The best books of 2017.  This page will list my favorite books.  Some will be for youth or children.  I love to read and share my top finds.  Appropriate for children 10+ up to adults, unless specifically noted.

My Fourth book recommendation:

Condemn Me Not: Accused of Witchcraft

Based on the life of Susannah North Martin, this novel of romance and despair is studded with moments of grace, mercy, and miracles. Using flashbacks, Moore creates a beautiful story illustrating George Martin’s love and devotion for his wife. He stands beside her, is passionately in love with her, and supports and sustains her throughout her life. He literally embodies the phrase “for better or for worse.” His visits to her jail cell are legendary and their romance inspires me.
Stripped of her dignity, her honor, and her family, Susannah holds fast to the things that cannot be taken from her—her faith in God and her abiding love and memories of her family. Despite her situation, she is able to comfort and sustain her cell mates. She truly was a woman of integrity and virtue.
This historically accurate retelling of this dark and gruesome account in U.S. history includes specific details and quotes from trial records. This historical fiction faithfully records the horror, betrayal, and lawlessness of that period in time.
Moore is a master craftsman of the written word. She relates one of the most tragic accounts of injustice and human depravation in American history while carefully interweaving a beautifully passionate love story. She is able to convey an intimate, sexual, marital relationship without the salacious details. From the descendant on the cover to the obvious love the author has for her ancestors, her attention to detail is rare. The addition of historically accurate details and eyewitness accounts helps to make this novel unique. This haunting story is unforgettable.

My Third book recommendation:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2145942699

Chocolate Kisses by River Ford

This story has more depth and insight than I have read in quite a while.  I never expected this touching tale to impact me so much.  Rheumatoid Arthritis is an insidious, destructive disease that robs one of mobility, hopes, and dreams.  Kerri Manning’s world has been turned upside-down after a devastating diagnosis.  “She couldn’t handle the constant pain, exhaustion, and the pressures of school anymore.”  Her vulnerability and resilient determination go far beyond the limitations of her body.  She comes to rely on the strength of family, friends, and hope.  “Maybe this is God’s way of telling her to look for new dreams.”  Sculptor Eric Hunt has escaped the soul stealing illusion of New York City to find peace and refuge in Eureka Springs.  His southern charm and gentlemanly manners break through her defenses.  “She ignites a sense of protectiveness from deep with his soul.” Eric is mystified by Kerri’s behavior as she struggles to maintain a sense of dignity and self-respect, and some measure of independence.  His love and faith inspire her to find new dreams and dust off the old dreams she had abandoned.   “She inspires him with her courage and perseverance despite her pain.”  He has finally found his muse, one who ignites his desire to duplicate her ethereal beauty in clay.  I was really touched by Ken and Cheryl Manning as they struggled to help Kerri find her new normal.  “She simply had to figure out who she was or who she could be with her prognosis.”  The compassion, understanding, and sympathy that River Ford was able to infuse into this story are rare.  I will share this little gem with my friends and family.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are uniquely my own.

My Second book recommendation for 2017.

True to You by Becky Wade

True to You by Becky Wade

First, I must say that I am a huge fan of Becky Wade’s Christian romance books.  This gorgeous book filled with moments of joy and pain, sorrow and surrender, faith and forgiveness sets the stage for the new Bradford Sisters Romance series.

Legendary John Lawson bursts into Nora Bradford’s life.  “No man had ever cast such a powerful spell over her.”  His raw masculinity and rugged persona literally leave her speechless.   This quirky, fussy librarian/genealogist/businesswoman with a penchant for vintage clothing struck John as rather strange and not attractive in the least.  “Yet his second and third opinions showed him the inner and outer beauty of the true woman.”  Still reeling from his lifechanging diagnosis, John hires Nora to track down his birth mother and the answers he seeks.  Humbled by his fate, “he’d always known, that the man in the book and movie was better and bigger and braver and a whole lot more immortal than he’d ever been.”  Nora has always felt inadequate when compared to her beautiful, talented sisters, Britt and Willow.  After a painful and unexpected broken engagement, Nora had resigned herself to her fantasy boyfriend and her life of books.  It is hard for her to believe that this extraordinary man could want ordinary her.  I completely related to Nora, her insecurities, her love and devotion to her family and friends.  John is a good reminder that every hero starts out as a real, flawed human.  One of the most pivotal scenes for me is when Nora turns her fate and John’s over to God.  The emotions this story evoked wrung me dry.  I found myself laughing, crying, and cheering.  The shocking plot twist literally took my breath away.  I did not see that coming.  I absolutely loved the stings of text messages and letters that fly between the characters.  The introduction to Britt and Willow has me eagerly anticipating their love stories.  Delightful secondary characters such as Randall, Nikki and Duncan add tension, fun, and comic relief.  This complex, multi-layered story is a Becky Wade masterpiece.  She tackles the tough, the sweet, and the horrifying with fortitude and finesse.

My first recommended book for 2017.

Outshinehttps://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R199PYK39GDTS9/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B06XZFDMQJ

Page after page of profound moments and insights. Rich and deep and delectable, wild and raw and passionate—she loves math, music, and books, he loves family, justice, and her.
Poignant theme-can they live with what is, what could have been, what will never be?

Spinster Fossi Lovejoy is a mathematical genius born in the wrong century. She seems to be a step out of time. Once content in her little world, he has opened her eyes and given her a glimpse of hope, freedom, and love.

Daniel Ashton has lost all he held most dear. He cannot live with his tragic loss but he cannot escape the pain. “He had to cling to hope…or succumb to the madness and despair.”
This is the first book I have read in this series but the story was complete. I wish I knew the backstory but I plan to read the other books to fully understand the dilemmas and the characters that pop in and out of the scenes. This story is intriguing and magical. I loved the gentle pace and sweet, tender, selfless Fossi. I cannot wait to dive into this series. Hooray for the bright, intelligent, mathematical heroine.

*I received a copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are uniquely my own.

 Books recommended in 2016.
Since You've Been Gone by Christa Allan
Since You’ve Been Gone
by Christa Allan (Goodreads Author)

Read on October 11, 2016

 

*I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. I was not required to leave a positive review. This opinion is uniquely my own.
This is a poignant novel of love and loss. From the first page my heart was engaged in this bittersweet love story. “My hopsack life had snagged upon disaster. And, for the past month, the threads frayed faster than I could stitch them together.” Livvy spends the majority of this book searching for clues as to why her fiancé Wyatt was driving away from their wedding. The secrets are carefully revealed layer by layer. She learns that all have a story to tell, a hidden past, a buried hurt. All is not as it first appears. As she discovers the truth, she finds her way back to God. This book is poetry, an onslaught of emotion. The rekindled romance between Evan and Olivia is a slow dance as he patiently, tenderly ministers to her broken heart. Grief, loss, mystery, and agonizing heartache are but a few of the themes explored by Allan. I was entranced by this book and the beautiful phrases and emotions. The characters are rich and complex. The plot is fully developed and detailed. I will be reading much more by this author. Christa Allan’s books have jumped to the top of my wish list.

Emma's Match by Franky A. Brown

Emma’s Match (Austen Inspirations Book 3)
by Franky A. Brown (Goodreads Author)

 

For some people it doesn’t matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can’t do anything right. Poor, irrepressible Emma Wallace, she cannot seem to catch a break. She tries so hard to not disappoint or hurt others. “I’m turning into my mother. She failed at everything from self-control to being a wife and mother.” With Emma’s business on the brink of failure, Emma tries one last ditch effort, the Southern Home Design Contest. Well-meaning friends and associates seem to sabotage Emma’s efforts to be independent and successful. When Emma discovers that most people view her as a privileged snob, her confidence takes a serious hit. Emma tries to change herself and be a better person but soon finds that the “Jillian mold” just doesn’t fit. I love the message about staying true to yourself. The ‘stream of consciousness’ ramblings are delightful as are Emma’s classic fails. Emma has long had special feeling for William Knight. One fateful mistake in her past caused her to lose his friendship for two years. “I’d rather have him in my life as a friend than nothing at all.” Emma is not willing to risk that friendship once again. But Will won’t leave well enough alone. Can’t he see what she is trying to do? One more mistake and she could lose everything. But Will wants to be her hero as he swoops in to save Emma time and again. His voice of reason seems to be the only thing that keeps Emma sane. Millie is the bumbling Laverne to Emma’s Shirley, sidekick extraordinaire. I love the hypochondriac father, sensible sister Olivia, and deliriously happy Anna. Selflessly, Emma is willing to give up all she wants to help her friends. Her misguided attempts to make things right all backfire spectacularly. In the end, she learns what is most important is worth fighting for with your whole heart. “Nothing is out of reach for you Emma.” Emma is courageous, misinformed, and a little kooky. Southern charm at its finest, this is a crazy story of zany antics, close friendships, and love that never dies.
*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Women of Merryton Boxed Set by Jennifer Peel

The Women of Merryton Boxed Set (Books 1-3)
by Jennifer Peel (Goodreads Author)

 

I absolutely love the strong, courageous Women of Merryton. Beautifully written, you will not be able to put this series down. Once again Peel proves that clean romance can be funny, multifaceted, and passionate.
Jessie Belle
This was a four hankie story for me. Right from the first chapter, my heart broke for Jessica and Blake. I really enjoy the depth of this story. Jennifer Peel really takes her time developing the story and the characters. She explored the nuances of each conflict and the resulting emotions. Jessie’s parents are just one of the highlights of this story. I also love her band of girlfriends who support her and stick by her side. I could really sympathize with Jessie and Blake. I have good friends who have suffered multiple miscarriages and another whose fetus died at 8 months in utero. Both situations are heartbreaking but to suffer both is almost unendurable. One of my favorite quotes from this story, “… joy always comes after sorrow.” There is no such thing as a perfect marriage but a successful marriage brings two imperfect people together with perfect love.
Taylor Lynne
We are reunited with characters from Jessie Belle. Meet Taylor Lynne. I cried with her and laughed with her. In this story, Peel explores what ifs, regrets, and second chances to make things right. A novel of faith, of letting go and letting God take over. Told from Taylor’s point of view, with input from her friends and dialogue with her ex-husband Easton, we follow Taylor’s return to Merryton. Their sad tale down the slippery slope leading to their divorce is told with sensitivity and compassion. Taylor has one last chance to make things right: with her father Frank, with her ex Easton, and with herself. Her faith grows as she learns to forgive and her eyes are opened to the truth she never knew. Despite the serious topic and heartbreaking moments, there are several fun scenes and I found myself laughing aloud as I read. Warning: this story evokes strong emotions and little Emmy will steal your heart.
Rachel Laine
I immediately fell in love with Rachel and Drew. The authentic characters and realistic situations make this story wonderful. Self-absorbed Andrew Turner has his priorities skewed until young Drew transforms him into a caring father. Selfless Rachel is his complete opposite; she has immersed herself in motherhood to the point of losing her identity and her hope for romance and passion. Their worlds collide in one rambunctious little boy who will steal your heart. Peel takes her time exploring the lives of Rachel and Andrew. This carefully constructed story is woven with humor, charm, love and regrets. Evolving characters, lasting friendships, and loving families bring this story full circle as the reader catches up with the characters from previous books in the series.

King of the Friend Zone by Sheralyn Pratt

King of the Friend Zone (Power of the Matchmaker)
by Sheralyn Pratt (Goodreads Author)

 

****This is an adult novel.***
Esme Taylor’s journey to find her soul mate is a long and winding road to her heart’s desire, her heart’s home. She is torn as she faces an impossible choice. “The juxtaposition of pure, scathing betrayal in contrast to unflinching loyalty had helped her become more discerning in her choice of men.” Esme is real and relatable from her sass and her temper, to her comfort eating. I appreciate how hard she tries to make everything work, to keep it all together, never giving up. Jon is the fiancé we love to despise, how could I not cheer for Hunter? He deserves a “woman who will fight for him.”
“Life in the friend zone was paralyzing. There was no progress there. No life. No love.” All of his life Hunter has loved Esme and been afraid to risk their friendship. Seeing how Hunter cares about others and how he struggles with his dyslexia and dysgraphia makes him human and not just a gorgeous hunk of firefighter.
Miss Pearl’s is quite the chameleon in this story with ever changing accent, her Kissing Cookies, and her confusing words of advice. She seems to pop up everywhere in this story, always fun and unexpected.
So many fun components and creative elements, 3… 2…. 1…., the snarky text messages, Operation: Jealous X, and the blunt honesty from their circle of friends are all wrapped up in one unforgettable romance. The drama adds a nice element and complexity to this story. I loved reconnecting to Grace and Ash and hope to read Shauna and Brad’s story very soon. The subplot concerning Kenny and his transformation touched my heart. Seeing him change and develop into a caring man was amazing, I hope he gets his story too. I thought the play on the character’s names was fun: Miss Weekes and Hunter Chase.
The ending of this story is so delightfully delicious that I had to go back and immediately read it again. I am thoroughly enjoying the Matchmaker series and the transcendent Miss Pearl. ****This is an adult novel and does contain some sexual innuendos and alcohol.
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Between Heaven and Earth by Michele Paige Holmes

Between Heaven and Earth
by Michele Paige Holmes (Goodreads Author)

I believe that this is the most powerful book in the Matchmaker Series. Pearl has an active and pivotal role in bringing together Cassandra and Matt and appears in several scenes. Exploring the facets of death in its many forms, including the devastating loss of young love, unexpected loss, and the culmination of a long life well lived, this story grabbed my heart and wrenched. Cassandra Webb’s devastating grief and loneliness as she sits and waits for her husband Devon to recover from a debilitating injury received in the line of duty is heartbreaking; Holmes has the ability to powerfully convey the pain and emotion Cassie faces. For six years, Cass has waited for her husband to awaken from his vegetative state, when faced with the prospect of letting him go, she panics. Her devotion and commitment to Devon is inspiring. “…I’ll never stop hoping. Nothing is impossible. Miracles happen every day…” Fate struck Matthew Kramer’s life a blow by effectively striking is beloved wife Jenna from his life permanently. Brought together by three precocious, precious little boys, Matt and Cass begin a tentative friendship that slowly develops into love. Devon’s haunting presence hovers like a ghost lingering throughout each chapter. Lighting the mood, the little boys bring a joy and sparkle to this story as they struggle to adapt and understand yet still act and react as children. Their heartache is conveyed with a gentle and understanding compassion. This story really resonated with me. The moments of love and laughter brought relief from the somber theme of death and grief. The characters are complex and vibrant. “I’m a modern man—multifaceted, well-rounded. I can use a drill and dish soap.” I felt the pain and anguish of Matt and Cassandra. I loved those little boys and wanted to comfort them. “Joys are often the shadows cast by sorrow.” I love this beautiful, multi-dimensional story.
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Falcon Song by Kristin CrossRated 15+ scenes of underage drinking, alcohol, implied sex scene

http://www.amazon.com/Falcon-Song-A-love-story-ebook/dp/B019HWXDFU/ref=cm_rdp_product

I can’t remember the last time I wanted to flip to the end of a story to make sure it ends happily. This is a raw, real story about choices and living with the resulting consequences. Kate and Jason have known each other all of their lives. But as Jason’s career takes off, Kate becomes hesitant and careful. They know each other so well. But can she trust him to stay true to her? She has placed him on a pedestal. “He was simply human. That was his flaw.” One choice leads to their biggest mistake and a lifetime of consequences. “There was nobody to blame, no actions to second guess,…” This story asks a lot of questions: Are we true to our values at all times? Do we trust our partner to be true, even when we are separated? Who are you when no one is watching? I became fully engaged in this book. My heart broke for the characters. So many times, I wanted to slap Jason silly and knock some sense into him. I loved the complex characters and the rich exploration of emotions. Despite a few technical errors, this is an amazing book. And yes, the ya’ll bugged me too. *Note: The story refers to sexual encounters without any details. Underage drinking and alcohol abuse are mentioned. This book contains no foul language. There is a strong reliance on faith and religion. This story has an important message I will share with my teenage daughter. I look forward to this author’s next book.
blackbird willow creekThis book was a wonderful surprise. I loved the complex characters and the well developed plot. This is now one of my favorite historical fictions. I instantly became caught up in the story. The descriptions of frontier Tennessee are vivid. I feel as if I have been to Willow Creek. The Thatcher family is dear to me and I care about each of them. I am impressed at the relationship between Ava and Chogan. They start out as children and as they grow older and mature so does their relationship. Ms. Ludwig took the time to thoroughly develop their characters and their relationship. The plot twists are exciting Ava’s heartbreaks became my heartbreaks. The characters wound their way into my heart. I really appreciated how each question was answered and each story line resolved. Plus it has a wonderful and satisfying ending.  I look forward to future books in the series.

Christmas Star Sapphire by Hallee Bridgeman

Christmas Star Sapphire (Jewel #3.6)
by Hallee Bridgeman (Goodreads Author)

Read in November, 2015

I cannot get enough of the Viscolli family. I enjoyed reading Madeline and Joseph’s love story. This faith based series is one of my favorites. I adore the strong female characters. Madeline has been raised getting everything she wants and needs. Joseph was raised not having what he wanted or needed. Can these two opposites find a common ground and come together? While the strong Christian elements may not be for all readers, I find strength in Bridgeman’s writing and Biblical references. I sincerely hope that upcoming stories about this inspiring family alluded to in this novella will be written sooner than later. Several story lines were introduced or mentioned but then not followed up, such as Cora Anderson’s story. I wish this novella had been longer and that more time had been spent on some of the topics. I would have liked to see Bridgeman explore issues such as physical abuse among dating college students in more detail. I assume and hope that there will be a continuation of the Jewel Series.

Mending Hearts by Kimberly Krey

Mending Hearts (Second Chances, #2)
by Kimberly Krey (Goodreads Author)

Read in November, 2015

 

What I loved most about this book was the tips for strengthening a marriage. “Therapy in a bowl” contained helpful ideas that could bring Logan and Candice back together. The past thirteen years had put a wedge between them, the pressure of trying to start a family, mixed with disappointment and then separation had forced them apart. “The early, fairytale-like beginnings, followed by a sequence of disappointments and wrong turns” had caused them to turn away from each other. I was most impressed with Logan’s determination to rescue his marriage to Candice. He is finished waiting and watching the love of his life slip away; he is going to fight for her, for them. But is Candice willing to give her marriage a second chance? Is she willing to take a chance on Logan. Missed opportunities and deadlines have put a limit on their love. Without adoption looming over their marriage is there any love left? Are “they” enough? Is it too late? It was interesting to me how they both seemed to put deadlines or ultimatums on their relationship. Marriage is about sticking it out through good times and bad, learning and growing together and allowing each other and the marriage to change and develop into something new. “…trials teach us what we are; they dig up soil, and let us see what we are made of.” I really enjoyed this book and came to care about the characters. I want Logan and Candice to have their happily ever after.
*I received a copy of this book for an honest review.

 

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Growing Up Wilder: The diary of Virginia Anne Wilder by Hannah Loviisa http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BI50L6I/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_udp_awd_pNiYwbFC4GW2W

Laura Ingalls meets Anne Shirley in this spunky story by Hannah Loviisa. This book made me wish my grandmother had kept a diary. I loved every moment and every entry in Virginia’s journal. Just six short months left me wishing for so much more to the story. This tale of Virginia Wilder, her friends, and family has earned a place on my bookshelf with other beloved stories. The writing is feisty and frank. My favorite thing about this book is that the girls were allowed to run and play just like the boys. While 1921 was a year of change and expansion in the United States, life on the farm was hard, dirty, never ending hours of work. The characters come to life and seem to jump off the pages. I found myself laughing out loud at Virginia’s antics. She is surrounded by a warm, loving family who are quick to forgive, ready to laugh, and always willing to help a neighbor in need. Tales of life and death, joy and sorrow fill this book. Virginia is on the cusp of womanhood, discovering who she is and what matters most in her life. I loved the diary format and the historical information and pictures at the end. I recommend this book for all ages. I cannot wait to read another book by this author.

 

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