My Best Books List of 2017


As I finish up my year of reading 100 New Books in 2017, I am looking back to all the brilliant writing, yes, but, especially enjoyable hours - and hours, of reading and highlighting the best of 100 books. It still blows my mind that I read 100 books in 2017. I must preface this list with this: It was difficult compiling this list. Truly. Except for that top spot. Read on, readers!


Best Series

Firstly, I must say that I will forever adore my beloved J.D. Robb series, In Death, which follows Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her trusty sidekick Detective Peabody but this years best series is undeniable. Of course, I read both In Death novels that were published this year. They day they are on the shelves I'm pulling them off the shelves and into my hot little hands.


I had Still Life by Louise Penny on my bookshelf over a year before I picked it up one day and I. Was. Blown. Away. I followed that first beautiful offering, and it truly is an offering, with the remainder of the series that is already in paperback.

I loved every minute I gave to reading the Chief Inspector Armand Garmache of the Canadian Sûreté du Québec series. This series, by far, was my favorite series this year.

Honorable mention: of course, the In Death series by J. D. Robb and Honorable, honorable mention goes to the Amos Decker series by David Baldacci


Best book to read after you have seen the movie

The Martian. Truth be told I watched the movie first. And I am glad I did. The technical jargon in the book would have not had the same ring of understanding without having seen Matt Damon's witty and humorous rendition of the lone Mars astronaut Mark Watney, first.

Honorable mention would go to Hidden Figures because I'll admit I watched the movie before reading the book because I'd heard the book is quite technical. Truth be told I still haven't read the book because - again - I'd heard the book is quite technical. But - I have watched Hidden Figures more than once - and maybe more than twice.


Best book set during World War II

Hands down All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is the best book I read set in WWII. It is an exquisite masterpiece! I remember reading it thinking two things, "Every word is perfectly placed. And, I feel like I am a part of the story, walking beside the characters, seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, experiencing their same feelings.

Honorable mention: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


Best Christian Non-fiction book

I'm going to have to go with Women of the Word by Jen Wilken. This book on how to study your bible was life-changing! Normally, I read more Christian non-fiction books than fiction but this year was not the case and surprisingly I didn't have a big list to choose from, or the list was, dare I say, disappointing. But, the best and the honorable mention are definitely stand-ups - and stand-outs.

Honorable mention: Max Lucado's Anxious for Nothing.


Best Historical Non-fiction book

I read four historical non-fiction books this year and they were all really good. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, though, topped the list of best of the best. A close second goes to Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson.

Honorable Mention: Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly. I also read Into Thin Air and liked it but it definitely wasn't Alfred Lansing or Erik Larson caliber.


Best Un-put-down-able book

I read several books that were Un-put-down-able. There was A Man Called Ove; Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage which received top historical non-fiction billing; The Hate U Give was another book I could easily slide into this category (along with other BEST categories); but, I think I'm going to have to go with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows fictional account set during WWII (and could easily have been on my best of the best books set during WWII).

Honorable mention: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


Best Children's Book

I'm giving this category a place because I surprisingly have read quite a few children's books. My favorite this year was a Christmas book that I sent to my grandkids, Ella and Noah, for a Christmas Advent Book tradition, Christmas Day in the Morning, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck.

Honorable mention: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall


Best Non-fiction Book

It Starts with Food by Melissa Hartwig. Because it was life-changing. And, it is a clever and funny, self-help, non-fiction, read.

Honorable mention: Reading People, How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel


15 Best Books of 2017 (in no particular order)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Brackman

Still Life by Louise Penny

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Albert Lansing

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Women of the Word by Jen Wilken

Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows

It Starts With Food by Melissa Hartwig

Peace Like a River Leif Enger

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Reading People, How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel

The Fix by David Baldacci

Echoes in Death by J.D. Robb


Shall I give one book its place as...


Best Book of 2017

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows - without hesitation, or flip-flopping back and forth.













what I've been reading lately | december


All year long I have been making a 1-page layout each month of what I've been reading lately. I'm still doing that this month - making a scrapbooking layout/page of what I've been reading lately. But, I'm changing up things up a bit. I am documenting our December, joining thousands of others documenting their December with Ali Edwards' December Daily®. Thus, I am documenting what I've been reading lately in a 2-page 6 x 8 layout because my own December Daily® 2017 is in the 6 x 8 format and I wanted to include these pages into my album for December.

On to what I've been reading lately...

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. A-mazing! It took me a couple chapters to figure out what was going on, the weaving of two stories, but once I did - wow! Penny, seamlessly, moved from story to story. Such a good book! I cried several times. That's a good thing. And, this might be my favorite so far as I have gotten in the series. 89/100 books read.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. A-mazing! One of my favorite books of the year.  90/100 books read.

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny. Definitely not my favorite! Probably my least favorite of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series thus far, but after the first six and one of those a favorite in Bury Your Dead it would be hard to top. Still, I have high hopes for her remaining books in the series (which thankfully don't appear to be ending anytime soon). 91/100 books read.

The Camel Club by David Baldacci. The beginning of the book was choppy and hard to follow but once it started moving along it turned out really good. 92/100 books read.

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny. Not my least favorite of Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series but...this one takes us away from it all to a secluded from all society monastery where a monk has been murdered and a favorite character is driven aground and evil descends. It wasn't the mystery of the murdered monk that I had a hard time with (that was actually very interesting) but it was the desolation of a favorite character (although I can understand how something like this can happen to the best of us) and, moreso, the arrival of pure evil, and the feeling of having my hands tied while spiders are crawling all over me. 93/100 books read. 

The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs. Before settling on She Reads Truth Advent study, Joy to the World for my month long Advent study, I considered The Women of Christmas from a recommendation by a friend. The book is not set up for a day by day study so I set it aside for Advent but did, however, simply read for enjoyment. Truly, enjoyable. 94/100 books read.

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny. Oh my! This book ties up so much that has been loosened in this series. While not as neatly meshed as Bury Your Dead, I'm so glad a story line was solidified and wrapped up because I just could not take it any longer without it being resolved. 95/100 books read.

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis. I savored this little book slowly (on my bedside table so I would read snippets before bed) because Lewis is a master with the English language, an intellectual giant and, alas, - I am not.  Lewis, intelligently, authoritatively, and argumentatively persuades the reader of the importance and the relevance of universal values in contemporary society. Written in the early 1940's, it is astonishing to me how applicable the discourse is for today's society of individual truth, a distorted and flawed modern education system, and sheds a prophetic bright light on a worldview void of values. 96/100 books read.

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny. I struggled with this storyline. It was frustrating and sad.  97/100 books read.

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny. I hope Penny isn't moving from mystery's into evil thrillers which this one was. That being said, it was interesting, the backstory, and the presence of Three Pines characters I've come to love were there (but, not necessarily more developed), but again, it was evil. I realize there is a certain kind of evil in murder mysteries but, still... 98/100 books read.

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore. I won't say I dislike this book. It is written with quick-witted, beautifully written imagery and well, Beth Moore knows how to tell stories. However, the first part of the book was difficult to wrap myself around, and many other parts were quite frustrating and long-winded. I think it is a good first-try at a novel versus her Bible studies, which I adore, and her non-fiction work that is usually pretty good, too. 99/100 books read.

You can find all 100 books that I have read 2017, by month, here: January  |  February  |  March  |  April  |  May  |  June  |  July  |  August  |  September  |  October  |  November

My favorite books of 2016 found here.

I'm still deciding on my favorite books of 2017. At least two from this month will probably make my list.

what I've been reading | november


Today I'm sharing what I've been reading lately...

Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado. Sooo good! I'm not a very anxious person but when Lucado digs deep into anxious things I found there are a few things I could use a little work on. Not just for the anxious at heart but the stressed and the concerned and while this is typical Lucado book speak, as always, he speaks words of truth in a relatable, practical, and inspiring way. I don't think there isn't any of his books I haven't learned something, gained wisdom from. 77/100 books read.

Unspoken by Francine Rivers. A novella of historical fiction of the life of Bathsheba, one of the five women in the lineage of Jesus Christ who changed eternity. Rivers shows the unlimited grace of God given Bathsheba as testament and what we can learn from Bathsheba and the mercy of God even today. We have limited information in the Word of God regarding Bathsheba yet I can envision her story being this. 78/100 books read.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. A young adult book that delves into the world of multi-dimension travel. Besides being quite frustrated in wanting the story to resolve, and in some ways it does, but in others we are left hanging, I blazed through A Thousand Pieces in one sitting; my favorite parts are when the protagonist, Marguerite, with the aid of the Firebird, is transported into another dimension, and another, and another...It is an intriguing storyline, unique from anything I've read - definitely held my attention and worth the read. I'm sharing the cover because this fulfills Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge, a book you chose for the cover. Because it is a YA book, I wouldn't normally give it a shot (although this past year I've read quite a few YA books that have begun to change my mind - maybe) so, I definitely chose the book for the cover. I love the abstract painting underlain with two cities, different dimensions? In fact, the entire Firebird series by Claudia Gray has the same abstractness that I love. 79/100 books read.

You and Me Forever by Francis Chan & Lisa Chan. After reading this book if you give it even an ounce of effort you will not walk away unchanged. Case in point: One 'marriage' quotes from the book that rocked me to the core, "The one who wins the argument is usually the one who acts less like Christ." Boom! Because it is about becoming more like Christ, isn't it? An Amazon reviewer summed up my feelings for this book, exactly, "You And Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan is the best kind of bait-and-switch. It looks like a marriage book, and it sounds like a marriage book, but it’s not REALLY a book on marriage. It’s really a book about having the eternal view of every aspect of life, including marriage and parenting. It’s a book about seeking first the Kingdom of God and everything else, including a healthy marriage, flowing from that. And it’s about seeing everything you have, including your marriage, as something to be used for the mission of God in this world.

I estimate only about 25% of this book directly addresses marriage and marriage issues. I’m reluctant to let that cat out of the bag, because the best-case scenario would be someone beginning this book with their guard down, expecting some “tried-and-true marriage tips,” and getting creamed unawares by the Chans’ amazing vision of living a life focused on God and His mission.

This book rocked me like none I’ve read in a long time. It’s unquestionably the best book I’ve read all year, and the best marriage book I’ve ever read—if it indeed qualifies as a marriage book. This book is a manifesto of daily discipleship, in light of eternity. It was simultaneously water for my parched soul, and painful, jolting stab of conviction to my heart.

This is a book for married people, single people, people with kids, and people without them. The American church desperately needs the message of this book.

Francis and Lisa Chan do an excellent job of narrating the book. At first I found the narration a little dry. However, as the book goes on, both of them speak with deep conviction and seriousness, practically pleading with the listener to repent of their small view of God and His mission...Highly, highly recommended.
" - Nick Duffel, on Amazon. 80/100
books read.

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny. As I am only on the fourth book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, it is inevitable that at least one book in the series will be read each month over the next few months. I am enjoying this series immensely, and look forward each book to the next. With a different setting A Rule Against Murder takes us to a mountainous resort where the Gamache's are vacationing for their wedding anniversary and where, of course, murder rules the day. Another "Spot" on book. Now, let me go count my sums. 81/100 books read.

Hallelujah Anyway, Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott. Something of a memoir - of sorts. But not really. Maybe testimonies? Whatever it is supposed to be, I struggled through the first half of the book begging myself to finish but I could not find the mercy. The chapters were full of - fluff - is about all I can call it and, maybe, one line or so at the end of the chapter and coming out of nowhere, a sort of fill in the blanks of how mercy applied to the chapter. This book was: all. over. the. place. I felt like I was drowning while I was reading it. That's a horrible feeling. It was totally disjointed. Ms. Lamott is definitely not someone I would go to for spiritual guidance. 82/100 books read. 

High Heat by Richard Castle. Interesting story (at least to me). Jeff and I finished watching the television show Castle this year. We never saw it on television, but I purchased Season 1 to check it out and we were hooked. In that first season you hear about the novels, the Nicki Heat novels, the character (on the show) Richard Castle writes. For some reason I missed that the show was based on those novels (although the names are changed in the show). High Heat is a later book in the series and probably about Season 8 on the show. This was a very quick read and moved along without any lag. Not a lot of character developing as I imagine (or hope) it is done in earlier novels. I enjoyed the book enough to pick up the first three in the series and see how it goes. 83/100 books read.

A Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. Oh, Louise Penny! I love your books! Another brilliant, rich, complex story - of murder. I fall harder for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache with each novel, as well as, his trusty sidekick Jean Guy Beauvoir, and the numerous cast of characters in the quaint, secluded town of Three Pines, Canada. Imagine every good thing you can say about a murder mystery then apply it to A Brutal Telling and - well - all of Penny's novels thus far. 84/100 books read.

The Visitor's Guide to the Afterlife by Annie Pigeon. A co-worker, who I've known for many years handed me this little book. And, honestly, I only read it because he said his belated wife, who was a closer friend, had read it. I knew from the title and because my friend and I don't have similar tastes in reading material, it would be like young Tantor's saying from the Disney movie, Tarzan, "...It looks questionable to me!" It is a tad [and I use the term loosely] questionable and sarcastic, but it is a clever-humor take on heaven. Some form of spiritual and biblical awareness is necessary so as not to take the guide seriously or believable and to catch much of the humor. 85/100 books read.

Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer. This is a beautifully illustrated story of the camel carrying the gifts of the three wise men to Bethlehem. I bought 24 Christmas books for my oldest daughter's kids, but also to give them a new tradition: a Christmas book Advent, unwrapping a book a day and reading it aloud. This one, and the following two, were in the stack of books I wrapped in brown paper packaging or snowflake paper wrapping, tied each with a string, and tagged with a day of December. A sweet story. 86/100 books read.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. A 1986 Caldecott Medal Winner. Although I think it's popularity peaked when the book was made into a movie, starring Tom Hanks. When I began reading the story, I didn't realize it was such a short story. Some of the books pages were illustrated quite beautifully, while I was unimpressed with other pages, the story, however, was sweet. 87/100 books read.

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck. Yes, that Pearl S. Buck. Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck wrote this beautiful and heartwarming story about the gift of love. When love is given and love is received. It will be a favorite Christmas book of mine for a long time to come. 88/100 books read.

what I've been reading | October


I'll be linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for her monthly Quick Lit. Of course, I gathered the book titles together that I read this past month and made my monthly scrapbook page for our Stories 2017 album. You can find everything I've read this year(plus a monthly scrapbook page) under 100 New Books in 2017. As you can see below I'm getting closer to reaching my 2017 goal of 100 new books read. However, I am definitely going to have to up my reading game if I'm going to read 24 titles over the next two and a half months.

The Butterfly Hours, Transforming Memories into Memoir by Patty Dann. Inspiring. I had begun the #100days project in April writing short, 'memoirs', and had made it to day 45 / 100 when I ran out of steam. My project was using one word prompts to tell short stories/memoirs. This book, an unpretentious little gem, a short 124-pages, and easily read in short bursts was invigorating and inspiring to my world of journaling, whether current stories - or memoirs. At the end of the book is a list of one-word prompts to get you started. Before I even made it halfway through the book I began my #100days project again picking up where I left off and wrote #46/100 using the one word prompt: paper. I'm telling you, you'll be inspired to write! 69/100 books read in 2017.

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny. The second book in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series and another intriguing whodunit all the way until the end. This, and the other Gamache stories are set in Three Pines, Quebec, a charming and quaint town with lively, delightful, and fascinating characters and of those we have met before Penny continues development of each one. I am thrilled to have found another series I can sink my teeth into and enjoy from cover to cover. 70/100 books read.

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny. And - the third book in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. The continuing character development of the Three Pines towns people being re-visited and grown in each book, thus far, with all their flaws and nuances is tremendously brilliant. The additional storylines deftly woven into the talk of murder is intriguing and on-the-edge-of-my-seat suspenseful, but not scary. 71/100 books read.

Reading People, how seeing the world through the lens of personality changes everything by Anne Bogel. What to say? I walked away completely satisfied. Anne writes beautifully. I listened to the Introduction and first chapter on her podcast but I prefer reading to listening. What listening to the beginning pages did? It allowed me to hear her voice as I read. Quite a bit of what Anne shares in her book was familiar in an acquaintance sort of way. But, even the familiar was made clearer and even better, more understandable. Although, Kersey's temperaments went over my head and no matter how many times I re-read the chapter, it wasn't clicking. I particularly appreciated the theme throughout the book that learning our personality types should be life-changing (and not just sit our knowledge of what are personalities are on a shelf collecting dust). Gathering all the information about our personalities and making actual life-changes. Become more of who we are and less of, well, who we'll never be because it isn't our personality framework. This is one of those books you will need to continue to refer back to again and again. 72/100 books read.

The Fix by David Balducci. The Amos Decker series is by far my favorite of Balducci's main characters. This was another intriguing plot with twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end. The cast of characters is growing slightly and Balducci is developing them nicely. The book is fast paced without any lag and absolutely zero boredom. 73/100 books read.

Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis. I ever-so-slowly, nightly, before turning out my bedside lamp, made my way through this thin little book by the wizened, spirit-filled C.S. Lewis and in typical C.S. Lewis fashion, analytical, and sometimes goes where my mind cannot wrap itself around. Yet I still dog-eared the stirring and heart-reaching discourse for further contemplation and review. 74/100 books read.

Tier One Wild by Dalton Fury. Always looking out for a book my husband would like. Think W.E.B. Griffin and Brad Thor. He has read them all. It is rare he'll navigate away from his favorites, though. He finds little time to relax and read. But, Tier One Wild and Dalton Fury's Delta Force novels just might be the ticket. This book was fast-paced, the read - and the action within, and I know he'll like the SPEC OPS (Special Operations) lingo and storyline. As retired military and married to a former special operations soldier, I too enjoy a good counter-terrorism black operations this-could-happen-in-real-life storyline. 75/100 books read.

Braving the Wilderness, the quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone by Brené Brown. The Huffington Post writes, "“[Brown’s] research and work have given us a new vocabulary, a way to talk with each other about the ideas and feelings and fears we’ve all had but haven’t quite known how to articulate. . . . [She] empowers us each to be a little more courageous.” I agree. Because of that the book was heavy talk on politics as this is generally where we have such difficult discourse. I took copious notes in the margins and underlined quotes I agreed with and things I'd like to discuss over with my husband. While it was quite evident where her political leanings stand, except for one paragraph, I didn't feel she was bashing the other side, so I was comfortable to continue reading - but more importantly - listening and learning others views. 76/100 books read.

what I've been reading | September


Good Evening. I love this time of the month when I link up with Modern Mrs Darcy for her monthly Quick Lit round up. Besides what I am reading there are many, many other readers sharing their latest good reads. I have found there, and you will too, a veritable wealth of reading reviews which have led [me] to numerous hours of enjoyment. 

511pyvWg3YLInto Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. Reminiscent of Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, this beautifully written, sensational piece of non-fiction narrates the harrowing, yet riveting tale, of the expeditionary climb to Mt. Everest in the mid-90's that turned into the deadliest season in the history of Mt. Everest. Enthralled from beginning to end, and left stupefied by the pure guts, over the top insanity, unwavering drive, swanky bravado yet ingenuity. I recently watched the movie, Everest based loosely on the book that, of course, did not do the book justice. There is just something about these books that are so exceptionally - inspiring. 63/100 books read.



51NzjhIhK0LThe Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. A fascinating and empowering look at habits, why they exist and the potential of habits, whether negative or positive. I couldn't stop talking about this book, story after story, and sharing with my husband. Very inspiring. 64/100 books read. 





51WDAYsMQ7LA Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner. A hint of Providence threaded throughout this exquisite and fascinating tale of love and loss - and loss and love, intricately weaved through three settings in time and centered around a brightly colored scarf of marigolds. I loved this book where the premise of the story begins as far back as 1911, weaves in September 11, 2001 beautifully, and the 10 year anniversary - she takes us through time. Such a wonderful story that brought the tears flowing. 65/100 books read. 





41Zmzl0dznLA Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. Having been a real life shepherd Keller has amazing insight into the character and traits of sheep and their insatiable need for a shepherd. With this knowledge and understanding Keller looks at Psalm 23, the Shepherd's Song and casts similarities between sheep and shepherd and Sheep, that's us, and our Shepherd, Christ Jesus. 66/100 books read.





519oCt+o7TLFalling Free by Shannan Martin. The author of the blog Shannan Martin Writes wrote this book that was supposed to be about how her and her husband followed God's call to something radically different for their life than what they'd always dreamed. I know I am supposed to like this book and I do believe that the Martin's were changed by the move they made to an inner city neighborhood and I applaud them for listening to the call of God but the writing left much to be desired. She tried to write cleverly but good writing was lost in blog-ease with lines like 'we were complete strangers without a single degree of Kevin Bacon between us...' What the heck does that mean? Plus, I just felt this book might be meant for those immature in their faith, or who sit in church oblivious to the needs around them and need a wake-up call or for those afraid of doing the hard things, or for those who have already read the story through her blog. 67/100 books read.


51N6fKTFY4LSecrets in Death by J.D. Robb. Always anticipated, the next in the long-running series by Nora Roberts' pseudonym, and always a welcomed easy-to-read in one sitting, I read this through our recent storm, Hurricane Irma, thankfully, not by candlelight. Robb stuck to the story rather than re-capping relations so if you've never read a book in the In Death series you might be confused, but I appreciated not having to read through the muck, so to speak, because I'm already well-versed in Dallas and Roarke history. I think we're nearing the end of this series as it didn't have it's usual umph. I wasn't so much disappointed as resigned to the realization that Robb may have rung this series out dry. This book was comfortable (which isn't so much bad as the characters were familiar and still loveable) rather than intriguing and exciting (nothing new in character development), and danged if I didn't figure out the killer. 68/100 books read.

2017 Reading Challenge | where I stand


At the beginning of the year, I decided to participate in Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge (found here). She designed a two-track challenge giving her readers an opportunity to read for fun or read for growth with 12 challenges in each category.

Because I am reading 100 New Books in 2017 I thought it would be interesting to see if I could complete MMD's reading challenge for fun and for growth. I have been gradually "checking the boxes" in this challenge since its inception and I'm loving every minute of it. It truly is a challenge to stretch my literary repertoire through many of the titles I have selected for this challenge or even through the 100 new books I am reading.

It is the end of August and I firmly believe I will be able to meet this challenge even though I have one of the toughest in the challenge left still to read, a book that is more than 600 pages. I have completed 18 of the 24 book challenge, thus far. This is where I stand in the 2017 Reading Challenge:

In the reading for growth category, a book in any genre that addresses current events , I read the YA novel by Angie Thomas.

71pwDMHjXiLThe Hate U Give. Other than reading the back cover and seeing the unbelievably well-received reviews by all walks of life I read without bias (except, I was hopeful for some insight on the subject matter) and with an open mind. It is possible. Truly.

I was blown - away.

While the Black Lives Matter movement inspired this novel, it is more about black lives living and loving and pursuing a good life. I loved the dialogue and felt it was true to life. I felt I was a part of the story, following along with Starr, the main character, and seeing black lives through her eyes. As I shared previously, my favorite, of so many great lines, "He was more than any bad decision he made," Bam! If you want to get an inkling of understanding out of Black Lives Matter, how black lives live, and racial tensions then read this book.

In the reading for growth category, a book recommended by someone with great taste, I read the Leif Enger novel,

711WBU9Yz1LPeace Like a River. Recommended to me by a friend and 30 year high school English Literature teacher in our local school system. Peace Like a River is her all-time favorite book and she uses it every year in her literature classes. From page one there is so much to pay attention to as Enger brings the fictional life of the scarred but breathlessly endearing Land family to life; and, compelling the reader to believe in miracles in the everyday just by being compassionate. Narrated by the middle child, Reuben Land, who has no trouble carrying the story to a crescendo so intense it too leaves you breathless. Loved this book from start to finish. My favorite character was Swede and her beloved poems. Definitely will hold a top spot in favorite books of the year.


In the reading for fun category, a juicy memoir, I read Rob Lowe's memoir

61dAlLVm3yLStories I Only Tell My Friends. It was an engaging memoir of Lowe's life before and during his life as an actor. I particularly enjoyed those times he encountered stars, and how he encountered them, and the lessons he learned from them - before they were stars; some truly big name entertainment people. He's done some pretty stupid stuff in his life but he really grew up and is someone his mom could be proud of. Because I know he is a liberal and he is influenced heavily, by many I have little respect for, yet, I was pleasantly surprised at his respect for bi-partisan politics and politicians, truly inspiring that he appreciates hearing the messages from both party sides.



In the reading for fun category, a book in a genre you usually avoid, I read a YA dystopian-type novel by Marie Lu,

61+oJZSrGxLLegend. Actually first in a trilogy, I enjoyed the book immensely. It was fast-paced and intriguing, holding my attention; different from the Hunger Game series which I read aloud to my sons several years ago, and the Divergent series, but definitely within the YA genre I usually avoid because authors have the tendency to make 'kids' older than they are, or should be. In fact, after reading this book it spurred me on to give YA novels another chance.




In the reading for growth category, a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award, I read the Pulitzer Prize winning, brilliantly-crafted, astounding bestseller by Anthony Doerr

51wG7x-S+0LAll the Light We Cannot See. Gorgeous! Exquisite! I adored every page from beginning to end of this skillfully written and truly believable literary masterpiece that primarily takes place in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. I loved the short chapters told in alternating character voices that swiftly moved the story through time rather than laboriously moving through the 500+ pages. As I read I kept saying to myself, "the words Doerr crafted together are so beautiful! Every word is perfectly placed, perfectly stated." I felt like I was experiencing first hand, walking beside the characters, being drawn in to their experiences.



 In the reading for fun category, a book about books or reading, I read The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. While I enjoyed the book pairings throughout the novel and the concept of a bookshop on wheels (like a food truck going from place to place or at a Farmer's Market offering) the unrealistic telling of what this book mobile looked like is hard to comprehend or believe.

In the reading for growth category, read three books by the same author, I read a new favorite author this year, David Balducci's, The Last Mile, The Innocent, and Zero Day. The Last Mile is the second book in the Memory Man, Amos Decker series which is a brilliant character and probably my favorite series of Balducci's.

Again, in the reading for growth category, a book in translation, at the beginning of the year and the first category fulfilled, I read Fredrick Brackman's, A Man Called Ove. 

In the reading for growth category, a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection, I read Shauna Niequist's Bread & Wine. I also read Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner that would have most definitely fallen under an essay collection and truly worth your while. immigrant story, I read A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner. This was on MMD 25 great stories about the immigrant experience and I had already picked it up from Smile Amazon over a year ago, plus, it sounded wonderful. I was not disappointed!!!

...a Newbury Award winner or Honor Book, I read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I read the book and was disappointed but I heard it is best in audio.

In the reading for fun category, a book about a topic you already love, I read Erik Larsen's, Isaac's Storm. What can I say? I'm a meteorologist who loves meteorology.

Again, in the reading for fun category, a book you were excited to buy but haven't read yet, I read Andy Weir's, The Martian. I had this on my shelf for quit some time before reading. Shame on me I even watched the movie before I read the book. But I'm glad I did because I was able to see the story and I think they did a good job on creating the movie.

...a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able, I read Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Very, very good read.

...a book you have been dying to read, it is no surprise I read the latest in the J. D. Robb In Death series, Echoes in Death. Robb's next book is out September 5 and I'll be at Walmart on September 5. I don't wait anymore for the paperbacks. I just don't. This past weekend I counted my In Death hardbacks, a total of 14 which means I've been reading the hardback books for 7 years versus waiting for the paperback.

...a book you have already read, I have actually read a couple: J.D. Robb's Naked in Death, the first in the In Death series with the idea I would start from the beginning, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis because I'm reading through the entire series.

...a book published before you were born I read Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, originally published in 1934, almost 30 years before I was born. I pulled this title out because I saw the previews of the new Murder on the Orient Express movie coming out in November and I wanted to go see it - but not before I read the book.

...a book set somewhere you've never been but would visit I read Still Life by Louise Penny, set in the quaint town of Three Pines, Quebec. While I'm not headed to Quebec I am, however, taking a trip to Niagara Falls, Canada in November.

This leaves me with the remaining selections in the challenge that I have not read yet:

...a book you chose for the cover - TBD (because I'm still looking, although I've seen some great book covers)

...a book in the backlist of a new favorite author. Most likely I will read an older David Balducci book.

...a book that is more than 600 pages. Potential books in this category are Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen King's, 11/22/63, or Lonesome Dove. I already have the last three on my bookshelves so that said, I better get started if I have any hope of finishing before the end of the year.

...a book by an #ownvoice or #diversebooks author. Most likely I will read Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini, or One In a Million Boy by Monica Wood.

...a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending - probably, Code Name Verity.


...a book nominated for an award in 2017 - TBD







what I've been reading | august


One of my favorite times of the month when I link up with Modern Mrs Darcy for her Quick Lit round up and sharing my own latest good reads (and not so good reads). And, of course, I created my monthly 12 x 12 scrapbooking page documenting what I read which I will include in our annual album. 

I read fairly consistently and completed 10 books and have begun two more (which will be finished soon!)

51Sz0tsLGALRed Rising by Pierce Brown. I became intrigued by Red Rising after reading several blog post reviews then visited Amazon and realized it was highly rated, as well. Yes, it is YA. Yes, it is a dystopian novel. But, I hit buy in my cart without a hiccup. I'm glad I did because, surprisingly, I enjoyed reading this youth centered book, but, while reading, one forgets the characters are, in fact, youth. 53/100





41vrUXPRhcLUnveiled by Francine Rivers. This is actually the first in the series; I've already read Unshaken, the story of Ruth. This is the story of Tamar. Rivers remains true to scripture but still weaves a beautiful, yet-fictional story of the life of Tamar who is the first women God specifically named in the lineage of Jesus. Forever will we know the name Tamar because of that alone, but Rivers gives us another possibility. I'm really enjoying these novella's, a short 130 pages, a quick read, but an intriguing look into the lives and customs of God's people. 54/100




41RA0y6uVhLLooking Glass Lies by  Varina Denman. Very heavy, mostly depressing fictional novel about the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society and men's unrelenting expectations. I can see how approaching the subjects that many women who struggle with or are facing, like pornography, emotional abuse, extramarital affairs, and cutting through the lens of a benign fictional read, but, it also makes the reading for enjoyment not so enjoyable, even difficult and depressing. That said, I did find good wisdom throughout its pages. 55/100




51mVNFGnIzLThe Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. A very quick, yet truly delightful read, that tells the tale of how Narnia was spoken (sung, actually) into existence and where the Wardrobe came from. Loved reading the FIRST book in the Chronicles of Narnia. 56/100






511+vb-17jLMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. Any time I read any Agatha Christie murder mystery I know I'm in for a clever story. This was an engrossing novel and I read it in one sitting and it doesn't even matter that I figured out whodunit before the end because it was just as exciting finding out how it was done. My intention is to see the new movie coming out this year so I wanted to read the book, first. 57/100





51erHMLhIzLThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It has been more than 15 years since I read what I once believed to be the first in the Chronicles of Narnia, but, alas, I have been set straight. I read this aloud, all those many years ago, around the dinner table to my family for many hours of enjoyment. Surprisingly, I was able to finish reading it on my own in one sitting. It is so good! 58/100





51zBzHmoXxLThe Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan. I have been on a roll reading a book a day the first week in August and picked up this book about books mostly because I wanted to mark another book off as read on my 2017 Reading Challenge. So. The Bookshop on the Corner. The beginnings were somewhat - frustrating. Over and over the main character, Nina's woes at losing her job, what's she to do, woe is me, this going wrong, that going wrong but then suddenly everything fell into place, including the book, and I began to like it ever so much. 59/100




71FdTl2+OhLGoliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio. Lots of fiction this month, when my most favorite reads are mostly non-fiction. I'd recently read a good review so I dropped this title into my Smile Amazon cart. I read, first, who gave the book praise. Because names like Ravi Zacharias, Christine Caine, and Charles Stanley gave the book high praise I expected great things. Goliath Must Fall did not disappoint. I took copious amounts of notes in my Poppin notebook (my go-to notebook for notetaking). 60/100




41OZ+ylez7LUnashamed by Francine Rivers. The second in the A Lineage of Grace series, one of five women who changed eternity. This one is about Rahab, the prostitute of Jericho who hid two Israeli spies because she believed in the God of Israel. Honestly, it is my favorite, so far. Love the possibility! 61/100 





41eF7fYlSoLKitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. A very strange yet enjoyable read. I loved every single mention of food and recipe and menu. This book captured the truth about how family and relationships and community always, at their best, and worst times, centers around food. It chronicles the life of one women from birth to chef stardom, and the characters that move in and out of her life for better or worse. 62/100



what I've been reading | july


Today, I am sharing all the glorious books I have been reading lately and I am linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy Quick Lit where you can find, even more, great reading possibilities. I adore this time of the month where I visually compile everything I've read here on the blog and permanently document what I've been reading with a scrapbooking page for my annual albums. I get to combine two great loves: scrapbooking and reading.

And, here it is the middle of July and I have already read over half of my goal and checking off more on my 2017 Reading Challenge. I am a bit slim on reading as I have had a house full of family for the past couple of weeks so reading has been low on the priority list.

41b4qt4fZgLLove Lives Here by Maria Goff. I have mixed feelings about Love Lives Here. Parts I adored and parts were just hoo hum, bland, and uninspiring. The first chapters were breathtaking and then many of the stories following fell flat, interspersed with a few bold, poignant statements or paragraphs. There was enough here and there to make me hold on but I'm not sure what my take away of this book, is. 48/100

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. After I moved past the unusual 51+mO5tlK6Lbeginning - the letter writing - or what I thought was just in the beginning - and realized the entire book was letters, I became engrossed in the conversation between so many different and delightful characters I couldn't put this book down. The idea is brilliant and I loved this story told through only letter writing. 49/100

41lREceTIXLStill Life by Louise Penny. The debut novel in the Inspector Armand Gamache series and, I hope, another beloved series. I wasn't even half way through the book and I was already thinking I would definitely be reading the next in the series. 50/100

Unshaken, a Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. This beautiful novella is the story of 41h69jzmtdLRuth, the Moabitess, who by God's grace is in the lineage of Jesus, the Christ. Rivers, remaining true to scripture, yet with plausible liberties, offered a storied life of how Ruth became one of the most beloved women of the Bible and a great, great, great....grandmother of Jesus. 51/100



Naked In Death by J.D. Robb. While it's true I have already read Naked in Death, it is, however, a check in a box on my 2017 Reading Challenge list, read a book you have already read.

Hell's Corner by David Baldacci. A bit out of order, as I usually like to begin a series of books from - well - the 51yq3E1DZ1L beginning. But when I picked it up from the bookshelf they have at my work I didn't realize it was the fifth in a series. I enjoy well-written counterintelligence suspense novels and this one does not disappoint. While I certainly believe reading a series in order is best I haven't been concerned by anything I might have missed as Hell's Corner reads much like a stand-alone book. 52/100


All the other books I've read this year can be found here: January  |  February  |  March  |  April  |  May  |  June

what I've been reading | june


  I am continuing to document what I am reading right here on my blog as well as linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit reviews. In addition, I create a digital scrapbooking page to include in our annual album. I am scrapping Project Life, yes, but I also am telling individual stories, like this page - what I've been reading lately. 


The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis. a hefty, philosophical read brimming with challenging applicable truths. 41/100







The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God's Best Version of You by John Ortberg. Meaty. Ortberg confronts some difficult concepts simply which enlightened those oft misunderstood concepts regarding peace, studying/reading the Word, and even freed me from possibly incorrect thinking. 42/100 



Responding to the War Against Black Bodies by Zakiya N. Jackson. An essay in the Digital Commons, Pepperdine University, Volume 24, Issue 3 Manifestations of War. Powerful and thought-provoking, I am on a lament and a quest for Christ-like justice. I opened my heart to listen to Zakiya Jackson's words; be vulnerable and accountable. 43/100



God's Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis. Recommended by my favorite pastor at our church, I found this spiritually-minded yet extremely practical guide to fasting an easy read and profoundly helpful. 44/100 




Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. From page one there is so much to pay attention to as Enger brings the fictional life of the scarred but breathlessly endearing Land family to life; and, compelling the reader to believe in miracles in the everyday just by being compassionate. Narrated by the middle child, Reuben Land who has no trouble carrying the story to a crescendo so intense it too leaves you breathless. Loved this book from start to finish. My favorite character was Swede and her beloved poems. Definitely will hold a top spot in favorite books of the year. 45/100 


It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Oh my! From chapter one and the reason behind their Whole30 journey hit me like a ton of bricks. I've set a start date as you are encouraged to do and I'm beginning preparations for my Whole 30 - month. 46/100 





The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Phe-nom-e-nol! A-mazing! Blown away by Thomas' words. My favorite of so many great lines, "He was more than any bad decision he made," Bam! If you want to get an inkling of understanding out of Black Lives Matter and racial tensions with the police and whites then read this book. 47/100



 ...and the other books I've read so far in 2017: JANUARY  |  FEBRUARY  |  MARCH  |  APRIL  |  MAY

Finally, this is where I stand in the MMD 2017 Reading Challenge:



what I've been reading | may


 I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for What I've been Reading Lately - the new and the notable in which everyone shares where the literary world has taken them.

This has been a fun reading-filled month. I desperately needed a reading-plenty month if I hope to reach 100 New Books in 2017. Thus, five months down and I've read 40 of 100 books. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. I haven't lost hope I will reach my goal, now.



Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck. Except for the first several chapters I actually enjoyed this book. It is no literary masterpiece but wholesome, clean and Rachel handled the Christian fiction aspect superbly. Some authors think they have to apologize within the novel for their characters 'saving themselves for marriage' but Hauck simply made it a non-issue, a given for her characters. I applaud this because she handled a budding relationship, upholding it well through their godly character. While the story line is somewhat overused and the ending anti-climatic it was a couple hours of enjoyment. 28/100

51UK3HRRyVLLoving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall. I understand the format used for the book was probably necessary for the 'experiment' the author was undergoing and the premise for the book and with another book it might have worked well but I labored through the book, grudgingly, and found it painfully slow and frustrating that I rarely find in 'Christian' non-fiction. From day to day I found no loving of her actual life, simply discontent. If it was her experiment to find contentment she failed. Or, maybe she found it but it definitely wasn't clear through her writing. Suffice it to say I got absolutely nothing out of the entire book. Any spiritual truths were drowned out by discontentment and it certainly doesn't seem like she 'loves' her life. 29/100


61dAlLVm3yLStories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. As part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge Reading for Fun - a juicy memoir I read Lowe's autobiography and enjoyed every juicy minute of the book. It was an engaging memoir of Lowe's life before and during his life as an actor. I particularly enjoyed those times he encountered stars, and how he encountered them, and the lessons he learned from them - before they were stars; some truly big name entertainment people. He's done some pretty stupid stuff in his life but he really grew up and is someone his mom could be proud of. Because I know he is a  liberal and he is influenced heavily, by many I have little respect for, I was pleasantly surprised at his respect for bi-partisan politics and politicians, truly inspiring that he appreciates hearing the messages from both party sides. 30/100



His Word in My Heart by Janet Pope. Amazing! I've memorized some scripture but Pope's book His Word in My Heart has spurred me on towards a more meaningful: "...a vantage point from which to view the world," "...a life centered on His kingdom, not mine," "if my soul thrived everything else would fall into place," "the keystone in memorizing is reviewing," "If our knowledge of God is shallow, can our love be deep?" Just to name a few quotes that struck at my heart and moved me back into the valued task of hiding His word in my heart. 31/100


51NYppzf+aLHave You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carolyn McCloud. I read this to Jarrod this weekend. He endured the torture of me reading a children's book aloud. Just kidding. Reminiscent of Gary Smalley's concept of filling your spouses and children's buckets, meeting their needs or their love languages, Have You Filled a Bucket Today, invites this concept to children, in the language of children. This is a precious book that I cannot wait to read to my grandchildren. 32/100


The Escape by David Baldacci. Another in the John Puller series, The Escape was fantastic! After a misstep from his previous John Puller novel I was thrilled that this one turned out so good. There was plenty of uncertainty and misdirection and 'I did not see that one coming' that the book was thrilling and frustrating at the same time. Unbelievably, it also, fixed a wrong that has bothered me from the beginning of the series. 33/100





Quiet by Susan Cain. A plethora of information in an easily readable communique. An intriguing bounty into the world, or rather - mind, of an introvert. I saw myself scattered throughout and even saw, without realizing it, how I 'overcame' some of my introvert-ness (I'm still fully introvert but I've adjusted my sails in order to navigate unchartered waters of extrovert living). 34/100 





Saving Faith by David Baldacci. Parts of this I really loved. Baldacci seems a master of governmental conspirators and spies, counterintelligence, and suspense and intrigue and Saving Faith was exceptional when handling these areas of the book. But. But, he horribly fumbles when it involves the male-female relationship. If he had kept it 'budding' I would have liked it much better but where he took it and where those chapters went were unnecessary - to me. 35/100




Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie. Chapters I related to immediately, took copious notes, underlined, annotated, - loved and that drew me in; and, chapters that seemed mindless, endless, ramblings and left me frustrated. 36/100





71yg3JyYa9LSteal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. I only recently picked up this little gem, and devoured it in just over an hour of uninterrupted reading pleasure. This book is for creative. I'd like to believe I am a creative and I walked away from this book inspired to - well - create. And, steal like an artist! I loved his pages on keeping a log book and a calendar, 'the slow accumulation of little bits of effort over time,' plus, many more great quotes- to- live- by. 37/100



Legend by Marie Lu. Another in Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge Reading for Fun - a book in a genre you usually avoid. Not normally a YA fiction kinda' gal, although I have read both hit YA series trilogy's, The Hunger Games and The Divergent, out loud to my sons when they were in high school and I enjoyed them, probably more than they did (they prefer YA myths and fantasy over dystopian). But, I enjoyed this book immensely. So much so, I've already ordered the last two in the series, Prodigy and Champion. 38/100





Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly. Superb. The detailed, historical research is unbelievably thorough, and impressive. It reads as an engaging story rather than a piece of historical non-fiction. This is my first of the 'killing' series by O'Reilly and I will definitely pick up other historical stories. 39/100 






Portraits of Courage, a Commander-in-Chiefs Tribute to America's Warriors by George W. Bush. The portraits, the faces of the American warriors Bush chose to represent, are raw. But, many of them are still living in the raw. Yet, their stories, those Bush chose to tell, show indubitably a warriors spirit. A truthful, and inspiring collection or portraits and words that also shows Bush's heart, compassion, and genuine empathy for his warriors. 40/100