Love is in the Air

Love has definitely been in the air at Hope by the Book this month. Then again, if you’re a reader like me, love is always in the air! You see, I have a confession: I LOVE to read about romance. And I say confession because, honestly, sometimes admitting that feels like confessing to an embarrassing habit. Anyone relate?

Depending on who you talk to, admitting you read romance novels could inspire mental images ranging from covers with alpha heroes who seem to have squandered their entire clothing budget on gym fees right through to bonnet-wearing heroines and long prairie grass. Many view it as a frivolous genre or assume the only reason to pick up a romance novel is for a little bit of vicarious titillation. I mean, even Christian readers can be heard enthusiastically discussing book boyfriends and swoony kisses, right? But ask them to recommend their all-time favourite romance novel and you’ll find Christian romance readers are looking for much more than fluttering pulses and swoony kisses. I know because I did exactly that this week in a popular Facebook group, Avid Readers of Christian Fiction.

Admittedly, asking readers to name just ONE favourite romance is akin to asking a mother to name her favourite child, but ask I did. Time and again, readers mentioned stories that demonstrated the sacrificial nature of love, challenged them to evaluate their own faith and trust in God, and showed how God draws us near and heals us—the ultimate romance.

So what are some of these books? And more importantly, how can you fit them into the 2019 Hope by the Book Reading Challenge?

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  • Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – As one of the best-selling Christian fiction novels of all time, it’s hardly surprising that Rivers’ retelling of the Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer, set in 1850s California, was mentioned by several readers as being a favourite. Avid Reader Jean Ray Richardson described this as “One of the best books I have ever read about sin and redemption.”

    two-word title
    written in 1950-1999
    2018 ECPA Bestseller

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  • The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof – A much more recent title that received several mentions is Joanne Bischof’s multi award-winning The Lady and the Lionheart. Rel Mollet of Relz Reviewz says that, while Charlie Lionheart is handsome and charismatic, “it is his life-changing sacrifice that will render your heart more than once.” This one will suit readers who are looking to complete additional levels of the challenge.

    CAROL Award Winner (“+ more for voracious readers” category)
    author’s surname begins with B (“+ even more for insatiable readers” category)
    INSPY Award Winner (“+ even more for insatiable readers” category)
    five-word title (“+ even more for insatiable readers” category)

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  • True to You by Becky Wade – This novel not only won the 2018 Christy Award for Contemporary Romance, but was also named 2018 Christy Award Book of the Year. True to You features a bookishly smart heroine, a quiet, honourable hero, and some wonderful chemistry between the two, but Avid Reader Joy R Tiffany adds, “[Becky Wade] always takes her characters through powerful Jesus moments that leave me evaluating my own faith and trust in Him.”

    author’s surname begins with W
    three-word title (“+ more for voracious readers” category)
    INSPY Award Winner (“+ even more for insatiable readers” category)

Happy reading!

Looking for more HBTB Challenge book suggestions? Make sure you check out our challenge shelves on Goodreads!

Change. New. Unknown.

Change. New. Unknown.

What kind of emotions do those words stir in you? Do you feel a bubble of excitement rising? Or maybe your stomach just sank and the blood drained from your face? Maybe your response was somewhere between those extremes, or maybe you’re wondering what the context is. After all, the context could make all the difference, couldn’t it?

Read More

Introducing the Hope By the Book 2019 Reading Challenge!

Do you like making lists? I do. And I’ll let you in on a not-so-well-kept secret: My favourite kind of lists are book lists! Even when I was a child I enjoyed making lists of all the books by my favourite authors. And oh, the satisfaction when I could cross another one off my list because it had taken up residence on my bookshelf.

As a book blogger and reviewer, I get plenty of opportunities to make bookish lists, but one of my favourite lists of all is the one I begin making at the end of each year listing all the new releases for the following year. Once I’ve done that, I can begin on my favourite list of all: my TBR!

Despite being my favourite list of all, it’s not an easy one to compile. For starters, there are so many wonderful new releases each month it’s impossible to read them all, even if I devote myself solely to reading new releases. Then there are the books that released the previous year that I didn’t get around to, the books I hear other readers raving about—and, of course, I want to make sure I have variety in my reading diet: different genres, a mix of non-fiction and fiction…

Are you beginning to feel a little overwhelmed?

Take a few deep breaths. Ready? Breathe in…two…three…four, and out…two…three…four. Feeling better? Feel free to keep taking those deep breaths while I share some good news with you!

Here at Hope by the Book, we understand how traumatic it can be to maintain a healthy bookish diet. That’s why we’ve created the Hope by the Book Reading Challenge for 2019. It’s perfectly tailored to meet all your bookish nutritional needs while giving you the freedom to choose the books you read!

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Here’s how it works.

There are three levels to the challenge: Avid Reader (2 books per month), Voracious Reader (1 extra book each month), and Insatiable Reader (2 extra books per month). You choose the level that best suits your reading appetite. So if you class yourself as a voracious reader, for example, you would choose two books from the Avid Reader list each month, plus one additional book each month from the Voracious Reader list.

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Hope By The Book 2019 Reading Challenge level up.png

Each month, we’ll be talking about the challenge on the blog, sharing some book suggestions and encouragement. And make sure you watch out for us on social media as well. We’ll be using the hashtag #HBTB2019reads, and we’d love for you to do the same so we can see what you’re reading!

Want the whole reading challenge as a PDF? Download it HERE!

Here’s wishing you a blessed and bookish 2019!