Book Review : We Hope for Better Things

I’m not sure that I have ever read a first novel before that was as brave and heart wrenching as We Hope for Better Things. Erin Bartels is the author who has written a story that will inspire you, break your heart and make you ponder life, all at the same time.

There are three women in this book, many generations apart, but all related. Three women trying to figure out who they are, what they value and what they are willing to stand for. Each face different issues as they embrace the life they have.

Elizabeth is the woman who the book centers around, as she is the current living character. When she finds herself without a job and questioning her future, an opportunity falls into her lap. She travels to visit her old Aunt Nora she’s never met before and is thrust into a new world largely revolving around the past. The third woman in this story is Mary who is living during the Civil War. All three women experience similar racial tensions despite the decades of years that separate them.

Erin Bartels has written a book that pulls back the curtain on some of ugly past of our country, but she clearly writes about so much of the good as well. With any book that is brave enough to jump into the subject of race wars, slavery and segregation, the reader is forced to reflect on their own views and whether those ideas line up with the way they are living.

The characters in Ms. Bartel’s book are amazing. The kind of women you want to sit down with and pepper with questions of your own. These women were full of strength, courage and even some foolishness. But all three loved hard and loved strong.

There is a strong element of redemption, especially for Nora, as parts of her past confront her near the end of the book, but the results are full of hope and better things. I was drawn in to their story from the first page, not only wanting to know what was going to happen with Elizabeth but wanting more from each era and character’s story.

This was a fantastic book. I highly recommend it – and I cannot wait to read anything else Erin Bartels puts on paper! I loved the details throughout that demonstrated more than just average research! She is a passionate, detail oriented writer that is quite gifted!

NOTE : I was offered a copy of We Hope for Better Things in exchange for an honest review.

More about We Hope for Better Things   


“In this powerful first novel . . . Bartels successfully weaves American history into a deeply moving story of heartbreak, long-held secrets, and the bonds of family.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request—that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos—seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Take an emotional journey through time—from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War—to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.


Book Review : A Bound Heart

One of my favorite things to do it read. Not just anything, but almost! I don’t know how long I have been able to review books, but I have loved being forced to make time to read, because honestly it would be so easy to get busy with other things that this would have to take a back seat, and that would break my heart!! Reading takes me to places I would never be able to really go. I meet people I would never know. And through these stories I get to experience so many emotions and feelings. I love reading!

I recently finished A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz, and I absolutely loved this story.

There were so many little details that captured my heart! The characters were so well thought out, deep and relatable, as well as lovable. Ms. Frantz somehow writes about people who face struggles but handle their lives with integrity and honor. I just loved getting to know Magnus and Lark and will miss their story now that it is over.

The setting is a coastal island with Scottish roots and English control, which was enchanting to learn about. The time frame is mid 1700’s. Every part of this story held my attention and kept me wanting more!

My favorite part of this story was Lark and her love of herbs and her dependance on them to offer healing to those around her. Lark is the stillroom mistress and a keeper of bees as well. In those roles she is the expert about herbal remedies. When the island doctor (who prefers to prescribe nothing more than laudlum for just about every situation) is unavailable, and even sometimes when he is, Lark is the go to for the local people when they need healing.

Laura Frantz is a new favorite on my list of authors! I love her style of writing, the depth of research that comes through her stories and her world view. All were woven throughout A Bound Heart and all make for a masterful story!

There is a sweet element of adoption in this story that is just delightful as well. When Lark becomes the caretaker of a tiny baby names Larkin, who favors her with his head of red-hair, we see even more of her character and integrity shine through. She is a woman I would love to know in real life, and her character is one I admire even if only made up! I loved her resilience and determination as well as her constant love of the Lord.

I highly recommend this amazing book!

NOTE : I received a copy of A Bound Heart ins exchange for an honest review.

More about A Bound Heart :

Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning–together.

Laura Frantz’s prose sparkles with authenticity and deep feeling as she digs into her own family history to share this breathless tale of love, exile, and courage in Colonial America.

Book Review : Enclave

Upon arrival Enclave, by Thomas Locke, quickly went to my night stand.  Most days I only get to read before bed, so that is the most logical place for it to be.

Unbeknownst to me, the book did not remain there.  If you want an author that will grab you, and even your teenage bookish boys, this one is for you!!!  Jacob (my 17 year old) kept asking me if I had read it yet.  I kept saying no, and finally asked why he was pestering me.  Well, he read it.  Yep.  Snagged it off my night stand, took it to work and flew through it during his breaks.  That should tell you something!

Thomas Locke has written many of our favorites, and books I have reviewed. (Fault Lines, Merchant of Alyss). We read these books to review, but insisted to finish the series each time!

Enclave is a post apocalyptic story where there is no electricity.  Our world has become a place where groups of people live and they rule their own area.  Gone are the days of National Law, or State Law, or even sometimes local law.  Corruption is high, dangers are rampant, life is a struggle every day.

One of my favorite parts of this story was the characters – there is not just one main hero, but instead there are a few guys who come together willing to risk everything to find a better way for their loved ones.  Caleb and Kevin are thrown together and forced trust each other with one common goal.  However, evil lurks everywhere, and it is hard to know who to trust.  

Catawba is the enclave that Caleb is from, and when they find a thread of gold in the mining hills, they must find a way to harvest and sell without letting the competing government factions know.  Caleb and Kevin embark on a adventure to find freedom for their friends, and wealth for their enclave, but at great risk to themselves.

NOTE: I highly recommend this book, and any other by Thomas Locke – and Jacob does too!!  This book will be passed around the family and then put on a shelf to pull out again in the near future!  I was offered a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review : How Do You Say Goodnight?

how do you say goodnight

I have really enjoyed reading and reviewing the last few children’s books!  Luckily I have several friends who are expecting and a friend expecting her 2nd grandson, so I have many options to pass along these gems!

How Do you Say Goodnight is certainly a gem!

This sweet story is about a young zebra named Zoey, who goes on a “walk about” to see how other animals say goodnight.

There is a sing song style of rhythm in the story and it will definitely be one your little one wants to hear again and again!  Throughout the story Zoey encounters different animals with new and different ways, but she appreciated each.  I enjoyed a gentle approach to diversity, not in a aggressive way!

This would be a perfect book to get and wrap up for Christmas!  The illustrations are adorable and will be enjoyed by everyone!


NOTE : I received a copy of How Do You Say Goodnight? in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review : Love Does for Kids

love does

Our family loves Bob Goff!  Love Does is a book that inspires one to act their love out.  Bob is a storyteller extraordinaire!  He can weave a tale like few authors I know.

This time around, Bob partnered with his daughter Lindesy to write a similar book to Love Does, but for kids.


When this book arrived in my house, before I could even touch it, my 14 year old took off with it!  That is saying a lot.  It was not just once that he was found reading it on the couch – but multiple times.  He gives it a raving review!  Eli said it was easy to read and fun to read.

This book is a great read-aloud for families or a perfect gift for a pre-teen aged person.  It is broken into 46 short readings, that would be ideal for devotions.

Each story is an example that Bob Goff uses to demonstrate how we can all live out a life that shows love to others.  Our family has thoroughly enjoyed the stories Bob shares through his experiences.

I highly recommend any books by Bob, but think this one is a great one to share with the family or would be a great gift for a child in your life!

NOTE : I received a copy of Love Does for Kids in exchange for an honest review.