Friday, December 4, 2009

The Book Stops Here - Review of The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson

Christmas miracles can come from unlikely sources.

Betty Kowalski isn't looking forward to the holidays. She just can't seem to find Christmas in her heart. Maybe it's because her husband is gone. Maybe it's because she's missing her children. Or maybe it has something to do with her obnoxious new neighbor, who seems to be tearing his house apart and rearranging it on the lawn.

But when a mangy dog appears at her doorstep, the stage is set for Betty to learn what Christmas is really all about.

Betty is a widow who lives a mundane life and is content to wallow in the fact that she'll soon be facing another lonely Christmas. But this year, any joy she might be able to muster up is replaced by disdain for her nasty backyard neighbor, Jack, whose yard is full of junk and who runs power tools in the middle of the night. She knows it isn't very Christianly of her to have such animosity for him, but she just can't help herself!

Then two surprises appear on her doorstep. A mangy mutt and, later, her step-granddaughter, Avery, who is trying to escape her overbearing mother.

Betty assumes the dog belongs to Jack and makes every attempt to return him. But when the dog continues to return and Avery becomes attached to him, Betty struggles with what to do.

In the end, both the dog and her granddaughter play a part in softening Betty's heart and turning her holidays into everything Christmas is supposed to be.

What a fun book! Maybe because she reminded me of my own grandmother, I couldn't help but fall in love with Betty from the very beginning. Her feelings and actions toward her neighbor were realistic and even understandable, although at the same time, I felt a pang of sympathy for Jack, despite his strange and erratic behavior.

Avery was a breath of fresh air. The only qualm I have with her is I kept thinking she was several younger than her character's age of 23. But her relationship with her grandmother was touching and she brought fun and a little adventure to the story. The other characters were done well, particularly the dog. If you're an animal lover, you will definitely be drawn to this lovable mutt that seemed to have been hand delivered by God to Betty's doorstep.

Overall, The Christmas Dog was an extremely enjoyable read. This was the first book by Melody Carlson that I've read, but it won't be the last.

Thanks to Revell for providing me with a copy of this book to review.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. She also writes many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon. Visit Melody's website at

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