Top 10 Must Reads

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To Kill A Mockingbird by: Harper Lee

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…”

Scout and Jem live with their father Atticus, a small southern town lawyer, and are about to find out about racism first hand. Set in the great depression it’s a story of faith in truth, childhood antics and respect. 

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My favorite book of all time, I have read and re-read it often since it was first assigned to me in high school. I love how Scout is so head strong and places her father on a pedestal. Her interest in Boo Radley and her bravery to find out more about him endears her to me even more. The injustices practiced throughout the south are placed on these pages for all to see. As a young teen, from the north, I had no idea such things had ever happened. Of course my eyes have since been opened.

Earth Children Series by: Jean Auel

“Ayla walked with the Cave Bear. She had spoken out for Creb because she loved him. The sign had finally come. She understood the vision. Durc was of the Clan, and one day he would be their leader. She must find her own people. She must walk alone. Everything she had lived through had prepared her for this journey-and she was not afraid. For the first time Ayla felt the strength of her own spirit.”

The Clan of the Cave Bear, the first in the Earth Children Series, chronicles the story of a prehistoric girl, Ayla. She is a young girl orphaned by a violent earthquake, left to find her own way. After being attacked by a cave lion she is found by the Clan. A group of neanderthals and who regard Ayla’s “kind” as the enemy. But Iza, the medicine woman, only sees a sick and injured child that she knows she must help. Iza becomes her mother and raises her as a woman of the Clan. But as hard as Ayla tries to follow their rules and customs, she has a different and more evolved brain. She is destined for more and must follow her heart. 

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Introduced to me in middle school, these books are ones I re-visit from time to time. They were also some of my mother’s favorites as well. There is a special bond you get when you share the love of a story. We used to wait with bated breath, sometimes for years, for the author to release the next book in the series. The strength and fierceness that Ayla displays are something every young girl should read about. She endures abuse, that was seen as perfectly acceptable, and yet fights back. Her intellect and strength of character make for an endearing heroin. It has some questionable content, but in today’s society, it’s now quite mild.

Twilight Series by: Stephanie Meyer

“About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how potent that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”

Bella Swan leaves Arizona to live with her father Charlie in Forks Washington. Forks, known for being the rainiest town in the United States, has another surprise waiting for Bella. The Cullen’s. The minute she lays eyes on Edward she is hooked. But Edward isn’t your typical high school student, especially since he’s over 100 years old. Bella and Edward slowly come to realize they are meant to be together, but can they endure all the dangers they’ll face?

img_4381I have always been drawn to fantasy and the like. But I was drawn into Twilight like no other novel before it. Thinking that there could be a parallel universe right in my own backyard is such a tempting thought. It helps that the books are set in the Pacific Northwest, my home. Bella is painfully average and yet is faced with such an extraordinary set of circumstances. She becomes the object of a vampires obsession and love and she feels completely unworthy. A feeling most women can relate to. And even though Edward could kill her at any moment he is so gentle and loving towards her. He fights for her both with his family and with outside forces. I love the story line, the underlying morals and the strength of family.

Harry Potter Series by: J.K.Rowling

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends”

Harry Potter became a cult classic almost immediately. Main characters, Harry, Ron and Hermione, find themselves in trouble at almost every turn. They display wit, skill, integrity, love and devout friendship. They are always on the side of good and show time and time again that friendship, above all, will prevail.

img_4382I fell in love with J.K. Rowling’s world in 1997. I was a new mother and up to that time had never even heard of Harry Potter. Seeing and hearing about it that year, as a kids book, peaked my interest and I thought I would give it a try. Well, I never set the first book down and devoured it in under 24 hours. I love Harry’s character. I love them all in fact, but the stories are so well written and they aren’t just for kids. She brings to life, the possibility of a magical world, so seamlessly and with such intriguing reality that I was an instant fan. I have re-read them multiple times, watched all the movies, and shared the love with my children. If you haven’t tried them, do it. You’ll be just as pleased as I was all those years ago.

Alex Cross Series by; James Patterson

“The most striking thing about beautiful churches, to me, is that they were mostly designed by people who were inspired by a belief in something larger and more important than themselves, and this is how I try to lead my own life.”

James Patterson, is by all accounts one of the worlds leading authors. He writes so many different genres. The Alex Cross series is by far my favorite of his works. Alex is a D.C. cop and in some books a FBI agent. He finds and solves horrific crimes and still keeps his little family in tact. His children, his grandmother and his wife are all impressive people in themselves and follow his lead with bravery, integrity, and faith. A christian man who was raised by his Grandmother, he is so good at his job that it encompasses all his waking hours, yet he still makes sure he is at his children’s events (if at all possible). Alex is the kind of hero you can root for in any situation and all you want is for him to prevail.

img_4384I was at a loss of what to read. I had read and re-read all my favorites and so I reached out to friends for recommendations. Patterson was one of those. I went to my local book store and they had EVERYTHING of Patterson. I grabbed the first three in the Cross series, and as they say, the rest is history. His style of writing and the content just grabbed my interest and held it. My family knew not to talk to me, as I wouldn’t hear them anyway, I was so engrossed. Of course there are a couple movies as well, and yes I’ve watched them and love them too. I can only say, I wish there were more. Keep them coming Mr. Patterson, the world needs more Alex Cross!

You Have Such A Pretty Face by: Kelley Gunter

“When the world says, ‘Give up,’ hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’ “

Kelley Gunter is an obesity and abuse survivor that stepped out on a limb to tell her story. Her first memoir detailing the emotional journey of being obese and the surprising changes brought on by her 243 pound weight loss following bariatric surgery, as well as the emotional factors that contributed to her initial weight gain. Kelley shares her story with a world that is usually cruel and judgmental to those who don’t fit the mold. 

img_4385She is my hero. This woman has so much bravery and beauty that she could fill a room with it. I could not put her book down and I related to it on so many levels. Even if you haven’t been obese, or been abused, or been ridiculed for your looks, you can still find so much to relate to in her story. If nothing else, it will give you some empathy for others. Her faith in the Lord and her love of her child just seep from the pages. Plus, she’s a down to earth good person. When I posted (randomly) about her book on FB, she sent me a private message thanking me for the shout out. It started quite the conversation and I was gifted with getting to know her a little better. I follow her on social media and she really is one of the strongest women I’ve encountered. Give it a read, you won’t regret it.

The Left Behind Series by: Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins

“You have to admit, when people disappear, some rules go out the window.”

Left Behind tells the story of the end times, set in present day, in which true believers have been “raptured” (taken instantly to heaven) leaving the world shattered and in complete chaos. Those who were left behind now have a decision to make. Believe or submit to the Anti-Christ and be eternally damned.

img_4383This series is written in a way that makes you second guess your beliefs. I am a follower of Christ, but would I be taken up immediately or would I have to endure the end time struggle and possibly become a martyr? I’m not sure I believe in the actual concept of the rapture but if that’s how it will go it puts an interesting spin on any belief system. The story line makes you feel like you’re living through the end times with the characters. You become connected to them and personally I cried and cheered with them.

Piercing The Darkness by: Frank Peretti

” These humans are only of flesh, of mud, and I suggest there is one force stronger than their zeal for God: their own self-righteousness! We will make them proud, pure in their own eyes, vindictive, unjust judges over each other, and stir up such a nouse among them that the simplest prayer will not be uttered!”

The sequel to This Present Darkness, it follows humans, demons and angels in the constant struggle for souls. Showing the parallel universes that may exist and how our lives are touched and sometimes controlled by angelic or demonic forces.

img_4386Peretti has a way of bringing to life the spiritual realm and how it can affect our lives. Guardian Angels and their constant battle with demons to protect us, yet sometimes letting the bad happen because it can result in a lesson or something even better, can open your eyes to why and how things happen. It gave me such a different perspective on what could be happening “behind the scenes” and how my free will and devotion could affect my life. Fantasy with a shot of God. Worthy of a rainy day read with a cup of coffee.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left- in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.”

Anne Frank, a teenage girl forced into hiding during the Holocaust. She begins her diary in the annex, their hiding place, and shares in her writing all the struggles that she endures during this time. Anne bares her soul and talks of everyday “girl” struggles yet as we all know there is an underlying fear that drives her as well. One of the most eye-opening books of its time, it will make you cry and laugh and pray for a different outcome that we know will never come.

img_4387I was introduced to Anne Frank like most people, it was an assignment in high school English class. It would be one that would become a favorite of mine to read time and time again. I would start to research WWII and watch documentaries on the horrors of this war that happened long before my time. I would go on to read other accounts of Jewish people and martyrs of the war. Anne opened my eyes to a world I couldn’t relate to and one I pray would never happen again. She was just a girl who had to endure the worst of humanity and I wanted to make her live so badly. I will be forever grateful that her father shared her diary with us. She keeps this time alive for the world to remember, and never ever to repeat.

Heaven Is For Real by: Todd Burpo

“I smoothed Colton’s blanket across his chest and tucked him in snug the way he liked– and for the first time since he started talking about heaven, I intentionally tried to trip him up. “I remember you saying you stayed with Pop,” I said, “So when it got dark and you went home with Pop, what did you two do?” Suddenly serious, Colton scowled at me. “It doesn’t get dark in heaven Dad! Who told you that?”

A little boys extraordinary account of his trip to heaven and back. It documents the events img_4378of a near death experience of Colton, a three year old who survives a burst appendix and resulting infection. Colton shares his story of leaving his body during surgery and going to heaven. He describes events and people that seem impossible for him to know about. His great grandfather and an unborn sister being among them. He speaks of meeting Jesus and Mary and listenening to Angels sing. He even tells his Dad what Jesus looks like when he sees the painting by Akiane Kramairk. A young artist with a similar story. Heaven is for Real is so inspiring and a very easy read.

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This book is so inspiring and thought provoking. We have all heard, at some time in our lives about those who claim to have “near death” experiences. But to hear it from a small child, who would have no need to tell an untruth, is phenomenol. Little Colton has so many stories that he tells that he couldn’t have made them up. He sees people he’s never met, and couldn’t have met and knows things he couldn’t have known. Not at three years old. His parents think he’s making it up at first, as most parents would, until what he’s saying starts to make them realize he is telling the absolute truth. They don’t re-tell his story for fame or money but to get the word out that God and Heaven are REAL. Not just some fantasy off in a distant realm. We are not alone and we are important to our creator. I highly advise this book and it’s movie to all believers and non alike. 

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