Favorite Reads 2019

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

I look forward to 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 2019 and that I highly recommend to fellow readers. You’ll find them listed in the order I read them.

To the authors of the winning books, if you’d like a medal for making the list, see the bottom of this post.

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

Literary Fiction

★★★★★ from me

Asher’s artistic gift grates against his Hasidic Jewish observance… No, I don’t read many novels this stark and somber in their beauty. Yes, you do have to have an ear for nuance and for the power of what’s left unsaid to hear and appreciate the music and poetry behind such a narrative. I empathized with this coming-of-age story that depicts the impossible pain of becoming a creative. A fine, raw, magnificent novel.

Long Road Home and On the Other Side by Jessica Marie Holt

Literary Fiction, Short Stories

★★★★★ each from me

*Long Road Home is a 2019 Favorite Cover Pick*

Even with Nate’s flaws, there’s hope for him. And who knew that helping an elderly neighbor would change Kevin’s life? This author is one of the best short story writers I’ve found in quite a while. Such a simple (but not simplistic), deft, poignant style. Such an understanding of human nature, with its strengths and its weaknesses. It’s brilliant when a story can manage to break my heart and then deeply inspire me in less than a half-hour of reading, and these inspiring reads are stellar examples of just how much short fiction can mean and what it can say without saying too much.

A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

Christian Fiction, Historical/Biblical Fiction

★★★★★ from me

Some call Maviah a slave. Others call her a queen. And a Jewish mystic, Yeshua, may change her life. This story of an Arab woman, her perilous journey through desert sands with two warrior allies, and the vast scope of the novel (including but beyond the confines of a simple “Jesus” tale), romanced me as I read. Besides the intrigue and harrowing aspects of this poignantly-rendered epic, what made it an amazing read for me was the space it gave me to wrestle with mysteries, as the Way is indeed a mysterious one.

Songbird and Other Stories by Jennifer Lamont Leo

Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Short Stories

★★★★ overall from me

*Includes The Christmas Robe, a 2019 Christmas Book Pick*

Four short ‘n’ sweet tales set during the Jazz Age? Yes, please! Sometimes you just need to sit for a little while with something you’re sure is going to hit the spot. I needed something quick, uplifting, and entertaining, and that’s what I got. This is a great collection to read before or after this author’s Roaring Twenties novels. No, you don’t have to read the novels first to follow these tales, but you’ll want to find out the rest about these characters if you haven’t. They’re the cat’s pajamas!

The String by Caleb Breakey

Christian Fiction, Psychological Suspense

★★★★★ from me

*A 2019 Favorite Cover Pick*

Markus is determined to stop the deadly social experiment of a sociopath: The Conductor. What I like most about a core group of characters trapped in “the string” is that they’re thinking people who choose to be proactive. Even a few of the key female characters who could’ve easily been the helpless or hysterical damsels in distress are instead rational women who’ve got grit. This isn’t a basic “shoot ’em up and catch the bad guy” story with a neat and tidy ending. It’s psychological warfare with spiritual impact, and if you let the central message really hit you (as it hit me), then you’ll likely begin to anticipate the next book in the Deadly Games series.

Fifty-Five: City Edition by Tearra Rhodes

Christian Fiction, Contemporary Flash Fiction

★★★★★ from me

The city’s bustle and city dwellers’ hearts: fifty-five words at a time. This collection is quite a credit to the art of flash fiction. So much can be wrapped up in just a few words when a writer knows how to wield them, and page after page in this short book takes a close and compelling look at life, with faith woven in. Some of the stories are connected to pack a bonus punch, while others get the job done on their own. One of them even brought tears to my eyes. Just that fast. In fifty-five words. Whether you’re new to the world of microfiction or not, I’d encourage you to give this inspirational collection a go.

Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther by Ginger Garrett

Christian Fiction, Biblical Fiction

★★★★★ from me

*A 2019 Favorite Cover Pick*

A young Jewish woman, stolen from the life she loved. Stolen by a king. The strength of this novel about Esther is in the way it tackles difficult, sacred tension. How it paints a bold but deft picture of schemes, depression, injustice, murder, and suicide in a realm of royalty and excess. How it addresses so many ironies, not the least of which is the pairing of power and imprisonment. It’s a substantive account of a woman in an impossible situation, using what resources she can to save her people, and even to empower other women. It’s beautiful. “The king has asked for a whore; I will show him a queen.”

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Contemporary Fiction, Middle Grade Graphic Novel

★★★★★ from me

Twelve-year-old Jordan wants to go to art school, not to a school where he’ll be different. I picked this novel up because of the race/diversity issue it addresses, and it resonated with me in a number of places on that score. But the novel doesn’t get caught up in being so issue-y that it ceases to be entertaining, accessible, and inclusive. Jordan’s story strikes a balance between the downright hilarious parts and parts that can prick your heart or make your stomach drop. It packs in both obvious and understated genius, and no matter your age, if you can relate to being “new” or different, it’d be hard not to take away something awesome from a book like this.

Clean Hands by Richard B. Knight

Christian Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story

★★★★★ from me

Can Instinct survive a critical battle in a human’s shaky dream world? Wow to this. I needed a quick read when I picked up this allegorical kind of sci-fi short. I was gradually drawn in by Instinct’s discussions with Imagination and Logic, then came some crucial action I might expect in a sci-fi adventure. But I didn’t expect that I’d be “wowing” aloud the instant I realized where the story was going. Then it did indeed go there, and I “wowed” again. The story doesn’t linger too long at its destination. And yes, to fully appreciate it, you do already have to be familiar with that ending place, but… Yeah. Quite a read from a new-to-me author.

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You can get your reading started by picking up free Kindle copies of On the Other SideFifty-Five: City Edition, Clean Hands, and The Movement of Crowns (one of my books.) Be sure to check the prices before downloading!

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Now is a great time to pick up a copy of another of my personal favorites, based on a true story: World of the Innocent. Pick it up at Amazon, or click here to find links to more stores.

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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, and the medal will include the year on it, 2019.) Thanks again!

 

4 thoughts on “Favorite Reads 2019

    • Nadine C. Keels says:

      Oh yay, Daphne! Thanks for letting me know. The String was a risk for me, as I wondered beforehand if it would be too creepy or something for me, but now I’m so glad I took the leap. 🙂

      Like

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