I love looking back over the books I’ve read in a year. It’s almost like a journal of all the places I’ve been! Today, I’m sharing my top 10 favorites of 2020! (Click here to see how I review Books!)
#10 || The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin
This one comes with a MAJOR disclaimer. This is not a family-friendly book. I knew it had a pro-life aspect in the story when I borrowed it, but I didn’t know precisely what aspect. It was sad, and I skipped a good portion of one chapter because of the content. I also didn’t agree with two of the marriages depicted in the story because of personal convictions. I thought that since it stated in the blurb that the couple married early in the story, there would be less romantic content. It was true to a certain extent, but it was still a bit more than I prefer. There was also talk of suicide missions, a disturbing serial killer line, and a divorce (it doesn’t happen but doesn’t show how this isn’t biblical). It was also super annoying that people kept using their childhood past and their ethnic group as a crutch for all the hard things in their life. One or two mentions would have been realistic, but this was every chapter. Way overdone.
That being said, I thought the pro-life aspects of the story were excellently depicted. The message of forgiveness and the lesson of the prodigal son’s brother was profound and well-executed. Lessons on humility, charity, and making yourself useful to society were sprinkled throughout. I also loved how they depict true love as both letting go and coming home. It was very well written.
It was a library book, but I think it would be fixable if I had my own copy. It would take a good deal of time, though.
Recommended for 21+ || Content meter: 2.5 || Quality: 10 || Personal Enjoyment: 6 || Overall: 6
#9 || Resistance by Jaye L. Knight
This is not my usual genre, but it was a good starting book for one not used to “Fantasy” (none magical; I do NOT condone anything with magic). Think persecuted church meets the world before dragons became extinct…only with a super confusing race system that just seems more like a mix of different countries/creatures. That part was weird, and I disapprove of it. Just keep it realistic, people.
The persecution was very real, reminding me of the Roman Catholic Spanish Inquisition. I fear I might have buckled. I was much impressed by the faith of the characters. It was a great encouragement to me. There is a time to be silent, a time to speak, a time to run, and a time to stand.
I was irritated that they never referred to God as God. He was called Elom. I disapprove of tricking people into reading a Christian story by disguising God under a different name. Don’t play games, don’t hide your intentions. Just be honest.
I also didn’t approve of some story insinuations (clothing, behavior, rumors, but nothing too detailed that I remember?). Personally, I was uncomfortable with how often those elements came up. I also didn’t like the alone time between a girl and boy in the story. The situation wasn’t above reproach. It’s not the girl’s place to evangelize or befriend a troubled young man; That is a man’s place. There were also mentions of kissing and hugging before marriage, but it wasn’t a heavy part of the story. Kyrin could have been made a bit more feminine, but she wasn’t your typical tomboy feminist heroine, which I appreciated. In fact, it was nice seeing her learn to give up her forced masculinity and find joy in being a lady.
But the faith of Trask, Kyrin, Kaden, and Rayad was so impressive! I think the book is worth the reading, but only if you are older and mature and don’t mind the editing.
Recommended for 18+ || Content meter: 3 || Quality: 10 || Personal Enjoyment: 9 || Overal: 7
#8 || Untitled by Jesseca Wheaton
Again, I need to start with a disclaimer. This is an excellent book. But there is some language in this book that I do NOT condone at all. My copy is set to be censored as soon as I can get to a reread. Also, this book deals with a sin that desperately needs addressing in our country. It is done well and tactfully. But because of these things, I do not recommend it for young readers.
This book hurt to read. It details the realities of PTSD and how it was viewed during WWII. It’s not a happy-feel-good book. It’s meant to make you think; to make you appreciate the life you have; to make you open your eyes to what many of our veterans face every day. Her example is on the more extreme side of the spectrum, but that doesn’t make it any less real. This is not Hollywood. This is a reality for too many people.
But this story is not without hope! The Epilogue to the story was beautiful, showing that not every story has a resolution, but not every bad thing defines the rest of your life. Y’all know how passionate I am about our troops and that PTSD is a topic that I think is grossly misunderstood and misrepresented. I can give this book a big thumbs up in how the subject is presented.
*I received access to an early edition to this book as a beta reader and happily provided my honest review*
Recommended for 18+ || Content Meter: 4 || Quality: 9 || Personal Enjoyment: 10 || Overall: 8
#7 || Dare by Tricia Mingerink
I promise, not all the books I read require a disclaimer! 😉 This on is for some violence, and a couple scenes where girls were alone with a boy, but everything was kept appropriate. The salvation scene in here was super confusing, and I wondered if it was actually Calvinism, which is heresy. I have fixed my copy to show the truth about Salvation; Everyone gets a chance to be saved, not a select few. God died for everyone!
But aside from that! WOW! This book was powerful! It covers very similar themes as Resistance and even had a heroine that I could relate to! She was nervous, unsure if she could stand up for what she believed in when faced with death. Gives one hope that maybe we could if put in her shoes. Highly recommended for a grounded reader.
Recommended for 16+ || Content Meter: 4* || Quality: 9 || Personal Enjoyment: 9 || Overall: 9
*I would hand this to a 16-year-old, but it does require a little censoring because of the above disclaimer.
#6 || Five-Star Spy by Perry Elisabeth Kirkpatrick
Y’all know how much I love The Accidental Cases of Emily Abbott 😍 I adore these books, and right before I got married, I binge-read the series to my younger siblings. This particular book is my personal favorite! Emily and Brent are hilarious, and I loved all the details in the setting! Who doesn’t want to be an heiress for a day at a lavish hotel?? The 10,000 mystery gets more in-depth, we learn about triage medical care and that Wasabi is super hot! And that Emily is the ultimate expert at handing out insults 😆
There is a reference to alcohol that I removed from my copy.
Recommended for All Ages ||Content Meter: 4.5* || Quality: 10 || Personal Enjoyment: 10 || Overall: 9
*This is a clean book for all ages but may require minimal censoring for little readers*
*I received an ARC of this book and happily provided my honest review!*
#5 ||Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Finally, I have read this classic! I grew up reading children’s editions, listening to audio dramas, and watching film adaptions, but I’d never read the unabridged version! 2020 was the perfect time to indulge in this epic, and I am so glad I did! Although, I’m still confused about the author’s beliefs on suicide. It sounded like he believes suicide would automatically send you to hell, which is not true if you are born again. I am still researching this, as I know some words have changed meanings since the 1600s.
Recommended for 13+ || Content Meter: 4 || Quality: 10 || Personal Enjoyment: 10 || Overall: 9
#4 || A Touch of Purple Paint by Hailey Rose
(See my full review here!) This book. *cries* It was so beautiful! And I loved that it showcased a YouTubing couple? I’ve never seen that done in a book, and I adored that aspect! And the relationship between the main characters was heartbreakingly beautiful. The message was so needed in this day and age, and overall I can’t say enough good about this book! 💜
Recommended All Ages || Content Meter: 4* || Quality: 10 || Personal Enjoyment: 10 || Overall: 10
*This book is 100% clean, but there are references to a movie with magic, social media, and deals with intense medical sequences*
#3 || A Strand of Hope by Amanda Tero
(Read my Review Here!) This book, y’all, is a heart-tugging, soul-stirring, thought-provoking novel that every family should read. That being said, it deals with some mature content in a clean and Godly manner, so I would recommend this for older readers. But the message of this story was so profound! I love books that talk about books and reading and how they can help others, and ah! I just adore this book so much! It’s the best one in the series!
Recommended for 16+ || Content Meter: 4 || Quality: 10 || Personal Enjoyment: 10 || Overall: 10
#2 || Preacher on the Run by Jayna Baas
(Click here for my review!) Everyone here knows that I am a die-hard southerner and a proud North Carolinian. You also know I am a hard-core Patriot. I’m also a huge fan of anything about the Regulators of the 1700s. They are the ones who actually started the War for Independence, not the Sons of Liberty! So when I found out someone was writing on the subject…and asked me to be in her blog tour…how could I say no?? If you want to exactly why we went to war with England (hint, it wasn’t just about taxation 😉) and want to see it addressed from a Biblical standpoint, please get this book!
Recommended 16+ || Content Meter: 4 || Quality: 9 || Personal Enjoyment: 10 || Overall: 10
#1 || Tattered Wings and Stop the Rain by Kassie Angle
(Click here and here for my full reviews!) Yep, I couldn’t pick my favorite of the two! But y’all! These books had me bawling my eyes out! Especially Stop the Rain… I have never connected with a book character on that deep of a level. And I don’t fully understand why I did. What do me and a teenaged soldier with PTSD have in common? Why do I understand him so well? Why he does what he does? I shouldn’t be able to connect with him like I did. But regardless, I’m glad I did. Harley is probably one of my favorite book characters…
If you don’t understand how PTSD works or if you are passionate about the topic—basically, if you are alive and breathing, get this book and read it! You will not regret it! It’s super clean, but because of the honest nature of combat and PTSD, I’d rate this book 14+ for understanding.
Recommended 14+ || Content Meter: 4 || Quality: 10 || Personal Enjoyment: 10+ 😉|| Overall 10
Tattered Wing broke my heart in a completely different way. It was about wounds we can see—broken dreams. A memory itching at the back of your mind, but you don’t know why. A wounded puppy… and red ballons… it’s heart-wrenching. And being someone who enjoys a good run… yeah, it hit home pretty hard. But the ending, though… it was perfect.
Recommended All Ages || Content Meter: 5 || Quality: 10 || Personal Enjoyment: 10+ || Overall: 10
Writing Prompt: What are your Top 10 2020 reads? Have you read any of these?
Have a blessed day, and God Bless America!
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Hello everyone! Today I have a fun little book-related post…my new review system and how it works! So strap on your seat belts, here we go!
So, basically, I’ve never liked the 5-Star system. But since that’s all Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbub allow me to use, I’m kinda stuck with it there. But here? I’m gonna start using the good old 10-Star system! This post will cover four things: my Content Meter, my Quality Meter, My Personal Enjoyment Meter, and my 5-Star Converter!
My Content Meter||
This is where I list my personal opinions of a book’s content. Who I would feel comfortable recommending a book to. Please note, the reader age suggestion is just a guide. Some may feel differently about the proper age, or I may change my rating based on the book’s uniqueness. There are only 5 sections to this meter.
5| Completely Clean
100% clean content for all ages
4| Mature Content/Minor Censoring for Young Readers
100% clean content for a reader 16+. A book dealing with topics too hard for a child to handle, but in a clean, moral way (Abortion, the Holocaust, PTSD, Violence, etc.)
3| Mature Content/Mild Censoring for Mature Readers
For readers 18+. It may contain minor swear words/have a storyline that needs to be censored (Romance, Excessive Violence, etc.)
2| Major Censoring
For readers 21+. Contains more serious swear words/storylines that are inappropriate but still have enough good content to be worth the effort of censoring.
This book contains inappropriate scenes that are the bulk of the story/has excessive language/too detailed in acts of violence,/glorifies evil. I would advise no one read this book.
My Quality Meter ||
This meter judges the author’s work according to my personal reading standards.
The book is riddled with typos, with no clear direction or plot in the story. The author basically published their notes.
This book had some potential but needs to be fleshed out and outlined—complete writing overhaul.
3| First Draft
Interesting idea, but no story to grasp. Needs revising and editing.
4| Hard to Follow/Doesn’t Flow
This is a book that has a plot, but only the author can see it. Not enough information is given to keep the readers hooked. Or the writing is too choppy and throws you out of the story.
The story has promise, but there’s excess information that clouds the story from being seen.
6| Needs Polishing
The story is good; it just needs some editing.
A solid story. Could use minor clean up edits.
An amazing story. Minor tune-up and character development.
9| Well Done
No problems and exceeds expectations in setting, characters, and plot.
This author is a genius and takes things above and beyond!
Take Away || 1-5 Not so Great || 6-10 Worth Reading
My Personal Enjoyment Meter ||
This is where I give my rating on how much I enjoyed the story. This is my personal opinion and may not line up with the ratings I give on the other meters. I will, of course, provide an explanation on why it received a particular rating if needed 😉
1| Shakes Head
I stopped/should have stopped reading it.
I didn’t enjoy it at all.
3| Eye Roll
Waste of Time.
Not my cup of tea.
Not good, not bad, not a favorite.
This book was okay. Not bad!
I like this book. It had a good plot, and I would definitely recommend it!
A Good solid book! I enjoyed it!
I couldn’t put it down!
Top Favorite! I may just reread this every year! 😉
My 5-Star Converter ||
This one is simple.
1| 1-2 on my Overall Rating.
2| 3-4 on my Overall Rating.
3| 5-6 on my Overall Rating.
4| 7-8 on my Overall Rating.
5| 9-10 on my Overall Rating.
So, What is an Overall Rating? ||
This is the final score I give the book. Since I don’t know my rates in the other sections, I can’t give you an example, but I will explain the Overall Rating on each book as required!
I hope to reread a few of the books I’ve already read and update their reviews here with the new system as I go!
Just a quick thought: If you were a book, how would God rate you?
Writing Prompt: How do you rate the books you read?
Thanks for stopping by today! God Bless and happy reading!
Another impromptu post for all of you! So I have a Kindle Unlimited subscription and I came across this neat looking book called Preacher on the Run by Jayna Baas. I was intrigued that this book was written about the North Carolina Regulators, the true beginning of the American Revolution and Baptist History! I had just started the story when who should email me, but Jayna herself! She had heard about my blog/books and was wondering if I could join the tour! Long story short, here we are today!
Preacher on the Run
For Liberty and Conscience Book 1
By Jayna Baas
Website || Newsletter Signup || YouTube Channel || Book Trailer ||
Amazon Author Page || Paperback (direct from author) || eBook (Amazon)
About the Book ||
North Carolina, 1771
Robert Boothe has spent the last four years leading the tyrant-hating Regulators in standing against North Carolina’s corrupt British government. Just being an unlicensed dissenter preacher is enough to make Robert a target, but he refuses to back down from his conscience. Aside from a sympathetic court justice, the village of Ayen Ford has no other champion for its poor and defenseless.
Then Charles Drake, emissary of His Excellency William Tryon, comes to town with one ambition: winning the governor’s favor, no matter what it takes. And Robert Boothe just might be his last chance.
All Robert wants is a safe place for his little Baptist church to live and worship God. But the established church wants him to shut up. The governor’s men want him dead. And that safe place is farther and farther away.
You can run, but you can’t hide . . .
About the Author ||
though she believes German writer Thomas Mann was correct in saying, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than for other people.” She enjoys writing and reading in a wide range of genres, but her favorite story is this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
My Review ||
First off, I want to say how pleased I was at house southern this book was. Even the narrative was southern! I can normally spot a northern author writing southerners a mile away, but she did such a good job, I was sure she wasn't originally from Michigan!
And y'all!!!! IT WAS ABOUT THE REGULATORS!!!!!! This is a little known bit of American history that I adore, though I haven't done as much research on it as I would have liked. I have Regulators in my background so, yes, I am so hard-core fangirling over this book!
The history was fantastic, her explanation for Biblical resistance was spot on and she has an excellent Bibliography in the back! She also seperated the fact from the fiction, which I loved!
The characters were well developed and perfectly imperfect. This book has earned it's place in my "books to study" catagory to become a better writer!
Saul was by far my favorite character and watching him grow was amazing. I loved all the discussions on how a man is to treat a woman and the fact that we were created for the the man. It was a beautiful depiction of Christ-like love.
That being said, I was a little uncomfortable with some of the husband and wife scenes. They were not inappropriate, just more than I personally care for.
The only other thing I didn't like was all the negative talk towards the Cherokee. I know that in the mid 1700s there were some Cherokee attacks and I can't change that. But the reason for the attacks was never stated and from what I've read, they didn't usually attack without government provocation. This could be an exception, I don't know. Regardless, it's a sad part of our history. Being a Cherokee decedent, I found all the negativity a bit off putting without more explanation into what the attacks were about. But that's just me and it wasn't the main theme of the story.
Overall, I loved this book! I would gladly hand it off to a sibling (after censoring a few spouse scenes depending on the age)! It's an excellent read and a must for all homeschoolers, North Carolinians, Revolution-Buffs and Baptists! Buy this book! Don't understand why we rebelled against King George? Think the Tea Tax excuse is lame? Find out what really happened!
|| I was gifted a copy of the book for promotional purposes! I was not required to write a positive review and all thoughts are my own. ||
Character Interview With Saul McBraden! ||
What inspired you to join the Regulators?
If you saw folks’ land being sold out from under them, and greedy officials playing fast and loose with the law, you’d likely join the Regulators, too. What was going on made me mad, and when I get mad, I want to do something about it.
What goal would you like to accomplish through your resistance?
What I want, and I think what most of us want, is just the freedom to worship God and make a fair living under fair laws. It might mean getting our own folks chosen to the Colonial Assembly, or it might mean cornering some officials into being accountable. You can’t change a whole government overnight.
When this is all over, what would your dream life look like?
I reckon I’ll always want a challenge to go after, but in between times, I’d just want a place to settle down with Elsie. A cabin, some land. Hunting, farming, some trapping maybe. And a passel of young’uns, God willing.
What is one scripture that helps you in time of trouble?
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). I want to fix things, which is no surprise to folks who know me. I need the reminder that God is at work, and He doesn’t need my help.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to join your cause?
Be sure you know what you’re getting into. It won’t help anybody if you talk real loud and then run when the going gets tough. And Pastor Boothe talks a lot about doing things for the right reason, meaning you had better take a stand for something and not just against something.
What about Pastor Boothe makes you admire him?
He’s steady. Me, I’m a firebrand. I’ll go off on my own tack and realize later how boneheaded I was. Not Pastor Boothe. He thinks things through, and he makes certain sure he’s listening to the Lord. You can follow a man like that.
Do you think your struggle will remain in North Carolina or spread through the colonies?
I don’t rightly know. There were some Regulators in South Carolina, but things didn’t go very far there. A lot of easterners, all the way up to Massachusetts, think we’re rebels. But I hear they’ve got their own squabbles with the King’s men. I don’t know if we’re lighting a fire, or if the fire’s already lit. I’d like to think we aren’t the only ones to take a stand.
Pie or cake?
My ma used to make a sugar cake that she said came from the Moravians in Bethabara. But anymore I’d have to say pie. Elsie makes a dried-apple pie that I’d quit the Regulators for.
Interview with Author Jayna Baas! ||
What inspired you to write this book?
I love Revolutionary War history and strong Christian heroes, and I was tired of finding nothing but romance in the Christian fiction section of the library—not that I don’t read romance, but a girl needs a break now and then! I was also tired of “Christian” stories that had nothing deeper than a quick prayer in desperation. The Regulator Uprising struck me as the perfect setting for an action-packed, danger-filled story of lived-out faith, especially since I love little-known parts of history.
Which character was the most fun to write?
Alec Perry was a lot of fun. He just showed up and said, “Here I am, now tell my story”—and his story just kept taking on a life of its own! Hank Jonas was fun, too, especially in how he played off Mitchell and Alec.
What can you tell us about the rest of the series?
I’m aiming for three stand-alone novels set several years apart. In the second book, which takes place during the British campaign of North Carolina in 1780-1781, original characters reappear, but the story stars some new ones as well. The third book will (hopefully!) be set in the short-lived State of Franklin, late 1780s. I’m hoping book two will be ready to print by the end of next year, but your guess is as good as mine right now. And of course, all of this is subject to change without notice.
Any tips on writing Revolutionary fiction?
Be prepared for tons of research and challenging subject matter. History can be messy, as I’m sure you know. There aren’t always happy endings or black-and-white sides to take. I love this description by British novelist L. P. Hartley: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” That’s very true, and it’s a writer’s job to act as a “tour guide” in that “foreign country” and make it engaging and understandable to readers without compromising the reality of it.
What Bible verse sums up your mission as a writer?
Well, I joke that my life verse is Ecclesiastes 12:12: “Of making many books there is no end,” but in truth, writing is my way of sharing the gospel, encouraging fellow saints, and exercising the gift I’ve been given. I don’t know that there’s just one verse to sum up all of that. As for the writing process itself, a good verse would probably be 1 Thessalonians 5:24: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” That is a huge encouragement when I feel like I’m banging my head on a wall.
There is an epic give away people!
That's it for now! Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour stops!
Nov 2: Leona @ Great Books for God’s Girls
Guest post, excerpt
Nov 3: Madi @ Madi’s Musings
Book review, interview
Nov 4: Kaitlyn @ Maidens for Modesty
Book review, guest post
Nov 5: Laura @ Beautiful Things
Nov 6: Malachi @ Brainstorms With Rain
Nov 9: Abby Rose @ Photos by Abby Rose
Nov 10: Kelsey @ Kelsey’s Notebook
Guest post, excerpt
Nov 11: Lauren @ Novels That Encourage
Book review, interview, exclusive ebook giveaway
Nov 12: Abigail @ Read Review Rejoice
Excerpt, book spotlight
Nov 13: Callie @ An Unfinished Story
Nov 16: Tara @ Tower in the Plains
Nov 17: Kelly-Ann @ Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama
Ryana Lynn @ Life of Heritage
Book review, character interview
Nov 18: Kassie @ Soldier Girl Stories
Nov 19: Natalie @ Kenmore Pines
Book review, interview
Nov 20: Michaela @ Tangled Up in Writing
Book review, excerpt, guest post
Nov 21: Giveaway winners announced in Rafflecopter widget and on Books by Jayna
Have a Blessed November!
I am thrilled to be able to share about this truly amazing book! People. This is my #1 read of 2020, I'm not even kidding. Well, actually, it's tied with Tattered Wings, but we won't talk about that, will we Kass??
Stop the Rain
By Kassie Angle
(November 11th, 2020)
|| Kindle || Paperback || Goodreads || Soldier Girl Stories ||
About the Book ||
He left his entire world in Iraq. So why did the war follow him home?
Harley Keane and his best friend Nigel were just kids when 9/11 rocked their world and changed their lives forever. When they're finally old enough to join the Army, all their childhood dreams seem about to come true. But war wasn't supposed to be like this. A kid's dream isn't supposed to become a living nightmare. Fellow soldiers aren't supposed to bleed out in front of your eyes.
Back home, safe and unwounded, Harley feels anything but. Why would God spare him when so many others were taken? Why won't the nightmares stop, even when he's awake? And how long can he hide the truth that threatens everything he has left? When Harley's invisible scars refuse to stay hidden, will he let anyone close enough to help? And how do you go on with life when "okay" isn't okay at all?
About the Author ||
My Review ||
I cried. Through the entire thing. I barely got into it and I was an emotional mess in the best possible way. I don't talk about this much, but PTSD awareness is one of my heart causes, because so many people with invisible injuries are over looked. Or you have people with fake conditions stealing the spotlight. Kassie put the attention back where it belongs.
I love Harley. Har is my baby. If you don't like him, then oh well, we just won't talk about it... cause I would not take people criticizing him well at all. *halo emoji*
That being said, there is a soldier in this book that I do not hate. Kassie, you know who I'm talking about so that's that. *again, halo emoji*
And my Nigel and Levi. All my soldiers in this book. All of them. Ack! Did I ever mention I love our military???
I have? Oh...Well, I just told you again!
The writing was so deep, realistic and heart-wrenching. I feel like I traveled to the Middle East with them, learned about what it means to be a soldier with them, relived my personal 9/11 trauma with them and suffered with the wounded mind with Harley. This is real people. Step back from Hollywood. Let go of preconceived ideas of what PTSD is and let Harley show you. If this book doesn't affect you deeply, it's not the book's fault. My life has been deeply changed by this book.
Recommended for ages 16+
Buy. This. Book.
|| I was honored to be asked to Alpha read this book by my friend Kassie, but she did not require me to write a positive review. All thoughts a opinions are my own. ||
That's all I have for you today! Have a Blessed Day and Visit Kassie's site for more release day fun!
Have a Blessed Day!
The Secret Place of Thunder || The Librarians of Willow Hollow Book #4 || Book Review and Author Interview
And now, it is time for the fourth and final review in The Librarians of Willow Hollow Series! This has been a lovely journey, but it has come to a satisfying end. I am participating in Mrs. Ruggieri’s blog tour, so be sure and visit her site for more book release fun!
The Secret Place of Thunder
By Alicia G. Ruggieri
Librarians of Willow Hollow Book #4
Series Rating || 4 Stars || Solo Rating || 4 Stars
|| Amazon || Author’s Site ||
About the Book ||
The mountains have imprisoned her long enough...
Edna Sue O’Connell came back to the Kentucky hills out of duty and can’t wait for the chance to escape again. Her work as a horseback librarian in rural Appalachia provides enough income for her invalid father to survive in the midst of the Great Depression, but it affords her with little else.
When an opportunity arises for Edna to take on an additional book delivery area, she spies a glimmer of hope that she might find a way out of Willow Hollow after all… and that she might actually make something of her life apart from the tragedy that has filled it thus far.
But the new routes give Edna more than she ever bargained for. Slowly, she finds that the mountains contain many valuable secrets – if she has the grit to meet them.
The Secret Place of Thunder is part of the Librarians of Willow Hollow multi-author novella collection. Each novella stands on its own but is connected to the others in this historical Christian fiction series set in 1930s Appalachia.
About the Author ||
Alicia G. Ruggieri grew up breathing in the salty air of coastal New England. She now writes grace-filled, Christ-centered fiction from her home in Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and sweet second-hand mutt. She loves old graveyards, dusty libraries, and excellent cannolis ~ not necessarily in that order.
My Review ||
Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy of this book from the author for Review purposes. All thoughts are my own.
This was another new to me author and I am so glad to have been introduced to her! Her style was lovely and realistic, very mountany and 1930s! I loved getting to know Edna Sue and even though I disagreed with her on almost everything, she was still easy to feel sorry for, though I wanted to wring her neck a few times 😊
I am not sure if Edna Sue was supposed to be severely backslidden or lost, and if the former, I am not at all sure she got saved. It was all rather vague. I also didn’t appreciate the fact that the author never insinuated that her wearing pants was wrong. I understand that she was not right with God, but there wasn’t a godly influence asserting that this was against the Bible. I also didn’t approve of a saved man, supposedly close to God, pursuing a girl that at best is grossly out of God’s will. Thankfully, the romance was only apparent in the last half of the book and went no farther than hand hold, though it was still wrong. I also don’t agree with Christians isolating them away from fellow Christians. I understand the character was grieving, but the Bible clearly states that we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together with fellow believers.
Seeing the book of Job play out in this story was sad and eye opening. Because of material in the story, nothing lingered over, just tactfully mentioned, I would recommend this for ages 18+ or 16+ if mature.
And now we have an interview with the author!
1| What inspired your librarian story?
Often with me, the story begins with a little nugget, and then the title comes to mind, and God guides it onward from there! With The Secret Place of Thunder, it all began with the premise: "What if the Book of Job was set in the Appalachians?"
2| Do you feel like you relate to Edna at all?
In a bunch of ways, yes. It's hard for me to write a main character with whom I can't relate in some significant way because it's difficult for me to understand what makes them tick. Edna's feeling of despair in the face of extreme, seemingly-unending difficulty resonates with me. By God's grace, "When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay." But the path to that "hope and stay" in Him can still be dark. On a lighter note :-) - I also relate to Edna's frustration at the mountain people's lack of interest in books. Whenever I encounter that kind of apathy toward good reading material, it bothers me because I know what treasures people would find in some books if they would read them.
3| What was your favorite part of writing this story?
I really enjoyed introducing the "mysterious mountain man" and the variety of the mountain people. I enjoyed learning more about Appalachian culture, and - early on - I loved the short trip I took down to the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky to see the area in which this novella is set.
4| Do you have any writing advice for Young Writers you would like to share?
Read solid, classic books - a lot of them. Re-read them. It saddens me how a lot of the really good books from the past have been pushed aside in favor of more contemporary reads. Authors like Dickens, MacDonald, the Brontes, Elliot, and others have so much to teach us about good writing!
5| Any advice for those interested in writing a collaborated series?
Communicate as much as possible so that everything is very clear at every stage regarding who is responsible for what, etc. Also, keep in mind that group projects mean a lot of give-and-take and being open to new and different ideas than you might be used to. Collaborated series can be a lot of fun - and what a wonderful result they can produce - but they are also a lot of work, and it's a good idea to "count the costs" before you start or join one.
That's all for now! God Bless!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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