.)

Violence: 4 (I don’t remember any instances of violence.)

Language: 5 (I don’t remember any instances of vulgar language.)

Substance Abuse: 3 (I give this such a high rating even though this novel has a lot of substance discussion because the presentation is so delicate. It’s presented as what it is, something that shouldn’t be used.)

 

I thank Mrs. Woodsmall for writing such an interesting, well-written book. She truly is a master writer in this modern era. I am looking forward to reading the third and concluding book of “The Amish of Summer Grove” series.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed above are completely my own.

Ties that Bind – Review

1-ties-that-bind1First of all, this is definitely more of an adult or mature teen book. There are a lot of mature themes in the book.

I love books with some mystery in them. They keep me thinking and I can’t wait to read what is next. I spent two days reading Ties that Bind and I didn’t want to set it down. I was busy, I was physically tired of sitting and doing nothing, my eyes were giving way, but I still wanted to read.

Ariana has a wounded past. Her best friend, Quill, left the Amish, running away with her friend Frieda. She was hurt and surprised. She had though Quill cared for her, but every indication of her friends’ leaving led her to believe they were leaving and marrying each other.

Five years later Ariana has a boyfriend and the past doesn’t bother her as much as it used to. Rudy, her boyfriend, is a wonderful young man. (Even though I rather doubt Ariana will wind up with Rudy, I have to admit I admire Mrs. Woodsmall’s ability to actually make him likable. In so many stories it’s obvious to the reader that the main character is with the wrong woman/man. Real life wouldn’t be that way always though and I like seeing a story that doesn’t follow that typical route.) She knows that he cares for her by the way he acts and they seem to be about ready to get engaged.

But that’s when things gets complicated, as usual. Quill shows back up. Why? He’s helping someone she loves leave the Amish.

Quill seems very unlikable. He doesn’t seem to have treated Ariana correctly and he continues to harm her. But there is a reasonable explanation for all he is doing. He didn’t want to up and leave the Amish because of Ariana. He hated hurting her. He doesn’t want to have to help someone she loves leave the Amish because he knows it will hurt her, but he sticks to the truth and to what he knows is right. He knows that if Ariana would listen and hear the truth, she would understand all he did, but he also knows that the way he left and the lack of explanation at the time he left makes Ariana more likely to disregard anything he says.

A side note about Quill: You’ve probably guessed by now that Quill does care for Ariana (if you hadn’t I’m sorry for the spoiler). I truly admire and am thankful to Mrs. Woodsmall for the fact that Quill represses expressing his feelings for her. He cares for her, he helps her, but he does nothing more. He doesn’t try to hug her, to put his hand on her shoulder, to tell her he cares for her (and he does have opportunity to do so). He keeps quiet as he knows he should. He even, on good days, finds joy in seeing Ariana with someone like Rudy. He doesn’t interfere. I truly admire him for that and I admire Mrs. Woodsmall for making such a great, strong character.

Skylar Nash, a young woman struggling with emotional problems (she is the one who brings in the mature themes) and drug addictions, has an unfortunate life. Her mother wasn’t married to her biological father (and at the time she was conceived he was married). Now she has a stepfather and a stepsister she is sure hates her. Acting is her life, but with her emotional trouble she gets in trouble. Due to a failing grade she can’t participate in the school’s theater program anymore.

Truly a great mystery type book. I don’t want to spoil too much (I’m afraid I already spoiled some), so I’ll stop there with the summary.

Ratings:

Romance: 2.5 (There is some kissing and it is rather descriptive, but not extremely descriptive. The beginning of the book has a chapter in which a mother gives birth. There is a lot of “grown up” information in that chapter, but not too extreme.)

Violence: 5 (I can’t recall anything violent in the book)

Language: 4 (I remember a use of c**p, but I don’t think there is anything else besides: “She cursed”)

Substance Abuse: 2 (This is really the reason I would be careful about who you let read this book. Your older teens could handle it and you could have conversations with them about it, but your younger ones you probably want to have wait a few years. Skylar has emotional problems and while it the book doesn’t get too dark by entering her mind and showing her thoughts, it does mention surface level things. She uses drugs so she doesn’t have to feel, helping her survive the turmoil (depression). She feels the need to take more after having been deprived of her supply. Things like that. While this is a mature topic, I think that Mrs. Woodsmall is handling it in a delicate way. She isn’t sugarcoating it and hiding the truth, but she’s displaying it in a way that is appropriate for readers of the right maturity level.)

Notes: This book gave me a feeling and I’d like to try to describe it: When I started this book, I kept wondering if it would cross my lines and I would have to set it down, never to finish it. But after a while I stopped wondering. Mrs. Woodsmall handled the mature topics well. She doesn’t seem to add any more than she must to make the book authentic.

Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature

The Chilbury Ladies Choir – Review

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I couldn’t finish this book. The description made me think I would be reading about a choir and how it helped a town come together for strength during World War II. From the moment I started the book I barely read of the choir but in passing. Then we moved on to gross topics of out-of-control young men taking advantage of innocent women and spreading disease, abortions, and stealing babies. My advice is, don’t read this book. You can find something much better, I’m sure!

Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature