Best of 2017

This annual blog post has become a favorite because I’m sharing MY favorite reads from the year!!!!! 2017 has been a wonderful reading year. I’ve added several new all-time favorite books to my “shelves”, met some amazing new authors both through their books and on social media, and been blown away by story multiple times. At latest count, I’ve read 58 books! Whew! Comparing genres, I’ve read quite a few more contemporary stories versus historical, and my list here is representative of that slant. Most of these books were published in 2017, but a few were new discoveries I can’t believe I waited this long to read!

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But first, some ground rules: in an effort to NOT be long-winded and wordy, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review. (Click each title to visit Goodreads).

Historical

The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green | Review

Poignant. Fleur-de-lys. Scars.

A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz | Review

Immersive. Frontier. Growth.

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton | Review

Epic. Grace. History.

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White | Review

Loyalty. Books. Romance.

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin | Review

Spies. Secrets. Tenacity.

With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall | Review

Letters. Love. Sacrifice.

The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan | Review

Friends. Mysteries. Toronto.

Contemporary

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge | Review

Tea. Sisters. Colonel Brandon.

True to You by Becky Wade | Review

Bookish. Romance. Forgiveness.

Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham | Review

Redemption. Fairytale. Chocolate.

Reclaimed by Jennifer Rodewald | Review

Grace. Country. Pickle.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner | Review

Honesty. The Sound of Music. Humor.

All This Time by Melissa Tagg | Review

Belonging. Security. Family.

Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh | Review

Farmhouses. Siblings. Introverts.

Charming the Troublemaker by Pepper Basham | Review

Laughter. Trustworthiness. Closets.

Life After by Katie Ganshert | Review

Bittersweet. Peace. Letting go.

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay | Review

Bubble gum. Connection. Growth.

The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon | Review

Desert. Obedience. Strength.

Contemporary Action/Adventure (with romance, of course!)

Unblemished and Unraveling by Sara Ella | Book 1 Review | Book 2 Review

Disney. Twists. Enchanting.

Conspiracy of Silence and Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig | Book 1 Review | Book 2 Review

Adventure. Dynamic. Heroes.

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey | Review

Suspense. Puzzles. Action.

Rescue Me by Susan May Warren | Review

Tension. Reconciliation. Encouragement.

Novellas

The Message in a Bottle Collection Romance Collection by Heather Day Gilbert, Amanda Dykes, Maureen Lang, Jocelyn Green, and Joanne Bischof | Review

Hope. Strength. Nautical.

I’ll Be There by Susan May Warren | Review

Faith. Spark. Peace.

Right Where We Belong Collection by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, and Courtney Walsh | Review

Quaint. Lighthearted. Happiness.

Then Came You by Becky Wade | Review

Epistolary. Patience. Family.

Christmas Stories

Ordinary Snowflakes by Jennifer Rodewald | Review

Hot cocoa. Friends. Familiarity.

 A Cliché Christmas by Nicole Deese | Review

Dimension. Unconditional. Gloves.

WHEW! That’s it! These favorites are ones I can highly recommend and gush about for days. Have you read any of these? What are your favorite books of 2017? If you have a favorites blog post, share your link in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top 11 Best Books of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 11 Best Books of 2016

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

It’s that time of year again! Time for my “favorites” post of 2016, AND just in time for the same #TTT topic. This year’s list was difficult to compile, to say the least. I’ve read a whopping total of 61 books this year (at press time), a few being rereads and some novellas. I was determined to limit my list somewhat this year, so we have 11 novels plus a couple “bonus” novellas. Surprisingly, all of the novels are 2016 releases, but the novellas range from 2014-2016. Most of these authors are familiar favorites and always “must-reads”, so it’s no surprise to me that my favorites stem from this group.

Now, on to the books!!!

Top Ten Best Books of 2016

Historical Fiction

A Flight of Arrowsthe-lady-and-the-lionheartThe Thorn Keeperthe-cautious-maidenThe Sound of Emeralds

1. A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton

A riveting, fascinating conclusion to her “Pathfinders” duology.

2. The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

Seriously now one of my all-time favorite books! Go read it. Achingly sweet and heart-wrenching in the best way.

3. The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham

Really, the whole “Penned in Time” series is amazing, but this one is my favorite for several reasons…. one of them having to do with Christmas 😉

4. The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

Another great story from Dawn, this one uniquely uses only the heroine’s first person POV.

5. The Sound of Emeralds by Rachelle Rea Cobb

A fantastic conclusion to Rachelle’s debut series, this brings the characters full circle with some amazing surprises. #TeamDirk

Contemporary Fiction

Together at the Table by Hillary Manton LodgeLike Never Before by Melissa TaggYou're the One that I WantTold You Twice by Kristen Heitzmanna-portrait-of-emily-pricewhere-two-hearts-meet

6. Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge

Ahh! This one made me hungry, laugh, and cry. Oh, and try out a new recipe or two I discovered while reading.

7. Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Definitely my favorite of the Walker family series so far! The cover alone should be enough to convince you of the adorableness that is Loganand Amelia, but the emotional depth is what gets me with all of Melissa’s stories.

8. You’re the One That I Want by Susan May Warren

While I’ve loved each book in the Christiansen family series, this one, being the last, made so many pieces fall in place. It drew everything together with a huge thread of grace, and that’s why I loved it.

9. Told You Twice by Kristen Heitzmann

Unexpected and fresh, Kristen is not afraid to depict life in both raw and redemptive manners through storytelling.

10. A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

Another one that made me hungry! Ha! Katherine always surprises me with the direction and vast changes she leads her characters through. This one was pleasantly amazing.

11. Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson

One of the sweetest contemporary love stories I’ve read in a long time… and I’m not even talking about the cinnamon rolls and muffins! This one is just “good” for your heart.

Bonus! Favorite Novellas

playing-with-firethis-quiet-skya-night-like-no-other

Playing With Fire by Susan May Warren

The two main characters’ mutual complex history combined with a current-day crazy action/suspense situation made this my favorite of the Montana Fire trilogy.

This Quiet Sky by  Joanne Bischof

Poignant and beautiful, this goes beyond typical coming-of-age story expectations and tore into my heart unexpectedly.

A Night Like No Other by Kristin Vayden

I think this one will be a Christmas season reread every year now for its genuine and Biblical portrayal of Mary and Joseph’s experiences.

Your turn!!! What are your favorite books from 2016? Did you read any of my favorites? Share your thoughts in the comments!

My Favorite Reads of 2015

Happy (almost) New Year! I want to wish all of you a blessed year. I’m so thankful to be celebrating a new year and being partway through my fourth year of blogging. It’s a pleasure to “meet” with my readers and chat about books and the grace of Jesus.

I can’t believe it’s time for another year-end recap! Though much has transpired in 2015, this post will focus on books. It seems like just a couple months ago I was considering my books from 2014 and looking forward to new releases in 2015. In this post I want to share my favorites I read this year. Hopefully you’ll find some titles to add to your TBR — and share your thoughts in the comments!

I came really close to my goal of 50 books — I made it all the way to 46 books. (46 and a half if you count my current read). And, I checked off all but 3 books from my personal 2015 reading challenge.

These are in no particular order, but they are kinda grouped by genre: classics, historical, contemporary. (I’ve linked each title to its review/related post here on the blog or to its Goodreads page)

Classics

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

This one is a classic for good reason. Plus there’s the BBC miniseries adaptation that is wonderful. The best part about the novel, in my opinion, is seeing both Margaret’s and Mr. Thornton’s side of the story.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I really enjoyed this one! Participating in the read-along made this one even better with all the analyzing that went on.

 

Favorites of 2015 on The Green Mockingbird

Historical

The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall

A great finish to this series! I was caught up in the intrigue and romance from the very start.

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton

Lori is just awesome. She writes beautiful characters and prose with great depth. I’m super excited for the sequel in 2016!

“Price of Privilege” series by Jessica Dotta (Born of Persuasion, Mark of Distinction, Price of Privilege)

Ah, Jessica Dotta is amazing. This is possibly my favorite series of all-time! (And I don’t say that lightly). I have more plans to discuss these on the blog in 2016. Look out, world.

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

Laura always delivers with a fantastic story. This one might be the best to date! (And my mom really liked it, too)

Favorites of 2015Contemporary

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren

I was so glad to read Amelia’s story! The Christiansens feel like my own secondary family at this point.

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

A story for book lovers. Enough said.

Told You So by Kristen Heitzmann

SOOOO good. And unexpected. And comical. And deep.

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano

This one made me want to go to Scotland!!!! Fun, emotional, and characters with great chemistry.

Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman

An epic romantic story focused on the importance of family, redemption and the choice to forgive. Move over, Nicholas Sparks!

While You’re Awake by Amber Stokes (novellete)

This one was a delightful twist on a fairy-tale that had me hooked! And craving coffee.

One Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg (novella)

I literally laughed out loud at this one. But it’s more than a comedy — it’s a sweet story of family and learning to trust God.

 

Whew! That was fun to put together. If you’re interested in what other books I read in 2015, check out my Goodreads challenge page.

What made it onto your list of favorites in 2015? Did you read any of these? What is on your TBR for next year?

A Look Back at 2014 + favorites

Whew! Let me start by saying I can’t believe 2014 is almost over! It seems like just yesterday we were starting 2014 with many plans and good intentions (AND a TBR list a mile long). It has been a crazy and tough year for me personally. All of that aside, this is a post about what’s happened on the blog this year, like book review, challenges, and memes. I have read some WONDERFUL books this year!

I started out this year with joining in the “Empty Shelf Challenge“, hoping to fill one of my shelves with books I read all year. My goal was 40 books. As of right now, I’m working on book number 50 and counting (print and some ebooks)!

This year has also seen some enjoyable author interviews here on the blog (Lynne Gentry, Rebecca DeMarinoDawn Crandall, Amber Stokes).

This spring, I was privileged to participate as a judge in the INSPY awards. Jody Hedlund’s A Noble Groom won in the historical romance category I and fellow bloggers were judging (It’s not on this list, but it was fabulous!) It was a fun experience! (Nominations are now open for the 2015 INSPYs, so go check that out here.)

I started participating in a few memes, like the Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday, my own Wednesday Wonderings, and continued a few Fun Find Fridays.

I’m listing 11 of my favorite reads from this year. You may have heard me gush about these at one time or another, but this is the year-end review…. so prepare yourself. I want to give a quick shout-out to all of the authors, publishers, and blogger review programs out there. THANK YOU! If it weren’t for you all, we wouldn’t take such pleasure in reading (and writing about it!).

Some of my favorites from 2014

A few are not pictured here – 2 were ebooks & 1 is on loan to a friend

 

* in no particular order *

1. The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

This one was just perfect. Beautiful setting, realistic characters, great writing style. I could go on, but I’m just going to say if you’re a historical fiction fan, get this one now!!! (I’m still waiting for the mini-series adaptation to become a reality)

2. The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall

My favorite so far of the Everstone Chronicles series, Meredyth and Lawry’s stories were so heartfelt.

3. The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

SO GOOD. Expertly intertwining historical and contemporary stories consecutively. And did I mention I’m becoming a huge WWII-era fan?

4. A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge

An awesome contemporary. About a chef. With actual RECIPES included. Just my style!

5. Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

This one was sweet, comical, and really made me laugh. AND it challenges your faith. If you ever visit Melissa’s fab blog, you’ll see that she is just as sweet and funny in real life.

6. It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren

Susan is fast becoming a favorite author. This one was great and kept me turning the pages quickly. The others (so far) in the Christiansen family series are fantastic, too!

7. Duchess by Susan May Warren

ANOTHER favorite from Susan! You know those golden-age-of-Hollywood epic stories with a bit of romance? Maybe like Gone With the Wind or Roman Holiday? This one totally reminds me of them – plus it actually follows the story of Roxy, an actress from that era. (I know, I haven’t reviewed this one on the blog yet, but I will. Soon.)

8. The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

Probably one of my top 3 favorites this year, if someone forced me to say it out loud. This one is a historical fiction game-changer. Inspiring, fantastic characters who jump of the page, and an enlightening history lesson all in one.

9. Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

Another one I’ve yet to review. It’s fabulous, though, with raw characters and a unique storyline full on unexpected-ness. Just what I’ve come to expect from Katherine.

10. Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter

It’s by Denise Hunter. What more can I say? Seriously though, this one had bright characters, lessons of love and sacrifice, and a big family to tie it all together.

11. The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd

Mystery, romance, redemption, and a beautiful setting combine in this Jane Eyre-esque portrayal of the Regency er

 

Well, that’s my recap of 2014! What do you think of my favorites – agree, disagree? Have you read any of these books/authors before?