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Lesley Gould – Courting Cate 4/5
In this Amish novel inspired by Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, Cate Miller is known for her sharp tongue and fiery temper around Paradise, Pennsylvania in contrast to her sweet sister Betsy. Exasperated by his daughter, their father sets a rule: Cate must marry first before Betsy can court. And when the free-spirited Pete Treger comes working for Mr. Miller, Cate might just have found her match.
During my teenage years I was a big fan of Amish novels, but I outgrew their cliché storylines. This novel however, is all but cliché and Cate is a very different sort of Amish heroine than most. I really liked the first half of the novel, seeing Cate grow and try out things she never did and finding out she can actually connect to a man. But the second half was a bit more frustrating, as Pete lands Cate in a tricky situation and they basically stop communicating. Still, overall I really liked it.

Jenny Colgan – Welcome to Rosie Hopkin’s sweetshop of dreams 4,5/5
With her mother and brother living in Australia, it falls to Rosie (the only family member in the UK) to take care of her elderly Aunt Lilian in a small country village. Rosie didn't expect to fall in love with her aunt's sweetshop and feel right at home in the lovely little village of Lipton.

Last year at Christmas I read part two of this series and I only now found the time to read this first part of Rosie's adventures in Lipton. And what a lovely read it was! A cozy and warm small-town romp with lots of humour, quirky characters and a dash of romance (although I did find the development of Rosie and Stephen's relationship a bit weird, to say the least). Rosie is such a lovely and relatable character as she bumbles through adapting to small-town live and bickers with her aunt. I wasn't overly fond of the bits of WWII story (when Lilian was a young girl) in between the current story, but it didn't really decrease my enjoyment of the book overall.

Charlotte Brönte – Jane Eyre (reread)
I reread this classic for (I think) the third time and followed the read-along from Hamlette. It was really great to read the book in this way and I got a lot of new insights from Hamlette's chapter posts and the discussions in the comments! You know a book is good when you can read it again and again and discover something new every time!

Anthony Trollope – Dr. Thorne 3/5
Dr. Thorne is the physician of Greshamsbury and a good friend of Shire Gresham. His niece Mary lives with him and grew up together with the Gresham children. Their relationship is badly damaged however when Frank Gresham, the heir, falls in love with pennyless Mary.

I had such high expectations of this novel. I had become somewhat of a Trollope fan in the last few years, very much enjoying his writing style and his characterization of (especially) female characters. But Dr. Thorne is just boring. Have you seen the trailer for ITV's adaptation of Dr. Thorne? In it, you see all the characters talking about money. Well, that is basically the core of the book, people talking about money and inheritance and marrying money in endless repeats. There is nothing wrong with the story in itself or with the characters, it has just been stretched out waaaaay to long. I believe Trollope could have written this story in about half the length and it would have been so much better.

Charles Groenhuijsen – Oh oh Amerika 3,5/5
A Dutch book written by a news reporter who has lived in the USA for quite some years. He describes the changes in the USA politics and society over the last 8 years.

In the run-up to the USA election, I wanted to get some background information about the current 'state' of America. This was generally an insightfull book which tackled a large number of subjects, from healthcare to the prison-system. I do wonder however if mr. Groenhuijsen was not too positive about what America wants and how it will develop in this book, which came out about 1 year before the elections. I wonder what his thoughts are now.

Kara Isaac – Close to you 3,5/5
Allison Shire loves Tolkien, still, she never expected she would be running luxury Tolkien tours through New Zealand. But, with her personal and professional live in tatters, she has no choice. On one of her tours she meets Jackson Gregory and immediately sees he is a fake. He knows nothing about Tolkien, so what is he doing on this tour and what does the rich elderly man he's accompanying have to do with it?

I more and more despair of finding a contemporary Christian novel which I will really enoy (like 5/5 enjoy). Close to you came highly recommended by blogger friends, and it definitely was an okay read, but I want more than okay! Alright, the strong points were definitely the setting (this novel will make you go to New Zealand!) and the Tolkien connection, which is fun when you're reading this as a Tolkien fan yourself. Allison and Jackson were okay together (there's that word again), but didn't sparkly IMHO. Their interactions felt a little (dare I say it) forced and cliché and especially Allison's background was really quite difficult and was solved way too quickly and conveniently at the end of the novel for my liking.

Jenny Colgan – The Christmas surprise 4/5
Rosie Hopkins, happily engaged to Stephen Lakeman, is looking forward to their live together. But then, something completely unexpected happens and throws all their plans to the wind. Luckily, their friends in the village of Lipton will always be there for them.

This is the third and, so far, last of the Rosie Hopkins novels and takes place directly after Christmas at Rosie Hopkin's sweetshop, which I read last year at Christmas. This installment tackles some more serious themes, but mrs. Colgan still manages to pack a whole lot of warmth and humour into the novel. After reading the first part of the series in November, I realized I like Stephen and Rosie better as an established couple than 'dating', so I really liked them in this book as they try to navigate everything that life throws at them. The ending felt a little too conveniently happy, but then, a Christmas story should have a 'miracle' or two, right?

Andrew Gant – The carols of Christmas 3/5
Oxford professor and composer Andrew Gant writes about the (often muddled) history of the most beloved Christmas carols.

I'm a big fan of Christmas carols, so it was great fun to learn a little bit more about these (often) ancient songs through this book. It was really interesting to discover that when we believe some carol has 'always been this way', the way we sing it now is often quite modern, though the seperate parts of text and music can be really old, but come from completely different sources. Overall, I think this book is aimed a little bit more at people with a music background, because I couldn't always understand the composing terms the author used. But I would still recommend it for everyone with a love of Christmas carols.

Books read in 2016: 37
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