Beautiful Books Make Perfect Gifts

Monday I shared about the most beautiful Bible I’ve ever seen, one that I think would make a fabulous gift this Christmas.

Looking for other beautiful books as possible gifts? I discovered three newish book collections that are all gorgeous and would make wonderful gifts for the book lovers on your list.

Classics Reimagined

Unabridged, classic novels illustrated by contemporary artists from around the world. Each book has a very different style and feel from the rest in the series. My favorite? Pride & Prejudice, with lovely illustrations by Alice Pattullo. I especially like how the fore-edge is also illustrated, and how some of the pages fold out to provide extra-large illustrations.

Classics Reimagined Pride and Prejudice illustrated by Alice Pattullo Photo credit: Liz Carpenter

There are additional options besides the Jane Austen favorite, including Alice in Wonderland, illustrated by Andrea D’Aquino, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, illustrated by Yann Legendre, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, illustrated by Olimpia Zagnoli, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, illustrated by Sophia Martineck, and Edgar Allan Poe: Stories & Poems, illustrated by David Plunkert.

Jim Kay Illustrated Harry Potter

Harry Potter illustrated editionOnly the first three books in the series have been released (Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban), but these stunningly illustrated books are worth the wait for the final four. Full-color, glossy pages, these are heavy books with a substantial feel. A must for devoted Harry Potter fans!

Anna Bond Illustrated Titles

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Anna BondEven if you don’t know her name, you likely recognize her work. She’s illustrated the covers for the Puffin in Bloom series, and she’s behind the deluxe hardcover of this fabulous Alice in Wonderland. Every page has full-color illustrations, there are lovely endpages, and an included bookmark. The dustjacket is gorgeous, but even the cover itself is stunning if you remove the dustjacket. How many ways can I say that it is a beautiful book?


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

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!

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.


“New on the Stack” Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share your posts or instagram pictures about the new-to-you books you added to your reading stack last month. They can be purchases, library books, ebooks, whatever it is you’ll be reading! Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to this post – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

The Deliberate Reader

3. The linkup will be open until the end of the month.

4. Please visit the person’s blog or Instagram who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs from your linked post or Instagram. (Because on social media or in next month’s post, I hope to feature some of the books that catch my attention from this month.)

 Loading InLinkz ...

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.


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

New on the Stack in September 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

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

How did I get it: Sent a pre-release copy.
Why did I get it: I love personality typing, and thought this sounded like an interesting take on a multitude of them. Plus, it’s written by Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Cover of The Yes Effect: Accepting God's Invitation to Transform the World Around You by Luis Bush with Darcy WileyThe Yes Effect: Accepting God’s Invitation to Transform the World Around You by Luis Bush with Darcy Wiley

How did I get it: Sent a pre-release copy.
Why did I get it: My friend Darcy is one of the co-authors.

Cover of Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh DumasFunny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s next month’s pick for my Facebook book club.

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

How did I get it: Borrowed it on audio from the library.
Why did I get it: She’s funny and thought-provoking.

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

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I’ve been looking forward to this book for ages!

The Complete Make-Ahead CookbookThe Complete Make-Ahead Cookbook

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I love America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks.

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

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It sounded interesting.

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

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s been on my list for some time, as it’s popped up on my radar through several other books.

Fiction

Cover of Ride on, Will Cody!Ride on, Will Cody! by Caroline Starr Rose

How did I get it: Sent a pre-release copy by the publisher.
Why did I get it: I JUMPED at the chance to get this one because … Caroline Starr Rose wrote it!

Cover of Kilmeny of the Orchard by L. M. MontgomeryKilmeny of the Orchard by L. M. Montgomery

How did I get it: Kindle freebie!
Why did I get it: I’m going to try and read through Montgomery’s works next year, and am grabbing her non-Anne titles as I find them.

Cover of PinesPines by Blake Crouch

How did I get it: Bought the Kindle version.
Why did I get it: It was a great deal and I couldn’t resist grabbing this trilogy by the author of Dark Matter.

Cover of Wayward by Blake CrouchWayward by Blake Crouch

How did I get it: Bought the Kindle version.
Why did I get it: Getting all three in the Wayward Pines trilogy.

Cover of The Last Town by Blake CrouchThe Last Town by Blake Crouch

How did I get it: Bought the Kindle version
Why did I get it: Getting all three in the Wayward Pines trilogy.

Cover of A Fool & His Monet by Sandra OrchardA Fool & His Monet by Sandra Orchard

How did I get it: Kindle freebie.
Why did I get it: Worth trying as a free read.

Cover of Throne of Jade by Naomi NovikThrone of Jade by Naomi Novik

How did I get it: Borrowed it on audio from the library.
Why did I get it: Next in the Temeraire series.

Cover of The Shattered Tree by Charles ToddThe Shattered Tree by Charles Todd

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

Cover of A Matter of Justice by Charles ToddA Matter of Justice by Charles Todd

How did I get it: Borrowed it on audio from the library.
Why did I get it: Next in the Ian Rutledge series.

Cover of Innocent Graves by Peter RobinsonInnocent Graves by Peter Robinson

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

Cover of Mr. Rochester by Sarah ShoemakerMr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Debating reading it during my Jane Eyre-inspired reading binge.

Cover of Midnight at the Bright Idea BookstoreMidnight at the Bright Idea Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Bookstore setting is tempting.

Cover of CaravalCaraval by Stephanie Garber

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s been highly recommended a handful of times.

Cover of Poppy by Mary HooperPoppy by Mary Hooper

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I found it while searching for WWI fiction.

Cover of Prairie SchoolPrairie School by Lois Lenski

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s part of Lenski’s Regional America series, which was recommended in one of my Facebook groups.

Cover of Nothing by Annie BarrowsNothing by Annie Barrows

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Annie Barrows.

Cover of The Grave of Lainey GraceThe Grave of Lainey Grace by Aaron Galvin

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: The cover caught my eye when I was on Galvin’s website.

Cover of Like Pickle Juice on a CookieLike Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

How did I get it: Borrowed it via the Kindle Prime reading program.
Why did I get it: The cover grabbed my attention and I thought it was worth trying.

Cover of Like Bug Juice on a BurgerLike Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: The next one by the author.

Cover of Like Carrot Juice on a CupcakeLike Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: The next one by the author.


“New on the Stack” Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share your posts or Instagram pictures about the new-to-you books you added to your reading stack last month. They can be purchases, library books, ebooks, whatever it is you’ll be reading! Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to this post – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

The Deliberate Reader

3. The linkup will be open until the end of the month.

4. Please visit the person’s blog or Instagram who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs from your linked post or Instagram. (Because on social media or in next month’s post, I hope to feature some of the books that catch my attention from this month.)

 Loading InLinkz ...

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

Bringing History to Life: Ride On, Will Cody!

I’m excited to welcome back one of my favorite authors Caroline Starr Rose to the blog today to answer some questions about her newest book, Ride On, Will Cody!, which releases October 1. Be sure and read part one of the interview as well.

Can you tell us about the upcoming book?

Ride On, Will Cody! is a picture book about the third-longest ride in Pony Express history. According to legend, young Will Cody (later America’s greatest showman, Buffalo Bill) rode for the Pony Express at the age of fifteen. He claimed to have covered 322 miles in under twenty-two hours on a ride that required twenty-one horses. I should add that while most historians now believe Cody didn’t ride for the Pony Express, he no doubt had a huge influence on America’s collective memory of the eighteen-month venture through the reenactments he later included in his Wild West show. On a personal note, I’ve decided even if the story of his ride is more legend than truth, it still embodies the courage of the young men who rode for the Pony Express and gives a sense of Cody’s big, bold character. That’s enough for me.

Ride On, Will Cody! is an in-the-moment adventure as boy and horse (and reader) hit the trail together. I’m so happy readers will soon be able to jump in!

What led you to write this story? What made you decide to tell it as a picture book?

In 2012, my family was on vacation in Colorado. I happened to notice a sign in Golden for a Buffalo Bill Museum and convinced my family we needed to stop in. As I walked through the exhibits, a story idea began to stir. I didn’t know the specifics, but I knew it would be about Buffalo Bill. The following January, I checked out a number of research books. I was pretty convinced my story would focus on Cody’s Wild West show, but his Pony Express work (if it happened at all) was what really caught my attention.

What do you hope readers will get from reading the new book, (or from any of your books)?

I hope all my books momentarily sweep readers away to another time and place. I hope they see courage, determination, and hope — things my books always seem to circle back to.

What makes the historical fiction genre so appealing, both as an author, and as a reader?

Historical fiction allows readers to see people of the past as fully human. Flawed and wonderful. Short-sighted and brave. Their experiences might have been different than ours, but their emotions and motivations are things we recognize in our own lives.

Historical fiction was my true entry point into understanding the past. It went deeper and wider than a handful of paragraphs in a textbook and made history come alive for me. I hope my writing might do the same!

Why did you decide to tell this story, basing it on a real character from history, when your previous historical fiction has had fictional main characters?

That’s a great question. I actually have this historical fiction continuum in my head, divided into five categories. The first I call history light. May B. falls into this one. It’s a story with a specific historical setting (time and place) but includes no historical event or people. On the other end would be a novel like Melanie Fishbane’s recent release, Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery. Not only does Maud center on a real person and is full of real events, Melanie had to be granted permission to even write the story! I’d classify a book like this as a five.

For those interested, I’ve called Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine a two and Blue Birds a three. Both have a specific setting and specific historical events. Jasper mentions historical figures, but I took liberties with the few I brought to life. With Blue Birds I had to go a step further and develop both personalities and motivations for minor characters who were nevertheless based on real people — a bit of a daunting task.

If I’d told myself I was writing a “level four” book For Ride On, Will Cody! (a real person as the protagonist but no official permission needed), I might not have tried. Instead I thought of it as “biography-ish” — an attempt to capture one moment in time in one boy’s life. (It’s not uncommon for me to play word games like this. Showing up to the blank page can be challenging. I want more joy and less angst in my work. Simply altering definitions as to what I’m doing sometimes is enough to do the trick.)

I wanted to reflect Will’s spirit and the determination of the young boys who rode for the Pony Express. I wanted to paint an experience with words. I’m really pleased with how the book came together.

Your first books featured female main characters, and your two latest ones have had male main characters. Has that changed your writing process?

I don’t think it’s changed my writing process, but it has exposed some unknown biases. More than once with Jasper my editor pointed out I wasn’t allowing him to fully experience emotion. Boys might express things differently than girls, but they are still emotional beings. Of course I knew this! My story, though, didn’t reflect this obvious fact. I’m grateful my editor called me on it.

What are the ethics of writing about historical figures? Did it provide any feelings of constraint as an author, or was it freeing having some general outlines of historical fact to work around?

The idea of ethics is an interesting one. I’ve just finished a non-fiction picture book about two historical figures. It was essential I not invent dialogue or events. I wasn’t even comfortable hinting at emotions these two women didn’t somehow express themselves.

For historical fiction, I feel story trumps history. I am very thorough in my research. Any time I deviate from what really happened, I mention it in an author’s note. Ultimately, though, I’m telling a story, and story needs to build and allow for a character to grow and change. I’m okay with simplifying timelines, for example, to better serve a character and her world. It’s my responsibility, though, to tell the reader when I’ve altered things.

I will say “general outlines of historical fact” help to shape plot. There are specific events in a historical timeline that will touch a character’s life. How she responds to these events (based on how she sees the world) is what makes a story.

How do you make the collaboration with the illustrator work when you’re writing a picture book? Do you have a favorite illustration from the book?

Authors and illustrators don’t collaborate. Publishing houses work hard to keep us separate, largely to honor the illustrator’s process. It wouldn’t do to have an author breathing down the illustrator’s neck! I’ve had my turn at the story. Once the book is with the illustrator, he brings his own insight and magic.

I will say that I got to see quite a bit of the process unfold with Ride On, Will Cody!, perhaps because it’s historical fiction and the art director wanted to be sure the depictions were right. I saw early sketches and read comments from the art director to the illustrator, Joe Lillington. It was very much like the author / editor revision process.

I love these illustrations, so it’s hard to narrow things down to one. My favorite, though, goes with the lines Station shines / on the horizon, / hoofbeats thunder, /echo ‘round. Will has been riding for a while and finally sees a station ahead. I imagined him alone, those echoing hoofbeats his horse’s. But the illustration! Oh my goodness. It was so much more than I could have imagined (and a great example as to why the illustrator needs room apart from a hovering author). Joe has included a herd of buffalo in the picture. It’s a great Wyoming scene but it’s bigger than that: The buffalo are a beautiful nod to the man Will Cody will become. The picture truly thunders in a way the language couldn’t on its own.

That’s the beauty of a picture book. The words plus the illustrations aren’t a simple 1+1 = 2 arithmetic problem. When words finally meet pictures the outcome is exponential, something so much more than either could have ever been alone.

Want more information about Caroline or Ride On, Will Cody!? Read part one of the interview and also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (but I’ve bought my own copies of some of her previous works). This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Getting to Know Caroline Starr Rose

I’m excited to welcome one of my favorite authors Caroline Starr Rose to the blog today to answer some questions about herself and her writing process. Come back for part two of the interview, where she’ll explain her “historical fiction authenticity scale” and share about her newest book, Ride On, Will Cody!, which releases October 1.

Caroline Starr Rose
Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a former teacher, a mother to two teenage boys, a pastor’s wife, and a children’s author. We’ve lived all over the country but have spent the last seven years in Albuquerque, NM, where my husband and I grew up. It’s been so special to share this place we love with our sons.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I run, read, work crosswords, walk the dog, go to my boys’ sporting events. I love to cook when I have the time. Otherwise, not so much. My life is pretty uneventful, and I love it that way.

What’s your favorite picture book from childhood?

The Littlest Rabbit by Robert Kraus. Revisiting it as an adult, it’s a little weird (Rabbits throwing punches!), but I loved it as a girl.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel, whether for adults or children?

Undoubtedly it would be Long Night Dance by Betsy James (YA speculative fiction). Betsy spoke to my adolescent literature class at the University of New Mexico over twenty years ago. I picked up Long Night Dance soon after and was entranced. Every few years, I’d search to see if she’d continued the story. When we lived in Florida, I found the second book. In Virginia I found the third and wrote Betsy gushy fan mail. When we moved back to Albuquerque, I found out Betsy was offering a writing workshop and immediately signed up. We’re now friends and — this was huge for me — she let me read the fourth book in the series, Roadsouls, when it was still in manuscript form.

Has being a writer changed you as a reader?

Oh, yes. I used to be quite the reading snob (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). But the longer I’ve written, the more I’ve learned to appreciate books that I might not have picked up fifteen or twenty years ago. I think knowing the hard work that goes into writing has both broadened my taste and shown me plenty to admire in the books I’ve read. I’m constantly impressed with the way other authors tell a story through their choices with plot, structure, form, and point of view.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you growing up, or influences your writing today?

I would have to say of all the authors I admire, Beverly Cleary has had the biggest impact on my writing. Ramona Quimby is hands down the best middle-grade character ever written. (This is my humble opinion, but it feels like absolute fact.)

The thing that has really struck me as an adult re-visiting the Ramona books is the compassion Beverly Cleary has for her character (and by extension, her young readers). Though she doesn’t shy away from awkward moments, there is a tenderness in the way Cleary deals with Ramona when she throws up in class, when she kicks her bedroom walls in anger, when she names her doll the most beautiful name she can think of — Chevrolet.

These books have reminded me what it was like to be a child. They nudged me to be more patient with the young people in my life. They’ve encouraged me to treat my characters with respect and love.

What’s the most difficult part of the writing process?

Well, all of it! But seriously, drafting is the part I like least. Everything is so wide open, it can be paralyzing. I don’t yet know my characters and their world (even if I’ve spent extensive time researching a setting and the history surrounding it). There’s a lot of stumbling around and wrong turns involved.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love revision work with my editor. It can be incredibly hard (see above) but is so rich. At this point, the story is really underway. Major changes are still possible (twice over with Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine I tossed two-thirds of the manuscript and started again), but usually the focus is on digging deeper, making connections, really bringing the book to life.

I love, love, love returning to the world that’s under construction, spending time with the characters who become more real and complex and human as each day passes. It’s utterly absorbing. After reading the same (altered) manuscript for years, I’ve not once found myself bored. It’s fresh and exciting every time.

You’ve written 2 picture books, 2 novels in verse, and 1 prose novel. How do you decide what format fits which story? Is that planned in advance, or have you ever changed it after beginning a story?

I’ve never debated if an idea is a picture book or a novel. Knowing if a novel is meant to be written as verse or prose is another thing entirely.

The conventional wisdom is to read one hundred books in your genre (or form) before attempting to write in that style. I’d read all of two verse novels before writing my frontier story, May B., but that was because I had no intention of writing this way. My early attempts at the story fell flat. The ideas in my head were far from the words on the page. When I returned to my research I realized the voices of pioneer women were careful and spare, a reflection of their stark environment. I knew if I could mirror their voices I would be able to tell May’s story most truthfully.

I knew my Klondike Gold Rush story, Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine, was going to be prose, but I was convinced at first it would be an epistolary novel. It didn’t take long for me to realize this form did not suit my boy — a kid who didn’t take to schooling was hardly going to express himself with the written word.

Of my published novels, it’s only been my Lost Colony story, Blue Birds, that started as verse and stayed that way.

Form must absolutely serve the story and not the other way around.

Have you written a book you love that you haven’t published?

Several…and many more I’m so glad have never seen the light of day. I would suspect most of us who write fiction have experienced the same. There are a couple still making the rounds that — fingers crossed — will someday find a home. Hope springs eternal.

What’s been the best compliment you’ve received as an author?

I’ve received messages from both dyslexic children and adults who have read May B. and connected with the story. Here’s a beautiful example:

“At the end of May B., I am crying. I am crying at the ways she is so strong and capable. It was as if you were writing right into the places of my heart where those accusations of being careless and not good enough had settled. And you whispered that like May, I could overcome. I could hope for the good things even when they are hard. Thank you, Caroline. Thank you, May.”

How has releasing a book changed now that you’ve done this 5 times?

When May B. was a week from release, I wanted to climb under my bed and hide. After months of excitement, I suddenly felt dread. I couldn’t take back what I’d written. Soon everyone could see it and would have an opinion. That was kind of terrifying.

Generally, I’m a little more mellow than that first time around, but I’ve also learned to acknowledge patterns that come with the release of a book (and to treat myself gently in the midst of them). The nerves start a few months out as trade reviews roll in. (I always take a deep breath before opening an email from my editor that begins A review from Kirkus / Publisher’s Weekly / Booklist / School Library Journal). I am entirely too involved with stats those first months after a release. Penguin Random House has an author portal which uses Neilsen BookScan numbers (never a good representation of books like mine, generally marketed to schools and libraries, let me tell you!) and also tracks the number of books shipped (a better glimpse of sales). After the third-month mark, bookstores start to return unsold copies. It can be depressing. Honestly, it’s more information that is beneficial for any author to have.

I try to remember if my editor is proud of the book and I am proud of the book, that’s enough. I’m getting really, really close to believing this is true.

Want more information about Caroline or Ride On, Will Cody!? Come back Friday, and also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (but I’ve bought my own copies of some of her previous works). This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

New on Your Stack (volume 29)

Some highlights from the books from last month’s linkup:


Cover for Deadly SanctuaryI am so excited for Annette (AKBookworm) because she’s going to be reading Cinder for the first time! Such a great book, and a great series. I hope she loves it.

Annette also highlighted Deadly Sanctuary, which intrigues me thanks to the Arizona setting.


Cover of A Fool & His MonetJill (Days at Home) let me know that A Fool & His Monet is currently free for Kindle, so I figured it was worth a try. I like the main character being an FBI special agent focused on art crimes. It may be a little too suspense/romance focused for me to love, but I’ll try it. Someday.


Cover of Fire and FantasyArwen (The Tech Chef) added a slew of fantasy novels in August, and despite knowing nothing about any of the authors, I’m so tempted by the Fire and Fantasy collection simply because it’s only $.99 and includes 20 books. That’s a whole lot of reading material for a dollar.


Cover of Beneath a Scarlet SkyStacie (Sincerely Stacie) added so many great books to her reading stack in August. Fortunately for the sake of my TBR stack, I’ve already read many of them! Reading People, Option B, For the Love, Gulp, Grunt, and How to Manage Your Home without Losing Your Mind. All of them range from “worth reading” to “read this as soon as possible” in my recommended reading scale. 🙂

I am interested in the novel Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan. It sounds like an amazing premise, and to hear that it’s based on a true story? Astonishing.

What’s embarrassing to report is that when I went to Amazon to find out the details of Beneath a Scarlet Sky, it tells me that I already own the item, and have since April. So much for me keeping track of new books.


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