Ибо так возлюбил Бог мир, что отдал Сына Своего Единородного, дабы всякий верующий в Него, не погиб, но имел хизнь вечную.
While I receive many books in exchange for review, I am never required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my very own.

Monday, December 26, 2022

My Top 5 Reads of 2022!

 It's that time of year again! The one where I try and come up with a short list of this year's favorites, even though there are so many amazing ones! Remember, these are books that I read for the first time this year. Repeat reads are lovely, but disqualified. (Looking at you, Love Comes Softly!) I'll start with honorable mentions and then move up from there!

Honorable Mentions, in no particular order: Ever Constant by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse, Wishtress by Nadine Brandes, The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham, The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas, To Treasure an Heiress by Roseanna M. White, and The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham.

These all deserve to be the favorite, honestly, but I read a ton of great books this year. Don't worry. It's also breaking my heart that they can't all be number one.

Without further ado, the top five fiction reads of 2022.

In fifth place, the breathtaking sequel to last year's top read, it's The Bride of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep. I love the mix of Sherlock and Dickens vibes, coupled with stunning characters and a story that I just couldn't put down! Anyone who has read book one will be thrilled to see the continuing adventures of our favorite quick witted couple.

In fourth, book two in a series that I read completely backwards. I met the characters in Drawn by the Current and just had to know them better. Cue me binge reading Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green. I adored the theme of adoption and watching the characters work out their disagreements just hit that special part of my heart. This story broke my heart and soothed it all at once. An absolute must read for fans of historical fiction.

I went through a dry season where I couldn't read anything for quite a while. A Gem of Truth by Kimberley Woodhouse knocked me out of that painful spot. I honestly can't even begin to describe how this book was used in my life when I needed it most. For all those people that knock on fiction, just know that sometimes fiction is just the right medicine for a tired and weary soul. For helping me in the toughest of spots, this beauty earns a place on the podium and in my heart.

For most of the year, I thought this next book would be my number one. I read it twice and bawled like a baby both times. A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White really took me by surprise, not that it should've since I love her work. I was deeply attached to every character. I was compelled by the story and immediately wished to have the experience of reading it for the first time all over again. While I adore all of her books, this might possibly be my favorite. It's also notable for being the last time we get to enter the world started in The Lost Heiress. This was the first book I read in 2022, and I couldn't have chosen better if I'd tried. What a deserving recipient of the silver medal.

And taking home the gold today, the book that made me feel like I might be okay with teaching high school, it's The Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella. I've read it two and a half times this year, and I'm making all of my ninth and tenth grade students read it as well. (They adore it as well, and alternate between rooting for Chess and wanting to slap him.) The reimagined Wonderland captured my heart like you wouldn't believe. Alice, Charlotte, Chess, Madi, Blanche Lapin (whose name delights me to no end, and I'm sure my French students are tired of hearing about it), and Dinah are such a part of me now. I absolutely am on tenterhooks waiting for book two. The allegorical nature of the work adds a little something special, too. I honestly can't say enough good things about this book. If you haven't read it, do so soon. I promise it will make a special place in your life. 

And a special shoutout to my top nonfiction read of the year, Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot. If you haven't read the story of Jim Elliot told through Elisabeth's eyes, you're missing out. There's something so powerful and inspiring in this missionary journey. 

So, what were your favorite reads this year? Do we have any overlaps? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Countdown to Christmas Review: The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham

It's time to start a Christmas countdown with reviews of novels and novellas that are sure to put you in the Christmas spirit!

Will the magic of Christmas bring these two newlyweds closer together, or will the ghosts of the past lead them into a destructive discovery from which not even a Dickens’s Christmas can save them?

Mistletoe is beautiful and dangerous, much like the woman from Lord Frederick’s Percy’s past, so when he turns over a new leaf and arranges to marry for his estate, instead of his heart, he never expects the wrong bride to be the right choice. Gracelynn Ferguson never expected to take her elder sister’s place as a Christmas bride, but when she’s thrust into the choice, she will trust in her faithful novels and overactive imagination to help her not only win Frederick’s heart but also to solve the murder mystery of Havensbrook Hall before the ghosts from Frederick’s past ruin her fairytale future. 

 I was looking for a book to put me in the Christmas spirit and spotted this one at the bookstore. I HAD to have it, and it was the perfect purchase! I was chuckling out loud before I even finished the first chapter. Grace's character absolutely waltzed right off of the page and into my heart. I felt that she was a kindred spirit of equal caliber to Anne Shirley. She's certainly one of the most dynamic leading ladies you'll ever see! Frederick was the perfect amount of smoldering hero, too. Usually, I don't care for the male POV that much, but I actually loved his as well. The mysterious air of the whole story was spell-binding and I read late into the night just to see what happened next. Aunt Lavenia is also one of the funniest ladies ever. I want to read more about her! My one complaint, if you want to call it that, is that the romance had a lot more... steam... than the typical books I read. Not in any way a dealbreaker. In fact, I always love a Pepper book, but this was definitely high up there on my list! (in my top 2 Pepper books) What a perfect way to start off the Christmas book season.