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
    April Salter
    January 4, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

    In Death Series by J.D. Robb

  2. 2
    Becki Neel
    January 4, 2017 at 8:08 am

    My all time 3 favorite books are: Bridges to Madison County, A Dog’s Purpose and A Walk to Remember.

  3. 3
    Becky Thiel
    January 4, 2017 at 8:14 am

    I just finished reading “Nutshell” by Ian McEwan. It is narrated by a fetus within a mother’s uterus. It is masterfully written from a perspective I daresay is unique and intriguing!

  4. 4
    Verlyn Lemon
    January 4, 2017 at 8:17 am

    I like suspense type books usually. I’m loving introducing my kids to some of my favorites from when I was their age.

  5. 5
    January 4, 2017 at 8:18 am

    My favorite books are:

    The Nightingale by Kirsten Hannah.

    The Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

  6. 6
    Jennifer Gasper
    January 4, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Hello all,
    I love to read as well, and too have to have several books lined up. Thank you for the recommendations. My favorite reads right now are:
    “Audra”, by Amanda L.V. Shalaby and “The memory of us”, by Camille Dimaio. All in all there aren’t too many books that I won’t read.
    Thanks, Jennifer

  7. 7
    Michelle Tolman
    January 4, 2017 at 8:25 am

    This post is always a favorite of mine. I love seeing what you recommend.

    Two of my recent favorites are:
    Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
    The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

  8. 8
    Jamie Dwiggins
    January 4, 2017 at 8:39 am

    I always look forward to your reccomendations. However I haven’t had a ton of time to read anything lately mybkids are all littles and very busy. There a books that come to mind like the Cinder series, The rent collector, The Cahill witch chronicles. I really enjoyed all of these books and series. Lately though our time has been filled with Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems my kids love to listen to and read them. They’re not chapter books, but he has a way to get my kids to pick up anyone of his books and read whenever they see one. Especially those of my children who don’t like to read. I look forward to finding time to read more this year! Happy New Year!!!

  9. 9
    January 4, 2017 at 8:40 am

    I loved “All the Light we Cannot see” and “The Husband’s Secret”

  10. 10
    January 4, 2017 at 8:42 am

    My favorite book that I read in 2016 was “The Boys in the Boat.”

  11. 11
    Christie Ferguson
    January 4, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Jodi Picoult’s latest book–Small Great Things does not disappoint! Also loved Girl in Translation.

  12. 12
    Allison Dewey
    January 4, 2017 at 8:46 am

    My favorite books are Little Men by Louisa May Alcott and The Silent Governess By Julie Klassan

  13. 13
    Jan Truhler
    January 4, 2017 at 8:48 am

    An old favorite of mine is The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans. A story that covers the gamut of emotions that life sends our way. It was truly one of those books that stayed with me long after I finished reading it.

  14. 14
    January 4, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I really love The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk.

  15. 15
    January 4, 2017 at 8:52 am

    I loved Edenbrooke. A good clean love story.

  16. 16
    Katrina McNiven
    January 4, 2017 at 8:53 am

    The Alchemist and The Rent Collector

  17. 17
    carole kirkpatrick
    January 4, 2017 at 8:57 am

    The Absolutely true Diary of a Half-Time Indian; The Princess Bride; Two Old Women

  18. 18
    Anita Hughes
    January 4, 2017 at 8:58 am

    One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and Home Town Tales by Phillip Gulley

  19. 19
    January 4, 2017 at 8:59 am

    One of the best books I read in the past year was A MAN CALLED OVE. Such a pleasant surprise of a book! (And the last thing I needed to do was add more books to by “to read” list! I hope I live long enough to get to them all!)

  20. 20
    Bridget Wintle
    January 4, 2017 at 9:03 am

    I love “Goose Girl”. I didn’t seem to have much time for reading anymore and was just grabbing quick, easy reads. I picked up this one and it felt like real literature. It was so refreshing. It had been a long time since I had a hard time putting a book down and this book did that.

  21. 21
    January 4, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I look forward to this post every year, Jamie!! Can’t wait to add these to my list. My favorite book of last year was “Sectets of a charmed life” by susan Meissner, at your recommendation! And I revisited another favorite “The secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte” by Syria James. If you have any love for Jane Eyre, it’s a must read!

  22. 22
    Susan G
    January 4, 2017 at 9:23 am

    I also read a lot, and some My favorite books are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Kite Runner, and all the Harry Potter books.

  23. 23
    Marni Allred
    January 4, 2017 at 9:38 am

    My all-time favorite book is called The Golden Name Day. It was illustrated by Garth Williams (think Little House series illustrator) and is unfortunately no longer in print. I also really enjoyed the book The Homemaker. I was first introduced to it by my teenaged son who was reading it for an AP Lit class. One of those books with a twist that really makes you think about how you define yourself as a woman. In all truth, I will read almost anything once and am usually reading two or three books at the same time. Currently in the middle of The Physician.

  24. 24
    January 4, 2017 at 9:47 am

    I LOVE to read and always have multiple books that I’m reading. I have many favorites. However, two books that I have read recently and thoroughly enjoyed are:

    1. The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    This is a historical fiction JF book, but is a truly beautiful story that appeals to all ages.
    2. Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
    Author of American Heiress a great read. This book isn’t quite as good, but still worth reading.

  25. 25
    January 4, 2017 at 9:52 am

    I have never been an avid reader but last year, while caring for my elderly mother, I picked up The Pilots Wife by Anita Shreve and loved it so went on the read all of her books except two within that year. Then I read My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult and loved it so I purchased ten more of her books (at the half price book store of course) and I just finished Nineteen Minutes. I love the way she writes taking controversial issues and letting you see into the lives of those living it.

  26. 26
    January 4, 2017 at 9:53 am

    I’m with you. Love to read and have to have 2 or 3 books in reserve. A favorite of mine is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

  27. 27
    Karen Sweet
    January 4, 2017 at 9:56 am

    My favorite book this year was “A Man Called Ove”. It is a heart warming book about an elderly principaled gentleman. I have recommended it to both my book clubs and almost everyone loved it. I also enjoyed “The Nazi Officers Wife”. I love to read and have favorite books every year.

  28. 28
    January 4, 2017 at 10:09 am

    One of my favorit book series is the Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan. It is clean, full of excitement, and they are good examples. It was a series that my whole family was able to read together.

  29. 29
    Mindy Barron
    January 4, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Loved going back through my ebooks! Here are a few of my favs: Time Travelers Wife, PS I Love You, Hunger Game Series, Marta’s Legacr(a trilogy by Francine Rivers).

  30. 30
    Samantha Green
    January 4, 2017 at 10:19 am

    My favorite two books:

    Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

    Baxter Family Series by Karen Kingsbury

  31. 31
    January 4, 2017 at 10:46 am

    What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (and her other books)and almost anything by Jodi Picoult

  32. 32
    Angela Whitehair
    January 4, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I just finished The Italian Girl by Lucinda Riley, great book!

  33. 33
    Katy Judy
    January 4, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Butterfly by Kathleen Harris

  34. 34
    Wanda T
    January 4, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Just finished reading THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by Ruth Ware. It was an enjoyable read. Thanks for a chance to win this giveaway.

  35. 35
    January 4, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    The Watcher by Jo Robertson

  36. 36
    Cheryl S
    January 4, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN by Dot Hutchison is a psychological thriller/horror – not my usual read at all but so well written. I also recommend THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME by Hazel Gaynor. Super historical fiction novel.

  37. 37
    January 4, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    THE UNDAUNTED AND Consider The Blessings. (True Accounts Of God’s Hand In Our Lifes) Thomas S. Monson.

  38. 38
    Debbie Cline
    January 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    I’m glad you read a Jodi Picoult book. I really enjoy her books. As a matter of fact, House Rules by her is one of my all time favorites. It’s the story of a teenage boy with asparger’s and a murder.
    I just finished reading V is for vengeance by Sue Grafton. I’ve read all of the alphabet murders by her and really enjoyed all of them.
    Another great author is Beverly Lewis and her books in the Abram’s Daughters are all excellent.
    Lastly, during the summer I read Designer Bag at the Garbage Dump by Jackie Macgiven and I highly recommend it. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading this book.mi thought it was going to be a humorous book, but was pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s actually about a woman who learns to depend on God in all things. Excellent!
    Thanks so much for your recommendations. They will be added to my upcoming reading list for 2017!

  39. 39
    January 4, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I am retired, a lifelong reader, and work (volunteer) in our community library. I see many of my favorites here and those recommended by our patrons. My philosophy is that I learn something from every book I read, even if it is just a new word.

  40. 40
    Michelle Smith
    January 4, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    My favorite series is the Outlander series by Diana Gabalden. I read Once we were Brothers and loved it. The author (Ronald Balson) has another book, titled Karolina’s Twins, that is even better!

  41. 41
    January 4, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    I loved “me before you” (and the movie was good as well.
    I enjoyed the nightingale

  42. 42
    January 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Enjoyed “All the Light We Cannot See” and too many others to list. I always look forward to this post.

  43. 43
    Theresa Tibbels
    January 4, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Thank you Jamie for your recommendations! How I wish I had more time to read. One of my favorite books is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The movie was every bit as good! Happy New Year!

  44. 44
    January 4, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    My husband and I listened to A Man Called Ove on a long trip recently and we’ve been recommending it ever since. Thanks for your book reviews – it’s always one of my favorite posts.

  45. 45
    Heather L
    January 4, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I love your book recommendations! One of my very favorite books is The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (I may have even found it from your suggestions, can’t remember!). The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen is also a good one if you like historical romance.

  46. 46
    January 4, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    The Book of Mormon, any Jane Austen, The Hiding Place, most historical fiction, whatever my kiddos are reading

  47. 47
    Becky A
    January 4, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Two of my favorites in 2016 were Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Both were fantastic to listen to.

  48. 48
    January 4, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    My favorite read this year was The Kingfountain Series by Jeff Wheeler. Well-written, engaging story and completely clean. 🙂 My husband and I both loved it. I’m excited to share it with our kids!

  49. 49
    Barbara Ruka
    January 4, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    “All the Light we Cannot See” and “The Nightingale”. Two excellent books!

  50. 50
    Tabatha Priestley
    January 4, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    I have so many favorites but recently I’ve enjoyed The Poldark Series by Winston Graham (also seen on Masterpiece), An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff, Two Old Women by Velma Wallis. Thank you Jamie for your recommendations. I already follow you on Goodreads!

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