Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Christmas Dog / The Unfinished Gift

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
November 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1881-7
Genre: Inspirational/Christmas/contemporary

Betty Kowalski doesn’t have the holiday spirit this year. She can’t seem to find Christmas in her heart. She considers going to visit her daughter a little earlier this year, but when she calls, she discovers that Susan is going on a holiday cruise and won’t be home. Mostly, though, Betty is unhappy about her newest neighbor who seems to be tearing his house apart and putting it in the back yard.

When a dirty dog shows up on Betty’s doorstep, Betty is convinced that Jack is a bad dog owner. But each time she returns the dog to Jack, Jack returns the dog to her. When Betty’s granddaughter, Avery, shows up, Avery quickly becomes attached to the dog. But how can a dog heal a bad relationship between neighbors and teach them what Christmas is all about?

THE CHRISTMAS DOG is a sweet story that I read through in an afternoon. Betty is a realistic character, older, and set in her ways, and she doesn’t take kindly to anything that messes her schedule up. A dog certainly had the potential to do just that. In a way, Betty had to learn how to let go and let go, in this holiday story, and I think Ms. Carlson projected that flawlessly.

I enjoyed reading THE CHRISTMAS DOG, and this is a book that I think would bless many other people during this holiday season. A perfect book for gift giving, whether to a loved one, or to yourself. The dog is the sweetest little thing, and a host of loveable (even the neighbor!) secondary characters make this tale special. Don’t miss THE CHRISTMAS DOG. $14.99 hardcover. 172 pages.


Author: Dan Walsh
Publisher: Revell
November 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1924-1
Genre: Inspirational/Christmas/historical

Patrick Collins mother has just died, and his father is overseas fighting the Nazis. With no where left to go, the seven-year-old boy is taken to his grandfather’s house, a man he has never met. Patrick’s father, Shawn, is estranged from his father, and the rift has never been restored.

The last thing Ian Collins expected was to have this unknown young boy in his care. Especially since now the social worker and his priest are sticking their nose in his business telling him how to take care of the boy and that he needs to decorate for Christmas. Ian didn’t see any point in decorating for Christmas. The boy’s mother had just died, his father would be home soon, and well, since Ian’s wife had died he hadn’t decorated anything.

When Ian is forced to allow some Christmas decorations, he admits the boy into the attic with strict instructions to only touch the Christmas pretties, not the tree ornaments, and not to touch anything else in the attic. Patrick agrees…at least until he spies an unfinished, hand-carved wooden soldier in the corner of the attic. A soldier Ian is forbidden to touch, and one Patrick desperately wants.

THE UNFINISHED GIFT is the debut novel of Dan Walsh, but it certainly won’t be the last. Poignant and heartwarming, this is a book that will break your heart and make you cry (don’t read without a box of tissues close by), but the bring back the hope that maybe everything will be all right.

A story of redemption and forgiveness, THE UNFINISHED GIFT is a book that will stand out this holiday season. The characters are unforgettable, the setting vividly described. This is a book to read yourself, and then buy extra copies for all your friends and family, a book that will go on your keeper shelf to read next year. And the year following. And the year following that. I am looking forward to reading The Homecoming, coming in June 2010. $14.99 hardcover. 249 pages.

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