Books That Came My Way in December

December was a crazy busy month and I barely had time to answer emails let alone accept books for review. But, a few arrived and I’m happy to share them with you below. I am hoping for a bit slower pace in January and maybe even a few snow days to be completely lazy and read a book by the fireplace. Several books were purchased as gifts and we also received some in December, so I’ll be sharing those as well. 

As always, if I am choosing to read a book, then you can be sure that I truly think it is worthy of my time. Of course, some books just find their way to my mailbox without my previous knowledge. I am only going to spend time reading and reviewing books that I enjoy. If I’m not feeling it, I’m going to put it aside. I can’t get to all these great books that come my way, but at least I can tell you about them here and I hope to review them just as soon as I can!

If you would like to purchase any of these books, 
clicking on the photo of the book will take you directly to Amazon.  
If you choose to purchase, I will receive a small commission 
without you having to pay any more for your purchase.  
I appreciate your support of reviews. 

The Deliberate Reader

I’m linking up with The Deliberate Reader to share our stacks of books for December. To see her Stack of Books as well as other bloggers’ Book Stacks, click HERE


By: Shilpi Somaya Gowda
To Be Published: January 26, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: Paperback
I read and reviewed Gowda first novel, SECRET DAUGHTER and loved it. See my review, HERE. I’m hoping her sophomore novel is just as wonderful. I loved how she brought India and the United States together and she is doing it again in THE GOLDEN SON. When the two cultures collide there is always a story to tell.

Anil is the cherished son of a large family in rural India. As the eldest boy, he is expected to inherit the role of leader of his clan and arbiter of its disputes, dispensing wisdom and good advice. Leena is his closest companion, a fiercely brave girl who loves nothing more than the wild terrain they inhabit and her close-knit family. As childhood friends, they are inseparable—but as adulthood approaches, they grow apart.

Anil is the first person in his family to leave India, the first to attend college, the first to become a doctor. Half a world away in Dallas, Texas, he is caught up in his new life, experiencing all the freedoms and temptations of American culture: he tastes alcohol for the first time, falls in love, and learns firsthand about his adopted country’s alluring, dangerous contradictions. Though his work in a gritty urban hospital is grueling, Anil is determined to carve out his own life in America.

At home, Leena dreams of marriage, a strong and true love like the one shared by her parents, and leaves her beloved home to join her new husband’s family in a distant village.

Then things start to go wrong: Anil makes a medical mistake with tragic results, his first love begins to fray and a devastating event makes him question his worth as a doctor and as a friend. On a visit home, Anil rekindles a friendship with the woman who seems to understand him better than anyone else. But their relationship is complicated by a fateful decision made years earlier.

As the two old friends discover each other again, they must also weigh the choice between responsibility and freedom, and between loyalty and love.  

By: Susan Meissner
Published: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Berkley NAL
Format: Paperback
I received this as an eBook back in October and then got the paperback this month. Meissner’s book A FALL OF MARIGOLDS was one of my favorite books of 2014. You can see my review, HERE. So, I had no questions about reviewing her next book! Can’t wait to dive in!

Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind  ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie… 

Los Angeles, 1938.  Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her  dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide.  What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future. 

Free Yourself from Your So-Called Put-Together Life
By: Beth Thomas Cohen
Published: November 5, 2015
Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing
Format: Paperback
I’m certainly not perfect and in this over-sharing, pinterest-perfect world we live in, this book sounded so refreshing to me! 
Drop the Act, It’s Exhausting! is one woman’s call to all women to embrace the imperfections in their lives and to air their “improper” thoughts about relationships, love, sex, parenting, careers, self-esteem, and self-image. By no longer being ashamed or apologetic about how they “really feel,” women will become more aware of who they are and more accepting of themselves and one another. With wit, candor, and refreshingly blunt observations, Beth Thomas Cohen proves herself the prime example of how freeing, fun, and unifying it can be to drop the act and live a not so put-together life.

A Celebration of Friendship
By: The Satellite Sisters ~ Lian Dolan, Liz Dolan, Julie Dolan, Monica Dolan, Sheila Dolan
Published: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Prospect Park Books
Format: Hardcover

I love these kinds of books. They are always full of great stories, quotes and wisdom. I have read other articles and posts by the Satellite Sisters and they are always spot on! 

You’re the Best is a thank-you note to female friends, the women we call when the best things in our lives happen—or the worst. Written by two generations of Satellite Sisters, this beautifully packaged hardcover book explores how we rely on our friends to get us up, get us going, get us through, and, most importantly, get us laughing. It makes a superb gift for friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, and granddaughters.

The Satellite Sisters—Julie, Liz, Sheila, Monica, and Lian Dolan—are five sisters who believe that a sense of connection is what gives meaning to our lives. The Dolan sisters created Satellite Sisters first as a nationwide radio show and website. Now, the Satellite Sisters connect with a blog, a podcast, books, personal appearances, and social media; joining them regularly are their cadre of twenty-something nieces. After winning twelve Gracie Allen Awards for excellence in women’s media, they still have plenty more to say.

By: Richard Fifield
To Be Published: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: eBook

For some reason, this quirky story sounded like it would be an enjoyable read! Love the cover too!

Welcome to Quinn, Montana, population: 956. A town where nearly all of the volunteer firemen are named Jim, where The Dirty Shame—the only bar in town—refuses to serve mixed drinks (too much work), where the locals hate the newcomers (then again, they hate the locals, too), and where the town softball team has never even come close to having a winning season. Until now.

Rachel Flood has snuck back into town after leaving behind a trail of chaos nine years prior. She’s here to make amends, but nobody wants to hear it, especially her mother, Laverna. But with the help of a local boy named Jake and a little soul-searching, she just might make things right.

By: Heather Gudenkauf
Published: February 2, 2016
Publisher: MIRA
Format: eBook

Heather Gudenkauf is an Iowa author and I am thrilled to snag an early copy of this one! She has never disappointed me with her mysteries!

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded. 

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.

By: Fiona Barton
To Be Published: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Berkley NAL
Format: eBook

This has “unreliable narrator” written all over it. I’m not sure if this theme has been over done, but I’m looking forward to the ride.

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…
But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.
There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment. 
Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage. 
The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything.

By: Debbie Macomber
To Be Published: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: eBook

Debbie Macomber is great for a quick, light read on a snowy weekend. The themes in this one are a little heavy, so I’m anxious to check it out.

In this powerful and uplifting novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber, a mother and her daughter-in-law bravely leave their troubled marriages and face the challenge of starting over. Leaning on each other, Nichole and Leanne discover that their inner strength and capacity for love are greater than they ever imagined.
When Nichole discovers that her husband, Jake, has been unfaithful, the illusion of her perfect life is indelibly shattered. While juggling her young son, a new job, and volunteer work, Nichole meets Rocco, who is the opposite of Jake in nearly every way. Though blunt-spoken and rough around the edges, Rocco proves to be a dedicated father and thoughtful friend. But just as their relationship begins to blossom, Jake wagers everything on winning Nichole back—including their son Owen’s happiness. Somehow, Nichole must find the courage to defy her fears and follow her heart, with far-reaching consequences for them all.
Leanne has quietly ignored her husband’s cheating for decades, but is jolted into action by the echo of Nichole’s all-too-familiar crisis. While volunteering as a teacher of English as a second language, Leanne meets Nikolai, a charming, talented baker from Ukraine. Resolved to avoid the heartache and complications of romantic entanglements, Leanne nonetheless finds it difficult to resist Nikolai’s effusive overtures—until an unexpected tragedy tests the very fabric of her commitments.

By: Lucia Berlin
Published: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this as part of the Black Friday Amazon 30% off a book deal. I chose it as my First Book of 2016 and have gotten a good start on it. Since it is a compilation of short stories, it is easy to read and bit and then pick it up later. Some of the stories are great and some area just ok. But, that is usually how it is with short stories. 
A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With the grit of Raymond Carver, the humor of Grace Paley, and a blend of wit and melancholy all her own, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday, uncovering moments of grace in the Laundromats and halfway houses of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Bay Area upper class, among switchboard operators and struggling mothers, hitchhikers and bad

Readers will revel in this remarkable collection from a master of the form and wonder how they’d ever overlooked her in the first place. 

The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush
By: Jon Meacham
Published: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Random House
Format: Hardcover

I bought this as a gift for my husband. I listened to a couple podcasts with the author and found him really interesting and his readings from the book intrigued me. I think it will be right up my husband’s alley.

From Pulitzer Prize winner and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham comes a sweeping yet intimate biography of George H. W. Bush. Based on rigorous research, hours of private interviews, and extraordinary access to Bush’s diaries and to his family, Destiny and Power paints a vivid and affecting portrait of the distinctive American life of a man from the Greatest Generation: his childhood in Connecticut, his heroic service in World War II, his entry into the Texas oil business, and his storied rise in politics from congressman to U.N. ambassador to head of the CIA to forty-first president of the United States.

A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor
By: Robert Schnakenberg
Published: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Quirk Books
Format: Paperback

We are Bill Murray fans in our house and I happened upon this book and ordered it for my husband. I expect it to be a hilarious read.
The man. The movies. The life. The legend. He’s played a deranged groundskeeper, a bellowing lounge singer, a paranormal exterminator, and a grouchy weatherman. He is William James “Bill” Murray, America’s greatest national treasure. From his childhood lugging golf bags at a country club to his first taste of success on Saturday Night Live, from his starring roles in Hollywood blockbusters to his reinvention as a hipster icon for the twenty-first century, The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray chronicles every aspect of his extraordinary life and career. 
He’s the sort of actor who can do Hamlet and Charlie’s Angels in the same year. He shuns managers and agents, and he once agreed to voice the lead in Garfield because he mistakenly believed it was a Coen Brothers film. He’s famous for crashing house parties all over New York City—and if he keeps photobombing random strangers, he might just break the Internet.
Part biography, part critical appreciation, part love letter, and all fun, this enormous full-color volume, packed with color film stills and behind-the-scenes photography, chronicles every Murray performance in loving detail, recounting all the milestones, legendary “Murray stories,” and controversies in the life of this enigmatic performer.

By: Brandon Stanton
Published: October 15, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Format: Hardcover

I purchased this for my friend AND myself. I followed Humans of New York on Facebook and am fascinated with all the real-people stories. I haven’t opened mine up yet, but it makes a great coffee-table book. 

In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton began an ambitious project -to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. The photos he took and the accompanying interviews became the blog Humans of New York. His audience steadily grew from a few hundred followers to, at present count, over twelve million. In 2013, his book Humans of New York, based on that blog, was published and immediately catapulted to the top of the NY Times Bestseller List where it has appeared for over forty-five weeks. Now, Brandon is back with the Humans of New York book that his loyal followers have been waiting for: Humans of New York: Stories. Ever since Brandon began interviewing people on the streets of New York, the dialogue he’s had with them has increasingly become as in-depth, intriguing and moving as the photos themselves. Humans of New York: Stories presents a whole new group of people in stunning photographs, with a rich design and, most importantly, longer stories that delve deeper and surprise with greater candor. Let Brandon Stanton and the Humans of New York he’s photographed astonish you all over again next fall.

75 Inspiring Meditations
By: Renae Brumbaugh
Published: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Barbour Books
Format: Paperback

This was a gift from my secret sister at church. I haven’t read all the way through it yet, but have read several days worth of the devotions. They are short and thought provoking related to Jesus’ lineage and the effect of His birth on all of us.

Encouraging Verses of the Bible for Christmas will give you a concise, easy-to-read entry on the most important, intriguing, and hope-filled passages of the Bible’s Christmas story. From the angel Gabriel’s life-changing message to Mary, to the journey to Nazareth, to the virgin birth, and more, this book is a useful and enjoyable tool for enhancing biblical knowledge. Appropriate for readers from junior high and up, 365 Encouraging Verses of the Bible for Christmas covers the breadth and width of scripture in a beautiful, seasonal format.

By: Rebecca Skloot
Published: March 8, 20111
Publisher: Broadway Books
Format: Paperback

I received this from my sister. Even though I have read it back in 2011 (see my review HERE), I had read a library copy and several times wished I had a personal copy to look something up. For example, this fall, a mom was trying to ban this book…..see HERE. Every woman should own a copy of this book, or at the very least, read it. 

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons. 

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Something is About to Change
By: John Hagee
Published: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Worthy Publishing
Format: Paperback
My husband received this as a gift. Not his usual choice of books, but it does sound interesting. 

Inspired by NASA projections and recorded history, Pastor John Hagee shows direct connections between four blood-moon eclipses and major world events. Further, he reveals the significance of the four upcoming blood moons and what they portend for Israel and all of humankind.

Prayer is A Powerful Weapon
By: Chris Fabry
Published: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Tyndale Publishing
Format: Paperback

I have not seen this movie yet, but our son received this book as a gift. I may have to check it out as well.

Tony and Elizabeth Jordan have it all — great jobs, a beautiful daughter, and their dream house. But appearances can be deceiving. Their world is actually crumbling under the strain of a failing marriage. While Tony basks in his professional success and flirts with temptation, Elizabeth resigns herself to increasing bitterness. But their lives take an unexpected turn when Elizabeth meets her newest client, Miss Clara, a wise, older widow who challenges Elizabeth to start fighting for her family instead of fighting against her husband.

8 Undeniable Qualities of a Winner
By: Joel Osteen
Published: August 4, 2015
Publisher: FaithWords
Format: Paperback

This is exactly the kind of books I like for our kids to read and our son received this as a gift. 

In 8 UNDENIABLE QUALITIES OF A WINNER, Joel Osteen focuses on the irrefutable traits and attributes of highly successful people. These personal qualities are tested through the ages and all types of circumstances. These practical principles guide the lives of champions. 
I can’t tell you how excited I am for several of these books. I am certainly hoping for some serious reading time this month so I can tell you more about them! 
A post from today, 7 years ago – How Will I Make A Difference?
A post from today, 6 years ago – Put On Your Hiking Boots
A post from today, 4 years ago – Book Review: The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow
A post from today, 3 years ago – One Thousand of My Gifts
A post from today, 2 years ago – Books I’m Excited to Read in 2014
A post from today, 1 year ago – Review: Every Day Matters Planner By Dani DiPiro
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