Jacob's Bell

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Jacob is a man with a rough past who seeks reconciliation with his three children at Christmastime in 1944.

For the most part, I enjoyed this story of forgiveness. It was interesting slowly learning about Jacob's past through all the flashbacks. Because of his past, this book is best for older teens/adults. I got a little bored towards the end and ended up speedreading/skimming it so I wouldn't still be reading Christmas books after Christmas.

If you need a Christmas book with an inspirational message and don't mind sad stories then I'd recommend this one.
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Jacob’s Bell by John Snyder has readers traveling to Chicago in September of 1944.  Jacob McCallum is sixty-three years old and recently had a brush with death.  He has been estranged from his children for over twenty years, and he now wants to make amends.  At one time, Jacob was a wealthy businessman, with a loving wife and three kids.  Then an accident changed his life and that of his family.  Jacob has been traveling the country in an alcohol induced haze for the last ten years via freight trains.  He wants to have a relationship with his children and their families, but Jacob is afraid.  He enters a bar for liquid courage and ends up passed out in an alley.  Pastor Howard Angel from the local Salvation Army Mission befriends Jacob and takes him back to the mission.  Jacob relates his story to Howard while working on overcoming his alcohol addiction and trying to find his son, Tom.  Jacob’s road to redemption and forgiveness is not without roadblocks and potholes.  He must deal with his guilt over his past deeds before he can seek his children’s forgiveness.  Jacob ends up in Baltimore seeking his daughter, Emma during the holiday season.  He ends up becoming a Salvation Army bell ringer.  One day a little girl comes by and donates all the money she has saved up for a new doll and they become friends.  This one little girl will help lead Jacob to his family and obtain the forgiveness he desires.  Join Jacob on his poignant journey in Jacob’s Bell.

Jacob’s Bell is a heartwarming and heart wrenching Christmas story.  Jacob McCallum wants to reconnect with his family.  He regrets the choices he made over twenty years ago, and Jacob knows that he will not receive a warm reception from his children.  Jacob’s Bell is a man’s journey towards forgiveness, redemption, recovery and reconciliation.  I thought Jacob’s Bell was well-written with steady pacing.  Readers join Jacob on his emotional journey and learn valuable life lessons along the way.  There is a good flow between the present and the past.  How Jacob ended up in his present state is slowing revealed as the story progresses.  Jacob finds faith with the aid of Pastor Howard Angel and the people at the Salvation Mission.  He learns that forgiving himself will relieve him of a heavy burden and he will find freedom.  The Christian elements are intertwined with the story beautifully.  It is reminiscent of Melody Carlson and Dan Walsh’s novels. Jacob’s Bell is a feel-good Christmas story that will tug at your heartstrings.
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Jacob’s Bell by John Snyder was a new Christmas story that I had the pleasure of reading this year.  This stories setting is placed in the early to mid-1900s in America.  The picture this author paints, I felt took me right to America in years past.  It’s a story about poor choices that led to hard life consequences and there is a great need for redemption to be had.  This story made my heart ache at times, which is the purpose the writer intended I’m sure.  While sharing it with your family, you might want to do a pre-read through yourself to know if this is appropriate for your listeners.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

***Also posted on B&N and CBD
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For some reason, I forgot this was a novella when I began reading Jacob’s Bell. The visual of the freight train pulling into Chicago grabbed me and the description of Jacob, with hints of his past, pulled me in emotionally. Jacob had come home, but would he find the homecoming he was looking for? But a novella isn’t the same as a full length novel, and so portions of time are missed out and some detail is missing. But as the story rolled on, with its multiple perspectives, it was increasingly easy to overlook that deficiency.

This is a novel not just about forgiving others but about forgiving yourself. Jacob had a hard time accepting the latter part of the act, even when encouraged to do so by those around him. But those closest to him seemed to make it more difficult. Do you need to have the forgiveness of others in order to forgive yourself? Does that forgiveness need to be unconditional? 

Yes, it’s preachy. Not open to in your face evangelizing? This probably won’t be for you. But the preaching served a purpose. The preacher is a pastor who wanted Jacob to change. Jacob needed a wake-up call. But the pastor also accepted Jacob for in his sorry condition, and simply reminded Jacob that there were certain house rules he needed to abide by if he was to stay at the mission. Jacob didn’t have to change in order to stay: he was accepted unconditionally. Another argument against this book could be that it reads like an advertisement for the Red Kettle Campaign. If that’s your beef, perhaps you should ask yourself what you’ve got against those kettles and their bell ringers. This novella is a great example of how the Salvation Army helps anyone who’ll accept it and how those donations assist with that.

Jacob’s Bell is a beautiful five star read. The ending left me with tears rolling down my cheeks. I’m a quick reader so I finished it in one evening. And that’s my only gripe. I wish it had been longer!

Thank you to Faithwords for my complimentary electronic copy of Jacob’s Bell.
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Jacob MacCallum is an old homeless drunk, who is estranged from his children in 1944. He wants to repair his relationship with his children and is trying to figure out how. What did Jacob do that has put him at odds with his children and what can he do to win them back? Set mainly in 1944, Jacob's story is told in a simple, narrative style, using flashbacks. Details of his choices and hard living show us a selfish young man who could not deal with the stresses in his life. He chose the easy road with embezzling and alcohol. Can he find his children, and if he can, will he be able to gain their forgiveness and develop a relationship with them and his grandchildren. 

Jacob's tale is one many may relate to as he wrestles with the past and searches for a way back to restore relationships he has ruined. I really enjoyed the story of Jacob’s Bell. I liked how the story revealed the layers to the back story of Jacob’s life and what he did to his family. I found Jacob's work with the Salvation Army bell-ringers, and how this helped him deal with his destructive feelings as well as giving him a purpose, very interesting. Not only did he ring bells, but he lived in their shelter and found peace as his faith developed. The Pastors that worked with him helped Jacob along with his faith journey and his battle against alcoholism. I loved the cover of this book. It was one of the reasons I picked it up, but the story was amazing and I am so glad that I did. This book has an incredibly important lesson for everyone. Forgiveness of self and others, can bring us freedom. Forgiving ourselves can be the hardest obstacle to moving forward in our lives. One of Jacob's new friends and pastor said to him, "...one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself (is) to forgive... including yourself." I want to thank FaithWords for the opportunity to read this book. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
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Jacob's Bell 

A wonderful Christmas story of faith, God's love, forgiveness, and second chances, Jacob's Bell, by John Snyder, will warm your heart this Christmas season. 
Jacob lived a life most could only dream of with a successful business, friends, and family. Yet when bad decisions take away not only his business, but his best friend and family, he finds himself on a downward spiral heading no where good. After years of hating himself for all that he had done, Jacob meet an "Angel", a preacher at the local Salvation Army, that helps point him to God and helps him to realize there is more to life than a beer bottle. As he attempts to turn his life around, he faces many struggles, one of which is closest to his heart, getting his children whom he has been estranged from for many years, to forgive him. Can a man truly change?  Is God really a God of second chances? Will Jacob's children ever be able to move past the past and find true forgiveness for their father? 
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, but was not required to give a positive review. This is my honest opinion of this book.
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What a wonderful Christmas story!  This story is set during the 1940s, and the setting is perfect for the season.  The themes of love, forgiveness, and faith are all through this storyline.  The author did such a good job on taking us through Jacob’s journey to redemption.  
I have a high regard for the work of the Salvation Army, and it was a pleasure to read an uplifting story that gives them the credit they deserve,  

If you are a fan of Grace Livingston Hill or Melody Carlson,  you’ll love this book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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Jacob once had everything: a good, lucrative business, a trusted partner, a loving wife, three wonderful children and a firm place in his community as a leader.  Then he lost it and sank into depths he never realized before existed.  In this story, we find Jacob coming out of his current misery.  Jacob wants to make everything right again, apologizing for all the wrongs he committed and making things right again. Lucky for him, he comes across a pastor from the local Salvation Army, who works with him to make some first steps toward wellness.  However, the way is a tough one, and Jacob reels after being rebuffed yet another time by his son Tom and after learning his youngest son has been killed during a skirmish in WWII. Next, Jacob decides to try to find his daughter, who lives in Baltimore, though he has no idea where or even her married name.  Upon arrival, however, Jacob again has a set back when he is accosted and beaten by a group of local thugs.  Jacob ends up in a hospital, treated by a local doctor, who puts him in contact with the local Salvation Army pastor. From here on, things go pretty well for Jacob.  He becomes involved in Salvation Army activities, including the famous bell ringing they do during the Christmas season.  In this job, Jacob excels, managing to beat everyone else’s daily collections, while warming to the towns folks who contribute to his kettle. Jacob becomes well-known after a reporter writes him up in the local papers. However, Jacob is still bothered by his past, and is having difficulty finding his daughter, as he has very little information about her to use in his search. Finally, at Christmas, everything comes to a head. Can Jacob finally reach the peace he has sought for so long with his daughter?  Will he even be able to enjoy it, if and when he does?

Plain and simple, this is a feel-good holiday story. Jacob comes across as a lost soul, seeking inner peace.  The road to it is difficult, and he stumbles many times along the way.  As Jacob works his way to making his wrongs rights, however, there are many “angels” around to help him in his journey to wellness. The story truly brings out the spirit of Christmas.  It also brings out the genuineness of us all and the hope and love that can be found in the spirit that is within us all, from those Jacob  sees and meets standing by his kettle ringing his bell, to the pastor of the local Salvation Army, to the little girl who is fascinated by Jacob the bell ringer who holds a big secret that will help Jacob on his way. If you are looking for a sweet Christmas story to get yourself into the season’s spirit or if you just want to read about how the Christmas spirit can manifest itself and help us along in life, this is a good book to read. Before beginning the story, I originally wondered if the book would be too full of religion and “holy roller” types, but it is not.  The author has managed to reach just the right mix and to put it together superbly.  I recommend it as a Christmas story that will easily become a holiday reading tradition, though the underlying themes and ideas fit any time of the year.  I received this form NetGalley to read and review.
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This is an excellent Christmas book. I really enjoyed reading it. This is a book that everyone will enjoy reading for Christmas.
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I love holiday stories that deliver a message.  I loved this book.  It is the perfect holiday story.  It is emotion and heartwarming and a must holiday story to be read over and over.  You read and I'll bring the tissues!  Thank you netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.  The opinions are my own.
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This was a well-written feel-good holiday story. I loved the dynamics of the characters and the plot. I found myself laughing, crying and rooting for my favorite characters.
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A wonderful story for Christmastime! A story of love, human faults, and forgiveness. Jacob's life comes full circle in this realistic tale. The Salvation Army is highlighted in a very positive way as should be. A very thoughtful book. Highly recommended!
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Oct 2
JACOB’S. BELL. John SnyderFaith works.   
Setting is 1944. Dealing with the success of a man, Jacob as he wrestles with how he got there, and what it had cost him. 
The stress and asking forgiveness, from his wife and those around him, because of how he had handled it. His biggest challenge was forgiving himself, for the choices he had made, that caused the stress. Given ARC  from Net Galley and Faithworks for my voluntary review and my honest opinion.
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I wish I could give this book 10 stars! Not until I was done with this book did I realize the author of this book is also the author of The Golden Ring, another absolutely amazing book!
This book brought me to tears and has an incredibly important lesson in it we should all take away from it. When Jacob is a young man he is full of life and goes into business half and half with his friend. The business is wildly successful and Jacob is living the high life. He marries and starts a family with his beautiful young wife. His success is stressful to him, always being on is not easy to accomplish. The majority of the book takes place with the repercussions of his not being able to handle the stress of his success and what happens next. His wife threatens to leave him if he can't get his act together and in a desperate attempt to do so he is successful for a short amount of time before he backslides again. Achingly heartbreaking life lesson, don't delay in telling those you love that you do and forgive before there is no longer a chance to do so. Excellent book which I can't recommend highly enough. This should be read every Christmas time just as a reminder!
Pub Date 02 Oct 2018 
I was given a complimentary copy of this book by FaithWords through NetGalley. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Jacob's Bell: A Christmas Story is a wonderful and heartwarming story. I loved it and I give it five stars. I recommend it for anyone’s Christmas reading list.
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Rating 4.5

This is the story of Jacob McCallum who has hit rock bottom in life.  Through a series of events, Jacob finds transformation, forgiveness, redemption, and salvation. A little girl and a Christmas miracle while he is ringing a Salvation Army bell restore the life he thought was lost to him forever.   

Although this was slow through the first half as Jacob remembers his life before and what he has become, I did enjoy how Howard Angel became an angel to Jacob as he stood by him through thick and thin constantly encouraging him to be better than Jacob thought he could be.  Jacob made many mistakes and steps backward, but Howard kept prodding him forward and supporting him.  Mary was  the perfect miniature angel to help restore Jacob to love, life, and laughter.  The spiritual thread throughout the story was well written and played such an important part in this Christmas tale.  This book definitely displayed the wonderful work of the Salvation Army and the role of their Christmas bells.  

Good Christmas read.  

** I received a complimentary copy of this book  from FaithWorks through NetGalley.  Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
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I'm giving this book a 3, the story deserves a 4 but the editing is atrocious. The narrative switches multiple times between first and third person, and the descriptions do not make for a pleasant reading experience. 
If I hadn't committed to reading and reviewing this book I probably would not have finished it, and I don't generally give ip on books.
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What a wonderful book. The characters, the plot, the overall story. This is the first book I have read by this author but it will not be my last. Set mostly in 1944.
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Jacob McCallum had everything and lost it all. Journey along with Jacob as he tries to overcome his past, as he attempts to right wrongs and seek forgiveness.  A story set in 1944 with flashbacks to the 20’s, this charming Christmas story warms the heart, even in the midst of the tragic backstory.  A story of a true Christmas miracle as a child leads the way to help a man be freed from his tragic past and at last be completely forgiven.
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Forgiveness! That’s what the Christmas story is all about. Jesus took all our sins and came so that we’d be reconciled to our heavenly father. Forgiveness frees our soul and helps us love freely and not be caught up and trapped by unforgiveness. Our sin doesn’t define us but has a part in who we are today.

This novel takes place starting in 1944 while WWII was still raging. This story shows how there are little turns we can make that lead up to making one wrong move that can change your life forever. It also shows that you can’t earn your salvation or forgiveness they are free gifts for us. All we have to do is surrender and accept the gift. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is forgive ourselves. That was one of Jacob’s many struggles.

Jacob had it all beautiful wife and family; was a successful business man who lived in the life of luxury until that fateful night when his whole world came tumbling down. How in the world did he sink so far down?

Years later he meets Howard Angel a pastor who befriends him and gives him hope. Jacob seeks forgiveness from those he hurt after sharing his past with his pastor. The author uses flashbacks, so the reader can experience the events first hand.

Jacob came to the end of himself and surrendered everything to God with Pastor Angel’s help. God and Howard help him forgive himself and face the hatred and fear of his grown children. Jacob understood their feelings toward him. He’d give them time to heal.

You never know where people come from and/or gone through and why they are homeless. 

Gets you thinking about the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not about presents and decorated Christmas trees. It’s about Hope, Love, Forgiveness, Reconciliation and the Redemption of the World! This is an inspirational read that will give you hope. God is the God of miracles, mercy and love. He provides a way when there seems to be no way. This story is not just one to be read at Christmas, but it will give hope all year long.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher/NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” 

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine https://www.bookfun.org/page/past-issues-book-fun-mag
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