This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read Our Disclosure Policy.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021


I've been meaning to put together a book post for years, I love to read!  Like, I love to read more than I love to decorate.  That's saying a lot!  So, I think it's way past time that I add that part of my life to the blog and start sharing my favorites with you, too.  

Before We Were Yours, The Nightingale, The Four Winds, The Day the World Came To Town, Frontier Follies, The Good Apple, The Dutch House, Slightly South of Simple

(*This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  
Read my full disclosure policy here.)

I am giving the briefest summary here (enough to tell you I recommend the book!) without a lot of details, but am linking each book here out of convenience if you'd like to read the more detailed summaries.  However,  I generally check them out from the library, either the physical copy or digital copies through the "Libby" app and then upload them to my Kindle account (or you can read directly through the app).  If you're not familiar with Libby I highly recommend it for free e-books and audiobooks by registering with your library card!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah- This is hands down my favorite book that I've read in a while.  It's a compelling story of two sisters living in Germany occupied France during World War II, and how women were the surprising force that made such significant contributions to the Nazi resistance.  While the characters are fictitious, many of the events are based on true accounts.  In the story, each sister played her own role in assisting those in danger- one aiding downed Allied pilots by secretly walking them across the Pyrenees Mountains to freedom, the other hiding Jewish children.  There is so much I didn't know about this time period that I learned through reading this book!  It's ultimately a story of courage, bravery, determination, and the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood.  

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah-  I enjoyed the Nightingale so much that I immediately checked out another book by the same author.  This one focuses on Elsa Martinelli, a girl who never felt loved by her family. After an expected pregnancy by the first boy who showed her some attention, she marries into his Italian Catholic family and they take her in as their own.  This book chronicles their story living through the time of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, forcing them to choose between staying on their family land and struggling to survive, or moving west to California in search of jobs and a better life.  Another book that taught me so much about this period in our history.  

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate- I actually read this book a few years ago and would like to re-read it soon.  Based on a true story from the 1930's, it's a heartbreaking yet fascinating look into a Memphis based "adoption" agency that kidnapped then sold children to wealthy families all over the country.  It's unbelievable to think that this practice occurred (and likely still does in some parts of the world), but the story lays out how easily it could happen and follows a group of siblings as they stuggle to stay together.  

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett- I started the beginning of this book several times and didn't really get into it for whatever reason, but kept it on my list.  Eventually, I switched to the audio version, narrated by Tom Hanks, and it totally sucked me in.  It's the story of two siblings growing up in a lavish, unique house bought by their Father as a surprise for their Mother, and how it becomes a central character in the path and outcome of their lives.  

Good Apple by Elizabeth Passarella- This is the personal account of a smart and sassy evangelical Christian living in New York City and her encounters there.  I enjoyed reading how she weaves her faith into her secular surroundings and forms significant, meaningful relationships with her neighbors regardless of their beliefs.  It was also fascinating to get an "insider" look at what life would be like- navigating grocery shopping, transportation, raising children, school, community life- living in the Big Apple! 

Open Book: A Memoir by Jessica Simpson-  Honestly, I never really followed much about JS other than enjoying her big sunglasses that are part of her fashion line.  πŸ˜‰ But, there was so much hype over this book I gave it a try.  I listened to the audiobook which she narrates herself, and I highly recommend doing the same.  Her excitement, vulnerability, and raw emotions completely come through as she tells her story.  I did find her retelling of her early years, rise to fame, weight and health issues, business endeavors, family and personal relationship struggles, and ultimate path to her family life now very interesting! 

Frontier Follies by Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman)- Ree Drummond is nothing if not an entertaining storyteller, and I enjoyed this light-hearted collection of humorous essays of her life on the ranch.  

Slightly South of Simple by Kristin Woodson Harvey- The first volume in the Peachtree Bluff Series, this is the story of three sisters and their mother living in their small Southern hometown on the coast. Also in the series are Vol #2- The Secret to Southern Charm, and Vol. #3- The Southern Side of Paradise.  Each book focuses on a different daughter and their relationship with their mother as they navigate their challenges in relationships in life. The chapters alternate back and forth between the two main characters while still continuing the family story as a whole.  (I'm enjoying this author especially because she's also a design blogger, so her books always have a nod to interiors and aesthetics.)  These are light, entertaining "beach" reads!     

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede-   This is the true story of small town Gander, Newfoundland, where the town took in nearly 7,000 people on September 11 when US airspace was closed after the attacks and their inbound international flights were not allowed to enter the United States, thus needing an emergency spot to land. It chronicles the lives of various townspeople as well as passengers and their experiences that day and the days following as they were unexpectedly stranded.  It was mind-boggling how the residents opened their hearts and homes, shared their resources, and truly counted these strangers as family, anticipating and caring for their every need through the duration of their stay. 

With the upcoming anniversary of the September 11 attacks, this is an especially timely read!  It is filled with stories of goodwill and the best of human nature, not surprising that the Broadway musical "Come From Away" (with a film adaptation premiering Sept. 10 on Apple TV) and a movie were both based on the book and produced in the years following its publication.  It was originally published in 2003 but I read and enjoyed this updated version that just released this year with it's follow-up notes on some of the people from the book and updates on their lives now.  (My husband wrote a great post about the book if you'd care to read!)

I was actually in the middle of reading a physical copy of another book while we visited Crested Butte a few weeks ago, but we were headed to the hot tub one night so I loaded this up onto my Kindle to read because I was nervous about the other book getting wet.  I intended to just get it started and then go back to my other book, but once I started I couldn't put it down and ended up finishing it the next day.  Such an engaging, inspiring, and encouraging story!

Let me know what you think!  Have you read any of these books?  And what's your favorite that's not on my list today... I'm always looking for my next good read! 

Would you like to comment?

  1. I loved The Nightingale and The Dutch House!! I would HIGHLY recommend Bel Canto by Ann Patchett!! It is even better than The Dutch House! I would also recommend Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. Many twists and turns in an easy read.

  2. I am currently reading Before We Were Yours. Had no idea it was based on a true story. Shocking and heartbreaking!

    1. Yes! It's so hard to imagine that something like that really happened!

  3. Jennifer, you might like to check out Beverley Bass on IG and/or FB. She was the first female Captain for American Airlines, where I spent 30 years! She’s a remarkable lady and the person initiating the “Come From Away” story which led to the Broadway play and more. She was flying back to the states from Europe when 9/11 happened and had to land in Gander. The people there were incredibly wonderful and welcoming to all the stranded passengers.

    9/11 was such a horrendous event! Some of my people were designated to take the calls inquiring about our flight crews from their families and co-workers. Knowing what the flight crews experienced prior to the crashes was heartbreaking! Those on the ground and in the different buildings, the first responders and anyone involved are still our heroes along with the flight crews. A day we will never forget! ✈️ πŸ™❤️πŸ™πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

    1. Pat, your personal connection here is so interesting! I'm looking forward to the musical streaming on Apple TV so we can see it. It is such an incredible story. I agree, on one of our nation's darkest days the best of so many people was brought to light!

  4. P.S. Thanks so much for the book reviews…I love to read too! The WWII era is a favorite as I had 8 uncles that served and, thank God, they all returned! If you haven’t read “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom, it’s a must! She had other books too. Also, “The Tattooist of Auchwitz”, “Cilka’s Journey” are good. I have quite a few from that time.

    1. I'm very familiar with The Hiding Place and Corrie Ten Boom but embarrassed to say I've never read it. Adding it to my list now! I've heard good things about the others you listed too, will check them out!

  5. Thank you so much for reading my Peachtree Bluff Series!! I really appreciate it ❤️❤️ xo Kristy

  6. Some great recommendations. I thought a strong underlying political message in The Four Winds detracted from this otherwise great historical fiction novel. The Dutch House and Before we Were Yours were great.I had tickets to see Come From Away but it was cancelled due to Covid. Will have to read the book you recommended while I'm waiting for the Broadway show to return! My top nonfiction recommendation this year is Carl Trueman's The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self--serious and dense although I did read several chapters at the beach.


Thanks so much for leaving a comment, they make my day! If you have a specific question, please make sure to check back here as I will respond in the thread, or leave your e-mail so that I can respond personally. Or, email me directly to address in "Contact" section at top.