Best Books of 2017

I realize January is half over, but better late then never, right? And I can’t skip one of my favorite posts to write altogether! Here are my favorite books of 2017!

Life After by Katie Ganshert

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden

What were your favorite books of 2017?

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TBR: 2018 Edition

It’s that time of year when I get to share all my most anticipated books for the first half of 2018! I have 12 books here that I’m most excited about and I’m really looking forward to the books coming out this year.

 

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M White
January 2, 2018

Okay, so I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in this new series, but I love Roseanna’s writing, so I’m excited for the next one. And I loved her last series, Ladies of the Manor.

Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke
January 9, 2018

I absolutely loved Secrets She Kept, which came out in 2015, so I am thrilled we are finally getting a new book from Cathy!

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano
February 6, 2018

I’ve not read this author before, but this book sounds really good!

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin
February 6, 2018

This one is a no-brainer. Favorite author. Enough said.

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron
February 6, 2018

Another author I love, and this new series look so good!

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel
March 2018

Another new to me author, and I am really interested to pick this one up.

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert
April 3, 2018

Katie has become a favorite author in the last year with Life After and The Art of Losing Yourself. I can’t wait to read more from her.

Together Forever by Jody Hedlund
May 1, 2018

I’m planning to read the first book in this series over the Christmas break, so hopefully that will prepare me for this one. (I’m writing this ahead of time!)

Falling For You by Becky Wade
May 1, 2018

I love Becky Wade and I am eager to read Willow’s story.

A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden
June 5, 2018

I really enjoyed A Dangerous Legacy, and this is the next book in the series. I’m hopeful that I’ll enjoy it just as much as the first one.

A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter
June 5, 2018

A new series from Kristi sounds exciting. I’m interested to read about a new cast of characters from this author.

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh
June 5, 2018

I’ve loved the last two books from Courtney, and I hope this one is equally beautiful. And look at that cover!

And that’s a wrap for most anticipated book of the first half of 2018! What are you reading in 2018?

Review: Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton
Waterbrook, 2017

The pages of Many Sparrows are filled with a beautiful story of struggle, heartache, and love. It is one of my favorite books of the year.

Clare Inglesby finds herself suddenly widowed in the wilderness, her son is missing, and she must begin to piece her life together by trusting a stranger to lead her and her newborn daughter back to her son.

And that is only the beginning.

There are so many layers of conflict in this story. Each time I thought some sort of resolution was around the corner, the conflict would instead become more complicated. I love that this story wasn’t rushed, but rather it became more and more interesting as the conflict and characters continued to develop.

The whole cast of characters are endlessly intriguing. Clare and her strength, her stubbornness, and her dedication to her children was mesmerizing. I can’t imagine the agony of having your child within reach and not being able to take him back.

Jeremiah’s steady leadership and wisdom, coupled with his quiet strength and kindness towards Clare made him a character I loved reading about. His journey is equally difficult as he watches Clare suffer, while grappling with his own painful past.

And I was especially interested in Wolf Alone. As I finished reading Many Sparrows, I thought to myself how much  I would love to read his story in a future book from Lori. And then I read in the Author’s Note that his story has already been told in The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, my other favorite Lori Benton novel. I think a reread is in my future!

This is a story of waiting and hoping in the Lord. Of learning to lean on Him. Of laying down your own desires to listen to God’s leading voice.

This book was so much about love and sacrifice, loss and forgiveness.

It was completely beautiful from start to finish.

*I am on Lori Benton’s launch team and received this book in exchange for my honest review. All thought expressed here are my own.*

Review: Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Look at this cover. I just love it. And it is strongly reminiscent of the Emma 200th Anniversary Edition, is it not?

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge
Waterbrook, 2017

Having read and fell in love with Hillary’s Two Blue Doors series, I was excited to read what she has next for readers. Her books have become a sweet treat!

This Sense and Sensibility retelling follows sisters Jane, Celia, and Margot when they are forced out of their tea shop and decide to move to Austin, Texas to rebuild their lives in a new city. And while I’ve never read the classic, I found this novel enjoyable as the sisters learn to adjust to life changes and new surroundings. I loved how tea was infused in this novel and was such a natural extension of who the girls were. It wasn’t just a business their lives revolve around, but it holds a special place in their hearts. I mean, Jane carries tea around in her purse, so it is definitely more than a business!

And I wouldn’t mind visiting Texas one day for the big porches, sweet tea, and barbecue. Sounds like my kind of place!

Can I just mention the adorable big dog, Dash? I just loved his presence in this story!

The Two Blue Doors series remains dearest to my heart, but readers of Hillary Manton Lodge will enjoy this novel as well. I love HML’s writing style. Her voice is just lovely, and I can’t wait to read more from her in the future.

*I am on the author’s launch team and was provided a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These thoughts are my own.*

Recommendation: The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

Note: I meant to post this review MONTHS ago, and I just never hit publish. Here it is, months later…

I love when I read a book that surprises me. I checked this book out of the library, didn’t have any expectations, and it blew me out of the water with how amazing it is!!! I was absolutely glued to the page.

We’re talking best book I’ve read all year. You will definitely be seeing this book on my best of 2017 list.

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert
Waterbrook Press, 2015

I was so invested in these characters’ lives. From the broken relationship between sisters Carmen and Gracie, to alcohol abuse, to marriage and miscarriage, this book has an emotional story to tell. It was sad and compelling and I could not stop reading because I had all this hope for these characters.

I also adored Elias and Ben. Elias was king, caring, and just elusive enough to make me want to see him show up on the pages again. And Ben has this unwavering love and desire to fight for his wife, even when she doesn’t. I love how he never gives up.

By the time I got to chapter 55, my eyes were filled with tears. I read it right before bed, and then I thought I got through the most emotional part, but I was WRONG. When I finished the book the next day, I was very close to tears until I got to the end. I got really caught up in the emotions of the last few chapters.

I wish I owned this book now. I’ve put it on my ‘buy this book next’ list.

With this book, I am forever sold on reading whatever Katie Ganshert writes.

And Katie, can we have a sequel? Please?

2017 TBR List | Part 2

Remember my TBR post from January of this year? I listed my 15 most anticipated books. Of which, I’ve read 6, skimmed and DNF’d 2, am currently reading one, and have 3 waiting on my shelves. So, I’ve made some progress.

Today I want to share my most anticipated books that are coming out in the next half of this year. I’ve linked the titles with their Goodreads pages, so go forth and add more books to your TBR!

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh
July 4, 2017

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson
July 4, 2017

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M White
July 4, 2017

Unraveling by Sara Ella
July 11, 2017

All this Time by Melissa Tagg
August 2017

Freedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli
August 8, 2017

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton
August 29, 2017

An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter
September 5, 2017

A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden
October 3, 2017

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
November 7, 2017

What books will you be reading?

Review: Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson

Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson
Tyndale, 2017

I was immediately interested in the story when I read it involved World War II and an old man who had searched for his best friend for seventy years. The loyalty and long-suffering of a man who has searched that long spoke volumes to me.

In present day, we follow Quenby Vaughn, the journalist Daniel Knight has hired to find his friend. What intrigued me about Quenby was her inquisitive nature; she does not give up the search for answers because she is passionate about story. But her strength in searching for those answers doubles as a defense mechanism: if she’s the one asking questions, no one will ask questions about her own past.

Daniel last remembers Brigitte as a ten-year-old child. After they are separated, Brigitte goes on to live with people who manipulate her to do things she does not want to be involved in. She is smart and resilient, and I was rooting for her to get away and find Dietmar. Brigette learns to adapt to her surroundings in order to survive, and I was curious to see what happened to her.

My one complaint was a twist towards the end that wrapped one aspect of the novel in too neat of a bow. I don’t want to say anything more, but I just found it unnecessary to complete the loose ends in the way it was done.

If you enjoy reading dual-time novels or about World War II, I think you will enjoy this book.

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

Review: English Lessons by Andrea Lucado

English Lessons by Andrea Lucado
Waterbrook Press, 2017

In English Lessons, Andrea recounts her year abroad in England, where she went to college. Her voice is fresh and unique, and I found it intriguing to read something that makes it okay to search and ask difficult questions. That’s what this book is comprised of: her struggles, her doubts about faith, and her search for answers all wrapped up in the stories of her time at Oxford. What happens when we are taken completely out of our comfort zones?

The little illustrations at the beginning of each chapter are charming and add a touch of whimsy to this book. They sweetly complement Andrea’s stories and I just really loved that design element.

The chapter on art was the part I most enjoyed. She talks about how if truth is found in art, God is there, too. And I think that’s why I love to read. Art, the written word, can express truth. And that is a powerful thing to realize. That’s why Andrea’s experience at this art conference was one I enjoyed reading in chapter eight.

Overall, I found this book to be interesting and different. I neither loved nor disliked it, but land somewhere in the middle. I don’t feel that there was much resolution in the book, and while I believe that was intentional, I’m not a fan of loose ends.

But, maybe that was the goal: to show readers what the crooked pieces of life look like and learn to live with and work through them.

If you’ve ever been to or are fascinated by England, I think you will enjoy this book and your vicarious travels with Andrea.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.*

Review: Life After by Katie Ganshert

When I first read the back cover summary of Life After, I was intrigued. It sounded different than what I typically read, but so compelling.

The premise of this novel centers on a Chicago tragedy -a train explosion- where the victims’ lives are lost, all but one. It follows the life of Autumn Manning, whose life was spared, and the aftermath of experiencing such a life-altering horror. How do you move forward? How do you reconcile the fact that you alone lived, and why? Why did you survive and no one else?

Life After by Katie Ganshert
Waterbrook, 2017

The prologue had me immediately engaged, and from there it never let up. Autumn’s life has been changed dramatically, and no one around her can relate to what she has been through.

This book grapples with the weight of survival and the pressure to make your survival mean something

This story takes an honest look at how life can be turned upside down in one unimaginable moment. It is a story about grief, and how we grapple with it, try to understand it, and ultimately how we attempt to move forward.

Can Autumn learn to heal without forgetting?

This is a standout novel. My favorite read of the year so far.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts expressed are my own.*

Review: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

What really happened on Horace Stapleton’s stage? Was it a performance gone wrong? Or was something malicious going on behind the scenes on that fateful New Year’s Eve morning?

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron
Thomas Nelson, 2017

From the start, the vivid descriptions brought the setting to life and injected this novel with a mysterious atmosphere. I felt like I had stepped into another day and age and was immersed in this 1920’s vaudeville world.

Early in the story, Wren and Elliot attend an upscale party to investigate the death that resulted from Horace Stapleton’s performance. This is where the story took off for me. Between the tension in this scene and all the witty quipping between the main characters, I was hooked.

Wren’s life is a carefully crafted illusion, and letting other people in is rare and considered a liability. That’s why I loved Elliot: he didn’t want to change her; he just wanted to be her safe place.

Hiding may be her normal, but that doesn’t mean it ever gets easy.

illusionistkcambron

So while all you see at first glance is this mysterious illusionist who lives in a secretive world, you find out that there is so much more to Wren than meets the eye. Her character development was phenomenal. She is confident and independent, but also has this soft, vulnerable side.

Kristy’s books have an ethereal quality about them. They are the ones that quietly take up residence in your heart. I slowly found myself more and more attached to this story, and I can’t wait to see what she has coming next.

*I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I am on this author’s launch team. All opinions expressed are my own.*