I finished a few books fairly close together so I thought I’d review them all at once.
Journey Into Christmas by Bess Streeter Aldrich was recommended on someone’s blog, but I forget whose. The book is a collection of short stories, all, of course, having something to do with Christmas, in different times and settings. Some are sweet, some are poignant, none are frothy. Probably my favorite was an excerpt from her novel A Lantern in Her Hand (which I think I’d like to read some time). In the short story from it, times have been extremely hard for folks on the frontier, with no good crops for several years in a row. Most aren’t in the mood to celebrate Christmas and have little with which to celebrate anyway. Abbie, a young wife and mother, starts out feeling the same way, despairing at first, but then decides to do what she can, even as others scoff. Her husband gets into the Christmas spirit as well, and soon they both have stayed up late or stolen moments to make little gifts for the children, and that Christmas goes down as one that remains most in their memories. Abbie’s efforts remind me of a quote I once saw from a pioneer woman that went something like, “I make my quilts well to keep my family warm; I make them beautiful to keep my heart from breaking.”
I did find, however, that it is hard for me to get into short stories. You’d think they’d be easy to pick up and put down, especially during a busy time like Christmas, but without the momentum of one chapter carrying over to the next, for me it was harder to stay with it. But overall it was a good book.
100 Pound Loser: How I Ate What I Wanted, Had Four Babies, & Still Took Control Of My Weight – And You Can Too! by Jessica Heights of Muthering Heights is an e-book available in a Kindle format or as a PDF file. I don’t remember how I became aware of this, but the title is certainly an attention grabber, especially for anyone who needs to lose weight.
What was there was good and inspirational: I just wish there was more of it. When anyone has successfully lost weight, the first thing everyone wonders is “How did you do it?!?!” The author shares some of the details, but not as much as I would have liked.
I won Courting Cate from its author, Leslie Gould, through a fun Fall Scavenger Hunt involving several Christian fiction authors. I had never read Leslie before, and though I don’t read a great deal of Amish fiction, this title intrigued me because it is based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. That is one of his plays I have never seen or read, but I knew the basic gist of it. I was glad I didn’t know the plot details, though, because then much of the book was a surprise to me, and afterward it was fun to find out more about Shrew through Wikipedia and SparkNotes and compare.
Cate, in this story, is a sharp-tongued, short-tempered Amish young woman who works in her father’s shop, loves to read, is not handy in the kitchen, and has decided she will never marry. Her sister, Betsy, seems to attract potential suitors like flies, but not Cate: she seems to repel them. When Pete Treger comes to town, she’s strangely attracted to him, but as the sparks fly even with him, she knows they have no future. But then her father makes an edict that Betsy can’t marry until Cate does, and since Betsy wants to marry, she and her cohorts conspire to bring Pete and Cate together.
I was expecting this book to be lighthearted and comedic, and it is in some places, but I was surprised and touched at the poignancy of Cate’s feeling unloved and unlovable and her wrestling with God when she finds herself stuck in very hard circumstances. I ended up loving this book and looking forward to reading more from Leslie.
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)