From the New York Times bestselling author of The Christmas Hope series comes another heartwarming, inspirational story for the holidays.
Thirty-two-year-old Amy Denison volunteers at Glory’s Place, an after school program where she meets seven-year-old Maddie, a precocious young girl who has spent her childhood in foster care. Unbeknownst to Amy, Maddie is a mini-matchmaker, with her eye on just the right man for Amy at Grandon Elementary School, where she is a student. Amy is hesitant – she’s been hurt before, and isn’t sure she’s ready to lose her heart again – but an unexpected surprise makes her reconsider her lonely lifestyle.
As Christmas nears and the town is blanketed in snow and beautiful decorations, Maddie and the charming staff at Glory’s Place help Amy to see that romance can be more than heartache and broken promises.
In The Christmas Star, Donna VanLiere delivers yet another sweet, joyous story that is sure to capture readers' hearts.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
DONNA VANLIERE is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Dream¸ Finding Grace, The Angels of Morgan Hill, and many Christmas books, including the perennial favorites The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope (all titles available in various editions from St. Martin's Press). She travels as a speaker and lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband and three children.
Read an Excerpt
Gabe Rodriguez opens an air return in the second-grade hallway and pulls out the filter. He has worked in the facilities and maintenance department of the Grandon Elementary School for the last six years, repairing everything from a broken window, wobbly desk leg, and faulty window air-conditioning unit, to painting hallways and classrooms, pulling out dead shrubs and trees, and fixing out-of-order plumbing in the school kitchen and every bathroom. It's a job that has kept him busy from morning until sometimes the early evening, but he doesn't mind the long hours. It keeps his mind occupied, driving away thoughts of another time and another life.
"Hi, Mr. G."
He turns from his work and sees seven-year-old Madeleine. "Good morning, Maddie. Are those new glasses?"
She shakes her head. "Nah. They probably just look new because I cleaned them today."
Gabe throws his head back and laughs. Sometimes these kids have no idea how funny they are. Maddie's right foot and leg were braced when she started kindergarten at Grandon and although she's now brace-free, her walk is gaited; she can't move as fast as other students. "Are you busting out of class?"
"No. I just need to get a book out of my backpack," she says, heading toward a locker. She opens her locker and tugs at the bright pink backpack, pulling it onto the floor. Her sandy-brown hair is up in pigtails and she's wearing a red Christmas sweatshirt with a snowman sporting a Santa hat on the front of it.
"You look awfully festive today," Gabe says, setting the old filter aside.
"We're doing presentations. I forgot my report," she says, pulling a paper from her backpack. "Mrs. Kurtz said if we look nice for our presentations that she'd give us extra points." She looks down at her shirt. "I don't know if this is nice enough."
He stops his work, smiling at her. "What?! Once you go to the front of the classroom Mrs. Kurtz is going to give you those points right away." He uses his hand and pretends to make checkmarks on it. "Does Maddie look nice? No doubt! She's picture-perfect!" She grins, hanging the backpack on the hook inside her locker. "What's your presentation on anyway?"
"Is she the woman on the pool and hot tub commercials?"
She giggles. "No! She was the one who started nursing."
He grabs the new filter. "That's right! That was going to be my next guess."
She walks toward her classroom. "See you later, Mr. G."
"Tell me how you did!" He begins to put the new filter into the air return. "And if you have time I want to actually hear your speech about the gymnastic lady."
"She was a nurse!" Maddie says, shaking her head and opening the door to the classroom.
When he was young, Gabe worked with his dad mowing lawns and doing landscaping work, and because his dad felt insecure about his English, he acted as translator when they spoke to customers. His father moved to the States when he was twenty-six and fell in love with Molly, his English-as-a-second-language instructor, a fair-skinned white girl from Alabama, with light brown hair, blue eyes, and a molasses-thick accent. Gabe and his sister are the first Rodriguezes to be born in the United States; most of the relatives on his dad's side of the family still live in Guatemala. While he has his mom's nose, his other features seem to have come from his dad: dark, wavy hair, and dark eyes and skin. Here at the elementary school he often finds himself speaking Spanish to several of the parents who also struggle with English. After years of working outside, Gabe thought he would go to college right out of high school and get a degree in business or finance. Growing up, he had watched his dad struggle to pay the bills, trying to find jobs as a landscaper throughout the winter, and knew he didn't want to be in landscaping forever. When this job at the elementary school opened up, he jumped on it, hoping his landscaping experience would help and it did. He never thought that when he was thirty-four he would still be in Grandon, but here he is. He closes the air return and makes his way down the hall to the next one.
At the end of the school day, Gabe lowers the American flag at the front of the building and folds it. Walking to the doors, he notices Maddie waiting on the sidewalk with a few other children. "So how did it go?" he says, tucking the flag under his arm.
"I got a ninety-eight. I forgot to say when she died. But then I got extra points for being dressed nice and got a hundred."
"That's what I'm talking about!" He raises his hand and she high-fives him. The wind picks up and he pulls the hood of her jacket up over her head. "Do you have time to tell me about Miss Nightingale or is your van about to get here?"
She smiles. "It's always late so I have time. Do you want to hear the whole speech or just the highlights?"
"Whatever you want to give me."
Maddie crosses her arms against the cold and looks up at him. "Well, Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 in Italy and her parents wanted her to get married but she didn't want to be married. She wanted to be a nurse. So even though a man wanted to marry her, she didn't really want to marry him and studied to be a nurse. She was so good at it that she was asked to help lead nurses in the Crimean War and she made sure that the hospital was really clean and the patients were clean too. She'd walk from bed to bed holding a lamp and the soldiers called her the Lady with the Lamp. After the war she got a lot of awards and even some money for everything she did and she started a hospital and a training school for nurses." She shrugs, lifting her hands as if to say, that's it.
Gabe opens his eyes wide, looking at her. "That is the best presentation I've ever heard. And now I can say that I know all about Florence Nightingale and never think that she's the hot-tub lady ever again."
"You never did a presentation on Florence Nightingale?" Maddie asks. He shakes his head. "Have your kids ever done one?"
"I don't have any kids. Just all of you around here," he says, waving his arm toward all the other children. "All of you keep me really busy."
She folds her arms, looking at him. "Are you married?"
He shakes his head. "I was but I'm not anymore."
She squints as she stares at him, thinking. "You should be married. You'd make a good husband. I could find you a wife."
Laughter shakes him down to his work boots. "You know, I might just take you up on that. I could use all the help I can get."
She raises her finger high in the air. "Then I'm on it!"
"But what about you? Are you married?"
"No! Oh my gosh, Mr. G.! I'm too young!"
He smiles. "And there's no way your dad would want to give you away." Her face clouds over and Gabe attempts to explain. "You know, a dad often walks down the aisle with his daughter to give her away to her groom on her wedding day."
She's quiet as she looks at him. "I know. I've seen that in movies." She looks down at the ground and Gabe could kick himself. What a dumb thing to say!
"Here comes your ride," he says. A white van with the words GLORY'S PLACE, written on the side pulls to a stop in front of them. The driver jumps out of the van to mark each child's name off on the clipboard he's holding. "See you tomorrow. Congratulations again on your presentation."
"Bye, Mr. G."
He scolds himself for opening his big mouth as he walks back into the school. He is heading for the maintenance office when he sees Mrs. Kurtz at the end of the hall. He hesitates, wondering if he should speak to her but decides that he should. Mrs. Kurtz is one of the teachers in the school who has been there the longest and he has always seen her to be loving and kind toward her students. He pretends to be doing something with the flag as she approaches. "Did you have a good day, Mrs. Kurtz?"
"I did, Gabe! How was yours?"
"Good. Good. Maddie just did her presentation for me."
She stops in front of him. "It was so good. They all were just excellent today."
"Um ... she ... uh ... asked if I was married and then I teased her, asking if she was married and she of course laughed and said no. And I said that there's no way her dad would want to give her away." He sighs. "I could tell by looking at her that I said the wrong thing." Mrs. Kurtz nods, understanding. "I never ask the kids about a mom or dad. I know that many of them live with a single parent or a grandparent. It just slipped out today." He shakes his head, feeling stupid. "I never would do or say anything to make her or any of these kids feel bad about —"
She interrupts him. "Many children here are in one-parent homes." She's careful how she phrases her words. "Some don't have either parent in their life." She looks at Gabe and he understands. "I can assure you that Maddie does not hold a grudge against you and that tomorrow she'll be the same happy little girl that she is every day." She smiles. "I have to run." She begins to hurry down the hall. "Haircut appointment and Loralei hates tardiness!"
He opens the door to the maintenance office and places the flag on its shelf. He grabs the tools he needs in order to put a leg back on a library table and sighs, shaking his head. There was a time, years ago, when something as simple as a slip of the tongue would not have bothered him. As a matter of fact, he gloried in his anger and temper and fiery tongue. But today he hates the thought that he has darkened a little girl's day.CHAPTER 2
Lauren Gabriel drives through the town square, admiring the historic firehouse and the bank, and Betty's Bakery, which was originally the feed store back in the early 1900s. Some of the storefronts are already decorated for Christmas, with simple lights, evergreen swags, fake snow, or a wintry scene depicted in a store window. She's called Grandon home for a year, but by the way the townspeople adopted her as family, it feels as if all twenty-two years of her life have been spent here. Lauren stops at a red light and notices that a small group of people are decorating the three fir trees around the gazebo and the gazebo itself. The finishing touch seems to be a giant star on top of the gazebo. She cranes her neck to see it, realizing it wasn't there last year. She remembers everything about this gazebo and the town square and the moment she realized she was home, for the first time in her life. The star is high enough and big enough for the entire town to see. A young woman around her age and an older woman point up at the star, giving direction to the man on the roof of the gazebo. On closer look, she realizes that her boyfriend, Travis, is that man on top of the gazebo; he's hard at work with the Grandon Parks Department, and as Lauren pulls away from the light, she taps her horn, waving and yelling at him from the window.
* * *
Thirty-two-year-old Amy Denison tucks her blondish-brown bob behind her ears and cleans a smudge off her glasses as she looks at the sign on the door:
Glory's Place A Place of Help And Hope
She opens it, stepping inside. The vestibule is filled with children, making their way to cubbies lined against the wall, in order to hang up their jackets and backpacks. Several adults greet them, leading them to games, to bookshelves lined with books, to tables where they begin homework, or to a doorway marked TUTORING. The place buzzes with activity and noise and Amy wonders if she is up for this, feeling inadequate. She had always assumed that she would have children of her own at this age but maybe this is as close as she will ever get.
"Are you Amy?"
An older woman with short salt-and-pepper curls is smiling at her. "I am. I'm here to see Gloria."
The woman's face lights up, and she moves toward Amy with open arms, hugging her. "That's me! So nice to meet you! Come on in." She leads her to a small office, pointing to a folding chair as she sits on one next to her. There's nothing fancy about this office but somehow Gloria makes it feel homey. Maybe it's her Southern accent or her warm smile, or maybe it's her open face that would delight anyone who walks through these doors that makes Amy feel instantly welcome. "We got all the background checks that we needed and you'll be happy to know that you are not wanted by the state or federal government."
"That is good to know!" Amy says, chuckling.
"I know you talked in depth with Heddy when you came in a few weeks ago but I always like to chat with volunteers before they begin. What brought you to Glory's Place?" Amy lifts her shoulders. "I don't know if I have a great answer for that, but I was at lunch one day thinking about what I would do that night, and what I would do that coming weekend, and I realized that my life pretty much revolves around myself. I've always liked children, I enjoy being with them, and the more I thought about my life the more I felt that I was supposed to be a foster parent. So I went through the training and all the paperwork. I'm just waiting for clearance with the state. I'm tired of the sameness of my life and thought that maybe you could use me here." For some reason Amy feels like crying and looks down at her purse before any tears form.
"We sure can use you and all of the kids will enjoy getting to know you." She glances down at her watch. "The van from Grandon Elementary will be here in just a couple of minutes and we can greet them together. You'll find that the volunteers do everything here. They greet the children, they help with homework, they play games with them, read to them, prepare snacks, help tutor them in a subject they're struggling with, help with the Christmas benefit, and clean the building. When I started this place many years ago with just a handful of friends we were doing the same things then that we are now." She laughs. "If you were looking for something glamorous then you've come to the wrong place!"
"I gave up dreams of glamour a long time ago," Amy says. She looks at Gloria, thinking. "Is the name on the door and your sign out front a misprint?"
Gloria shakes her head, smiling. "The kids call me Miss Glory. People have always called me Glory, with the exception of Miriam, who thinks Glory is a ridiculous name for a grown woman. You'll meet Miriam. I'll pray for you as you meet her. And you can call me whichever name is agreeable to you."
Amy looks up as a young Hispanic-looking woman with long dark hair and skin sticks her head inside the office door. "Excuse me, Glory?" Gloria turns in her seat. "Besides Trevor, did you want me to work with anyone else on math right away?"
Gloria jumps up. "Oh, Lauren! Come say hi to Amy. This is her first day."
Lauren steps forward to shake Amy's hand. "Hi! Glad you're here!"
Gloria puts her hand on Lauren's shoulder. "Lauren came last year to help us with our fundraiser and decided not to leave." Lauren shrugs, smiling. "She moved to Grandon and became a florist at Clauson's Supermarket, has a handsome beau at the parks department, and is like a big sister to a lot of the kids here."
"Great to meet you," Amy says.
"Just ask me if you need anything," Lauren says.
Gloria claps her hands together, thinking. "Now! Besides Trevor, take Ally as well. I think those two will work well together without being distractions to each other. After them, could you take Derek and Logan? Their teachers have said they're still not grasping division."
"Got it!" Gloria and Amy can hear Lauren calling for the first two boys as she exits the office.
"Are you working today, Gloria? Or is your day going to be filled with tea and crumpets?" Gloria shakes her head and, without looking, points her thumb over her shoulder. "That is Miriam."
Amy shakes her hand. "I'm Amy. A new volunteer."
"Oh, how wonderful," Miriam says, looking her over. "What do you do, Amy?"
"I'm an insurance adjuster."
Miriam scrunches up her face. "Oh my! That does sound terribly dull, doesn't it?" Amy is taken off guard and laughs. Miriam's English accent is so smooth and gentle that she can't tell if her comment was meant to be insulting or not. "Are you married?"
"No, I'm not."
Amy shakes her head. "No. But I love children. That's why I'm here."
"Where do you live?"
Miriam raises her eyebrows. "That's a thirty-minute drive! I wonder if you could have found any volunteer opportunities closer to your front door?"
Gloria steps forward, putting her hand on Amy's back. "I forgot! I need to show you the big room!" She leans in, whispering, "I'm rescuing you from Miriam," and leads her into the vestibule, pointing across the room filled with children. "We call this 'the big room.' Just go right across the big room and bring your purse and jacket through that door," she says, pointing. "Just pick any empty locker and I'll meet you right back here to greet the van."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Christmas Star"
Copyright © 2018 Donna VanLiere.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The 9th in a series that is all Christmas stories and I didn't know when I started this story that I was midstream in a series and I wish I had, hence me mentioning it right off the back. Throughout the story I felt as though I was missing some back story for some of the characters, so I wished that maybe I had started this series in the beginning, so I wanted to mention this before I started my full review.
This is the ninth book in Donna VanLiere's Christmas Hope series and it was just what I expected. A story of hope, love, belief, and second chances with a Christian message. I always look forward to her Christmas stories because I know it will have a wonderful message with a happy ending. Gabe is a maintenance worker at the school that Maddie attends. Maddie is a seven year old sweetheart who is a foster child who divides her time between school and Glory's an after school program. She and Gabe have a special friendship and she wants him to meet Amy. Amy volunteers at Glory's and she is single like Gabe, and old like him. It is Maddie's mission to get the two to meet because she thinks they are perfect. When they do meet, there is a surprise that no one was expecting. I love the character of Maddie. Not only does she live in a foster home, but she has cerebral palsy. The story does not bash foster homes, in fact, Maddie lives in a good one. She is a strong little girl who is willing to try pretty much anything even if she is not successful. She has a charm and innocence about her that made me want to give her a big hug and let he come and live with me. As I said earlier, this is a story full of second chances and with faith, not being afraid to take a leap into the unknown. It was a very quick read and perfect for a Christmas Eve story. The publisher, St. Martin's Press, generously provided me with a copy of this book upon my request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
The Christmas Star by Donna VanLiere is the ninth a Christmas Hope Novel. It is November 2011 in when Amy Denison volunteers at Glory’s Place in Grandon. She meets the precocious Maddie who is a foster child with cerebral palsy. Maddie has decided to play matchmaker and has the perfect man for Amy. Amy, though, was hurt by her ex-husband and she is not sure she is ready to let another man into her heart and life. Amy is pleasantly surprised by the man Maddie has matched her up with and it has her reconsidering her stance. Lauren Gabriel, a volunteer at Glory’s place, is thrilled when her boyfriend, Travis Mabrey proposes. They want a simple Christmas wedding at the gazebo in the park which has a beautiful new star above it this year. Miriam has her own ideas for their wedding and it will be up to Gloria to rein her in. Can they pull off a wedding in one month? The staff, children and volunteers at Miss Glory’s are busy preparing for the annual fundraiser. This event provides the money to run the center for the next year. It is a busy time of year and it will be all hands on deck. Magic and romance are in the air at Miss Glory’s place. The Christmas Star is a sweet Christmas story. After I started reading The Christmas Star, I discovered that it continues the story of the characters in The Christmas Town (which I had not read). It also features characters from other novels in the Christmas Hope series (Miriam, Ben and Gloria for example). While The Christmas Star can be read alone, I felt I was missing key details on the characters. The Christmas Star is nicely written with steady pacing. It is a shorter story with only 221 pages (perfect for reading in front of a fire on a snowy afternoon). I did feel the characters lacked development and depth (but you can only do so much in such a short book). I did like the friendly people who volunteer their time to help children. Ben, the bag boy, returns in The Christmas Star. The slips of papers he puts into patron’s bags of groceries provide inspiration and hope. I like that Amy and her match are getting a second chance at finding love and getting their happily ever after. However, the romance between them was rushed. I like the happy ending of The Christmas Star even though it is anticipated (easy to predict how the book will end). Maddie is the highlight of the book. She is a bright and happy child despite her circumstances. Some of the elements featured are faith, hope, love, second chances, friendship, redemption, kindness and forgiveness. The Christmas Star is a feel-good Christmas story that will leave you with a smile on your face.
I see all the good reviews and almost can't write this. But I just have to add that this is the first book in a very long time that I have not finished. I got a quarter to a third of the way through, trying very hard to finish. I wanted to finish. I wanted to be able to follow the story. I wanted it to draw me in. But I didn't. I couldn't. And it didn't. :( Let me be fair and say that I don't think I have ever read one of her books before so maybe I am just not a fan in general. We have a mutual friend, and that caused me to pick up the book. I also love short Christmas stories. I feel a bit robbed that I wasted part of this Christmas season trying to enjoy this book.
The Christmas Star is a sweet, easy read that would make a great Hallmark movie! The story is about a precocious little girl, in the foster care system from birth, becoming part of a family of her own. The holidays and especially the Christmas Star atop the town square's gazebo affect those around her in very special loving ways. Beautiful, uplifting story.
This is a delightful, feel good Christmas book. You will fall in love with the wonderful cast of characters the author has put together for this sweet book. Amy, a woman who has been hurt in the past and afraid to open up her heart to others, Maddie, a precocious child who is in foster care, and Mr. G, a maintenance man in the grade school where Maddie attends, along with a delightful group of people who all work at “Glory’s Place”, an after school program for kids bring us to laughter and tears. A Christmas Star placed on the tree at the gazebo in the center of town becomes a guide to several in the community to develop a miracle of forgiveness and love in relationships. This is a special Christmas book that you don’t want to miss reading during this holiday season. It is a true joy. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my honest opinion.
This is a perfect holiday story that highlights the goodness in people. I cared for the characters. It was wonderful to see how they were able to help each other. I felt their deep connection. Their dialogue was filled with honesty and love. It warmed my heart and brought me to tears. The setting was perfect and made want to be there surrounded by all their joyful spirit. I received a copy of this book which I voluntarily read and reviewed. My comments are my honest opinion.
ARC for honest review with no compensation, received from NetGalley. This was my first book by Donna VanLiere and so enjoyed it! Miracles happen when we least expect them but Christmas time seems to bring about second chances, forgiveness, trust, and finding an everlasting love!! Looking forward to reading more of Donna VanLiere’s books.
A beautiful story told in a sweet and loving way. loved ALL the characters. It's such a joy to read such a feel-good book!
A good sweet feel good Christmas story with romance. It about a little girl and her friends at Glory Place. She tries to play matchmaker to help her friends find happiness and love Enjoyed reading Voluntarily reviewed
I received a copy of this book for an honest review. I was not required to give a favorable review. This is a beautiful story about love, second chances, children in need of homes and friends that make all the difference in peoples lives. Ms. Glory runs a program for children in the community that need a place to go after school and with parents that may work late. They have games, tutoring, and activities. Lauren is one of the young women working there, she is a former foster child herself so she knows what they kids go through. She met the love of her life there when he was working as a volunteer Taylor. Then there is Gabe is works as a custodian/maintenance worker at the elementary school and he is working on becoming a teacher, and there is a little girl who he has seen pull self up and has a happy smile for everyone, Maddie. It is Maddie's mission to make Gabe happy and wants to set him up with the new volunteer at the center little does she & he know that it is his ex-wife Amy who he did wrong 6 years prior. But he has gone through AA and is doing so much better. But everything is around Christmas and many blessings.
It's always nice to read a book that you just know is going to have a happy ending! It's a Christmas story and we all know miracles can happen at that time of year. Maddie is a 7 year old girl who has grown up in foster care. She is a sweet little girl, wise beyond her years. When she decides to play matchmaker, you never know what might happen. This was a very beautiful story about giving second chances. A good read to relax with at the holidays. * I was provided an ARC to read from the publisher and NetGalley to read. It was my decision to read and review this book.
This story has no cussing, no sex, and absolutely no need for them. If those are things that turn you off of a book, you have nothing to worry about here. Although this book is part of a larger series you can jump right in here without missing anything at all, but you will be spoiled for previous character stories if that's something you find off-putting. This book appealed to me because I had enjoyed a couple of Hallmark movies based on this series and I was curious about the books. It was no surprise to me that I loved this story, but I was surprised by just how much I loved it. The town of Grandon was full of amazing characters, and Ms. VanLiere has a real knack for incorporating the side characters into the story in a way that lets them be involved without them overwhelming the main story. Miriam and Gloria were absolutely adorable and now I want to go back and read more books in this series to (hopefully) get more of them and this great town. The story of Gabe and Amy – and Maddie – was incredibly sweet and so beautiful. Without spoiling anything, I loved the way that they all grew to know each other, and that they fought so hard for their relationship. It was a beautiful story about the power of love and forgiveness. And the part that Maddie played in this story was absolutely perfect. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a second chance romance or just a really well-written book where the characters lines and love are the key elements, no gimmicky sex required.
Maddie is an adorable little girl who this year has made it her mission to get Mr G hitched. In this beautiful small town there's a gazebo in the town square. This year a star is added to the decorations, Maddie considers this a sign and declares it to be a year for miracles. There are a number of Christmas miracles that happen. The joy and peace of the season touches hearts and lives in this beautiful Christmas story. I am a sucker for a good Christmas story, one that remembers the reason for the season. This is my first read by this author and I absolutely loved it. Throughout the story the message of God's love and the spirit of Christmas miracles remind you to share love and peace and touch someone, you may be their miracle.
Amy Denison is looking for something to give her life meaning, so she volunteers to work at Glory's Place, an afterschool program. There she meets Maddie, a precocious little girl who has spent her entire life in foster care. Mr G works as a custodian at Maddie's school and Maddie adores him. Maddie becomes determined to set Amy and Mr G up together. Will this Christmas be a Christmas to remember? I really enjoyed this book. It was a very light-hearted, quick read. There was more story than there was romance, so that is good for those of us who aren't big fans of romance novels. This will be a great Christmas book to help you get in the Christmas spirit.
This is a brand new to me author and I didn't realize this book was part of a series. So it can definitely be read as a stand alone and still understand everything that happens. There are couple of stories that are being told in this book but the main one is about Amy Denison and Gabe Rodriguez along with a little girl named Maddie. Amy has decided that something is missing in her life and in order to figure out what it is, she decides to volunteer her time at Glory's Place, which is an after school program that helps children in need. There she meets Maddie, who is a very precocious little girl (and she will win over your heart in an instant!). Maddie decides that Amy and her friend Mr. G. from school need to meet since they are both single. What she doesn't know is what will happen from there and how much things will change in all of their lives. I absolutely loved this book!! This may have been the first book I read by this author but it certainly won't be the last! Maddie is absolutely adorable and I love her sweet and loving attitude even with everything she has gone through in her young life. Amy had a very hard time before and has tried to move on but she is still missing what she thought she would have. And she certainly never expected for Gabe to come back into her life. Gabe made a lot of mistakes when he was younger. And he definitely put his family through hell. But he owned up to his mistakes and made the changes that were necessary to not only become a better man but to become a better human being. He is literally a different person now and I loved him! And when he and Gabe meet again and they both realize how much they still care about each other and fight to see if they can make things work? Absolutely beautiful!! And then you throw in the side story about the wedding and the wedding dress and it just shows that there are still people who truly know what the Christmas season is supposed to be about!! A great read!!
The Christmas Star by Donna VanLiere is a fabulous holiday story. Ms. VanLiere has provided readers with a touching, well-written Christmas romance that may have you shedding a few tears. Gabe is the school maintenance person at Grandon Elementary School. He adores his little friend Maddie. Amy volunteers at Glory's Place, helping children with homework, playing games and enjoying the kids. Gabe and Amy's story is packed with drama, humor and Maddie. Kudos to Ms. VanLiere for lightening what could be a dark book with her skillful weaving of humor into the story, and everyone needs a little Maddie in their lives. I totally loved reading The Christmas Star and look forward to reading more from Donna VanLiere. The Christmas Star is book 9 of the Christmas Hope Series but can easily be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I was given the chance to review this book via Netgalley. I'm almost shocked to say this is the first book I can recall reading by Ms. VanLiere, since apparently she has written quite a few Christmas books. I'll be going back to read more. I loved the story of Amy, Gabe and Maddie. All three are hurting for one reason or another. Maddie is a little girl who happens to have a disability. She knows Gabe because he works in her school. She meets Amy when she volunteers at the after school program that Maddie attends. Little Maddie takes her huge heart and decides that Amy and Gabe should get together. She starts working her loving magic to get them to meet. Things don't go as planned, but Maddie isn't about to give up. This is a story of second chances, forgiveness, healing, hope and love...and Christmas! I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 because is was written in the present tense. It just seemed awkward to me and the present tense kept distracting me from the plot. I don't know why the author chose this, but it was just something my brain couldn't deal with.
Once upon a time..... very long ago, I read books just to read books. I didn't know about writing reviews, Goodreads, Amazon reviews or blogs or anything like that. Back in those days, during the holiday season, you can bet we had our collection of Donna VanLiere's Christmas books running through my family group of readers - my aunts, my mother and my cousins - until we put them away with the other Christmas decorations. Then, the next year, we would add a book to the collection, read it and pass it around the group again. I can't be sure which books in this series that we've read and which ones we haven't unless I would read the back covers to know the stories - no reviews back then, remember? When St. Martin's Press told me about The Christmas Star by Donna VanLiere available through NetGalley, I told them I was interested even before I realized this was book #9 in the Christmas Hope series! I was very pleasantly surprised when I started reading this book and discovered that it was part of the collection I've grown to love over the years! Coincidentally (or perhaps not so coincidentally), this story is being published on October 16, 2018 to coincide with the Hallmark Channel production of VanLiere’s previous title, The Christmas Town. The Christmas Star is a moving and uplifting story about repairing the fragile pieces of a broken heart with the help of a child and a little Christmas magic. The Christmas Star shares the story of 32-year-old Amy Denison a volunteer at an after school program called Glory’s Place at Granon Elementary School, where she meets a precocious little girl named Maddie. Maddie is in the foster care system and she's in need of a forever family. Gabe works at the school as a custodian. He has made some pretty lousy choices in his past but for the past 5 and a half years he's been sober. Maddie has made it her mission to work as a matchmaker and get the two to meet because she thinks they are perfect for each other. A Christmas Star is a very sweet, heartwarming, faith-based story about second chances and redemption. It's a story full of meaningful moments, human kindness and even a few regrets. The author provides readers with a cast of well-rounded characters with a story that will either will bring you to tears, make you smile with joy, or both! I received an advanced readers digital copy of this book from St. Martin's Press through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to provide a positive review but I chose to because it was a great book!! Thank you St. Martin's Press!
There were things that I didn’t like about this book. I was confused about why Amy and Gabriel’s relationship ended. There were two explanations. One was dumbed down to a 7-year-old (I wasn’t a good husband). The other one was when Gabriel was thinking about the past (I was a bad husband and I drank too much). I figured Gabriel drank too much but what else happened? I also didn’t like that Lauren and Travis’s story took over the book. That is something I cannot stand when I am reading a series of books. Those characters and that storyline should have been regulated to the background. I also didn’t like how happy Amy’s parents were about certain things that happened at the end of the book. Even though Gabe talked to them for 5 hours, it still struck a chord on my BS meter. And the last thing: The adoption. I know people who have adopted out of foster care before and it took months (even uncontested). There were so many hurdles that they had to jump through it wasn’t even funny. So to have one go through in under a month didn’t ring true to me. To Recap: Confused about why Amy and Gabriel’s relationship ended Lauren and Travis’s relationship being one of the main storylines How happy Amy’s parents were about what happened at the end of the book The adoption. Not a realistic situation I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**
The Christmas Star is a heartwarming holiday sweet tale about change, forgiveness, hope, and God. Maddie is a charismatic seven-year-old orphan girl with CP who loves to play matchmaker. After Maddie’s classes, a school van would take Maddie to Glory’s Place, to wait for her foster parent. It was one of Maddie’s favorite places to go. Amy has wanted children of her own, for years, but her former husband was too busy drinking and being selfish to share her dream. After their divorce, Amy volunteered to work at Glory’s Place. She wanted to spend time with children who needed her. And, that is where Amy met the matchmaker. Maddie was determined to bring together Mr. G. and Amy. Maddie was positive that the two of them belonged together. But when the two adults met, they were sure that Maddie was mistaken. The Christmas Star is a sweet holiday romance, well-written, touching, and full of hope. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy.
The Christmas Star, the ninth novel in the Christmas Hope series by Donna Van Liere, is a perfect story to give you just what this series is about: hope. It has all the necessary ingredients to fill your heart in the Christmas season – a beautiful precocious child, Maddie, Gabe, who seems like a good guy but has such a cloud of sadness and regret hanging over him, and Amy, who is full of love to give and is moving on but is protecting her heart because it’s already been shattered once. I had not read any of the previous books in this series, but just a couple of paragraphs in I got a warm pleasant feeling that stayed with me through the entire story. I felt like I already knew many of the characters and will be going back to read the previous books to learn more about their stories. The Christmas Star tugs at your heart. Maddie is a foster child with physical limitations who longs for a forever home. Both Gabe and Amy have much to give but at the same time feel like life has dealt them hands they must now be satisfied with. The rest of the marvelous characters have fascinating stories of their own. I started smiling as soon as I started reading. Even through adversity, faith and love and the spirit of giving shine through. You can’t help but be in the Christmas spirit. The Christmas Star is a wonderful read. I received a copy of this book from the Publisher St Martin’s Press via NetGalley. I was not required to review it but I recommend it without hesitation. Read The Christmas Star and the entire Christmas Hope series; you’ll be glad you did.
If you don't currently believe in Christmas miracles this book might just change your mind. It's a beautifully written quick read that will touch your heart and make you smile. It's a story of forgiveness, second chances, love, and hope for a future you never thought possible. The characters are all fantastic especially little matchmaking Maddie. Gabe and Amy have gone through the hard stuff and perhaps only good lies ahead. Maybe, just maybe. I highly recommend this one.
The Christmas Star (Christmas Hope #9) by Donna VanLiere ...this was the first book by Donna that I have read.... I will be reading more.... thanks to the publisher and #NetGalley for letting me preview this wonderful book. This is a second chane romance for Gabe and Amy who had a past...and Maddie an adorable 7 yr old little girl. The are so many other great people in this book and they all have great side stories. This books really tugs at your heart...the true meaning of Christmas comes through.. I shed quite a few tears and really enjoyed all the twists and turns getting to all the HEA's.
The author has given us a story of hope, with people who love God and work at schools, and then donate their time for a safe place for children to go after. The spirit of giving is alive here, and it keeps touching so many, and makes it a perfect Christmas read. I did not read the previous book, but now I would love to, but you will not be lost here, and the story plays out beautifully. While I figured out early on how I thought the story would play out, there were still a lot of surprises! I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher St Martin’s Press, and was not required to give a positive review.