Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Sound of Sleigh Bells

Apparently the FTC has decided that they don't have enough to do worrying about anti-trust laws and such, so they are going after bloggers. They have created new guidelines requiring all bloggers to disclose whether they have received freebies. There are some Mommy bloggers, and other big name bloggers, who receive big ticket items specifically in order to blog about them and create a viral buzz about the item. While the rules are supposed to be in response to those blogs, it's effecting even little bloggers like me (and every other book blogger you know).

So in today's blog and every future blog, I will have to disclose whether or not I received the book and who I received it from. Fine, I can do that, but I want to make a few things clear. First, unless I receive a book for a specific blog tour, I am under no requirements to actually review the book. I receive lots of books, and while I do review most of them, some I don't have time to get to and others weren't written well and it was better for the writer that I NOT review them. Second, if I do review a book, it doesn't mean that I will give it a good review. I review books honestly, and while I always try to be kind, I also strive for honesty. Third, I don't keep 99% of the books I receive. I only keep the rare book, even Bible studies that have room for journaling, I write in my personal journal instead of marring them. I donate all fiction books to the Oconto Falls Library. Nonfiction books I occasionally give away to friends and family. Other nonfiction books I hold on to and hold contests here on the blog. The remainder I donate to a basket fundraiser at the hospital where I work. I'm not talking about this to earn praise or compliments; I've been doing it this way for as long as I've been blogging. I am however a bit concerned about getting audited by the IRS and having to account for every book I've ever received.

I think that the new FTC guidelines are ridiculous, but I will abide by them. So, thank you to Random House for sending this book to me.

The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall is a moving novel of forgiving yourself placed within the Amish community. Beth Hertzler has devoted her life to working in her aunt Lizzy's shop as well as helping trade between the Amish and Englischers after the death of her fiance. The black mourning clothing she wears reflects the state of her heart. When she finds a carving by Jonah Kinsinger it touches her heart, awakening something long dead. Lizzy sees the connection and sets a plan in motion that could pull Beth out of her self-imposed exile once and for all or could push her farther away. I truly enjoy Woodsmall's Amish books. She doesn't surround every character with a halo and elevate the entire culture to the equivalent of sainthood like some other authors within the genre. Beth is a woman all of us can relate to, and Jonah's kindness would make any woman swoon. The romance between the two of them is poignantly rendered. It's a quick read full of hope and love.

I'm starting a new book contest today for this terrific book. If you'd like the chance to win, just send me an email before 10 pm on Thursday, October 15th. I'll announce the winner here on Friday.

Today's pictures are from our snowfall yesterday. It didn't stick to the ground, but it made for some beautiful pictures.