What I Read in Three Months (March – May)

What I read in three months or a quarter of a year. I knew I was behind, but I didn’t realize I was quite that far behind! Mercy! To say time is flying is a bit of an understatement.

I thought of just letting the past three months of my reading history slide here at Life with the Tribe (and Books). My reading is tracked in a journal, because at my heart I am a pen and paper kind of gal. There is my GoodReads account that I try to remember to update once or twice a month. But I do love my blog. And so here I am prepping to do a Blitz Book Blog Post. A quick and fast list of what I read in March, April, and May. Hopefully short and just highlighting a few favs.

Let’s get to it! (RA = read aloud)

***** – Excellent book. Loved it and highly recommend.

**** – Great book. Loved it and would recommend.

*** – Good book; ok read. Recommend to right audience.

** – Book was meh. Would not read again or recommend.

* – Why did I read this book?

March 2019:

Pay Attention, Carter Jones (Gary D Schmidt) – Read this! But read The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now first.  RA *****

Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransome) – RA ****

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town (Kimberly Willis Holt) ***

The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris) ***

Clouds of Witness (Dorothy Sayers) Lord Peter Wimsey series. So good!  ****

We Must Be Brave (Frances Liardet) ****

My Louisiana Sky (Kimberly Willis Holt) ***

The Language of Flowers (Vanessa Diffenbaugh) ***

Still Life (Louise Penny) Mystery series set in Canada. ****

Fatal Grace (Louise Penny) The foul language in this one was a bit much. I do enjoy the character of Inspector Gamache.  ***

April 2019:

Nyxia (Scott Reintgen) – YA fiction. First of trilogy. No issue with language. There is an intimate relationship mentioned between two characters but no details. ***

Rules of Civility (Amor Towles) *** There is some content I skimmed quickly.

The Age of Miracles (Karen Walker) *** Adult fiction but could be shelved YA. Interesting concept.

All Summer in a Day (Ray Bradbury) **** Short story. Read before The Age of Miracles.

The Wreck and Rise of  Winston Mariner (S.D. Smith)  **** RA This is a favorite author in our home.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (Maria Semple) *** This made me think of Gilmore Girls in book form. Mom and daughter, sarcastic, witty, and definitely weird. There is language. Most of the book is written in the form of emails, letters, etc. But I did enjoy it but would cautiously recommend to select people. It isn’t for everyone.

Courting, Mr. Emerson (Melody Carlson) ** Christian fiction

May 2019

The Red Pony (John Steinbeck) **

Unnatural Death (Dorothy Sayers) **** Lord Peter Wimsey.

Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens) **** I initially had this as a five star. But the more I thought of it, the more some inconsistencies bothered me. But it was a powerful story about our need for human contact, the power of friendship and love, the beauty of nature and survival. There are a few scenes I skimmed and skipped.

Nyxia Unleashed (Scott Reintgen) ***1/2 This is the second of the Nyxia Trilogy. YA fiction

The Artful Match (Jennifer Delamare) *** Christian fiction

The Kite Runner (Khaled Hossecni) **** This has very difficult subject matter. Forgiveness, friendship, redemption.

The Governess of Penwythe Hall (Sarah Ladd) – **1/2 Christian fiction The story line was predictable. I really enjoy Christian Fiction; however, it seems so many are telling the same story with no new twist.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck (Bethany Turner) *** Christian Fiction. While this wasn’t a page turner, I did appreciate the author addressing real struggles in relationships.

Only Ever Her (Marybeth Whalen) **** Maybe more than 3.5 but not quiet 4? I found the ending a bit of a let down. But it was a great afternoon read in the hammock!

What to Say Next (Julie Buxbaum) YA Fiction **** I have teens who are always in need of books. Since they have no interest in intimate content, I try to read as many as I can. My fifteen year old and I both enjoyed this one.

The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins (Gail Shepherd) *** Middle Grade Fiction Set in 80s and addresses PTSD from Vietnam War.

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding (Jennifer Robson) **1/2 I know this book has great reviews, but I found it predictable. Perhaps lacking in depth? Sigh.

And we are done! I can’t complain that I didn’t read enough over those three months. Hopefully you found a book or two to add to your TBR.

 

 

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What I Read – February 2019

Since it is almost mid-March, I suppose I should get my list of books from February jotted down. To say that I am running a bit behind is, well, clearly obvious. In no particular order, here we go!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) – Let me get the disclaimer out of the way from the first. There is language in this book; sprinkled through out in conversation and thought. If you are sensitive to that, please take that into consideration. There were also two scenes that took me by surprised and that I quickly skimmed through. However, this book, this journey with Eleanor was worth it. I did not know much about this book when I began. I had seen it several times on Instagram and decided to give it a go. It is a beautiful story that shows the power of the simple act of friendship and that we should love the unlovely. Is about forgiveness and healing and love. I’m so glad I got to know Eleanor.

Greetings from the Flipside (Rene Gutteridge) – A Christian Fiction story that had an intriguing story line but lacked in a bit of back story development. I think if the back story of the two characters, their connection, has been better fleshed out that this would have been super fun! I enjoyed it and a relaxing  weekend read but felt a bit cheated when I was done.

Who I Am With You (Robin Lee Hatcher) – This was a new release from an author that I typically enjoy. Humph. What is up with me? Again, I felt that there was something lacking in the connection of the two main characters, Jessica and Ridley. Hatcher is actually telling two stories at once. The book flips between the story of Jessica and her great-grandfather. I was disappointed and felt Jessica’s and Ridley’s relationship wasn’t realistic.

The Interrupted Tale: Book Four of the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (Maryrose Wood) – This was, of course, a read aloud with my younger children (and husband). We continue to enjoy Miss Lumley and the Incorrigibles. Not only is it an engaging story line but Ms. Wood understands that children are smart and witty and funny. I will confess that Book Four has not been my favorite but still excellent! I have Book Five on my shelf for us to read this month. We definitely recommend this series!

A Brief Note: When I’m reading a book or have a book I want to read, I dislike when someone tells me all the details. I often think, ” well, now I don’t have to read it.” So this post isn’t a review of the books I’ve read; just a list to share. If you would like more details, let me know in the comments. I will always try to mention questionable content and other important tidbits.

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) – We finally finished! This was our Wednesday with Austen selection and since we only read it on Wednesdays, it took a few months to finish. However, it was absolutely wonderful and I loved it! My older children had read it on their own but it is a classic worthy of being re-read. Confession: It was my first time reading Pride and Prejudice. Why, why, why did I wait so long? I loved it. Of the Austen books I have read so far, it is my favorite. I did read this aloud to all of my children that are home during the day (17 down to 2). Do not doubt the ability for younger ones to not only follow the basic story line but to enjoy it. Ok, the two year old didn’t really care but that is okay.

The Austen Escape (Katherine Reay) – I happened to see this on the shelf and grabbed it. I had heard good things about this author and her books. The Austen Escape was an enjoyable weekend read. I think you definitely have to appreciate Austen to enjoy a book like this. It was fun, enjoyable, and interesting. If you are in need of some weekend reading or a book to have tossed in your bag for the waiting room, The Austen Escape is a great choice!

 

Blue Ridge Billy (Lois Lenski) – I love Strawberry Girl and decided I wanted to incorporate Lenski’s other regional books into our school readings. Since Blue Ridge Billy is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina it was an easy choice. So, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Strawberry Girl. However, I made this mistake of dragging out the reading of this book. I was suppose to read it weekly but I skipped more than a few weeks. Despite that my children, 11, 9, and 7, enjoyed Blue Ridge Billy. They always wanted me to read more. They wanted to know if Billy was going to get his banjo and what was going to happen to his dad (they were not fans of the dad). If you were to choose to read this, be consistent. I read the last few chapters in a week or so. It made a huge difference.

The Way of the Wilderking (Jonathan Rogers) – This is Book Three of The Wilderking Trilogy. If you have not read this trilogy, read it. Read it aloud to your children. Read it for yourself. It is excellent and funny and exciting and heartbreaking and adventurous. You want to see Aidan’s journey unfold. You want to travel into the Feechiefen and meet the feechies. Trust me. This was my second time reading this trilogy aloud. I read aloud about seven or eight years ago. I decided that my son, 9, would love this trilogy. So I read it aloud again. The boys in your life will love it. So will your girls. Your husband might laugh the loudest. Can you tell that we highly recommend this trilogy?

Whose Body? (Dorothy Sayers) – I was never a fan of mysteries until two of my children developed a love of mysteries. In reading books to preview them and in reading books to join in conversation with them, I have come to love certain murder mysteries. I have had Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries on my TBR for some time. I finally decided to just read it and stop putting it off. Oh, I love Wimsey! Absolutely delightful all the way around. Highly recommend.

Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) – This was as impulse selection. One of my older daughters read this and made a comment or two that had me so eager to read this book. I grabbed a copy from the library. And like so many older books, they give you no book summary or synopsis. I did not ask my daughter for details. I didn’t look it up online. I opened the book, started reading, and let the story unfold before me. Oh my. From the first page, I was hooked. My two daughters that had read it and I had the same exact reaction to the plot twist and resulting outcome.There may have been a character that I wanted to just ask “What?!?!?!?”  Highly recommend. I am eager to read more of du Maurier’s work.

That was a super quick look at what I read or finished reading in February. I will try to post soon about how my reading for the Back to the Classics challenge is going. Hopefully my March reading will be just as delightful as February.

Please share what you are reading!!

 

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What I Read – January 2019

And in a blink, January was gone! Despite how fast time is flying, I was able to finish up a nice stack of books. Some were a bit disappointing but I found a few new favorites. Satisfying, indeed. So let’s get to it!

From the Children’s Section:

Blended by Sharon Draper – This is a middle grade fiction novel that shares the struggles of eleven year old Isabella. Isabella’s parents are divorced. Since both parents live in the same town, Isabella spends alternate weeks with her mom and dad. Each “transfer” deepens Isabella’s question of where does she really belong? Where is home? How does she fit in these two very different households?

That struggle in itself is challenging enough for a young girl but Isabella is also faced with who she is on a racial level. With a father who is black and a mother who is white, where does Isabella fit? Who is she? Events occur at school and home that make this question cut even deeper.

Overall, this was a good read. I think the topics were handled appropriately for the target audience; definitely middle grade fiction.

Marie Antoinette by Bernadine Kelly – This is a World Landmark Book and a surprisingly interesting biography. This served as a read aloud during our group studies and worked well with my teens down to my seven year old. We were able to learn about Marie’s childhood and bringing all the way to the tragic end of her life.

This biography was full of information and details but managed to be engaging and entertaining as well. It definitely encourages a sympathetic view of Marie Antoinette. Considering the future her mother had planned for her, it was heartbreaking how ill-prepared Marie was for that life. During our reading we had much conversation and discussion on how the outcome could have been different and how much other’s decision directed Maria’s path. I highly recommend this Landmark Biography!

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas. This book was grabbed off the shelf totally based on the author. We read and loved Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: A Memoir by Jacques Papier. It was such a beautiful, sweet book that took us all by surprise. How could I resist a book about a pet black hole!??!?!?

Oh my, this book was funny, heartbreaking, and such a great read. I laughed out loud over Chapter 11. The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole is the story of Stella coming to terms with the death of her father. It is set during the 70s so kiddos who enjoy space might enjoy the tidbit of history and space thrown into this book. I had to look up one or two things myself. And! I am totally prepared if a black hole wanders into my yard. I know exactly what it needs to be happy and how to give it a hug without falling in. This is a must read!

 

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster (Jonathon Auxier) – Mr. Auxier is a favorite author in our home. When I heard he had a new children’s novel out, I requested Sweep from our library immediately. We were not disappointed! Sweep takes up to Victorian London into the world of children and chimney sweeps. Life is harsh, dirty, and unforgiving. Young Nan has faced it all and keeps pushing forward. Then she faces sure death and is saved. Saved by Charlie…a monster. Or is he? And just what exactly do you do with a monster when you are suppose to be dead?

This is a beautiful, bittersweet story of friendship, faith, and hope. It gives us a glimpse into a harsh time in history. We learn to keep our brooms up! and to save ourselves by saving others. I read this aloud and my children loves Nan, Charlie, Toby and even Prospero. I’m still torn on Prospero. We highly recommend Sweep! If you haven’t read Auxier other books, I highly recommend Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, and The Night Gardener.

From the Adult Section:

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. Twelfth Night is the story of tangled relationships, shipwrecks, and mistaken identities. It is absolutely hilarious and delightful. I can not recommend enough reading Shakespeare aloud in a group. It has to be one of my favorite Shakespeare plays so far. Definitely recommend!

On Magnolia Lane by Densie Hunter. This is the newest release from Christian Fiction author Denise Hunter. This story of a pastor (Jack) falling in love with a parishioner (Daisy) sound interesting and intriguing. Then it fell a bit flat for me. I’m not sure if there were too many smaller plot lines going on or if the character development just wasn’t deep enough? In any case, this one did not live up to my expectations and I was disappointed.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. As a huge fan of World War II books, non-fiction and fiction, I was eager to dive into Scarlet Sky. A story based on a real life of Pino Lella in Italy during the German Occupation. Although this story was based on true life and events, it was fictionalized due to lack of documentation and accuracy of conversations, etc.

Sadly, not too far into the book and I was struggling to embrace Pino, Italy, and all that was happening. The writing was stilted and choppy. Sometimes it read as if Sullivan was writing a fiction novel and then it shifted to a more fact based paper or outline. Normally, at this point I would put a book aside and move on to a new selection. However, I really wanted to love this story so I kept pushing through. In hindsight I should have just shut the book and let it go. At times it bordered at times on unrealistic and some of the events and actions Pino took seemed unbelievable. If you have read Scarlet Sky, I would love to hear your thoughts? I really struggled with this!

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos. Ah, this was such a great read, y’all. Before you read this book, you need to read Love Walked In and Belong to Me. Then grab I’ll Be Your Blue Sky. I am not going to give away any of the story line. Truly. I loved these characters so much. I loved their stories. I loved the picture it paints of family and friendship and dealing with the hard and ugly parts of life. I highly recommend. Find a cozy spot, a yummy snack, and settle in! Now. Go!

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This book. I read it on a whim. I had seen it mentioned online a few times and so I thought, “why not?” I am fairly confident that this book will by in my Top Ten for the year. I absolutely loved this book. Towles created a beautiful story set with the backdrop of Russian history. A gentleman who instead of facing death after the Revolution in Russia is exiled to a hotel. He must live out his life in a small servant room and never to leave the walls of the hotel. Decades pass by as The Count creates a community inside this hotel as he watches the changes of his beloved Russia.

This is a beautiful story of life and friendship and circumstance. The writing and language is beautiful and lovely. I enjoyed just reading how Towles writes as much as the story he wove together. Not only did I fall in love with his characters but I want to learn more of Russia and her history. After I was done, two of my teens (15 and 17) read A Gentleman and my husband listened to it on audio. They all loved it as well.( I want to note that I can’t recall any vulgar language. There are two incidents where the Count spends time with a woman in an intimate setting. There is a description of her lowering her dress to the floor and later they are in bed talking. It is not graphic or detailed and only a paragraph or two each time. I wanted to be upfront my letting my teens read it might encourage others to do the same.)

If you read only one book from this post, make it A Gentleman in Moscow. This is one I would love to own and would re-read. Highly recommend.

I think that covers my January reading. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention anything about my Back to the Classic challenge. Ahem. It is moving at a bit of a slow pace. I will update where I am at on that in my next post.

**This post contains affiliate links. These links in no way change your shopping/browsing experience. I may earn a small percentage if a purchase is made via my links. That’s its. Thanks for stopping by!