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Truly enjoyed the perspectives of each character clear throughout the book. The ending has me waiting for the sequel.

NH Doc

KIRKUS WAS RIGHT: Enthralling and (a bit) unnerving.

It was hard to put the book down after the very first page. You are not sure how all of the characters fit in until the end. I highly recommend reading this book. Judith Sanders does an excellent job of keeping your interest to the very last page.

Corinne B.

Griping murder mystery that keeps you second guessing right up to the end.

This is a great read! As a fan of murder mystery novels this one is unique both in story line, character development and being told in 1st person. It grabs your attention fast and hold you page after page. You think you have everything figured out but it’s one twist after another! Highly recommend!

Amazon Customer

Unique well told storyline

A quick, suspenseful page turner. I couldn’t put it down. The twists, turns, and surprises kept me guessing until the end. I know this is a book I’ll be thinking about for a while.

L. J. Adams

Really well done. I couldn't put it down!

From the first page to the suspenseful ending I could not put this book down. I highly recommend this murder mystery which you will not be able to put down. Trust me when I say you will not be disappointed with this thriller.

Donna Brown

You will not be able to put this suspenseful thriller down.

Very interesting story and great characters


Great read

The selected for this review of Judith Sanders’ richly compelling novel IN HIS STEAD (A FATHER’S WAR) is from James Joyce’s PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, chosen because it encircles the conflict and resolution of this story. For those who may at first question Sanders’ title, the word `stead’ is defined as the office, place, or function ordinarily occupied or carried out by someone or something else. Read but the opening chapter of this book and Sanders’ attention to details such as selecting a title flow throughout this novel. Sanders knows and understands this territory as she has served as a nurse in the military and is privy to those intimate bedside tales that are whispered in the privacy of pain.

For those of us who have written about war the respect for Judith Sanders’ story is enhanced by her engagement of what emotions war carves into the psyches of those who have fought on the battlefield and those who have suffered the wounds transmitted to the home front. A retired Army Ranger, Thomas Lane, suffers from PTSD from battle as well as from the loss of his eldest son killed in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device. His younger son, always feeling he does not live up to the sterling reputation of his deceased older brother, is serving in the National Guard and as fate would have it his Guard unit is called up for duty in Afghanistan. Crushed by the possibility of losing his only other son to the bloody war in Afghanistan, Tom decides to invoke the in `in his stead’ concept, battles with the US Army, it’s legal JAG corps, and a vengeful officer to allow him to take his son’s place. While at home another conflict ignites with the very son he’s trying to protect and his Tom’s wife who is grappling with either sending another son or her husband off to war. But soon Tom is off to Afghanistan, stationed with much younger fellow soldiers such as Albert whose humiliating problem with a speech defect is resolved in battle, Lt. Cogriff, a by the book quasi-leader whose indecisions and bad decisions take focus, and Sgt Steiner who served with Tom’s son when his son was killed. Tom faces the hardships of alone mane in battle and the agony of a father who has decided to make a choice more difficult than he imagined.

War scars all who cope with it. Judith Sander’s offers further evidence that war is not an answer in a story that offers a different vantage from others who have written about the subject. The result is a stunning, gripping novel that penetrates like a bayonet. `I will do what I can in his stead.’ Highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 13

Grady Harp

Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.' James Joyce

In His Stead (A Father’s War) by Judith Sanders
I am not usually a reader of military fiction. I lived as an Army wife for 6 years and married a discharged Airman, so I’ve lived with the fears that are in this novel. It was comforting to know that the reactions I had were so similar to the wife’s character. Her descriptions are wonderful; one of the best examples is the scene where Tom and Donnie are playing pool. The action is well paced and the dialogue had just the right blend of braggart and cold measurement of the opponent. The reward of the1969 Chevelle SS is to be Donnie’s if he wins, if his dad wins, he is allowed to step into his shoes. Then when Tom pulls out a Balabushka cue, it’s as if everyone in the room stops breathing. This is all Donnie needed to see; all his life the stories that he’d occurred surrounding the cue.
The story begins with a nuclear family, a retired Army Ranger who owns his own business, a loving wife, Christine, two sons, Tommy and Donnie, and a daughter Chrissy. Tommy, who is in the military and Donnie who loves punk music are opposites in appearance and temperament. Not long into the story, you learn that the eldest son has died. The second son gets into some minor trouble and such, and instead of doing community service the judge recommends, his father, Tom, decides that Donnie should join the National Guard. Often, Tom would watch a YouTube video of Tommy’s death that had been captured and placed online. One night Tom gets a phone call that Donnie has been picked up for being drunk and a public nuisance. He knows that he will never measure up to Tommy in his dad’s eyes and then the lecturing begins.
When Tom gets Donnie in the truck, he lectures him all the way home. He then goes into the nightly ritual of making sure the home has been locked up safely, and suffers yet another nightmare, leftover from his own tour of service and at the guilt in Tommy’s death. It’s only after he gets the news that Donnie’s group is being activated to go to Afghanistan that he realizes what Donnie was trying to do. At this very late juncture, he realizes that Donnie is the last person who should be going to war. He and Donnie agree to let Tom tell Christine about the activation. “Eventually the energies generated by their fear and sorrow overwhelmed them. Relief could only be found in fierce, wild lovemaking.”
He worries about how sensitive Donnie really is and how easily he would be destroyed by seeing any combat action. He talked to his neighbor Frank, who had served with Tom, and an attorney who was still active National Guard Jim, and tries to figure out what to do so Donnie can exist without being a coward or going AWOL. While Frank doses watching TV, the Civil War was discussed. One of these items of interest is the precedent created that would allow Tom to serve in Donnie’s place. Usually, in the Civil war, the “In my Stead” law; means someone else can be sent to war instead of the one who was designed. This was largely used to send slaves in place of a son or a wealthy man. To see if they are successful in their endeavors, you really need to read the book.

Jami Grey

Her descriptions are wonderful; one of the best examples is the scene ...

This novel by Judith Sanders, In His Stead, is an emotionally moving story that demonstrates love by concrete action. Tom Lane, survivor of 13 years of military service would leave the Army at 31 after fighting in the Persian Gulf and Operation Desert Storm. Though not intending to return, his civilian life, business and family would face a crossroad only a father would understand. Oldest son Tommy would die in war from a humanitarian act and the realities of death would stifle any thoughts of boasting when desiring to stand proud in fighting for America.

With Tom’s oldest son gone younger brother Donnie’s choices would place him before a judge who had jail or joining the Guard as options. Tom would encourage Donnie to choose joining the Guard so that he could obtain money for college. It was Donnie’s guard unit that was called up to Afghanistan and Tom’s army friend Frank that heard of a law enabling a father to stand in place of his son in war. In realistic portrayal Tom, with lawyer in hand, would prepare himself in place of his son but not without facing numerous obstacles. “I got Donnie into this, Now I have to find a way to get my son out of it.”

Donnie’s initial refusal to allow his father to take his place would reverse as Tom’s intimate conversation of the realities of war and his prepared willingness to re-emerge for a cause only a father would know. “He was staring at him as though he could see his father’s soul seeping out”. Mr. Ricca will represent to all of us how a timely appointment can change a perspective quite rapidly and how those that have lost hope can regain vision. Trace Tom’s physical training and his rigorous tests he had to pass to be accepted. The good Samaritan “Doc” would play an instrumental role in his Afghanistan deployment. Referred to as “Dad” his heart would reach out to all the young soldiers making him a hero in the eyes of all.

This realistic account of a father’s love that knows no bounds will reach your heart deeply as convictions flow forth. War realities and heart affections will be tapped fully in an award winning novel you don’t want to miss out on. A real 5-star winner!

Valerie Caraotta

An emotionally moving novel depicting a father's love

I have heard many people say how authors should separate their actual lives from that of their characters in order to write a book with mass appeal, but I am so glad that Judith Saunders ignored that advice. Saunders’ real voice came through in the narrative that made it so personal and really drew me into the entire novel. Everything is emotionally charged–reminded me of a good Jodie Picoult book.

“In His Stead” tells the story of what many parents wish they could do: save and protect their child at any cost. After suffering the loss of one of his sons in the war in Afghanistan, Tom Lane learns that his other son, who joined the National Guard over jail, is being deployed to Afghanistan. This book deals with a lot of trauma: father Tom suffering from PTSD after his own stint in the military, mother Christine and sister Chrissy dealing with the loss of oldest son Tommy who died in Afghanistan, and younger son Donnie who constantly feels inadequate when compared to Tommy.

Like I said, what I love about this book is how real it seemed. I don’t have any experience in the military, but I feel that this book made a very personal predicament universally relevant. Instead of passing over the “more boring stuff” like conversations leading up to Tom’s decision to implement “in his stead”, Saunders expertly adds in these details that make it so impactful and realistic. It’s not just focused on the drama–you really get to know all of the characters as well, especially Tom’s wife, Christine. There is definitely more than just a father taking his son’s place in war–there is the emotional family background and the wife’s fear of losing her husband. To read Tom repeatedly talk about his parental failures is absolutely heart-breaking, which speaks strongly to the author’s incredible writing style

Sidenote: The pool game that determined whether Tom or his son would go to Afghanistan was one of the most suspenseful scenes I have read in a long time. Constantly charged, each scene progresses the story, and there was no miscellaneous details. Its a book about war without being overly political– a rare find today.


One parent’s extreme decision to forever protect his son

When this book first came to my attention I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy it. As I started to read I was still withholding judgement because it seemed a bit far fetched.

But the more you read the more you start to resonate with the story. Thomas Lane, Sr. does not want his younger son, Donnie, to go to war. He has already lost his first son, Thomas, Jr. to the war. He is torn as to what to do.

As an Army Ranger he understands the honor in serving your country. But he also understands the horror that war brings to a young man just out of high school or college. The things that will be seen are not for the faint of heart and not many young men are ready or able to deal with them.

I have counseled with men who have PTSD. They are young men who were vibrant when they joined the military. Now, they are troubled, hurt, changed. That doesn’t happen because they were weak or undertrained. It happens because not every young man or woman is emotionally ready to deal with the trauma of having friends killed by your side.

The story is gripping. Whether you agree or not with the plot you still have to agree with a father’s desire to love his family and protect them in the only way that he knows how.

I must say that Judith Sanders brought me to an emotional buy in that made me both extremely proud of a warrior and yet extremely sad at the cost that war brings on families.

If you have ever lost a loved one in a war (for me five friends in Viet Nam) you might have a bit of trouble reading this. But then again, you probably will resonate with the story and understand all that happens.

Please, read with open hearts and mind.

William D. Curnutt

A Father's Love Knows no Limits

Sometimes, the intentions of an author are noble enough to transcend the challenges of writing a fully believable, coherent tale; that is the case here. ‘In Your Stead’ is a heartfelt story about love, principles, dedication and honor. It is the story of a father who uses a ‘loophole’ in the law to take the place of his son in an Army deployment to Afghanistan. The characters range from believable to painfully stereotypical; the plot is at times melodramatic; every single issue seems to resolve nearly perfectly, making it difficult to avoid rolling your eyes sometimes. However, it is easy enough to get beyond that; the story is compelling and contemporary. There is something powerfully, irresistibly redemptive about these characters; the author clearly cares about them, and you do as well. Each character thread seems to resolve itself with dignity and compassion; in the end there are no ‘bad guys’, just deeply human beings trying to navigate a complex world. Although the twists and turns of the plot are mawkish at times, the deep faith that the writer has and conveys in every character makes this book a very worthwhile read. Author Judith Sanders, using an outline provided by James Williams, has done her research. The story kicks into high gear once the father is deployed- the author creates an authentic, dynamic, tense scenario drawing the reader in, fully engaged. Sanders is particularly skillful at highlighting the challenge when duty to country means embracing a duty one is called to that is poorly conceived, and irrelevant to our needs as a nation.

Like all human endeavors, ‘In Your Stead’ has towering strengths, and frustrating moments, when things seem too pat and packaged. Still, it is a deeply honest effort, and succeeds on a powerful, human level.

Bruce Menin

Not Perfect, But Something Better

Author Judith Sanders makes it clear before the main text of the story even begins that this is a story dedicated to the sheer sense of parenthood which instinctively drives many caring parents to do anything in their power to protect their children. The foreword written by James Williams (the original intended author of this novel) serves to strengthen that theme with very real examples from Williams’ own life.

The story of Thomas Lane fighting a war to save his son from harm is incredibly touching. Any parent or child, regardless of circumstances, will likely take something from the emotionally-driven text. Sanders pits Lane against all sorts of personal obstacles and creates a story full of combative dialogue, with a fair bit of action as well. Without giving too much away, suffice to say that Lane’s decision to fight in his son’s place is not well-received by everyone involved.

There may be moments, especially in the last chapter, where some may feel the dialogue is a bit stilted. Luckily, these moments are brief, and they do not detract from the underlying message that the dialogue is attempting to relate. This book is one with a lot of heart, and it shows on nearly every page. Even on the very first page of the book, war is announced on the family meatloaf night. This is a nice, light-hearted foreboding of the sense of family that continues to pervade the novel throughout every single page.

The actual story will not be relatable to most people, as Lane makes history by the end of the book. The themes, however, are another matter. Parents and children alike will find this heart-wrenching tale is sometimes difficult to put down, as the future of the Lane family hangs in the balance due to one man’s decision.

Kieran Hair

Inspiring for Parents and Children Alike

Thomas Lane, once a soldier himself, has become a collateral victim of America’s war of terror: His eldest son died a hero in Afghanistan, and his death was caught on video and up-loaded to You Tube for the world to see, to where Thomas and his wife can see it happen again and again. If this wasn’t enough of an emotional burden to carry, he has just found out that his youngest son, a reluctant ‘weekend warrior’ has be given notice; he too will be deploying to the increasingly dangerous war-zone. Horrified at what the death of another son would do to his wife, Thomas looks for legal ways that he can keep his son safe at home in the USA. And he may have found such a legal loop-hole, even if a rather bizarre one. With the date of deployment rapidly approaching, tensions rise; will it work?
This novel by Judith Sanders caught my attention on a number of levels: it is well written and researched and I think that she has tapped into a very real issues concerning so many America parent that are worried about the increasing number of American dead in a country that so few know much about. On another level she intrigues me with the ancient laws that her main character uses to try and keep his son at home. Will it work? You’ll have to read the book to find out, but I will be doing some research of my own to see if such a law did in fact exist in the US!
I give this excellent novel four stars!

Steve Reeder

The war on terror: A diffent viewpoint?

There is no shortage of military-themed books out there on the market, but this one stood out. The premise of the story is what initially drew me in, but the powerful story-telling and character development by Sanders is what kept me in. She tackled extremely complex issues and challenging choices related to honor, strength, family, and sacrifice – not an easy task. There aren’t many non-emotional moments in this novel, and not only are there the realistic choices that Lane has to make regarding his son that is still alive, but there are also the moments of loss and pain that are so heart breakingly recounted. The depth of understanding of the human condition and the bonds of family are as close to perfect as an author can achieve. Wife and husband, father and son, authority and loyalty….the opposing forces that are fleshed out and discussed are strikingly honest and accessible to readers, whether or not they are connected to the military. I love any good story that makes me want to seek out information about a new topic, and I am woefully ignorant about most military history, especially the complicated laws and regulations that make it such a behemoth in our society. I don’t know what Judith Sanders’ background is, but she is clearly an intelligent, probing, and conscientious researcher. I would very much enjoy reading more by this author, particularly if she continues pouring this sort of insight not only into reality, but also into the confusing emotional tangles that come with loss, loyalty, and love of country. Whew….what a read.

Veritas Vincit

The Hardest Choices Make for the Best Stories

Thomas Lane has already lost one son to the war in Afghanistan, he will be damned if he loses another one. “In His Stead (A Father’s War)” by Judith Sanders does an amazing job at showing the way war effects those involved. It is quite common that we see the man in uniform deliver the flag to the parents of a fallen solider. It is not as common that we get to see what happens after that heart stopping moment. Losing a child is a hard thing for a married to come back from.

So, after being faced with the possibility of losing his only son left, Lane does whatever he has to do to protect what is left of his family. The included invoking a century old law that allows him to go in the place of his son. However the battle is not over there, as Lane still has several obstacles in his way. Including his wife and the very son he was trying to protect.

Overall Sanders novel is pretty well thought out and executed nicely. My only complaint would have to be with Thomas’s character. This whole situation was started by him, and then he gets mad at the military. As if they had anything to do with Thomas’s allowing his son to going the National Guard. Really? Other than this and the relatively slow build up to the action this novel is a great experience for all. 4/5.

Bronsen Earl

A Powerful Display Of A Father's Love

In His Stead (A Father’s War) A Novel by Judith Sanders is a 340 page novel. It is written in third person, past tense and includes thirty-five chapters, no titles just numbers, an author’s note, foreword and excerpt. I love the book cover and thought it captured the plot perfectly.
The title sums the book up nicely. Even though it is written in third person, it is mainly from the father’s, Thomas Lane’s, perspective. The writing is superb, I felt thoroughly in Tom’s head. I understood his motives and was invested in his feelings for family and to keep them all safe. Coming from a military family myself, I completely understood his concerns of war. With that being said, I wish the emotional aftermath of Donnie was further explained. I understand Tom did not want to lose another boy to the war but my dilemma is, when considering the possible outcomes of going to war, if Tom died, wouldn’t the son feel a sense of guilt, along with several other emotions, for the rest of his life? It makes me wonder if the trade off is worth it. I felt as though I missed something there, especially at the end. I might be the only one to have this opinion, so keep in mind that it is only my opinion. Again, I realize the story is about Tom’s point of view, and in that regard it is exceptionally written.

LA Howell

The Dad

Hey guys! If you’re looking for a fun summer read for the beach… This might not be for you. In His Stead is the story of Retired Army Ranger Thomas Lane, and his relationship and struggles with the United States military. His eldest son was killed in Afghanistan, and his youngest is being called up to the National Guard. Determined to keep his only living son safe, he takes his sons place. Which is something that could happen, I guess? Who knew? It is a obviously a very serious story of family, loss, and sacrifice.

This is one of those books that I would say “This is great!”, and they would ask “Should I read it?” and I wouldn’t know how to answer. Of course you should, but you have to be ready for it. Like I said, it’s not a light read, and you certainly won’t have “fun” reading it, but if you do try it out, you will find that it is a very well told story.

Thomas comes across as a very sympathetic character, even though his anger is misguided at times. You feel his pain for his loss, and understand and appreciate when he tries to do what he thinks is right. It is a powerful read, and I would recommend this to everyone to check out. As long as they know what they’re getting into…

Owen Robinson

A powerful story

In His Stead (A Father’s War) ISBN: 9781938573866, Iron Word Press, an e-book by Judith Sanders is a most unusual novel that elicits a need for dichotomous evaluation.
Middle-aged former Ranger Tom Lane retains some vestigial PTSD but has established a successful small business with his wartime bosom buddy Frank both as his foreman and the family’s “Uncle Frank”. Family consists of a loving wife, young daughter and a college student son, Donnie, with whom he has `lost touch’. Donnie is in a National Guard Unit being called up for Afghanistan Duty. Tom’s oldest son was killed there and he now blames himself for Donnie’s placement `in Harm’s way’ – he had persuaded him to enlist as a means of gaining tuition aid. He discovers an old Civil War law that allows a person to substitute service. Donnie objects so he and Donnie play pool, the winner goes. As an old pool hustler, he wins and reports for duty backed by another former ranger, now a successful lawyer. JAG allows him to proceed while reaching a decision. The inexperienced lieutenant and battle scarred sergeant resent him and the basic plot begins.
With respect to presentation, I must confess a large amount of ambivalence. Positively speaking, the author has set forth a hard hitting, at times highly emotional, human story with a number of memorable characters, presentation of the dilemmas facing so many parents and an overriding positive theme “that one person can make a difference”. Also provided: mostly acceptable training and combat scenes and an interesting aside – knowledge of pool. All of these features provide a very appealing tale.
Conversely, the story unfolds slowly with Tom’s too lengthy review of his mistakes and, for this reader, existence of other overextended passages to discuss/ruminate on one or another matter. For these and the following reasons, pragmatists will find problems. SPOILER ALERT: it is difficult to accept the extent of aid offered by the examining physician, lack of a psychological evaluation that would discover Tom’s vestigial PTSD, and credibility of sections of the last combat activity.
Summary: an intriguing story with which many will be able to equate and non-pragmatists will find captivating and no doubt of `emotionally charged’ prevalence.

John H. Manhold

4* for most non-pragmatists: note Spoiler Alert.

In this day and age, a story about the horrors and long-term effects of warfare are never as relevant. However, this novel takes a completely new direction, but with themes from the past. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have PTSD, nor could I imagine the trauma of losing a child. However, the complicated emotions involved in having a family tradition of being in the military are riveting. The loyalty and sense of honor that Thomas Lane has for not only his family but also his country is challenged by so many unusual and unpredictable events throughout the novel.

It is impossible to put this story in perspective, since it is impossible to imagine the difficulties involved, but Sanders creates a riveting and emotional world that the reader can be sucked into. At times, the book was funny, other times it was heart-wrenching. I’m not a fan of the military; in fact, as an American, there are many deep-seated issues I have with the idea of going abroad. However, this book inspired new respect and interest in how this world is protected, the people that serve us, and the unbelievably complex decisions that must be made and suffered through. This was an emotional read, but a good one. A great one, in fact.

John J. Staughton

Gutting, Emotional Story

I’ll say this right off the bat, the scenario in this book isn’t very realistic. The law Thomas used to o Afghanistan in place of his son, might be real today, but it would be removed very quickly if someone actually used it. The other problem was how Donnie, the son who was suppose to go to Afghanistan acted. He was pretty calm and I thought uncaring about the situation, even as his father fought in Afghanistan.

Having said that, this book still deserves four stars. And that is because of the main character. Thomas is well written. His reaction to seeing his eldest son killed on the internet, the guilt he felt when he heard his surviving son, Donnie was going to go to Afghanistan, the sheer effort he put into getting sent over in his son’s place, as a father I can sympathize and understand every step he took. I was hurting as I read the parts involving Thomas, especially when he thinks about how his very own actions trying to protect Donnie put him into danger.

So if you want a book about a father fighting to protect his family in the only way he knows how, this is for you.

Dan Clarke

A story of a Father

This book turned out to be more than I have anticipated. While I was aware going in that it would have to do with the war I never expected the inner battle that was going on. Usually war stories show both the families side of the war and a brief glimpse into the soldiers side, this book is more than that. It shows not only the battle within the family when they lose one child and the other child’s unit is called up but the war that is raging inside Thomas as he makes the ultimate decision to “save” his son. As I read this book I realized that not only did Thomas “save” his sons life by serving in his place but also gave his son a deep insight into how to be the man he hoped he would become. On the surface this story appears to be nothing more than the loss of a child and the war that goes on inside of an individual but it became so much more. It was the loss of a child, the fear of loosing another child, the war that rages in the Middle East, a man not only fathering his own child but the soldiers he served with, the love of a man for his wife and above all else a fathers love for his children.


So much more than a war story

In His Stead (A Father’s War) by Judith Sanders was an extremely moving novel about a fathers choice to take his sons place in the war in Afghanistan. Thomas Lane Senior is father to Thomas Lane Junior, Donnie Lane and Chrissy Lane. He is also husband to Christine Lane. At the beginning of the story his family learns that their eldest son Tommy Jr. has been killed fighting in Afghanistan and the family is understandably distraught. A few years later when Donnie is called to serve as well his father cannot bear the idea of sending another son to war. Having served as an Army Ranger himself he knows how war can change a young man and he knows the dangers inherent in fighting. When he learns that an old Civil war law that allowed people to stand in for a person called to serve are still on the books Tom knew that he had to try to take his sons place.

This story tells of a father’s love for his family as well as his love for others. It tells a story of a man who simply wants the wars to end. It is beautifully written and I can’t wait to read another novel by Judith Sanders.


This novel made me cry

The basis of the book is that a father discovers a loophole in the law that enables him to be considered as a replacement for his son to fight in Afghanistan. Feeling guilty for having encouraged his son to enlist in the first place, he embarks on a grueling mental, emotional and physical fight to prove he is fit enough to be a soldier once again.

The loophole had potential for a clever story but the characters bored me. The father is strong and likeable but the other characters didn’t really grab my attention. He does meet some very opinionated and tough military men and women and does manage to have some influence on them.

Maybe it would have been better as a short story. The story grew on me but it took half the book to get interested. The first half is rather boring family and friend details. It is a bit sappy and preachy. The book is also preachy about politics and patriotism but I just skimmed through those parts.

I’d give the first half three stars but I gave it four stars because it did improve.

mountain girl

Interesting premise, not so well executed.

In His Stead (A Father’s War) by Judith Sanders is a phenomenal book. I cannot decide whether I would classify it as heartwarming or heart wrenching but it certainly tugs at the heart strings. In His Stead is the story of Thomas Lane and his family. The story opens with the family learning that their oldest son Tom Jr. was killed in Afghanistan while fighting in the war. They learn of his death after seeing his heroic feats on the news. Tom Sr. was an Army Ranger many years ago and struggles with PTSD as a result. When he finds out that his youngest and only surviving son Donnie is supposed to fight in Afghanistan next he uses the only recourse that he can to try and protect him, an old law from the civil war that allows you to take someone’s place and fight “in their stead.”

As a parent, a navy brat, and a friend and sibling to many others who have served this story made me think about what I would be willing to do in order to keep those that I loved safe. In His Stead is a beautifully written and compelling read that I think everyone should pick up.

Robin Perron


Whether it is presented as a mere peace keeping exercise or an all-out aggressive offensive, lives can and will be lost. It is as hard on those of us who are on the sidelines waiting for our loved ones to return as it is for those in its midst. This is a story of a man who has not only seen friends die around him as he fought but one who also loses a child to the madness that is war.

Now the government is seeking to enlist his son, the only one he has left and he is not happy with this. He decides to re-enlist himself to avoid losing another son to the gristmill that is war. It is an emotional time for not only Retired Army Ranger Thomas Lane but for everyone involved. The wife is torn because as much as she doesn’t wish to lose her son, she also doesn’t want to lose her husband in yet another act of war.

I really enjoyed the pace and the way the author, “Judith Sanders”, captured the true raw human emotion that comes when you deal with loss. If you are looking for a book that packs an emotional punch this is the one to buy.


War is Hell on All Involved

Awesome, well written fiction that has themes for every age. Lilly, the lead character, is a misfit by many measures, who finds herself alone and challenged at every turn. Sanders unique and engaging style adds elements of sci-fi with the alien Skye to make this a fun and powerful story. The struggles between good and the evils of power and corruption ring true to life.

NH Doc

A face-paced engaging novel--The next Hunger Games?

Interesting story but with a very abrupt ending. Needs editing for the many typos. I like the authors creative style.


Interesting story

You should know that I supported the author, Judith Sanders, in background for this novel. Having said that, Sanders takes a unique approach to the, perhaps, unpopular issue of WMD in Iraq in this fast-paced thriller full of political intrigue, scientific imagination, and raw emotions. Written before the 2003 war began, Sanders’ predictions of war, missing WMDs, the demise of Saddam Hussein a eerily accurate. And her ability to weave an unpredictable tale of past and present day Assyria unmatched.

NH Doc

What if?

Ms Saunder’s book is electrifying and full of interesting details. The knowledge of the author (and her backup group) about modern methods of war and especially about biological weapons is impressive. The story of Crescent Veil takes place in ancient history, on the mountains in post-Saddam Iraq as well as in western cities and beaches. It is so rich and well structured that it that somebody certainly would like to make the story into a movie.


A colourful thriller from the caves in Iraq

Ms. Sanders writes in a compelling style that will pull you into the world of international terrorists and the people who possess the skills and courage to fight them. Ms. Sanders is in the same league as Baldacci, Grisham, and Brown. This is an incredibly entertaining read that will also open your eyes to the most frightening possibilities of biological and chemical warfare. Ms. Sanders and her husband Dr. Malinoski have done a great job researching the possible outcome of biological and chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands.

Timothy T. Redden

Best Action Thriller of the Year

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The character development was great, and the writing was so well done that I was experiencing all the fears and excitement described for the characters in the book. The ending gave me a few surprises as well. I look forward to the next book by this author!

Avid Reader

I didn't want it to end!

Crescent Veil was a codename given to an elite force of men sent to Iraq to locate and destroy the hidden biological weapons that our inspectors never could find.

This story actually had very little plot to drive it forward. If the whole story had been written from the perspective of the two main characters being the reincarnates of the previous Queen of Assyria and her top-ranking officer in the King’s Army, then the dropped-in historical lessons would have been unnecessary. Then the story could have been moved through visions, dreams or deja vu situations from the main characters’ points of view.

This felt like a strategic political story, like the author actually had inside information as to the location of the weapons of mass destruction and yet is keeping this information to herself.

This reviewer had a difficult time reading a non-plot-driven story that was in need of a line-by-line edit. The grammatical errors throughout the book created a substandard read.

This seems to be the case with print-on-demand published books as someone has not taken the time or expense to edit/review the copy before it actually comes to fruition as a hard copy to be sold to the public.

Armchair Interviews says: Another example of a good story that could have made a better book if more attention was given to detail.

Armchair Interviews

Needs work

In His Stead is a novel about family as much as it is about war. In it, Thomas Lane, a veteran himself must deal with the death of his oldest son, an American soldier in Afghanistan, who dies a heroic death while saving others. Sanders captures one of the unique terrors of modern war; not only is his son killed, Lane can watch it again and again on the internet in a video posted on the internet. When his second son, the one he doesn’t connect with, is called to duty with his National Guard unit in Afghanistan, Lane is almost undone. Donnie is only in the Guard because his dad encouraged him to take that option when Donnie had fallen foul of the law, and now he would possibly fly away to his death. Between the death of his eldest and the potential death of his younger son, Lane is enveloped in guilt, and finds the only path out – re-entering the military and going in Donnie’s stead, and there is an arcane law that will allow him to do so. The set up, the family dynamic, and Lane’s motivations are all very well crafted, and the anguish of the family is tangible. These are definitely the novel’s strengths. When Lane does go off to war, which turns out to be for young men for good reason, many of the military scenes are compelling and the jeopardy is real. What happens in the last parts of the book didn’t work so well for me, however. Still, the subject matter is really interesting, and I think In His Stead will appeal to anyone interested in war literature, particularly about our most recent wars.

E A Fow

Guilt and redemption

Going into this book, I half expected to read a story about a father trying to save his unappreciative emo son. I was wrong. Sure Donnie was a bit reckless, but he had legit issues. He didn’t come off as a glory hog at all, and he was sincere in his decision of joining the military. His father, Tom, didn’t really come off as the hard ass type either, simply a father dealing with natural parenting issues. The most severe issue being the loss of a child. In any case, Tom is determined to make sure that his son doesn’t have to suffer the fate of a possible early grave in Afganistan. Even with not just the odds of older age but also spiteful people against him, Tom has to prove that he is just as capable as his son would be in order to take his place. The writing is great, and has a flow that can keep you interested for hours. Pick this one up.


Sparing the Rod

Judith Sanders’ book In His Stead (A Father’s War) was the most emotional book I have read in a long time.

War is real to us all now. We have seen the harshness of it and those brave men and women who fight for our freedom. We have all considered how it might impact on our families.

Judith Sanders explores probably one of our greatest fears and delivers a deeply emotional story based on a father’s love for his son.

The book has a strong military focus. It is well researched and the descriptions are well done to bring the story alive.

Judith Sanders weaves a realistic plot around an outdated but still active law. The characterization is strong and the story will have you flipping each page ready for the next.

And the ending is honorable, meaningful and brings together the story and the true depth of the main character.


Honor and valor…

‘In His Stead’ is a novel about compassion, loss and sacrifice. I was touched by many aspects of the book, but I found that the late chapters pack a particularly powerful punch.

When his youngest son is called to serve in the Middle East, Tom Lane, a retired army ranger, resorts to the desperate measure of invoking a law from the civil war era that permits him to serve abroad in his child’s place. I have a cousin who used to serve in the armed forces, and I was impressed by Judith Sanders’ sensitive treatment of the terrible decisions and stresses that I know every military family has to go through. The book focuses on the emotional side of war, at home and on tour, although it does not omit a brutally stark and detailed depiction of life on the front line in Afghanistan. Readers should be prepared for a challenging, but ultimately rewarding and cathartic experience.

Michael Todaro

Very moving

The protagonist of “In His Stead”, Tom, has already lost one child to an Afghan suicide bomber. Now his other son, nineteen-year-old Donnie, is eager to go on tour with the U.S. military. The author brilliantly evokes a father’s pain and anxiety, as Tom agonises about how he can rescue naïve Donnie from the hell of war. That’s what dads do, isn’t it?

When Tom learns about a centuries-old law that would permit a father to go to war in his son’s stead, he decides to take matters into his own hands. This is a fascinating premise, and the author doesn’t drop the ball. I found the character of Tom inspiring, and different aspects of the plot held me in suspense from cover to cover.

I would recommend Judith Sanders’ book to fans of “Saving Private Ryan”, and emotional war stories in general.

James Goulding

It kept me hooked

War was hard on America. Especially Thomas Lane, not only does he suffer from PTSD from his own army experience but learns his eldest son was killed in combat in Afghanistan. No parent should have to bury their child and the pain has to be unimaginable.

As if matters couldn’t get worse the National Guard calls Mr. Lane’s youngest son to duty. Like any father of course he is ready and willing to take his place. While all this is going on you start to feel for Mrs. Lane as well, she doesn’t want to lose another son or her husband.

This is an excellent story of love and has action packed right into it. It definitely puts parenthood in perspective. I would recommend this book, amazing read!


Nothing like a parents love!

This was very good. This is about a man named Thomas Lane. He lost his oldest son recently in the war. His youngest son got a dui. His son was given the choice to do community service or to join the guard. His son decided to join the guard. The bad thing about this choice is that his unit was called for deployment to Afghanistan. Thomas Lane was not going to watch another son die. Lane enlists and evokes the “In His Stead” clause. You would think you would only see this in movies. It was very touching to me. I myself would go in place of my child if I could. Lane accomplished saving his son. I will definitely tell my friends about the book.

Caitlin M Smith

in his stead

Relying on an old Civil War era law allowing someone to serve in the military in place of someone else, the main character, Thomas Lane, sets out to serve in Afghanistan in place of his son. What parent wouldn’t want to shield his child from harm? The author developed a believable way to get past each of the many obstacles the leading character encounters in his attempt to achieve this goal. After reading in the bio of the author that she has three sons of her own, I think she faced the challenges of her main character with deep empathy and a strong determination to accomplish the task as if she were fighting for her own son.
The premise is original, the characters well developed and the narrative is compelling. I read this book straight through and highly recommend it to others.


A wrenching family choice

Thomas Lane is a retired Army Ranger and has stepped up to serve again instead of his son. Thomas is afraid of losing another son to war so he decides to serve in the National Guard when this unit is called to serve in Afghanistan. After a battle with many departments to be allowed to take his son’s place Tom finds himself on a plane to Afghanistan where he is surrounded with many soldiers who are quite younger than he. This is a fantastic book and well written. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this heart wrenching drama.


This is a fantastic book and well written

Judith Sanders has written a wonderful book that will leave a long lasting impression on the reader. In His Stead is about a retired Army Ranger who has PTSD, has lost a son in war, and now his younger son is called to war. He decides to take his son’s spot to fight in war so he will not have to face the possibility of losing another son in war. His wife is torn between her husband or son going to war. War is such a horrible event on families and will it tear this family apart. Will the father live? Judith Sanders has written great characters and has a vast knowledge of military. I would recommend this to everyone to read


Great Military Family Story.

I am from a military family: my father was career Air Force (100% service-connected disability), my mother was World War II Army, my sister was a Navy corpsman, and I was Army. Consequently, novels about war are normally not my thing, so “In His Stead” is not the sort of book that I would generally seek out. Nonetheless, it came to my attention because it was written by my wife’s first cousin. With that as background, I was impressed by the high quality of Ms. Sanders’ bold and ambitious undertaking. Sanders takes an interesting premise and presents it from a unique perspective. It is thought provoking, and brings the far-off war in Afghanistan home to the reader with painful reality. This is an exceptional book, and I highly recommend it to you.

John Britt

Bold and Thought Provoking

Who would honestly let their son (or daughter) go off into a dangerous situation if there was another solution? I wouldn’t. This book touched me beyond the story line, it was truly inspiring!

The main character Thomas Lane, who is a family man, has found a way to go to war in place of his youngest son as he has already lost his oldest son. I’m not going to give any more away!

Judith Sanders did an amazing job writing In His Stead (A Father’s War, the characters are believable and the narrative is perfect. I will be recommending this book to anyone I know who has even the slightest interest in reading! I think I will even be reading it again, and very soon!

Kristina Reading

Amazingly inspiring father and son bond!

A heartbreaking tale of putting your age and personal wants and needs above another’s. If your child were called to war, would you go in his stead? Or would you allow them to go and spend forever regretting that choice if they were killed in action?

That’s exactly the choices that are made and dealt with in “In His Stead” As a parent it hits too close to home for me and actually makes me mourn for the characters and the choices they have to make. Beautiful, touching book with a very deep meaning behind it. Excellent read.


Heartbreaking Tale Of Choices

How could a father take his son’s place in Afghanistan to spare his son the physical and emotional wounds of war? Sanders found a way to do that and to take me on a roller coaster ride of emotion with a plot that kept me reading non-stop. If you are looking for hope, heroes, action, and inspiration, then look no further. A must read.

NH Doc

An inspiring novel

I have loved this book! I laughed out loud and cried like a baby while reading this book. The characters are so alive you find yourself wanting to know them better and wishing they were your neighbors. I have been motivated and inspired by Tom’s journey. I highly recommend this book to every parent and anyone who has served in the military.

Tonya Horton

Best book I have read in a long time

An amazing story that I truly could not put down. The characters were so down to earth, feeling the passion and emotion that went into those life changing decisions. I felt as though I was a part of the family and experienced the highs and lows that brought them through the most challenging times. I highly recommend this book.

Maryann M

In His Stead (A Father's War)

I usually read at least one book per week, and this was one of the best books I have ever read. Very moving account of a man’s love and care for his family which brought me to tears more than once.
I give “In His Stead (A Father’s War)” my highest rating.

Diane Blaha

In His Stead (A Father's War)

The book read very smoothly. The loss of one son has a man standing up for another son and doing what all fathers would do given the choice. Didn’t want to put it down.


A Great Read

I really liked this book. It was interesting, but needed tissues before I finished the book. Book Club I belong too had lively discussion when we got together. Would recommend.

A. D. Balon

A Good Read

This book was so good it is my favorite now and I think they should make a movie based on it.

Dianna Stone

You will not be disappointed!

Judith did a great job on writing this book. It is a powerful story of the love of a father for his son. Totally recommending.

Helen Y

Excellent story

What would you do to keep your children safe? Thomas Lane, business man, husband and father would give his life to save his, even if it meant serving in the military.

When Lane’s youngest son Donnie is arrested for DUI he is given the choice of doing community service or joining the guard. His choice? The guard. For the simple reason of funding his college tuition. A good choice it would seem, except his unit is called for deployment to Afghanistan.

Hell bent on keeping his son out of the action in Afghanistan, Lane enlists and evokes the “In His Stead” clause still in the Pennsylvania law books from the time of the civil war. Lane, having previously lost his oldest son Tommy in action, takes on the government to prove he is fit and able to take his son’s place. Good or bad Lane finds himself on a plane bound for Afghanistan after leaving his wife and children behind and headlong into fighting Taliban insurgents.

Sanders has created a believable plot for her book in that it is every parent’s desire to protect their children. You can feel the anguish of Tom and his wife. The action of the battle and loss of young lives is hard hitting. However, the ending was predictable to a point. The book is slow starting but picked up mid-way through ramping up my interest. The characters of the protagonist, his wife and son are detailed but I felt Chrissy needed more presence as she is only mentioned as an afterthought, with the `69 Chevelle Malibu Mona garnering more attention.

All in all I enjoyed the read and would recommend it to those who enjoy books about the military.

Disclaimer: I was given this book by the publisher for an honest and unbiased review.

Jodi Chapters

A Solid Read

As a mother, I would take my son’s place in a heartbeat if it would save him from being hurt. I’ve had family killed in wars and it’s heartbreaking. In His Stead is the story of Thomas Lane, a man who doesn’t want his son to be hurt – physically or mentally – who takes his youngest son’s place in Afghanistan.

The book brought tears to my eyes on many occasions. Not only for Tom, but for his wife (One can’t choose between a husband and a son), but for his son as well. There are moments filled with joy and laughter, but the reasoning behind Tom’s decision just makes me want to bawl like a baby. He’s already lost one son to war – he’ll be damned if he’ll lose another. Unconditional love at it’s finest. The reader gets to know Tom as a father, husband, and a soldier. I absolutely love the cover of this book – it’s so poignant.

Sanders has researched her novel well. The historical depictions are detailed and relevant. The characters are well-developed, their story still with me long after I have turned the last page. The combat scenes are adreneline pumping, and the plot is really solid. I felt like I’ve felt every emotion while I read this book – from sadness, joy, inspiration, faith, hope and fear and much more. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Sanders has written a magnificent novel that deserves to be heard.

Kindle Customer

hard-to-put down tale

This is a very emotional and hard hitting novel. It’s also very personal, drawing you right into the lives of the characters that you come to know intimately. Sanders develops the setting and storyline of this novel in a very natural manner. At the same time, it is very hard hitting and emotionally significant. Everything is vivid yet still real, rather than larger than life. Once I got into this story I couldn’t put it down. This was also a very emotional and cathartic read. Sanders definitely left me in tears at the end.

I really enjoyed getting to know the main character in this novel. Not only does he wrestle with issues that impact him and his family as a whole, he also wrestles with deficiencies he finds within himself, trying to become what he deems as a better person. It is a very emotional thing for both him and the reader.

This definitely isn’t a light read. It’s a hard hitting, emotional novel with an impact that’s going to stay with me for the long haul.

Please note that I won this book through Goodreads First Reads program.


sheer brilliance

Thomas Lane has already lost one son to the war in the Middle East. When his second son’s National Guard unit is called up, he struggles with the reality of the situation. He doesn’t want to lose another son, and he doesn’t want to see his youngest son tainted by the effects of war as he has been. The solution…to take his son’s place and serve in his unit so his son will stay safe.

The premise for this book was very interesting. The idea of Civil War Era law being put into action today intrigued me. I didn’t find the overall acceptance of the law in this book to be very realistic, but I could understand the desire a father would have to spare his son from the brutalities of war, and possibly from death.

Despite the intriguing idea of this book, it is one that I truly struggled with. I think readers will either identify with this book easily because they share similar views as the characters/author, or they will struggle with it as I did because I did not share some of those views.

What I struggled with most in reading this book were the attitudes and motivations of the characters. In the first few chapters, the main focus seems to be on Thomas Lane fearing that he will lose his youngest son in the war, just as his oldest son was. That, I found to be completely understandable. I connected with Tom’s desire to spare his son from seeing the harsh side of war, especially since the book had already described the PTSD Tom suffered from after his own experiences in the military. The problems relating to the characters came, for me, when the focus changed from protecting his son to a more political message.

Tom’s son, Donnie, ends up in the National Guard after getting in trouble with the law. As an alternative to legal punishment, Tom’s convinces the judge to agree to Donnie joining the Reserves instead, hoping it will “straighten Donnie out.” Another motivating factor for both of his son’s joining the military was the college tuition assistance it provided. Both of these were valid reasons for Donnie to end up in the military, however, my problem with this came when Tom begins regretting these decisions and blaming the military. Tom seemed to know from the beginning that Donnie was not cut out for the military, yet he pushed him to join thinking the war would be end and Donnie would never actually see active duty. When that does not happen, he acted as if it was unfair that Donnie should be called up, that he was too young to face war. If those were his feelings, he never should have pushed Donnie to join the military in the first place.

Also, when it came to college tuition being a reason for joining, Tom goes from believing it is a good program to acting as if the military is tricking young people into joining, or preying on young people who can’t find jobs elsewhere. The attitude from Tom and many other characters in the book seemed to be that of “I didn’t sign up for this. I only joined for the college tuition.” Be that as it may, they still signed up for the military. Being called up for active duty was a risk they took, and I had a very hard time sympathizing with that kind of sentiment. The military offers incentives to join, just like many companies do, but they are not tricking young kids into joining.

I also had a hard time with the fact that Donnie eventually agrees to letting his father take his place. Initially, he is upset because he knows others will think he is being a coward, but he admits that he never wanted to be a soldier and agrees to let his dad go instead. I didn’t see the guilt I expected from Donnie over this decision. I would have thought that he would have been concerned with the fact that he was putting his own father in harms way, and would be responsible in large part for anything that happened to him. Yet, that wasn’t the sentiment. He was proud of the situation even at the end of the book, and I had a difficult time with that.

Overall, the concept of this book was interesting, but I didn’t find it to be very plausible. The author attempts to validate the story and Tom’s decision with the idea that one man can change the world with his sacrifice, but I didn’t find this to be realistic in this instance. This is a book that was written to specifically relay a political message that the author wanted to share, rather than to tell a story. Some readers will agree with the message and enjoy this book, and others will not.

Delsheree D. Gladden

Interesting idea, but it's not for everyone

From the first pages I was drawn in, I thank James Williams with taking his thoughts to Judith Sanders and the belief they shared in this work to make it happen.
Well done, I had an ache in my heart and soul from the beginning to the end of this book. I want everyone to read this to understand the deeper meaning of all of it.

“….A better question might be how many wars do we fight before we understand a lasting peace isn’t a by-product of war?”

“…what right do we have as parents to send our children off to face the horrors of war?”

“and while there is a breath in my lungs & a beating in my chest I will protect then at all costs, even it means giving my own life for theirs”

As a parent of a Marine still serving, having been in Iraq twice and Afghanistan once and now in Japan, there is no safe service.
Read these words, feel them deeply feel the ache and the held breaths and the gut tightness and the wanting to reach out your very hands and pull all these men & women home. Being my child or anothers, it doesn’t matter. They belong to all of us as our future..

“…they grow up, then they grow hard, and if they are lucky they grow old…”

Amazon Customer

..A father's love.. a choice...a war

I was given this book by a friend and was excited to read it after learning what the plot was. I’ve never really been one to read military-related literature having served in the army myself and being saturated in that lifestyle for a few years. But once I picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down. What was so captivating was the way Judith Sanders captured both the family life dynamics and the military life dynamics. Having served in a Stryker mechanized infantry unit, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of research that was obviously put into this in order to ensure a high degree of accuracy.

This book isn’t just for military fanatics – it will satisfy any reader who enjoys a good book with heart and substance. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is hoping to read something that stays with them for a while.

Horrible Dr. Bones

This book isn't just for military fanatics - it will satisfy any reader who enjoys a good book with heart ...

An excellent military drama with a fresh premise. Highly recommended read.

Michael Droberg

Five Stars

A beautifully written book about a father’s love and bravery to give his life in return for his son’s.

What would you do if your one son was killed in war and your other son was called to duty? For Thomas Lane, this situation was not suppose to happen. He helped sign his son up for the military so it would help put him through college. When Donnie’s time comes for him to serve, Tom realizes that he could not handle losing another son. After looking at his options, his buddy Frank suggests something that may work, standing in his son’s stead. While they gather information about this clause and a lawyer, Donnie and Tom train together, which begins their father-son bond, which hadn’t really existed. Would Tom be able to take Donnie’s place, or will Tom have to risk losing his only other son?

Judith Sanders does a fantastic job with character building which really helps the reader develop a relationship with them. She expresses some of the real horrors of war and is good at engaging the reader. The book was hard to put down and triggered many emotions.


A Father's War

Once I picked up the book I couldn’t put it down. I completed the book in two back to back settings. The book itself was very readable, large font, high quality paper and easy to hold. The story captured my interest as both a father and retired Air Force E-7; formed a connection between the characters and myself with the realism of the events Tom Lane underwent; and brought tears to my eyes with the final loss and triumph. The message rings loud and clear. I will re-read this book several times in order to enjoy the subtleties I missed the first time through. Judith Sanders has been added to the list of authors who’s books I will read without previewing the story.


A Father's Love

This emotion-packed story will engage any reader, with its focus on family dynamics when a father’s decision has the unintended consequence of a tour of duty in Afghanistan for the family’s only surviving son. The scenes are vividly drawn, and the action set in Afghanistan is especially compelling. The characters ring true, and the underlying tone of optimism and hope helped make the story memorable. Sanders is a great storyteller. Her book was hard to put down, and is the best book I’ve read this year. I think it would make a great movie.


Engaging and emotion-packed

A very moving and truly interesting story. Sanders does an excellent job with both plot and character development. The premise of a father taking his son’s place in the Afghanistan war becomes real and believable. For me, the book generated a wide range of emotions including the harsh reality of war. I couldn’t put the book down. It seems this story could have even more impact as a movie.


A Very Moving Story

A great, heartwarming story that kept me riveted until the unexpected and non-traditional ending.
The author does an awesome job telling this spellbinding story that is a departure from every day military novels.
The book will make you think and touch your heart. An excellent and very worthwhile reading adventure.


In His Stead

I really loved In His Stead. The way Judith writes the family obstacles are emotional and inspiring. Coming from a very close family myself, I felt a real connection with the love, pain and sorrow this family goes through. I highly recommend this book.

Melissa Bring


The only word I could use to describe this book is wow. It knocked my socks off. I read this one part and was like o snap. If you don’t read this book you will never realize how deep the father son bond is.

pineapple lover

The only book I've ever read 4 times

I was invited to review this book and I agreed because I enjoy reading books about the military. The premise of this book is borderline credible: a caring father wants to protect his son from going to war, so he volunteers to go in the son’s place.

The book gets off to a slow start – there’s a long build-up to the action – but moves quickly once the plot gets going. The author takes Tom, the father, through his application process and physical exam to rejoin the Army. I have no idea how realistic these scenes are; would a doctor really be as helpful as this doctor?

The ending seemed inevitable and somewhat unlikely.

Overall, the book appeals to blatant patriotic sentiments. As the wars wind down, it may not be as timely as if it had been released a few years ago.

However, my biggest complaint relates to the writing. If you read quickly the book moves smoothly, but many sentences seem awkward. I saw an advance copy so hopefully some will be fixed, but these difficult sentences appear on almost every page.

For instance:
“Tom’s brain was firing on all cylinders.”
“Now his friend’s silence was really getting on Tom’s nerves.”

That’s just one page chosen at random. Almost every page will make some readers wish for a blue pencil! A book like this cries out for smooth, seamless writing.

Finally, I couldn’t help remembering an old TV movie, where a mom sneaks into an Airborne Ranger training group to keep an eye on her son. I couldn’t help remembering that movie and getting a sense of deja vue.

Dr. Cathy Goodwin

Intriguing premise

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