The Bright Unknown

A review

The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts was the most emotionally taxing book I have ever read, but in the best way possible. Within the pages of this work of historical fiction, I experienced the pains and pleasures of friendship and love. Not only did this book conjure up deep emotions within me as I read, but it lead me to a greater understanding and appreciation for those whose stories are lost within the pages of our history, yet need to be told.

the overview…

Restraints and walls are all Brighton Freidrich has ever known. Since birth, Brighton’s life has been stored away within the walls of Riverside Home, a countryside asylum where her mother is a patient. Joann, a nurse at Riverside, has nurtured and taught Brighton, with intangible hopes that maybe one day maybe Brighton would see more than the clawed brick asylum walls. A friendship with Angel, a boy at the asylum, makes the years of Brighton’s childhood bearable. As the two friends grow older they both begin to question why they are kept behind the walls as if they are like the other patients. Finding a way of escape, Brighton and Angel slip into the great unknown of the real world. With only each other and the clothes on their backs, Brighton and Angel find that the world outside Riverside walls, may be more brutal than what they experience inside.

my thoughts…

I have to begin by saying that I probably would have never picked up this book if I didn’t personally know Mrs. Younts. I first read her other recently published book, The Solace of Water, which also blew me away and highly exceeded my expectations. My hopes were set very high for The Bright Unknown and they were greatly surpassed.

Not many works of fiction that I read for pure entertainment impact me, but after reading Brighton’s story, though it may be fictional, I had a changed mindset.

The friendship of Brighton and Angel was unlike many other friendships in works of fiction, because their friendship was real and it grew naturally. There were times throughout the book where Angel and Brighton did not see eye to eye, yet there were other times that were purely heart melting and sweet.

The Bright Unknown came alive as I walked alongside Angel and Brighton in their life journey. I was caught up in the pages and connected emotionally to the characters through the writing style. Mrs. Younts’ beautiful writing has a way of personally connecting the reader to the characters.

Brighton and Angel’s story taught me that there are people who have stories and lives that are consumed by the pages of history and never uncovered. Yet these stories are just as valuable as the great stories in history. Within every person there is a story of hurt and pain, love and friendship, and they are all precious to their posterity.

For anyone who enjoys historical fiction or is looking for a book that will immerse your senses and emotions, I would highly recommend The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts.

Until next time fellow ramblers,



Imagination. We all have it. But do we know how to use it? If we know how to use it are we allowed to enjoy it?

In our culture I believe that the encouragement and enjoyment of imagination has been extinguished. The imagination in children is encouraged, but as a teen or adult, imagination and appreciation of fantasy is suddenly looked down upon in society.

Yes, as we get older we should be in tune with reality, but do we have to completely shun the enjoyment of imagination and fantasy? If we enjoy fantasy and imagination, how do we express it?

I have recently read a portion of J.R.R Tolkien’s essay, “On Fairy Stories.” This essay has given me a better appreciation for fantasy and imagination. It is not just for the children or the dreamers of the world, it’s for everyone.

Tolkien’s original illustration of Hobbiton

When we dive more deeply into Tolkien’s thoughts on fantasy, I believe that we will have a greater appreciation for it. We will see that there is a methodical way of interpreting our imagination.

“Fantasy, (in this sense) is, I think, not a lower, but a higher form of Art, indeed the most nearly pure form and so (when achieved) the most potent,” states Tolkien in his essay, “On Fairy Stories.”

We all have the ability to imagine; each and every one of us. We all at some point in our lives have created images in our heads that do not actually exist.

“The human mind is capable of forming mental images of things not actually present. The faculty of conceiving mental images is…called imagination.” says Tolkien.

Our imaginations vary in vividness and strength. Some of us may have a stronger ability to interpret our imagination, control it, and express it. According to J.R.R, “The achievement of the expression, which gives (or seems to give) ‘the inner consistency of reality’ is indeed another thing or aspect, needing another name: Art.”

Controlling imagination and interpreting it is an art form.

Tolkien’s definition of art is “the operative link between Imagination and the final result Sub-Creation.”

What is Sub-creation? Tolkien does not give us a finite definition of Sub-creation. What we can gather from the text about Sub-creation is that it is the “world” we create and give order to in our imagination and then write upon the page in a work of fantasy. The art of fantasy is one of the most intricate art forms because we have to control our imaginations and place them into sub creations that make sense.

Tolkien’s original illustration of Rivedell (his own sub-creation)

“To make a Secondary World [sub-creation]… will probably require labour and thought, and will certainly demand a special skill, a kind of elvish craft. Few attempt such difficult tasks. But when they are attempted and in any degree accomplished then we have a rare achievement of Art…”

Though we desire to shun fantasy as a culture, it is only natural for us to have a tendency to imagine and create fantastical worlds and stories.

We are all created in God’s image, who is the creator and master of all creation. Thus, we as his creation, have a natural tendency to create and reflect the light of God in our own attempts at creation and glorifying his majesty, even if we may not acknowledge it.

Don’t be afraid to imagine,


James Huntley’s story

I have recently been developing my characters of my WIP (work in progress.) In order for me to get to know my character’s backgrounds better, I developed a narrative of their backgrounds. Meet James Huntley.


“I grew up on the far east side of Edgewood, in the poor housing. Everyday was a struggle. I hardly knew my father, but I clung to my mother. Spending most of his time at the pub, gambling away what little money we had, my father was never home. He got work when he could find it. He worked the fields for local farmers until he committed the crime that ruined our lives.

I was only six at the time, but that day will be burnt into my memories forever. Our family was already on the fringe of society, but my father’s crime estranged us. My mother and I made the pilgrimage across town every Sunday to Edgewood Parish. It was the only place my mother could find solace, but she was mistaken. I remember suddenly not going to the little stone building on Sundays and I always wondered why we stopped.

Years of grief and suffering wore away at my mother and she became very sick and feeble. We were so desperate that my mother depended upon me to provide for her. Because of the name my father had left to me, I was not able to find work anywhere. My life of thieving began by picking pockets, but that was not enough. I attempted bigger acts of theft out of mere desperation. It was a dizzying cycle. Years later I am still known throughout Edgewood as not only the son of a criminal, but also a thief. Even if we did reach out for help at that time in life, no one would have accepted us.

The end finally came when we were evicted from our house. My dying mother and I were left homeless. We begged for a place to stay from the Reverend of Edgewood Parish, Reverend Wetherby, but they refused. In my fourteen year old mind I remember knowing there was no other way to live. Finally, I made the decision to come to beggars woods. The alleyways were no place for my dying mother.

We went to beggars woods because I had always loved to ramble through the woods as a child. There was a small grassy clearing with an abandoned cabin I discovered when I was little, so I took my mother there. It was almost as if God had created a special place of safety just for my mother and I. By the time winter blew its relentless winds, we were safely out of Edgewood society and in a shelter of our own. No matter how much courage I had, nothing ever tempted me to set foot back in Edgewood. It was a place where hated. Protected in beggars woods, all worldly accusations suddenly wore away. But, my protection did not last forever. When my mother was in her last hours, I was forced to step out of my garden of Eden and into the judgmental world of man. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened to my life if I had not fled for help to the last place of desperation; the Wetherby’s.”

-James Huntley


Stay posted for more character sneak peeks in the future.

Until next time fellow ramblers,


In the Storms of Life

Where we can find anchor and hope in life

Life is hard. It’s a vast tumultuous sea full of tragedies, trials, death, and defeat. Each and every one of us are weak and incapable captains of small wooden ships with ripped sails. getting tossed within sea, with no power to control the wind and the waves. We are weak. We are incapable. We are helpless. We are tossed within the waves of life, with no ability to calm the storm. Is there any hope?

Yes everyone; there is hope. This hope is better than any fairy tale ending we will ever read in any work of fiction. There is hope, and this hope is not fictional. There is good news. We all have been invited into community with someone who is capable of calming the seas and who, in fact, commands this storm. The wind and the waves obey Him and the earth and everything in it is His. Jesus Christ, the only perfect Son of God has invited us into community with him.

Romans 5:6-8 attests to this good news.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This is the good news; because of Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross, we are now invited to be God’s children. We can live in community with him for eternity and call upon him for strength and help. Because of Jesus’ great love for our sinful and fallen race, we now have an anchor within the storms of life. When we accept him as our Savior, our lives are now in his hands. Through the storms and trials of life, we have an anchor. That anchor is Jesus.

The storms of life will not cease when we rely on Jesus as our anchor, but we can now have solid ground to base our lives on and to cling to within the storms of life. Everything works together for the good of God’s perfect plan and we can be assured that because of his great love and sacrifice for us on the cross he will not forsake us.

Romans 8:38 says,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

As we look through the history of the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament, God’s people had their share of trials. In Exodus, Moses and the Isrealites were under heavy affliction as slaves in Egypt,yet God delivered them from the land of their enemies. He delivered them into the promised land, but it took time. In fact, it took forty years of wandering in the desert before the Isrealites came to God’s promised land. Through all of the Isrealites hardships, God never forsook his people and he cared for them and delivered them to the Promised Land.

In the New Testament, when the church was just a small band of followers of Christ, they were faced with heavy adversity and persecution. In very unlikely circumstances, when the early believers were brutally persecuted for their faith in Jesus. The church flourished and spread rapidly because of God’s sovereignty and perfect plan for redemption.

If he was faithful to his people thousands of years ago and throughout all of history, why would he stop now?

Life is a vast tossing ocean with no calm in the storm. We are all small, weak, and incapable captains attempting to sail broken vessel with no power over the storm. I invite you to take part in the assurance that we have Jesus as an anchor in the chaotic storm of life. He is the anchor that holds our boat in place through the storm. Though our boats may stray in the waves, the Anchor will keep us grounded. So together, let’s praise Jesus that we do not have to fear what the future may hold because everything is in his control. No matter what may happen, everything works together for the good of his purpose and plan for redemption, which is perfect.

I don’t know where my path may lead, but all I do know is that I have a wonderful and perfect Savior who knows the plans for my life and those plans are perfect.

Until next time fellow ramblers,


Night Wanderers

A reflection on the night sky

The night is a mysterious time. A time when some of the world sleeps and a whole other realm of the earth comes to life. New wonders sneak into the sky, humble wonders that calls you to seek it out in order to find it. Wonders like the snow, humble and soft in its coming, yet gorgeous wonders of God’s creation when sought out.

The moon slips into view each night on silvery slippers, unlike the sun with a procession of golden rays and pastille skies. Silvery drops of moonlight beams drip down upon the earth in an eerie yet comforting glow; a reflection of the sun. It wanders without fail, always casting it’s shadowy face upon the earth, determining the days and the seasons. Then mysteriously disappearing just as it rose over the horizon, it leaves behind its tear stains.

The tear stains of the moon; stars. The droplets of silver to guide and lead nations, to give us a glimpse and comprehension of the heavens. Stars, like the moon, are wonders of God’s creation to be discovered and sought out. If history had not sought out the humble tear stains of the moon and discovered their riddles, we might not have a small glimpse and comprehension into God’s vast creation. Mythical creatures lurk within the drops of moon, displayed all over the earth waiting to be found by the wondrous eye; of the explorer; a constellation. A vast world sleeps under the same blanket at night, the blanket of the stars. Peace and war, friend and foe, all are blanketed by the constellations of stars every night.

The night sparks my imagination, my wonder, and my awe of God’s vast creation and love for us. His love is so overwhelming and vast for us that he chose to give us mystical wonders of the night to enjoy and discover. God gave us a moon, a nightly friend, that comforts us and sparks wonder within us. God blessed his creation with the stars and their dull yet vibrant light that adorns the night sky in any season, flickering and blinking, yet never dying. Stars; a mystery and wonder to be sought out, and when found, they are the key that unlocks just a tiny corner of God’s vast wonder. The moon and the stars; mysterious and humble glories of God’s creation.

Psalm 119:1

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Mood Reading

Do we read by our mood or according to our “to be read” pile?

There has been a controversy that I believe every reader faces, including myself; do we read by our mood, or do we stay faithful to our TBRs (to be read) lists? Now before I even begin with this post, I want us to keep in mind that this is reading! It is supposed to be a fun pass time, not a legal system 😉

If you are anything like me, there is a list, Goodreads shelf, or literal bookshelf overflowing with books you want to read. This can be overwhelming, but also fun to try to scrape the surface of titles. At the start of a new year I like to set a reading goal for myself. How many books can I read in a year? This year I set a goal of 25 classics. By mid-February, I found myself getting tired of classics and wanting to read something a little bit lighter. So I was faced with the problem every reader is faced with; do I follow my goal, or do I read by my mood? Remembering that I had ALL of 2019 to complete my goal and reading is supposed to be a relaxing pass time, I took a break and followed my reading mood.

There are pros and cons to following a TBR, but in the end, I find myself in the middle. I enjoy both reading according to my TBR and my mood.

Let’s talk pros of following a TBR. Having a list of books to read will never leave you feeling “lost” 0r in need of a book to read. Even if you are a mood reader and do not like to commit to reading challenges etc., having a list of books handy to refer to is a great thing for any bookworm to have, even if you don’t want to dedicate yourself to reading everything on the list.

The only con of strictly following a TBR is if it may leave you feeling slightly overwhelmed or legalistic. Honestly, for me, this is not a problem. I enjoy having a TBR in case I run out of things to read (which, I know, sounds ridiculous.) It all depends upon the reader and the way they want to approach their reading.

Now let’s talk about mood reading. I strongly believe in reading by our moods, or what genre of book we are in the mood for at the moment. Sometimes we may just want to read a fun quick read and take a break from our reading list or reading goal. Honestly, I am more of a mood reader myself. I do have reading goals, but whenever I need to take a break from my reading goal, I allow myself to read fun books too.

The only downside to mood read is if you are strictly sticking to a TBR or a monthly reading challenge etc. This may not be the best time to read by your mood.

If you find yourself in the middle category, where you have reading goals but you also enjoy reading according to your mood, there is an easy fix. Read more than one book in different genres at the same time. For example, right now I am reading Agnes Grey By Anne Bronte and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen. There are certain times where I want to read something fun like the Julie Klassen book. Then there are other times where I want to read something more substantial, like Agnes Grey.

Which ever type of reader you are, mood reader or a TBR reader, remember that reading is supposed to be a fun pass time, a time when we can escape reality and be swept away into a world of adventure, or romance, mystery, or suspense.

So which type of reader are you? Are you a mood reader or do you enjoy sticking to a reading list or TBR?

P.S. If you are looking for more books to put on your TBR, check out my TBR on Goodreads!


a snippet of my work in progress

Quickly rising from her bed Celene shoved on her boots and wrapped a shawl around her shoulders. Resting on the hope her father was in bed once again, Celene slipped out of her bedroom and down the stairs into the kitchen. She carefully packed a small loaf of bread, cheese, and a vessel of water into her basket. Without another thought, Celene squeezed out the back door of the parsonage and into the humid summer night.

Sprinting down the main street of Edgewood towards beggars woods, Celene mulled over her plans on how she would find James’ shack. She racked her brain, trying to remember the vague directions James had given her at their former meeting. Thoughts swirled inside Celene’s head, but her pounding heart was distracting.

On the verge of Beggars’ woods, a streak of moonlight illuminated a tall broad figure starting his way down the overgrown trail. Giving one last exertion of energy, Celene burst forth towards the figure. 

“James! James! I’m here! Wait!”  she panted in a heavy whisper.

The figure stopped dead in his tracks and turned around. The clouds skidded across the moon, extinguishing the silver light one moment then illuminating the earth in silvery glow the next. As the figure turned, the moon cast an eerie glow upon him, illuminating his blonde hair. 

“Celene? Is that you?” he whispered under his breath. “So you did come back.”

The moon quickly slid behind the clouds once again, leaving James oblivious of the assuring smile Celene flashed up at him. As Celene fell silently in pace with James, he discretely wiped the few tears off of his flushed cheeks.

Celene broke the silence, “James, is everything alright?”  

He did not answer.

“But… You must go home. Your father turned me away. You must go home.” James whispered to her in return, still shocked.

“My father’s wishes will have to be ignored for the moment. You need help.”

James stopped at Celene’s last words. How did she know? The two faced each other in the moonlight. James not knowing how to respond, only gave Celene a knowing glance in return.

“Now show me to your mother. I will do everything I can to help her.” 

Finally, James spoke. “Come with me.”

They started off together through the woods.

“It is a long and dark walk. We take the main trail for a while, until we reach a clearing of birch trees, then we find another footpath back to my house.”

The treetops snuffed out the moonlight, leaving the two strangers in the wood smothered in deep darkness. It was a darkness that could be felt. Celene began to second guess her decision to help James. What if he was not to be trusted? Besides, she hardly knew him.

“This is where we turn off of the path.” James whispered; finally breaking the silence.

“James, are you sure we are in the right place?” Celene’s voice quavered in fear. “I cannot see anything ahead of me.”

Though they had been consumed by the darkness for miles now, she strained her eyes; searching for James.

“Do not worry, I am sure we are in the right place.” James voice sounded far off, echoing through the woods.

At the far off echo of his voice, Celene’ chest tightened. Where was he?

“James? Where are you?” her voice quaked as she began walking blindly forward.

The fingers of the underbrush poked Celene’s back and sent chills up and down her spine. Suddenly, James’ voice could be heard above the rustle of the leaves. 

“Celene? Here I am.”

He pushed back branches of underbrush, but Celene still groped in darkness. Suddenly, she felt movement next to her. Without a word, James rough, calloused hand clasped Celene’s. Celene did not pull away. She would relive that moment in her memories for a long time afterwards.

“Do not worry.” He folded his hand tighter around hers’s

 He then lead her down the Huntley footpath until they reached a small clearing. Suddenly, the darkness shied away when the two reached a grove of birch trees.

“Here it is.” James motioned his free hand towards the small rundown shack in the middle of the clearing.

Celene could not respond. A meager light glowed from inside the house and broke the seal of the heavy darkness by way of a parchment window. The wooden shingles on the roof were caving in from the weight of branches and debris. Celene’s heart sank in her chest. Something told her that whatever was housed inside the shack would be an unpleasant sight. 

Celene reluctantly responded “We better go in then.”

The two walked towards the door of the cabin. James’ thick eyebrows winced as he gave Celene a look of fear, but Celene did not answer.

They stood on the threshold of the door, both silently listening for sounds of life inside, but none came. Celene felt James’ hand began to tremble in hers. He lifted his unclasped hand and unlatched the door.