I know I haven’t been keeping up with my blog lately (I hope to be here more this year), but I couldn’t
miss out on my annual top books post, especially when I’ve enjoyed
reading several other bloggers’ great lists. For my 2018 countdown
of books that impacted me the most out of all those I read, I’m
doing the top 13 plus some honorable mentions. I read 66 books, short
stories, plays, and editing manuscripts this year.

First, the honorable mentions: Shakespeare’s The Tempest and
MacBeth, Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic, and Leif
Enger’s So Brave, Young, and Handsome.

And now the countdown:

And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie

pulse-pounding mystery made it to the list of America’s 100
best-loved novels, according to the Great American Read put on by
PBS. It was eerie in a psychological, character-driven sort of way,
and like everyone else who reads it, I asked myself in every chapter,

“Who will be next? Will there
be anyone left at the end?” Definitely a memorable whodunit that
satisfied my thirst for a thought-provoking mystery.

Celia’s House
D. E. Stevenson

was introduced to a new-to-me author this year, D. E. Stevenson, a
niece of Robert Louis Stevenson. Her books are light, cozy, and
heart-warming, the types of novels you picture reading with a cup of
tea in a British cottage garden.
Celia’s House
focuses on a growing family who inherits an estate in the Scottish
Border Country from their aunt Celia in the early 1900s. It follows
them as the children are born, grow up, and have adventures, all the
while emphasizing the importance of family ties.

The Not-Quite States of America
Doug Mack

Few of us who live in the States often think about the U.S.
territories—American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana
Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This book was enlightening and
entertaining as it delved into the history and current conditions of
the five territories. I found value in being informed about these
far-flung islands and discovering what we share. (Warning: language
in a few chapters.)

Anna and the King of Siam
Margaret Landon

A semi-fictionalized biography, this tells the story of Anna
Leonowens, an amazing Englishwoman who taught for five years in the
Siamese court in the 1860s. Beloved movies were based off this book.
I was inspired by Mrs. Leonowens’s faith in God and courageous
perseverance to make a difference, and I was fascinated by the
glimpse into this exotic country I knew little about.

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
Lois Tverberg

The Jewish roots of Christianity are very important to me, and I
found this book to be an accessible study of the Jewish understanding
of the Bible and how it seamlessly fits Jesus’ worldview. Tverberg
excels at explaining Hebraisms and making them relevant to
Christians, enriching our reading of the Bible and reigniting our
excitement for God’s truth. Read my review here.

Jerusalem: The Biography
Simon Sebag Montefiore

Admittedly, this book was hard to get through at times, between being
graphic and pessimistic. I gave it only 3.5 stars because of that.
But I was impressed with the author’s objectivity and thoroughness.
In my opinion (and the opinion of many others throughout the
centuries and millennia), Jerusalem is the most important city in the
world, and I love learning about it, even if it’s impossible to
cover every detail of its history. This book did a fine job and
filled in the many holes in my historical knowledge. Read my review here.

Charlotte Brontë

is a very different novel from
but they both demonstrate Charlotte Brontë’s genius and make her
one of the classic novelists I admire the most.
is full of richly developed characters and complicated relationships
set against a backdrop of early nineteenth-century England, when the
Napoleonic wars raged abroad and conflicts between mill owners and
mill workers raged at home. My favorite part of the book, however,
was the friendship between vivacious landowner Shirley Keeldar and
gentle minister’s niece Caroline Helstone. It’s one of the best
literary female friendships I’ve ever read. Read my review here.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe

Although it may not be as respected now as it has been over the past
century and a half, I saw a lot of great things in this book. Before
slavery was abolished, when half of America supported it and hardly
any white person considered black people as equals, Uncle Tom’s
entered the scene and became the best-selling novel of the
19th century. It profoundly moved the United States. It
was one of the first novels to put African Americans in heroic
positions, and though there was still a long road ahead and we’re
still working on race relations now, this book was groundbreaking.
Uncle Tom’s faith in God and his life witness were inspiring.

Catherine Marshall

I read this book for the first time about ten years ago and found it
influential as I struggled with my faith and what it means to follow
God. This year, the second time through was almost as rich and
affected me in slightly different ways. Above all, I found conviction
and encouragement to live and love selflessly. Catherine Marshall’s
writing is mature and beautiful as she word-paints images you can
experience with the senses of your mind and creates characters you
can know and understand.

Bleak House
Charles Dickens

always amazes me. In every novel, he creates a whole world—full of
intriguing fictional characters as individual and quirky as real
people; situations that seem disparate but intertwine as the story
progresses, revealing mysteries and tying characters together in
satisfying endings; and details that make everything come alive.
Bleak House
is no exception, but the best part in my opinion is Esther Summerson.
I learned valuable lessons from her sweet, unconscious humility and
charity. In fact, every single character and puzzle piece of this book was interesting to me. It’s sad, funny, intriguing, and inspirational by turns. It could have been longer and I wouldn’t have minded. Read my review here.

He’s Making Diamonds
S. G. Willoughby

The title says it all. God uses our suffering to make us into
None of us choose to go through hard circumstances, but
we can choose how we cope and nurture our relationship with God in
the midst of them. This book is geared toward teens who are
chronically ill, but any Christian can read it and benefit. Sara
Willoughby is the perfect person to write it, as she is a teenager
who suffers from Lyme disease and other health issues. She shares how
to navigate chronic illness with a healthy perspective fixed firmly
on God, demonstrating how trials like that can bring us closer to

Mere Christianity
C. S. Lewis

This spiritual classic has been on my to-read list for years, and I
was not disappointed when I finally read it this year. From the
existence of God to the rationale for morality to the root of sin, it
wades deep (but not too deep) into the beautiful mysteries of
Christianity. Not only a logical defense for belief, it’s
compelling and convicting, inspiring love and awe for God and the
desire to be a better follower of His. This is worth reading over and

The Hiding Place
Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill

Corrie ten Boom is one of my heroes. This well-written book (which I read for the second time) tells the
story of how she and her family, in obedience to God, risked their
lives in the Dutch resistance, saving the lives of His people the
Jews when the Nazis sought to destroy them. Her story is incredibly
faith-building as she tells how the Lord worked during those
excruciatingly difficult years. She and her family learned many
lessons—love for enemies, joy in the little mercies, faith that God
knows what He’s doing and will bring His children triumphantly
through trials they could never survive on their own.

you read any of these books? What are your top reads of 2018?
I wanted to tell you about a HUGE sale that is going on this weekend that I’m participating in. My three books are on sale, and there are over 150 other titles available for either $0.99 or
FREE! There’s also a long list of paperbacks for sale at incredibly
discounted prices. And the good news is they are all clean
reads! Be sure to go check out this amazing sale here.


There is also an amazing
giveaway going on! Grand Prize winner receives 20 paperbacks and the
2nd place winner
gets 20 e-book titles from the sale for free!

You can sign up for the
giveaway here.

Giveaway runs from
November 22nd till
November 26th
@12AM ET Grand prize open to US winners only. 2nd
place prize is open Internationally.

Place Winner Receives 20 E-books

Round the Fables
by Erika Matthews

Case of the Tabloid Tattler
by Perry Kirkpatrick AudioBook

Twelve Cats of Christmas
by Perry Kirkpatrick Audiobook

Shop Christmas
by Ryana Lynn Miller

Land of Cotton
by Ryana Lynn Miller

Angels, Entertaining Angels Book 1
by Emerald Barnes

by Jennette Mbewe

Firethorn Crown
by Lea Doue

Broken Pencils
by Julie C. Gilbert

by Julie C. Gilbert

by Vanessa Rasanen

by Hope Ann

and Nailed
by Avery Daniels

Earns Her Cape
by Bokerah Brumley

by J. Grace Pennington

by Sarah Addison Fox

Compass Home
by Michaela Bush

Shadows and Necessary Evil
by Killarney Traynor

Prize Winner Receives 20 Paperbacks

by Jenelle Schmidt

is the Victory
by Faith Blum

by Kate Willis

Diana L. Sharples

Book One in The Neverway Chronicles
by Savannah Jezowski

Book Two in The Neverway Chronicles
by Savannah Jezowski

Enchanted Flute
by Katy Huth Jones

by Tammy Lash

in the Dark
by Victoria Lynn   

Beauty Blooms
by Victoria Lynn

Land Beyond the Sunset
by Sarah Ashwood

and Nailed
by Avery Daniels

Was Always Laughter in Our House
by Sarah Holman

A Parable
by Angie Thompson

by Angie Thompson

by Angie Thompson

Eve at the Backdoor
by Rebekah Morris

Seven Drawers
by Kendra E. Ardnek

Making Diamonds: A Teen’s Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness

by Sara Willoughby


Kate Willis


C.B. Cook

Vincent Trigili

Malachi Cyr

E. J. Willis

Diana L. Sharples

Sarah Addison-Fox

Annie Douglass Lima

Marc Secchia

Katy Huth Jones

Savannah Jezowski

Kandi J Wyatt

Joan Lightning

Angela Watts

Ava Mallory

Sara Bourgeois

Jaye L. Knight

Sarah Ashwood

Killarney Traynor

Zanna Mackenzie

Valerie Howard

Bokerah Brumley

Kat Bellemore

Faith Blum

RJ Conte

Abigayle Claire

Tayla Alexandra

Kristen Iten

Emily Selby

Stephanie Damore

Erika Mathews

Frances Hoelsema

J. Grace Pennington

Rebekah A. Morris

Frankie Bow

Martha Fuller

Lena Karynn Tesla

Allison Tebo

Sarah Monzon

Victoria Lynn

Sonia Parin

T.I. Lowe

Lia London

Tammy Lash

Maria grazia swan

Deany Ray

Paige Sleuth

Jenny Berlin

Annie Louise Twitchell

Jordaina Sydney Robinson

Kelsey Gietl

Kendra E. Ardnek

Frances Hoelsema

Stacy Juba

Laura Guenot

Michaela Bush

Tricia Mingerink

Hailey Rose

Ryana Lynn Miller

Angie Thompson

Nadine C. Keels

Kellyn Roth

Angie Thompson

Vanessa Rasanen

Julie C. Gilbert

Jennette Mbewe

C. S. Johnson

Amy Williams

April Lynn Newell

Lauren Lynch

Lea Doue

Kelsey Bryant

Avery Daniels

Sarah Holman

R.M. Archer

Emerald Barnes

Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Cathy Perkins

Laura Jackson

P.D. Workman

Emily Hinkle

Hannah Loviisa

Claire Banschbach

Rebekah Jones

Faith Potts

Sara Willoughby

Today is an exciting day because we’re celebrating the release of Jessica Greyson’s latest book, Waiting for Isaac. I beta-read this little gem and found it extremely touching for me in my current life circumstances as I, too, am waiting for my Isaac. I’d love to tell you all about the lovely person Jessica is and how Waiting for Isaac is so encouraging, but you can glimpse that for yourself in this interview I was privileged to have with her.

  1. How and when did you feel led to write Waiting for Isaac?
was something that was laid on my heart to write this spring as I was
wading through some things in my soul. I wanted to write something for
young women by a single young woman. So much of the literature I have
read over the years has been by married women writing after they have
passed the threshold of marriage—I wanted to write to my fellow soldiers
in the midst of battle to uplift their hearts, encourage them onwards
and towards the light of Christ.

  1. What do you hope young women gain from reading it?
joy, peace. This battle of singleness and loneliness we feel as if we
fight alone, and each of our battles is custom designed by our Creator
to draw us closer to Him. They are not alone; not only do they have Jesus
Christ—they have a sister in Christ cheering them on to fight the good
fight and follow Christ; a sister who weeps with them over their aching
hearts and rejoices with them over their joys they have received. 

  1. What do you think are some of the best Bible verses for women who are struggling with being single?
There are a few of my favorites.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b)
of Solomon 2:10-13
While I know these verses are written by a king for
his bride, I often like to meditate upon them as my King calling me His
bride into a deeper, sweeter relationship.

  1. If you could give one piece of advice from your heart to another single woman, what would it be?

be afraid to wrestle this battle. There will be tears, there will be a
fire to one’s soul, and even holding on to hope might feel like burning
agony, but it is worth it. Press into Christ; you are loved with an
everlasting love that has no beginning and no end. 

This is beautiful, Jessica! Readers, if you’re encouraged just by her interview, check out her book!


About the Author

Jessica Greyson is a homeschool graduate
who loves words, first as a hungry reader, and now as a passionate
writer. She seeks to write for the glory of God, and be the writer He
has called her to be.

You can learn more about her and her books at www.jessicagreyson.com.

Welcome to Kelsey’s Notebook! Today I’m taking part in Sarah Holman’s Choose Your Own Story event. This is to celebrate the release of her latest book, Escape and Endurance. In this event, you get to pick the outcome of the story by making choices. A lot of different things can happen. What are you waiting for? Start your adventure by clicking the image below.


Andrew blinked and then sat up straight. What was he doing on the ground? He felt dizzy. Why was he dizzy?
He forced himself to stand, using a tree to steady himself. Something poked into his foot, and he saw that his boots had been removed. It was then he remembered! Thieves had attacked him and taken his horse and shoes. This would make things more difficult.
He looked around, and there didn’t seem to be any choice in the matter. Despite his aching head, he started walking.
He soon was faced with a choice. He looked at the two paths and decided to head…


Are you interested in reading about a knight, a tower, a princess, and a servant? Pick up a copy of Escape and Endurance! Haven’t read the other books in the Tales of Taelis series? Not to worry. Each book can stand alone.

About Sarah
Sarah Holman is a not-so-typical girl, a homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and lives in the great state of Texas. If there’s anything adventuresome about her life, it’s because she serves a God with a destiny greater than anything she could have imagined. You can find out more about her at her website: www.thedestinyofone.com

You can join the Adventurers (her newsletter) by going here: http://eepurl.com/bitBIf

of you may know I’m a classical music nut. I love music in general,
so I’m thrilled every summer to teach at a music day camp for kids.
This year’s theme just so happened to fit in with the story I’m preparing for
publication (
retelling of the fairy tale “The Bremen Town Musicians”) as it
was Animals, specifically the “Carnival of the Animals” by
Camille Saint-Sa
ëns. This lighthearted orchestral suite, written in
1886, is comprised of fourteen entertaining movements, each depicting
a different animal taking part in a carnival. I’ve loved it since I
was a kid, but teaching about it at the music camp was the first time I actually studied it.

you haven’t heard this fun, fast-paced piece, give it a listen and
let me know which movement is your favorite! Mine are 1) Aquarium
(which sounds similar to the prologue from
Beauty and the Beast
2) Fossils (that iconic xylophone piece that sounds like dancing
bones); and 3) Swan (probably the most recognizable movement from the

music have you been listening to and loving recently?
Photos of Music Camp