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

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

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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!

 

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Post a comment!

50 Comments

  1. 1
    Cheryl S
    January 29, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Ditto another comment about The Martian. Absolutely great book – even if you don’t think you like space fiction. I also agree with you about Francine Rivers. Everything she writes is absolutely amazing. For my own contribution, I just finished reading a very realistic series of three thriller novels. The first one is called Pines, by Blake Crouch. Definitely not my usual genre, but I think you need to crawl outside your box now and then to stay fresh.

  2. 2
    January 29, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Joanne Fluke are fun mysteries with recipes 🙂

  3. 3
    Mary
    January 29, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    I recently finished reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and highly recommend this book.

  4. 4
    Nancy
    January 29, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Chrales Krauthammer’s: “Things That Matter” …

  5. 5
    Pamela Gurganus
    January 29, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    I love reading Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy Bundle: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson.

  6. 6
    Alissa Chambers
    January 29, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    I just finished Maude by Donna Mabry and it was fantastic! It is a partially fictional retelling of the author’s grandmother’s life from the time she was a small child left orphaned and follows her through her very eventful life!

  7. 7
    Cheryl Newton
    January 29, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    I loved James Patterson’s “Hope to Die,” the latest Alex Cross novel. And not just because it kept me busy while my son was at a band symposium at USU. (After the 1st day, I decided driving between Logan and Clearfield was too much, so I stayed in Logan all day.)

  8. 8
    Beth
    January 29, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I have read all of the Joanne Fluke books. They are easy to read and have some great recipes in them.

  9. 9
    ewhatley
    January 29, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    I read 40-50 books a year and the best book I read in 2014 was I Am Pilgrim. Check the jacket notes/reviews on Goodreads or Amazon to see what it’s all about

  10. 10
    Kristina
    January 29, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    I really loved If I stay and the follow up to it Where she went. I just finished This is where I leave you and thought it was hysterical. Thank you for your book list. There are always books on here I have yet to come across and I am always looking for a great new book.

  11. 11
    Jessica
    January 29, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    I always love your book reviews and trust your opinion on books. My first Charles Martin book was Wrapped in Rain and LOVED it. I just read “Sold” sad book about the child sex slavery that is going on. Very eye opening and sad, but for sure you should read it. Have you read ‘The Selection” series? a young adult book, quick fast reads, really fun. I am reading Pennies for Hitler, which sounds like one you would like as well

  12. 12
    Janet T.
    January 29, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    A favorite book of mine is ‘Little Bee’ by Chris Cleave. Next on my list is ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins. Thanks for the book list & the giveaway!

  13. 13
    Laurie Rice
    January 29, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Loved The Art of Racing in the Rain. You will love it if you are a dog lover, and if you’re not, you will be after reading the book! (There is also a young readers edition, so be sure you pick the correct version.)

  14. 14
    heather
    January 29, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    I am reading the Collector right now.

  15. 15
    Josh
    January 29, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    “The Dark Tower” by Stephen King

  16. 16
    Kassie P
    January 29, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I recently read Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. It was a predictable book by her which means to me that it’s totally unpredictable! Reconstructing Amelia was also really good.

  17. 17
    Deb Jackson
    January 29, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    I love reading Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood. I enjoyed Watch over Me.

  18. 18
    Amy
    January 29, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    I loved “Until I Say Good-bye: My Year of Living with Joy” by Susan Spencer-Wendel. I was afraid the topic would just make me sad and cry through the book, but it didn’t and I really enjoyed the read.

  19. 19
    Ashley in MD
    January 29, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    I am also a Goodreads addict and I review everything I read (I even review the picture books I read to my young children! I think I have a problem…)
    I think of all the books I have read in the last year, the one that made the biggest impression was Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. It was such an original story, and really well-written historical fiction (which is my favorite genre). I also read What Alice Forgot and enjoyed it, so it was nice to see that on your list. I will have to check out your other recs. Thanks!

  20. 20
    Christina
    January 29, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    I loved a new series I started called the Unwanteds by Lisa McMann. It’s a Juvenile-Fiction book, but I flew through the 4 books currently out! One I am hoping to get soon is Greater by Steven Furtick!

  21. 21
    Annette in MD
    January 29, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I loved the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It deals with science, medical research, race and ethical issues and her story has been in the news lately. I read it because it was required reading for all students entering college where my son attends. 5 stars for sure.

  22. 22
    January 29, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Before the Dawn by Dean Hughes. Trust me…it’s worth finding.

  23. 23
    Jessica H
    January 29, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    I know you have read some Jo Jo Meyers books. I recently finished these 2, both by her and they were both so so good. “The Girl You Left Behind” and “One Plus One”.

  24. 24
    Anjanette
    January 29, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    I love The Book Thief.

  25. 25
    Sarah
    January 29, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    I love your book reviews and your recipes! My favorite recent read was ‘Okay For Now’ by Gary D. Schmidt. Loved it!

  26. 26
    Brianne
    January 29, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Just finished The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. Loved it!!! It’s the first book in a trilogy.

  27. 27
    Laura
    January 29, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier–I agree, I love your recipes, but I get so excited for your reading lists!

  28. 28
    Kimberly H
    January 29, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    “My Life in France” by Julia Child was a good one.

  29. 29
    Crista
    January 30, 2015 at 5:22 am

    “Unbroken” ~ So, so good!

  30. 30
    Kim K
    January 30, 2015 at 6:15 am

    Redeeming Love- Rivers
    Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

  31. 31
    Ruth
    January 30, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Two quick reads from 2014 that I Loved…The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. But my favorites were… Delicious! By Ruth Reichl and The Museum of Ordinary Things. By Alice Hoffman. Both include elements of historical fiction- James Beard letters to a ration cooking woman during WWII and Coney Island in 1910.

  32. 32
    Sara
    January 30, 2015 at 6:56 am

    You before me, American sniper, no easy day and right now I’m reading the second book in the cormoran strike series called the silkworm.

  33. 33
    Judith D.
    January 30, 2015 at 7:32 am

    I recently read The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I think it is one of the best books I’ve read. It is a difficult subject matter, but worthwhile to read. I also enjoyed reading The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton which was recommended here at your blog. Another great one is The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. I can’t remember if I got that recommendation here or not, but it’s a winner!

  34. 34
    laura dansby
    January 30, 2015 at 7:43 am

    One of my favorites is redeeming love by Francine rivers. .. and the princess by Lori wick. … and the brides of montclaire series by jane peart…. and the tender years series by Janette oke…. would love to enter your giveaway!!!!

  35. 35
    Samantha Daleo
    January 30, 2015 at 8:19 am

    I enjoyed reading A Time to Kill by John Grisham.

  36. 36
    January 30, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Right now I am reading Unbroken – and while it is a hard read, the resiliency of the human spirit is amazing!

  37. 37
    January 30, 2015 at 8:28 am

    I was JUST thinking yesterday about when you would be posting your favorite books…and voila – here it is! 🙂 Oh goodness it’s hard to pick, but here are a few of my favorites from last year. 1. The Fault in our Stars. 2. The Sisterhood. 3. The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness – great series! 4. Michele G. Miller has a series and I read all three books in two weekends – From the Wreckage was the first…the series was great! 5. Mindy Hayes has two series out – The Faylinn Series (all great) and the first in a series called Me After You – different genres, but good, clean reads! 6. Anything by Liane Moriarty – loved Three Wishes. Told you I can’t just pick one or two…:)

  38. 38
    Christie Ferguson
    January 30, 2015 at 8:38 am

    One of my favorites was The Rent Collector.

  39. 39
    Amy H
    January 30, 2015 at 9:32 am

    2 of the best I’ve just read are The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Thanks for your new list!

  40. 40
    Madeleine
    January 30, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    I just finished reading All The Light We Cannot See and loved it. It was very beautiful and lyrically written. Powerful story.

  41. 41
    Cindy Boettcher
    January 30, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    My favorite book is also These are my words. I loved it so I am anxious to read her new one. One of my other favorite books is On the Corner of Bitter and sweet. It is a historical fiction with a darling love story.

  42. 42
    lisabella
    January 30, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite books!

  43. 43
    Barbara
    January 30, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I always look forward to your recommendations and have placed a couple of these on hold. A couple of books I have read in the last few months that I really enjoyed and were thought-provoking are: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffinbaugh. Another favorite of mine, from a few years ago, is The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis.
    I have to admit, when I saw you only gave Man’s Search for Meaning only 4 stars, I was shocked. I LOVE this book and the Frankl’s determination to live was so inspiring, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would not give that book the highest rating. Then I read your review….and it makes sense. I forgive you. 🙂 Ha ha!

  44. 44
    Kara
    January 30, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    My two book recommendations are “My name used to be Muhammad” by Tito Momen and “The boy on the wooden box” by Leon Leyson. Look them up to get more info about them. I love your recommendations! Thank you!

  45. 45
    kathy steadman
    January 30, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Ok, I want to read ALL the books you suggested! I have been needing a good book, its’ been awhile. One of my all time favorites is Cory Ten Booms, “The Hiding place”

  46. 46
    Stacy - MO
    January 30, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    We LOVED “Because of Mr. Terupt!” My daughter just read “Freaky Fast Frankie Joe” and loved, loved, LOVED it!! So, of course, mom has to read it now. 🙂
    I’m getting ready to read “All the Light We Can Not See” with the other moms on my son’s soccer team.

  47. 47
    Karen
    January 30, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.

  48. 48
    Kristen
    January 30, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    I am currently enjoying It Was Me All Along.

  49. 49
    Wendy Hatton
    January 30, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    The only one of the above books that I’ve read is Mao’s Last Dancer and it is a fabulous read. If the others are anywhere near as good then this collection will keep any reader well and truly absorbed.

  50. 50
    Kelly D
    January 30, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    I loved reading All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.

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