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10 Wonderful Books (2015 Edition) and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

10 Wonderful Books (2015 Edition) and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway
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As many of you long time blog readers know, twice a year I post a list of great books I have read and highly recommend. See past lists here, here, here and here.  I am excited to be sharing this years winter reading list with you today! Thanks to those of you who have written in to me,  inquiring as to when the list was scheduled to be posted. I am happy  to know that so many of you enjoy these posts! I surely love putting them together. Don’t tell the recipes, but these book posts are my favorite. :) Reading is such a source of joy to me, as I know it is to many of you as well. We reader-types have to stick together, you know. If you are a member of Goodreads (social media for book lovers), you can follow me by clicking here. Some of the books I read, I don’t ever end up posting about on my blog…not that they aren’t good! I just like to reserve these posts for books I’ve given 4 or 5 stars to. However, I have tried in the past year or so to rate and review almost everything I read (I know, book nerd here…I have a problem, just ask MyHandsomeHusband). You can see all of my ratings and reviews on Goodreads, by clicking here.

(No, this post is not sponsored by Goodreads) :)

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Also, I have added this handy picture link (above) to my side bar.  If you click on it, it will take you to a page housing all of my book recommendation lists. Once there, if you click on any of the little icons it will take you to that seasons book list. I hope you find it convenient!

Now, part of the reason I love these posts is the opportunity it gives me to hear from so many of you, and to look through your book recommendations. I have found many a treasured book in the comment section and for that, I thank you! And so, today…

…if you would like to enter the giveaway for the $50 Amazon Gift Card please leave me a comment telling me the title of one (or two or three) books that you have loved reading. It can be anything at all! The giveaway will be open from today (January 29th) to Wednesday Feb 4th at midnight. Winner will be announced on Thursday Feb 5th.

Best of luck to you! And now, without further ramblings, here is this seasons list!

My Name Is Resolute
by Nancy Turner

5 Stars

One of my favorite books of all time is “These Is My Words” by Nancy Turner. “My Name Is Resolute” is her latest novel and while I didn’t love it as much as These is my Words…it’s still really, really smack-down fabulous. I loved the main character and found her devotion to family, forgiving nature and overall growth to be very endearing and inspirational. Turner really knows how to build a strong main character! Additionally, I  loved reading about the early events leading up to the Revolutionary War. If you enjoy historical fiction and an amazing main character, give this book a whirl. It’s pretty long (almost 600 pages), but worth it.

 

 

 

 

  The Scarlet Thread
by Francine Rivers 

  4 Stars

Francine Rivers is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Every thing I’ve read by her, I end up loving and this book was no exception.

I liked the first 300 pages of this book and absolutely LOVED the last 150. There are two story lines. One about a husband and wife who  are having marital difficulties because of lack of communication and stubbornness. The other storyline is about a sweet gal who crossed  the Oregon trail in the mid 1800’s with her husband and family and the trials they experience. Both women struggle with similar issues,  though they live in vastly different time periods. I loved the imagery and meaning behind the “scarlet thread” in the book. Loved the plug  for personal conviction to God, and the ending was really fantastic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Mao’s Last Dancer
by Li Cunix 

 5 Stars

Mao’s Last Dancer is the memoir of a young Chinese peasant boy whose childhood is spent in terrible poverty, but with a loving, wonderful family. At the age of 11, he is randomly chosen by his communist government to apply for Madame Mao’s school of ballet. When he is accepted to the school he is forced to leave his family and to live at the school for 6 years, where he becomes a fabulous ballet dancer.

This book lends an amazing view into the harsh realities of communism, the tremendous value of family unity and love, and the wonderful blessings of freedom and liberty.

This is one of my favorite quotes…

“…love and treasure your wife (spouse) and children with all your heart. It doesn’t matter what happens in the world around you. As long as you have your family, everything will be all right.”

MyHandsomeHusband also read it this past year and loved it.

 

 

 

 

   City of Tranquil Light: A Novel 
   by Bo Caldwell
   5 Stars

This is a beautifully written book about a married couple who choose to live in China as Mennonite missionaries during the early 1900’s. It’s fiction, but based on the authors maternal grandparents real life experiences. I don’t know if it struck a chord with me because I have missionary work on the mind lately (my oldest son will be going on a mission this summer), or due to the amazingly strong, hard working, self-less and kind main characters who were continually striving to better their individual relationships with God and to serve him in the most difficult of situations. I also found it super interesting to learn more about pre-communist China and the culture there.

This would make a great book club read.

One of my favorite quotes…

“My life is colored by unexpected moments of grace, small awarenesses of God’s presence that speak to me of who He is as much as any mountaintop experience.”

 

 

 

 

 

   What Alice Forgot 
   by Liane Moriarty
   5 Stars

Wow, I really loved this book. The main character Alice sustains a head injury and forgets the last 10 years of her life. Her last memories are of being pregnant with her first baby, head over-hills in love with her husband and fresh with all kinds of hope for their future together. Fast forward 10 years and her life is very different than she thought it would be.

I found Alice to be funny and very endearing. I related with her crazy life in so many ways. Hectic schedule, pressure to be the perfect mom, frantically trying to balance activities, community service, PTA, serving healthy meals…we mothers put so much pressure on our selves, don’t we! This book was a wonderful reminder to me that its relationships that matter most. Not how perfectly clean a home is kept or how many team sports our kids play. It’s how we love each other that really counts. Letting go of the small stuff, spending time together, forgiving and forgetting, cherishing the amazing blessing it is to be part of a family.

I am looking at my precious people with a fresh perspective after reading this. Loved it. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  I’ll Be Seeing You 
  by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan
  4 Stars

This is a charming book about two women who become pen pals during WWII. The whole story is told through their letters to each other, which I loved. It reminded me a lot of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (one of my favorite books). I enjoyed the sisterhood, friendship and comfort these women were able to bestow on each other. The writing is clever, often funny and very endearing. A great read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Whistling Past the Graveyard 
 by Susan Crandall
 4 Stars

This is a quick read, with a very endearing, spit-fire red head as the main character and narrator of the book. Set in the South during the 1960’s, one of the main themes is The Civil Rights Movement. But it’s also about motherly love, kindness, finding “family”, growing up and learning to recognize God’s hand in our lives. Loved it. :)

One of my favorite quotes…

“My daddy says that when you do somethin’ to distract you from your worstest fears, it’s like whistlin’ past the graveyard. You know, making a racket to keep the scaredness and the ghosts away. He says that’s how we get by sometimes. But it’s not weak, like hidin’…it’s strong. It means you’re able to go on.”

 

 

 

 

 

 Man’s Search for Meaning
 by Victor E. Frankl
 4 Stars

A sweet woman I met this past summer (while we chopped vegetables together at Girls Camp) recommended this book to me, when I told her my favorite book of all time was The Hiding Place. She said Man’s Search for Meaning was her favorite book, and that it was very similar to my favorite. I couldn’t help but give it a whirl. :)

The author is a survivor of the Holocaust, this book is his philosophical ponderings on the events that took place while he was imprisoned in a concentration camp. This is the type of book you could read over and over, finding new insights in it each time. His thoughts on the human spirit, its basic needs and ultimate quest for validation and meaning are fascinating. I think of it often.

My only complaint about this book (and the reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5) is that I wished it were told in story form. I wanted more details about what  exactly happened to his wife and parents. It read more like a text book, a study of behavior, really…which was interesting, make no mistake…but the story-lover in me wished for more in that regard. Still, a very worthwhile read.

 

 

 

 

 When Crickets Cry 
 by Charles Martin
 4 Stars

This book is overly wordy at times (I have to admit to skimming the frequent lists of Home Depot tools and painfully specific details of boat repair). It’s pretty predictable and a bit overly coincidental…however, I really ended up liking it a lot. There are parts that are absolutely beautifully written and offer the reader much “food for thought”. It’s packed with famous quotes (from Shakespeare, Hellen Keller, The Bible and others) that I enjoyed very much. I loved reading about the specifics of the human heart, how it works and what is involved in heart transplant surgery. It gave me a better appreciation for the human body and it’s amazing design. Definitely worth reading, a 4 star rating here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Because of Mr. Terupt
   by Rob Buyea
   4 Stars

This is a cute juvenile fiction book about a classroom of 5th graders and their fabulous teacher. I loved that the story was told through the eyes of 7 different kids in the class. It was insightful, heartwarming and inspirational. There were several laugh out loud moments, and many with tears as well. A good reminder to kids (and adults) to be supportive of one another, to stick up for each other and to realize that everyone is facing some kind of battle. Even if it doesn’t show on the outside.

I would recommend it for kids ages 10-13, or for any adults who like a good juvenile fiction book once in a while. :) My daughter Emily read it and couldn’t put it down. There is also a sequel called Mr. Terupt Falls Again. I haven’t read it, but Emily has and loved it more than the first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Reading! Looking forward to your recommendations!

 

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