An archive of this Sojourner's Journey – Reflections, book reviews, and other random thoughts


Book Review: The Weaver’s Daughter

About the Book:

Kate’s loyalties bind her to the past. Henry’s loyalties compel him to strive for a better future. In a landscape torn between tradition and vision, can two souls find the strength to overcome their preconceptions?

Loyalty has been at the heart of the Dearborne family for as long as Kate can remember, but a war is brewing in their small village, one that has the power to rip families asunder — including her own. As misguided actions are brought to light, she learns how deep her father’s pride and bitterness run, and she begins to wonder if her loyalty is well-placed.

Henry Stockton, heir to the Stockton fortune, returns home from three years at war hoping to find a refuge from his haunting memories. Determined to bury the past, he embraces his grandfather’s goals to modernize his family’s wool mill, regardless of the grumblings from the local weavers. When tragedy strikes shortly after his arrival, Henry must sort out the truth from suspicion if he is to protect his family’s livelihood and legacy.

Henry has been warned about the Dearborne family. Kate, too, has been advised to stay far away from the Stocktons, but chance meetings continue to bring her to Henry’s side, blurring the jagged lines between loyalty, justice, and truth. Kate ultimately finds herself with the powerful decision that will forever affect her village’s future. As unlikely adversaries, Henry and Kate must come together to find a way to create peace for their families, and their village, and their souls – even if it means risking their hearts in the process.

My Thoughts:

This regency novel has little to do with the ballroom setting you might expect from this genre and instead focuses on the political and social upheaval in England’s wool and weaving industry in the early 1800s.  Prejudice, bitterness and an inability to listen to any viewpoint other than your own are all aspects addressed within this plot.  Love, friendship, loyalty, forgiveness and gender roles are also strong themes.

The plot was fast moving and engaging.  I must admit to a high level of frustration with the stubbornness and narrow-minded thinking of some of the characters, which I believe was the author’s intent.  The love interest in the story wasn’t overdone, which I appreciated.

As for the fact that this book is marketed by a Christian publisher I have to say that this book is not a book that is presenting a gospel message.  The novel is merely reflective of the times when it speaks of church.  The author speaks of right, wrong and moral living, as well as forgiveness, but the gospel or any type of intimate relationship with God is absent from the story.

And, I’m happy to say that there was not a single kidnapping in the novel.  I’ve a running joke with a friend that all the regency novels I’ve read over the past few years have included at least one abduction, so the fact that it was absent from this plot made me very happy.

All in all it was an interesting read.

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I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Winning Miss Winthrop

About the Book:

Years ago, the man who stole Catherine Winthrop’s heart rejected her–and she’s never recovered from the grief. Now tragedy has brought him back into her life. This time it isn’t her heart he’s taking, it’s her home and her family’s good name.

Jonathan Carlew’s serious demeanor and connection to trade, not to mention the rumors surrounding his birth, have kept him from being a favorite of the ladies, or their parents. Now, suddenly landed and titled, he finds himself with plenty of prospects. But his demanding society responsibilities keep pressing him into service to the one woman who captured his heart long ago–and then ran off with it.

These two broken hearts must decide whether their painful past and bitter present will be all they can share, or if forgiveness can provide a path to freedom for the future.

Set in the sumptuous salons of Bath, Regency England’s royal breeding ground for gossip, Winning Miss Winthrop is the first volume in the Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series. Fans of the wholesome and richly drawn first series won’t want to miss this new set of characters–or appearances by their old favorites.

“Fans of Christian Regency romances by Sarah Ladd, Sarah Eden, and Michelle Griep will adore Carolyn Miller’s books!”
–Dawn Crandall, award-winning author of The Everstone Chronicles

My Thoughts:

First, if you have read my other reviews of regency novels you will know that I have a bit of a pet peeve for how often a kidnapping shows up in the plot.   I am happy to say that there was no kidnapping in Winning Miss Winthrop so that alone raises it in my opinion.  Bu seriously, this novel was engaging.  While I might admit to becoming a bit frustrated with how the main characters refused to actually talk through the past, I loved the fact that each character was real and multi-faceted.  I also appreciated that the alternate love interests weren’t villains and I must say that I am looking forward to the novel that is surely to come about Jonathan’s sister.

I also appreciated the theme of how distorting bitterness can be along with the accompanying theme concerning the evil of gossip.  And while the lessons were in the story, the novel never felt instructional.  In fact, Catherine surprised me several times by breaking the mold of societies expectations to follow her own heart in ways that certainly would not have been prescriptive for a young lady of her era, but showed real courage and liveliness.

And while it is a new series, character’s from Miller’s other series do show up in the story so you might want to read them first, starting with the Elusive Miss Ellison.


I received a free unedited digital pre-release of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.


Book Review: The Pandora Box

About the Book:

While investigating mysterious happenings at a state mental hospital, journalist D.J. Parker learns the location of a famous cache of diamonds stolen during World War II. What she doesn’t know is that the federal government has secretly been following the case for years. With an old journal to lead the way, she sets out aboard a yacht that once carried the infamous Herman Goering and embarks on a thrilling treasure hunt that could prove to be the adventure of a lifetime… if the captain and his partner don’t turn out to be crooks. And the FBI officers following D.J. are really working for the FBI, and if the horrendous secret Dee uncovers during the investigation has absolutely no connection to the famous jewels. But just how long can a secret remain a secret? And more importantly how can a person know whom to trust?

My Thoughts:

The Pandora Box was a fast paced adventure novel that I didn’t want to put down.  In the spirit of her hero, Nellie Bly – America’s pioneer female journalist, D.J. Parker is up for adventure in the pursuit of a good story.  But somehow things become personal when a man that she hopes to help dies and leave her a treasure beyond her wildest dreams…if she can only find it.

D.J. is a lovable, but wildly impulsive character, which lands her in more than one tight place.  Her heart is good, but her decisions don’t always follow her good intentions.  So, when she starts off on a wild treasure hunt she ends up roping her best friend into the mix and teaming up with complete strangers as the lure of riches grows to outweigh common sense.  A fast paced and exciting adventure follows.  My only real disappointment was to find out that there aren’t more D.J stories out there waiting to be read.


I received a free digital galley (unedited version) of this novel to read  in exchange for my honest opinion.


Book Review: The InnKeeper’s Daughter

About the Book:

A London officer goes undercover to expose a plot against the Crown

Dover, England, 1808: Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the king—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue. . .until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.

All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse.

Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.

My Thoughts:

I was surprised how much I liked the book.  While I do love Regency novels sometimes I find them a bit on the overly dramatic side.  In The Innkeeper’s Daughter elements of suspense and intrigue were present and even intense at times, but not overdone.  There were a number of plot twists and turns.  I love it when an author includes events that I couldn’t predict that still seem authentic to the tale.

The characters were real, with their own hang-ups, false beliefs, deep desires and well kept secrets.  The introduction of Mr. Nutbrown and his oddly endearing mental instability was truly a brilliant move to add interest to the story.

As a Christian novel God is very much a part of the story, but only in so much as each character interacts with Him.  This is not a book that is teaching about God as much as it is a book about characters who have a relationship with God and are growing in their understanding of Him.

While this book is not marketed as a part of a series, there were references back to Brentwood’s Ward, which I have not read.  It did not detract from the story except that I did find myself wondering what I might have missed by not reading the first book.

All in all, I found The Innkeeper’s Daughter to be an entertaining read and I’d recommend it.

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I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.


Book Review: A Song Unheard

About the Book:

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I–to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won–until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t–that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

My Thoughts:

A Song Unheard follows after A Name Unknown (click title to see my review), but could be read as a stand alone book.

Willa is part of an unusual family, a family of orphans who chose each other and learned what they needed to survive the streets of London.  They are thieves.  Good ones.  So good, in fact, that they have attracted the eye of the government who has need of their skills in the war effort.

I really enjoy Roseanna White’s writing.  Her characters are well developed having believable motivations and weaknesses, alongside rather extraordinary skills.  I enjoyed reading about Willa and Lukas and their complicated relationship.  I also appreciated that fact that the author had a German officer with a multi-faceted character providing discussions on belief, ethics and assumptions and how our thoughts on those subjects send us down different paths.

All in all, A Song Unheard, is a well written story with intrigue and interesting characters that provides enjoyable and insightful entertainment.  I would recommend it.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Keturah

About the Book:

In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father’s estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.

Although it flies against all the conventions for women of the time, they’re determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, proper gender roles are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined–and that’s just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this unfamiliar world.

Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.

Set on keeping her family together and saving her father’s plantation, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

My Thoughts:

I generally really like Bergren’s writing so I was very excited to see her releasing a new series, but I have to say that this wasn’t my favorite of her works.  There were positives to the story.  I appreciated Keturah’s journey back to God and to herself after struggle and suffering.  I appreciated the way that the injustice of the time was dealt with on multiple levels.  And yet, the characters each seemed to have only one real facet, whether that was a striving for independence, compassion, a need to prove themselves, I just found all the players in the story a bit too one note for my taste.

If you have an interest in reading about Nevis in the 1700’s and the history of the era then you’ll probably enjoy this novel, but I just didn’t love it.

I received a free advance digital copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Out of the Ordinary

About the Book:

Rollicking New Release from Humorous Historical Romance Author Jen Turano

Miss Gertrude Cadwalader hoped her position as the paid companion to Mrs. Davenport would be easy. But as she becomes acquainted with her employer, she realizes the wealthy Mrs. Davenport has a strange tendency to be a bit light-fingered with other people’s trinkets. Gertrude is relieved when Mrs. Davenport decides to have a quiet summer away from the social scene–until the woman changes her mind in order to help a young socialite launch into society.

When Gertrude is caught in the act of trying to return one of the trinkets by Mrs. Sinclair, the mother of shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair, the woman jumps to an unfortunate conclusion. Harrison is determined to mend fences with Miss Cadwalader, but he’s unprepared for the escapades a friendship with her will entail.

My Thoughts:

Jen Turano writes humorously laugh out loud, out of the ordinary regency novels.  While the story was far fetched, it was also fun.  And while the story was fun, it wasn’t without a deeper layer of truth.  I enjoyed reading Out of the Ordinary and will look forward to Turano’s next release.

It should be noted that while you don’t have to read the previous books in this series to understand the story, I believe having previous experience with the characters makes this story even more enjoyable.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Holding the Fort

About the Book:

Jennings Winningly Combines Humor, History, and Romance

Louisa Bell never wanted to be a dance-hall singer, but dire circumstances force her hand. With a little help from her brother in the cavalry, she’s able to make ends meet, but lately he’s run afoul of his commanding officer, so she undertakes a visit to straighten him out.

Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno. He can barely control his rowdy troops, much less his two adolescent daughters. If Daniel doesn’t find someone respectable to guide his children, his mother-in-law insists she’ll take them.

When Louisa arrives with some reading materials, she’s mistaken for the governess who never appeared. Major Adams is skeptical. She bears little resemblance to his idea of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he’s left without recourse. His mother-in-law must be satisfied, which leaves him turning a blind eye to his unconventional governess’s methods. Louisa’s never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough?

My Thoughts:

Regina Jennings takes us out west to Fort Reno for a good bit of laughter and a little bit of romance.

Louisa Bell is a complicated character.  Having grown up in a dance-hall environment she lacks a lot of knowledge (and restraint) that most ladies of the day would exhibit.  She does, however, have a good heart, a sharp mind and a desire to live an honorable life.  While the story seemed a bit far fetched at times, it was entirely enjoyable.  Holding the Fort was a good, light-hearted read.

I received a digital galley of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion,

Book Review: The Sacred Slow

About the Book:

If yesterday’s word was “simple,” tomorrow’s word will be “slow.”

Our culture is shifting from fast food to health food both physically and spiritually. Self-care, soul-care, life coaches, and spiritual retreats all show our dissatisfaction in quick fixes and fast faith. The Sacred Slow is an invitation to unhurried honesty before God. Formatted as 52 experiences, The Sacred Slow reminds readers on every page that God never wanted to use them: He always wanted to love them.

Experienced devotionally or in small groups, each chapter features a short but unexpected reading and two options for application: a thought focus or a heart exercise. The content is the overflow of Dr. Alicia Britt Chole’s thirty+ years as a spiritual mentor to leaders and learners. The tone is personal, practical, and penetrating. The fruit is sustainable (as opposed to event-based) intimacy with God.

My Thoughts:

I haven’t finished the book yet so it is hard to give an opinion.  Since I have been asked to give a timely review I will comment on what I can.  The author says that the book could take weeks or up to a year to work through and she did not underestimate the time needed to engage in the exercises assigned with each chapter.  In truth I’d call the whole thing more of a workbook then a book.  Each short chapter is followed with an extensive assignment.  The type of work that the author is asking the reader to engage with is both fruitful and fairly mainstream in regard to counseling or coaching practice.

I’m liking the areas of this (work)book that I have engaged with, however, slow is a good overall descriptor for this undertaking.  If you are simply looking for a good book on the topic of rest or unhurry there are other books that I would recommend, but if you are are willing to engage in a series of activities designed to evaluate and alter the way in which you engage with the world, this might be the book for you.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Book Review: You Are The Beloved

About the Book:

Seven million copies of his books in print! This daily devotional from the bestselling author of such spiritual classics as The Return of the Prodigal Son and The Wounded Healer offers deep spiritual insight into human experience, intimacy, brokeness, and mercy.

Nouwen devoted much of his later ministry to emphasizing the singular concept of our identity as the Beloved of God. In an interview, he said that he believed the central moment in Jesus’s public ministry to be his baptism in the Jordan, when Jesus heard the affirmation, “You are my beloved son on whom my favor rests.” “That is the core experience of Jesus,” Nouwen writes. “He is reminded in a deep, deep way of who he is. . . . I think his whole life is continually claiming that identity in the midst of everything.”

You Are Beloved is a daily devotional intended to empower readers to claim this truth in their own lives. Featuring the best of Nouwen’s writing from previously published works, this devotional will propel the canon forward as it draws on this rich literature in new and compelling ways. It will appeal to readers already familiar with Nouwen’s work as well as new readers looking for a devotional to guide them into a deeper awareness of their identity in Jesus.

My Thoughts:

If you know me then you probably already know that I’m a fan of Nouwen’s reflective and insightful writing.  This new devotional is good, but it is honestly much like some of the other collections of Nouwen’s writings.   I’ve only looked at a month’s worth of entries so far, but I’ve yet to come across a reading that I’m not familiar with.  So, if you are already familiar with Nouwen’s works you might enjoy this book while finding that it’s nothing particularly new.  Also, I had trouble seeing the connection of a number of the entries to a deeper awareness of our identity in Jesus.  They are all good for reflection, but maybe not as closely connected to the title as I would have hoped.

On the other hand, if you aren’t familiar with Nouwen’s writings, this book might be a reasonable choice, but honestly, it’s not where I’d recommend you start.  If I was making a recommendation for daily readings I’d say start with The Only Necessary Thing and read one quoted section a day.  That will give you a much broader and more well rounded context for Nouwen, how he thinks and how he writes.  Then if you are looking for another Nouwen devotional you might move on to this book and other books like Life of the Beloved, With Open Hands and Show Me The Way (which is a particularly excellent Lent devotional).

All in all, I’d say this book, You Are the Beloved, is a good choice for an in-between Nouwen reader.  It’s a nice collection of quotes to spark reflection.  But it isn’t my favorite collection.

I was sent a digital pre-release copy of this book for review in exchange for my honest opinion, which is written above.


Book Review: All Things New (Part 2)

About the Book:

New York Times bestselling author John Eldredge offers readers a breathtaking look into God’s promise for a new heaven and a new earth.

This revolutionary book about our future is based on the simple idea that, according to the Bible, heaven is not our eternal home–the New Earth is. As Jesus says in the gospel of Matthew, the next chapter of our story begins with “the renewal of all things,” by which he means the earth we love in all its beauty, our own selves, and the things that make for a rich life: music, art, food, laughter and all that we hold dear. Everything shall be renewed “when the world is made new.”

More than anything else, how you envision your future shapes your current experience. If you knew that God was going to restore your life and everything you love any day; if you believed a great and glorious goodness was coming to you–not in a vague heaven but right here on this earth–you would have a hope to see you through anything, an anchor for your soul, “an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God” (Hebrews 6:19).

Most Christians (most people for that matter) fail to look forward to their future because their view of heaven is vague, religious, and frankly boring. Hope begins when we understand that for the believer nothing is lost. Heaven is not a life in the clouds; it is not endless harp-strumming or worship-singing. Rather, the life we long for, the paradise Adam and Eve knew, is precisely the life that is coming to us. And that life is coming soon.

My Thoughts:

As I mentioned in a previous post, twenty three years ago I came face to face with the truth that this book communicates and it changed my life.  I love that Eldredge has brought his skill of communication and his passion to write All Things New.  This is a book about hope.  A book that helps us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Eldredge starts us off with an amazing reminder.  “What we ache for is redemption; what our heart cries out for is restoration.  And I have some stunning, breathtaking news for you: restoration is exactly what Jesus promised.”  We lose sight of this.  I lost sight of this.  All around me I see grief and loss and despair.  I need to be reminded again and again of the “anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6:9) and this is a book full of truly stunning reminders of that which is true.

Eldredge delves deep into the teachings of Christ about the restoration of all things, teaching that have been largely lost or overlooked in the modern church, truth meant to encourage and sustain us through every hard thing.

“If you woke each morning and your heart leapt with hope, knowing that the renewal of all things was just around the corner – might even come today – you would be one happy person.  If you knew in every fiber of your being that nothing is lost, that everything will be restored to you and then some, you would be armored against discouragement and despair.   If your heart’s imagination were filled with rich expectations of all the goodness coming to you, your confidence would be contagious; you would be unstoppable, revolutionary.”

This is a book of hope.  A book of expectation.  Understanding the truth of the palingenesia (the renewal of all things) can truly be revolutionary.  I know it turned my life upside down and gave me the courage to follow Jesus along roads that I could never have trod if I wasn’t confident that truly nothing is lost.

I love this book and I hope you will consider reading it.


I received a free review copy of this book from the author for review, however, all opinions written here are my own (and I’ve already bought copies to give away because I really, honestly, deeply love this book).

Book Review: The Mission Walker

About the Book:

This story is not about avoiding death. It’s about living life.

Immerse yourself in the amazing story of Edie Littlefield Sundby, who, after being told she had only 3 months to live, survived 79 rounds of chemotherapy, radical liver and lung surgeries, and then walked 800 miles along the California Mission Trail, averaging 14 miles a day, and stopping at life-giving missions to revive her body and her soul.

When she finished she yearned to walk the mission trail from its start – in Mexico. But no one had traversed that trail in 250 years.

As you will learn in the pages of this book, Edie doesn’t care about what some deem impossible. It is that spirit that has allowed her to live, despite the odds.

With fading strength and only one lung, she walked another 800 miles through the rugged mountains and deserts of Baja Mexico to the California border. In a walk of triumph, of harrowing adventure, and of spiritual enlightenment, she carried her mortality in every step and in the process opened up a profound communion with God and his creation, and the true meaning of life.

And all of this with a terminal cancer that was chasing her every step of the way. It still is, and she continues to walk with it every day.

For me, walking is a transcendent physical, emotional, and spiritual experience, like dancing. “If I can move, I am not sick.” That is my alternate reality. And I believe with all my will in that reality. So when cancer strikes again and again, I walk to stay alive.

Life is the greatest adventure there is. Why stop our adventuring because someone says the end might be near?

For those who crave a spirit of adventure, who ache like Edie to know what our bodies and spirits are truly capable of, this book is a must-read. A true testament to faith, courage, and the power of hope.

My Thoughts:

I had mixed opinions about this book.  I’d have to give it an average – it’s OK – three stars.

One one hand, I liked it because it’s a story of setting out after a goal and pursuing a dream despite all odds and who doesn’t love a story about overcoming?  I also appreciated the history that I learned on Edie’s journey as she included her research and imagination about the priests and their work in all of the missions that she visited in California and Mexico.

What I struggled with in this book were the connections and the assumptions.

First, let’s talk about the connections.  The first quarter, or maybe even third, of the book was given over to the story of cancer and the struggle of treatment.  I’ve had more than my fill of medical scenarios in my own life and I don’t really enjoy reading about them so I could have skipped that part.  Yes, the cancer set the stage for the walks, but the proportion of time given made cancer as much of a theme of the book as the walks themselves, which wasn’t something I was expecting based on the book’s marketing.  And though we are often reminded even through the end of the story that another appointment is upcoming there is absolutely no wrap up to the medical aspect of the story, no report on the long awaited and much talked about appointment, no two sentences to give an update at the time of the books publishing.  Instead the theme that is such a predominate part of the book is left hanging.  As a reader I expect that if you take me along on your journey you will at least have the courtesy to not drop me off before the destination that you have been pointing me toward.

And the assumptions…I found myself concerned with many of Edie’s viewpoints. I struggled with the viewpoint that being at home and hanging out with family and enjoying the simple things isn’t really living life.  I love a grand story or an epic experience as much as anyone, but I don’t think they are the measure of whether you are really living. I also struggled with her desire to push through, overcome and fulfill a dream in contrast to the lack of honor she gave to her body including not stopping for days of rest.  I recognize that she made choices that were all her own, but I  personally had a hard time enjoying aspects of her journey when they seemed so contrary to values that I hold.  I love stories of pilgrimage, but I guess this book showed me that I really do have my own opinions about good and not as good ways to go about a pilgrimage.

But all in all, I’m glad I read the book.  A tale of pursuing something you are passionate about no matter the cost is one worth reading.  And Edie’s story is certainly one of passion.

I review for BookLook Bloggers



All Things New

I’m halfway through my review copy of John Eldredge’s book: All Things New.  I’ve sprinkled nearly every page with my tears, not tears of sorrow, but the tears of deep longing that rise to the surface when someone mentions the thing that you most want.  If there was ever a book that I wish that I’d written this is it.  This is a topic that captured my heart twenty three years ago and utterly transformed my life.

Imagine, just imagine, what the impact would be to all of your choices in this life if you really, deeply and truly believed that nothing is ever lost.

It all started for me twenty three years ago in a class at Multnomah University when the professor stunned his entire classroom of students by turning our shallow concept of heaven upside down.  In a single sentence, where he mentioned that in heaven we would still be waiting on this, the palingenesia – the restoration of all things, almost every hand in the room went into the air.  And as I listened to these concepts unraveled and opened the word of God I discovered that almost everything I’d ever understood about eternity was wrong.  And thus began my love affair with the Kingdom of God.

And this theme, these truths, became the catalyst for my life with God.  What can’t I sacrifice in this life if I KNOW that I will get it all back and even more? In fact, I’ll get back a completely restored version of the broken beautiful that I so deeply love now.  And is it a sacrifice at all to make an investment that guarantees hundred fold returns?

Even more impacting, this theme has helped me learn how to grieve well in this broken world.  Not that many years ago I sat with God on a balcony in Slovenia wrestling over a grief that I just couldn’t shake.  And God whispered to me, “Beloved daughter, you don’t understand.  You believe that in this the curse has won.  But that’s not true.  I am making all things new.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that will not be redeemed.  Restoration isn’t lost, it is just waiting.”  Oh, glorious hope!

I’ll write more about the book later, but I can tell you now that I’d love to send a copy to everyone that I know.  Because everyone I know needs hope and Eldredge is holding out a banner of hope, unfurling a truth that has been grievously lost by the people of God, a hope that is meant to empower our lives.  And it’s a beautiful and moving thing to open this book and the Word of God and breathe in hope.

Take the time to watch the video above if you haven’t already.  Pre-order the book here if you like.  And receive the gift of God in the confidence of the restoration of everything you love.

Book Review: Love Held Captive

About the Book:


Book Review: A Noble Servant

About the Book:

New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson beautifully re-imagines “The Goose Girl” by the Brothers Grimm into a medieval tale of adventure, loss, and love.

“When it comes to happily-ever-afters, Melanie Dickerson is the undisputed queen of fairy-tale romance, and all I can say is—long live the queen!” —JULIE LESSMAN, award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series

She lost everything to the scheme of an evil servant.

But she might just gain what she’s always wanted . . . if she makes it in time.

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?

My Thoughts:

Melanie Dickerson writes creative, light and wholesome re-imagined fairy tales.  This series and this novel, The Noble Servant, follows her general pattern of telling an easily read and yet satisfying tale of a hero and heroine overcoming all odds and finding that integrity of character is foundational for discovering and realizing a life of love.

 I review for BookLook Bloggers

Book Review: An Unhurried Leader

About the Book:

What does grace-paced leadership look like? Spiritual mentor. Pastor. Executive director. Parent. Professor. Spouse. We have many roles and relationships. And in the midst of all we do, we’re tempted to frantically take control of situations in hopes of making good things happen. Alan Fadling, author of An Unhurried Life, writes: “That kind of unholy hurry may make me look busy, but too often it keeps me from actually being fruitful in the ways Jesus wants me to be. Jesus modeled grace-paced leadership. To learn that we begin not with leading, but with following.”

In these pages Alan Fadling unfolds what it means for leaders to let Jesus set the pace. Through biblical illustrations, personal examples, and on-the-ground leadership wisdom, this book will guide you into a new view of kingdom leadership. Along the way you just might find that the whole of your life has been transformed into a more livable and more fruitful pace.

Advance Praise

I received a free pre-release digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.



Book Review: With You Always

About the Book:

A Riveting Look at the Orphan Train from Historical Novelist Jody Hedlund

When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.

The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

My Thoughts:

I find Jody Hedlund to be an engaging author.  Though this book could likely stand alone I would recommend reading it after reading the prequel: An Awakened Heart (which at the time of this posting is free on Amazon kindle).

Though this book is part of an “Orphan Train” series it is far less about the life of orphans sent out on trains as it is about the life of the men and women of the time.  It looks at the question of what kind of life situations resulted in so many children being given up to the trains as well as the ordinary and extraordinary actions of those who wanted to bless families, hold them together and offer love and assistance to those who were caught in the devastation of the times.

With You Always is an engaging work of historical fiction that is well worth reading.

I received a free digital pre-release of this book to read in exchange for my honest opinion.


Book Review: Wendell Berry and the Given Life

About the Book:

We drive to work on the stored energy of ten thousand years of sunlight. Our daily bread seems to generate miraculously from store shelves. And our communities can be connected with a billion ones and zeros over fiber optic cables. For us, the idea of being a creature can seem passé. Yet in this lonely world of mastery, in a time so dominated by human desire and design that it has been dubbed the “anthropocene,” the human age, many of us feel that we are missing some essential truth about who we are.

The glimpses of this truth come when we lose cell reception on a long hike in the forest and our eyes are lifted to the simple marvel of trees. We feel this truth when we take up a shovel and sense the satisfying heave of dirt as we plant a modest garden. We hear this truth when we tune out the traffic and listen to the song sparrow’s melody, eavesdropping on a beauty that serves no human economy. In all this we hear a whisper of the truth that we are creatures—and we long to live in this reality. But how can we, when we have moved so far from our life source in the soil?

For the past 50 years, Wendell Berry has been helping seekers chart a return to the practice of being creatures. Through his essays, poetry and fiction, Berry has repeatedly drawn our attention to the ways in which our lives are gifts in a whole economy of gifts.

Berry presents us with the sort of coherent vision for the lived moral and spiritual life that we need now.  His work helps us remember our givenness and embrace our life as creatures. His insights flow from a life and practices, and so it is a vision that can be practiced and lived—it is a vision that is grounded in the art of being a creature.

Wendell Berry and the Given Life  articulates his vision for the creaturely life and the Christian understandings of humility and creation that underpin it.

My Thoughts:

In some ways I loved this book and in other ways I found myself frustrated with it.

To begin, the author sought to cover a great deal of ground.  Each one of the chapter themes could have spanned many books and so we are given a very brief look at what the Sutterfield considers the core of Berry’s thoughts on a topic.  In some cases this was perfect, giving a glimpse into an idea that you can then go and explore for yourself across Berry’s writings.  In other cases I found that it made the topics seem somewhat idealistic and that there simply wasn’t enough space to fully round out the discussion, particularly as it comes to application to the world in which we live.

I deeply appreciated the theme of the given life: what it means to receive and what it looks like to be given in return.  I also loved the reflection on what it means to be creatures, living within the limitations placed upon us by the Creator.

As I always do with Berry’s work, I struggled with the emphasis on place and roots.  While so much of it appeals to my soul, that’s not the life I’ve been called to as an emissary of the gospel to foreign lands.  I do love the idea of place and roots and living within my “watershed,” however I always wish more discussion was given to the reality that not all “wander” because they are discontent or irresponsible, but because God calls.

The places where I found myself frustrated within this work is where we were presented with a beautiful ideal without enough space to really flush out what that can look like in the wide world.  Without that discussion I found my thoughts to easily drawn to how short we fall of even our most preciously held ideals about how to live, which opened a doorway to guilt rather than hope.  Perhaps that was just me, but I did find that such a brief overview of so many lofty topics wasn’t as beneficial as I had hoped in answering the question, “What does it look like for me to live the given life?”  Perhaps that wasn’t the question that the author was seeking to answer.  Perhaps the book was intended to be simply informational.

Is it a good book?  Yes.  I think it is especially helpful if you know very little about Wendell Berry and his vision.   But for myself, I suppose I was hoping for a bit more depth wrestling with integration and application of the given or “creaturely” life.

– – –

I was given a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which is given in the review above.



Book Review: A Stranger at Fellsworth

About the Book:


Book Review: Behind the Scenes

About the Book:

Miss Permilia Griswold may have been given the opportunity of a debut into New York high society, but no one warned her she wasn’t guaranteed to “take.” After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, she’s finally putting her status on the fringes of society to good use by penning anonymous society gossip columns under the pseudonym “Miss Quill.”

Mr. Asher Rutherford has managed to maintain his status as a reputable gentleman of society despite opening his own department store. While pretending it’s simply a lark to fill his time, he has quite legitimate reasons for needing to make his store the most successful in the country.

When Permilia overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Rutherford, she’s determined to find and warn the man. Disgruntled at a first meeting that goes quite poorly and results in Asher not believing her, she decides to take matters into her own hands, never realizing she’ll end up at risk as well.

As Asher and Permilia are forced to work together and spend time away from the spotlight of society, perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes than they ever could have anticipated.

My Thoughts:

Before you dive into “Behind the Scenes” be sure to check out the short novella “At Your Request” that introduces you to the characters involved in the story.  (This novella is currently free on Amazon.  That is subject to change at any time.)

The thing about Jen Turano is that all of her books are delightful and I find it hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that I love about them.  The stories are often dramatic.  (I typically don’t care for dramatic).  And yet, I love Turano’s books.

Perhaps I love Turano’s novels because she keeps things light.  Even deadly peril is introduced with a decidedly comic twist. I do enjoy a good laugh and there is more than one good laugh to be found in “Behind the Scenes.”

Perhaps I love Turano’s writing because her characters are so genuine and particularly unique.

All in all, I can simply say that I enjoyed reading “Behind the Scenes” and I hope that you will too.

– I was given a free digital galley of this novel to review in exchange for my honest opinion. –


Book Review: An Uncommon Protector

About the Book:

Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.

My Thoughts:

This was my first book by Shelley Shepard Gray and I wasn’t expecting a whole lot more than a light and quick read for a Sunday afternoon.  I found myself very happily surprised.  While the plot remained rather predictable, the characters were fabulously well rounded.  They had hopes, dreams, doubts and the author gave us a good look at the pasts that formed them as well as the current motivations that drove them.

The book was also clean.  There was attraction without the indulgence seen rather often these days in romance novels.  Underlying themes of community and worth were also beautifully woven into the story.

I also liked that the civil war references didn’t particularly vilify either side, but gave a well rounded reality to the fact that good people can end up on opposite sides of a war for any number of reasons.

In summary, I enjoyed An Uncommon Protector and would recommend it.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Book Review: The Captive Heart

About the Book:

The wild American wilderness is no place for an elegant English governess

On the run from a brute of an aristocratic employer, Eleanor Morgan escapes from England to America, the land of the free, for the opportunity to serve an upstanding Charles Town family. But freedom is hard to come by as an indentured servant, and downright impossible when she’s forced to agree to an even harsher contract—marriage to a man she’s never met.

Backwoodsman Samuel Heath doesn’t care what others think of him—but his young daughter’s upbringing matters very much. The life of a trapper in the Carolina back country is no life for a small girl, but neither is abandoning his child to another family. He decides it’s time to marry again, but that proves to be an impossible task. Who wants to wed a murderer?

Both Samuel and Eleanor are survivors, facing down the threat of war, betrayal, and divided loyalties that could cost them everything, but this time they must face their biggest challenge ever . . .Love.

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t entirely sure that The Captive Heart would be a book that I would enjoy, but I decided that it was worth a try.  I’m glad that I took the time to read this novel.  The setting was interesting, ranging from England to Carolina.  I was concerned that the revolutionary war theme might take over the story (I am not a fan of war settings for novels), but it was just an interesting aside and not the main point of the story.  The characters were well rounded and the love story well developed. Overall, it was a satisfying novel.

Book: Really Woolly 5 Minute Bedtime Stories

_240_360_book-2037-coverAbout the Book:

Find your favorite Really Woolly® storybooks combined into one beautiful book that you and your little ones will love to use at bedtime. With a simple 5 minute format, the Really Woolly 5-Minute Bedtime Treasury will allow you to spend quality time with your children before they drift off to sleep and won’t leave you exhausted when they beg for just one more story.

My Thoughts:

It’s not so much a storybook as it is a collection of prayers and devotional thoughts.  It looks like it would be very engaging and encouraging for children, filled with thoughts that would bring them sweet dreams.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Book Review: The Shattered Vigil

cover94449-mediumAbout the Book:

Victory over the dark forces during the feast of Bas-solas should have guaranteed safety for the continent. Instead, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover they’ve been outsmarted by those seeking to unleash the evil that inhabits the Darkwater. Jorgen, the member of the Vigil assigned to Frayel, has gone missing, and new attacks have struck at the six kingdoms’ ability to defend themselves.

Just when the Vigil thought they had quenched the menace from their enemy in Collum, a new threat emerges: assassins hunting the Vigil, men and women who cannot be seen until it’s too late. The orders of the church and the rulers of the kingdoms, fearing the loss of the Vigil’s members altogether, have decided to take them into protective custody to safeguard their gift. On Pellin’s orders, the Vigil scatters, leaving Willet to be taken prisoner by the church in Bunard.

In the midst of this, Willet learns of the murder of an obscure nobleman’s daughter by one of the unseen assassins. Now he must escape his imprisonment and brave the wrath of the church to find the killer in order to turn back this latest threat to the northern continent.

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in a series.  Or the third if you count the prequel.

Prequel: By Divine Right
Book one: The Shock of Night

You need to read both the prequel and the first book to have any real hope of deeply engaging with this novel, but I can assure you that it will be worth it.  Carr is a masterful writer, one of the best fantasy fiction writers that I have read in years.  His work is layered, symbolic, descriptive and focused.  His characters are real and engaging.  There was one point, between books one and two, where I was concerned about where the story line was headed.  I was so deeply invested in the tale I wasn’t sure my heart could take it if it all went awry, but I’m happy to say that my fears were unfounded.

These novels seem a bit darker to me than his The Staff and the Sword series, which were also brilliantly written.  Yet, the darkness isn’t gratuitous, it’s appropriate.  It the dark of any epic tale, the dark we find within, the dark we find without and the journey toward the light that overcomes.  I would say that these novels might not be for everyone and that they are not geared for younger readers.

I’d give Carr 5 stars for The Shattered Vigil.

I received a free unedited digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  I was not required to write a positive review.  I loved it so much that I’m buying the edited version.  This is a series that belongs in my library.