The best books of 2018. This page will list my favorite books by year. Some will be for youth or children. I love to read and share my top finds.
Master of disguises, Lady Scarlet Cavendish leads a band of gentlemen to right the wrongs of the French Revolution. This twist on the Orczy classic includes the “League of the Scarlet Pimpernel” and other historical figures. I appreciated the author’s research and attention to detail. This rollicking adventure is steeped in history and laced with humor, danger, and drama. After the death of her beloved husband Rupert, Scarlet walks a fine line on the brink of disaster; she has nothing left to lose. Comte Matteo Durand is trapped in an intricate web, snared by his past and by his foolishness. As they continue the charade, betrayal and suspicion pull them apart even as the “magic of their attraction” draws them together. “What she lacked, he provided. When she could go no further, he filled her with strength and love and joy. This moment, this feeling, this, she wanted for the rest of her days.” Beautiful descriptions, deliberate characterizations, and masterfully written scenes fill these pages. I recommend you add this classic to your favorites’ bookshelf. “They risk all to save those who cannot save themselves.”
*I won a copy of this book in a contest. All opinions are uniquely my own.
This book held me spellbound and immediately took the top spot as my favorite book of 2018. You need to read this book.
I am obsessed with stories by Nichole Van. Every nuance, foreshadow, or flashback led to a complicated, intricate, finely woven masterpiece. This book took over my top spot for favorite book of 2018. I was completely spellbound, overwhelmed, and channeling Ghost and Somewhere in Time as I devoured each enthralling page.
“The madness came for him at night. Hereditary insanity was their curse. The gift of Second Sight—the ability to see, hear, and feel the past and the future.”
“Notorious treasure hunter,” Jack Knight-Snow is a ghost. “A shipwrecked sailor whose homeland was forever lost.” What is worse? He can feel and remember everything—his family, love, regret, and joy. Trapped between heaven and earth, a vital man without a body or a heartbeat. “Loss could describe me. But loss didn’t have to define me.” Chiara D’Angelo is a conundrum. The daughter in a family of gifted sons. A sparrow in a heritage of eagles. A woman filled with passion, a tempest in a tiny vessel. She is “haunted by omens” during the day and deep into her dreams. “I wasn’t sure Jack could be trusted with my deepest pains and fears, if he tossed them back in my face, it would destroy me.” The intense, close relationship shared by the D’Angelo siblings is inspiring and endearing. They are parts of a whole, pieces of an otherworldly puzzle. While the brothers play a role in this story. This is Chiara’s tale, her transformation, her enlightenment, her chance for love and happiness. “Jack always peeled back the curtains and shone light into the dark places in my soul that I preferred to keep hidden.”
This book will consume your life right to the final page.
- I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are uniquely my own.
Recommendations for 2017:
I read this book straight through and then I promptly read it again. I think I loved it more the second time. Three stories in one novel, Bylin’s characters come to life in full color, complex and multi-faceted. I laughed, I cried, I agonized along with the characters as they struggled through impossible choices and trials in their lives. I ached with Mia as she tortured herself with unreasonably high expectations for herself and others. Past heartbreaks had made her overprotective of her heart. Compassionate and fiercely protective of those she loves, “she brought light into a dark room, quiet into a noisy day, and a soft touch to a hard, cynical world. She deserved better than a broken heart.” Jake has a bucket load of his own trials and tribulations. His protective need to make things right for those around him. “He was an ordinary man, not a mythical knight in shining armor who never fell off his horse.” Love and faith are woven through these pages creating an intricate pattern of trusting God who watches over His children with love and patience. “We’re sitting together in this beautiful place God created, wrestling with our dreams, and thinking about giving them up–not for each other, but because they don’t fit anymore. Like old shoes.” Themes include making the hard choice, using our talents, keeping promises and walking through open doors, chasing a good dream, allowing ourselves and others to make mistakes, Alzheimer’s, and PTSD.
Law student Kate Alexander fled from her husband, the monster who’d separated her from her grandmother and her dreams. Yet, she is scarred both physically and emotionally. “After the horrible things he’d done to her, she couldn’t get him out of her nightmares…” Betrayed by his late wife, devastated by the death of his son, Matt Stevens lives with “unending guilt.” He has barricaded himself up in his mountain home hiding from the grief, haunted by sleepless nights. “One tragic night had shattered his faith in a loving God and ended his belief in anything good; resulting in his downward spiral and self-inflicted punishment.” Matt pushes everyone away, even Kate. Surrounded by loving friends, “they need each other to live up to all the things Rachel believed them to be.” Kate’s history of abuse is hard to stomach. Her strength and vulnerability touched my heart. “Despite her past abuse, she was hanging on to life and happiness instead of retreating into despair.” One magic hope can heal their hearts.
*sensitive subject matter including spousal abuse and rape*
Tavish O’Connor has resigned himself to a life of eternal bachelorhood. His brother Finbarr suffers crushing guilt for not saving Marianne, guilt for surviving. Two broken, bitter men, “the O’Connors were a family in agony.” Cecily Attwater “cannot countenance the thought of spending her days a spinster school teacher.” Despite her limitations, she can “see” more clearly the things he wishes to hide. She is not the “gentle, nurturing type of tutor he expected.” Her loneliness and slowly darkening world broke my heart. Eden has such a gentle way of peeling away the layers of a broken heart to uncover the tender, vulnerable, core. I loved Cecily’s brave façade, her selfless service, and her stubborn determination to be self-sufficient. Tavish lost is joy, his laughter, will he lose his heart? “He found a peace in her, a haven from the frequent storms of life.” Themes include finding hope, accepting compassion, and working to make a small difference in your world. “Maybe knowing you’re not the person you want to be is part of changing the path you’re on.”
I’ll admit it killed me when I got to the end. Ugh, I hate waiting to continue an amazing story. This book could go on forever and I would be happy. Gentle pacing, a spunky, naïve heroine, and a rugged, swoony Scot, all the elements of a great romance. The flashbacks guide the reader through the history while the action and adventure keep things lively. The feud between the Campbells and the MacDonalds is brought to life. “Bravery is admirable but pride is foolishness.” Their arranged marriage fulfilled a long honored promise. Drama and suspense fill the pages as Katie must determine who to trust and what are Collin’s true intentions. His protectiveness and bravery are truly legendary and heroic. The rough, barbaric clansmen add danger and drama to the journey. The reader is left with many unanswered questions and anticipation for the second book such as what is holding Collin back? As frustrated as I was that the story ended way too soon, that didn’t stop me from immediately rereading every page. I strongly recommend this beautifully written historical fiction. Eagerly anticipating the next book.
“The trials of his past led him here to her.” Their marriage unites the clans, hopefully, before it is too late. Katie Mercer “is to claim her grandfather’s inheritance and take her place as the leader of the Campbell clan.” Collin MacDonald is trapped as her guardian and protector and now as her husband. “The only way to succeed in their quest is together.” Trials and turmoil fill the pages of this story. I found myself transported by mesmerizing scenes. As their situation worsens, help comes from the most unlikely sources. Katie’s bewilderment and pain are tangible. “Wounds heal. Scars remain.” I highly recommend reading the first book in this series before beginning this book. The stories are linked by foreshadowing and clues that flow from the first book into the second. Secrets, lies, betrayal, murder, torture, and unrequited passion, “a castle is only as good as the people inside.”
The third book cannot be published soon enough for me. This trilogy has swept me along with Katie and Collin into the Scottish Highlands. Beautifully written characters and scenes. Holmes’ tales always top my list of favorite books.
*I won a copy of this book from the publisher.
“An endless stream of settlers spills down the Ohio like floodwaters.” When gentle Clare Inglesby follows her husband to the Kentucky settlement, “she is left in utter ruin, destitute on the frontier.” Bruised but not broken, Clare is determined to recover her missing son.
The book follows the life of Jeremiah Ring, Clare, and the Shawnee tribe. Revenge and greed are universal evils that bisect nations and religions. As the reader follows Clare’s journey toward Jacob, we also follow her journey back to God. ”She’d learned much about the limits of her determination and stubbornness. She’d learned to submit to His will.”
“He’d been where she is now—two paths lay before him. Her advocate, he never expected to fall in love with Pippa and with her.” Can he keep her, dare he love again?
Complex, sympathetic characters and situations. Beautiful scenes of faith, forgiveness, and endurance. “God had used this man to His will for her. This strong, tested, faithful—treasure of a man.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Christa Allan (Goodreads Author)
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.
by Franky A. Brown (Goodreads Author)
*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
by Jennifer Peel (Goodreads Author)
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.
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.
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.
by Sheralyn Pratt (Goodreads Author)
“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.
by Michele Paige Holmes (Goodreads Author)
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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.
This 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.
by Hallee Bridgeman (Goodreads Author)
Read in November, 2015
by Kimberly Krey (Goodreads Author)
*I received a copy of this book for an honest review.
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.