Favorite Books

A friend of mine, Bethany Jennings, posed the question of favorite books on Facebook the other day. While I have a running list in my head of favorite movies, I was stumped to think of my favorite books. This bothered me since I consider myself a reader. After much thought I came up with this list:

  • Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  • Harry Potter by JK Rowling
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
  • Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
  • Mindhunter by John Douglas
  • The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • Fiddler’s Green by A.S. Peterson
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  • Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz
  • All Band of Brothers Books but especially: Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Battles of a Sergeant from World War II’s “Band of Brothers” by Don Malarkey, Biggest Brother: The life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who led the Band of Brothers by Larry Alexander, Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Bothers Tell Their Story by William Guarnere
  • The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelssohn
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • 3000 Degrees: The True Story of a Deadly Fire and the Men who Fought it by Sean Flynn
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • With the Old Breed by Eugene B. Sledge
  • The Killing Zone: My life in the Vietnam War by Frederick Downs
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Most books by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
  • The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques
  • The Railway Children and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
  • Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon

These are books I have either read several times, quoted from, was strongly influenced by, stuck with me, or I learned from. The longer I think about it the more books I want to add. This list is not static, but growing all the time.

And, due to popular demand, some of my favorite books are also:

  • When Skies are Gray by Abby Jones
  • Never Know, Dear by Abby Jones
  • Don’t take my Sun by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • Happy Thought by Abby Jones
  • Hero’s Story by Abby Jones
  • Hope’s Journey by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Cost of Two Hands by Abby Jones
  • The Sparrow and the Star by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Seventh Son of the Seventh Son by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Playground Children by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Texas Cousins Adventure Stories by Abby Jones


Books, Movies, Thoughts

Since I decided to change this to a once a month feature instead of twice a month, different formats have come to mind. I could write one review about one movie or book I really enjoyed, or I could do mini reviews of everything that I’ve been reading and watching. For now, this seems more appealing. Enjoy:





The Lost, a Search for Six in Six Million

By Daniel Mendelsohn

This book was one of those captivating non-fiction reads that reads more like a novel than a true store. Daniel takes you with him on his search for his uncle, aunt, and four cousins murdered in the Holocaust. He travels the world desperately trying to speak with someone who knew them before the last few Jews from their small town pass away taking their history with them. The book was riveting. Two side notes: 1) I’ve never read anyone since John Owen with so many run on sentences. As a fast reader, I could not read this book fast. Some of his sentences where the length of the whole paragraph with so many clauses I had to reread them multiple times to sort through what he was talking about. I was able to read faster after I grew accustom to his style. 2) This book gave me very clear insight, for the first time in my life, about where the Jews and the Christians separate on theology in the Old Testament. The level of humanism brought to their theology surprised me, although it probably shouldn’t have. Over all, an amazing book.

Rated R: Due to the difficult nature of what was done to the Jews during the Holocaust.


Stepping Heavenward

By Elizabeth Prentiss

I read this for my personal devotional this last spring. At the beginning, I found it very hard to stay interested in. Reading the thoughts of a self-focused teen, even one from back in the 1800’s, isn’t high on my list of fun things to do. Push through. If you will read to the end you will find the story of a girl who becomes a woman, a sinner who becomes a saint. Watching her go from whining about everything to loving all those who are difficult in her life was very encouraging. The two things I noted about this book: 1) While the overall book was very encouraging spiritually, I did find in interesting to see the seeds of Christian American Individualism. The focus very often is on the personal prayer and bible study while the church is rarely mentioned. 2)I found it very convicting, upon one scene in the book, to realize I didn’t bring my daily tasks before the Lord in prayer and ask for his wisdom in managing them and that he be glorified in them. This is something I now try to do every morning. This is a good book for women of all ages.

Rated PG: Due to the lack of focus on the church and the high focus on emotionalism, so parents may wish to guide their children more closely.


The Silvered

By Tanya Huff

Given to me by a dear friend, The Silvered had me glued from about ten pages in to the very end. The Silvered is a steam-punk-esque fantasy with werewolves, mages, technology, torture, kidnapping, and lots of other fun things. The story switches through the point of views of several main characters giving the reader a full-orbed sense of what is going on. This was a very fun read with a well-paced plot, fun characters, and just enough spine-tingling horror, to keep me sneaking a page here and a page there throughout my day. I even managed to make me feel like I was walking in two different worlds for a time: this one, and the oh-my-what’s-going-on-with-my-pack! one. I like it when a book does that. I enjoyed the very sensible nature of the female characters. They were a good balance of emotion and mind. I enjoyed the way Huff handled werewolves far more than most fantasies I’ve read. Most of all, I loved how you realize as you go along that the lead female is important. It’s very nicely played as opposed to shoved in your face. My only two minor issues were her well, obvious homosexual leanings, which where overall minor, and I wish Huff had given us just a little more description about the world.

Rated R: While the book does a very good job of keeping objectionable things mostly behind closed doors, there is one very dark scene and a few sexual inferences.




Now this was a film. Switching from my normal fare of cheesy action flicks that are perfect for a tired Saturday date night, I rented Prisoners. This movie had me on the edge of my seat from the opening moments. The acting was brilliant. Jake Gyllenhaal was amazing. Everything seemed accurate from what I could tell on the police work side, with the police not painted as idiots for once. The story is about two little girls who are kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day, but the real story is how their fathers react to their kidnapping and how the detective in charge, Gyllenhaal, reacts to them while still trying to save their daughters. Even with an unexpected twist the solving of the case doesn’t ruin the re-watchability of the film. In fact, as soon as you realize what is going on you want to start the movie over and see what clues you missed the first time through. While this isn’t a relaxing film, it is a great film. This is a movie I would buy.

Rated R: for child abuse, kidnapping, torture, language, violence.



To be honest, I’m pretty burned out on remakes. I wish directors would make their own cool movies instead of digging back through my childhood and teen years to steal ideas. Overall Robocop wasn’t bad. It was less violent and gory than the first Robocop, but it also lacked something. My husband really enjoyed it, but we both agreed on two things: 1) Too much story for one movie. Robocop had three main plots that didn’t all weave together perfectly creating a lack of focus and a false ending which was ultimately unfulfilling. 2) Due to too much story for one movie, the ultimate story—man vs. machine—lacked struggle. Oh, Robocop struggled, yes. But not in a way that gripped the viewer. It just lacked heart.

Rated PG-13: Violence, language, intense scenes.


3 Days to Kill

Now, back to the cheesy action flicks. 3 Days to Kill takes us along for the last ride of a retiring CIA agent as he finishes his last case while trying to reconnect with his wife and daughter. The movie was fun, well executed, and a great daddy-daughter type movie. Kevin Costner does a great job as the CIA agent/struggling father. Because they were able to secure some decent actors, like Costner, the movie retained a ring of realism and heart without just being cheese with a little cheese on the side. Overall there’s not much to say about this film other than it was fun, touching, and cute: the perfect movie after a long week. If you enjoyed Transporter, you’ll probably enjoy this film.

Rated PG 13: other than the violence, a few mild torture scenes, some language, there is only one inappropriate scene.


Downton Abbey (Season 4)

I was really not sure about watching anymore Downton after they killed Matthew off in Season 3. I just couldn’t imagine the house, the characters, and the story without him. But, my sister told me I should give it a try, and here we are. I loved it. It was a slower moving season with less over the top drama and more subtle drama. I felt like they gave Matthew’s death his due without wallowing in it. Mary and Isobel do a wonderful job showing the effects of losing a husband and son. My favorite point in the show is when Mary, Branson, and Isobel are in the nursery together sharing what they’ve lost. Laughing and crying at the same time. Anna and Bates are put through some very trying times. Bates is such a good man. When the curtain closed on this season, I found myself excited for what next season will bring. Mrs. Hughes is still one of my favorite characters alongside Maggie Smith of course.

Rated PG 13: Lots of fun topics for parents to discuss! 😉

This has been my life in stories for the last few weeks. If you’ve read or watched any of these books or movies, I’d love to know what you think! You can also follow me on Good Reads

Quote of the Weekend

For everything, in time, gets lost: the lives of peoples now remote, the tantalizing yet ultimately vanished and largely unknowable lives of virtually all of the Greeks and Romans and Ottomans and Malays and Goths and Bengals and Sudanese who ever lived, the peoples of Ur and Kush, the lives of the Hittites and Philistines that will never be known, the lives of people more recent than that, the African slaves and the slave traders, the Boers and the Belgians, those how were slaughtered and those who died in bed, the Polish counts and the Jewish shopkeepers, the blond hair and eyebrows and small white teeth that someone once loved or desired of this or that boy or girl or man or woman who was one of the five million (or six or seven) Ukrainians staved to death by Stalin, and indeed the intangible things beyond the hair and teeth and brows, the smiles and frustrations and laughter and terror and loves and hunger of every one of those millions of Ukrainians, just as the hair of a Jewish girl or boy or man or woman that someone once loved, and the teeth and the brows , the smiles and frustrations and laughter and terror of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust are now lost, or will soon be lost, because no number of books, however great, could ever document them all, even if they were to be written, which they won’t and can’t be; all that will be lost, too, their pretty legs and their deafness and the vigorous way they strode off a train with a pile of schoolbooks once, the secret family rituals and the recipes for cakes and stews and golaki, the goodness and wickedness, the saviors and the betrayers, their saving and betraying: most everything will be lost, eventually, as surely as most of what made up the lives of the Egyptians and Incas and Hittites has been lost. But for a little while some of that can be rescued, if only, faced with the vastness of all that there is and all that there ever was, somebody makes the decision to look back, to have one last look, to search for a while in the debris of the past and to see not only what was lost but what there is still to be found.

– The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

(Out of every tongue, tribe, and nation, God has called His people, and so these people are not, in the ultimate way, truly lost. Some of them will be in heaven, praising Christ for all eternity.)


Quote of the Weekend

“Mrs. Begley’s son once said of his mother, Something in her had been broken, and when he said this I had thought, The ones who were killed were no the only ones who’d been lost.”

The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn


Quote of the Weekend

“So we cannot go there with them. All I think I can say, now, with any degree of certainty, is that in one of those rooms, on a particular moment of a particular day in September 1942, although the moment and the day will never be known, the lives of my uncle Shmiel and his family, of Samuel Jager, my grandfather’s brother, the heir to and rebuilder of the business that t the cautious matrimonial intermingling of those generations of Jagers and Kornbluhs had been designed to enhance, a man who wrote a certain number of letters between January and December 1939, a woman who was very warm, very friendly, a forty-seven-year-old father of four girls, a natty dresser and a bit of a big shot, too, in the small town where his family has lived, it seems, forever, a young girl who was still very much a baby, to whom a seventy-eight-year-old man living in Sydney, Australia, will recall that he once said Hallo, Bronia! over a fence, a man, a woman, a child who have been forced by this point, to live with the knowledge that their third daughter, her older sister, a sixteen-year-old girl whom the father had named to perpetuate the memory of his darling sister who had died, it would one day be intoned, a week before her weeding, was shot to death at the edge of an open pit; an uncle, aunt, and cousin who at that moment, the moment at which he and then they hear, perhaps, the strange hiss begin, have a niece and a cousin whom they have never met but whom he has mentioned, politely, in a few of those letters (I say goodbye to you and kiss you, and also dear Gerty and the dear child, from me and also from my darling wife and children to you and all the siblings too), a niece who lives in  the Bronx, New York, a pretty blond eleven-year-old with braces who, in the first week of September 1942, has just entered the sixth grad (just as her future husband, then thirteen, so much of whose family would be lost to narrative, was just entering the eighth grade, where he played with a boy whom everyone called Billy Ehrenreich, which was not his real name but after all he lived upstairs with the Ehrenreichs, a refugee from Germany who would sometimes say to my father that had fours sisters from whom he’d been separated and whom, he said, he’d “lost”, a word that my father, just a boy then, couldn’t quite understand)–in that room, they had eventually to breathe the poisoned air, and after a period of minutes the lives of Shmiel Jager, Ester Schneclicht Jager, and Bronia Jager, lives that will, many years hence, amount to a collection of a few photographs and a few sentences about them, She called him the krol, the king, she was very warm, very friendly, she was just a baby, playing with her toys, these lives, and many others things that were true about them but which now can also never e known, came to an end. ”

-A paragraph from The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

(I thought this paragraph captured the sense of lives just cut off by the Holocaust. I also found it interesting that this whole paragraph is only two sentences. I’ve read few writers with as many long sentences and Daniel Mendelsohn.)


Quote of the Weekend

My desire to have that narrative was no different from my grandfather’s desire to believe the stories about the Jewish neighbor or the Polish maid. Both were motivated by a need for a story that, however ugly, would give their deaths some meaning–that would make their deaths be about something. Jack Greene told me something else that night: that like Shmiel, his own parents had been hoping to get their family to safety, hoping to get visas; but that by 1939 the waiting list for papers was six years long. (And by then, he said, everyone was already dead.) Because I am a sentimental person, I would like to think–we will, of course, never know–that my grandfather and his siblings did everything they could for Shmiel and his family. What we do know is that by 1939, nothing they could have done would have saved them.

– The Lost: A search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

(This book is the story of a great nephews search for his great uncle, aunt, and cousins who did not survive the Holocaust.)