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November 2017: Reading List

By on December 5, 2017

I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the fact that it is the last month of 2017. This year has been probably the fastest year I’ve ever experienced. I don’t think I’ve really caught my breath all year and now it’s time to start thinking about a new one! I will say that of anything I’ve accomplished, staying on top of my reading list has been my proudest. I entered this year with the goal of keeping track of the books I’ve read and trying to start writing some reviews has been so awesome. I’m hoping to continue this next year and the years to come. So here goes the list for November.

Currently

Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark by G.L. Karwoski
This one I am pre-reading for my chick. I don’t know a lot about Lewis and Clark, other than the fact that my dad is obsessed with them and I have been to their last spot out in Oregon. I thought that this book would be more like the dog “talking” about the explorers, but really it’s a biography of their dog Seaman. He’s the focus, but there is plenty of other action going on that tells the story of their journey. So far, so good.

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by N. Carr
This book is beyond fascinating to me. It really is the story of what is happening to our brains because of our time on screens. It starts out with a history lesson really going all the way back to how just the mere fact of moving from an oral tradition, to scrolls, to a codex (otherwise known as a bound book), to a society that had access to printed material because of the printing press and all the way up till now. All of these changes in “technological” advances changed how our society related with each other and with knowledge. Then enters the computer and the smartphone and google. I’m about 3 chapters from the end and I almost want to read it again because I’m sure there’s a million things I’ve missed. This book has definitely explained how I know I’ve changed in my ability to focus on things and while it doesn’t make me want to throw my computer or phone away, it definitely encourages me to take way more time to step away and pursue knowledge and learning in other ways too.

Johnny Tremain by E. Forbes
The chick and I are reading this at night and it’s eh. I swear it’s the book on every American History reading list and always with rave reviews. It’s been a good story, but her writing style is not my favorite. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about it that I’m not loving. It could just be that this is not a great read aloud. We are just about done with it, but so far the chick has really enjoyed it.

Beauty in the Word by S. Caldecott
Still reading this one and I’ve sort of stepped away for a few weeks, so I need to pick it up again.

Home Education by C. Mason
I’m putting this one on my list, but I honestly haven’t picked it up much in the last months. I feel like my head just can’t focus on it right now.

Finished

Ross Poldark (Poldark #1) by. W. Graham (AUDIO)
This is the first adult audio fiction book I’ve ever listened to all the way through. I’ve watched the first 2 seasons of the PBS show and love, love them. A friend recommended the audio books to me and this one was awesome. The show follows the books so well, with just enough additional stuff to make it absolutely perfect. It’s truly the best story and honestly I think I love it more that Downton Abbey (the t.v. show at least). The story is filled with such awesome characters and the development of them is perfectly done. You’ve got the ones you love and the ones you hate and all the things that happen between them is filled with just enough drama to make the whole story so perfect you never want it to end. Which thankfully, there are like a million books in this series so it’s going to take me forever to get through them. I’m in line for book 2 on Libby Audio so I can’t wait to start it.

An Echo of Murder by A. Perry
I’ve been reading Anne Perry since I was in my 20s and I’m always eager to read one of her mysteries. This is book #23 in her series about William Monk, which is probably my favorite of her series, but I really feel like her writing is getting tired. This one had so many weird plot changes and gaps that was sort of frustrating. The development of the story was sort of haphazard in some ways and there were a handful of things that just didn’t connect very well. She’s developed the characters of Monk and his wife Hester so well that it’s a joy to read about them, but all the extraneous things that happen around them just didn’t connect. Then the ending was super quick and strange. Totally not a believable thing, because of the lack of development. I think that if she had taken that part and just moved it back a few chapters and developed it more, this book would have been rescued from a so-so read.

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by D. Hellingman
This is actually a young adult book, but it was so good. It’s based off the letters that the brothers wrote to each other and much of the book was written in quotes” from these letters. This book was absolutely fascinating. I loved it and honestly I learned so much that I had no idea. Did you know that Paul Gauguin is sort of historically who is “accused” of cutting off Vincent’s ear? Not himself? And Vincent was absolutely bonkers. I’m not 100% sure how much of this was liberty and how much was truth, but the story overall was excellent.

The Awakening of Mrs. Prim by N. S. Fenollera
This book was honestly just weird. I liked it and couldn’t put it down, but it was almost like I was mesmerized by the whole thing. It was a little bit slow and had some parts that were just a little off.

What’s Next?

I’m not sure what I’m reading next. I’m hoping to take the break from school to catch up on some of these I haven’t read. I need to figure out what fiction (aka: before bed book) I want to start next. I also have a stack of pre-reading I need to start on for next semester for both kids.

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bibliography | book review | book reviews

Reading: October 2017

By on November 6, 2017

Currently

Beauty in the Word by S. Caldecott
This book has been on my to-read list for ages and a sweet friend even gifted me with it months ago. Yet, it sat on my nightstand. Finally, I picked it up last week and started reading it and goodness it’s good. It is written from a Catholic perspective, but the explanations he gives regarding education and learning and our consummate goals are just beautiful. I’m trying to read slowly and digest it all; copying all sorts of great things into my commonplace book.

Johnny Tremain
The chick and I are still slowly reading through this. So far, so good.

The Awakening of Mrs. Prim by N. Fenoliera
This was suggested by a host of people and it’s been so interesting so far. I feel like the writing style is so different, but maybe it’s just the characters? I don’t know. I have a hankering where I think this book is headed, but honestly I’ve been surprised already with some things that I didn’t expect so I’m curious to keep reading.

Home Education (#1) by C. Mason
I’ve finally gotten a copy of at least the first volume by Ms. Mason and I’m super slowly reading through it. I’m in a study group that’s going through volume 3, but for my own education I wanted to start from the beginning.

Finished

The Seamstress by S. Tuvel Bernstein
This was recommend to me by another friend ages ago and I finally got my hands on it. It is a Holocaust story, but one set in Romania, of which I knew very little regarding the story of the Jewish population in Romania. Her story starts with the years leading up to the War and then goes all the way through Liberation. It really is an amazing story of survival.

Number the Stars by L. Lowry
I’ve never read this book and my son needed to read it for his writing assignments so I figured it was high time – since both of my kids have read it multiple times. This is another Holocaust story, but set in Denmark. Again another area of Europe I wasn’t totally familiar with. This time, it is about a non-Jewish family, putting themselves at risk in order to save their friends.

Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken by Powlison
Powlison is awesome and I’ll ready anything by him. I feel like he takes a subject that is so hard to discuss – any subject- and brings it back to Scripture so well. This is a super helpful book for those with and without any type of sexual brokenness; which in this day and age pretty much includes all of us.

The Optimist’s Daughter by E. Welty
I’ve never ready anything by Welty (who apparently is the “other” southern writer) and this was on my master to-read list this year. I almost feel like I need to read it again to really appreciate it. It was super well written and the story flowed along like nothing else.

Swallows and Amazons by A. Ransome
Fantastic! We really loved this book and it totally waxes nostalgic for days when kids were just free to do whatever without any fear of anything.

The Kitchen House by K. Grissom
Yet another book that was on my master to-read and it was good. Set in the south on a plantation during the years of slavery, it’s a hard book to read but the storytelling is amazing and the character development was fantastic.

What’s Next

I’ve got a couple of books about the internet that I really want to read: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by N. Carr and The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection by M. Harris. I’m really trying to figure out how to manage all the reading, writing and creating I’m not doing because of the lure of the screen. Setting boundaries in the beginning, but in the end I’m so ready to chuck it all. I long for the days when all I did was sit here and blog and write; which honestly weren’t perfect either. Nothing ever is.

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embroidery | instagram | patterns | patterns and kits

Embroidery: New Holiday Kits!

By on October 23, 2017

These kits have been such a long time coming and I’m so excited to finally be offering an option for full embroidery kits again! Just in time for Christmas, I am offering up these two very popular designs as a limited run: My Luke 2 Christmas tree pattern and the Scroll Tree pattern.

Each kit contains a pre-printed full color design on cotton fabric, all the threads you need and a needle to get started. I’ve also included an instruction page with links to how-to videos.

Both of these kits are great for beginners and advanced stitchers alike!  I’ve included an option for you to purchase either a simple kit (without a hoop and buttons for the scroll tree) OR a complete kit that includes everything you need to stitch once it arrives at your door.

Coming in November to Instagram, I’ll be working through a stitch along of the Scroll Tree pattern. This pattern includes 3 basic embroidery stitches that everyone should learn and I’m excited to work through it together!

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bibliography | book review | book reviews

Reading: September 2017

By on October 6, 2017

I honestly don’t know what happened to September and I’m certain that October is about to feel the same way. I feel like a got a fair amount of reading accomplished this past month, but my “to-read” list is super long.

Currently

Johnny Tremain by E. Forbes
The chick and started this as our next bedtime read aloud. It’s on every list I’ve ever seen when studying early American history so I figure we should probably read it. We are only one chapter in so I don’t have much to offer yet.

With Lee in Virginia by Henty
This is a pre-read for my son and his American History list. I haven’t ever read anything by Henty and while I can’t preread all his book for this year, I figured this would be a good one to do. So far it’s been pretty interesting; but again I’m only a few pages in so the jury is still out.

Persuasian by Austen
I haven’t officially started this book yet, but a friend gifted to me and another friend told me last year that I needed to read it if I was ever going to be a true Austen fan. Emma will always be my hands down favorite, but maybe this might change my mind?

Completed

Swallows and Amazons by Ransome
This was a fun book. It’s full of lots of sailing jargon that we kind of had to work through, but the idea of a time of life where you could just let your kiddos loose on a little island and not worry about them is amazing to me. As I find out more about Ramsome and the beginnings of this story I love it all even more. We watched a video of the area where Ransome used to go and this story is based upon and you can even go and take tours. As I come to terms with a little adventure story in my head based on a real place where I grew up, it’s encouraging to me to know he had the same idea.

The Kitchen House by Grissom
This was on my to read this year and I flew through it. It was a great story; just riveting. I’m usually not a huge fan of southern stories on the same topic, but I feel like Grissom handled all the slavery and masters etc really well. She was honest in her treatment of them, but also very sensitive. I highly recommend it.

A Girl of the Limberlost
I’ve been reading this off and on for months and finally finished it. I really did like it and I do think it will be a great book to hand to my daughter when she is 15 or so. It’s a fun story about a whimsical girl who loves nature and about dealing with and overcoming deep heartaches – from mothers to boys.

Dear Mr. Knightley by Reay
This is a pick of our mom’s book club and it’s another book I flew through pretty quickly. It’s an easy sort of read; perfect for the beach honestly. A fun story with a feel good ending. Not a huge thinker sort of book, but not super twaddle either.

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic
This was another book on my 2017 list and I really liked it. I felt like it was even more applicable as I finished it just about the time Maria and Harvey showed up and people in this day and age were struggling to find clean water. Towards the end I did start skimming through all his observations. The book was written over 10 years ago ago and it’s crazy the advancements in technology (for good and bad) and how that has changed so many things in our lives regarding disease (and the potential for disease).

Eve in Exile
This is our first quarter selection for our mom’s book club and we are getting ready to discuss it next week. Honestly I would never have pushed through this book without having the pressure to have to. It is filled with gobs of historical information regarding women’s rights in the US and in England and while I did appreciate the history, her tone throughout the book was so snarky that I had a really hard time getting into it. There were bits and pieces throughout it that could take away and I wouldn’t say I don’t recommend it. I did find a podcast interview with the author on Sheologians and I’m anxious to listen to it to help me maybe get a better perspective.

Coming Up

I feel like I am so far behind on what I need to pre-read for my children’s schooling and my own “schole” that I can’t even begin to make a list of what’s up next.

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bibliography | book review | book reviews

Reading: August 2017

By on September 1, 2017

August was a crazy month. In some ways I look back and it seems like a crazy long period of time and then really it just flew by. We started school, which this year brings me homeschooling both children, we started co-op and my oldest turned 14. In the midst of all that, I did find some time to read, but this month I feel like it was more of a luxury than before. Squeezing time and effort into reading was  little bit harder.

Currently

Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
Yes, that Lauren Graham of Parenthood and Gilmore Girls. I’ve had this on my amazon wish list for ages and finally got it from the library because I was looking for something sort of light and hopefully funny to read. Reviews I had read were mixed, but many people said that they loved it in the end because they heard Lorelia Gilmore in it so much. I’m not sure about that. I think part of it is because the main character is a girl wanting to make it into acting in New York and I totally cannot even begin to identify with that. So while it’s been an interesting read, it’s not the story I was hoping for.

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic… by S. Johnson
This was on my master list for 2017 and I finally got it from the library. I raced through the first few chapters while sitting at a super long doctor’s appointment (which was kind of ironic given that the book is about cholera) and was completely fascinated. I’ve read and watched so many things about the early years of London and I still cannot get over the filth that people used to live in. It’s crazy how little “doctors” knew about anything back then…and really not even that long ago. I’m so thankful for clean drinking water and the world of science.

Swallows and Amazons by A. Ransome
My daughter and I are reading this at bedtime and are really enjoying it. It’s sort of a Swiss Family Robinson type story; a little bit. But more than anything it’s a book about a group of kids with amazing imaginations and what happens when you let kids have freedom to explore the outside. It makes me miss my childhood and the freedom I had to roam the neighborhood and the woods around us and how letting my kids just play across the street in the park freaks me out a little bit.

Finished

The Core by L. Bortins
Technically I’ve got one chapter left, but I’m calling this one finished. It was a great introduction to the world of classical education and interesting to see how her vision created Classical Conversations (which is the co-op program that we are a part of).

The Hamilton Affair by E. Cobbs
This was pretty good. As much as I want to know and understand early American history, I get bogged down all the time by all the different labels people had: Patriots, Tories, Sons of Liberty etc… But this was my first attempt at trying to get on the Hamilton train. I’m sort of getting there.

Unseen by S. Hagerty
I was given an advanced reader copy of this book and I really enjoyed it. I love the message that she is trying to get across and even more love the scripture that was woven throughout. It was an amazing reminder that in seasons of less, seasons where you feel so missed and lonely and unseen, we are never unseen. God sees us and our way to seeing him is through prayer and more specifically through His word. It has truly pushed me back into God’s word as a means of meditation and not just checking off a list that I’ve read the Bible today. If I want to feel rooted and found, it’s at His feet and in His word that I must go.

Coming Next

I’m heading up a mom’s book club for our Classical Conversations group this year and our first book is Eve in Exile; so that’s first on my list. David Powlison has a new book out that I’m hoping to read and study and a sweet friend gifted me with Beauty and the Word so I’m hoping to start digging into that too. I also need to finish The Ghost Map and I’m continuing to slowly read through Charlotte Mason’s volumes as our homeschool moves more and more that direction.

What are you reading?

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