This year, Annalee has more ugly to deal with than you can find at a Christmas sweater party.
After eighteen years of living in the shadow of danger, shame, and regret, preschool teacher Annalee Prichard just wants to keep life safe and simple. It’s worked so far, but her best friend has other ideas and guilts Annalee into helping with a Christmas charity event. When the event’s entertainment backs out, it’s up to Annalee to convince her high school crush, Nick Daniels, to step up and step into the gig.
Nick Daniels has never been accused of having but one oar in the water, and he learned the hard way that pride truly does come before a fall. He sacrificed everything to achieve the fame he desired above all else. But after hitting rock bottom, he returned home to Bedford County, clinging to a mustard-seed-sized faith.
That’s when homely Annalee Pritchard shows up, convinced he’ll be willing to flirt with fame once again—all in the name of Christian charity.
Nick’s friendship has Annalee grinning like a fool. Could there be more to life than shame and shadows? Could this be her most blessed Christmas ever?
Little does Annalee know that her fearsome past is about to rear its ugly and perilous head and drag her and Nick down together.
My thoughts: Annalee is very different from the young lady she once was, hiding behind her glasses and baggy clothes, trying to draw as little attention to herself as possible. Then there is Nick, who's fame led him to hit rock bottom and wind up back with his mom, trying to redirect his music into ministry for the Lord. I thought that the author did a wonderful job of writing about two complex characters who face a mystery from Annalee's past, adding some suspense to the story. I will say, there is a trigger in this story, but the author does a wonderful job of handling it and turning the story into a beautiful message of hope for the future.
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review.
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About the Author
Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing–and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies–two in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.
More from Jennifer
Who doesn’t love a good redemption story? The bad boy (or girl) gone good. My husband and I have recently started watching the television show Nashville. Yes, I’m aware it’s probably considered a prime-time soap opera, and it certainly wouldn’t come close to passing as “clean” television, but we were hooked from the very beginning. Why, you might be asking? First and foremost, the talent on this show is absolutely amazing. Take it from someone who can’t carry a tune to save her life, I am enamored with people who can sing like the actors in this show. The second reason we enjoy it is because it was basically filmed in our backyard. We live an hour south of Nashville, and it’s always a treat to recognize your own surroundings on television. I remember my mom was a big fan of The Streets of San Francisco back in the day, because she worked in this city and the scenery was familiar. I don’t think the fact it starred Michael Douglas hurt either.
How does this connect to a redemption story? One character in Nashville, named Avery Barkley, starts out as someone that’s hard to stomach. Self-centered, arrogant, and immature. He reminds me of Nick Daniels in These Simple Gifts and Night Songs. So much so, had I been watching the show before I wrote Night Songs, I would’ve believed that I based Nick off of Avery. However, that wasn’t the case.
And just like Avery in Nashville does a 180-degree (albeit slow) switch in his character, so it is for Nick Daniels in These Simple Gifts. Redemption is every bit as attractive to me as romance. I love that we are all just broken jars of clay that the Lord shapes for our good and His glory, if we’re sensitive enough (and broken enough) to recognize it.
I didn’t care much for Nick when I created him—and neither did my readers. More than one church lady-fans gave me an earful about how much they didn’t care for him. But if I know one thing it’s that no one is all good or all bad. We are a combination of our upbringing and choices (both right and wrong). And until we leave this earth, God isn’t done growing our character. I like to believe anyone can be redeemed given the right circumstances and a heart toward the Lord. Even Nick Daniels.
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Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 11
Texas Book-aholic, December 12
Inklings and notions, December 13
lakesidelivingsite, December 14
An Author’s Take, December 15
For Him and My Family, December 15
deb’s Book Review, December 16
Locks, Hooks and Books, December 17
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 18
Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 19
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 20
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 21
Blogging With Carol, December 22
SusanLovesBooks, December 23
Back Porch Reads, December 23
To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card & a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read These Simple Gifts. I truly appreciate your thoughtful review.ReplyDelete
This sounds like quite an exciting story!ReplyDelete
This sounds like a really good story!ReplyDelete
I'm looking forward to reading this-- it sounds really interesting! Thanks so much for sharing it.ReplyDelete