Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Tea - My 10 Favorite Books of 2017

I keep a reading journal throughout the year, which is a good thing if one wants to remember what they read.  The past year was different than my usual reading because of eyesight issues the last half of the year.  Which is why I read very little fiction last year even though I have a stack of books to be read.

Yes, my eyes are better although my right eye is still not back to normal.  The world is a little fuzzy when looking just through that eye.  However, I'm better and I'm still getting monthly injections of medicine in each eye.

So... here are my favorite books read last year in no particular order (and only choosing from first time read books).  It includes two fiction books and two books by Sally Clarkson.  I didn't include them because I was on the launch team for both, they were just that good.

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
There was a lot of buzz about this novel from people whose taste I admire so I decided it was a "must read".  How could I not love a novel about people who love books and a magical little village?

The only issue with the book that I had was the ending.  It left us not quite clear about what Prudencia Prim was actually going to do.  However, it doesn't ruin the book for me and it does leave one hoping for a sequel.  Soon.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson
This last book by Eugene Peterson was a surprise Top 10 book from last year.  I knew I wanted to review it because I find much of his writing interesting.  What I didn't plan on was keeping it on my shelf to come back to and read chapters over.

The book contains his favorite sermons he preached over a very long pastoral career.  It may sound boring but if you love good writing like I do, there is nothing boring about it.  Peterson was called "the pastor's pastor" but I'd say he could teach a layperson a whole lot of Truth.  As with all theologians, you may not agree with everything written but you will find enough to desire a stronger walk with God.

The Turquoise Table by Kristen Schell
This was another surprise Top 10 book for normally a book about a hospitality ministry would be interesting but not make the list.  This book is different not only because the concept is brilliant and would be easy for many to incorporate in their lives but it is full of stories from people who have used their own turquoise table.

There is a Turquoise Table community online and I still receive emails even though I live in the country where such a ministry would not work in the same way.  However, she does offer options for those who need to tweak the concept for their own circumstances.

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider
I followed Tsh's family in their travels around the world so I knew I would be interested in reading the book.  I just wasn't sure how much I would enjoy it because I am not the traveling sort of person.  Even before developing a chronic illness, I dreaded upcoming trips even though I loved the experience once I was home and it was tucked away in my memories.

Having said that, I absolutely loved this book.  It is written in such a way that you can easily read one chapter, set it aside, and come back to it later.  Tsh is a good writer so you feel as if  you are experiencing their travels along with them.  As I read the book, I kept thinking of those I know who would also love it... which is a sign of a good read.

Unseen by Sara Hagerty
I have read a lot of Christian Living books to review that have disappointed me but I chose this one because it also had a lot of buzz among readers.  It not only did not disappoint but I found myself shaking my head and agreeing with so much of Sara's story for I also have been in both paid and unpaid positions where I felt God was really using my talents and then found myself... home and unseen.

The subtitle of this book is "The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to be Noticed" and Sara's writing about God seeing us in "the secret places" can be a life changer to anyone who feels their best days are behind them.  This is one book I wish I could put in the hands of every Christian who desires to "do great things for God".  Really good. 

Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors
I didn't think it possible I could enjoy the new book by Katie as much as I did Kisses For Katie, the story of a teenage Katie Davis who goes to Uganda for a short term mission trip and ends up starting a ministry and adopting a bunch of girls.

However, I enjoyed this book just as much or more for we find out what has happened in the years since that book.  Both the good days and bad days, the joy and the pain, and how she met her husband.

There are many reasons for reading this book.  It reminds us that God uses average people to accomplish a great deal when they submit to His will for their life.  The stories will help build your faith and honestly... if nothing else it is an interesting read that is real life.

They Came For Freedom by Jay Milbrandt
I agreed to review this book when I read that it was about the real story of the Pilgrims.  I love to read American history, especially from the early settlers through the American Revolution.

The author answers questions I have long had about the pilgrims, including why they are so associated with the founding of the country when in fact there were other people here already.  We find out what happened in Europe leading up to the pilgrims leaving for America and what happened to them in further generations.

This book is my favorite kind of history book and the style I used when we were homeschooling.  It reads like a novel but has plenty of material to back up what is written.  

Different by Sally Clarkson and Nathan Clarkson
This book by Sally and her son, Nathan (her "different" child), should be required reading for anyone who has a "different" child, whether they are mildly ADHD or have a significant mental illness that affects every part of their life.

One thing I loved about this book is that their experiences are told from a mom's perspective as well as the child's perspective.  We homeschooled our son because he was ADHD and had challenges in the public school.  Sally's book shares how being "different" is both difficult and a blessing.  (Many severely ADHD kids are often gifted and above average in intelligence.)

Sally covers many aspects from the more common condition of ADHD to children dealing with more significant forms of mental illness.  I know of so many families who would benefit from this book.  It truly is important to read to know you are not alone.

The Life Giving Table by Sally Clarkson
This is the book I've been hoping Sally would write since I first started reading her books in the 1990s (we were both much younger, then).  She continues to be one of my favorite writers.

Sally shares how they incorporated hospitality in their family and ministry, most of which takes place around the table.  From tea time to their annual Christmas Eve shepherd's dinner, from dinner time conversations to special occasions, this book is fun to read and full of valuable information... and recipes.

It is the kind of book that is enjoyable to read but will also find a place on the shelf as a reference book to come back to over and over.

Devonshire Scream by Laura Childs 
I love Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mysteries so much that when a hurricane was once heading for Charleston, South Carolina... I found myself praying for the safety of Theodosia and her staff before I remembered they were not real!  Although they are very real to her readers.

In this story, Theodosia is catering a special event when a thief crashes in (literally) and the fiance of her friend's niece is killed... this is in the first few pages.  The rest of the book is full of Theodosia and her staff trying to solve the mystery in between working in her tea room.

I read every book that comes out but I thought the previous two weren't quite as good as her earlier books.  However, Devonshire Scream was so good!  I enjoy this series so much that I have some of them on my bookshelf and reread them every year or two... even knowing "who done it".

If you are new to the Tea Shop Mysteries, her first three books in the series are available in one edition called Tea For Three.  I will include the link to that book below, too.  It is an excellent introduction to the series.

Books Mentioned in this Blog Post:
The Awakening of Miss Prim... here.
As Kingfishers Catch Fire... here
The Turquoise Table... here.
At Home in the World... here.
Unseen... here.
Daring to Hope... here.
They Came For Freedom... here.
Different... here.
The Life Giving Table... here.
Devonshire Scream... hereTea for Three... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate Links

Image:  Artist, Duncan Grant


Thickethouse.wordpress said...

What a lovely header! Who is the artist? Thank you for all the good book suggestions! I already ordered one from the library.
I'm a wee bit tired of winter (already!) but a cup of tea and a good book and plans to make lentil soup are sustaining me for the moment. Be well!

Little Penpen said...

I felt the same way about Katie's new book; I couldn't imagine I would love it more than her first, but I did! It spoke to me in so many ways. I've been wanting to read The Turquoise Table one, but just haven't bought it yet.

Marcie Cramsey said...

What a great list! Looking forward to Katie’s new book and Unseen. Thank you for your insights!

Anonymous said...

Thank-you so much for sharing your booklist! It was very timely! We just had a small library branch open near us, so I will check into to a few of these titles! And I appreciated Saturday’s pantry post, too. I always plan for leftovers, as I’m not up for cooking every night of the week!
Hugs and Blessings,
Laura C.(WA)

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I’m going to put Unseen on my to read list. And Miss Prim.

I really enjoy the tea shop mysteries and I agree about the last book being a really good one.

MamaHen said...

I have added Miss Primm to my reading list. Thank you for the suggestion!