Reflecting on a year of pandemic homeschooling

We’re a month into summer vacation and I’m starting to getting nostalgic for the year behind us and excited for the year ahead. What better time to share some of our highlights from the past year.

What started out as a last minute fix to the problem of “I don’t want my sixth grade to go to school in person in the middle of a pandemic or attend virtually and also the world is hard and there’s no right answer and help!”. But by the end of the year we were telling people that homeschooling was the best thing that ever happened to us. My tween loves the freedom to live by her own schedule and we’re breathing life into subjects like history and science that used to bore her. It didn’t take long to realize that we wanted to keep going, at least for a few more years.

I won’t lie – it’s been a lot of work for me as homeschool teacher/ principal and parent. I have gradually figured out how to plan ahead to make the future easier but not so much that I’m buried under a pile of schedules every day. And more importantly, finding the confidence in myself to tweak lessons and make executive decisions and say YES she is learning and we’re doing great. That’s a day by day situation TBH.

CURRICULUM WINS

The chunk of our curriculum came from a company called Book Shark. We got their history and literature curriculum as well as science and loved both. This company delivered history class the way I’ve always felt it should be – with a focus on the stories that bring history to life. We were sent a mountain of terrific middle school historical fiction as well as half of the Story of the World series (we’ll read the other half next year). The curriculum also comes with detailed week by week lesson plans with everything planned out for you from what pages to read each day, what things to talk about, vocabulary, important dates, and places to locate on the map. I also found activity books on Amazon to accompany the Story of the World books because I have an extra crafty daughter.

Seriously I can’t say enough good things about this history and literature curriculum. We read so many amazing books, many of which neither of us would have ever picked up on our own like The Ghost at the Tokaido Inn, Betsy and the Emperor, The Good Master, The Sherwood Ring, and literally I could do this all day. So many amazing reads. For a couple of book worms, it was a dream come true.

The science curriculum is similarly book-forward with some beautiful science books by companies like Usborne and a science experiment kit. We loved the beautiful books but to be honest, the experiments left something to be desired. As a not terribly science minded person, I found the instructions daunting and unintuitive. My husband had less trouble with them but also less time to help out. This fall we are going to try video lessons from the amazing Science Mom. My friend used her lessons this past year and swore by them all dang year – and the few lessons we’ve watched on YouTube had us convinced we should give her curriculum a try. So while I liked the BookShark curriculum for science, I’m excited to try something new next year.

MORE CHANGES FOR NEXT YEAR

We’re also planning to try a new math curriculum next year. We used Saxon this year because it’s what she had used in school up to now and while she did well overall, it was our hardest subject motivation-wise. She’d make dramatic declarations that her soul was dying because it was so boring. Based on a few reviews and a trial lesson, I decided to give Teaching Textbooks a try this year. It’s actually an app that you can download on your phone or tablet or access on a computer. The lessons are interactive and the system will do the grading for you! (Halleluiah)

The other big change for next year will be our Language Arts curriculum. We began this past year using the BookShark curriculum, including Wordly Wise. We quickly decided it wasn’t quite what we wanted and I bought a writing and language arts workbook by Spectrum. These worked much better but over the course of the year I heard about a few more options that sounded intriguing so even though Spectrum was totally fine, this fall we’re going to try Fix It Grammar, Spelling Power and a writing program called Cover Story that I’m perhaps way too excited about. It has video lessons and a couple of notebooks that walk the student through creating their own magazine by the end of the year. The demo lesson we watched was entirely too fun.

I’ve also picked up a handful of self help type books and an art book called Artistic Pursuits that we’ll attempt to work our way through. I also have big plans for a regular Poetry Tea Time and some dabbling in Latin roots if we have time.

READ: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Published Oct 2020

416 pages

Read this if you love: fanfic, steamy open door romances, cosplay, chick lit with heavier undertones

I have mixed opinions on this book so bear with me while I try to explain myself. I found the overall plot of the story super intriguing. It’s got that kind of You’ve Got Mail trope where the two leads don’t know that they already know each other, and communicate with each other electronically and in person, not knowing that they are the same people. I love this trope and I’m definitely a sucker for it.

I also loved the fanfiction element and the whole notion of a super fan falling for a huge celeb and vice versa. There’s also a lot of character development as both parts of the ship are dealing with some stuff and finding their confidence while falling for each other. That’s all great. Cheers for the hot hunk genuinely falling for the larger, curvy girl that society doesn’t value like it should.

However. A lot of the book was really consumed by the issues each character is dealing with and they each have to tip toe around each other’s personal triggers and how their parents and society have failed them. Which means the book was heavier than I was necessarily expecting and in my humble opinion it verged on preachy. I don’t know how much to complain about this without sounding like a jerk.

As a human being, I think it’s great that we’re talking about this stuff and learning how to interact with each other better. As a curvy girl myself, it’s awesome to see hunks falling for girls my shape. It doesn’t happen a lot in fiction. But the main character is so messed up by her past, that she self sabotages situations and honestly I think she expects more out of her love interest than is maybe realistic. It’s kind of amazing that they get together because she really doesn’t make it easy for him. Which in real life, is totally understandable and happens and we’re all going through our own thing. But as a girl reading some fluffy romance, it kind of took away from the fluff and lessened my enjoyment because it was stressful AF. Other readers might love all these same things about it though that I didn’t. Awesome, different strokes for different folks, right?

Overall, I still enjoyed it and plan to read Dade’s other books, especially the sequel coming out soonish. But I’m also kind of going in with my guard up that maybe her books won’t be my thing in the long run. Because as a reader, at the end of the day we get to be selfish and stick with the books that are checking our boxes.

Have you read Spoiler Alert or other books by Dade? What did you think? What are your favorite literary tropes? Tell me all your thoughts in the comments section – bonus points if you include a book rec for me to try next!

Day book | July 7, 2021

That’s right, I just disappear for months at a time, galavanting around who knows where, and then show up and write a copy and paste tag style entry without so much as a how do you do. #sorrynotsorry

Outside my window it’s cooler than yesterday and threatening to rain. We’ve been doing that rotation of hot and humid meets thunderstorms and doom. So fun.

In my kitchen y’all we broke down and bought an instant pot. After swearing up and down that we didn’t need another gadget and that I had no good reason to buy one, my husband started getting ambitions about speeding up the homemade dog food process (yes that is my life) and then it went on sale for prime day and now I’m googling things like instant pot beef teriyaki.

I’m currently reading several things! I’m prereading Mara, Daughter of the Nile for homeschool next year, the tween and I are reading Black Beauty together, I’m slowly reading Brave Learner on my Kindle (highly recommend, don’t take my slow ass pace as a criticism), listening to The Duke and I on audible, and I just started Pride and Premeditation for my bedtime read and I can already tell I’m going to love it.

I’m currently watching a lot of old sitcoms for the most part. Brooklyn 99 and Big Bang Theory with the kids. Frasier and Top Gear with the hubs. We also just started Loki, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and the new season of Making It.

I’m currently listening to the clattering of breakfast dishes as the kids make themselves bagels. Momma’s drinking coffee and waking up.

I’m currently thinking about whether or not I want to go to the library today and how much I’d love a donut. Like every other morning.

I’m currently planning for our upcoming family vacation, the upcoming school year, and my tween’s birthday this month.

I don’t want to forget to tell you about our fourth of July! I literally forgot to make plans because quarantine has ruined me. So like two days before, I picked up rudimentary cookout foods and a festive looking grocery store cake, a random box of fireworks from Target and a couple pool noodle looking squirt gun things. The squirt guns were a big hit, the fireworks were way more impressive (read: dangerous) than I expected and both my kids said at one point that night that it was the best fourth of July ever. Like sometimes just showing up is all they need? It warmed my mommy heart basically.

I blinked.

I blinked and a month went by. I can’t believe it’s already a week and a half into March. Like everyone else living this quarantine life, time has seemed largely irrelevant for the last year – it’s either crawling by minute by minute or flying by months at a time. Usually both at the same time. It’s a lot like the infant years of parenting tbh.

We are starting to see signs of Spring where I live and also signs of change. People are starting to get vaccinated and while my family is likely a long way off from getting on that waiting list, it’s hard not to think about the future like it might contain more options than the past year has allowed us. Easter is less than a month away, as well as my baby’s fifteenth birthday.

This picture is from like 2 months ago because he’s a teenager now so he’s always off playing video games with friends instead of posing for pictures for his poor mother

That is the most absurd sentence I’ve ever written, but according to him and math it’s true! Spring break is imminent and we’ve got bold plans to try and get outdoors during our week off and find a few more new to us state parks.

behold, a chocolate dog fossil

In the meantime we are trying to keep up the good work. We’re knee deep in World War I history in homeschool and making chocolate fossils and stuff for science, learning coding and painting and stuff in the high schooler’s world, and typing furiously about computer stuff in my husband’s corner.

Hurray for the return of outdoor reading weather!

With the weather being perky and cooperative, I’m reading outside and leaving the house without sweaters like a psycho. We’re continuing to reorganize little corners of the house and we finally figured out that our dog is in fact allergic to almost all food so we’ve started cooking him homemade dog food because he’s the neediest creature that’s ever existed.

On his way to his weekly spa appointment

Basically everything here is the same as usual but slightly different and we’re all very much looking forward to the official return of Spring and all the possibilities it might come with.

What have you been up to?

7 Things Saving My Life Right Now.

Apparently February 1st is the halfway point through winter and a typical time for the winter doldrums to hit. Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy has an annual tradition to combat this winter sadness, by sharing a list of things big and small that are “saving her life right now” – taking a moment to focus on the GOOD even when it can be hard, especially when it can be hard. And like the good little blogger that I am, I’m joining in. You know I love a good list. Here’s mine:

  1. Last month I completed a month on the KETO diet and although dieting is the pits, I have to be honest, I reaped some real benefits. I’m not even talking about pounds lost. I mean that by cutting down on my carb intake, I had less cravings, was able to eat a lot less calories each day without being starving, and I have had ZERO sugar crashes since I started. I am planning to try adding back in things like sweet potatoes, beans, and healthy grains this month – but I’m continuing to kick added sugars and basic bitch bread and pasta to the curb for the time being. VIPS for making KETO work for me include unsweetened almond milk, almond flour, and this amazing no bake cheesecake recipe.
  2. We finally cleared room for my new car to park in the garage and now that winter is here I am reaping the rewards like a reward reaping rock star. I do not miss brushing my car off or scraping frost off the windshield every morning, or the bitter bitter cold that was my car first thing in the morning. Other things contributing the winter being less of a hellish wonderland: Having a teen and tween who do most of the snow removal now; and that awesome homeschool life that means no more early morning commute anyway.
  3. Having the hubby working from home each day means that nine times out of ten, he’s making me eggs and bacon for lunch, there’s always a pot of coffee on, and sometimes he even cooks dinner. Basically, I’m a spoiled rotten pretty pretty princess. But seriously, it’s been much easier sticking to a diet when lunch is an issue I don’t have to worry about.
  4. The library has been closed to the public for most of the pandemic but their curbside pickup program has been easy and life saving. The kids and I have been checking out piles of books for homeschool or bedtime reading and roughly once a week I make an appointment online to go pick up new books and drop off old ones. Added bonus is that late fees are a thing of the past because sometimes I’m a really slow reader and sometimes the library gives me five books to read at once. I’m not proud.
  5. One of the cons of this pandemic life is grocery shopping. A lot of people are rocking that curbside pickup life but I typically prefer to go in and nit pick about exactly which head of cabbage I want, etc. But if the store is too busy, I can’t bring myself to pull into the lot and lately this scenario has been more frequent as people begin to tire of social distancing (or I’m imagining things and extrapolating where there is no data to support it). I recently had the bad assed idea to start shopping at night after dinner, hoping the stores would be less crowded in the hour or two before closing and you guys I was right! I not so secretly love having the store to myself and it’s kind of nice getting out of the house after a long day of schooling.
  6. The close quarters of staying at home so much can make for cranky family members but for the most part my kiddos have been rock stars. I’m especially thankful that they are at an age where they still like hanging out with us (I hope) and they are getting old enough to watch better tv shows with us. We’ve been introducing them to some favorite comedies like Brooklyn 99, Big Bang Theory and the IT Crowd and it’s awesome revisiting old favorite shows and them finally understanding why we keep yelling “Bazinga!” or “Noice!” or “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
  7. Lastly, I am so thankful that I’ve found such a great friend group. Obviously I’d love to see them more in person and to be honest, I kind of loathe online social interactions but I count myself grateful that I’ve made such good friendships here that I allow group chats to exist where sometimes I log in to 181 unread messages and keeping up with these friendships virtually has definitely been valuable to my sanity. We’re each others cheerleaders and therapists and partners in crime and there’s no one else I’d endure hour long group zoom chats with just to talk about books, boobs, and Bridgerton.

What would be on your list right now? Tell me yours in the comments section!

What We Read and Learned in January.

Can you believe it will be February tomorrow! I thought I’d take a moment to share what we’ve been doing in homeschool this month. For those who aren’t familiar, my sixth grader and I started our first year of homeschooling this year – we started because of the pandemic, but we’re enjoying it so much we plan to continue at least throughout the rest of middle school. Anyway, here’s what we’ve been reading, learning, and loving this month.

Homeschool Reads We Finished

Story of the World Vol. 3 by Susan Wise Bauer | We started reading this at the beginning of the school year and finished a couple weeks ago. It felt like a monumental milestone in our first year of homeschooling. Despite a few possible historical inaccuracies, I have found this to be the most engaging history text I’ve ever read and I really feel like it’s turned history as a subject around for my 6th grader.

Betsy and the Emperor by Staton Rabin | We both loved this story of Betsy and her friendship with Napoleon, the exiled former emperor of France. My sixth grader had a LOT to say about the book. Here’s her review:

“This book was very good. There were some good plot twists, a good plot, it was fun to read, it had an enjoyable adventurous detail in it. It’s a book I got hooked onto, it had good descriptive words, it was great. I enjoyed it a whole lot. The only thing is the ending was kind of sad. They tried to heal it with the prologue, since there wasn’t much they could do when there was history to line up with the story line. I just think it’s kind of sad how it happened.

I read this for homeschool, and when I heard about ‘Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’ dying on Saint Helena during history, it didn’t hurt as much, but when you connect with the characters, and then one of the biggest characters in the story, he/she dies, it betrays you in a way. It REALLY hurts. I kind of wish that he hadn’t died, even though I know that’s betraying the historical ending they put in, and they had to include it. I did enjoy it, I just didn’t LOVE that historical detail. I had grown kinda attached to Boney. He was a fun character, one I’d gotten attached to, a fun character is hard to lose. He was really nice, had a good humor, and then history knocked on the door and pretty much killed Boney…”

Only the Name Remains by Alex W. Bealer | I’ll be honest, this book was a flop for both of us. As important as the topic is, for such a small book it really felt like a chore to get through it. My daughter wrote, “The book was rather sad. I also have to say, though I WAS reading it, I don’t exactly love non-fiction books. Especially not when they’re sadI hadn’t known before now that Tennessee was a Cherokee name. It surprised me right at the end ...”

Books We’re Still Reading

INDEPENDENT READER Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman | E is about halfway done with this one. I personally loved it. I felt like it really transported me to the Alps and the world of mountain climbing which prior to reading this story I had less than zero interest in.

READ ALOUD Nory Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff | We’ve been reading this story set during the Irish Potato Famine and it’s really sweeping us away. It’s heartbreaking but so engaging. We’re really rooting for Nory and her family and wondering what will happen next.

EXTRA CREDIT Soft Rain by Cornelia Cornelissen | Determined to make up for Only the Name, I picked up a copy of this book at the recommendation of a fellow homeschooling mom and it is much better. Like most of our homeschool readers, this is a historical fiction story that still manages to teach about the Trail of Tears and do it justice but keeps our attention. We’re about halfway through and things are just starting to get intense. It’s a short read but we’re reading in between regular lessons, so it’s slow going.


Other Fun Stuff We’ve Learned About

  • E found a new favorite workout channel on YouTube. She’s been watching Up to the BEat Fit most days for health class this week. Other things I’ve counted as gym class: shoveling snow, mopping while dancing (genius, I know), and playing outside in the snow for an hour. I’m a really fun mom.
  • To demonstrate how far a character fell off a mountain in Banner in the Sky, we measured out the length with yarn and saw how far the yarn could extend through the house. We also did a worksheet last week to calculate exactly how big the new Chinese army was during the Taiping rebellion.
  • We demonstrated water pressure by poking holes into a soda can and pouring water through it to see which hole would pour further. We also baked a cake and used a stencil from the Story of the World activity book to create the Taiping coin emblem on it.

Add in lots of journaling, science and math, workbooks, and music lessons on the flute and guitar and you’ve pretty much got a good idea of what the last month has looked like here in the land of homeschool. What have you been up to this month?

What’s Your Sign?

I’m double dipping in the writing prompts at Mama Kat’s this week because I went and got intrigued by both of them and I’m bad at making choices. But the two are completely unrelated so they each get their own post. Yay?

So let’s talk about Zodiac Signs. Being a Capricorn, I honestly am skeptical about Zodiac signs in general (see what I did there?). No, but seriously, just like fortune cookies, I think horoscopes in general can be made to sound right to anyone. And yet…

I have to be honest, the Capricorn Zodiac does line up pretty well for me. Let’s break it down.

Starting with the image above: I am definitely cautious, almost to a fault. I don’t consider myself very ambitious, but I am practical and practically speaking, being relatively successful is important. That said, I’m not all about them dollar bills and I don’t care about titles. I’m almost anti-ambitious. Having to worry about commissions and shit will make me want to leave a company.

I am definitely responsible and reliable. This could also be attributed to being a first born, raised an only child, or just you know how I was raised. I care about being on time, I take my responsibilities seriously, I have more alarms on my cell phone than most people would probably consider healthy.

But to be honest, my tendency to hyper schedule and organize my life stems from the fact that I’d be useless without those tools. If my phone didn’t chirp every day to tell me to pick my kids up from school, I probably wouldn’t show up.

I do consider myself an introvert. My husband disagrees. He is definitely more introverted than me, but I still think I lean towards introversion. I’m not shy, but I definitely prefer small groups and spending time with myself and my thoughts.

I think I am both caring and open-hearted. I consider taking care of my family and friends monumentally important. I get really wrapped up in the emotional well being of fictional characters. I cry during yogurt commercials. That stuff.

I don’t know that I’d call myself nosey, but I guess I probably am just as nosey as most people. I spend a fair amount of time worrying about John Mayer’s love life or wondering when a cousin will get married.

According to this post, I don’t get overly tempted by purchases, and have a gift for investing and saving. Yeah that’s not true. It sounds a little bit like my husband but not me.

They also think my home looks like it belongs on HGTV and that I never lose things – both of which are FALSEGTV. My husband and I are both “pile people” and our clutter reflects that. I definitely feel calmer when the house is cleaner but apparently I don’t know what’s good for me. And I can lose car keys that are literally in my hand, so…

Some Classic (Famous) Capricorns include:
John Legend, Bradley Cooper, Kate Middleton, Liam Hemsworth, Michelle Obama, Ellen Degeneres

I adore basically all of these people so if that means that I’m similar to them and we could all be BFFs, then I might be willing to lie about the whereabouts of my car keys.

Cosmopolitan says that I love gardening and DIY at home. Apparently I love being at home and doing useful, practical things. That news is hilarious to me. I am notorious for looking for ways to leave the house, I have the opposite of a green thumb (I’ve killed a cactus), and I am less than handy when it comes to most DIY. I do have a pretty impressive garden in Animal Crossing though.

Now Cosmo, also says that Capricorns have a big desire for instant gratification and I think that definitely applies to me. I tend to get discouraged when dieting because I want results yesterday and when I see a donut commercial on tv, I am mentally halfway to the car, en route to Dunkin Donuts.

Astrostyle has a fun list of faves and dislikes for Capricorns.

Favorite Things: Business cards, goals, official titles, being in charge, exclusive clubs, “leg sports” like soccer or track, motorcycles, leather
What You Hate: Quitting, shouting in public, careless mistakes, traveling without an itinerary, doing things “just for the heck of it”

Okay so I do love making business cards but I get really frustrated with them because every time I’ve printed a pack, some important info on the card becomes obsolete. Also I’m a homemaker and have little business printing business cards.

I have zero interest in “leg sports” or exclusive clubs.

I will agree that traveling without an itinerary drives me a little south of bananas. I’ve been known to make a binder or two for vacations. I’m not very spontaneous and I’d definitely prefer not to shout in public, though as a teenager I didn’t have that problem at all.


What’s your Zodiac sign? Do you think it describes you well? Go to comments section to tell me all about it.

MY WORD FOR THE YEAR: BLOOM

Truthfully, I find the whole “word of the year” thing a little hokey. New Years Resolutions are made to be broken – a whole year is too long to commit to in normal times, nevermind in the middle of a never-ending pandemic. I’m going to change 800 times between now and next December, as will my priorities.

But sometimes I like to do things even when they are hokey and I love contradicting myself. Also I love words. I like that a word that can be reinterpreted and encompass several goals, ideas, and values.

This year the word BLOOM really jumped out at me. I read through a list of word suggestions and thought about what I wanted from this year and what I thought would be worth focusing on. After the doozy that was 2020, I wanted to think small and focus on myself and my family.

  1. I want to continue learning to be patient in the present, to bloom where I’m planted instead of my tendency to only think about the future and consider new changes that might fix everything or just distract me from now.
  2. Like most years, I want to eat healthier and move more. To nurture my body and make the best choices I can in a given moment.
  3. I also want to be tender with myself, to be forgiving and give myself downtime when I need it and indulgence when necessary.
  4. I want to find beauty when the world feels ugly. To focus on the bright little moments, the dandelions in the pavement.
  5. To celebrate everything and everyone. I want to lift others up, and lift myself up, too.
  6. I want to continue eliminating the unnecessary and focusing on what brings me and my family joy. I’ve really enjoyed how simple a lot of aspects of our life have become after being forced to scale our routines back. I want more of that weeding out process.
  7. I want to grow mentally, too. To continue learning alongside my daughter, to try new things, and be creative whenever possible. I want to literally paint flowers and to learn everything.

I could go on, but you get the idea. All these ideas and goals all feel like the word BLOOM to me, so I’m running with it. Even if it’s cliché, if it helps me to focus on these things that feel important, then it’s worthwhile.

The past year has made decision making incredibly tiring and difficult – the pros and cons of simple things like buying milk today and sad choices like cancelling vacations or not seeing grandparents. So this year I’m walking into January knowing that things aren’t going to get better right away but that I’ve proven I can handle what’s thrown at me and that I can thrive and bloom where I am planted.


Do you have a word of the year or a new years resolution? Tell me all about it in the comments section!

You know I’m linking up (late) with Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop. Today I answered the prompt: Write a list of 7 ideas to make this your best year yet. Head to her blog for more prompts and participants.

Books I Read in 2020

As is tradition, here is the complete list of books that I read last year.

  1. LIKED I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn | Finished 1/16 | This one started out at 3 stars for me but slowly worked its way to 4. A slow burn, I started out annoyed by how dense the main character was and just perplexed by the whole argument she was having with her mom that leads to her impromptu trip to Japan. But then I got distracted by the descriptions of Japan and the overall love story and ended up liking the book almost in spite of myself.
  2. REALLY LIKED Guts by Raina Teglemeier | Finished 1/19 | This is another graphic memoir from when Raina was in the 4th and 5th grade. It details her struggles with anxiety, fear of getting sick, friend struggle and learning to talk out your problems. My 10 and 13 year old both enjoyed this one, as did I.
  3. REALLY LIKED Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley | Finished 1/28 | At first I was sort of dubious about the main character and her whole theory that she’s doomed to be the “girl before.” But as the story progressed and we learned more about her, she eventually won me over. And the love story was pure 😍😍😍.
  4. LOVED Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey | Finished 2/2 | I slightly blew threw this book, staying up way too late for a couple of nights. I loved all of the rim com movie references but I especially loved the heart behind the story and the banter between the characters. The next book is definitely on my wish list!
  5. LIKEDFriendship to the Max (Lumberjanes Vol. 2)| Finished 2/2 | Such a fun graphic novel. I love how tough these girls are and enjoyed the mythology element in these chapters.
  6. REALLY LIKEDEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman | Finished 2/26 | I’d like to subtitle this book ‘For fuck’s sake, Eleanor”. This was my second attempt to read this book. The first time I barely made it through 2 chapters before backing away slowly as it became clear that the main character is a bit… Off. But my book club is discussing it this month and I decided to give it another go, this time listening to the audio book at the recommendation of a friend. I loved the narrator and a few more chapters in I started to realize WHY Eleanor is so strange and found myself anxious to see the book through. Also, I adored Raymond. His friendship with Eleanor was everything. I ultimately ended up really liking the book so I’m glad I gave it a second chance. (February Book Club)
  7. REALLY LIKED I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella | Finished 3/2 | Such a wacky premise. I loved the characters, even when they were being obtuse. Fun, addictive read. This was a staying up past my bedtime to finish kind of book.
  8. REALLY LIKED The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris | Finished 4/7 | TThis was a really fun story and I couldn’t help but hear NPH in my head narrating it. It kinda reminded me of the tone of A Series of Unfortunate Events. My son really liked it too. Planning on reading the next book.
  9. REALLY LIKED Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center |Finished 4/18 | I really enjoyed this but The Rookie was occasionally almost too amazing if that makes sense. Still, I found the book more relatable than I was expecting and loved all the Boston references and the peek into the world of firefighting.
  10. REALLY LIKED Pretty in Punxutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton | Finished 4/23 | Andie is doomed to relive the first day at her new high school until she gets it right. This book really came to me at just the right time. Reading it during quarantine when every day feels like the one before, put me in the perfect mood for reading this. I really loved this book. I thought it was really well done. The whole time loop premise is thoroughly fleshed out and examined and although you kind of know how things should end, I had no idea how we were going to get there.
  11. REALLY LIKED Lucky Caller by Emma Mills | Finished 4/27 | I blew through this sweet ya love story. I liked the main characters, even when they were frustrating and rooted for the little tag tag radio team.
  12. REALLY LIKED P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Finished 5/2 | This book really grew on me in the end. The love story really comes together. It’s got a kind of You’ve Got Mail storyline and I definitely stayed up way too late to finish it.
  13. LOVED Starring, The Babysitters! By Ann M. Martin | Finished 5/2 | I reread this with my ten year old and it was nostalgia for days. I love Peter Pan and reading about the Babysitter’s being a part of one of my favorite plays was great. Reading it with my daughter was fun. I was coming in with a mom’s perspective this time and it was fun to compare our points of view and to share a book from my childhood is always a fun bonus.
  14. REALLY LIKED This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith | Finished 5/11 | The premise of this book was fun and the characters were easy to root for even when they were bad at decision making. I plowed through the book and definitely plan to check out more books by Smith.
  15. REALLY LIKED Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer | Finished 5/23 | I read this at the recommendation of my 14 year old and my husband who both loved it. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this – a fantastic blend of fantasy, action and sci fi starring an villainous but brilliant twelve year old. This is a fast paced read and a lot of fun. Looking forward to book two!
  16. LOVED Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng | Finished 5/30 | This book was a slow burn for me (pun intended) but the more I read, the more it grabbed me. The second half went by fast. I think the author did a great job peeling away the details at the right time. Very well done.
  17. LOVED Aloha, Babysitters by Ann M. Martin | Finished 6/2 | Read this with my daughter for a little mother daughter book club. I don’t remember reading it before actually so it was fun not knowing what was going to happen. I don’t remember Abby and liked getting to know her character. This super special had a lot of action and adventure and I loved the descriptions of Hawaii. 🥰🥰🥰
  18. REALLY LIKEDUprooted by Naomi Novik | Finished 6/6 | Howls Moving Castle meets Moana meets The Witcher. This reads like a dark, adult fairy tale and sweeps you away.
  19. LOVED Tweet Cute by Emma Lord | Finished 6/21 | Sort of a modern YA You’ve Got Mail. There are multiple layers to this adorable love story that eventually all come together beautifully. This one kept me up late reading several nights in a row.
  20. LOVED 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston | Finished 6/25 | I blew through this one. The premise is fun and wacky. The characters are easy to root for and the love story is everything. Loved it.
  21. LIKED Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon | Finished 6/30 | This was a fun premise. I’m a sucker for a good retelling and this loose take on beauty and the beast was a lot of fun. Menon has created a great cast of characters and I spent several nights staying up too late to finish it.
  22. LIKED Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries | Finished 7/5 | Very intrigued by this story. I sort of felt thrown into the middle of a larger plot but I hung in there and eventually settled into what was going on. Hoping there will be a second book out soon.
  23. LIKED Happy Birthday, Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm | Finished 7/7 | These are a fun, quick read. Babymouse tries to plan the perfect birthday party but nothing seems to go right. More fun literary references and a feel good ending.
  24. LIKED Dragonslayer by Jennifer L. Holm | Finished 7/7 | My ten year old loved this and was adamant that I read it, too. This is an adorable series about a little mouse making her way through life and school, with a pretty big imagination. Dragonslayer sees our hero taking on the ferocious monster: math. I loved the fantasy elements mixed with everyday life.
  25. LOVEDCrime and Poetry by Amanda Flower | Finished 7/23 | I really got into this one. A cozy mystery set in a magical bookshop? You had me at hello. I really liked the overall writing style and definitely plan to continue the series.
  26. REALLY LIKED Babysitters at Shadow Lake by Ann M. Martin | Finished 7/28 | I reread this with my eleven year old and really enjoyed experiencing it a second time. A lot of stuff I’d honestly forgotten. I love super specials because you get to see the same experience through multiple eyes, including some of the younger kids this time.
  27. REALLY LIKED The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone | Finished 8/1 | This book was heavier than I expected, but engrossing. I thought the premise was really interesting and the characters were so inspiring. We should all be Unlikelies.
  28. LOVEDProse and Cons by Amanda Flower | Finished 8/19 | I pretty much blew through this book. I think I can officially declare myself hooked on this series. I didn’t figure out whodunnit until the last possible second. Love the characters. Looking forward to book 3.
  29. REALLY LIKED Karen’s Roller Skates by Ann M. Martin (graphic novel) | Finished 8/23 | My daughter loves the graphic novel series of BSC books and just read this one – and promptly handed it to me. It’s just as adorable as the other books in the series and perfect for younger readers. Definitely brings me back to my own childhood reading every BSC book I could get my hands on.
  30. LIKED The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell | Finished 8/24 | It took me about halfway through to really get into this book. It seemed to start really slow and it took me time to adjust to the dialect and unfamiliar vocabulary. But the action definitely picks up halfway and I can see a lot of value in the story told. My eleven year old and I will be discussing the book for history and literature next month.
  31. REALLY LIKED Stargazing by Jen Wang | Finished 8/24 | Another graphic memoir handed to me by my eleven year old daughter. This one got heavier than I was expecting – I teared up a little towards the end. Very sweet with a happy ending.
  32. LOVED The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary | Finished 8/30 | I pretty much devoured this one. Love the concept, loved the characters. It had action, humor, and a love story to swoon for.
  33. LIKED102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy | Finished 9/6 | A little out of date, but lots of useful information about teaching and learning styles, homeschooling philosophies and priorities and how to apply all of that to choosing a curriculum.
  34. LIKED The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez | Finished 9/12 | I have mixed feelings about this one. The writing style was good, the chemistry between the main characters was palpable and there were plenty of funny and entertaining scenes. But the whole story was also overwrought with drama that could have been avoided by people just being honest with each other to a degree that became irritating after awhile. And there were some traumatic moments that seemed almost unnecessarily cruel that I think the whole story could have been successful without. I’ll avoid saying more on that though, because spoilers.
  35. REALLY LIKED The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn by Dorothy Hoobler | Finished 9/13 | This was a story that kept me on my feet trying to guess what would happen next. My eleven year old is supposed to read this next month and I’m debating reading it with her instead of having her read it on her own so that we can discuss it in real time, because as much as I found it engaging, I’m concerned that the frequent discussions of seppuku might be distressing for her. It’s important to the plot, but still pretty distressing.
  36. REALLY LIKED Homeschool Basics by Tricia Goyer and Kristi Clover | Finished 9/15 | There’s plenty of practical advice and also just some emotional cheerleading. You won’t find that everything applies to you and your situation but it will probably answer most of your questions.
  37. REALLY LIKED Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark | Finished 9/17 | My 6th grader and I read this out loud as part of our homeschool curriculum and she loved it to pieces. It was very engaging, with plenty of rich details about the Incan people, the Andes mountains and Peruvian culture. The little mystery definitely kept us guessing. And of course the llamas were her favorite part.
  38. REALLY LIKED Master Cornhill by Eloise Jarvis McGraw | Finished 9/18 | This is the next book in our 6th grade homeschool curriculum, set in London in 1666. The story is nestled between the great plague and the great fire, but mostly centers around the title character, eleven year old Michael, who searches for family and purpose in the middle of one of the toughest years in London history. I found the book very engaging and I’m looking forward to hearing what my own eleven year old thinks of it.
  39. REALLY LIKED Murder, Plain and Simple by Isabella Alan | Finished 10/10 | This one kept me guessing until the end. I really enjoyed the setting and characters. Definitely planning to read the next book.
  40. REALLY LIKED The Ravenmaster’s Secret by Elvira Woodruff | Finished 10/13 | This is the next book my 6th grader will be reading this year and I think she’ll really enjoy it. Lots of action and a good pace. A fun story that manages to be educational and show what life was like in that part of England’s history.
  41. LIKED The Arrow Over the Door by Joseph Bruchac | Finished 10/27 | Short read about the Abenaki and the Quakers during the Revolutionary War. An interesting perspective.
  42. REALLY LIKED Calm the F*ck Down by Sarah Knight | Finished 11/9 | Some of the book was repetitive or read like common sense, but I also found some pointers in it for better managing my anxiety so worth the read.
  43. REALLY LIKED The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy | Finished 11/12 | Loved the audiobook narration, it really brought the story alive. Started dry, but was very funny and suspenseful once it got going.
  44. LOVED Murder, Simply Stitched by Isabella Alan | Finished 11/12 | Definitely hooked on this cozy mystery series. Looking forward to the next book!
  45. LOVED The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope | Finished 11/14 | The Revolutionary War through the eyes of a teenage girl and her ancestral ghosts. A romping good time with three love stories to cheer for!
  46. REALLY LIKED The Princess Rules by Phillips Gregory | Finished 11/18 | Recommended fervently by my tween, this was an adorable collection of stories about a princess breaking all the rules, finally. Girl power!
  47. LIKED People of the Breaking Day by Marcia Sewell | Finished 11/27 | a little long for a picture book but engaging and informative with beautiful pictures. Loved the glossary of Wampanoag words in the back.
  48. REALLY LIKED Pilgrims Fact Tracker by Mary Pope Osborne | Finished 11/27 | Loved the format of this companion book to Thanksgiving on Thursday. Informative but entertaining and engaging.
  49. REALLY LIKED Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne | Finished 11/27 | This was a quick fun read that brought a little bit of history alive. My eleven year old loved it.
  50. LIKED Calico Bush by Rachel Field | Finished 12/23 | I had a love hate relationship with this one. We really enjoyed most of it, but some of the passages seemed too intense for the intended audience.
  51. LIKED Only the Names Remain by Alex W Bealer | Finished 12/31 | While it was informative, it was very dry and not very engaging. Not my favorite.

You might also enjoy this round up of my favorites of the year.

Books Read in: 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019