Book Review: Christmas After All

People are losing jobs. Businesses are closing down. Willie Fae, a cousin from Texas, lost both of her parents and had to move to Indianapolis to live with Minnie’s family. (Minnie likes having a girl her own age around, though.) Her family is having to eat au gratin (which is French for “with cheese” and basically meant that they added potatoes and cheese to everything to make the food stretch farther) for dinner most nights. According to Minnie and Ozzie’s (Minnie’s brother) “vomitometric scale,” or “vomitron” for short, most au gratin dinners rate high, such as the cauliflower au gratin, which rated a solid 8 of 10 on the vomitous scale.

Times are hard. She knows, she has been to the shantytown (which they named Curtisville after the vice president of the time) before and seen people living in little shacks built out of old tires and scraps, burning whatever they can find in large tin barrels to keep warm. She knows that Christmas this year will be different, but she doesn’t know how different. Will they even be able to have a Christmas?

★★★★

(Now that I am on Goodreads, I will be sharing the number of stars that I give each book – soon I will try to connect my Goodreads account to my WordPress account and you’ll be able to see what I’m reading! 😉 In the meantime, if you want to see what I’m reading, here is a link to my Goodreads account: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/74692007-penelope-payne)

Without revealing too many spoilers, and keeping in mind that this is a children’s book: I was a bit surprised that the topic of suicide came up. Perhaps I haven’t read enough children’s books written in the 2000’s, but I’m not sure how I felt about this; I guess I expect a G rating in a children’s book. However, the reaction that Minnie had to it was believable, it was portrayed in the right light, and it was realistic to how it really was back then.

Speaking of how it was back then… I so enjoyed how there was a section at the end of the book that told about the things mentioned in the book, such as the radio programs, movie stars of the era, recipes for foods that they ate in the book (that were not on the vomitron scale!), and photos from back then. It added depth to the story, and I love it when books are educational. It was a really great read for Christmas. 🙂

This was my third Dear America book. The other two were So Far From Home (The Diary of an Irish Mill Girl) and Voyage On The Great Titanic. I plan to get a review up for So Far From Home after I reread it because it has been years since I read it. But I remember enjoying it.)

Reviews: Big Sky Dreams Series #1 & #2

Big Sky Dreams #1: Cassidy

written by Lori Wick

Cassidy Norton is a skilled seamstress who owns Token Creek Apparel in Token Creek. Here, she has everything she has dreamed of – friends, a church family, and a successful business.

Cassidy’s best friend Meg is married to Brad Holden, and is also pregnant. Cassidy goes over to the Holden ranch at least once per week to help her sew clothes for the baby. Trace Holden, Brad’s brother, always makes sure she gets back to her place safe. Cassidy is also good friends with the local banker. Jeanette Fulbright helps Cassidy out with her business at times. The people of Token Creek have a very caring pastor, Rylan Jarvik, and Cassidy finds it easy to talk about the Bible with him. Cassidy is certainly not in want of friends in this book. But what no one in the town knows is that there is a secret from her past that if revealed, could change the way everyone sees her and treats her…

I knew that she would have a love interest; and unfortunately, I read #2 in this series first (because Goodwill only had Sabrina XD) so when it comes to who she ends up with // if she ends up with someone, I already knew what would happen. X) However, since I read the other first, this felt like I was getting her backstory, and it was fantastic.

I did find one typo on page 40: “You’re brother is still upstairs.” Yup. The classic “Your” (meaning that you own something) versus ‘You’re” (contraction for “you are”) error. X)

Big Sky Dreams #2: Sabrina

written by Lori Wick

Danny and his wife, Callie, takes Sabrina in off the street to give her a chance to change and introduce her to Christ. They have a secret that was unexpected, but fit in perfectly with the story.

Sabrina soon moves from Denver to Token Creek in Montana Territory to escape her past, which keeps haunting her. I really like Sabrina. She’s slightly naïve. There are times when she makes me laugh. “Do you ever think about the person who owns the legs that might wear these pants?” XD She has quite an imagination.

Once Sabrina makes the move, Jeanette Fulbright, the owner of a tailor shop, gives Sabrina a job. She also allows Sabrina to stay with her for a while. Jessie Wheeler, the owner of Wheeler’s Mercantile (a general store), also gives Sabrina a part time job when Sabrina asks for one. Jessie has two daughters, Hannah and Clancy who appear in the story from time to time. (Clancy is sooooooo cute. XD) Rylan, who is the same pastor from Cassidy, also works at the livery stable. Sabrina spends so much time thinking about this that she misses the first sermon of his that she was present for. X) She also meets Meg, Brad, Trace and Cassidy from the first book in this series. Sabrina finds many friends in Token Creek. But will they see her the same way if they know about her past?

In chapter two, there are a couple of time jumps that I almost missed at first and had to reread to catch. The novel starts in November, then jumps to December, and then jumps all the way to May. I realize this is because not a lot was happening during that time in between her believing and her leaving for Montana Territory. This didn’t bother me a great deal though; I really liked the first couple of chapters, and from there, the book settles into a nice pace. Sabrina is the main character of course, but the author still tells us what is happening with the other characters as well, especially when it relates to Sabrina. (But you also get some scenes with Cassidy and Meg, from the first book, which was nice.)

There are three characters with names that start with “J”. I get confused sometimes when a novel has two names that start with the same letter, unless the names are super different, so having a Jeanette, a Jeb and a Jessie was slightly confusing at first. XD In addition, there is Sabrina (the main character) and Savannah (Meg’s baby) and I got them confused at times, which was a hilarious mix-up on my part. XD

Overall:

I usually read mysteries and young adult novels, so reading these Christian romance historical fiction novels were a pleasant change. 🙂 I look forward to reading more like these, and perhaps someday Jessie, the third in the series.

The characters, especially the main characters of both novels, undergo extensive character development, and that was really great. There are a lot of characters though. It took a while for me to really catch on to who was who. XD But it was great.

When the characters pray, they are so sincere. I really appreciated that.

There are many deep thoughts about the Bible and Jesus throughout both novels. Many made me stop and ponder them for a while. One inspired my first blog post! (Haha, yes, I wrote the first draft of the book reviews out that far in advance. XD) I love it. So much. These have to be the best books I’ve read in a long time.

You can read Sabrina before Cassidy, as I did; however, as I stated, it will ruin Cassidy’s story in terms of plot // love interest, so I don’t recommend doing that.

Review: A Season For Grace

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A Season For Grace – A ‘Heartsong Presents…’ title

By Tracey Bateman

This was my first Christian historical romance novel, and I must say, I was very impressed. The story revolves around Grace Porter, who is going west via wagon train to Oregon territory. The wagon master, Paul Spencer, is leading them there in mid-October, meaning that they will have to stop at a fort to wait out the winter before continuing.

When Paul’s niece, Bobbin, tries to play a prank and gets in an accident, Miss Porter feels responsible, because the girl was in her charge at the time. Grace is tormented by guilt and fear; not only from this incident, but from memories of the past that haunt her… and feelings for a man she knows that she can’t be with because of those things in her past.

This is one of those books – at least for me – that I had a hard time putting down. I loved the writing style, the setting, the characters, and pretty much everything else. XD The backstories were so touching. I usually read mysteries, adventure, or young adult books so a Christian historical romance novel was a nice change. 🙂

I’m so glad that I decided to read a book that was in a genre that I wouldn’t typically choose. I loved this book so much that I bought other titles in the HeartSong presents... franchise (my copy is a HeartSong Presents title, but it looks like other printings of this book are out there…), along with other Christian historical romance novels I saw when I was at Goodwill. I suppose that this proves that you never know what will happen when you try something new! 🙂