Book Review: Hope Springs Eternal

240923_Sch_PrairieRiver_0.tifThese books were first recommended to me in 2007 or 2008. At that time I loved the series because it was historical fiction and about an orphan. It always bothered me that the library didn’t own the final book in the series.

This Christmas, I finally got book four. Reading the story seven years after first coming to love the series, I found myself still enjoying the story. These books are deep for short, middle-grade stories. Nessa wrestles with tough issues — like how to treat some very unkind neighbors in a Christian manner — and doesn’t get pat, tied-up-in-a-bow answers. She makes mistakes, learns from them, gets back up, and tries again.

Mrs. Lockett is one of my favorite characters. She’s one of those motherly, always-has-the-right-thing-to-say kind of people. She leads by example and knows how to soothe Nessa’s fears without numbing her conscience.

This book–and the series as a whole–is completely child safe. The books are also well written and deep enough for older readers to enjoy them too.


Book Review: Angel in the Woods

Angel in the Woods

“Only a fool trusts to his eyes,” the Giant said. “You remember that. The eyes can only show you the appearance of things. You will never understand anything until you learn to look past appearances.”

Whimsical. Quaint. Flowing. A fairy tale that defies the normal constructs of the genre. A fantasy defined by it’s depiction of the ordinary.

When I began this book, which opens with mention of “the Pixie,” I couldn’t tell quite what I had stepped foot into. For someone unversed in the creatures of fairy tales, I wasn’t even sure what a pixie was. I still don’t know, for it turns out the character called “the Pixie” is an entirely human girl bearing that nickname. While the first books I read from Rachel Starr Thomson‘s collection (The Seventh World Trilogy) drew out the haunting, terrifying darkness of evil, this book displays the power of goodness and the sparkle of light.

If you want to read an edge-of-your-seat, blood-pressure raising narrative, this book will disappoint you. However, if you’re looking for a story that will inspire you to become a better person and leave you with a warm glow in your heart, Angel in the Woods will do so in a manner as unique as the story itself.

KINDLE USERS ALERT: I can lend the Kindle version of this book to one of my blog readers. If you have a Kindle and would like to read Angel in the Words, say so in the comments, and I’ll send it your way. (Please, only ask if you have time to read it within the 14 day lending period.) First come, first serve.

Book Review: Hope Runs

Hope RunsClaire is a young American girl trying to find her place and purpose in the world. As she and a friend travel around the globe, they spend a night in a guest house attached to a Kenyan orphanage. As Claire asks God to show her what she’s supposed to learn from this place, she finds herself putting down roots and forming relationships with the children in the orphanage. One boy in particular catches her attention and, in time, her heart. Sammy lost his father to death and his mother to abandonment. He is one of the “lucky ones” because he was invited to a very good orphanage. Both Claire and Sammy find themselves on a journey of discovery and learning curves as they absorb one another’s cultures and find their way through life.

I noticed this book on the “New Arrivals” table at my library a few months ago and decided to grab it (it’s a book about an orphan published by a Christian company after all). Hope Runs isn’t a how-to on relief work, missions trips, or anything like that. It’s a personal story. A glimpse into two people’s lives. If you liked Kisses from Katie, you’ll probably enjoy this one too, even though there’s much less emphasis on the spiritual side of the experience. I personally enjoyed reading it. It was a nice break from the more serious orphan care books I often read.

Book Review and Giveaway: Whispers in the Wind

Whispers in the WindRemember I mentioned that we hit 200 followers while I was away? Well, I figured the best way to celebrate would be with some giveaways. It’s been a while since we’ve had any of those. If any of you have ideas for how to add to the fun, shout them out. Rules (almost) the same as always. You can enter by leaving a comment expressing why you follow and (hopefully) like Leah’s Bookshelf. Regrettably, the book can only be shipped within the continental United States due to the cost of shipping. This time around you can earn extra entries by tweeting about the giveaway or sharing on Facebook. Let’s let everyone know we’re celebrating! Just send me the link to your tweet or share, and I’ll give you an extra entry.


Whispers in the Wind is the third book in the Orphan Train Trilogy. All of the books work as stand alones, and this one is my favorite, so I didn’t think offering you the last book would be a problem.

“He said Captain J. D. Slatter had come to him about the funeral for your family, and wanted to let you know that your parents and Diane and Ronnie will be buried at eleven o’clock Friday morning at the 116th Street Cemetery. A minister has been engaged by the coroner to preside over the burial…”

Dane Weston’s biggest dream is to become a doctor. It’s a big goal for the son of working class parents, but Dane’s family supports him. His dreams are dashed and his heart broken when his parents and younger siblings are murdered at the hands of a teenage gang. With no way to support himself, Dane must leave his books behind and learn to fend for himself on the streets of New York City. He becomes both student and protector of the younger children on the streets, but Dane’s tragedies are not yet over.

Several years ago, I read through every Orphan Train story I could get my hands on. I read this trilogy, The Orphans’ Journey by Arleta Richardson, and Orphan Train Adventures by Joan Lowery Nixon. Dane was one of my favorite characters. He’s got that noble personality that makes people likable and respected both in and out of fiction.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway by leaving a comment! The giveaway ends July 23rd and results will be announced soon after.

Book Review: Cobra Strike

Cobra Strike

“And don’t do anything stupid like try to run,” he said. “I’d hate to have to get rough.”

Roy Linden can run like a deer, but his tongue is another story. His stutter prevents him from making friends and keeps him labeled a loner. His running isn’t doing him much good either. Everyone in his small Kentucky hometown thinks he could be great in football, but without a decent quarterback, no one outside Johnstown will ever see him. Roy’s luck changes when legendary high school quarter back Waymen Witley moves to town. Together, Waymen and Roy are unstoppable on the football field. But Roy has plenty to distract him from his growing fame. Birds have been dying on his Gram’s property. Roy knows something is wrong with the water, but he can’t get anyone to listen to him. Something strange is going on, and someone high up is pulling strings to keep it quiet. Roy fears his gram is in danger. What will he decide when he starts receiving threats?

I’m not a big football fan when it comes to the sport itself, but I seem to enjoy a lot of football stories (Facing the Giants anyone?). I first read Cobra Strike several years ago and enjoyed it enough to re-read it out loud to my mom. I enjoyed it again as I re-read it this week. It’s a quick read (I suspect it may have been written as a hi-lo book), but totally worth it. Let me know what you think! Bonus points: Cobra Strike is written from a Christian perspective!

Book Review: By Darkness Hid

By Darkness Hid

“Come to the stables an hour before sunrise tomorrow. Your training mustn’t interfere with your duties to the manor. Tell no one of this for now. If I decide you’re worthy, I’ll talk to Lord Nathak about reassignment to me.”

Young Achan Cham’s life is worse than that of a slaves. As a stray, he’s the lowest of the low, destined for a life of servitude and degradation. Despite his unpromising future, Achan’s a fighter. When a famous but enigmatic knight shows an interest in training Achan, the young man jumps for the opportunity. Maybe someday he can make something of himself after all. If the strange voices in his head don’t make him insane first.

I read this book early in 2013 and didn’t have any complaints when my brother purchased the other two books in the trilogy. The beginning is admittedly cliched–a slave with dreams of bettering himself and a girl posing as a boy (she’s the other main character). Starts like that never bother me. Especially the slave one. And By Darkness Hid soon leaves any such complaints in the dust. You’ll be drawn into the characters struggle to protect the people they love and tell friends from enemies. And by the end of the book…well, don’t blame me if you can’t wait to buy the next one.

Book Review: Successful Adoption

Successful Adoption

Almost everyone I spoke with had one of two replies: “I have thought about adopting, but I wouldn’t know where to start,” or “We would love to do that, but we’d never be able to afford it.” Those statements kept haunting me…I couldn’t help thinking about all the children who might never have a loving home and family just because the adoption process seemed too difficult and too costly.

Successful Adoption: A Guide for Christian Families is one of the best books out there for getting a foundation understanding of adoption. It covers private domestic adoption, foster adoption, and international adoption. It also talks about adopting older children versus younger children, transracial adoption, special-needs, changing family dynamics, how to handle the waiting periods, and how to handle post-adoption “stuff”. A whole chapter is devoted to the cost of adoption, where the money goes, and how to raise the funds.

One of my personal favorite parts of the book is the extensive appendix. Many of the links of the resource page on Teens Interceding for Orphans were located using Successful Adoption appendix.

Some people might wonder why I read and enjoyed this book. I’m not even nineteen yet. Much too young to adopt. (They’d find it even more confusing to know I purchased and read this book several years ago.) However, no one is too young to get educated. Having that knowledge could enable you to help someone who is adopting.

Book Review: Red Thread Sisters

Red Thread SistersWen and her best friend, Shu Ling, have a deal. Whoever gets adopted first will find a family for the one left behind. When Wen finds her forever family and travels to America, she discovers her promise will be difficult to keep. She is overwhelmed by the intensity of learning a new language, fearing her family might send her back, and feeling disloyal to Shu Ling as she begins to form new friendships. How can she get an American family to want Shu Ling before it’s too late. Time is running out. Soon Shu Ling will be too old to adopt. Can Wen keep her promise and find a family for her friend? Can she find security in her own American family?

When Goodreads recommended this book to me, I pounced. While it’s not difficult to find books about orphans in historical settings (Orphan Trains anyone?), contemporary orphan stories seem far and few between. This one was a gem. I devoured it in every spare moment and put it down wishing more authors would tackle similar stories. There’s no high action, life-threatening quests and adventures in this book. Instead it’s the slow blossoming of a heart and a devoted, desperate search for family. If you’re a girl who cares about orphans and adoption, you’ll enjoy this book.

Do you know of any other fictional contemporary orphan/adoption stories? Please tell me! I’d love to find more of them.