Books I Read & Loved in 2018, plus a Giveaway!

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By Davalynn Spencer @davalynnspencer

I read a lot. No surprise, right?

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite reads from 2018. All are what I consider to be uplifting. That doesn’t mean character lives are trouble-free. Far from it! But the end results are redemptive. That’s important to me, because people renew their minds by what they read.

Most of what I read is fiction: historical, contemporary, romance, romantic-suspense, a little action/intrigue, and Westerns.

However, I’m also reading a great nonfiction book at the moment, The Good and Beautiful God, by James Bryan Smith, so I’m going to squeeze it in first and then continue with the fiction titles.

The Good and Beautiful God addresses some of our personal narratives or stories we’ve picked up about God. Not all those narratives are healthy or accurate. When we focus on the narrative of Jesus, we get a better picture and learn how to do things differently, more easily, with greater motivation and less guilt. Changes in our everyday lives follow. I’m excited about the possibilities revealed through this book, and I hope you’ll pick up a copy of your own.

Historical Fiction:

The Miracle of Mercy Land, by River Jordan. The author’s storytelling was as strong as I’d heard, and I deeply enjoyed this unusual tale of origin, choices, community and love – with just a glimpse of time beyond time.

Historical Romance:

Christmas Charity, by Susan G. Mathis – Set in 1864, This sweet Christmas novella builds hope in the heart of those dealing with difficult family relations as the heroine, Susan Hawkins, discovers that unconditional love is all she can use to bring harmony to her new home and family.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain, by Joanne Bischof – Bischof does not disappoint. She sweeps the reader away to a different time and place where one can smell and see and hear everything in the setting. The three sons in this story are each flawed, but so is Aven, the delicate, strong-willed heroine. I love these characters and their struggles, and Bischof’s handling of their lives.

To Whisper Her Name, by Tamera Alexander – Alexander’s gripping characterization led me to believe she was writing about real people, and that I knew them. I am frequently caught up in her character development which deepens the story every time. I was eager to read the end of this one, yet I didn’t want it to end – a conflict nearly as piercing as conflicts in the story.


The Marshall of Medicine Lodge, by Stan Lynde – Another Merlin Fanshaw tale from a great Western writer. Racism, economic prejudice, and vigilante arrogance keep young Fanshaw on his toes. I hope this fictional cowboy character is riding the hills of heaven when I get there. There’s a lot I want to ask him.

Contemporary Action/Intrigue:

Kevin Leman and Jeff Nesbit’s political/family trilogy, A Perfect Ambition, A Powerful Secret, and A Primary Decision. The first book snagged me enough that I had to order book two, then three. Of course Leman and Nesbit are fabulous authors when it comes to spinning a tale, but I loved the way birth order figured into the plot. Or not. No spoilers here. If you like contemporary intrigue, you’ll enjoy all three.

Warrior’s Seal, by Ronie Kendig – Special Forces, nonstop action, a presidential kidnapping, biblical artifacts, and terrorists. Yeah. Kendig’s introductory novella to the Tox Files series had me reading about this alpha hero as fast as I could.

Contemporary Romance:

The Wedding Shop, by Rachel Hauck – Another gripping story in “The Wedding…” group. Hauck’s ability to transport the reader from present to past and back again is unparalleled. And just when I think I have the plot figured out, she throws in a surprise that has me laughing or cheering or crying. I loved seeing the unforced, organic way the Lord worked in the lives of these characters.

Together at the Table, by Hillary Manton Lodge – This endearing search for family history and true love left me wanting to be a part of the big crazy bunch of restaurateurs and take my own trip to France.

Windswept, by Julie Carobini – Sometimes I just want to go to the beach, you know? But I live in Colorado. My solution? I read Julie Carobini and I’m never disappointed. The main characters work at overcoming incidents from their pasts that threaten to flavor their futures in negative ways. If you want to “get away” this winter, grab a copy of Windswept, feel the sea breeze and warm sun, and find out more about these intriguing people.


Enter for a chance to win a copy of my contemporary romance, The Miracle Tree, by commenting below with the title of a book you read last year and enjoyed. Contest opened until midnight (MT) Saturday, Feb. 16.


Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).

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Watch for The Miracle Tree, coming soon on Audible!


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(c) 2019 Davalynn Spencer, all rights reserved.

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18 thoughts on “Books I Read & Loved in 2018, plus a Giveaway!

  1. Robin in NC

    The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection by Candice Sue Patterson, Carrie Fancett Pagels, KATHLEEN. ROUSER, Lena Nelson Dooley, Marilyn Turk, Pegg Thomas, and Rebecca Jepson

    1. Sharon in MD

      I haven’t read The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides yet, but I do enjoy the Barbour collections. Besides wonderful stories, it’s a great way to get introduced to authors I haven’t read yet.

      1. davalynn

        I agree, Sharon. I have stories in three Barbour collections (you can see them on my “Books” page). Thanks for commenting!

        1. Sharon in MD

          I didn’t know that, Davalynn! I will definitely find them and read them.

          1. davalynn

            Enjoy! Lots of impressive authors to meet.

    2. davalynn

      Wonderful collection, Robin.

  2. kim hansen

    We were the lucky ones by Georgia hunter

    1. davalynn

      Great, Kim, – thank you!

  3. Sharon in MD

    Davalynn, thank you for sharing your favorites for 2018. I always enjoy seeing what others are reading, especially authors! Historical Romances are my favorite, so I am anxious to read the three you mentioned. Two of them have been on my TBR.

    1. davalynn

      Thank you, Sharon. Hope you enjoy them!

  4. Vicki Nicholson

    Hi, Davalynn,
    Oh, my! Just one? I’ve just discovered Melanie Dobson (no relation to James Dobson, but she did work at Focus on the Family). She writes historical romance, suspense and contemporary. Last year I read Hidden Among the Stars, and I just finished A Refuge at Highland Hall! I’m just starting Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor. So glad I found her….!

    1. davalynn

      These sound wonderful, Vicki. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Janis Biggs

    Keeper Of the Stars by Robin Lee Hatcher, A Family to Cherish by Ruth Logan Herne and many others.

    1. davalynn

      Great picks, Janis. Thank you.

  6. Anke Giegandt

    Hi Davalynn, thank you for sharing your favorites in 2018. I‘m always interested in book recommendations. But to write down only ONE book is almost impossible for me. Hope it is OK to list a few. As you probably can imagine, my list contains some horse-related books.
    1) „Hold your horses“ by Bonnie Timmons. Very funny facts about horse lovers/horse owners.
    2) „100 ways for a horse to train it‘s human“ by Tina Bettison. Truths that deeply moved me, in a funny wrapping. Makes a good gift.
    3) „Out of the wild“ by Mark Rashid. Very touching story. Made me looking at horses with new eyes.
    4) „Shy boy“ by Monty Roberts. Great book.
    5) „La Grulla“ by John R. Wright. Great story about horses, friendship and romance in the American Southwest around 1880.
    6) „United States of America – history and culture“ by Bernd Stöver.
    7) „Snow angel“ by whom :-)???? Love it a lot!!!

    And currently on my nightstand:

    8) „We are the change we seek“ Speeches of Barack Obama – I love the eloquence, sensitivity, intelligence and poignancy of his speeches – hope to improve my written and spoken English by reading these speeches.

    1. davalynn

      Thank you, Anke, for such a well-rounded list. I see a few I’m going to have to read. (So glad you enjoyed Snow Angel.) Danke!

  7. Mandy Bentley

    I too Loved Sons of Blackbird Mountain. I also enjoyed The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz, and Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears. I was an early reader for two books that didn’t release until 2019, and they are must reads….So Bright A Hope by Amber Lynn Perry and With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander.

    1. davalynn

      Enticing choices, Mandy. Thanks!


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