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 7, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I agree with 5 stars for The Fault in Our Stars and The Invention of Wings. Both were enjoyable reads. I read The Gift of the Sea a very long time ago. I’d recommend The Boys in the Boat as a great summer read.

  2. 2
    June 7, 2014 at 9:27 am

    The Charm School by Nelson Demille. I’ve been recommending this book for years.

  3. 3
    June 7, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Something Other than God by Jennifer Fulwiler. It’s her story of how she was raised Atheist and became Christian. Awesome story!

  4. 4
    Crystal Brough
    June 7, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I have been loving the PD James books you recommended 🙂 I recommend anything by Mary Stewart!!! She was a writer from England who wrote her books back in the 1950’2 and 60’s- a little wordy but such beautiful writing! Nine Coaches Waiting or Madam Will You Talk? are some of my favorites! Suspense, mystery and a little romance- perfection!

  5. 5
    June 7, 2014 at 10:40 am

    This is the story of a little boutique that sells vintage clothing and the stories of the women it touches.Every dress has a story to tell.And so does the owner of Hourglass Vintage.It is an engaging story that captures the essence of friendship and style. Vintage is a charming tale of possibility,find ing renewal,love and hope when they least expect it. I loved the way the women joined together and formed new friendships.When the owner is faced with losing her store they worked to help.The out come was great.This is a great summer read.I enjoyed it.

    • 6
      Angeline Derr
      June 8, 2014 at 11:33 am

      Vintage by Susan Gloss

  6. 7
    Kristine Gardner
    June 7, 2014 at 10:49 am

    We had a discussion in our family about what we thought were the three best books (Think Time Machine) we had read. Some picked To Kill a Mockingbird, some ranked Lord of the Rings above all the rest. My daughter-in-law said the Autobiography of Malcolm X. I’m still putting together my list.

  7. 8
    Joanne Novey
    June 7, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I love the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich for a fun, light hearted easy read!

  8. 9
    Krista Christensen
    June 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I love The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. She has a couple really good books.

  9. 10
    June 7, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I am currently reading “The Secret Keeper” – It’s good so far. I also recently read “The Light Between Oceans”, also a good read. Dorky, I know, but I enjoy Shannon Hale – a new one came out a few months ago that I’m going to have to check out. As a mom, it’s sometimes nice to read a book that is just fun and doesn’t make me want to go hug my kids every other page! (Of course…I always want to do that anyway;);))

  10. 11
    Karin Shaim
    June 7, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    my favorite book is the fault in our stars, this book left me with tears

  11. 12
    Christine S.
    June 7, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I loved Same Kind of Different as Me! Really beautifully done. For something lighter, I highly recommend anything by Sophie Kinsella! Her books are typically hilarious and hard to put down.

  12. 13
    Shayla B.
    June 7, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I love everything by Brandon Sanderson but particularly his series “The Way of Kings.” Even at over 1000 pages each I couldn’t put them down and wanted more!

  13. 14
    June 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    I loved The Fault in Our Stars! If you enjoy suspense/mystery type novels, I highly recommend anything by Daniel Silva or Steve Berry.

  14. 15
    June 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I truly love reading, too! Although this is not an adult book, I just finished reading “The Day the Crayons Quit”. Very creative! I also just wrapped up “Drowning Ruth”. It is a suspenseful, historical fiction page turner of who did it and what’s gonna happen next! Thanks for all your nice give aways, Jamie!

  15. 16
    June 7, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I love hearing other points of views on books. There is so much out there and I would rather read the best. Thank you. One book series that I have loved is Prelude to Glory by Ron Carter. Love historical novels.

  16. 17
    Nia Hanna
    June 7, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    My favorite book is The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived! It’s a book that goes very in depth about Jesus Christ, his life, teachings and most anything you ever wanted to know about him and even things you may have not thought about before. Seriously, I couldn’t put it down. It even had Scriptural references, so you could go to your Bible and read the facts straight from the Source. This book is published by Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses and I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in furthering their knowledge on our Savior!

  17. 18
    June 7, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Really…really…really… Go find Dean Hughes “Before the Dawn”…it is an amazing story of a cranky widowed tough farmer R.S. president back in the great depression…

  18. 19
    Becky S
    June 8, 2014 at 9:36 am

    This is a great list! I can tell that my library list is going to get a lot longer as I scroll through the comments. My favorite series is The Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson. I re-read it every few years.

  19. 20
    June 8, 2014 at 9:36 am

    These books look really good – definitely going to check them out. I just finished reading “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriety and I thought it was a really good read. I have to warn you that it does use the F-word a few times in the book (I hate it when they do that, is it really necessary?). But this book really made me think about the relationships within my family.

  20. 21
    Rebecca Parsons
    June 8, 2014 at 10:43 am

    One of my favorite books right now is Rites of Passage by Joy N Hensley. If you like a book with suspense and passion you should read it!

  21. 22
    Theresa Smith
    June 8, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I also recommend “Something Other Than God” by Jennifer Fulweiler. She’s amazing! From the same publisher (Ignatius Press), I recommend “A Voice Undefeated” the autobiography of Collin Raye. He is a man of great talent and faith!

  22. 23
    June 8, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Thanks for reviews, due to school being out I h ave summer off do most of my reading at that time. Plan to read several from your list

  23. 24
    Becky Corbin
    June 8, 2014 at 11:25 am

    My 2 favorite books are older books.
    “Cathedral” by Nelson DeMille
    “Trinity” by Leon Uris (or anything else by him)
    “Cathedral” is somewhat of a mystery with a lot of action and just a touch of sci fi.
    “Trinity” is based on the conflict between Ireland and England. Anything by Leon Uris is based on history, most about atrocities of World War II. My daughter read “Exodus” and wasn’t aware of any of the plight of the Jews to make Isreal there homeland after WW2.

  24. 25
    June 8, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    My favorite recent book has been “The Dream Jumper’s Promise” by Kim Hornsby.

  25. 26
    June 8, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    LOVE everything I’ve read by Francine Rivers! I’ve also very much enjoyed many of the novels set in Amish country by Beverly Lewis – specifically the Annie’s People series. One of my very favorite series was the North and South trilogy by John Jakes.

  26. 27
    Angela Needham
    June 8, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    I too loved the Invention of Wings. I’m sure its on its way to being made into a movie! I’ve finally gotten around to reading Gone with the Wind and I’m loving it! I think it might just be my new favorite book! Love the blog!

  27. 28
    June 8, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Thunder Point and Virgin River series by Robyn Carr. Fool’s Gold series by Susan Mallery. I love both of these series, I own all the books in each series. Another great thing about each of these series is that they can be read as standalones.

  28. 29
    Jen B.
    June 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    I love Inferno by Dan Brown. Very good read.

  29. 30
    Susan Christy
    June 8, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    My favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird. I like to read general fiction – chicklit stuff mostly. Sue Monk Kidd is one of my favorite writers and for fun & easy reading on the patio, I like JoAnne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen Mysteries.

  30. 31
    June 8, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    The best books I have read recently are Gone Girl and The Husband’s Secret.

  31. 32
    Tammy W
    June 8, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    I recently read “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern and loved the imagery and fun of the story. I’m currently reading “Wild Swans” and am really enjoying the history lesson and the story!

  32. 33
    June 8, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Harry Potter. Its about time to reread them all again!

  33. 34
    Patricia Wojnar Crow
    June 8, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    I love all Louis Lamour books. Especially, The Lonesome Gods!

  34. 35
    Erin R.
    June 8, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before but the Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima is really, really good.

  35. 36
    Tabathia B
    June 9, 2014 at 12:24 am

    I love reading different genres and I would recommend A discovery of witches, the deadly series by brenda joyce, Harry Potter series and the Percy jackson series

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

  36. 37
    June 9, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Although probably read by most everyone, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee was delightful the second time around. The characters are just as whimsical this time as they were the first time I read this book. Two other favorites are “Galway Bay” by Mary Pat Kelly, and “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith.

  37. 38
    Courtney Clayton
    June 9, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa Jo Baker

  38. 39
    June 9, 2014 at 8:26 am


  39. 40
    Amy L.
    June 9, 2014 at 8:47 am

    I recently read the book “Ruby Red” and LOVED it!! It is a book about time travel and is an adventure. There are also sequels which I’m dying to get my hands on – “Sapphire Blue” and “Emerald Green”. Definitely recommend!!

  40. 41
    Francoise Coombs
    June 9, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Reading and cooking! two of my favorite things to do!! I am new to this blog. Some of the many books I love are Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowder, and The Rent Collector by Camron Wright, I could cite many more but these two will be my today’s choices. Thanks for the great blog!!

  41. 42
    June 9, 2014 at 9:10 am

    I really liked Moon Over Manifest

  42. 43
    Kim B
    June 9, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I just finished reading The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life by Melanie Shankle and LOVED it!! HIGHLY recommend!!

  43. 44
    Jennifer Gasper
    June 9, 2014 at 10:03 am

    I just finished reading Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. This author takes a look at our society and our American food system. A very serious read, but I did enjoy it. I am looking for my next book to be light hearted and fun!

  44. 45
    Jill Sheets
    June 9, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I just read Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson and loved it. I also love reading anything by Francine Rivers. I’m excited to try out some of the books on this list. Thanks!

  45. 46
    June 9, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    The selection! first in a trilogy…..its like the bachelor meets Divergent!

  46. 47
    June 9, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Lets see…I love books too, and it’s hard to pick 1 or 2 favorites. I loved The Fault In Our Stars, which I see you listed. Bawled like a baby I did! The Sisterhood is a good read. The Husband’s Secret is another good one. My all time favorite, and I know I’ve posted it before, is still Les Miserables…love, love, love!

  47. 48
    June 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I read The Plum Tree a couple of months ago and it was excellent. It is historical fiction and deals with World War II. It’s a beautiful story about love, friendship, and family. I definitely recommend it!

  48. 49
    June 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I always have a hard time picking my favorite books so I will just go with what I have read most recently and enjoyed. I have been in the mood for some easy reads so I decided to read some kids/young adult books. I recently finished the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series. I enjoyed them both. They were easy to read but interesting and exciting enough to keep my interest.

  49. 50
    June 9, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    I love Mary Higgins Clark books. I’ve got you under my skin was good.

  50. 51
    Lady J
    June 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I love Pride and Prejudice. I recently read Ender’s Game and I really enjoyed it.

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