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Showing 1-10 of 432 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 496 reviews
TOP 50 REVIEWERon October 15, 2010
A small town, inspirational story for the many this Christmas season that are besieged with their own past and/or the economy. Many need second chances and this book by Melody Carlson packs a lot of hope into a few pages. An enjoyable read with some depth. Even with its satisfying ending, it leaves readers with a hunger for more story about the life of Lena Markham.

Lena is paroled from the pen with only the clothes on her back, $65 cash, & a one-way bus ticket to New Haven, MN. I found this author's stories irresistible after her book "The Christmas Bus" made its stop in my living room. She has warmth of spirit written into every story and a way of making the reader fall in love with her characters. "Christmas at Harrington's" is no exception.

Lena rolls into New Haven with a prearranged boardinghouse room and a job at a local department store, Harrington's. Unfortunately due to lackluster sales, the job is gone. The owner's child decides Lena is the perfect looking Mrs. Santa. But...can an ex-con, just released, former spouse of an un-ordained preacher, & living in the disreputable Miller House, pull off pretending to be Mrs. Santa? Here is a story that will touch your heart and then put your conscience to considering the plight of many who struggle with making it on a daily basis. Even readers with their own difficulty will discover hope from New Haven's less fortunate. Moira will spurn your spirit of caring and charity. Young Beth, Cassidy, & Jemima you will simply love.

Sam, a handsome widower lawyer secretly investigates Mrs. Santa's sordid history looking for truth. Over the scent of `coffee with real cream' and gingersnaps (Santa's real favorite cookie), I can smell a sequel--maybe a Lena romance by Easter?

One small negative is found. Carlson has Mrs. Santa reading from a library's Christmas book. Only the opening page and ending are revealed in this story. It begins: "'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the stable..." What a tease. Now I have to begin my search for a used copy of Carlson's kids' book "'Twas the Night: The Nativity Story" (2004).
My Christmas season is already blessed by reading "Christmas at Harrington's" early.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 5, 2015
In many ways all of us want second chances. But perhaps we’re not as willing to give others a second chance. That’s the sad part of Lena’s life as she struggles to regain some sort of stability after being released from eight years in prison. Of all places she chooses to do so is in New Haven, northern Minnesota – in December!

With very little funds, poor clothes, no friends, Lena arrives by bus in that small town. But she meets a friendly older woman on the bus, Moira, who has a caring heart. Through sheer determination, Lena lands a job at the town’s struggling department store, Harrington’s. As what? MRS. SANTA CLAUS! A most intriguing situation that leads to some new friends, young and old, rewards – and dangers.

I cheered for Lena as she faces one challenge after another to the point she’s ready to give up. But God is leading her, even though she’s not quite ready to acknowledge Him. So how will the true Christmas spirit break through and lead to redemption? If you’re like me, you’ll be warmed by this story. Lena shows self-reliance and resilience. I would’ve liked more development of her relationship with the town lawyer, a widower, and with the two young children that come into Lena’s life. But – still, I found the book very satisfying and uplifting. I’m also glad to get acquainted with the writer, who has over 200 books to her credit.
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on February 19, 2016
For my 12th Christmas story of the season I read Christmas at Harrington's, by Melody Carolson.

Lena is an ex-pastor's wife who was sent to prison for embezzling from the very church she attended. Whether or not she did it is for you to discover when you read this delightful little book.

This seemed bigger than a novella, so there was a lot more detail and character development, and plot, making it seem more like a book.

I loved it. In fact I came close to giving it a 5 because it kept my interest from the first paragraph to the last and I fell in love with so many of the characters. It is simply my personal bias against Santa Clause that kept it from a 5-star for me. But without Santa there would be no Mrs. Clause, and that's what the book was greatly about. I deplore lying to children... Santa, Easter Bunny, tooth fairy, etc. and the way those lies detract from the real meaning of the day it celebrates. So I had a hard time giving it what the entertainment value demanded. So, let's just say it's a 4.5 because it was so well done and just a very nice story
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 28, 2012
Hmm. Part of me wants to give this book four stars. The plot was good and you could definitely imagine yourself on a bus to an unknown place with very little money and no idea what tomorrow might bring, just as the main character was feeling. I thought the writing itself was pretty good and although I do not read a tremendous amount of christian fiction, I liked this book for the lack of swearing and disturbing matter that a lot of books have.

I thought the characters were well developed. This author has an excellent grasp on the idea that the main character must have flaws in order to make them interesting and viable for the reader to develop a connection with them. I loved the secondary characters and thought they were as well molded as the MC. The book is easy to read and delightful in many ways. I thought the Christmas themed was consistent throughout the entire book and I loved the cover art as well. This book draws you in and holds your attention adequately.

I finally settled on giving this book three stars only because of the ending. This book chugs along nicely until the very end, where suddenly I was left wondering what happened. I had the opinion that the author must have run out of steam or felt rushed to complete this writing project. The book is going along smoothly and evenly and then boom! It's over. No apologies. I might have given this book a full five stars if it had not been for such an abrupt and pointless ending. Hate it when that happens.
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on December 20, 2016
This is simply a lovely Christmas story of love, forgiveness, kindness, and a second chance at life. Lena has suffered so much in her life that she actually just wants a new and fresh start away from the pain, loneliness, heartache, and grief. New Haven does offer a fresh start for Lena. With the helpfulness of some kind strangers that she meets and befriends, Lena finally gets the new start that she wants and needs. A great Christmas story!
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I really enjoyed reading this Christmas tale. The characters drew me in, and I cared about what happened to them. I did have to give it a 4-star rating because there were a few unbelievable sequences, like when Lena was able to pick up Jemima from school after Sally worked with a social worker to enroll her in school. In this day, a child can't be picked up by just anyone. So, that part was disruptive to my enjoyment of the tale. But otherwise, it was really enjoyable!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 5, 2011
This is a book I noticed last year (published in 2010) but I wasn't sure I wanted to pay the price it was listed for at that time. I decided to wait until this year and felt like I had been given my own Christmas present when it became a free Amazon offering a few days ago. Since it was something I had been very interested in reading, it went to the top of my TBR stack. I have only read one other book by Melody Carlson even though she has written over 200 of them! The cover is appealing and the reviews looked very, very good. At 168 pages, it fairly typical in length for a Christmas book of this nature and one I was able to finish over the course of a couple of evenings. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to cuddle up under a throw on my family room couch with a cup of tea, Christmas music playing the background, a fire in the fireplace, and the tree up and decorated. Add a good holiday book to the mix and I am all set! This book fit the bill perfectly.

In the opening pages, Lena Markham is being released from prison after serving eight years for something she didn't do. The crime she is accused of and how she came to be in prison are revealed over the course of the novel so I don't want to spoil it for you by giving too much away. Having no family or other support system, it's her desire to not return to her hometown but to get a fresh start somewhere else. She would like to be able to walk down the street without people staring at her or talking behind her back. A woman working for the prison lines up a job and a place to stay in New Haven but with only $65 dollars in her pocket and only a few clothes and basic necessities, her new life is starting out rough. The family-run department store in New Haven is supposed to offer her a job, but when she gets there things don't turn out quite as she had planned. In fact, nothing turns out quite as she had planned. The people she meets and the relationships she forms during the month after her release form the basis of the novel. Some are helpful, some are suspicious, and some are downright mean and vicious. As she struggles to get her footing, she questions her belief system and the people who taught her things she no longer buys into.

In this holiday read, not everything is sugary sweet but yet the overall storyline is happy so it feels a bit more "real" than some of the books out there you see. Well written, uplifting, and not always predictable - a good read and with some genuine food for thought. Note: This is a Christian-themed novel but it didn't come across too preachy to me other than one part toward the end.
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on November 6, 2016
Forever reason this book grabbed my attention from the very beginning. It had a nice flow making it an enjoyable read.

Everyone needs a second chance without strings attached, unfortunately that is easier said than done. Lena is an example of the saying "bad things happen to good people". Having to start over again is never easy, but having to start over with no support system takes courage and blind faith. This story affirms that people by nature are reluctant to accept the kindness of strangers, to believe that there is good in the hearts of others expecting nothing in return.

This group of characters needed to allow themselves to accept the kindness, to be honest with themselves and to realize that love, trust and the truth is what matters most. If you believe in yourself others will believe in you.
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on December 7, 2016
Lenape is a exconvite who went to jail accused to steal the church money. Her exhusbant the church pastor stole the money and run away. She paid innocently and move to other town. She meets new people's and started fresh in a new community where she found new friends. As usual a woman from her past and may her miserable and she becomes a pariah. For I hate is that Lana play the martyr and she wants to run away instead to defend herself. She blame her self like she is guity. That may me crazy and I to skate her for stupidity. But every body who loves Christmas stories is a good book. After all every thing works good for her. The book has flau but still a positive story. I wish that there towns like this one but I doubt. Read the book I recommend to people who believes in seconds chance as I do.
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on December 24, 2011
I downloaded this onto my Kindle because I wanted a Christmas novel and this book had such great reviews. The first chapter grabbed my attention enough that I kept reading and finished the story, though I felt it was missing something. When I read the author's bio, it all came together for me. "Melody Carlson in the prolific author of more than two hunderd books..." This book is more like a draft, not a complete novel. She didn't have/take the time to flesh out the characters or story line. That's a shame, because this has a good premise. One major plot line left undone is how the preacher/exhusband was able to get away with everything without his congregation (or the police for that matter) ever finding out about it. This is a VERY significant and necessary plot line. All in all, I feel this book was written too hastily, and was not given the chance to become what it could have been.
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