Favorite Books of 2018 ~ Year Review

2018 was a wonderful year of reading.

 I (Faith), challenged myself to read 130 books as well as more non-fiction books.
In the end I read: 134 books.
82 Fiction
50 Non-Fiction
Here are some of my favorites!
While as a reviewer I read many books that are new releases, this compilation is more of an overview of my own personal reading and books I found to be notable that I read in the year of 2018, both new releases and older publications.  

Favorite Biographies

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas 
A thoroughly engrossing biography, that can come across as intimidating in size (the publisher's description officially states a 608 page count), but is well worth the read. Reading this book I was surprised to find out how little I knew about one of Germany's greatest, yet least sung heroes, who dared to do what few others would, standing up for what was right, and living in holiness to the glory of God. Reading this book is what got me started on my Dietrich Bonhoeffer kick, and this year I read The Cost of Discipleship, Life Together, and his Advent compilation God is in the Manger. 
Eric Metaxas digs deep weaving together the younger life, influences, and convictions of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a highly readable fashion. 

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee
Though written chronologically in story form, this book tells the true story of North Korean defector and survivor, Sungju Lee. He tells in harrowing detail of his boyhood in North Korea, starvation, scavenging and stealing as part of a gang to survive and losing his parents, to his journey to South Korea. Stark and tragic his story is true. A great introduction to the North Korean plight, written in a friendly format that will draw the reader in and raise global awareness. 

Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry
Passionate, and powerful, written in a flowing emotive prose Jackie Hill Perry tells her story of finding new life and hope in Jesus Christ. Raw at times, heartbreaking, yet full of hope at the difference that Christ makes. I didn't know what to expect going into it, but it surpassed my expectations. 

Born Again by Charles W. Colson 
Being a Millenial I was not alive during Nixon's presidency or the Watergate scandal that rocked our nation, and I knew of Chuck Colson in the context of outspoken defender of the Christian Worldview through radio, magazines, books, and conservative political activism. I thought little of his past, but after reading this book I am continually in awe of God's transforming power. Reading about Colson's younger years as a powerful staff member on Nixon's team, ruthlessly doing whatever needed doing in the name of the desired outcome, and then to his new life and faith in Jesus Christ. He went on to write How Now Shall We Live?, founded Prison Fellowship, and continue to be a voice in politics. 

Devoted by Tim Challies
A collection of short biographies of the mothers of some of the greatest preachers past and present. All who prayed for their children faithfully and never gave up, ordinary mothers who shaped their children through their faith by prayer, discipleship, and example. Featuring the mothers of John Newton, John Piper, Augustine, Timothy, Charles Spurgeon and more. A beautiful book focusing on the relationship and influence shared between a mother and son. 

A Higher Call by Adam Makos
A remarkable true story of chivalry and combat during WWII, that gives a rare glance at the German perspective and strong sense of duty and honor. The book tells the stories of American 2nd Lt Charlie Brown and his bomber crew, parallel to that of German Ace Franz Stigler and the incredible act of chivalry between two enemies that they would never forget. 

50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren W. Wiersbe
This book has been on my reading list since high school, and this was the year I finally read it. Immediately after I wondered by I had not read it sooner! It is a wonderful resource with 50 concise biographies of influential Christians some of which I immediately recognized and others that were more obscure. If you are just getting into biographies and don't know where to start this is a great first step, because after reading this book by reading list grew by at least 40 volumes. I learned so much about these 50 people, their faith and theology that shaped our foundation, doctrine, and evangelism of Christianity for years to come. 

Honorable Mentions
Martin Luther by Eric Metaxas
The Polygamist's Daughter by Anna LeBaron
Andrew Fuller by John Piper

Favorite Christian Living Books

The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield
Hands down one of my favorite books of the year, thought provoking, honest, and inspiring. This book encourages Christians to live out radical and practical hospitality, opening our homes and our lives to bless and be blessed by others. Mrs. Butterfield shares how her family lives out their faith, and have seen strangers become friends, and friends become family in Christ. You can read my full length review HERE

The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
Mr. DeYoung skillfully and articulately discusses the connection between grace and holiness in this well written, engaging, highly quotable, and concise read. He points to shifting our focus from legalism, instead inviting readers to live like Christ. Concise, cutting right to the heart of the matter, I often had to put this book down for days at a time while I digested much of what he saying. I highly recommend this book on Christian holiness and sanctification.

The Counselor by A.W. Tozer
A balanced and scriptural approach to the Holy Spirit the oft misunderstood and sometimes ignored member of the Trinity. Mr. Tozer takes a passionate yet measured approach to the Holy Spirit, backing up his points with the Bible, encouraging his readers to step into a Bible-based relationship with The Counselor.

Counter Culture by David Platt
I've always appreciated David Platt's straightforward yet compassionate approach in ministry. And in tackling tough topics he takes it straight to the gospel, this book is no different. David Platt takes readers through many hot-button topics, abortion, immigration, homosexuality, racism, persecution, pornograpy, poverty, and sex slavery, and what the Bible says in regard to these topics, as well as what our Christian response should be based on God's word.

Mr. Platt deals compassionately with many hot button issues, with the truth of Scripture not sugar coating things either. He encourages readers to live their Counter Culture faith in today's world

Honorable Mentions
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler
The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler
Bloodlines by John Piper
The Attributes of God by A.W. Tozer
Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
Dangers of a Shallow Faith by A.W. Tozer
Delighting in God by A.W. Tozer
Of God and Men by A.W. Tozer

Favorite Classics

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer 
Bonhoeffer urges readers to cast off cheap grace, easy accepted. But to strive instead for a costly grace, lived in our everyday lives, showing itself in sanctification and holiness. A timeless read, as hard hitting 50 years ago as it is today. It was so rich in great teachings that I could read but a few pages at a time, so as to give myself time to absorb his preaching. Highly recommend.

Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The classic correspondence between senior demon Screwtape and his junior demon Wormwood as he advises him on how to best tempt humans to their side. Through the correspondences Lewis reveals hard-hitting truths about us, our egos, and the sin that we try to hide from ourselves, as well as the power of faith in God that is stronger by far than any power of hell. 

Favorite Children's Book

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
Set during the time of Jesus's ministry this book follows young Daniel Bar-Jamin, a young Zealot set on revenge. A fast-paced read that brings the turmoil and conflict between the Jews and the Romans to life, painting a realistic picture of the oppression faced by the Jews and how Jesus defied all expectations of the kind of Saviour who would come to save them. 

Honorable Mentions
The Hank the Cowdog Series by John R. Erickson --These books never fail to bring a smile to my face, as I get older the more I appreciate them!

Favorite Young Adult Fiction

West by Edith Pattou
The long awaited sequel to one of my all-time favorites, East. I was sad at first that Rose and her White Bear couldn't just be happy and live a modest life, yet Rose, being adventurous by nature would have never been satisfied to have a quiet existence. In some ways I agree that this book lacks the magic of its predecessor, but in other ways I think that the magic is stronger. Rose's love for her small family is tested, she must risk everything, fighting for the ones that she loves, knowing that she might be forced to give them up. Her heartaches cut to the bone. But Rose isn't the girl that she was when she first loved the White Bear, she has grown, matured, and become more independent, learning from her mistakes. 

I think that while different than East, West compliments it well, exploring different relationships while delving deeper into existing storylines. West is a satisfying sequel, the stakes are higher, and the characters have grown. The things that I am tempted to say that I didn't like are what make it stronger.

Honorable Mentions
There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Favorite Re-read

East by Edith Pattou
A re-telling of the Norwegian fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, this book follows the adventurous Rose and her White Bear. Rose is born to a superstitious mother, and when hard times come the White Bear comes to take her to his castle, promising prosperity for her family in return. Rose goes with the bear willingly, and finds that she alone has the power to free the bear from a terrible curse. I re-read this favorite in anticipation of the upcoming sequel, West, and fell in love with it all over again. I love Rose for her determination and grit, her love for her family, and sense of duty to right wrongs. 

Favorite Fiction

Where We Belong by Lynn Austin
Sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes have a thirst for adventure and a passion for finding God's calling in their lives. Raised by their intellectual father, who encouraged their scholarship and their faith they experience more freedom than many young ladies of their time and station. But when their father meets a proper and society concerned widow, and with their father's failing health they must fight to pursue their passions.

Their story jumps back to their childhood and youth, and the events that marked Flora and Rebecca's lives, as they seek God's purpose in their lives. We also get a look into the lives of their unconventional servants Soren Petersen and Kate Rafferty, and how they came into the sisters' lives. A story sweeping decades from America to the streets of Paris and the deserts of the Holy Land.

I love how the sisters live their faith, they weren't just content with their comfortable life, but wanted to use what God had given them to help others and show them His love. Different from the Christian romances of this genre, this book stands apart in it's powerful message of faith, and strong female protagonists based loosely on real people.

Full review HERE.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan
Becoming Mrs. Lewis tells the story of Joy Davidman the divorced American writer and poet who would one day marry C.S. Lewis. This book takes us through Joy's painful marriage to a fellow writer, and how she found faith and began corresponding with C.S. Lewis. I loved the honesty of this book and how it shows that we still struggle with sin despite coming to faith. Ms. Callahan is a wizard with words and has a way of finding just the right adjective or verb to describe every feeling, tone, or action. A stunning read.

Full review coming soon, will add link and edit the above text then.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof
An achingly beautiful and bittersweet tale of love, loss, addiction, and family, set in the heart of Appalachia. The Norgaard brothers make their living off of distilling and fermenting the finest hard cider on the mountain, but when their cousin's young widow, Aven Norgaard comes to live with them at the request of their recently deceased aunt, conflicts beneath the surface come to to a head. One of my favorite things about this book is how the characters are so complex, flawed, and I loved how the dichotomy of the struggles at war within Thor were portrayed. Ms. Bischof makes good use of silence, and not all dialog is spoken, she makes the most of body language to show the varying relationships between the characters.
Full review HERE.

 A Dangerous Legacy & A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden
Elizabeth Camden is on of my very favorite authors and her latest series is absolute dynamite. The first two books follow brother and sister, Lucy and Nicholas Drake as they fight a decades long family lawsuit that would decide the accessibility of affordable running water to tenement and multi-level buildings. There is intrigue, mystery, and romance set in New York City from the dank undergrounds and city slums to the high stakes meeting rooms of high society. Masterful and engrossing storytelling that makes them impossible to put down, teeming with historical details that make the story spark to life. Ms. Camden just gets better and better, and these two books are two of my all time favorites from Ms. Camden. You can read my full review for A Dangerous Legacy HERE & A Daring Venture HERE by following the links.

Into the Free & When Mountains Move by Julie Cantrell
This duology follows Millie growing up in the town of Iti Taloa on the tail end of the Depression, as she goes from troubled young girl to a married woman still haunted by her past. I like how Millie finding out about her past, helped to her make sense of her life and why people treated her the way they did.Vibrant and vivid characters, in their complexity and duality bring this book to life, nobody is one thing, cruelty and kindness find a home under the same name. These books had me riveted by the characters who shone through their scars along with the mystery, love, loss, faith and forgiveness. These book brought me to tears multiple times, and I loved how the author was able to make me hate a character, and then later on coming to understand and forgive them. Moving and unforgettable.

Into the Free full review HERE
When Mountains Move full review HERE

King's War by Jill Williamson
Jill Williamson has outdone herself in taking us back to Er'Rets and the origins of the House of Hadar, with fantastic world-building, character development, and faith. Multiple storylines entwine and diverge with complexity all leading up the the culmination with the battle between Armania and the dark powers from the Lowerworld. Old Testament themes set in a new fantasy world, full of adventure, daring, betrayal, magic, faith, friendship, and love. 
A fantastic conclusion to a worthy saga.

Full review HERE

Honorable Mentions
Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd
A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette
The Sheriff of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden
Searching For You by Jody Hedlund
Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
 The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

What are your favorite books that you read in 2018?

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