Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: A Simple Christmas Wish

A Simple Christmas Wish by Melody Carlson

Publication Date: 09/15/2013
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Imprint: Revell Books
Genre: Christmas, Christian/Inspiration, Gift Book
Pages: 176
ISBN-10: 0800719654
ISBN-13: 978-0800719654

(Received for an honest review from Revell Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook, IndieBound

Melody Carlson on the WEB: Website, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from A Simple Christmas Wish, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:

Rachel Milligan is caring for her seven-year-old niece, Holly, at her home in Chicago when she receives devastating news: Holly's parents have been killed in a plane crash. Because Rachel is Holly's only known relative, she assumes that she will be her beloved niece's guardian. However, custody is awarded to Lydia, a distant aunt who happens to be Amish. Just a week before Christmas, Rachel takes Holly to the Amish community in the hopes of persuading Aunt Lydia to relinquish custody. Instead, Lydia sets out to teach Holly to live according to the Amish way. As family secrets emerge and old wounds are healed, Rachel realizes that she will do whatever it takes to ensure that Holly has the loving family she needs.

Combining an Amish family saga with the anticipation of Christmas cheer and the promise of a budding romance, this newest Christmas story from beloved author Melody Carlson is sure to please.


Thoughts:

Melody Carlson is a well respected and highly acclaimed author of Christian/Inspirational fiction. She writes novels for women and teens and even books for young readers. Carlson has recently been releasing a Christmas novella each year. This year's novella is called, A Simple Christmas Wish. It is the story of a little girl and her aunt, who are touched by tragedy just before Christmas. Carlson once again shines in this short Christmas tale that brings the English and Amish worlds together. Carlson's ability to get her message across in this short format is exceptional and readers of both Christmas fiction and Christian/Inspirational fiction will love it!

As many of you know I am a huge fan of Christmas fiction whether it is main stream romance, Christian/Inspirational or any other genre. Melody Carlson's Christmas novella's are some of my favorites. I was really excited to see Carlson's take on an Amish Christmas in, A Simple Christmas Wish. I will have to say that this is my favorite Christmas novella by Carlson to date. It is inspiring and heartfelt and I think readers will identify with not only the characters but the situation. Tragedy is never easy but when it comes at Christmas time it seems even more devastating and I think Carlson captured that feeling and turned it around. 

Rachel is babysitting her niece Molly just before Christmas while her parents celebrate their anniversary. One phone call changes Molly and Rachel's lives forever. Molly parents have been killed in a plane crash. Now Molly must travel to Ohio to live with her aunt, Lydia who is Amish. There are so many interesting nuances about this book. You have Rachel's love for Molly. Lydia's unwavering faith. Ben's romantic feelings and everything sort of clashes together all at once. I thought Carlson did a great job of telling this story in very few pages, but with great impact in every paragraph. 

Carlson writes this story in under 200 pages, but I did not feel like anything was rushed at all. Everything takes it's natural course and feels realistic and smooth. I wanted it to be longer because it was so good, but it wasn't necessary to carry the story. It stood well on it's own. I thought Carlson also used her pages wisely by letting the characters speak for themselves. The reader learns more about everyone through their actions and not through a narrator which was a nice touch. 

The characters are really the star of this novella. Molly is a wonderful little girl who will touch the heart of every reader. Rachel's love for Molly is so strong that she is willing to do what is best for her no matter what her own feelings are. Ben comes across as a loving son and brother and a man who understands what Molly is facing. Lydia is strong in her faith and wants to teach and nurture Molly. Together these characters make for a wonderful Christmas story. 

Carlson treats the Amish faith with respect and dignity and it is obvious that she has researched the Amish in detail. I thought she took a risk by having Lydia be less than friendly with Rachel in the beginning, but she pulls it off and readers will quickly understand why it was necessary. I have never met an Amish person who was not the epitome of hospitality and love, so I was taken a little aback by that, but Carlson knew what she was doing. 

This novella was just a joy to read this time of year!

Available at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!



About the Author:

Melody Carlson has written around 200 books for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her books range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including the Rita and Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/


Giveaway Details:

I recently told you all about a great website offering giveaways of Christian/Inspiration fiction and non-fiction titles, called The Book Club Network. This month they are giving away five copies of Melody Carlson's Christmas novella, A Simple Christmas Wish. Remember that you have to sign up and be a member of the community to participate in the giveaway. You have until the last day of the month.

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