3 Out of the Box Books for 2016

In an effort to stretch myself outside of my reading comfort zone, I’ve decided to read a few different books this year. And I’m quite looking forward to it. What can I learn from these books that are not what I typically read?

And with this new commitment, I am presenting the 3 books I have decided to try out. They include a classic, a popular author in a genre I don’t read, and a non-fiction book; an eclectic collection at best!

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

I chose this classic because it’s a popular one, and there’s all these movies based on this series. Maybe I’ll watch them someday if I can get myself through this book. And Jamie over at Books & Beverages always hosts Inklings Discussions, which has helped inspire me to read what I’m sure is a masterpiece.

2. Black by Ted Dekker

I feel like Ted Dekker is a super popular author and I am the only person who has not read his books. Full disclosure: I tried to read this one over a year ago at a friend’s prompting, but couldn’t get past the first few chapters. Here’s to my second try!

3. It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke

Another dear friend of mine gave this book to me for Christmas and I am pretty excited to read it. If you haven’t seen Jefferson Bethke’s viral video from a few years back, you have to watch it. I’ve always been interested in his books, so I had to add it to this list. And I’ve already started this one, and so far I’m liking it!

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?
Are you planning to read any books that are outside your comfort zone this year?

Review: Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden

Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House, 2015

I remember reading Against the Tide and becoming an instant fan of Elizabeth Camden. Since then, I always enjoy picking up her novels and getting lost in the stories she writes. Until the Dawn is another engaging novel from one of my favorite authors. Elizabeth’s writing style is easy to read and pulls you into the story.

With this novel, she touches on everything from the Weather Bureau to science and the trial of chronic medical issues. She even mixes in a bit of mystery and a sprinkle of hope. The result is a beautifully written novel that tells the story of Sophie van Riijn, who has faced ridicule from her community but has courage and radiates light through it all, and Quentin Vandermark, a man who has been knocked down in life and is cynical and cold. Beneath his stormy surface, can the hope Quentin has let lie dormant be reawakened?

And the setting! On the outside, Dierenpark is an abandoned mansion painted by the eerie stories surrounding it. But when you look a little deeper, Dierenpark takes on a life of it’s own, and is nearly a magical place, providing an Eden-like setting for Sophie and Quentin to grapple, discover, and grow. This setting was the perfect complement to the story.

I can’t wait to see what Elizabeth Camden has next for readers.

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Mini-Reviews: Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Edition

In an effort to catch up on all the books I need to review and start fresh with the new year, today I will be giving mini-reviews on a few books I received for review as a part of the TNZ Fiction Guild.

The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert

Originally published in Afrikaans, this is Irma Joubert’s first novel translated into English. This book follows the journey of Gretl Schmidt from the time she survives a train bombing at the age of six, through young adulthood and all that happens in between.

I found this novel to be fascinating, as it delves into an aspect of World War II that I have never read about before, and Gretl’s journey from Poland to South Africa is one wrought with heartache and trauma she must fight to overcome. The translation was a bit hard to read, which made it difficult for me to really get into this story, but I imagine the original story flows much more lyrically.

A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love

Actress India Hartley is in heaps of trouble when it appears that she has shot and killed her co-star on stage during a performance. She cries innocence, but will anyone believe her?

I found this book to be mysterious and intriguing. India’s plight to prove her innocence is no easy feat. With such a public case, how can her lawyer possibly prove that the blame does not lie with his client? Philip’s story is more of a secondary role in the novel, but I found myself more interested in what made him tick, and enjoyed discovering his backstory. This wasn’t a favorite for me, but is a good book for fans of mysteries.

Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

I went into this book thinking it wouldn’t be for me — it’s set during the Chicago World’s Fair, which hasn’t interested me in the past. But, was I wrong or what? I ended up loving this book! It pulled me in quickly and I was engaged throughout. I absolutely loved the witty characters and the smart dialogue, as well as the mysterious feeling that not all had ever been revealed. At any given moment, some new twist could surprise me, and I was riveted. (But where are Lydia’s glasses on this cover? )

I highly recommend this one and plan to go back and read the first two books in Shelley Gray’s Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series myself! (And this one made it to my top reads of 2015!)

That’s a wrap (I think! I hope!) on 2015 reads I didn’t review before the year came to an end!

*I received these books from Thomas Nelson Zondervan Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.*

2016 TBR List

With a new year comes new books! It’s always fun to look at what books will be releasing in the next year and choose a few that I must pick up. Here are some of my most anticipated books of 2016 (January-June). (Click on the book covers to be taken to their Goodreads pages.)

         January 5 2016
        February 2 2016
        February 2 2016
         March 1 2016
          March 8 2016
           April 5 2016
           April 5 2016
          April 19 2016
            May 3 2016
           May 3 2016
          May 31 2016
           June 7 2016
          June 7 2016

Most of these authors have long been on my favorites list — Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, and Kristy Cambron — to name a few. Others are completely new territory for me, too, which is super exciting. Some titles caught my eye that never would have in the past, and I’m eager to see if these books will be ones I come to love. These new-to-me (or lets-try-this-again ;)) authors include — Lynette Eason, Denise Hunter, and Irene Hannon.

Of course, I only listed novels here that will publish in the first half of the year, so look out around June for my list of must-reads for the back-half of 2016. (I’m just not ready to think that far ahead — it’s only January!)

And as always, please share your thoughts on what you’re eager to read in 2016, or link me your TBR post below!