The Christmas Town (Christmas Hope #8)
Donna VanLiere, New York Times bestselling author of the timeless The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope, is back with this moving and uplifting story about finding love, hope, and family in unexpected places.Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

The Christmas Town (Christmas Hope #8) Details

TitleThe Christmas Town (Christmas Hope #8)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 18th, 2016
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
ISBN-139781250010674
Rating
GenreHoliday, Christmas, Fiction, Christian Fiction, Adult Fiction

The Christmas Town (Christmas Hope #8) Review

  • Deanne Patterson
    January 1, 1970
    This is one book that will stay with you for a long time. Shows how much we take for granted in our hurry up world. I dare you not to fall in love with Ben's kindness . This is a magical story of second chances.
  • Pamela
    January 1, 1970
    Oh what a delightful Christmas novel/novella celebrating newfound friendship and family. In which 'family' need not always be comprised of blood born kin to be eternally fulfilling and unifying. Sometimes our strongest bonds come from friendships we build along the path of life - both the beaten path and the road less traveled; and even in times when we find ourselves lost in the ditch of self-pity and desperation, we just might find a friend or two who welcomes us into their family.Light enough Oh what a delightful Christmas novel/novella celebrating newfound friendship and family. In which 'family' need not always be comprised of blood born kin to be eternally fulfilling and unifying. Sometimes our strongest bonds come from friendships we build along the path of life - both the beaten path and the road less traveled; and even in times when we find ourselves lost in the ditch of self-pity and desperation, we just might find a friend or two who welcomes us into their family.Light enough to be a non cumbersome read during the Holidays. Weighty enough to give pause and be engaging. And sprinkled with enough humor to be pleasurable with some rather eccentrically delightful characters. In fact, a couple characters with their catty bantering made me think of Ouiser and Clairee from Steel Magnolias. They were a real hoot. Endearingly, in a feisty good way. FOUR **** Uniquely Fresh and Charming, Endearingly Good, Christmas Miracle **** STARS
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  • Loraine
    January 1, 1970
    Once again, Glory's Place is featured front and center with all its wonderful cast of characters, especially Glory and Miriam. Lauren, a 20 year old who has bounced from foster home to foster home until she aged out at 18, feels like she has never had a family of her own. When she witnesses a hit and run car accident and stays to provide information to the police, she connects with the lady who is driving the car. This, in turns, leads her to Glory's Place to help out the children there. Will sh Once again, Glory's Place is featured front and center with all its wonderful cast of characters, especially Glory and Miriam. Lauren, a 20 year old who has bounced from foster home to foster home until she aged out at 18, feels like she has never had a family of her own. When she witnesses a hit and run car accident and stays to provide information to the police, she connects with the lady who is driving the car. This, in turns, leads her to Glory's Place to help out the children there. Will she find a whole new family that she never expected?Glory and Miriam's continuous banter once again adds life and laughter to the story line. Ben, a young mentally challenged adult, fills the Christmas season with his bits of wisdom and love as he places his notes in each of the grocery shoppers' bags. The special box takes place front and center as it weaves its way through the story. Another wonderful read from Donna VanLiere's Christmas Hope series.
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  • TamElaine
    January 1, 1970
    Such a beautiful story ! I fell in love with the characters....Lauren, Ben, Miriam, Gloria, the children...It was exactly what I needed to read today, exactly what I have been looking for the last couple of weeks - a big warm fuzzy that I can escape into and feel completely absorbed - where the characters feel like friends - a story that does all of this with easy comfortable writing. This book swept me away ! I say that I was looking for a book like this - and I was - but I didn't expect it to Such a beautiful story ! I fell in love with the characters....Lauren, Ben, Miriam, Gloria, the children...It was exactly what I needed to read today, exactly what I have been looking for the last couple of weeks - a big warm fuzzy that I can escape into and feel completely absorbed - where the characters feel like friends - a story that does all of this with easy comfortable writing. This book swept me away ! I say that I was looking for a book like this - and I was - but I didn't expect it to come in the form of a Christmas themed novella - and yet, with the description of a character that came through the foster care system, I knew I had to read it, but didn't quite believe it was going to be the book I needed until I started reading it, and met Ben ! oh Ben, you remind me of my two daughters - how I loved you so much in this story ! Everybody should be so lucky to have a Ben in their lives ! (I'm blessed to have two female versions)I will gladly look for more books by Donna VanLiere in the future - particularly at heavy times in my life, or between heavy reads - always nice to know of an author you can turn to and feel confident that the book will deliver an escape, an inspiration - hahaha, I say that, having only read one of her books - but I just have a strong feeling, I guess...Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press and author Donna VanLiere, for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review in exchange for an advanced reader's copy. Very much appreciated !
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  • Louise Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    Lauren Gabriel has been in many foster homes and now all she wants is to spend Christmas with a family. She puts a post on the Internet hoping that she will get a reply.Filled with lovely characters especially Ben who writes lovely messages to put in the customers bags he packs at the checkouts.This novella is a typical heart warming Christmas story that makes you feel good from beginning to end.I would like to thank NetGalley, St Martins Press and the author Donna VanLiere for my ARC in exchang Lauren Gabriel has been in many foster homes and now all she wants is to spend Christmas with a family. She puts a post on the Internet hoping that she will get a reply.Filled with lovely characters especially Ben who writes lovely messages to put in the customers bags he packs at the checkouts.This novella is a typical heart warming Christmas story that makes you feel good from beginning to end.I would like to thank NetGalley, St Martins Press and the author Donna VanLiere for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very sweet, charming and heart warming read. I finished reading and could feel that goofy grin on my face from being happy for all the wonderful characters. I love how Donna VanLier can take several characters and plots and tie them together so smoothly, by the end of her stories. Oh, and just look at the cover. Isn't it just the most nostalgic Christmas cover you have seen all year? I love it.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Good, but not my favorite in this series.However, I loved catching up with the recurring characters- especially Gloria and Miriam who had me laughing out loud.
  • Kristina
    January 1, 1970
    The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere is a novel that will linger with you long after you finish reading it. The novel starts in November of 2010. Lauren Gabriel (20) gets off work from Gordon’s Grocery in Whitall where she is a check-out clerk. She does not wish to go home and deal with her roommate. Lauren decides to take a drive and ends up about an hour away in Grandon. She stops at Clauson’s to get something to eat when she realizes she has not had anything to eat in a while. Lauren heads fo The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere is a novel that will linger with you long after you finish reading it. The novel starts in November of 2010. Lauren Gabriel (20) gets off work from Gordon’s Grocery in Whitall where she is a check-out clerk. She does not wish to go home and deal with her roommate. Lauren decides to take a drive and ends up about an hour away in Grandon. She stops at Clauson’s to get something to eat when she realizes she has not had anything to eat in a while. Lauren heads for the check-out and notices that one line is significantly longer than the other. The manager is trying to encourage people to move to the short line, but they want to wait for their slip from Ben. Lauren was going to get into the short line until she heard the comment. She decides to wait and see what the other are talking about. The check-out boy bags her groceries and then puts a slip of paper into her bag. Lauren exits the store and reads her message. It states it is a great day because Lauren is a part of it. Lauren was astonished. No one had ever told her such a thing in her whole life. Lauren goes back into the store to talk to the young man. His name is Ben. Ben gives each customer a different message based on the person. Ben felt the message he gave Lauren was for her. Lauren had a rough childhood. Her father, Victor left when she was four years old. Lauren’s mother was arrested when Lauren was eight. Lauren ended up in foster care bouncing from home to home until she was eighteen. After receiving Ben’s message, Lauren decides to advertise on Craigslist for a family for Christmas. Lauren soon ends up back in Grandon. After witnessing a car accident, Lauren meets Stacy Engler. Lauren ends up volunteering at Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who are having a hard time (a place of hope and help). Read The Christmas Town to see how Lauren gets her family for Christmas and a new take on life.The Christmas Town was a delight to read. I did not want this story to end. The writing is masterful. Donna VanLiere does a wonderful job at weaving the people and events together into one heartwarming novel. It is very clever how everything fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The Christmas Town has engaging characters. It also has a small town where people help each other out (they care for each other). I give The Christmas Town 5 out of 5 stars. One line in the novel is very special (and my favorite). It read “miracles occur in the most unlikely of places and in the most unusual ways.” This is one of the novels that you will continue to think about long after you finish it (you will also be left with a smile on her face)! This is by far my favorite novel by Donna VanLiere.
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  • Kathryn
    January 1, 1970
    The Christmas Town is a heartwarming Christmas story of someone - Lauren, who has really never experienced the love and warmth of family at Christmas, until one fateful year when she stumbles into a town that seems to have the spirit of Christmas wrapped about it.The people of the town are varied and not perfect. But they are caring and thoughtful and they want to reach out to others. Especially Miriam and Gloria who when they hear of a young woman looking for a family for Christmas decide to do The Christmas Town is a heartwarming Christmas story of someone - Lauren, who has really never experienced the love and warmth of family at Christmas, until one fateful year when she stumbles into a town that seems to have the spirit of Christmas wrapped about it.The people of the town are varied and not perfect. But they are caring and thoughtful and they want to reach out to others. Especially Miriam and Gloria who when they hear of a young woman looking for a family for Christmas decide to do something about it.The best character in the story is Ben, a young man who works packing groceries. At Christmas time he packs along with the groceries a special wish or piece of Christmas wisdom that is unique and suited to the person.There a number of town characters, not least of all the children that Lauren comes by most days to help prepare for a Christmas sing along. Filled with Christmas spirit and offering hope and pointing out the best side of all things Christmas related, this was an enjoyable and quick read.
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  • Staci
    January 1, 1970
    Sweet Christmas novel about a young woman primarily raised in the foster care system. Ben was a fabulous example of showing the light of Christ.
  • AnnMarie
    January 1, 1970
    The Christmas Town is a stand alone novel by Donna Vanliere. It's the first book I have read of hers, but I am sure it won't be my last.This is the story of Lauren Gabriel. She has spent many years in and out of foster care and at 20 years old she has never felt the true warmth of family. She's never enjoyed a proper family Christmas. This story is set just before Christmas and starts with Lauren feeling particularly jaded after a long shift in work. Everybody seems to be looking forward to Chri The Christmas Town is a stand alone novel by Donna Vanliere. It's the first book I have read of hers, but I am sure it won't be my last.This is the story of Lauren Gabriel. She has spent many years in and out of foster care and at 20 years old she has never felt the true warmth of family. She's never enjoyed a proper family Christmas. This story is set just before Christmas and starts with Lauren feeling particularly jaded after a long shift in work. Everybody seems to be looking forward to Christmas, but to her it's just a day where she will feel lonely and sad. She jumps in her car and just drives, she has no destination in mind, she just wants to drive and drive and drive. Anything rather than go back to her sad empty apartment. She soon realises that she needs to fill her gas tank, and when she is preparing to pull into a station she witnesses a car crash, one where thankfully nobody is injured, but the driver that caused the crash drives away. Lauren calls 911 to report what has happened and then checks that the other driver in the crash is OK. She is. But that one incident is the beginning of a whole chain reaction that brings some light into Lauren's life.From just that one incident Lauren ends up getting the hit and run driver arrested, but more importantly she becomes friends with the woman he crashed into. From there she ends up being happily roped into helping out at a Christmas fundraiser, and by doing that she is introduced to some more fabulous characters. She is happy for the first time in a long time, but she still dreads spending Christmas alone, and decides to do something that could be considered really insane, and dangerous, but which she goes ahead with anyway. She puts an ad on Craigslist asking for a family for Christmas. One that she could share the day with. She doesn't want gifts, she's happy to bring food, she just wants to finally join a happy family Christmas. Does she get replies? You will have to read the book to find out.This was the ultimate in feel good Christmas stories. The characters are just wonderful, especially a young man, Ben, who brings happiness in the most simplest of ways to the people who shops where he works. There are eccentric old ladies, one of them an English lady who always says the silliest of English things that her American friend teases her about. There's all the planning for the fund raiser, and watching Lauren take charge of teaching children to sing carols for a singathon. The best thing about this story is that although Lauren doesn't realise it, all her new friends, and even the children are linked in one very special way. During the whole story as I realised just how linked they all are, I couldn't wait to read how Lauren would react when she found out. I loved this story so much and even though it is only October I am definitely in a festive mood because of it. The author has had two of her books adapted into successful films. I would love for this one to be made into one too. It would make perfect Christmas time viewing. But until then I fully recommend this book for the perfect Christmas time reading.I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Terri Wino
    January 1, 1970
    I'm going to round this one up to 4 stars because I just loved the characters in this book.This is a quick read (the reason it took me so long is I was reading it as my secondary book that I only read from a few pages each day). Is it saccharine sweet in parts? Yes. Is it totally predictable in parts? Yes. But I didn't care. It's a wonderful, heart-warming story about people entering each other's lives just when they're needed with the old God works in mysterious ways thread. Did it make my eye I'm going to round this one up to 4 stars because I just loved the characters in this book.This is a quick read (the reason it took me so long is I was reading it as my secondary book that I only read from a few pages each day). Is it saccharine sweet in parts? Yes. Is it totally predictable in parts? Yes. But I didn't care. It's a wonderful, heart-warming story about people entering each other's lives just when they're needed with the old God works in mysterious ways thread. Did it make my eye faucets run a few times? I'm not ashamed to say Yes to that too.
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  • JoAnne
    January 1, 1970
    Another heartwarming Christmas story by VanLiere. I look forward to her new Christmas book each year. Glad to return to Glory's Place with characters we've met before but many others too. A heartwarming story that has Christmas front and center along with a small town and people caring!Lauren has had a hard life - abandoned by her parents and living in several different foster homes. She's a cashier in the town she grew up in but doesn't feel any type of connections to anyone - not even her room Another heartwarming Christmas story by VanLiere. I look forward to her new Christmas book each year. Glad to return to Glory's Place with characters we've met before but many others too. A heartwarming story that has Christmas front and center along with a small town and people caring!Lauren has had a hard life - abandoned by her parents and living in several different foster homes. She's a cashier in the town she grew up in but doesn't feel any type of connections to anyone - not even her roommate! She happens to end up in Grandon after driving aimlessly one night after work after having a bad day. That one fateful drive helps to change her life and give her things to look forward to and friends as well. Some tears were shed but also some laugh out loud moments. Ben, a person with special needs, and his messages play an important role in the story. They are spot on and are heartwarming and meaningful to most of those he shares them with in their grocery bag no less!I hope we return to Grandon and Glory's Place again since there's more story to tell even though there was some closure. Read The Christmas Town to help you get into the holiday spirit. You'll be glad you did!
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  • Susan Snodgrass
    January 1, 1970
    Donna Vanliere has the ability to reduce her readers to tears in her books. I love her Christmas books. Actuallly, all her books are pretty great!! Don't miss reading this year's Donna Vanliere Christmas book!*I was given a preview copy of this book by Net Galley. All opinions are my own.
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  • Jerry
    January 1, 1970
    A sweet and charming Yuletide read. Perfect for the holiday season.
  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    Such a beautiful Christmas tale by Donna VanLiere!!! I highly recommend :)
  • Joseph Sciuto
    January 1, 1970
    "The Christmas Town" By Donna VanLiere is a wholesome and cheerful story about a young lady, Lauren, who has lived with different foster families throughout her life but has never really had a family she could her own, especially not at Christmas.  She works at a grocery store as a cashier and one night before going back to her apartment, which she shares with a roommate, she decides to drive to the next town which is about an hour away. At a stop light, she witnesses a hit and run and calls 911 "The Christmas Town" By Donna VanLiere is a wholesome and cheerful story about a young lady, Lauren, who has lived with different foster families throughout her life but has never really had a family she could her own, especially not at Christmas.  She works at a grocery store as a cashier and one night before going back to her apartment, which she shares with a roommate, she decides to drive to the next town which is about an hour away. At a stop light, she witnesses a hit and run and calls 911.That call would change her life as she is called back to the town to identify the hit and run driver, and in so doing gets to know many of the town's citizens. She gets involved in a charity organization that helps struggling families who have children and helps organize a Christmas auction. She becomes a hit with the children and together they form a "sing-a-thon" to help attract people to the auction."The Christmas Town" is in no way Charles Dickens or Truman Capote, but it is uplifting and definitely helps one get into the Christmas spirit. 
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    "My life is the same." Always the same...Synthesizing this one is the existential condition in which the main protagonist of the latest Christmas novel by Donna VanLiere is living in.The Christmas Town will be released published by St.Martin's Press on Oct 18th.Lauren Gabriel, the protagonist (who knows if the last name Gabriel chosen by the author in honor of the archangel Gabriel?) is a cashier in a store.She is just 20 but her life has known a lot of sufferance during all her still brief life "My life is the same." Always the same...Synthesizing this one is the existential condition in which the main protagonist of the latest Christmas novel by Donna VanLiere is living in.The Christmas Town will be released published by St.Martin's Press on Oct 18th.Lauren Gabriel, the protagonist (who knows if the last name Gabriel chosen by the author in honor of the archangel Gabriel?) is a cashier in a store.She is just 20 but her life has known a lot of sufferance during all her still brief life. Very disgraceful parents without any kind of responsibility or maturity abandoned her de fact but also emotively. Later many foster homes, many other people but no one she could called: family. Lauren hasn't never been in grade to call a place "My house" and people living there, "My family."Lauren has never, never been surrounded by a real family.The most horrible moment of the year for Lauren is the Christmas Time.It should be a time of joy, happiness, a moment for staying together, putting up the decoration on the Christmas Trees, singing carols during Christmas Day, choosing presents for relatives and friends the days before Christmas, baking gingerbread cookies, but she doesn't know these feelings.She hasn't never proved these emotions.She hasn't never been happy.But a family...Someone who love you, someone who think that you are important and treasure your life. There is no price for a dream like this one thinks Lauren.Lauren in a moment of discomfort but also of great lucidity posts on Facebook her most profound and at the same time hidden dream: spending the Christmas Day in a real family as if that family would be her own family. After all why not?A family would be the best Christmas gift to her.She receives just ironic, sarcastic and disenchanted replies so she deletes the post.She posts on Craiglist and there, someone is truly interested to give her a chance for spending a Happy Christmas Day with a good family.At the same time a car accident where Lauren is the most important ocular witnesses bring her back to Grandon a place at a hour of distance from her town. The attorney of the woman involved in the car accident needs her help. The man of the truck must be recognized.That man changed hair cut but not face and Lauren will give clear indications, recognizing without any doubts the responsible of the car accident.She seems to be born for staying at Grandon, Lauren. She starts to make friendship with the lady involved in the car accident, Stacy and with her she spends some time at Betty's Bakery, where she can finds this world and the other in terms of pastry but also that human warm so necessary to her for going on. And special people, of course.Other ladies in fact, while they are still chatting stop by Betty's Bakery as well. They are organizing a fundraising for Glory’s Place, dedicated at single mothers and families in need but they don't know how to do that, and Lauren asks to them if they have thought at a sing-a-thon.Launched the idea the ladies, they don't know Lauren doesn't live in their town, ask her if she wants to be involved as a volunteer. She says yes.In this town for miss "My life is the same" the re-born.Optimism at first thanks to Ben a magical young man, with some difficulties. Employed in a store where Lauren stops by he loves to put in every shopper bag a special blessing for everyone.At the end it pays a lot, because people feel that they are special.Ben writes these messages personally.People receive encouragements. They love to be cuddle with these special random blessings. Lauren is not an exception. She starts to think these blessings are real balsam for her soul.Lauren Gabriel will discover a lot of things about her family while she is in this new town. She will discover that sometimes is no possible to recuperate people lost forever but, most important, she will learn that these wonderful bunch of new people entered for case in her life are becoming important. Lauren doesn't imagine it, but when she will suffer a personal turmoil she will be missed by everyone, because she will also start to make a difference in their life. What is life without love? What is life without friendship, help, compassion and human understanding?As always the writing-style of Donna is captivating. She will create a lot of situations plenty of dialogues that will keep the reader interested and curious without forgetting her profound sense of Christianity, one of the best treats of her books.Another jewel for your Christmas season or a great gift for sending a special message to a friend or someone you love and for let him/she know that she/he is part of your family.I thank NetGalley and St.Martin's Press for this copy of The Christmas Town.
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  • Olga Miret
    January 1, 1970
    A delightful story about a place we’d all like to call home My review is based on a free advance copy from St Martin’s Press via NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion or the review content.OK, I’m not a big fan of Christmas. There, I’ve said it. The fuss, the mad rush to buy presents, the obligation to be happy… But there are certain things about Christmas I don’t mind, like the crafts fairs that pop up everywhere, some of the songs (although not when played continuously 24/7) or the books A delightful story about a place we’d all like to call home My review is based on a free advance copy from St Martin’s Press via NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion or the review content.OK, I’m not a big fan of Christmas. There, I’ve said it. The fuss, the mad rush to buy presents, the obligation to be happy… But there are certain things about Christmas I don’t mind, like the crafts fairs that pop up everywhere, some of the songs (although not when played continuously 24/7) or the books (and movies, but, especially the movies, I prefer them around the right time of the year. Watching a Christmas movie in August is a no-no).Despite that, I could not resist requesting this book when I read the description, as I do like stories where a community gets together and people find a true home. And I’m happy I decided to read it.The Christmas Town is fairly short, full of surprises (well, some not so surprising, but pleasant nonetheless), and it has a big heart. You have memorable characters (some very recognisable, like the woman who insists on using British expressions nobody understands, or the tall, dark and handsome romantic hero), some unique, like Ben, the young man who works at a grocery store and wins everybody’s heart by offering them personalised messages with their shopping. You have a great setting, and a suitably seasonal story, with auctions, personal objects, songs, and social media confusing things.The story is told from several characters’ points of view (in the third person), although the main character is Lauren Gabriel, a young woman with a difficult childhood but full of dreams and hopes, despite her disappointments. She ends up in Grandon, a charming small-town, and although there are heartaches on the way… Well, this is a Christmas story, but I won’t spoil it for you.There is humour, characters you’d love to know in real life, complications, chance, music, miracles and family. And a great sense of community. The story also touches on some sad issues (Lauren’s difficult childhood and her relationship with her estranged parents, children’s illnesses and disabilities, financial worries) but all dealt with a light touch.If you want a light and heart-warming read with endearing characters and a place you’d love to call home, and you don’t mind Christmas (or even if you do) I recommend it. Ah, and don’t miss Ben’s messages. Priceless!
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  • Jennifer Ritter
    January 1, 1970
    The Christmas Town is by premier author of Christmas stories, Donna VanLiere. Many of her Christmas stories have been turned into movies and I can definitely see that happening with The Christmas Town.Twenty year old Lauren Gabriel has not had an easy life. First her father left, then her mother was incarcerated, leaving Lauren's upbringing to the foster system. Although she did have some good placements, it was never a family of her own and she had no sense of belonging. With few skills, Lauren The Christmas Town is by premier author of Christmas stories, Donna VanLiere. Many of her Christmas stories have been turned into movies and I can definitely see that happening with The Christmas Town.Twenty year old Lauren Gabriel has not had an easy life. First her father left, then her mother was incarcerated, leaving Lauren's upbringing to the foster system. Although she did have some good placements, it was never a family of her own and she had no sense of belonging. With few skills, Lauren earns a living as a checker in a supermarket. She has few personal interactions.As the holidays approach, Lauren feels her loneliness even more acutely. After a particularly bad day at work, Lauren just starts driving, finding herself in the next town of Grandon, a virtual Christmas town. While there, she witnesses a hit and run accident and stays to speak with the police. This decision to do the right thing may just open up a new life for her.Taking no chances on yet another disappointing Christmas, Lauren places a Craig's list ad seeking a family for Christmas. Ironically, her two positive responses come from residents of Grandon. Lauren feels such a draw for this Christmas town, but is very weighed down by her past. Is this weight so heavy that she misses opportunities, or can she shed the weight and open herself to a very different future?Told with humor and heart, The Christmas Town is a holiday present just awaiting opening and devouring cover to cover. I do recommend this book.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    If you have not read any of Donna VanLiere's books, you need too. Her books will bring tears to your eyes but they will also put a smile on your face. My favorite is still The Christmas Shoes!Lauren Gabriel is a lonely young woman who has never had a real family. Her father ran away and her mother was never a real mother to her. Having grown up in foster homes Lauren feels the need for a real family this Christmas.As Lauren drives through the small town of Grandon she witnesses a hit and run acc If you have not read any of Donna VanLiere's books, you need too. Her books will bring tears to your eyes but they will also put a smile on your face. My favorite is still The Christmas Shoes!Lauren Gabriel is a lonely young woman who has never had a real family. Her father ran away and her mother was never a real mother to her. Having grown up in foster homes Lauren feels the need for a real family this Christmas.As Lauren drives through the small town of Grandon she witnesses a hit and run accident. She is then called back to Grandon to identify the man who had run from the scene. Lauren becomes friends with Stacey, the lady who had been hit by the runaway driver and through Stacey she meets Gloria and Miriam, two characters who are friends but won't admit it. Stacey also meets Ben at the grocery store. Ben is a challenged young man who gives each customer who stands in line to have him bag their groceries a note that is inspirational to each individual. When Lauren receives her note she feels there is hope for her to find a real family.Lauren reaches out for that family through Craigslist......of all things.......and while she receives some awful replies from some people, she also receives two replies from people who seem sincere about helping her be with a family for Christmas. While misunderstandings ensue Lauren continues to hope for that family until her mother wrecks her life once again.A great Christmas story with good characters and love to go around.
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  • Ria
    January 1, 1970
    Lauren, a twenty-years-old girl, places an ad on Craiglist, stating she is looking for a family to spend Christmas with. She is expecting this Christmas to be different from the previous years, which she celebrated either with foster parents or alone at her apartment. She never thought a long drive to the next town could bring so many changes in her life. Lauren becomes a part of the town sooner than she realises. It made me smile and also brought tears to my eyes. THE CHRISTMAS TOWN is an affec Lauren, a twenty-years-old girl, places an ad on Craiglist, stating she is looking for a family to spend Christmas with. She is expecting this Christmas to be different from the previous years, which she celebrated either with foster parents or alone at her apartment. She never thought a long drive to the next town could bring so many changes in her life. Lauren becomes a part of the town sooner than she realises. It made me smile and also brought tears to my eyes. THE CHRISTMAS TOWN is an affectionate and sweet Christmas Fiction, written by Donna VanLiere, who has also penned down a number of other festive stories. This is Lauren's story; of how could find a family and found the real joy of Christmas. The book chiefly concentrates on her rapport with the town's people and Lauren's pleasant, affable and sweet-natured disposition. The romantic aspect is minor in it. We are introduced to a bunch of warm characters, who have vital roles in the story. Each of them had their own persona and stories, and together those characters weave a beautiful Christmas tale. A special mention to Ben, a darling boy, who works hard to bring joy to the people around him. Spreading joy and hope through a soothing tale - THE CHRISTMAS TOWN is definitely worth reading!
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  • Cathy Geha
    January 1, 1970
    This sweet, charming, small town, feel good Christmas story is about finding home and family. Lauren Gabriel has spent much of her life in foster homes and at twenty is feeling the need for the family warmth and community that she has never experienced. One night she witnesses a hit and run accident and it changes her life. Becoming involved in the fundraiser for an NGO that caters to the needy she begins to meet and make friends with a great number of people in town and in so doing eventually f This sweet, charming, small town, feel good Christmas story is about finding home and family. Lauren Gabriel has spent much of her life in foster homes and at twenty is feeling the need for the family warmth and community that she has never experienced. One night she witnesses a hit and run accident and it changes her life. Becoming involved in the fundraiser for an NGO that caters to the needy she begins to meet and make friends with a great number of people in town and in so doing eventually fulfills her Christmas wish. This book has a few prayers and a biblical passage that shows up more than once – not my thing but it worked in this story. The style of writing is third person omniscient/commentator style and the verb tense though usually present sometimes varies – not my favorite. The center of this story is supposed to be Lauren but in my opinion the heart of the story is really Ben – what a wonderful young man in all ways and always :) Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC. This is my honest review.
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  • Madeline K. Worrell
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars I love the way Donna VanLiere writes. I believe that she has a flare for minute subtleties that add to the ambience without being a part of the plot. She makes you feel like you are in the room watching the show. In this book, however, I felt like I was chasing a carrot on a string......yikes!!! As soon as I touched the carrot, it was ripped from my hand. It became tiresome and trite to say the least. I like carrots, and strings are okay, but just not in a storyline.....
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of those books that just makes you smile inside and out and feel good about people. At leat it did that for me. It's the story of a 20yr old girl looking for someone to be a family with her for the holidays. It's a sincere wish and leads her into the paths of many nice people. I loved the principle of the book and was happy to have read this.
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  • Julianna
    January 1, 1970
    Reviewed for THC Reviews"4.5 stars" The Christmas Town is yet another charming holiday story in Donna VanLiere’s Christmas Hope series that’s set in the little fictional town of Grandon, Anywhere USA. In this one a young woman is searching for a family and a place she can truly call home, and through a series of serendipitous events, she discovers that what she’s been searching for is right in front of her. Add in a few cute kids, a couple of past series’ characters, and an intuitive bag boy fro Reviewed for THC Reviews"4.5 stars" The Christmas Town is yet another charming holiday story in Donna VanLiere’s Christmas Hope series that’s set in the little fictional town of Grandon, Anywhere USA. In this one a young woman is searching for a family and a place she can truly call home, and through a series of serendipitous events, she discovers that what she’s been searching for is right in front of her. Add in a few cute kids, a couple of past series’ characters, and an intuitive bag boy from the local grocery, and you have the makings of a heartwarming read that’s really put me in the Christmas spirit.After her father skipped out on his responsibilities and her mother went to jail, Lauren grew up in a series of foster homes. While some were nice, she never quite found one where she fit and could genuinely call home. So after aging out of the system at eighteen, she set out on her own. She works as a cashier in a grocery store in a town about an hour away from Grandon, but it’s a largely boring, thankless job. She longs for someplace she can truly feel at home and a family with whom to share the holidays. Desperately lonely she places an ad on Craigslist for a family for Christmas, and while most of the people who respond are cruel, there are two women who seem genuine. At the same time, after her shift one day, Lauren takes off, driving aimlessly and ends up in Grandon, where she witnesses an accident. She also goes to the local grocery for a quick meal, and chances to meet the “celebrity” bag boy, who hands out personal messages to customers who are happy to wait in line to receive them. The message Lauren gets resonates with her, so when she’s called back to Grandon to identify a suspect in the hit-and-run, and is invited to coffee by Stacy, the victim, she can’t resist accepting. This in turn leads to her meeting Gloria and Miriam (The Christmas Promise) and eventually volunteering at Glory’s Place, an after-school program for needy kids in the community, where she helps teach the kids Christmas carols in time to perform for a big upcoming fund-raiser. Throughout all of this she begins to find a sense of belonging, but when her mother contacts her after seven long years, it may throw everything for a loop. I very much related to Lauren and think that many of us can experience this type of loneliness, especially during the holidays. I like that her heart was open when presented with the gift of family that she was so desperately searching for, and that she found a wonderful place to belong.While the story primarily revolves around Lauren and her search for a home and family, there are plenty of secondary characters who help give her what she needs. First are best friends, Gloria and Miriam. They’ve been a part of each book since their own, always giving back so much to the community through Glory’s Place. Now they’re making plans for the annual silent auction fund-raiser that will take place in conjunction with the local Christmas parade. But they’re not too busy to answer the ad of a lonely woman on Craigslist and become her “mysterious” friends. These two crack me up with how they always bicker but somehow still make their friendship work. Then there’s Ben, the sweet, lovable bag boy, who was born with a condition that caused some brain damage, but in spite of his handicap, he has a miraculous intuition about exactly what each customer needs to hear. I loved his sunny disposition and his optimistic outlook that’s positively infectious. It’s no wonder most customers willingly wait in his line. There’s Travis, the parks department worker, who ends up in Lauren’s path as a romantic interest, when Miriam refuses to speak with him about using the gazebo. And then there’s little Cassondra, a cute girl with a heart condition who comes to Glory’s Place every day. Nathan Andrews (The Christmas Shoes, The Christmas Blessing) put in a cameo appearance, and several other supporting characters round out the fairly extensive cast.The Christmas Town was a nice feel-good holiday story with a very gentle faith message. It has no objectionable content, so it could be read by just about anyone. Grandon is a quaint, homey little town, where everyone is ready to lend a helping hand. I’d love to live there if it really existed. The characters were all very likable, just the kind of people I’d love to be friends with. I knocked off the half-star, because like it’s predecessor in the series, it seemed a little more predictable than some of the earlier books. Also it, too, was written in third-person present tense, which is a very unusual style choice and harder for me to get into. But overall, the heartwarming feel of the story overcame most of my issues and left me with warm fuzzies and a few happy tears, which is a sign that a book has done it’s job. Several of the previous books of the series have been made into Hallmark movies and this one, too, would be perfect for Hallmark fans. I don’t know if Donna VanLiere is planning any more books in this series. This one was published last year (2016). It appears that she’s been releasing a new one about once every two years, so we might get another one next year (2018). If so, I’ll be eagerly waiting to read it.
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  • Jeanann Barrett
    January 1, 1970
    Couldn't put it down. Good story.
  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    Public library copy. Quick clean inspirational read. The writing leaves much to be desired, as does the lack of theology, or more directly the lack of Biblical information. To this reader the omissions were direct attempts to appeal to a broad audience with differing beliefs. In some cases, specifically in reference to the meaning (or lack thereof) of Christmas, or the 'Christmas spirit', it was downright offensive to the Biblical account.A novella is difficult reading because the characters ten Public library copy. Quick clean inspirational read. The writing leaves much to be desired, as does the lack of theology, or more directly the lack of Biblical information. To this reader the omissions were direct attempts to appeal to a broad audience with differing beliefs. In some cases, specifically in reference to the meaning (or lack thereof) of Christmas, or the 'Christmas spirit', it was downright offensive to the Biblical account.A novella is difficult reading because the characters tend to be underdeveloped. This book develops a few quite well considering the many characters in the book. It was hard to follow at first, for that reason. I don't care for the almighty narrator point of view, nor for the many liberties at understanding how characters think and feel. A good book lets the reader do some thinking of their own. Lots of dialogue. Some readers may think it's a cute story. My favorite character is Ben.
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  • Kimberly
    January 1, 1970
    The Christmas Town: A Novel by [VanLiere, Donna]I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.This is a joyful story. It is filled with love, and family, each which were found expectantly.Lauren Gabriel spent most of her life wishing for her mother to come and get her from each of the foster homes she lived in. She is now 20 years old and still looking for the ever elusive home. She is a cashier and feels like another Christmas is not what she needs. Trying to avoid her lo The Christmas Town: A Novel by [VanLiere, Donna]I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.This is a joyful story. It is filled with love, and family, each which were found expectantly.Lauren Gabriel spent most of her life wishing for her mother to come and get her from each of the foster homes she lived in. She is now 20 years old and still looking for the ever elusive home. She is a cashier and feels like another Christmas is not what she needs. Trying to avoid her lonely apartment one night, she drives around, until she sees a car accident. This brings her to a small town called Grandon as a witness. Soon she finds herself volunteering for Glory's Place. This is a place which provides assistance to single mothers and families. This feels just right for Lauren. Could it possibly be that she has now discovered home?The author, Donna Van Liere wrote a story which is engaging and thoughtful. It is filled with hope and I found myself thinking about the rich characters which she made complex and real. I believe I will keep this on my shelf to pull out every Christmas.
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  • Frosty61
    January 1, 1970
    I was looking for an uplifting, not overly sappy Christmas story and was hoping this might fit the bill. Unfortunately, it didn't hold my interest as it seemed uneven and rambling. The main character is weak, then seems to buck up a little, then again becomes weepy & withdrawn, then steps up again, and so on. The charming small town characters are Hallmark perfect - which is okay for those that simply want a feel-good story. I guess I'm looking for an innovative holiday story, but so far hav I was looking for an uplifting, not overly sappy Christmas story and was hoping this might fit the bill. Unfortunately, it didn't hold my interest as it seemed uneven and rambling. The main character is weak, then seems to buck up a little, then again becomes weepy & withdrawn, then steps up again, and so on. The charming small town characters are Hallmark perfect - which is okay for those that simply want a feel-good story. I guess I'm looking for an innovative holiday story, but so far haven't been successful.
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