One of my 2014 goals is to read only books I enjoy – and with all the cold winter we’ve had this month, I’ve done a LOT of reading!  And found some books booksI really enjoyed.  Here is my Amazon link to ALL of the books I read this month, but as I’m sure you know by now, I do recommend checking them out from your local library first – I personally only buy books I plan on reading again (like cookbooks).   And now, although I enjoyed them all,  my favorites . . .

Fiction

 

A Winter Dream, by Richard Paul Evans  

Think of this book as a modern take on the Biblical story of Joseph, his brothers and  his father.  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it when I began the book, but I ended up really enjoying it.  The ability of Joseph to persevere even when his life looked pretty bleak and then to forgive his brothers for their transgressions was remarkable.  It left me thinking about how I would react in a similar situation and hoping I could respond with as much dignity and hope as Joseph did.  It isn’t a long book so I was able to read it in just a few hours – then I went back and re-read sections to allow myself to really digest them.  My rating 4 out of 5.

Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes

Wow.  This book kept popping up everywhere as a “must-read,” but frankly I hadn’t gotten around to it.  What a story – it actually had me crying at the end (which rarely happens).   However, overall, it isn’t a sad book – I really don’t like reading sad books.  The plot revolves around Lou, the main character, who leads a small, simple life and is content with that – she doesn’t want more.  She becomes a companion to Will who was paralyzed in an accident a few years ago and has lost the desire to live – he loved his life before the accident and doesn’t feel he can accept the life he has now been dealt.  I really don’t want to go into more detail and give anything away, but this really is a wonderful read.  My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Another book I kept seeing recommendations to read but just hadn’t gotten around to that turned out to be wonderful.  Although, to be honest the main reason I finally got started on it was that I saw it was going to be a movie in 2014 and I wanted to make sure I had read the book first!  Whatever the motivation, I’m very glad I read it.  The book is technically Young Adult Lit, so the writing is very easy to read and follow, but the story line transcends age.  The main characters are two teenagers both with cancer – Hazel who is stage IV and knows she is on limited time, and Augustus Waters who has been cleared from his cancer.   Although they fall in love, the love story is only part of what this book explores – life, love, death, friendship – it’s just a marvelous and beautifully written book.  (As a bonus, it’s set in Indianapolis so I enjoyed reading about the places nearby I know and love).  My rating 5 out of 5 stars.

Non-fiction

The Fred Factor, by Mark Sanborn

An older book but still quite valid.  This book really emphasizes customer service and gives excellent concrete tips for improving your value add.  I found myself taking notes as I read the book and nodding along, agreeing with Mark.  I had read this book years ago, but definitely enjoyed reading it again, and I feel like I actually got more out of it this time around.  My rating 4 out of 5.

French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano

This book follows along with much of my food philosophy, so I definitely enjoyed reading it.  Just like the author, I believe in dark chocolate and wine – just in moderation!  There are quite a few interesting recipes in the book too, but I haven’t tried them yet, so I can’t comment.   Most of the author’s tips are common sense and would benefit just about anyone.  I wasn’t a fan of her Leek soup weekend for quick weight loss, but most of the rest of her advice is useful.  My rating 3.5 out of 5.

Any books you particularly loved this month?  I’m always looking for new ones to read, so I’d love to hear your recommendations!

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