After posting about the books I read this year, I was asked about what my favorite books/series of the year were. A lot of the books and series that I love I have blogged about, so I'm going to try to focus on the new books I read this year ;)
The Alchemyst Series by Michael Scott
I had read the first few books of the series prior to this year, but The Necromancer and The Warlock were absolutely brilliant (and I am expecting the same from the conclusion of the series, The Enchantress). For someone who loves all mythology, this blend of Egyptian, Norse, Greek, Roman, and more (including historical figures like Virginia Dare and Machiavelli) has so much action and intrigue; the plot is ever-changing and rushing forward like a river, while the characters try to adapt to maintain control. Just excellent.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This series (and movie) swept the nation in 2012, but it is the first book in the series that really captures the quintessential struggles of life under a strict regime, so strict that children are forced to fight to the death annually. The other books of the trilogy (Catching Fire and Mockingjay) are also excellent books (and contain much more action and perspective than the opening book of the series), but the depth and character development of the first book is practically unmatched in the remainder of the series.
Something Blue by Emily Giffin
I had so been looking forward to reading Something Borrowed that I almost didn't bother reading the follow-up Something Blue; I am so glad I did! While Something Borrowed had a lot of suspense and emotion, Something Blue was a journey. Full of emotion and personal development/growth, Darcy's story was so much more than I could have hoped for from this sequel.
The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich
I honestly tried picking one of the three books of the series, but I just couldn't! Of the three books I have read, all were witty and well planned; I can normally figure out what is happening in a mystery/detective novel, but these books all surprised me. Definitely more on the "Chick Lit" side of mystery novels, but easy to read and so hilarious!
The New How to Study Your Bible Book and Workbook by Kay Arthur (et al)
This set was on my Christmas List for a reason! I love Kay Arthur's method of Inductive Bible Study, and the new book and workbook help explain the principles in more detail. I found book to be very helpful in explaining her methodology further and how to use this in my own study. The workbook had printed Bible passages from different genres (epistle, prophecy, poetry, narrative, etc) and instructions to assist the reader in learning how to do this kind of study. This is a must read for anyone looking to dig deeper in studying the Bible.
Surprising Insights from the Unchurched by Thom Rainer
This was an assigned book for one of my classes, but it gave so much insight (ha ha) to what people are looking for from the church. Most churches are using "seeker sensitive" tactics to draw in outsiders and new members, but most "unchurched" people came to church due to a relationship they had with a member (their friend, their sibling, their child, their parent, etc). They stayed because the people (and especially the pastor) were friendly and welcoming. Many of them appreciated and stayed due to the strong message and stance the pastor and church took on sin and moral issues. This book is such an eye-opener for anyone in ministry or involved in a church.
The Green Letters by Miles Stanford
Each chapter is short (2-5 pages) but very full of ideas, Scripture, and thoughts from Christian greats. It took me a few chapters to understand where the author was coming from, but he moves so slowly and so methodically so that the reader must understand and accept each principle into his or her own life before moving forward. Every principle builds on the last, making this a great book to work through in a small group or in personal study.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
This book lays out the disciplines that every Christian should apply to their own lives. What I loved about it was that it not only listed and disciplines and explained their necessity, it gave many ways in which the readers could apply those disciplines to their lives. Whitney begins with the two most important disciplines (Bible Reading and Prayer) in order to build a strong foundation to begin putting the remaining disciplines into practice. So great for personal growth, an accountability team, or small groups.