Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Christmas Journey: Book Review

About The Book:

The eighty-mile journey of a common carpenter and a simple peasant girl is one of the most powerful stories in history. As books go out of print and stories fade from memory, the journey of Joseph and Mary and her delivery inside a common barn continues to bless and inspire hope in people around the world.
Accompanied by moving and beautifully rendered original watercolor illustrations throughout, Donna's signature voice retelling shows that the story of the Nativity is alive in our modern world.

An Excerpt:

She unwraps some bread and dried fish she had brought from home. These foods always traveled well and she hoped she had packed enough for their trip. She reaches into a satchel for some figs and a pomegranate they picked a few miles back.

"Do you want to sit?" he asks, pointing to the shade of a tree.

"No," she says, laughing. He sits beneath the tree and pushes the bread into his mouth. Mary walks to the well in the center of town and draws water, filling a cup and taking it to Joseph. He drinks it down and she fills it again. She hands the cup to him and leans against the tree. The noise of customers haggling over prices and the clanking of merchandise in the marketplace drifts on the wind as Mary watches the donkey drink. "Are you frightened, Joseph?" she asks.

He looks up at her. Every illusion he had of starting a family with her ended months ago when she told him she was pregnant. Every conceivable dream of the village celebrating their wedding shattered when rumors swelled that his betrothed was a harlot. Swept away with those dreams were his plans and desires and every expectation he had for their new life together. He was torn from the privacy of his once quiet life into one of public shame and ridicule. He is still trying to wrap his mind around all that has taken place in so short a time. He watches Mary and the corners of her mouth turn up in soft edges. For months now, those she has grown up with, who have shared meals around her family's table have been quick to brand her but these well-mannered guardians of morality never even cupped their ear to hear the truth or offer a word of compassion. The hourglass has been turned and eternity is fast approaching but their thoughts have been consumed with how The Law of Moses is unwavering with what to do with those caught in sexual sin. The very angel who came to Mary all those months ago must surely have guarded her life from the hatred and condemnation of the righteous bent on vengeance in the name of God. How else has her life been spared? Is she frightened? He cannot tell. He hasn't known her long enough to discern her emotions or fears. They are both so new to one another. 

"The angel told me not to be afraid," he says.

A breeze laps at her face and she remains quiet, thinking. "So then you are not?"

He breaks the bread in two and hands her a piece. "I wish I could say that I am not but I am. I am terrified." He watches as others gather around the well. "What does that make me?"

She sits on the ground and reaches for a fig. "As human as I," she says. "I too am frightened. There is so much that I don't know." Her voice is small. "So much that I will never understand." He looks at her and her eyes are deep, touching the far reaches of her soul. "Why was I chosen for this? Why you?"
He shakes his head. "How will I teach him?"

"How do you teach any child?" she asks.

He turns his face to her. "Yes. But how do you teach him?" They eat in silence as the question fills the air around them. "How will I raise him?"

"With love," she says.

He looks at her. "But is love from a common man enough?"

She traces her finger through the blades of grass in front of her. "It will be more than enough," she says. "It is the very reason he's coming."

There are three additional videos of Donna VanLiere reading excerpts of The Christmas Journey, located on here website, here.

About The Author:

Donna VanLiere is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author and gifted conference speaker. She has published ten titles including The Christmas Shoes andThe Christmas Blessing, both of which were adapted into movies (starring Rob Lowe, Kimberly Williams-Perry and Neil Patrick Harris) and garnered big ratings for CBS television. LifetimeTelevision adapted The Christmas Hope (starring Madeline Stowe) and premiered it December 2009 to stellar ratings as well. Donna's non-seasonal novel, The Angels of Morgan Hill, has captured the same warmth as her Christmas books and continues to please loyal and new fans alike.

Donna is the recipient of a Retailer's Choice Award for Fiction, a Dove Award, a Silver Angel Award, an Audie Award for best inspirational fiction, a nominee for a Gold Medallion Book of the Year and was recently inducted into the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Hall of Excellence joining such luminaries as Coretta Scott King, Hugh Downs, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Senator John Glenn. Donna is an in-demand conference speaker having appeared at countless women's and family events, including selectWomen of Faith and Extraordinary Women conferences.

Donna's latest book, The Christmas Journey (October 2010) is a retelling of the story of the Nativity told through Donna's signature voice and accompanied by moving and beautifully rendered watercolor illustrations throughout. The eighty-mile journey of a common carpenter and a simple peasant girl is one of the most powerful stories in history. As books go out of print and stories fade from memory, the journey of Joseph and Mary and her delivery inside a common barn continues to bless and inspire hope in people around the world.

Donna lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband, Troy, and their children, Grace, Kate and David.

Check out more from Donna on her official website.

My Review:

Last Christmas I had the opportunity to read and review The Christmas Dog (see my review here) by Melody Carlson, and I absolutely loved it. So you can imagine my delight when I had the opportunity to read The Christmas Journey.

This book is a wonderful way to read about the birth of Jesus as a family. In fact I read the first couple chapters with my four year old and she really liked it. Because of her age, we only read a page or two each night, but this is one book that will be part of our family Christmas reading tradition for many years to come. I would like to get two more copies, and put them away for girls, so they can have this wonderful book to read with their children one day.

As it is written in an easy-to-read manner, it would be a perfect book to have older children read during family advent celebrations, and a perfect way to celebrate Christmas Eve. This is a book that every family should have, and will make a perfect gift this Christmas season.

The beautiful watercolor paintings that are found throughout the book, bring the journey of Mary and Joesph to life, and accompanies the book delightfully. I will definitely be checking out the rest of the Christmas books from VanLiere: The Christmas Shoes (also has the Rob Lowe movie of the same name), The Christmas Blessing, The Christmas Hope, The  Christmas Promise, and The Christmas Secret. 

The Christmas Shoes, The Christmas Blessing, and The Christmas Hope have all been made into Lifetime movies, and can be seen on the following dates:

The Christmas Hope
The Christmas Shoes
 - 11a - LIFETIME
The Christmas Hope - 1p - LIFETIME
The Christmas Blessing - 3p - LIFETIME
The Christmas Shoes - 11p - LIFETIME

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up.

BUY IT: You can purchase The Christmas Journey online, directly from Donna VanLiere's website here. It is also available at your favorite local Christian bookseller.

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Authors On The Web, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

1 comment:

  1. Hi Shirley! Just stopping by from ABE. What a great book review. I'm definitely going to have to pick up a copy for our family.