The Ghost of Christmas Present: A Novel
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2012
The Ghost of Christmas Present is a debut novel for both authors and what a start. I am not usually a fan of Christmas themed stories, just usually not my genre but when I read the description I felt drawn to it. As I read this novel I could not help but admire his father's dedication and love for his son that causes him to do what he wouldn't normally do to get what his son needs. The son Braden is a wise little boy, who seems to deal with his illness and current situation much better than his Dad or his Grandpa. Patrick's father in law blames Patrick for his daughter's death and wants to get Braden away from him. This story really grabbed me beginning to end. It was hard to put down and truly touched my heart. The themes in this story really hit home for me as a parent of two special needs children and someone who lives with chronic illness. This story also shows how when we use our God given gifts we truly find success and find ourselves. This book is truly a wonderful story and I am so thankful I had the privilege to read it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good Christmas themed story. I hope to see more books from Scott Abbott and Amy Maude Swinton
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2012
Patrick Guthrie's eight-year-old son needs a heart operation. Braden has an enlarged heart - the same condition that caused the death of Patrick's wife several years ago.
When Patrick returns to his high school classroom after the Thanksgiving vacation, he finds it empty. He and a few other teachers have been let go due to budget cuts.
Patrick is desperate. He has used up all of his financial reserves on his son. And then the child protection agency representative is at his door. He has just a few weeks to pay off the past due rent and utilities and have proof of employment. Otherwise Braden will go to the care of his rich father-in-law, a man who hates Patrick and is probably behind the attempt to take Braden.
To what lengths will Patrick go to make sure he can continue to care for the son he loves so much?

What a wonderful novel of parental love. Patrick is willing to make a fool of himself on the streets of New York City in order to keep custody of his son. He is willing to give of himself to others even when he himself is in such a time of need.

One theme in this novel is that of having a gift but then, because of parental or social pressure, not using that gift. We also see that lives can be changed when touched by the giving spirit of another.

There is no overt Christianity in this book. There is no gospel message. But there is the message of selfless giving and of lives being changed because of it. Lovers of Shakespeare will be delighted by the book, as will those who love Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Date: 10/24/12
Title: The Ghost of Christmas Present
Author: Scott Abbott and Amy Maude Swinton
ISBN 13: 978-1-4516-6039-5
Pages: 226
Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster
Cover: Hardcover
Rating: 3

This book was, in my opinion, a partial ode to Shakespeare, of whom I'm not the biggest fan. However, what I took away from this book was that the human spirit cannot be broken.

Patrick Guthrie is left to take care of his ailing son, Braden, alone. Braden has an enlarged heart and is in need of a delicate procedure. Bad luck, trials and test are thrown at Patrick from every angle. Not only is he put in a position to be there for his little boy, and "hope" him through the procedure, Patrick has been laid off from his job and eventually he is threatened with losing his son because the courts have concluded that Patrick is no longer able to take care of his son financially.

Unable to bear much more, Patrick contemplates suicide until he realizes that he would leave his son alone. Patrick then is hired and fired from another job that leaves him panhandling on the streets in an effort to keep and take care of his son.

This story shows that no matter how much is put on a person, they have the ability to overcome many obstacles with faith, love and determination.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2012
I just love a good holiday story and this one fits that mold. You cannot help but admire a father's dedication and love for his son that causes him to do things he wouldn't normally do just to help his son. Braden seems like a child that is wise beyond his years as many children are who have chronic illnesses. Like Braden, they often handle the situations better than the parents. I read the entire book in one evening. Once I started reading, I just could not put it down. It had me drawn in hook, line and sinker from the first page. It reminds me of the book, The Christmas Shoes, as it too is about the love that would cause us to go that extra mile for another's happiness. I found it interesting that Patrick's father-in-law whom he has never gotten along with was much like Patrick in his younger years, involved in theater. It is usually the things in life that cause us to not get along with someone because they are very much like we are. I highly recommend this book for you and while you are at it, buy one for your friend's and family. It is one of those books that will make a great Christmas present and it is full of the Christmas theme of love. I just cannot say enough positive things about this book. So, get a copy and read for yourself.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Howard Books. I was not obligated to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are my own.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2012
The weather has turned a bit chilly here so I've begun the pursuit of my favorite hobby. Curling up with a good book (especially a Christmas one), a cup of my favorite tea and a cozy afghan in front of the fire make for the perfect evening.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is my first Christmas book of the season. It is a story of two fathers. One is embittered by the loss of his daughter. He will do anything it takes to destroy the one he believes is at fault. The other father is desperate to save his ailing son. He will do anything to make their lives better. Caught between the two are a torn woman and a wise beyond his years boy.

It is a relatively short novel, but it is filled with emotion. You will find yourself pulled from compassion to irritation with the flip of a page. The wording is fabulous. If you are a fan of Dickens and Shakespeare this is going to be a keeper for you. Or if you have a book lover on your Christmas list this is the perfect size for a stocking stuffer!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2012
I am always so thankful for the fall because it always brings such great Christmas stories to print and The Ghost of Christmas Present by Scott Abbott and Amy Maude Swinton is a perfect novel to read to bring about the sense of hope, love and peace just in time for Christmas. This is a combination of Mrs. Doubtfire mixing with the right amount of Miracle on 34th Street. We are immediately introduced to Patrick Gutherie, a single father to his young son Braden, who has recently been diagnosed with similar heart condition that has taken the life of his mother and Patrick's wife, Linda. How is it possible that he is about to lose the only other person in the world after trying to move forward after the death of his wife and soulmate. It's only a matter of time before Braden will join his mother and Patrick will be left all alone.

When Patrick receives an emergency phone call from the hospital while teaching his drama class in college, he fears the worst. He arrives at the hospital and immediately learns that Braden might have a chance at a new life and possibly reverse his heart condition. Finally the break he's been searching for. As he prepares for Braden's upcoming surgery, he learns that he has been laid off from his teaching position due to cutbacks and worse yet, his father-in-law Tom Cake, has filed a custody hearing to assume responsibility for the care of raising young Braden. Tom has long since held Patrick responsible for the death of his daughter and wants to ensure that the same doesn't happen to Braden. Now facing the scrutiny of a Child Protective Services worker, Rebecca Brody , Patrick must find a job and be able to get current on his rent, utilities and have money in the bank otherwise he will lose custody of his son.

Faced with losing his son just when a Christmas miracle has presented itself, Patrick must find a way to make money and fast. His only options seem to be his love of Shakespeare and theater and his ability to act. Is it possible to find a way to make enough money to save his son. Will there be a Christmas miracle after all on 34th street? Or will Patrick lose the only thing keeping him alive in this world and watch his scrooge of a father-in-law gain custody of his son forever?

I received The Ghost of Christmas Present compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Publishers for my honest review and was hooked from the first page. I couldn't wait to see how this one would work out and finished it in a matter of a couple of hours. It was that good. I love the creativity that Patrick used to step outside the box and utilize his acting talents to find a way to bring money in to keep the lights on, and a roof over his head. He did what I believe most parents would, and that's whatever it takes to make sure your kids are well cared for and loved. Braden truly admires his father and despite all the stress in his own life with his heart operation, Braden can see his dad's true feelings and knows something is wrong even though Patrick won't share everything. He attempts to find a way to keep a positive spin on everything that is going on and in the midst of it all, changes the lives of every single person he encounters. This one rates a perfect 5 out of 5 Christmas stars and HIGHLY recommend this one to anyone looking for a feel-great Christmas novel!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2012
As a father myself, I have to say that I was completely drawn to this heart-stirring story about a father who will do anything necessary to be able to care for and provide for his child. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a well-written read with delightfully unique characters who are thoroughly entertaining and likable. Being a novella, the book is a quick read and I finished it in one sitting, and so I became easily absorbed into the story and into Patrick's struggles. I loved Patrick's passion for theater and enjoyed his unique perspective on life, drawing on his knowledge of Shakespeare to speak to the world around him. I was a little bothered that the front jacket of the book depicts Braden as age eight, and yet the first page refers to Patrick sharing a pop with his "ten-year-old son, Braden". Later in the story, it again switches to Braden being eight, then during the court scene he's suddenly ten. While this is really a minor detail, it is something that editors should catch in my opinion. Other than this, I was well pleased by the characterization, the swift dialogue, and the sense of suspense created in waiting to find out whether Patrick would be able to keep his son in his care.

Readers who are looking for a quick-moving, emotionally satisfying read to get them in the mood for Christmas should plan on picking up this book from talented authors Abbott and Swinton. I give it a solid recommendation and 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Howard Books, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon November 14, 2012
In Manhattan Widower Patrick Guthrie still grieves the death of his wife Linda from an enlarged heart only he learns that the other person he loves in this world, their eight-year-old son Braden, is dying from the same condition. Adding pressure on Patrick is the loss of his job as a drama teacher and his affluent angry father-in-law Tom Cake is filing a custody suit based on his son-in-law's inability to care for Braden; just like he feels his son-in-law failed his beloved daughter.

Child Protective Services social worker Rebecca Brody reviews the case at a time when a procedure could save Braden's life. Thinking his son may be better offer with his grandfather, Patrick considers suicide, but concludes Braden needs him and he will do anything to be there for his beloved child. Needing a Christmas miracle, Patrick turns to Shakespeare and street performing to raise money before he appears in court.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is a charming holiday tale starring a desperate father seeking to make his own Miracle on 34th Street. His efforts change the attitudes of many as those who watch his performance are tenderly touched even coldly efficient Rebecca and Ted the scrooge begin seeing him in a different light. Readers will enjoy this warm Christmas tale.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2012
Very well-written and incorporated many Shakespearean lines. Appropriate and enjoyable reading for adults and children.
This novel is a perfect Christmas gift.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
What a charming addition to the ever-increasing canon of Christmas stories that have become a publisher’s staple since Charles Dickens penned his immortal tale of holiday redemption. “The Ghost of Christmas Present” is more than homage to “A Christmas Carol” and delighted this reader. A widowed, down-on-his luck, recently unemployed drama teacher bravely dons a makeshift Victorian Christmas costume to “go unto the breach” as a interim New York City street busker to care for his gravely ill son. Patrick Guthrie recites Shakespeare and entertains the bustling crowds in a valiant effort to pay his past-due rent and put groceries on the table while engaged in a custody battle with his estranged father-in-law. This debut holiday themed novel makes familiar themes original and serves them up with panache. It’s an instant classic that won’t tarnish in the re-reading in years to come.
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