Silent Days, Holy Night

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Last year I read Christmas at Grey Sage. It was a Christmas story unique in its own way, and I loved it. This book is a similar style, however with a different plot.  It's not a romance, or a mystery, just a sweet Christmas story that draws you in and warms your heart. A great book to read on a cold night/day with your cup of cocoa or coffee, snuggled under a throw on the couch, by yourself or to your family. 

The story begins with an older Julia, but quickly reminisces times gone by. Julia, remembers what it was like, as a young girl paying her first visit to Emerald Crest and how that changed her life, and the lives of those around her. 
At a young age she's a book worm, who uses big words, has an extended vocabulary and knows far more than most kids her age. She reminds me of my son, who also loves to read and occasionally talks over my head. Julia and her brother's sibling rivalry mimics that of  my children a bit,  always slamming each other with insults, whether jokingly or seriously. I think the author captured that part of adolescence to a "T". 
 But the essence of the story is love, which is what Christmas is all about. It's about kindness and forgiveness, and you will get that "Christmas feeling" when you read it.

I would say it's a book for all ages. It's not a fast paced, edge of your seat story, but it will keep you reading as you get to know the characters, their stories, the history of the place and the work God is doing there. You will come away touched and moved to slow down and focus on the Christmas Spirit.

I received my copy through the Publisher and Just Read Publicity Tours. I wasn't asked or required to review this book in a positive manner. All opinions are my own.
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A little Christmas story with big heart, Silent Days, Holy Nights by Phyllis Clark Nichols is not a book to skip this season. Curiosity and friendship and kindness permeate the story, alongside the spirit of the holiday (and delicious-sounding recipes!), and I couldn’t help falling in love with young Julia Russell and her new friend, Henry Lafferty. Easily one of my favorite Christmas reads this year, I highly recommend it.
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Heartwarming and sentimental, this story will become a fast favorite during the holidays.  It’s such a short read that you could likely finish it before lunch on a snowy day.   There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and the story is very dialogue-heavy.  Still, it’s charming and perfect for the holiday season.   Cardinals have always been my favorite birds, and I loved seeing them take such a special place in Silent Days, Holy Night.  The cover is so pretty, and I loved learning the back story behind the Christmas celebration.

Be sure to have a snack nearby when you read this!  All kinds of yummy delights are mentioned, including brownies, pound-cake cookies, and delectable corn bread.
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I really  liked this book.  It is charming and warm and everything I want in a Christmas story.  It felt like watching an old movie that is just as good the first time as the 20th time.
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I was expecting this novel to be a romance, for some reason. I kept waiting for "the one" to show up, but fortunately no such thing happened. It almost felt like a middle grade novel. I enjoyed it very much. 

It gave me all the warm and fuzzy feelings a Christmas novel should, but at the same time it had the serious aspect present. I loved the family and I wished I could visit with them. As for the little girl, I see how she could be obnoxious and too much a miss know-it-all compared to her teenage brother who seemed to have got the dumber genes in the family. However, the girl is endearing. All in all, it was a lovely Christmas read.
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Silent Days, Holy Night is a good and heartwarming read. I give it four and a half stars and recommend it.
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Silent Days, Holy Nights reads like a Hallmark movie. It's a touching story between the young and the old. It's a story of important values and an all around lovely read. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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For some reason I had difficulty getting into this story – possibly because it is harder to refer back when reading an e-book – but once it got going it was an enjoyable read. (The Prologue made much more sense on re-reading it, after I had finished the rest of the book.)                                                                                                              Serendipity or Divine Providence? Either way, it was a fortuitous meeting between a gifted young girl & an older, disabled man which totally changed the rest of their lives. False rumours are easy to spread, & very difficult to put a stop to – unless you happen to know a most determined child, who delights in turning ‘can’t’s into ‘can’s...  One is never too young to make a difference, & each of us has a responsibility to look outside the cocoon of our own life in order to help someone else. One small act of kindness can have ripples which last years into the future, in ways which could never have been foreseen.
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Julia is a precocious ten year old whose father is an attorney for the town's recluse.  The recluse lives in a mansion on the edge of town and has been the object of the town's gossip for years.

One time, Julia has to accompany her father to a business meeting with the recluse, Henry Lafferty the Second.  There is one thing about Mr Lafferty that Julia finds out the first time that Mr Lafferty is deaf.  Julia also finds a piano with true ivory keys and that is one thing she just cannot resist.  When she starts playing, Mr Lafferty wheels himself to the piano to feel the vibrations Julia is producing.  This is where Julia's and Mr Lafferty's friendship begins. 

Julia is a hungry learner, she goes home immediately to learn sign language so that the next time she goes to see Mr Lafferty, she can communicate with him.  From there, she begins to plan a Christmas show for Mr Lafferty with her choir at church.  In fact, she writes the play the children mime for Mr Lafferty. 

Phyllis Clark Nichols has written a beautiful story of cross-generational friendship that transcends time and circumstance. She has built into Julia a compassion rarely seen in today's society.  When Mr Lafferty gives Julia a name sign, it is truly one of the most exquisite moments in the book.

This is a five-star book, two thumbs up, and a name sign given to you by someone special.

My thanks to Gilead Publishing for providing the galley I read through NetGalley.com.  This review is my opinion alone.
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I was so excited to read another book in The Everstone Chronicles by Dawn Crandall.  This is book five in the series.  The entire storyline follows a group of men and women who meet in one way or another, and each unique story fits together so beautifully.  You can read each book alone, but I highly recommend reading them in order, because they connect so well.  This particular story picks up from the last book, and explains the tragic events occurring in the life of Nicholette Everstone.

Nicholette is a widow, and she continually imagines what her future might look like.  Will she ever find love again?  Could her heart even consider it?  So much has happened since the death of her husband, and she wonders at the possibility of regarding someone else in the same manner as her William.  Those around Nicholette try to comfort her, but not much can be said regarding the most difficult day of her life. 

There is so much to be said about these books, because this series contains so many wonderful stories and characters.  Each individual holds so much and gives so much to the context of each scene—conflict is everywhere, because love and jealousy abound with each turn of the page.  It is so interesting to see how the lives of these characters meld together to create such incredible plots.  I recommend checking out this series—perhaps it can be you New Year’s set of books to read!  Happy reading!
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I love the friendship between the younger girl and the older man. I found it relatable. Also, generosity is a great theme for a Christmas story. I did get a little bored halfway through and take a break to read something else, but when I came back to it, it got more exciting. I would really enjoy watching a movie version of this!
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The Quality of Silence: a review of Silent Days, Holy Night

The Emerald Crest mansion stand high on the hill above the town for years, cloaked in mystery and silence. That is, until bright, inquisitive and warm-hearted Julia befriends the deaf, reclusive owner of Emerald Crest  and ultimately alters the attitudes and outlook of the entire community.

Young  Julia’s family nurtures and  guides her understanding of Henry Lafferty, the owner of  Emerald Crest. She quickly sees beyond his disabilities to discover a kindly, talented sculptor- a brilliant but kind man who’s never been able to hear.

“His troubles could have made him a bitter, angry man, but they just seemed to make him better. In his silence, he must have learned some important lessons about living and making a difference in the world.”

There are some descriptive passages that paint the scene in greater detail. ‘Ice crystals around the windowpane fame the view where more snow clouds are settling on the mountains.’
But it is the warm family dialogue that moves the action and story development forward.

Indeed, it is through conversations with others that Julia learns about looking beyond exteriors to find someone’s inner motives and see them clearly through their actions. Henry Lafferty  may be deaf and have difficulty communicating with others but he speaks kindness and gentleness through his actions.
And as she seeks to bridge the communication gap with Henry,  Julia learns other lessons. Julia’s grandmother reminds the curious Julia to keep confidences. “It’s their story story, not our story to tell.”

Prayer is frequently a natural response in the story to the growing tension at the mansion and within the community. Julia noted that her grandmother “..prayed like God was right there in the front seat. No fancy works like they used at church. I could tell she talked to God regularly like that.”

As the tension develops with unknown intruders on the property at night, windows broken and reports of other planned destruction, we are reminded of the importance of moments. One decision, one moment can change things. 

“Yes, but it only takes a moment, just one moment, to change a lot of  things. That one moment when someone decided to be generous… could be the turning point in their lives.”

The delight of the concluding scenes of the story and changes within the community and Emerald Crest are also reflected in the reactions and behaviour of Julia, fellow students and the whole community. 
The narrative does develop slowly and I took a while to actually become involved in the story. The opening scenes seemed a little superfluous and, for me, did little to hold my attention. However, once the story progressed, it took form and built interest. 
So who would enjoy this book? 

First, the book has a Christmas focus but it could be read and enjoyed anytime. Second, although it is an adult novel anyone would enjoy it. Since Julia is a young girl, I think that even young readers would enjoy the story and although there is tension and intrigue, no real violence is detailed. In fact, it would be a good way to teach some of the outlined values to young readers.
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Silent Days, Holy Night is a jewel of a story, a treasured Christmas classic that I savored through its touching moments, thoughtful acts of kindness, gentle humor, and even shed tears of happiness over. This is a story of a pivotal moment in a young girl’s life and its far-reaching effects, but also pictures God’s love in sending His precious Son to us. Phyllis Clark Nichols has become one of my favorite writers of contemporary fiction and Silent Days, Holy Night is a “best of the best” read for me.

The narrative begins with the unveiling of festive preparations for a Christmas gala at Emerald Crest, a majestic mansion in the mountains of West Virginia, then takes us back sixteen years to 2002, when a ten-year-old Julia first meets Henry Lafferty the Second, a recluse in his late 50s. Emerald Crest itself becomes a major character, a mountain home with outside walls built out of green granite from the north, and floors out of green marble from Ireland, a tribute to Henry’s grandmother.

Julia and Henry Lafferty are two of the most memorable fictional characters ever – rich, well-drawn, relatable characters who pull at the heart strings. With the precocious Julia, the author did a wonderful job in combining childlike qualities with those of inquisitiveness, intellect, and giftedness. Henry, given the name “H” in sign language by Julia, is kind hearted, generous, highly intelligent, and a talented sculptor. The connection between these two is palpable, and no words are necessary as music, smiles and hugs become their language. In the words of Julia’s grandmother, Grancie, “His troubles could have made him a bitter, angry man, but they just seemed to make him better. In his silence, he must have learned some important lessons about living and making a difference in the world.”

There’s so much to reflect upon in this story, one being the way we interact with people whose disabilities set them apart. Getting to know Henry through Julia’s eyes was a beautiful experience, and although she couldn’t bring him sound, what she did bring was of much more importance – music, companionship, and new family-like relationships. 

Another thought is how seemingly unimportant moments can become all important in the direction our lives take. The dictionary defines pivotal as being “of crucial importance in relation to the development or success of something else” – and that perfectly describes Julia’s first meeting with Henry. Not only was Julia’s life changed, but that of Henry and so many others in the town. As I read this story, I couldn’t help but reflect back on some pivotal, God-sent moments in my own life.

The overall theme of this story is its expression of God sending Jesus to reveal His character and love for us. Silent Days, Holy Night is a touching and emotional story, one that I will be reading again during future Christmas seasons. Very highly recommended. 

I received a copy of this book through JustRead Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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The book starts out in the present time, but then Julia thinks back to when she was  11, and met Henry for the first time. He is a wealthy man, a generous but reclusive man, who was born deaf. From a horrible car accident, when he lost his mother, he had become confined to a wheelchair as well. Julia is a smart and inquisitive child, and wants to learn sign language, how to carve and to become his friend. She goes with her father, who is his lawyer, and slowly the two become fast friends. Both lives are enriched for the friendship, and the story makes you think about others. Highly recommend this book, and although I read it during Christmas it is not needed for the book to be enjoyable. A sweet story for any time of the year.
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I really wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this book since most of it is from the viewpoint of a ten year old, but thought I’d give it a chance. I’m so glad I did! Author Phyllis Clark Nichols created some very intriguing characters and situations that kept my attention right to the end.

Not afraid to tackle the subject of bullying (yes, even adults can be bullied), I loved how Mr. Lafferty handled his unique position. Our heroine, Julia, has such a heart for Mr. Lafferty that you can’t help but find it heartwarming.

While this is not a romance it is full of sweet moments that show love for our fellow man. A wonderful Christmas read with some surprises throughout, I highly recommend it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.
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SILENT DAYS, HOLY NIGHT is the first book I read by Ms. Phyllis Clark Nichols, but it most certainly won't be the last. Women's fiction is not a genre I normally look for, but the blurb of this one interested me. 

Written in first person, it starts in the here and  now, but then goes back sixteen years to when she first meets Mr. Lafferty and how knowing him changed her life in so many different ways.

I read this entire story in one day -- except for when my kindle died and I had to charge it for an hour. Very hard to put down. I loved Julia and Mr. Lafferty and the hosts of important secondary characters. 

Highly recommend this book at Christmas time or any time.

I got a copy off Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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This story can truly renew your faith in humanity! Readers need be be warned: please make sure you read to the end for the epilogue, but be sure to have your tissues ready!

This book and its story are great! I enjoyed it cover to cover, from beginning to end,  and could barely be okay with it ending! It shares with readers the true meaning of Christmas.  The author writes this story so that readers are put right in the middle of everything: the main character, Julia, an eleven-year-old girl, and a reclusive deaf man who has a gift of carving. I'll be honest, I think this movie is ready for Hallmark! I know it's a movie I would definitely watch!

Thanks so much for the opportunity to read this story! It was great!
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"Silent Days, Holy Night" was absolutely a darling read and I love how young Julia was portrayed. She's a very intelligent and perpetually curious soul, and Nichols wrote her character perfectly from the 1st person perspective. I've read a lot of books (and seen a Hallmark movie or two) where preteen children are either written as entirely too old or entirely too childish, but the author balanced Julia very well. I also appreciated that disabilities were portrayed in a positive and accurate setting. Mr. Lafferty wasn't seen as scary; Julia just wanted to learn more about him and befriend him. We seriously need more of this in fiction (and real life).

This book is also a very clean read, which I appreciated, and isn't a run-of-the-mill Christmas story. There are mysteries to unravel and even a bit of suspense involving some troublemakers that decide to harass Mr. Lafferty. The story is a great reminder of what we should be doing around Christmastime (and all the time, I suppose) : helping folks who might be passed over by others, setting aside time to bring joy to someone, and learning about someone with an open mind and heart.

The only reason I've docked a star from the rating -- the prologue and epilogue. While I don't want to get into details and spoil anything in case anyone wants to read the book, I will say that they seemed to kind of stick out away from the story. I had trouble getting through the prologue, despite the beautiful prose, because I found it somewhat vague and I just couldn't connect with the characters (and was worried that the whole book would be like that). The epilogue was similar. After I read the book in its entirety and thought about it, I did see the reasoning behind including the prologue and epilogue, and it is a neat little way of wrapping the story up, but I perhaps would have included the material from both in the epilogue.

I truly did enjoy reading this book - it's a cozy read for anyone who's looking for a Christmas book this season; it's heartwarming and innocent, refreshing, and it'll get you into the holiday spirit pretty quickly!

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from JustReads. The opinions listed here are mine.
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I really enjoyed this sweet story. The protagonist, Julia, is an extremely intelligent little girl with a big heart who reminded me so much of my niece with her plethora of knowledge on so many subjects.  I love the idea if changing can'ts to cans, and she goes about doing just that when she plans a surprise Christmas party for recluse, Mr. Lafferty. The theme of one moment changing the course of someone's life runs throughout the book, and is one I can relate to in my own life.

This is a new author for me, and I look forward to reading more of her works. I appreciate Gilead Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book for my honest opinion.
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I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley. I would like to thank the publishers, the author and NetGalley for accepting my request and providing me with a copy of the book.

 

Narrative and plot
A major part of the story is told through the eyes of the eleven year Julia. This isn’t your shy, confused eleven year old. Julia is way too intelligent beyond her age and observant as well. The story calls out this fact to itself a couple of times. Even then, Julia has this innocence and vibrant energy about her that makes for a compelling narrative. If I start nit-picking, perhaps the only thing that I could say against the book is that, at times it was a bit confusing when the narrative shifted between the past and present of Julia. I had to re-read it to make sure a few times. Other than that, this book is just flawless.

 

The plot is not something I would say challenging. It is a simple Christmas tale told in a child’s point of view. It depicts the impression that we leave on our kids with our actions and the memories we create for them. The book has a message and it could have felt a bit preachy if told from an adult’s perspective. However, it found a smart way to bring the emotions of a child along with everything.

 

Characters and Conflict

Mr. Lafferty and Julia are the two main characters of the book. The two people who have nothing in common at a first look. Julia is an active and talkative child while Henry is a man on a wheelchair who happens to be deaf.  The way these two find their inner zeal and connection mark the beginning of an unusual friendship. Julia’s family and the people in Henry’s life are all interesting characters with their own stories. The relationship between Julia her dad, her mother, and her brother and how she reads each one of them was indeed fun to read.

 

A story is only good when it creates enough obstacles for the protagonist. However, here the obstacles are mostly around Henry. And as Julia points out, a group of good people joins hands to turn the “can'ts” into “cans”. It addresses the ripple effect that is caused by a simple action, either good or bad and the consequences it has on so many people and their lives.

 

Conclusion

Christmas is the time when friends and family come together and share each other's joys and sometimes worries. This whole book is centered around Christmas and it really gets to your heart. It conveys a simple message of doing good and bringing joy to everyone in a powerful way.  I would recommend this book to everyone to read during the holiday season.
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