Favorite Reads 2018

I received complimentary copies of some of these books for honest reviews, which you’ll find in the posts I’ve linked to.

I anticipate these awards all year! As my blog is all about hope and inspiration, these are the books that most fit that bill for me in 2018 and that I highly recommend to fellow readers. You’ll find them listed in a pretty eclectic order.
*And to the authors of the winning books, if you’d like a medal for making the list, see the bottom of this post.*

Finding Miranda by Iris Chacon

Mystery/Romance

★★★★★ from me

*A 2018 Favorite Cover Pick*

She’s a shy librarian. He’s her hunky neighbor. And somebody wants them both dead. I can’t say I know the best way to categorize this romantic comedic mysterious heart-tugging thingamabob of a book. But I enjoyed the heck out of it! Miranda is one unique cookie, and the romance is too cute. The mystery includes enough danger to keep you suspicious, and it escalates to the gripping level of a thriller. Plus, the humor is quirky, but the tale isn’t silly. Fellow readers who can rightly appreciate a thingamabob would do well to pick this one up.

Rhineland Inheritance by T. Davis Bunn

Christian Fiction/Historical Suspense

★★★★★ from me

In the aftermath of World War II in war-torn Europe, crippling poverty and a continent-wide conspiracy cross paths. Over the years, whether reading one of Davis Bunn’s newer titles or an older one like this, I’ve come to expect no less than excellent storytelling from this author. And excellent storytelling is what I got here. Danger, intrigue, a depth of emotion, and characters I came to like rather quickly. Especially sharp and intelligent Sally, who has quick, dry humor and a commanding presence balanced with softness and compassion. A stellar opening to the Rendezvous with Destiny series.

Ribsy by Beverly Cleary

Fiction/Children’s Books

★★★★★ from me

When this lively and loyal canine ends up lost, an adventure begins! This isn’t the only tale about Ribsy and his favorite boy, Henry Huggins, but this one is mostly from middle-aged Ribsy’s point of view. It’s funny how insightful the story manages to be, giving glimpses into the lives of an interesting mix of people along the way. Because various moments during Ribsy’s journey tugged on my heartstrings, the moments of excitement were all the more satisfying. A book filled with some of the reasons why, to this day, Cleary is still my all-time favorite children’s book author.

High Treason by DiAnn Mills

Christian Fiction/Romantic Suspense

★★★★★ from me

Monica Alden, a CIA operative, and Special Agent Kord Davidson are put on an FBI task force to protect a Saudi prince from assassination. This novel kept me on my toes from start to finish, from the high-stakes action, to the thick of investigation, to the engaging inward and outward dialogue of the characters. I’m all for a heroine like Monica: sharp, no-nonsense, gutsy, and driven, but with a sense of humor, compassion, and a vulnerable side. Though this is the third novel in the FBI Task Force series, it’s also a standalone, and every book I’ve read in the series is awesome.

Ace Carroway and the Great War and Ace Carroway Around the World by Guy Worthey

 

Historical Fiction, Adventure, Mystery

★★★★★ each from me

It starts when ace pilot Cecilia Carroway and her misfit crew of fellow World War I Allied prisoners look to escape prison. There’s something old-fashioned about the style of these stories, which deal with serious circumstances without taking themselves too seriously, but also without being mere jokes. I could laugh at some parts, while other parts hit me in the gut. Ace Carroway is one bad, bad chick: capable, competent, compassionate, commanding. And the second book has a “crime noir” flair with intrigue, atmosphere, and humor. Then, my goodness, I teared up at the end of the story. I’ve not read other books quite like The Adventures of Ace Carroway.

The Kremlin Conspiracy by Joel C. Rosenberg

Christian Fiction/Thriller

★★★★★ from me

Marcus Ryker, a U.S. military veteran and former U.S. Secret Service agent, is dead set on preventing a nuclear war. This is the third thriller I’ve read by this author, and I could hardly exhale after the ride it took me on. I almost didn’t like how “on edge” I was through a good deal of it. There were times when I practically balked at turning a page, not feeling ready to see what would happen next. But, of course, I had to keep turning pages. I can’t wait to read the upcoming sequel.

The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom by A. E. Hotchner

Historical Mystery

★★★★★ from me

It’s up to almost-thirteen-year-old Aaron to prove his father had no hand in a jewelry store robbery and murder. Readers from Aaron’s age to the age of the author—who’s around a hundred years old—are bound to enjoy this tale. The young hero is such a mix of maturity and innocence, of inexperience, sharp wits, and relevant, real-deal principles. I’d be having a bit of a laugh while reading, and then Aaron, his memories, and his next “happening” would break my heart. Then warm my heart. Then get my heart all pumped, like, “Yeah, you tell ’em, kid! You show ’em! Get it, Aaron!” Truly a substantive and poignant story that gives hope.

Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

Christian Fiction/Fantasy

★★★★★ from me

As heir to the House of Ravenwood, Lady Selene must find out the true reason behind her gift—or her curse?—of dreamwalking. I finished this novel in less than a day, which is rare for me. The book’s themes just got to me. Like, the idea that in order for Selene to protect and provide for her people, she has to…oppress them? The story doesn’t unfold with nothing but unexplained alternate-world-riddles for half the book or anything, so although fantasy isn’t my most-read genre, it wasn’t long before I got a good grip on what was going on. An amazing read about leadership, courage, conscience, compassion, and sacrifice. Light, Maker of Worlds, grant me patience as I await the next book in The Ravenwood Saga…

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Historical Fiction/Young Adult Fiction

★★★★★ from me

Liesel: a young girl in Nazi Germany. Max: a Jew in hiding. And the power, the haven, Liesel and Max find in words. I stopped for a while, toward the middle of this novel. Stopped, sighed, and wept after reading about Liesel reading one of her books—a book she didn’t steal. There were also parts that made me smile, and times when I had to pause and shake my head at some of the brilliant turns of phrase that fill this novel: ironic, ominous, and beautiful turns by turns. This is a raw, nuanced, layered, crushing, bittersweet, and haunting story that affirms life even in the midst of death. A singular work, this is.

White Picket Fences: Turning toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege by Amy Julia Becker

Nonfiction/Christian

★★★★★ from me

Do we, within our current social structure, want to get well? When it comes to the intended audience for this book, it will likely require some “pushing past” to even pick the book up. Pushing past the fear-based discomfort that says to avoid the topic. I appreciate how this book isn’t meant to demonize its readers, to make anyone feel guilty about their skin color or for being born to a particular social status. Becker doesn’t limit this discussion to the subject of race, and she addresses tough, complex issues with grace and nuance. A book well worth pushing past discomfort to read.

The Fargenstropple Case by Lia London

Detective Mystery/Humor

★★★★★ from me

When family jewels go missing at the Fargenstropple estate, Chief Inspector Terrence Morgan doubles down! This short and sweet mystery is simply delightful. It has a positively British flair, complete with British spellings and characters with a pleasant bunch of surnames, such as Nigglesby and Crumfellow. A jaunty thread of romance adds to the fun, and though I read my share of murder mysteries, I count it a boon to also find mysteries that involve cases other than murder. To enjoy an hour or two of light and hilarious entertainment with clever twists, go on and give this comedy a go.

How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living by The Babylon Bee

Christian Satire

★★★★ from me

I’m not one who goes out of my way looking for satire, but I went ahead and started this book anyway. Then it got me within the first few pages, letting me know how Christian culture can lead me to be “transformed day by day into the radiant image of the modern American Jesus.” Hello. Sounds like a goal. Humor that’s unafraid to tackle what others may be reluctant to speak up about can help you stop and think, to take a second look at something in life or society (or Christian culture) that’s backward or off. You’ve got to think if you want to grow. I laughed, I contemplated, I laughed some more, and I eventually reached this book’s conclusion, which is beautiful.

Gift of Gold by Beverly Butler

New Adult Fiction

★★★★★ from me

Cathy lost her sight as a teenager. Now that she’s in college, she won’t let her blindness stop her from becoming a speech therapist. Will she? When I first came across this old-fashioned novel in my adolescence, I had no idea the author herself was blind or that I’d be revisiting this novel years later, and then more years after that. This isn’t some predictable, run-of-the-mill tale merely about goals and dreams. It’s a complex, soul-searching kind of read. Smart in style with wit and wisdom. Because Cathy’s journey pulls no punches, the truth, growth, and hope in her story is earned. Plus, there’s a nice little thread of down-to-earth romance tied in. Such a powerful novel I can see myself reading a fourth time. And a fifth…

And that wraps up another (calendar) year of favorites for this bibliophile!

Entries for 2018’s Favorite Reads giveaway are now closed, but comments on the post are remaining open.

  

~~~

Feel free to check out more of my favorite reading (and writing!) from this year: Eubeltic Descent. I carried this story in me for almost four years before I could finally write it. ❤ Find it at Amazon here. (It’s free to read with Kindle Unlimited!) Or you can click here to get it in paperback.

_____________

Congratulations, authors, and thank you for writing your books! If I’ve selected yours as a Favorite Read this year, you’re welcome to a complimentary medal to display on your website, blog, social media—wherever you wish. Click the image below and contact me to receive a full size PNG medal. (The lined watermark will be removed, of course, and the medal will include the year on it, 2018.) Thanks again!

 

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