How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Fanny's Hope Chest Scavenger Hunt


Welcome to the Hope Chest Scavenger Hunt! Today, I’m taking part in this fun event and giveaway to celebrate the release of Sarah Holman’s new book Fanny’s Hope Chest.

Here’s how to play:

1.     Go to Tangled up in Writing or The Destiny of One and get the full list of items to search for and the blogs taking part.

2.     Find the hidden item on each blog.

3.     Go to Tangled up in Writing or The Destiny of One and enter the giveaway with your completed list.

4.     Tell your friends about the scavenger hunt.

5.     Watch to see if your name is drawn on February 16th for 1 of 5 prizes.


Okay, see if you can find the item I’ve hidden:


Did you find it? Don’t forget to enter the giveaway. There will be five winners!

Interested in Fanny’s Hope Chest? Grab it for $0.99 through the 14th. (Price will go up to $2.99 after.) 


How old is too old for a hope chest?

When Ellie starts a new job as a home health aide, she doesn't expect to meet a woman in her eighties looking for her hope chest, nor a house as messy as Ellie's own emotional state. But as she cleans up Fanny's house, she begins to wonder if Fanny's hope chest might hold the answers to her questions about disappointed dreams and holding on to hope.

That is, if she can face both the mess and her own heart.

Find it on Amazon.

Friday, February 5, 2021

My Top 15 Books of 2020

This year turned out to be an excellent year for reading. According to Goodreads, I read 56 books, which is higher than normal for me. (But that still doesn’t count the books I edited this year.) I also set a goal of reading two pre-1920 classics a month, which I’m very glad to say I accomplished. Of those 56 books, here are the top 15 that will stay with me the longest:


Romeo and Juliet

by William Shakespeare

I was actually surprised at how much I liked this play. Knowing the story before I read it, I hadn’t taken it seriously because of how young Romeo and Juliet were. Their youth still bothers me (as do certain characters—ahem, Juliet’s nurse and Mercurio), but the surprising depth in Juliet’s character really captured me. There are many beautiful lines, and, somehow, being a tragedy it entrenches itself more firmly in my mind as I think wistfully of what might have been. (Interesting side note: While I buddy-read this with my mom in April 2020, we experienced a “plague” with lockdowns like the plague that figured significantly in Romeo and Juliet.)


Towers in the Mist

by Elizabeth Goudge

Although this novel may not have been as deeply affecting to me as other Goudge novels I’ve read, it drips with her beautifully characteristic style: rich description and symbolism, well-crafted characters, and a setting vividly brought to life. The genuine historical characters, like Walter Raleigh and Philip Sidney, add zest and a feeling of reality. I truly felt I had visited late sixteenth-century Oxford. Time-traveling is one of my favorite hobbies! Find the book on Goodreads HERE.


A Holy Passion

by Alicia G. Ruggieri

This was a hard book to read. But so good. Ruggieri weaves a heartbreaking story around real events in the lives of David Brainerd and Jerusha Edwards. David Brainerd was a missionary to the Native Americans in the mid-1700s, and when he got sick and stayed with the Edwards family, Jerusha helped care for him. A Holy Passion beautifully depicted the reality of loving and desiring God above everything else, inspiring me to reevaluate my life and actively delight in the Lord. Read my full review HERE.


Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

Dickens is one of my favorite authors. Although Great Expectations may not have reached as high in my affections as two of his other novels (Little Dorrit and Bleak House), it showcases Dickens’s masterful writing, plot weaving, and character creating and explores what it means to be a truly successful human being. Pip, the main character and narrator, takes us on his twisting, turning journey of discovery when he mysteriously inherits a lot of money that promises to make him into a “gentleman” in Victorian society. But there is far more to his journey than he ever imagined. Read my full review HERE.



The Woman in White

by Wilkie Collins

This was a very fun read. A mystery that begins with the identity of a young woman dressed in white becomes more and more layered and suspenseful as the story rolls forward. This Victorian novel contains a bevy of compelling characters, chief among them Walter Hargrave, Marian Halcombe, Laura Fairlie, and Count Fosco, whose lives intertwine in a plot that kept me breathlessly guessing until the very end. Read my full review HERE.



by Harriet Martineau

This early Victorian novel (published the first year of Victoria’s reign, 1838) was a fascinating read. Standing as a bridge between early nineteenth-century fiction and what would become a hallmark of Victorian literary style—the multilayered domestic novel—Deerbrook contains many details of daily life within various lifestyles. The characters and their story were also endearing, especially primary characters Edward Hope and Hester and Margaret Ibbotson. Find the book on Goodreads HERE.


The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

Written by Himself

This fascinating and affecting autobiography was published by an incredible African man to help the efforts of the British abolitionists in the eighteenth century. Slave narratives were vital in showing Europeans that Africans were people created in God’s image, too, and should therefore be treated equally. It’s a valuable resource into the horrifying history that we must face and acknowledge in order to move forward in the ongoing struggle for complete racial reconciliation. Find it on Goodreads HERE.


Virgil Wander

by Leif Enger

The newest novel from one of my favorite contemporary authors, Virgil Wander did not disappoint. I love Enger’s rich, unconventional prose, the way he breathes life into every detail and character, and the nostalgic atmosphere of the plot. Set in a dying town in modern-day northern Minnesota, this novel still has a classic feel that sinks deep and makes you appreciate life. Read my full review HERE.


Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

If I’ve read a Jane Austen novel during the year, it’s going on my top reads. This was only my second time reading Pride and Prejudice, and honestly I’d forgotten how good it is, not to mention funny, profound, and relatively fast-paced. Austen’s ability to sketch an iconic character with a few quick lines always amazes and delights me.



The Song of the Lark

by Willa Cather

I usually only love a book if I love the main character. This is one exception. Cather’s writing is beautiful as she captures characters’ emotions and interactions or describes the stirring landscapes of the West. The Song of the Lark depicts the journey of a singer, Thea Kronberg, from her humble origins in Colorado through all the heartache and hard work of building an artistic career. It also explores art and the true cost and meaning of success in the pursuit of it. Read my full review HERE.


The Little House Series

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This year I reread most of this beloved series for the first time since I was a kid. I’d forgotten how charming and absorbing it is. It seems I was always aware of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books. My mom and I read them while I was homeschooled as the basis of a unit study, and I felt unsure if they’d stand up to my childhood fondness for them. Well, if anything, I love them even more now. Wilder’s descriptions of life in the olden days and the warm family relationships never lose their appeal. The books are even more important to me now because I’m writing a story that is inspired by them.



Anna Karenina

by Leo Tolstoy

I’d been meaning to read this epic novel for years, but it daunted me. I finally took the plunge and thought it was incredible! Leo Tolstoy is the first Russian writer I’ve encountered, and now he’s one of my favorite writers. The stories of the numerous characters in Anna Karenina are deeply moving, from the gradual downfall of Anna to the arduous upward climb of Konstantin Levin, a man Tolstoy patterned after himself. It’s a book to really make you think about your moral choices and goals in life. Read my full review HERE.


The Other Bennet Sister

by Janice Hadlow

This became my favorite Regency novel by a non-Regency author. I’d always felt a little sorry for marginalized Mary, the middle Bennet sister in Pride and Prejudice. Bookish and awkward, she needed to grow. The Other Bennet Sister recounts some of the events in Pride and Prejudice from Mary’s perspective and then goes on to trace her path afterward. It’s a deep coming-of-age story that I could relate to, told in an authentic yet completely readable historical voice that immersed me in the Regency period. Read my full review HERE.


Sir Gibbie

by George MacDonald

This book awed me. I grew up thinking MacDonald’s Scottish novels in their original form were inaccessible ... but that is certainly not the case, especially now with David Jack’s side-by-side translation of the Doric dialect into English. MacDonald’s works are profound and beautiful, his language flowing and poetic, and I’m so glad they are being republished like this. All this novel’s characters are memorable and meaningful, but none more so than Sir Gibbie himself, a mute boy with a heart full of love for mankind. The Christian values encased in his inspiring story weave their way into your heart. Check it out on Goodreads HERE.


Why Care about Israel?

by Sandra Teplinsky

From the back cover: “No one can read the Bible and deny that God has specific plans for the Jewish nation. From the moment he created Israel, he loved her and set a plan in motion that is yet to be fulfilled. What is that plan? What does it mean for Arab peoples? How are Christians to respond?”

This book helped me reaffirm my commitment to care about Israel, pray for her, and support her now more than ever in these stormy times when the tide of world opinion is more against her, and God, than ever. A must-read for every Christian. Find it on Goodreads HERE. (The updated version is HERE.)


What were your favorite reads of 2020?