Top Reads in 2019 {book reviews}


Best way to see the old year out and the new year in, in the company of good books! Here is a list of my Top Reads in 2019 {Read}.

Of the 52 books which I read and reviewed on Goodreads, the seven which received five stars. are listed alphabetically by author. I tried some new-to-me authors this year and was not disappointed! Many thanks to the authors for all their labors.

Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Having returned to Chicago, young socialite Anna Nicholson can’t seem to focus on her upcoming marriage. The new information she’s learned about her birth mother continues to pull at her, and she hires Pinkerton detectives to help her find the truth. But as she meets people who once knew her mother and hears stories about the past, Anna soon discovers that some secrets are better left hidden.

At the same time, unflattering stories about Anna are leaked by someone who would love to see her disgraced and her engagement broken. And as Anna tries to share her faith with her society friends, she understands that her choice to seek God’s purpose for her life isn’t as simple as she had hoped.

When things are at their darkest, Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, back in Holland, Michigan. Geesje’s been helping new Dutch immigrants, including a teen with a haunted past, adjust to America. She only hopes that her wisdom can help all these young people through the turmoil they face.

My Reaction:

Legacy of Mercy (Waves of Mercy #2)Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Public library copy. My favorite author. Now I have to admit to not liking this story all the way through. There were parts of the story that made me squirm. I think that is because they touched very close to my heart. That’s a good thing in a book.

What can I say about the book? It’s fabulous, and quite typical of this author whom I love. Historical fiction first, it is a love story, but I wouldn’t call it a romance. I would recommend reading the prequel first, Waves of Mercy. And I hope, hope, hope there’s a sequel.

Characters are strong. My favorites are Tante Gjeese and Derk, but all of the others are wonderful too. The characters are strongest in their relationships with each other and with God (or not). The effectiveness of fervent prayer is basic to the story. The entire story centers around God. I do not find it preachy, but I suppose some might. To me it just makes sense.

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The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater which is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

An injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.

My Reaction:

The Captain's Daughter (London Beginnings, #1)The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Public library copy. First read of this author. Absolutely loved this book!! Compelling story, and I loved many of the characters, and the faith-base was strong. I really was pleasantly surprised. Am now reading #2. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. Lovely reading about history with such strong fictional characters. Love reading books which spur me to improve myself, as this one did.

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Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America.

Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

My Reaction:

Marilla of Green GablesMarilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Public library copy. The cover drew me to the book, and the title, for I love Anne-with-an-e and Matthew and Marilla. If you love the Anne books, you will love this one too. It’s fabulous. If you’ve never read Anne of Green Gables, why not start today? You don’t know what you’re missing!

To the author, well done! I love the style in which you wrote. The characters are exactly in character. The plot is spot on and often caught my emotions off guard. Your writing put me right there in Avonlea. The connection of American history to the story gave the story such depth, a character of its own. My favorite quote –‘anxiety gnawing on the hems of their dreams’

Highly recommend to readers of all ages. No language and clean.

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Changes at Fairacre by Miss Read

Fairacre is changing, even though this downland village and Miss Read’s school may still look as they did one hundred years ago. The old cottages where the community once lived are being bought by outsiders, and the new commuter lifestyle has taken children to other schools. Numbers at the Fairacre school are so low, Miss Read fears the school may close. Miss Read is even more concerned about the ill health of her longtime friend Dolly Clare. But Amy, Miss Read’s old college friend, gives support, and life is always stimulated by the irascible school cleaner, Mrs. Pringle. Despite the disruptions to the tranquility of village life, the people of Fairacre prevail, as always, in an uplifting and vastly entertaining way.

My Reaction:

Changes at FairacreChanges at Fairacre by Miss Read
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Public library copy. Do these books keep getting better? This one is just lovely in its relationships. I would almost say that Miss Read is settling into life. Perhaps it is her perspective softening which makes it better. I don’t like to analyze, but I really enjoyed it. Favorite character: Joseph Coggs. Lovely bit about him in this book. Highly recommend this book!

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Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

My Reaction:

Before We Were YoursBefore We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Public library copy. First read of this author. Excellent writing. I was there, in the time, in the place, in character. Lovely fictional story set in an historic setting, quite horrific but well told. The only disappointing thing in this book is the lack of God. Not that He was not there, but not part of the story. Squeaky clean writing. Well done! Looking forward to reading more of her books. (No spoilers, I love the way it ends.)

Beautiful cover! mesmerizing.

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Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate

All her life, Epiphany Salerno has been tossed like a dandelion seed on the wind. Now, at sixteen, she must move to the low-rent side of Blue Sky Hill and work where she’s not wanted: in an upscale home on The Hill.

J. Norman Alvord’s daughter has hired a teenager to stay with him in the afternoons. Widowed and suffering from heart trouble, Norman wants to be left alone. But in Epie’s presence, Norman discovers a mystery. Deep in his mind lie memories of another house, another life, and a woman who saved him.

As summer comes to Blue Sky Hill, two residents from different worlds will journey through a turbulent past, and find that with an unexpected road trip through sleepy Southern towns comes life-changing friendship…and clues to a family secret hidden for a lifetime.

Winner of the 2012 Carol Award for Women’s Fiction from the American Christian Fiction Writers

My Reaction:

Dandelion Summer (Blue Sky Hill #4)Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Public library copy. Excellent, excellent all around. Both of the characters are so real, their stories so ready to be identified with, just the right amount of history mixed in. This is my kind of book. It evokes emotion, not in sympathy with the characters so much as from the reader’s own heart in relating the story to himself. I love fiction that teaches truth without preaching. And leaves the reader wanting to know more.

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Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler

Nicole Michelin avoids airplanes, motorcycles, and most of all, Japan, where her parents once were missionaries. Something happened in Japan…something that sent Nicole and her father back to America alone…something of which Nicole knows only bits and pieces. But she is content with life in little Mount Olive, North Carolina, with her quirky relatives, tank of lively fish, and plenty of homemade pineapple chutney. Through her online column for the Pretty Fishy Web site, she meets Harrison Michaels, who, much to her dismay, lives in Japan. She attempts to avoid him, but his e-mails tug at her heart. Then Harrison reveals that he knew her as a child in Japan. In fact, he knows more about her childhood than she does…

My Reaction:

Rain Song (Heart of Carolina, #1)Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Public library copy. Amazing what wonderful books and authors I’ve found in my public library, for which I thank God. This book is a book of the heart. Absolutely fabulous writing. About 100 pages to go. Love the title, the character, the cover, the story, the identifying with the character (sometimes feels like she’s in my head).

Finished. I miss her. Is there more to the story? Really loved this book. It’s very real to me. Can’t wait to read more of this author.

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