>Meh. I really do not like cheesy Christmas books. While there were definitely entertaining parts to Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul, I was less than impressed with the story. I understand that Christmas books are a serious market and that many people do enjoy them. There is something magical about Christmas, and I totally get that. Unfortunately, this novella (a very quick read – only took me an hour or two) seemed to be just a little too cheesy for me. The love story between Cora and Simon seemed to be just a little bit too contrived. I was thankful that Sandy, Simon’s younger sister with Downs Syndrome, was kindly portrayed. Beyond the ridiculous ending, there were a few funny scenes and some interesting moments. It was, for a light, cheesy read, just fine.
A few months back during the summer, I received a free book from Thomas Nelson Publishing. It was a book by one of my favorite authors, Lisa Samson, and I was amazed at the power in its pages. I read it quickly, something I typically do with all books, and hadn’t thought too much about it until recently. Last week, my husband was at work for two days one with a late shift, the next with an early shift. Since we live quite a distance from his work, it made sense that he should sleep there. During the evening while he was gone, I really enjoyed the alone time. I had dinner with a good friend (leftovers — so I didn’t even have to cook!), and after she left I wrote some more of my thesis, graded some papers, tried to bring myself to read a book that was just so hard to focus on, ate cookies and popcorn, and sang along to some of my favorite music. As it started getting dark, I closed the curtains and holed myself in, trying not to think about the darkness outside. I finally forced myself into bed far later than usual, and laid in fear for quite some time.
Typically, I read a book in one sitting (thank you, Mrs. Mico-Smith, for teaching the first grade “early birds” to speed read!), even if it isn’t of great interest to me. Unfortunately, Where Hearts are Free by Golden Keyes Parsons took me just over three weeks to finish. I got through about half of the book in my first sitting; after that, I don’t entirely know what it was, but I just couldn’t bear to make myself sit down and read it. I would start, then have to stop after about five minutes when I got to the end of a chapter and couldn’t push myself to go on to the next one. I found myself frustrated with the characters and their ridiculous actions, with the inevitable plot twists that I seemed to figure out pages ahead of their occurrences, with the horrid suitor who was all bad.
Bridget Barrington, the protagonist, only becomes somewhat likeable at the end of the narrative; until then, she is portrayed as either selfish, strong willed, or weak. Unfortunately, her character wavers between the three, never fully settling on one personality. Contrary to the author’s supposed intentions, this seems to make her an unrealistic, weak character. Also, there were a few storylines that were abandoned midway.
While I would say that Where Hearts Are Free was entertaining, I thought it had great potential that it did not live up to. Thank you, though, to Thomas Nelson who provided this review copy to me free of charge. My opinions are my own.