2015 A Year in Books

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[My alternative title for this post was, “My Longest Blog Post Ever”.]

One of my goals for 2015 was to read 36 books. I did it! And then some!
1 year. 46 books. 14,830 pages. Roughly 4,147,599 words.

  1. What A Girl Needs (Kristin Billerbeck)
    I love the Ashley Stockingdale series by Kirstin Billerbeck. Like Billerbeck’s other books this one is classified as Christian Chick Lit. I had a hard time liking this book in the beginning, but as I continued reading I liked it more. I recommend the whole Ashley Stockingdale book series, What A Girl Wants; She’s Out of Control; With This Ring, I’m Confused.
  1. War of Wings (Tanner McElroy)
    I wanted to read this book for a while and my wonderful sister bought it for me for Christmas last year… It started out a little slow, background and character building, but then it sped up and i really enjoyed it. It is told from the opposite perspectives of the archangel Gabriel and Lucifer. I recommend it for all who enjoy reading biblical fiction.
  1. American Sniper (Chris Kyle)
    I finished this book before going to see the movie in theaters. I would file the movie into the must see category, but the book is even better. First off it is an autobiography, and you can really hear Chris Kyle’s voice throughout the book. I highly recommend this one to all Americans (and/or Texans) who appreciate the sacrifices our military members make for our freedom on a daily basis.
  1. The Power (Rhonda Byrne)
    This is the second book in the The Secret series. Again, another Law of Attraction book, but I felt that this one better explained some areas I had trouble grasping/applying from The Secret. This book is stand alone… You can understand the concepts without reading the Secret first, but I recommend both.
  1. May Cause Miracles: A 40 Day Guide (Gabrielle Bernstein)
    I read this book as suggested, a day at a time.  This was an interesting read that discusses the fear we perceive that keep us from loving ourselves, others and how to let the good roll into our lives.
  1. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Gregory Maguire)
    I enjoyed this “fantastical” story about a girl with green skin. It has everything from its basis in a classic, talking animals, robots, romance, to affairs, and more. It is a long book but I enjoyed the twist of perspective on a long loved story.
  1. The Wizard of Oz (L. F. Baum)
    This is a relatively short children’s chapter book. It is a quick and easy read. This is the same basic story as the Technicolor musical movie we all love, but with several rather large differences (for instance certain colors).
  1. Chess for Beginners (I.A. Horowitz)
    One of my goals for 2015 was to learn to play chess… This is a simple and straightforward how to book. It is short and makes a complicated game easy to learn.
  1. My Man Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse)
    The dry British humor of these short stories about Bertie and Jeeves will keep you laughing throughout. It is a short book, and there are more collections of Bertie and Jeeves stories. The comedy “Jeeves and Wooster” (featuring the comedy stylings of Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry) was based on these stories.
  2. unPHILtered (Phil Robertson)
    This book was another Phil-Tells-It-Like-It-Is book, just like Happy, Happy, Happy. If you like the Robertson family and share similar beliefs you will enjoy this book.
  3. When the King was Carpenter (Maria von Trapp)
    Unlike the other books I have read by Maria von Trapp, this one is very heavy on research. It is interesting and very informational, but it is also very dry and historical. I am glad I read it; it answers some questions I’ve had about Jesus’ childhood.
  4. The Magic (Rhonda Byrne)
    This is another thought provoking Law of Attraction book from Rhonda Byrne. This one, in particular, focuses on the importance of gratitude; it provides several “exercises” for you to better feel and become aware of gratitude in your life.
  5. Raylan (Elmore Leonard)
    A set of stories featuring the rule bending U.S. Marshal, Raylan Givens. The hit FX show “Justified” is based on Mr. Leonard’s stories of Raylan’s adventures in law enforcement. The book was an easy and interesting read (not enough Boyd Crowder though).
  6. As You Wish (Cary Elwes)
    I enjoyed this tell all from behind the scenes of the classic film, The Princess Bride (I read the book, The Princess Bride by William Goldman in 2013). It was another easy read and it was amusing. If you enjoy the adventures of Westley, Buttercup and gang in the 1987 comedy, you will enjoy the behind the scenes secrets revealed here, by Westley himself.
  7. Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand)
    After seeing the Angelina Jolie film version of this true, World War II, story of survival last December, I wanted to read the book (because we all know – the book is always better). The movie was good, but the book was even better. The book goes further in the life of Louis Zamperini after he returns home to America after being a POW for years in Japan. It is a good book about an inspiring life that survived difficult times and triumphed through grace and forgiveness. I wrote a full post about the book/film earlier that you can read here.
  8. Hero (Rhonda Byrne)
    This is the last of Ms. Byrne’s books related to her first, The Secret. I enjoyed this book, but to be honest, I enjoyed it the least of her other books I have read (The Secret, The Power, The Magic). I believe the reason this was my least favorite is because it did not really present any new information, I felt like it boils down to a pep-talk by some very successful people. I would still say it is a good book and everyone can use a good pep-talk from time to time.
  9. Devil at My Heels (Louis Zamperini)
    This is Louis Zamperini’s (Unbroken) story, in his own words. He had just published this book when Laura Hillenbrand approached him to write Unbroken. This too is a great book, despite the fact I had already seen the film and read one version of his story; it was nice to read it from his perspective, in first person.
  10. Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In (Louis Zamperini)
    Yes, another book about/by Louis Zamperini. This one is different though… This short one is more of filled more with advice than memories.
  11. Dry Bones (Craig Johnson)
    The latest installment of Walt Longmire adventures arrived in May! As usual, this book is full of adventure, mystery and funny quips. I have enjoyed the whole Longmire series so far, and look forward to more!
  12. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (Jenny Lawson)
    Jenny Lawson is a blogger from Texas. She also happens to be pretty hilarious. While she does cover some sad topics in this memoir she also shares funny and memorable stories too.
  13. Shutter Island (Dennis Lehane)
    Again, better than the movie. This book draws you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through; it is a great psychological thriller.
  14. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
    This is my new favorite book. I like the 2002 film adaptation of this classic French story of justice, revenge, love and life, however the film took some liberties/artistic license with the story line. I wrote a full blog post earlier this year about the book and film differences, you can read it here. I highly recommend this book!
  15. Bossypants (Tina Fey)
    As expected, this was full of funny stories from the life of Ms. Fey. It is an amusing and easy read.
  16. The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
    I think I am helping future readers by saying that it is set in a post-apocalyptic America. This story of a father and son traveling across the continent jumps right into the story. It is dark. It is thought provoking. It is a good book. (I have not seen, and probably will not see, the Viggo Mortensen film adaptation of this book.)
  17. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
    This one was a re-read. There is a reason this book is required reading in high school (if you did not read it when you should have read it now), it is good (solidly in my top two favorite books). The Gregory Peck movie is good, but no film will ever be able to do this book justice. It covers weighty topics like prejudice, love, right and wrong, honor and respect and so much more. I read it in preparation for the release of the Harper Lee’s new/old book and I was so glad I re-read this treasure. You will laugh, you will cry and you will never forget it.
  18. Go Set a Watchman (Harper Lee)
    My review for this book- DO NOT READ IT!
    To Kill a Mockingbird is so good and this book flies in the face of the lessons that classic taught us. This book turns an honorable, righteous and respectable character into a completely different person. I have read some very bad books (some high school required reading) but this one takes the cake. The story behind it is that Harper Lee wrote this book first and her editor advised her to focus on a very small section of it, expound and expand it and the result was To Kill a Mockingbird. HarperCollins Publishers should have left this manuscript buried in an attic. My final comments on this waste of trees is – save your money and time. (I expressed my disappointment in this book in an earlier post, you can read it here.
  19. Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut)
    I have wanted to read this book since I first fell in love with Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormack in Footloose… I tried to read it before, but it is weird and I was too young. I read it this year and I still believe it is weird, but it is also riddled with good quotes that make you think.
  20. The Finishing Touches (Hester Browne)
    I have enjoyed the other Hester Browne books I have read (The Little Lady Agency; Little Lady, Big Apple; The little Lady Agency and the Prince) so I was excited to read this one, on the recommendation of my sister. Although I found it difficult to get into this book (it starts out at a funeral) it does get better and I did enjoy it.
  21. Maybe Someday (Colleen Hoover)
    I really enjoyed this book. I don’t want to give away too much because it has a huge surprise in it. It is heartwarming and funny. It revolves around the topics of music, relationships and love. Another plus is that is it written by a Texas author.
  22. Confess (Colleen Hoover)
    I enjoyed Maybe Someday so much I dove into this one next. I liked this book (not quite as much as Maybe Someday). It deals with art, secrets, relationships and love. It was a fairly quick and read.
  23. Why Quantum Physicists Don’t Get Fat (Greg Kuhn)
    This is another book about the Law of Attraction; this one presented the same information in new ways that made you think. It is a short and easy read.
  24. Saint Anything (Sarah Dessen)
    I read The Truth About Forever (also by Dessen) a long time ago and really liked it… I also liked this book. It falls solidly within the Young Adult category. This book focuses on family dynamics, forgiveness, love and friendships.
  25. Everything Everything (Nicola Yoon)
    This is the debut novel from Nicola Yoon. It too is YA, and it was interesting with a surprise twist at the end. The main female character is allergic to the world and her new neighbor suffers under the hand of his father; an unlikely friendship to say the least.
  26. Trouble From the Start (Rachel Hawthorne)
    Many years ago I found Rachel Hawthorne books and fell in love with her (YA) writing style. I liked this newest book as well; good girl, daughter of a cop, falls for a bad, leather wearing, motorcycle riding bad boy. (Rachel Hawthorne is also a Texas author.)
  27. If I Stay (Gayle Forman)
    This book was adapted for the big screen in 2014, and I must confess, like “Unbroken”, I saw the movie first. I really liked this book (I was disappointed in the movie ending and I was sure the book had a better one… I was wrong, but there is a sequel to take care of that). I read this book in two days. It tells the gripping story of a teenage cello player whose family has been in a horrific car crash. It is told from the perspective of Mia Hall (cello player) as she is having an out of body experience while her body lays broken in an ICU room. Her decision to wake up (or not) is the idea behind the book title.
  28. Where She Went (Gayle Forman)
    This is the sequel that made the ending to If I Stay This book is told from the perspective of Mia’s boyfriend, Adam, several years after her accident. I read this one in two days too. I really liked Forman’s writing style and I hope she has a new book soon.
  29. Good Call (Jase Robertson)
    Another in my collection of Robertson family books. I like reading the books the Robertsons write, I like the honesty with which they share their pasts, faith and beliefs. In this book Jase gives a candid look into his life and shares how God has been a constant through all of his ups and downs.
  30. Dumplin’ (Julie Murphy)
    This is a heartwarming book about not fitting a social norm and learning to love it. It is based around a girl, Willowdean, who shared a bond, through the love of Dolly Parton, with her late aunt. “Dumplin’” (as her mom calls her) faces her fears and accepts herself, even though she is not “perfect”.
  31. Dreaming in Black and White (Laura Jensen Walker)
    Pheobe Grant loves movies and her red leather couch. This Christian Chick-Lit book follows Pheobe through her career, family and faith ups and downs. Despite her history of bad dates, she won’t give up on her silver screen, fairytale ending. I liked this one, the writing style makes Pheopbe very relatable.
  32. Dreaming in Technicolor (Laura Jensen Walker)
    We catch up with Pheobe Grant again in this sequel. In this book she takes a trip to jolly ole England to visit her boss, who also happens to be her boyfriend. Will her fairytale ending hit the silver screen or end up on the cutting room floor?
  33. Blessed, Blessed…Blessed (Missy Robertson)
    In her book Missy Robertson discusses the early years of her relationship with Jase, their wedding, time as newlyweds, as young parents and as the parents of Mia, and how she and her family have continually been blessed by God (with his grace and love, wonderful and supportive friends and family and gifted doctors). This book really hit home in some ways (I had medical issues when I was younger, nothing like Mia’s but my family too has been ‘Blessed, Blessed…Blessed”.)
  34. A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
    I have always loved the 1939 Shirley Temple film, “The Little Princess”, so when I found the book at Half Price Books I had to add it to my basket. Although the book had some good quotes (some even “Secrety”/LOA like lines) I think this may be the one case where the movie is better than the book.
  35. The Royal We (Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan)
    Loosely based on the fairytale romance of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, this book was a delightful read from cover to cover with several funny quips and squeal worthy lines throughout.
  36. E-Squared (Pam Grout)
    Another Law of Attraction book. This one has 9 experiments for you to try and to prove to yourself that the science behind the Law of Attraction works. Personally, I like the research, examples and science behind the experiments better than the experiments themselves.
  37. The Stand (Stephen King)
    I enjoyed this Stephen King novel very much. It is incredibly long (1,138 pages – I read the complete and uncut version). I had some issues with a few of the characters (which I believe was an intentional reaction. I think if I had read the original print (some four hundred pages shorter – edited for printing purposes) I might have liked the ending better, but the ending as it was left me thinking about it for a long time after I finished reading it. This is an extremely detailed epic adventure that showcases the classic archetype of good vs evil. I enjoyed reading this and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good, long, story that was set twenty-five years ago but still has many thoughts and questions applicable to the world we live in today.
  38. The Way – Living Bible
    I grew up in a Christian home and I have read parts of the Bible throughout my life. This year I read it from cover to cover. I recommend that everyone read it all the way through at least once (also, I suggest you read it with someone that way you have someone with whom to discuss it).


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