Wednesday, 17 December 2014

My Top Ten Reads for 2014

By Paula Vince

I've read down others' lists so far and either nodded in agreement or jotted titles on my own 'to read' list. Now it's my turn to choose a Top Ten for this year. In a rough chronological order, here they are.

1) Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown.
Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey This was the first book I read in 2014, and still makes the list as one of my favourites. It's about four very different women who decide to take a spiritual retreat, and not only do we share their experiences but get to benefit from the course notes too, making the novel a virtual retreat for any of us who would love to attend something like this, but can't.
My review is here

2) A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr.
A Cast of Stones (The Staff and the Sword, #1) The two sequels, A Draw of Kings and The Hero's Lot, would have to be included here too, as it was a wonderful fantasy trilogy whose characters stayed in my mind long after I finished the books. I'm taking the liberty of squeezing three books into the slot of one here.
My review of A Cast of Stones is here

3) Making Marion by Beth Moran.
Making Marion: Where's Robin Hood When You Need Him? It was very interesting to read a Christian novel from Britain, to compare with those from elsewhere. This one is set at a caravan park in Robin Hood country, Sherwood Forest, as the heroine seeks her father's past. It's full of mystery which unfolds at just the right time.
My review is here

4) Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin.
Keepers of the Covenant (The Restoration Chronicles #2) Set during Old Testament times and featuring the prophet, Ezra, as the main character, this book spans several years and cleverly highlights ways in which his times were similar to ours. Novels such as this are great to be read in conjunction with the Bible itself.
My review is here

5) The Road to Testament by Eva Marie Everson.
The Road to Testament I liked this novel because it's fun and helps us to think again, if we've been unconsciously using stereotypes in our assumptions. The story uses some mystery and romance to achieve this.
My review is here

6) Out of the Storm by Jodie Hedlund.
Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope, #0.5) This one is a novella which may be read in an hour or two. I'm including it on my list because it shows that a story doesn't need a lot of space or an extensive cast to be great.
My review is coming.

7) A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings.
A Most Inconvenient Marriage One of the last novels I've read this year, it's just plain fun. This novel incorporates an unusual plot situation with characters who are easy to admire and understand. Two of the best ingredients for an enjoyable romance.
My review is here

And now for some non-fiction highlights for the year.

8) The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski.
The Sacred Year: Mapping the Soulscape of Spiritual Practice -- How Contemplating Apples, Living in a Cave, and Befriending a Dying Woman Revived My Life The author does what some of us may have dreamed of trying. He puts aside a year to try several different spiritual disciplines and writes about his attempts. It really helped me to delve into the meanings behind several practices which sounded extreme, not to mention the features of our 21st century lifestyles which inspired him to make the attempt.
My review is here

9) Good News for Weary Women by Elise Fitzpatrick.
Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the Bondage of To-Do Lists, Steps, and Bad Advice Several of the principles she mentions would apply to men too, of course, but women are the consummate jugglers of commitments. A great read for those of us who may have ever had anxiety about measuring up to society's expectations. Her revelation of the one important thing is something we should keep in mind always. And I do appreciate books which expose the ridiculousness of traditions which have been keeping us bound.
My review is here

10) Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman
Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life This is essential for those of us who have always tried hard to do the right thing. Freeman writes for a class of people who many may believe wouldn't even need books to be written for them, and shows how desperately we do.
My review is here




Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, with its four distinct seasons, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, please visit her blog, It Just Occurred to Me. You may also like to visit her book review blog, The Vince Review where she also interviews other authors.
 

  

13 comments:

  1. Such an interesting mix, Paula--thanks for some great reading ideas. I am currently reading Emily Freeman's 'Grace for the Good Girl' and think it's excellent as well.

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    1. Hi Jo-Anne,
      That book resonated with me so deeply at times, I took it as proof that I needed it. I think some of the ideas she shares are spot on.

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  2. I see your Goodreads reviews so I know we've read a lot of the same books - but I haven't read a single one on your list (although I've got two on my to-read pile. My large to-read pile). I'm looking forward to the holidays so I can relax with a good book, and you've given me some ideas.

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    1. Hi Iola,
      I'm glad there are always plenty of good books to read. I've added to my list from some of your recommendations too. Looking forward to some down time after the 25th.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your top reads for 2014, Paula. Making Marion sounds fascinating. You had me at Robin Hood Country. :)

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    1. Hi Dorothy,
      Yes, it's a good fun book with a beautiful setting. Well worth a read.

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  4. I groaned with frustration when I read this list - I hadn't read or even heard of any of them! And several really snagged my interest. However, my TBR list is already so long I'm just going to wish I'd NEVER READ THIS BLOG!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Ha ha, Rhonda! You really made me laugh!!! :-)

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    2. Me too:)
      Thanks, Rhonda. I guess when they get to be the size of Mt Everest, we have to stop somewhere.

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  5. Sound like some good reads there. Thanks Paula

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    1. Hi Dale,
      There are always new ideas, aren't there?

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  6. Good stuff, Paula! Making Marion is definitely on my TBR pile. :)

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