April-July Books

August 1st, 2013 by Rachel

Lots of fiction lately, but not much reading went on for most of April and May.

14. Gone Girl – I kept seeing this book recommended, and I was the 25th person on the waiting list at the library. It was a page-turner and I had to find out what would happen in the story as it kept taking turns that I didn’t expect. However, I wish books came with a rating like movies. It would make it much easier! This one had a lot of language, and I’m not sure if I would really recommend it because it was so strong.

15. The Silver Linings Playbook – my book club read this one, but I was on a long waiting list for it, so I didn’t read it with everyone else. I rented the movie one weekend when Thomas was out of town. The book was a lot better than the movie (isn’t it almost always?), but I liked the way they cast the movie.

16. The Orphan Train – this was another book club book that I didn’t get to participate in because I was too cheap to buy the book. It was a really great book, though. I remember reading some books about the orphan trains when I was a kid, and this was a more grown-up version. If you enjoy historical fiction, you might like this.

17. The Lucky One – I know, I know… Nicholas Sparks on my reading list? Summer reading is getting to me, and the library had it on a kindle edition. This was a nice, fast read and I rented the movie when Thomas was out of town for work. Notice a theme here? Thomas is a hard person to watch chick flicks with. This book was okay. It was enjoyable to read, but too predictable and the characters were too cliche.

18. Safe Haven by Nicolas Sparks – I know!!! I read this one in two days while Thomas was traveling. I rented the movie to watch, but ended up being called away to a birth, so I didn’t get to watch it. Oh well, probably for the best. Again, it was about what I expected. A quick read and a nice distraction while Thomas was away, maybe a little better than the Lucky One, but not much.

19. The Winter Sea – This was the July book for my book club. It was really enjoyable.

20. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan – We are big fans of Jim Gaffigan’s Mr. Universe show (watch it on Netflix, it is hilarious!) This book covers most of his parenting bits from his act and more parenting hilarity. He is the father of five children, and almost every chapter had me cracking up. I could relate to so much of his experience.

21. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – this is our book club book for August, and I was able to get it from the library early and finish in time. This was a great book. It took me a little while to get into it, but there was so much that I didn’t expect.

March Books

April 3rd, 2013 by Rachel

6, 7, 8. – I read the prequels to the Wool books by Hugh Howey. These were the Silo/Shift books. I read these during my two days on the couch following my box jump injury. They were really great, and he had better hurry up and write the next one.

9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – I have been taking the two little ones to play at B&N while Bud has art class. This book was advertised everywhere there, so I figured I would give it a go. It was entertaining, and I read it in a naptime and evening. This was like a Romeo and Juliette for modern day, angst-filled, though highly literary teens (minus the dueling families). I give it three out of five stars.

10. Insurgent by Victoria Roth – this was the second book after reading Divergent. It was really entertaining, but it had been too long since reading the first book so I had a hard time remembering character’s names and back stories for a bit.

I guess I am in a teen-dystopia book rut. Anyone have any recommendations for me?

The kids and I just started listening to audio books in the car. I was shocked at how many books we listened to just running errands and driving around our small, no traffic city. I’m counting these this year. I loved listening to them, and it has made for nice peaceful car rides, fun discussions, and new vocabulary words.

11. Mary Poppins
12. Winnie the Pooh and the House on Pooh Corner
13. Anne of Green Gables (I loved introducing them to this one. I didn’t think they would get so into it, but the big kids both loved it.)

November & December Books

December 30th, 2012 by Rachel

25. No Biking In the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Faye Greene – This author wrote “There Is No Me Without You”, a powerful book about AIDS orphans in Ethiopia and an Ethiopian woman who helped rescue hundreds of them. This book is the author’s personal adoption story of adopting five children internationally. It was a sweet book about her nine children, their family dynamics and the honest trials their family experienced.

26. Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers – I was in the mood for some lighter fiction over the holidays, and this fit the bill.

27. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo – Wow, this was a hard book to read. The author spent three years living in the slum of Annawadi, in the shadows of the Mumbai International Airport in India. She followed several residents of the slum and their stories of survival, despair and hope. It was shocking and terribly sad to read of the corruption and oppression of the poor.

28. The Round House by Louise Erdrich – This was a page turner. I enjoyed learning more about Native American tribal laws, modern issues among Native Americans, and this fiction adventure story. I could have done without some of the language.

29. Her Daughter’s Dream by Francine Rivers – This was the next and final book in this series. It was not as fast-paced as the first book. It seemed to drag quite a bit in the middle, but I had to find out what happened to the characters.

August-September-October Books

October 31st, 2012 by Rachel

The number of books I read this year is looking to be much lower than previous years. I wasn’t really aware of how much time homeschooling takes in a day, and how much I want/need a nap in the afternoon rather than reading. I also haven’t had many books that I want to read. I will read a bit and enjoy it, but I cannot keep with it. To everything there is a season…

21. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan – this tells the author’s story of being diagnosed with breast cancer as a mother of two preschool-aged girls. It was sweet and sad, and I enjoyed reading it.

22. Stolen Innocence by Elissa Walls – my book club read this for October. It was the author’s story of growing up in the FLDS community, being forced to marry at the age of 14, and taking Warren Jeffs to trial. It was very interesting and a glimpse into this group and their twisted theology.

23. Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist – This is a collection of essays. Each one is short and thought-provoking. I cried reading a few of them, and I thoroughly enjoyed her essays on becoming a mother. I liked that each one was not related to the previous ones, so I could pick it up and read one or more at a time here and there.

24. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – My friend, Corrie, recommended this book, and both Thomas and I enjoyed reading it. I am successfully breaking my dark chocolate chip habit (one week in!) and it has made me think through many of my habits and how to create different ones. The chapter on Target knowing way too much about its shoppers scared me a little. They knew I was pregnant when I was pregnant with Micah, even though I never registered there or signed up for anything. Some of the topics in the book are found in this article, by the author.

I feel like I am forgetting one, but I guess that happens when you don’t write anything down!
For the kids, I read aloud abridged versions of The Jungle Book, The Little Princess and The Secret Garden. We enjoyed all of them, especially The Little Princess. I highly recommend it! I can’t vouch for the unabridged version, but the abridged one was perfect for a four and six year old.

May Books

June 5th, 2012 by Rachel

I have a confession. I did not read a single book in May. I did not start a new one and not finish, nor did I work on one and not finish it. I seriously did not read anything. Three reasons:
1) Planning the nursery programs for our CC Parent Practicum (see previous post)
2) Lack of reading material (I need to place a book order soon)
3) I’d rather be working out during afternoon rest time

Hopefully I will have something to report next month.

April Books

May 4th, 2012 by Rachel

11. Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson – This was the third book in the Wingfeather saga that I read to myself and then again aloud to the big kids. We all loved this book. I cried reading the final chapters to them, it is such a great story. If you have kids my kids ages or older, you have got to get these books! We are trying to be patient waiting for the final book to be written.

12. Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn – This book has been quoted so many times that I have had it in my mental “to read” list for a long time. I was so happy to see it on the shelf in our church library. It was a great little book, full of truths and lessons in faith.

13. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder – This book tells the story of a Berundian man name Deo who escapes genocide in Berundi to Rwanda, as the genocide begins there. He miraculously makes it to America. His story is amazing, and the history of those parts of Africa was helpful to learn, while tragic.

My “to read” pile is getting smaller, and I am not very excited about those books. Does anyone have any recommendations for me?

March Books

April 5th, 2012 by Rachel

Going at a bit slower pace this year.

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I am really enjoying adolescent literature these days. Well, The Hunger Games and this book, and no, I will never read Twilight. This book is a coming-of-age story of a girl in Munich, Germany during World War Two. This is one of the most poetically written books I have read in a long time, but not to the point of it being annoying and you wanting the author to shut up and say something. It was a treat to read, and I recommend it. However, I am not recommending it to your kids, but for adults, I enjoyed it.

9. North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson – this is the second book in the Wingfeather series. I actually read it twice this month–once to myself at the beginning of the month in a few days and again a little bit each night aloud to the children. If you are looking for a great read-aloud series (or if you have a kid that can read chapter books well), I highly recommend these books. This series reminds me a lot of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. These books are amazing stories of adventure, rich in meaning, and beautiful stories of a family’s love for each other and longing for their true home.

10. In My Hands: Memoirs of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Opdyke – this book was recommended in the back of “The Book Thief”, and I was hooked at the description. It is the story of a young woman in Poland during the Soviet and Nazi occupations, and how she rescued many Jews from death by hiding them in the home of a Nazi officer. It was an incredible story and also very sad.

February Books

February 29th, 2012 by Rachel

5. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – I was swapping good book recommendations with a young lady at church, and this was one of her favorites that she recommended. It took me a little while to get into it, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. It was entertaining with an unexpected ending.

6. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson – I read this one aloud to the kids (but secretly read it all when they were sleeping, it was so good!) The kids and I both give this adventurous tale 5 stars. We have all started the next book in the series.

7. So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger – I read Enger’s Peace Like a River a few years ago after John Piper blogged about it and loved it. I saw this book by him at Half Price Books some time ago, and I finally got around to reading it. It was entertaining and an interesting story. I really enjoy Enger’s writing style. I would give it 4 stars.

January Books

January 31st, 2012 by Rachel

1. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis – I have been reading Katie’s blog for over a year now, and I was glad to read the book and get more of the back story of how she got to Uganda. Katie is a modern day Amy Charmichael, one of my heroes of the faith, and their similarities are striking. Katie moved to Uganda right out of high school, and in the few years she has been there, she has adopted 14 girls, started a huge ministry to feed, educate, clothe and provide medical care to over 400 children in her village, along with providing care to the poor and other outcasts in her community. This is one of the best books I have read in some time, and I highly recommend it.

2. Nutureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman – This book is the Freakonomics of parenting. Each chapter examines current research and studies relating to children. Topics such as sleep, lying, how we teach kids about race, speech development, and aggression are just a few that were covered. My favorite chapter was about the inverse power of praise. Many of us fall into the trap of praising our children for every little thing. “Wow, you are so smart!” “That is amazing!” fall off our tongues so easily, but the authors argue (quite well) that this is setting them up for failure and poor performance. Instead, we should praise them for their effort. I have started doing this since I read this chapter earlier this month, and I have seen changes in the ways my kids act in school, housework, and play. I highly recommend this book, just since it makes you rethink a lot of things.

3. Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling – Mindy Kaling is a writer and actor on the show, The Office, (Kelly Kapoor, come on!), and just plain hilarious. Her book is a collection of essays about her life. It was very lighthearted and hilarious. I laughed out loud so many times. It also answered the question of her last name being decidedly not-South-Asian.

4. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua – one of our Chinese-student-friends recommended this book to me. At first, I thought she recommended it out of a desire to see me buckle down in my parenting, and I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to read it, however, I am glad I did. This book is the author’s memoir on her parenting styles: Chinese Mother vs. Typical Western Parenting. Why are Asian kids always the ones winning national spelling bees, musical prodigies, and so driven? She answers this by showing how she parented her daughters as a “Chinese Mother”. I appreciated the author’s honesty and realize that she is not telling the world that this is how it should be done. It was also a really funny book, if you don’t take her too seriously. I took away some things from this book, mainly not praising our kids for doing nothing (like in NutureShock) and setting high standards for them.

Books – Year in Review

January 2nd, 2012 by Rachel

Last year, I did not have a goal set for the number of books to read in 2011. This is because I found out that I was pregnant right before Christmas and had no idea what that would do to my desire or ability to read. I did read 47 books (17 nonfiction and 30 fiction) during a year of a pregnancy and the first four months of having a newborn and three kids. Not too bad! I did not read some of the longer nonfiction books on my list to read, but I am glad I managed to read much considering how tired I was all year.

Best Nonfiction – Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof

Best Memoir – Little Princes by Conor Grenan

Best Mothering – Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic (one of the best books I have ever read. So full of wisdom. Short and to the point. I like it so much that I bought 8 copies to give away this year.)

Best Christian Living – Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow

Best Biography – Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Best Fiction
– I don’t think I read anything that I just loved, but I am going to say re-reading the Hunger Games series was my favorite. The first time I read them, I read them so quickly just to see what happened that I missed a lot of details and humor.

Most Hilarious – Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz

My goals for reading in 2012 include: finishing the three half-read books on my night stand (maybe, they have been chores to read all year) and continuing to read and post reviews. I really appreciate book recommendations from others, and I hope some of you have enjoyed some from me, too.