STORY-LINES COLORS OF CHRISTMAS: CHRISTMAS IN GOLD AND CHRISTMAS IN BLUE BY OLIVIA NEWPORT:
In Colors of Christmas first story, Christmas In Gold, we find Astrid. At eighty, she has lived a full and sometimes tragic life. She survived the Nazi’s, a brutal life in war-torn Germany, the loss of two husbands, and raised two children alone. Now she finds herself in an assisted living facility; her home sold, recovering from a broken leg, and her precious gold ornaments missing. Those ornament had survived a long history of war, property, and moves; until this last move to the facility. Astrid also finds her physical therapist, Carly, bordering on desperation, in need of a friend and hope. What better time for hope than Christmas; for God gave the world the greatest hope of all at Christmas time in our Lord and Savior.
In Christmas Blue, we find Angela in need of Christmas spirit. Deeply depressed and still mourning the death of her best friend and Christmas enthusiast, Carol, Angela finds herself in charge of the town’s Christmas To Remember event. This is the last thing she wants to do. With no way to get out of the job, she forges on without enthusiasm. How can she possibly do the job, Carol was so perfect at performing each year. Carol always had surprises galore for the crowd and worked all year preparing. Angela had only eight days to get into the Christmas spirit and make this a Christmas honoring Carol. When the mysterious Gabe arrives in town, he stirs things up. Will Angela finally recover from her depression and create a Christmas to remember?
CHARACTERS, PLOTTING, AND DEVELOPMENT:
Olivia Newport created two stories filled with emotion and faith. In Christmas In Gold Newport established a strong lead character in Astrid; a woman who had experienced the worse man can hand out and through her faith in God, survived. This is not a feel good, Christmas is light and airy, story. This story’s filled with the emotion of survival under the conditions of war and its aftermath and a determined stalker. Astrid’s strong enough to still believe in God‘s goodness after all life threw at her. I needed a Kleenex many times reading this pungent story.
Using flashbacks by Astrid, Newport gave us a look at war-torn Germany. I am ashamed to say I never wondered how the German people lived during and after the war. Newport vividly described the devastation, property, and loss they endured. Through Newport‘s descriptive writing I could see each scene in my mind’s eye and feel the despair. I could feel Astrid’s fear, faith in God, her will to survive, and hope for the future. Through all she endured, she never lost her faith in God‘s grace and goodness.
Carly’s story could appear on the front pages of any newspaper; stalking and obsession are prevalent today. Newport matured Carly throughout this story. Befriended by Astrid, Carly slowly stood up for herself and found all’s not lost. Astrid through her life’s testimony and her belief in God‘s grace and goodness gave Carly hope. One woman near the end of her life journey and one just beginning gave this story stark realism. The ending of this story will bring tears to your eyes.
In Christmas Blue, you will need to get out the Kleenex again. Newport created characters which will tear out your heart with their sadness, depression, and lack of life. I wanted to grab Angela and tell her how sorry I was for her loss. I also wanted to tell her Carol would be ashamed of how she allowed herself to fall apart. Newport skillfully showed how depression affects our lives.
As Newport had the committee bulldoze Angela into taking Carol’s job, I could feel her anger and frustration at each member. I could feel her thoughts of unworthiness and ineptness in planning this event. Angela’s a religious person, but she allowed the death of Carol to undermined her life; mentally and physically. However, I proudly watched as she took the bull by the horns and forged on; even though it was the last thing, she wanted to do.
Adding in the dog, Blitzen, added a sweet element to the story. I love stories with animals as they often give the companionship we can only find in an animal. Angela sequenced her life into a small box with Blitzen as her only source of companionship. As Angela stated:
“…before I had you, I just talked to whatever appliance was beeping at me. I guess you’re quite the upgrade.”
Newport added in the drama of things going wrong; in a huge way. Would nothing come together as it should? Then the mystery of Gabe added more drama as he appears and disappears around town. The whole town’s talking about this young man. Is he the reason for all the disasters? God has ways of taking control; his specialty’s healing broken hearts, even the hurts unseen and unknown. Blue Christmas will warm your heart and make your dream of Christmas and all the enjoy it entails; most importantly, remembering the real reason for the season, the birth of our Lord.
In concluding my review of Colors Of Christmas, I found each story had well-developed characters, intriguing story-lines, and pacing in line with the length of the book. Newport‘s story-lines kept me glued to my E-Reader. Her scenes transitioned smoothly with writing which flowed well; making this an easy book to read. This book contained vivid descriptions and realism. Her characters and their life situations are believable and realistic; I felt I came to know them intimately; I became invested in their lives as I journeyed through this book.
What a joy this book was to read. As I closed my E-Reader, I had tears in eyes and joy in my heart for ” God‘s gift of his Son“; born in a lowly stable, sent to redeem, and save the world. A solid, wonderful two-book collection, I would not hesitate to buy this book for myself or a friend.
COLORS OF CHRISTMAS RECOMMENDATION: STARS 4
FINALLY, PLEASE NOTE:
Additionally, I received this book from NetGalley and chose to review the book with honest Christian book reviews voluntarily. Lastly, book reviews of any novel are dependent on the book review author’s opinion. Consequently, all book reviews online and on my blog, are my opinions. Also, the ARC did not affect my voluntary Christian book review.
*The quote in bold above taken from the text in Blue Christmas.
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