Christmas Surprise! – Top 10 Book Picks of 2017

Each year, I publish reviews for about 52 books or so here at the Books and Biscuits Blog.  However, I’ve never attempted to rank them beyond the ratings I post on Amazon, GoodReads, and similar websites.  To celebrate Christmas and the end of the year, I put together my inaugural (hopefully annual) list of my top 10 favorite books from 2017.

While I have given more than 10 books 5-star reviews, these are my absolute top picks.  The remainder are listed below as “honorable mentions” for their 5-star rankings.  These books are listed in alphabetical order, as I really had no ability to rank them beyond a top 10 grouping.  Enjoy

Tamera Alexander. A Note Yet Unsung. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

As a musician, I could not get enough of this beautiful book by Ms. Alexander!  She manages to expertly wrap up one of her much-loved series, while leaving her readers wanting even more of her stories.

Tamera Alexander. To Wager Her Heart. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.

2017 was a big year for Ms. Alexander!  She wrapped up two series, as well as releasing the prequel novella for her next one.  To Wager Her Heart is one of my favorite books by Ms. Alexander, as a direct result of her in-depth historical research and focus on several almost unknown stories and topics.  The Fisk University connection is particularly fascinating!

Lynn Austin. Where We Belong. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Where We Belong may be one of my favorite releases from Ms. Austin in the past ten or so years.  Her research into the lives of her characters is absolutely incredible, especially as she shows their faith and personality in the presence of momentous historical situations.

Kristi Ann Hunter. An Inconvenient Beauty. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Ms. Hunter wraps up her first published series this year with An Inconvenient Beauty.  Throughout the series, I wondered how she would pull off a worthy novel for the quiet and complex main character, but she pulled it off!

Kara Isaac. Then There Was You. Bellbird Press, 2017.

I’ve read Ms. Isaac’s other books, but Then There Was You is by far my favorite one!  She left me laughing and crying along with memorable characters in this twist on a fish-out-of-water story.

Joanna Davidson Politano. Lady Jayne Disappears. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2017.

Ms. Politano makes one of the most impressive debuts of the year with Lady Jayne Disappears.  Initially, I was hesitant to read this novel, as the summary seemed rather dark and depressing.  However, Ms. Politano expertly writes this story with faith and joy that permeates a unique storyline.

Melissa Tagg. All This Time. Middletown, DE: Larkspur Press, 2017.

What can I say about this novel, other than the fact that it wraps up Ms. Tagg’s Walker Family series.  Anyone who follows Ms. Tagg on her blog knows her personal love of her characters and stories, which permeates her stories.  With a flair for romantic comedy, Ms. Tagg’s works consistently end up on my must-read list every year.

Becky Wade. True to You: A Bradford Sisters Romance. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

2017 seemed to be a year of authors either wrapping up series or beginning new ones.  Ms. Wade’s previous series was incredibly strong and I wondered if she could pull it off again.  True to You proved that Ms. Wade is brilliant at writing enjoyable contemporary Christian fiction, even as she builds an entirely new cast of characters.

Roseanna M. White. A Name Unknown. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

A Name Unknown came out of the blue for me, as I was not a huge fan of Ms. White’s previous works.  With the beginning of a new series, Ms. White manages to create a fascinating set of characters and situations that pulled me in from the very first chapter.  After this book, I am eagerly anticipating the chance to review her next novel, which is due out in January of the new year.

Karen Witemeyer. Heart on the Line. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Last, but certainly not least, Ms. Witemeyer always makes it onto my list of favorite authors and books.  She consistently brings a quirky set of characters to life, while remaining true to the best of the historical Christian fiction genre.  I particularly appreciate the sense of humor that she always brings to her story, as I found myself gravitating toward lighter storylines over the past year or so.

Honorable Mentions:

I hope that all of you have a blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Review: An Inconvenient Beauty – Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi Ann Hunter. An Inconvenient Beauty. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

I hope that all of you had a fun and relaxing Labor Day weekend!  September kicks off a great batch of fall releases from Christian publishers and I am very excited to share them with you.

An Inconvenient Beauty serves as the much-anticipated conclusion of Ms. Hunter’s Hawthorne House series.  Griffith, the Duke of Riverton, is the last of the Hawthorne family to be left unmarried.  He has spent his life cultivating a serious and logical persona, along with an equally logical plan to choose a bride.  However, he soon discovers that love and logic do not mix.  Isabella Breckenridge delayed her debut in order to help save her family’s farm.  As a last effort, she promises to help her conniving uncle to fulfill his political ambitions during London’s social season, in exchange for helping to relieve her family’s debts.  However, she never expected to attract the attentions of a duke.  In spite of their plans, Griffith and Isabella soon find themselves as unintentional partners in several unplanned adventures, defying anything one would expect of an overly-logical duke’s pursuit.

Fans of Ms. Hunter’s Hawthorne House series will be delighted with the conclusion of An Inconvenient Beauty.  She creates a fitting novel to encapsulate one of the series’ most anticipated love stories.

Overall, I was absolutely thrilled with An Inconvenient Beauty.  While reading the Hawthorne House series, I always wondered how Ms. Hunter would manage to write a fitting love story for Griffith, in part due to his logical and fatherly personality.  Somehow, Ms. Hunter manages to far exceed this reader’s expectations for the story, while contributing her unique brand of humor and light writing style to the novels.  Altogether, the series has been a wonderful set of books to read, with a highly accessible style that makes it appealing to a wide audience.  With such a successful series under Ms. Hunter’s belt, I very much look forward to seeing what she manages to write next, even as she promises that the next series will build off of at least one of this series’ favorite characters.

Readers who enjoy An Inconvenient Beauty will definitely want to read Ms. Hunter’s other stories in the Hawthorne House series.  Fans of Julie Klassen, Lori Wick, and Carolyn Miller, as well as other Christian Regency-era fiction, will also find Ms. Hunter’s novels to be a worthwhile read.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of An Inconvenient Beauty!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – An Inconvenient Beauty

Review: An Uncommon Courtship – Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi Ann Hunter. An Uncommon Courtship. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Happy New Year!  I’m already eagerly anticipating another great year of spectacular Christian fiction.  The upcoming months look to be packed with exciting releases and more great writing from the genre’s incredible authors!

Ms. Hunter continues her Hawthorne House series with An Uncommon Courtship.  Lord Trent Hawthorne grew up as the younger brother of a powerful and capable duke.  Without the responsibilities of a title, Trent excels as a sportsman, while managing his relatively small estate.  However, the conniving efforts of a noblewoman results in his being married to an unassuming young woman, Lady Adelaide Bell.  Adelaide grew up in the shadow of her ever-ambitious mother and older sister.  To save her reputation, Trent and Adelaide are forced to marry, even without knowing each other beyond a few hours of conversation.  Together, they must learn how to make a successful marriage works, even if it means having a courtship after the wedding.

Ms. Hunter writes an intriguing tale set in Regency-era England, while continuing to develop the storylines of the Hawthorne family members.  An Uncommon Courtship makes for a heart-warming read during the blustery winter months.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading An Uncommon Courtship.  Ms. Hunter expertly develops her main characters, as she utilizes a different take on a Regency-era situation to diversify the storylines of the Hawthorne House series.  Unlike An Elegant Façade, An Uncommon Courtship takes place entirely after the events of Ms. Hunter’s previous novels.  As a result, I found the storyline to be much stronger as a stand-alone novel, even while it presents an exciting continuation to the series.  After reading the entire set of novels so far, I am very interested to see where Ms. Hunter takes the story next, as she must finally provide a satisfying conclusion centered around the eldest brother of the Hawthorne family.

Readers who enjoy Regency-era fiction will definitely want to read Ms. Hunter’s stories, including An Uncommon Courtship.  Fans of Julie Klassen and Lori Wick will also find Ms. Hunter’s novels to be a worthwhile read.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of An Uncommon Courtship!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – An Uncommon Courtship

Review: An Elegant Facade – Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi Ann Hunter. An Elegant Façade. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

After a crazy week, I was absolutely thrilled to curl up with a good book!  Kristi Hunter’s newest release, An Elegant Façade came through my NetGalley account and I absolutely could not wait to read it.  To top it off, the book arrived over two months before its formal release, making it a particularly exciting read. :)

In An Elegant Façade, Lady Georgina Hawthorne is thrilled to make her debut into society.  She has spent the last three years determined to prepare herself for any eventuality during the Season, as long as she captures the attention of one of the most powerful and titled men in the land.  Unfortunately, Georgina continuously encounters Colin McCrae, a wealthy gentleman without a distinguished family or title.  As a mutual friend of the Hawthorne family, Colin finds himself meeting Georgina everywhere he goes.  Her constant concern with her future status and social appearances drives him to distraction, especially when Colin has the chance to see the real Georgina behind her well-developed façade.  In the end, Georgina must choose between keeping up appearances or finding the truth that will allow her to finally be herself.

Ms. Hunter continues the Hawthorne Family series with this delightful tale of Georgina’s London Season.  Capturing the Regency era, An Elegant Façade will be a must-read story for Ms. Hunter’s fans this summer.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading An Elegant Façade.  Ms. Hunter expertly draws in her readers into the fascinating world of Regency-era England, while capturing their loyalty with compelling characters.  An Elegant Façade builds upon the other stories in the Hawthorne Family series.  However, the story depends on some overlap with the earlier timeframe of A Noble Masquerade.  While this plot device makes sense within the storyline, I found the intersecting aspects of the novel to be some of the weaker sections of the story.  Beyond those sections, An Elegant Façade comes into its own, as the characters and plot escalate in intensity and interest.  Fortunately, Ms. Hunter uses an approachable writing style that makes this particular storyline work well within the overall series.

Readers who enjoy Regency-era fiction will definitely want to read Ms. Hunter’s stories, including An Elegant Façade.  While An Elegant Facade can easily function as an independent novel, readers who appreciate Ms. Hunter’s style and characters will also want to read the other books in the Hawthorne House series.  Fans of Julie Klassen and Lori Wick will also find Ms. Hunter’s novels to be a worthwhile read.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of A Noble Masquerade!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – An Elegant Facade

Review: A Noble Masquerade – Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi Ann Hunter. A Noble Masquerade. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2015.

I love the feeling of finding a great new author. Several months ago, I first read debut author Kristi Ann Hunter’s e-novella, A Lady of Esteem, and was very impressed with her ability to develop her characters within a Regency-era story. Based on that review, I leaped at the opportunity to read her first full-length novel.

A Noble Masquerade builds upon the events and characters featured in Ms. Hunter’s e-novella, A Lady of Esteem, including the Hawthorne family. Lady Miranda Hawthorne struggles to meet society’s expectations of a lady, a topic that her mother constantly lectures her on a daily basis. In a childhood act of rebellion, Miranda began a secret, one-sided correspondence with her brother’s school friend, the Duke of Marshington, in lieu of a diary. As she heads into her third Season, Miranda faces a new set of challenges, including her younger sister’s first Season and the appearance of her eldest brother’s admittedly unorthodox valet, Marlow. When Marlow sends one of Miranda’s letters to the Duke of Marshington, she is stunned to receive a response from him, as he has spent years hiding from society. When Miranda becomes increasingly involved in the dangerous world of the Duke, she must choose between fulfilling the expectations of a lady or embracing the uniqueness of her own personality.

Ms. Hunter joins an incredible group of acclaimed Christian authors in bringing Regency-era Britain to life. The Hawthorne House series offers enormous opportunity for Ms. Hunter to expand upon both A Lady of Esteem and A Noble Masquerade for future stories, while building a very promising career in the Christian fiction genre.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading A Noble Masquerade. Ms. Hunter’s writing style and storyline are easily accessible for a diverse readership, especially those who appreciate Regency-era fiction. Likewise, her characters are absolutely delightful! The Hawthorne family and their fascinating friends make for an engaging and entertaining story that will bring readers back to Ms. Hunter’s books again and again. In comparison to similar Christian authors in the genre, Ms. Hunter’s book aligns most closely with the style of Lori Wick, due to its light story and easy pacing. In comparison, Julie Klassen has a denser style that involves smaller casts of characters, while Ms. Hunter maintains an emphasis on an entire family of characters with a more humorous bent to the overall action of her story.

Readers who enjoy Regency-era fiction will definitely want to read Ms. Hunter’s stories, including both A Lady of Esteem and A Noble Masquerade. While A Noble Masquerade can easily function as an independent novel, readers who appreciate Ms. Hunter’s style and characters will also want to read the prequel novella. Currently, A Lady of Esteem is only available in a free e-book format.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of A Noble Masquerade!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House)