Favorite Books Read in 2020

I thought about sharing a list of the books I read this year, but I share an Amazon and Goodreads account with my mom (it makes it easier for me to add books to her Kindle for her) and she read a lot more books than me so sifting through what she read and what I read was a little overwhelming. My Kindle list also includes books from my husband’s account and he’s also read a lot more books than I have this year (as he always does.)

I’ve been lesson planning for when school starts for the kids next week so I didn’t have time to sit and figure out what I read, what she read, and what he read. I do know she read around 200 this year (some of them short, some of them awful Kindle books, poor lady) on her Kindle and he read 80 on his Kindle. They both also read a few hard copies of books.

Since I didn’t want to try to make a list of all the books I read, which would have been short (maybe 20), I thought I’d list some of my favorites of what I read this year instead.

My favorite reads this year were:

A Long Time Comin’ by Robin W. Pearson

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

Falling Home by Karen White

About Your Father And Other Celebrities I Have Known by Peggy Rowe (the only non-fiction book I read all the way through.)

A Longmire Mystery: The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner.

The Dead Don’t Dance by Charles Martin


Honorable Mentions:

Borders of the Heart Chris Fabry

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Silas Marner by George Elliot

The Knife Slipped by Earl Stanley Gardner

A Cord of Three Strands by Christy Distler

I know a lot of readers announce a reading goal for the new year, but I find goals like that distract me from simply enjoying reading. I guess I could set my goal at 20 and see what happens, but . . . that just sounds so organized, so I don’t think I’ll really set that as my goal. Pretend I did, though, so I fit in with all the book bloggers of the world.

So how about you? What were some of your favorite reads of 2020? Let me know in the comments.

Book Review: Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner

Some books ooze the personality of the author and I think Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish is one of those books — if Bethany Turner’s social media accounts are any indication of what a fun, hilarious person she is in real life — and I think they are.

First the Goodreads description for the book:

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanaugh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel’s other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum, he’s sent packing to get his life in order. When he returns, career in shambles, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public’s good graces is to work alongside Hadley.

As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along, but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love. In the meantime, hide the knives.

Fan-favorite Bethany Turner serves up a heaping helping of humor and romance with this thoroughly modern story centered on cooking, enemies, and second chances.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the lighthearted moments woven among some tender, difficult memories and realities for the main characters — Hadley Becket and Max Cavanaugh, both high-profile chefs. Hadley was definitely the one with more of a sense of humor, while Max was more of the “grump”. As you read you realize that some of Hadley’s humor is to cover insecurities and hurts and that Max’s grouchy tendancies are for the same reasons. Attempts to cover flaws with their moods aren’t the only similarities the pair have, of course, something readers learn as the book continues.

I’m always impressed with Bethany’s way with words. She is a master of using humor, cultural references, and yet, still keeps her fiction free of swearing, sex, or violence.

She’s also a master at descriptions. One of my favorite descriptions in this book was how Hadley described the way Max’s shirt fit him: “The T-shirt sleeves strained just slightly to their resting point mid-way down his bicep, and with his arms crossed over his chest, as they were now, you could almost hear an audible sigh from the front of the shirt, as it was allowed a moment to relax from the tightness that Max’s well-toned chest and shoulders usually created.”

These days we need something light and romantic to distract us and Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish is the perfect way to do that. Find out more about Bethany on her Instagram and Facebook accounts or her website: http://seebethanywrite.com/

Book review: A Cord of Three Strands, historical fiction

Book reviews won’t necessarily be a regular feature here but I’ve read a couple I’ve liked lately and wanted to share in case others are looking for a good distraction. Plus I “met” this author online and thought it would be cool to help her promote her first book. I mean she’s from Pennsylvania and the book takes place in Pennsylvania so she must be cool, right?

First, the Goodreads description of the book:

As 1756 dawns, Isaac Lukens leaves the Pennsylvania wilderness after two years with the Lenape people. He’s failed to find the families of his birth parents, a French trader and a Lenape woman. Worse, the tribe he’s lived with, having rejected his peacemaking efforts, now ravages frontier settlements in retaliation. When he arrives in the Quaker community where he was reared, questions taunt him: Who is he—white man or Lenape? And where does he belong?

Elisabeth Alden, Isaac’s dearest childhood friend, is left to tend her young siblings alone upon her father’s death. Despite Isaac’s promise to care for her and the children, she battles resentment toward him for having left, while an unspeakable tragedy and her discordant courtship with a prominent Philadelphian weigh on her as well.

Elisabeth must marry or lose guardianship of her siblings, and her options threaten the life with her and the children that Isaac has come to love. Faced with Elisabeth’s hesitancy to marry, the prospect of finding his family at last, and the opportunity to assist in the peace process between Pennsylvania and its Indian tribes, Isaac must determine where—and to whom—the Almighty has called him

My review:

To be honest, the prologue to this book made me think I might not enjoy it because the language seemed a little old fashioned. The important words in the previous sentence? Seemed and at first. Because by chapter 1 I realized the use of older language was a way to bring me closer to understanding the characters and their way of life. It wasn’t long before beginning it that I was hooked on the book and having a hard time putting it down. I was on the edge of my seat throughout, wondering what trial or triumph might face the main characters, Isaac and Elisabeth, next.

 This book is a romance in some ways, yes, but it is such a sweet, gradual romance that the reader isn’t overwhelmed with sappiness and drama. Much of the romantic nature of the story is over shadowed by the compelling story of the Lenape people through the eyes of Isaac and the story of the Quakers through both Isaac and Elisabeth’s eyes. This isn’t one of those romantic stories where romance is the main focus. Yes, love is the main thread that holds the characters and the story together but it is a love that is deeper than a physical and romantic attraction. It is a spiritual love and an emotional one.

From the beginning of this book I fell in love with the characters,  my heart broke for their trials, and my eyes were opened to the struggles faced by this nation’s early settlers and the natives who lived on the land before the settlers ever arrived. I literally wanted to crawl inside the book at times and hug Elisabeth close and then take her away from a world that could be so cruel in the early years of our nation’s founding.

I was never sure what adventure was coming next for Isaac and Elisabeth and I loved that. It kept me turning pages (and kept me up too late at some nights). As a Christian I don’t believe in fate so in this case I believe it was divine guidance that led me to discover Christy’s book. In the first few pages Christy mentioned a town near where I grew up and now live, which hooked me on the book even more.

I later discovered the author lives in the same state and holds the same love for this state’s local and Native American history in the same way I do. This is Christy’s first book, but I expect to see many more from her in the future and I’m really looking forward to them.

If you’re not already a fan of historical fiction, this book will make you one. She could use some reviews for the book to get it some more attention so if you read it and like it, please leave her a review on Amazon.

Christy is also an editor (copy editing, content editing, line editing, proofreading, manuscript review) and you can find more information about that part of her life HERE.