I've always been a reader, so when I stumbled across the opportunity to read books for free in exchange for an honest review, I couldn't sign up fast enough. In the two years I've gotten books through Netgalley, I've reviewed more than 100 books! Of all the books I've read in that time, I've rejected only a very few I thought might be morally offensive to my more conservative reading audience, and there were also a few I couldn't wait to finish (no, I won't tell you which ones). Overall, I like all the books, but nothing sucks me in like a good fiction read. Nothing. So, here are 20 books, with categories assigned (kind of like an award for the type of book it was to me). I'm going to offer you a two-sentence description of each.
Comment below with the book from this list you'd most like to read, and I'll enter you to win a copy of If The Creek Don't Rise, a debut novel by Leah Weiss. A big thanks to the publisher for a giveaway copy!
Life in a Place
If The Creek Don't Rise (by Leah Weiss) - A debut novel set in the Appalachian region of North Carolina, a place I find enchanting. It was Christy meets Cold Mountain, and if you get those references, you're probably on your way to get this book right now.
Fantasy with Great Chapter Endings
The Day The Angels Fell (by Shawn Smucker) - A fantasy novel and my absolute favorite part was the ending of each chapter, because it would be some big suspenseful sentence and I'd realize I had to read just. one. more. This one has a sequel forthcoming too, so I'll for sure be keeping my eye out.
Inside Look At A Carney's World
Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet (by H. P. Wood) - The story takes place on Coney Island at the turn of the century, right as a plague strikes. The readers are introduced to the ”Unusuals” who work on Coney Island, and also to Kitty, who had been traveling with her family from England, and gain some insight on how outcasts are treated during tragic times.
A Reminder Family Is Complicated
My Name Is Lucy Barton (by Elizabeth Strout) - The story weaves in and out of present day, telling of Lucy's childhood and a future she worked so hard to create. This book gets right to the core of our human emotions, and explores our need for family even when it’s imperfect and we grow up wanting more.
A Favorite Author
Rebel Queen (by Michelle Moran) - I'd already read several books by author Michelle Moran, and was thrilled when I had a chance to review her last few books. Her historical novels are second to none, and this one about Joan of Arc was no exception.
A Favorite Author Does It Again
Mata Hari's Last Dance (by Michelle Moran) - One of the things I like about this author is her ability to take you to a huge variety and times and places. I had never heard of Mata Hari before reading this book, and I was amazed at the entertainer image she created in order to not only survive, but thrive.
Talented Author Writes In Different Genre
Miracle At The Higher Grounds Cafe (by Max Lucado) - When I think of author Max Lucado, I think of Christian nonfiction devotional type essays, of which I've read several. That's why it impressed me so much to read this pleasant, easy-to-read work of fiction about a woman who owns a coffee shop.
New-To-Me-Author Keeps Me Up Reading
In The Heart of The Dark Wood (by Billy Coffey) - Oh my word, I wanted to clear my whole day for this one. Two kids get lost in the woods and you love these kids and you want them to get out safely but you really have no idea if they will or not.
New-To-Me-Author Does It Again With Wild Imagination
Some Small Magic (by Billy Coffey) - Of course I was going to read Billy Coffey again after I read the one above. This time I went on a journey with a character who kept reminding me of the big fella in "The Green Mile," and again I just had to know how the story was going to end.
Makes The Bible Come To Life
In The Field of Grace (by Tessa Afshar) - Three times I've gotten to review books by Tessa Afshar, and each time it amazes me how she combines Scripture with what must be hours of research into the culture and context of a certain Bible story to weave a tale you think simply must be the very way it happened, even though we of course don't know for sure. Here, readers learn more about Ruth than they knew before.
Makes The Bible Come To Life #2
Land of Silence (by Tessa Afshar) - Maybe my favorite but that's probably a silly thing to say because Afshar never disappoints. This one is about the woman in the Bible who is healed when she touches the hem of Jesus' garment. I loved the way Afshar let her imagination go on this one, and maybe that woman was also that other woman.
Makes The Bible Come To Life #3
Bread of Angels (by Tessa Afshar) - Lydia has always been a favorite Bible character of mine, and this story made me love her even more. This book suggests possible answers to such questions as how did she move to Philippi and have her own successful purple dyeing business there?
A Fiction Book About Books
The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend (by Katarina Bivald) - This book, set in a fictitious town in Iowa, was originally published in Sweden (read that again if you need to). The owner of a small town bookstore makes it her personal mission to find a specific book for every individual in the town, and I. loved. that.
How History Affects A Person & A Place
At The Water's Edge (by Sara Gruen) - Oh, I was rooting for the main character, Maddie - not the two chumps she happened to be traveling in Scotland with - but I wanted good things for Maddie. This book was set in World War II, so it was fascinating to read about how three over-privileged Americans in search of the Loch Ness monster responded when they found themselves face to face with war.
Twists & Turns You Never See Coming
The One Memory Of Flora Banks (by Emily Barr) - Flora has a condition where she cannot retain any memories after she was seven years old (remember that film with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler?), that is until she kisses Drake. You'd get totally into the plot of this story, and the girl would up and forget what was going on - it was maddening!
Places You Might Want To Live
The Hideaway (by Lauren K. Denton) - What is it about the south that captures an individual? I loved the characters in this one, and the way it went back and forth from the early beginnings of the bed and breakfast "Hideaway" to the present-day house as it's being renovated, in more ways than one.
Secrets That Will Blow Your Mind
The One I Was (by Eliza Graham) - This novel also weaves in and out of two different periods of time (I like books that do that). Rosamond is a nurse who accepts a job caring for the dying Benny Gault in his home, and the why and who and when of her reasons in doing so make a whole lot of difference in this book.
Remarkable Story Telling (foul language and drug usage disclaimer)
Kitchens Of The Great Midwest (by J. Ryan Stradal) - Every character this book introduces you to matters - they enter into the story again and again - so never forget a name because you’ll come across it later. It was mind-blowing.
Airplane Crash Makes For A Page Turner
Before The Fall (by Noah Hawley) - An inside look at the ridiculously wealthy. A whodunit you won't solve until the end.
The Whole Thing Together - It's a tale and a half, and I had no idea where all it was going to take me. Here's a quick tip... jot down the family tree in the front of the book so you can quickly reference it throughout (especially if you're reading the e-book), because it's a LOT of names to keep straight.