Books I Read in June

June was another great reading month! Here’s a quick look at the books I finished, with some brief thoughts about them.

    Book Club Selections

  1. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
    LOVE LOVE LOVE. I took for.ev.er. to finish this, because I was savoring it. I read much of it terrified that Towles was going to break my heart at some point, and I am so happy to report that my heart stayed intact. Not that it’s emotionless; it’s not at all. The writing is beautiful, and the setting magnificent. Go and read this!
  2. True Grit by Charles Portis
    Much better than I was expecting, and I’m glad I read it. I might even try to watch the movie. It’s a quick read, so if you’re on the fence about trying it, the reading commitment is minimal.
  3. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
    I wanted to love this, but if it wasn’t a book club pick for October I would have abandoned it.
    Instead, I slogged through it, wondering all the while just what it was that everyone who raved over it was seeing in it. The premise is entertaining, but the execution left me so bored (especially the second half of the book). It’ll be interesting to hear what everyone else thinks of it.
  4. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
    I listened to the audio, and also read a detailed plot summary, which is good because otherwise I’d have been completely lost through most of the audiobook. My book club is supposed to go and watch a performance of it next month, so I’m looking forward to that.
  5. Mysteries

  6. In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear
    The problem with this title is that I’ve finished it and I’m all caught up on the Maisie Dobbs series. Big sigh.
  7. A Question of Honor by Charles Todd
    Love the Bess Crawford series, because I love Bess, and some of the other supporting characters,
    but WOW did this particular book rely waaaay too much on coincidences. Don’t start with this title, or you will be wondering what on earth I can possibly see in this series.
  8. A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch
    A quick little teaser of a story (go & grab it from Audible if you haven’t already – it’s a free download!) that just makes me look forward to more with Peter Grant. I would also love to see that librarian take a more prominent role in a future novel.
  9. A Long Shadow by Charles Todd
    Probably my least favorite of the Rutledge series: it’s getting really repetitive in some aspects, and there was one huge improbable plot line in this one that seemed so unnecessary. I’ll keep reading the series because I like the character, but I’m hoping Todd gets out of the plotting rut they seem to be in.
  10. Death of a Dyer by Eleanor Kuhns
    I read the first in this series ages ago, and had forgotten about it until I was looking for an audiobook immediately available from my library. I like the unusual time period, and if my library ever gets the third book in the series I’ll read it (or listen to).
  11. Nonfiction

  12. Word by Word by Kory Stamper
    Loved this book, and it reminded me so much of The Professor and the Madman (just a modern look at dictionaries, not a historical one). It’s much more personal than the Winchester title, and I enjoyed how Stamper structured it as a combo memoir/look at lexicography.
  13. How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing with Your House’s Dirty Little Secrets by Dana K. White
    Highly recommend this one, for the kind of person who needs it (I need it). I liked her approach,
    and it’s very encouraging.
  14. Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently by Caroline L. Arnold
    Paired really well with White’s book, which seemed to put into practice much of what Arnold suggests. I like her suggestions and advice, and it all makes a lot of sense3.
  15. Veganize It!: Easy DIY Recipes for a Plant-Based Kitchen by Robin Robertson
    I’m not vegan, so this is mostly wasted on me, but I think it’d be a great choice for anyone who is trying to go vegan.
  16. Children’s Literature

  17. The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge
    Excellent book and a fun companion read to Dark Matter.
  18. The Thieves of Ostia by Caroline Lawrence
    Pre-reading it to decide if I want to read it to my kids this year, or if I want to have my son read it for himself. It was good on audio, and I’ll keep it on the list for the kids in the future.
  19. Philomena by Kate Seredy
    Reading it to decide if it’s one I want to read to my kids this year. I don’t think my son will especially like it, so I’ll probably hold it for my girls when they get older.
  20. Fen Gold by Joan Lennon
    Cute story, and a very quick listen.
  21. Re-Reads

  22. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
    One of my favorite series, and I was thrilled to find they’re being released via Audible.
  23. Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
    Continuing the series – the narrator is excellent!
  24. A Dedicated Man by Peter Robinson
    I had been caught up on this series but then had children and never read any of the ones published since 2009. I wanted to re-introduce myself to the characters, and since my library has them all on audio they’re an easy listen.
  25. A Necessary End by Peter Robinson
    Continuing the series.
  26. The Sins of the Wolf by Anne Perry
    Not my favorite of hers, but I’m catching up on the William Monk series. I skimmed a large chunk of the middle, to just get enough of the action to remind me of what happened.
  27. Didn’t Work for Me

  28. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
    I expected to love this – time traveling historians! It’s a five-star premise, for sure. I gave it my best try, even pausing for several months before continuing with it in case it was just a case of bad timing initially. The second time was no better though, and i all but forced myself to finish it, simply to know what happened with. The book is so fast-paced as things careen from one disaster to another, perhaps because if you stop and think about any of it, none of it makes sense. I want to buy what an author is selling, but they have to at least attempt to make things believable. It felt like a poor rip-off of Connie Willis’ time travel books, which are *so* much better.
  29. Out of the Dawn Light by Alys Clare
    Historical mystery that included some supernatural elements, and while I can enjoy that combo in some books, this time it felt like a cop-out for resolving plot issues. The writing and dialogue also did not seem remotely historically accurate: I’m not a complete stickler, but at least attempt to get me into the right time period, rather than seeming like a modern character plunked down in the Middle Ages.

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

Quick Lit: Recent Middle-Grade and YA Reads

The PenderwicksThe Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

As I mentioned on my Instagram, I would have LOVED this book as a kid. LOVED IT. It’s funny and imaginative and the girls make it sound like being a Penderwick is so much fun. As an adult reading it, I can see lots of flaws with it, so I’m still debating how to rate it on Goodreads. A 5-Star book for kids, and a 3-Star read for me. Read it to your kids, let them read it themselves, or read it yourself and try and channel your inner 10 year old.

Looking for AlibrandiLooking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Read during my Australia books binge, and the premise sounded like it was going to be just another typical coming-of-age story. Although it could have been completely cliched, Josephine is such an appealing character she turns the book into something much more than I expected. Nicely written, and it deserved a better cover for the American version than it got. There are some mature themes in it, so be aware of that if you’ve got younger teens interested in it.

An Uncertain ChoiceAn Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund

Light historical romance. I usually enjoy Hedlund’s books, but didn’t like this one (her first YA novel) as much. There are two more in the series but I’m unlikely to pick them up. Disclaimer: I don’t typically like romance novels so if you do and think this one sounds good, I’d give it a try. I wanted more emphasis on the history and less on the romance angle, and the plot was WAY too predictable.

The School for Good and EvilThe School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

I’d heard RAVES about this book so I stuck with it even when I wasn’t enjoying it, thinking it had to get better. Sadly, no, it didn’t. I love fractured fairy tales, and while I loved the premise of this, it was dreadful. Derivative, repetitive, with awful messages – it makes me wonder what other people were seeing in it to like it so much. I’m dumbfounded that it was a best seller.

Please don’t waste your reading time, and please don’t give it to your daughter(s) to read. Want to know more details about why not? This gif-heavy review summarizes my main issues with the book. A heads-up though that there’s some language in it if that offends you, and it’s loaded with spoilers.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Quick Lit: Recent Middle Grade and Young Adult Books
Two years ago: Quick Lit: Recent Christian Reads (2014)
Three years ago: Quick Lit: Recent Christian Reads (2013)

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

Quick Lit: Kids’ Cookbooks

In my monthly recap posts, I’ve mentioned trying to teach my kids to cook or at least basic kitchen skills – they are only 7 and 5, so I’m not expecting them to start cooking dinner or anything, but they’re still ready to learn some things.

Because it’s what I do, I started with some books and checked a stack out from the library. These were my favorites:

New Junior CookbookBetter Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook

What I liked about it: My son really likes this as a collection of recipes – they’re appealing, and it’s colorful. He’s requested that I buy it for him as he wants his own copy, instead of just reading the library copy.

Why this didn’t work for me: it’s not really a cooking lesson book; it’s mostly recipes (with a little bit of extra info, but not enough for what I needed.

The Disney Princess CookbookThe Disney Princess Cookbook

What I liked about it: My daughter LOVES this book – it’s got princesses! I was actually fairly impressed with this one – I liked that the recipes were mostly really recipes, not just assemble a couple of items together. The recipes are cleverly tied to the princess theme, and they have an index at the back combining some of the recipes to have a themed meal. It’s very cute. She also wants her own copy of this, and it’s quite likely that both kids will get their preferred book for Christmas.

It’s a great cookbook, and really appealing for young cooks (ok, young girls; my son was unimpressed).

Why this didn’t work for me: it’s not really a cooking lesson book; it’s mostly recipes (with a little bit of extra info, but not enough for what I needed.

National Geographic Kids Cook BookNational Geographic Kids Cookbook: A Year-Round Fun Food Adventure

What I liked about it: Loved the format for this one – it follows the calendar year, and is filled with food traditions and facts from around the world.

Why this didn’t work for me: it would be better for older kids, as it’s not a beginning book. I did really like the year theme, and it would be fun to work through it in the future, but it’s not right for us at this stage.

How to Cook in 10 Easy LessonsHow to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons

What I liked about it: This was the best I found at giving cooking instruction – it’s structured to actually teach, not just be a book of recipes. The ten lessons work very well to address specific skills – using knives, peeling & grating, etc.

Why this didn’t (perfectly) work for me: What was less successful was the fact that we couldn’t just start at the beginning and work through the book – some recipes ended up referring to skills that hadn’t been taught yet. I wanted it to be open-and-go for me, and I ended up having to rearrange things more than desired.

It’s also written originally for a UK audience, and not everything was translated/adapted for a US audience. Most of it was, but there were some things that were not the same for us. A minor quibble, but when it was something my son was reading carefully, it added an extra layer of complication.

The Results

Since it was the closest to what I wanted, I bought a copy of How to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons, and used it for about 6 weeks, with varying degrees of success. The Key Lime Pie was delicious, the Chocolate Cake was dreadful, and everything else was somewhere in between.

Mostly it ended up not working that well as an actual cooking lesson, and it really wasn’t easily designed to take beginners in a sequential way through things, let alone beginners of different ages and abilities.

So it’s not so much that it was a bad book, just that it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. I think it will work better once my kids have those basic skills, and they can practice them more with this book.

What We’re Using Now

Tomorrow I’ll share about what I ended up finding, and what we’re using instead. It’s not what I thought I wanted or intended to use, but it’s working really really well so far.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Recent Cookbook Reads, Twitterature-Style
Three years ago: Recent Reads, Twitterature-Style

Quick Lit: Recent Series Reads

Harry Potter 1 2 3I’m in the midst of a Harry Potter readathon (so fun!) and have completed the first three books, and am thisclose to finishing book four. I’ve been listening to them all via Audible and while it takes longer (which is why I’m only just now almost finishing book four), I’m really enjoying the slower pace and wonderful accents that Jim Dale brings to it. Years ago I listened to some of them on CD, but it’s different hearing them now, after a break, and after completing the series.

Among the MadAmong the Mad (Maisie Dobbs #6). I think I enjoy this as a series more than any one book in particular – I like Maisie as a character quite a bit, and Billy is great too. I’m anxious to continue reading the series to see what happens with them both. Does Maisie find love again? Does Billy’s wife improve? Do Billy and his family move to Canada?

Flavia de Luce 6 and 7The Dead in their Vaulted Arches and As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce books 6 and 7). I’d been trying to read this series s-l-o-w-l-y because I don’t want to reach the point of no more to read. And now all I have left is a short story, The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse. I shouldn’t have too long to wait though, as book #8, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d is releasing September 20th. I’m planning on pre-ordering the Audible version as soon as it’s available.

The Mystery of the Blue TrainMystery of the Blue Train (Hercule Poirot #6)
Fairly convoluted plotting, but I still enjoy Christie and will keep reading her.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Quick Lit July 2015
Two years ago: Favorite Books from the first half of 2014
Three years ago: Best Books {from the first half} of 2013

The Best Kids Books (I Read for Myself) in 2015

Last week I shared my favorite books from 2015, and this post was originally going to feature all of the best children’s books I read in 2015 – board books, picture books, readalouds, and the ones I read for myself.

Except 2015 was a knockout year with great kid lit, and I needed to split it up so it’s not completely ridiculous.

So, today is all about the books I picked and read for myself. Not books I read to a child or three – these were my reads.

The Year of Miss AgnesThe Year of Miss AgnesThe Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill by Kirkpatrick Hill

A reread in preparation for the online kids book club I’m doing with Jessica (Quirky Bookworm). I adored this book the first time I read it, and suggested it for our Arctic theme. Then I was scared that it wouldn’t hold up well to rereading, or what if people hated it?

Well, so far everyone who has commented about it has said they’ve enjoyed it (yay!) and I loved it just as much the second time through. It’s heartwarming and inspiring, and all around a lovely read.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Where the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
by Grace Lin

Also read when it was a possibility for that book club (we ended up not selecting China as a theme this year). It’s gorgeously written, and charmingly illustrated – go for the print version, not the electronic as I did, or you’ll miss out on some of the illustration details. Loved, loved, loved it.

The War that Saved My LifeThe War that Saved My LifeThe War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

An uplifting look at World War II evacuees, and how being sent away from London ended up being the best thing to happen to one girl. It’s heart-rending but ultimately hopeful. Because of the descriptions of abuse that Ada suffers I wouldn’t advise it for younger readers, but for those emotionally ready to read it, it’s a fantastic book.

Inside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai by Thanhha Lai

A heartbreaking account, beautifully written in verse that manages to make the semi-autobiographical story emotionally easier to read. Well-deserved winner of the National Book Award and a Newbery Honor Book.

Listen SlowlyListen, SlowlyListen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai by Thanhha Lai

Yes, a second book by the Thanhha Lai. Unlike Inside Out and Back Again, this is written in prose, and she is just as adept in that form. It’s a captivating story, with lots of appealing characters, that brings contemporary Vietnam to life.

Sparrow RoadSparrow RoadSparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor by Sheila O’Connor

Relationship-focused middle grade book with beautiful language and appealing characters. I like how it’s got a bit more depth in the content than some books I’d recommend to early elementary readers, while still being gentle enough for all but the most precocious of readers.

Goodbye StrangerGoodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead by Rebecca Stead

Precocious reader alert: because of some of the topics addressed (including bullying and sexting), this isn’t one you’ll want to hand off to younger readers, but it’s a wonderfully written tale for those old enough for the content. It’s not as amazing as Stead’s When You Reach Me, but it’s still a solid book.

The ThiefThe ThiefThe Thief (The Queen's Thief, Book 1) by Megan Whalen Turner by Megan Whalen Turner

(a reread)

It still is one of my favorites, and I gave away my copy this year and may need to replace it soon so I can read it another time. 🙂 If you’re new to this series, don’t give up on this one – it has a slow start – but ultimately it is so good. Vaguely historical in feel, with some fantasy elements as well, and flashes of humor add up to a winning read.

When You Reach MeWhen You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me (Yearling Newbery) by Rebecca Stead by Rebecca Stead

(A reread for book club)

Possibly even better as a reread, as you know what’s going to happen, and can appreciate the clues Stead weaves throughout the text. No more details, lest I slip and give spoilers, but READ THIS BOOK.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Quick Lit: Recent Fiction Reads

Playing catch-up with reviews:

The Big FourBig Four: A Hercule Poirot MysteryBig Four: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie by Agatha Christie
Probably my least favorite Poirot so far – it was laughably ridiculous with the plot devices (Super villains! A secret lair! Poirot cheating death at every turn!). Read it only if you are insistent on reading all of Christie’s work, but otherwise skip it in favor of some of her other books.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Speaking from Among the BonesSpeaking from Among the Bones: A Flavia de Luce NovelSpeaking from Among the Bones: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley by Alan Bradley

I still love Flavia, and still adore the audio versions of these books. Don’t start with this one though – begin with the first in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. If you are at all a fan of mystery books, give Flavia a try.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


An Incomplete RevengeAn Incomplete RevengeAn Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs Book 5) by Jacqueline Winspear by Jacqueline Winspear

It took me FOREVER to get through this one, and I’m not sure why. I like the Maisie Dobbs series, but this one was not as compelling for me. I’m still looking forward to continuing on with the series however, as I do love Maisie’s character.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


A Curious BeginningA Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell MysteryA Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna Raybourn by Deanna Raybourn

Fun elements to it, but not to the “you’ve got to read this book!” level. I may look for the second in the series when it’s published next year, because I am curious about where she goes with the characters, but it’s not a super high priority.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


GodmotherGodmother: The Secret Cinderella StoryGodmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon by Carolyn Turgeon

I don’t even know how to write about this one without giving spoilers galore. It’s a sort-of retelling of the Cinderella story, so if you like re-imagined fairy tales you may want to give this a try. This one is definitely darker, tilting away from the Disney side of the fairy tales spectrum towards the original, Brothers Grimm version side. It’s likely to stick with you though – I’m still thinking about it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Books I’m Looking forward to Reading in 2015

Quick Lit: Recent Kid Lit Reads

Lots to share about this month, as I did so much reading while on our vacation last month. Happily, most of them were really good too!

Where the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin by Grace Lin

An amazing story, but do yourself a favor and get this in print, not an electronic version. My kindle copy didn’t let me fully appreciate the lovely illustrations Lin includes. It’s a bit of a mash-up (in the best way): part quest novel, part Chinese folklore retellings, part her own twists, but I loved it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


The Goose GirlThe Goose GirlThe Goose Girl (Books of Bayern) by Shannon Hale by Shannon Hale

I’m a *huge* Shannon Hale fan, and this book does nothing to diminish my affection for her writing. Another fairy tale retelling of sorts, it’s a very satisfying story, and one I look forward to sharing with my kids (especially my daughters) when they get old enough to appreciate it (and old enough not to be bothered by a couple of parts). I’m also looking forward to reading the additional books in this series.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Turtle in ParadiseTurtle in ParadiseTurtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm by Jennifer L. Holm

Good historical fiction by a trusted author. Not an absolute must-read, but if you like historical fiction or are looking for more books for your middle-grade level readers to enjoy, this is a solid choice.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Storm WarriorsStorm WarriorsStorm Warriors by Elisa Carbone by Elisa Carbone (a reread)

Another solid choice if you’re looking for historical fiction, and this has a stronger connection to actual historical events if you’re searching for living books for homeschooling or afterschooling. Don’t think it’s only one to read for the educational aspect – it’s a good story, well told.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads


TangerineTangerineTangerine by Edward Bloor by Edward Bloor

Thought-provoking, if a bit odd at times. I’d hesitate to blithely hand it over to younger readers, as there is some bullying and related events that might make it emotionally challenging. It’s a very quick read, so it’d be easy to pre-read if you have any doubts as to it’s appropriateness for your reader.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow PlaceThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow PlaceThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry by Julie Berry

Made me laugh in a very black-humor sort of way, but I got so tired of how every girl was always mentioned with her full nickname. As a farce, it’s amusing at times, but if you’re looking for any sort of realistic plot line or characterizations this doesn’t have it. If you’re in the right sort of mood for it though, it was entertaining enough that I looked to see if Berry had written additional titles.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


The Great TroubleThe Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called EelThe Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson by Deborah Hopkinson

Probably suffers a bit from me having fairly recently read The Ghost Map (an inspiration for the Hopkinson’s book). She does an admirable job of toning down the horrific reality of the cholera epidemic, and the perils of being an orphan at that time period. Unfortunately, as a historical novel, there’s too much telling and info-dumping. Eminently skippable, unless you’ve got a middle grade reader desperately interested in the time period and historical events depicted.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Treasure HuntersTreasure HuntersTreasure Hunters by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Fast-paced and easy to read, with super short chapters, this seems to be written to appeal to reluctant readers, and I think it would work well at that. Not one I’m eager to continue reading the series, but I’m also not the target audience.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Penny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster by Joanna NadinPenny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster by Joanna Nadin

Another one that would work really well for reluctant or early readers. It’s three stories in one, with lots of white space on each page, and lots of illustrations scattered throughout the fast-paced, easy-to-read text. It also made me laugh at loud a couple of times, at the ridiculous situations Penny gets herself into.

Find the book: Print | Goodreads


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

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Twitterature: The Tyranny of the Library Edition
Three years ago: Book Review: My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’Homme

Quick Lit: Recent Middle Grade and Young Adult Reads

Sparrow RoadSparrow RoadSparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor by Sheila O’Connor

Picked this one because of the author’s great first name. 😉 While that may be a bad way to pick a book, it worked out for me this time – it’s a delightful read. Beautiful language, appealing characters, and a storyline that works for upper elementary readers looking for books with a little more depth, but still on the gentler side. Recommended.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads


Touch BlueTouch BlueTouch Blue by Cynthia Lord by Cynthia Lord

Quiet book that introduces some of the challenges foster children face, in a gentler way that makes it more appropriate for younger readers. It feels a little unrealistic in its resolution, but that may just be me as an adult recognizing that real life doesn’t generally have such happy endings. Easy to read, and a good reminder to me to try others by Lord. Recommended.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Saint MazieSaint Mazie: A NovelSaint Mazie: A Novel by Jami Attenberg by Jami Attenberg

I wanted to love this book – I expected that I would. It’s based on a real individual, and she sounds like a fascinating woman. Plus it’s told in part via diary entries, and I do love that format. However, I was left underwhelmed. Mazie is mostly just … stuck in that cage selling tickets, and her voice in the diary didn’t always seem believable. The framing of the story also didn’t work for me. A heads-up as well: it’s a bit more graphic at times than I was expecting (or appreciated), so be aware of that before handing it over to younger readers or even teens, depending on their age and maturity. My complaints aside, the books gotten some rave reviews, so clearly it’s working for plenty of other readers, including a good friend of mine who adored it. Not recommended.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


If I StayIf I StayIf I Stay by Gayle Forman by Gayle Forman

Here’s where I sound heartless: I felt like the entire book was written in an attempt to make the reader cry, and no. I was not moved to tears by this book. (I was also reading it while traveling to my brother-in-law’s funeral, so I was perhaps especially untouched by the fictional heart-string-tugs). My cranky reading meter was also set off by a couple of ridiculous scenes in the book, and the too-good-to-be-true parents. Possibly just a case of “the wrong book at the wrong time,” and if it hadn’t been a book club pick I’d have never finished it. Not recommended.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Where She WentWhere She WentWhere She Went by Gayle Forman by Gayle Forman

Also a book club pick, or I’d have certainly never read the sequel to If I Stay. It’s fine if you liked the first one, and you’ll probably enjoy following the story. I was less annoyed by specific scenes in this one, but more annoyed by a couple of major plot points. Not one I’d recommend, but it still might mostly be bad timing on my part to read this sort of story.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Quick Lit September 2015

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Quick Lit: Recent Christian Reads
Two years ago: Quick Lit: Recent Christian Reads

Quick Lit July 2015

Favorite Picture Books so far in 2015To go along with last month’s list of my favorite books of the first half of 2015, here are some quick looks at what have been our favorite picture books for the year so far. Because I’m always on the lookout for great books to read to my young ones, so maybe you are too. 🙂

The Seven Silly EatersThe Seven Silly EatersThe Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman by Mary Ann Hoberman

Great language and wonderful illustrations made this silly book super fun for us all.

DruthersDruthersDruthers by Matt Phelan by Matt Phelan

Imaginative and I loved how my kids discovered the fun of the word “druthers” thanks to this book. Hearing a 3 year old talk about what she’d do if she had her druthers is hilarious.

Bear Snores OnBear Snores OnBear Snores On (The Bear Books) by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

I love the clever use of text in Wilson’s books – how the varying font sizes helps my son see why I’m emphasizing what I do when I read it. Plus, it’s just a cute story.

John Philip DuckJohn Philip DuckJohn Philip Duck by Patricia Polacco by Patricia Polacco

A little history with our reading. Polacco is one of my favorites, and her books always captivate my kids.

How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the WorldHow to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the WorldHow to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World by Faith McNulty, illustrated by Marc Simont by Faith McNulty, illustrated by Marc Simont

My son was OBSESSED with this book for several months. I had to read it so often I think we all about had it memorized, and he still talks about certain events from the book.

The Story about PingThe Story about PingThe Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack, illustrated by Kurt Wiese by Marjorie Flack, illustrated by Kurt Wiese

I adored this book, and my kids really liked it. So yes, I liked it more than they did. 🙂 Cute little duck, and the story led to some great teachable moments.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

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Favorite Books of 2015 (So Far)

Favorite Books of 2015 so farQuick looks at my what are so far my favorite books of 2015, since it’s close enough to halfway through the year. 🙂 Links go to my previous posts if I’ve written one, Amazon if I haven’t.

Nonfiction

As You WishAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

I don’t generally read celebrity bios, but made an exception for this one, and am so glad I did. It’s funny and witty and oh so entertaining. Perhaps because it’s more the story of a movie, than the story of just a celebrity. Read it and then read The Princess Bride. And then watch the movie. Actually, skip reading it and go for the audible versionAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes – it’s fantastic!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Not sure if it really will be life-changing, but so far I think it just might be. Love the tone of this one, and how it is so gentle and kind. I also love her change in focus from what you’re discarding, to what you’re keeping.

Better Than BeforeBetter Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

I love her style and approach, and I love the focus of this book: how can I change my habits to change my life? It combines nicely with Kondo’s book too.

Cold TangerinesCold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist

She’s one of my favorite authors, and I finally read her first book. Not as good as her more recent titles (you can see how she’s grown as an author), but still an excellent memoir of sorts.

The Road from CoorainThe Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway

A re-read for my book club, and it was just as good the second time around. It also made for a fabulous discussion at book club – one of the best ones we’ve had in awhile. Highly recommended if your book club reads memoirs!


Fiction

The Truth According to UsThe Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

Loved this book. Don’t be put off by the length – it’s captivating and reads much quicker than you’d think almost 500 pages could possibly. You’ll feel like you’re there with them in Depression-era West Virginia, and you’ll appreciate air conditioning so very much.

The Thirteen ProblemsThe Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

Short stories featuring Miss Marple. I’m slowly working my way through all of Agatha Christie’s books and I can’t decide if I’m annoyed at myself for waiting so long to read them, or delighted that I have so many still to look forward to reading.

The Murder of Roger AckroydThe Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

More Christie, but this one features Detective Hercule Poirot. Perhaps her most famous of mysteries, and I loved figuring it out before it was revealed. She is so good at writing compelling stories without lots of extra padding.


Favorite Kids Books:

The War that Saved My LifeThe War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

A look at the children evacuated from London during WWII, but it takes a different perspective than you might expect. Hard to read at times because of tough content, it’s well worth the emotional effort, and I appreciated that the author skipped any easy resolutions that would have felt unrealistic.

National Geographic Kids Animal StoriesNational Geographic Kids Animal Stories: Heartwarming True Tales from the Animal KingdomNational Geographic Kids Animal Stories: Heartwarming True Tales from the Animal Kingdom by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Adam Stemple, and Jason Stemple; illustrated by Jui Ishida by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Adam Stemple, and Jason Stemple; illustrated by Jui Ishida

Gorgeously illustrated and engagingly written, this would make a great readaloud for any animal-loving children. Or it makes for a great book for any older kids or adults too, as I read it through the first time on my own, as I was deciding whether or not to read it to my kids. Fascinating looks at some animals in history.

Book of a Thousand DaysBook of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

A retelling of a not-very-familiar fairy tale. Well-written and engrossing, with a very satisfying ending. I loved the characters in this one, and how Hale manages to make the story her own, while still basing it so much on the original tale.

Inside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Written in verse, this is another one that has tough content, although the format softens it a bit. Absolutely compelling.

Listen SlowlyListen, SlowlyListen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai by Thanhha Lai

Another gorgeously-written book by Lai, although this one is in prose, not verse. I kept wanting this to be more obviously connected with the previous book but it’s not. No matter – it’s still a wonderful story.

Winnie the PoohWinnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

A classic for a reason. Loved reading it aloud to my children, and they loved hearing the stories.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

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