Meet Agnes Sligh Turnbull

In our ongoing discovery of older writers worth reading, we have stumbled upon Agnes Sligh Turnbull.


Mrs. Turnbull specialized in wholesome stories and books for children during the early part of the 1900′s. At a time when many of her contemporaries were “pushing the edge” in the writing world, Turnbull focused on uplifting, moral stories of regular people who still maintained a modest view of propriety and a Biblical foundation.

As part of my book blessing, I received a  copy of “The Gown of Glory” as my first introduction to Mrs. Turnbull. The story is set in Pennsylvania in the early 1900′s. David and his wife Mary have faithfully served their local community as “the Pastor and his wife” for twenty-five years. Through their years of service, there is a constant hoping for promotion, which is always thwarted for one reason or another.  The character of this couple with their three children (who are entering “marrying years”) is beautifully displayed as we live “a year in the life” of their little community. Many and varied are their experiences in which we see David’s Christ-like service have an effect unbeknownst to him. Then an unthinkable sin in his very ordinary flock is revealed. David’s handling of this situation is a lesson to us all of the mercy and compassion of our Savior.

I haven’t read any other books by Mrs. Turnbull. I was impressed with her discretion and uplifting moral tone in “The Gown of Glory.” If you have read any other wholesome reads by her you would recommend, leave us a comment.

Disclaimer: I would recommend this for adults. The nature of the sin that is revealed is not suitable for younger readers.






A Great Opportunity

I’m not usually one to advertise on my blog, because I figure, well…

You probably aren’t going to read it.

But, for those of you old book collectors out there, I want to let you know about a great opportunity.

World of Rare Books  , a British-based rare book site, is having a free shipping week! It is already underway and will last until Saturday, September 27th.


If you have a particular author you are interested in collecting, they very well may have what you are looking for. I, personally, have already placed two orders this week simply because this is such a great opportunity. (Shipping on books from the UK can range from $5 – $10 per book, depending on the seller). Also, if you like to dig for a deal, many of their books are listed as “final reduction – get it whilst you can at this price!” The prices are listed in British pounds, but when you check out, they will redirect you through Paypal and you will pay in US dollars. The pound is presently worth about $1.64 to 1GBP.

Hope you find some real jewels!

By the way, this is not an affiliate post. I just wanted to share the great deal I found.


Going on a Treasure Hunt

If you could go on a treasure hunt and search for something very valuable to you, what would you look for?


Gold in a chest?


Fabulous jewels and untold wealth?


I was recently blessed with a wonderful opportunity to explore.


To search.


To dig.


Boys Playing on the Shore by Albert Edelfelt 1884

Boys Playing on the Shore by Albert Edelfelt 1884

To hunt for valuable and rare treasure.


And you know what I found?




Before you groan, (which you shouldn’t because you know this is primarily a blog about books) let me tell you about a most lovely day in my life.

Being an international family occasionally we have the opportunity to visit jolly old England to see the relatives still living there. While on a family “holiday” recently, my forbearing and ever-patient husband allowed me some time to treasure-hunt.

Translation: I got to go BOOK SHOPPING!!!

To one who appreciates old books, (and frequently orders them from the UK), this day in my life was a very happy one. We scoured charity shops, antique stores and even visited a rare bookseller’s warehouse in our quest for oldies but goodies.

The result?

I’ll probably be blogging about my “finds” for weeks to come, but let’s just say…

The search was profitable.

Ok, the search (and the subsequent “finding” of one particular treasure by Susan Warner) left me almost squealing with American delight in the ponderous face of my British book benefactor.

I had SUCH a lovely day!

And since we take the Scripture literally that when we acknowledge God in all of our ways, He is certain to direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6), I’ll encourage you with this testimony.

As the time of our visit drew to a close, and my list of desired authors was not completely satisfied, I humbly thanked the Lord for all He had done for my little book quest and asked Him to allow me to return to America with every book He would like for us to have – even if my “list” was not complete. (I am one who firmly believes that there is nothing too small in our lives that we cannot share with our loving Lord).  The next and final day of our stay was to be spent visiting with family. As we sat talking, the door-bell rang. A lovely friend from church stopped by with a bag full of books she had taken from her bookshelf to give to our family. In her generosity, she gave us several of her mother-in-law’s childhood books from the early 1900’s. Among this bag were three of the most precious treasures of the entire trip! And guess what? My list was complete.

So, sometimes, we search for our treasure “as for hid gold” as the Scripture says.

And sometimes …

Just to show us how infinitely precious is God’s care for us …

Our treasure comes looking for us!

Happy Reading!


Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Have you ever read a book and it so reminded you of the goodness and greatness of God you just had to shake your head in wonder? I recently had that experience.



The Wonder Within You by Carey Wickersham is a beautifully constructed, interactive journal of the wonder of the season of life called pregnancy. Ms. Wickersham takes you week-by-week through the entire gestation period in a very innovative way.

There is a glut of pregnancy books out there, but this one stands out from the crowd. Using the latest in technological innovation, the book comes alive through actual video footage of ultrasounds that can be viewed by using the available links throughout the text. Not only is this a beautifully constructed, informative manual of sorts, but the tidbits of wisdom strewn along the way give the reader a sense of friendship with the author.  It’s as if Ms. Wickersham’s well researched, highly documented resource is delivered to her reader at her kitchen table over a cup of tea.

Here’s a sample of the incredible video footage available throughout the book. This is ultrasound footage from week 28.

What I appreciate about this book is the read-ability of the information. Every week we begin with a “Mommy Moment” which includes thoughtful quotes and insights on motherhood. A “Prenatal Postcard” is also included to encourage the Mother-to-be that she isn’t alone in her thoughts and feelings. “Nutritional Nuggets” and a “Did You Know” sidebar provide facts and tips for staying fit and feeling great while you are expecting. Each week closes with a journal section to make the book more personal.  Our journey takes us from conception to the delivery day, with a lovely calendar (complete with stickers!) to mark the landmarks along the way.

Of all of the pregnancy gift books I have seen, this one takes the cake. I will be giving this to new Moms who are experiencing the joys of motherhood for the first time. Who knows, I’ll probably give it to a veteran Mom too. There’s just so much neat information included, it would be a great gift for any expectant mother.

I received a copy of The Wonder Within You from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.





Dear Aspiring Christian Authors

Dear Aspiring Christian Author,


As an avid reader and subsequent thinker about what I have read, I have a few thoughts to share with you that may help – or hinder your writing endeavors. Before I get into my suggestions, let me say that I highly respect anyone who can actually develop a story beyond a couple of chapters, and keep it going – with interest – all the way to the end of the book. I often wonder how that process works – the planning, the character development, the putting forth of the thoughts of the author through the characters in the story. So, please know that what I say (and think) is really of very little significance in the whole scheme of things. I am simply writing as a reader to the writer.

One more disclaimer – I respect the time and thought put in to writing ANY book, whether I agree with the author or not. I am merely taking the opportunity to share what is important to me when I spend my time reading what has taken you so long to get on paper.

1. Keep Christ central to your story. You may not want to “preach” on every page, but please, please, allow Him to be seen in the general picture you are painting. I tend to ask myself a few questions when I finish reading a Christian fiction book. Am I encouraged to get closer to Christ? Have I learned something of Him? Have I been reminded of an aspect of His character or challenged to trust Him in a greater way? Am I encouraged to love Him better? To love my neighbor as myself? Admittedly, these are lofty goals. However, aren’t they the goals we are all striving toward as we follow Christ? So, I encourage you to reach higher than simply adding the words “faith” and “a Higher Power” to your book. If it is a Christian book – let our Lord be seen!

2. Please do not make sin the focal point of your story. I have read (or tried to read) contemporary “Christian” stories that have me blushing (and closing the book) in the first chapter. If you feel the need to “grab the reader’s attention” by using indecent dialogue, scenes and innuendo – you may need to rethink your audience and write for a secular crowd. You’ve already lost this reader.

3. Make your characters believable without feeling like they have to blame God to do so. One of the rewarding aspects of reading a good book is to truly identify with the characters. In every “believable” scenario, the hero or heroine may or may not be “perfect” in their responses, but their heart is pure towards God! That makes all the difference. If bitterness, anger, and resentment toward God (in short – the flesh) is all the character depth you can come up with, please rethink your story. You may say, “I want my readers to identify with the characters.” That is an admirable goal. Please let us, as readers, relate to the up-side of our Christian life rather than the side we all regret at the end of a possibly bad day. I have enough of my own flesh to deal with – it is not enjoyable to me to have to deal with your story-people’s flesh too.

4. Use older, moral writers as your mentors. I say this because I generally read the older writers. Their command of the English language is so much more (may I use the word?) refined than most of the modern books I have read. If you are writing for an adult audience, use vocabulary and sentence structure that reaches beyond the typical fifth-grade level in which most contemporary books are written today. I remember once reading a very popular modern author – a real “best-seller” in the Christian ranks. I flipped the book open, with a copy of an old classic beside it. The difference in the actual writing proficiency was almost embarrassing. I say that to make the point - strive higher than the status-quo!

Some of the best friends are made through books.

Some of the best friends are made through books.

5. Don’t be afraid to challenge your reader. I enjoy a challenge. If you have a particularly sticky topic you are wanting to deal with, don’t be intimidated to do so through your story. There are many issues that can be dealt with in a non-offensive tone when written through the voice of a sweet character. I’ll use slavery as an example. Harriet Beecher Stowe wonderfully used her writing talent to give voice to an issue that was highly explosive in her generation. Remember that Abraham Lincoln addressed her as “the little lady that started the (Civil) War?” If you have an issue burning in your heart, don’t be afraid to allow it to find it’s outlet through your pen. We may need to hear what God has given you to say.

6. Love thy reader as thyself. That means, don’t get upset when you read these suggestions. :)

So, if you want me – your potential reader – to truly like (and I don’t mean on facebook) your book that you have labored over for hours and hours, just keep these few hints in mind.

I look forward to a long and happy reader-author friendship that will endure the test of time.

Happy Writing!

By the way, if you have a book you have written and would like us to review, please email me at goodbooks (at) wholesomereads (dot) com.  I would recommend reading our requirements first and reserve the right to judge what would be appropriate for our readers.

“Whatsoever things are pure … think on these things”





Why Read When You Can Watch?

I’m sure you have all heard the question, either from your reluctant-to-read-during-summer-vaction kids or from an equally-reluctant-to-read-adult -

Why read a book when you can watch a video?


There are many answers to this question. The most prominent reasons to my mind may not be your reasons. So, if I miss your ideas, leave me a comment. :)

I think a major reason to read a book rather than watching a video is the simple fact that reading stimulates the brain so much more than a video does. I have no ready scientific proof, but it is a fact that when we read the Little House on the Prairie books, Michael Landon is NOT ”Pa” in my children’s imaginations. (gasp!) This speaks to me that reading allows for originality of thought beyond what mere “watching” can do.

OK, let me go ahead and admit that we do allow some videos in our home. However, these are often previewed by the adults and must meet certain requirements. I’ll not go into that here, but it is a very good idea to KNOW BEFOREHAND what is being presented before allowing children to view something.

Old fashioned?


Next point – The message of the book is often changed by the producer of the film. We have seen this to be true many times. We are disappointed because the movie is nothing like the book. It may say, “Based on a book by…” but that doesn’t mean that the author endorses the message of the film. It’s a shame when this happens. Sometimes, nothing is similar except the names of the characters.

Another thought – Simply because it takes longer to read a book, you glean more from the characters. Reading a good, wholesome book is like having good friends come over for a nice long visit. When an author has succeeded in creating realistic characters, you feel like you know the folks by the end of the book.


When used for God’s glory, a well written book can influence others for Christ. My favorite authors always teach me something through their works. Sometimes a word or phrase sticks with me. An experience may be illustrated that relates to my own, or a need is brought to my attention that I may have missed otherwise. Other times a thought is presented that I haven’t considered before. I have even read arguments clearly put forth and answered in an understandable way through a book. Even if I do not necessarily agree with the author’s ideas, I recognize and appreciate the sincere presentation of truth through the written page.

Last point -  It takes more personal discipline to read a properly written book than it does to plunk on the couch for two hours and gawk. (Is that a fair statement?) Have you ever read a book like Little Women or Ben Hur? Have you ever watched the films?

I rest my case.

OK – if you feel I have been unfair to the movie industry, comment away!

Just keep it sweet, please. :)




A Swashbuckling American Adventure

Many know and love Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey series.


We recently had the opportunity to read a new Adventure in Odyssey called …

The Imagination Station # 14 – Captured on the High Seas by Marianne Herring  and Nancy I. Sanders.

We join Odyssey’s Patrick and Beth as Mr. Whittaker sends them on an another adventure through American history. This time, the action is focused on the high seas during the American Revolution. Our adventure begins as our friends meet James, an African American teenager who works on the crew of The Royal Louis, an American warship in the middle of a battle. They quickly realize that they are on a new adventure as they are taken prisoner on board the British ship, the Amphion. The cousins are separated from one another for work detail and Patrick receives the commission to help James babysit the captain’s son!

While James and Patrick set out to “educate” the pesky Henry, Beth is assigned to kitchen duty with “Onion Jim” the cook’s parrot.  Amidst sword fights, prisoner escapes and an overly talkative bird, the cousins encounter danger after danger until they are finally faced with the ultimate peril for their young black friend – the slave ship!

Captured on the High Seas is a story of friendship, patriotism and loyalty. The authors present an aspect of the American Revolution that is often overlooked – the role of the young, free black men who sacrificed their lives to gain freedom for all Americans. Through the Imagination Station, we are once again given a glimpse into history from a child’s perspective. As in other Adventures in Odyssey, we are left with an appreciation for our heritage and a desire to “read-on” to find out what happens in the next adventure.

Written for ages 7 and up, this simple chapter book is a great family adventure for everyone.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

A Poet’s Life

Have you ever paused to experience the glory of a sunset?

A Kenyan Sunset

Or felt the beauty of the moment as you gazed in the wonder-filled eyes of a beloved child?


Queen Bianca by Albert Edelfelt  1877

Queen Bianca by Albert Edelfelt 1877


Have you ever felt the sweetness of a friendship that seems to bind your heart forever to another?


Two Girls by Pierre Renois 1890

Two Girls by Pierre Renois 1890

Or the blessed closeness of a sister and friend?


A Little Coaxing by Adolphe Bouguereau 1890

A Little Coaxing by Adolphe Bouguereau 1890


Have you ever seen the joy in a little boy’s eyes as he makes a discovery?

Boys Playing on the Shore by Albert Edelfelt 1884

Boys Playing on the Shore by Albert Edelfelt 1884

Or experienced the peace of quiet meditation…


Sunny Days by Laurence Alma te Demi 1874

Sunny Days by Laurence Alma te Demi 1874


Has the nobility of love’s call been heard in your heart – beckoning you higher?

God Speed by Edmund Blair Leighton 1900

God Speed by Edmund Blair Leighton 1900


Then you, my friend, have lived a poet’s life.

Books for Dad

Father’s Day is a very special day.


Fathers are very special.

My children’s father is … and I’m sure you would agree that your children’s father is too.

So, this week we will feature a very special Father’s Day Booklist.

Of course our tastes may vary, but we hope you will find something on our list that will benefit the special Father-figure in your life. Just a little disclaimer – most of these are affiliate links. If you do a little shopping after you have clicked on the link, you will find the best deals under “Used Books.” Many of them are like new for reduced prices.

First, we have  A Complete Collection of Robert Michael Ballantyne. This is great for the adventure-loving crowd who also enjoys history. You can read more about Mr. Ballantyne here.

Next, for those who enjoy woodworking,

For the fisherman among us…

For the outdoorsman… OK. The British Outdoorsman. :)


For the Hunter in the family…

For the Preacher…

For the First-Time Father…

And for the British Historian…

Of course this is a very scanty list when considering all of the possible interests out there. If you are interested in a completely Christian list of missionary books, have a look here.

As always, use your own discretion and …

Enjoy your Father’s Day!


Of Boys, Tree Forts, Missionaries and … Books

A boy is a wonderful thing!


As I consider some of the great aspects of life with my boy at home, my mind’s eye wanders to the dirty socks that somehow missed the laundry hamper, the breakfast crumbs that somehow didn’t make it into the trash bin, and the wonderful little remnants of wood left over from the whittling knife on the porch. Not to mention the Lego pieces left on the living room rug to be discovered in the dark under bare feet.

Or… Monopoly money used as bookmarks…

Oh, boys!

But there is so much more to life than the little (or sometimes big) messes left behind my boy that make me pause and thank the Lord.

We have an engineering wonder of a tree fort in our woods.

We have a dirt load full of tunnels and “caves” just waiting for the little plastic army men to set up camp and have the battle of the century.

We have BB holes in our tree stumps.

We have a plastic long-horn bull head in our yard for “ropin’ practice.” (You never know when that skill may just come in real handy!)

We also have a row of struggling corn seeds trying their best to make their farmer look successful in his agricultural endeavors.

We have rope for swinging from tree branches. (If you ever need a gift idea for a boy – buy him a  rope. I almost guarantee he will love it!)

And of course with a boy comes a puppy. A real sweet, naughty, cuddly kind of puppy. One that will inevitably follow Boy around and go to college with him later.

Fishing poles?

Got em.

Worms for the fishing poles?

Will have them in a minute, if you need some. (With a few screams from Little Sister as worm finds an unwelcome, startling appearance in her general vicinity.)



We’ve got those too. In plenty. (Just not always when other boys are over.)

Heart to heart talks?

Real good ones. Especially at bedtime.

Deep, spiritual thoughts and questions?

Sometimes. Though simple faith would be the best way to describe him.

In other words…


So, in honour of this great boy of mine, this week’s book post is a boy-book series that has been a real blessing to our Boy - especially since we know the author!

Shel Arensen has lived his life in East Africa as a missionary-kid, missionary-Dad, and now a missionary-Grandpa. He wrote the Kenyan Chronicles for his own sons, and now reads them aloud to his grandchildren, who are also being brought up in Kenya. We had the pleasure of getting to know Mr. Arensen while we lived in Kenya, and consider it a privilege to introduce him to you.

I will warn you though, once you read the first books, you may just have to order the entire series … you may get hooked like we did!

Post contains an affiliate link.