Always Noel

'Tis the Season Book 4

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
64 Pages
Reviewed on 08/26/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Peggy Jo Wipf for Readers' Favorite

Always Noel by Kathleen Shoop is the fourth book in her 'Tis the Season series. The author takes you back to when our country struggled to get back on its feet after the Great Depression. Jane Scott dreamed of getting her bachelor's degree to become a teacher. When her little community college closed, she applied to the University of Oregon. Her acceptance letter was a dream come true until she discovered she didn't qualify for the scholarship that paid for her schooling. Her boyfriend, Jack Arthur, was all set for his schooling to become a dentist. Would this hinder their future plans? Who was she if she couldn't teach? So many questions cloud her mind that Jane doubts Christmas magic can break through her fears.

I found Always Noel a delightful novelette. Kathleen Shoop quickly knits your heart to Jane Scott with her roller coaster of emotions. Jane's deepest fear of Jack leaving her behind because she can't fulfill her part of their dreams sets the sentiment of the story. It isn't just about a woman wanting to make her way in the world alongside her future spouse, but a passion to educate. She felt there was nothing like the moment when a student's eyes lit up with understanding, and they grasped the knowledge she was teaching. Through an intricate weave of events, you connect with the characters and cry when the twist you were expecting is unveiled. The first couple of pages drew me in completely, and I knew I wouldn't put it down until Jane's doubts were resolved and Christmas magic was restored.

Kimberlee J Benart

If you enjoy heartwarming holiday fiction, Always Noel: 'Tis the Season Book 4 by Kathleen J. Shoop is for you. In the waning years of the Depression, just days before Christmas, Jane gets good news and bad. She’s been accepted to a university to complete her degree after her local college closed, but no scholarship is available, and she can’t continue without it. This jeopardizes everything that Jane and her boyfriend Jack were planning for their future. Her deep disappointment is initially inconsolable, and everyone telling her not to give up on her dream of becoming a teacher doesn’t help. She even begins to doubt Jack’s commitment to her. Can the love and support of family and friends in this season of hope help Jane find happiness again?

In Always Noel: 'Tis the Season Book 4, Kathleen J. Shoop gives us a sweet and tender tale about a young woman who is so emotionally affected by an unanticipated turn of events that for a time she becomes a very different person: unhappy, moody, insecure, crying, and even questioning the love, friendship, and good will of those whom she’s known all her life. The narrative moves at a good pace, giving the reader insight into Jane’s doubts and disappointments, and unfolding the efforts that others make to help her deal with them even though she sometimes misconstrues their intentions. But just as every cloud has its silver lining, Jane’s true personality and strength of character must eventually shine through. A warmly satisfying read for any season.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Always Noel ('Tis the Season Book 4) by award-winning author Kathleen J Shoop is the fourth installment in a series of inspiring Christmas novellas, including The Christmas Coat, The Tin Whistle, and Cinder Bella. Based on a true-to-life story of the author's maternal grandparents, the story unravels in December 1937 in Albany, Oregon. Jane Scott is busy working at Alexander's Pharmacy and Soda Shop that night. Her current school will close the following year, and she has applied for admission and a scholarship to the University of Oregon. In her hand is a letter from the university, and she's excited to open it. Her boyfriend Jack is also waiting for news about a loan to fund his dental school studies. Getting an education is part of the long-term plan of the young couple. Will the spirit of Christmas help them in pursuing their dreams in life?

Kathleen J Shoop's Always Noel ('Tis the Season Book 4) is a feel-good story that can be enjoyed any time of the year. The author's vivid literary style should make the reader see, smell, and feel the real spirit of Christmas. The characters are likable and highly relatable. The language is accessible to readers, and the message is well-defined. This family story can be retold each year to emphasize the Christmas message. Hope and joy emanate from the pages of Always Noel, celebrating love, friendship, and family ties. Indeed, if the Christmas spirit is with us all the time, the world should be a better place. Highly recommended!

Edith Wairimu

Always Noel ('Tis the Season Book 4) by Kathleen J Shoop is a wonderful short story about hope and finding joy during Christmas. It is 1937 and Albany, Oregon is abuzz with holiday activities. Unlike most people and other women her age, Jane hopes to become a teacher after completing her bachelor’s degree. She learns that she has been accepted into the University of Oregon but is crushed to realize she did not get the scholarship she was hoping for. Without it, she cannot complete her degree. Jane’s future with her long-time boyfriend, Jack, also seems uncertain. Jack soon disappears and Jane cannot find him. Still, it is Christmas time and anything could happen. Amidst the Christmas cheer, Jane gets her miracle.

Always Noel by Kathleen J Shoop is a sweet, uplifting story. It is brief and can be read easily during the busy Christmas period. I loved how determined Jane was to acquire an education at a time when getting educated as a woman was unpopular. Other characters were also likable and compelling. Shoop does a great job of depicting what Albany would have been like during the Great Depression. The story inspires optimism and faith through its characters who continue to hope despite facing tragedy and hardship. Jane and Jack’s relationship is realistic and is a lovely addition to the story. The book is also complete and can be read alone. The fourth book in the amazing series, 'Tis the Season, Always Noel is a heart-warming novela that embodies the essence of Christmas. It contains hopeful themes and profound lessons.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Sometimes faith is a difficult thing to hold onto. When Jane is accepted at the University of Oregon, she’s ecstatic. It’s one step closer to her dream of becoming a teacher. But then she discovers, in spite of her stellar marks, she’s not being offered a scholarship. It’s 1937, and money is in short supply, both for Jane’s family and for the university’s scholarship funds. Her perfect Christmas is now ruined and, to make things worse, her job at the pharmacy is being terminated. Now she’ll never be able to save for her dream.

Kathleen J. Shoop’s novella, Always Noel, is book 4 of the ‘Tis the Season series. The plot begins with the days leading up to Christmas, a season of hope. The despair that results from dashed dreams is the key point of this story, one that challenges one’s faith and hope for the future. There is also an element of romance in this story, as Jane’s childhood sweetheart Jack plans his future studies to become a dentist. He doesn’t have a scholarship, but he does have a benefactor. The plot is forward-driven and engaging, as the reader follows Jane’s search for meaning in her despair in a season usually filled with hope. The characters are well developed and the descriptive narrative aptly sets the stage for this charming comfort read. Dialogue is well used to define the characters and move the plot to its compelling confusion. Overall, this is an enjoyable read, perfectly suited for the holiday season.