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! So yep, I forgot about this post until this morning when I saw Kassie's post and I was like, I EVEN DOUBLE CHECKED THE DATE AND I STILL FORGOT! So, my friends, here is the couple hours belated Cover Reveal XD
*Disclaimer: This book is not for Children. It covers some hard topics and is appropriate for mature audiences. Final review to come after final draft is completed.*
About the Book ||
Two brothers. Two Separate Paths.
A Navy corpsman assigned to the Marines, Jess Walker’s world is shaken as he struggles to aid the men around him. But the battlefield isn’t his hardest challenge. The nagging memory of how he lost his brother weighs on him, serving as a constant reminder of his failure. War has no mercy for anyone and Jess isn’t sure he can survive the war inside. As his world comes crashing down around him, he struggles to believe there is a future beyond the pain.
Clay Walker has moved on from the life he once lived. A successful Marine pilot, he wants nothing to do with his family and the God he left behind. Japan is on the brink of surrender when his unit is shipped off to Okinawa, and it’s there that Clay is forced to realize his past is not as deeply buried as he thought. Faced with heavy losses and questions without answers, Clay has a choice to make. Is he willing to step back and let God take the controls? Or is it too late for a second chance?
As WWII rages, the two brothers must face their demons — or be lost to the burning world around them.
About the Author ||
Jesseca is a daughter, sister, and a child of God. When she’s not busy at her full time job as a first responder, her days are spent reading, spending time with siblings, watching movies that make her cry, and playing piano. Oh, and writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas, and she’s convinced there’s no place like home.
And now for that gorgeous cover!
Isn't it epic?? I just love it so much! I can't wait to snag my copy!
Have a Blessed Day!
Hello everyone! I finally have a book review for you! And it’s from my summer reading list! Unfortunately, this will not be a recommendation. Read on to find out why…
The Last Cherry Blossom
by Kathleen Burkinshaw
About the Book||
Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and since the Japanese newspapers don’t report lost battles, the Japanese people are not entirely certain of where Japan stands. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bombs hit Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.
This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.
My Review ||
We all know bad things happen in life. It’s a sad reality. Not everyone grows up in a good family or lives under the same circumstances. It’s important that we understand that and give sympathy and help when we can.
But we also shouldn’t discuss such situations with middle-grade readers. Do most middle graders out in the world know about such things or experience them? Yes, many do. But should they have to read about it too? Absolutely not. This book is based on the true story of the author’s mother. Her birth situation was immoral, and that’s not her fault. But she didn’t have to share those details with 8-14-year-olds. I was shocked and appalled! Call me what you like, but I believe children should be given as much morally innocent reading material as we can provide them! Yes, many know about such things, but that doesn’t mean they have to read about it! I know about a lot of sin that the world has to offer, but I don’t want to read about it!
If this book had been written as a biography or for an older audience in a more “This is wrong, don’t make this mistake” way, I would have finished the book. But it wasn’t. It was an entertaining read for children.
The main character’s attitude was annoying through the majority of the book so that rather than feeling sorry for her, I wanted her to suck it up and get on with her life. I don’t think that’s what the author was going for. And it condoned keeping secrets from parents, disobeying them and having crushes way too young.
And while I loved learning more about Japanese culture, she littered the story with a plethora of facts about pagan religion and didn’t even attempt to say it was wrong. In short, she was saying devil worship was okay. Maybe a little scary at times, but okay and right to do. Disgusting!
The only thing that I liked about this book was the fact that even though it was WWII Japan, there was no question that the allies were right. Doubt in the emperor was discussed, and while they follow the rules, it vividly showed the plight of the Japanese people and the cruelty of their government. That is what garnered it 1 star.
In short, don’t waste your time. This book isn’t worth it.
Hope to have a more positive review for you next time!
Have a Blessed Week!
And here is the final book review in this series for now! I still don’t have book 5, 6 hasn’t released and 7 doesn’t even have a cover yet (and even now, I’m rooting for a number 8). Today’s book features an unlikely hero…I mean, this is not what comes to mind when you think of a war dog. At least I don’t. So without further ado, lets jump right into this review!
About the Book:
Fans of the bestselling Max and Scout dog stories will love the fourth book in the Soldier Dog series, which takes readers to the beaches of Normandy and the most famous battle of World War II: D-Day. Includes a collectible poster!
Henri has an urgent mission from a top French Resistance agent in the fight against the Nazis—and the agent also happens to be his mom. He has to deliver a secret map to another town before the German soldiers can catch him.
But on his way, he encounters Ace, an American paratrooper dog who’s landed far away from the beaches of Normandy, and Elle, a war orphan who needs his help. Ace needs to get back to the frontlines so he can protect his handler, and helping would put Henri way off track. But then they’re captured by enemy troops.
Ace, Elle, and Henri have to learn to trust each other—and their unlikely allies—so they can escape in time to help the Allied forces in their historic invasion.
Told from the alternating perspectives of Ace and Henri, this action-packed adventure is inspired by the stories of the real paradogs of WWII and the brave members of the French Resistance.
My Rating: *
My Review: This was such a good book. It ties with book 3 for me. It’s set in France, D-day to be exact, and includes the French Resistance! That was enough to get me hooked on the story. This one also showed the other side of a Doberman Pincher’s personality (Read book 3 for the good side 😉). It was so sad reading about how WWII and the Nazi occupation effected the children of France specifically.
It sounded to me in the beginning that this was going to be a dissertation on the treatment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, and I was prepared for a lot of editing to make sure my siblings knew the truth about it. But thankfully, there was just two mentions of the sergeant not liking Tanaka, and they didn’t even say it was because he was Japanese-American. So for this book, the author stayed off the anti-American band wagon!
Anyway, back to how good this books was! I love all the scenes with Ace (he's a bull terrier)! He’s so sweet and so no nonsense. And the ingenious way he rescues…something/someone was so intriguing! I was concerned about the characters, that perhaps the Nazis would catch them and all would be lost in the end. The author was great at plot twists and the ending was satisfying. (I mean, Americans to the rescue, so how could I not love it 😉) A great look at working together, loving and serving your country and promoting freedom for all. The climax though! Heart-stopping! A great way to introduce kids to the French Resistance! (But I’m not a huge fan of Charlies De Gaulle; too flirty for my taste.)
So that's all of my reviews for this series so far! Don't be surprised if the others pop up on here before too long though!
Next post will be my January In Review! See you then!
And I’m back with the third review out of 4 (so far! Book 7 was just announced!) of the Soldier Dog Series and y’all! This one was one of my favorites! I’ve mentioned this before, but our ministry is located near Cherry Point Marine Air Station, so when I read this story, I couldn’t help but picture some of the fellows that have attended our church over the years! It made for a fascinating reading experience! Let’s dive right in!
About the Book:
Step into the action as the U.S. Marines and the Dobermans of World War II fight to recapture the island of Guam from Japanese troops.
It’s 1944, and the Second Battle of Guam is in full gear. Twelve-year-old Bo just escaped from a work camp, and he’s ready to help kick the enemy off his island.
Stryker is an official U.S. Marine Doberman on an urgent mission. When Bo and Stryker meet in the jungle, they team up to help the American forces.
But between painful injuries, raging rivers, wild animals, and a surprise attack on a hospital, their job isn’t easy. With a Japanese soldier hot on their trail, can they deliver their top-secret message in time?
Told in the alternating perspectives of Bo and Stryker, this action-packed adventure is inspired by the real-life Dobermans of World War II who bravely served beside the U.S. Marines.
Published 2019 by HarperCollins
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
My Review: I’m gonna break tradition and tell you the one thing I didn’t like about this book first, that way, I don’t have to break from all my squealing later *grins*. The one thing that stood out to me was the fact that the author really doesn’t seem to like the fact that America owns the country of Guam. Did we get it fairly? I have no idea. Should we let the people be independent from us? I don’t know. All I know is that the author is planting the idea of American’s being good bad guys subtly in this story and I didn’t like that at all. But it was a minor issue touched on maybe twice towards the beginning and is easy to fix. Maybe this is a conversation that should be had, whether Guam should be it’s own country or not, but this isn’t a conversation that should involve impressionable kids, who are already being attacked with anti-American sentiment enough through various media/education outlets. Let the kids love their country! *clears throat and steps off soapbox 😉*
Now, on to the good stuff. First off, can we just adore that cover? There is something so pleasing about a jungle, all the green and that gorgeous dog! Okay, Dobermans are not my favorite, per say, but they are cute in a dorky kind of way! And this dog in the story! He’s so good!
I loved how we got to see the plight of the natives on Guam without it becoming too violent or gory for children. And even though there were battle/medical sequences, I don’t think the descriptions were too much for young ones to stomach. It has a good balance of valor and reality of war to make children admire the GIs and realize war is not a game.
AND THE MARINES! Okay, I’m a total Army girl, but the hospital scene at the end was so good and so Marine Corps! I could go on and on about it! It was so good! I told my family about it and all of us are like, “That better be a true story, because that is true Marine Corps Spirit, right there!” You have to read the book for no other reason than to read that one scene! I still haven’t found out if it really happened or not, but I’m looking into it!
So yes, this was one of the best books in the series! Be sure to check it out!
Be sure and keep your eye open for our next post about 5 books I want to read in 2020!
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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