Categories
books & reading homeschool quick lit reviews

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?

Categories
books & reading homeschool

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?

Categories
books & reading homeschool motherhood

What We’re Reading in Homeschool: September and October

We just finished week six of our homeschooling year and we’ve read a lot of great books already. I thought I’d take a minute to share the books we have finished so far as well as the books we are currently reading. I’ll give you my thoughts as well as some book reviews by my sixth grader so you can get the mom and kid opinions – which aren’t always the same!

Mom’s Review

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.

My 6th Grader’s Review

The book was really good. I liked it and think it has a fun adventurous plot to it. I think that it was a little bit dry though. The ending also didn’t feel like much of an ending. I think that a sequel should be made. But all in all, The King’s Fifth was a really good book.

We both gave The King’s Fifth four stars out of five


Mom’s Review

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.

My 6th Grader’s Review

Secret of the Andes was AMAZING. One of my favorite characters was Cusi’s llama, Misti. Misti holds a big part of the story line, along with the other llamas. The story was very free-spirited and fun. I LOVED the book. The book also had a slight sense of adventure. I think that Cusi finding his soul was another HUGE part of the story. Ann Nolan Clark did a great job with making the story fun, exciting, interesting to read, and it made me want to read more of the book. I had a lot of fun with the book, and I’m glad that I read it. I miss getting to read it though.

In the end, I gave this one four stars and my daughter gave it a solid five out of five.


Mom’s Review

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.

My 6th Grader’s Review

I overall really liked the book. It had a good plot that made me want to keep reading, and some twists as well. Parts of it were kind of sad, some were a little scary, but for the most part it was funny. I really liked some of the characters like Tom and Susanna, but also feel like at a point, Tom kind of lost the character that I really liked about him. His fun and care-free manner was great, and I kind of feel like he lost it, then gained 1/3 of it. I think that the story also left on a sad manner, The whole of the characters were together, but one left.

I think that the story could have used a little bit more cheerful of an ending, but overall the story WAS really good, and I think that Eloise Jarvis McGraw, wasn’t quite going for a happy-go-lucky tale with happy-go-lucky characters. I think that she had a goal and she reached it, and the book wasn’t BAD, the book wasn’t boring, as I said, it had an interesting plot that sometimes twisted and that made me keep reading. I enjoyed the book all in all.

We both rated this book with four out of five stars


What we are currently reading

Mom’s Review

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. I gave this book four stars, but it’s more like 4.5

I read this book ahead of time, before reading it with my daughter. We’re only about halfway through reading it in school so I don’t have her final thoughts yet. So far she seems to love it and frequently laments when we get to the end of a day’s reading. A great sign!


That’s it so far – next week my daughter is starting The Ravenmaster’s Secret by Elvira Woodruff as an independent reader and very soon we’ll be reading The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy as our read aloud. I’m thinking about doing that one as an audio book and giving my poor voice a break!

Categories
books memes & carnivals

WWW Wednesday | August 26th

It’s Wednesday so it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, where you answer three questions:

  • What did you recently finish?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Miraculously I actually have enough to update you with since last week to justify a new post! Anyone else feel like they are either reading a million things a minute or slogging through one book for months with no middle ground? Just me?

Last Read

I’ve finished four books since last week! I finished Prose and Cons by Amanda Flower shortly after my last WWW post. I’m officially obsessed with this series.

I also finished reading The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell with time to spare before the school year starts! This one picked up in the second half with more action happening and I’d finally settled into the writing style. I’m looking forward to discussing it with my daughter next month.

And I read two children’s graphic novels recently at the insistence of said daughter. Karen’s Roller Skates, a BSC Little Sisters book that brought me right back to my childhood.

And Stargazing by Jen Wang which was way deeper than I was expecting but luckily had a happy ending. It’s another amazing graphic memoir for tweens – highly recommend.

Currently Reading

I’m continuing to read way too many books at once. My book club is discussing section one of Calm the F*ck Down by Sarah Knight tomorrow. Then we’ll read section 2 next month.

Since I finished The King’s Fifth, I started reading The Ghost at Tokaido Inn by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, the second independent reader for our school year. I thought about waiting since I’m ahead of schedule but figured I aught to hold onto my momentum while I can. Especially in case my reading time diminishes once school starts.

I also started reading Homeschool Basics by my new idol, Kristi Clover, yesterday. I’ve been watching her videos on YouTube (among others) to get myself mentally and practically ready for this fall. So far this book seems like exactly what I needed. A mix of practical advice and encouragement.

And for my bedtime reading I’m absolutely devouring The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. Like reading way way too late three nights in a row please send coffee kind of situation. Obsessed.

Next Up

I’m planning to start on book 3 of Amanda Flower’s magical bookshop series after I finish The Flatshare. Alternatively, I might read some of the other books I’ve been getting from the library. They have been sending them faster than I can read lately as all my holds seem to be coming through at once.

I am also keen to see what other books Beth O’Leary has written.


What about you? What books have you been spending time with lately?

Categories
books books & reading memes & carnivals reviews

WWW Wednesday | August 19, 2020

I thought I’d hop in on WWW Wednesday this week. This is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, where you answer three questions:

  • What did you recently finish?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Last Read

The last book I finished was The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

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.

Currently Reading

Right now I’m reading three different books. My book club is sloooowwwwly discussing Calm the F*ck Down by Sarah Knight over the rest of the year. We are not exactly overachievers lol but I’m excited to discuss the first couple chapters with them at the end of the month and the book seems super timely this year.

I’m also reading The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell which my daughter will be reading independently next month in our reading curriculum. I’m trying to stay one book ahead of her so that we can have good discussions.

And my current bedtime story is Prose and Cons by Amanda Flower, book two of her magical bookshop series. I’m kind of obsessed with this series and planning to deep dive into her backlist.

Next Up

When I finish The King’s Fifth, I’ll start reading The Ghost of Tokaido Inn by Dorothy Hoobler. I also plan to read Stargazing by Jen Wang soon – a graphic novel that my eleven year old just put in my hands. And I’ve already got the next magical bookshop book, Murders and Metaphors, on my nightstand.


What are you reading right now?

Categories
books books & reading reviews

What I’m Reading in July

My current TBR stack, including the book I’m currently reading before bed, The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

Here are the books I’ve read since the last time I did a recap. A few from late June, but mostly July.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord | 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. 😍😍😍😍😍

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston | 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. 🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon | 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. The only thing keeping it from 5 stars was that I found the characters to be almost too much sometimes, if that makes any sense. 😻😻😻😻

Witchy by Ariel Slamet Reis | Very intrigued by this story. Hoping there will be a second book. I thought the artwork was amazing but I frequently felt like I had been thrown into the middle of a longer story. 💖💖💖💖

Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower | 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. 💞💞💞💞💞

Babysitter’s at Shadow Lake by Ann M. Martin | 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. 💕💕💕💕💕

Honestly, just a lot of good reading. No duds to speak of. I also read a couple of Babymouse chapter books at the request of my eleven year old, which were adorable but they took me about twenty minutes to read each. She loves the series though so if you are looking for more graphic novel recommendations for your young girls, this looks like a great series.


I’m still reading The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman and honestly can’t figure out why I’m not loving it. As a huge Practical Magic fan, I had really high hopes. I don’t know if it’s the writing style, the pace, or if I just have an aversion to required reading. My book club is discussing it this weekend in theory but tbh I think quarantine is getting the best of our little club. I’m going to have to think about what I want to do about that.

And like I said at the top of this post, I’m also reading The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone. I’m about halfway through this one and my initial impression was just that it was a LOT heavier than I was expecting, but so far not too heavy. Interested to see how it all ends, waiting impatiently to see if my ‘ships pan out.

Categories
books & reading quick lit

What I’ve Been Reading Lately | June 15, 2020

How has summer been treating your reading life? I’ve found that quarantine life equals lazy mornings which results in staying up late reading most nights. So my nightstand reads are getting a fair amount of attention. Those are the lighter, fluffier reads that I trust not to make sleeping difficult.

My book club picks have been hit or miss. Most of them have had heavier subjects that my poor little quarantine brain hasn’t been able to deal with. But our May pick managed to hold my attention and I finished it in the nick of time.

I’ve also been reading some books with the kids. My daughter and I are reading Babysitter’s Club super specials together for a mother daughter book club. And my teenager has put a couple of good books in my hands after devouring them.

Here are the books I’ve finished in the last month or so.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 🥰🥰🥰
  4. REALLY LIKED Uprooted by Naomi Novik | Finished 6/7 | Howls Moving Castle meets Moana meets The Witcher. This reads like a dark, adult fairy tale and sweeps you away.

Right now I’m reading The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman and The Babysitter’s at Shadow Lake by Ann M. Martin.

What have you been reading lately?

Categories
books & reading tag

The Stuck at Home Book Tag.

I saw this tag at A Book. A Thought. and loved it so much that I tagged myself in immediately. What is your reading life like while you are stuck at home? Keep scrolling for a peek at mine.


Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you – thanks self! And thanks to Sofii for sharing.
  • Answer all the questions down below
  • Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag

🏡 | What are you currently reading? | 🏡

I’m reading a few things right now which seems to be the new normal. Sometimes I can’t read multiple books at once but lately I’ve been reading one book upstairs before bed, my book club pick during the day and a Babysitter’s Club book with my daughter for a little mother daughter book club.

My book club is discussing Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng this month. So far so good. It seems to be wildly popular especially since becoming a show on Hulu. I’ve been reading Aloha, Babysitters with my daughter. How good does a tropical vacation sound right now? And at night I’m reading Artemis Fowl at the recommendation of my fourteen year old.


🏡 | What’s your favourite ‘can’t-leave-the-house’ activity? | 🏡

I won’t lie. I’ve been playing Animal Crossing like it’s my part time job. I just hit 5 stars this morning, so… I’m kind of a big deal.

I’ve also been going for walks, baking, painting and complaining that I’m bored and drinking a lot of coffee. How about you?


🏡 | A book you’ve been meaning to read for forever | 🏡

These are a couple of new releases and soon to be released titles that I’m anxious to read. I pre-ordered the Hunger Games sequel because 3/4ths of the household will be wanting to read this one. The other two are on my library request list for now.


🏡 | An intimidating book on your TBR| 🏡

Maybe now is the time to read a big scary classic novel? Contemplating Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.


🏡 | Top 3 priority books on your TBR | 🏡

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and Followers by Megan Angelo are on my nightstand and Kindle waiting for their turn. Which one should I read first?


🏡 | Recommend a short book| 🏡

I really loved this middle reader graphic novel set at the Ren Faire. Another great Ren faire centered book that’s a little more adult (ahem) is Well Met by Jen Deluca.


🏡 | Recommend a long book| 🏡

One of my all time favorites. This one will take you a little longer but is well worth the extra time.


🏡 | Something you’d love to do while stuck at home| 🏡

My daughter and I are planning to rewatch all the Disney Princess movies in the order they were released. This might be the summer of Disney Plus around here.


🏡 | What do you plan on reading next?| 🏡

I’m not sure yet – what do you recommend?


Tagging

Since I tagged myself, I’m going to encourage you to tag yourself as well! Happy reading!

Categories
books & reading family fun motherhood summer reading

Summer Reading BINGO 2020 | Free Printable

three wooden dinosaur
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I just finished creating a summer reading challenge for 2020 because my kids have ONE WEEK LEFT of distance learning before our summer break begins! Is anyone else baffled by how fast and how slow quarantine seems to go at the same exact time?

My kids are counting down the days and I’m trying to get a game plan put together so that we don’t spend the entire summer staring at YouTube and playing video games. As fun as that sounds.

I’m not sure what our summer will look like right now – our state is starting to whisper about opening things back up but we as a family are planning to continue hunkering as long as we can stand it. Summers past have involved a lot of trips to the library for free camps and checking in with their summer reading programs because one challenge is never enough for my voracious readers.

img_20200509_181650_448

I’ve been making the kids summer reading challenges for a couple of years now to supplement the programs offered by the library and bookstores because those tend to only last us a couple of weeks at best.

Creating these challenges can be tough because my kids are already good readers, and I don’t want to make reading seem like a chore. I’m not going to make them count how many minutes they’ve been reading or how many pages. I don’t want to make a long list of categories that don’t line up with their interests – and often they read such vastly different types of books that I end up having to make multiple challenges – one for each kid.

Anyway – behold: this year’s summer reading challenge! I’ve been pretty into the BINGO format because it lets the kids aim low or high depending on their motivation and gives a fair amount of options. I’m pretty proud of this assortment of categories because I think it will appeal to both my 10 year old and my 14 year old. Wish me luck!

summer reading 2020 bingo

Feel free to save and print this to use with your own kids this summer.

Let me know how they like it!

When do your kids start summer break?

Here are a few challenges from summers past: 2018, 2017 and 2016