Polly

Polly

We all have our favorite family recipes with the memories and nostalgia they stir in us (pun intended). I especially value the recipes my mom and grandma wrote by hand.  With the world wide web and dozens of cooking websites, do people even hand write recipes on cards anymore? I do. But I’m surely in the minority. I...

Night Songs

Night Songs

Two months ago, my husband and I drove through Bedford County, Tennessee. After meandering through the charm of downtown Bell Buckle (population 410 in 2020), we explored Shelbyville. We took a picture of the sign “Audrey’s on the Square” and sent it to our daughter Audrey.  Shortly after returning home to...

The Healing of Natalie Curtis

The Healing of Natalie Curtis

In the early 1900s, the U.S. government pushed immigrants to assimilate into American culture. Authorities frowned upon immigrants using their native language or keeping their particular customs. Schools were taught in English; students were required to speak it. All in the name of Americanization: to promote patriotism,...

Between You and Us

Between You and Us

Who wouldn’t want to exchange grief and its source for a happier life? Have you ever wished for a do-over regarding a difficult choice or a deep regret? How many times do we ask “What if?” What if my dad had taken a different job in a different city? What if I’d been the youngest kid instead of the oldest? What if I’d...

Seashells in My Pocket

Seashells in My Pocket

With so many World War II stories set in Europe or America, Seashells in My Pocket by Terri Wangard is a breath of fresh air—both figuratively and literally. The unique setting is Brazil. Several scenes take place on the Atlantic seashore by Recife or Natal—vivid enough to feel the wind, inhale the salty air, sink your...

Appalachian Song

Appalachian Song

I’ve never had to consider giving up a child up for adoption, but Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee shows what it might feel like—and reveals possible motives that enter such a decision. While some mothers give up their babies as an inconvenience, others are wrought with anguish over parting with a loved child for his...

Up From Dust: Martha’s Story

Up From Dust: Martha’s Story

For many years, my diet of Biblical fiction consisted of authors Francine Rivers, Angela Hunt, and Tessa Afshar. More recently, I became acquainted with the ones listed below, which includes Barbara Britton. Now, after reading Up From Dust: Martha’s Story, I’ve added a new one to my reading menu: Heather Kaufman.  Heather...

What I Promise You

What I Promise You

With all the thousands of World War II novels out there, sometimes I wonder how novelists keep coming up with fresh new stories. But considering all the people and places impacted by that world-wide catastrophe, even decades later, I suppose World War II authors will never run out of material.  Author Liz Tolsma is one of...

The Secret Book of Flora Lea

The Secret Book of Flora Lea

I've read numerous World War II novels. Yet all I know about London’s evacuation of children is from C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Which is ironic, because author Patti Callahan Henry’s novel, The Secret Book of Flora Lea, was inspired when researching C.S. Lewis for another book. (See the Q & A...

My Bookshelf—All the Titles in One Place

My Bookshelf—All the Titles in One Place

Since November 2021, I featured and reviewed 80 books on my Standout Stories blog (as of February 2024). Time to “organize” them all! Here's a convenient index for easy reference. Titles are categorized according to genre as well as setting, era, topics, and themes. Due to overlap, some may be listed multiple times....

Only the Beautiful

Only the Beautiful

I think most people are aware of the eugenics movement through Hitler’s experiments in WWII Germany. But fewer people know that the United States had its own eugenics “pioneers” from the late 1800s to the 1940s. The goal was to eliminate undesirable genetic human traits through selective breeding. This evolved to forced...

The All-American

The All-American

Some of my favorite middle school memories are bicycling to the baseball diamond and keeping score for my cousin’s team. It was a boy’s team, of course. It was the 1970s. No option for girls to play in my small Michigan town. But this was the closest I could get to the heartbeat of the game. I also wanted to be a batboy...

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip

During the last few days of my mother’s life, she was in a hospice facility which proved to be the best possible place she could have been for receiving care, comfort, and compassion.  My sister and I stayed with her—even overnight—for four days straight. We reminisced, read scripture, encouraged her, pondered about...

The Songs That Could Have Been

The Songs That Could Have Been

I appreciate authors who tackle difficult topics. Amanda Wen is one of those. In The Songs That Could Have Been, she takes on three issues: bulimia, alcoholism, and a mixed race romance. Each occurs in separate timelines of a split-time novel. A few facts about bulimia nervosa: It’s a mental disorder Its hallmark is...

The Choices She Made

The Choices She Made

Writing a novel is challenging enough. But tackling issues that nobody likes to talk about can take that challenge to a whole new level. Especially when an author wants to give those topics a sensitive treatment, incurring empathy for the protagonist while conveying the difficulty—sometimes horrors—of what she has...

The Lost Manuscript

The Lost Manuscript

Who doesn’t love a castle setting for a novel? Especially in the British countryside.  Reading The Lost Manuscript by Mollie Rushmeyer gave me the opportunity for a little armchair travel to a spectacular castle in Northumberland in northeastern England. It’s called Alnwick Castle (pronounced a-nik, A as in apple,...

Under the Magnolias

Under the Magnolias

How has your life been touched by mental illness? Do you know someone who struggles from depression, anxiety, OCD, ODD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, or eating disorders? Maybe that person is in your own family. But if not, you don’t have to look far.  Facts from National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) 1...

Hope Between the Pages

Hope Between the Pages

Decades ago, on my first trip to Southern Appalachia during college, I visited the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. That’s when I fell in love with the Smoky Mountains, the surrounding area, and its people—as an outsider and a Northerner. But author Pepper Basham is the real deal, born and bred in the Blue...

Thief of Glory

Thief of Glory

For years I read snippets about author Sigmund Brouwer and his books in my Calvin College alumni magazine, The Spark. I kept thinking I ought to read something of his. After all, we had things in common. We overlapped at Calvin (though we never met), we’re both authors (though he’s much more prolific), and we both have...

A Novel Proposal

A Novel Proposal

I don’t read on the beach anymore. The wind and sand drive me crazy! So my light-hearted beach reads are more likely to take place by the pool, without any sand. But whether you prefer the beach or a pool, A Novel Proposal by Denise Hunter is the perfect summer read. Not only does it have all the necessary romantic...

Coming soon: A Hundred Magical Reasons, a novel

Join My Newsletter!

Stay in the loop! Subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter for book news & exclusive  giveaways.

Bonus: I’ll send you the Prequel to All That Is Hidden.

Follow Me Here!

Want Book Reviews?

Subscribe to the Standout Stories blog and I’ll send you Smoky Mountain recipes based on food in my novel All That Is Hidden.

By clicking “subscribe,” you agree with the terms of the privacy policy noted on the bottom of our website.

Pin It on Pinterest