Did you have a merry Christmas? My family certainly did. I chose to simply enjoy it rather than take pictures. In a social-media world, it’s sometimes pleasant to slip away from technology for awhile and live in the moment instead of try to capture it.
Would you rather capture moments to savor for later or enjoy them as they come along?
This year was a huge reading year for me. I completed my thirty-fifth copyediting job in only three years, and on top of that, I read over ninety books in my spare time. These are a few of my favorite discoveries during 2016:
A Wild Goose Chase Christmas
by Jennifer AlLee
Upon her grandmother’s death, Izzy Fontaine finds herself in possession of a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt that supposedly leads to a great treasure. Of course, once the rest of the family finds out about the “treasure map,” they’re determined to have a go at the treasure themselves. And, if that weren’t enough, Max Logan, a local museum curator, contacts Izzy and says that Grandma Isabella promised him the quilt.
What is it about this quilt that makes everyone want it? Is Izzy on a wild goose chase of her own, or a journey that will lead her to the treasure her grandmother intended?
The Cactus Creek Challenge
by Erica Vetsch
Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts.
Room for Hope
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
In a desperate time, can Neva find forgiveness for a grievous wrong—and make room for hope?
Neva Shilling has a heavy load of responsibility while her husband travels to neighboring communities and sells items from his wagon. In his absence, she faithfully runs the Shilling Mercantile, working to keep their business strong as the Depression takes its toll, and caring for their twins.
When a wagon pulls up after supper, Neva and her children rush out—and into the presence of the deputy driving a wagon carrying three young children. The deputy shocks her with the news that Warren and his wife have died, insisting it was their last request that the three children go live with “Aunt Neva.”
Neva’s heart is shattered as she realizes that Warren’s month-long travels were excuses for visits with his secret family. She wants nothing more than to forget Warren, but can she abandon these innocent children to an orphanage? Yet if she takes them in, will she ever be able to see them as more than evidence of her husband’s betrayal and love them the way God does?
A Watershed Year
by Susan Schoenberger
Two months after the death of her best friend Harlan, Lucy remains haunted by the things she never told him including her deep love for him. Then she begins receiving emails he\’d arranged to be sent after his death, emails that will change the course of her life. One email in particular haunts her — he tells her he is certain she is destined for motherhood. Thus begins her watershed year. It is said that out of despair comes hope, and in her grief, Lucy finds that the possibility of adopting a child offers her a new chance for a fulfilled life. When she travels to Russia to meet four-year-old Mat she sees in him a soul that is as lonely and lost as hers. Slowly they learn to trust one another and each begins healing. It is when Mat’s father comes to America to reclaim his child that a truth about Mat’s past is revealed, a truth that might shatter Lucy’s fragile little family forever. A Watershed Year is a powerful story of love, loss, redemption, and what it means to be a mother, proving that out of despair can come joy and the beauty of second chances.
The Big Five-Oh!
by Sandra D. Bricker
Olivia Wallace has a birthday curse … or so she thinks. It was a broken heart on her 16th, a car accident on her 21st, pneumonia on her 30th, and a fall down a flight of stairs on her 35th. There were Ohio blizzards on her 38th, 39th, and 40th; and six days before her 45th, she lost the love of her life to a heart attack. Numbing grief stole that birthday and a couple more to follow and, on the morning of her 48th birthday, she received the call she’d dreaded ever since losing her mom so many years ago … she was diagnosed with stage-3 ovarian cancer. The doctors didn’t hold out a lot of hope, but Liv survived and maintained her faith. Months of surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed.
But now, as her 50th birthday creeps up the icy Ohio path toward her, her hair has grown back, her energy level is up, and she is officially cancer free. It makes her nervous. After everything she’s gone through, Liv hates the idea of driving on icy roads and returning to work as an O.R. nurse in a local Cincinnati hospital.
Her best friend Hallie knows just the thing to break Liv out of the winter doldrums, while providing a safe haven of warmth, sunshine, and a time to regroup: a holiday in the Florida sunshine!
A Season to Love
by Nicole Deese
At this point in her life, bravery is not a trait Willa Hart would readily claim. She believes her seven-year-old daughter, Savannah, who never knew her father and successfully tackled chemotherapy, is truly the courageous one. Yet after Willa has a fateful encounter with handsome young doctor Patrick McCade, her outlook—and her view of herself—begins to change.
The Crimson Cipher
by Susan Page Davis
A female Navy cryptographer seeks to save lives…and uncover her father’s killers. In 1915, German sympathizers escalated acts of sabotage in the United States to keep the nation from joining in the war. Following the mysterious murder of Emma Shuster’s father, Lt. John Patterson invites Emma to become a Navy cryptographer because of the expertise she gained in helping her father develop a cipher system. Emma finds new strength in her faith as she strives to outwit her adversary, known only as Kobold – German for goblin. Can Emma and John find love in the midst of turmoil as America plunges toward war?
Dear Mr. Knightley
by Katherine Reay
Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain.
After college, Samantha receives an extraordinary opportunity. The anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him apprised of her progress.
As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.
Waiting for Wonder
by Marlo Schalesky
It’s easy to believe God when a promise is new. It’s hard when the years pass and nothing changes. It\’s even harder when desperation strikes, your plans backfire, and still God does not fill the emptiness. But what if, in this waiting, God is calling us to more?
Join author Marlo Schalesky on a unique, contemplative journey to reveal the wonder that is often missed when we find ourselves struggling to wait well. Walking through the life of the biblical character Sarah, one who knows what it means to wait, you will discover a glimpse of God’s character that will give you strength to keep hoping and praying for the desires of your heart.
Waiting for Wonder is a journey into the heart of God where you will wrestle with personal questions, think deeply about God’s true character, and learn to appreciate his divine work as you discover your own path to the promised land. Recapture your hope, restore your soul, and renew your vision of a wondrous Savior when you learn to live on God’s time.
One More Song to Sing
by Lindsay Harrel
More than two decades ago, Olivia Lovett left her old life behind in the red dirt of Oklahoma and forged a career in Nashville as a country music star. Now her voice is failing, forcing her to find a new dream just as the secrets of her past come knocking at the door. Long-time friend Andrew Grant agrees to partner in a new business venture—but would he stick around if he knew her whole story?
After the tragic loss of her father, twenty-one-year-old Ellie Evans headed to Nashville seeking more than just fame. For two years, she’s waitressed, strummed, and sung her way to what may finally be her big break when Olivia offers to sign her to the budding record label. More than anything, Ellie just wants to be seen: by her future fans, by Nick Perry—a fellow musician with a killer smile and kind eyes—and above all else, by the mother who abandoned her. If the spotlight never shines on her, will Ellie ever feel whole?
One More Song to Sing is a romantic drama about the power of forgiveness, second chances, and a God who never fails to see us.
What were some of your favorite books of 2016?
I look forward to hearing your recommendations.
What books are you anxious to read in 2017?
Happy New Year!
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