Favorite Reads 2016

I received complimentary copies of most of the books I mention here in exchange for honest reviews, which you’ll find in the posts I’ve linked to.

I’ve been waiting for this all year! As my blog is all about hope and inspiration, these are the books that most fit that bill for me in 2016 and that I highly recommend to fellow readers. You’ll find them listed in a pretty eclectic order.

Love at First Note
by Jenny Proctor

Christian Fiction/Romance

5 Stars

Go to Love at First Note

There are plenty of reasons why a relationship between violinist and concertmaster Emma Hill and pianist and pop culture sensation Elliott Hart would never work. But, still, off they go. What I thought started off as a humorous and entertaining enough story became a symphony of emotion and (sometimes painful) discovery, to the point where I felt everything. The joy, the fear, the frustration, the passion, the doubt, the determination, the romance. Not to sound corny, but it really is a “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry” type of read, its own kind of quirky but ultimately harmonious masterpiece.

Honest and for True
by Jane Lebak

Women’s Fiction/Comedy

5 Stars

Go to Honest and for True

Lee, a bright and hilarious car mechanic, has this terrible habit of lying about her job to every man she dates. Her bright and hilarious best friend and guardian angel, Bucky, wants Lee to drop the dishonesty already before it costs her more than she’ll ever want to lose. I found this novel to be quick and clever, imaginative and real, and a downright riot. The story also tugged at my heartstrings, taking a thought-provoking look at relationships: romantic, familial, one’s relationship with oneself. If you’ve got an appreciation for George Bailey and Clarence Odbody’s adventure in Bedford Falls (or, um, Pottersville), check out The Adventures of Lee and Bucky in New York City.

A Light in the Dark
by Becky Doughty

New Adult Fiction/Romance

5 Stars

Go to A Light in the Dark

When a handsome, tortured artist auditions to join Tish Ransome’s band… Well. This is the second book in the Fallout series but can be read as a standalone. And I must say, the novel had me sobbing so hard toward the end that I hardly knew how to review it. Beyond the characters’ initial family and friendship threads, beyond the romance and humor, and even beyond the art, the journey here got real to me on a whole different plane. I’d recommend this novel to fiction fans who wouldn’t mind getting more than just an angsty romance out of a romantic read.

The Touch
by Randall Wallace

Christian Fiction

5 Stars

Go to The Touch

Andrew Jones, a young, gifted surgeon, refuses to operate anymore after a personal, fatal tragedy. Although this novella is by the screenwriter of the 1995 film Braveheart, I didn’t read it with Braveheart expectations or qualifiers in my brain. I just took the story as it came, and I’d encourage all readers who normally steer clear of novellas because of their “too short” or “no depth” stigma not to prejudge and pass up this book on that basis. It’s too nuanced, too raw, too beautiful, too powerful of a book to overlook. Both within and outside of the operating room, this story is beauty and art, faith and genius, trial and triumph, and it is now one of my all-time favorite books.

The Confessions of X
by Suzanne M. Wolfe

Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction

5 Stars

Go to The Confessions of X

Here’s the story of the historically “nameless” concubine of a bishop of the Church, Augustine of Hippo. I’ll admit I’m not crazy about one book blurb’s description of this novel’s central relationship as an “affair,” as that can connote something scandalous or unlawful, and this book isn’t about some seamy liaison. It’s a look at the complexities and ironies of life and love through the eyes of a woman of low societal standing. As a lover of language, I was drawn in by the author’s fluid style, pleased to find an example of how poetry in prose still lives. I found this novel utterly redemptive in that it gives this woman a voice, and an “insignificant” life given by God is therefore made precious.

My Soul to Keep
by Davis Bunn

Christian Fiction/Suspense

5 Stars

Go to My Soul to Keep

The indie film project of Hollywood has-beens might get buried alive by the competing project of some of Hollywood’s elite. A David and Goliath tale, this is, but there’s no smooth sailing as the filmmaking battle rages both above and beneath the surface. I wasn’t sure if I had a thriller on my hands, technically, but the intrigue certainly kept me turning the pages, and the motives and decisions of the principal characters kept me engaged. That is, I was rather riveted right through to the ending—not a fairytale ending but one bearing its own triumph and something of more value than a fairy tale.

by Eva Marie Everson

Christian Fiction

5 Stars

*A 2016 Favorite Cover Pick*

Go to Unconditional

Samantha hasn’t recovered from her husband’s murder, but reuniting with her best friend, Joe, and meeting “his kids” may change everything. This novel is based on the screenplay by Brent McCorkle, inspired by true events. Much like the movie, which I think is pure awesomeness, there isn’t anything super sensational or spectacular that makes the novel great. But it’s love that gives this story of friendship and redemption its strength, makes it exceptional. Pure, simple, honest love, like the most natural thing in the world—unhindered by years, by hardship, by tragedy, by race. This is a truly beautiful and brilliant read.

Prague: My Long Journey Home
by Charles Ota Heller


5 Stars

Go to Prague

How fortunate I was to come across this book. The author, originally from Czechoslovakia, tells a story of World War II, the Holocaust, and immigration to the United States from his perspective. I must say, one point among many that I found interesting was the author’s comparison of the treatment of Jewish people in the occupied country he left to the treatment of people of color in the U.S. Overall, this account is informative, layered, heartrending, and inspiring, and I believe that anyone who values remembering and learning from history can appreciate this memoir.

The Centurion
by Ken Gire

Christian Fiction/Biblical, Historical Fiction

5 Stars

Go to The Centurion

Now. Even with the early, bizarre crucifixion of the “King of the Jews” that has lasting influence through this novel, it isn’t a story centered on that. Rather, it’s the story of the life and career of a Roman centurion named Lucius; Mary Magdalene, a follower of Jesus; and equally about the history and conquests of Rome paralleled with the dangerous forging of the new Church. The author reveals compelling imagery and a depth of human emotion in this weighty tale, as epic and violent as it is contemplative. I found the telling of it all to be consummately amazing, and I’d strongly recommend it to any military and historical fiction fans—ChristFic readers and otherwise.

A River Too Deep
by Sydney Tooman Betts

Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction

5 Stars

Go to A River Too Deep

Has Alcy Callen, a young woman of faith, mistakenly labeled a whole people group as “savage”? In some ways, this book reminds me of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, a historical television show that I love and respect for many reasons, including its depiction of race relations in America. I appreciate fiction that can take characters of different cultures and depict them as more than caricatures of their race, and the author achieves that here. Then, not to mention the novel’s romance, which I found to be riveting and passionate in its simplicity. This novel reinforced–even renewed, really–my love of historical ChristFic in a big way.

Long Way Gone
by Charles Martin

Christian Fiction

5 Stars

*A 2016 Favorite Cover Pick*

Go to Long Way Gone

After taking everything his father had, how can a certain songwriter ever go back home? This contemporary prodigal son story is quite heavy and intricately woven. It gives a powerful depiction of a love so fierce, I had to set the book aside for a while and just breathe. I couldn’t even cry. The book gave me so many thoughts–possibly what Wordsworth would call “Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.” (That isn’t to necessarily say I didn’t cry over it all later, though…)

And that wraps up another (calendar) year of great reading for this book lover! Entries for 2016’s Favorite Reads giveaway are now closed, but comments on the post are remaining open.


16 thoughts on “Favorite Reads 2016

  1. Becky Doughty says:


    Once again, your words move me and humble me. I am so thrilled to be on this list! And in such remarkable company! The best part about this list is that half the books I’ve read and 100% concur with you on, and the other half, I haven’t read…which means I now know which books to put on my Christmas Wish List!

    You bless me greatly,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jennyproctor says:

    I am so happy to be included on this list! And I second Becky’s thoughts. I now have a long list of books to add to my wish list! Thank you for your thoughtful reviews and willingness to share with others. You’ve made my day today!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lindamoffitt02 says:

    This looks like a Really Great List of books. The top four look really like my kind of books. Thanks for the chance to win. They both look good If I had to only choose one though I’d choose Long Way Home but If I won both That’d be even better. 🙂 Also Thanks for sharing the freebies with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sh2rose says:

    What intriguing books and authors you have selected! Charles Martin and Davis Bunn are two of my favorite writers. I’ve read almost all of Charles’ books and many of Davis’ and he pens by another name, too. I purchased all three of your books in the Crowns’ series today.
    I write book reviews on my blog among other things and finding new books to read like these are a treasure.
    I would enjoy a copy of Long Way Gone yet the other book sounds fabulous, too.
    Thank you for this giveaway contest opportunity, Nadine and this 2016 list of your favorites!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nadine C. Keels says:

      Oh, a fellow book blogger! 😀 Thanks SO much for checking out the Crowns series.

      Yes, Davis Bunn is one of my favorites as well, the “I’ll read any novel with his name on it” kind. I’ve yet to read any by Thomas Locke 😉 , but as I’ve been trying to branch out a little more as far as genres go, he’ll likely be one of the first authors I pick up as I’m branching. This was my first time reading Charles Martin. Having heard so many other bookworms praising his novels, I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. It was around the end of Part One of Long Way Gone that I said, “AHH. Okay. I get it.” An amazing read.

      You’re entered for the giveaway!


  5. Brenda Murphree says:

    I love this list. I have read “A River Too Deep” by Sydney Betts and the sequel! I LOVED them!
    I would love to read “Long Way Home” and “The Confessions of X”. Thanks for the chance to win.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nadine C. Keels says:

      Heeheehee, Sydney Betts’s sequel is waiting patiently for me on my Kindle. 😀 I’m so looking forward to reading that one, and I hear there’s a third one coming. (Or is it here already?) You’re entered for both giveaway books, Brenda!


  6. Lynden Blossom says:

    I am thrilled to have seen your FB post tonight and to be ‘introduced’ to you and the books reviewed above! As I’m currently an Audiobook Narrator – and have listened to hundreds through the years – I have recently listened to several of Becky Doughty’s and Charles Martin’s works in Audiobook format. I LOVE them both! I would be glad to become acquainted with any of the works you have mentioned here. I did also just now get Your ‘Crown’ books – and I look forward to reading them – Thank You!

    Liked by 1 person

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