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Midwest Book Review
“The Present clearly showcases author Geanna Culbertson’s impressive flair for originality. . . The Present is a great pick for Christmas themed personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.” –Lance Olsen,
5 STARS – 2manybooks2littletime
Leaves You with a Warm Heart and Glimmering Soul
🎁 The Present is a retelling of A Christmas Carol and it is a knock-it-out-of-the-park retelling at that! All 529 pages of the final, 100th soul-saving mission of our ghost of Christmas Present, Frost Mason, is heart-warming and delightful.
🎁 Frost is tasked with saving the soul of Jay Nichols, an up-and-coming political hotshot. Little does she know, he will become her toughest target to date. With little time to spare, we find out whether or not she can save his soul and her “after” after-life.
🎁 I absolutely adored the way Geanna Culbertson was able to interweave Frost’s past and present into the story. A few times I did find that I was confused when the story skipped to Frost’s past, but it didn’t deflect from my enjoyment of the story at all.
🎁 I definitely felt the love story building throughout the book and was able to foresee what was to come. With that being the case, it still kept me engrossed and turning the pages, because I wanted to find out whether or not my inklings were correct.
🎁 Even though the 2021 holidays are coming to an end, I don’t know if you want to wait until the 2022 holiday season to immerse yourself in this captivating story that promises to warm your heart and keep your soul glimmering for days after.
🎁 Don’t hesitate to grab your copy now 🎁
5 STARS – Jen Babcock
Wow. Wow wow wow. I mean COME ON NOW.
Dickenss ‘A Christmas Carol’ is untouchable as far as Christmas reads go. Nothing can compare, or, I thought, even come close. But this booK, this wonderful book, it’s close. Really close. It takes all the despair, hopelessness, and greed of Ebenezer and transforms it for the modern COVID world. Culbertson includes all the joyous, whimsical, frivolity that was everyone’s childhood experience of Christmas, and mixes it with the downtrodden, rejected, and tired but redeemable humanity of It’s a Wonderful Life, All somehow woven within the framework of Dickens’ masterpiece. This book made me cry ugly, made me laugh (sometimes at the most unexpected moments), and full disclosure, pulled me out of being the Scrooge I was fully feeling this December. I got frustrated with the characters, only because I empathized with them, and like Frost wanted to do to Jay, give them a really good shake. The world of magic, ghosts, and politics never hit so hard, so meaningfully, or inspired so much Christmas Spirit, since the very first time I read ‘A Christmas Carol’ when I was 12. I recommend this book for everyone, no matter where you are, no matter what is happening in your life, and no matter how Scroogy you are feeling.
5 STARS – Alyce Iannarelli
The Perfect Feel Good Holiday Book which is Sure to Lift Your Spirits!
Thank you to the author Geanna Culbertson, for the gifted copy of The present for me to read and enjoy. I absolutely loved this story! It was the perfect book to get me in the holiday spirt! Once I got started reading, I did not want to put it down! If you are looking for the perfect book to get you in the holiday spirt this season, look no further than The Present!
Frost is a ghost who works that the CCD- The Christmas Carol Department. Her job every December is to help a “scrooge” see the error of his ( or her) ways and return their Christmas Spirit before midnight on Christmas Eve. She works with two other ghosts; one is the ghost of Christmas Past, and the other is the ghost of Christmas future. She is the ghost of Christmas Present. Just like in the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, the scrooge will get visits from each of these ghosts on the days leading up to Christmas. This will be Frost’s 100th year as a ghost working for the CCD and she has begun to lose her own Christmas Spirit as she continues to put walls up around her and fend off anyone who tries to get to close. Her scrooge this year is also the most difficult one she has encountered. Jay has political aspirations but also keeps those who are important to him at arm’s length. Will Frost bring back his Christmas spirit before it is too late or will her own demons get in her way?
I laughed, I cried, and a smiled A LOT! this one will be a favorite holiday story for many years to come!
4 STARS – Michael Woodworth
My Thoughts; Readers are taking on a Magical adventure. We follow main protagonist Frost Mason. She’s an interesting character . She’s a ghost The Ghost Of Christmas Present. She works with Christmas Past and Future. This is a Holiday Fantasy book with Retelling of A Christmas Carol vibes. All the characters bring something unique to the story. It’s very well written and worth the read. Charming and magical. Really lifts your spirits up.
5 STARS – Vanessa
Entertaining, Thought Provoking, and Impossible to Put Down
The magical world in this story is so detailed and well imagined that I felt as if I had stepped into it every time I opened the book. The characters are relatable and I was immediately invested in their stories. This book was hard to put down and although it was a longer read, I finished it within a week because I couldn’t stop reading. The Present is definitely a good choice for the holiday season, but I know it will make a strong impact on readers during any month of the year.
4 STARS – Natasha den Dekker
Consistently one of my favourite authors who does wonderful things with fairytales and folklore (waiting for her to get her hand on some Eastern European and Russian tales to weave in as well). I love this take on Dickens with a dash of romance thrown in, and also so wonderfully, easily diverse with the different characters. I also really enjoyed the story within a story. I finished this on xmas eve which was totally unplanned but 100% in-keeping with the tone of this book.
5 STARS – Olivia Hamilton
This book was so good. Frost was such a totally relatable character and I enjoyed reading the sassy banter that went back and forth between her and Jay. I thought that the problems that these characters faced were really realistic to problems that people face in the real world today. I also loved the life lessons slipped in there, such as: having friends doesn’t drag you down, they actually keep you up when you can’t stand on your own. And: when you compromise your character you change the way you see the world and you change your goals to make a difference. The character development was incredibly detailed and totally complete. With the added bonus of a super happy ending.
5 STARS – Kindle Customer
An Unexpected Gift
This story was thought provoking and heart warming. It felt familiar yet new at the same time. You will experience a range of emotions when you read it. I don’t want to give anything away,. I will tell you to read it because it’s a wonderful gift for your spirit.
5 STARS – BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books)
This story was amazing! This is inspired by 𝐀 𝐂𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐦𝐚𝐬 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐥, and I love all the references! We are taken to a realm where ghosts are preparing for another season of helping out the Scrooge’s of the world. We meet ghosts of the past, present, and future, but our MC is a Present Ghost, and it is her 100th year of this!
Culbertson has a way of transporting readers into her world which is filled with imaginative situations, characters, and realms. I loved the North Pole and the interactions between the ghosts and the people there, but I also loved the earthly relationships! Overall, I just loved this story from start to finish! This one will warm your heart and make even the Scroogiest of Scrooges feel the holiday spirit!
5 STARS – Vanessa Lafleur
The Present is entertaining, thought provoking, and impossible to put down. The magical world in this book is so detailed and interesting that I felt as if I had stepped into it. The characters are relatable and I was immediately invested in their stories. This book was hard to put down and although it’s a longer read, I finished it within a week. The Present is definitely a great read during the winter holidays, but I know it would make a strong impact on readers at any time during the year.
4 STARS – ORSHOPPER
An Inspired Christmas Tale
When I requested this book I thought it would a fantasy exploring the magic of second chances, reminiscent of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Indeed, the book delivered that and so much more.
The Christmas Carol Department (CCD) operates once a year in the month preceding Christmas. At that time Santa’s elves prepare a list of people on the “Naughty List” that are in need of serious intervention to save their souls. For each person on the list, a team of ghosts – representing that individual’s Past, Present and Future – develop a plan to support the person. In other words, this person is “Scrooged” into the opportunity to make new choices.
Frost Mason is approaching her 100th year in saving souls as the ghost of Christmas Present. Not only is her person’s soul on the line, but also her own. After 100 successful assignments, a ghost is given the opportunity to reincarnate, returning to earth in a circumstance of his/her choosing. However, should Frost fail, there will be drastic, if unknown, consequences. Adding to the pressure to succeed is Frost’s wavering Christmas Spirit. After so many years devoting herself to the redemption of her assigned people, she is discouraged by the number that have “unscrooged” – reverting back to old behaviors.
What makes this tale so much more than a simple Christmas fantasy is the realistic issues facing both Frost and her assigned person, Jay Nichols. The storyline flows through the rigors and pitfalls of political campaigning, the impact of divorce, the grief associated with loss, and the deep wounding from abandonment. Frost may be a ghost, but she is dealing with the emotional residue from her life as well as Jay’s current struggles with family obligations, career aspirations and ethical dilemmas. There is a wealth of wisdom woven into the story as well as delightful explorations of Santa’s family, the North Pole operations (especially the baby reindeer), the CCD and the magic supporting it all.
My one criticism is that the pacing was bogged down by too much repetition in describing the context of Frost’s mindset and Jay’s strained relationships. Consequently, I deducted one star from an otherwise inspired Christmas novel. I will definitely add this book to my list to read again next Christmas.
My thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for the privilege of reviewing this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
5 STARS – Cassandra Grace Brooklyn
“We need to be present and active participants in our own stories because being alive is a gift and we should treat it that way all year round, not just at Christmas.”
When Present ghost Frost Mason is assigned to her one-hundredth soul, a politician called Jay Nichols, things start to go haywire. She needs to deal with her lost faith in humanity’s ability to change, and save her Christmas Assignment with her team. Can she “Scrooge” Jay in time without causing huge trouble to herself?
The author has again outdone herself with this standalone about Christmas. I love the ideas from famous Christmas classic A Christmas Carol, and some other original Christmas ideas, as well as the storyline and characters. I especially appreciate the message it would like to bring out, and I can feel the Christmas spirits flowing inside me every time I read this book.
I especially enjoy the Christmas elements in the story. Tinsel, Fa-La-La-La Fashion Pod, Christmas charms, etc. are brilliant and fun. I like the North Pole and the Claus family, as well as the CCD department. It is wonderful that the author managed to add so many A Christmas Carol elements to the story. I love the inspiring quotations chosen by the author and the CCD department. These lovely ideas draw readers into the story.
The story line is strong, with Frost dealing with her disenchantment with humanity and Jay with his career aspirations and family issues. The author is especially strong in bringing out the themes. The messages are powerful and well-delivered, motivating readers and enhancing the Christmas spirits. I feel compelled by the story and savour every part of it, though I finished it in two days.
I am captivated by the characters. Both Frost and Jay are fully flawed characters that are complex and conflicted. They make readers feel invested into the story and willing to learn with them as the plot unfolds. I am glad that the two of them learn their lessons and end the story nicely.
This standalone is definitely a Christmas must-read that you have to read not just during Christmastime. I highly recommend this book to everyone and especially to Charles Dickens fans. Readers of Christmas novels and film lovers will also enjoy this heart-warming tale. This story will be the greatest present you have ever received!
In short, I hope I can talk you into reading this amazing Christmas story. It is original, inspiring, feel-good, and compelling. Everyone can relish a great Christmas tale filled with love and encouragement. I would like to express my sincerest thanks to the author for writing this book. It possesses a sublime charm that charges readers up with Christmas spirits.
“This time of year wasn’t meant for cruelty or pettiness. Season aside, we shouldn’t be constantly tearing people apart at any time of year. It causes us to look at the world through a more cynical, angry lens, and it distracts us from the spirit of why we are here, why we run for office . . . To help.”
4 STARS – Rachel B.
Great story, this really put me in the Christmas mood! Of course now I can’t the MJ song out of my head #youarenotalone 😆
Oh my goodness, in the midst of so many Christmas romances, this was a bright spot in what can start to feel monotonous and predictable in Christmas reading. I was so excited about this book as soon as I read the premise, do not be scared by the page length, it’s worth the time!
I loved all the nods to A Christmas Carol, all the Christmas-themed things, and just how it gives you all the Christmas feels!
If you’re looking for something aside from the norm, definitely pick this up and have your heart warmed!
4 STARS – Paul V.
This is a modern telling of a Scrooge-like story that includes realistic aspects (more applicable than Dickens’ setting). The story is well-told and includes some interesting characters. I stayed engaged and enjoyed this one a lot. Recommended.
5 STARS – Colline Vinay Kook-Chun
The Present by Geanna Culbertson is a retelling of the classic, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Employees of a mystical agency (CCD) work in either the Past, Present, or Future department and each year they are assigned a person on Earth in need of being reformed. Frost Mason has worked in the Present department for almost a century and this Christmas is her 100th soul to save. The problem is that Frost’s belief in the miracle of Christmas and what her agency does has started to fade because, while many people commit to reforming after the experience of being Scrooged, Frost has watched countless former Scrooges backtrack and return to their old ways once time has passed.
Frost must find a way to deal with her disenchantment over humanity’s potential to change while also working with her team to save the soul of this year’s Christmas Assignment: a young, up-and-coming political star running for governor, Jay Nichols.
My enjoyment of this retelling did not diminish as I read the story. I loved reading Frost’s point of view – a disenchanted ghost who is hard-working and tries her best to keep the Christmas spirit. During the story, her awareness grows and I liked that not only the “Scrooge” grew as a character in the story but also that of the ghost. The backdrop of the North Pole and and the CCD were fun to read – and I loved the humanity of both the ghosts and the Santa character.
The Present is a unique and original story. It is definitely one worth reading – and it certainly helped put me in the festive spirit!
4 STARS – Leandra Williams – The Unicorn Reader
Entertainment factor: 8.5/10
Overall rating: 8/10
Have you ever wondered why the season of Christmas has the power to turn even the most Scrooge-like person into someone with joy, merrinesss and a Christmas spirit in their heart? The Present by Geanna Culberston has an answer for that! In the story, we follow Frost Mason, a female ghost who has been dead for a hundred years. Her job? Working at the Christmas Carol Department (CCD for short) as a Ghost of Christmas Present, having already given ninety-nine hand-selected “Scrooges” a personalized Christmas Carol experience alongside a team of two other ghosts (Christmas Past and Christmas Future). Together, their mission is to dig deep into the target’s past, present and future, in order to deliver a life-shaking Christmas Carol experience that will change the person’s heart for good. Hopefully a change that will last a lifetime, right?
However, Frost Mason has lost some of her magical joy since she began her work, as many of her priorly Scrooged people have since reverted back to their old, “bah-humbug!” alter egos. Not only that, but this is her last year acting as the Ghost of Christmas Present, since it is her one hundredth mission after which she gets to retire. Her target? Jay Nichols, a politician in his thirties running for governor, who ends up being somewhat unlike Frost’s previous Scrooges. Needless to say, this year things will prove to be slightly more difficult than usual.
I absolutely loved this book’s concept! It makes for such a unique and yet still-familiar Christmas story. Not only that, but the worldbuilding and backstories of the CCD, the ghosts, the North Pole, etc. is also top-notch and really immersive. I really enjoyed reading about what the ghosts did in their free time at the CCD and the kinds of activities they participated in. Never have I more wished that I could also stuff my face with all the sugary goods Frost and Bismaad did without suffering the unhealthy consequences.
Frost was a very likeable character, and her general pessimism was something that I also myself found very relatable. I can only imagine the kind of demotivation one would feel by learning that someone whose heart you changed for the good has decided to revert back to their bad ways. Eesh!
The actual Christmas Caroling was simultaneously really entertaining to read about and yet also dug quite deep a human’s psyche. The way Frost, Brandon and Midori used their magic to try to change Jay’s heart was interesting and definitely also prompted some self-reflection on my part. The only minor complaint that I would have is that Jay’s story did feel slightly cliche (i.e. spending more time at work than with his family). However, it was still an all-around super enjoyable story.
Overall, this was an easy and really fun read! Despite the fact that this book is not super short (it clocks in at around 500 pages), the chapters felt like they were whizzing by as I was very invested in the story. A book that is perfect for a Christmas read!
4.5 STARS – Larry H.
Geanna Culbertson’s The Present is a fun, magical, and thought-provoking twist on your typical holiday novel.
Frost Mason has worked for the Christmas Carol Department for nearly a century now. She and her countless ghostly colleagues are responsible for providing a Christmas Carol -type experience—complete with ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future—for “Scrooges” on earth, people who have lost their way or are headed down the wrong path.
Frost is a Present, and her 100th soul is Jay Nichols, a local politician on his way to becoming the governor of California. The plan is for her to become human and serve as his assistant, so she can then hopefully help him see the error of his ways and move him toward the right path.
The problem, however, is that Frost is starting to lose her holiday mojo. She believes in what she does, but if humans ultimately don’t fully change, is her work really making a difference? How can she get the holiday spirit back in time to save him?
I absolutely loved this book. What a creative, fun, special story! I’m so grateful to Culbertson, Boutique of Quality Books, and the Independent Publishers Group for sending me a complimentary advance copy of The Present in exchange for an unbiased review.
This gave me so much to think about and so much to enjoy!!
5 STARS – Shannon Jade
A fresh and unique take on the holiday classic A Christmas Carol, The Present follows one ghost of Christmas present on the ultimate scrooging mission.
When Frost was alive, she tended to keep the world at arm’s length. Now, almost 100 years later, not much has changes. As she sets out on her last Christmas scrooging, her afterlife is at stake. Still, she struggles to maintain friendships, preferring to spend her time alone until one scrooge, several ghosts, and a few generations of Santas step in.
Frost attempts help this year’s scrooge, an LA politician, make amends with his family and remember the Christmas spirit. All the while, she is faced with her own scroogishness, which might just cost her a second chance at life. This leads her to learn valuable lessons about community and friendship.
Geanna Culbertson has done an excellent job with the story, turning an old holiday story into something completely new and contemporary. This might just be the next Christmas classic!
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4 STARS – Brittreadsalattebooks
My Thoughts; Readers are taking on a Magical adventure. We follow main protagonist Frost Mason. She’s an interesting character . She’s a ghost The Ghost Of Christmas Present. She works with Christmas Past and Future. This is a Holiday Fantasy book with Retelling of A Christmas Carol vibes. All the characters bring something unique to the story. It’s very well written and worth the read. Its charming and magical. Really lifts your spirits up.
5 STARS – Angel White
What A Great Retelling Of A Christmas Carol
“Now go out there and scare the pants off some people then shove their hearts full of Christmas Spirit. Happy Holiday Haunting, everyone!…”
It’s Frost Mason’s 100th year at the CCD (Christmas Carol Department) and retirement is on the horizon. Every year in December, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future work in teams to save their assigned Scrooge (a crotchety, Bah Humbug, can’t be bothered human) and attempt to show them the error of their ways and reinstill the Christmas Spirit.
“YASS – You Are So Scrooged”
This season, Frost and her team have their work cut out for them as their target Scrooge (Jay Nichols) isn’t the normal grump. As Christmas draws nearer and Jay’s future continually looks bleak, Frost has to take some drastic measures. Will jumping way off the board, ignoring the rules, and going rogue be enough to save Jay? Or will the consequences of a failed Scrooged start a spiral from which Frost, and her team, won’t be able to return?
Where my Scrooge fans at!!?? Hi! Hello! Yes, you…I see you! Attention please! You listening? OK. If you’ve ever read or watched the many, many adaptations of A Christmas Carol and loved them … then The Present is for you.
This isn’t just a regular retelling. This is D-Day (Dickens Day) where ghosts don’t just take one night and try to change the outcome of their Scrooge’s life. They research, infiltrate, plan, and work their magic. When not working…they party hard with hot chocolate, sweets, BYOB (bring your own bells) bashes and just have fun.
Of course, you will be hit with the emotional moments, maybe tear up a little (or just cry … crying is ok), and have your heart fill with the joy of Christmas. If you’re looking for a holiday read to kick off your seasonal reading…this is it.