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

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

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) 🙂

full sized

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!


Active Instagram 3 icon Follow me on Instagram at jamiecooksitup_ or by clicking here.

Post a comment!


  1. 1
    January 30, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I received The Mistletoe Promise for Christmas and really enjoyed it.

  2. 2
    Deena S
    January 30, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    They are older now, but my favorite books are the Harry Potter series books. After too many requirements of textbook readings, I didn’t like to read anymore until one day picking up one of these books. These books helped me like to read again. Thank you for the chance to win!

  3. 3
    Marty Musser
    January 31, 2015 at 12:58 am

    Lately I have loved Still Alice by Lisa Genova, The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

  4. 4
    January 31, 2015 at 6:25 am

    I really enjoyed a new book out by someone I know personally. It’s called Keeping Kate by Lauren Winder Farnsworth and is a modern LDS Jane Eyre.

  5. 5
    January 31, 2015 at 6:26 am

    I still really enjoy a good Mary Higgins Clark book. I think my favorite is 2 Little Girls in Blue.

  6. 6
    January 31, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Does Curious George count?!?! It’s the only thing I can remember reading lately.

  7. 7
    January 31, 2015 at 6:29 am

    I like the Kay Scarpetta novels by Patricia Cornwell. There’s so many it’s hard to choose, but I like Post Mortem

  8. 8
    January 31, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Adding so many of these to my to read list! The last book that I loved was The Paying Guests. Thanks for the chance!

  9. 9
    Sans Washington
    January 31, 2015 at 8:19 am

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society — started it as an audiobook during a family trip to Florida and couldn’t wait to finish it! Everyone in the family enjoyed this book.

  10. 10
    Sheena H
    January 31, 2015 at 9:47 am

    My all time favorite book is some one was watching by David Pateneaude. I read it in junior high (many years ago!) & loved i . It’s about a boy who is convinced his little sister was kidnapped and he sets off in search for her. I have read it over and over through out the years.

  11. 11
    January 31, 2015 at 9:53 am

    An interesting book I read recently is Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini.

  12. 12
    January 31, 2015 at 10:20 am

    I am friends with you on Goodreads and don’t come close to reading as much as you, so I’m not sure there are many books I could introduce you to.
    Right now I’m reading “Focused: Staying on Track, One Choice at a Time” by Noelle Pikus-Pace and it is pretty awesome for a self-help book.
    My 5 year-old son and I really enjoyed the picture book, “If I Built a House” by Chris Van Dusen and it reminded me of the great imagination my son and I share. I have even caught my older kids reading it.
    I read “My Name Used to Be Muhammed” in 2014 and Wowzers(!) it was extremely eye-opening.

  13. 13
    January 31, 2015 at 11:24 am

    “Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven” — fascinating travel memoir (and not as scandalous as it sounds!)
    “A Grave Matter” — Historical mystery
    “Life After Life” — Long but compelling

  14. 14
    Chantelle Walker
    January 31, 2015 at 11:24 am

    I can just reread and reread “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Iliad” 🙂

  15. 15
    January 31, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I loved Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul 🙂

  16. 16
    maryem el farsaoui
    January 31, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Pride and prejudice still my favourite book !!! 🙂 plus harry potter :)and I ‘m looking forward reading the lord of the rings !! thank youu for the giveaway btw

  17. 17
    Alicia C
    January 31, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    I have a whole list of ‘classic’ books that i’m trying to read, and I just recently finished ‘Of Mice and Men’ and I loved it! Will definitely be adding some of your book suggestions to my list 🙂

  18. 18
    Dezi A
    February 1, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Wow, I haven’t read a single of those books, definitely adding them all to my list. My favorite book that I read last year was “The Girl you left Behind” by JoJo Moyes. And just finished Eastward to Zion and that was a good one.

  19. 19
    Julie Murphy
    February 1, 2015 at 11:12 am

    I like reading V.C. Andrews books.

  20. 20
    February 1, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks is my favorite

  21. 21
    February 1, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Wonder is a must read for everyone! Love your book lists have tried to read most of them and enjoyed all of them. Thank you for sharing!

  22. 22
    jessica mcfarlin
    February 1, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    @ the moment its Gone Girl!

  23. 23
    February 1, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    I have loved the Mitford Series by Jan Karon also just finished “The Homecoming of Samuel Lake” which I also loved.

  24. 24
    February 1, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Love your lists and recommendations! I am currently reading the culinary mystery series by Joanne Fluke – fun, easy reads. Also, I recommend anything by Kevin Alan Milne.

  25. 25
    kimberly drodge
    February 2, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Bridget Jones Diary- Th Edge of Reason

  26. 26
    Kristine Gardner
    February 2, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    The funniest book ever for listening to on a long car ride is Three Men, A Dog and A Boat. It really makes the hours on a trip fly by. By the way, my youngest son is also leaving on a mission this summer. He will be #7 missionary in a family of 8. Maybe our boys can be companions somewhere. Who knows–it is a small world.

  27. 27
    February 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    I just finished reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. I love all of her books but this one had a twist at the end that I did not see coming! Right now, I am reading Always Watching by Chevy Stevens. It’s very good too!

  28. 28
    February 2, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    I am currently reading Jason Webb’s interesting kindle book The Reality of Perception. Also, I’m reading an old classic with my girls after school. LITTLE HOUSE in the Big Woods. For some reason, I never read any of the Little House series as a child so I’m glad to enjoy it now.

  29. 29
    Erin R.
    February 2, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I’m just finishing up The Book Of Life, which is the third one in A Discovery Of Witches. It’s a couple of years since I read the last one but danged if it didn’t suck me right back in.

    • 30
      February 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      That was an awesome series!!! Just finished The Book of Life a couple weeks ago myself…

  30. 31
    Melissa B
    February 2, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I really enjoyed “Looking for Me” by Beth Hoffman and “The Inn at Rose Harbor” by Debbie Macomber.

  31. 32
    Amanda Whitley
    February 2, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    i liked reading Into the Darkest Corner by elizabeth haynes and shiny objects by gillian flynn

  32. 33
    February 2, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Great list! I have to say one of my favorite books of all time is Weep No More, My Lady from Mary Higgins Clark. That’s a book you can just snuggle under a blanket with and stay up late reading. Patricia Cornwell’s entire Scarpetta series is another set of books that I love to get lost in!

  33. 34
    Bruce Vrana
    February 2, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    The Tipping Point (or other books by Malcolm Gladwell)

  34. 35
    February 3, 2015 at 11:58 am

    The Invention of Wings was the best book I read in recent months. Other memorable books were: Big Little Lies, Room, and Where’d You Go Bernadette.

  35. 36
    February 3, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    I’m currently reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, which is book 6 in the Outlander series. Every book in this series is so, so good!

  36. 37
    Asia Evans
    February 3, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    The book I really liked was I’ll be seeing you. Hopefully I get a chance to read the rest of the recommended list c;

  37. 38
    Gail Reed
    February 3, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    I’m reading the “Homecoming of Samuel Lake”. I also loved Sarah Addison Allen’s last 2 books.

  38. 39
    February 3, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    “Fortune Cookie” is another culinary mystery in the continuing saga of Josi Kilpack books. This one comes close to home to Sadie Hoffmiller. I enjoy this series and am working my way to “Wedding Cake.”

  39. 40
    Stacy Reynolds
    February 3, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I love the book Touching the Clouds by Bonnie Leon. It is the beginning of a series about a woman bush pilot in Alaska.

  40. 41
    February 4, 2015 at 10:02 am

    I just finished reading the Enola Holmes mystery series by Nancy Springer. They are written for youth, but I loved them. They were quick easy reads, and lots of fun. They tell the story of Enola, Sherlock’s younger sister. Hope you enjoy!

  41. 42
    Brandi Goolsby
    February 4, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I love the Stephanie Plum series. Hard Eight was one of my favorites. They always crack me up.
    I also loved the first Hunger Games. It was captivating. Another book that I really enjoyed was The Host by Stephanie Meyers. Great read as well.

  42. 43
    February 4, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Please don’t judge, but, at 53 yrs of age, the last books I couldn’t put down were the Twilight series! I also really enjoyed the Poldark series, by Winston Graham.

  43. 44
    February 4, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I just finished “Goodnight, Mr. Tom,” about an evacuee from London during WWII. Very good!

  44. 45
    Jennifer Gasper
    February 4, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Hello all,
    I love reading as well,from novels to cooking magazines. Right now I am in dental hygiene school so all I read is books about teeth! Still a good read though!

  45. 46
    February 15, 2016 at 11:08 am

    This year, I have enjoyed reading Silence by Shusaku Endo, Truth Stained Lies by Terri Blackstock, and am now reading Midnight in Broad Daylight by Pamela Sakamoto.

  46. 47
    February 15, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    I finished The Nightingale last night and had a good cry.

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>