My Personal Pick of Books For Holiday Gift Giving

I love to read. What books have you read this year?

I love to read. What books have you read this year?

Over the last few years I have written almost 80 reviews. My goal is to reach 100 in 2015. Because I love to read and people often ask me for book recommendations I thought I’d share a list of some of the goodies I’ve read in past year.

Add some to your to-read-list or buy them for your favorite book worms.

I’ll divide them by genre and encourage you to check out my reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.

Some on this list are debut novels of exceptional quality. All of the authors have a wonderful grasp on the craft of writing and draw readers into their stories. This list reflects my love of reading and willingness to review books outside my own genre of historical.


World War II settings:

With Music in Their Hearts by Carole Brown

Under the Silk Hibiscus by Alice J Wisler

Lightning on a Quiet Night by Donn Taylor

Revolutionary War setting:

Fields of the Fatherless (YA book) by Elaine Cooper

1800s setting:

Kincaid Brides Trilogy by Mary McConeally

Trouble In Texas Series by Mary McConeally


The Cat Lady’s Secret (cozy) by Linda Yazak

Chapel Springs Revival (humorous) by Ane Mulligan

Murder on Edisto by C Hope Clark

The Simulacrum by Brad Seggie and Linda Yezak

Firewall (FBI Houston #1) by DiAnn Mills

Contemporary Fiction:

Breathing On Her Own by Rebecca Waters

Reservations For Two by Ann Patrick

Traveler’s Rest by Ann Tatlock

All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti

Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman

Lake Surrender by Carol Grace Stratton

Give The Lady A Ride by Linda Yezak


Blood For Blood (Vampires, 1800s setting) by Ben Wolf

Innocent Blood; Equinox of Reckoning (Halloween setting with Celtic lore) by John Turney

Crossing Into The Mystic (The Crossing Trilogy #1) (Ghosts) by D L Koontz

Whiskey Sunrise (Crime Drama involving the supernatural) by John Turney


Dare U To Open This (8-12 yrs. olds boys) by Carol McAdams Moore

Just Sayin’ (8-12 yrs. old girls) by Carol McAdams Moore

God, Me and Sweet Tea (women) By Rose Chandler Johnson

Hungry For God, Starving For Time (women) by Lori Hatcher

These are only a portion of the ones I read this year. Some authors I would recommend that may or may not have made this short list whose overall body of work are wonderful reads are C Hope Clark, DiAnn Mills, Brandilyn Collins, Virginia Smith, Gilbert Morris, Jerry B Jenkins, Carole Brown, Elaine Cooper, Mary Conneally, Cynthia Ruchti, and James Scott Bell.

What books have you read this year? Which ones would you recommend?

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2 thoughts on “My Personal Pick of Books For Holiday Gift Giving

  1. This is a lovely service you have provided for writers and readers by making this blog post! I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like, because I have been so focused on my own writing in 2014. I have started broadening my horizons away from my own personal favorite genres for both reading and writing, which include: romantic comedy, contemporary women’s fiction and family fiction.

    This year I have re-introduced myself to comic-type books, fantasy books, and even war stories, which I have found to be so helpful when making occasional allusions to specific classic scenes or perhaps to archetypes from a certain genre while I’m writing. I like to wonder if readers pick up on them or not when reading. I’m also planning to delve into Westerns, which is a completely new genre for me (the director of the Alzheimer’s respite care site at my church where I volunteer shares his beloved Western movies with us, as well as Christmas classics and even some favorite live-action family movies in order to entertain our guests and to help them connect with the past).

    I’m also planning to read some mysteries this year, as well, including humorous chick-lit type mysteries. My sisters and some of my friends and my daughter are much more into mysteries than I. Some of their favorites have included the Nancy Drew Mysteries, of course, and Agatha Christie and Sue Grafton. My daughter has read many of the Cupcake Diaries books by Coco Simon.

    I’m trying to do a better job by reading at least a chapter of any one of the many books on my shelves each time I sit down to write, usually at my favorite Starbucks Coffee shop in Gurnee, IL. The mochas there are so delicious and they help me to think more clearly! Also, the baristas are so warm, friendly and kind and they put me in the happy mood that enables me to write best. It’s also helpful to people watch and to overhear conversations from time to time, which can spur me to make a connection to something else for my writing. I feel too isolated when I write at home and no one is around to keep me company. Do you like to get out to write? I know you are sneaking in most of your writing time at home when you can find the time.

    Some of the books I have been reading, including some Twitter addresses of some of the authors with whom I have been corresponding throughout the year:

    For Love of Country, Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran (eye-opening, graphic first-person reflections of bravery and heroism by male and female soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq);

    The Christmas Light, Donna VanLiere (a light-hearted, quaint story of restoration of faith and the importance of teamwork while producing a Nativity play at a church);

    The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, Matthew Inman, the Oatmeal Twitter: @Oatmeal (I attended his book signing: he is knowledgeable about Nicola Tesla and his books reflect a practical, hilarious view of life);

    A Time to Grieve: Meditations for healing after the death of a loved one, Carol Staudacher (useful advice in answer to hundreds of anonymous one- or two-sentence questions and concerns about the stages of the grieving process);

    I Am Pusheen the Cat, Claire Belton (not just for kids, cat lovers of all ages adore the simple, silly illustrations about the realities of being cat-owned);

    Why Are You So Sad?, Jason Porter (a man fears everyone is suffering from depression and he distributes an anonymous survey at his workplace to try to see if it’s true);

    Ready, Set, Grow: A “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Younger Girls, Lynda Madaras (a Question-Answer book about all of the things that terrify growing girls, but they have to know);

    14,000 things to be happy about, Barbara Ann Kipfer Twitter: @thingstobehappy (quite simply, an ongoing list of things she appreciates and that make her happy; I love tweeting from her Twitter page, too!);

    life is just a taffy pull, Cynthia Dusenbery Twitter: @cyndusen (it’s short, but funny and sweet and her tweets are adorable);

    Santa, Vampyre Slayer, Rob Fasone Twitter: @cigar150 (my son especially enjoyed this book!)

    I’m continuing to read or getting ready to read the following in 2015:

    Blood for Blood, Ben Wolf, Twitter: @1BenWolf (a vampire is turning back into a human and he must choose between either summoning up his new-found faith or his vampire strength in order to save an evangelist’s daughter when has been attacked by bandits)

    The Scent Trail: How One Woman’s Quest for the Perfect Perfume Took Her Around the World, Celia Lyttelton (beautifully descriptive memoir steeped in flowers and the visualization of scents and filled with descriptive writing of her travels around the world for the purpose of creating her own signature perfume) ;

    Into the Face of the Devil, John Rose Putnam Twitter: @JohnRosePutnam (he’s knowledgeable about the California Gold Rush and I like his writing voice);

    The Farmer’s Daughter: A Legend of Love, Genevieve Huebsch Gratz (this was recommended to me by my friend and the director of the Alzheimer’s respite care site, Extra Care, at our church: he enjoyed its portrayal of the history of a family from his own home town of Libertyville);

    Also recommended by the same friend mentioned above: Population: 458, Michael Perry (a portrait of a tiny Wisconsin town–another volunteer friend of ours from Extra Care is featured in it!)

    Ben the Dragonborn, Dianne Astle Twitter: @bendragonborn (check out her @twitter page–her video promotion and illustrations on her page are colorful and magical: in a word, phenomenal; the book cover is also beautiful; this book is recommended for fans of 100 Cupboards, Fablehaven, Percy Jackson and Harry Potter);

    Playing with Poison, Cindy Blackburn Twitter: @cbmysteries (her “truly awful poetry” on Twitter is a riot! I can’t wait to read her book!)

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Collected (I like his focus on sensory information in all of his stories and his stream-of-consciousness portrayal of death in one of the stories).

    I’m also reflecting back on some of the books I loved as a child and that have inspired me to love reading, writing, drawing and creating popup books from a young age. I haven’t drawn much since childhood and I haven’t created any popup books since college, when I made one inspired by the controversial book by Claire Hutchet Bishop for my Children’s Literature class. I included blown-up balloons for the puffy cheeks of the boy who swallowed the sea! I am so inspired by artwork and artwork, but I don’t usually try my own hand at it. I did recently have a chance to paint with acrylics at a painting class for adults at place my daughter, my husband and I frequent, Ceramics4U in Gurnee, Illinois. It was such a fun night out with friends and food and I highly recommend for you and Charles and your friends and family to do this at some point.

    This year I wrote reviews of some of my most beloved children’s books on Goodreads. One board book I highly recommend is Book! by Kristine O’Connell. It’s an excellent celebration of the joy you feel when receiving a book and about the love of the very essence of books, from holding them to carrying them, to finding a special place to read them. The illustrations of the toddler in the story are bright and colorful and the details help to create the type of warm, cozy ambiance a reader likes to have around him or herself while curling up with a delightful book. Last weekend I myself had the delightful joy receiving the book Happiness is a Warm Puppy by Charles M. Schulz during a gift exchange/dice game at my hubby’s cousins’ Christmas party. It was so perfect, because on Facebook this year, some of these same friends and family members and other special friends of mine have been having a Snoopy and Charlie Brown/the Peanuts gang love fest, posting cute and funny memes for inspiration when we need it most. I have always loved the Peanuts Gang comics, books, movies and toys.

    Also, recently, I was so excited to have rediscovered a strange, enchanting book that I could remember from my childhood, but I couldn’t recall either the title or the author. I could only picture the funny little man and the mushrooms in the book illustrations. I didn’t think I would ever find it again and now I can’t remember how I came across it. Although I haven’t purchased the book yet, the hardcover edition is available on Amazon and it’s called the Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, written by Eleanor Cameron. It has been in print since the 1950s! There is something so magical about it. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and to start rereading it. I also have a special affinity for the Homer Price books written by Robert McCloskey of Make Way for Ducklings and Mr. Popper’s Penguins fame. I’m also rereading The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

    As a younger child I also loved Beverly Cleary’s Ribsy books and Judy Blume’s Fudge books. I was also rather obsessed with the Pippy Longstocking books by Astrid Lingren and I read them with my daughter not long ago. She also has most of The Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. They have always been favorites of mine and I would love to have a chance to visit the Laura Ingalls home and museum in Wisconsin one day. Have you ever been? I would also like to read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott this year.

    Finally, I read Lois Duncan books religiously as a child. I was fascinated with the idea of psychic connections and I liked her use of suspense in her books. Her daughter died tragically as the result of a shooting and Ms.Duncan wrote Who Killed My Daughter? about her own investigation of the crime. My favorite writer of adult fiction is Toni Morrison and I hope to reread all of her books at some point, as well.

    Thank you for reminding me of the many books that have given me such a love for reading over the years and have lead to my wanting to emulate their writers! I wonder if you have read any of the books I have mentioned or if any of them are special to you or to your blog readers. These are just a tiny fraction of the books I have read–not even mentioning books from my British literature, American literature, Children’s literature, Celtic literature, Asian Mythology and Short Stories courses back in college, but it’s fun to remember back on some of my favorites.from before college and continuing on after that point in my life.

    I’m wishing you and Charles and your family and friends a beautiful Christmas and a Happy New Year. I so enjoyed meeting the two of you at the Write to Publish Conference in June! The conference was recommended to me by longtime friend and former pastor, Kathy Bostrom, who has been writing and publishing children’s books for years.

    The two of you were such wonderful mentors into the world of publishing and I enjoyed meeting Rowena Kuo of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and Susan Baganz of Prism Book Group, as well, of course. I learned a lot at the conference about writing for a Christian audience. Ms. Kuo and Ms. Baganz were so gentle, kind and receptive when I gave them my first book pitches ever. I have been enjoying writing and tweeting a lot since then and trying to work on building up my writer’s platform, and I hope you have, too! I hope to keep in touch on Twitter and on Facebook.


  2. I apologize for any typos in the above comment and for the overuse of the word “also.” LOL, I am rushing out to work on my book in a little while and I had so many thoughts about my recommended books and authors that I didn’t edit this as well as I should have. It’s nice to have so many people to thank along your writer’s journey and sometimes you can be overwhelmed with emotion, thinking of all of the help you have had along the way! Happy holidays, Cindy, Charles and everyone who reads this blog. Happy reading and writing in 2015!


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