What I’m Reading this Summer

My 2015 Summer Reading List

I’ve finally finalized the list of books I want to read this summer.

A couple of them are light, quick reading books, two are so-called “children’s books,” some are thought provoking and a bit “serious,” and one is just fluff.  Hopefully each of them, in their own way, will help me grow as a person and understand my life and the world around me better.  Last summer I read these books.  I enjoyed them and learned so much about the Bible, Jesus, and God and His laws and eternal plan for us, but this year I’m planning to have a carefree summer (is that possible?) with my nose in books that I can read in just a few days each.  I just want to spend my days doing a little bit of yard work, a little bit of house work, a little bit of cooking, and a whole lot of playing and reading.

Cold Tangerines Image Dandelion Cottage Image The True Story of Hansel and Gretel Image
Half Broke Horses Image Heaven is Here Image The Kitchen House Image
A Week in Winter Image Sparkly Green Earrings, catching the light at every turn. The Jungle Book Image

Cold Tangerines; Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist ~ A collection of stories that celebrate the extraordinary moments hidden in everyday life.  It is about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything.  Cold Tangerines offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, in and among the heartbreak and boredom and broken glass.

Dandelion Cottage by Carroll Watson Rankin ~ This childhood classic was first published in 1904, and tells the simple, charming story of four young girls and their adventures in the pioneer town of Marquette, MI.  The story begins when the girls pull all of the dandelions from the lawn of the cottage behind the local church and thereby obtain the right to use the cottage as their playhouse for the summer.  This is a very wholesome and charming tale that has withstood the test of time.  The real-life Dandelion Cottage that the story is based upon still exists in Marquette.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival by Louise Murphy ~ In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed “Hansel” and “Gretel.”  They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called “witch” by the nearby villagers.

Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children.  Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, Louise Murphy’s haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children.

*UPDATE 9-14-15* I started this book and only read to page 68.  It might have been a good book but it has several f-words so I didn’t finish it.

Half Broke Horses; A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls ~ By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town – riding five hundred miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job.  She learned to drive a car and fly a plane.  And, with her husband, Jim, she ran a vast each in Arizona.

Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults.

*UPDATE 9-14-15* I liked this book but didn’t love it.

Heaven is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy by Stephanie Nielson ~ Stephanie Nielson began sharing her life in 2005 on nieniedialogues.com, drawing readers in with her warmth and candor. She quickly attracted a loyal following that was captivated by the upbeat mother happily raising her young children, madly in love with her husband, and filled with gratitude for her blessed life.

However, everything changed in an instant on a sunny day in August 2008, when Stephanie and her husband were in a horrific plane crash.  Stephanie was on the brink of death, with burns over 80 percent of her body. She would remain in a coma for four months.

In the aftermath of this harrowing tragedy, Stephanie maintained a stunning sense of humor, optimism, and resilience. In this moving memoir, Stephanie tells the full, extraordinary story of her unlikely recovery and the incredible love behind it – from a riveting account of the crash to all that followed in its wake.  With vivid detail, Stephanie recounts her emotional and physical journey, from her first painful days after awakening from the coma to the first time she saw her face in the mirror, the first kiss she shared with her husband after the accident, and the first time she talked to her children after their long separation.

What emerges from the wreckage of a tragic accident is a unique perspective on joy, beauty, and overcoming adversity that is as gripping as it is inspirational.

*UPDATE 9-14-15* I thought this book had potential for being a really great book but found it lacking in inspiration.  I didn’t think it was well written and there are body and sexual references that I considered to be in poor taste.  I know her survival and recovery were miraculous but the book just wasn’t uplifting in the way I had hoped it would be.  I read about 2/3 of the book before I gave up on it.

The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom ~ In this gripping New York Times bestseller, Kathleen Grissom brings to life a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War, where a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate.

Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter.  Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.

*UPDATE 9-14-15* This book started out OK for me but then got very boring so I gave it up.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy ~ Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know each other.  When Chicky Starr decided to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy.  Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Stone House is finally ready to welcome its first guests to the big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms.  Laugh and cry with this unlikely group as they share their secrets and (maybe) even see some of their dreams come true.

*UPDATE 9-14-15* I read this book and liked it but probably wouldn’t read books by this author again.  The story line was engaging enough to keep me reading but then the ending was predictable and a bit slow.

Sparkly Green Earrings; Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle ~ This is a quirky, but fun memoir of motherhood.  I read this book a couple of weeks ago and LOVED it.  You can read my review of it here.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling ~ I love the movie but haven’t ever read the book so I pulled it off the shelf a few days ago and started reading it.  It’s a bit different than the movie but I’m enjoying it.  It’s written as a collection of stories, which were first published in magazines in 1893-94.  The best known of them are stories revolving around the adventures of an abandoned “man cub” Mowgli who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle.

Are you reading any good books this summer?  I would love to add to my list.

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