The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House)
In The Lady of Bolton Hill, historian-librarian Elizabeth Camden presents a Victorian tale filled with romance, revenge and social justice.
Brilliant, musically talented Daniel Tremain has a chance to earn a university scholarship. An accident in a steel mill interrupts Daniel's exam and takes his father's life. Daniel finds his only consolation in Clara Endicott, an intelligent minister's daughter from the "right side" of Baltimore. Their mutual love of Chopin forges a deep friendship, disdained by the reverend.
After a glimpse at that fateful day, Camden fast-forwards 12 years. Clara's father has shipped her to relatives in England to keep the two apart. Clara's dreams of becoming a great journalist vanish when she risks her life to expose children exploited in underground mines and is thrown in prison.
Daniel rightfully blames industrialist Alfred Forsythe for the preventable accident that killed his father. Although he is uneducated, Daniel's engineering inventions earn him a fortune. He anonymously pays Clara's legal bills and manages to get her back home.
Reverend Endicott's opposition, Daniel's vengefulness and Clara's moral crusading threaten to destroy their deep love. When Clara finally allows Daniel to court her, his enemies exploit his one weakness. Will Clara's faith overcome Daniel's bitterness before it devours them? Can the evil Bane be stopped?
The plot twists through arson, kidnapping, and the labor riots and opium wars of the day. In her well-researched novel, Camden keeps the reader engaged to the very last sentence.
Kathy Robinson Hillman
Woman's Missionary Union
Muscular Faith by Ben Patterson (Salt River)
The Christian life is marked in the Bible as being comparable to a hard-run race, a fight worth fighting, not a simple life indeed. Ben Patterson, in his latest book, Muscular Faith, instructs everyday Christians in ways to train their hearts, souls and minds for "the only challenge that matters."
Patterson uses the biblical illustration of living with agon (the Greek root-word from which we get the English "agony") to demonstrate that modern, watered-down Christianity needs to beef up in order to meet the demands of faith in Jesus. Quotations from literary greats such as G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis abound, as well as a myriad of Scripture citations. These teachings show Christ never promised following him would be easy—in fact, quite the opposite—and we should not shirk the responsibility that comes with the faith.
This book is a welcome call to the hard work of faith amidst the modernization of the church. A great, convicting read—every Christian should take to heart the lessons explored in Muscular Faith.
Cody Hamilton Nygard, associate pastor
Yegua Creek Evangelical Free Church
The Power of Being a Servant: Church Leadership That Works by Wesley Shotwell (Austin Brothers Publishing)
Wesley Shotwell holds fast to the thesis of this book: "Leadership cannot happen without relationship, and relationship always demands leadership." His common-sense focus on person-to-person interaction distinguishes The Power of Being a Servant from other leadership manuals.
Early in his ministry, Shotwell learned leadership cannot function in a vacuum. "You cannot lead alone. You have to work with others," he observes. And he has committed decades of ministry to leadership in the context of relationships, expressed through service.
Shotwell is a thoughtful, sensitive minister. Casual acquaintances quickly sense his intelligence and cerebral approach to tasks and challenges. Friends and parishioners know him to be someone who cares deeply and empathizes with their life situations. That's why this book rings with authenticity.
In The Power of Being a Servant, Shotwell cites biblical examples of leadership and contemporary theories of leadership. They provide solid structure for his approach. But the depth and substance of his book develop out of his finely observed experiences. He's learned from his mistakes and successes, and he's learned from his congregations and fellow ministers.
Shotwell offers wise words about the importance of trust in the leadership equation, as well as about the value of multiplying effort by empowering others to take up tasks of shared concern and passion. And his insights into leadership through both change and conflict, as well as his tips for sharpening leadership skills, will advance young leaders' expertise by years.
Marv Knox, editor