About two years ago I hit a new book-nerd milestone and spent an entire rare and precious alone night sipping a hot chocolate at Panera Bread and scrawling a list of Newberry children’s novels into a journal. Some were winners and some were finalists but at the end of the night I had a list of 430 Newberry Books To Read. To date, I’ve read 66 of them (and started-but-not-finished seven). I’m still working on my Newberry list but I’ve got a new list now, too.
Have you heard of the ?
Probably, no. Unless you’re a fellow book nerd, you likely don’t pay a ton of attention to writing awards. But this year I’ve discovered the Christy Awards, handed out each year to the most excellent Christian novels. Now I’ve got a Christy Books to Read list, too. I’ve already one book, The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould.
A quick Google search will give you lists of the winners over many years, if you’re interested… but this is the list of books I was personally most interested in. I’ve gone for both winners and finalists who didn’t win the grand prize. It’s March so my goal is to read ten in 2019. I’ll of course be reviewing them here!
If you’ve read any of them or are interested in reading any of them, I’d love to hear about it!
Borders of the Heart by Chris Fabry- A young man leaves his home in Nashville to volunteer on an organic farm in Tucson, Arizona. He is told he needs to call border patrol any time he sees an illegal. But one day he does, a young woman who is near death. He decides to help her hide and soon they’re both running from a killer and fighting for their lives.
Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin- This is a Civil War-era story about a young abolitionist (whose family owns many slaves) in Virginia that sounds pretty interesting to me. I’ve never heard of Lynn Austin but this seems like a good place to start.
Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson- Something I’ve learned through homeschool is that I was given a very dry education in history and science that made me think I had no interest in either of those things… but actually I’m incredibly fascinated in both, under the right circumstances. In the case of science, I am particularly fascinated by the human body and by nature. In the case of history I’m most interested in pioneers, World War II, the Civil War, and a lot of the Civil Rights era. This one sounds like it might be about just before the true start of WWII because it’s about a 13-year-old and his 10-year-old sister being separated immediately after surviving “a harrowing journey from Germany to England.” Now Daniel, a wealthy old man, finally has the resources to do what he’s always determined to do: find his little sister. He teams up with an American journalist to do it and “they follow a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.” Sounds amazing, right?!
Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank- This one takes place in early 1950s West Virginia. When Lydia’s mother is unjustly imprisoned, Lydia is sent to live with an uncle with a shocking secret. Could definitely be interesting and, seeing as it’s a Christy finalist, it pretty likely is.
By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson- This is the first book in a young adult series about knights. It’s always so much harder to find good books for boys so I’m definitely excited to check this one out for my son’s sake!
The Day the Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker- This is a listed as a psychological fiction and the only vague description my library website offers has me intrigued: "When tragedy shakes young Samuel Chamber's family, his search for answers entangles him in the midst of an ancient conflict and leads him on an unexpected journey to find the Tree of Life."
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay- A mysterious benefactor offers to put Samantha through school, with the stipulation being that she must frequently write to him about how it’s going. Also, she’s dealing with issues from her past. Sounds good any ways, but I remember seeing the cover on Money Saving Mom’s website or Instagram and am pretty confident she loved it.
The Delusion by Laura Gallier- This was last year’s young adult winner, and is the first book to be released under Tyndale’s new YA imprint, Wander. Why do I know this? Because book nerd, *shrug.* Anyway. This book sounds really dark but so insanely fascinating! It’s about a senior in a high school where a “suicide epidemic” runs strong. After a near death experience he is seeing everyone around him chained, taunted by demons, etc and once he realizes this is reality he is determined to find a way to help everyone around him see the truth the way he does. A lot of people are saying this is a seriously amazing look at spiritual warfare and I am really excited to dive in.
The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall- A single mother flees from NYC to Amish country in attempt to escape from a dangerous stalker. An Amish man is attempting to help her while his sister is dealing with her own crisis as her husband begins to withdraw from his marriage and his life in their Amish community.
The House on Foster Hill by Jamie Jo Wright- kind of a haunted house book about hidden pasts and mysteries to be solved. This was my favorite kind of book for a long time but these books can be so hard on me these days! I think I’m going to try it but with caution and knowing I’ll just stop reading if it starts to be more than I can handle.
Life After by Katie Ganshert- Autumn survives a horrible attack on a train where 22 were left dead. A year later, she’s still working hard to find closure and to understand why she was spared. The Elliots, who lost their wife/mother in the accident, are determined to move on and leave the past in the past. They’re forced together unexpectedly and Paul Elliott fears the wreckage Autumn will leave in her wake. This one sounds really good but really emotional. Again, I’m excited to start it but know there’s a good chance I won’t be able to handle it all the way through.
The Man he Never Was by James L Rubart- Toren Daniels wakes up one morning and is a completely different man from the one he used to be. He had a raging temper and now he’s patient, kind, and even fun. His wife and kids are shocked not only by the person he is now… but also because he had completely disappeared for eight months he doesn’t remember at all. “But then shards of his old self start to rise up from deep inside—the man kicked out of the NFL for his furty—and Toren must face the supreme battle of his life. In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story, James L. Rubart explores the war between good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul.”
Many Sparrows by Lori Benton- This one takes place on the frontier and reminds me so much of a true family story in my history that I can’t help but want to read it! Clare’s son, Jacob, is captured by Shawnees. A frontiersman who was adopted by the Shawnees takes Clare to find her son, but much to his dismay discovers that it was in fact his sister who has taken custody of Jacob. “keeping his promise becomes far more complicated, the consequences more wrenching, than he Jeremiah could have forseen.”
The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson- This is a fractured fairy tale based on Beauty and the Beast, about a seventeen year old girl who falls in love with the ferocious and disfigured man holding her family in indentured servitude. I’m not usually a big fan of this kind of book but I feel like I could mayyyyyybe get into it because of the Beauty and the Beast factor.
Motorcycles, Sushi, and One Strange Book by Nancy Rue- This is a young adult fiction about a 15-year-old girl who is suddenly sent to Florida to live with the father she’d always been told was dead. She’s introduced to his faith and working on gaining control over her ADHD. It sounds interesting enough and I’m hopeful it’ll be another one I can put on the list of books I’m happy with my kids reading someday.
North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson- I’ve read about this one on a few fellow homeschoolers’ blogs and it’s always with high praise. This is young adult fantasy, about three siblings who are always bickering but have to work together to battle the monsters that are now hunting them through an enchanted forest.
Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry- I was on a huge Jodi Picoult kick for a few years and this one’s plot reminds me of one of hers, Change of Heart. A man’s son is dying and in need of a heart transplant. A deathrow inmate is willing to donate his heart to this man’s son, but it turns out the inmate is innocent. Should he let the man die anyway so his son can live?
Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins… My husband’s cousin has Lyme Disease so I know a decent amount about the awful disease just because I’ve looked into it because of her. This author also has it, and she put all her research into this book. Researcher and professor Dr. Brock McNeil, insists that Chronic Lyme Disease doesn’t exist. His latest findings are about to seal the door shut for Lyme treatment so an embittered man sets out to prove him wrong by infecting Dr. McNeill’s wife.
The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate- So my grandma recommended Lisa Wingate to me a few months ago and I put her on my list but, y’all, it’s a LOOOOOOOOONG list. But the other day I was on the phone with that same grandma and she and I got to talking about our family stories, and about how her mother was a writer too and it will be so great to sit and talk to her about writing when I get to Heaven someday. And about how grateful we are that she wrote some of these things down because they would otherwise have gone away when she did. So this book just snuck its way up to the tippy top of my list… and Grandma, if you haven’t read this one, I bet you’ll love it too. Tandi Jo, who is running from her past, is cleaning out the old Victorian home of a 91-year-old woman after her death. She comes across a stash of prayer boxes from eighty one years of the old woman’s life and learns all about the woman’s life and faith journeys (that last part… oh, man, how I’d love to hear about all these inspiring moments where God showed through, right?!) that help her through her own journey. My library only has this on audio book and I doubt it’s very kid-friendly even if it’s appropriate so I will be watching for this one at used bookstores.
The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner… Sarah is a bestselling author of steamy romance novels and has just become a Christian. She doesn’t think she should be writing these books anymore but she’s under contract for one more and has an enormous fan base she’s afraid to lose. “She’s beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a scandalous book.” I admit that this is not my usual kind of read (although it used to be!) but it sounds fun anyway.
The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix- Jessica is on a Paris trip, reluctantly enjoying a vacation after surviving an attack. She finds a faded document hidden in an antique while shopping at a flea market and loses herself in the story of a woman who lived centuries before, spurred by a need she doesn’t understand to uncover as much as she can about the woman of the past. Sounds a lot like the secret wish I had as a third grader, to find a secret hidden diary under the floorboards (of my carpeted home).
Submurged by Dani Pettrey… This is a romantic murder mystery so I almost skipped it… but it takes place in Alaska. Seems worth a try.
A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow- Small town Georgia, white police officer shoots an unarmed black teen who is now lying comatose in the hospital. Adisa, a young African American attorney (quick thing… I’m copying this from an editorial review and I just have to note that the respectable attorney is “African American” but the young hoodlum is “black…” very interesting indeed), feels for some reason compelled to defend the police officer. This one sounds really good/powerful and I’m very excited to check it out.
True to You by Becky Wade… This one is a romance, which I tend to steer away from… but something I am writing about right now involves finding one’s biological parents using DNA testing and that’s a huge part of this book! Nora is a genealogist and John Lawson is a (chiseled/ruggedly handsome, I’m sure) former Navy SEAL searching for his own background. For that reason, I’m very interested. Buuuuut, there’s a catch. He’s already dating someone else. I don’t like that in a story and I’m just not big on romance stories so we’ll see!
Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser- My son has been very interested in George Washington lately which means I’ve been tagging along for the ride. This is not my favorite historical time period to read about but I think this sounds like a really fascinating fictional depiction of Martha Washington’s life.
Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green… The author of this one did some extensive research for a nonfiction book about a real Civil War nurse, then ultimately decided to turn all that research into a fictionalized depiction instead. I think it sounds highly fascinating.
You Don’t Know me by Susan May Warren is about a seemingly typical housewife who is actually under a false identity through the witness protection program… and now the man she testified against is out on bars and out for revenge. This sounds like it could be very interesting (but maybe also very light and beach-read-y?) and I’m definitely curious!