Saturday, April 02, 2016

March Reading Report


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February Reading Wrap-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy World Read Aloud Day. Apparently it's a thing. I'm cool with that. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ“š #readaloudrevival

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

Currently in process:

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

Happy Thursday!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Series books for a Voracious Girl Reader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Books about Snow :: Big Snow by Jonathan Bean and Blizzard by John Rocco


A couple weekends ago I was able to listen in to a part of the Read Aloud Revival's author talk with Jonathan Bean. This is the first one that I have sat in on and I didn't finish it, but it was very interesting listening to him talk with the host, Sarah Mackenzie, about how he creates and illustrates his books. While listening, I hopped on the library website and requested his book Big Snow. That led to a whole bunch of other winter book searching and we came home this week with these two winners when we dashed by to pick up our holds that came in.


Big Snow tells the story of David who is anxiously awaiting a BIG SNOW. He asks his mom throughout the day if the big snow has arrived, and mom tries to distract him with a few jobs around the house. However, everything he does reminds him of the snow that is to come. The flour falling into the cookie bowl reminds him of the snow coming down white and fine ... so he goes outside to check on the snow.


The clean white bedsheets remind him of the snow blanketing everything white and cool ... so he goes outside to check on the snow.


You'll have to read the rest of the book to find out if the big snow finally arrives. I loved the illustrations in the book and I think it captured perfectly a little boy's excitement on waiting for the snow to arrive. Something like this:

Watching the snow. Hoping to knock out our school this morning so we (they) can go out and play after lunch when we have some decent accumulation. ❄️

Our own dude waiting for the snow to accumulate last week.


The second book we brought home was called Blizzard by John Rocco and tells a boy's memories of the blizzard in 1978 that blanketed much of the East coast. My mother-in-law remembers this blizzard and how it impacted her that February in Ohio and the lack of power and inability to get out because of the snow. This story tells of the drifts as high as the house and how they had to go out the window to get outside. (You can imagine how quickly the boy here asked if he could climb out the window to get to the snow. Ahem).


It also tells about how food started to run low after being trapped for so many days and how the little boy because a hero in his neighborhood when he takes his sled and snowshoes his way to the small market and then delivers a small supply of provisions to the neighbors on the way back to his home.


We certainly enjoyed these two books that we found at the library and decided to share them in case you are looking for some fun winter reading in your homes. They have been on repeat here the last few days even though all our snow has long melted and we're supposed to be back up to sixty degrees this weekend (what?!) I'd be okay with a little more snow headed our way!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January's Reading Report ... or Lack Thereof

It's been a while since we've been in the routine of an evening read-aloud. The goal is to finish this one tonight. #readaloudrevivalWe started a new read aloud yesterday. #readaloudrevival #itssimplytuesday


January has been super slow on the reading front. My plans for lots of snuggling under blankets and reading lots of books didn't pan out for me quite as I expected ... some due to circumstances and some due to my own frittering away of my time. As of today, with four days left in the month, I've read:
  • Anna and the Swallow Man which was a young adult World War 2 book sent to me by Amazon to read and review. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it so I'm not going to say much about it period.
  • Winter by Marissa Meyers I finished this highly addictive science fiction series of books and could not put this down. That might have been one of the reasons that I had a hard time picking up another book. This book was pure candy and fun and it ended perfectly.
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis One of my goals for January was to get us into a semi-routine of reading aloud a little bit on those cold evenings where we don't have anywhere to be. As a result, we finished re-reading the first Narnia book, this time with the boy who has not yet read these aloud. Always wonderful, no matter how many times I've read it.
  • We are currently about 2/3 of the way through Anne of Green Gables as our post-lunch read-aloud, but I don't think we'll finish it before the month is out.
And that's the list!


I tried reading The Trumpeter of Krakow for Amy's Newbery Challenge in January and I just couldn't get past the first two chapters. I'm sure it is the fault of the reader because I picked it up right after I finished Winter and two more different books couldn't be found. Poor timing on my part! I also have a ginormous stack of non-fiction that I want to start and it has resulted in some sort of paralysis because I'm having trouble just picking up one and getting going on it! It didn't help that I've been glued to my phone watching weather apps, twitter for school cancellations (so I know when the neighbors will be knocking on the door), and Facebook due to the winter weather we had last week and throughout the weekend. Not at all severe compared to what is happening in the East, but mildly paralyzing in our neck of the woods. Time to sever the phone from my hand, once again.

Here's to better reading in January with new goals and lists and plans!