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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
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- Georgia (1)
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- Washington, D.C.* (1)

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- Ireland (2)
- Italy (1)
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My Progress:

23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 50 books. 32% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

21 / 50 books. 42% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

43 / 50 books. 86% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 52 books. 73% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 40 books. 63% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

22 / 100 books. 22% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

60 / 165 books. 36% done!
Thursday, December 03, 2020

Reminiscent of Little Women, Great Depression Holiday Tale Heartfelt and Endearing

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Christmas has always been a time of joy and plenty for the Swift Family of Indianapolis, Indiana.  Not this year.  It's 1932.  With the Great Depression causing hardship and destitution all over the country, it's shaping up to be a bleak holiday for everyone.  With four siblings, 11-year-old Minnie is already wondering how her family is going to make ends meet.  Then, her parents decide to take in Willie Faye Darling, Minnie's cousin from the Texas Panhandle.  Also 11, Willie Faye arrives in Indiana covered head-to-toe in dirt, shocking evidence of what her impoverished life in the Dust Bowl is like.  Although Willa Faye has obviously lived a backwards life—she's completely unfamiliar with indoor plumbing and radio dramas!—Minnie enjoys having her lively cousin around.  Her life experiences remind Minnie of what's really important, an outlook she'll need to keep in mind more than ever with the skimpiest Christmas ever on the horizon.  Together, the girls resolve to make the holiday festive and happy for their family, no matter how little money they have or how dreary things get.  

Christmas After All by Kathryn Lasky is exactly what a holiday tale should be—it's positive, heartfelt, poignant, and uplifting.  In fact, the novel strikes a perfect balance between humor and seriousness.  Minnie's voice is pitch-perfect.  The Swift household, full of girls and giggles, is reminiscent of the March household, with all its familiar warmth and heart.  Just like in Little Women, the Swift sisters are stuffed with life and personality, exuding light despite the struggles they face.  Not only does Christmas After All show readers what living during the Great Depression was like, it also teaches valuable lessons about charity, hope, family, faith, and making the best of a bad situation.  This quick, edifying read has everything I adore in a holiday story.  I might have to make it one I revisit every December along with A Christmas Carol.  I enjoyed it that much! 

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a lot of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for discussion of difficult subject matter (poverty, homelessness, despair, suicide, etc.)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find 

MG Lighthouse Keeping Novel Another Intriguing Historical Novel in a Favorite-of-Mine Series

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Although helping at the lighthouse might not be a very "ladylike" thing to do, 15-year-old Amelia "Wickie" Martin loves aiding her father in his assistant lighthouse keeper duties.  Her dad, a former captain, was stripped of his ship after helping an abolitionist and banished to remote Fenwick Island, Delaware.  Wickie's mother is still bitter over the family's tarnished reputation and reduced financial situation.  Wickie couldn't be happier.  Living in a border state means everyone around her—including her parents—are hotly divided over the issue of slavery.  It's only in the lighthouse that Wickie feels true peace.  There, she can be herself, which means quietly supporting abolition and even finding her own ways to help the cause.  While the Civil War tears her nation and her parents apart, can Wickie find a way to keep herself intact?

Scholastic started publishing the Dear America books—a series of middle-grade novels penned by various well-known authors written in diary format and centered around important historical events—in 1996, while I was a sophomore in college.  I wish they had been in circulation when I was in elementary school because I would have eaten them up!  Even as an adult, I enjoy these quick, intimate historical novels.  I've read a number of them.  When I was looking for a book set in Delaware for the Literary Escapes Reading Challenge, I came across A Light in the Storm by Karen Hesse.  Although the book is more episodic than plot-driven, it made for an interesting read.  I enjoyed learning about lighthouse keeping, something I've not encountered before in fiction.  Hesse mentions in her Author's Note that Wickie was inspired by a real-life female Lightkeeper, Ida Lewis, whose careful watch saved many from dying at sea.  I'd never heard of Lewis' heroic efforts, so that made A Light in the Storm even more fascinating.  Also intriguing was looking at the Civil War from the position of someone living in a border state.  That situation put a new spin on the subject for me.  I did find Wickie's life—and thus her story—to be a sad, depressing one.  For that reason and more, I liked but didn't love this novel.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other books in the Dear America series)   


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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