One of the most popular pages on my website is my page on Book Reviews! And when I look up the statistics for my site over the last couple of years, almost half of the top posts are . . . yep. Book reviews. I shouldn’t be surprised. Readers like to know about good books.
I’ve read a lot of really good books this year. Some I’ve reviewed in blog posts, but many I only review on GoodReads and Bookbub. Below are some of the best books I’ve read this year (ones I didn’t do individual book review posts on) that earned a 5-star rating from me.
Side note: If you want to read even more of my reviews, check out the nonfiction books I’ve reviewed on my blog by clicking here OR join me on GoodReads by clicking here or on BookBub by clicking here! Finally, check out the post I did in June about my top reads by clicking here.
Best Reads 2019: Fiction Books
1. The Gift of Grace by Julie Lessman
104 pages, 1885 historical, California. I love this story, I suppose because it hits close to home. Still, the message that the person or situation that is perfect for you isn’t always the obvious choice is important. And the truth that we must each be who God created us to be even if it’s not the person we think we should be is critical to our mental and emotional health, as well as the health of the Church as a whole.
2. If Ever I Would Leave You by Susan May Warren
152 pages, contemporary Montana, kicks off 6-book series. I believe this was my first Susan May Warren book, but I was hooked! I quickly found all six of the other books in this series and found excuses to read. She expertly finished each critical storyline within each book while weaving another problem throughout the entire series, offering just enough clues to satisfy without solving anything. I’m so glad I found this after all the books were available for purchase rather than while she was still writing them!
3. Tried and True by Mary Connealy
320 pages, 1866 historical, Idaho Territoy, first of 3-book series. Oh, these sisters! Seriously! I laughed and cried and wanted to shake them silly, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from Mary Connealy. I loved that she gave each a distinct personality with its own brand of spunk, yet blended them together into an independent dependence upon each other. It was beautiful. And, as hard as it was to read, I appreciated that she didn’t tie them together forever but allowed each to make decisions true to her nature.
4. The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin
365 pages, World War II historical, United Kingdom, first of 3-book series. If you love details or speak US or Royal Navy, this might be a good book for you. Honestly, much of the information was unfamiliar to me so it didn’t stick well, but that didn’t detract much from the overall storyline. It often added to the drama and the weight of all that was happening as the United States and her Allies prepared for Normandy and then everyone waited for news of the battle. This one is more intense than The Gift of Grace or Tried and True, but definitely worth your consideration!
5. A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings
336 pages, 1865 historical, Ozarks. It’s hard for me to talk about all that delighted me about this book without giving away some of the great secrets revealed throughout, but I enjoyed the two main characters very much. I also like the Calhoun family, for all their quirks and dysfunction. The situation with the mother and sister is quite believable, even in our day, much less theirs. I appreciated how Ms. Jennings worked to redeem it, provided a precious gift in the relationship between the sister and a young girl, and offered hope for the future for the sweet mother. And the two mischievous kids! What fun they are (particularly since I’m not the one dealing with their antics).
6. Michal by Jill Eileen Smith
386 pages, biblical fiction, first in a 3-book series. Biblical fiction reminds me that the people I read about in the pages of Scripture were real with the same feelings and similar failures as the rest of us. This story about Michal followed Scripture well, telling some of David’s story but focusing on Michal’s aspect of it. The author used Scripture as appropriate whenever she could, but this deeper look into David’s first wife made me stop to consider her more thoroughly as a whole person than I’ve ever done before.
7. The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
416 pages, 1817 historical, Cornwall, England. Julie Klassen books are always long ones for me, but I never regret taking the time to read them. They always draw me in slowly and then hook me so securely that I seek out moments to read just a little more. I enjoyed this one with its flawed but realistic characters, and she created a believable situation that involved enough characters that I didn’t completely figure it all out until the grand reveal. Without sharing the resolution, I appreciated how she handled it, finding a good compromise between love and mercy for the biggest offender and a level of peace for most everyone else.
My Best Reads: Nonfiction Books
1. Flags of Our Fathers by James D. Bradley
Mr. Bradley combines history with storytelling so we get to know the men of the infamous Iwo Jima photograph before they were well-known. However, this is not a book for the faint of heart or the squeamish nor for those who merely want to engage in idol worship of those who go to war to protect us from those intent on harming us. This was a tough book to read on many levels for me, but I’m so glad I did. If you want to know more of my thoughts, take a moment to read my review on GoodReads.
2. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes
Heart-wrenching, challenging, inspiring. I’ve sometimes thought about those caught in perilous circumstances like Mr. Bonhoeffer during the days of the Third Reich. What should a Christian’s response be in such times? I think Pastor Bonhoeffer would have simply declared, “You follow God.” This book is a comprehensive look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life, including glimpses into the lives of those most loved by him, but it does spend quite a bit of time on his work within the German rebellion. Few outside Germany considered the rebellion of any value, yet those brave men fought on anyway.
3. Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battle against Your Giants by Louie Giglio
I love this view of David & Goliath and the application to the giants in my own life. It’s a picture I won’t easily or quickly forget. A couple of the giants I readily knew in advance that stood before me. As I listened to the other chapters, I could see bits and pieces of them around me too. Fear, rejection, addiction, anger, comfort . . . they all surround us and seek to keep us limited. Doubtful. Impotent. But we can be different.
4. Good or God? Why Good without God Isn’t Enough by John Bevere
Mr. Bevere lays out the foundation for fully trusting in the grace we’ve been given and then accessing it to do what God has called us to do without holding back or leaning on our own thoughts and resources, trusting in His provision in every area. Can you imagine what our legacy would be if we could fully grasp God’s grace and provision and were fully obedient to His call and direction? That’s what I want to do, and thanks to the encouragement and mindset changing words in this book, I’m daring to think bigger. Pray bigger. Dream bigger. And my goal is to continue to let those things snowball into bigger and bigger thoughts, prayers, and dreams.
5. Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt
I’ve been following Michael Hyatt off and on for several years, so nothing in this book was particularly mind-blowing. It was, however, encouraging, easy-to-follow, and motivating. The steps he outlines are simplistic enough to put into practice, although many of them will take work to think through and practice to implement. I’ve tried several of his solutions in the past, which means rather than starting from scratch, I’m tweaking what I’m already doing. If you want to gain greater control of your life and have the margin you want to enjoy the time you have, Michael Hyatt is a great author to follow.
What about You?
Did your To Read List just grow a little? Find this post on my Facebook page to tell me what makes your Best Reads 2019 list.
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