Cassie and I started Favorite Factor around this time a year ago, and we've loved being able to share our thoughts on adult fiction with you. As the new year approaches, we figured it was the perfect time to mix things up and make a few changes. In 2015, we'll be returning with a revamped version of Favorite Factor. We'll still be talking about our mutual love - adult fiction - but in a new way.
Instead of discussing Silver Bay as intended, we have something a little more fun planned today! Cassie and I each picked four of our favorite adult books we've read this year and have prepared a fun little gift guide inspired by each of the books. And then, we wrapped up the post with a joint gift guide inspired by the book that led to our friendship. Enjoy!
The Favorite Factor Gift Guide
I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
Historical Fiction | My Thoughts
I fell head over heels in love with I Shall Be Near to You when I read it earlier this year. Cassie actually read it first and was the one who told me to hurry up and read it already! I'm so glad she did because this book felt like it was written just for me. This book tells the story of a woman named Rosetta who disguises herself as a man so that she can fight in the Civil War alongside her husband. Jeremiah. It's emotional and unforgettable!
1. Battle of Antietam Map ($30) - After Jeremiah enlists, he gives Rosetta a map so she can follow where he is and remember where he's going. It's an emotional moment because Rosetta knows Jeremiah will be leaving soon. I love this reproduction map of the Battle of Antietam in 1862 - a battle that is also significant in the book.
2. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott ($18) - This non-fiction book came out earlier this year, and I'd been intrigued by it because it tells the story of four women who played a special role in the Civil War. It was an enjoyable read, especially after finishing I Shall Be Near to You.
3. Floral Heart Card Box Set ($16) - I think some gorgeous stationery fits perfectly with this book, even if this design doesn't fit the time period. Early on in the book, Jeremiah writes Rosetta a letter to deliver some important news. And there's another letter that in the book that just might make you weep...
4. "Where You Go, I'll Go" Hand Stamped Silver Cuff ($17) - After Jeremiah asks Rosetta's family for her hand in marriage, her father reads the book of Ruth aloud to the family. It's a moving moment, and Rosetta recalls it later in the book when she asks a friend to read Ruth to her again. This verse is particularly important!
5. Kantha Quilt ($65) - Rosetta's mother gives her a double wedding ring quilt for her hope chest after Rosetta says yes to Jeremiah's proposal. While this isn't that type of quilt, there's something about the colors of this one that reminds me of the book and of that sweet moment. I love the idea of a hope chest, too!
6. Jacob's Ladder Native Wildflower Seeds ($3) - Near the end of the book, Rosetta relives an old memory: Jeremiah bringing her a Jacob's ladder, "purple-blue and bell-shaped," while at the church's ice cream social. It was the first flower anyone ever gave her, and she has it pressed in her Bible at home.
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Classic | My Thoughts
I can't remember when I first read The Blue Castle, but it's been one of my favorite books ever since. L.M. Montgomery is famous for the Anne of Green Gables series, and this is one of her only adult books. Valancy Stirling who is twenty-nine, unmarried, and has lived her entire life following the rules and making her family happy. When she's diagnosed with a terminal heart ailment, she decides it's finally time to start living.
1. Stephan & Co. Beaded Head Wrap ($16) - Valancy has worn her hair in a pompadour ever since her Aunt Wellington decided she must always wear her hair so. Valancy always wanted to wear it differently, and she finally gets up the nerve to have it cut into a bob. It's considered quite shocking and wild!
2. Moon & Lola Belle Isle Necklace ($54) - In the book, a man named Barney gives Valancy a pearl necklace for Christmas. The gift becomes pretty significant later, but I won't reveal why. I decided to mix it up a little and choose a more modern-looking pearl necklace. This is one of my favorites - dainty and darling!
3. Walden by Henry David Thoreau ($11) - Valancy is obsessed with an author named John Foster who writes "all about the woods and birds and bugs and things like that, you know." She was never allowed to read novels, and her family is suspicious of her love for Foster's books. He doesn't exist, but I think Walden has a similar vibe!
4. Little White Cat Coffee Mug ($17) - Once upon a time, Valancy asked her family if she could have a cat. Her request is rejected, but her family forever suspects her of "harboring the unlawful desire in her heart of hearts." In a twist of fate, she ultimately ends up with two loving cats: Good Luck and Banjo.
5. Vintage Brass Train Bookends ($28) - Valancy has the scare of her life when her shoe gets caught in some railroad tracks. It's a scene that prompts Valancy to ask some important questions about her heart condition and it leads other characters to have startling revelations about their feelings.
6. Blue Castle Print ($15) - Bored and dissatisfied with her life, Valancy has created a vivid world in her imagination. She escapes to her Blue Castle in her - it represents her unfulfilled dreams and secret longings. Will it ever become a reality for her? You'll have to read to find out!
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Contemporary Fiction | My Thoughts
As soon as I finished After I Do, I knew it was going to be a forever favorite read for me. And considering I've already read it twice this year, I'd say that prediction has come true. I haven't been able to get this story or these characters out of my head! This is the story of Ryan and Lauren - a couple whose marriage is falling apart. So, they decide to spend a year apart to see if they can remember why they fell in love in the first place.
1. Kate Spade Cedar Street Patent Lacey Wallet ($128) - The book opens with Ryan and Lauren arguing after a Dogers game over where they parked their car, which is why I chose this color. They also later fight about the fact that Lauren is always losing her wallet - something Ryan used to find adorable but no longer does.
2. UCLA Varsity Crew ($55) - After opening with the current state of their marriage, After I Do jumps back in time to when Ryan and Lauren first met as students at UCLA. I loved the non-linear structure of the book - it captured my interest immediately. I wanted know how they went from falling in love to fighting so much!
3. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed ($11) - During her marriage separation, Lauren's grandmother encourages her to read an advice column she loves. Lauren scoffs at the idea initially, but she ends up hooked on it. The column doesn't really exist, but this collection of advice from Dear Sugar should do the trick.
4. Tegan & Sara's So Jealous ($10) - The first section of the book is titled "Where Does the Good Go?" It's the name of a song on this Tegan and Sara album, and it's always been one of my favorites. It immediately set the tone for the book, identified the theme of that first section and illustrated Ryan and Lauren's problems.
5. Threshold French Bulldog Cookie Jar ($20) - This item is a combination of two different elements in the story: Ryan and Lauren's dog and another character's love for baking. They are important to the story in different ways, but I think this is a fun combination of two things that are so significant to Lauren.
6. The Scottish Fine Soaps Company Lemon Soap ($14) - It's only briefly mentioned in the book, but there is a lemon tree in Ryan and Lauren's backyard. When they are house hunting, it's something that immediately catches Lauren's eye. It's cute after when Ryan then tries to get their house within their budget!
The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith
Non-Fiction: Decorating | My Thoughts
I'm not a regular reader of Myquillyn's blog, but I fell in love with her decorating book that was released this year. As I admitted in my review, I don't feel confident when it comes to decorating. I love imagining the finished product, but I struggle with the steps it takes to get there. It's not a typical decorating book. The Nesting Place is more inspirational - it's a call to see your home in a different way and embrace imperfection.
1. Levtex Personalized Pillow ($24) - I can't deny it - I love ampersands. I thought this one was perfect, too, because it captures the colors from the cover of the book. There's a whimsical feelings to this pillow, and it would be adorable added to mix of other pillows on a couch or by itself in a chair.
2. Capri Blue Mercury Glass Jar Candle ($28) - When I think of things that make a home inviting, the scent is one of the first things that comes to mind. I just love when a candle adds just the right touch to a room! And if it's in a stylish, decorative jar? That makes it all the better! This candle is one of my favorites.
3. Lindsay Letters #IDHTBPTBB Art Print ($25) - Myquillyn's whole philosophy is summed up in the subtitle of her book: "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." She writes a lot about letting go of perfectionism and learning to embrace and enjoy imperfection. I love this Lindsay Letters print of that saying!
4. Faux Deer Antler ($50) - You'll notice a lot of antlers in Myquillyn's design aesthetic! I don't have any in my home currently, and I don't think I'm brave enough to hang a faux deer head on my wall. But I do love the idea of this gold antler on top of a stack of coffee table books or styled in a bookcase.
5. Espresso Metal Scottie Dog Bookends ($40) - One thing I loved in The Nesting Place was the reminder to infuse some whimsy into your home, if that's your style. While these aren't quite as silly as some of the things you'll find in Myquillyn's house, you can't deny that they would bring a smile to your face!
Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer
Contemporary | My Thoughts
I read Nowhere but Home last spring and fell hook, line and sinker for this story and these characters. It's gooder than grits, y'all! Not long after, I told Cassie she had to read it, and I've never made a better recommendation. In many ways, this is the book that brought us together! It's the story of Queenie Wake - a chef who loses her job, finally returns home to Texas and must confront everything (and everyone) she left behind.
1. Texas Food Print ($10) - You may not be able to tell, but this print is a FOOD MAP of Texas. Chicken fried steak, brisket, chili con carne... Mmm! This print is absolutely perfect for Nowhere but Home! Queenie is a chef, and food is integral to so much of what happens in this book.
2. The Southern Foodie by Chris Chamberlain ($15) - This isn't really a cookbook - it's more like a foodie travel guide. Since food, restaurants and Southern cooking are so important in this book, it seems only fitting to explore it further. I bought this book for myself (and then Cassie) and love finding places I hope to visit!
3. Garden & Gun Magazine Subscription ($20) - The name may throw you off, but this is one of my favorite magazines. It celebrates "the sporting culture, the food, the music, the art, the literature, the people and their ideas" in the South. From the writing to the design, it captures everything I love about the place I call home!
4. Pecan Pie Puppies Dog Collar ($32) - Queenie left North Star, Texas, years ago. She wanted to escape, but she's never been able to forgot one particular person: Everett Coburn. I immediately knew I had to include this dog collar in honor of Everett's dog, Arrow. There's just something about a man and his dog...
5. Friday Night Lights: The Complete Series ($53) - Football is king in Texas, and that's true in Nowhere but Home, too. Queenie's nephew Cal is the quarterback for the high school football team, and this book frequently reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows: Friday Night Lights. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.
6. Frye Billy Leather Western Boot ($278) - Everett's family breeds horses and owns an incredibly successful farm. When I think of horses + farm + Texas, my mind immediately goes to cowboy boots. They aren't cheap, but I'd love to own a pair of Frye boots. These beauties are dying to come live in my closet!
7. Drybar Texas Tea Volumizing Hair Spray ($25) - Queenie's sister, Merry Carole, owns a hair salon in North Star and the sisters spend a lot of time there in the book. Big hair rules in Texas, so it's a given that you'd find some volumizing spray in Merry Carole's salon. The name of this one is just an added bonus!
8. Dogeared I Heart Texas Necklace ($62) - Queenie has been trying to run from her past, but she soon learns the power of embracing who you are and the true value of family. This dainty necklace is a great way to keep Texas close to your heart - a reminder that there's really no place like home.
Be sure to check out Cassie's gift guide!