Every year our staff picks out our favorite books that we’ve read that year.
We don’t rank them and categorize them only by genre, because, like with all art, this is list is purely subjective and your personal tastes and spiritual needs should be foremost when discerning new stories to inspire you.
But if you’re not sure where to begin this list (or our previous years’ list) is a great place to start.
Miracle at the Mission by Joseph Lewis
Book 2 of the Westthorpe Academy Mysteries is here! After recovering from their daring exploits in the exciting first book of the series, The Ghosts of Westthorpe Academy, best friends Joe Pryce and Pete Figueroa return for another thrilling, action-adventure in Miracle at the Mission.
During a summer trip to California, Joe and Pete visit Mission San Antonio de Padua where they meet an old Franciscan monk who warns them of the dangers they will soon face. The boys are drawn into a series of events filled with suspense, mystery, espionage, a high-speed car chase, and an assassination attempt by Russian operatives on the President of the United States.
Caught up in the pursuit of the assassins, the boys discover they have become suspects in the investigation. They must prove their innocence while also counting on the guidance of the old padre, who happens to bear a strange resemblance to Saint Junipero Serra himself.
With the world teetering on the brink of an international crisis, the story reaches its climax at another mission—Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel—where the boys and a large gathering of people witness an incredible miracle that changes their lives forever.
Jonah's Voyage to Atlantis by Voyage Comics
A biblical comic book that explores spiritual truths in an epic fantasy-adventure!
Not all who wander are lost…
The ancient city of Nineveh is under the spell of a malevolent demon who thirsts for souls. In an effort to break free the people of Nineveh from the evil darkness that enslaves them, God sends the prophet Jonah to deliver a message of warning.
However, Jonah turns timid and flees in the opposite direction, away from his divine quest.
A violent storm at sea puts Jonah at the mercy of a mammoth creature that takes him down into the watery depths. Down in the coldest, quietest waters, in the forgotten elder city of Atlantis, Jonah learns how black the shadow is that falls over Nineveh, and is given a legendary weapon in hopes that he can save the city before it is too late.
A comic book inspired by ancient legends, myths and J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Jonah.
June Hur’s elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody YA historical mystery tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.
I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak;
Ears, but I mustn’t hear;
Eyes, but I mustn’t see.
1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.
As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.
But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.
Praise for The Silence of Bones:
ABA Indies Introduce Selection
Junior Library Guild Selection
A 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominee
A 2021 ALA Rise Selection
2020 Freeman Award Honorable Mention
“At once haunting and evocative, June Hur’s The Silence of Bones is a gorgeous, tightly-woven debut. Prepare to delve deep into the lush and dangerous world of Korea in the 1800’s for a page-turner you won’t soon forget.” —Hafsah Faizal, New York Times-bestselling author of We Hunt the Flame
“This gripping drama is definitely one you’re not going to want to miss.” —Buzzfeed
Elswyth’s mother was a slave, but her father is a thegn, and Drefan, the man she is to marry, is an ealdorman’s son. But though Elswyth is content with the match, and waits only for Drefan to notice that she has come to womanhood, still she finds herself gazing seaward, full of wistful longing.
From the sea come Norse traders, bringing wealth, friendship, and tales of distant lands. But in this year of grace 793 the sea has brought a great Viking raid that has devastated the rich monastery of Lindisfarne, only a day’s journey north of Elswyth’s village of Twyford. Norse are suddenly devils incarnate in Northumbria, and when Elswyth spots a Norse ship approaching the beach, her father fears a Viking raid.
But the ship brings trouble of a different kind. Leif has visited Twyford many times as a boy, accompanying his father on his voyages. But now he returns in command of his father’s ship and desperate to raise his father’s ransom by selling a cargo of Christian holy books. There could be no more suspect cargo in the days after the Lindisfarne raid and when Drefan arrives, investigating reports of the sighting of a Norse ship, Elswyth must try to keep the peace between Drefan and Leif.
But Elswyth’s wistful heart has found a new and perilous object.
Milestone to Manhood by David Arms and Steven Arms
If a boy is never told that he is a man, he will subconsciously extend his adolescent years far into his teens and twenties … or beyond.
Milestone to Manhood is about a once-in-a-lifetime weekend that a father (or grandfather) can organize for his son on his thirteenth birthday. The weekend is designed to mark your son’s entrance into manhood in a meaningful way. In addition to bestowing the title of “man” on your son, the purpose of the weekend is also to share advice and wisdom with him.
This special coming-of-age ceremony is called a Rite of Passage. Don’t let his peers, the television, or the internet tell him what it means to be a man. Instead, gather the other male role models in his life – his uncles, grandfathers, older brothers, and older cousins – and talk to him about what it really means to be a man.
Milestone to Manhood will:
- Show why teenage boys feel the need to “prove themselves” as men
- Explain why cultures around the world have held traditional coming-of-age ceremonies to help their young men make the leap from boyhood to manhood
- Give a firsthand account of a Rite of Passage weekend from the perspective of a boy who experienced one on his thirteenth birthday
- Explain the meaning behind the activities that make up the Rite of Passage weekend
- Give the reader the tools needed to organize a Rite of Passage weekend for their own son
The major themes explored in Milestone to Manhood are virtuous manhood, the importance of family, and the importance of faith. For more information about the book and its authors, visit www.milestonetomanhood.com
What Dads are saying about Milestone to Manhood
“The Rite of Passage that I organized for my son was a huge success! I could tell that it made him feel very special and accepted by the males that he knows and respects. I think that it also made him feel a little different or separated from his younger siblings, which is a good thing now that he is entering his teenage years and becoming a man. It was a great experience, and I plan on holding a Rite of Passage for all my younger boys when they turn thirteen as well.”
“As a father raising three young boys in today’s culture, I am looking for every possible way I can help my boys mature into Godly men, strong in their Christian faith and confident in their masculinity. After reading Milestone to Manhood, I now have a firm foundation in why a rite of passage has been a tradition across many cultures and a step-by-step practical guide on how to plan and execute a Rite of Passage for my own sons.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book! What David, Steven, and Bobo have done is powerful, and this book is a gem. Every boy should have something like this when they turn thirteen. This is the sort of thing I’ve been wanting to do for my son, and now I know how.”
Relic of His Heart by Jane Lebak
A midwife has a chance to right a seventy-year-old wrong. Tessa delivers babies at night and raises five sons by day. When an angel appears after a birth and asks for help on a quest, her first response is, “Angels don’t even exist,” followed by a swift, “No.” Even after he proves he exists (and lets her call him Martin) she wants nothing to do with his quest: Martin wants to find a relic stolen at the end of World War II, when the town of Barlassina was torched and its church destroyed. The relic went into the pocket of a long-dead soldier and hasn’t been seen since. Without the relic, the church won’t be rebuilt; without the church, Barlassina will die. It’s been gone for eight decades, but Martin senses the relic is about to be “birthed back into time.” He wants Tessa there when it happens. There’s only one chance to make it right, and he’s desperate. Tessa’s family comes from that town, but really? Still no. When a bill threatens to end midwifery in Massachusetts, Tessa offers Martin a deal: she’ll hunt for the relic if he’ll help kill that legislation. An unlikely team, they start sifting through the past and the present, the lives of soldiers and the deaths of innocents, guilty consciences and a few consciences that aren’t nearly guilty enough. The further they delve into the mystery, though, the more obvious it becomes that there’s more to Martin’s story. And the key to uncovering the relic may lie in whatever it is he’s trying to keep hidden. Jane Lebak writes novels about angels, smart women, and smart women dealing with angels. Relic of His Heart has all three in spades, in a rousing triumph of love, persistence, and the many ways the present encounters the past.
The Gift Counselor by Sheila M. Cronin
Meet Jonquil Bloom who helps people choose good gifts, her ten-year-old son who wants a dog she won’t let him have, and the man who enters and changes their lives one December.. A timeless mix of family drama, romance, spiritual and psychological insights ~ wrapped up in humor. Set in Southern California in the late 90’s, this story will warm your heart all year long. Suitable for young adult readers. Book club recommended.
Summer at West Castle by Theresa Linden
College student Caitlyn Summer arrives at the Wests’ castle-like house to fill in for their live-in maid. After a recent decision blows her vision of the future, this ideal job and the peaceful surroundings are just what she needs to seek God’s will for her life. That is, until Jarret West, not wanting a repeat of past mistakes, backs out of a summer-long field study overseas and returns home. The two have never gotten along, and unforgettable baggage from the past makes it hard even to be cordial. While Jarret’s faults convince Caitlyn he hasn’t changed, she forces herself to offer kindness. Her act of mercy puts them on an unexpected path where Caitlyn is challenged to look beneath the surface and Jarret struggles to trust that God wills good for him.
Silly Sophie's Summer Sunday Morning by Alexandra Semore
On a beautiful summer Sunday morning, the Bailey family – Mom, Dad, Timothy, Sarah, and their beloved dog, Silly Sophie – enjoy family time over a big hearty breakfast. When Timothy and Sarah ask to be excused to play outside with Silly Sophie, Mom reminds them it is time to get ready for church. Of course, Timothy and Sarah would rather be doing other things, but Mom and Dad lovingly relay the importance of honoring God by going to church. As the day unfolds, Silly Sophie provides joy and laughter to the Bailey family.
Silly Sophie’s Summer Sunday Morning is a story about faith, family, and – of course – Silly Sophie. Be sure to look for Silly Sophie’s paw prints throughout the book – each one leads to a Bible verse!
The Monk's Daily Bread by Sylvia Dorham, Illustrated by Christopher Tupa
The Monks of Archangel Monastery have a dilemma: their cupboards are bare! But their wise Father Abbot reminds them to trust that Christ will provide their daily bread. So the monks go about their work, study and prayer, while offering up their belly grumble for the love of God. This beautifully-illustrated book will be enjoyed by children and their caregivers for its humorous pictures, for fun rhymes reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, and for the heartfelt message of sincere trust in the Lord’s providence.
Making a Better World by Michael Lacoy
Oscar Perilloux, a middle-age widower and cash-strapped artist, is trying to be good: a good father, a good brother, a good son. But it’s not easy. His conniving, ne’er-do-well mother has just been kicked out of a retirement home and needs a place to live. His rich, egomaniacal brother is dating the woman he secretly desires. And his seven-year-old daughter, whose innocence Oscar is trying mightily to preserve, is becoming more and more interested in the grown-up world. Meanwhile, Oscar’s childhood pal, whose life reached its high-point in high school, becomes the object of a social-media firestorm that threatens to destroy the harmony of their idyllic New Hampshire hometown.
A mix of satire and romance, family drama and social commentary, the novel touches on a number of today’s hot-button issues: internet cancel culture, woke capital, the treatment of the elderly, and the raising of children. Witty and big-hearted, Making a Better World takes a playful look at the way we live now.
Rosaline's Curse by Katherine Campbell
Rosaline’s ex-fiancé is a god.
At least, that’s what he claims to be. He could be a purple gnome for all Rosaline cares, she just wants him out of her life.
Unfortunately, his presence is the result of a curse she brought upon herself when she stole the sacred relics of Ilona the Godslayer.
Since the ill-advised theft, her luck changed for the worse in several ways. Her brother died, she was betrothed to that awful swine, and put into an enchanted sleep for almost eight hundred years. To add insult to injury, her fiancé was somehow still alive when she woke up.
It seems the only way to turn her luck around and get rid of her evil ex, is to return the relics she stole.
Unfortunately, a lot changed while she was in that enchanted sleep. For one thing, everyone now spends most of their time staring at the magic rectangles they keep in their pockets. For another thing, moving human bones across international borders requires a permit.
If Rosaline is to return the relics and break her curse, she has to learn to navigate this new and remarkable world of paperwork and machines.
Luckily, she gets a little help from a friend.
Mark Reid is working toward a master’s degree in forensic anthropology. His near-perfect life is turned upside down when what he thinks is a perfectly preserved eight-hundred-year-old corpse turns out to be a princess who is still very much alive.
Now, he must help her integrate into the modern world while somehow convincing her that this holy quest to return the relics she stole is a bad idea.
The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas
Set at the height of the “tulipomania” that gripped Holland in 17th century, this is the story of Cornelius van Baerle, a humble grower whose sole desire is to grow the perfect specimen of the tulip negra.
When his godfather is murdered, Cornelius finds himself caught up in the deadly politics of the time, imprisoned and facing a death sentence. His jailor’s daughter Rosa, holds both the key to his survival and his chance to produce the ultimate tulip.