Friday, December 04, 2009

A Trio of Christmas Delights

The Christmas Dog

The Unfinished Gift

Finding Christmas

The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson is a heart-warming story of the unexpected ways love can come into our lives. Betty Kowalski isn't looking forward to the holidays this year. Widowed for many years with her children living far away, she can't even muster up the desire to put up decorations. Her interactions with the cranky next-door neighbor Jack certainly haven't helped. When a dirty, skinny dog runs from his yard into hers, she assumes that it belongs to Jack and tries to return it, only to have it keep coming back. And then her granddaughter Avery shows up, angry at her parents and ready to spend the holidays with the grandmother she hasn't seen in years. Carlson takes what could have been a treacly Christmas story and makes it much more through her textured portrayal of Betty who goes from a fearful near-hermit to strong loving woman determined to do the best for those she loves. It's a story certain to touch all who read it.

The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh is an unexpected treasure. Patrick Collins is having a terrible Christmas. His mother killed in a car accident, his father fighting the Nazis overseas, he's sent off to wait for his father's return with a grandfather, Ian, he's never met. Ian is Scrooge personified: angry at the world, curmudgeonly, stingy, and holding on to a burning anger at Patrick's father that spills over into his relationship with the seven-year-old Patrick. Kathleen Townsend, Patrick's social worker, is doing everything she can to care for the sweet little boy, but when bad news comes, no one can protect him from the consequences. Walsh's rendering of Ian is that of a harsh almost brutal man, who turned his back on anyone who refused to do things his way. Patrick is a lovely, sweet boy who wants nothing more than to please the adults around him, but there's no pleasing Ian. Walsh reminds readers that Christmas is a time of second chances and to offer forgiveness. Keep tissues handy while reading this one!

I apologize for the lateness of today's post! My dad was in a car accident earlier today, and while thank God he's ok (3 broken ribs and possible small puncture on lung), I went to the ER to be with him and my step-mom and then drove him home to make sure he was okay.

The winner of the contest for Lisa Tawn Bergren's books was Jill Wendt. Congrats to her! I'll be starting a new contest on Monday, so make sure you stop back then!


Dan Walsh said...


You poor thing. So sorry to hear about your Dad's accident. Glad it's not life threatening. He's going to need a lot of TLC, though. I've had one cracked rib before; hurt every time I breathed. Thank you for the kind review. So glad you liked the book. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, and that your Dad heals up soon. I'll pray for him.

Dan Walsh

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear Uncle Dick is going to be ok. He is in our prayers.