Heirlooms by Sandra Byrd


Heirlooms is a touching, multifaceted tale of family and friends that crosses the generations. I loved this wonderful story that focused primarily on two widows who shared a home and became more than friends. It was a delightful yet sometimes poignant read laced with many of my favorite things such as flowers, cooking, and sewing.

As the story transpired, it brought so many memories of my own family to the forefront and I recognized the wealth of heirlooms that surrounds me every day including a number of plants and flowers that have been passed down from my mother and grandmothers as well as my husband’s mother and grandmother.

The plot is dual time and tells the story of Helen and Eunhee alternately with present time narrative of granddaughters Cassidy and Grace Kim. Secrets of the past come to light as Cassidy and Grace Kim go through Helen’s belongings after her death. What they find is a friendship stronger than blood and a heritage of faith and strength.

Heirlooms is a not to be missed book. Please do yourself a favor and pick up your own copy as soon as possible.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


Answering a woman’s desperate call for help, young Navy widow Helen Devries opens her Whidbey Island home as a refuge to Choi Eunhee. As they bond over common losses and a delicate, potentially devastating secret, their friendship spans the remainder of their lives.

After losing her mother, Cassidy Quinn spent her childhood summers with her gran, Helen, at her farmhouse. Nourished by her grandmother’s love and encouragement, Cassidy discovers a passion that she hopes will bloom into a career. But after Helen passes, Cassidy learns that her home and garden have fallen into serious disrepair. Worse, a looming tax debt threatens her inheritance. Facing the loss of her legacy and in need of allies and ideas, Cassidy reaches out to Nick, her former love, despite the complicated emotions brought by having him back in her life.

Cassidy inherits not only the family home but a task, spoken with her grandmother’s final breaths: ask Grace Kim—Eunhee’s granddaughter—to help sort through the contents of the locked hope chest in the attic. As she and Grace dig into the past, they unearth their grandmothers’ long-held secret and more. Each startling revelation reshapes their understanding of their grandmothers and ultimately inspires the courage to take risks and make changes to own their lives.

Set in both modern-day and midcentury Whidbey Island, Washington, this dual-narrative story of four women—grandmothers and granddaughters—intertwines across generations to explore the secrets we keep, the love we pass down, and the heirlooms we inherit from a well-lived life.


Sandra Byrd has published four dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including her two historical series with Howard Books. For nearly two decades, Sandra has shared her secrets with the many writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington area.

All That Fills Us by Autumn Lytle


Although I have never been anorexic, I found Mel’s obsession with food and exercise to be disturbing to me personally. In fact I had difficulty forcing myself to finish this book. It was more than uncomfortable to literally find myself within the mind of a person who seemed to be quite mentally disturbed, even if it was only on through the pages in a book. I suppose one could say that might be the indication of a very talented writer and I would not argue that point.

Overall the writing was excellent and the author did an excellent job with characterization and her vivid setting descriptions. I found myself wanting to shake Mel more than once due to the insane choices she made, especially setting off totally unprepared for such a long journey on foot by herself when her health was already precarious.

I was happy with the kind people she encountered along the way who took her under their wings and ministered to her and that she grew stronger and healthier as a result. However, I was uncomfortable with her view of God and was never convinced that she came to a true understanding of the Gospel.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


The journey toward healing starts with a single brave step–but it is never walked alone

Mel Ellis knows that her eating disorder is ruining her life. Everyone tells her rehab is her best option, but she can’t bring herself to go. Broke, broken, and empty in more ways than one, Mel launches one last-ditch effort to make hers a story worth telling. She will walk her own road to recovery along the lesser-known trails of the North American wilderness.

Though she is physically and mentally unprepared to face the difficulties that lay ahead, she sets off on foot from Michigan. Her goal? Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State. During the long journey, she meets strangers with their own stories, as well as ghosts from her past who can no longer be ignored. But though the land she travels threatens her success at every turn, it’s her own dark thoughts she’ll have to overcome in order to find peace in the life and the body she has been given.

Read an excerpt here.



Autumn Lytle identifies with a strange group of humans who enjoy running long distances and writing even longer books. Along with being a forever-recovering anorexic and exercise addict, she is a weirdly good checkers player and finder of four-leaf clovers. She spends her days thinking up stories and trying to figure out this whole parenting thing with her son. She can often be found out exploring her hometown of Seattle, Washington, with her family in tow. Learn more at www.autumnlytle.com.


All That We Carried by Erin Bartels


As a title, All That We Carried serves a double purpose in my opinion. It literally describes the heavy backpacks the sisters struggled with during their hike and the emotional burdens that also weighed them down.It was especially appropriate that Olivia carried the heaviest pack for most of the hike since she was the sister who wrestled an enormous amount of guilt and forgiveness. I was happy to see that the sisters did mostly resolve many of their issues by the end but would have loved to read some more constructive dialogue between them rather than their constant bickering when they did talk.

While mildly interesting in places, it was a struggle for me to wade through this book. After losing my own mother just less than a year ago, it is difficult for me to imagine going for years with next to no communication with my sisters. We help each other get through the hard times and celebrate the good times together when we can.I am also not a hiker and found the minute details of the sisters’ hike to be somewhat boring. It is possible that in the midst of a simply terrible, horrible, depressing year that I just need to read something a bit more entertaining.

And just who was the Josh guy who kept showing up just when the sisters needed him and dispensed quite a bit of spiritual wisdom before disappearing again? Was he a real person or was he an angel or Jesus type supernatural being sent to help? I was never quite sure of that.

There were definitely some heavy themes that would leave most readers something to ponder afterwards.This might even be a good choice for book clubs because I can imagine quite a few good discussions that might be inspired by it.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


The most treacherous terrain is found within

Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident. They haven’t seen each other since the funeral. Olivia coped with the loss by plunging herself into law school, work, and a materialist view of the world–what you see is what you get, and that’s all you get. Melanie dropped out of college and developed an online life coaching business around her DIY spirituality–a little of this, a little of that, whatever makes you happy.

Now, at Melanie’s insistence (and against Olivia’s better judgment), they are embarking on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In this remote wilderness they’ll face their deepest fears, question their most dearly held beliefs, and begin to see that perhaps the best way to move forward is the one way they had never considered.


Erin Bartels is the award-winning author of We Hope for Better Things (2020 Michigan Notable Book, 2020 WFWA Star Award-winner, 2019 Christy Award finalist) and The Words between Us (2020 Christy Award finalist, 2015 WFWA Rising Star Award finalist). Her short story, “This Elegant Ruin,” was a finalist in the Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest in 2014, and her poetry has been published by The Lyric. A publishing professional for 18 years, she is the director of WFWA’s annual writers retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son. Find her online at www.erinbartels.com.