What I Read – January 2018

Looking back over the month of January, despite how it felt, I think I have a respectable list of books read! I’m going to share my personal reading and then in a separate post share our read alouds and picture books.

Children’s Fiction/Young Adult

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (Karina Yan Glaser) This was a delightful read! It truly was. If you enjoy books such as The Saturdays, The Moffats, Treasure Seekers, or The Penderwicks, you will likely feel right at home with The Vanderbeekers. A fun, loving, lively family that receives heartbreaking news. They are faced with having to move out of their beloved brownstone in New York! But the Vanderbeekers kids are determined to stay in the home that is full of so many memories.

A couple of my children finished this before me and they kept encouraging me to make time to finish it. I’m glad that I did. A really fun read was just what I needed at the beginning of January. It would make a great read aloud! Keep an eye out! There is a second Vanderbeeker book that may be out in late September, 2018!

The Boy on the Porch (Sharon Creech) This one made its way into my January stack based solely on the author. A young boy with a simple, vague note is left on a porch. A couple steps outside in the morning and discover a sleeping boy. They soon find that while the boy does not speak, he has a unique way of expressing himself especially through art. While the couple seek to find the boy’s family, their hearts long for him to stay. Then the boy’s father arrives and their lives are never the same.

Unfortunately, I found The Boy on the Porch awkward? The story never seemed settled in a place or time (and perhaps it wasn’t suppose to) and I struggled with knowing what audience this story was for. It clearly speaks of foster care and the beauty in that but is it for adults? Or older children? Maybe I should have put it down and saved it for a different time.

The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) With all honesty, I began this book totally prepared to dislike it. It made it to my January stacked based solely on a friend’s reading of the book. Hazel is dying. There is no way around the hard truth that she has terminal cancer and eventually the miracle drug that is keeping her alive will at some point fail. It appears that Hazel is waiting for that moment. Then she meets Augustus Waters, falls in love, and finds purpose in living what is left of her life.

Confession: Despite my bias going into The Fault of Our Stars, I found that I did enjoy  the story of Hazel and Augustus. There were aspects that met my expectations for this book such as crude conversation and physical relationships. Those added nothing to the story but I suppose it is expected in young adult fiction? However, it was ultimately two young people facing death with no hope of anything beyond that final moment. That, for me, was the most heartbreaking. We are all dying. But do we realize that the story doesn’t end there? None of my teens have read this book. My fourteen year old daughter would be moved by this story but due to some of the content, she will not be reading it.

Adult Fiction

A Name Unknown and A Song Unheard (Roseanna M White) These are the first two books in the Shadows of England series. Christian, historical fiction that takes place during World War I; perfect!. There are times when I need the literature equivalent to a “chick flick”. That was initially the reason I had A Name Unknown. My desire was for a light, easy read before bed. However, these books were not fluff. Mrs. White has successfully taken us back into time to meet a wide cast of characters. I enjoyed A Name Unknown; I enjoyed A Song Unheard even more. I am eagerly awaiting An Hour Unspent (hopefully released this year).

The Lake House (Kate Morton) Last year I read Secret Keeper and wasn’t sure that The Lake House could match it. I was so wrong!  A young boy goes missing and is never found. A mystery over the years…seemingly forgotten. Then a detective stumbles upon an abandoned house and the missing young boy is once again sought after.

After a couple of chapters I was completely hooked on this story and could not wait to finish it. Having to deal with the interruptions of life was quite bothersome! It was such a bittersweet story. I love how Morton flows from the past to the present and seamlessly shifting from various characters. I highly recommend if you enjoy family dynamics and suspense.

The Bookshop on the Corner (Jenny Colgan) Nina, a librarian who loves to match people and books, finds herself unemployed as the library shifts to a more technological focus and audience. This spurs shy, quiet Nina to make drastic changes in her life. She buys a truck and sets up a mobile bookshop in Scotland. Nina embraces the small, Scottish community and discovers who she really is.

I had high hopes for The Bookshop but was a bit disappointed. I was not particularly fond of Nina and that makes it challenging when you don’t care for the main character. When the last section of the book seemed to be highlighting her physical relationship with someone, I resorted to skimming the pages to get to the end.

Maisie Dobbs (Jaqueline Winspear) – My daughter actually selected this book for me to read. I need a few mysteries to check off our our reading challenge this year so I had my daughter pull one from the library shelf that looked interesting. She actually chose a Maisie Dobbs’ book that is later in the series. So we requested the first one and I’m glad that we did. In this first book, we meet Maisie Dobbs, learn about her past, and discover why she is a successful investigator. I’m sure you could read various books in the series without this knowledge but I think the enjoyment would be a bit out of balance.

I found this a great read and perfect for my evening reading. It was interesting and engaging with a nice bit of history to it. (I do love historical literature!) It takes place after World War I and that war directly affects some of the characters and plays a major role in the story line. There were no language concerns or inappropriate behavior so I will be passing this along to my daughter (14) who enjoys a good mystery. If you need a mystery or two, give Maisie a try.

What did you read in January? What is in you current reading pile? Check in with my Instagram or Facebook page to see what I am reading throughout the week.

**Disclosure – This post does use affiliate links. This means that if you follow a link from my page and make a purchase, I earn a very small percentage. This is no way affects your shopping experience. Thanks for stopping by!

Finally…Adult Fiction for 2017

Slowly, slowly I am making progress on my To Do list. Finally tackling the last of my books read in 2017. Here is just a quick list in case you need a book or two for 2018.

The Chilbury Ladies Choir  Jennifer Ryan – World War II fiction set in England. Unfortunately, I had a difficult time connecting with this book. I was over half way through the book before I decided that I liked even one character. I’m not sure what the issue was for me. It was an OK read.

We Were the Lucky Ones  Georgia Hunter – This was inspired by a true story that made it a must read for me. Three generations of a family in Poland separated during World War II. All experience different aspects of the war but all are determined to be reunited.

The Secret Keeper Kate Morton – Highly recommend this book! Intriguing, suspenseful…a true page turner. Laurel, at sixteen, witnessing a crime and life moves on. When her mother’s death is nearing, the past rises to the surface. Laurel is determined to solve this mystery before her mother passes. Enjoyed it immensely.

A Man Called Ove – Fredrick Backman – I love Ove. The end. If you have not read this yet, read it! I was not sure at first. I began reading it and then put it down. My sixteen year old son picked it up, read it in one day, and then told me that I really needed to read it. Absolutely loved it. So bittersweet.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Telly You She’s Sorry – Fredrick Backman – After reading A Man Called Ove, I decided to try another book from Backman. My Grandmother was completely different from Ove but I still loved it. It took me a bit longer to really engage with the characters but I’m so glad I hung with it and finished it.

The Awakening of Miss Prim Natalie Sanmartin Fenollera  An accomplished, intelligent young lady, Prudencia Prim, leaves her life behind to become a private librarian in a small, charming community. And here she discovers that everything she has thought or known is challenged. I was not sure what I expected when I began this book but it is a favorite of mine now. I have already gifted a copy of it. I highly recommend it.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper  Phaedra Patrick  This book reminded me of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and yes, I enjoyed it just as much. Why am I drawn to ready about older characters? Perhaps because I am aging at an alarming rate? I have no idea. But I found Arthur Pepper charming, indeed.

 

I am fairly confident that I read more adult books than this. However, I am drawing an absolute and complete blank. (Already doing better at tracking for 2018!)

I do enjoy reading Christian Fiction. Unfortunately I can’t remember which books I read in 2017. Some I was able to get from my library, a few were on Kindle, and I even had to do inter-library loan for a couple. I was jumping in and out of different series. I honestly can’t remember which I read when in the past  year! So I’m going to list a few authors of Christian Fiction that I really enjoyed and you can take it from there!

Jen Turano Out of the Ordinary was the latest one that I read. She makes me smile when I read her books.

Liz Johnson – I have found Prince Edward Island series enjoyable to read.

Pepper Basham  She has some lovable, real characters.

Kristi Ann Hunter – I am so enjoying the Hawthorne House series. I am ready to read the fourth book, An Inconvenient Beauty. But my library doesn’t have it! And I can’t use inter-library loan until the book is six months old. Kristi, do you have any review copies? hee hee.

Roseanne M. White – I started her Shadows Over England Series in January. Excellent!

 

**Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I receive a very small percentage. Your shopping and buying experience is not affected in any way. I just happen to earn a few cents that I put toward books for our homeschool. Thanks for stopping by!

Children’s Fiction from 2017

Better late than ever, right? My plan was to give a concise but thorough review of these books. However, life with ten children does not always go as planned and my desire for sleep always wins. Toss in temperamental internet, well, this is as good as it is going to get. So without any further delay, here are some of our Reads in Children’s Fiction 2017:

The Door Before and The Song of Glory and Ghost (Outlaws of Time Book 2) -N. D. Wilson. Ok, I have to comment on these. The Door Before is a prequel to the 100 Cupboards series (and the Ashtown Burials series as well). You need to read the series first. Trust me. If you haven’t read The Song of Glory and the Ghost, put it on your list! Outlaws of Time Book 3: The Last of the Lost Boys is set to release April 17, 2018.

The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. We really enjoyed both of these books. Beautiful. Bittersweet.

Beautiful Blue World and Threads of Blue – Suzanne Fleur –  Another set of books that deal with the topic of war but it is handle is a much different way than The War That Saved My Life. It reminds me of The Boy in Striped Pajamas in how it isn’t so much what is said but what isn’t that is powerful.

Locomotion and Peace, Locomotion – Jacqueline Woodson – I loved her book Brown Girl Dreaming a few years ago and she did not disappoint. I absolutely adore Locomotion. He is dealing with grief, he loves his sister dearly, and he is finding his place in a new family. Locomotion is a free verse novel and Peace: Locomotion is in the form of letters. I have come to appreciate free verse so much. Woodson does it well.

Patina – Jason Reynolds – This is the second book in the Track series. (Ghost was the first.) This is a great series so far that would appeal to a variety of readers. They are a reasonable length so that reluctant readers will not be overwhelmed. Each book highlights a member of a track team; a diverse group of kids who all have a unique story. The third book, Sunny, is set to be released in April, 2018.

Nothing to Fear – Jackie French Koller – An excellent historical fiction set during the beginning of the Depression.

Isaac the Alchemist – Mary Losure – Having a nice stash of biographies and science titles for my children to read is a goal I am continually working on. This book on Isaac Newton  highlights his boyhood and shows how Newton’s fascination with magic found in science inspired him. I found it a quick and easy read but engaging as well. A great one to add in with your science studies.

Blooming at The Texas Sunrise Motel – Kimberly Willis Holt – A fun read for girls; perhaps ages 10-13? Stevie has lost her parents and is now living with her grumpy grandfather in his hotel. Sweet story about a young girl accepting the changes in her life.  Perfect for a rainy afternoon.

Love That Dog and Hate That Cat – Sharon Creech – These two books are must reads! Jack is boy who is confident that poetry is not for boys. However, Jack discovers that not only is poetry for boys but that he is quite the poet himself. These two books made me smile, chuckle, and yes, even cry just a bit. For your average or above reader, these could be super quick reads as Jack does not waste words. That makes them also a great fit for struggling or reluctant readers. I did not read them aloud  but if I had to do it over again I would definitely read the books aloud. Perhaps just a poem or two a day and let Jack’s story unfold slowly.  Well done, Sharon Creech! We love them!

Out of the Dust – Karen Hesse – Can you tell I discovered a love of free verse this year? Yes, another free verse novel. This novel is told from the perspective of Billie Jo and her life during the Dust Bowl and Depression. Out of the Dust paints a bleak, harsh, realistic picture of this time in history.  It is not for young readers as some portions of the story might be disturbing to sensitive readers. There is no language or suggestive content but Billie Jo suffers severe burns. In the end there is peace and hope for Billie Jo.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon and The Witch’s Boy – Kelly Barnhill – The Witch’s Boy was one of our read alouds in 2017. I began it thinking it would just be an engaging fantasy read for the kiddos and I. This book turned out to be so much more. Kelly Barnhill did an amazing job with Ned’s story.  If you haven’t read The Witch’s Boy, you should. It will be a family favorite.

These were just a handful of the children books I read  in 2017. Some were read alouds and some were just passed along as I finished them. All of them I recommend and hope you enjoy if you choose one or two to read.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite books! I’m always looking to expand our list!

 

*Disclosure – There are affiliate links used throughout this post. If you should make a purchase after clicking on a link, I receive a very small percentage. It does not affect your shopping experience in anyway. Feel free to click on my links to check out these books, read some reviews, and then head over to your library. I love my library and how it saves my budget! Thanks for stopping by!