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
    Jennifer Blacker
    June 6, 2014 at 5:52 am

    The Gunslinger series by Stephen King.

  2. 2
    June 6, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.

  3. 3
    June 6, 2014 at 6:45 am

    My favorite by far: the mortal instruments series by Cassandra Clare

    • 4
      Rebecca Hyer
      June 6, 2014 at 7:32 am

      I love Cassandra Claire’s series the mortal instruments.

  4. 5
    June 6, 2014 at 7:00 am

    I highly recommend East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It’s a retelling of the Cain and Abel story.

    • 6
      Erin C
      June 6, 2014 at 10:46 am

      My favorite Steinbeck!

  5. 7
    Peggy T
    June 6, 2014 at 7:02 am

    The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult and The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman.

  6. 8
    June 6, 2014 at 7:07 am

    I have enjoyed the very funny
    ‘I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections’ by Nora Ephron.

  7. 9
    June 6, 2014 at 7:26 am

    I loved Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

  8. 10
    June 6, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Through the Smoke by Brenda Novak

  9. 11
    Kim Morrow
    June 6, 2014 at 7:30 am

    One of my favorite books (and classics) has always been The Grapes of Wrath. I also love The Great Gatsby, and I am currently reading The Glass Castle, which is turning out to be a fabulous read!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. 12
    June 6, 2014 at 7:34 am

    I really enjoy ‘Love Life and Seek Good Days’ by Emily Freeman. It’s a religious/inspirational book.

  11. 13
    June 6, 2014 at 7:35 am

    I am planning on reading the fault in our stars and my favorite book is diary of ann frank

  12. 14
    Angie C
    June 6, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Chronicles of the Kings, by Lynn Austin. Now there’s 5 great books for you. 🙂

  13. 15
    June 6, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Right now I am reading A Series of Unfortunate Events along with my 11 year old. 13 books.

  14. 16
    June 6, 2014 at 7:52 am

    I used to love to read all the time and lately, I haven’t had the time to sit and enjoy a good book…but some on your list are making me want to get one and find a place to curl up. My all time favorite book goes way back to my childhood…loved Where the Red Fern Grows.

  15. 17
    June 6, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I bought the book slated at a book Fair. I love it and can’t wait to read the rest of the series!! Give it a go.

  16. 18
    amy dripps
    June 6, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Anything by Nicholas Sparks

  17. 19
    June 6, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Don’t have time to read, but I like to keep gathering suggestions!

  18. 20
    cheltina Murray
    June 6, 2014 at 8:31 am

    my favorites are:
    ~Finding June and Chasing June by Shannen Crane Camp
    ~The secret Journal of Brett Colton by Kay Lynn Mangum
    ~A Rose for Melinda by Lurlene Mcdaniel
    ~ The Jason Wolfe Series by Anita Stansfield
    ~ Winter Fire, No Longer Strangers, Chasing Yesterday and By Morning light (in that order) by Rachel Ann Nunes

  19. 21
    June 6, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I love good children’s lit, and one of my (and my daughter’s!) recent reads in this category was an old Newberry Medal winner, The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong. Wonderful, wonderful book.

  20. 22
    June 6, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I have really enjoyed books by Sarah Jio recently and Kristin Hannah. Just novels, nothing too deep, but well written none the less.

  21. 23
    Kodi P
    June 6, 2014 at 8:41 am

    The most recent books I have read were the “I Survived” books. All of the books are fiction, but have many real facts from different disasters in our history, like the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Titanic, September 11th. They are really interesting little books and can be read in an hour! I think there are about 8 of them or so.

  22. 24
    Rebecca Dewey
    June 6, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I love The Debt, by Angela Hunt. It’s a beautiful, timeless story, one I will never forget. My favorite book I’ve read this year would be Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay, great story for any “Austin Lover”.

  23. 25
    Alissa A
    June 6, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Jane Austen’s book Emma is amazing. She writes a story with zero likeable characters, that still manages to be engaging and enjoyable.

    I recently enjoyed The Game by Terry Schott. It’s about a virtual reality training game–which replaces the school system– that centers around a place called Earth. It’s a bit sci-fi, and part of a series (which I haven’t explored more, yet), but it is super engrossing, thought-provoking, and has some interesting parallels to gospel principles.

    Also, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, and Faith Precedes the Miracle, by Henry B Eyring are true winners!

  24. 26
    Janice Kurdilla
    June 6, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Gone Girl was really good

  25. 27
    Bilkat E
    June 6, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Awe a good read, I had some of your books on my list already. For other good reads, here is my eclectic list
    Joseph Anton – a Memoir
    Drift: Unmooring
    The Kite Runner
    The Help
    Water for Elephants – sniff

    So many, I love them all… a good book, a sunny spot and a cup of tea is the earthly equivalent of heaven.

  26. 28
    June 6, 2014 at 9:10 am

    I’m currently loving everything Sylvia Day writes!

  27. 29
    Holly Clayton
    June 6, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Anne of Green Gables has been my favorite book for most of my life 🙂

  28. 30
    Sharon Smith
    June 6, 2014 at 9:24 am

    The 2 sets of books I have read are Work and the Glory, which I loved. And Hunger Games was the most recent which I also thought was really good! I don’t read a lot but this post makes me want to! I have a daughter that LOVES to read so I will have to let her take a look at all these great suggestions!

  29. 31
    Dorinda Haderlie
    June 6, 2014 at 9:44 am

    The latest book I read was the fault in our stars with my daughter..I love your book list and have read several of your suggestions. .thanks!

  30. 32
    Jessica H
    June 6, 2014 at 10:10 am

    I always love your book reviews. I just read Flipped and loved it too. They made a cute movie out of the book too! I loved Blackmoore that I recently read.

  31. 33
    Linda N
    June 6, 2014 at 10:12 am

    I just finished “Wonder” by RJ Palacio and “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. I would recommend both!

  32. 34
    June 6, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Colum McCann’s “Let The Great World Spin” is a favorite of mine. It’s a bit dense and heavily literary, but the language is beautiful. Thank you for the giveaway!

  33. 35
    June 6, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I recently read Rules of Civility by Armor Towels. It is set in the late 1930’s in New York, the story was great and to read about that time period was really fun.

  34. 36
    Erin C
    June 6, 2014 at 10:45 am

    “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” by Ernest Gains. Despite the title it is a fictional story following a woman in Louisiana starting when she is a young slave girl during the civil war to the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
    “Sycamore Roe” by John Grisham, a sequel to his “Time to Kill” it is a story about the same lawyer in the same town but a very different case. Loved them both!

    • 37
      Erin C
      June 6, 2014 at 10:50 am

      “Sycamore Row” sorry for the typo

  35. 38
    June 6, 2014 at 10:46 am

    I just re-read the Harry Potter books. They are SOOO much fun. Something you may have never heard of “Letters from Yellowstone” and author I adore Anne Tyler.

  36. 39
    June 6, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Oh my favorite is Plate to Pixel. Great suggestions & giveaway!!

  37. 40
    June 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

    My favorite book to read is The Holy Bible but other than that I enjoy the Cedar Cove books.

  38. 41
    Amy L
    June 6, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I’m sure everyone and their sister has read it by now, but one book that I will NEVER tire of is “The Help.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it!

  39. 42
    June 6, 2014 at 10:50 am

    I love anything Nora Roberts, my recent favorite is The collector

  40. 43
    June 6, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Any Debbie Macomber book

  41. 44
    Aimee Ritchie
    June 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

    The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman. So good!

  42. 45
    June 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

    When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin

  43. 46
    Amy P
    June 6, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I just finished The Lowland by Jumpha Lahiri – LOVED it, though I love basically everything she’s written.

  44. 47
    June 6, 2014 at 11:09 am

    The Westing Game is a good book.

  45. 48
    June 6, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Ethan Canin’s Carry Me Across the Water was absolutely wonderful!! I hope you give it a try.

  46. 49
    June 6, 2014 at 11:11 am

    The Anne of Green Gables series. Just very well written and so lovely. I started reading them as a young girl and loved them as much then as I do now!

  47. 50
    Marcie Vazquez
    June 6, 2014 at 11:13 am

    The Color of Water by James McBride.

  48. 51
    Stefanie E
    June 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

    The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

  49. 52
    June 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I love all of Bill O’Reilly’s Books.

  50. 53
    June 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

    One of my favorite books is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Most of her books are favorites of mine. Also Karen Kingsbury is another favorite author of mine. Her books are excellent. Also books eritten by Beverly Lewis and Lauraine Snelling are good books. I am just beginning to read books written by Jane Kirkpatrick who writes fiction based on historical information. I am just finishing “A Clearing in the Wild.” A great read!

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