As an avid journal maker and crafter, I’m always on the lookout for a collection of books with illustrations I can use to craft with. The best way to build your collection is to explore thrift stores, estate sales, yearly book sales at your local libraries and yard sales. When looking for particular books, one is not always successful but every once in a while, you can hit the jack pot.
There are quite a few botanical and wildlife books that have been on my wish-list and alas, I haven’t been actively searching for them, nor have I visited a thrift stores of late and want to remedy that. The hunt alone is thrilling and makes the experience more precious when you come across something you’ve been looking for.
Today, I’m sharing selected works I’m wanting to acquire and my wish is that you will find yourself inspired to search for these books to add to your collection. -Stephanie Hopkins
The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden
This entirely new diary is composed in a similar style to the Country Diary, with Edith Holden’s thoughts, anecdotes, and writings interspersed with poetry, mottoes, and her exquisite watercolor paintings of flowers, plants, birds, butterflies and landscape scenes.
The Illustrated Book of Wild Flowers by Zdenka Podhajská, Květoslav Hísek (Illustrator)
A facsimile reproduction of a naturalist’s diary for the year 1906. Edith Holden recorded in words and paintings the flora and fauna of the British countryside through the changing seasons of the year. Edith Holden’s words, all carefully written by hand, include her favorite poems, personal thoughts and observations on the wildlife she saw surrounding her home in Warwickshire, and on her travels through England and Scotland. The exquisitely beautiful paintings on every page of birds, butterflies, bees and flowers, reflects her deep love of nature; they have been executed with a naturalist’s eye for detail and the sensitivity of an artist.
The Spotters Guide to Healing Plants by Jindrich Krejca
It is not the object of this book to present a complete morphology of plants, for which see a botanical dictionary. Here we present only a selection of medicinal plants – most of them flowering plants – and true-to-life color illustrations of them.
A Garden Eden Masterpieces of Botanical Illustration by H. Walter Lack
In pursuit of both knowledge and delight, the craft of botanical illustration has always required not only meticulous draftsmanship but also a rigorous scientific understanding. This new edition of a TASCHEN classic celebrates the botanical tradition and talents with a selection of outstanding works from the National Library of Vienna, including many new images.
From Byzantine manuscripts right through to 19th-century masterpieces, through peonies, callas, and chrysanthemums, these exquisite reproductions dazzle in their accuracy and their aesthetics. Whether in gently furled leaves, precisely textured fruits, or the sheer beauty and variety of colors, we celebrate an art form as tender as it is precise, and ever more resonant amid our growing awareness of our ecological surroundings and the preciousness of natural flora.
Basilius Besler’s Florilegium: The Book of Plants by Klaus Walter Littger
A magnificent pictorial document of the flowers grown in the greatest German garden of its time, the Hortus Eystettensis is in a class of its own when it comes to the range of flowers engraved.
First published in 1613, the 367 copperplate engravings by Basilius Besler (1561–1629) capture the spectacular diversity of the palatial gardens of Prince-Bishop Johann Konrad von Gemmingen (1593/95–1612) in Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany. The meticulous illustrations are organized according to the four seasons, and, following the classification system used today, show plants belonging to a total of 90 families and covering 340 genera. The whole collection is regarded as one of the finest treasures of botanical literature; it was described by Carl Linnaeus, the legendary 18th-century botanist and zoologist, as an “incomparable work.”
Besler’s pictorial catalog long outlived the gardens, which were destroyed in 1634 by invading Swedish troops. In auction, the asking price for a first-edition copy of Hortus Eystettensis is now more than half a million dollars. With this edition, TASCHEN opens up the garden to a much wider audience: a rich and beautiful record, destined to keep the garden’s beauty in bloom.
Mia Eliot has travelled from London to LA for pilot season. This is her big chance to make it as an actor in Hollywood, and she is ready to do whatever it takes. At an audition she meets Emily, and what starts as a simple favour takes a dark turn when Emily goes missing and Mia is the last person to see her.
Then a woman turns up, claiming to be Emily, but she is nothing like Mia remembers. Why would someone pretend to be Emily? Starting to question her own sanity, she goes on a desperate and dangerous search for answers, knowing something is very, very wrong.
I must confess that this story took me a while to read and as I got closer to the conclusion, I was eager to push through. I have three minds about this book. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book. I am not a fan of Hollywood and the corruptness is disgustingly appalling and in the resent years, they been have increasingly known to the public. Not only that, but the politically and socially motivated agenda pushed on the masses and the kind-of movies that are being made out lately…Yeah, I won’t delve further in that topic at present.
While I found the story starting to lag a bit and go on too much about details and my attention waned at times, there are a lot of well-written twisty and tensely moments throughout the story.
The situations Mia found herself in kept getting increasingly stranger and I began to think that everything happening to her was in her head or someone was seriously messing with her. I found it amusing that Mia in this book played the Jane Eyre part like Mia Wasikowska in real life. I did like how she was asking herself what would Jane Eyre do or act upon in dilemmas she found herself in.
I appreciated the author’s portrayal of LA and from what I heard about the area; she is spot on. Though, she was likely being tamed about the telling. Which, I’m happy with because that was partly why I was hesitate to read this book.
I was relieved to find the conclusion satisfying because I had my doubts. As a whole, The Disappearing Act is a clever story with fast-moving tension and sordid truths about the movie industry.
I obtained a galley copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.
I want to share something with you about C.S. Harris’s story Good Time Coming. I still think about the story and my interview with her. I went over to Amazon so I can order a physical copy of her book to add to my collections of books I most admire. I read the reviews and I feel people are misunderstanding the story by saying it’s one-sided and this and that. It is far from that and she wrote a story that is rarely or if at all talked about. If these readers truly appreciated and studied history and were avid historical fiction readers of the period, they would know this. We need more stories about civilians’ experiences in the south. I also feel that she wasn’t conveying that all union soldiers are bad like what one reviewer stated. I did not get that impression at all when I read the book. I wish people would leave their modern-day sensibilities out of history so that they can truly learn history in its raw form. Harris beautifully and heart wrenchingly portrayed how horrible the war was for the women left unprotected, while their men and sons were off fighting and dying by the hundreds of thousands. Nothing wrong in giving a southern view of the experience. I wish people would be more objective and open to hearing all sides because you cannot learn or teach history without it. We need to take the good, the bad and ugly and discuss it openly without prejudice. To blame a wrong solely on a group of people is counterproductive and causes further divide. After-all, honest talk is only how we will learn human experiences and heal as a community. So please, stop bringing political correctness into everything. It is polarizing, damaging and complete utter nonsense!
“The army that marched against the South was the same army that perpetrated the massacres of Native American women and children at Sacramento River and Harvey and countless other sites, a well-understood reality that terrified Southern civilians.” – C.S. Harris
The link to my interview with C.S. Harris will give readers a better sense of what the author was conveying with Good Time Coming. I highly recommend reading the book and to read the interview in full. One of the best civil war related stories I’ve read and that says a lot because this period in our countries history, interest me the most.
About the book:
It’s the beginning of the American Civil War, and the Union army is sailing down the Mississippi, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
The graceful river town of St. Francisville, Louisiana, has known little of the hardships, death, and destruction of the War. But with the fall of New Orleans, all changes. A Federal fleet appears on the Mississippi, and it isn’t long before the depredations and attacks begin.
For one Southern family the dark blue uniform of the Union army is not the only thing they fear. A young girl stops a vicious attack on her mother and the town must pull together to keep each other safe. But a cryptic message casts doubt amongst the townsfolk. Is there a traitor in the town and can anybody be trusted?
Twelve-year-old Amrie and her family have never felt entirely accepted by their neighbors, due to their vocal abolitionist beliefs. But when Federal forces lay siege to the nearby strongholds of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the women and children of St. Francisville find themselves living in a no mans land between two warring armies. Realizing they must overcome their differences and work together to survive, they soon discover strengths and abilities they never knew they possessed, and forge unexpected friendships.
As the violence in the area intensifies, Amrie comes to terms with her own capacity for violence and realizes that the capacity for evil exists within all of us. And when the discovery of a closely guarded secret brings the wrath of the Federal army down on St. Francisville, the women of St. Francisville, with whom Amrie and her mother have shared the war years many deprivations and traumas, now unite and risk their own lives to save them.
It has been a while since I’ve read a book series and I’m on the hunt for one that I want to read next year. I came up with an idea to blog about a few series I’ve chosen, to select one to read. My fist on the list is series I came across on twitter called the Slough House. The author, Mick Herron writers’ thrillers and mystery and has an English from Balliol College, Oxford. He now lives in Oxford and works in London. His second series, The Oxford Investigations, features Sarah Tucker and/or P.I. Zoë Boehm according to his bio on goodreads. I’m still working out if I will add the latter to my list.
The Slough House series has seven books to its list, so far and two of them are novellas. I’ve chosen to feature three of the books and you can find the full list on goodreads. I hear there is a television show being made based on these novels starring Gary Oldman and Kristen Scott Thomas. Have you read this series? Will you watch the television series based on the stories? -Stephanie Hopkins
Slow Horses (Slough House #1)
The first book in CWA Gold Dagger Award-winning British espionage series starring a team of MI5 agents united by one common bond: They’ve screwed up royally and will do anything to redeem themselves.
London, England: Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. Maybe they messed up an op badly and can’t be trusted anymore. Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them. Maybe they just got too dependent on the bottle—not unusual in this line of work. One thing they all have in common, though, is they all want to be back in the action. And most of them would do anything to get there even if it means having to collaborate with one another.
River Cartwright, one such “slow horse,” is bitter about his failure and about his tedious assignment transcribing cell phone conversations. When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the Internet, River sees an opportunity to redeem himself. But is the victim who he first appears to be? And what’s the kidnappers’ connection with a disgraced journalist? As the clock ticks on the execution, River finds that everyone has his own agenda.
Dead Lions (Slough House #2)
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Soho Crime
London’s Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. Maybe they messed up an op badly and can’t be trusted anymore. Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them. Maybe they just got too dependent on the bottle—not unusual in this line of work. One thing they all have in common, though, is they all want to be back in the action. And most of them would do anything to get there even if it means having to collaborate with one another.
Now the slow horses have a chance at redemption. An old Cold War-era spy is found dead on a bus outside Oxford, far from his usual haunts. The despicable, irascible Jackson Lamb is convinced Dickie Bow was murdered. As the agents dig into their fallen comrade’s circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of ancient Cold War secrets that seem to lead back to a man named Alexander Popov, who is either a Soviet bogeyman or the most dangerous man in the world. How many more people will have to die to keep those secrets buried?
The List (Slough House #2.5)
Dieter Hess, an aged spy, is dead, and John Bachelor, his MI5 handler, is in deep, deep trouble. Death has revealed that deceased had been keeping a secret second bank account—and there’s only ever one reason a spy has a secret second bank account. The question of whether he was a double agent must be resolved, and its answer may undo an entire career’s worth of spy secrets.
She was Emily Dickinson’s maid, her confidante, her betrayer… and the savior of her legacy.
Massachusetts, 1869. Margaret Maher has never been one to settle down. At twenty-seven, she’s never met a man who has tempted her enough to relinquish her independence to a matrimonial fate, and she hasn’t stayed in one place for long since her family fled the potato famine a decade ago.
When Maggie accepts a temporary position at the illustrious Dickinson family home in Amherst, it’s only to save money for her upcoming trip West to join her brothers in California. Maggie never imagines she will form a life-altering friendship with the eccentric, brilliant Miss Emily or that she’ll stay at the Homestead for the next thirty years.
About the Cover: I love images of country homes and their setting on the edge of woods. I lived in rural North Georgia for nine years with a home on the edge of woods before moving back to the suburbs. I would often sit at the kitchen table that faced the woods and spent a lot of time thinking about the history of the land and the people that lived there before us. This book cover is atmospheric and I like the mirror effect of the image. You can image all sorts of stories the house and trees hold.
About the Book: I like reading a wide range of genres though I am extremely choosy about the horror genre for several reasons but there are a few I will read or give it a try. Maybe I chose this one because it takes place in the country and the story touches on family secrets. Did I mention I love the title of the book?! Definitely an eye catcher.
Hardcover, 530 pages
Published July 20th 2021 by Del Rey Books
A family returns to their hometown—and to the dark past that haunts them still—in this masterpiece of literary horror by the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderers
Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there.
Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures.
Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania.
Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver.
And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic.
This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.
It has been ages since I’ve posted a wish-list of books I want to read. I’ve been extremely selective these days, though not to say I don’t read a wide range of genres. The five books below are a pretty good example of what I’m currently interested in at the moment. That said, it can change at any moment. I’ve been a perpetual mood when it comes to stories. I wonder why that is because I love stories. Hmm…maybe it’s writing styles or sometimes I feel the writer is holding back or it could be that I feel like I’m reading the same story over and over again. The lack of originality at times. My guess it’s one of the reasons why I’m not reading as much historical fiction these days. Ever get I a reading funk like this? I don’t know. I’m rambling. These books look hopeful. Happy reading! -Stephanie
Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger
HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada)
General Fiction (Adult) | Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date 05 Oct 2021
“You won’t be able to stop turning the pages!” —Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door
Secrets, obsession and vengeance converge in this riveting thriller about an online dating match turned deadly cat-and-mouse game, from the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions on the 7:45
Think twice before you swipe.
She met him through a dating app. An intriguing picture on a screen, a date at a downtown bar. What she thought might be just a quick hookup quickly became much more. She fell for him—hard. It happens sometimes, a powerful connection with a perfect stranger takes you by surprise. Could it be love?
But then, just as things were getting real, he stood her up. Then he disappeared—profiles deleted, phone disconnected. She was ghosted.
Maybe it was her fault. She shared too much, too fast. But isn’t that always what women think—that they’re the ones to blame? Soon she learns there were others. Girls who thought they were in love. Girls who later went missing. She had been looking for a connection, but now she’s looking for answers. Chasing a digital trail into his dark past—and hers—she finds herself on a dangerous hunt. And she’s not sure whether she’s the predator—or the prey.
The Perfect Ending by Rob Kaufman
Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members’ Titles
General Fiction (Adult) | Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date 15 Jun 2021
Paralyzed by writer’s block, Scott Atwood’s career is over, and so, he’s decided, is his life. He just has to figure out the perfect ending befitting a popular, award-winning thriller-suspense author who always gives his fans a mind-blowing finale.
But just as Scott resolves to jump in front of a train, he conceives the ideal plot for his next bestseller — a writer of psychological thrillers who decides to wreak havoc in other people’s lives in order to help him come up with ideas for his next book.
Looking for inspiration, he exposes his neighbor’s affair with devastating and far-reaching repercussions, and his plan soon begins to spiral wildly out of control. But what is fiction? And what is reality? The lines blur in this twisted and masterful Hitchcockian thriller with the perfect ending. The question is… to what?
H. G. Wells: Changing the World
by Claire Tomalin
Biographies & Memoirs | History | Reference
Pub Date 02 Nov 2021
From acclaimed literary biographer Claire Tomalin, a complex and fascinating exploration of the early life of the influential writer and public figure H. G. Wells
Upon the death of H. G. Wells, in 1946, George Orwell remarked, “If he had stopped writing in 1920 his reputation would stand quite as high as it does: if we knew him only by the books he wrote after that date, we should have rather a low opinion of him.” For though Wells is remembered as the author of such influential books of science fiction as The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds, and as a man whose visions of the future remain unsurpassed, his success as a writer of fiction stopped short in his forties. He remained famous, with an established reputation across England, America, and France, but, remarkably, never again equaled his early writing achievements.
Here for the first time, Claire Tomalin brings to life the early years of H. G. Wells, and traces his formation as a writer of extraordinary originality and ambition. Born in 1866, the son of a gardener and a housekeeper, Wells faced poverty and ill health from a young age. At 12, he was taken out of school, torment for a child with intellectual aspirations. Determined, Wells won scholarships and worked towards science degrees. Though he failed his final exams, he was soon writing text books, involving himself in politics, and contributing to newspapers. Still suffering from serious illness, as well as multiple physical breakdowns, Wells understood early on the impulse to escape – through books, art, and his imagination – and he began to make his name by writing short stories. But it wasn’t until the publication of his first novel, The Time Machine, in 1895, that Wells attained the great success he had so longed for. His book, which transformed the way readers saw the world, was hailed as an extraordinary accomplishment.
Until the period leading up to the first world war, Wells wrote books at an almost unprecedented speed – about science, mysteries, and prophecies; aliens, planets, and space travel; mermaids, the bottom of the sea, and distant islands. He chronicled social change, and forecasted the future of technology and politics; formed friendships with Winston Churchill, Henry James, and Bernard Shaw, and shaped the minds of the young and old. His most famous works have never been out of print, and his influence is still felt today. In this unforgettable portrait of this complicated man, Tomalin makes clear his early period was crucial in making him into the great writer he became, and that by concentrating on the young Wells, we get the best of his life, and of his work.
The Sound the Sun Makes by Buck Storm
Christian | Literary Fiction
Pub Date 18 May 2021
Literary Americana with humor, heart, and a whole lot of twists to keep readers guessing
Detective Early Pines loves his southern Arizona desert, often thinking he could stare at it all day long. But now that he’s forced to do just that, the truth is the view from his back porch is getting old. He’s on mandatory leave from the police department, simply for punching a wife beater who had it coming. Early is in dire need of a distraction from his own loud thoughts. So when an old friend invites him to tag along to a rodeo down in Old Mex, it seems like just the ticket.
But if there’s one constant in the world, it’s that life always throws a guy curveballs. With a flat tire, a roadside bar, and a beautiful woman with trouble on her hands, Early’s distraction takes a hard right turn–straight to Los Angeles, six hundred miles west.
Hammott Lamont is waiting there in his own personal hunting ground. The reclusive filmmaker is a veritable cult leader to Hollywood stars–and he’s sure his latest project will redefine art history in his image. He’s got a plan for a brutal, modernized version of the Christ story, and he’s ready to trample anyone who stands in the way of his colossal vision. That is, until big, loud Early Pines hits the coast for a clash of two titans who never saw each other coming.
Quirky, lyrical, and unexpected, The Sound the Sun Makes offers a warm and sunny side trip for fans of Jimmy Buffett, Carl Hiaasen, and Barbara Kingsolver who long for more of a Christian worldview in their fiction.
The Torqued Man
by Peter Mann
General Fiction (Adult) | Historical Fiction | Literary Fiction
Pub Date 11 Jan 2022
“A damn good read.”—Alan Furst
A brilliant debut novel, at once teasing literary thriller and a darkly comic blend of history and invention, The Torqued Man is set in wartime Berlin and propelled by two very different but equally mesmerizing voices: a German spy handler and his Irish secret agent, neither of whom are quite what they seem.
Berlin—September, 1945. Two manuscripts are found in rubble, each one narrating conflicting versions of the life of an Irish spy during the war.
One of them is the journal of a German military intelligence officer and would-be opponent of Hitler named Adrian de Groot, charting his relationship with his agent, friend, and sometimes lover, an Irishman named Frank Pike. In de Groot’s narrative, Pike is a charismatic IRA fighter sprung from prison in Spain to assist with the planned German invasion of Ireland, but who never gets the chance to consummate his deal with the devil.
Meanwhile, the other manuscript gives a very different account of the Irishman’s doings in the Reich. Assuming the alter ego of the Celtic hero Finn McCool, Pike appears here as the ultimate Allied saboteur. His mission: an assassination campaign of high-ranking Nazi doctors, culminating in the killing of Hitler’s personal physician.
The two manuscripts spiral around each other, leaving only the reader to know the full truth of Pike and de Groot’s relationship, their ultimate loyalties, and their efforts to resist the fascist reality in which they are caught.
It feels like this year is flying by and sometimes I feel like I’m not going to get all the reading in that I planned. According to my goodreads reading challenge, I am 16 books ahead of schedule, but still…
Anyhow, I wanted to mention that I’ve been thinking after this year, not participating in the reading challenges anymore. That said, I do like to keep track of my yearly reads but not on demand. I have not enjoyed reading this way for a while now. I have something else in mind to keep track of the number of books I read in a year that I might discuss at a later time.
In myHome Library Bookspost, I talked about reading books from my own bookshelf at home and reading stories my daughter has read. I was able to get in two of her books and I quite enjoyed them. This month, I read seven books total and you will notice that I’ve veered away from historical fiction somewhat. I’m frustrated with the direction the genre is going in and the censoring going on in the publishing industry. That is for another time to discuss, if at all.
A few of these books I have read at a leisurely pace and the one by Dean Koontz, I’ve read before a couple times.
I still have quite a few NetGalley books to get through. However, I made a promise to myself that I would read books from my home library that I haven’t read yet-which I’m currently proactively doing. There are many books in this pile I have read before, and have read more than once. I’ve also made a promise to my daughter, a while back, to read books she read and enjoyed during her middle school and high school years. These piles consist of thirty-three books I’m hoping to read this year, or finish by next spring. I’m also considering annotating quite a few of these books. It’s important to re-read books, to read a variety of books, to keep on reading, to truly think about what you are reading and what the story conveys. Reading is knowledge and gives you the tools to keep ignorance at bay to say the least.
There are a few books in this pile that English majors are required to read. Keep in mind, all required reading material for English degrees vary and Professors do not adhere to the same lists. In a nut shell, be well read and be prepared. An English major is a whole lot more than just enjoying reading books. This subject is for another blog post, which I shall post in the near future.
Which of these titles shown, have you read? Have you read any of them more than once? What did you think of them? Would you consider reading them again and quite possibly experience something completely different the second time around?
Congrats to Gwen Strauss’s book publication of, “The Nine”
(The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany!”)
About the book:
St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date 04 May 2021
“This haunting account provides yet more evidence not only of the power of female friendship but that the often-unrecorded courage and resilience of ordinary women must be honoured and celebrated. It’s a most inspiring read…Utterly gripping.” —Anne Sebba, author of Les Parisiennes
The Nine follows the true story of the author’s great aunt Helene Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labor camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris.
The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parachuting agents, coordinated communications between regional sectors, trekked escape routes to Spain and hid Jewish children in scattered apartments. They were arrested by French police, interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo. They were subjected to a series of French prisons and deported to Germany. The group formed along the way, meeting at different points, in prison, in transit, and at Ravensbrück. By the time they were enslaved at the labor camp in Leipzig, they were a close-knit group of friends. During the final days of the war, forced onto a death march, the nine chose their moment and made a daring escape.
Drawing on incredible research, this powerful, heart-stopping narrative is a moving tribute to the power of humanity and friendship in the darkest of times.