What I’ve Read Lately: March 21, 2022

Remember a million years ago when I blogged regularly and you guys could expect to see what I was up to on a regular basis? I freely admit, this blog has been seeing less and less action for awhile now, especially since I started teaching my seventh grader full time – but I still love you guys and our little bloggy-verse. I thought I’d kick it old school with Anne’s Quick Lit link up thing – a day late and a dollar short per usual. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been reading over the last month or so.

Thanks to this homeschooling thing, my reading life has been very eclectic. Most of the books I’m reading are out loud for literature class, reading ahead for my 7th grader’s independent reading and Magic Tree House books that we read in the morning to start the day light and breezy while I drink my coffee.

I read Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops on my Kindle mostly in spurts while the kiddo did independent work or took long bathroom breaks. It was a nice diversion but honestly a little off putting as the author doesn’t seem to particularly like any of these people and I spend a fair amount of time in bookshops – at least I did pre-Covid anyway.

Adam of the Road was one of those independent readers that takes place during the middle ages and tells the story of a minstrel’s son who goes on quite the adventure. It was a great fit for our history and literature curriculum – plenty of adventures and it really put you in the middle ages.

The next independent reader she’ll be starting is Catherine, Called Birdy which was honestly awesome. Catherine is the very rebellious and independent spirt daughter of a local knight and now that she’s like fifteen or so her dad is working on getting her married off. She is not pleased.

Since her older brother has encouraged her to start keeping a diary to work on her writing skills and maybe keep out of trouble, this book chronicles her adventures in trying not to tie the knot and a year in her life, also in the middle ages.

We read The Great and Terrible Quest together which centers a lot around looking for the Holy Grail but it’s also mostly a story about life in a local abbey during the reign of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

I read Head Over Heels as my bedtime read – a recent pick from Book of the Month and honestly it deserved more like 3 1/2 stars. I actually really enjoyed deep diving into the world of gymnastics the Olympics, a topic which honestly I have no experience in. But it also got super preachy and tied up way too neatly. The main love interest felt really one dimensional and I think Simon Cowell would agree if I said it all felt a little self indulgent. Or I’m an ass.

The last read aloud we finished, apart from the Magic Tree House books, was The Second Mrs. Gioconda. It’s all about how Leonardo DaVinci ended up painting the Mona Lisa but it’s also about the life of his apprentice, Salai – who is frankly awesome. This book was great. I love E.L. Konigsburg and everything by her that I’ve ever read basically.

And the last book I read for my own damned self was Well Matched, the third in a series by Jen DeLuca that has become one of my favorites. They all center around a little local Renaissance Faire and the people of the town it’s held in. This one was just as awesome as the two before it – it made me swoon and cry and cryswoon and all that. I highly recommend the series.

It sure sounds like the end of my reading month was easily the most enjoyable. I don’t entirely disagree. Right now we are kind of just settling into some new books and I don’t have much to say about any of them yet – so I’ll save those thoughts for another day. Feel free to follow me on Goodreads if you want to keep up with my reading life in between scattered blog posts!

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!

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?

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

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

We’re already halfway through the month of January and my reading life for 2021 is in full swing, thanks to homeschooling and bedtime reading. I’m joining along with Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy to share what I’ve been reading over the last month.

Books I’ve Finished Recently

Calico Bush was one of our last read alouds and I still have mixed feelings about it. We loved most of the book and got very wrapped up in the lives of the characters. But I’m still shook over one section of the story that I think was too intense and graphic (and tragic) for the target audience of the book.

Only the Name Remains was probably my least favorite homeschool reader and definitely my daughter’s least favorite this year. Compared to all the other books we’ve read, it was dry and dragging, which is tough to acknowledge when trying to read about a difficult part of history. It just didn’t breathe the story to life for us.

Murder, Served Simply was book 3 in the Amish Quilt Shop series. I’m obsessed with the author and series and conveniently I got to read this Christmas tale of murder and meddling parents and love triangles during Christmas vacation.

Banner in the Sky is the book my 6th grader is reading right now. It was slow to start and I was initially worried it would be a slog, but it quickly swept me away to the Swiss Alps and earned a 5 star rating from yours truly.

What I’m Currently Reading

Right now we’re reading Betsy and the Emperor aloud and we’re both hooked on this story of Napoleon’s enprisonment on St Helena. The title character is delightfully sassy.

I have been hearing endlessly good things about the Brave Writer program and the creator’s book, The Brave Learner so I bought her book to check it out and so far so good. I really appreciate her viewpoint on education and I’m looking forward to picking up some tricks and tips.

I’ve been reading 10 Things I Hate About Pinky at night before bed for the past few nights. The author is a favorite of mine and I was hooked from the premise which is reminiscent of 10 Things I Hate About You.

I’m prereading Homeless Bird right now before my 6th grader starts it next month. It’s an intense plot, but so far I’ve found it very readable. I’ve only gotten a few chapters in though. It’s basically about an arranged marriage gone horribly wrong.

We started reading Soft Rain during our morning basket time at the suggestion of a friend and fellow homeschooler, after commiserating over our lack of enjoyment of Only the Names Remain. So far I’d definitely agree that this is a much more enjoyable narrative to read about the topic of the Trail of Tears. This morning my daughter even begged for one more chapter, always a good sign.


What are you reading right now?

My Year in Books (so far) | 2020

The year is not quite over yet but the odds of me finishing another book before the clock strikes twelve on 2020 is starting to diminish (though I’ll give it my darnedest). I finished my 2020 Reading Challenge on Goodreads (thank you Homeschool readers!) and they have even published their Year in Books so I thought I’d share a little bit of my reading year and give you the highlights.

So far I have read 50 books this year which is a pretty awesomely high number for me, and I think greatly contributed to by our homeschool year. My 6th grader and I have read about twelve books together so far this school year (some longer than others).

I also discovered a few great new to me series and have made ample use of my local library this year, in spite of the hoops we’ve had to jump through with curbside pickups.

Here are a few superlatives for the year’s reading:

Top 3 Favorite Homeschool Books

Our history and reading curriculum are essentially entertwined so we’ve spent the school year so far reading some terrific historical fiction for our World History 2 class. Here are our three favorites:

The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler was so good that my daughter asked for book two in the series. It’s more of a mystery book than a scary one, despite the cover.

While attempting to solve the mystery of a stolen jewel, Seikei, a merchant’s son who longs to be a samurai, joins a group of kabuki actors in eighteenth-century Japan.”

The Ravenmaster’s Secret by Elvira Woodruff was immensely readable and had a great cast of characters. I especially loved Maddie and could not stop picturing her as a young Merida (Kelly Macdonald voice included). This book takes place in the Tower of London during the Jacobite rebellion, told from the perspective of the son of the Tower’s Ravenmaster.

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope was one of the last books my daughter finished before Christmas break and one of my personal favorites. It was another one of those books that she didn’t actually want to stop reading. There’s quite a little Fandom on the internet for this book, that I had never heard of before this year, but I can see why. There are three love stories, terrific dialogue, and plenty of action, adventure, and comedy.

“Newly orphaned Peggy Grahame is caught off-guard when she first arrives at her family’s ancestral estate […] The house is full of mysteries — and ghosts. Soon Peggy becomes involved with the spirits of her own Colonial ancestors and witnesses the unfolding of a centuries-old romance against a backdrop of spies and intrigue and of battles plotted and foiled. History has never been so exciting — especially because the ghosts are leading Peggy to a romance of her own!

Favorite How Do I Homeschool Book

Just in case you are looking to start homeschooling and wondering where on earth to begin, I really enjoyed Homeschool Basics by Tricia Goyer and Kristi Clover. Not every chapter was relevant to me personally but I skimmed through the bits that weren’t for me and got a lot of great information and affirmation from the rest. I really love Kristi’s YouTube channel for more great homeschooling tips.

Favorite New to Me Author

I devoured Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower, which is set in a magical bookshop (seriously), this summer and have been quickly getting my hands on some of her other books like Prose and Cons (book 3 which I’m in the middle of reading) and her Amish Quilt Shop series that she writes under the name Isabella Alan. She has a huge backlist, so this should keep me busy for awhile.

Favorite Swoony YA Book

The other genre I’ve been spending a lot of time with this year is the YA Rom Com trope (tried but true). Basically in between reading for school, I’m indulging in a lot of comfort reading and cozy mysteries and YA are pretty much where it’s at for me there. My favorite YA book this year was…

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord which is sort of a You’ve Got Mail style premise with two teens who have been placed in charge of the Twitter accounts for their family’s respective businesses which turn out to be rival companies. The story has a lot of heart and I basically inhaled it.


That’s the highlights reel for this year of reading. What books would make your Best Of list for 2020?