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Saturday, January 23, 2016

What makes a soothing, gentle read?

Some books haunt you with thought-provoking questions and characters. Some relax you with the familiar. Some annoy. Some... well, maybe books are like friends and inspire the whole gamut of emotions. But today's reviews are of books by "old favorite" authors - which is not to the say the authors are old - just that their books are well-read. I know before I open the pages that I'm in for a pleasant ride, that I'll meet a wealth of pleasing characters, that I won't be taken too far from the comfort of my thoughts... but these aren't books that pander - they're too slick to be gentlemanly, and make for sugar-coated reads. So that's the different between soothingly gentle, and sugar. Perhaps it's the spice. A soothing gentle read has to have some spice to bring it to life.

Alexander McCall Smith is a favorite for me. The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe fitted the bill as soothingly gentle - never letting me worry that things wouldn't somehow work out, but never soaking me in sugar either, as real questions are asked, in a distant land, that impact my thoughts here at home. Abuse and deportation aren't gentle ideas, but the book deals with them honestly in a soothing gentle read. Enjoy with some fine well-balanced three-star coffee.

Another favorite author is Jan Karon. My Mum and I shared her latest Mitford book, Come Rain or Come Shine, and both thoroughly enjoyed it. Again, there are serious issues to be seen through very human eyes. Prejudice and child abuse stand side by side with the question of how to arrange a wedding in a barn, and it works. Soothing, gentle, and serious enough to be well worth the read, Rain or Shine brings back old favorite characters and well-worn beliefs, making them pleasingly relevant and new. Enjoy with some more well-balanced three-star coffee.

An Amish Christmas at North Star combines the writing skills of several Christian romantic authors to create a single novel, built from four novellas, filled with interesting hints of Amish life, pleasing romance, and that Christmas sense of good endings or happy beginnings on the way. You might want to save it to read next Christmas, or else read now in memory of Christmas gone by. Enjoy with some pleasingly balanced three-star coffee.

Steena Holmes' Sweet Memories come close to being too sweet, but adds its spices in just the right amount. Communication's the key, whether a parent is sick, or a child is angry, or a gesture is misunderstood. It's a short romance, with serious chocolate overtones, but it's worth another well-balanced three-star coffee and it's a good read.

Destiny's Second Chance by Kate Vale is a pleasing blend of family drama and romance, again with a sense that it's bound to turn out well. A mother who gave up her child at birth longs for a lost relationship, but finds herself combining love for child with love for a new man in her life when she receives Destiny's contact information. Meanwhile the mother who loved Destiny from birth to adulthood is afraid to lose a relationship that's already floundering on the rocks of adulthood. It's another one to enjoy with some well-balanced three star coffee, and the last of this collection of soothing, gentle reads.


maryrussel said...

I haven't read any of these but they all sound like books I would enjoy. My favorite soothing, gentle reads all contain humor.

Sheila Deeth said...

That's a good point. The presence of humor might even be essential to soothing the savage beast.