Saturday, November 30, 2013

Audiobook Review - The Christmas Singing: A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country

With Christmas on the way, I am all about Christmas stories.  I had read "The Sound of Sleigh Bells: A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country" by Cindy Woodsmall several years ago and absolutely adored it.  I loved it so much, I shared it with everyone who was interested.

Because of the love of that book, I had to pick up "The Christmas Singing:  A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country" also by Cindy Woodsmall when I saw it available via my library and the Overdrive app.  Because I have a lot of housework to do, I chose to listen to the book rather than read it.  Because I listened rather than read, I have a second part of this review that is simply based on production.

The Christmas Singing:  A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country by Cindy Woodsmall
About the book (from Goodreads) 

After Gideon coldly broke her heart, can the warmth of the season revive Mattie’s hopes?
Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve.

Three years later, will learning the truth behind his rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

Spend Christmas with the Amish in this story of love, romance, heartache, and restoration.

Experience the holidays with the Plain folk and discover the power of second chances in this touching story from the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Bridge of Peace.

Gideon Beiler has loved Mattie Eash since they were children. But when faced with unexpected circumstances, he makes up an excuse to end their engagement. He doesn’t want to lie to her, but he believes that telling Mattie the truth will be more hurtful.  

Brokenhearted, Mattie moves from Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania to Ohio, where she pursues her longtime dream of becoming a cake decorator. She finds a new beau—a man offering the secure relationship Gideon has denied her.  

When Mattie is forced to return to Apple Ridge, she and Gideon must confront the suffering created by his dishonesty – and address the powerful emotions that continue to bind the two childhood friends.

My Review (Separated into Story and Production as I really feel that reading and listening can be quite different):  
The Story:  There are few reads that delight me more than a look into the lives of the Amish.  I have embraced this genre, and I have continually been transported by each book I have read.  The Christmas Singing has many of the elements that I enjoy from Cindy Woodsmall.  The view into Amish life is painted so clearly I feel like I can see each detail.  I was delighted with the descriptions as usual and wished I could drop into Mattie Cakes myself.   I wish the shop and the village that Mattie lived in was explored more deeply before she went back to Ridge.  I really enjoyed the descriptions and friends there.  I hope to see more in a future work.  I was also pleased to get the opportunity to catch up with other characters from Cindy's previous book in this series.  It was like revisiting old friends. 

The tone of the story itself was a bit somber which I would as with it dealt with some negative events.  It would have worked better for me if it actually had not been a Christmas novella.  I don't expect everything to be happy, but in a Christmas themed story, I expect it more than I would with other themes.  Still the story itself was well written and I hope that my distraction with the tone doesn't lead you to think it was not.  

As for the characters, I would love to see what happens to Saul.  He seems to have some deep levels there, and I hope the author will continue to explore them.  Mattie herself kind of bugged me.  She was hot and cold when it came to Gideon.  I couldn't even grasp the momentary joviality that would be followed by resentment.  I understood the reasoning, but to be honest, if I had been involved with someone who I truly believed betrayed me, I probably wouldn't be anything more than lukewarm around him.  Polite out of necessity.  Mattie's reactions often seemed very self centered and off kilter. Gideon and all he had been through simply broke my heart. 

All in all, I enjoyed the story and the look back at old friends.  The ending for the main characters was satisfying, and I hope that it opens doors for others that I am also falling in like with.  It was the perfect little getaway into Amish Country and I hope to go there again soon.  

Oh!  As a bonus, there are some great recipes at the end of the book.  They are also listed in the audio version. 

Production Review:  I "read" The Christmas Singing in audio format. The reader has a very nice pleasant and soothing tone to her voice, but she was very soft spoken.  Because of this I had to pump my volume all the way up on both my kindle and my computer (I listened though both).  I do not know how one addresses that, but there has to be a way to bring her volume up more without hitting the top spot on my computer (I have not had to do that with other audiobooks). 
There was one thing that just did not work for me, and that was the constant repeating of Mattie's nickname "Mattie Lane" from Gideon literally drove me batty.  Now mind you, this could be because I was listening rather than reading, and I actually do believe that is the case.  I have the feeling if I read it, the nickname would not have bugged me. 

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