The Best Books I Read This Spring

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Bookmarks of a Book ConnoisseurI spent six weeks on bed rest this spring. It should have been the perfect time to read that stack of books I’d been waiting for a chance to devour. But I couldn’t concentrate on any form of literature, fiction or non! It took me ages to finish just one title (that alone should have been considered a symptom of sickness for me!).

Thankfully, with the birth of our precious baby girl, both my health and my ability to read has gradually returned (the latter more quickly than the former!). After those first few weeks of ’round-the-clock nursing, I realized that the only thing between me and a better night’s sleep was staying awake during feedings. Thanks to the Kindle app on my smartphone, I could even read one-handed without needing to turn on the light.

Thus began my bleary-eyed foray into all those neglected review titles and free Kindle books. I found some real treasures and even a few new favorite authors! Here’s a run-down on the titles I’ve been raving about. (I’ve definitely made up for lost reading time!)

Gretchen’s Bookmarks
in which I briefly remark on the latest and greatest reads of a book connoisseur

Favorite Fiction

The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea

I started this book for the author’s sake; I finished it for the sake of the story. Debut author Rachelle Rea has woven a beautiful story of love and trust into The Sound of Diamonds. The reader is thrust into the middle of the Iconoclastic Fury along with Gwyneth, who had been sent to a convent to hide from her parents’ murderer. The story will keep you on the edge of your seat with concern for the physical and spiritual safety of Gwyneth and her friends. This the first book in the Steadfast Love trilogy releases today–and I can’t wait to find out what happens in book two!

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

Part Persuasion, this book reads like a classic work of fiction–complete with love triangles and intrigue enough to make Jane Austen proud. The story reminded me a bit of the Price of Privilege trilogy I read over the winter–except without the evocative descriptions. I’ll definitely be looking for more by this author!

Farm Fresh Romance: Raspberries and Vinegar

The Farm Fresh Romance series begins with three friends who are seeking to create a sustainable lifestyle on a small farm in Idaho. I loved the first book Raspberries and Vinegar (a constant Kindle freebie!) so much that I bought the next titles in succession as rapidly as I finished the first one. There is a lot of kissing in Valerie’s books: once in awhile I wanted to slap the hero or heroine and say, “What were you thinking, kissing a person you hardly knew?!” But other than that, these are pure (though perhaps predictable) romances that I thoroughly enjoyed. And the best part is that while each book ends with an engagement or wedding, you get to continue to observe the newlyweds in the following books, creating a more accurate picture of life and love (on the farm, no less!).

Aggie’s Inheritance: Ready or Not, For Keeps, and Here We Come by Chautona Havig

The Aggie’s Inheritance trilogy follows the adventures of young Aggie Milliken who literally inherited her her sister’s eight children. You will laugh and cry at the ups and downs of Aggie’s entrance into motherhood and homeschooling.  I’d managed to gain quite a collection of Chautona Havig’s books on my Kindle before I ever took the time to read one. But when I did, I was hooked. Chautona redefines pure Christian romance novels. She creates characters you want to be friends with, and romances that have realistic ups and downs. Many of Chautona’s books are available in serial form, with bi-weekly freebies (announced in her newsletter–be sure to subscribe!). The only thing I don’t like about Chautona’s books is that, though very well written, they are littered with typos. But it’s worth the jarring placement of punctuation to be regaled by Chauntona’s tales!

Past Forward by Chautona Havig

Willow’s lonely plight grips you from the very first chapter of the Past Forward serial. Born a child of rape, Willow has grown up hidden away on farm with only her mother for company. Living without electricty and making the majority of their goods, Willow and her mother have the perfect self-sustaining lifestyle–until Willow has to walk into town to ask how to properly report her mother’s death. Chautona must be as loathe to part with her characters as her readers are, because she brings many of them back in series after series. I was delighted to discover that Willow was a friend of Aggie’s, and I could continue to visit with those adorable eight children from time to time! Next up on my reading list is the HearthLand serial which continues where Past Forward left off.

Bound: Alpha Mission by Vicki V. Lucas

I’m not always a fan of fictionalized books that involve angels and glimpses into Heaven. But Vicki Lucas brought spiritual battle scenes from the Canadian wilderness to life in this short work that provides a powerful reminder of the power of prayer. I’ll be watching for future Angel Warrior Files!

The Green Ember by S.D. Smith

I’ve already raved about this title, but I can’t keep from mentioning it again. A heartwarming tale filled with enough action for the whole family, the themes of friendship and trust are explored in unforgettable ways. Our family is so looking forward to the next book by S.D. Smith. And if you like audiobooks, you’ll love this one read by Joel Clarkson!

Fabulous Non-Fiction

100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson

This little book is packed with the Titus 2 kind of encouragement: “teaching the younger women to love their husbands.” Except, Lisa doesn’t write as one who has arrived–she shares her own struggles and triumphs in such a way that you’re strengthened in the knowledge you’re not alone, and inspired to learn how to love your husband better. A quick read you’ll want to keep handy for perusing again. Makes a great gift, along with the companion book by Lisa’s husband: 100 Ways to Love Your Wife.

The Unveiled Wife by Jennifer Smith

Before I was past the introduction, I’d already found more than one nugget of truth that spoke straight to my heart. The title The Unveiled Wife is a metaphor for how often we veil ourselves, before others, our husband, and even God–unwilling to be real and vulnerable about our struggles, our sin. And in this book, Jennifer very honestly reveals her own struggle to–in a very literal sense–embrace intimacy with her husband. While this book deals with some very specific marital issues, it has a message of inspiration and encouragement for every marriage. It should be on every wife’s reading list–whether married 2 months or 20 years.

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet by Sara Hagerty

This was the book I opened up on my Kindle in every waiting room, the words I stared at through tears during that night of false labor. It was no coincidence that as little reading I did during that time, it was Sara Hagerty’s book that kept me company through what turned out to be a very hard, high-risk pregnancy. With astounding honesty, Sara shares the bitter of her journey. Death, infertility, marriage struggles–she doesn’t gloss over the heartache and the anger. But she is also generous in sharing the beauty of the sweetness she’s found, often in the midst of–or because of–those very toughest spots. A read that will tear your heart apart and put it back together again. (And it made me smile when I realized later that our baby girl, Sara Elizabeth, shared the author’s first and middle name!)

Pain Redeemed by Natasha Metzler

When I’m faced anew with the questions of “why”, the heartache of life and death, I turn to the writings of Natasha Metzler. I pulled out Pain Redeemed again the other day and thanked God for the practical wisdom that Natasha shares so humbly, so generously. It’s not just a book about infertility: it’s a book about how God can and will redeem our pain, if only we let Him. It’s a little book that speaks to me in a big way, every time I read it. (Just like Natasha’s devotional, WordSnacks.)

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman

I was sold the moment I saw the title: Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full. I’m only a few chapters into this short book, but I’ve already been immensely blessed by the truths of the gospel as applied to motherhood. The author rejoices in the beauty of having our hands literally overflowing with gifts from God, and points us to Him in our moments of weakness and strength alike.

Home Is Where My People Are by Sophie Hudson

Here’s the obligatory review of a book about which I promised to give an honest opinion. I must admit, as much as I tried to like it, I was disappointed in this book. “Boo Mama” is a well loved blogger, and I knew her first book was very popular. I’m not sure if I just don’t get her style of humor, or if there were too many all caps statements in this wandering memoir, but I couldn’t get through it. However, I’m sure for fans of Sophie Hudson’s blog, it would be an enjoyable read!

What was one of the best books you read this spring? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s “Quick Lit”

Disclosure: In exchange for an honest review, I received free copies of The Sound of Diamonds, The Unveiled Wife, and Home Is Where My People Are. 

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  1. I guess since today is the first day of summer, and I finished a very favorite book a week ago I can call it a “spring read.” I fell in love with the writing of Abraham Verghese and his book, Cutting for Stone. I recently reviewed it ( on my book blog. I have just checked out from the library another of Verghese’s books, My Own Country, which is (so far) equally well written and explores Dr. Verghese’s choice to treat AIDS patients in a rural area where there was much controversy over the “care and handling” of patients who had become ill for the reasons they had.

    Enjoyed your reviews in this post and found a couple I want to read. Sorry to hear you were down on bed rest. That is hard duty for a mama!