Recent Readalouds: The Princess in Black series

Princess in Black 1 and 2

The Princess in Black and The Perfect Princess Party by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Books one and two of the series were birthday gifts to my daughter, and she loved them. I wasn’t sure how they’d be as readalouds – they’re suitable for somewhat newer readers, and sometimes those books can be painful to read aloud. I should have trusted Hale, as these were fun.

They are quite silly, but not in an obnoxious way, instead in a this-is-delightful-to-young-kids way. The illustrations are wonderful too, and there are lots of them, making this book a nice bridge between picture books and chapter books.

Princess Magnolia is appealing, and while I think the books were just about perfect for a 5 year old girl to listen to, my 7 year old son happily listened in as well. Admittedly, his favorite parts were when Magnolia is battling the monsters.

Book #3 releases in paperback just in time for Christmas (and I’ve already pre-ordered it), and the final book in the series releases in hardcover in November. I’m holding off on it only because the other books we’ll have will all be paperbacks, and it kind of bugs me to have the series be mismatched on our shelves. Fingers crossed that book #4 will be out in paperback before her next birthday in 2017.

They’re not books that I want to read aloud again and again and again, but it’s fun to read them a handful of times, and then have my daughter “read” them herself is fantastic. I’m sure once she starts reading for real she’ll tackle these on her own again too.


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson with Veronica Chambers
Three years ago: God’s Bestseller by Brian Moynahan

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New on the Stack in November 2015

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

After last month‘s RIDICULOUS book haul, I was pretty proud of myself for my restraint in November. Nine books, and five of them are YA. One is just a reference to flip through a bit, and the other is a Bible Study. If it weren’t for that gigantic novel I’d be feeling pretty confident about my ability to get through them all in December. 😉

Nonfiction

The Mother of All BooklistsThe Mother of All Booklists: The 500 Most Recommended Nonfiction Reads for Ages 3 to 103The Mother of All Booklists: The 500 Most Recommended Nonfiction Reads for Ages 3 to 103 by William Patrick Martin by William Patrick Martin
How did I get it: Borrowed it from the library.
Why did I get it: I am a sucker for book lists.

Love Comes NearLove Comes Near: An Advent Bible StudyLove Comes Near: An Advent Bible Study by Jenni Keller by Jenni Keller
How did I get it: Bought it.
Why did I get it: I was looking for an Advent study, and the timing of this one was right (as in, the timing of when I heard about it). Plus the author is an acquaintance of mine & we have mutual friends.

Fiction

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas by Alexandre Dumas
How did I get it: Bought it from Audible (this version).
Why did I get it: It’s January’s book for my book club – of course I need to get it and get reading! I originally borrowed it from the library but it is so. long. I knew I’d never get through it before it had to go back. I don’t want to count on being able to renew it, so the inexpensive Audible version it is!

WinterWinterWinter (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer by Marissa Meyer
How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s the final book in the Lunar Chronicles series!

A Curious BeginningA Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna Raybourn
How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It sounded interesting.

January Conspiracy 365Conspiracy 365 by Gabrielle Lord
How did I get it: Borrowed it from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s an Usborne title and I want to read it so I can recommend it (or not).

ArrivalArrival (Phoenix Files Book 1) by Chris Morphew
How did I get it: Borrowed it from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s an Usborne title and I want to read it so I can recommend it (or not).

Enna BurningEnna BurningEnna Burning (Books of Bayern) by Shannon Hale by Shannon Hale
How did I get it: Borrowed it from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s the sequel to Goose Girl, which I enjoyed enough to want to read more.

The Bloomswell DiariesThe Bloomswell Diaries by Louis L Buitendag
How did I get it: Purchased it.
Why did I get it: It was a customer special and I couldn’t resist the price. And it sounded like my sort of 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.)

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: General Winston’s Daughter by Sharon Shinn
Two years ago: Book Review: Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
Three years ago: Announcing the 2013 Reading Challenge

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

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!

Cover Love: Book of a Thousand Days

Book of a Thousand Days

From left to right: US Hardback, US Paperback, UK Hardback, US Paperback

I’m partial to the US Hardback cover, as it was also the cover on the Kindle version I read. The UK versions are both really pretty, but it’s not that pretty of a book, so I wonder if those covers lead to readers feeling mislead as to the book.

Perhaps not, as there may be other cultural cues or expectations that I’m ignorant of regarding UK covers.

It’s hard to pick a true favorite – I like them all, and know it’s only my familiarity with the first one that draws me to it the most. It is nice when all the covers for a book are good, instead of feeling like I’m picking the best from a bunch of unappealing ones.

What’s most interesting to me is the subtle title change. In the US, the book is “Book of a Thousand Days,” while in the UK it’s “The Book of a Thousand Days.” Why does the UK version have the “the,” while the US version doesn’t?

This new “Cover Love” series is inspired by the “Judging Books by Their Covers” series previously run at Quirky Bookworm.

Quick Lit for April 2015

Playing catch-up with reviews because as my reading pace picks up post-baby I’m getting backlogged on sharing:

April 2015 Quick Lit
Once Upon an AlphabetOnce Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the LettersOnce Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers by Oliver Jeffers

I grabbed this for the cover, and thought it was truly a kid’s alphabet book. Yeah, not exactly. Some of the entries for various letters are NOT ones I’d want to read to my kids as they’re surprisingly dark and even creepily morbid at times. I’m not really sure who the intended audience is for this one, but I’m glad it was a library book and I wasn’t out much more than a small amount of time, and because I pre-read it before starting it with my kids, they never knew what they were missing.

Saturday the Rabbi Went HungrySaturday the Rabbi Went HungrySaturday the Rabbi Went Hungry by Harry Kemelman by Harry Kemelman

The second in the series begun with Friday the Rabbi Slept Late. You could easily pick this one up without having read the first, and while there is a bit of backstory you won’t know, it’s not at all essential to the plot of this one. It still feels so dated at times, but I liked it well enough I’ve checked out the third third in the series – Sunday the Rabbi Stayed HomeSunday the Rabbi Stayed Home by Harry Kemelman.

Betrayal of TrustBetrayal of TrustBetrayal of Trust (J. P. Beaumont #19) (J. P. Beaumont Novel) by J. A. Jance by J. A. Jance

This one wasn’t my favorite – maybe I need to save Jance’s books for vacation, because I really preferred the one I read last year while traveling. Or maybe I just didn’t enjoy the teenage bullying plot line. Either way, I’ll read the next, because it’s so far into the series and I am invested in the characters, but it’s not a priority.

Lost in a Good BookLost in a Good BookLost in a Good Book (A Thursday Next Novel) by Jasper Fforde by Jasper Fforde

Second in the Thursday Next series, and it continues the craziness of the series begun in The Eyre Affair. I’m already in the middle of book #3, The Well of Lost PlotsThe Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next Series) by Jasper Fforde, as I do like Thursday as a character, and this book ends leaving me desperate to know what happens next.

Ever After High The Storybook of LegendsEver After High: The Storybook of LegendsEver After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale and Ever After High: The Unfairest of Them AllEver After High: The Unfairest of Them All by Shannon Hale by Shannon Hale

While I love fractured fairy tales, and I love Shannon Hale as an author, this combo of the two didn’t work for me at all. There are lots of pop-culture references/silliness in this story that grated on me, and the puns were NONSTOP. I think maybe you need to be a tween girl to fully appreciate this series, and I’m not tempted to read any more in it.

Ever After High Unfairest of Them AllApparently I’m alone in that though, because it seems like it’s a HUGE hit, and there is tons of merchandise for it. I had no idea until I was at the store looking for baseball cards for my husband’s birthday and there was a big display of Ever After High dolls and other items. (Turns out baseball cards are in the toy section. Who knew?)

Instead, read Book of a Thousand Days or The Princess Academy for better books by Hale.

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!

Book of a Thousand Days

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

Retellings of fairy tales may be quite common, but a retelling of the Maid Maleen fairy tale? Not so common. It’s probably just as well that that fairy tale itself isn’t commonly known, since Hale sticks close to the original in many plot points. Since I definitely was NOT familiar with that tale it allowed me to still be somewhat surprised by certain plot twists.

An age range for this is a bit tough to peg – there are very brutal events, although most take place off stage, and the ones that take place in the book itself aren’t detailed. There are threats of rape, but readers who are unaware of that horror won’t catch the reference, as it’s only hinted at and not stated explicitly. The main character faces starvation, torture, and even death – this is not a book I’d blithely hand over to someone without knowing them and their sensitivities.

And yet, that makes it sound harsher than it really reads, and likely would keep anyone from voluntarily picking it up, which would be a shame. Yes, there are difficult events in it, but the book retains a wonderful sense of hope throughout it. Hale does an amazing job of somehow not making the book feel too dark or heavy despite some of the topics. The setting is a great adaptation to the original tale – I loved the Mongolian customs that are described, and how one of them plays a pivotal role in the overall story (not saying more as I’m skirting a spoiler there). I adored the main character and was sad to come to the end of the book.

There are scattered illustrations throughout the text, and they add to the story’s charm yet also make it feel targeted more towards younger teens or tweens. I know, I just referred to the book’s charm after that earlier paragraph; seems unlikely and yet it does have a great deal of charm.

Finally, the book is told in journal entries, so that was another plus for it as far as I’m concerned. Am I extra swayed in a book’s favor when it’s an epistolary novel? Quite likely. 🙂 [Read more…]

Mini Reviews: The Princess Academy and The Ordinary Princess

Princess AcademyPrincess AcademyPrincess Academy by Shannon Hale by Shannon Hale

The first in a two-book series, but this is quite readable as a stand-alone. I was a little bit afraid that the story was going to be completely predictable, but trusted that a Newbery Honor book would have more to offer than that. Happily, that’s the case, and this ended up being a very cute tale.

It has some fantasy elements, even beyond the “regular girl is going to be made a princess” plot. That didn’t bother me, but if you don’t want stories that include supernatural elements I’d skip this one. I love fantasy stories, and am happy to have discovered a new-to-me author I enjoyed so much.

Publisher’s Description:
Miri lives on a mountain where for generations her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.

Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.

The Ordinary PrincessThe Ordinary PrincessThe Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye by M. M. Kaye

I found this on a list of recommended fairy tales, and couldn’t resist giving it a try. It’s a very cute story appropriate for younger readers, although there is at least one section that is quite dated. No matter, the book as a whole is charming if a bit simplistic, and I enjoyed reading about a princess who isn’t stunningly beautiful and instantly loved by all who see her. It stands up well to being read for the first time as an adult, and the illustrations scattered throughout the text are appealing.

Publisher’s Description:
Unlike her six beautiful sisters, Princess Amy has mousy brown hair and freckles, and she would rather embark on an enchanting adventure in the forest than marry a prince. By the author of “Shadow of the Moon.”

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