Great Books to Read this Summer (2017 Edition) and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Great Books to Read this Summer (2017 Edition) and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Hey there fellow book fans. 🙂 I have my semi annual list of book recommendations for you all today! You can see all past Book Recommendation Lists by clicking HERE. There’s a wide variety of genres in this summers list, including some fantastic historical fiction (my favorite!), a fun turn of the century romance and a juvenile fiction book that will keep you laughing right out loud. I love putting these posts together for you and hope some of you enjoy these great books as much as I have. For more book recommendations (that haven’t appeared here on my blog), you can access my Goodreads account by clicking HERE. Not familiar with Goodreads? I highly recommend it. It’s social media for book lovers! 😉

To enter the giveaway simply leave a comment (here, or on INSTAGRAM) telling me one of your favorite books! I always look forward to reading your recommendations! The giveaway will run from today (July 11th) to July 21st at midnight. I will announce the winner on Saturday morning, July 22nd, along with the weekly menu plan. Good luck and Happy Reading!

America's First Daughter: A Novel by [Dray, Stephanie, Kamoie, Laura]

America’s First Daughter  by Stephanie Dray
4.5 Stars

I recently visited Washington DC and took this book along with me thinking the story of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter would make for great reading while I was there. It was a great fit and I loved the book, truly. I’ve always found Thomas Jefferson’s place in American history to be fascinating, considering he penned the words “all men are created equal” while at the same time owning a large plantation and many slaves. It was incredible to learn many of the details of his life and the vast contributions he made during it. The authors were able to use over 18,000 letters written by Thomas Jefferson himself to give direction and validity to their story, which I found both compelling and so interesting.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t read like a boring history book. It’s full of romance, family drama, and is first and foremost the story of Martha Jefferson Randolph and is told through her eyes. If you love historical fiction, you will love this! Well worth the read.

Salt to the Sea by [Sepetys, Ruta]
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Another amazing story from Sepetys (author of Between Shades of Gray). As with her first book, I was totally engrossed and amazed to read about a portion of WWII I had previously known little about. This particular book is told through the eyes of 4 different young adult characters, a writing style I enjoy very much. There was an element of mystery throughout as each character revealed past secrets while struggling to endure the final stages of the war. Beautifully written, fabulous use of imagery and prose. Loved it. 5 stars.

The Meaning of Maggie by [Sovern, Megan Jean]
The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

This is a fantastic middle grade book that had me laughing right out loud. My mom recommended it to me and after reading several “heavy” books and amidst a particularly difficult week, it was a wonderful breath of fresh air. It’s about Maggie, an 11 year old girl, living in the 80s, learning to deal with school, life, family and two teenage sisters. The voice of Maggie is absolutely hysterical. She is bright, funny, sarcastic and over all adorable. I have been reading it out loud to my 10 year old boys and they have loved it as much as I do. Great family read. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

It Happened at the Fair: A Novel by [Gist, Deeanne]
It Happened at the Fair by Deeanne Gist

This was a great, quick-read. I love a good clean turn of the century romance/historical fiction novel, and this one did not disappoint. The backdrop is the worlds fair in Chicago, which was fun (and amazing) to read about. I loved learning about all the up and coming technological advances from that era as well. It also touches on the deaf community and the particular challenges they faced in that day and age. Interesting time period, page turning romance and beautiful writing as well.

Necessary Lies: A Novel by [Chamberlain, Diane]
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

This was a super interesting read. It’s set in North Carolina in the 60s and is told through the eyes of Jane, a new bride and inexperienced social worker; and Ivy an impoverished 15 year old growing up on a tobacco farm. The plot takes form based on the Eeugenics Sterilization Program and how it affected women and families on welfare during this time period. The characters were complex, believable and I appreciated the authors ability in showing many viewpoints on this very complex topic.

Calling Me Home: A Novel by [Kibler, Julie]
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Wow, this is an amazing book. As I read, I kept thinking it would make a great movie and was pleased to find that there is one in the works! It’s about a well-to-do white girl, living in Kentucky in the late 1930’s who falls in love with a black boy she grew up with. In a time when racial segregation was a severe reality their relationship causes grief both for them and their families. It’s well written, the characters are so real and so lovable… and the story…goodness. The story is quite the page turner and kept me reading late into the night. Well worth the read, I highly recommend it!

The Lost Symbol: Featuring Robert Langdon by [Brown, Dan]
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

I really enjoyed so many parts of this book, particularly the plethora of information given on prominent sights in Washington DC. I visited many of the places discussed in the book this past winter, so it was enjoyable to learn more about them. I also loved the many references to Christianity, The Bible and our inherent ability to improve and enlighten our minds. The story line had tons of twists and turns as is typical of Dan Brown, and wow…can he really come up with a harrowing villain. I have to admit to speed reading through some of the chapters devoted to this sick and twisted character…with my eyes half closed, seriously. Some pretty dark and stuff, there. Overall a great read packing much food for thought.

Pope Joan: A Novel by [Cross, Donna Woolfolk]
Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

I thought the majority of this book was fascinating and was very intrigued to read about the Christian faith in the 800’s. The main characters were both believable and quite likable. Whether there was actually a female pope or not, is to be questioned but in reading this book I can see how it could have very well been possible. I enjoyed it quite a lot…until the last 20 pages or so…the ending, good grief. It wrapped up in such a rush!

Very lame ending, great read overall.

I wanted to share a few LDS books I’ve loved reading as well. I make mention of their content basis here so that all of you (LDS and Non-LDS alike) are aware that they are based on the principles and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and are written with that audience in mind. All, of course are welcome to read them ;), I just wanted to be clear. They are books I’ve loved, that have assisted me in studying the gospel further.

What Would a Holy Woman Do? by [Nelson, Wendy Watson]
What Would a Holy Woman Do? by Wendy Watson

I loved everything about this short, inspirational book. It’s written by Wendy Nelson (wife of Elder Nelson; an apostle in the LDS church) and issues the challenge to face one activity each day with the the thought “what would a holy woman do?”. I have to admit, after a friend recommended it to me I was worried the book would be another long list of spiritual expectations and things I should add to an already full TO DO list. Boy, was I wrong. It’s all about listening to the Holy Ghost and how it’s guiding power can issue spiritual gifts which help us to do better the many things we have to do each day. Sister Nelson gives many examples of women who have taken the challenge and how it improved their lives. So grateful I read it!

I Will Lead You Along: The Life of Henry B. Eyring by [Eyring, Henry J., Eaton, Robert I.]
I will Lead You Along: The Life of Henry B Eyring by Robert L. Eaton and Henry J. Eyring

This is a long book I’ve been chipping away at over the past year (and am, admittedly not quite finished). I generally only read a few pages per week and mostly on Sunday. To say that Elder Eyring has lead an inspiring life would be a huge understatement! Not only is he a wonderful church leader but has lived his whole life yearning to be in harmony with God, His gospel and teachings. I have loved reading about the details of his family life and have especially loved his insights into raising his children. Many passages from his personal journal are included in the book.

All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience by [Maxwell, Neal A.]
All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience by Neal A. Maxwell

In this insightful and beautifully written book, Neal A. Maxwell (served as an apostle in the LDS church) shares his thoughts on the omniscience of God, His love for us, prayer, service and many other gospel principles. It’s a short book (only 133 pages) but is not an easy read. The ideas and concepts are challenging but wonderful. I loved it. My favorite quote (though I think I could fill up every wall of my house with fabulous quotes from this book)…

“Prayer is a marvelous process that pierces the veil, and, therefore, requires much faith and persistence on our part; this is so precisely because prayer is that point where the agency of man meets the omniscience of God…where time melts as it touches eternity.”

Scripture Study Made Simple: The Doctrine and Covenants by [Gordon, Kathryn Jenkins]
Scripture Study Made Simple: The Doctrine and Covenants by Kathryn Jenkins Gordon

This is a fantastic study guide for The Doctrine and Covenants. The complete text of the D & C is included, as well as many editorial comments by the author. She shares many historical facts pertaining to each section as well as quotes from modern day apostles and prophets regarding each revelation. It has helped me understand this sacred work of scripture immensely.


Post a comment!


  1. 1
    Erin R.
    July 12, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I’ve added three of your recommendations to my reading list. I recently read Bastard out of Carolina and was floored by the life those characters had to live. I think many people truly do not understand the magnitude of rural poverty. So I’m really looking forward to Necessary Lies and will get it from the library as soon as it comes available. Thanks! I always LOVE your book lists.

  2. 2
    July 12, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    I really like the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. I highly recommend book one (there’s over 20 others), Postmortem. They are murder mysteries.

  3. 3
    Jen J.
    July 12, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing your book picks! I have read many things off your lists that I have enjoyed. Here are a few I’ve read in the past couple of months that I have especially enjoyed.

    The Horse Dancer By Jojo Moyes

    The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult–awesome historical fiction!

    Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde

  4. 4
    Johanna Gurr
    July 12, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    I read “America’s First Daughter” and loved it! Such a good read. I just finished a really good one with my bookclub…
    The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. The movie comes out soon. I can’t wait!!!

    Johanna G

  5. 5
    July 13, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I love Wonder!

  6. 6
    July 13, 2017 at 8:37 am

    I love Wonder.

  7. 7
    Heidi Fry
    July 13, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    One of my favorite books is I Heard the Owl Call my Name by Margaret Craven.

  8. 8
    Heidi D
    July 13, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    I love your book posts! I’m trying to think of books you haven’t already recommended. I don’t read a lot of newly published books. I’m still trying to catch up on past great recommendations. For example, I just finished, The Secret Life of Bees, one of your recommendations and liked it a lot.
    I recently read, Girl Waits with Gun, by Amy Stewart and I really enjoyed it. It’s historical fiction, takes place about 1915, about one of America’s first female crime fighters.

  9. 9
    Kristie B
    July 13, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks for the posts! Keep sharing because I have had some awesome reads! I love the Orphan Keeper!

  10. 10
    July 13, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    I, too, look forward to your book posts. This is the first time I didn’t see some of the books I’ve recently read. I’ve added Salt to the Sea to my reading list, and It Happened at the Fair because I’m always looking for a quick read. One of my favorite books this year has been A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles also the author of Rules of Civility.

  11. 11
    Lisa D.
    July 13, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Devil in a White CIty by Erik Larson. Parallel stories of the Chicago World’s Fair and a serial killer. Non fiction and very compelling read!

  12. 12
    July 14, 2017 at 7:09 am

    I love the variety you have here! Always fun! I have also been all over the place with my reading so some of my favorites I have just read are, With by Skye Jethani, The Amazing Spider-Man Civil War comic, Fahrenheit 451 (although I felt the ending wasn’t enough, I was left wanting more), and because of mr.terupt by Rob Buyea.

  13. 13
    July 14, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    I loved The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. It’s a story about the patent war over the light bulb between Edison and Westinghouse. Historical fiction but very well researched.

  14. 14
    Laura P
    July 15, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    I love everything written by Wally Lamb. He is my favorite author and She’s Come Undone is probably my favorite book of his.

  15. 15
    Luanne Curry
    July 16, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions. I will enjoy reading through the list. I spend a lot of time reading while I sit with my mothet. She has alzheimers so we can’t have conversations, but she enjoys looking through books.

  16. 16
    July 16, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    I’m reading Wonder with my kids right now and I would highly recommend it. It’s a fairly easy read and so good. I’m reading Mistborn on my own and really liking that as well.

  17. 17
    July 17, 2017 at 11:16 am

    One quick read I enjoyed this year was Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee.

  18. 18
    July 17, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Any book by Amanda Quick

  19. 19
    Lisa Brown
    July 18, 2017 at 4:52 am

    I like anything by Mary Balogh.
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

  20. 20
    Sj Dc
    July 18, 2017 at 8:46 am

    While there have been many books that while being read have been more enjoyable, none have left a lasting imprint in my mind as Atlas Shrugged! To me it is perfect in every way..the writing, characters, story and and all the vivid decricptions which usually nore me to no end!

  21. 21
    Dezi A
    July 18, 2017 at 9:19 am

    I love your book lists! I always know I’ll like what you recommend because there’s always a book or two on there that I really loved as well. A couple books I’ve read recently and really enjoyed are A Fall of Marigolds, When Breath Becomes Air and Small Great Things.

  22. 22
    Nan Painter
    July 18, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Your lists have been very helpful as I try to find “good” books to read and to listen to on Audible. Some of my favorites are The Orphan Keeper and When Breath becomes Air. Mudbound was interesting but was not endearing to me. I have also loved The Art of Racing in the Rain.

  23. 23
    Jennie Miller
    July 18, 2017 at 11:19 am

    These are awesome suggestions. I am putting them on my list right now. My favorite book would have to be Stephen King Dreamcatcher. I love how creepy it is!

  24. 24
    July 18, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I love all of Elin Hilderbrands book! Right now I’m reading Rumors it’s so good!!!! I can’t wait to check out the books you recommended!

  25. 25
    July 18, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Always look forward to these lists, including recommendations by readers. I love historical fiction and Susan Meissner is one of my favorite writers. She always weaves together an historical story and a current one. I just read Secrets of a Charmed Life, which tells the story of two sisters, who, along with thousands of other children, were evacuated from London to foster homes in the countryside during the bombing of London in WW 2.

  26. 26
    July 18, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    I’m reading “The Chemist”, by Stephanie Meyer and loving it.

  27. 27
    July 18, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    I just finished listening to The Messenger, by Siri Mitchell. I don’t usually listen to books, but was stuck in the car so thought I’d give it a try. Absolutely loved this book–Revolutionary War time is one of my favorites and this did not disappoint.
    Thank you for sharing your list, I’ve needed some good recommendations!

  28. 28
    July 18, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    I have really been enjoying the Sparrow Sisters this summer!

  29. 29
    July 18, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    I recently read A Man Called Ove. I loved it so much and loved Ove so much.

  30. 30
    Ashley Derr
    July 18, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    Thank you for the book suggestions; you have given me some good ideas for book club! I’m currently reading Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende, and it’s great.

  31. 31
    Bryn Broussard
    July 19, 2017 at 4:29 am

    I really enjoyed small great things recently on a road trip and breath becomes air. I look forward to your book recommendations!

  32. 32
    July 19, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Always looking for good book recommendations so I can suggest to book club. I really enjoyed The Light Between Oceans.

  33. 33
    July 19, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    I loved Big Little Lies! Thanks for the book recommendations have found so many that way.

  34. 34
    Robin B.
    July 19, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    I just read “Option B” by Sheryl Sandberg and I highly recommend it! It was interesting and read quickly.

  35. 35
    July 20, 2017 at 11:59 am

    One of my favorite books this year has been “The Nightengale” by Kristen Hannah. I also read Pope Joan and enjoyed it. I agree about the ending.

  36. 36
    Kristine Gardner
    July 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I have tried many of your recommendations over the years.

    This will sound weird, but I enjoy reading old cowboy stories by Louis L’Amour. One of my favorites is Last of the Breed, which isn’t about cowboys at all, but about a modern Native American pilot fleeing an isolated prison camp in Siberia. Try it, you’ll find it fascinating!

  37. 37
    Olivia G.
    July 20, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you for your book suggestions! I was just looking today for a new read. I don’t know that this will give you any new ideas, but I’m just such a sucker for the classics. My favorites are Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Frankenstein (Mary Shelley), and The Time Machine (H. G. Wells). Happy reading!

  38. 38
    Kristin Waters
    July 21, 2017 at 9:19 am

    One of my favorite recent reads was Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. It had me laughing and crying, such a good book!

  39. 39
    Connie W.
    July 21, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Before the Dawn by Dean Hughes is one of my all time favorites. I don’t know if you can still get it at Deseret Book, the last copy I bought to give away was from eBay, but it’s worth a trip to the library or looking online…

  40. 40
    Ashley R
    July 21, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    These Is My Words is one I read awhile ago and still think about. I just read The Secret Life of Bees and thought it was pretty good. I have a hard time picking favorites!

  41. 41
    Becky Ethington
    July 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    I just added to my hold list at the library! I had to suspend some of the holds to give me time to read it all (still working on a quilt and already have 2 books waiting!) I always enjoy your lists; thanks for posting them!
    Our book club’s choice this month is Daring Greatly (Brene Brown) and next month is When I Found You–about a man who finds a newborn in the woods and all that happens afterwards. So many twists and turns and true to life.

  42. 42
    Melissa Miller
    July 21, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    I really like Gone With The Wind. I will read the book and watch the movie every thanksgiving. Thanks for the book ideas, I have added them to my wish list.

  43. 43
    Kristine Gardner
    August 1, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Hi, Jamie,

    My daughter was cooking a recipe from a recent post and saw that I had been chosen for the $50 gift certificate. She was so excited to let me know. Thank you so much. I have been unable to access new posts from your site since the July 17 post. I can’t figure that out. Also, I don’t know if you have tried to contact me but I haven’t received anything. My address is 933 E. Lehi Rd. Mesa, Arizona 85203. Thanks again for all of your interesting recipes and for the fun book lists. I look forward to trying out some of these new ones. Keep up the good work.

    My email address is


  44. 44
    May 5, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    The books you share are great to read this summer. I will save it for reading. Thanks for sharing.

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