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
    Lisa Brown
    July 11, 2017 at 5:26 am

    I really liked: “When Passion Rules” by Johanna Lindsey
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

  2. 2
    Jen B.
    July 11, 2017 at 6:32 am

    My favorite book is 11/22/63 by Stephen King.

  3. 3
    Sherri Covington
    July 11, 2017 at 8:05 am

    I have been Rick Riordan series the Olympians and it is great.

  4. 4
    July 11, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker. If you like Jane Eyre, this is the story of her soulmate, Mr. Rochester. It’s fantastic.

  5. 5
    Marni Allred
    July 11, 2017 at 8:08 am

    I really enjoyed “You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know” by Heather Sellers. The autobiographical story of a woman with a rare facial recognition disorder is an amazing account involving mental illness, childhood neglect and the triumph of the human spirit over unimaginable adversity. Left me so grateful for my ability to see, recognize, and remember beloved faces in my own life.

  6. 6
    July 11, 2017 at 8:12 am

    I read a lot of genres, and The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker falls into the crime/serial killer genre. It is a well written book, and I would give it 4.5 stars. It seems to be a bit slow in some areas, but this book draws out your emotions and a fresh look into a detectives “gut feelings” that they have after years on the job. Interesting read, and I would recommend this book.

  7. 7
    July 11, 2017 at 8:14 am

    The best book I’ve read lately is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

  8. 8
    July 11, 2017 at 8:16 am

    South of Broad by Pat Conroy. My mom has recommended this book for years. Finally read, and now I would love to visit South Carolina.

  9. 9
    July 11, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Thank you for the great list of books! My all time favorite book and movie is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. I have read and seen the movie too many times to count. When I read the book I just can envision ever detail!

  10. 10
    Amy Dimick
    July 11, 2017 at 8:27 am

    I am so behind on reading. It’s hard with little kids! Or at least it’s hard for me. I’m about a quarter of the way through All The Light We Cannot See. I’m not sure it will be one of my favorites, but I’m enjoying it.

  11. 11
    Christie Ferguson
    July 11, 2017 at 8:48 am

    My favorites are: Girl in Translation and
    The Rent Collector

  12. 12
    Lori Martin
    July 11, 2017 at 9:03 am

    One of the most recent favorites I have read is A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander.

  13. 13
    Jen H.
    July 11, 2017 at 9:08 am

    The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley is a good book.

  14. 14
    July 11, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Cannot wait to read The Lost Symbol.

  15. 15
    Joy Vo
    July 11, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I look forward to adding some of these to my ever-growing reading list, especially America’s First Daughter. Based on this book recommendation for historical fiction, I would recommend to you Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini. It is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and a great way to learn about American History. Thank you for entering me into the giveaway! (Fingers crossed)

  16. 16
    Sarah J
    July 11, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I know it has been out for a while but I just got finished reading The Help and really enjoyed it. I am also currently reading The Zookeepers Wife.

  17. 17
    Kathy B
    July 11, 2017 at 9:39 am

    I know these have been out for quite some time, but I love the Outlander series by Diane Gabaldon.

  18. 18
    Jennifer G
    July 11, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Hello, I love to read a wide variety of books. Right now I am reading Nora Roberts, Guardian Trilogy. Basically, any thing in print I will read! Thanks 🙂

  19. 19
    July 11, 2017 at 9:55 am

    I love getting your book lists, thank you!!

    the only one here I just cannot do, and I noticed you gave it only 3.5 stars, is Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol”. I tried reading one his books once but it was too dark for me I felt creepy, and gave it to a book drop.

  20. 20
    Amy Moffat
    July 11, 2017 at 10:13 am

    A book I savored is A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. A very well written story of a Russian man under house arrest in Moscow. The gentleman in the book became my friend and I was so sorry when the book ended.

  21. 21
    Karen Canfield
    July 11, 2017 at 10:19 am

    “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini is one of the best-written books I have ever read. It is a serious topic. Extremely powerful.

    For fun, my favorite read is “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman. The book is even more fun than the movie! I read it every couple of years just because it is so delightful. 🙂

  22. 22
    Marcy Peterson
    July 11, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Currently reading the book, Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon, a Mitford Novel

  23. 23
    Amy M.
    July 11, 2017 at 10:30 am

    In the summer, I like to read anything by Robyn Carr. Her books are an easy read nice for those lazy summer days.

  24. 24
    July 11, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg. As a matter of fact any book by Fannie is a good read.

  25. 25
    July 11, 2017 at 10:39 am

    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

  26. 26
    July 11, 2017 at 10:51 am

    One I loved recently is My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman. A little different, but fun and full of amazing characters. Thanks for the list!

  27. 27
    July 11, 2017 at 11:13 am

    The Secret History by Donna Tarrt.

    “Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.”

  28. 28
    July 11, 2017 at 11:15 am

    The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg. Simple, sweet, and an interesting concept

  29. 29
    Audrey Wright
    July 11, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    I’ve love “All these things shall give thee experience”, but based on your recommendation, I want to read “What would a holy woman do”? Thank you for sharing this list of books.

  30. 30
    Kierstin Goodrich
    July 11, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    I love The Kite Runner!

  31. 31
    July 11, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah right now is my favorite

  32. 32
    Joyce Roberts
    July 11, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    I just finished reading A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan.

  33. 33
    Cheryl Newton
    July 11, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Right now I’m reading “The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter.” I already only eat chicken and turkey and have mostly imposed that on my poor family. Hopefully for them this book won’t make it even worse!

  34. 34
    Becky Thiel
    July 11, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    I love anything Mary Kay Andrews…The Weekenders was great.

  35. 35
    July 11, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    The Outlanders series is one of my favorites!

  36. 36
    Robin Hebert
    July 11, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    The Outlanders series is one of my favorites!

  37. 37
    July 11, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    I just finished Romancing Daphne by Sarah Eden, I love all her books. I call them my dessert books. I love a book with deep themes that make you think, but we all need a dessert book to read between them. Something Sweet and fun. She never disappoints. My favorite deep read is A fine balance by Mistry Rohinton what an eye opener!!

  38. 38
    July 11, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you so much for putting these book lists out! It was your lists that inspired me to start reading again a few years ago and it has been wonderful!

    Last summer I read “The Governess of Highland Hall” and really enjoyed it. It is the first of a three book series. It is a sweet love story in which faith plays a large roll. I thought of you while reading it :). Hope you give it a chance and enjoy it as much as I did!

  39. 39
    Steve Weber
    July 11, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Water for Elephants is one of my favorites.

  40. 40
    July 11, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I really loved The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women. What a fantastic true story about radium and the women who first worked with it. You really need to check it out!

  41. 41
    July 11, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Recently reread Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Very powerful.

  42. 42
    July 11, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    I find your list of books most interesting. I’m pinning this list for winter time reading. I’ve started reading Louise Penney’s series of books. I’m late getting started, but I’ll catch up soon!

    Wishes for tasty dishes,

  43. 43
    Doreen Faucher
    July 11, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    I love Stephen King books, The Stand is wonderful!

  44. 44
    Heidi Long
    July 11, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    I liked Hidden Figures this year

  45. 45
    July 11, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    I enjoy Inferno (Robert Langdon)by Dan Brown

  46. 46
    Margaret Matlock
    July 11, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Love seeing what you have been reading. This time we only have one book in common, Pope Joan. So I will add the others to my list. One of favorite reads this year was The Bookshop on the Corner It has everything I love, libraries, bookstores and how to make a dream come true. The Chibury Ladies Choir set in England during the war was another favorite.


  47. 47
    Ann Vance
    July 11, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    I just read the 3 books in the Tales of the Goose Creek B&B series. Cute and funny slice of life in a small southern town. Easy to read and perfect for vacation reading!

  48. 48
    July 11, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    I love the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penney.

  49. 49
    July 12, 2017 at 6:07 am

    I think my favorite book is Anna Karenina. But I love all different genres and recently read A Walk in the Woods- a nonfiction by Bill Bryson- and literally laughed out loud through the whole thing!

  50. 50
    July 12, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Two books that I have read and loved this summer are The Light We Lost (best book in awhile) and Confessions of a Domestic Failure.

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