A SAMPLING OF MORE REVIEWS ...
My choice for Book of the Year ...
"I read a lot of Christmas books to put in our library at my church. And this one really surprised me. I started out not liking the main character, which was the point, but keep reading this turned out to be a story of forgiveness that preached from all sides you could approach it from. Wonderful story for all . This would be a good read for 12 and up and would make for a wonderful book report for homeschooling. After reading this I purchased his first book , The Golden Ring, it is worth the time also. See my review on that book."
Amazon.com Review (5-Stars)
Best Christmas Story This Year ...
"I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Jacob made a lot of mistakes in life and when he sought forgiveness, at first he was turned down from his children. God orchestrated supportive people around Jacob to keep him encouraged in living for Him. Being a joyful bell ringer for the Salvation Army led him to his grand daughter, which eventually led to the forgiveness he was seeking. It also made his adult children realize the bitterness that they had in their hearts. Well worth the time to read!"
Amazon.com Review (5-Stars)
"It's perhaps once in a lifetime you read a book that moves you from the very depths of your soul to correct the wrongs you've suffered in life. Jacob's Bell is just such a book, filled with Christmas Love & Forgiveness.
John Snyder's book, Jacob's Bell, is about a man who brought unimaginable pain into the lives most precious to him.
Jacob McCallum is a man who has abandoned his children after the death of his wife. The guilt he suffers as a result of his part in her loss, drives him to the depths of despair. He turns to a life of crime and the bottle to erase his guilt. With nothing to live for, he manages to find his way to a mission in Chicago.
Nothing he does can erase his past sins. With little left to lose, he travels to Baltimore where another minister and shelter attempt to help him restore his faith. Will he find redemption with the three children he left behind so many years ago?
I grew up with a father whos sins against his family were as egregious as Jacob McCallum's. I offered him forgiveness, and he rejected it. We lost our time for healing when he died a most horrible and painful death. For any of you who have lost all hope of correcting wounds inflicted by those you love, you need to read this book. Don't lose the chance for a new beginning."
Peggy M McAloon - Online Review (5-Stars)
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.
Felicia Allen (5-Stars) - Online Review (5 Stars)
"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!"
Sheila G - Online Review (5-Stars)
"I loved this book! Such great reminders of God's love, forgiveness and power to change. It brought tears to my eyes several times. It's a story that will stick in my mind."
Jenny - Amazon.com Review (5-Stars)
"What a wonderful story of forgiveness! God commands that we forgive each other because He knows how important it is to our own well-being. This story of Jacob, the bell ringer, is the perfect Christmas story."
Mrs. B - Amazon.com Review (4-Stars)
"I really enjoyed getting to know Jacob, you couldn't help liking him even knowing his past. Not necessarily a page turner but well worth the time to read and easy to pick back up."
sweetenmommy - Amazon.com Review (5-Stars)
"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!"
Patsy - Online Review (5-Stars)
"This is a wonderful, inspirational book. Families would benefit using this as a read-aloud during the holiday season. A hopeless Jacob finds hope and faith at the Salvation Army."
HOPE50 - Online Review (5-Stars)
"Jacob's Bell is a Christmas story that shows the benefit of the Salvation Army and how important that organization is to helping those that are living on the street, down on their luck and need a helping hand. Jacob had it all. A wonderful wife, children, a very successful career, wealth and prestige. Through a series of very bad decisions he ended up in prison. Those bad decisions continues to haunt him so that when he got out alcohol was the only escape. He couldn't forgive himself and drank more and more to forget what he had done. Eventually, a pastor sees him on the streets, drunk. That pastor encourages Jacob to come to the Salvation Army's shelter, to get food and warmth. In order to stay there though he had to stay sober. This wasn't easy for Jacob and he relapsed. Eventually, though the pastor gets Jacob to unburden himself by telling his story. The Pastor also introduces Jacob to Jesus. He teaches him about forgiveness that is offered to us by Jesus but it takes a long time for Jacob to grasp that forgiveness is for him personally. As often is the case, it takes Jacob a long time to forgive himself. This was a wonderful Christmas story about the bell ringers for the Salvation Army and through a fictional character shows how that money benefits those in our community. Plus this story is about forgiveness offered to all of us through Jesus Christ and it is about reconciliation of family."
InHisName - Amazon.com Review (5-Stars)
"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 elseís 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 ďangelsĒ 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 seasonís 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 ďholy rollerĒ 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."
Amazon.com Review (5-Stars)
"For some reason, I forgot this was a novella when I began reading Jacobís 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 isnít 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, itís preachy. Not open to in your face evangelizing? This probably wonít 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 didnít 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 thatís your beef, perhaps you should ask yourself what youíve got against those kettles and their bell ringers. This novella is a great example of how the Salvation Army helps anyone whoíll accept it and how those donations assist with that.
Jacobís Bell is a beautiful five star read. The ending left me with tears rolling down my cheeks. Iím a quick reader so I finished it in one evening. And thatís my only gripe. I wish it had been longer!"
Sally McC - Online Review (5-Stars)
"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 Jacobís Bell. I liked how the story revealed the layers to the back story of Jacobís 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 Ministers/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."
Grateful Grandma - Online Review (5-Stars)
"I can't imagine being penniless and living on the streets, not knowing anyone. Yet, Jacob McCallum in Jacob's Bell is that homeless person. He lived a hard life and made a lot of mistakes that led to his homelessness and loneliness. Those mistakes haunt him now and he feels badly about them as he has grown older. Jacob struggles to make changes in his life and to find his adult children to seek their forgiveness and to make amends. Throughout the book, Jacob is searching in more ways than he realizes and God guides him to the right people to help him make needed changes to better his life. But will it be enough for his grown children to see that he has truly changed and that he has become a different man? Can there be a reconciliation for Christmas?
When I started reading Jacob's Bell, I didn't find Jacob very likeable. He made some bad choices in his life and he ended up reaping what he sowed through the first part of his life. But our God is a God of mercy and redemption. Jacob's Bell illustrates quite beautifully just how important forgiveness is and also how important it is not to give up on people. We often do need to keep praying and let God work. This book also seemed to me to be a realistic portrayal of a family dealing with alcoholism. I shed some tears in the second half of this book and I was truly pulling for Jacob to the end. I encourage you to take time to read this heartwarming tale."
TeaandBooks - Online Review (5-Stars)
Christmas and second chances!
"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?"
Tiffany Hall - Online Review (5-Stars)