Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"Best of" for 2016

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I love reading friends' "best of" lists for 2016 ... especially if it's about books. There's always room for one more book suggestions, am I right? Last week, I finally did a big update on my book lists over to the right. There's a 2016 list for me, and our family read-aloud list is now current. While I was going through my 2016 list, I grabbed a pencil and marked those which stood out the most for me over the past twelve months. I limited myself to ten favorites which is always a hard decision. In no particular order, my (our) favorites of 2016 were:

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1. Rabbits with Swords. I mean Ember Falls. This has turned out to be such a GREAT series. We are not so patiently waiting for the next installment.

We finally finished our first read aloud of our summer and with that we finally finished the Chronicles of Prydian series. Highly recommend! Bonus: if I'm lucky, I'll get to read these again with my boy in 4-5 years. #readaloudrevival

2. The Chronicles of Prydian by Lloyd Alexander. We finished this five volume set this summer by finally getting to books 4 and 5 in the series. I loved these and I think my girls would say that they did as well. I am looking forward 4-5 years when I hand these off to the boy and he dives into them ... or maybe I'll get to read them aloud again with him. I won't mind that one bit.

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3. One of the few new books that I read this year, Stella by Starlight was so good that after I read my library copy, I ordered one for our shelves. We'll be reading this next year as we cycle through American history and my girls are getting old enough that we can delve more deeply into the topics of slavery and freedom.

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4. Not a book per se, but this study on 1 Peter that I did this summer has to make it on the list. It was time well spent.

Current read aloud. We are having a hard time settling into something after finishing Ember Falls. 🐰 ⚔️ We have tried a couple things and I think we're going to stick with Half Magic (for now!) #readaloudrevival

5. We ended our fall semester of school on this read-aloud and it was a great way to wrap up our December school days. As I commented when I posted a photo of the book on Instagram, when your child asks if you have the sequel to book you just finished, and head's off to their room with it, you know you found a winner. We have plans to add the missing books in this seven book series to our library over time.

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A group picture of the rest of this year's favorites.

6. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch was one of the books that N1 had to read for Challenge A this year, and one of the few that we hadn't read before as a family. I LOVED this book. The story of Nathaniel Bowditch who dreamt of a life of academia and the study of mathematics, but was forced to spend nine years of his childhood and early youth in apprenticeship. His determination and love of learning was so inspiring. I foresee that I will need to reread this when daughter #2 enters Challenge A in a few years.

7. Giddy Up, Eunice. Sophie Hudson is just one of my mostest, favoritest writers ever. She gets me. When she writes about topics such as family, friendship, mentoring, and current fashion, she is writing to me about things I am thinking about / working through and her books feel like a good conversation with an old friend that just knows you. 

8. Mere Motherhood is the only homeschooling book that I read this year (I think). It was not flashy or shiny or told me anything new, but just the humble story of a mama trying to do her best while homeschooling her kids. Plain ole encouragement from someone who has been there, and come through to the other side ... and survived.

9. Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson is going to be on my reading list for every January, I believe. A reminder and call to live each day intentionally and a direct word to me to quit whining about some things that bothered me, and make some changes. Ahem. 

10. Lastly, and not least by any stretch, is Wonder by R.J. Polaccio. Like Stella by Starlight, this is another that I read, and then immediately ordered - this time I picked up two copies (one for our house and one for gift). There is a reason why people are still talking about and reading this book even though it came out almost four years ago. It is a book that switches the point of view of who is telling the story, but it is an amazing story of kindness, resilience, and friendship. Just excellent.

There's 2016 in a nutshell. Honorable mentions could go to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I knew I would and did love that series, so that would have been too obvious. : ) What was your favorite read of 2016? Anything I need to put on my list for next year?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

October Reading and Etc.

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You can tell when a school break rolls around for us ... I have a minute to breathe and update my/our reading lists here. :) We have been steadily plugging along with school and activities and house renovations and are oh so very thankful for a Thanksgiving break this week! Here's a short update on what we / I read in October, with hopes that a November update might be more timely!

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Lots and lots of reading aloud happening here (as always!) and we finished up three books this month in different levels of rotation. First, the boy and I have moved to reading shortish chapter books before his bedtime. (Still plenty of picture books happening as well, thank goodness!) He has been enamoured with Paddington so we finished the first book in that series, A Bear Called Paddington. We love both the movie and the book, even though there are really very dissimilar, and moved straight away into the second book in the series, More About Paddington.

Secondly, we wrapped up King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green. We had read his retelling of Robin Hood last time we were in the Middle Ages, so I knew I wanted to read his version of King Arthur. We did enjoy it, though I give the caveat that it was also long and it took several chapters to get into the feel of the older English writing. Once we were in a groove, the story seemed to move at a much quicker pace!

Thirdly, we finished up a wonderful biography of Corrie ten Boom. While we all enjoyed this, my 10 year old especially asked for "just one more chapter" as every one left us hanging as to Corrie and Betsy ten Boom's fate as they suffered the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. This was a gentle introduction to some of the scenes of WWII as well as a beautiful picture of the faith of Corrie and Betsy ten Boom and I'd highly recommend it.

For my own reading, I managed to get several books read (fall break helped immensely!)

  • Being There: How to Love Those Who are Hurting by Dave Furman. This is written from a pastor in Dubai who suffers from chronic illness. He gives wonderful encouragement and examples of how you can minister to those who are in the midst of any kind of a trial or struggle - simple, practical ways to engage, assist and encourage those in the long-term battle with illness, grief, depression, etc. Highly recommend. I know this is one that I will refer to often.
  • A Table by the Window by Lawana Blackwell. A clean, fun mystery that I haven't picked off the shelf in years. I have several stacks of books that I am hanging on to for nostalgia's sake though I haven't read them in years. This is one and I had the urge to read it over fall break. Still good.
  • Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins. Mamas who need encouragement in the trenches of homeschooling need this books. I actually think this would encourage any mama, but she does speak a lot about homeschooling her nine children, eight of whom were boys! Autobiographical in nature, and full of stories of what worked with her crew, as well as stories of what didn't. The book comes off as a very humble retelling of the grace given to her as a mom trying to do her best with the work and privilege in front of her of educating her children. Another highly recommend.
  • The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart. If you have a munchkin who loved The Mysterious Benedict Society, Mr. Lemoncello's library adventures, etc., get his book. I recommend it for adults as well, obviously, but 'tis the gift giving season, so here's a recommendation. :)
  • Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. This is a book that I've had sitting on my shelf for forever, bought because I had heard descriptions of his beautiful writing and imagery. The writing is this book WAS beautiful and the story so simple as you read of Hannah's life - from childhood, through marriage, and into old age with grown children and grandchildren. This is not one that I would reread again and again, but I was certainly touched by the one time through that I did read it.

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I'll leave you with this one last book recommendation, or warning, however you may take it! Do not read Ember Falls if you do not like adventure, rabbits, rabbits with swords, mortal peril, and nail biting cliffhangers at the end of the book! We finished this last week and are now left waiting for the inevitable third book in the series because we must! know! what! happens! next!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Grateful to those that still come by here and read my keyboard peckings in this small space as well as those that I have connected with through Instagram. Reading and books bring me such joy, that is wonderful to have like-minded friends and acquaintances around the world to share them with. Grace and peace to all.

Monday, September 26, 2016

August and September Reads

We picked our new read aloud today! The BFG by Roald Dahl. My ten year old has read this but it's a new one for the rest of us! And welcome to so many new followers sent here via @melissabeaver! For the new folks, I have four munchkins - 12, 10, and 9 yeaAnd our next read-aloud is ... Tumtum and Nutmeg! I was rooting for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, but one of my girls really wanted to reread this one. And it's such a favorite of ours, I was totally swayed. Next time, Mrs. Frisby! #readaloudrevivalSea salt chocolate candy corn and Narnia. Mama's lunch break.

Popping in to give a quick reading update and bloggy hello! I have girls slaving away on math and geography, another is downstairs having a piano lesson, and the boy is getting some quiet tv time in my bedroom so I have a few precious moments here for an update. Our school work this year has ramped up considerably with the additions of a few things to our plate and that leaves little time for blogging ... or much non-school related reading for that matter.

For August, I did pretty well and then slowly tapered off as our work load increased as evidenced below:
  • Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier is one that I enjoyed - a fun junior lit adventure. Carrie did a great job reviewing it on her blog if you want more of a review that I have time to give here. It's the sequel to Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes which I read in June 2014. This is much the same sort of tale if you've read that one. Jonathan Auxier also wrote The Night Gardener which is deliciously creepy in all the right sorts of ways if you are 10-12ish (or older!) and wanting something a little fun to read for October.
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl (read-aloud). We had high hopes of seeing this one in the theater but we didn't get it read in time (though I would have waived that) and we spent our summer movie money on Finding Dory. (No regrets.) We can still look forward to watching this when it releases on iTunes later this year. The kids loved this one ... I found it hard to read aloud because of the BFG's unusual manner of speech. I might have enjoyed it more as an audio book! :)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, etc. Who didn't read this this summer? I didn't purchase it but waited to get it through the library. Definitely a different read from the regular HP novels, however, it was very interesting to read about the children of some of our favorite characters and the situation in which they found themselves. I'm glad I didn't spend the money on purchasing it, but it was worth getting on the hold list at the library.
  • Pretense by Lori Wick. I can't tell you why I picked this one off my shelf, unless it was just a nostalgic feeling for a book that I haven't read in about 10 years. This was a Christian fiction favorite from a long time ago and while this genre isn't something that I read much of anymore, this book stood the test of time, I enjoyed the re-read. (And the fact that it was something familiar that I could read as we started school and I had to keep putting down!)
  • Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Latham. This is a classic that I read along (but not aloud) with my oldest who is in Classical Conversations Challenge A program this year. Oh my goodness, is this a good book! The story of Nathanial Bowditch who dreamed of a life of academia and the study of mathematics, but was forced to spend nine years of his childhood and early youth in apprenticeship. His determination and love of learning was so inspiring. I don't know that this would make a great read-aloud with a young audience because there is a lot of nautical terminology in the book that might make it cumbersome, but it's definitely a book that should not be missed!
Ah, September. Lots of read alouds going on and we finished a couple of big ones!
  • Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn. Our first official back-to-school read aloud and one that the boy had not been through yet. Delightful as always. I've talked about T&N at great length before. (I really shouldn't go back and reread early reviews ... wow).
  • The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess. This was one of our looped read-alouds that we worked through all last year and we finished it a couple weeks into this year. We all loved this sweet book full of animal information as told from the perspective of Mother Nature and her school of small woodland animals. We've decided that an animal story is a must in our rotation and we've gone one queued up to fill this hole. More on that later!
  • The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. I've read this book so many times, so this was just a quick reread for me before N1 has to write a paper on it for Challenge A. I actually had to purchase a new copy of the book - when I picked it up to reread it, I discovered that it was missing the first few pages. My childhood series has gotten a lot of love over the years!
And that's my list for the last two months.

New month, new read aloud. Diving into King Arthur today to go along with our medieval studies.  #readaloudrevival

Our current read-aloud is Roger Lancelyn Green's King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table. It took us a few chapters to get into the language and flow of this story, but we are a little over half way through and are enjoying the adventures of the knights. I'm hoping that we will finish this in the next couple of weeks - we have the newest adventure in the Green Ember series (Ember Falls) sitting here on my desk staring at us and I can't wait to pick that one up!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

July's Reading Report

So much reading this month. July is a good month for that around here.

It's hot - reading is a great indoor activity.
It's hot - reading is a great poolside activity.
It's hot - reading is a great cheap activity.

I'm sure you get the point. : )

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This is most of what I read this summer. There were also several library books that I read that have since been returned (both hardback and Kindle).

This month I finished:
  • None Like Him by Jen Wilkin. I've mentioned one or a hundred times how much I love her book Women of the Word and at the beginning of the summer I worked through her 1 Peter study on my own. This book is another great addition to your library. A great book on the attributes of God and one I will revisit.
  • The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase by Wendy Mass. The sequel to The Candymakers. I handed this off to my 12 year old when it arrived (along with the first book that she had missed reading) and she spent several days happily curled up with these).
  • Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs. I enjoy reading Annie Downs' books. She is very personable and easy to relate to through her writing. Is she as meaty theologically as a Jen Wilkin? No. Which is why I think her books are excellent for younger girls (both in age and faith).
  • The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah. I don't remember where I saw this book mentioned other than it is the only book with Agatha Christie's beloved Poirot character that has been signed off by her people. I enjoyed this mystery. The author did a great job imitating Agatha Christie's writing, though you can tell a slight difference. I missed the inclusion of Hastings and Inspector Japp.
  • The High King by Lloyd Alexander (Chronicles of Prydian #5) Our one and only read aloud we have finished this summer! (We are still plugging away at the BFG). I am so glad that we read this series out loud together and highly, highly recommend them.
  • Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life's Biggest Yes by Kristen Welch. This was a title I read on Kindle on loan from the library. Good reminders that my kids don't need everything they (or I) think they do, and that small battles now are greater victories down the road.
  • Crispin, The Cross of Lead by Avi. This is one of the two books that my rising 7th grader needs to reading for her Challenge A / Classical Conversations class that we haven't read as a read aloud. The story of a boy with uncertain parentage who finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Very good.
  • The Firefly Code by Megan Frazier Blakemore. Another one I was interested in reading and checked out via my Kindle from the library. Her book The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill was one of my favorites a few years ago and this one was just as interesting as it discusses what it means to be human through the lives of some middle school students.
  • Village Diary, Village School, and Storm in the Village by Miss Read. Pure comfort reading! I discovered Miss Read when Jan Karon said she was one of her favorite authors. Miss Read's small English village of Fairacre reminds me of Mitford with it's colorful characters and gentle inquisitiveness in everyone's lives.

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We start school on Monday so I thoroughly expect my reading level to go down. And, while I didn't knock out everything on my summer reading list, I did make progress on several "to be read" books that I had had sitting around for much too long. I call it a win. : )

Any great books that knocked your socks off this summer? It's time to start thinking about a fall reading list! : )

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June's Reading Report

UntitledUntitledThe pressure is on when all the Kindle books I've checked out from the library are about due. I read this one yesterday and it was a sweet, sad story by the same author who wrote the Clementine series. Thoroughly enjoyed diving into it after such a busy wI've spent a good chunk of my morning reading through this book this morning with the library webpage open so I look at books. Super excited to use this as a resource for what I'm envisioning our history/geography to be this next year!

June has been a good reading month. I read a couple monster books that were on my summer reading list and several others that I knocked out in an afternoon. A good mix of heavy and light over the last thirty days or so!

I finished:

  • Pax by Sara Pennypacker. This story is told from the perspective of the two main characters, Pax (a fox) and his boy, Peter. They are separated when war comes to their area and Peter's father has to leave and fight. The book is the story of how the two journey back to each other and the growth of each character along the way. I thought this story was ... different ... not bad, but not something I loved and will gush about. The war and separation aspect was well done, but dark and I think that weighed me down when reading, if that makes sense.
  • The Two Towers and The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien. I'm going to list these two together as they really were the bulk of my reading this month. I loved, loved, loved finishing this series. I had said last month that The Fellowship had dragged for me a bit, but The Two Towers definitely picked up the pace and continued in to the last book. I loved that the books went more into the characters of Eowyn and Faramir and Samwise Gamgee. I am a Sam fan forevermore.
  • Giddy Up Eunice by Sophie Hudson. This book was delightful. It was not the memoir feel of Sophie's first two books, but a look at women mentoring other women, how we see it modeled in the Bible, and how we put so much pressure on each other to do it just right. An encouraging book Biblically and with several laugh out loud moments thrown in for good measure. Her writing is some of my favorite.
  • Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time by Jamie C. Martin. I am listing this here, although to be clear, I don't think that this is a book that you technically read. The first three - four chapters are really where the text of the book is. After that, it is just chapter after chapter of book suggestions as you read your way around the globe. I'm looking forward to using this as part of our geography / social studies this fall.
  • 1 Peter study by Jen Wilkin. Also listing this here just to note that I finished it, but over the course of nine or ten weeks. Jen Wilkin is becoming one of my favorite Bible teachers. (Her Women of the Word is excellent if I haven't said that quite enough here). You can watch a session she did from 1 Peter at the recent Gospel Coalition women's conference if you have never heard from her before. Highly highly recommend if you are looking for a study for yourself or a group of friends.
  • The Negotiator by Dee Henderson. Also another I'm hesitant to list here because I don't know that I really read this, but more skimmed it. This is the first book in a series of books by a Christian author that I used to read quite a lot of when N1 was little. I borrowed it from the library on my kindle and scanned through it the other day while I was doing a ton of cooking and was kitchen bound for several hours. It was interesting rereading this bit of Christian fiction with older eyes, and realize that I have kind of lost my taste for it.
  • The Blythes are Quoted by L.M. Montgomery. A book that I finally bought for myself on kindle after eyeing it on Amazon forever. This last book in the Anne series was written right before LMM passed away and was only recently published in its entirety. It's made up of short stories (that have references to the Blythe family scattered throughout) and in between those are sections of poetry supposedly written by Anne and Walter and read to the family with some discussion. A book detailing which Blythe child married whom and how many kids they had, this is not (sadly). But I will take fresh short stories from a favorite author in its stead and enjoy it for perfect summer reading when I have time to read one or two and set it down.
  • The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. Anther book from my summer reading list that I finished this morning. (Nothing like being told by the library that you have to return it because someone else has it on hold to light a fire under you). An oddly endearing book about a robot that is marooned on an island and has to learn how to survive and eventually befriends the wildlife on the island. Sort of futuristic, sort of a nature story and it worked. Definitely different that a lot of other juvenile fiction I've read.
You will note that there isn't a single read aloud listed on here, which is a little sad, but shows where life is right now. Life is at the pool and running around the neighborhood riding our bikes with friends. Life is at camp for the next several weeks as the girls go in shifts. We are about half-way through with The High King, the last book in the Prydian Chronicles and we plan on finishing it in July when all are back home under one roof. We've actually read the last couple times with a handful of neighbor girls along with us (which, bless their hearts, has got to be so confusing to come into the last book of this series and not even at the beginning of the book with us). That's been a fun surprise to have our extra friends interested in listening along!

Off to July and more whittling away at my summer reading list!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sparky! (A Book about a Sloth)

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A certain boy has developed a small obsession with sloths. It started with a harmless documentary we watched one day when I needed a break as part of our science curriculum. Then we watched the recent release of Zootopia and there is a sloth scene in the movie that had us all rolling in our chair. (We also loved the rest of the movie, but the sloths were our favorite part). It just so happened that I had grabbed this new release at the library and it was about ... sloths!

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The story is about a young girl that wants a pet. Her mother's conditions are that she could have any pet she wanted "as long as it doesn't need to be walked or bathed or fed." After some research help from the school librarian, she discovers the sloth, a special animal "known to sleep more than sixteen hours a day ... hang upside down in trees, barely moving, for long periods of time." Perfect!

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Without giving too much away, it's a sweet story of a girl loving her little pet with the qualities he comes with, even if he's not as exciting as her friend Mary Potts' pets - "her cat can dance on her hind legs and her parrot knows twenty words, including God and ice cream."

A high flying adventure story? No. But one that was a little wistful and smacks of childhood sweetness.

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Two thumbs up from our sloth loving fans in this house. : )

Monday, June 13, 2016

Of Tales and Adventures

First pool read of the summer. (And yes, I'm in clothes. The temp just hit 80* and I don't get it for another 5-6 degrees, minimum. πŸ˜‰)First jump of the summer.Officially a graduate! Proud of you @thejayweezy!!!!! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ“πŸŽ‰Back at the pool after about a week off with #classicalconversations Practicum and other busy-ness.Untitled

Thinking of how our days and weeks and months move along. While I think they are slipping by, mostly meaningless, I remember that that is not truth. Even the most mundane of days, where the most exciting thing that happens is a new scent of laundry detergent, add up into a great story that we are part of as we live life one with another. A reminder to me to slow down this summer and live the adventure that I'm in right now instead of always wondering what I'm missing out on.

'The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to that they were things the wonderful folks of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually - their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on - and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same - like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren't always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we've fallen into?'

'I wonder,' said Frodo. 'But I don't know. And that's the way of a real tale. Take any one that you're fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don't know. And you don't want them to.'


-- The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien


The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;you hold my lot.The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

-- Psalm 16:5-6

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Reading Report

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Last day of May. Sneaking in with a reading report in the last hour here before the month gets away from me. May was a good reading month - I'm predicting that a couple of the books I got to this month will make my best of 2016 reading list by the end of the year ... and that's with six months of the year left to go!

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This month I finished:
  • Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper. The story of a small black community in North Carolina during the depression and how they band together when the KKK starts to make its presence known. Stella is the unlikely heroine in this story and she is a small voice that helps her community fight back. This is one that I checked out from the library and immediately turned around and ordered a copy for our personal library. So good. 
  • The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit. A magical story about four children who discover a magic ring and what happens when the wearer makes a wish while wearing it. It was not our favorite Nesbit story (try The 5 Children and It or The Railway Children for one of our favorites), but we still enjoyed it. I think we just had a rough start to this book with a very poorly formatted Kindle book that made it quite difficult to read, as well as very long chapter. I think it would have been more enjoyable if we hadn't read it aloud, and I don't say that about many books.
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien. The first time reading this classic. I found parts of the book a little dry to read through, probably because I've seen the movies so much, and felt like I was slogging through parts of it. I did like it enough to move on to The Two Towers, which I must say is progressing much quicker!
  • Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson. Another N.D. Wilson book that we had on our shelf that I hadn't read yet. This is a modern story (unlike all his fantasy which I have read lately) and it was full of mystery, murder and escape from great peril. I loved it, and if you have a young reader (I'd say ten and up) that likes adventure and thrilling danger, this is a great pick.
  • Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson. I have stopped and started this book a half dozen times. I was a little worried it was going to be a "name it and claim it" type of book, but having read as much Sally Clarkson as I have, I shouldn't have been worried. A wonderful (WONDERFUL) book about applying Scripture to your life and redeeming areas where you to see the Lord grow you and where you want to move out and serve him with confidence. I can't wait to read it again.
  • Taran Wanderer, book 4, Chronicles of Prydian by Lloyd Alexander. We are determined to finish this series this summer! Book 4 of the series finds our hero, Taran, on a quest to figure out his parentage. This one doesn't have as many colorful characters as the first three books, and it misses the character of the spirited Princess Eilonwey and the noble Sir Gwydion, but none-the-less, we wrapped this one up just today and are headed into book 5 to find out if our assistant pig keeper does get the girl in the end.
Short and sweet this month. I posted at the end of last week my optimistic list for the summer so we'll see where I end up on those books by the end of June! Book lists and goals are one of my favorite things ... almost as much fun as actually reading the books. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Big Summer Plans of the Bookish Sort

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School's out!

We finished our year as of last week (though one girl still has a little math to do, but we won't mention any names). We are assembling summer bucket lists, seeing how many days in a row we can get to the pool, and young people are enjoying staying up past a sensible person's bedtime. Not me. I'm enjoying going to bed at the same time, and everyone else sleeping in a little longer in the morning. : )

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One of my resolutions this year was to read more of the stuff sitting around on my shelf. With that in mind, I've put together a summer reading list of several that I've been wanting to read for just forever, several that I've been wanting to re-read, and ... let's be honest ... there are a few new goodies in there as well.

Re-reads include:

From the shelves that I've put off for way to long include:
  • The Question by Leigh A. Bortins. N1 starts Challenge A this fall and I should have probably read this last summer!
  • For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaffer Macaulay. 
  • Prayer by Richard Foster.
  • Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. Because this is a classic and because I have a Betsy.
  • C.S. Lewis' Miracles. Because I keep saying that I want to read more C.S.L. and this is what my husband said I should read next. So far, I've only read Screwtape Letters, twice, and Mere Christianity, once. I should probably reread that one as well.
  • The Two Towers (which I'm about half-way through) and The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read The Fellowship of the Ring in May as part of a Facebook book club I am in and I'm continuing the series. The Fellowship dragged quite a bit for me, but thankfully The Two Towers has picked up the pace a bit!
From the shiny, bright, and new pile:
  • The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. I admit, I checked this out from the library based on a description on Amazon and because I liked the cover. : )
  • None Like Him by Jen Wilkin. Her Women of the Word is excellent, and I'm working my way through her 1st Peter study right now, so buying her new book was a no-brainer.
  • Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman. Everything I've read by Gloria I've also enjoyed, but strangely enough, I've never actually finished one of her books. Hoping to rectify that this summer.
  • Sophie Hudson's newest which comes out next week - Giddy Up, Eunice. I have read Boomama's first two books multiple times and laugh out loud and am moved with every reading and so I have great hopes for this one as well. She gets me.

First pool read of the summer. (And yes, I'm in clothes. The temp just hit 80* and I don't get it for another 5-6 degrees, minimum. πŸ˜‰)

If you are reading anything fun in your neck of the woods, I'm all ears! Happy summer!

Friday, April 29, 2016

April Reading Report

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We are so close to the end of the school year - you can definitely tell in my reading choices! Lots of our read alouds are winding up (and we are starting a couple new ones) and lots of kidlit in my stack.

  • Dandelion Fire (100 Cupboards, Book 2) by N.D. Wilson. I've been on an N.D. Wilson kick this month, with my goal of finally finishing his 100 Cupboards series. The 2nd book was the hardest for me to get through, and I definitely slowed down. 
  • Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. You really can't go wrong with reading Roald Dahl and this was one that none of us had read before. I had picked this one for reading aloud after it was gushed about during a Read Aloud Revival podcast with Greta Eskridge. We enjoyed it, but it wasn't my favorite Dahl by far. (Give me Charlie and all the chocolate, please).
  • The Chestnut King (100 Cupboards, Book 3) by N.D. Wilson. Book 3 definitely picked up for me! A satisfactory conclusion to this series. N2 (age 10) has jumped into book 1 of this series after we listened to the Read Aloud Revival podcast episode with N.D. Wilson - an excellent listen.
  • Book Scavengers by Jennifer Chambliss Bertram. If you liked Mr. Lemoncello's Library, you will probably enjoy this one as well. A bookish mystery with lots of literary references. N1 (12) finished it and we have already noted when it's sequel comes out in January.
  • Story of the World, Volume 1 by Susan Wise Bauer. Our history spine for the year. 
  • Outlaws of Time: the Legend of Sam Miracle by N.D. Wilson. Wilson's newest book (which came out last Tuesday) and features heavily in the podcast linked above. I haven't decided if I loved it or not. Definitely creative - a science fiction western - but I had a hard time keeping up with the time travel elements and what was going on. I may be to old to appreciate this one. : )
  • The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. This was a very well-written story. Ada is trapped at home by a physical disability. Abused physically and verbally by her mother, she and her brother escape London during the air bombings on WW2. They are placed the home of a single women who is grieving the loss of her dear friend and companion and their time together is healing for all three of them. 
  • Pages of History by Veritas Press. Another of our history read-aloud that we wrapped up this month. This was an excellent fiction walk through much of ancient history, but man, those chapters were long. There is a sequel (renaissance through modern ages) and I'm eyeing it for our read aloud basket next fall.

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Currently in my queue or am reading:

  • Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper. This one keeps popping up as a recommended title on Amazon based on what I look at so I snatched it up at the library. 
  • I'm looking at the Lord of the Rings trilogy for next month. I'm reading through the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge with some folks via Facebook and next month I'm to tackle a banned book. While perusing lists online, I found out the LoTR books were banned and am totally using that as an excuse to dive into them. I'm fairly ashamed that I haven't read them yet because I love the movies so much.
  • I've also got Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry laying around her if I need another banned book option. Amy gave a great review of it recently and piqued my interest.
  • To much non-fiction that I'm meandering through to mention. I need to finish something!
And with that, it's May in two days! We have about two more weeks of school, I'm about 6 days away from B turning 9, and our summer break is just around the corner. Which just means more time for reading, right?


Saturday, April 02, 2016

March Reading Report

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What I read in March. Not pictured: Ella of All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, and Devonshire Scream By Laura Childs (a tea shop mystery and a totally frivolous read for me). Both read on my Kindle.

  • Fervent by Priscilla Shirer was good. Worth re-reading good. I read through it faster than she intended and I'm hoping to go through it again soon in the near future. 
  • All the Light We Cannot See was absolutely beautifully written. Painful at times because of the WWII subject matter but never gratuitously or sensationally. Anthony Doerr has a gift with words and I would like to read more of him sometime. 
  • All of a Kind Family Uptown and Ella of All of a Kind Family were two of our read-alouds. The girls talked me into finishing the series together and I'm glad we did. I enjoyed them both with the caveat that Ella is comparable to the older, high school Betsy-Tacy books. Not inappropriate in any way, but would probably be enjoyed more by a middle school girl. 
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne was my April bookclub choice for a Facebook group that I'm part of with local friends. The challenge was to finish a book that you had abandoned and I don't know how many times I tried reading this as a kid and set it aside. I did managed to make it to the end (and then realized I was reading an abridged edition to boot), and enjoyed the adventure of it. Not so much like the movie version which our family enjoys but a fun read just the same. 
  • The 100 Cupboards series by N.D. Wilson. In that same April theme I decided to go ahead and finish this series. I had read book 1 before, had never finished book 2 for some reason, and 3 is sitting on a shelf forever untouched. I'm halfway through book 2 now and have got some momentum going so I don't think I'll abandon it this go round. Thanks to the Read Aloud Revival podcast and Carolyn from A House Full of Bookworms (episode 41 specifically) for reminding me of this series. 
  • that same podcast episode is the same reason I picked up The Sword Bearer by John White. This is book one in the Archives of Anthropos. As a kid I had only read the third book, The Tower of Geburah, and never knew there was a whole series! I'm making up for lost time and passing them on to the kids. 

On to April! Several books are in my currently reading pile: Own Your Life and The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson, as well as Dandelion Fire (book 2 in the 100 Cupboards series). We are also about two chapters away from finishing Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl and contemplating our next read aloud. Always a tough decision when there are so many good choices. :)

Starting a new read aloud today and attempting to read outside! (Historically this doesn't work well for us but I bought Popsicles that will hopefully hold their attention!) Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. This one is new to all of us and

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February Reading Wrap-up

Saturday sweetness: third cup of coffee, kids snuggled up watching tv on my bed, slowly reading and underlining through Roots and Sky by @christiepurifoy. A delightful calm before the ordinary Saturday chores of groceries and errands and other family thin

2/2 The Twenty One Balloons by William Pène de Bois is our new after lunch read-aloud and if the rest of the book is a quick paced and interesting as the first two chapters were, we will enjoy this one. And at only 10 chapters and around 150 pages, it wil

We finished one of our morning read alouds that we have been looping through. I must say, I'm glad to be through this one! #readaloudrevival

We started a new read aloud yesterday. #readaloudrevival #itssimplytuesday

February was an improved month for reading - maybe all the snow days helped! We flew through several read alouds this month and I read three books for pleasure / at the request of the girls.

This month (or at the tail end of January) I finished:

  • The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1) by Rick Riordan. Read at the request of N1, this was a Norse knock-off of the Percy Jackson series. Same scenario - underdog human finds out that he is of mythical decent (Norse gods this time v. Greek) and manages to save Earth from destruction. I think I'll stick with Percy. 
  • Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by E. Nesbit. We finished one of our books from our morning circle time / read aloud loop! We definitely loved some of Shakespeare's tales more than others - there is a reason why some of them are obscure I think. : ) That said, as a mama who spent a lot of time in high school with just MacBeth and Romeo and Juliet, I enjoyed the peek at some of the other plays. We are going to give Shakespeare a little rest, and then I think we are going to read through Charles and Mary Lamb's overview of the Bard's work
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. In January, our main school-day read-aloud was Anne. It took us almost six weeks to finish, but I think I've securely captured their hearts with her. N2 (age 10) went on to start and has almost finished Anne of Avonlea on her own ... we toyed with the idea of going on with Anne as a group, but I just don't think that B (age 8) is ready to appreciate it, nor is the boy. : )
  • Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons by Christie Purifoy. This was recommended to me by a friend and was just a beautiful, beautiful book. Christie tells the story of her family's first year at Maplehurst, an old estate house on what used to be a large farm. Her writing is wonderful and I felt like I spent the year with her and her family in this house as they struggled and grew. Loved it, and I predict I will read this one again. (She blogs here).
  • Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein. Another book that N1 handed off to me after she finished and told me to read. I had read the first book in this series, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, and loved it so she didn't have to twist my arm too hard. Lots of little literary jokes and mentions that I loved.
  • The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois. Another read-aloud we flew through in a week. Ten short chapters and an excellent adventure. I foresee reading this again when the boy is older because I think he'll love it.

Happy World Read Aloud Day. Apparently it's a thing. I'm cool with that. πŸ˜‰πŸ“š #readaloudrevival

Our next read-aloud - the third in the All of Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. #readaloudrevival

Currently in process:

  • The Life-giving Home and Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson. I'm going back and forth between the two books and enjoying them both though this probably isn't the recommended way of reading them. : ) I need the message of both so I'm sticking with my unorthodox approach right now!
  • All of a Kind Family Uptown by Sydney Taylor. Our post-lunch read-aloud.
  • Tumtum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn. Our evening read-aloud, when it fits. Specifically reading this one for the boy since he missed our first go round with this one.
  • I'm having a dreadful time getting into anything fiction right now. I read about 1/4-1/3 of the way into The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr. but it wasn't hitting the spot for me. I'm setting it aside for now. 
  • I've recently been added to a group of friends on Facebook that are reading through Modern Mrs. Darcy's yearly reading challenge. Next month (if' I'm correct) I'm supposed to read a book that I own but have never read. I think I'm going to tackle All the Light I Cannot See. My friend Amy recommended this to me last year, and (to my recollection) she's never steered me wrong! 
I think that's it. Anybody else read anything interesting lately? I'm spending most of my online time on Instagram, and posting more current pics and thoughts on what we are reading lately ... I hesitate to say that I'm abandoning this and moving to more microblogging over there, so we shall see. : )

Happy Thursday!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Series books for a Voracious Girl Reader

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series // One of the best kids' series I've read in my quest to find good stuff for my kids. Quirky characters, orphans raised by wolves, delicious dialogue ... fun for mama and munchkins to read. It would make aThe Prydian Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander // a great beginning fantasy series! Very reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings but scaled way back for younger readers. We have read the first three together and I'm ready to go back and finish the series. #MMDrea

A friend recently stopped me and asked me for some book suggestions for her daughter who is a voracious reader. This girl is somewhere between my two N's ages and needed some ideas of new series and authors to try and boy, did my eyes light up when she asked me for some ideas. I just adore giving book suggestions to folks ... I gives me an excuse to keep justifying my reading of junior and young adult literature! : )

Anyway, I decided to cut and paste the list to my blog so that if asked the question again, I can point someone to the list without having to rethink and type it out again. So, without further ado, my list of recommended series for girls, aged 10-12, who love to read:
The Mysterious BenedictSociety – a trilogy with nice thick books + a 4th book which is a prequel.

*** Trenton Lee Stewart has a new book coming out this fall. Enabler alert!!!! ****

The Incorrigible Children ofAshton Place – there are five books in this series and she has one more to go, as yet unpublished

The Penderwicks – four books in this five book series have been published.

The Chronicles of Prydian – these fantasy books remind me so much of The Lord of the Rings, but in a much younger, scaled back way. N2 has LOVED these books as we have read them aloud (we still have two more to go to finish the series.)

The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson – these might be a bit too old for her, but if she has read the entire Harry Potter series, I would think she could handle the suspense of them (they aren’t gory at all). Very Narnia-ish as far as fantasy with lots of wonderful characters and creatures.

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic,Mystery, & a Very Strange Adventure and it’s sequel Horten's Incredible Illusions: Magic, Mystery & AnotherVery Strange Adventure – a fun quirky series

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library – a mystery in a library with lots of literary references. There is also a sequel now!

Saavy, Scumble and Switch by Ingrid Law – three book series about a family that all develop curious abilities when they reach thirteen.

Inkheart, Inkspell andInkdeath. These might be a bit too old as well, but I would have probably eaten them up at 5th or 6th grade so I’m recommending them.

Betsy-Tacy series. If she hasn’t read these, she must. The first four are when Betsy and her friend Tacy are grade school age; the second four in the series are highschool and early married life. We haven’t read the second foursome yet, not because they are inappropriate in anyway, but just because I don’t think the girls will “get it” as much. But totally clean and delightful.

She might not be ready for Anne of Green Gables yet – I fell in love with the series around 6th grade so she’s not far off. If you want to try some of L.M. Montgomery’s books with her, I would suggest Jane of Lantern Hill, or The Story Girl and it’s sequel, The Golden Road. The girls and I have read those three outloud and loved them. We are currently reading the first Anne book outloud and N2 and B are very into it. (N1 not as much, but just because she’s listened to it on audio!)

The All of A Kind Familybooks by Sydney Taylor. Five Jewish sisters living in depression era New York. So so good.

The Sisters’ Grimm – N2 just finished reading this series and loved it. All the fairy tale characters intermarried with real life and modern times.

Happy reading!