Any Favorite “Brands,” Print Book Readers?

(No actual book reviews of the strictly literary variety in this post, but I did receive complimentary copies of the specific books I mention here from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews, which I wrote in other posts. :-) )

Print Book ReaderMuch of reading print books is about the physical experience, what the books look, feel, and smell like. Just a quick flip through the pages to inhale the scent of certain books is enough to take me back to the experience I had when I read them, enough for me to remember the stories’ settings, the characters, and how what I read changed me.

While I prefer hardbacks in general for books I’d like to keep forever, there are particular paperback “brands” that I’m fond of. For instance, depending on the age of a book and whether or not it’s a used copy when I obtain it, I know what a Signet Classics, Bantam, or Laurel-Leaf paperback is going to smell like before I even pick it up. The familiar scents have a way of setting the tone for what I’m going to read (or reread.)

In my reading this year, I’ve discovered new-to-me publishers with novels I enjoyed reading all the more because the books looked and felt so nice.

The Preacher’s Wife and Dixie Bell, published by Realms, have vibrant, fetching book covers–front, back, and spine–that are not too glossy, not too dull, not too stiff, not too flimsy. There’s just something about the paper they used. Nice pages for flipping with the perfect (for me) interior text fonts, size-wise.

The Preacher's Wife   Dixie Belle
(The actual covers are even more vibrant than the images here.)


The 20th Christmas and From Dishes to Snow, published by Ambassador International, have glossier covers, but not a gaudy glossy, just eye-catching and super smooth. The cover designs match the novels’ tones/voices to a T, and the pages have that great weight quality: not too bulky, not too wispy.

The 20th Christmas   From Dishes to Snow
(Again, the effects of the covers come across even better when the books are in hand.)


So, fellow print book readers, are there any book “brands” you’re particularly fond of? New book scents or old book scents? Favorite weights or page textures? (Am I getting too technical? :-D )

From Dishes to Snow by Kathy M. Howard

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Ambassador International provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

From Dishes to SnowFrom Dishes to Snow by Kathy M. Howard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Show me, God, how to remember in peace, not pain.

Ask Bayne Harris what happened to her husband and two children, and one answer might come out of her mouth while in her head, she’s thinking, “I took them away from me.” In From Dishes to Snow, Bayne is living in daily grief and guilt for having been behind the wheel in the car accident that killed her family, and author Kathy M. Howard, in a simple and contemplative style, takes the reader on Bayne’s escape to a mountain to shut out as much contact with life as possible. However, on account of a handful of nearby residents, Bayne’s plans for seclusion begin to fall gently apart.

Though this book is appropriate for any time of the year and isn’t labeled as a holiday novel, it could have been, the comfort of human compassion and holiday season warmth being mixed into Bayne’s trying heart and mind journey full of tough questions and many prayers.

Wren Jordan is a likable guy right off the bat, though he starts to seem too perfect after a while and therefore not quite real. Eventually seeing that he isn’t above feeling disappointment or jealousy rounds out his character to me.

Although this story is told in first person, there are moments when Bayne seems to know as much as a third person omniscient narrator by the way she states other characters’ thoughts and feelings, or even their definite age ranges, to the reader: e.g., “a man in his thirties walked in” or “She looked at the man before her, still unsure how he was standing there, holding her hands.” On a minor note, the registered trademark symbol (“®”) accompanying brand names in the middle of characters’ dialogue distracts from the story somewhat. Someone else would know better than I do if the trademark notices could have been taken care of on the book’s copyright page instead.

But, yes, I deem this novel of both pain and hope to be a good Christmastime read, but again, it’s a good read for any season and a great debut for Howard.

Black Bubblegum by Lewis P. Bryon

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Black BubblegumBlack Bubblegum by Lewis P. Bryon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title for the book description/blurb.)

a story is only as great as its conflict

When you read Black Bubblegum, a collection of poetry from my favorite contemporary poet, Lewis P. Bryon, I urge you to read it aloud, as I did. Get your senses involved.

I’ve said before that Bryon’s poetry reads me. Honestly, I wish I could type out all of the lines that hit me the hardest, but as that would take up entirely too much space, I’ll refrain.

As is a good practice whenever reading lyrical literature, let the words hit you where they hit you. Take this, chew on it, and again, by all means, read it aloud. Who knows? It might make a spoken word artist out of you.


Click the image below to take a listen to some of Lewis P. Bryon’s spoken word/poetry found in Black Bubblegum.

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers for an honest review.

Harvest of RubiesHarvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

It’s almost unfair when a protagonist’s journey resonates so clearly with my own experience, as I suspect it moves me even further away from objectivity in what is already a subjective exercise: writing book reviews. Still, I’m pretty certain Harvest of Rubies is, hands-down, an amazing historical fiction novel.

Sarah is an intriguing, witty, and compassionate heroine, a scribe in the Persian court, brilliant at her culturally masculine job, a girly-girl by no means, living her life in fear, struggling with her self-image, and having little along the lines of self-acceptance. Author Tessa Afshar mixes Sarah’s moving inward journey with palace intrigues, humiliating fiascos, touches of comedy, heartwarming friends (even Caspian the dog, dear boy), and Sarah’s arranged marriage to the wealthy aristocrat Darius, a trying and poignant situation.

One of the most affecting aspects of Sarah’s journey is her lifting the question of questioning God, of what it means to ask Him, “Why?” We hear about judging fellow human beings even when our understanding is lacking, but how might God feel when we, not knowing His entire story, judge Him?

There are some novels I consider good that I don’t particularly have to read the sequels to. Harvest of Rubies is not one of those novels. Yes, I have every intention of reading Harvest of Gold, and Rubies here is being added to my list of all-time Favorite Reads.

Harvest of Gold (Harvest of Rubies, #2)