2018 Book Club Selections


It’s only November, but it’s time to look ahead to next year’s book club! Like this year, we’ll be discussing each month’s book in our closed Facebook group. You’re welcome to join us for one month or all twelve.

{Book descriptions taken from my library website or Goodreads. Some are lightly edited.}


January

Gifts of Imperfection coverGifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Why did I select it? I wanted a discussable nonfiction title, and Brown has been on my to be read stack for ages. Her books are supposed to be inspiring and engaging, and that sounded like a great way to kick off 2018!

What’s it about? “An expert of the psychology of shame presents advice on how to overcome paralyzing fears and self-consciousness, and at the same time increase feelings of self-worth, gratitude, and acceptance.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

February

The Death of Ivan Ilyich coverThe Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy

Why did I select it? I’m shamefully unread in Russian literature and would like to at least read something by one of the big names. Why this title in particular? The assumption that a novella is a more accessible (or at least manageable) selection than one of Tolstoy’s lengthier options. If any of us get inspired, the linked version includes additional short stories, but all I’m promising to read is Ivan Ilyich.

What’s it about? “A middle-aged high-court judge who had never thought about his own mortality, Ivan Ilyich must readjust his thinking when he learns he has a terminal illness.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

March

A Vision of Light coverA Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley

Why did I select it? Historical fiction makes for such great discussions. Riley’s book isn’t as well-known as some titles, but it’s well-reviewed, and the start of a series.

What’s it about? “Margaret of Ashbury wants to write her life story. However, like most women in fourteenth-century England, she is illiterate. Three clerics contemptuously decline to be Margaret’s scribe, and only the threat of starvation persuades Brother Gregory, a Carthusian friar with a mysterious past, to take on the task. As she narrates her life, we discover a woman of startling resourcefulness.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

April

Watership Down coverWatership Down by Richard Adams

Why did I select it? I’ve never read this modern classic, and I’ve always been curious about how Adams handles the world-building to make the lives of rabbits that compelling.

What’s it about? “Chronicles the adventures of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to establish a new warren where they can live in peace.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

May

Wuthering Heights coverWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Why did I select it? I still have never read it, and after reading the biography on the Brontë sisters last year I’m even more eager to do so.

What’s it about? “The tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


June

The Sparrow coverThe Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Why did I select it? I wanted to have a discussable science fiction title for the year, and found Russell’s book on multiple lists of recommended science fiction titles, particularly for those new to the genre.

What’s it about? “The sole survivor of a crew sent to explore a new planet, Jesuit priest Emilio Sandoz discovers an alien civilization that raises questions about the very essence of humanity, an encounter that leads Sandoz to a public inquisition and the destruction of his faith.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

July

1776 cover1776 by David McCullough

Why did I select it? Our year’s history selection. McCullough typically writes such accessible nonfiction, I’m hoping it’s appealing even for those who don’t typically enjoy that genre.

What’s it about? “Draws on personal correspondence and period diaries to present a history of the American Revolution that ranges from the siege of Boston, to the American defeat at Brooklyn and retreat across New Jersey, to the American victory at Trenton.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

August

Angle of Repose coverAngle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

Why did I select it? I loved Stegner’s novel Crossing to Safety, and was looking for a character-driven, slower paced contemporary novel for the year.

What’s it about? “Wallace Stegner’s Pultizer Prize-winning novel is a story of discovery—personal, historical, and geographical. Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents’ remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America’s western frontier. But his research reveals even more about his own life than he’s willing to admit. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

September

Sky Burial coverSky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet by Xinran

Why did I select it? Originally this spot in the year’s selections was to be filled by a memoir, but I kept coming back to this title. It’s incorrectly listed as nonfiction some places, but it is a novelization of someone’s life story. While we won’t have a true memoir this year, I hope that this is close enough to that to satisfy all my fellow memoir-lovers.

What’s it about? “In 1958, notified that her husband, a doctor in the Chinese army has been killed in action in Tibet, Shu Wen joins the army, determined to uncover the truth, only to find herself alone, embarking on a thirty-year nomadic odyssey. Xinran has recreated Shu Wen’s journey, writing beautifully and simply of the silence and the emptiness in which Shu Wen was enveloped. The book is an extraordinary portrait of a woman and a land, each at the mercy of fate and politics. It is an unforgettable, ultimately uplifting tale of love, loss, loyalty, and survival.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Goodreads

October

The Hound of the Baskervilles coverThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Why did I select it? My nod to Halloween, with as seasonal a read as I can manage. It’s filling in the role of mystery for the year, while also giving me another classic that I’ve somehow not read.

What’s it about? “Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson travel to the bleak wastes of Dartmoor to solve the mystery surrounding the late Sir Charles Baskerville and a ghostly hound.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

November

The Chilbury Ladies ChoirThe Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Why did I select it? I couldn’t limit myself to only one historical fiction title for the year – there are just so many wonderful ones! I tried for a completely different time period, to provide for a varied reading experience. Terrific reviews and an intriguing setting have me very excited to try this newer title. Plus, it’s an epistolary novel, and we haven’t read one of those for this book club before (and I adore that format).

What’s it about? “Letters and journals reveal the struggles, affairs, deceptions, and triumphs of five members of a village choir during World War II as they band together to survive the upheavals of war and village intrigue on the English home front.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

December

Blue Castle coverBlue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Why did I select it? I wanted an easy-to-read title for December, as it’s such a busy time of year. I also wanted something lighter so the discussion could wrap up quicker, as last year I found it really hard to manage a discussion amidst all of the seasonal activity. While I’ve read all of Montgomery’s Anne Shirley series, I haven’t read any of her other titles.

What’s it about? “In early 1920s Canada, drastic circumstances give Valancy, a twenty-nine-year-old unmarried woman resigned to being an “old maid,” the courage to defy her controlling family and escape to a life of her own choosing.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads
And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

October 2017 Recap

October RecapOctober was a strange month for me. I spent the first part of the month recovering from my surgery, and then the second part of the month recovering from my recovery time. 😉 I’m still catching up on things that got ignored while I was spending so much time resting.

The Month in Stats

Books Read This Month: 28
Books Read This Year: 200

Things That Happened

  • Book club – Jane Eyre, The Madwoman Upstairs, and Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart for my in-person book club and Funny in Farsi in the Facebook group.
  • Cub Scouts popcorn sales! G worked hard going through the neighborhood to reach his sales goal for the year. He sold enough to earn his way to camp this summer, so that was exciting for him.
  • Soccer ended, and I don’t think G is planning on playing it again. His team won their first game of the tournament, but lost their next two and that was the end of their season. First grade soccer doesn’t have a tournament, so H just had one final game and that was the end of it for her.
  • G and H had belt testing again at taekwondo. Both passed, so G is now a first degree decided black belt (that’s the one that has his name on the belt!), and H is a red belt. G’s next test isn’t for four months, so December will be the first testing cycle when he doesn’t test since he began.
  • Book club retreat – I posted about it already, but it was lovely as always.
  • I forgot to mention this for September, but M has started taekwondo classes as well. She’s in the tot classes, but still does belt testing – she passed testing in October and now has a yellow stripe belt.

What I’m Anticipating in November

  • G and H start basketball. This is G’s third year playing, and H’s first.
  • G and H are also trying out jiu-jitsu. The taekwondo studio where they take classes also offers jiu-jitsu, so it’s very convenient (and affordable, thanks to the family rate we’ve qualified for). I don’t expect them to do those classes often, as they’ll have to fit in around everything else, but they were both super excited to give it a try.
  • Lots of Scout activities – both Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts.
  • Book club – At Home in the World for my in-person book club and Ordinary Grace in the Facebook group.

Books I Read in October

I shared the list of books I read in a recent post.

I didn’t finish that many readalouds with my children this month, thanks to half the month including zero reading by me to them as I recovered from my surgery.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Books I Read in October 2017

Books I Read in October 2017I read lots of books in October, and thanks to surgery recovery I had a strong emphasis on easy-to-read titles. So you’ll see lots of kid lit on the list, and memoirs make up the bulk of the nonfiction.

    Fiction

  1. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

    Read for bookclub, and my biggest complaint with it is only that the mystery element took a long time to truly develop, and it was fairly weak. But that feels like an incredibly picky complaint because if I’d read the book not expecting it to be a mystery I’d have been completely satisfied with it. It’s a terrific historical novel, even if it did make me cry a bit.

  2. Gunpowder Plot by Carola Dunn

    Listened to #15 in the Daisy Dalrymple series, and it was light and entertaining and perfectly fit the sort of books I was emphasizing this month.

  3. Blood at the Root by Peter Robinson

    Continuing on with the Alan Banks series, and this one got fairly gruesome at the end. Yuck. I still will keep going, but I wish I’d been reading it in print, as I could have quickly skipped over the particular scene that was so brutal. That’s harder to do in audio.

  4. Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie

    Super dated with the racist and anti-Semitic comments, enough so that it’s hard to recommend this title except with big caveats, as the book itself isn’t good enough to outweigh the offensive parts.

  5. A Casualty of War by Charles Todd

    The latest in the Bess Crawford series, and I’m sad to be all caught up with it. I love this series, even though I can see the flaws with it.

  6. Nonfiction

  7. The Yes Effect: Accepting God’s Invitation to Transform the World Around You by Luis Bush with Darcy Wiley

    My friend is the co-author, so I fully admit to being an unbiased reviewer.

  8. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris

    Interesting, but very skippable. If I hadn’t been needing audiobooks due to eye issues post-surgery (I had trouble focusing while on painkillers) I wouldn’t have kept going with it.

  9. Hoist on My Own Petard by Dan Harris

    A brief (as in, chapter-length) follow-up to his book. It was free on Kindle, and mildly interesting if you finished his memoir.

  10. The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World by Steve Hely

    Reminded me a bit of a Bill Bryson in how he combined history and travel stories in a humorous fashion, although Hely has a lot more drugs and partying involved in his book. Most of it I enjoyed but there was a stretch towards the end that was not so interesting. Unless you like hearing the drug and party stories. But Hely is entertaining as he reads his own book, so overall I enjoyed his memoir.

  11. What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro

    Not entirely what I wanted it to be, and as much as I wanted to love it (food history + women’s history!) it didn’t really work for me. It was remarkably dry, and some of her claims seemed to be a stretch based on the available evidence.

  12. Life-Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally and Sarah Clarkson

    Another one where I wanted to love it, but ended up being disappointed because I only liked it somewhat. I strongly prefer one of the author’s writing style, so the chapters by the other writer were always a let-down. In addition, the content ended up being fairly obvious so much of the time that I ended up skimming heavily. I may have just overhyped it to myself and had too high of expectations from the start.

  13. The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week) by Robin Mather

    Reminded me a bit of Animal Vegetable Miracle, but with a stronger emphasis on affordability, and the trade-offs finances often require.

  14. Kid Lit

  15. The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

    Sequel to the fantastic The War That Saved My Life, and it is just as good as the original. It’ll make you cry, but it is such a great pair of books, and I highly highly highly recommend them to anyone looking for historical fiction, especially set in England during World War II. Be aware that there is tough stuff discussed, so don’t just hand them off to younger or sensitive readers, but they are so worth reading.

  16. Greenglass House by Kate Milford

    LOVED this book. LOVED it. So much so that I finished it and immediately began rereading it to see just how the author had pulled off some of the events. Super fun, and I’m anxiously waiting for the sequel.

  17. Audrey Goes to Town by Christine Harris

    Book #2 in the Audrey series (Book #1 is Audrey of the Outback, a delightful story). This follow up is just as fun, but it involves a big spoiler for the first book, so read them in order.

  18. Audrey’s Big Secret by Christine Harris

    Book #3 in the series, and this one takes a slightly more serious tone, as it touches on events involving the Aboriginal population, and how children were taken from their homes and rehoused. Still highly recommended, just with a caution for sensitive readers that you want to be aware of what’s going to be discussed.

  19. Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill

    Enjoyable sequel to Bo at Ballard Creek, and while I didn’t like this one quite as much, that was mostly because it’s hard for sequels to match up to the original.

  20. Poppy by Mary Hooper

    Interesting historical fiction and I wish my library had the sequel, as I’d like to continue on with her story. This is more of a young adult novel than the middle-grade or elementary fiction that make up the rest of my month’s reading.

  21. Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath

    Great as an audiobook, but a caution for sensitive readers – there are some tough things that happen in the book, and even though it’s handled in a very light way (even humorously), if your child is likely to be bothered by physical injuries, or missing (and presumed dead) parents, you may want to skip it. I enjoyed it tremendously, and think my daughter will as well in a couple of years.

  22. One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath

    Sequel to Everything on a Waffle, and it follows the familiar characters, plus introduces a couple of new ones. Don’t read this without having read Everything on a Waffle first, as it will be very strange and nowhere near enjoyable enough.

  23. Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

    Cute book puzzle/mystery set in San Francisco. Appealing characters and fun brain teasers, and I’m on hold for the second book in the series.

  24. Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen

    Very dated as far as girls-can-do-this, while boys-can-do-that, so much so that it detracted from the book to the point that I wouldn’t recommend it. Too many other great books, from all time periods, to deal with this one that didn’t have enough going for it to outweigh the negatives.

  25. Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

    Pre-reading it as a possible readaloud/reader for my kids in the future. It reminded me a bit of Ramona Quimby, with the girl who keeps having things go wrong no matter how she’s trying to behave. It was funny, and it’s staying on my list for future reads for the kids.

  26. The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett

    Pre-reading it as a possibility for my son. It was fine, and if you’re looking for an elementary-level humorous book I’d give this one a try. I think it might have had a touch of crass humor of the cows farting variety, but I’m not even certain if it did, as that’s not something I worry about him reading so I would have skipped right over it. So far he hasn’t tried it, but if he ever does I’m certain he’ll like it.

  27. Viking Adventure by Clyde Robert Bulla

    Pre-reading a story that my son is reading for school. It was fine, and I’m sure he’ll like it as there is a lot of adventurous happenings of the sort that he’ll enjoy.

  28. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

    Super entertaining and amusing, with lots of funny lines that had me cracking up, and wishing my son would have been amused by it so I could share it with him. He would not be amused by it, and so I have to wait and see if either of my girls grow up into kids who will find this one as funny as I did.

  29. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book II: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood

    Apparently, one book in the Incorrigible Children series is all I can handle in a month, as reading the second left me rolling my eyes at things that had me chuckling the first time. It’s very much a continuation of the story begun in the first book, and for the target audience, I’m sure binge-reading them is fine.

  30. Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech

    I love Sharon Creech, but I did not love this book. I didn’t find it interesting, or funny, or even all that coherent. Skip this one and read her other books instead.

  31. Never Finished

  32. Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker

    Tried the first few chapters and wasn’t enjoying it enough to spend the reading time. Didn’t care for her style or the overall approach towards the subject.

  33. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

    May give this another try someday, but after trying several times to get into the story it wasn’t capturing my attention. Might just have been the wrong timing for me, which is why I’m not ruling it out for the future.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

New on the Stack in October 2017

Welcome to New on the Stack, where you can share the latest books you’ve added to your reading pile. I’d love for you to join us and add a link to your own post or Instagram picture sharing your books! It’s a fun way to see what others will soon be reading, and get even more ideas of books to add to my “I want to read that!” list.New on the Stack button

Nonfiction

ESV Illuminated Bible coverESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition

How did I get it: Received a review copy from the publisher
Why did I get it: It sounded lovely and I wanted to review it on the blog.

The Feast Nearby coverThe Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week) by Robin Mather

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s been on my TBR for some time, as I generally like food memoirs.

What She Ate coverWhat She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It kept popping up as a recommended title for me and I finally gave in and tried it.

10% Happier10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: Sounded intriguing.

The Wonder Trail coverThe Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World by Steve Hely

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: Love (some) travel memoirs, and wanted to give this one a try.

Everybody Writes coverEverybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s been on my list of recommended reads, added from I-dont-know-where.

Chasing Slow coverChasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: My friend Sarah mentioned it and it sounded interesting.

Cork Dork coverCork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Memoirs! I love them, especially when they have an interesting slant.

Fiction

Ordinary Grace coverOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s November’s selection for my Facebook book club.

Glass Houses coverGlass Houses by Louise Penny

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Latest in the Gamache series.

A Casualty of War coverA Casualty of War by Charles Todd

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: Latest in the Bess Crawford series.

Around the World in 80 Days coverAround the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s my in-person book club’s January selection.

Lord Edgware Dies coverLord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Next in the Hercule Poirot series.

Blood at the Root coverBlood at the Root by Peter Robinson

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: Next in the Alan Banks series.

Gunpowder Plot CoverGunpowder Plot by Carola Dunn

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: Next in the Daisy Dalrymple series

In Farleigh Field coverIn Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

How did I get it: Borrowed it via Kindle Prime lending program.
Why did I get it: Figured it was worth trying.

The Honest Spy coverThe Honest Spy by Andreas Kollender

How did I get it: My Kindle First selection for October.
Why did I get it: It sounded the most appealing of all the options.

The English Wife coverThe English Wife by Lauren Willig

How did I get it: Review copy via NetGalley.
Why did I get it: The publisher sent me a notification about it and I fell for the ad copy. I do love historical fiction.

The War I Finally Won coverThe War I Finally Won
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Sequel to The War That Saved My Life which I LOVED.

Greenglass House coverGreenglass House by Kate Milford

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I don’t remember how it ended up on my TBR.

Ghosts of Greenglass House coverGhosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Sequel to Greenglass House, which I LOVED. Expect to hear me rave about it soon.

Everything on a Waffle by Polly HorvathEverything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: Looking for an audiobook to borrow and it was available immediately, and I recognized the title from some “recommended middle grade reads” type lists.

One Year in Coal Harbor coverOne Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: Sequel to Everything on a Waffle, which I enjoyed enough to be happy to discover it had a sequel.

Book Scavenger coverBook Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s been on my TBR, and I was searching for more middle-grade books to read this month (surgery recovery = I was looking for easy reads).

Miracles on Maple Hill coverMiracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I don’t remember how I discovered it.

Clementine coverClementine by Sara Pennypacker

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Looking for available titles that would be quick and not too mentally taxing.

The Terrible Two coverThe Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett

How did I get it: Borrowed it through the Kindle Prime lending program.
Why did I get it: Pre-reading it as a possible book for my son to read on his own (it passed).

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling coverThe Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

How did I get it: Borrowed it from the library.
Why did I get it: Catherine mentioned them and they sounded appealing.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book II: The Hidden Gallery coverThe Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book II: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood

How did I get it: Borrowed it from the library.
Why did I get it: Sequel to the first book.


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Introducing November’s Book Club Selection: Ordinary Grace

ordinary-grace

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

What’s It About?

(Description from Goodreads)

From New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger comes a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a summer in which death assumed many forms.

When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.

On the surface, Ordinary Grace is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, it is a moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

Why Was This Title Selected

The year’s mystery selection. I wanted either a stand-alone or the first in a series. This is a stand-alone, although Kreuger does have a series as well.

Anything Else to Know About It?

The discussion will begin soon in the Facebook group, and you’re welcome to come and join us.

It’s available in Print, for Kindle or Nook, or via Audible.

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

What’s Coming Up Next?

Swear on This LifeSwear on This Life by Renee Carlino

What’s it about? A struggling writer must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2017 here.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschooling Update: New on the (Homeschool) Stack

I blog every month about the books I add to my reading stack, but I’ve never thought about sharing the new homeschooling-related titles I add. This month’s post includes about three month’s worth of new books.

National Parks: A Kid’s Guide to America’s Parks, Monuments and Landmarks

I saw this one on my friend Sarah’s Instagram, and immediately wanted it. I love love love the National Parks and a fun title like this looked like one we would all enjoy.

Castle by David Macaulay

We’re in the middle of learning about the era of European castles in history, so I couldn’t resist when I found this title on a great deal.

Legends & Leagues South Storybook (& Workbook)

Wanted to try this as it looked like a fun approach to geography.

Cabin on Trouble Creek by Jean Van Leeuwen

This title appears on a lot of recommended fiction lists, so I grabbed it on sale.

Who Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Another sale title (so hard to resist titles when they’re super inexpensive!), because I love having additional easier readers on hand to give to my kids when I need something to keep them busy.

Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully

Another one where I couldn’t resist the screaming deal.

Science Encyclopedia

It’s beyond where my kids are right now, but I’m hoping they get some use out of it. They’ve loved the other Usborne science titles they’ve used.


The Way Things Work Now by David Macaulay

Couldn’t resist this on sale either, and I think they are going to LOVE it when I finally pull it off the shelf.


Bible Explorer’s Guide

Looks like the sort of book we all enjoy, and it’s SO HARD for me to resist Bible reference books that I think my kids will like.


Dear Deer: A Book of Homophones by Gene Barretta

Very cute, but I’d only say get it if you find an amazing deal like I did (love damaged book sales when the “damage” ends up being super minor).


Life Skills for Kids: Equipping Your Child for the Real World by Christine Field

I maybe should have listed this in my usual New on the Stack post, because it is for me. Except it is homeschooling-related so I’m keeping it here. I’m not sure how useful this will be, but I’m giving it a try.


No Stress Chess

No, it’s not a book, but it is for school. So far my son really likes this, and I’m enjoying it as well (I’ve never played chess before, so we’re both learning).


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Annual Book Club Retreat


Earlier this month my in-person book club had our annual retreat.

I almost skipped out on it. I was a week out from surgery, and it just seemed like a lot of hassle. But I did figure that I could rest there as well as at home, plus my husband insisted that as long as I felt well enough, I should go.

Note to self: don’t ever talk yourself out of things last-minute, because you ALWAYS think staying home sounds better when it comes time to actually pack and leave. And you are always glad when you don’t skip out on plans.

Fortunately, I did not skip out, and I went. As always, I had a lovely time. The food was terrific, and the time spent hanging out with friends was great. Totally worth leaving home and driving out of town for it all!

The house was beautiful, and I read and read. The only thing I really wish was different was the lack of wifi or a good cell signal. We wanted to plan books for next year and not having access to my Goodreads account or other booklists that I have online made that much more difficult!

Pictures #2, 3, and 6 are mine. The other are by Sarah Ronk. Thanks for the images Sarah!

Quarterly Update on Book Club Books

3rd quarter 2017 book club book selections

A look back at the books my two book clubs read for the third quarter of the year, focusing especially on how they worked as discussion titles.

July

The Deliberate Reader book club (TDR) read True Grit and my in-person book club, Broadened Horizons (BH) read A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

True Grit was surprisingly enjoyable (to me) and lent itself well to a discussion. I never did manage to watch either of the movie adaptations, but that would be another way to extend a discussion on it: comparing the book to the movie(s). As Westerns aren’t the stereotypical book club choice, I especially liked branching out a bit in our reading genres by including it.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is, of course, a classic choice – Shakespeare always is. I missed the performance of it my book club attended, but I heard it was well done.

August

TDR read The Diamond Age, and BH read Lost in Shangri-La

The Diamond Club does provide a lot to talk about, but I can’t recommend it to a general-interest book club. the book is too long wasn’t worth the hefty reading investment it required. However, if you have a book club that emphasizes science fiction, you almost certainly want to read something by Stephenson, and this one is quite discussable. That’s probably the only time I might suggest this one, as it was not at all what I wanted it to be.

Lost in Shangri-La worked fairly well as a discussion title if your group is looking for discussable nonfiction. It’s also easier to read than many history books, and it covers a less-familiar setting. While the time-period (World War II) is covered in many books, this one doesn’t really “feel” much like other ones set in that era, because of the different geographical location and events. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one even if your group has recently read other World War II books.

September

TDR discussed Plainsong, and BH read Garden Spells

Plainsongis very discussable literary fiction, but I’d be sure not to read it soon after Hannah Coulter The feel was a little too similar to fully appreciate Haruf’s book, after finishing Hannah Coulter so recently earlier in the year.

Garden Spells is also discussable, but in the light-and-fluffy fiction realm. That’s not meant as a criticism, just wanting to help your book club know if it’s the right sort of read for you.


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September 2017 Recap

September was filled with activity, just like August had been. Maybe I should just accept that that’s what our days look like now. The big news for September was that I had surgery at the end of the month. I’m hoping that’s the end of it and nothing else needs to happen pending biopsy results.

The Month in Stats

Books Read This Month: 24
Books Read This Year: 172

Things That Happened

  • Book club – Garden Spells for my in-person book club and Plainsong in the Facebook group.
  • Cub Scouts began for real (along with popcorn sales), and H started Daisy Scouts.
  • Lots of soccer games and G attended a goalie clinic. He seems to like playing goalie.
  • My in-laws came for a planned visit, a little earlier than originally planned (thanks to that surgery) so they could take care of my kids while I was in the hospital and recovering.
  • Awana resumed. G is a T&T and that structure is MOTIVATING him. Also, he is thrilled that he’s now considered old enough to be released without me officially “claiming” him – he’s allowed to come and find me as I am in the line to pick one or the other of his sisters. Plus, the T&T group had a game night on Friday night at the end of the month and it was two hours of Capture the Flag and Dodge Ball. He loved it.

What’s Cooking

  • Egg salad for me for lunch one day, and it made me wonder why I don’t make that more often for lunch.
  • I have found the BEST bar recipe. It’s actually more of a template, and a big part of why it’s the best is because it uses melted butter, so even if I have forgotten I need to bake something until the last second, no worries! I can make this recipe. At some point, I’ll probably make a real post about it and share the base of it, and then you too can use it as a jumping off point.

What I’m Anticipating in October

  • Book club retreat! Hopefully anyway, assuming I’ve recovered enough from surgery. I have a post-op appointment that morning, and will get the all-clear to go or not.
  • The end of soccer. G has a round-robin tournament, so he’s guaranteed at least two games. His team’s record isn’t great, but they’ve gotten better as the season progressed, so I’m not sure how to gauge their potential in the tournament.
  • Belt testing again. G goes for 1st degree decided black belt (!) and H goes for red belt(!)
  • My inlaws wrap up their visit and head back to Arizona, and I’ll try to get back into homeschooling routine after our fall break during their visit and my recovery.
  • Book club – It’s the Jane Eyre flight for my in-person book club and Funny in Farsi in the Facebook group.

Books I Read in September

I shared the list of books I read in a recent post.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Books I Read in September 2017

September was a fantastic month of nonfiction! It wasn’t a bad month in fiction either, but the nonfiction is what really stood out for me.

    Fiction

  1. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

    Book #2 in the Temeraire series, and I enjoyed this one almost as much as the first. What I especially enjoyed was the setup this one provides for future books in the series, and I’m eager to read more and see where Novik takes the characters.

  2. The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd

    So many coincidences to help Bess figure out the mystery, and too little of some secondary characters, but I’m still glad I read this entry in the Bess Crawford series. I’m both curious and concerned to know how Todd handles the end of the war – Bess serving as a nurse at the front is such a big part of the series, so what will happen with it once the war ends? If you’ve read later books in the series and know the answer to this question, don’t tell me; I’ll get there eventually.

  3. A Matter of Justice by Charles Todd

    I do imagine Bess meeting up with Ian Rutledge, and Todd having his two series collide in a sense. Hey, J. A. Jance did it once with her two series. This entry in the Rutledge series was less a complete whodunnit and a bit more of a howdunnit, but I always enjoy following along as he solves his cases, and rooting for him as he clashes with his boss at Scotland Yard.

  4. Final Account by Peter Robinson

    A re-read as I continue on with the Inspector Banks series, and get closer to catching up to where I left off with it pre-kids. It’s fun seeing the hints of events that happen in future books being dropped in these earlier titles, and it’s striking how much Robinson improved as a mystery author. In other words, read the early entries in the Banks series to get to know the characters, but realize that the later ones are much better.

  5. Just Killing Time by Julianne Holmes

    A cute cozy mystery. I was in the mood for something more in the light-and-fluffy mystery realm and this fit the bill. I may read the second one when I’m looking for another title of that sort. If those are your preferred mysteries, I think you might enjoy this one as well.

  6. Innocent Graves by Peter Robinson

    Listened to this one, as I continue to re-read the earlier ones in the series to get caught up with where I left off reading them.

  7. Nonfiction

  8. Come and Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table by Bri McKoy

    (Review title) Thought-provoking, and with some tasty sounding recipes as well. I enjoyed it quite a lot, and recommend it.

  9. Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas

    Entertaining account and I hope it works well as a discussion title.

  10. Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker

    LOVED this as an audiobook, so if you’re on the fence as far as which format to get, GET THE AUDIO. Hatmaker is funny and friendly, and so thought-provoking. I thought it connected well with Come and Eat, which I’d just finished right around when I was listening to Mess and Moxie.

  11. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

    Fascinating, both the modern story, and the earlier story that forms the basis for the search. I love reading about people doing things where I have ZERO desire to do that as well (see: Walking the Amazon) and this is another perfect example of that. I’m tempted to watch the movie that’s based on this book, to see how they adapted the two storylines.

  12. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

    SO. GOOD. I’m not entirely sure how to put some of the idas into practice in my life as a mom though, but it gave me so much to think about and consider.

  13. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

    Also loved this one, and the research behind it, and the stories Dweck uses to support her conclusions. It gave me so much to think about, both looking back on my life, but especially looking ahead. How can I keep a growth mindset for myself (in all areas; I’ve always done well at having one in some areas, but not at all in others), but especially now, how do I help cultivate one in my kids?

  14. Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker

    Loved this summary of what research shows about success, and how to achieve it. Even more, I loved the stories Barker includes that illustrate his points about success and the ways people have achieved it, both in expected and unexpected ways. My only disappointment was when I finished it and discovered that it’s Barker’s only book; I was hoping to find that he had a half dozen other titles to enjoy. If you like Malcolm Gladwell, try this for a similar feel.

  15. Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel

    Interesting summary look at various personality typing systems, and how to use them to make improvements in your own life. Reading it, and then reading the Gretchen Rubin book The Four Tendencies, I wish Bogel’s book had come out later (or Rubin’s earlier), so Bogel could also have included a chapter on the four tendencies – I’d be interested in how she condensed it down and put her own spin on it.

  16. The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

    A fascinating look into the four tendencies, and great ideas about how to work with your own tendency, and the tendencies of people around you. I got slightly sidetracked from the book itself by one story about an obliger because their way of approaching life is so completely different than mine (questioner here).

  17. Kid Lit

  18. Ride on, Will Cody! by Caroline Starr Rose, illustrated by Joe Lillington

    Beautifully illustrated, nicely told. I’m such a fangirl for Rose’s work.

  19. Baby by Patricia Maclachlan

    Sweet middle-grade story, but not a must-read for adults.

  20. Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright

    Fun conclusion to the story begun in Gone-Away Lake. I look forward to letting my kids read these books in the near(ish) future.

  21. Prairie School by Lois Lenski

    One of the books in Lenski’s Regional America series. I like the look at American life in very specific times and places, although it also includes some of the drawbacks to that as well.

  22. Nothing by Annie Barrows

    I so wanted to love this book, but found it disappointing overall. It’s really easy to read, and the two main characters are appealing. But there is so much casual profanity, and drug use mentioned, and some (slight) sexual content, that isn’t balanced by anything beneficial in the book. I get that the book is trying to show how much is happening during years teens say nothing is happening, but ultimately, I didn’t find it offered enough of anything to justify the reading time.

  23. The Grave of Lainey Grace by Aaron Galvin

    Love the magical touches in the story (leprechauns!) but the character development is weak to the point of unbelievability. As a younger reader, I doubt I’d have noticed though, and would have just enjoyed the story.

  24. Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie
  25. Like Bug Juice on a Burger
  26. Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

    Cute novels in verse. They all can stand alone, but there is a bit of progression between them, so there’s a slight advantage to reading them in order. The illustrations are sweet as well, and fit the book nicely.

Never Finished

  • Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

    I thought, yes! I’ll read another Jane Eyre-inspired book! And I started it and the writing is engaging and I was caring about Rochester and I realized that no, I did not want to read the book. I was expecting him to get his heart stomped on by life (and his awful father and lousy brother) and no, I didn’t want to put myself through it. So I sent it back to the library after only a couple of chapters.


  • Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!