Books Review – The Christmas Scrapbook & The Mitford Snowman

NOTE: In honor of the holidays, I thought I’d do a couple holiday stories, so it’s a bonus twofer review day! I know that these are competing series, but hey, why not?


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TITLE: The Christmas Scrapbook
AUTHOR: Philip Gulley
FORMAT: Hardback
PUBLISHED: 2005

Okay, so I needed a Christmas book for the reading challenge, and I found this on the shelf.  It was short, so I grabbed it.  I’m not big on Christmas stories in general, and I’ve already read Skipping Christmas and Ester’s Gift, and a couple other short ones.  Thus, this one it was…

The book is apparently a stand-alone companion book to the popular Home to Harmony series of books.  I haven’t read them, but I had no problem following along with who everyone was.

In this story, the MC is Pastor Sam, determined this year to get a better gift than the almost two-decades of crap he’s managed before, so he’s off making her a scrapbook. Misunderstandings happen.  Hilarity ensues.  Or something. [Side note.  If you’re the type of husband that can’t manage something better than a friggin’ pelican to hold your kitchen sponge, you are doing this husband thing wrong.  He’s supposedly been married 17 years.  I don’t know why either one of them put up with the other.]

Look, I’m sure these are supposed to be cute and wholesome and whatever – and this felt like a rejected Andy Griffith Show story line.  But unlike Andy, Sam’s just annoying.  And the busybodies all over town are just … annoying.  And I know I said that about Sam, but let’s just say that if this beauty parlor had the only shampoo in existence, I’d never wash my hair again instead of having to deal with these twits.  Apparently being a total gossip is a “good Christian” quality.

And the wife…  So, this is a minister and his wife.  When Sam has somewhere to be Wednesday nights and a bad lie to cover it up, why does she automatically assume he’s cheating on her?  I’m not saying clergy can’t cheat, but I’d like to think they operate under a higher morality clause than the rest of us.  And I’d like to think that even if they were acting all suspicious, a minister’s wife would assume just about anything else before cheating.

Honestly, this book did less than anything for me.  Maybe people who love this series will think this is a cute story, but I think that it could have seriously used about 1000 more words to flesh some things out instead of weak transitions and the glossing over of stuff.  For instance, at one point somebody twists an ankle.  And since the response to that is more important than the actual ankle being twisted, it was reduced to about half a sentence.  That could have at least been an exciting paragraph.  But no.

In the end, I suggest reading this to put yourself to sleep.  If you like your fiction so saccharine sweet (with an undercoat of hen chatter) that you get diabetes, maybe you’re the target audience, but I know that I certainly am not.  2/5.

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TITLE: The Mitford Snowman
AUTHOR: Jan Karon
FORMAT: Hardback Large Print
PUBLISHED: 2001

For those not in the know, Jan Karon has a series of books that take place in the little town of Mitford, and center around a sleepy southern town and a priest.  I haven’t read any of the novels, but I did review the other Christmas book about a year ago.

So this one.  The Mitford Snowman is a simple – and very short – story that starts with a couple guys sitting around talking and then it starts snowing.  Next thing everyone knows, an impromptu snowman building contest starts up, and everyone up and down the street gets involved.

It’s cute, and it’s simple, and I think it’s pretty much what it should be.

With that said, it’s short.  Like 1800 words.  Which isn’t necessarily bad for a gift book at Christmas, but I have several issues with this version.  Like I said, I got the large print one, which came out from Wheeler Publishing.  Unfortunately, this version has all black and white illustrations, and the short internet search I did about this book shows that the interior is actual in color in the regular print version, so I was sad to miss out on that.  Also, because Large Print somehow costs oh-so-much-extra to print, the cover price on this is $26.95.  Yes, $27 for 1800 words and some should-be-in-color illustrations in black and white.

And because it’s Large Print, it felt like I was reading a Children’s book.  There were something like 45 words per page.

So I was seriously disappointed with this version.

Bottom line.  For the story itself, I totally think its worth the read.  But the Large Print book isn’t worth it at all. I don’t want to even give this version of this book a rating.  But I must, so I’d give it a 3/5, mostly because the story is good.  The price with the B&W is a total ripoff.  That said, I’d give the regular version a 4/5, so if you can get your hands on that one, read it instead.  But if you have a friend that’s really into the Mitford books, this would be a great Christmas gift with a nice box of tea.

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Either book satisfies the Christmas Book portion of the challenge.
Book 6/52.  (And yes, I know these reviews published out of order.)

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