So this is something I've seen several of my authorly friends do and I'm totally jumping on the bandwagon. I'm sharing with you my favorite ten books that I've read from this year. The hard part is I've read so many awesome books this year by amazing authors. So I gave myself one rule, I could only share one book per author. Because some of these authors had several books I read this year and each of them was fabulous! So, without further ado, here's my list!
10. Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne
One of the things I love about attending Facebook parties is the chance to meet new authors and read new books. Snowfall on Haven Point is a heartwarming romance with characters who just wrap around your heartstrings. There are a few swears in it, so if you're one who absolutely does not want that in a book, I wouldn't recommend this one for you, but otherwise it's a clean story. There are two adorable children, an angsty teenager and of course the couple who are trying so hard not to fall in love and failing so very miserably at it. This one also has a mystery to go along and as you try to figure out who the bad guy is and what they're after, you will find yourself rooting for Andie and Marshall as they try to keep each other safe. It's a great book with a happy ending for just about everyone in the story.
9. Tiger's Paw by Kimberly A. Rogers
I'll be the first to admit that Christian fantasy tends to make me a little leary. I guess when I'm reading a fantasy (or really any book), I want an escape and I don't particularly like being bashed in the head with religion. It's not that adding faith to your writing is bad, but there are ways to do it well and ways that are overbearing. Kimberly however does it perfectly. I never felt like I was being bombarded with religion. It was simply a part of the story and fit naturally within the context of the world she was writing. I'm also not generally a fan of werewolf-esque stories. But again, Kimberly surprised me. The way her characters tranformed made sense and there was certainly no bloodlust as is all too common in these kind of stories. The characters were believable and the story captivated my interest. I will admit to missing some chores because I was reading. If you're one who likes modern fantasy, Tiger's Paw and the rest of the Therian Way novels will be right up your alley.
8. Kibble Talk by Cynthia Port
If you are a dog lover like me, this is one book you can't live without! I met Cynthia in person this past March and fell in love with the idea of learning how to talk to your dog by....well, I won't spoil it. At any rate, this is a laugh-out-loud funny book about a Great Dane who just wants to be a lapdog. It reminded me of The Ugly Dachsund which was one of my favorite movies growing up. This book is geared to younger readers and made a perfect read-aloud for my littles who are very much like their mother: dog lovers to the core! Depending on your child's reading level, they could probably start reading this on their own at third or fourth grade. The chapters are fairly short which makes it perfect as a read-aloud for either bedtime or the classroom. In any case, Kibble Talk is a great, funny read for the whole family. Just make sure you put your kibble up before reading.
7. Summer Kisses by Melinda Curtis
Summertime seems like the perfect time to fall in love. Another heartwarming romance, this one just melted my heart. Which I guess isn't hard to do since I'm a hopeless romantic anyway, but still. The characters are relatable and more than once you'll want to smack Rebecca, Flynn or both of them upside the head. The side characters add vibrancy and life to story, making for a great read. My favorite character is little Truman who shows all the innocence and mischief of a proper seven-year-old and definitely keeps all the adults in the story on their toes. One of those fun books that makes you laugh and cry, Summer Kisses is a good choice for anyone who enjoys a good romance that's clean and well-written.
6. A Reluctant Assassin by J C Morrows
As an author of fairy tale retellings, I love to read other people's versions. This spin on the Cinderella story is perhaps one of the most inventive I've ever read. This story is both futuristic and steampunk. It begs the question, "What would happen if Cinderella was sent to kill the prince?" I warn you now, if you start reading you will have a hard time putting it down and you will probably be begging for the next book. I was glad I had received both this and the second book because I needed to know what happened next. Now I'm eagerly waiting to read the next in the series. This is also Christian in theme, but never feels forced. Great for those who love a twist on the old fairies tales and for people who like a page-turning adventure!
P.S. This one is currently free to download on Kindle.
5. None But You by Franky A. Brown
Jane Austen fans, take note! I absolutely fell in love with None But You as well as Franky's other Austen-inspired books. The fact that Anna and Erick play Scrabble with each, rather competitively I might add, just adds to the fun. Anna is a piano teacher too busy taking care of everyone else to make sure she's taking care of her heart. This book has plenty of laugh out loud moments as well as more serious moments. Clean with vivacious characters and heartwarming characters, this book is a great read for the hopeless romantic.
4. Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors by H. L. Burke
I've read several of Burke's books this year and it was hard to narrow it down to one favorite. But if I were forced to pick, Nyssa Glass is the winner. This first book, Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors, is great. Nyssa has to solve a mystery all while trying to determine how to prove her own innocence in a crime committed at the beginning of the book. A definite steampunk tale with delightful characters and a hilarious computer, Nyssa is the snarky kind of girl many of us try to keep inside our heads. The story is captivating and the series has recently been finished, so while you're picking this one up, grab the others too! Geared to young adult, but good for older readers too.
3. Headed For the Win by Rachael Eliker
If you know me at all, you know by now that I absolutely love horses. I am also fascinated by dressage and really all equine events. Rachael brings all those together in this charming story perfect for the young adult (and older) horse lover. Nadia is a girl who dreams of the Olympics, and really just doing anything with horses. She agrees to work in a barn in exchange for riding lessons. Between a stroke of good luck and her own talent, Nadia finds herself the owner of a beautiful mare named Headed For the Win, Winny for short. As they struggle to become a team, Nadia soon learns that you should always be careful what you wish for. You never know when it might come true in the most unexpected of ways.
2. The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doué
This is probably the best fairy tale retelling I've read. Ever. A spin on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses", Lea builds a world with lovable characters and fabulous descriptions. Each princess has a distinct personality which makes it easy to tell which one is which, despite there being a large cast. It is through their combined talents, tenacity and love that these girls are able to find their way to a happy ending. Perfect for young adult, but easy enough to read for middle grade readers, The Firethorn Crown is a delightful fairy tale that will enchant you from the very first page!
1. Garden of Her Heart by Shanna Hatfield
Shanna is another author I read several new books for this year and had to really think about which one I would classify as my "favorite". I love everything I've read by her and it was a tough choice. But Garden of Her Heart finally won out. I just absolutely loved the characters and it is such a beautiful story. I can only imagine how much research went into this book. Little Petey will steal your heart and the whole time I was struck by how calm Miko was in the face of such adversity. And of course, Rock is absolutely charming. If you love a good romance and enjoy historical settings, this World War II novel is the one for you!
So that's my top ten. There were so many other books by so many other talented authors I read this year. And most of them were stories I absolutely loved. These ones stood out as my favorites. What were your favorite books this year?
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius