Reading, Reviews

January Quick Lit- Winter Reading Update

It has been so long since I posted a book review! I’m excited to get back into some quick-lit reviews, and I’m linking up with many other reviewers at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

I read slowly through the month of December, distracted by Christmas movies and holiday goings-on. I don’t know that we’ll ever have a more beautiful Christmas season. It was purposeful and planned out in ways that gave us white space to be sporadic. We saw all of our family at one point or another throughout the month, and saw lots of each other, too. And I have to admit, it was so much fun to decorate our fixer upper. We didn’t do a whole lot, but a white house just lends itself well to my Christmas nostalgia. Even so, January came with a sigh of relief and putting away all the Christmas decor felt like giving myself permission to truly rest in this season. I got an electric blanket for Christmas and a huge box of tea from Amazon and now winter is the time for reading.

The Snow Child – If you are a lover of fairy tales written for grown ups, you’ll like this book. And I’m not talking about fairy tales written for the Young Adult audience, such as Cinder or Beauty. Eowyn Ivey writes about a couple who are older, beyond their child-bearing years, but still long for a child. I don’t think I would have appreciated this book at a younger age, but the tender aching nature of the main characters combined with their will to survive and love no matter what touched me deeply. Ivey masterfully writes about her home state and its beauty and pain. I enjoyed this book even more than To The Bright Edge of the World, and that’s saying something.

The Broken Way – Ann Voskamp’s deep thoughts and way with words demands a slow, thoughtful reading pace. This one took me about two months, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I still feel like I need to read it again. Voskamp moves further into her ideas of communion with God through gratitude that she presented in One Thousand Gifts and explores the truth that suffering and brokenness is a path that everyone walks at some point, but that God can use to bring us to deeper beauty and oneness with other people and Him than we could imagine. Any description I write of this book will barely scratch the surface – it’s a must read.

The Baker’s Daughter – There’s got to be some D.E. Stevenson in my reading list every winter. This book was my cozy, post-holiday party pick. The plot is fairly simple – a wealthy but unhappy young lady (whom the rest of her acquaintance considers verging on being an old maid) becomes a housekeeper for an artist. She wants to escape the drudgery of life in her father’s and stepmother’s home. Of course, she does in some ways and doesn’t in others.  As usual, Stevenson’s character driven novels set in Scottish villages draw me into the lives she describes in her book. I always, always think of L.M. Montgomery’s characters when I read D.E. Stevenson. Their vim and vigor and no-nonsense approach to life combined with kindness and a thirst for more in life makes them pretty much my favorite type of characters. (Important: this book is not to be confused with The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy. Completely different books!)

A Gentleman in Moscow – I’m still in the middle of this one, and loving it so much more than Amor Towles’s first book, Rules of Civility. Count Rostov is the main character, and his life in the grand Metropol Hotel in Moscow on house arrest starting in the 1920s is the surprisingly compelling setting. Philosophical yet humorous, the small setting does not limit the epic Russian nature of this novel. I am learning all kinds of things about Russsian’s evolution in the 20th century. If you have an e-reader, I highly recommend reading this book on it because being able to highlight and look up people and terms I am unfamiliar with has definitely enriched my understanding of this book and of Russia. I can’t help but compare this book with The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but with much more likable characters and sweeping scope. The characters who populate the Metropol are so real to me as I get close to the end of this book. I suppose I can’t truly recommend it until I read the end, but so far, it’s wonderful.

Up next is a huge stack of holds from the library that all came in at one time. I love/hate it when that happens. But at least it means lots of new reviews will be going up soon! Until then, I hope you enjoy some winter reading and tell me all about the good books you discover.

Children's Books, Three Book Thursday

Children’s Books We Love – January 2017

Hello, readers ! It has been too long! As so many people say, I didn’t mean to take such a long holiday break…but I did. The good news is I have lots of books to share about in the upcoming months and a new look to reveal on the blog soon (as in, the blog is getting a new look…not the blogger, unfortunately). Today, let’s talk about some fun books my kids are into.

Picture Books

Noodle

Um, how has this book escaped my attention my whole life? It’s written by none other than Munro Leaf, the author of Ferdinand, and illustrated by…drumroll please…Ludwig Bemelmans (yes, the creator of Madeline). Talk about a dynamic duo. It’s a warm and fun, somewhat offbeat, story about a Daschund named Noodle who is given the opportunity to change his shape into whatever he’d like. He looks long and hard for a new shape, but no one seems to understand what he wants a new shape for: to dig better holes. Obviously, this hasn’t made the classics list of children’s books despite its author/illustrator combo, so lower your expectations a bit from the greatness of The Story of Ferdinand, but it is still well worth reading and enjoying.

Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon

Molly Lou Melon is a tiny girl with a cheerful determination to have fun her grandmother’s way. When her grandmother says classic grandmotherly things like, “When we were your age, we didn’t have TV; we watched the clouds,” Molly Lou Melon does, too. She takes all her grandma’s recommendations to the furthest degree and brings a friend along on the old-fashioned fun way. The illustrations are really what make the book. A bit outlandish and Dr. Seuss-ly, they are the kind that strike you as simple until your five-year-old-son says, “Look at how this cloud looks like…” and then you realize this book is so perfect for children. We were introduced to it on Christmas by an aunt with great book taste, and promptly found its companion, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon at the library the next week. We highly recommend both!

Motor Dog

Product DetailsFive-year-old Isaac picked this library find out and I have since read about a million times. A little boy orders a robot dog off the internet (by himself! what in the world), and finds it too be way too fancy after a near death experience involving a helicopter back pack. Yes, it’s pretty obvious why a little boy would think this book is the best. It’s one of those books I include on my lists because of the vast love my children have for it, not due to any fondness I have for it. Sometimes, whatever books get your children glued to reading is whatever you’ll read (within reason).

Chapter Books

The Kingdom of Wrenly Series

Seven-year-old Ella is currently devouring this early reader series. She can make it through one book in a day or two. Featuring a prince named Lucas and his best friend Clare, and set in a medieval make-believe world, the books are full of adventures with dragons, giants, and other page-turning fun. I read through the first one, but can’t keep up with Ella’s pace! These books remind me of the TV series Sofia The First in their content and setting, but are definitely geared more evenly to both boys and girls. Thanks to www.maybematilda.com for the recommendation!

Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg

Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg (Fairy Dust Trilogy Book, A) by [Levine, Gail Carson]Yes, we’re still reading lots of fairy books here. Our latest favorite is one of the earliest in the Disney Fairy expansion. I continue to be impressed with the quality of these fairy books, and shake off any book snobishness when it comes to Tink and her pals. Gail Carson Levine is the author of this particular book (famed for Ella Enchanted), but it’s written for a younger audience than her other books and features many adorable illustrations of little-girlish fairies.

That’s about it from us this week! What great books for kids have you found?

Thanks for joining us for Three Book Thursday! This blog feature is all about our favorite children’s books of the week, and celebrating those moments when we can say, ‘Yes, we’ll read just one more book.’ See all the posts in the category here. And check out our other series about children’s book’s, Friday Favorites, here

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Everyday Life

Light Has Come – Why Winter Can Be Bearable

Welcome to the 2016 Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year. We in the Northern Hemisphere are tilted as far away from the sun today as we ever get. In the past, I have dreaded this time of year, the dreary days of winter. Last winter was especially dreary. My husband and I spent all of our time from December to February in a drafty, smelly fixer upper, cold and cheerless. This year, we live in that fixer upper. It’s not drafty or smelly anymore–in fact, we feel it’s quite homey now–but as our first Christmas season in it approached, my feelings about it were kind of dim. After Thanksgiving, I started to look at this big white box of a house and think, “It’s so drab. How can we make look like Christmas?” I didn’t know where to start. We began our advent calendar tradition and pulled all our decorations down from the attic. Boxes of forlorn Christmas garlands and wrinkled red bows spilled over the living room and dining room, but none of it looked merry or bright. It all looked like an uninspired jumble.

The first few days of December came and went like that. The neighbors’ houses were
decorated, the pictures of friends’ beautiful holiday houses on social media flooded my news feed, the weather was cold, and I was a holiday sloth. “Maybe I’ll just hang a wreath and call it done.” I couldn’t find our wreath. But then we put up our Christmas tree. We found a beautiful one at the un-cool location of Home Depot and when we put it up, the lights shining through the deep green branches shed clarity on it all. Light.

We put lights up at Christmas because our souls need light in the winter darkness. 

Two trips to Hobby Lobby later, our front porches had garlands laced with lights and new red, cheerful bows on them. A few days and ten extension cords later, our windows had candles in them to light the night, and sometimes the rainy days. Our advent calendar ornament for that night, when all the lighting up of the house was done, was a candle.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

This is why stringing up all these unruly strands of lights is worth it and why  lights brighten our holiday spirits without fail- The Light of the World came into the darkness. And he stayed and dwelt among us. Christmas lights will come and go, but The Light in the dark days of winter remains.

"It will all shake out, meanwhile I'm putting up more twinkle lights." You've Got Mail Quotes: Am I excited about winter now? Not at all. I hate winter. But I’m pulling out all the candles in the candle box I seldom open, and throwing wide curtains on sunny days. As Meg Ryan says in You’ve Got Mail, “It will all shake out. Meanwhile, I am putting up more twinkle lights.” Her friend Birdie calls that “a fine idea,” and it is. Candles, twinkle lights, lamps in every corner, whatever it takes, we will have light this winter. Light will remind us that the deep darkness in our souls is no more, that The Light has come and He has stayed.

May your Christmas and your winter be merry and bright, full of lights and flooded by The Light.

Children's Books, Reading

A Slew of New Autumn Picture Books We Love

There’s something about this time of year that makes all the children’s books feel full of warmth and rightness. Maybe it’s because the thought of little furry, woodland creatures scurrying around to prepare for winter makes us think cozy, happy thoughts next to warmly colored pictures. I don’t know, but I can tell you that we raked in a bunch of books that were perfect for the 2-5 age range at our last library trip. Not all of them are necessarily fall-themed, but most of them feature small, furry creatures  (and one tiny bear) and I guarantee you will not mind if your preschoolers ask to read them again and again. The last book in the list is a Thanksgiving themed one, so be sure to check that out, too!

2130219Whose Shoes? Anne Grossnickle Hines/ LeUyen Pham

A joyful little mouse-girl goes from room to room in her family’s house, trying on shoes. She has lots of fun being silly and so will your little ones when they read this book. Every other page has a lift-the-flap illustration. LeUyen Pham is one of my favorite illustrators, and she’s written some gems herself, too. I was quite pleased to stumble upon this one in our local library display.

Otto the Book Bear, Kate Cleminson

Otto the Book BearOtto is a tiny bear who lives in a book, but pops out on occasion to explore. When his book leaves him behind, he goes on an adventure to find a new home, and ends up finding something even better. The illustrations are soft and inviting, each page has just a few words that poignantly describe what Otto is doing and how he feels about it, and there’s just something about this book that makes you want to go live in a library for a few hours. It’s a perfect rainy day read-aloud, but any day will do. Plus, it’s so cute to hear my two-year-old ask for “Otto.” Thanks to Jansen at Everyday Reading for featuring this one in an Instagram post! We are in love with it.

Kitten's First Full MoonKitten’s First Full Moon, Kevin Henkes

Black and white, but not boring, Kitten’s First Full Moon is about a little kitten in who has to figure out that the full moon isn’t actually a bowl of milk to drink. She’s such a petulant little kitten, it’s hard not to wish that the moon would just become a bowl of milk. This book won a Caldecott in 2005, but we just recently started noticing the board book version popping up everywhere. It’s perfect to check out at the library or give away at baby showers.

Such a Little MouseSuch A Little Mouse, Alice Schertle/ Stephanie Yue

Alice Schertle is famous for Little Blue Truck, a favorite around here, and her latest children’s book about a little mouse exploring the world and storing up food during each season of the year does not dissapoint. The little mouse lives in a sunny field and meets many woodland creatures through the year, but the best part to me is the cozy drawings of his home under the dandelion clump.

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving StorySharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story, Pat Zitlow Miller/ Jill McElmurry

All ages can appreciate this lyrical book with bright and warm illustrations that show a big family coming together to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, it might be a far cry from what mine or your Thanksgiving looks like now, but it’s fun to see the work that went into a meal at the turn of the 20th century, and the warmth of family gathered and a meal shared glows on each page. Thanks to Sarah McKenzie at Read Aloud Revival for sharing this book!

Those are the picture books we’re enjoying this month! I hope you have a great week celebrating Thanksgiving with your friends and family and in your own heart.

Reading, Reviews

Books To Read This Winter – There’s Something For Everyone!

Winter is simply the best time to read. I mean, I love stretching out on a deck chair on a sunny June day with a book, but there are lots of other things I love in June, too… picking berries, swimming, planting things that probably won’t grow, going on long walks at sunrise, washing stuff…I really like June. But if I’m next to a roaring fire on a cold December day, my hands are aching to have a book in them. All is wrong with the world if I’m without something to read in wintertime. Lucky for you, I started my winter reading early this year! I’ve read a little bit of everything lately, and so I’m putting together a little guide for what to pick up this winter, gathered from several different genres.

Literary Fiction

To The Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey

To The Bright Edge of the WorldThis is my favorite book of 2016. It combines adventure with history in a completely new way, and is one of those books that is so interesting and well written, it will appeal to men and women of any age. Set in the frontier of Alaska at the end of the 19th century, this novel is based on the real historical figures of Colonel Allen Forrester and his wife Sophie. Colonel Forrester is given the task of mapping an unexplored area of Alaska, and the fictionalized accounts of his trip with his small group of men are enthralling and make me want to know much more than I do about Alaskan history and all the mysticism explorers encountered. While Colonel Forrester is away, Sophie pursues her own love of nature through the newly invented camera. I found both of their narratives to be equally absorbing. This is the kind of book that you put down and you can’t wait to pick up again, and when it’s over you long to start another one just like it. I haven’t read Ivey’s first novel The Snow Child, but it is on the bedside table stack and will surely be one of my Winter 2016 reads.

Historical Fiction 

Amy Snow, Tracy Rees

Amy SnowIf you like historical fiction about women in the 1800s, this book is your cup of tea. It follows the life of the title character Amy Snow, who was found as an abandoned newborn by a young heiress and raised in a confusing and unconventional way. After the heiress dies at a very young age, Amy must follow a trail left for her to discover the truth about who she is and who her benefactress was, as well. I would say that Jane Eyre heavily influenced Tracy Rees; Amy’s character is very similar in tone and personality to Jane. This is the winter equivalent to a light, well-written beach read, with a huge plus that it is fairly clean/non-smutty, though it deals with some adult themes.

Memoir

 The Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna Gaines

As a fan of Fixer Upper, I knew I would be reading this as soon as I heard they were The Magnolia Storyreleasing it. I tried to go into it with low expectations…after all, they’re TV personalities, not writers. I was pleasantly surprised, though, because what I found in the pages of The Magnolia Story was not a story about TV personalities…it was a story about real people, with real faith and normal struggles. Sometimes it seems like a memoir has to feature a tragedy to get published, but this one was hopeful and inspiring. I garnered some real perspective on thriving when you’re not in the middle of what you would consider success, and on building a strong marriage by sticking close together in life, pursuing similar dreams.  As a book, it’s not a Pulitzer Prize winner or anything, but a tiny taste of what it would be like to sit around a dinner table for a few hours with Chip and Joanna Gaines and laugh and talk with them about life.

Mystery or Crime Novel

Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Amy Stewart

Lady Cop Makes Trouble (Kopp Sisters, #2)The sequel to Girl Waits With A Gun does not disappoint. Constance Kopp is back as one of the first lady cops in America. She is trying to work her way into the well-deserved role of deputy sheriff, but a German con-man is besting her and everyone else on the police force. Just as I did in the first installment of The Kopps Sisters series, I thoroughly enjoyed the history and real-life people woven into this page-turner. Amy Stewart always features a plot-line straight from the newspapers of the early 1900s. Definitely start with the first book, but don’t wait too long to get into this series if you’re a fan of Maisie Dobbs or historical crime fiction in general. On a clean-read note, this is a very non-graphic crime novel, for those of you concerned with being able to sleep at night (that would be me).

Faith-Based

The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp

The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant LifeI’m slowly and carefully soaking up the words of this book on chilly Autumn mornings before my children wake up. So far, it is everything you would expect from Ann Voskamp – a constant fluctuation between despair and bright hope, earthly circumstances and heavenly perspective, fear and awe-inspiring love. I would venture to predict that this second book of Voskamp’s won’t be the raging success her first one was, mostly because it isn’t as much of a self-help book on finding joy. Joy is still a theme, yes, but Voskamp is exploring a tougher path this time to true, complete joy in giving.  This one isn’t going to get you keeping a list of things to be grateful for. It will get you thinking more on what’s been given up for you and how you can give more up for others. As I keep on reading it, I’ll give a fuller review. I’ve read enough to say you should definitely join me in reading it!

Fantasy or YA

Nothing new to report here, but I’d strongly recommend Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword and many of her other books. Clearly, I need some recommendations in this genre.

Those are my top picks for Winter reads in 2016! Tell me what yours are, pretty please? I’m always looking for a good book this time of year.

And if you’d like to follow me on goodreads.com, here’s the link to do that. It’s so fun to be Goodreads Friends and see one another’s reviews about all sorts of books, and I guarantee you’ll find a plethora of good reads. It’s better than Pinterest for book lovers (and maybe more dangerously time consuming…but check it out anyway!). Happy Reading!

Image result for goodreads logo

 

Everyday Life, Parenting

There’s Ovaltine in My Pantry

There’s Ovaltine in my kitchen cabinet. That can only mean one thing. It means I’m waking up like this:

Ovaltine: Wake up PERKY in the Morning! ~ My husband definitely wants me to switch to Ovaltine if I can look and feel this great in the mornings!:

And this!

Sexy Ovaltine Original 1946 Vintage Print Ad w/ by VintageAdarama:

(That image actually scares me a little bit).

Or! It could mean one other thing. I’m pregnant. Twenty-four weeks pregnant, in fact, with our fourth child. We are thrilled! But you know what I’m discovering? When you’re pregnant with your second and especially your third or fourth (or beyond, I’m guessing), all those tips in the pregnancy books about how to take care of yourself just sound like mean jokes.

“Get plenty of sleep.”

“Exercise daily.”

“Eat lots of leafy vegetables that you have to wash and chop and then somehow keep down through nausea in the beginning and heartburn for the rest of the pregnancy, all while refereeing toddlers and preschoolers.”

Thanks for those tips, thanks a lot.

Image result for vivien leighYou want a really useful tip for your fourth pregnancy? Ovaltine. Okay, so yes, these ads probably aren’t founded on very scientific data and could be at fault for false advertising. I’m guessing “false advertisement” wasn’t a thing in 1950. But even though I still wake up looking like a druggy instead of Vivien Leigh, when I am pregnant, Ovaltine becomes a staple in our pantry. I drink it about every other night because, believe it or not, it cures my restless leg syndrome that only flares up when I’m pregnant. It really does. Maybe I’m actually treating myself with the proverbial sugar water, but if tastes like chocolate and has calcium in it? I don’t really mind that I’m psyching myself out.

So, while Ovaltine isn’t giving me one red cent for saying this, Ovaltine is my only true pregnancy tip for the world in a fourth pregnancy. Oh, and maybe some water with lemon. But Ovaltine tastes way better.

Children's Books, Reviews

Picture Book Round Up, October 2016

It’s picture book review day! I’ve caught up on reviewing the nonfiction I’ve read lately and the books I hope to read this season. Now, it’s time to talk about the picture books my children have loved lately! Reading books together is one of our favorites things to do. Our library card is almost always maxed out on items checked out. Isn’t that the way it should be? =) Here are our recent discoveries and current favorites.

Violet’s Picks (Age 2)

Get Out of My Bath! by Britta Teckentrup

An interactive book about an elephant with too many bath buddies, this one is silly and fun, especially right before bath time. Violet loves the part when the narrator tells the reader to say, “Get out, crocodile!” She uses her deepest voice. This book also might aid a little bit in teaching children the idea of right and left. Just a tiny bit, though. We have several of Britta Teckentrup’s books in our library basket this week, thanks to a good recommendation from a friend. Tree is my favorite so far.

Corduroy

231850I don’t really have to say much about this one do I? It’s well-loved. Violet wants to read it pretty much every day at nap time.

Curious George Goes to an Ice Cream Shop

291367The beach house we stayed in during the last week of September had several Curious George books that Violet loved, but this one was her favorite. We are now picking one out each time we go to the library. It’s funny how each of my children seem to really latch on different book characters at this age. Her siblings never loved Curious George, but Violet seems to relate to his mischief and mayhem. I just hope the books help her live that out vicariously instead of practically. Ha.

Isaac’s Picks (Age 5)

Captain Pajamas, Defender of the Universe, by Bruce Whatley and Rosie Smith

I wouldn’t have picked this one, but what boy can resist it on display at the library? Turns out, it is pretty fun to read aloud, though I leave out a few words based on family preference (nothing terrible, just a couple of “dumbs” that I think we can do without).  Captain Pajamas/Brian is a little boy who longs to do big things and keep people safe. The hidden message I gathered from all the silliness is that reminder for grown ups: little boys need to be encouraged to do big things and take on challenges. But mostly, it’s a funny book with a comic feel that little boys who want to be big boys will enjoy.

The Caboose Who Got Loose

Isaac loves the drawings of Bill Peet. We’re just getting into his children’s books because they are a on the long side for little people. This one reminds me of Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. I suspect it will make both you and your train-loving children very happy.

 

 

 

Dinotrux, Dinotrux Dig the Beach, and Revenge of the Dinotrux, by Chris Gall

The Dinotrux series was Isaac’s library discovery last month, and I have never seen him more excited about finding his own books. He plopped right down in the aisle and looked through all of them, and then you better believe my husband and I had to read the three he brought home over and over again in the following two weeks. (Also, many thanks to the aunts and uncles took some turns during our big family beach trip). I’d still vote the Jim and Kate McMullan truck books way over these, but if you’re looking for more truck books for your children, these are probably going to be a hit. Just please don’t send me nasty messages about how many times you have to say things like “grrr” and “boink.” That’s just life with truck books/boys. The bonus for this book? There are Dinotrux toys to go with the books. You may or may not want to keep that detail to yourself….

Ella’s Pick (Age 7)

Fancy Nancy: Saturday Night Sleepover

A new Fancy Nancy release always makes Ella’s day. She has been a fan for several years now. This newish (2015) book is about Nancy and her youngest sister sleeping over at their neighbor’s house while their parents go on an overnight trip. Nancy has to use her best big sister skills to help ease little JoJo’s fears about being without her parents. Nancy does a great job, and also discovers that she gains comfort from having a little sister close by. It’s a cute sibling story. On the Fancy Nancy subject, Ella is thrilled to find that Nancy is in her own set of chapter books now. The Nancy Clancy series is perfect for developing readers who have grown up with Fancy Nancy. Ella is on book 3 and I’m loving how she is gaining confidence in reading her own chapter books.

This is the only picture book I can remember Ella picking out herself lately, because she’s so into chapter books now! I’m glad she loves to read and is progressing rapidly, but I could just weep over how grown up she is becoming. Moms are so weird like that.  She still loves to read picture books with the rest of us, though, so I’m treasuring these days while they last.

That sums up our favorite picture books for now. Happy reading!

 

Uncategorized

Five Fall 2016 Read-Alouds

As promised last week, today’s post features the books we’ve read aloud as part of our home school curriculum or just for fun in the past two months. Before I get any further, I have to say a giant, gargantuan “Thank you!” to Julie H. Ross for her curriculum A Gentle Feast.  It lines up with my teaching style perfectly and gives me direction for adding richness to our daily school life. Several of our Fall 2016 read-alouds came from her reading list. The others are just-for-fun reads that we’ve enjoyed.

  1. Homer Price

Robert McCloskey is famous for his picture books, such as Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal. I’d never picked up any of his chapter book, but now I’m so glad I did. Homer is a boy growing up in a small town in the 50s, with an eye for inventions and figuring problems out. Often, though, he simply enjoys the escapades of the grown ups around him. It’s a great book, full of illustrations, a funny cast of characters, and not too many big words for small ears. It was a big hit with both my seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. I was so glad to start the school year off with a chapter book that appealed to both of them, because sometimes they seem more geared toward middle grade girls.

2. Swallows and Amazons

Swallows And AmazonsMy husband read this book to the kids at bedtime for a couple of months through the summer. They all liked it (though one pretended he didn’t just because he was being obstinant), and really, what’s not to like? Four kids living on their own island with their own boat for a whole summer? Battles with other boats and an imaginary pirate? Real life thieves? If your children are old enough to put up with some sailing lingo, this book is an excellent adventure story. It is a bit on the long side for very young children, probably best suited for 2nd-5th grade. Apparently, it’s been made into a movie this year, too, though I’m not sure how available it is in the U.S. and I highly doubt it will compare to the book.

3. Ramona and Beezus and Ramona and Her Father

When faced with a three-hour car drive with my three children seven and under without my husband, I impulsively/desperately snatched these audio books up at the library. We listened all the way there and all the way back. We laughed and laughed at Ramona and Beezus. Ramona is only four-years-old in this story and her mischief knows no bounds. Ramona and Her Father was enjoyable, too, but the subject matter was a little on the serious side for my kids. Still, listening together sparked a lot of good discussions about the story. Sometimes I look to fictional parents to inspire me to greatness, but in the Ramona books, I just enjoy how flawed yet loving her parents are. I feel you, Mr. and Mrs. Quimby. You shouldn’t call your daughter “a naughty girl” so often, but I feel you. These are books that I don’t think we would have enjoyed half as much if we hadn’t listened to a professional reader (Stockard Channing) doing all the voices.

4. The Burgess Bird Book for Children

We’re making our way through this book as part of our science curriculum this year. It is delightful. I know I use that word overmuch, but it really is. Peter Rabbit hops through The Old Orchard, conversing with the different birds and casually learning their habits, likes, and dislikes, as well as a bit of their personalities. There are black and white sketches of the birds throughout. This is my first exposure to Thornton Burgess’s nature books written for children. The fact that they are about one-hundred-years old (published in 1919) only adds to their charm. I’m happy to discover I have several Burgess animal books on my shelf that I didn’t even realize I had collected over the years! These are the kind of discoveries that make my week.

5. The Five Little Peppers
3981348We just started this one last week.  Isaac (5) has already lost interest, so I’m guessing it’s going to end up being one I read mostly to Ella (7). However, the cookies and books technique might drawn him back in. =) The Peppers are a poor, fatherless family who all have to pitch in and “make do,” but they do so with cheer and love and that’s why I think generations keep coming back to read about them.  I only read the abridged, illustrated edition as a child, so I’m thoroughly enjoying this read-aloud myself. I love the character of Polly Pepper, who is both admirable and likable. I’m hoping the future chapters will feature Ben and the other boys a bit more so we can get to know them, too.

That’s it for our chapter book read-alouds so far this fall! Stay tuned for an update on the picture books we’ve been enjoying lately, coming soon. Happy reading!

Reading

Fall 2016 Booklist {Books I Hope to Read This Fall}

Most book reviewers start talking about the fall reading they plan to do under cozy blankets with mugs of hot tea, oh, right around, August 15th. All those images that start popping up on Pinterest and in blog feeds of soup recipes and chunky sweaters make us down here in the Southern United States scream, dunk our faces in ice water, and sit in front of a fan for a few hours. We literally have no memory of what naturally cool air feels like until at least October.

All that’s to say, I just gave the first thought to fall reading about two hours ago, when I noticed I would kind of like to put on a sweater at 1:00 in the afternoon.  The air has a fall tang to it, and now I’m itching for a good fall reading binge. I love a good fantasy book in the fall. The only problem? My Goodreads To Read book list is firmly entrenched in serious books. Dang. Who is picking these books for me? Oh, right, me. So, I’m writing down what I think I’ll probably read based on what’s currently on hold for me at the library, but I need your recommendations for just plain fun (but no Outlander recommendations, please), and I’m reserving the right to fling any part of my list out the window in the hope that some enchanting, engrossing, especially wonderful book (or, even better, series!) comes my way.

The Mia The Reader Fall 2016 Booklist

The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life

The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant LifeAnn Voskamp is releasing a new book on October 26th, and you can bet your book light it will be in my mailbox on that very day. One Thousand Gifts is one of my favorite books of all time, one that truly set my feet on a new and better course, and I eagerly await Voskamp’s second book. My only concern is I suspect it my wreck me for the typical American Christmas season. I’m mostly okay with that.

 

 

Truly, Madly, Guilty, Liane Moriarty

I don’t love all of Moriarty’s books but I always give them a chance after reading What Alice Forgot. Her newest came out this summer, and the premise is a little iffy for my taste, so the jury’s out on whether I’ll actually read it all, but I’ll give it a go as soon as my turn for it comes up at the library.

Teaching from Rest, Sarah McKenzie

I enjoy McKenzie’s approach to homeschooling on her blog (and her podcast is one of my favorites), so I think it’s high time I read her highly praised book. I could use a lot more wisdom in this area. McKenzie approaches her homeschooling from the Charlotte Mason way of thinking, for anyone who is looking for more of that in their homeschooling philosophy.

To the Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey

To The Bright Edge of the WorldI’ve heard Ivey can make any book work simply through her way with words. I haven’t read her first book, The Snow Child, but was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. This is her second novel, and both of her works are set in Alaska. Perfect fall/winter reading. (I know, I know, it’s not always winter in Alaska, but snow usually has something to do with the story).

The Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna Gaines

Because I am a fan of Fixer Upper and I can’t help myself. I appreciate how Joanna’s blog writing focuses on the positive elements of work and parenting, and I’m just plain curious about how the Gaineses’ life has become what it is now.

This may be my shortest seasonal reading list ever, but I’m trying to be a responsible adult and sleep and cook meals and things like that this Fall. Also, we are still knee deep in home renovations here. But you can be sure I’ll be reading other books along the way. I’ll keep you posted. And coming soon is the list of what my kids and I are reading together right now!

What are you reading?

 

Reading, Reviews

All The Pretty Things and Other September Reads

Thank you for all your kind words after my last post, The Summer That Was Quiet and Hard. Knowing that the whole self-contempt, identity issue is something many of us face, I wanted to share a few books that are helping me think through it all. 

This past month or so of reading has been completely out of the ordinary. I am usually a novel girl, as in, I read lots of novels and throw in a few nonfiction books here and there for good measure. But when you’re trying to figure out a lot of real life and you feel like you’re wading through deep waters, a thirst for help and wisdom and true stories from other travelers along the path is all that will do. And I gotta say, a couple of these books that just came out in the last two months are amazingly wonderfully.

Present Over Perfect

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of LivingI put Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect on my Spring TBR list, hoping to get an early release copy. I didn’t get one, but it was God’s goodness to me that I didn’t and that somehow I didn’t even get around to buying it the day it came out. I waited to read it until the very end of August. There could not have been a more perfect book for me to read at that very moment in my life. This surprised me, because I actually thought before I started the book, “I’ve kind of heard a lot about this message –the slow your pace, pay more attention to the present message–lately and I’m not so sure this book is going to have anything new to say about it.” Let me tell you, I was wrong.  Present Over Perfect bowled me over. It was this book that helped me recognize the self contempt I was feeling, and the one that gave me some tools to start waging the slow thought-battle against it. Niequist has so many good things to say about how we define ourselves and what our defining measures can do to our lives, in good and bad ways. I want to read it again right this minute. I hope you pick it up, and I hope it is the huge gift to you that it was to me.

All the Pretty Things

All the Pretty Things: The Story of a Southern Girl Who Went Through Fire to Find Her Way HomeEdie Wadsworth of Life In Grace has been writing her memoir for three years. This is one of those, “I wasn’t going to write a memoir but a publisher asked me to” situations that makes aspiring writers jealous and angry, but I am really glad that Wadsworth wrote it, no matter what the process was. All The Pretty Things is a book I couldn’t put down. Edie grew up in rural Tennessee, the daughter of dysfunction and love. Her family and her story will make you laugh and cry in sequence over and over again. I loved it. If you’re a fan of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, this book is definitely your cup of tea. I liked it even better than Walls’s memoir because of the huge measure of hope and redemption on every page. I bought this book. I love books, I read tons of books, but the library is my best friend. I hardly ever buy brand new books, but I bought this one. It’s so good, and filled with hope in hard situations. (Side note: her short podcast series Grace Talks is still my favorite podcast ever).

Chase

Chase Study Guide: Chasing After the Heart of GodThis is the second study I’ve done by Jennie Allen (the first one was Stuck) and again I am so thankful for the books and studies that are in my life at just the right time. Chase begins with a chapter called “Identity” and that is perfect. I’m finding you have to come face to face with who you are without God and with God before anything can become clear and you can live in the goodness God gives us. Chase studies the life of David and so far it’s been eye opening to look at stories I’ve read a million times (like David and Goliath) through the lens of how David’s belief in God changed his actions when compared to everyone around him. Truly, what we believe about God and ourselves changes everything.

So that’s what I read in September. And now it’s October! I’ll be back in a few days to post my reading goals for this Fall. Until then, have a great start to October!

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