My Thoughts

Delightful…Entertaining…Heartwarming

All words to describe this Christmas novella by Jennifer Sienes.

These Simple Gifts was far from a simple read as Annalee’s story began to unfold. I knew the story of her past would be tragic from the start only because I know what it means to “put on a mask” in an effort to hide the pain. The conversations she has about letting God heal the broken areas of her heart hit home in all the right areas. 

Apparently we have met Nick before in Night Songs but we get a wider lens glimpse into his heart in this book as he navigates his new life, out of the spotlight. I had the impression that he is an “all or nothing” kind of guy with a good heart. 

These Simple Gifts was a sweet romance filled with solid Biblical truth. I loved it and Jennifer Sienes is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. 

**The publisher gave me a copy of this book through CelebrateLit Publicities. All thoughts and views are my own and a positive review was not required.

About the Book

Book: These Simple Gifts

Author: Jennifer Sienes

Genre: Christian Christmas Contemporary Romance and Southern Fiction

Release date: November 8, 2022

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.

 

Click here to get your copy!

 

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.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 10

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

Giveaway

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.

7 Comments

  1. bn100

    nice review

  2. Jennifer Sienes

    Thank you, Melissa, for reading and reviewing These Simple Gifts. I truly appreciate your thoughtful feedback. You are very encouraging. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • MelissaWardwell

      You are most welcome! Thank you for the wonderful read.

  3. debbiejpruss

    Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you. Merry Christmas.

  4. Roxanne C.

    It sounds like a sweet Christmas story that has depth and meaning.

  5. Amy Woolard

    I love books like this one this time of year!

  6. Teri DiVincenzo

    Thanks for the review! This book looks so lovely. Wishing you both a very Merry Christmas!

7 Comments

  1. bn100

    nice review

  2. Jennifer Sienes

    Thank you, Melissa, for reading and reviewing These Simple Gifts. I truly appreciate your thoughtful feedback. You are very encouraging. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • MelissaWardwell

      You are most welcome! Thank you for the wonderful read.

  3. debbiejpruss

    Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you. Merry Christmas.

  4. Roxanne C.

    It sounds like a sweet Christmas story that has depth and meaning.

  5. Amy Woolard

    I love books like this one this time of year!

  6. Teri DiVincenzo

    Thanks for the review! This book looks so lovely. Wishing you both a very Merry Christmas!

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