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
    June 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I love Melanie Jacobson’s books.

  2. 2
    June 6, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Some of my favorites are Peace Like A River by Leif Enger, Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and The Book Thief.

  3. 3
    June 6, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    I loved the hunger games series!

  4. 4
    June 6, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Room by Emma Donoghue

  5. 5
    Tom D
    June 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Riding with Reagan is a unique story about our former president, written by one of his primary secret service agents.

  6. 6
    June 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I would like to recommend, Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay and A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge. Both are great stories.

  7. 7
    Annette in MD
    June 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Every summer since my youngest son(now in College)was in Elementary school we have re-read the Harry Potter and Eragon series. It’s a great opportunity to discuss the stories but more than anything, it is a starting point that launches so many great discussions about everything going on in his life.

  8. 8
    Kelly D
    June 6, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky . Those are a couple of my favorites.

  9. 9
    Renee G
    June 6, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I love the lists of books that you post and have read a good number of them. I could not find out where to enter for the gift card from Amazon.

    • 10
      June 10, 2014 at 7:14 am

      You just need to comment and make a book suggestion (or more) in order to be entered. 🙂

  10. 11
    Ashley R.
    June 6, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I read These Is My Words last year and I really loved it. I haven’t read the other two books yet though.

  11. 12
    June 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Even though I’m a sweet and gentle female, my reading taste is suspense and hard core thrillers. I recently finished reading A Dark and Twisted Tide and loved it. If your taste in reading is the same as mine, I highly recommend this one.

  12. 13
    June 6, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I enjoyed reading the Hunger Games books. I’ve heard the Richard Paul Evans “The Walk” series is really good.

  13. 14
    June 6, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I loved seeking Persephone and have been tearing through all of Sarah M. Eden’s books recently. I love that they’re romance without all the unneeded smut we see so often these days.

  14. 15
    June 6, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Patrician Cornwell is one of my favorite authors. The Kay Scarpetta series is awesome and I’ve loved all of them.

  15. 16
    June 6, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Barbara Kingsolver is one of my all-time favorite authors. I love Prodigal Summer and Flight Behavior. Kingsolver is a both a biologist and novelist and she can meld both talents into wonderful stories of human development.

  16. 17
    Holly W
    June 6, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    There are so many good, uplifting books out there! I loved Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. Glad to see you recommended it! Some of my favorites are old: Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter / The Anne of Green Gables Series and The Blue Castle, all by LM Montgomery / Honor Girl by Grace Livingston Hill / A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

  17. 18
    Sheila L
    June 6, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Janet Evanovich..Stephanie Plum Series, read all 20 of them.

  18. 19
    June 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I love The Secret Garden.

  19. 20
    June 6, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I love anything by Jodi Picoult. I can’t wait for her new one to be released!

  20. 21
    June 6, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I, too, recently read The Invention of Wings and The Fault in our Stars and enjoyed them both. Friends have also recommended Same Kind of Different as Me so I think I need to put it on my list. I just finished The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and what a fun read with unique characters and giggle after giggle. I would also like to recommend The Perfume Collector because I love stories about independent women. I read it on my nook then bought a copy for my daughter. I just bought The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. I hear it is beautifully written.

  21. 22
    Melissa Proctor
    June 6, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    I absolutely love the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Any time life starts to get too serious I reach for one of her books & I’m laughing in minutes.
    Another great book I read recently is The Rosie Project. It’s a fun romance told from the perspective of an adult man with Asperger’s. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be in a brain that works a little differently then “normal” this is a fascinating read.

  22. 23
    Ashley Tucker
    June 6, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    I like Hunger Games.

  23. 24
    Joan Ostler
    June 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    I just finished “The Rent COllector” by Camron Wright nd really enjoyed that…I’d say 4 stars, and “The Enchanted April” by Elizabeth von Arnim and would give ti a 4 1/2 of 5 stars. You have to be careful when you order books if you don’t know the author because I have found sometimes 4 or 5 book with the same title by different authors. I also loved “The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen.

    • 25
      Susan B
      June 6, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Sorry, it’s M.C. Beaton, not M.D.!

  24. 26
    McKenna Rice
    June 6, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    I just finished “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, and it was a fantastic book, as has already been mentioned. To those who love a little bit of adventure and romance in their novels, I would suggest “Legend” by Marie Lu. It’s an engaging book about a futuristic America that has been split by war and the tales of a boy and a girl from two vastly different social situations. “Book of a Thousand Days” by Shannon Hale was very good, as are all of her books. It was a good fairy tale story with a satisfying and unusual twist. But as for my favorite book of all the ones I’ve read throughout the years, I would probably say that the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series is my absolute favorite. Although these books (particularly the first series) is primarily aimed toward elementary or middle schoolers, I enjoyed it immensely. I love the characters especially, and in order to enjoy a book it’s important to be invested in who you are reading about. And of course there are always Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and old classics like Pride and Prejudice and Shakespeare plays to enjoy.

  25. 27
    June 6, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I recently read “The Day the World Came to Town 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland”. It was interesting to hear the stories of people stuck in Newfoundland when their planes had to land when 9/11 happened.

  26. 28
    Susan B
    June 6, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    MD Beaton has two series of books about detectives. One is the Hamish MacBeth series of 30 books. Hamish is a Scottish policeman who enjoys his quiet life in a small town. The books are both funny and good who-dunnits. Her other series is the Agatha Raisin books, about a middle aged woman who sells her London PR company and retires to the countryside, where she begins to solve crimes. Agatha has limited social skills, but she slowly begins to fit into village life. She’s quite the character. Both the Hamish MacBeth and the Agatha Raisin books are quick reads. I downloaded almost all of them from the online R.E.A.D.S. program. A lot of them were audiobooks that I downloaded to an mp3 player and they were about 6 hours long. It’s best to start with the first book and go directly through the series so you get to know the characters and the changes they go through in their lives. I never liked mysteries but found these books so enjoyable!

  27. 29
    Margie Huddleston
    June 6, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Other than the Bible, my favorite book is “The Shack”. Truly inspired read, and messes with you in the best of ways. Another very good one is “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.
    Happy reading! 🙂

  28. 30
    Tonya R.
    June 6, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    I haven’t read anything lately but children’s books. Excited to read some of these.

  29. 31
    Emilee k
    June 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffmann is a fun, easy read!

  30. 32
    June 6, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I’ve taken the plunge and gone back to school after 18 years so I really haven’t read many books other than text books in the past 6 months….and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to read about statistics and audiology. However, I do love to read and love looking at the books that you and other readers posts. Thanks for the awesome posts!

  31. 33
    June 6, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    I love books and read all of the time. Some I like: the “Zion” series by Brock and Bodie Thoene and River of Time series by Lisa Bergren.

  32. 34
    June 6, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Can’t choose just one, so I’m just going to say any of the Dark Tower or Song of Ice and Fire books!

  33. 35
    June 6, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    The Shape of Mercy
    Still Alice
    Whistling Past the Graveyard
    Shades of Grey

    i just read these books in the last couple of weeks getting ahead for upcoming book club readings (i get so busy during the school year). i loved all of them. Just started reading Those Who Save Us. so far i would recommend this one as well.

    i often refer to your book suggestions when looking for something to read!

  34. 36
    Christie Ferguson
    June 6, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Although I tend not to like autobiographies–I LOVED The Glass Castle by Jeanete Wallis.

  35. 37
    June 6, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    “What My Mother Give Me” – 30+ women share stories about their relationship with their mother; challenges, gifts, experiences, learning, responsibilities. It made me reflect on my relationship with my own mother.

  36. 38
    June 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I love all of Sarah Edens books. Wildwood Dancing is also a favorite as well as blue castle (don’t let the cover stop you)

  37. 39
    June 6, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    I’ve been rereading the Anne of Green Gables stories with my daughter lately. I didn’t think I would enjoy them as much as I am.

  38. 40
    Janet T.
    June 6, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Little Bee by Chris Cleave

  39. 41
    Carrie K
    June 7, 2014 at 1:36 am

    One of my favorite books is Rice by Su Tong. I normally enjoy books that are set in present day/time so when it was a book for book club, I was hesitant to read it. So glad I did!

  40. 42
    June 7, 2014 at 3:59 am

    I loved
    The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein
    I took it on vacation a few summers ago and didn’t leave my beach chair until I was done. Great story.

  41. 43
    June 7, 2014 at 4:40 am

    I loved Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. And yes I loved The fault in our Stars as well.

  42. 44
    Letty C.
    June 7, 2014 at 5:52 am

    I love the “In Death” series by JD Robb

  43. 45
    April Cyr
    June 7, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Jamie, since you enjoy learning some history along with your fiction you ,ay like the “Wives of the Patriarchs” series by Jill Eileen Smith The first book is Sarai’s (Sarah) story. Another series is Lynn Austin’s “Chronicles of the Kings”. Like “Voice in the Wind”, this is heavy duty stuff, and like you said above, it makes you really appreciate what they had to go through. These help you understand the old testament. Hope you find something to enjoy!

  44. 46
    Margaret Matlock
    June 7, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Jamie, I love your reading lists. My favorite book this year is”A Fall of Marigolds” by Susan Meissner. It’s about two women in similar situations but 100 years apart their connection is a scarf. I also liked “A Star for Mrs. Blake” by Smith it is about mothers who lost sons in World War 1 who the government paid for trips so they could visit their graves.

  45. 47
    June 7, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Just read “The Rent Collector” and “Dressing Your Truth”. Loved both of these in different ways. “The Birth Order” book by Kevin Leman is a great read. It explains some of the idiosyncrasies of why your family and friends are the way they are. It’s very interesting!

  46. 48
    Amanda H.
    June 7, 2014 at 7:33 am

    I enjoy suspense books.

  47. 49
    Sally Huggins
    June 7, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I read The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan. It’s the first book in a three book series, The Taj Mahal trilogy. I’ve finished two of the three books in the series and they are very good. They are based in early India during the Mughal Empire.

  48. 50
    June 7, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Some of my favorites are All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti, Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers, and all of Dan Walsh’s!

  49. 51
    June 7, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Edenbrook and Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson.

  50. 52
    June 7, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Fearless by Eric Biehm is an amazing book about Adam Brown, a US Navy Seal.

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>