Tag: book reviews

Reading: June/July 2018

I totally missed writing about my June books, but it’s no big deal because I really didn’t get much read. I feel like my life has been lived in 45 minute increments in between being the taxi for my kids this summer and just life in general. I’m really hoping July becomes a month of rest so I can catch up on some reading goals and do very little prep for the upcoming school year. I need a vacation!

Finished

Little Britches: Father and I were Ranchers by R. Moody
This was a pre-read for my upcoming Challenge B class and I really loved it. It was a sweet book and a great story; although the ending was a bit sad. Not without hope, but sad nonetheless. I’m interested in reading more of the series at some point.

The Inimitable Jeeves by PG Wodehouse
I’ve seen Wodehouse and Jeeves mentioned all over different groups I’m in so I took the plunge and read one. It was good and funny and I’ll file Wodehouse away as a great “recoup” read (as in after reading a heavy book). As a totally Anglophile, I’ll take any book with it’s dry English humor and enjoy it.

Fanny Crosby
This was a biography that we started for school and actually both of us abandoned it. Mallory got further along than me, but overall it was kind of ehh.

Hannah Coulter by Berry
This was a re-read for me as the Close Reads podcast from Circe was going through it. I really enjoyed it more the second time than the first.

Currently Reading

Gilead by M. Robinson
This one was mentioned on the podcast a bunch while I was reading Hannah Coulter and I kept hearing about it from a bunch of other places so I had filed it away as a to-read. I walked into the library one day and low and behold it was sitting on the top shelf with all the new books just waiting for me. I’m listening to the Close Reads podcast discussion while I’m reading it and it’s helping me get through it. The form is crazy different (like letters or journal entries) and while I know the story is going somewhere – it’s pretty melancholy. I’m not sure what I think about it.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I’m on the tail end of this book and I’ve loved it all (minus the sections about grammar – ugg) but I love that I’ve been completely surprised by his voice as just a regular guy. He loves his wife, completely respects her opinion and he loves his family. That was refreshing and enjoyable to read in this day and age. And it was totally interesting to get behind the scenes of his crazy imagination. Overall, I appreciate his honesty. As someone who feels like I’ve got “that story” buried deep in my psyche it was just so refreshing to read about his process and just the real life of trying to get the words out onto a page.

The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Literature by N. Guthrie
I needed desperately some sort of Bible study to do and after digging around on the web I came across Guthrie’s studies and figured I would give one a whirl. Low and behold the book arrived and I realized I did this study years ago. At the time, I really didn’t like it at all, but it’s funny how God can bring you into and through places and when you arrive on the other side the things that really didn’t hit you at one point do at the other.

Summer has been a crazy whirlwind and our schedules have been nuts. We’ve pretty much not been reading aloud at all so these books are still on our reading shelf, but are collecting dust:
Across Five Aprils
The Fledgling
Orthodoxy (although this one is collecting dust because I’m still struggling with it)

Coming Up

Once I finish Stephen King’s book, I’m going to finally read The Read Aloud Family and I need to start on The Great Divorce (Lewis) for my August book club. Fiction wise, I picked up a newer Louise Penny mystery and also The Light Keeper’s Daughter from the library. I also need to read a few others before I start teaching this Fall and I’m sure I’ve got a million things to pre-read for my kid’s own schooling. The list is forever long. Jaybar Crow is also on my list but I don’t know if I’m going to get to it before the Fall.

Reading: August 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?

Reading: July 2017 + midway update

I’m halfway through the year so far and I’ve done pretty good with my “assigned” reading list. I’ve read about half of the fiction books and I’ve dabbled in the other categories as well. I’ve found myself a little frustrated with some of my choices and I’m wondering if I will end up reading everything. It’s a funny thing when you make a list at the beginning of the year and then life happens and you wonder why one book seemed so appealing to you and then 6 months later it doesn’t?

You can check out where I am on my list here. But for July, here’s what I read:

Currently

The Core by Leigh Bortins
I’m still plugging through this book written by the creator of Classical Conversations (the co-op we are a part of). So far I actually have really enjoyed it. It’s been super helpful to get a more formal perspective on the program and just classical education in general.

A Girl of the Limberlost
Yes, still reading. I’m finding that I put this one aside when I pick up another book and then come back to it. I’m getting there.

Unseen by Sara Hagerty
I’m privileged to be an advanced reader for this book and so far it’s been super good. Definitely a conversation that needed to start in my head between the Lord and myself.

Finished

Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky by C. Lapallo
This book was fabulous. It was a pre-read for my 8th grader and I had heard rave reviews from friends who had recommended it as a great early American history book and it didn’t disappoint.

Walking on Water by L’Engle
Nothing short of awesome. Such a good book and one I think I’ll read again for sure. After getting to listen and meet Katherine Paterson a few months ago, it’s made me super sad that I’ll never get to hear L’Engle in person. I’ve been searching for recordings of her past lectures or anything and I’ve come up short. I really appreciate her take on art and spirituality and how that all fits together so much.

Abandoned

The Seamstress by F. de Pontes Peebles
I got about 200 pages into this book and just couldn’t keep going. It was such a laborious read and I wasn’t getting the sense that it was all going to be worth it in the end. There were parts of it that were getting a little to graphic for my taste too so I set it aside.

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by L. Terkeurst
Just couldn’t get into it. I think Hagerty’s book, which is a similar idea, is more what my heart needed.

What’s next?

I am still pre-reading stuff for school.  I need to read The Landing of the Pilgrims next and a few other shorter stories for my daughter. I’ve reserved The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by S. Johnson from the library and I need to finish all these books I’ve started too. The loose ends are getting to me!

Reading: May 2017

Currently

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
This book was nowhere on my radar, but if the author is Ann Patchett then I’ll just grab it and read. It’s a family drama with the amazing character development that Patchett is so good at. So far, so good.

When Hitler Stole the Pick Rabbit by J. Kerr
This is a leftover book from our school book list and it really is the sweetest (if that word can be used when talking about WWII and Nazi’s) book. It follows a family that has been forced out of their home in Germany. The father is an author that is very unsympathetic to the Nazi’s and obviously they don’t like that. It doesn’t help that the family is Jewish. It’s a super read aloud.

A Girl of the Limberlost by G. Stratton-Porter
I’m about half way through this book and put it down for another read and I haven’t yet picked it back up again. It’s been on my to-read list for ages and it’s a bit reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables (strong willed young girl, unappreciated, dreamy and lover of the outdoors).

Moths of the Limberlost by G. Stratton-Porter
This is a coordinating book with the fiction story and describes all the moth life in the Limberlost. It’s actually been a fairly interesting read. I’m becoming a bit of a lepidopterist and I’m slowly researching moths and butterflies for a couple of different reasons. This book is a great introduction to my study.

Walking on Water by M. L’Engle
I’m still plugging along slowly this book and falling more and more in love with L’Engle. I never read any of her books growing up and just read a Wrinkle in Time this past year. The next in the series is on our read aloud list for this summer and I can’t wait. I’ve loved this book in so many ways and when I’m finally finished will be worth of it’s own post.

Finished

Olive Kitteridge by E. Strout
This book was on so many “must-read” lists that I quickly added it to my 2017 master list. The whole layout and voice of this book was so different. It wasn’t until I was finished that I realized she approached this book as a collection of short stories all about this one character. Basically giving you a different perspective from all these different people while telling a whole collection of stories from characters in this small town. From the beginning I really didn’t like Olive and so it was hard for me to keep going when the titled character was just so frustrating to me. But I plugged through and honestly I think the further away I am from this book, the more I realize Strout is a brilliant writer (clearly – she won the Pulitzer) and I’m glad I pushed through and finished it. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite book, but I am glad I read it.

Upstream by M. Oliver
Finally finished. It was good and I’m glad I read it. I’m not a big memoir person.

Atonement by I. McEwan
Another one from my list. It was a bit of a slow read. Another one I kind of had to push through and another one where I wasn’t totally fond of the main characters and the writing style.

Hind’s Feet on High Places
Truly one of my favorite allegorical stories ever. I’ve read it twice on my own and my daughter and I just finished reading it aloud together. There’s not a time I’ve read this where I haven’t gleaned something new.

Up Next

I had great plans to read through (or at least start) The Making of a Story this summer and work on some writing goals, but I’m honestly not sure that’s going to happen. My mind is so fractured with so many other things I just don’t know that I can take on another goal. Right now I just want to finish the books I’ve started and then I’ll figure out where to go next.

Reading: April 2017

Currently

Atonement by Ian McEwan
This book is off. I can’t figure it out. It switches between narrators which is hard for me to follow sometimes. And the way he writes is just really different. I’m entrenched in the story now so I can’t put it down, but it’s a slow read.

Walking On Water by M. L’Engle
I’m only a chapter and a half in and this book is amazing. Here’s a favorite quote so far:

God is always calling on us to do the impossible. It helps me to remember that anything Jesus did during his life here on earth is something we should be able to do too…Sometimes I will sit on a sun-warmed rock to dry and think of Peter walking across water to meet Jesus. As long as he didn’t remember that we human beings have forgotten how to walk on water, he was able to do it. If Jesus of Nazareth was God become truly man for us, as I believe he was, then we should be able to walk on water, to heal the sick, even to accept the Father’s answer to our prayers when it is not he answer that we hope for, when it is No.”

Hinds Feet on High Places
My daughter and I are still plugging along on this book and I’m loving sharing it with her and she’s enjoying listening to it!

I’m still pushing through On Being a Writer. I have to admit I’m not working on my writing as much as I wanted too. Life just keeps getting in the way and I’ve got so many other commitments it’s hard to set aside that time to work on it…or work on anything really. I’m just trying to keep up and make deadlines.

I also purchased second hand a copy of The Making of a Story and I’m hoping to start working on that this summer while we take a little break from school.

Finished

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This book ended up being pretty good. I’m glad I read it – although I would probably be selective about who I recommended it to. It’s a pretty brainy sort of sci-fi book, which makes it less like a sci-fi book I guess?

Goodbye, Vietnam
Eh. It was good. Not our best historical fiction this year.

The Living Page
A little hard to read and follow, but I’m glad I gave it another try. It really did clarify some things I was wanting to maybe try out in our homeschool next year.

Upstream by Mary Oliver
This was a great read. I loved it and I loved how it stretched me. There were a few sections on a few authors (Wordsworth?) that I’ve never read before so that was hard to follow. I loved how she described things – makes sense because she is a poet! 🙂

Loved Walked Among Us by Paul Miller
This was an excellent book. I do think it’s one that I would love to read as a Bible study or with a book club and definitely should read again and do a better job of journaling through it.

Hillbilly Elegy
I loved it, would love to read it again and maybe discuss it and I’ve passed it off to my husband who I hope will read it!

What’s Next?

Not sure! Finishing Atonement is a huge goal (especially before it’s due back to the library) and then I don’t know. We are finishing up with our school year reading. The chick and I are starting Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit and I’m sure that will carry on into the summer a little bit and I have a few others I’d like to read aloud this summer too. We have a big road trip in the next few weeks so I need to start searching for some good audiobooks for the car ride. Keeps the natives less restless in the backseat!

What are you reading?