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: When Tides Turn – Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin. When Tides Turn. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2017.

Since publishing her very first novel, Sarah Sundin has remained among a short list of my favorite authors.  While Ms. Sundin only releases one book a year, I can pretty much guarantee that her work will be among the select group of 5-star reviews posted on the Books and Biscuits Blog.

When Tides Turn serves as the much-anticipated third novel in Ms. Sundin’s Waves of Freedom series.  Lt. Dan Avery has spent his military career with his eye on eventually becoming an admiral.  Under the advisement of his mentor, Admiral Howard, Dan has avoided any and all social distractions, especially those of the romantic kind.  Growing up together in their Ohio hometown, Tess Beaumont has always been Dan’s opposite, a blond known for her beauty over her brains.  After being passed over for a much-deserved promotion, in spite of her business degree, Tess is determined to make her own mark on the war effort by joining the Navy’s WAVES program.  As a fellow officer in Dan’s division, Tess becomes a well-liked and highly-capable member of the team, even as she continues to face challenges to the presence of women in the Navy.  When Tess and Dan encounter an active spy ring with deadly consequences to civilians in Boston, they discover that their duty to their nation extends beyond their careers and requires them to set aside their differences to help their friends survive the threat.

The Waves of Freedom series follows the Avery siblings as they make their own mark on the war effort.  Along with their friends and colleagues, this Boston-based group encounters the realities of war and the evils faced on the homefront.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed reading When Tides Turn.  Ms. Sundin writes a captivating historical romance, with a balanced element of mystery that will keep readers turning pages long into the night.  As has been the case with Ms. Sundin’s other series, the Waves of Freedom series has included a strong element of family connections between the main characters, while building upon these characters and previous aspects of the series in consecutive novels.  When Tides Turn is particularly fascinating as it serves as one of the few fictional works focused on women’s efforts in military service, particularly the Navy’s WAVES program.  Personally, I would love to see additional works focus on similar auxiliary divisions of the military during World War II, as these women are so often missed in the broader narrative of this era.  This novel offers an excellent conclusion to this series and will leave readers eagerly anticipating Ms. Sundin’s forthcoming series and novels.

Fans of Ms. Sundin’s novels, especially the Waves of Freedom series, will definitely want to read When Tides Turn.  Likewise, readers who enjoy World War II-inspired Christian fiction will also want to try this excellent series.

Special thanks to the Revell Reads Blog Tour program for the advanced copy of When Tides Turn!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – When Tides Turn

Review: Anchor in the Storm – Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin. Anchor in the Storm. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2016.

There are only a few authors that I can almost guarantee will release a 5-star worthy book every year, with Sarah Sundin among that esteemed group.  I am very excited to be featuring Ms. Sundin’s newest release, Anchor in the Storm, on the Books and Biscuits Blog this week.

Anchor in the Storm follows Lillian Avery as she moves to Boston from small-town Ohio to serve as a pharmacist, fulfilling her long-time dream of working in her chosen field.  Lillian’s brother, Jim, and his best friend, Arch Vandenberg, regularly spend their shore leave with Lillian and her roommates, building on the friendships developed in Through Waters Deep.  In the early months of World War II, Jim and Arch serve as officers on a Navy destroyer as part of the military’s effort to stop German U-boats from sinking military and civilian ships in the Atlantic.  However, Arch soon finds that the battles at sea are interconnected with Lillian’s role on shore, as his men are becoming addicted to prescription drugs intended to calm their nerves.  Soon, Arch and Lillian are one another’s Holmes and Watson as they search for the mastermind behind the drug ring that stretches from Boston’s pharmacies to the Naval ships in the Atlantic.  When the stakes are high, they must learn to trust one another and the One who serves as their ultimate anchor in the storm.

Anchor in the Storm perfectly interconnects with the other stories in the Waves of Freedom series, offering further insight and development of a great cast of characters.  The Avery family present realistic, yet stalwart Christian characters who will capture the hearts of Ms. Sundin’s fans.

Overall, I continue to be impressed by Ms. Sundin’s ability to write incredible tales of World War II life.  Consistent with the rest of the Waves of Freedom series, Anchor in the Storm presents a mystery/suspense component that brings high-stakes drama to Ms. Sundin’s classic historical romance plotlines.  However, she manages to interweave this drama with an expertly-written and heart-warming story with fascinating characters that feel entirely realistic to the time period.  Fans of the Waves of Freedom series will also enjoy seeing more of Jim Avery and Mary Stirling, as well as their group of friends that served as such a compelling part of Through Waters Deep.  Fortunately, Ms. Sundin already plans to continue the story of this cast of characters in the series’ next book, When Tides Turn.

Fans of Ms. Sundin’s other novels, especially the Waves of Freedom series, will definitely want to read Anchor in the Storm.  Likewise, readers who enjoy World War II-inspired Christian fiction will also want to try this excellent series.  Ms. Sundin brings an approachable style to her works, while offering a well-researched view of the period.  However, fans of Ms. Sundin will attest that her ability to write incredibly realistic and well-rounded characters are ultimately the reason that they return to her books time and time again.

The third novel in Ms. Sundin’s Waves of Freedom series, When Tides Turn, will arrive in Spring of 2017!

Special thanks to the Revell Reads Blog Tour program for the advanced copy of Anchor in the Storm!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – Anchor in the Storm

Review: Through Waters Deep – Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin. Through Waters Deep. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2015.

I’ve always found myself looking forward to the end of the summer. School starts again, office supplies become featured items in the sales ads, and the days begin to cool once again. On top of that, the end of summer also means that Sarah Sundin is releasing a phenomenal World War II novel. This year’s book, Through Waters Deep, also kicks off a new trilogy, which makes it even better!

In Through Waters Deep and the new Waves of Freedom series, Sarah Sundin introduces members of the Avery family and their base at the Boston Navy Yard. With tensions rising in the months leading up to World War II, Ensign Jim Avery has found contentment in his work on the newly-commissioned destroyer, the USS Atwood. Without his older brothers’ dreams of becoming admirals, Jim finds his way through his naval career without making waves. When he encounters Mary Stirling, a high school friend, Jim discovers that the shy girl of his past has blossomed into a highly-capable secretary with a finger on the pulse of everything that happens at the Navy Yard. Suddenly, Jim’s world changes as tensions between interventionists and isolationists escalate, leading to evidence of sabotage at the Navy Yard and on the Atwood. Risking their lives, Jim and Mary search for the culprit, while navigating their ever-complicated relationship in a time of war on the high seas.

Ms. Sundin brings the tense months leading up to World War II to life in Through Waters Deep. The Waves of Freedom series brings her award-winning historical fiction to the Eastern seaboard, delivering a new focus on the U.S. Navy and the men and women of the Boston Navy Yard. In Through Waters Deep, Ms. Sundin utilizes her new-found talents at creating a storyline based around a life-and-death mystery, as the threat of espionage and German U-boats becomes a grim reality for the still-neutral U.S. military.

Overall, I was thrilled with Through Waters Deep! I always look forward to Ms. Sundin’s books being released each year, and this novel was no exception. Without fail, Ms. Sundin captivates her readers with her exceptional attention to historic detail, fascinating storylines, and captivating characters. Even beginning a new series, the novel remains true to Ms. Sundin’s style and pulls her readers in for another spectacular tale from the World War II period. Her characters also never fail to impress as they reveal the inner challenges of Christian men and women, who overcome their own failings to become tremendous contributors to the war effort. Creating a world unto itself within the novel, Ms. Sundin ensures that readers will return again and again to discover what happens next in Anchor in the Storm, being released in Summer 2016.

Readers who enjoy Ms. Sundin’s other novels, including those found in the Wings of the Nightingale and Wings of Glory series, will definitely want to read Through Waters Deep. Fans of other World War II-focused Christian historical fiction authors, such as Kristy Cambron, Cara Putman, and others, will also find the novel to be a worthwhile addition to their must-read lists. Personally, I’ve found Ms. Sundin’s work to stand apart in the field, due to her highly-readable writing style, realistic characters, and moderate to fast pace.

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – Through Waters Deep (Waves of Freedom) – Through Waters Deep