10 Wonderful Summer Reads (2014 Edition) and $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

10 Wonderful Summer Reads (2014 Edition) and $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway


No new recipe today, gang. It’s time to talk books. Hot. Diggity!

If you have been following my blog for a while now, you know that every January and June  I publish a post with 10 book suggestions, complete with my review of each one. You can see this year’s winter post here. Posts from 2013 are here and here. I love putting these posts together, not only because I LOVE talking about books (slightly obsessed with books and reading, mind you) but I absolutely love the book suggestions you readers leave in the comment section.  I come back to your comments again and again when searching for something wonderful to read and have come to know of many fabulous books and authors through you all. Thank you thank you!

To me, reading a well written, fabulous book is one of life’s great pleasures. I love reading for at least 101 reasons.  Top on the list is the small window it gives me into another’s life, viewpoints, perspectives and experiences. It is a wonderful relief to leave my own problems and discouragements for a while and venture somewhere new for an hour or two. My favorite books are those that entertain and educate, while sharing wisdom and insights into life and the complexity of  human existence. Reading has been a great blessing to me and I am grateful to those with the talent to write.

Of all the books I’ve read over the past 6 months the 10 listed below are my favorites. I’ve given all of them a 4 or 5 star rating.  If you would like to see the books that didn’t make this list (and there are some great ones) you can check out my reviews on Goodreads by clicking here.  Not a Goodreads member? It’s easy to join and totally free. I get a ton of book recommendations there. It’s a fun place to share books! Click here to join if it sounds like something you would enjoy.

To enter to win the $100 Amazon Gift Card  all you need do is leave  a comment below telling me one (or two or  twenty) of your favorite books. Something you would recommend to the rest of us as wonderful and fabulous. The giveaway will be open for 1 week, ending on Thursday June 12th. Winner will be announced on Friday (June 13th)  bright and early with the sunshine.

Now, let me tell you about these books! Oh, these books are fabulous. I hope some of you get a chance to read them. 🙂

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
5 stars

I don’t quite know how to explain how amazing, touching, emotionally charged, uplifting, joyful, heartbreaking and remarkable this book is. It’s based on the story from the Bible about the prophet Hosea and his prostitute wife Gomar. The author chooses to set her story in the early 1800’s during the gold rush in California. The main character, Angel is a prostitute who has fallen into her circumstances through no fault of her own. I’m not going to lie to you here–it’s really sad, frustrating and down right maddening at points. However, the author is tactful in her telling and keeps the harrowing details at bay.

Angels journey to repentance, forgiveness, healing, love and happiness is absolutely stunning and very, very beautiful. It made me think of Christ and the atonement in a different way than I had before. I loved this book and will be thinking about it for a long time to come. I’m so happy to have found this author. Not sure how I have walked this green earth for near 40 years now, and not heard of her before!

The Invention of Wings: A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd
5 stars

The Invention of Wings is Sue Monk Kidd’s newest novel. She also wrote The Secret Life of Bees which I know many of you have read and loved (myself included). This new novel is just as wonderful (if not better!) than The Secret Life of Bees. 

The story is based on two sisters who grew up in a wealthy family in Charleston, South Carolina during the early 1800’s, well before the Civil War.  I didn’t realize it was based on real people until I got to the end and read the authors notes. What a surprise! It made me love the book all the more and helped me to appreciate the freedoms women have in today’s world.

This tale is told through the eyes of one sister, Sarah and one of the many slaves the family owned named Handful. They share a unique friendship when they are young girls that shifts and grows throughout the 35 years of the story. Both girls seek freedom from the lives they were born into.  Not only is the subject matter captivating and inspirational, but Kidd’s  narrative is absolutely gorgeous. This is the most beautifully written book I have read in a long, long time.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
5 stars

I loved this book. My daughters 9th grade English teacher recommended it to her, so I thought I would give it a go as well. I figured it would be sad, it is about two teens who have cancer, after all. So, I had expected that. What I hadn’t planned on was the depth, wisdom and charming personalities of both the main characters. I loved their insights into life, love, pain and death. I believe it has been made into a movie that comes out…today, June 6th. Looking forward to seeing it.

PS…it’s a love story. Just sayin’.

The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin
4 stars

Wow, I really like this book. It was truly remarkable from beginning to end. It’s about Anne Marrow Lindbergh who was married to Charles Lindbergh (the first man to fly across the ocean). I came to the book without any preconceived notions or much knowledge of Anne’s history. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention during US History class in high school! I can honestly say I didn’t know a thing about her before I read this book and thus found her story very captivating, surprising and impressive. I so enjoyed reading about her because she was such a courageous, brave woman who valued being a mother and was able to over come so many challenges. I will be thinking about his book for a long time to come. Loved it.

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
5 stars

After I read The Aviators Wife (pictured above), I went on a quest to find out more about Anne Lindbergh and came upon Gift from the Sea, which is a book she wrote about the many roles of women. Though it was written 50 years ago, I really loved it and felt like she was describing me and my life in many ways. I chatted with my Mom about this book, she said she and many of her friends read it when they were raising kids. I thought that was cool. 🙂 I suppose that means this book is a “classic”, right! 

Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
5 stars

This is the autobiography of two  men whose lives cross paths in an unlikely way. One is a homeless black man and the other a wealthy white man. It touches on modern-day slavery, charity work, kindness, personal growth and trust. I was very intrigued by this book and so impressed with the growth both men have had in their lives.

Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden
4 stars

This book is not as heavy and emotionally charged as the other books I have recommended thus far. Ahhh, that feels nice once in a while, right? Sometimes I crave something light and fun. I have to admit that I checked this book out twice from the library and returned it both times without reading it because the cover is so gosh darn cheesy. What does that say about me? I’m not quite sure. Once I got over it and actually read the book (in less than 24 hours, mind you) I really, really loved it. Darling love story that kept me turning the pages well into the night. Loved the characters and enjoyed the squeaky clean/perfectly proper romance of it all. It’s kind of like Beauty and the Beast. A fun read! Would be great for teenage girls.

A Voice in the Wind (Mark of the Lion #1) by Francine Rivers
4 stars

This is the first book in a three-part series of historical fiction taking place about 40 years after Christ’s death. I haven’t studied this time period much, outside of reading the New Testament, and found it to be absolutely fascinating, shockingly brutal and very eye-opening. It helped me visualize more clearly the world as it was when Christianity was just beginning. Man, that was one gory time period! Some parts were hard to get through. However, the message of Christ’s teaching and pure love kept me reading. The author  creates a main character that is both lovely and endearing. The story line is a little bit slow at first, but picks up a lot towards the middle. And don’t even get me started on the shocking ending! If you choose to read this book, be sure you have the second book in the series handy…you’ll want to dig right in.

An Echo in the Darkness (Mark of the Lion #2) by Francine Rivers
5 stars

I liked this book better than the first in the series. I felt like it focused much more on the teachings of Christ and less on the horrible evils that were so abundant during the time period (about 40 AD). I liked the twist in the plot at the beginning and LOVED the character development throughout. This series is really amazing, and different from any other I have read. Because of these two books, I have much more appreciation for the early leaders of Christianity and what they suffered to proclaim the gospel.

PS…this is a love story, too. I know some of you like that kind of thing. Just sayin’…again.

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
4 stars

This is cute, light-hearted romantic young adult fiction at its best. It’s about a boy and girl who grow up living across the street from each other, their love-hate relationship and their quirky junior high experiences. I loved the voicing (it’s told from both perspectives) and the little tid bits of wisdom interjected through out. A fun quick read that will have you laughing right out loud. At least I did. 🙂 

Hope you enjoy one or more of these suggestions. Can’t wait to get my hands on some of yours!


Post a comment!


  1. 1
    Carmon Bell
    June 9, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Loved Fault in our stars and the movie did not disappoint. Also anything by Nicholas Sparks.

  2. 2
    Susannah Williams
    June 9, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Loved so many of the books you mentioned. Francine Rivers is definitely one of my favorites!
    A few books that I have read recently that I would recommend include: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian, Little Bee by Chris Cleave,and Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani…these all have a international flavor – but so interesting to step out of our own culture and step into another.
    Two books that I would recommend that are autobiographical of sort (the second being enhanced fiction) are the Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef, and The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.
    Lastly…given that you like Francine Rivers…try anything by Charles Martin – a great – Chasing Fireflies, or When Crickets Cry – southern fiction, easy summer reads.
    Ok…happy summer and happy reading! Hmm – off to read some more recommendations and start my next good book!

  3. 3
    Chantelle Walker
    June 9, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    My favorite books include: The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck, The Iliad by Homer, and The Time-Machine by HG Wells. Yeah… lol I’m just a lover of books, no matter their genre. 🙂 Fingers crossed! Because I will be using it to buy more books… LOTS of books lol

  4. 4
    June 9, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Too many to list!
    Some current favorites are:

    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
    Dark Places
    The Story of Beautiful Girl
    The Girl Who Chased the Moon

  5. 5
    Jen P
    June 9, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I love your book lists!
    A book I am currently enjoying is Hidden Places by Lynn Austin.

  6. 6
    DeDe in OK
    June 9, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    I just finished The Bedford Boys by Alex Kershaw. I have to say, it has not been far from my mind for the last few days. Very emotional and educational book on D-Day and how it affected the community of Bedford.

    • 7
      June 15, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      DeDe, I just had to comment….I just got back from visiting my sister in Bedford and had the opportunity to go to the National D-Day Memorial there on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. It was very neat and so sobering. They had a special ceremony and encampments with reenactors, and we saw quite a few WWII vets there. I came home and started reading The Bedford Boys. For some reason it was exciting for me to see someone else comment on a book that is probably not so well known but definitely worth reading.

  7. 8
    kathy steadman
    June 9, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Im reading a series now called “The great and terrible” By Chris Stewart. So far I’ve enjoyed them & how it looks beyond just mortality

  8. 9
    June 10, 2014 at 8:08 am

    ELEANOR & PARK or really anything by Rainbow Rowell.

  9. 10
    Yvette Mc
    June 10, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Kate Morton books! I also love to read cookbooks-silly but true 🙂

  10. 11
    Christina G
    June 10, 2014 at 9:13 am

    I have so many books checked out from my library right now it’s not even funny! Right now I am reading The Ender’s series by Orson Scott Card.

  11. 12
    June 10, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Have read 2 or your choices, The Invention of wings and Same kind of Different as me. Loved them both and now will check out a couple more you suggested.

  12. 13
    June 10, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Lisa Wingate’s The Prayer Box

  13. 14
    June 10, 2014 at 11:22 am

    I haven’t read much lately, but did just finish The Fault in Our Stars which was very good(better than the movie). One of my favorites, which is an older book, is the Kite Runner. Also, The Time Traveler’s Wife is very good. Next up on my list is Looking for Alaska.

  14. 15
    June 10, 2014 at 11:22 am

    I love anything Jan Karon writes. She makes you feel like you are in the Blue Ridge Mountains right along with the characters. The characters are genuine.

  15. 16
    June 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    I enjoyed The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Thanks for the giveaway.

  16. 17
    June 10, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    This is a hard one, so many good books out there, but my favorite that I read recently is “Carry On Mr. Bowditch” by Jean Lee Latham. such an inspiring story, and I love books that are written in a different time period… so many good morals! Thanks for the list of good books, I’ll have to get started on these Asap! 🙂

  17. 18
    June 11, 2014 at 3:53 am

    I loved The Invention of Wings.

  18. 19
    June 11, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Jamie, I have read a lot of your recommendations and enjoyed them all. I have to say my favorite so far is The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. Loved, loved, loved it.

  19. 20
    Dawn Monroe
    June 11, 2014 at 6:10 am

    For some reason I’m always behind on what everyone else is reading. Ive just recently completed My sisters keeper and loved it but I’m sure everyone has already read it. Great book though

  20. 21
    Deidre LeDoux
    June 11, 2014 at 6:17 am

    I absolutely love all the V.C. Andrews books and I also like to read Robert Patterson and his series with Dr. Alex Cross.

  21. 22
    Lauren E.
    June 11, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I loved the Joy Luck Club

  22. 23
    Amy D
    June 11, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I just finished Forgotten Fire which is about a period of history that I know very little about. It wasn’t a very happy book, it’s about the Armenian genocide during World War I, but I think its important to learn about the things that have happened in the past. One of my most favorite books is Candle In the Darkness by Lynn Austin. It’s a historical fiction about a girl with ties to both the north and south in the time leading up to the civil war. Love it.

  23. 24
    amanda whiltey
    June 11, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I liked the last book i read alot which was into the darkest corner by Elizabeth haynes

  24. 25
    Patricia T
    June 11, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    I really want to read Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings. I loved The Secret Life of Bees.

  25. 26
    tammy menlove
    June 11, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Love this book list! Oh how I had the time to read more! Fall/winter is when I find time to read!
    I LOVE classics, Pride and prejudice and wuthering heights. Loved The Fault is in the Stars. Can’t wait to see the movie!!

  26. 27
    Jeffri Ann Olson
    June 11, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Diana Gabaldon’s Highlander series.

  27. 28
    Glenna Wilson
    June 11, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Julianne Donaldson books, especially Edenbrooke; also anything Sarah Eden. I own Flipped–gotta get to it

  28. 29
    June 11, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    I love the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson and I am a big fan of the classics.

  29. 30
    Shanna Guiler
    June 11, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Currently reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and am really enjoying it.

  30. 31
    June 12, 2014 at 4:47 am

    It is usually the book I just finished reading. In this case “The Fault is in the stars” that I also read with my teenage daughter.

  31. 32
    Emily K.
    June 12, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I really loved The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I just finished it a couple of weeks ago & I wish there was another like it. I also really love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Talk about hooked! Anything historical fiction or just historical & I can’t put it down.

  32. 33
    Bianca Rogoveanu
    June 12, 2014 at 11:31 am

    One Hundred Years of Solitude
    By Gabriel García Márquez!

  33. 34
    June 12, 2014 at 11:47 am

    One of my favorite books is The Discovery of Witches. There are 3 books in the series and this is the first book. I also love The Selection series.

  34. 35
    June 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Brandon Sanderson’s “Words of Radiance”, “Still Alice”, and “Wonder”

  35. 36
    Deena S
    June 12, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I just moved to the South a couple years ago and read “Bless Your Heart Tramp” by Celia Rivenbark. Very enjoyable and funny read. Thanks so much for the chance to win a giftcard — that would be great to get more books!

  36. 37
    Raechel B
    June 13, 2014 at 10:35 am

    I have to say I’m really enjoying alot of weird books but Got to say Hunger Games series is on of my favorites and The Immortal Instruments series is another.

  37. 38
    Susan B
    June 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Someone else mentioned Jan Karon’s The Mitford Series (starts with At Home in Mitford). What an excellent series of books- funny, moving, and inspirational. Although they are fictional, they’re responsible for my return to spirituality. For those of you who like fantasy and YA, The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. They’re about a teenage criminal mastermind and fairies. They are so clever, and funny.

  38. 39
    Berta Luehrs
    July 22, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Enjoyed “Gone Girl”
    and “Girl on the Train”

  39. 40
    Alan Robbert
    December 29, 2020 at 4:50 am

    My favorite sad love books that make you cry are awesome that i have been reading recently.

  40. 41
    June 8, 2021 at 1:44 am

    My favorite books aresad love books that make you cry

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