After a farm for widows and orphans is devastated by fire in 1884, Christina Willems is determined to reopen it despite opposition. When she finds an unlikely ally in an aloof lumber mill owner, will he help her realize her calling---or will he retreat to the safety of a solitary life again?
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This was an excellent book, one that I cannot rave sufficiently over or recommend highly enough. If I could give it 10 stars, I certainly would! It stood out from all the books I've read recently. The characters were so beautifully developed - we knew their hearts, felt their dilemmas, and shared their victories. They were vulnerable to the restorative work of the Holy spirit, willing to repent, relinquish and return to Him. The plot was full of surprises, suspense and subtle romance. There was so much in it - so many wonderful people, so many deep lessons, so many issues covered. Please do yourself a favor - read it! Congratulations to Kim Vogel Sawyer on one of the very best books ever.
What Once Was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a touching novel. It reminds us that sometimes we think we're doing a good thing for the right reason, but it's not always true. The characters were well-written, allowing me to identify with their struggles and, in the end, their triumphs. I enjoyed this novel a great deal.
***I received this novel from the author/publisher for purpose of review. The above is my honest opinion.***
Christina Willems is the loving owner of Brambleville Asylum in Kansas. She is the only hope of many a lost, displaced soul, and they love her and the farm without reservation. Her "family" admires and looks to her for leadership and guidance, and they trust that she will care for them no matter what. But when a fire breaks out, her home is disbanded because the house is no longer livable, and the people who have become everything to her are scattered to the winds.
Christina's biggest concern is a young man by the name of Tommy Kilgore. He is blind and needs constant attention to get around. So when Christina has to find someone to take Tommy in, she reluctantly is forced to entrust Tommy's care to the reclusive mill owner, Levi Johnson. When obstacles spring up in repairing the farm and restoring what was destroyed, she is discouraged that her life's mission may be just a dream that will forever be out of reach. Will what once was lost ever be restored? Or is the asylum that was passed down to her by her father gone for good?
The element that impressed me the most of this story was how Sawyer described the world from blind Tommy's point of view. Seeing things from his perspective was unique, fresh, and original, and much more colorful than simply telling us he couldn't see. The rural setting, the ups and downs of the restoration process, and all the emotion Sawyer packs in this novel makes it a book I will gladly revisit. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and all the characters contained therein. A highly recommended read for any lover of historical fiction.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
From the beginning pages this story grabbed me, the storyline and the characters. The author does a masterful job telling this story. The main story line was strong with the subplots adding additional tensions and insights to the time period and the nature of God.
I loved the heroine, Christina Willems. She passionately loved those in her care and strived to provide for not only physical needs, but emotional, and spiritual. She was smart, hard working, and had a strong faith in God. Levi Jonnson was also an interesting character and his interactions with Tommy were priceless. I really appreciated how he handled Tommy.
As I read this story and watched things unfold I was reminded of so many truths. One important lesson is bad things happen to good people. Christina was a Christian woman who served people she faced hardships and loss.
This was my first story by this author but it won’t be my last. The author’s writing style is easy to read and flows well, making her stories a joy to read.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank Waterbrook Press for the opportunity to read and review this book. I was under no obligation other than my honest opinion.
God put this book in my hand just when I needed it. Walking through obstacles and adversity, this book encouraged me. Little did I know what I would face yesterday. Christina and Levi may seem the characters that weave the story together. But Tommy, Cora, Louisa, Rose, and all the others of the Poor House will touch your life. You will feel all they endure. Even Mr. Dresden who caused so much trouble will show how God used all the bad for good. So many lost find their way after a fire displaces all those who lived at the Poor asylum. This whole story is about God's plan. It shows how something meant bad can be turned into good for God. Spiritual eyes are opened. A community comes together. You will find it hard to lay the book down.
hat Once was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer is set in the late 1800s in Kansas. Christina Willems is running the "poor farm" by herself after the death of her father, and a fire in the kitchen of their home forces her to separate the residents to different homes in the community while she works to re-open the poor farm. The mission board is not interested in re-opening the poor farm as Christina wants, mainly because she is a single woman running the home my herself, and this is not very acceptable in that time or place. Christina has to deal with adversity and trust others as she works at a solution that is best for everyone. One of the orphans, Tommy, is left to stay with Levi, the mill owner and somewhat of a recluse, even though Levi is opposed to the idea. When a former resident of the poor farm begins to cause problems for Christina, Levi steps in and they begin to develop a stronger relationship.
Sawyer does a good job of setting the story in this timeframe - noting the common dress, the extensive use of horse and buggy/car, and the role of women. It was interested to follow the stories of all the residents of the poor farm and see how their stories turn out.
I received this book for free from Waterbrook in exchange for my honest opinion.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! It was not only exciting but it was very inspiring . It also helped me to better appreciate God"s gift of sight. I would highly recommend this book for anyone to read!
Christina Willems has been capably running the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor on her own, since her father passed away. She enjoys the work, enjoys the people, and enjoys feeling like she's doing ministry for God. When a fire leaves the house uninhabitable, she is forced to find temporary arrangements for each of her charges, including Tommy, an 11-year-old blind boy who people continue to turn away. She finds refuge for Tommy in the unlikeliest of places, with Levi Johnson, the hermit miller who lives outside of town - both physically and emotionally. Can Christina salvage the poor farm? What of her charges? What of her faith? And will Tommy ever feel safe and wanted?
I admit that it took me awhile to pick up this book; I've read more than my desired share of historical novels in the last year, and I was afraid that this would be just another one like those. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself quickly engaged in Christina's fight to keep her "family" together and safe. I found myself wishing for some more depth to her character from time to time, but the challenges to her faith and her struggle to be happy for others when it meant losses for herself felt realistic and genuine. Several of the supporting characters were fleshed out fairly well, and I was drawn to them perhaps even more than Christina. They kept the book moving along well, and kept me from being sucked into Christina's discouragement too much. The romance between Christina and Levi was cute and added to the book without being the focus. It was well done and felt natural for the period setting of the story.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, and give it 4 stars. The caution to make sure your godly choices are actually from and for God instead of yourself are thought provoking enough to make the book stick with the reader more than just another historical romance.
Sometimes in our well-meaning good deeds we actually wind up hindering the very ones we are trying to help. Without meaning to we become focused on how a situation affects us instead of others. This is the main lesson that Christina Willems comes to learn in What Once Was Lost.
Christina has been left in charge of the home that her beloved father ran for the housing of the poor. When one tragedy leads to another she begins to cling to what once was in the hopes of recapturing it. Meanwhile wonderful things are happening to those that have been entrusted to her care. Unfortunately Christina can't seem to let go and move on.
I think almost everyone can relate to being unable to move on from something that is familiar. The unknown can be so scary. The idea of trusting the plans that God has for you is wonderful, but it is often hard to put into practice.
If you enjoy historical fiction I think you are going to like What Once Was Lost. The characters are easy to identify with and the situation is a common plight for all of us. Of course I have to add that it is set on the praries of my beloved Kansas so that just pushes it over the top! Grab a copy for yourself and contemplate what you are holding onto that you should be letting go of.
I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
When a fire breaks out at Brambleville Asylum for the Poor, Christina Willems turns to the townspeople to give lodging to her flock of charges until their home can be rebuilt. With nowhere else to go, Christina must ask miller Levi Johnson to take in Tommy, an eleven-year-old blind boy. Levi is reluctant, but a bond soon forms between Levi and Tommy. Meanwhile, Christina is busy trying to get the poor home rebuilt despite numerous complications.
Honestly, I didn't think this book was that great. I felt like the main character, Christina, was pretty lame. I probably wouldn't have even finished the book if it weren't for me really liking a couple of the other characters- namely, Levi, Tommy and Cora. I really loved seeing the bond between Tommy and Levi grow and how they both changed for the better because of it. The redemption and love as Cora's story unfolded was really great and one of the best parts of the book.
All in all, this book ended up being okay, but definitely not great. I don't recommend it.
Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Christina oversees a mission home housing a group of poor and misplaced individuals. When a fire breaks out leaving the home inhabitable, she must find shelter for all those she has been caring for. She even approaches Levi, a reclusive mill owner, to take a young blind boy.
Christina is nearly overwhelmed when obstacles to rebuilding the home pile up. And then an old adversary returns to the town, determined to ruin Christina.
This novel is a character study of a young woman who is dedicated to helping those in need. She is strong-willed, determined to see “her” home rebuilt and care to the needy restored. Levi has issues of his own he must overcome and taking care of the blind boy helps him do just that. It seems like the future might be bright for Christina and Levi except for the obstacles that keep coming.
This is a pretty good historical novel, taking place in 1890. Christina's struggle to get the home rebuilt was done well but I was disappointed in how the ending came to be. Christina is rescued, so to speak, and does not have to fight to the end. I would have rather seen her have to battle to the desired result herself.
I received a complimentary galley of this book for the purpose of this review.
Christina Willems is the director of a poor farm, the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor in Kansas, having inherited the role from her father. She has dedicated herself to Christian services on behalf of the poor and needy, but finds her world rocked when the farmhouse is badly damaged in a fire. The need to find temporary homes for the twelve residents brings her into contact with local mill owner Levi Johnson.
I have only read one other book by Kim Vogel Sawyer, and this reminded me why I should seek out more of her titles. Her novels are plainly US Western historical romance, but they have more depth than many of the titles available on the market (not that I have anything against those titles—I enjoy the more lighthearted novels by authors such as Carol Cox, Jen Turano and Karen Wittemeyer. But it’s nice to find something a little different).
Christina is a well-written character. She is strong-willed and wants to take responsibility for all ‘her’ people—the only family she has. But in serving others, she sometimes forgets what she wants, and that what she wants might not be what God wants for her. That’s something many of us can relate to.
I also liked Levi. He’s not a Christian, yet still takes in Tommy, the blind boy no one else wants. He has his own emotional journey throughout the novel, as caring for Tommy forces Levi step outside his solitary existence to interact with Tommy and Christina. He’s also attracted to Christina, and I thought the romantic element of the plot was particularly poignant.
I especially liked one quote from Tommy:
Seems to me that folks with scars [are] the ones who really need someone to treat them like there’s nothing wrong with them. Hard enough to be different without everybody treating you different.
There’s a lesson there. We all have scars, but some are more visible than others. It reminds me that sometimes it’s okay to not mention the elephant in the room.
Recommended for those who enjoy US Western historical romance.
Thanks to WaterBrook Press and Blogging for Books for providing a free ebook for review.
Sometimes, rare, but occasionally I choose to read a book that is just an escape. I'm way too serious in my book choices usually. This book was engaging. A story of hope and colorful characters that will be hard to forget. The story had it all, some romance and intrigue and problems galore to overcome for each character. The end was just how I needed it be, for which I'm grateful. I needed a bit of sunshine. The gospel came through loud and proud and some of the sweetest characters lived it out on the pages. Quite refreshing after a heavy season.
*This book was given to me free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.
Christina Willems has been running the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor on a small farm outside of Brambleville, Kansas since her father passed on. This is the only life she has known, helping others who are less fortunate without a place to live. When the kitchen mysteriously catches fire Miss Willems finds herself taking all of the residents to town in search of temporary homes, too bad they aren't all staying in nice happy homes. She notifies the mission board that funds the home, of the fire and their needs, in hopes that they'll order the repairs done so everyone can return home.
It seems like anything that can go wrong after the fire does go wrong, and more! Tommy, the blind boy staying with Levi Johnson, gets lost. Tommy also knows a secret so not only does he feel like people don't like him because of his blindness, he's also getting bullied and is very afraid. Miss Willems and Cora live in a single room in a boarding house in exchange for cooking and serving meals for mean Mrs Beasley. Wes is sleeping in the stable, others are sleeping in close quarters too, some in good homes and others in not so good homes.
When the two representatives come to investigate the property they inform Miss Willems that they will be closing the doors and she no longer has a job. This doesn't stop her from trying to get the house repaired and the residents back home. It is taking so long that some of the residents are finding places on their own, the mission group takes some of the children to Topeka to an orphanage, it seems like she may no longer be needed if this continues, but it still doesn't stop her. Even going to jail doesn't affect her caring heart.
I had trouble with this story at first because I read the prequel and the story isn't what, rather who, I expected it to be about but I soon gained interest and by the end of the book I didn't want to put it down. Yes, I did stay up late, until I was falling asleep and had to put it down, then picked it up first thing in the morning to find out what I was wanting to know. Then there was even more that kept me interested, I had to find out what was going to happen next!
I will be watching for "Just As I Am" to come out later this month, the next book in this series which sets the stage for Kim's next novel, "Echoes of Mercy" due out in January, 2014.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BloggingforBooks.org book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Christina Willems is following in her father's footsteps and believes she is called to care for those who are in need. She has been running the Brambleville Asylum for the poor and does her job well until a tragedy strikes. When fire destroys her farm Christina must find a shelter for all the people in her care. They are all like family to her but she is especially concerned about Tommy, eleven year old blind boy. She had no problems finding a place to stay for those in her care, except for the poor little boy. With no other options, Christina is forced to approach Levi Johnson, a reclusive mill owner.Levi agrees with reluctance but finds himself surprised by the bond that quickly grows between him and Tommy. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction! I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for an honest review.
Christina runs an asylum for the poor and lost. When her home is ripped away by a fire, she must take steps to procure housing for her residents who are also her dearly loved family. Finding housing for everyone except for one blind boy, Tommy, Christina takes him to her last hope, reclusive mill owner Levi Jonnson. After their first encounter (where sparks fly), Levi and Christina are soon caught up in a whirlwind of romance, healing, and new beginnings. They also soon learn just how much damage a single man can cause.
I am really a fan of Kim Vogel Sawyer's novels. Last year, I read My Heart Remembers, one of her books. I loved it so much, recommending it to my family and friends. So naturally I have been keeping up with her new releases ever since.
What Once Was Lost is a story of love, hope, and faith. Christina struggles with letting go and letting God. Levi struggles with the pain and bitterness of his past. And yet, in the end, you see everything resolved for the good of God's people. I loved how when everything seemed darkest, that's when the light appeared!
Christina says, "No matter how dark the night, God's mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness."
This book had some wonderful lessons and was enjoyable, albeit a little predictable. It was also a little slow at times (probably because I've been reading a whole lot of action books lately), but overall I would recommend it for a lovely, uplifting read!
**I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are entirely my own.
I just finished reading this amazingly well written novel. The author took an unknown cast of presumably disabled characters and through troubled events colorfully turned them into talented individuals of compassion and spiritual wisdom. Her descriptive writing was so well done that you felt you were personally involved within the story. A very satisfying book!
Wow! What a sweet, sweet story! Kim Vogel Sawyer has such a way with words. All of her books leave me feeling happy and more secure in my faith. Christina Willems has been a servant of the Lord her whole life. All she knows is giving of herself to others. And she loves it. She is fiercely protective of her residents at the poor farm and is absolutely devastated when the fire causes them to be dispersed amongst the town. Can her faith help her through this rough time? Levi Jonnson doesn't want anything to do with anyone. He thinks he is saving himself from more hurt and heartache by hiding away himself. So why does he allow Christina to talk him into taking on the care of Tommy? And how did he let Tommy - and Christina - slip past the wall he had built around his heart?
The story line was fantastic! As always, Kim Vogel Sawyer makes the characters emotions jump from the page. After several things go wrong, Christina begins to doubt her life's work and dedication. She also begins to question her faith in God. As the story progresses, we see Christina's struggle to maintain her faith in herself, as well. Her father gives her some good advice, that she doesn't take to heart immediately: "When in doubt, Christina, go to the Father. He alone has the answers to life's ponderings." "Worry is telling God you don't trust him." Levi's struggle is more internal, but no less real. The romance is very subtly done, and super sweet! The side stories of Cora and Tommy add an amazing depth to story as a whole. When Cora comes to know the Lord as her saviour, you rejoice right along with Ma Creeger.
The main message of the story, simply stated in the book, is this: "Whatsoever ye do, do it to the glory of God." Sometimes it's hard to remember, especially when praise for your good works is coming in, to give thanks and praise to the One who gives you the ability to do those works. And the testing of your faith only makes you stronger. God didn't promise the road would be easy, but He did promise that "no matter how dark the night, God's mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness."
**I received a free copy of this book as part of the WaterBrook Multnomah Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.**