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Archived Group Reads - 2018 > December Book of the Month - The Christmas Dog

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message 1: by Staci, Book Awards Specialist (new)

Staci | 1487 comments Mod
We have two Melody Carlson books this month. The Christmas Dog is one of them. Who's in for a discussion of this heartwarming novel?

Summary:
Betty Kowalski isn't looking forward to the holidays. She just can't seem to find Christmas in her heart. There's church, of course. But who can she bake for these days? And who would care whether or not she pulled out the Christmas decorations?

Her new neighbor just adds to the problem. He's doing home improvements that don't appear to be improving much of anything. These days when Betty looks out the window, she sees a beat-up truck, a pile of junk, lots of blue tarps, and--horror of horrors--an old pink toilet.

But when a mangy dog appears at her doorstep, the stage is set for Betty to learn a very important lesson about what Christmas is all about. This contemporary Christmas story is a timely yet gentle reminder that God can work miracles through something as seemingly insignificant as a little brown dog.

Have you read other Carlson novels?


message 2: by Katrina (new)

Katrina Lybbert | 128 comments I have started reading this one. I have read the 1st couple chapters and it has caught my interest. It will be my first novel by Melody Carlson.


message 3: by Staci, Book Awards Specialist (new)

Staci | 1487 comments Mod
Great Katrina! Glad to have you join the discussion.


message 4: by Esther (new)

Esther | 38 comments I will start reading this book in a few days. I never read a book from Melody Carlson. And I never participated in a book discussion.


message 5: by Staci, Book Awards Specialist (new)

Staci | 1487 comments Mod
Welcome Esther! So glad to have you.


message 6: by Jessica (new)

Jessica  (jessical1961) I read this book in two sittings. It is my first Melody Carlson book. Absolutely loved it. It is such a heartwarming story.

Now I am on the waiting list for The Christmas Blessing. I am next in line for it at my public library.


message 7: by Staci, Book Awards Specialist (new)

Staci | 1487 comments Mod
Wonderful Barron! Christmas novels are usually so heartwarming.


message 8: by Kate (new)

Kate (liahonagirl) | 367 comments I'm going to start this one soon!


message 9: by Staci, Book Awards Specialist (new)

Staci | 1487 comments Mod
Excellent Kate! Glad to have you join.


message 10: by Esther (new)

Esther | 38 comments I started yesterday and have read the first three chapters. I like the way the story is told.
I have only one question. Does someone decide when the discussion really starts? By for example asking questions? Because when I would say now what I like about the book I would spoil the book for people who still want to start. Because then I am talking about the story


message 11: by Staci, Book Awards Specialist (new)

Staci | 1487 comments Mod
Great question Esther. We’ll begin discussing the book on December 15. Hopefully everyone will be finished by then. Anyone not yet finished will want to avoid this thread starting December 15 to miss spoilers.


message 12: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (bookwormhannah) | 851 comments I just finished!


message 13: by Staci, Book Awards Specialist (new)

Staci | 1487 comments Mod
Excellent Hannah!


message 14: by Esther (new)

Esther | 38 comments I finished it yesterday


message 15: by Mary (new)

Mary (madeyousmile) | 15 comments I finished yesterday.


message 16: by Staci, Book Awards Specialist (new)

Staci | 1487 comments Mod
Wonderful Mary! Glad to have you join the discussion.


message 17: by Katrina (new)

Katrina Lybbert | 128 comments I just finished the book. I will try to come back after the 15th to join in the discussion. I have to take the book back to the library today so I had to read it quickly. But I really liked it.


message 18: by Staci, Book Awards Specialist (new)

Staci | 1487 comments Mod
Hello all! I am your guest host for this month's novel: The Christmas Dog. Below are several discussion questions. You are welcome to answer all, none or a few of them. I look forward to your thoughts.

1. Betty is rather grumpy about the holidays and her life in general at the beginning of the story. What did you see as the turning point for her mood change?

2. Betty has ill feelings toward her neighbor Jack. Have you ever had a difficult neighbor? Were you able to work through it?

3. At one point Betty comments that hand-written thank you notes are a thing of the past. Do you think that is true? Does it matter?

4. Betty shows a great deal of trust in Avery when she gives her money, time and the keys to her car. Do you think that was wise? Would you have done the same?

5. Was it the right decision for Betty to stay out of Avery's decision on whether or not to go home? For those parenting adults, have you had an experience where you wanted to share advice, but felt it best not to do so?

6. Have you ever helped a family member as Betty assisted Avery?

7. Did you enjoy this novel? Who was your favorite character?

8. Do you have pets? If so, what type? Have they ever helped build a bridge with someone?

As a bonus question, I'd love to hear your favorite Christmas novels of all time.


message 19: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 411 comments I read this whole book yesterday. It was cute. I'll try to answer some of these questions later on.


message 20: by Esther (new)

Esther | 38 comments hi all,
i am going to try to answer the questions!
1. I think that the real turning point for Betty is when she learns about the past of Jack. Until that point she does good things but I think mainly because she feels she has to. When she finds out that Jack is traumatised she also discovers that it is better to first know why people respond in a certain way. At that point she does friendly things from inside and not because she believes that she has to be friendly.
2. Not really but I have a collegue wich I thought was not nice and motivated. But when we started really working together I found out she is really nice. So I learned a lesson. It is better to get to know someone first before judging the person
3. I think we live in a time where a lot is done via social media. I think sometimes that is not positive. On the other hand, when someone really takes the time to write a personal card or something I appreciate it even more. Because then I know someone really thought about you.
4. I think it was a wise decision to give Avery money and the car, but I think it was also really brave. It worked out perfectly of course because the book tells you so, but in real life you don`t know that. So I am not sure wether or not I would do the same. Especially because Betty doesn`t have a lot of money so when it goes wrong she will have nothing left. I really don`t think I would be that brave
5. I think it was a wise decision for Betty to let Avery make her own choices in going home or not. Avery is a grown up girl and as an adult you have to make your own choices. You can give advice but in the end you have to respect the choices someone is making. Isn`t that the way we all wanted to be treated? And it is the way God treats us. We know from the bible how we should life but the choices are ours to make. And of course also the consequences.
6. That is a hard question. I am helping my sister because she has a hard time but is is more moral support than practical
7. I enjoyed the novel. I think I like Avery the most in this book because I think in the end she is really behaving like a real adult and is showing a lot of personal growth. But Betty is a good second one. She is also growing but it is more on the inside and with Avery you can also see it from the outside
8. No I don`t have pets. I would like to, but I am allergic to them
My favorite christmas novel is still Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John . I read it as a child I think at least once a year.
And last but not least I have also a question.
When did you start to love Betty? I really started to love her in the beginning of the book. When she returns home from church, annoyed of a lot of things, especially of Jack. And the she starts praying for him. Not because she really wants to, but because she knows that she has to do that. Love your neighbour. That makes her so human. I could have done just the same.


message 21: by Esther (new)

Esther | 38 comments Hi all of you!
I am really curious about what you think of the book


message 22: by Staci, Book Awards Specialist (new)

Staci | 1487 comments Mod
Hi Esther! I am curious as well. Let me share my answers...

1. Betty is rather grumpy about the holidays and her life in general at the beginning of the story. What did you see as the turning point for her mood change? I really think Avery coming to visit her was the turning point. She found a purpose again.

2. Betty has ill feelings toward her neighbor Jack. Have you ever had a difficult neighbor? Were you able to work through it? I once lived in an apartment above a piano player. Fortunately, he didn't play into the wee hours, but there were definitely times I didn't feel like hearing the piano play. I never said anything as it wasn't that bothersome.

3. At one point Betty comments that hand-written thank you notes are a thing of the past. Do you think that is true? Does it matter? It's pretty rare to get a hand written thank you. While they do mean a bit more to me, I am very appreciative of a thank you in whatever format its delivered. :-)

4. Betty shows a great deal of trust in Avery when she gives her money, time and the keys to her car. Do you think that was wise? Would you have done the same? Given that Betty was on a tight income, I'm not sure it was wise financially, but it definitely let Avery know that she trusted her which was worth so much.

5. Was it the right decision for Betty to stay out of Avery's decision on whether or not to go home? For those parenting adults, have you had an experience where you wanted to share advice, but felt it best not to do so? I think it was the right decision for Avery to make the decision because she is an adult.

7. Did you enjoy this novel? Who was your favorite character? I did enjoy the novel. It's not my favorite by the author but it was sweet and heartwarming.

8. Do you have pets? If so, what type? Have they ever helped build a bridge with someone? I have a black lab and she absolutely has built bridges with children in my neighborhood. Kids flock to her and my lab is so gentle and easy going.

As a bonus question, I'd love to hear your favorite Christmas novels of all time. My favorite Christmas novel of all time is An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

Esther, I haven't read (or heard of) your favorite Christmas novel. Thanks so much for sharing it!

As for Betty, I liked her from the beginning. We all need an adjustment during times of our life and she was in one of those phases. I was definitely happy for her when she became more positive though.


message 23: by Katrina (new)

Katrina Lybbert | 128 comments 1. Betty is rather grumpy about the holidays and her life in general at the beginning of the story. What did you see as the turning point for her mood change?

I think the turning point was when Avery arrived. She had someone else to think about other than herself, and once you start thinking about another person it is easier to then open your heart even more. When she learned about Jack's past, she was more open with him because of her experiences with Avery.

2. Betty has ill feelings toward her neighbor Jack. Have you ever had a difficult neighbor? Were you able to work through it?

Not really a difficult neighbor, but I once had a neighbor I thought didn't care about me. Over time we were able to get to know each other better and become friends. I don't think we would ever be best of friends, but we are certainly kind to each other and enjoy spending time together.

3. At one point Betty comments that hand-written thank you notes are a thing of the past. Do you think that is true? Does it matter?

I do think this is true. People are putting pen to paper less and less. Because it is rare to receive, when I do, it is a treasure to me. I feel that it takes more effort, so I appreciate the gesture so much. But that being said, I still appreciate digital thank-yous as that still takes some time and effort and the person is thinking of me.

4. Betty shows a great deal of trust in Avery when she gives her money, time and the keys to her car. Do you think that was wise? Would you have done the same?

I am not sure it was wise, but it was very heartfelt. It gave Avery a boost to know she was trusted. I would be thinking long and hard before doing the same thing, as it does not always turn out how we want. I would let God guide me to know what is most wise in such a situation.

5. Was it the right decision for Betty to stay out of Avery's decision on whether or not to go home? For those parenting adults, have you had an experience where you wanted to share advice, but felt it best not to do so?

I think it was the right decision. Young adult children want to become independent and make their own decisions. If we keep telling them what to do, they never move on to that next step of maturity. I think offering advice is important, but then let them make the final decision. And sometimes even advice should be withheld when it is something they need to work out for themselves.

I have a son who asked for advice on dating from us, from church leaders, from friends and so on. Everyone gave him different advice and he became so confused that he didn't know what to do. He is married now, so it all worked out.

6. Have you ever helped a family member as Betty assisted Avery?

No, I haven't had such an occasion.

7. Did you enjoy this novel? Who was your favorite character?

I did enjoy the novel. I think my favorite character was Jack. I had suspected that he was being misunderstood at the beginning and that he would be better than everyone thought. So that was nice to see it go in that direction.

8. Do you have pets? If so, what type? Have they ever helped build a bridge with someone?

I don't currently have pets, we have pet allergies in the family. But we did have a couple budgies and a rabbit in the past. I don't think they ever built a bridge with someone, but they were good conversation topics.

As a bonus question, I'd love to hear your favorite Christmas novels of all time.

One of my most favorite Christmas novels is Unwrapping Christmas by Lori Copeland. Unwrapping Christmas by Lori Copeland


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