Book reviews, Uncategorized

Art and Secrets in the Dutch Golden Age

This historical novel by Dutch author Simone van der Vlugt follows Catrin, a driven and talented young widow who is desperate for a fresh start after the death of her abusive husband. The story begins in 1654, during the Dutch Golden Age; Catrin sets out from her small village in North Holland in search of… Continue reading Art and Secrets in the Dutch Golden Age


A Podcast that Goes Back

Jonathan Goldstein’s podcast, Heavyweight, is a smart and introspective show about revisiting the very moments we wonder about and regret. It’s for anyone who has ever held a grudge, doubted a choice, or imagined how things could have been done differently—and isn’t that every person? In most of the episodes, Goldstein catches up with people… Continue reading A Podcast that Goes Back

Book reviews

The Gorgeous Curiosity of Mary Oliver

Eighty-one-year-old Mary Oliver is widely acclaimed for her wise, lyrical poetry that presents life as a spiritual pilgrimage. Her latest book, a collection of essays, celebrates nature and literature as sources of hope, and points to the power of quiet acts such as taking a slow walk in the woods or spending hours with a… Continue reading The Gorgeous Curiosity of Mary Oliver


An Imaginative Story of Family Survival

Brent Van Staalduinen’s expertly crafted debut novel begins with a thief robbing a thrift store at gunpoint and then pocketing a little silver box from an allegedly magic cubbyhole. This tense, yet unconventional scene is an excellent setup for an imaginative story of family survival. Saints, Unexpected follows 15-year-old Mutton and her family over the… Continue reading An Imaginative Story of Family Survival


A Novel about Where Love Comes From

Gina Ochsner’s second novel, The Hidden Letters of Velta B., is a captivating, tragicomic story about family and community relationships in a contemporary Latvian town. A dying mother, Inara, recalls her life and family history to her enormous-eared son, whose heightened sense of hearing allows him to hear both the living and the dead. The lyrical,… Continue reading A Novel about Where Love Comes From

Book reviews, Uncategorized

Through Ambition’s Tunnel

AMBITION: Essays by Members of The Chrysostom Society edited by Luci Shaw and Jeanne Murray Walker (Cascade Books, 2016). Review originally published in Christian Courier in July 2016. I happened to revisit Doris Lessing’s ambition-themed short story “Through the Tunnel” around the time I read Ambition, so it hovered over my experience of the book. Lessing’s story… Continue reading Through Ambition’s Tunnel


Songs of Ease and Conversation

A review of Love Letter for Fire by Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop (originally published in Christian Courier) Albums that attract dramatic critical attention tend to be those that set themselves apart from the music of the day. Listeners are often caught by a newcomer’s brilliant debut or seasoned artist’s bold departure of form. Love Letter… Continue reading Songs of Ease and Conversation