This year I have discovered a lot of great books and new authors. I feel like I have made new friends. Only an introvert would say something like that, I know. But this year I have not only found new authors and books to love, I have rediscovered a love for great stories that speak spiritual truths. Stories that snatch you out of your own world and give you a "Narnia" experience and allow you to participate in the story with the characters. Along the way, you meet flawed characters and get to walk with them as they meet various challenges and come out victorious. You change as they change. You experience their pain, their sorrow, their joy. You learn the life lessons they learn through their trials. You think about your relationship with God and other people as they think about theirs. I have an appreciation for authors who are able to do that without interrupting the story. My love of these stories has influenced me in ways I am very thankful for. By reminding me there is hope, by reminding me of the power of a good story, and by pointing the way to Jesus. So, in the spirit of "thankfulness" I wanted to recognize some of those authors and their stories. Here are five books I read in 2015 and am thankful for.
- The Blood of Kings Trilogy by Jill Williamson (I know it's cheating to put a trilogy, but really they're one long story!). I LOVE these books. The characters, the world, and the story are amazing. It is the story of Achan, a slave who wants to escape his situation and save his sweetheart from an arranged marriage. When he is given the opportunity to train with a knight he finds out that Arman (their version of God) may have other plans for him. Books one and two are available to listen to for free on her websites.
- Dare by Tricia Mingerink. An assassin who works for the king is wounded on a mission and finds himself at the mercy of two girls whose family he helped murder four years ago. As they nurse him back to health he struggles with what to do once he returns to the King. Captivating storytelling, wonderful characters and character development.
- Waking Beauty by Sarah E. Morin. Oh. My. Word. The only reason I have not written a full review for this book yet is because words literally fail me. This is the story of what happens AFTER Sleeping Beauty wakes up. The only problem is, she's been dreaming for a hundred years and doesn't believe she is actually awake. Prince Arpien has his work cut out for him trying to convince her that she is in the waking world. Throw in tension between their two kingdoms, a dangerous fairy, hilarious dialogue, and you have an epic fantasy that will leave you with a major book hangover when you're done.
- To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander. This was a sweet story about a southern man who fought for the North in the Civil War and a southern widow who struggles to find her place in life after her abusive husband is killed. It is inspired by the true story of Belle Meade Mansion, and some of the supporting characters are based on actual people. The character development was very well-timed and the storytelling was beautiful.
- Healer's Curse by Kathrese McKee. This is a novella in the Mardan's Mark series and it follows the story of Lady Elilan, who is gifted as a healer but was unable to save her husband and her mother-in-law when they contracted an illness. Her confidence shaken, she refuses to use her gift anymore, relying solely on natural methods. When a captain is injured and put under her care, he challenges her beliefs about her gift. This was a beautiful story that tugged on my heartstrings. If you've ever felt like a failure for your inability to carry out a responsibility you were charged with, you will relate to Elilan. I loved watching her grow throughout the story. It was a short but satisfying read.
Two of these books were written and published independently (Healer's Curse and Dare) by first-time authors. I'm a little in awe of these women, not only for writing great first-time books, but for their independence in publishing without the help of a publishing company. Their lack of a publisher by no means hurts the quality of their product. These authors really care about their craft and have put in the blood, sweat, and tears necessary to write, rewrite, edit, market, and produce a quality story to the masses all without the help of a "professional" publisher.
What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?
If you are looking for great books to read over the holiday season, or gifts for the book lover in your life, you might consider the following Christian Book Sale by independent authors. Tricia Mingerink's book Dare is included in this sale! (The rest of this post is a pre-written advertisement).
In honor of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a group of independent Christian authors have banded together to offer over seventy discounted books on Nov 27-30. There's something for everyone. Every book listed on Indie Christian Books is on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if you have a budget of $0, new reading material awaits you. Don't know what to pick? The fearless Indie Christian Books team created a quiz that will generate a book list perfect for you! Check it out!
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as "Sold Out." This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.