Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

engaging

I gobbled this book down in one day; it was as beautiful a story as the last one.

<Excerpt from the back cover>

In ENGAGING FATHER CHRISTMAS, Miranda Carson spends and English Christmas with her boyfriend, Ian, expecting that she’ll soon find herself engaged and the charming village of Carlton Heath will be her forever home.
But as word of Miranda’s true identity spreads beyond the family, all of her relationships are soon threatened. Will Father Christmas have a redeeming gift in store for them all?

 


I think you can enjoy this amazing story a lot more if you go blindly just like I did.
I went into this book knowing almost nothing about the plot and I enjoyed it immensely.

Just like the previous one, ‘Finding Father Christmas,’ Robin Jones Gunn’s writing is so beautiful and almost poetic. Her writing possesses the quality of Classic literature, so solid and captivating while being so calm and tranquil.

The pacing is also perfect; it proceeds at a steady pace while maintaining the quiet ambiance. There are some foreshadowings that allude the possible turmoil later in the story, but they are like quiet ripples moving across the surface of the water and they don’t disrupt the pacing of the story.

As for the plot, I found it interesting that there are still some awkwardness between Margaret and Miranda despite the ending of the last book. From Margaret’s last remark in the last book, I was convinced that Miranda was accepted by the Whitcombe family with open arms, but the plot suggested the otherwise – there is still a tangible barrier between Miranda and Margaret, and I thought that’s what turned this story into a page-turner.

The rift may have been the reason why I invested in Miranda’s character so much and wanted to see a reconciliation between those two. Miranda is so compassionate, gentle and unobtrusive. She cares about others and hates to cause trouble for her sake. That’s all the more reason why I wanted Margaret and Edward to acknowledge her as a member of the family.
Her grief and anguish over the revelation of her true identity felt so acutely and I almost cried.

Speaking of crying, we can’t skip talking about the dialogues. They are as stellar as the last ones.
Although I cried only once in the last book, I cried three times in this book. The dialogues got my waterworks once again and I just couldn’t stop crying; leave it to Robin Jones Gunn to make me cry; she never fails. 

Although there are points that I found predictable and I knew something bad and unnerving would happen somewhere because the synopsis on the back cover, I still could hear my heart beating really fast when ‘something’ actually happens. It was so intense and gripping, literally unstoppable. Just amazing.

Having read the two ‘Father’ books, I’m now convinced Robin Jones Gunn is a stellar, amazing writer.
I am now keen to read the latest book in the series, ‘Kissing Father Christmas!’

Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

finding-father

Title: Finding Father Christmas

Author: Robin Jones Gunn

Length: 176 pages

 

Excerpt from Goodreads

In FINDING FATHER CHRISTMAS, Miranda Carson’s search for her father takes a turn she never expected when she finds herself in London with only a few feeble clues to who he might be. Unexpectedly welcomed into a family that doesn’t recognize her, and whom she’s quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision. Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this London Christmas will forever change the future for both herself and the family she can’t bear to leave.


It was a re-read for me, I read this little novella at this time last year and I remember I was touched a lot.

I just can’t imagine for whatever reason I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars; this re-read reminded me how beautiful and amazing this book is, I’ll definitely give this book 5 stars this time.

Miranda Carson is in her 20s and lives in San Francisco. Being raised by her mother, ‘Eva Carson, the actress,’ she lived in somewhat like a fairy tale-ish world and didn’t even imagine she had a father.
But one day, her life and her world took a 180 – she accidentally found something in her mother’s blue purse that hinted that she actually had a father – her birth certificate and an old family photograph with the name of the photo studio where the photo was taken.
Determined to find her long-lost father, Miranda heads to England and from the moment she sets her foot in a small tea shop ‘Tea Cozy,’ she is swept up in the wheel of fortune…

I really enjoyed Miranda’s journey of discovering the father she has never known.
The writing is amazing and beautiful from start to finish, it has somewhat a poetic ambiance running through. I think the words ‘quiet,’ ‘calm’ and ‘tranquil’ are what best describe my feels toward her writing.
It’s very descriptive and very literary which makes it really easy to visualize each scene.
The image that I had when I reached the Christmas morning scene at the Witcombe manor is deeply etched into my brain; her writing spoke to my heart and soul like snowflakes falling from the sky without a sound – so beautiful and so tranquil. I don’t even know how to put my feelings into words, I’m lost for words.

The story line may seem a bit too fortuitous, yet it’s understandable considering this is a Christian fiction into which the tenet of Christianity is supposed to be deeply ingrained, and once you get into the story, I’m sure you won’t feel that way at all.  The whole story is perfect to portray the power of Almighty God and that there are things that beyond our control however hard we try; things that are in the hands of God.

I think I must warn you – this book is such a tear-jerker in the end. The anguish which bears on Miranda’s mind once she discovers her father’s identity and what ramification the revelation could have just broke my heart.
I swear I heard my heart was pounding while reading the last several chapters. It was just amazing, beyond reproach.

The dialogues are also stellar; in particular, the dialogues between Edward and Miranda are what left me in a sobbing mess. I was positively destroyed with tears streaming down my cheeks, I had a hard time reading because the print became blurry with my tears.
The last several chapters are spectacularly good and emotionally evocative, they made this book definitely worth a read.

This re-read made me realize what a masterpiece this book actually is, at least for me.
A masterfully, beautifully written great story. I will definitely read it again when Christmas comes around next year and most certainly beyond.

O Little Town by Don Reid

o-little-townTitle: O Little Town

Author: Don Reid

Published: October 1st, 2008

Publisher: David.C. Cook

Length: 304 pages

 

It may have been a bit too early to pick up this book; having finished reading it, I am now convinced this book would make a fantastic holiday read.

The story takes place in a small town, Mt. Jefferson back in 1958, with an intense scene depicting a shoplift by a teenage girl in a department store just a few days leading up to Christmas.
The description is so gripping and excellent that I was completely swept by it in an instant. It makes a perfect entrance to the story that beautifully entwines the secrets and angst of three families and the unforgettable memories which Walter Selman holds deep down his heart over the span of fifty years.

Nothing extraordinary or far-fetched happens throughout the book; it involves normal people whom you may find in your everyday life – those with secrets which can never be confided in to others, or those having affairs and are constantly afraid of having their relationships exposed.

Everything barely hangs on a perfect balance. Yet they are, at the same time, at constant risk of being unearthed. With the bad news involving Walter, the seams start to fray and the characters desperately try to patch them up, attempting to keep them under wraps as they have been .

Like I said, the description is just superb and compelling. Although the story involves some inner turmoil and anxieties, the writing never gets over-exaggerated; something like tranquility runs through the entire book and it also heightens the sense of suspension by closing the chapters with many unanswered questions up in the air, leaving us wondering “what?! What’s gonna happen? What’s gonna happen next??!  Brilliant.

I may be giving the wrong impression about this book; it’s defintely NOT all about dark secrets or skeltons in the closet; it’s also a story of forgiveness and redemption. The sermon scene in the church best describes that aspect.

To be honest, I wasn’t expected to be drawn by this book so much; it is compelling, riveting, I simply couldn’t wait to wrap up work and go home so that I’d get to read it.

The epilogue particularly jumps out and I let out a cry of surprise when I found out who the narrator was.  Again, it came as quite a surprise, but I will keep it under my hat here – you must figure it out on your own.

This is arguably one of the most entertaining books that I have read this year. I highly recommend it.

 

Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania

love-find-you-in-hersheyTitle: Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Author: Cerella D. Sechrist

Length: 347 pages

 

I was a bit iffy about this book in the beginning; with a lingering strong impression that I had from reading (listening to) the previous book, I might not have been able to throw myself into the story completely, but its introduction didn’t leave much of an impact on me.

I don’t usually give up on a book so easily. So, while constantly debating whether I would eventually like the book or not, I just kept reading.

The descriptions of mishaps that Sadie, the main character, or her daughter Kylie cause are a bit over the top; it seems a bit hyperbole to me and it kind of goes on and on thus I got a bit sick of it.
Another reason why I was not quite sure about this book was the very main character, Sadie.
In most part of the book, (maybe around 70 percent of it) she is described as unlikable – she’s self-centered, obsessive and she wants to win all the games that challenge her.

With hard, bitter times and memories she had with her husband and her mother’s passings along with her volatile relationship with her father, she’s always been afraid of losing something she cherishes. She hasn’t learned the lesson to let things go that are beyond her control and be content with what she’s already possessed.

And her unwillingness to do so invites an unimaginable catastrophe in her life and blows a hole in her heart.

When she finally learns important lessons of forgiveness and cherishing others as well as herself- I suppose this is where the essence of Christian Fiction’ comes in – I got intrigued by how things go. I found myself drawn to the story and couldn’t stop reading.

The last 10 percent of the book describes Sadie’s redemption and how her perspective changes. It is quite cleansing to read how people can change if they open their mind and are finally ready to listen to what their hearts demand.
It was a compelling, beautiful read and I actually found tears rolling down my cheeks.

As I mentioned, I was a bit skeptic about this book in the beginning, but if you have a faith “things couldn’t be that bad,” then you may be rewarded with a surprising (maybe predictable but heart-warming) twist 😉