Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Book Reviews | Wrapping Up 2020

The final tally shows that I read 96 books last year: 29 nonfiction and 67 fiction! As a friend mentioned after reading my previous post, "there's enough nonfiction going on in the world" to keep us diving into fiction for quite a while. 

Most of what I read was really good, although there were a few duds along the way. Here's a quick review of most of the books I haven't yet shared about here on the blog.

Christian Fiction

A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, and As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers (one of my favorite authors) make up the excellent Mark of the Lion series and depict the world of slavery, wealth, depravity, aristocracy, Christianity, persecution, and gladiator games in first century Rome. The Preacher's Daughter, The Englisher, and The Brethren by Beverly Lewis make up the well-written Annie's People series of stories about art, love, loss and life in an Amish community. Tilly by Frank Peretti is a short quick read focusing on abortion and forgiveness. High Stakes by Kathy Herman is an intriguing mystery set in a small town. It's actually book four in The Baxter Series. My sister sent me the copy she picked up at their library's used book sale after she read and enjoyed it as well.

Books That Have Been Turned Into Movies or TV Shows That We've Enjoyed

The Blackboard Jungle by Evan Hunter is a 1954 novel set in an interracial inner-city school. Robbie and I watched and enjoyed the 1955 movie starring Glenn Ford, Vic Morrow, and Sidney Poitier several times before we both read the book and appreciated how well the movie followed the original story. Based on a friend's recommendation, we have been watching the Heartland series on Netflix. We're currently on Season Nine (and have not jumped ahead to the new season that just aired this month). We are thoroughly enjoying this show that follows the family-friendly drama of the Fleming family as they rescue and rehabilitate troubled horses on the family farm located in Alberta, Canada. This show is based on a series of children's books by Lauren Brooks, so Robbie ordered us two volumes with the first six books (Coming Home, After the Storm, Breaking Free, Taking Chances, Come What May, and One Day You'll Know). We both enjoyed these quick reads despite the fact that the books and TV series diverge quite a bit.


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is one of my favorite books from the year. It's a well-written hard-to-put down book with several intertwining storylines that kept me intrigued and captivated throughout. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult is a suspenseful novel filled with mystery, death, and paranormal phenomenon; but the most intriguing things for me were the elephant sanctuary settings and the research into how elephants grieve that form an integral part of the story. Camino Winds by John Grisham is a really good legal thriller that follows some of the characters introduced in Camino Island (which I read a couple of years ago and reviewed HERE). On the Street Where You Live by Mary Higgins Clark is a riveting read involving several closely linked murders that happened 100+ years apart.  Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion was a good quick post-apocalyptic zombie story, not too gory, with a satisfying ending.

Historical Fiction

I didn't realize The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid was considered historical fiction until I looked it up for this blog post. It was an engrossing read, although somewhat disappointing as I didn't realize until a ways into the story that it wasn't really about her husbands but more of a propaganda piece for alternate lifestyles.

Young Adult Novels

That Was Then This Is Now by S.E. Hinton is a coming of age novel following the friendship of two teenage boys as they deal with broken homes, neighborhood violence, growing up, and growing apart. I didn't remember reading The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin until I got into the story. I re-read this classic when my niece loaned it to me during her visit here this summer. It was a quick easy read, but why it's a classic still eludes me.


I thoroughly enjoyed my re-read of In Search of the Real Spirit of Christmas by Dan Schaeffer leading up to Christmas. Beth Moore's book Audacious is a description of her personal and ministry goal to "see all women audaciously love the Lord." The Salt Path by Raynor Winn was a disappointing, somewhat repetitive, memoir of a couple walking the South West Coast Path in England.

How did your reading tally up for last year? Did all the "nonfiction happening in the world" drive you to read more fiction?


  1. You have a huge and wide-ranging selection there! I always enjoy your reviews. I do find it hard to get into fiction these last few years, and am much more of a non-fiction person - there's so much I don't know and want to learn more about.

  2. I have long been singing the praises of The Thirteenth Tale - it is a book I have read several times & will read several times again.
    Always appreciate book reviews.

  3. I, too, loved The Thirteenth Tale, but read it so long ago, I should probably reread it. My 2020 Book Post is about ready to go live---postponed by surgery on my thumb which slows things down considerably!

  4. Wow! That's a lot of books for one year. Everyone asked me if I read more due to Covid, but surprisingly, I read less! We just embraced staying at home and found other things to keep us busy. I always appreciate your book reviews. There is always a book or two I add to my list---which is crazy long!


Thanks so much for your comment - it's like a ray of sunshine in my day!