Nana’s Gift and The Red Geranium by Janette Oke

fiction-books-3 nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Five Gold Stars

Nana's GiftNana’s Gift and The Red Geranium by Janette Oke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A husband spends years saving for a special gift for his wife, and a family legacy is birthed. A little boy must find a way to bring back his great-grandmother, who seems to have given up on life. Two families will realize how there are expensive gifts, and then there are priceless ones in Nana’s Gift and The Red Geranium, two tales by author Janette Oke.

This duo of novellas is worth checking out for Janette Oke fans. I’d even recommend these stories for reading with or aloud to someone. And the illustrations–oh! Love the charming drawings in this little hardback. They give you that warm and cozy Christmassy feeling, regardless of the fact that these aren’t holiday tales or anything. 🙂

The Red Geranium is my favorite story of the two.

The Matchmakers by Janette Oke

womens-fiction-books-2 nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Four Silver Stars

The MatchmakersThe Matchmakers by Janette Oke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Since the early passing of her husband, Cynthia has been grateful for her father’s help with her two young sons. Now Cynthia wants a bit more space to get on with her life, but she’s worried about her father being all alone. Her best friend Judith is rather sure that setting Cynthia’s father up with a nice, older widow would be just the ticket in The Matchmakers by author Janette Oke.

This author has been one of my all-time favorites for years, with her simple and touching stories, so I always knew I’d get around to reading this tale from the 90s eventually. What a light, cozy little story it is–and I mean that literally, with its fun and heartwarming plot and the lovely illustrations in the hardback I picked up. Not to sound corny, but this is a bona fide “curl up on the couch with a warm cup of coffee” kind of read.

Or a warm cup of cocoa. I personally don’t drink coffee.

I got a little annoyed at some of the unnamed characters, and even at Judith at one point, for the attitude they’d take about Cynthia’s situation. “I have a family,” Judith reminds Cynthia once, as if Cynthia doesn’t know that–and as if Cynthia doesn’t have a family herself. (No, she doesn’t have a husband anymore. But she does have a family.) And I’m not sure how well a “leave it all in God’s hands and don’t manipulate” frame of mind works in a matchmaking story. If you’re purposely finding ways to leave two people alone in each other’s company, you’re still manipulating the situation.

But, anyhow. I enjoyed this easy and delightful read–predictable, but then, not quite as predictable as I thought it would be.

Drums of Change by Janette Oke

historical-books nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Four Silver Stars

drums-of-change-2Drums of Change by Janette Oke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Running Fawn has always loved and taken pride in the ways of her Blackfoot tribe. But survival is becoming difficult as the buffalo disappear, and white men have shown up on the prairie, bringing guns, diseases, and their foreign religion. Running Fawn will have to decide where she fits in a world she barely recognizes anymore in Drums of Change, a novel by author Janette Oke.

I first read this book by one of my all-time favorite authors, oh, twenty years ago or so. Rereading it was a walk down memory lane with a changed pair of eyes.

The Native American peoples’ plight is presented with a gentle hand by the author, but the tension, the irony, the pain, the resignation in all of it hit me in a different way this time around. The mix of skepticism, hope, and anger at the offer of (more) treaties. A nomadic people reluctant to face the prospect of no more buffalo to follow, but perhaps more reluctant over the prospect of moving to a Reserve. A young, imminent chief, Silver Fox, who respects his heritage but wants his people to make it in a world that, for better or for worse, won’t be the same.

Perhaps with the exception of Running Fawn, I didn’t get too strong a sense of the characters. This was particularly true with Reverend Forbes, since much of his “airtime” takes place through letters or in the background somewhere instead of through front-and-center action or dialogue. The “I wish I could marry him/her, but he/she isn’t a Christian” plot theme has never really worked to me, in a novel. And, yes, it amused me to run into the same error I remembered running into twenty years ago, where Running Fawn’s name is once mistakenly used to refer to Silver Fox.

Still, I enjoyed revisiting this novel from one of my favorite series, the Women of the West. I’ve already read most of the series’ novels two or three times and absolutely plan to reread some more.

Seasons of the Heart by Janette Oke

fiction-books-2 nadine keels

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
_______________________

Five Gold Stars

seasons-of-the-heartSeasons of the Heart/Four Complete Novels in One Book by Janette Oke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(4.5 rating for the whole four-book series)

When an orphaned boy is raised by his Aunt Lou, Gramps, Uncle Charlie, and Grandpa, the boy’s life is bound to be anything but typical.

I don’t read book blurbs when I don’t have to, and I had no intention of looking at any blurb or other beforehand to know what Seasons of the Heart was about. Janette Oke’s name and the fact that I’ve known for years that the series exists was enough.

I was in for three noteworthy surprises from the first novel.
1) The story is told in first-person, which, even considering her Canadian West series, isn’t the most common for Oke’s novels.
2) The protagonist is an adolescent boy, Joshua, which isn’t common for Oke’s novels.
3) Josh’s perspective (along with the well-intentioned but not-the-best-idea scheming of his grandpa and uncle) actually had me laughing  out loud, something I’m not used to doing with Oke’s novels. I mean, sure, I’ve enjoyed light moments she’s handled with a light hand before, but some of the stuff here is just downright hilarious.

I liked seeing the dynamics of the different kind of family Joshua has. Though the tone of the writing gradually changes through the series as Joshua grows, it’s well worth it to follow his story right on into his adulthood.

Simple novels of faith and love and learning through trials–and prairie life and the like–are what I count on this author for, and I’ve not been disappointed. There’s genius in telling uncomplicated but engaging stories that just get the job done.

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Me and my oftentimes old-fashioned self. Yes, the Seasons of the Heart book covers have been updated over the years, but I’m partial to the cover images from the 80s, back when the books were first published.

seasons-of-the-heart-pics