In 2017, I read 198 books—a personal best for me. If you’re wondering how I read that many, there are a couple of factors.
First, I’m single with no children and live alone so no distractions. Second, reading is my entertainment. I do not watch TV at all (not even the oh, so popular This Is Us). And finally, no matter where I’m at I have a book with me. In fact, just yesterday, I was sitting outside the oil change place, reading a book on my phone while I awaited my turn (good thing too since it took about 45 minutes before I pulled into the garage).
All of that to say, I read A LOT of books this year, which in turn made narrowing down the top reads tough. So, instead of a Top 10, you’re getting a Top 20 (and then some).
Without further ado, here are my top picks from new releases in 2017 (in no particular order). Click on the book title to go to a more in-depth review or the cover image to read more about the book and/or order.
Be sure and enter the giveaway because I’m letting one of my visitors pick two books from this list for their own library!
The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon (Contemporary)
Monzon hits on some points in this book that some may find uncomfortable. Her balance of Christianity vs. the Muslim faith is right on point. And while heartbreaking at times, the story is one of the ups and downs of marriage but also one of hope and faith.
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner (Contemporary)
This book is unlike any other Christian Fiction out there. I mean, a steamy romance writer commits her life to God and falls in love with her pastor? What could possible go wrong? I was laughing out loud at several points while reading this one. The characters are great and you’re going to want more from one of them by the end.
An Uncommon Courtship and An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter (Historical)
It’s time for the Hawthorne men to fall in love. First there’s Trent who is forced to marry to save Adelaide’s reputation. Marriage is harder than either of them realize, and with the additional pressure of London Society and a meddling mother just might keep these two from seeing each other for the persons God made them to be.
Hunter ends her Hawthorne series with the most level-headed Hawthorne. As the Duke of Riverton, Griffith plans every detail of his life—even down to the best choice for a wife. But God has other plans, and with the help of a meddling family (because turnabout is fair play) and a woman who is more than a pretty face, Griffith learns that not every detail of life can be planned.
Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge (Contemporary)
A modern day adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, Jane of Austin holds the major plots of the original work, but incorporates so much more. A move from San Francisco to Austin, Texas, tea shops, a man who is coming to terms with the loss of his father and his leg, and a rescue Great Dane who captures your heart. At its roots, this book is about relationships of all kinds.
Hold the Light by April McGowan (Contemporary)
This is the first of April McGowan’s books I’ve read, but man, did it leave a lasting impression. When Amber learns she’s losing her sight, everything she knows will change. As an art teacher, she relies on her eyes to teach. Amber’s best friend Shannon and blindness counselor Ethan come alongside her. While I didn’t love Amber at the beginning of this book, by the end, my opinion of her had totally shifted (and that’s what made this story so great for me).
The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck (Dual Time)
Quirky Tenley with her bathrobe, her desk, and her broken relationship with her mother is what I loved most about this one. Hauck has a way of making her characters, flaws and all, lovable. While the connection of the dual stories didn’t occur until near the end of the book, both were engaging.
Still Life and Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey (Romantic Suspense)
If you’re looking for an author who does Romantic Suspense well, Dani Pettrey is a must-read. The caveat? You’ll want to read
her series in order because there are at least two storylines happening, one which is not resolved until the next book. Books 2 and 3 of the Chesapeake Valor series were released in 2017, and boy, oh boy, do they get your adrenaline pumping.
In Still Life, Parker Mitchell comes to the aid of his former employee whose friend has gone missing. With the aid of his best friends, Griffin McCray (Cold Shot) and Declan Gray (Blind Spot), the team races to figure out what happened to Avery’s friend. There is a nice, creepy scene in this one that will make you want to stay far away from abandoned buildings.
FBI Agent Declan Gray is on the trail of a possible terrorist attack on US soil. Now, if he didn’t have to deal with Tanner Shaw—the woman who has managed to capture his interest for more than just heated arguments. As Declan and Tanner race to discover where the attack is scheduled to take place, they run into someone from Declan’s past. Someone who will cause a huge wave to ripple through the circle of friends.
True to You by Becky Wade (Contemporary)
Another delightfully quirky character, Nora Bradford buries herself in her historical society and library. When John Lawson approaches her to help him find his birth parents, neither of them is expecting the harsh reality around the circumstances of his birth. I can’t wait to read more about the Bradford sisters in 2018! If you want a little backstory, be sure and check out Nora’s dad’s story in Wade’s novella, Then Came You.
Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh (Contemporary)
Small towns, family dynamics, past hurts, and work all play a part in Walsh’s fabulous story. On the cusp of a job promotion, the last thing Lane Kelley needs is a call demanding she return home to Harbor Pointe, Michigan. But her brother is in the hospital, and her family expects her there, so she goes armed with her cell phone and laptop in order to stay on top of things at work. Childhood friend Ryan Brooks is determined to find the girl he once knew under the hard shell Lane has built around herself for protection.
Beyond Justice and Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman (Legal Suspense)
With engaging characters, fast-paced scenes, and more than enough suspense, Cara Putman’s Hidden Justice series caught me up from the start. Beyond Justice involves a lawyer working her way to partner, a wrongful death case against the US Government, and some attempts on Hayden’s life (not to mention her roommate’s attractive and distracting cousin). Imperfect Justice turns the focus to Emilie Wesley (Hayden’s roommate) and her job defending women who are digging their way out of abusive situations. As I get to know this group of female friends working in different areas of law in the DC area, I find I just want to hang out with them more. Good thing there are a couple more ladies we haven’t gotten to delve into yet.
The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright (Dual Time)
There is a lot happening in Wright’s debut novel, yet she manages to keep readers from becoming overwhelmed by a murder (unsolved for decades), a woman who is determined to solve it, a returning love, a potential new romance, and another who has returned to the house of her great-great grandmother in order to heal from loss. While this book has a dark edge to it, it’s not at all creepy. In fact, it makes the book even better.
Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano (Historical)
Another debut and intriguing concept: a story within a story. When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies, she leaves the debtor’s prison she’s known her entire life to live with her father’s wealthy family, whom she’s never met. She also takes on the task of picking up the stories her father wrote as Nathaniel Droll. As she incorporates her new family’s lives into the story, suspicions and accusations rise. And will Aurelie ever discover what happened to her mother?
The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix (Contemporary)
I love a book that takes me by surprise. And this one, wow, did it ever! Don’t worry, no spoilers. This book can almost be classified as a Dual Time book since there’s a historical element but it’s minimal in the story. In fact, the book is about Jessica who survived the terrorist attacks in Paris and is not dealing with the personal (both physical and mental) aftermath of that tragedy.
Behind the Scenes and Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano (Historical)
Jen Turano delivers gilded age humor like no one else. I can’t help but love her quirky heroines and the men who fall in love with them and this group of wallflowers is no exception. And the pickles they find themselves are, more-often-than-not, laugh-out-loud hilarious.
The opening chapters in Behind the Scenes had me giggling while the attempts at romance in Out of the Ordinary were hilarious.
Warning: If you read an of Turano’s books in public, it’s likely people are going to wonder why you’re smiling!
Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris (Romantic Suspense)
Fans of Harris’s Nikki Boyd series will enjoy this closure to the series. I appreciate that it can almost be read as either a prequel or a sequel to the Nikki Boyd series (if you can over look the fact Nikki is always searching for answers to her sister). While Nikki Boyd makes an appearance in Vanishing Point (of course she does!), she’s not the heroine of this story.
The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay (Contemporary)
I always love Reay’s stories with their touches of literature and their vibrant scenery. When you add references to pretty much every Jane Austen book, I have a new favorite by her! When Mary Davies takes a vacation with her friend to Bath, England they role play some Austen characters, discover truths about each other and themselves, and take an in depth look at relationships. Mary is a delightfully nerdy electrical engineer extraordinaire.
Life After by Katie Ganshert (Contemporary)
Pretty much every time Katie Ganshert writes a new book, it ends up on my “best of” list. Somehow, she gets to the heart of some difficult issues. In Life After, the lone survivor of an attack on an El must come to terms with the fact she lived for a reason. It’s through the families of those lost that she begins to heal.
Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig (Suspense/Crime/Military)
Not at all my usual genre, but the second book in The Tox Files had me wishing for a big screen to watch the story play out. Paramilitary, alpha males, strong and intelligent females, missing artifacts that can destroy the world, and the detail in the ancient ruins all add to the intensity of this one. (Oh, and can I just say in 2018 we get a story about Goliath’s sword?!)
Cold Terror and Cold Truth by Susan Sleeman (Romantic Suspense)
While I enjoy all of Susan Sleeman’s books, her first foray into the indie arena is super-powered. First is the novella Cold Terror which introduces readers to Cold Harbor, Oregon and Gage Blackwell, the man behind the Blackwell Tactical team—a group of ex-military and ex-law enforcement whose injuries prohibit them from continuing in their former roles. But serving and protecting is in their blood, and this team allows them to do just that.
Cold Truth is a full-length story about one of the other team members as the group searches for a biotoxin that has gone missing. The main suspect? The heroine’s twin brother. I didn’t see the villain in this one coming (which, for me, is always a positive in this genre).
The Uncloaked Trilogy: The Uncloaked, Tearing the Veil, Charging the Darkness by J. Rodes (YA Dystopian)
In a world where the US government changes one word in the constitution (instead freedom from religion instead of freedom of religion), the youth are most valuable, both to the government and to those who understand the truth of what is going on. Yet, the heroes of this fantastic trilogy are the same ones searching for their identity in a sea of conformity. Real, flawed characters and a driving plot that kept me engaged from beginning to end, this trilogy is one that young people and adults alike should read.
Phew, that is quite the list, but we were definitely blessed with vibrant, engaging, and imaginative stories in the Christian fiction genre this year. Have any of my favorites caught your eye? What were some of your favorites? With all of the 2017 favorites posts, has your TBR list grown? I know mine has! In order to help with that (well, the obtaining the books, not the reading part), I’m giving away a $25.00 Amazon gift card to one of you!