These are the books that I am reading/have read in 2011. When possible, I have linked to them at Amazon so you can check them out, too!
The Help by Kathryn Stockett ($9.98 Kindle Edition)
Excellent book. Really, really excellent. I read it for an online book club and it made for a fascinating discussion. I loved the characters and their depth. I love the questions that were probed. I loved that it took a difficult subject and made me laugh at the same time it made me really, really think. I would highly recommend this book. Highly!
The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister (Free Kindle Edition, now $8.59)
This was an incredibly hard read, both in terms of subject matter and style. Because it is an almost verbatim copy of actual diary entries made during the Holocaust it is very disjointed. Diaries are not typically written for anyone else to read so there’s missing information. The editors did their best to fill in the gaps, but it was just hard to follow in some places.
It was raw, emotional, and hard to stomach. I am glad to have read this book. It really brought the reality of that horrible time to life in a way that 3rd person accounts simply can’t.
The Justice Game by Randy Singer (Free Kindle Edition, now $9.39)
I had a hard time with this one. I struggle with court room drama anyway, but this one was a drag. I think it boiled down to too many plot lines. Too many stories to try and follow. Just too much. If I do court room drama it needs to be mainly in the courtroom. The personal stories were just too much for me.
A Time to Love by Barbara Cameron (free Kindle Edition, now $9.68)
This was a good book. Light, easy reading. I don’t go searching out romances and is it just me or are there a ton of books out set among the Amish and Mennonites? Anyway, this one did a good job of weaving together the modern world and the Amish world, so that was nice – to get a glimpse of a much simpler lifestyle. I prefer my heroines with a little less angst and self-loathing/doubt, but overall, this was an enjoyable book, though not what I would call a page-turner, as I was content to put it down and come back to it over time, taking nearly 3 weeks to read it.
The Little Known by Janice Daugharty (Free Kindle edition, now $8.59)
I really enjoyed this book. Knot is the main character and is a charming, older than his years, little boy/young man that finds a bag of money. He attempts to change the lives of the people around him by ananymously handing the money out. The results are mixed, to say the least.
It was interesting to follow the lives of the people around Knot and the lives of the people that he touched. I liked that the story felt real and the ending was happy, but not sappy, impossible happy. Real life happy.
Goodness Gracious Green by Judy Christie (free Kindle Edition, now $9.86)
It was a little frustrating to read this book, the second in a series, before reading the first. There’s a history between the characters that you just don’t follow. Of course, that’s not the fault of the book, which was a free Amazon download.
That being said, I really enjoyed the book. I love books set in small towns where everyone knows everyone. This fits the bill perfectly. I loved the characters, although some of the situations seemed a little contrived and some of the resolution a bit rushed.
Still, it was good enough to make me put the first book and following books in my wishlist. And that is saying something.
Medicus by Ruth Downie (was a free Kindle Download, now $9.66)
This was a really good book! It’s set in Great Britain during the Roman occupation and told from the point-of-view of a Roman Surgeon. It’s a murder mystery, which I love, and a hint of romance.
What was nice is that there were no efforts made to sanitize the time period and I love that in a historical book. The good old days were great, but they weren’t easy…
Also, the first in a series, I have added the future books to my reading list.
One caveat! I tend to judge whether I would/will pay for a book based on whether I will re-read it. I wouldn’t re-read this one. It was really good and I enjoyed it, but it’s not a “go-to” book for me. So it was a great free book, but I wouldn’t pay $10 for it!
Unclutter Your Life in One Week by Erin Doland ($10 on Nook)
I collect organizing books. I need the inspiration. This one is good, if a little misleading unless you are a super-hero with the power to slow time. There’s no getting this volume of work done in one week. I am reading it before jumping in and applying it and making notes on what needs doing.
I will re-read this one, and my star rating may change once I finish the book. For now, three stars because I can’t implement it in one week. I do like the style of writing and the suggestions for getting organized, and I would recommend this for anyone looking to unclutter and get organized. Just know that it will likely take longer than 7 days.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown ($10 on Nook)
Yes, this is a self-help book. No, I don’t typically buy self-help books. This one I can highly recommend. You know, for anyone that needs to start loving themselves, quit the negative self-talk, etc.
If you need more information you can watch Brene’s talk at TEDx Houston. Excellent. Well worth the 20 minutes.
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett ($19.99 Kindle Edition)
I love historical fiction anyway, so this book really fit the bill. I love the sweeping history covering so many countries and political intrigue. What I could have done without was some of the more graphic sex scenes. I was perfectly comfortable with the allusions to sexual trysts, but have never been comfortable with the play-by-play style of some of the scenes.
I was actually disappointed when I finished the book knowing that the second book is not out yet. I truly hope that the next book continues the story of the same families/characters because I have grown very attached to them and I want to know what happens to them!
The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen (Free Kindle Edition)
This one is a regency romance, which, on the whole, is not my favorite style of book. I liked it though, once the story started to pick up. Even better, it’s one that I would be okay with letting my kids read (if they were interested). It had some points where the story just dragged – typically when discussing the parties and concerns of the upper-crust. Overall, a good book!
Switched by Amanda Hocking (99 cents on Kindle)
This one probably can be best characterized as in the same vein as Twilight. It’s an easy read with a little too much emphasis on a whiny, woe-is-me main character that is desperatly in love with someone that she “can’t” be with. And that someone knows what is best and is virtually perfect. Also a trilogy, I have not decided whether I will spring for books 2 +3 just yet, as I still have tons of other stuff to read and I expect that the books will wind up much in the same place as Twilight.
I think it is really great that the book is basically self-published and doing really well over on Amazon.
The Potluck Club by Linda Evans Shepherd + Eva Marie Everson (Free Kindle Edition, now $5.49)
I didn’t care much for this one. I think my biggest turn-off was that I didn’t like or sympathize with any of the characters. The story dragged on and on and on and there was way too much jumping around. Instead of having the story told by one main character it was like little vignettes from each of 6 characters plus the thoughts of the reporter that is watching them all for an article that was supposed to provide transition. I was just glad to be done with this one.
If Christian fiction is your thing wait and see if it’s offered free again, but I wouldn’t recommend buying the book. I am not even remotely interested in purchasing any of the following books in the series.
Boyfriends, Burritos + An Ocean of Trouble by Nancy Rue (Free Kindle Edition, now $7.99)
I really, really liked this one. Part of the Real Life series that connects four girls through a book that helps them discover the right direction for their lives. It’s YA Christian fiction and deals with some subject matter that I wouldn’t want a younger teen to read (under 15 or right before they start dating) and I think that Mom and/or Dad would need to read and discuss.
I really liked the main character – she was written to be very real – and her Grandmother. The story was compelling and had the kind of ending that I really like! I am strongly considering purchasing the other 3 books in the series to read and have on hand for my kids.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen ($5 for Kindle)
I really liked this book. It was a quick, easy read for me and I am glad I bought it, because it is a book I can see myself re-reading sometime in the future and getting something different from it.
I enjoyed the historical portrayal of the circus and the warm portrayal of Jacob as an old man. I wish the character development had been a bit deeper, but I think that would have required a longer book, and it might not have suited the story. Hard to say. I think maybe the story would have benefitted to have some of the peripheral characters developed a bit more, rather than staying so flat and along the periphery of the story – it would have added depth to the circus.
Anyway, I’d recommend this one. I am glad I read it before seeing the movie because it makes me that much more interested to see how the movie is done. This length of book, I think, will really work well as a movie.