Posted in Books, Life in General

When Calls the Heart

When Calls the Heart (Canadian West, #1)When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a confession to make: I absolutely love When Calls the Heart. You know, the Hallmark show? The Christian historical romance that borders on cheesy where everything always turns out okay? Yeah, that’s the one. It’s one of my favorites. In this show, community is about celebrating together in the good times and supporting each other through the hard times. Faith in God is the norm, and that faith actually means something. And love always finds a way. The show idyllic and wholesome and just makes me really happy every time I watch it. It’s my visual comfort food.

Last week, Chris and I very unexpectedly became foster parents for two little boys. A couple of days ago, they just as suddenly returned home to their mom. Our emotions during this time went haywire; we were terrified because we’ve never been parents and didn’t know what to do, we were thrilled with the boys themselves and fell in love with them despite our efforts not to get attached, and we were a weird mix of devastated (for us) and relieved (for them) when they went home so soon. When they left and our house felt just the slightest bit hollow, I needed to disappear into a book. But the books I’m reading currently, while they’re great books, they were darker than what I needed. So I decided to read the book that inspired my favorite feel-good show.

The book wasn’t perfect. It was stilted and felt a tad forced in places. It was different from the show that I’ve come to love, even though they shared a common name and framework. But it was exactly what I needed when I picked it up. It was short and sweet and full of love and hope and Jesus. Though Christian historical fiction is not one of my favorite genres, it’s what I tend to turn to whenever I’m going through a rough patch in my life. I love how unapologetic the characters are about their faith, and how that faith permeates their lives. I also love how faith is just an expected aspect of life in these bygone eras. And in the vast majority of the books in this genre, you go in knowing that everything is going to turn out okay, and that a happy ending is almost inevitable.

Janette Oke provided me with exactly what I needed here. It gave me some of the hope I needed when I wasn’t feeling all that hopeful. Even though I enjoy the show more than I did this book, I’ll probably continue with the series at some point.

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Posted in Books

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and SensibilitySense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Man, am I glad that’s over. And I feel terrible for saying that.

I don’t know what my problem with the book was. I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read by Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Lady Susan were all immersive for me, and left me feeling satisfied when I finished the last page of each. But Sense and Sensibility just let me down.

Not that it was a bad story. It really wasn’t. It even had a healthier dose of complexity and depth than many of her other works. The plot and the characters and the settings were all well crafted, and the writing was lovely as always. It’s a classic for a reason; so what was my problem here?

The humor. Or, the lack thereof. When I read Austen, what keeps me enthralled is her wit and sarcasm. Her leading ladies tend to have wonderful senses of humor, as do the majority of their love interests. But in this story we have a more stoic heroine and, though she’s an interesting character, she’s not quite as compelling as many of her fellow heroines. There were moments of humor, of course; Mrs. Jennings can be incredibly amusing, and it’s hard not to laugh at the elder Miss Steele. But the humor in this story took a distant back seat to the relationship drama, which left me feeling discontented. I struggled reading this.

Was the book terrible? Of course not. I doubt that anything Jane Austen wrote can be fairly considered awful. And I know there are people who hold this as their favorite Austen novel, and I respect their opinions. It just didn’t do it for me, unfortunately.

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