And so we come to what is now an annual feature of the Bethany House fiction blog…pairing the costuming choices of some of our historical book covers with modern fashion! Take a look at these beauties, releasing in 2021, and their corresponding lookalike dresses. (You can scroll through first, second, and third years of doing this as well.)
Which of these dresses is your favorite? Which do you think matches the book cover most closely?
If your summer is winding down and you feel the need for one last adventure, here’s an easier solution than packing your bags: you can go anywhere (and anywhen) in the pages of a novel. Here are four books with lovely atmospheric settings to give you some bookish travel ideas…and we know you can come up with many more. Feel free to share in the comments!
A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy
This novel starts in the heroine’s home country of India, including natural beauty, city life, and details of traditional methods of art like beetle-wing embroidery.
From the Book: “Calcutta was a beautiful place, a vibrant mixture of British and Indian architecture, traditional and modern, planned and chaotic. Where wealthy English roses lounged on palanquins and took the air on King’s Bench Walk, and also where bent women, their arms taut from decades of labor, washed clothing on the steps of the ghats.”
The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson
If you want to visit the London of Dickens and Sherlock Holmes (both the scenic and the seedy parts), dive into this legal historical novel. You’ll find yourself as intrigued by the setting as the mysterious crime under investigation.
From the Book: “Out the stern cabin windows of the Padget, the harbor waters rippled as the ship edged toward the London dock in the rhythmic tugs of the oarsmen off the bow. The midnight moon split the Thames into streaky lines that ducked and weaved amidst the crowd of scows, schooners, brigs, and warships docked or anchored on the river. The scents and sounds of London grew stronger the nearer the Padget drew to the quay.”
Yours is the Night by Amanda Dykes
In the middle of the Battle of Argonne during WWI, the descriptions of the forest can vary from magically beautiful to sinister depending on what the characters are experiencing. Throughout, you’ll feel like you’re journeying with the characters to safety.
From the Book: “At some point–and I cannot pinpoint precisely when–I entered another world. There was no mark of it–no creaking of hinges, no fall into a rabbit hole, no flight unto a second star to the right. More of a gradual mist of quiet, where the pleasant smell of decomposing leaves and pine washed away the smell of decomposing flesh. Where the air was tinged with open clarity, not a veil of sulphur.”
The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser
The characters in this novel travel down the Camino, a famous pilgrimage road through France and Spain, and readers are treated to lush descriptions along the way.
From the Book: “Most of the homes and shops in the village are made from volcanic stone. I soak in the contrast of the ancient black stones and the red tiled roofs against a background of rippling, green-carpeted mountains. I feel like I’m standing in paradise. I take a photo on my phone, although I know full well I cannot capture the unique beauty of this place.”
Where have you most recently traveled in a book you read? Share the destination and book title in the comments.
If you’re not a reader yourself, the book world can be strange sometimes. Fiction readers especially will say or do things in response to your seemingly perfectly-normal statements that might baffle you. But don’t worry, we here at Bethany House are here to help. Read on for a helpful guide to understanding your reader.
Sometimes, crying is a good thing.
I know, I know. Seeing a reader plow through a pack of tissues while turning pages is usually cause for alarm. You’re only trying to be sensitive when you suggest putting the book down for a while. Probably, though, the reaction you get will be a strong one. Sometimes, readers actually want to cry. That can be a sign of a great book. (Although not if those are tears of rage at the author. That’s different.)
The movie is almost never better than the book.
Most of the time, it isn’t even close. So, even if you kind of enjoyed the movie, always nod along to your reader’s strong opinions. Here are a few good lines if you need to say something: “The costume design was fine, but the characters just didn’t have the same depth.” “Do you think the director actually even read the book?” “The parts they left out really changed the tone.” You’ll blend right in. Though chances are, you might not need to say anything—your reader might be content to rant alone for a long, long time. Sit back, applaud your own bravery, and pop the popcorn. There will be opinions.
They’re not “just” fictional characters.
We get it: technically, the people in novels are not real. None of them are really hiding from a serial killer, wooing a duke, or getting pummeled with the successive perils and obstacles the sadistic author decided to throw at them in the name of plot. But here’s the thing: if you remind a reader of that, you do so at your own peril. The beauty of fiction is that it encourages us to empathize—to cheer at ending victories and swoon over romantic lines and threaten the character (and author?) that they’ll face your wrath if they make one more bad decision. They’re not real, but they’re true, you know? Their emotions and situations and growth reflect the world we live in, so it’s not entirely crazy to react to fiction like it’s fact. (Within reason, of course. If your reader has actually started mixing up realities, it might be time for an intervention.)
You can’t really have too many books.
I mean, you technically can. If it’s gotten the point where you could go on Hoarders, or the local fire department checks in occasionally because your book piles are a safety hazard, or a local film student calls to ask if they can shoot a scene in your house set in the Library of Congress, then maybe things have gotten out of hand. Or maybe you just don’t have enough bookshelves. Hard to say. Whatever you do, do not suggest getting rid of books. (Especially not specific books.) Wars have been started for less.
Dropping by the bookstore will never be a short visit.
Never. This is true even if the reader in question claims to be “just picking something up” or “just browsing for a minute.” Not going to happen. So wear comfortable shoes. Cancel your appointments. Pack a lunch…and maybe a dinner, too (but don’t you DARE smear jelly on the precious pages). This is gonna take a while. The same thing goes for libraries, actually. And don’t even get us started on how “just one more chapter” is pretty much always a lie with good intentions.
So, there you have it, a simple guide to the care and keeping of your reader. I’ve just helped you avoid lots of strain on your relationships!
And for all of you readers out there: what are some things you say or do that non-readers in your life just don’t understand?
Welcome to our annual setting guide for a year’s worth of books! If you like to visit new places through the pages of a novel (or if you want to see if any books are set in your own home area), this list is for you. The books below released from Bethany House from July 2020 to June 2021.
Today on the blog, we’re going to have a little fun. It’s time to make some difficult choices about hypothetical scenarios that will likely never happen. (And sometimes that’s a good thing.)
Let us know in the comments which way you’re leaning on these ten rounds. Then, feel free to share with your friends on social media and see what they’d say to all of these. I’m interested to hear the answers!
Bonus if you tell us where you’re going!
Be sure to share what design or food you’d pick. (I’m choosing between a Hobbit-themed guest room and a year of Parisian croissants—so tricky!)
We know, we know. Cruel.
For the moment, we’re just skipping past difficulties like whether this would impact other things in the space-time continuum. We’ll save that for sci-fi authors.
No specification on whether either the miniseries or the restaurant is actually good. Use your imagination!
Not sure how they’d do this, but I’m imagining Wanted posters of your face posted all over, Wild West style.
Given that I wouldn’t last five seconds against my last villain, and also that my favorite author is deceased…this one is pretty easy for me.
Can’t wait to hear what you’d be choosing for this!
Hmm, the library wouldn’t really fit in with my home style, but I’d go broke if a bookstore was that close…
It feels like my bookshelves randomly re-sort anyway. 😊
All right, readers! Feel free to share a few of your favorite answers below.
Want a little more fun in your day? Then hop on over to our personality quiz, where you can choose your favorite answers and see which heroine from our April books you’ll be matched up with.
The featured books are all of our April new releases: Night Fall by Nancy Mehl, A Patchwork Past by Leslie Gould, Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann Hunter, and All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese.
When you’re done, feel free to come back and share what character you matched with!
There are some books that are fun to read once…and then you can pass them on to a friend or return them to the library. And then there are the books that you want to treasure forever, displayed on your shelf in a place of prominence. How does a reader create a collection of “keepers”? Well, everyone has different reasons for placing a book there, but here are some categories. Do you have at least one book that falls into each of these?
Personal Connection to the Author
Got an autographed novel from that one time you went to hear a favorite writer speak? No way that one’s leaving your shelf. Or maybe a relative or friend wrote a book and you just have to proudly display it. So go ahead. Name-drop a little. Create a special “I met/know the author” shelf. Put that book in a glass case on a velvet pillow with a heat-sensor alarm system. (Okay, maybe that last one is a little extreme. But we understand your protectiveness.) Those are books worth keeping.
These are “preserve for the next generation” worthy. Some may be tattered, drool-stained, or chewed up, others off-the-shelf new if you repurchased instead of keeping the (ahem) well-loved versions from your childhood. Some might stand up to multiple readings as an adult, and others are mainly nostalgic. They’re like the Velveteen Rabbits of books: you loved them so much as a child that they became real in a special way.
This often overlaps with other categories, but sometimes a book is a keeper not because it was especially well-written or an all-time favorite, but just because it has an important connection to you. Maybe it was a gift from someone you love, or you read it during a hard time in your life, or you and your teenage best buddy bonded over your shared dramatic crush on the main character.
Listen, no one’s submitting these books to the Powers That Be to be recognized as classics. You might even be tempted to hide a few of them. But you know what? It’s fine to love them, flaws and all. Sentimentality can be enough to land a book on the keeper shelf.
Guilty TBR Book
This one didn’t become a keeper book intentionally. It sort of…stumbled into your life. Maybe a friend kept mentioning it to you, or you saw it come up over and over on bookstagram posts, or it’s on a list of books to read before you die, or it was just on sale. So you bought it, fully intending to read it someday…
And the day has not yet arrived. You feel bad. You really do. It’s just that other books have been a higher priority. And you can’t quite bring yourself to pass it along to another home, so there it is, dust-covered spine staring at you, shaming you.
This sort of book has an agenda, dear reader. It will haunt you. Forever.
Some authors I know re-read an inspiring writing how-to book or a favorite novel every single year. You might not be quite that scheduled, but there are certain books that you know you’re going to return to. Whether you’re the sort to underline, bend pages, or otherwise deface books to call out the most personally meaningful parts, or the sort who thinks that should be an actual prosecutable crime, it’s great to have a stock of books to come back to time and time again. (Just make sure the other books don’t get jealous.)
Pretty Edition of Classic
Admit it. You’ve bought a book just because it’s visually stunning. And if you’re like most of us, that splurge was on a beautifully-illustrated hardcover version of a classic novel. Or several. Dozen.
Sherlock Holmes. The Chronicles of Narnia. JANE AUSTEN. (Yes, I see you there, reader who has, like, six different versions of Pride and Prejudice. No shaming here.) You can find gorgeous versions of each to make your shelves look like a design piece instead of just functional book storage. There’s something irresistible about a fresh design on our most beloved characters.
(Although you should also do a search for ugly covers for classic novels—in the land of Public Domain, people will slap almost any image on a story to sell a few copies, and some are laugh-out-loud funny.)
Just Plain *Fantastic* Book
Here’s what’s hopefully your largest category: beautiful five-star books that you keep because you just love them. Whether it was the compelling characters, the twisty plot, or the perfect ending, these are your most recommended books…if someone tries to borrow them, they’d better be careful. You might need to set down some strict ground rules to make sure you get them back in pristine condition. Or maybe you’ve got a no-lending rule for those fortunate books that make it to the highest tier of your reading experience.
Whatever you decide, it’s nice to know you’re in good company–with both other readers and the fictional friends on your keeper shelf.
Did I forget any “keeper shelf” categories, readers? Tell us about one of the books you would never dream of getting rid of.
And so we come to what is now an annual feature of the Bethany House fiction blog…pairing the costuming choices of some of our historical book covers with modern fashion! Take a look at these beauties, releasing in 2020 or from early 2021, and their corresponding lookalike dresses. (You can scroll through our first and second years of doing this as well.)
Which of these dresses would you be most likely to actually wear?
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…and if here at Bethany House, we’re celebrating the season with a few holiday scenes from some of our recent novels. Although only one is set entirely at Christmas, these joyful moments show us how others make Christmas merry, and help us learn a little about the main characters, too. Enjoy, and have a very bookish holiday!
A short while later, they all strolled down the drive and up the High Street together, talking softly amongst themselves as they went. Justina and Nicholas shared one lamp, as did Horace and Penelope, Rachel and Sir Timothy, Richard and Arabella, and Murray and Jamie, who seemed happy to be in their company.
Richard looked down at Arabella. “Are you sure you’re not too cold? We could have taken the curricle.”
“I am perfectly well, but thank you for your concern.”
He was concerned about her well-being, he realized. Dash it all.
She smiled, adding, “It was kind of you to invite Jamie.”
He nodded, then winked. “Let’s just hope he sings better than Timothy.”
When they reached the almshouse, the carolers clustered near the door and at Rachel’s signal, began singing, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.”
The front door opened, and the matron, Mrs. Mennell appeared. “Please come in!” she beckoned. “Not everyone is able to come to the door.
So the little troupe filed inside, squeezing into the entryway. In the small parlour sat the same elderly women and single man they’d seen on their last visit, lap rugs over their legs, and some with teacups in their gnarled fingers. They all turned eager eyes on the inexperienced but willing carolers, who next sang “The First Noel.”
As the last note fell away, the small crowd clapped appreciatively and Richard noticed tears in more than one pair of weary eyes. Something in his chest cracked, then loosened, and a tendril of joy sprouted in his heart.
Mrs. Stevens had given Millie an early Christmas gift—some money with which to buy fabric for a party outfit. Day and night for two whole weeks, Millie had dreamed up what to sew. Finally, she decided on a red and green floral that she ruched at the bust, with a full skirt and a trail of buttons along the neckline.
And, of course, her favorite cloche. She never went anywhere without it.
She’s used the last of her money on the fancy buttons, so she had to wear her scuffed-up black Mary Janes. But the goal, of course, was that the guests might be so enraptured by her dress they wouldn’t notice her shoes.
And by guests, of course she meant Franklin.
Two hours later, everyone had eaten their fill, and Mrs. Stevens played her new Benny Goodman record for anyone who wanted to dance.
Franklin wore suspenders, the new hat Mrs. Stevens had given him, and a grin that warmed Milled more thoroughly than the crackling fire beside them. He held out his hand. “Want to dance?”
He knew he needn’t ask. Millie had been less than subtle in expressing how perfect the skirt of her dress might be for dancing. A girl only got the opportunity to dress as a princess once in a blue moon, and Millie had every intention of enjoying her moon before it passed.
The Avery Family Anniversary Christmas Eve Crab Feed could easily be considered last-meal-on-earth material. I’d never buy crab in a can again.
Sometime between Joshua tying a plastic bib around my neck and Emma singing “Jingle Bells” while using the shelled crab legs as her instrument of choice. . . I’d completely fallen in love with the lot of them. I’d laughed my oxygen supply out more than once, sucking wind so badly that my sides ached, especially after Joshua intentionally bumped my shoulder at the exact moment I finally got the perfect grip on the cracking tool. After such an unfair move, I shoved my entire pile of crab legs in front of him, declaring his punishment was to crack them all. He agreed without a fight, and his mother and Rebekah applauded my sass. “Good one, Lauren,” Elizabeth affirmed. “Don’t you let him get away with that.”
Stuffed to the point of not even wanting to discuss dessert, we concluded our evening with George reading us the first chapter of Luke. I could listen to his storytelling voice every day of the week and never tire of it. His baritone was as deep and distinguished as an Oscar-winning actor. Emma interrupted the passage multiple times, fluffing the ruffly skirt of her dress and asking questions like “Where did the wise men buy their gifts, Papa?” and “What kind of wood was the manger made out of—did it have splinters in it?” and “How could a star shine so brightly for all that time?” All the while, her baby brother slept soundly on his mother’s lap, instinctively sucking his fingers every few seconds. The scene burrowed deep into my subconscious.
Even now, hours after the last dish had been washed, dried, and stacked, and long after the fireplace had stopped crackling, I could still see them snuggled together, the image of mother and child. Why wouldn’t God just take my desire away already? If I was supposed to wait, supposed to press pause on my adoption plans, then why did I still feel like my lungs were being pummeled by an iron fist every time I saw a woman around my age with a child?
[Scene cut off here because SPOILERS and romance and such, ha!]
Can you think of a book that isn’t Christmas-themed from start to finish but that has a fun Christmas scene?
Driving around my town yesterday, I had this enlightening thought: what if we had commercials, flyers, and even yard signs…promoting our favorite novels? Wouldn’t that be fun?
From there, of course, I thought of a few “campaign slogans” or platforms for my favorite classics. Two of my coworkers, Brooke and Rachael, also contributed some good ones. Enjoy!
Debate tonight: watch Gandalf and Harry Potter argue about the proper role of magic systems in fantasy novels. (Lucy Pevensie moderates.)
Don’t Reelect Goodnight Moon – It’s time to kick the incumbent out of office and replace it with an actual story. We the people don’t even know what mush is or why kids would want to say goodnight to it. It’s time for bedtime story reform.
If you’re looking for the truest gentleman on the ballot, look no further than Charles Bingley. He is charming without effort, innately good without ulterior motives, and will take care of his people when they fall ill. [Disclaimer voiceover] This slogan not written by Bingley, who would never say such nice things about himself. Vote Bingley.
“If women were allowed to vote, we’d soon see a blessed change.” – Rachel Lynde, endorsing Anne Shirley’s campaign (Good news, Mrs. Lynde! We can now!)
[Unflattering picture of Regency-era man, with voiceover] Edward Rochester has lied to us all. His secrets, crazy ex-wife, and propensity for dressing up as a gypsy to manipulate people mean he’s not the right man for the job. Vote for character. Vote for George Knightley.
[Image of candidate standing on stump] I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees. Don’t vote for another, and save all the leaves.
Love is not all a woman is fit for—we have minds, and talent, ambition. Vote for a clever and natural leader. Vote Jo March.
The election is afoot. Once you eliminate the impossible candidates, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the will of the people. Vote Sherlock Holmes.
Old Yeller. Where the Red Fern Grows. The Giving Tree. These tragedies have marked the current administration of children’s books for decades. We’ve all been caught in the Charlotte’s Web of lies. The Sad Children’s Book Party is against everything we value. Vote yes to Proposition 22: “Let the parent/animal/tree live!”
No wrongdoing shall go unpunished—even the smallest of them. Help decrease crime. Do not forget my name at the polling place. Do not forget me. Vote Javert.
Your turn! Contribute a novel-based slogan, or just tell us which fictional character you’d vote for. (Please, no actual, serious political discussion…this one’s just for bookish fun.)