Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: RECreational Readng



Some Top Ten Tuesday topics are really tough for my aging memory to handle!  Today's is one of them.  We're supposed to list the Top Ten Most Recent Books I've Read Because Someone Recommended Them Here's the thing—most of the books I read have been recommended to me by someone somewhere.  Can I remember those details?  No, no I cannot.  I need to be better about recording where recs come from.  After all, there's no better feeling for a book reviewer or a reader in general than knowing someone has enjoyed a book you recommended to them.  In order not to overtax my elderly brain, I'm going to tweak the topic just a little and chat about my top ten go-to places for reading suggestions.

Want to join in the TTT fun?  Of course you do!  Hop on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

My Top Ten Go-To Places for Book Recommendations 


1.  Book Blogs—No surprise here!  I read tons of book blogs and am always on the lookout for new ones to enjoy.  Book bloggers are the best with reading recs.  With all the blogs on my roll, I'm guaranteed to find a variety of recommended reads.  Hands down, this is my number one source for 
recs.


2.  BookPage—This is a great monthly magazine that my library offers for free.  It has reviews, author interviews, giveaways, and more.  If your library does not provide copies, you can have BookPage delivered to your home for $30 a year.


3.  Bookmarks Magazine—If you like a meatier book magazine, you can't go wrong with this one.  It also features reviews, author interviews, and giveaways—it just offers more of them in a glossier format.  You can buy issues (they come out every two months) at your local Barnes & Noble or subscribe for $34.95/year.


4.  Goodreads—It's no secret that I adore this most popular of bookish sites.  I love that I can keep track of what my friends are reading, see their reviews, and get recommendations straight from them.  Goodreads also has a "Recommendations" feature (under the "Browse" tab) which suggests books you might like based on your shelves.  The more you rate the books you read, the better it works.  When you review a book on Goodreads, there is now an option where you can record who recommended the book to you.  Note to self:  Use this feature!


5.  Book Riot—I don't know about you, but I'm on a lot of bookish mailing lists.  I tend to ignore most of these emails, but I look forward to the ones from Book Riot.  They're fun and informative.  My favorite are their book lists, which have titles like "5 Books Where Women Take Charge" and "Prank Your Significant Other in 7 Fun Romance Books."  Check it out for lists, reviews, book buying deals, and more.


6.  The Library—Because of dang COVID-19, I haven't done any physical browsing of the library shelves for quite some time.  Back in the olden days, however, I enjoyed roaming the aisles to find great new books.  My library always had fun seasonal/themed displays, fliers with themed book lists, recommended books on display, even a short-lived blog.  Although I still browse the library's online catalog, it's just not the same as looking in person!


7.  Bookstores—I visited my local Barnes & Noble last week, which marks the first time since COVID started that I've been inside a physical bookstore.  Whether it's a chain like B&N, a local indie, or just a small section of a larger store like Costco, I dig browsing for books.  I love checking out displays at bookstores, overhearing readers discussing their picks, and even getting recs from random shoppers (which has happened to me numerous times, both at B&N and Changing Hands).  


8.  Family and Friends—My book addiction is no secret.  Maybe it's my READ3R license plate or the book that is always in my hand or the fact that there are more tomes in my home than in a lot of bookstores ... whatever clue gives it away, my bibliophilia is widely known.  Friends and family members are always recommending books to me.


9.  Review Requests—Most book bloggers get tons of queries in their inboxes every day asking them to check out an author/publisher/publicist's latest and greatest.  Although I decline a lot more of these than I used to, this is still a big source of reading recommendations and material for me.



10.  NetGalley and Edelweiss+—Both of these sites, which offer e-ARCs to professional readers, are like literary blackholes.  I can—and often do—spend hours scouring through their many offerings.  My feedback ratio on NetGalley currently sits at a shameful 2% because the site makes me so click-happy that I request a lot more books on there than I actually get read.  Oops.

There you go, ten places I turn to when I'm looking for a new book to read.  How about you?  Who or what are your go-to sources?  Where do you go for awesome reading recs?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

Monday, October 19, 2020

MG Deafness Novel Illuminating and Compelling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"Deafness is not an affliction.  The only thing it stops me from doing is hearing" (95).

In Mary Lambert's community on Martha's Vineyard, 1 in 4 residents is Deaf.  Everyone—those who can hear and those who cannot—uses the town's sign language to communicate with each other.  In 1805 Chilmark, Deafness is not odd or other.  It just is.  Eleven-year-old Mary has never felt different or lesser because of her inability to hear.  Until things start to change in her world.  

When Mary's older brother dies in a tragic accident, Mary's grief is compounded by her guilt.  She knows in her broken heart that she caused his death.  Then, a scientist from Connecticut shows up in Chilmark eager to study its unique "affliction."  Although other Deaf residents are willing to be studied, Mary has no desire to become anyone's "live specimen."  When she becomes one by force, she will learn a hard lesson about how Deaf people are treated outside of Chilmark.  Can she escape back to her beloved island?  Or is Mary doomed to endure a life of servitude, humiliation, and abuse, all because she was born without being able to hear? 

Show Me a Sign, a middle-grade novel by Deaf librarian Ann Clare LeZotte, is both fascinating and eye-opening.  It's set in a real community, where during the 19th Century Deaf and hearing people intermingled every day, using their own brand of sign language to communicate.  Mary's story starts off slowly but the action soon picks up, making for an exciting and compelling tale.  Not only does the book explore what it means to be Deaf, especially in a time and place where the condition wasn't understood, but it also teaches some important lessons about ableism, racism (LeZotte draws a not-so subtle parallel between the mistreatment of the Wampanoag people and that of the Deaf), empathy, and standing up for one's self.  I don't know how appealing this one will be to young readers, but I found it engaging, illuminating, and thought-provoking.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of El Deafo by Cece Bell and Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence, scenes of peril, and scary situations

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Watery Dystopian Action-Packed and Exciting

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Five hundred years ago, the Great Waves destroyed the known world, burying its gleaming cities under fathoms of water.  The rusty ruins beckon to 17-year-old orphan Tempest "Tempe" Alerin, who scavenges them every day hoping to find treasures to sell.  She's been scrimping and saving her Notes ever since her older sister, Elysea, drowned two years ago.  When she finally has enough currency, she can exchange it for a wondrous gift—scientists will bring her dead sibling back to life for 24 hours.  That's all Tempe needs.  Five years ago, Elysea caused the death of their parents.  Tempe will do anything do find out why.

Reviving the dead is a carefully-controlled process, one that goes awry right from the start.  First, Elysea claims she had nothing to do with their parents' deaths.  Then, she asserts that they may still be alive.  In addition, Elysea doesn't want to spend her 24 hours of life sitting around in a boring research facility.  When the sisters find a way to escape their confines, 19-year-old Lor Ritter—the son of the scientist who invented the revival process—is charged with bringing them back.  Or else.  What ensues is a desperate race against time with Tempe and Elysea hunting for answers, with Lor in hot pursuit.  The closer the sisters get to uncovering the secrets of their watery home, the more dangerous their quest gets.  Can they find the answers they seek?  Or will both of them die trying?  

Watery dystopian worlds always fascinate me, so the setting of The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte definitely got my attention.  While not everything about the world made sense, it still created an intriguing backdrop for this exciting, action-packed ecological thriller.  I liked the characters at the story's center.  It was easy to empathize with them and root for their success.  As far as plot goes, I saw the Big Reveal coming, but there were other twists that caught me by surprise.  The ending was disappointing, which made the novel feel less than satisfying.  Overall, then, I didn't love The Vanishing Deep.  It did keep me turning pages, though, and I liked it for the most part.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Friday, October 16, 2020

The New Agatha Christie? I Don't Think So!

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"Everything seems charged on this island.  It's as though this place is doing it, that we've been brought here for a reason" (288).

Will Slater and Julie Keegan are both gorgeous, ambitious, and powerful.  Their wedding, even though it's taking place at a remote island off the Irish coast with only a very select group of guests, will be the event of the season.  As the couple's nearest and dearest gather, however, tension continues to mount between the happy couple, the island's only residents, and the wedding guests.  When it reaches a fever pitch, one person is left dead.  Who hated the victim enough to kill them?  And why?  Stuck in an isolated place with no way to communicate with the outside world, those on the island must figure out which one of them is a murderer—before the killer strikes again.

With its And Then There Were None-ish premise, it's no wonder that The Guest List by Lucy Foley is being compared to Agatha Christie's classic.  The similarities, however, stop at the book's setup.  While Foley's version features a creepy, atmospheric setting, which creates a deliciously suspenseful backdrop, the story itself moves so slowly that the novel never reaches an "unputdownable" stage.  There were a few surprises in the plot but not enough to make the story feel clever or original.  In addition, the characters are almost wholly unlikable—most are immature, entitled snobs who have done terrible things to each other, which made it difficult for me to care what happened to them.  Not surprisingly, then, The Guest List made for a dark, depressing, and not super satisfying read.  I'd heard such good things about this book that I thought I would love it.  Unfortunately, I just ... didn't.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of One By One by Ruth Ware)

Grade:  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language, violence, disturbing subject matter, sexual content, and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Guest List with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Japanese-American Internment Novel Heartbreaking, Thought-Provoking

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Before Pearl Harbor is bombed in 1942, the Takeda family is living in Los Angeles and doing very well for themselves.  Afterward, they start receiving the same distrustful sideways glances as every other Japanese-American in the U.S.  It's not long before suspicion turns into paranoia.  The Takedas, along with many of their friends and neighbors, are rounded up and forced into an internment camp.  With her father recently dead, 14-year-old Lucy and her mother have to fend for themselves in a place that is fraught with danger, corruption, and desperation.  Lucy's mom will do whatever she has to in order to keep herself and her daughter safe—including unspeakable acts that will have long-reaching consequences for them both.

Decades later, a murder in San Francisco leads police to Lucy.  As the investigation heats up, Lucy tells the harrowing, heartbreaking story of what really happened in Manzanar to her own daughter in an effort to clear her name and unburden her soul.

Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield is a thought-provoking story set during a shameful period of America's past.  I thought it would be more of a mystery than a historical drama—it's both, but with a heavier emphasis on the latter.  Littlefield's descriptions of life inside Manzanar are heartbreaking and barely believable, although they're based on indignities suffered in real life by real Americans.  Obviously, a story set in an internment camp during World War II is not going to be a happy one.  Garden of Stones is, not surprisingly, sad and depressing, a tale full of despairing people struggling through awful situations.  It is, however, also interesting and compelling.  The middle sags and the ending leaves some annoying loose ends, so overall, I didn't love this book.  It held my interest, though, and I liked it well enough to finish the novel and think about it quite a bit afterward.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other novels about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, such as The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner, Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill, Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban, Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman, and Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a couple F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a digital copy of Garden of Stones with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Why Waste Words?



Not gonna lie, I'm not super enthusiastic about today's topic of Top Ten Long Book Titles.  Maybe it's because I read mostly mystery/thrillers, which usually have short, snappy titles like The Mist, Killing Time, or Blood Moon.  Longer titles seem to be more the norm for rom-coms, contemporary fiction, and children's books.  To see if I'm right about this, I decided to take a look at the books I've read so far this year.  How long is the average title?  Does title length really vary by genre?  How many words is the longest title I've read this year?

Before we get to that, though, I want to give a quick shout-out to Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl.  Give our lovely host some love, won't you?  You can learn all about Top Ten Tuesday on her blog.

Okay, here we go with my ultra scientific study of title length.  I've read 130 books so far this year.  Here's how their titles break down:

ONE WORD:  6
TWO WORDS:  28
THREE WORDS:  39
FOUR WORDS:  22
FIVE WORDS:  21
SIX WORDS:  9
SEVEN WORDS:  2
EIGHT WORDS:  2 
LONGEST TITLE WINNERS:  The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (horror) and The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead (contemporary MG) 


I appear to prefer three-word titles.  Interestingly, titles of this length appear in every genre I've read this year—mystery, memoir, rom-coms, historical fiction, YA, MG, etc.  Three-word titles do seem to be trendy these days.  I've especially noticed a string of them with this format:  The ______'s ______, like The Lieutenant's Daughter, The Embalmer's Apprentice, The Killer's Niece, etc.  What titular trends have you noticed lately?

Which super long titles have you discovered?  Which are your favorite?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will happily return the favor on your blog. 

Happy TTT!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Weight Loss Memoir Tells Remarkable Story of Weight Watchers Founder Jean Nidetch

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"Dieting is asking you to control something wild and governable, your body, with your brain, which is only slightly more under your control" (141).

If you've ever attended a Weight Watchers (now known only as WW) meeting, you understand the feeling of support and camaraderie that comes with having a group of like-minded peers behind you as you try to lose weight.  It's powerful.  Long before health experts understood the importance of weight loss support groups, there was Jean Nidetch.  A Brooklyn housewife who weighed more than she wanted to, Jean searched for a program that could help her slim down.  When a city-sponsored nutrition course helped her lose 70 lbs, her friends begged her to teach them how to achieve the same results.  In 1961, she started gathering these women in her home for sessions of instruction, discussion, and support. Weight Watchers—a company that would sell for $17 million in 1978—was born.

Like other WW attendees, I had heard the basic story of Jean's home-grown idea that turned into a formidable enterprise.  I knew little else about her, however, until I picked up This is Big by Marisa Meltzer.  Having struggled with her weight since childhood, the New York City journalist decided to give Weight Watchers a try.  Not only did she investigate the program, but she also started researching the life of its founder.  What results is a deeply personal but very readable account of Meltzer's struggles with her own weight, her experience as a Weight Watchers member, and a balanced recounting of Jean's life and how it changed in unexpected ways as her company became increasingly popular and profitable.  The book is funny, insightful, honest, and relatable.  As one who, like Meltzer, is often guilty of the "crime of appetite" (7), I devoured This is Big in almost one sitting.  Although it deals with weighty issues, the book really is that engaging.  I came out of it feeling understood and with a deeper respect for Jean Nidetch.  Despite a fanaticism that caused problems in her personal life, her entrepreneurship led to the development of a revolutionary company that was changing lives in the 60s and is still doing so today.  No matter what you may think of counting points, weight loss programs, and the whole dieting industry, you can't read This is Big without being a little bit in awe of what Jean Nidetch accomplished with her ingenuity, exuberance, and her deep desire to help other people.  Her story really is rather remarkable.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other weight loss memoirs, although I've never read another specifically about Weight Watchers)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), mild sexual content, and references to illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Depressing and Disturbing, Carpenter's Newest Still Makes for Diverting COVID Reading

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Dove Jarrod is known far and wide as an evangelist and faith healer.  Only her granddaughter, 24-year-old Eve Candler, knows the truth: Dove is a fraud.  As head of fundraising for The Charles and Dove Jarrod Foundation, Eve's committed to upholding her grandmother's reputation as a miracle worker, even though Dove has admitted privately that she's no such thing.  When a strange man threatens to expose her grandma as not just a fake but also a murderer, Eve knows she has to stop him.  Dove may be the former, but there's no way she's the latter.  Or is she?  With the stranger breathing down her neck, Eve has no choice but to dig into her family's past to find its real truth—before everything her family has worked so hard to build and protect crumbles to nothing.

I'm a big fan of Emily Carpenter's unsettling thrillers.  Some are better than others, of course, and her newest, Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters, isn't one of my favorites.  Which isn't to say it's not an engrossing read.  It is.  The plot is a little patchy, but it still kept me riveted.  I saw some of the twists coming but there were enough surprises to keep the story suspenseful and intriguing.  This isn't a happy book (Carpenter's novels rarely are), but for the most part, I enjoyed this immersive read.  It made for a distracting COVID read, even though it's sad and depressing.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, blood/gore, disturbing subject matter, depictions of illegal drug use, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC from the generous folks at Lake Union Publishing via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Crouch Thriller Explores What Happens When a Town's Mysterious Past Hasn't Really Passed

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ghost towns are plentiful in the Southwest, but Abandon—an old gold-mining settlement in Colorado—is unique.  Its citizens all disappeared on Christmas Day, 1893, never to be seen or heard from again.  What could have caused 123 people to vanish into thin air, leaving food on their tables, belongings in their closets, and money in their purses?  Were they swept up to heaven in a great rapture?  Kidnapped by aliens?  Killed by savage Indians?  If they were slaughtered, why have their bones never been found? What happened to the people of Abandon?

The question has plagued people for over 100 years.  Explorers have tried to find the ghost town before but none have ever returned.  That doesn't stop a new group from wanting to make the trek.  Headed by the owners of an adventure company, the party includes two paranormal photographers, a history professor, and his journalist daughter.  Although all of them are up for the adventure, it doesn't take long to realize they're all in way over their heads.  The past has not exactly passed in mysterious Abandon, Colorado...

For such a simple premise, the one at the heart of Abandon by Blake Crouch is so very, very intriguing.  How could I resist?  Crouch excels at creating stories that are atmospheric and unsettling and this 2015 novel is no exception.  It's creepy as well as violent, bloody, and depressing.  It also features characters who are kind of blah and unlikable.  And yet, it's a riveting read.  I couldn't stop turning pages, which is saying something because Abandon has over 500 of them!  While I can't say I loved this disturbing thriller, it did keep me engrossed and entertained.  It's far from my favorite Crouch novel, but overall, I liked it.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language, violence, blood/gore, disturbing subject matter, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Abandon from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Falling for Autumn, Vicariously



 

Unlike in beautiful New Hampshire (top photo), where I was vacationing last year around this time, or in the stunning Columbia River Gorge (bottom photo), where I was reared, here in the Phoenix area we don't really have Fall.  Sure, the temperature will retreat back into two-digit range sometime around November, but the leaves don't really change color, there's no briskness in the air, and the homey sight of smoke drifting out of chimneys into a bright Autumn sky is not something you see here in our desert.  I miss real Fall, the kind I adored while growing up in Washington and going to college in Utah.  Since I can't experience it without taking a drive, I'll have to do it vicariously through books (like I do a lot of things).  That's where this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic—Top Ten Book Covers That Give Off Fall Vibes—comes in.  My list is a mix of titles I've read and enjoyed, Fall books I loved as a kid and had fun reading to my own children, and a few that I'm looking forward to reading sometime soon. 

If you want to join in the TTT fun, hop on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

Top Ten Book Covers That Give Off Fall Vibes   


Return to Virgin River by Robyn Carr—the newest in a series I enjoy but am behind in reading


Bitter River by Julia KellerMy Review


The Brutal Telling by Louise PennyMy Review


It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz—Oh, the nostalgia!


A Separate Peace by John Knowles


Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr


Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman, illustrated by S.D. Schindler—one of my kids' favorite seasonal read alouds


Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland, illustrated by Elly MacKay


The Orphan of Cemetery Hill by Hester Fox


Pumpkin Everything by Beth LabonteJana mentioned this sweet romance in her post today and it sounds fun, especially since I love New Hampshire!

There you go, some book covers that really say Autumn to me.  What do you think of my picks?  Which covers say Fall to you?  What is Fall like where you live?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

Monday, October 05, 2020

Mormon Mentions: Jon Erwin and William Doyle

If you're not sure what a Mormon is, let alone a Mormon Mention, allow me to explain:  My name is Susan and I'm a Mormon (you've seen the commercials, right?).  As a member of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon or LDS Church), I'm naturally concerned with how my religion is portrayed in the media.  Because this blog is about books, every time I see a reference to Mormonism in a book written by someone who is not a member of my church, I highlight it here.  Then, I offer my opinion—my insider's view—of what the author is saying.  It's my chance to correct misconceptions, expound on principles of the Gospel, and even to laugh at my (sometimes) crazy Mormon culture.

(Note:  In 2018, Russell M. Nelson—president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintsmade an impassioned plea to members of the Church and to the media to always use the full and correct name of the Church instead of referring to it by its various nicknames.  This led to the renaming of many Church entities, including its famous choir, which is now The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.  Thus, I'm trying to think of a new name for my "Mormon Mentions" feature.  Any ideas?) 

--

In Beyond Valor, the authors discuss how various Medal of Honor recipients react to the award, which often honors actions taken on the worst day of their lives.  On Page 96, it says:

"Some recipients have battled depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and periods of great despair and failure in civilian life.  Pvt. Thomas C. Neibaur of Idaho was the first Mormon to receive the Medal of Honor, which recognized his actions in France on October 16, 1918.  In 1939, discouraged by misfortune and unable to feed his family, Neibaur mailed his Medal of Honor and other decorations to Congress, stating, "I cannot eat them."  Within three years, both he and his wife died, and their four sons were sent to an orphanage in Michigan."

I'm not sure what to say about this except what a terribly sad story.  I did find this article about Neibaur, which gives more details about his life and military service.  

Grandson's Tribute to His World War II Hero Moving and Faith-Promoting

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Imagine you're the radio operator on a B-29 Superfortress airplane flying over Japan on a bombing mission during World War II.  As you're dropping the explosives through a chute, one backfires, filling your aircraft with smoke.  Blinded and knowing you have only seconds to act before the bomb detonates, killing you and the rest of the men on board, what do you do?  

If you're 23-year-old Henry "Red" Erwin, you grab the bomb, make a desperate, sightless crawl through the aircraft, find an available window, and force it outside.  You save your buddies but at an incredible cost to yourself.  With third-degree burns over at least 20-50% of your body, you spend the next few years undergoing agonizing operations and procedures to save your skin, reconstruct your ear, and rebuild your face.  Even then, you must go through the rest of your life with a damaged body.  Your face will always bear horrific scars, the kind of disfigurement that scares children and makes adults gasp.  You receive the Medal of Honor, a prize that comes with its own weight.  Was it worth the sacrifice?  If you're Red Erwin, the answer is a resounding yes.

In Beyond Valor, Red's grandson, Jon Erwin along with co-writer William Doyle, tells the story of Red's heroism during World War II.  They also explore the two things that most strengthened Red during his ordeal in the B-29 and throughout his long, painful recovery—his marriage and his faith.  Although Beyond Valor is less than 200 pages, it's packed with a lot of interesting information, which made it a quick but impactful read.  I especially enjoyed learning about Red's constant reliance on God and would, in fact, have liked to hear more about that.  Still, I found his story to be a powerful example of how faith can help us through our darkest hours.  Although Red's tale is both intriguing and moving, my favorite part of Beyond Valor might actually be a section at the end of the book entitled "Seven Prayers."  It details seven instances in which American presidents called on their Creator to help them in times of great national stress.  Again, it's a faith-promoting testament to the power of prayer and faith.  All of these elements combined to make Beyond Valor a touching, uplifting read.  I don't always enjoy non-fiction books about war, but this one engaged me, made me think, and touched my soul.

Jon Erwin and his brother, Andy, are the creators of faith-based films like their 2018 hit I Can Only Imagine.  The duo plans to make a movie based on their grandfather's World War II experience.

(Readalikes:  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Beyond Valor from the generous folks at TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

--

Interested in more reviews of Beyond Valor?  Click on the links below to follow along on the book's blog tour:


Monday, September 21st: @hannah_reads

Tuesday, September 22nd: Savvy Verse and Wit – author guest post

Thursday, September 24th: Treestand Book Reviews

Monday, September 28th: What is That Book About – excerpt

Wednesday, September 30th: Books Cooks Looks – excerpt

Thursday, October 1st: @meetmeinthestacks

Monday, October 5th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Wednesday, October 7th: @lets_talk_books_and_cats

Thursday, October 8th: Living My Best Book Life and @livingmybestbooklife

Monday, October 12th: Laura’s Reviews

Thursday, October 19th: @liferhi_inspired

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