Thursday, April 4, 2019

My Top Books for 2019: The First Quarter, Plus an Update

2019 has been a whirlwind for me! I was excited about the plans I had for my blog this year, but on the very first weekend of January, everything changed. My family and I travelled to eastern Oklahoma, where my husband was voted in as pastor of a wonderful church. We went back to southeast Texas, and the following weekend, my husband resigned from our church of twelve years. The transition process started, and at the end of February, we moved 450 miles away. After twelve hours on the road and a broken trailer axle that set us back a couple of hours, we arrived in Oklahoma and started our new lives here. It's been an exhausting adventure and an emotional roller coaster! While it was hard to say goodbye to Texas, we're excited about our future in Oklahoma. And since my husband and I were born and raised in Arkansas, being so close to the Arkansas/Oklahoma border makes us feel like we're back home. Isn't it gorgeous?

I haven't done nearly as much reading as I normally do during the beginning of the year. Last year I read seven books in January alone. This year, at the end of March, I'd only read six. Life looks a lot different this year than last year, though. We're getting settled into our new town and new church, house hunting, job hunting, getting our oldest ready to start full time college in the fall, and so much more. We're in a very different season of life, and my reading time is a lot more limited. It's worth the trade-off, though.

Now that life is settling down a little, I plan to be on the blog more. I've missed it, and I've been excited about my plans for this year, even if they were a little delayed.

While my reading list was short in the first quarter of 2019, I read some amazing books! The following all got five-star Goodreads reviews from me:

The Curse of Misty Wayfair--Jaime Jo Wright

Sometimes an author comes along who always writes a great book that hooks you from the first chapter. Jaime Jo Wright is one of those. When I started The Curse of Misty Wayfair, I knew this book was different. As great as Jaime's first two books were, this takes her writing to a new level. Jaime tackles some very tough issues - anxiety, mental illness, the struggles of abandonment in childhood and adulthood, and more. This is definitely Jaime's best book yet! In fact, I loved this one so much that when the character-inspired cozies appeared in The Cozy Life Shop on Etsy, I ordered my favorite. Isn't this the perfect cozy for a mystery lover?

The Wind Will Howl--Sibella Giorello

I've been reading about Raleigh Harmon from the beginning of her story, and every book just keeps getting better. The ending of this book...oh my goodness! If you're already a Raleigh fan, you have to read this one! If you're not a fan yet, start at the beginning and catch up on this series.

The Wedding Dress, The Wedding Chapel--Rachel Hauck

For years, I avidly avoided romance novels. I repeatedly said I didn't like them, with the exception of romantic suspense. But last year, I needed a book recommendation for a reading challenge, and someone recommended Rachel Hauck's The Love Letter. I was hooked. The Wedding Dress is the second book I've read by this author, and as soon as I finished it, I dove directly into The Wedding Chapel. I love the dual timelines of Rachel Hauck's books, and her writing is phenomenal. Every single story draws me in and wraps me up in the story.

What are you reading this year? What are your favorites of the year so far?

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Top Books of 2018

My reading life surprised me last year. I read more books than in the past few years, and my focus shifted considerably. The ways I read also changed a lot. Before I get into my top books for 2018, let me give you a quick breakdown of my reading habits.

I read 50 books:
  • 44 fiction
  • 6 nonfiction
Ten of these were audiobooks - a big change for me! I just got into audiobooks a few years ago, but this year they became a huge part of my reading life. I read longer books this year, and I read a lot of classics (ten total - these made up the bulk of my audiobooks). I also read a lot of YA, a genre I'm really coming to love.

Now for my top eleven books of 2018. I read so many great ones that it was hard to narrow down my list. It was supposed to be a top ten list but ended up being a top eleven list. In no particular order, here are the best books I ready last year:

1. The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

I started the year off with a bang! I kept hearing this book mentioned in online groups and talked about among friends with great reading taste. I picked up a Kindle copy when it was on sale and started 2018 with this book. I couldn't stop reading! This split-time mystery is so unique and so well written! I was such a fan I've joined Jaime's launch team to help launch her second book (#10 on this list) and will help her launch her third novel later this month. She's such a fantastic writer!

2. Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman

Emily P. Freeman is one of my go-to authors when I'm stressed. Her words always seem to speak peace to my anxiety riddled mind. Simply Tuesday is about finding joy and contentment in the small, ordinary, not-so-glamourous things in our lives. It was just what I needed to read this year.

3. The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

The title describes it well. Beautiful and full of hope. It's no wonder Francine Rivers is one of the top Christian fiction authors out there.

4. The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts

The gorgeous cover for this book first drew me to it on NetGalley. Within the first two chapters, I knew it would become a favorite for the year. In fact, I loved it so much I joined Elizabeth's launch team. This heart wrenching, beautiful story is full of loss and hope. Not just a favorite for the year, this is one of the books I now recommend to everyone.

5. Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

Shauna Niequist is another go-to author when I'm stressed. I first read Cold Tangerines a few years ago, and after struggling through the early part of this year, I decided it was time for a re-read.

6. Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanne Davidson Politano

Another book that came highly recommended, this debut novel did not disappoint. It was unique, with a story that I couldn't stop reading.

7. Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig

Ronie Kendig definitely tops my list of favorite authors. This conclusion to her Tox Files series left me an emotional wreck, but I really think it's her best yet.

8. Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson

What's better for a book lover than a book about books? This entire book was like a great conversation with a book-loving friend. My TBR list is much longer now, thanks to Sarah.

9. A Place to Land by Kate Motaung

Hope in the midst of tragedy seems to be a theme for 2018's books. Kate's story of finding home halfway across the world, love, family, and grief was so good I couldn't put it down.

10. The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright
Every bit as good as The House on Foster Hill! Jaime's books are so unique and just the right amount of eerie suspense. I'm counting the days until I can get my hands on her latest novel, The Curse of Misty Wayfair!

11. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

My ten ten list became a top eleven when I finished this book late in the year. It's laugh out loud funny but also tackled some heavy issued rarely touched in Christian fiction. I absolutely love this book!

What were your favorite books in 2018?