Books I Read in November 2017

November was in many ways a disappointing reading month for me; I felt like I was in a slump most of the month, although the books I finished I mostly enjoyed.

“Having” to read anything I’m not enjoying really does keep me from reading other things instead. I drag myself through the must-read book, but feel too guilty to spend any time reading something I’d prefer.

While I know I don’t truly “have” to read anything now that I’m out of school, when it’s a book club pick that I selected for my own book club, I do feel obligated. Plus, I made it through The Diamond Age; I wasn’t going to let Swear on This Life stump me.

    Fiction

  1. Glass Houses by Louise Penny

    I loved reading this latest in the Armand Gamache series, and did my best to savor it, as now I have to wait until another one releases. I love how she’s developed the characters, and always enjoy spending time with them.

  2. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

    Read for bookclub, as it’s our January selection. We’re kicking off an around-the-world theme, and I’m excited to select books from various countries for us to read all year long.

    We’ve got some good ones lined up already (Burial Rites!), and other strong possibilities we’re still debating.

    I enjoyed this one, especially the excellent narrating job Jim Dale did.

  3. The Bloody Tower by Carola Dunn

    The next in the series, and I didn’t like the setting of this one quite so much – I was fairly confused by the description of what was happening when, as well as the organizational structure (which ended up not mattering at all to the plot).

    I’d probably have liked it more if I’d ever been to the Tower of London, but I had to satisfy myself with some Googling and looking at pictures online to get a better sense of the locale.

  4. Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino

    Book club selection for December, and the only reason I finished it is because it is a book club selection. It was not a good fit for me, and I thought it was poorly written and plotted, even if the style of the book had been a good match for my tastes. Overall I was super disappointed with it, and hope the discussion proves to be better than the book.

  5. Christmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery

    Another book club selection, and I listened to these stories. They were all very sweet, and very fitting for this time of year; I’m debating keeping an eye out for a print copy of the book to be able to reread it in future years.

  6. The Red Door by Charles Todd

    Continuing on with the Ian Rutledge series, and it’s always fairly disappointing when I figure out the solution. Although I guessed the big secret, and who was behind events, I don’t fully understand the motivation behind the one murder. I probably mised it while listening to the audio with my kids playing nearby; sometimes they get pretty loud and it’s easy to miss details on the audio books.

  7. Nonfiction

  8. Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

    My first Acuff book, and hopefully not my last. I also think I’d like to get this in print, as that’s easier for me to make notes from. This was really good, as much of what he says is what I need to hear (so good at starting; so bad at finishing).

  9. Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain

    Uneven, but when it was good it was so good. I laughed many times, and was very glad I was listening to it via earbuds. Way too much profanity and drug and sex mentions to be comfortable listening when my kids might hear.

  10. The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Revival by Alexe van Beuren and Dixie Grimes

    I spent the worst two years of my childhood living in Mississippi, and have never once felt any desire to go back there. This book actually made me wish I lived close enough to stop by their grocery, to try some of the delicious-sounding dishes. The contrast between her experiences moving there as an outsider and mine were striking.

  11. The 5 A.M. Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast by Jeff Sanders

    Checked out accidentally, and read more or less randomly. It’s very rah-rah motivational speaker in tone, and the contrast between some of what he advised, and what Acuff advised in the Finish book I’d just completed before reading this one was striking. Spoiler alert: I liked Acuff’s book more, and found it more inspiring in a “I might put this into practice” kind of way.

  12. Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck

    Another one kind of randomly checked out, when I was in the mood to peruse a cookbook. The writing style was amusing initially, but I got tired of it before I was even halfway through the book. I’m also not vegan, and very few of the recipes motivated me to want to go to any effort to try their dishes that involved ingredients I don’t already own.

  13. Kid Lit

  14. Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

    Super cute middle-grade novel-in-verse.

  15. Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech

    The sequel, which was just as enjoyable.

  16. Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford

    It’s so hard to follow a book that completely wows me as a reader. This one was good, but it lacked the “THIS IS AWESOME” factor that the first one had. And it couldn’t have it, because it was a follow-up. Still worth reading, and it still makes me wish this was a real location I could visit.

  17. Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

    Probably unrealistically optimistic and happy considering the situation the main character finds herself in, but I loved the main character and so many of the secondary characters.

    This is why I love middle-grade fiction because if this had been a young adult or new adult book, the happy ending wouldn’t have happened. Sorry if that’s a spoiler to you, but there was never any doubt in my mind how things would end up for her; it’s a middle-grade title. 😉

  18. North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler

    Kind of an odd book, and hard to say more about it without running into potential real spoilers (unlike the not-real spoilers I gave able). Overall I liked it, and think most middle-grade fans would.

  19. Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

    Beautiful book (as in, the book itself, and the story too). You’ve got to suspend disbelief quite a bit, but as long as you can manage that, you’re in for a fun read.


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New on the Stack in November 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

Hello Mornings coverHello Mornings: How to Build a Grace-Filled, Life-Giving Morning Routine by Kat Lee

How did I get it: I pre-ordered a copy and was then sent a pre-release version.
Why did I get it: I have loved Hello Mornings and wanted to read Kat’s book.

Finish coverFinish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: He’s been on my list to try and when one of his audio books was available immediately I took it as a good chance to try him.

The 5AM Miracle coverThe 5 A.M. Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast by Jeff Sanders

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I was searching for a different title in my library’s online catalog, and mistakenly clicked “borrow” on this one. Note to self: don’t try and scroll the catalog when you’re that tired that you can barely see straight.

Medium Raw coverMedium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: He makes me laugh, and I’ve been meaning to try this one for some time.

The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook coverThe B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Revival by Alexe van Beuren and Dixie Grimes

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It popped up as a recommended title for me via my library website.

Thug Kitchen coverThug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck

How did I get it: Borrowed it from Amazon’s Prime library.
Why did I get it: Why not?

The Daniel Plan coverThe Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life by Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Another “accidental” borrow along the lines of the 5 AM Miracle.

Fiction

Christmas with Anne coverChristmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: A book group I joined is reading through many of Montgomery’s titles. This is December’s book.

In a Dry Season coverIn a Dry Season by Peter Robinson

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

The Bloody Tower coverThe Bloody Tower 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.

The Red Door coverThe Red Door by Charles Todd

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

The Expats coverThe Expats by Chris Pavone

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Considering it as a possibility for my in-person bookclub.

Once Upon a Rose coverOnce Upon a Rose by Laura Florand

How did I get it: Kindle freebie.
Why did I get it: An acquaintance raved over it.

Swear on This Life coverSwear on This Life by Renée Carlino

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: December’s book for my bookclub.

The Silver Music Box by Mina Baites

How did I get it: Kindle Prime selection.
Why did I get it: It sounded the most appealing of all the options.

The Flight of Gemma Hardy coverThe Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Catherine said nice things about it.

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.

Waiting for Normal coverWaiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Someone in my book group recommended it.

Love That Dog coverLove that Dog by Sharon Creech

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Novel in verse!

Hate That Cat coverHate that Cat by Sharon Creech

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Another novel in verse.

North of Nowhere coverNorth of Nowhere by Liz Kessler

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I don’t remember why this one was on my TBR.

My Brigadista Year coverMy Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s the newest release by Katherine Paterson – what more reason would I need?

Wishtree coverWishtree by Katherine Applegate

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Someone in my book group recommended it.

The Unbreakable Code coverThe Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Sequel to Book Scavenger.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate coverThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

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.

Real Friends coverReal Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I love Shannon Hale.

the Vanderbeekers of 141st Street coverThe Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I don’t remember how I heard about this one!


“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.)

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New on Your Stack (volume 30)

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


Renegades coverKate (Opinionated Book Lover) was first on her library holds list for Marissa Meyer’s new book Renegades. I am 15th on my library’s hold list. Sigh.

Why this makes me as sad as it does I’m not sure, since it’s not like I’m lacking in reading material. I’m hoping I love this one as much as I’ve loved her previous books.


Emily of New Moon coverJill (Days at Home) has all of the Emily books by Lucy Maud Montgomery on her reading stack this month. I’ve joined a Facebook group that is going to be reading a different Montgomery book every month next year, so I’ll finally be reading all of the Emily books.

I need to figure out which ones I own, and which ones I still will need to obtain, either by buying copies, or getting them from the library. As much as I try to minimize the books I add to my collection, I’m leaning towards buying the Emily books, justifying it that my kids will hopefully read them someday. Or at least my girls.


How To Ace the National Geographic Bee coverStacie (Sincerely Stacie) always has the most interesting National Geographic books in her monthly lists – this time it’s How To Ace the National Geographic Bee. I love those sorts of books, and so does my son.

I’ll keep this one in mind for future years when I think he’ll appreciate it more.


City of Shadows coverArwen (The Tech Chef) brought Jack Conner to my attention, and I’m curious about his book City of Shadows. I’m not entirely sure he’s the author for me – he describes himself as a “fantasy, horror, and science fiction author,” so it all depends on if the “horror” in that is in every book, or only some of his books that I can then avoid.


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

Introducing December’s Book Club Selection: Swear on This Life

Swear on This Life

Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

What’s It About?

(Description from Goodreads)

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

Why Was This Title Selected

Why did I select it? This was the hardest category for me to select – light(ish) fiction. I didn’t want complete fluff, but did want an easy to read pick (filling the role Big Little Lies did in 2016). I’m hoping this is a fun choice to wrap up the year.

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. It’s not currently available via Audible.

What’s Coming Up Next?

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

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

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2018 here.


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

Bookish Deals

Black Friday is here and that means all the online deals. I’ve got a few of the best bookish ones to share with you, and I’ll be updating my Deliberate Reader Facebook page with others as I hear about them.

Bookroo Book Subscriptions

I’ve written about them before, but Bookroo provides curated monthly boxes of board or picture books. They would make a fantastic gift, especially since they arrive already wrapped.

This weekend they’ve got a special offer – 25% off any multi-month subscription (3, 8, or 12 months). This is only for new customers, but existing or previous customers may use the code to purchase a gift subscription.

Use the code BFDELIBERATE before midnight PST 11/27 to grab this deal.


Amazon

Amazon has a $5 off a $20 print book purchase, using the code GIFTBOOK17. Books must be sold and shipped by Amazon. May I suggest a beautful version of Pride & Prejudice or perhaps a gorgeous Bible?


Fire Tablets

Amazon also has some nice Kindle Fire deals going right now – all the Fire tablets are discounted ($29.99 for the 7-inch tablet, $50 for the 8-inch, $99 for the 10-inch, and $70 for the kids edition).

Want a dedicated e-reader instead of a Fire tablet? I love love love my Paperwhite and it’s on sale today too. Giving it as a gift? They’ve got it bundled with cover, power adapter, and ebook credit


Disclosure: Bookroo sent me a free box earlier this month, but I had previously paid for all the boxes I received from them. I was not paid for this post, and am not an affiliate for them. The link just lets them know you heard about their deal through me. The Amazon links are affiliate links, and I do get a small percentage if you buy through my link. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

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!

The Most Gorgeous Bible Ever. And a Giveaway!

I have a LOT of Bibles. I love the different versions available – translations, study variations, devotional focused. What I have never had is a truly beautiful one that is almost a work of art.

Now I do though. Crossway has issued a new ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition, with illustrations and lettering by artist Dana Tanamachi.

Each book has its own unique full-page gold ink illustration. If you find cover art discussions as fascinating as I do, you’ll love the list of illustrations: it includes details as to why each book was depicted the way it was.

There are numerous quotes pulled out and illustrated in the margins. Even with all the illustrations, there is plenty of room to add your own notes or illustrations.

It would make a lovely gift – it’s got a beautiful presentation page, and comes in a nice slipcase.

Win a Copy!

Want your own copy, to keep or give away? FlyBy Promotions has provided me with a copy to give to one of my readers! Continental US only, sorry. Enter using the widget below – good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. 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.

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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.


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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!