I feel like I failed miserably in the reading department this year. The last few months of the year I just didn’t have a desire to read. I would start a book, only for it to sit unfinished on my bedside table for weeks. Although I didn’t read as many books as I had hoped to, I still read some really good ones!
I have a motto: Life is too short to keep reading a book you don’t love! It took me a long time to realize that. I felt obligated to finish every book I picked up, even when I wasn’t enjoying it. This year there were several books I chose not to finish, but here’ are the ones I did….
1. Love Walked In By Marisa De Los Santos
I saw this book on several must read lists as 2015 was coming to an end. I found a copy at a used book store and immediately started reading. Honestly, I wasn’t hooked at page 1. It took several chapters before I became invested in the story. Actually, I wasn’t fully invested until Cornelia and Clare met. That’s where the story really begins – and it was a beautiful, unexpected love story between two unlikely people.
2. The Last Anniversary By Liane Moriarty
This was my first book to read by Moriarty and it made me want to read everything she’s written. Newly single Sophie moves to Scribbly Gum Island – home of the famous Munro Baby Murder – after she inherits a house from her ex-boyfriend’s aunt. Her new life consists of many secrets as she becomes part of a very unconventional family. This book kept me guessing with each turn of the page and was full of well developed characters and a few good plot twists.
I did read almost all of Moriarty’s books in 2016, but I must admit I didn’t finish The Hypnotists Love Story – I just could not get into it – and I still have her newest book Truly Madly Guilty sitting on my bookshelf.
3. For The Love: Fighting For Grace in a World of Impossible Standards By Jen Hatmaker
I wasn’t intending to read this book, but I’d heard it was hilarious and couldn’t pass up the good deal when I found it on the bargain shelf at the local Christian bookstore. It is indeed hilarious. I laughed out loud. I even shared a few of the funny moments with John, although he didn’t seem to care that much.
4. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing By Judy Blume
I have so many found memories of reading as a child. I loved the Super Fudge series, The Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew just to name a few. This year I thought I’d read some of my favorite books from childhood. Turns out I read only ONE! I started with the first book of the Super Fudge series and giggled my way through it. It’s fun to open a book and relive childhood memories. Maybe I’ll make more time to do that in 2017.
5. And Then I Found You By Patti Callahan Henry
It had been years since I’d read one of Henry’s books and I won’t wait that long to read the next one. Her descriptive writing had me hooked from page one. Take her description of a puddle for instance: a disgusting soup made of mud and the lime-green slime of newly mowed grass.
She describes sunlight as spilled lemonade. Does it get any better?
Actually, it does. And Then I Found You is an adoption story and I couldn’t put it down. A must-read for any adoptive mama.
6. The Choices We Make By Karma Brown
This was my favorite book of 2016. I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a story about friendship. One woman robbed of motherhood by infertility and her best friend willing to give her what she wants more than anything – a child. The author captures every beautiful and gut wrenching emotion associated with infertility and surrogacy.
7. First Comes Love By Emily Giffin
I always look forward to Giffin’s newest book. I preordered this one months before it released. I couldn’t wait to read it, even though her past few books have left me a little disappointed. I think it’s really hard to outdo her first books Something Borrowed and Something Blue. The reason I didn’t love First Comes Love is because it took so much time to get to know the characters and then the story just ended. It’s about two sisters and the struggles they face years after their brother’s death. One of those struggles being a very rocky relationship. I liked the characters but I was left with questions. It really needed one more chapter to tie up the loose ends.
8. Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger By Beth Harbison
This was my first time to read a book by Harbison and I enjoyed it! A funny, romantic read! Perfect chick lit! Quinn was going to marry Burke, but right before the wedding she discovered shocking news. So she did the only thing she could think of. She left him at the altar and ran off with his brother. Now Quinn makes wedding dresses and avoids love at all costs. When the brothers who turned her world upside down return to town, old feelings surface.
9. Once Upon a Wine By Beth Kendrick
Kendrick fans won’t be disappointed in her newest Black Dog Bay story. At the request of her aunt and cousin, Cammie returns to the small beach town where she spent her summers. The town where she fell in love and swore she’d never settle down. Together, the three women try to turn a dying vineyard into a well-to-do wine business, each of them learning lessons in love along the way.
10. Heart Made Whole:Turning Your Unhealed Pain Into Your Greatest Strength By Christa Black Gifford
I started this book and then it sat on my bedside table for weeks. When I picked it back up, the first paragraph was exactly what I needed to read regarding a difficult situation I found myself in. Heart Made Whole challenged me. Although some of the book seemed a little out there, it encouraged me to be honest with myself and with God. It helped me pinpoint past hurts and how they affect me today, which is a great first step towards healing.
11. The Friend’s We Keep By Susan Mallery
This was my first time to read a book by this author, and let me just tell you how disappointed I was to discover (a few chapters in) that I was reading the second book in a series. UGH! I was too far in to turn back. I had to finish the book because it really was that good! The book weaves together stories of infertility, teenage pregnancy, adoption and friendship. Stories I could relate to on so many levels. It was a great book to get lost in at the end of the day.
You don’t have to read the first book to understand the second one. That was a plus. It could stand on its own. I’m not sure I will go back and read the first book, but I am anxiously awaiting the release of the third one.
12. All About IEPs: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about IEPs By Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright and Sandra Webb O’Connor
When you have a child with special needs, you have to educate yourself so that you can be the best advocate for them! If you have a child on an IEP, this is a great book to read. It will answer all your questions and prepare you for the sometimes dreaded IEP meeting.
13. The Husband’s Secret By Liane Moriarty
After loving The Last Anniversary and not finishing The Hypnotist’s Love Story, I was unsure how I’d feel about this book. I had heard great things about it so I decided to give it a chance. I’m so glad I did. Moriarty does a marvelous job weaving characters lives together in her stories; surprising you with lots of twists and turns.
I picked this book up at the exact moment I needed it. Sometimes it’s difficult to look for lovely when you’re stuck in hard places. This book is a reminder to keep going. To not give up. To look for lovely each and every step of the way.
15. Pretending to Dance By Diane Chamberlain
Aside from the fact that I always enjoy Chamberlain’s novels, this book intrigued me because of the adoption story weaved throughout the pages. As Molly and her husband prepare to adopt a baby, she must face her own dark secrets. The life she’s tried to forget and has strived so hard to hide now threatens the family she desperately longs to have.
16. All the Summer Girls By Meg Donohue
A story of three former best friends who have returned to the beach town where tragedy struck and tore them apart. After years of secrets, the truth is finally revealed among the sand dunes and salty air. All the Summer Girls is a story about secrets, lies, deception, love, forgiveness and starting over.
17. Big Little Lies By Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies is probably my favorite Liane Moriarty book. I love the way she weaves the stories of several characters together, surprising the reader at every twist and turn. Madeline, Celeste and Jane have no idea just how connected their lives really are and the tragedy that will occur because of their little white lies.
18. Barefoot Season By Susan Mallery
I thought I’d love this book since I loved The Friends We Keep, but it was just okay. Michelle has just returned home to Blackberry Inn after ten years and three tours in Afghanistan. She’s healing from physical and emotional wounds and the last person she wants to deal with is her ex-best friend Carly. Carly has kept Blackberry Inn running since Michelle’s mother died, clueless that it’s on the verge of foreclosure. Michelle is desperate to save the Inn but needs Carly’s help to do it. Will she swallow her pride or lose the only place she’s ever called home?
19. Here’s To Us By Elin Hilderbrand
I’ve never not loved a book by Elin Hildebrand. Her novels scream summertime and her newest release did not disappoint. Three women – who loved (and married) the same man, but hate each other – find themselves on Nantucket to say their final goodbyes to famous chef, Deacon Thorpe. Throw Deacon’s three children into the mix and the drama just escalates. The untraditional family fights, laughs, cries, betrays and loves as they figure out how to live life without the man they all loved.
20. The Broken Way By Ann Voskamp
I had the privilege of being on the launch team for this book and I got to meet Ann at a local book signing. I have to read Ann’s books slowly. She has such a unique writing style and my brain needs time to process her words. These nine words remain my favorite quote from the book: Our brokenness can be a container for God’s glory!
21. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely By Lysa TerKeurst
I knew the moment I saw this book that I needed to read it! The title sums up how I’ve felt many times in my life. I picked this book up a week or so after my own messy rejection. Lysa’s words spoke truth into my shattered heart. Her words pointed me to Jesus. I was reminded that God loves me even when I’m messed up and make terrible mistakes. I have no doubt this book will be an amazing resource to women. Because if we’re honest, I think we feel less than, left out and lonely more than we care to admit.
22. In Twenty Years By Allison Winn Scotch
It took me a while to finish this book, but once I started I wanted to know how the story ended. Five friends reluctantly reunite to celebrate their late friend Bea’s birthday. Bea is the one who kept them together. Bea made them a family. But Bea is gone and life is different. They aren’t the college kids they used to be. Will they confront the past and move forward or will they allow old grudges and past mistakes to keep them stuck in the past?
23. Winter Storms By Elin Hilderbrand
This was supposed to be the final book of the Winter Street Trilogy and I was super sad when I finished this book. Although Elin did a fabulous job tying up all the lose ends of the Quinn Family, I found myself wishing for more. I want to know how Ava does in her new life in NYC. I want to know how Bart acclimates to life after war. It’s a good thing Elin shared her secret with fans while she was in Oklahoma a few months ago. We were the first ones to hear that there’s going to be a fourth book! I can’t wait to read it in 2017!
24. The Magnolia Story By Chip and Joanna Gaines
I just started the book this weekend and it will be my last read of 2016! So far I am loving it! Not only is it an amazing story of faith, but it is so funny! I find myself chuckling as I turn the pages! The chemistry you see between Chip and Jo on TV can be felt amongst the pages of this book! I love the way it’s written (back and forth between both of them within each chapter). This book would make a great gift for anyone who’s a big Fixer Upper fan!