Great Books to Read this Year (2017 edition) and fun GIVEAWAY!

Great Books to Read this Year (2017 edition) and fun GIVEAWAY!

I’m so excited about this post today! Those of you who have read my blog for a while now, know that I love books. With a serious love, people. I get a little bit uneasy if there isn’t at least one book on my nightstand with two or three more waiting in my nightstand drawer to take its place once consumed. (I’ve been told I have a problem…okay, maybe more than one problem…ha!) I love to read for 30 minutes or so, just before I fall asleep at night. It’s a little, heavenly slice of escapism that has seen me through my adult life in a big, positive way, folks. It’s cheaper than therapy and is calorie free, which are only two of it’s many wonderful qualities. I know many of you out there are book lovers as well! You understand what I’m talking about, I know you do.

For the past several years I’ve posted a bi-annual list of book recommendations (you can see them all by clicking here) complete with reviews and my personal rating of the book (based on the 5 star rating system).  Check out the comment sections of these previous book lists! There are some wonderful book recommendations left there by many of you and I thank you for that! You can also follow me on Goodreads. I try and post all the books I read there, so I can keep track of the really, really good ones to share with you here.

Now, before we move on to the actual book recommendations, I wanted to tell you about the fun giveaway I’m including with this post.


Have you seen these fun Five Little Lines Journals?


My mom gave me one for Christmas this year and I’m so excited to start using it. Basically it’s a journal that is set up for you to write five simple lines, each day of the year, for five years running. Five lines! That is something I can wrap my mind (and pen!) around.


The pages are set up so that each day of the year is listed on the same page. That way, you can look back easily and see what was happening with your family on that day of the year during the years past.


I have to admit I often feel overwhelmed with journaling. I write frequently in my scripture journal…but to be honest, the last time I wrote in my personal/family history journal was when my oldest boy was an infant. He will turn 20 this summer. Now, that’s sad.  I’m hoping to be able to keep better track of things with this fun journal. Five Little Lines…that is something I can manage. Last night in the journal I wrote…”We taught the twin boys to play cards today at Bear Lake. They liked playing Spades the best. Nate wondered if the spades are always called ‘Trump’ or if they are sometimes called ‘Obama’…” Pretty cute, right?

I would love to send one of these Five Little Lines Journals to three of you dear readers. To enter the giveaway leave me a comment telling me one or two of your favorite books! (Mobile viewers, be sure to scroll all the way down to see the comment section). You can enter here, or on Instagram by clicking HERE. The giveaway will run until Friday January 13th. I will choose three winners and announce them bright and early on Saturday morning, January 14th. (Entries from those in the United States only, please). Best of luck to you!

Now, on to the book recommendations!

The Orphan Keeper
by Camron Wright

The Orphan keeper is based on the true story of a boy who was kidnapped in India, raised in America and his journey to find  belonging and peace.  To say it’s an incredible, extraordinary story would be a grand understatement. I was amazed from the beginning to the end. I so enjoyed reading about the culture and family life in India and its stark contrast to my own dear America. I kept saying to myself as I read… “I cannot believe this is a true story! I cannot believe this is a true story!” Definitely one of those time when truth is stranger than fiction.

This author also wrote The Rent Collector, which I know many of you have read and loved.


Water from my Heart
by Charles Martin

I have to admit that I almost stopped reading this book after completing the first third. It was so repetitive! However, I’m so glad I kept on! It ended up being one of the best books I’ve read all year, truly. I found myself reaching for my journal, so I could write down and keep track of some of the wonderful passages. This is a story about wealth, vanity and greed that ultimately develops into a beautiful story of redemption, forgiveness hope and love. Some of my favorite quotes….

“Hope is the currency of love.”

“How does a man wipe his life clean? With the one he’s got.”

Loved it. Favorite Charles Martin book by far.


The Two Family House
by Lynda Cohen Loigman

This is the story of two brothers and their families, working together, playing together, living next door to each other and the relationships and bonds they develop. The character development was amazing and truly the highlight of the book for me. There was tremendous evidence of what envy, pride and jealousy can do to a person. How these things can weave themselves into a persons very existence, leaving them bitter and ever so lonely. On the flip side, I loved watching many of the characters in the book grow and develop through love, kindness and forgiveness. A great lesson in attitude, and how facing challenges and relationships with grace, gratitude and love makes all the difference. Loved it.


Nothing to Fear 
by Jackie French Koller

This is a great, juvenile fiction book that takes place in New York City during the depression. The main character is a young (junior high aged) boy who is charming and endearing. It’s a great coming of age story that takes place during a difficult time in history.  My 10-year-old son Aaron has read this book three times, he loves it so much. He asked me to tell you that this book is “way, way, way more than just great”. 🙂 So there you have it. Great for kids, great for adults.


Once We Were Brothers
by Ronald H. Balson
3 stars

I have mixed emotions about rating this book! It’s a WWII historical fiction novel with an emphasis on Poland and the events that took place there during that time.  The characters are one-dimensional and lack development. The writing style is poor. It reads sort of like staged soap opera/historical documentary, actually with very little literary finesse…which is a shame because the plot was amazing! I seriously couldn’t put it down and though the ending was predictable, the journey it took to get there had me staying up late into the night. I have to give the author props for that. 🙂

A 3 star rating from this story lover. Both my mom and sister read it as well and enjoyed it. It’s a real page turner!




Out of My Mind
by Sharon M. Draper

This is an amazing story told through the eyes of a sweet girl who has cerebral palsy. She can’t walk or talk, but  is brilliant… with a photographic memory and the ability to remember every detail of those things she has experienced. It was very eye-opening and gave me so much compassion towards people with disabilities. This is a great read for kids and has so much to teach us about how we treat each other.


When Breath Becomes Air 
by Paul Kalanithi

This is the eloquently written, thought-provoking and touching memoir of Paul Kalanithi a neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I loved reading the very interesting details of his life in its many phases, from student of literature, to medical student, to thriving neurosurgeon and finally as a cancer patient. I loved his insights on the meaning of life. Though this is a book about cancer and dying, it is not at all depressing, but enlightening and inspirational. I highly recommend this one!


The Storyteller
by Jodi Picoult

This is the first Jodi Picoult book I’ve had the pleasure of reading and I sure hope it’s not my last. 🙂 Though the subject matter is grim and deals with The Holocaust, which is obviously incredibly sad it was an amazing read all the way through. The characters were very real and the story was immensely captivating. One of the better books I’ve read lately. Looking forward to reading more of her work.



by Hillary Jordan

I generally love books that tell a story through the eyes of multiple characters, and this was no exception. The narrative style had me interested from the very start and I felt a bond and compassion for almost all of the characters. It’s about racism, based in Mississippi in the 1940s. No matter how many times I read or learn about the ugly and savagely gruesome hatred that was so prevalently accepted during this time period, I’m always surprised by it. Always. The ending of this book was particularly difficult to read (be aware, future readers…it’s get’s pretty gruesome) however, it made me so appreciative of my own circumstances, life blessings and freedoms. I’m looking at my life with renewed perspective today because of this book…and for that, I am grateful.



Post a comment!


  1. 1
    January 4, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    This looks like such a great journal. Just perfect for me. I also recommend The Orphan Keeper. It is a GREAT book – thoroughly enjoyed it. I would also recommend The Last Days of Night. By Graham Moore It is a historical novel about the battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse over the invention of the lightbulb – most interesting.

  2. 2
    Tabatha Priestley
    January 4, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    I forgot I am now reading The Thirteenth Tale. So far I can’t put it down!

  3. 3
    jeanne knight
    January 4, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    I like the idea of this journal. Might keep things more positive too. One of my favorite books is “A tree grows in Brooklyn”

  4. 4
    Heidi Grimshaw
    January 4, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    I love The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.

  5. 5
    Jen B.
    January 4, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    My favorite books are anything written by Stephen King!

  6. 6
    Sandy Steckler
    January 4, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    One of my favorite reads, now that is a hard question as I have so many. I really like Jeannette Wall, so any of her books are my favorite. I also just finished Behind Closed Doors which was a book that I could not put down!

  7. 7
    Lynette Hale
    January 4, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    tuesdays with Morrie
    by Mitch Albom

  8. 8
    Vicki Horn
    January 4, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    My favorite book right now is The Help. I wasn’t alive during the timeframe of it and it was pretty eye opening for me. Simple things that we take for granted were a struggle if you were the wrong color. It really is difficult to comprehend. Eye openers are always good for challenging perspective of ones own circumstances. 🙂

  9. 9
    Laura Brock
    January 4, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    The books I have been reading are by Kimberly Rae. The first series is Stolen Women; Stolen Child; and Stolen Future. These 3 are fiction based on Mrs. Rae’s experiences in Bangladesh and India. The 2nd series has 2 of 3 books out – Shredded; and Shattered. Both series deal with human trafficking and are really well written. They have suspense, romance, wonderful character development, and help to open the reader’s eyes to an ever-growing problem, not only overseas, but just as much at home in the US. The books are really hard to put down once you start reading. I highly recommend all of these books! These are all available on Amazon Kindle Unlimited and also for sale. They have also been on the best seller list.

  10. 10
    Stefanie Ecuyer
    January 4, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    My favorite book is The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. Also loved City of Thieves by David Benioff

  11. 11
    Wendy Rupper
    January 4, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    That journal sounds very doable!
    Books I read recently and enjoyed: The Little Paris Bookshelf, Call the Midwife, All the Light We Cannot See, and Burial Rites. I give each of these 4 stars.

  12. 12
    Jenny Hall
    January 4, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Difficult to choose favorites, I love many. Two choices are:
    1)These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder (though entire set best series ever read, wonderful life lessons)
    2) Holy Bible

    Thank you for the contest chance and for your page!

  13. 13
    Jill G
    January 4, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulweiler is my recent favorite. She was an atheist who eventually starts believing in God.

  14. 14
    Diana G
    January 4, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    One of my favorite reads is anything by Anne Rice. I also read alot of sewing, quilt and rockhounding books.
    I love a good mystery- one that keeps you wanting to not put the book down for the whole book !
    Thanks for the chance to win

  15. 15
    Deena Sinclair
    January 4, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    I haven’t had much time to read lately, so my most recent favorite has been remaining “The Secret Life of Bees.” Thanks so much for the chance to win a wonderful journal.

  16. 16
    January 4, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    I really liked The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

  17. 17
    Jen Petersen
    January 4, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    A book I have enjoyed is Vienna Prelude by Thoene. This year I enjoyed A Candle in the darkness by Lynn Austin. I saw those journals a few years ago at Swiss days and loved the idea of them. Thanks so much for a chance to win and the fabulous book suggestions!

  18. 18
    January 5, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Currently I’m reading David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s nonfiction and as with all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, it’s fascinating. I also recently listened to Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue and enjoyed it.

  19. 19
    January 5, 2017 at 7:35 am

    I still really love a book I read many years ago, the true story of Bob Woodruff, the ABC reporter wounded in Iraq. His wife writes about his recovery but their marriage as well. It’s called “In An Instant,” it’s a great real story of love and life.

  20. 20
    January 5, 2017 at 7:44 am

    A few of my favorite books would have to be “The Dark Tower,” by Stephen King and the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin (sorry, they’re all equally great).

  21. 21
    Crystal Bergman
    January 5, 2017 at 7:52 am

    I love the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I have read it over and over and love the whole series!

  22. 22
    January 5, 2017 at 8:54 am

    I love The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. My daughter insisted I read it. My husband and I enjoyed it together. The idea of a 5 line journal is quite appealing. I could actually start keeping a journal!! I can’t end without saying how much I enjoy your blog. My friends think I am a great cook. I just refer them to your blog! Thanks for blessing my life without even knowing me.

  23. 23
    January 5, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I am an avid reader also. I follow you on Goodreads and we seem to enjoy the same books. I loved The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, and The Nightengale by Kirsten Hannah are some of my recent favories.
    I used to keep a journal for years! The past 5 I haven’t written anything. I need to start back up. These 5 line journals sound perfect for me to get back in the groove. Thanks for continuing your blog. I just love it!!

  24. 24
    ShaRee Fotheringham
    January 5, 2017 at 10:24 am

    It’s hard to choose! Lately I’ve read Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray and The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas. Would love to try a new journal!!!

  25. 25
    Elizabeth Stevens
    January 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Love this journal idea! I think I could handle writing 5 lines a day. Favorite book lately is: The one in a million boy! So great!

  26. 26
    January 6, 2017 at 10:04 am

    My favorite book is the classic cold sassy tree. I also enjoy the Bourne books

  27. 27
    January 6, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I suuuuper loved Everyone Brave is Forgiven, about the blitz in London during WWII. Also Salt to the Sea is about a CRAZY event during WWII that no one has heard about – blows my mind!
    Anything by Kate Morton is amazing. And Tattoos on the Heart is very inspirational. Haha, I have too many, I am such a book-lover!

  28. 28
    Renee Givens
    January 6, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for the new list. I have read most of the recommendation s and never been disappointed. If you haven’t read the Rent Collector by Cameron Wright give it a try. At first I thought it was so depressing and almost stopped but so glad I kept reading.

  29. 29
    Renee Givens
    January 6, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Rent Collector by Cameron Wright. Almost didn’t keep reading because it was depressing but so glad I kept reading. Very grateful for the life I have.

  30. 30
    Jill F
    January 7, 2017 at 7:59 am

    I love Jane Austen books! Sense and Sensibility is my favorite.

  31. 31
    January 7, 2017 at 8:58 am

    I am so intrigued by the five line journals. Thank you for telling us about them. I love Nero Wolfe books. They are my husband and my go to books. There are so many of them and they fill our mystery niche.

  32. 32
    Kathy Edmunds
    January 7, 2017 at 11:46 am

    I love any book by Clair Poulson. He is a cousin of by brother-in-law and his books keep me on the edge of my chair while reading them. Thanks for the list! I love to read!

    • 33
      June 25, 2017 at 3:55 am

      I have read some of his books more than once!! Such a great author/storyteller. WOW

  33. 34
    January 7, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    thanks for the recommendations, I’ll be adding several to my new year. One of my favorite books to reread is “the Far Pavilions” by Margaret Kaye. its a big book fiction mixed with history of India. Sadly it is our of print, but my copy is well used

  34. 35
    January 7, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Anything by Joel Rosenberg would be on my favorites list!

  35. 36
    January 7, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Keep reading Jodi Picoult! I have read all of her books, and she is one of my favorite authors. Recently I really enjoyed Blue by Danielle Steele and Those Girls by Chevy Stevens. I’m currently reading Reconstructing Amelia, and it’s really good!

  36. 37
    Linda Michel
    January 7, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Jamie, not only have you give us a great list of books to read in 2017, we get the benefit of all of the books listed in the comments to add to our reading list! I loved the relationship between an 11 year old boy and a 104 year old woman in “The One in a Million Boy” by Monica Wood. Also, the enormous personality of Precious Ramotswe in “The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency”, by Alexander McCall Smith, will keep you wanting more of her uproarious escapades.

  37. 38
    January 7, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    I enjoy reading Jodi Piccoult also, but I find I have to be careful. Some of her books are too graphic and colorful for my liking. She is a great writer, but some things just are better not getting into my head. What a great list of books. I would add the book titled the Language of Flowers.

  38. 39
    January 9, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    One of my favorite books was a recommendation from you, it’s the Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. I recommend it to everyone to read.

  39. 40
    January 9, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Growing up and into college my favorite novel was “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Now my favorites are “North and South”, “Wives and Daughters” or anything by Jane Austen.

  40. 41
    Margaret Matlock
    January 10, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Love your suggestions. Read Sandra Dallas book The Last Midwife. All her books are great. Also liked Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini.The book I just fell in love is The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. The journal sounds really great.

  41. 42
    Margaret Matlock
    January 10, 2017 at 7:48 am

    Love all your suggestions! The journal sounds great.Thank you. Read The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas. All her books are very good. Also read Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini. Just finished The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. I want to live in that book. Love your blog.

  42. 43
    January 10, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I have just finished my fifth year of a five line journal. I love it! It is so fun to look back and see what your family was doing on that day.

  43. 44
    January 11, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Etched in Sand, by Regina Calcaterra is a book I read in 2015 that has stayed with me. It reminded me of The Glass Castle, which I think you recommended.
    I read a couple of other books you recommended in your past book posts this year that I loved: Molokai, These Is My Words, and The Poisonwood Bible. Please keep the recommendations coming!

  44. 45
    January 13, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    These journals sound awesome! Thanks for introducing me to them. I love to read; however, lately I only read parenting, self help, or religious books. Of those my favorites are probably The Power of Positive Parenting and His Needs, Her Needs.

  45. 46
    April 6, 2017 at 10:17 am

    I recently read and loved A Dogs Purpose. Also The Secret Keeper.Looking forward to trying some of your recommendations. They look like my kind of books.

  46. 47
    December 26, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. With 6 kids (I have twin boys also) I never have much time to journal. I may actually be able to write a few lines with this journal setup.

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