Book Review: "The Great Christmas Bowl" by Susan May Warren

Marianne Wallace is focused on two things this holiday season: planning the greatest family Christmas ever and cheering on her youngest son’s team in their bid for the state championship. Disaster strikes when the team loses their mascot—the Trout. Is it going too far to ask her to don the costume? So what if her husband has also volunteered her to organize the church Christmas tea. When football playoffs start ramping up, the Christmas tea starts falling apart. Then, one by one her children tell her they can’t come home for Christmas. As life starts to unravel, will Marianne remember the true meaning of the holidays?

This is probably one of the best Christmas novellas I've ever read. Yes it's short, but it gets to the point and it's sweet and funny and it totally gets you in the mood for Christmas. The way the book started, I was worried that it would fall in the trap of moms who find themselves empty nesters and make everyone else feel sorry for them. The other potential overused storyline trap would be a mom who does too much for everyone else because she can't say no and has a weak backbone. However instead I read about a mom who loves her kids and will do anything for them including potentially humiliating herself in front of the whole town. Would you (or your mom) dress up as what could possibly be the worst mascot of all time, a trout? I love reading about Marianne's adventures as as fish, from starting out being self conscious and scaring kids to just hamming it up in front of the crowd. She obviously love her kids very much and I did feel sorry for her when they didn't come home from the holidays. It made me think about how next time, I should give my parents at least some notice if I can't make it for the holidays.

Plus there's a yummy clam chowder recipe featured in the story and as a huge clam chowder fan I swooned. The recipe is included so you can try it out for yourself. If you're itching to get into the Christmas mood now, this book is perfect for you. It packs a lot of punch for a short story but by the end you'll clearly get the point. Along the way, it'll bring a lot of laughs, a lot of love, and a lot of trout.

The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren is published by Tyndale (2009)

CONTEST: Be a part of the Great Christmas Bowl recipe exchange! Susan loves getting recipes from friends, and sharing the delicious cookies, soups, breads and other fun fixings that go with celebrating the Christmas season. More than that, she loves the crazy stories about favorite Christmases – serious, touching, funny…whatever. Find the recipe contest here:

Will you share your story and recipe with Susan and the readers of the Great Christmas Bowl? She will post your story and recipe on the FRONT PAGE of the Great Christmas Bowl website, and send you a link when it goes up so you can tell all your friends. Then, at the Great Christmas Bowl party (December 5th, 10am, online! Details TBA) she’ll make the entire cookbook available for download!

For every recipe/story you submit (up to 3), you will be entered in a drawing to receive one of SMW’s collections (Noble Legacy, Team Hope, Heirs of Anton, Deep Haven Series, Josey series, or THE ADVANCED COPY of Sons of Thunder – Susie’s brand new epic World War 2 novel, due out in January 2010!)

Go – run, get your recipe, then come back here and click on the link below to share your Christmas memories!

Check out other stops on the tour here:


  1. The book sounds perfect to get you in the Christmas spirit!

  2. It made me wish I liked Clam chowder!!!


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