What I loved reading this year
It’s the time of the year when I share with you my favorite books! Yesterday I gave you my favorite nonfiction titles. Today it’s time for fiction!
So much wonderful reading this year in novels. I had to keep pairing my list down because it was so hard to choose just a handful. Let’s get started!
I shared with you in a post this fall about my initial skepticism that I had when I was told that Beth Moore had written a novel. But ever since I read The Undoing of Saint Silvanus I have been singing its praise along with that of Beth’s as a novelist!
Through this well-developed and intricately woven contemporary story set in New Orleans, you meet flawed, funny, and somewhat familiar characters. From troubled Jillian to smart mouthed Adella to stubborn and broken Olivia, each person is someone you become invested in.
Beth’s skill of communicating the grace and power of God’s work in our lives is prevalent all through this novel. I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of novelists like Francine Rivers or Katie Ganshert. I also challenge any of you who might still be skeptical on whether Beth Moore can write anything beyond a Bible study. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, I guarantee it.
James Rubart is not a stranger to my list of favorite books from year to year. As a fiction fan, his stories always captivate me. And as the book buyer for LifeWay Christian Store, he’s one of the novelists that I’m always trying to get more and more of our customers to check out. I believe in him that much. If you’ve never read Rubart before, The Long Journey to Jake Palmer is the perfect book to start with.
I appreciate novels that represent real life. People with relatable struggles and authentic faith journeys wrapped up within a riveting read remind me why I enjoy Christian fiction. The Long Journey to Jake Palmer fits this description. You’ll sense the desperation in Jake’s life after a life changing decision led to emotional and physical scars. On the outside he seems to be moving on with his life but those that know him well, especially his friends who are pushing him to join them on their annual lake vacation, know that time is running out on Jake. The longer he closes himself off to the world the higher the chance that he’ll never fully recover.
The mysterious corridor that is said to exist at the lake seems like utter nonsense and complete local lore to Jake. But his curiosity gets the best of him and he finds himself looking for it each day. He senses in his soul that if it’s real and if he can find it that in some crazy way, it could heal him.
As only James Rubart can do, the story will have you thinking how it will shake out only to find you were wrong. If you’re ready for a masterful storyteller without one iota of the “Christian cheese” that sometimes our industry is known for (bless us), then please check out James Rubart.
We catch up with J.B. Collins in Amman, Jordan right after a terrorist attack where many are killed and the President of the United States has gone missing. Collins finds himself in the inner circle of the king of Jordan and must quickly discern who to trust and who to avoid as they seek to recover the president.
Rosenberg is an expert at crafting a fast-paced, action packed novel around events that seem like they are ripped right out of today’s headlines. I have honestly learned a lot about radical Islam, the Middle East, and politics from his novels.
Grab book one, The Third Target and The First Hostage for some great holiday reading. Yes, they are big books but with the pace of the stories, you won’t be able to put them down any time soon!
I gravitate to historical novels for the most part and have a tendency to read ones that are all set in similar time periods and locations. Saffire by Sigmund Brower took me to unfamiliar waters… the building of the Panama Canel.
It’s 1909 and James Holt arrives in Panama to complete what he thinks is a short term project on behalf of an unknown man. The only information he had was to report to the administration building in Colon to receive more information. While sitting in the stifling heat of a waiting room, he becomes enraptured with a spirited young girl named Saffire who is determined to see the Colonel. Holt can’t even begin to imagine what a poor girl would want with a high ranking American official.
As the details of his mysterious summons to Panama begin to unfold, Holt finds himself caught up in an intense game of deceit and intrigue. All is set against the most impressive engineering achievement of the century which is a fascinating character in the story.
I recommend Saffire to readers who enjoy a historical tale that is based on actual events and people. You’ll not only have a gripping story to read but you’ll learn some cool facts about the Panama Canal, too.
If you’ve been with me long, I know you are not shocked to see a Julie Klassen novel on my favorite reads list. The Painter’s Daughter became rather monumental for me in my love Julie’s books: it has become my most favorite of her novels to date!
Sophie Dupont is a quiet, creative girl who finds herself swept off her feet by the handsome painter that comes to her beloved Lymouth, England for the season. When he leaves, Sophie is left with a broken heart and an impossible situation for an unwed woman to find herself in. When Stephen Overtree shows up looking for his wandering older brother, all he discovers is a young woman who has obviously been left in Wesley’s wake, again. Stephen is used to cleaning up after his brother but does he dare take on this? Honor and duty says yes, but his heart is unsure.
What makesThe Painter’s Daughter stand out for me above the rest of Julie’s novels is the slightly different approaches to the story she takes. We enter into the plot through several interesting characters. Sophie and her desperate need to find a secure future. Wesley, the wondering older brother who has moments of revelation that maybe it’s time to change his life before it’s too late. The younger brother, Stephen, who has felt for almost 30 years that he is responsible for fixing any problem his brother causes, no matter the cost. And the members of the Overtree house that include a mother who dotes on one son while blaming the other, a likable Grandfather and fun-loving younger sister, and a quirky old governess who lives in the attic.
My sales rep hesitantly presented The Alliance to me in this manner, “Think of it a bit like an apocalyptic Amish novel.” Had I not already been a huge fan of Jolina Petersheim, I’m pretty sure I would have laughed at him. But instead I eagerly asked him to tell me more!
Everything in Leora’s life has changed with the crashing of a plane by her house. Her once solid pacifist viewpoints are challenged when her quiet Amish community is faced with real-world events. The outside is creeping into their Old Order life as people look for food, shelter, and support. With the threat of violence and uncertainty, Leora and her neighbors must decide how far they will go to protect themselves.
As an outsider and one that has knowledge of why everything in the world seems to have quit working, Moses becomes a needed leader, although sometimes an unwelcome one, in the Amish community. Initially the loss of electricity, transportation, and phone services do not phase them and Moses struggles to communicate how dire their position can become as outsiders begin roaming the land for food.
Moses and the other Englischers who are stranded in the Amish community are challenging everything that the Old Order members believe in… especially in the taking up of arms and violence. What tragic events have to happen for the Amish to see that things are going to get worse before they get better? Will they ever get better?
Warning… it will leave you with a cliffhanger! But book two, The Divide, comes summer 2017!
I adore biblical era novels and I’m always eager to find new authors in this genre. Connilyn Cossette debuted this year with Counted with the Stars. While I’ve read many novels set against The Exodus out of Egypt, I had never read one that gives an account from an Egyptian slave. That was a refreshing angle for me.
Kiya is an Egyptian who has ended up a slave after being sold by her father. Her mistress is cruel and finds much pleasure in demoralizing Kiya despite the fact that Kiya was from a once well off family like hers. Kiya’s new life is nothing by hard work, humiliation, and has no chance for hope.
As word spreads about a man who is calling on Pharaoh to release the Hebrews, Kiya begins to wonder what that means for her country. When plagues of frogs, locust, hail, and more hit the land, Kiya finds her chance to leave. She ends up with a band of Hebrews who take her under their wing as they set off across to a land that they believe to be promised to them by their God.
Leaving everything behind to travel with hundreds of thousands of people who believe in a God she can’t see, Kiya has to decide to move forward or to return to the only land she’s ever known in spite of her slavery.
Cossette is certainly a debut novelist from 2016 to check out.
Lori Benton just can’t keep herself off my favorite books of the year list even if she tried. Love her!
A Flight of Arrows continues the story of Reginald Aubrey, his daughter Anna, and Two Hawks that we met in The Wood’s Edge last year. Aubrey’s long held secret of taking a lighter-skinned Indian baby when his son died at birth has become known and the ramifications of that action send ripple effects through not only his family but also of the Indian family who have mourned the child from the beginning.
Set against historical events of the early American frontier, this beautiful story of shame, forgiveness, and the power of God to work on all hearts continues to set Benton apart from her counterparts. She remains one of my most recommend authors to people who love historical novels.
What about you?
What novels did you enjoy reading this year? I’d love to hear from you!
And.. coming tomorrow! I’ll be kicking off My Favorite Books of 2016 giveaway! It will be your chance to win each of my top reads for the year. Come back and see me tomorrow for all the details.