Books Read in 2014 – The Compiled List

Books Read in 2014If you’ve been reading my blog all year, this is the compiled list pulled together from all my monthly recap posts, but arranged topically. It excludes all of the picture and board books I read to my kids (I hope to share those in their own post soon). However, any children’s title over 100 pages is included here.

An asterisk (*) by a title means it’s one I especially enjoyed or recommend.

Quick Links to Books by Categories:

Christianity / Theology | Memoirs / Biographies | Parenting / Relationships | Education | Personal Development, Money & Time Management| Blogging / Social Media / Writing | Cookbooks & Food | History | ebooks | Other Nonfiction | Children’s / Young Adult Nonfiction | General Fiction| Mysteries | Fantasy | Science Fiction | Romance | Children’s / Young Adult Fiction | Didn’t Finish

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Seven Quick Takes on a New Linkup, Essential Oils, and Dinner Hope

Seven Quick Takes for January 2015

— 1 —

There will be a link-up on February 3rd to share about any new books you’ve added to your bookshelf in January. And by “new” I mean new-to-you, and by “added” I mean in any way, shape, or form. Library books definitely count, as do e-books or audio books. Instagram pics can be linked up as well, so no worries if you don’t have a blog post about it to share – just snap a picture!

— 2 —

New on the StacksI’m working on a graphic for the linkup, but it’s … not an area of giftedness for me. ;) I’ve gotten something pulled together, as you can see. While this may very well be the best graphic I’ve ever done, this may not be the final version, if I can come up with something better (or find someone to make a nicer/more creative/all around more awesome one). The name is still up in the air a bit too. “New on the stacks” is where I’m leaning currently, but that may change. Any ideas or preferences, please share! Sleep deprivation brain is here and it’s definitely hindering my thinking processes.

— 3 —

Essential Oils January 2015I actually got my January oils order before I even managed to share about December’s, so here’s what I ordered both months:

Thieves soap (Love this stuff!)
Cedarwood (love this too – definitely one of my top five favorite oils. I love the smell, and it’s part of my nighttime routine to diffuse it.)
Valor (I am so happy this is back in stock, and I ordered the two bottles permitted.)
RuTaVala (Filling in from my list of oils I want to try)
Rosemary (Postpartum hair issues here, and am going to try this to see if it helps with the horrific texture my hair is currently experiencing)
Frereana Frankincense (regular Frankincense is still out of stock, and I’m almost out. Trying this as a substitute.)

— 5 —

Getting dinner on the table regularly has been a major challenge since having the baby. I keep thinking I can just do this or that and it’ll be easier.

Last weekend I finally decided to sign up for a menu planning service. It’s $5 a month, so it won’t take much before it saves me that in time and effort. I’m kicking myself a bit for taking so long to do this. I’d even been a beta tester for this plan when it first rolled out, but kept forgetting to actually sign up for it once that ended.

— 6 —

Last week a friend from grad school had a really quick visit with us, as she was in town on the way to a meeting in Kentucky. (Indianapolis counts as close enough to Louisville when you normally live in Colorado.) Despite that distance, she’s managed to make it to visit me and meet my new babies within a few months of each of them being born. That’s pretty awesome. :)

I still think the cutest thing is one visit when G was talking, but still pretty young, and he kept calling her “snoozan” Not Susan, “Snoozan.” And then carrying on that tradition, H was calling her that this visit. What it is about my kids and the inability to pronounce “Susan” I don’t know, but it makes me laugh.

— 7 —

It’s the 23rd of January and I have finished very few books for the month. I’m starting them, but not completing them. If I’m to have anything to review next month, I need to get cracking and get some to the “have read” shelf instead of just the “currently reading” shelf.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links, but none of the others are. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

What the Kids are Reading (in January 2015)

Lots of new library books, lots of books that just missed out on being super favorites. We spent a lot of time reading our own books though, so no worries when the library picks aren’t major hits.

The World According to Musk OxThe World According to Musk OxThe World According to Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers

We love the books A Is for Musk OxA Is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers, and Musk Ox CountsMusk Ox Counts by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers. This is another good one, but some of the humor is over my kids’ heads. (That’s perhaps a good thing, like when the musk ox is getting flirty.) The illustrations are fantastic, and I loved the “hysterical markers” for each continent. Lots of fun!

Naked Mole Rat Gets DressedNaked Mole Rat Gets DressedNaked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems by Mo Willems

Love Williems – I tend to just wander over to his shelf at the library and grab anything we haven’t already read. This one wasn’t one of our favorites however, and it went back to the library without regrets. I doubt we’ll borrow it again.

HogwashHogwash!Hogwash! by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jim McMullan by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jim McMullan

I’ve become a huge Karma Wilson fan, but like with the Willems title mentioned above, this wasn’t our favorite from her.

Bear Says ThanksBear Says ThanksBear Says Thanks (The Bear Books) by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

See above, about Karma Wilson. This one is a little late for Thanksgiving, but that’s ok – it’s still a great book.

DragonsDragons (Mythical Creatures)Dragons (Mythical Creatures) by Charlotte Guillain by Charlotte Guillain

My daughter requested a book on dragons, as we drove in to the library. I had no time to go searching for picture books featuring dragons, so instead I went to the nonfiction area. Yes, nonfiction about dragons – it does exist!
For general interest though, I think she’d have preferred a regular picture book. This one didn’t keep her attention.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Crimes and Mathdemeanors

Crimes and MathdemeanorsCrimes and MathdemeanorsCrimes and Mathdemeanors by Leith Hathout by Leith Hathout
Think Encyclopedia BrownEncyclopedia Brown Box Set (4 Books) by Donald J. Sobol solving math problems. Very advanced word problems.

The writing is serviceable, but I don’t expect anyone is picking up the book for the writing. It’s the challenge of solving the problems that’s the appeal. I’d recommend it to high schoolers taking advanced math, or adults who want to see how rusty their math skills are.

And mine? Were super rusty. :)

I still enjoyed the mysteries, and counted it a success when I figured out the key information in the puzzle, even if I couldn’t remember the specifics of how to solve the problems.

Recommended if it sounds like something you’d enjoy as a brain-stretcher, rather than a literary experience. [Read more...]

How to Blog for Profit without Selling Your Soul

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your SoulHow To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your SoulHow To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup by Ruth Soukup

If you’re at all interested in monetizing your blog, Soukup’s book is a great place to start. Her writing style is easy to follow, and she gives great ideas and tips. The hardest part is finding the time to put all of the ideas you’ll generate into action!

Much of the book has tips that you’ve likely heard already, but there was some new information for me (especially about utilizing Pinterest). Often with things like this, it’s not always that the information is new, it’s how it’s organized or how it motivates you to put it into practice that is key. And it’s very motivating and has easily actionable steps.

I especially appreciated the sections on goal setting and time management – the latter is my biggest blogging issue, especially with balancing it with the rest of my life.

Publisher’s Description:
Do you want to earn a living doing what you love?

Whether you have been blogging for years or just a few weeks, How to Blog For Profit (Without Selling Your Soul) offers solid advice and practical action plans for creating an authentic, successful, and profitable blog.

With wit, wisdom, and the insight of someone who’s been there, Ruth Soukup shares how she grew her own blog, Living Well Spending Less, to over one million monthly visitors, earns a full time income, and still is able to write about the things she truly cares about.

In this expanded 2nd Edition of How to Blog for Profit you will:

• Stop comparing your blog to those around you and instead learn to leverage your own unique assets.
• Discover the secrets to creating amazing, compelling blog content that brings readers back again and again.
• Learn how to increase your blog traffic and build solid platform through field-tested strategies. • Develop a solid social media strategy for capturing viral growth through Pinterest and Facebook.
• Dramatically boost your revenue through diversified income streams.
• Improve your productivity, learning to work smarter not harder, and take concrete steps to transform your blog into a business.

Book Details

Title: How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your SoulHow To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup
Author: Ruth Soukup
Category: Nonfiction / Blogging
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Cooking the Book: Good Cheap Eats

Good Cheap EatsGood Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners and Fantastic Feasts for $10 or LessGood Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners and Fantastic Feasts for $10 or Less by Jessica Fisher by Jessica Fisher

Years ago there was a meal-planning service that I wanted to make work. I loved the idea of it, I loved the idea of the recipes, and the library had their books so it was easy to try. Except the recipes almost never worked for me. They didn’t match our tastes, and the few times I found one that I liked, my husband didn’t care for it. A menu plan where none of the recipes are ones you’ll want isn’t much of a help, and I finally admitted that trying to tweak their plan wasn’t worth the effort.

Jessica Fisher’s recipes? Now those fit our tastes. I’ve got all of her cookbooks and everything I’ve tried has been a hit. So it’s not that surprising that with her latest book I happily pre-ordered it and impatiently waited for it to be released.

And I’ve had it for a month now and have already made one recipe from it twice (the Chicken, Black Bean, and Rice Soup), as well as flagging many more to try.

This book is structured a bit differently – there aren’t sections for beef, or chicken, or soups. Instead there are menus, arranged thematically. For example, section one is “Going Meatless.” There are also sections on “Company Dinners” “Make-Ahead Meals” “Breakfast for Supper” and more. So if you’re in the mood for soup, it could be in almost anywhere in the book. That’s ok, because there’s a great index, but the organization does mean you can’t flip through one section and find them all.

I actually really like how it’s structured – it gives great ideas on accompanying dishes. As I write this, I’m planning on making the Poblano Chile Enchiladas this week. The other recipes grouped with it are for South of the Border Slaw, and Zesty Mexican Rice. Both of those sound good to me, so I’ll just use her entire plan!

There are lots of money-saving tips scattered throughout the sidebars. Some of them are familiar, but there were many that were new ideas for me. I wouldn’t get the book just for them, but they’re a nice bonus in a cookbook that I think will get heavy use in my house.

Unlike her book Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze CookbookNot Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook (NYM Series) by Jessica Fisher (which I also use and love), this new book includes photographs for many of the recipes. That was my main complaint with her freezer cookbook, so I’m very happy to see this change.

How I Made “Chicken, Black Bean, and Rice Soup”:

(very slightly modified from Fisher’s recipe)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups water (because I didn’t have another two cups of broth)
2 – 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I never measured this, just dumped some in from a bag of frozen chicken)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium zucchini, shredded (the second time I didn’t have this, and skipped it. It was better with it.)
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 cup long grain white rice
juice of 1 lime (I used about 2 drops of lime oil)
1 teaspoon chile powder (she uses cumin here; I always sub chile powder for cumin in recipes)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (I upped this amount)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I upped this amount because I wanted more zip)
salt and pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped (to garnish)

In a large stockpot, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender, about 5 – 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the cilantro. Simmer until the vegetables are tender and the rice is cooked, about 20 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro.

My verdict:

So good. Super easy too, and it makes a ton, so there are plenty of leftovers. And it’s freezable so I won’t be facing the same soup for days on end. My husband loved it too.

The kids’ verdict:

My kids do not like soup, but that’s not specific to this one. :(

See all the Cooking the Book reviews and recipes I’ve shared..

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschool Update: 3/4 of the Way Through Kindergarten’s Core

Core P4/5 IGJust before we took our Christmas break we finished up the third quarter of Sonlight’s P4/5 core. It made for a very satisfying stopping point for me, although I don’t think my son cared.

(Curious as to what we thought about the first half of the core? I wrote about the first quarter and second quarter previously.)

New Titles This Quarter

The Milly Molly Mandy StorybookThe Milly-Molly-Mandy StorybookThe Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley by Joyce Lankester Brisley
We’re not done with this one, but it’s been a hit, although not such a big one that he’s pushing hard for more than what’s scheduled each day. That’s ok – he’s happy to read each chapter, and it makes an impression on him, as we talk about events that have taken place in the book.

Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There IsIs a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? (Wells of Knowledge Science) by Robert E. Wells by Robert E. Wells
As expected, both kids loved this one. I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve read it, but it’s been quite popular.

How Do You Lift a LionHow Do You Lift a Lion?How Do You Lift a Lion? (Wells of Knowledge Science Series) by Robert E. Wells by Robert E. Wells
Maybe just a smidge less beloved by my son than the Blue Whale one mentioned above, if only because the blue whale one ends up talking about planets and outer space. This is another one we’ve read again and again – my kids adore all the Wells books we’ve tried, both from Sonlight and from the library.

The Gods Must Be AngryThe Gods Must Be AngryThe Gods Must Be Angry by Sheila Miller and Ian Murray by Sheila Miller and Ian Murray
G liked it but didn’t love it. It does give a lot of great openings for discussion, so I’m glad we read it. H (3 1/2) listens to most of the reading we do, and this one did not keep her interest at all. Sometimes it’s quite obvious that she’s below the recommended age for this core!

PeoplePeoplePeople by Peter Spier by Peter Spier
It’s driving me crazy that this book reminded me so much of another one we read from the library, and I apparently never recorded it. Now I can’t remember the title, and my forgetfulness is aggravating. This one is fine; both kids listened and looked at the pictures, but neither of them wanted to look at it a second time.

Then and NowThen and NowThen and Now
I expected G to be somewhat neutral towards this title, but to my surprise he loves it. We read about half the book the first time we picked it up, instead of the two pages assigned for that day. He’s clearly a major Usborne fan!


Reading continues to go very well – we finished All About Reading Level 2 (I’ll share a full review of it in the next homeschooling update). The last 10 lessons took about three days G was so determined to finish so I’d order Level 3 and he could get started on it! We did take about a month’s break from lessons because of Christmas, and I just had him read other materials to keep in practice. We’re back at the lessons now though, and are working through Level 3.


As mentioned in my math update, I did give RightStart B a good try, but I continued to dislike teaching it, and G continued to dislike using it (except for the abacus; he loves that!). I’ll be returning it to my friend with thanks for saving me spending the money on an expensive curriculum that doesn’t work for us. I took advantage of a special sale on Math Mammoth over New Years, and got the entire Light Blue series for 40% off. That gave me Levels 1 – 7A for under $100. With three kids, I’m feeling confident I’ll get that much use out of it, even if it never is our main curriculum.

Looking Ahead

I’m starting to make plans for what we’ll do once P 4/5 is finished. That’ll be a separate post probably next month. Barring illness or other disruptions I don’t think it’ll take us 9 calendar weeks to finish the remaining 9 core weeks. G seems like he’s motivated to finish it up and move on to what’s next. We’ll see – I won’t be pushing him, but if he wants to do extra in a day, I’m not going to hold him back if I’ve got time and energy to work with him.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Favorite Kids’ Books of 2014

Favorite Kids' Books of 2014

Picture Books

AlmostAlmostAlmost by Richard Torrey by Richard Torrey

Probably my daughter’s favorite picture book for the year – I think she related to the younger sibling aspect, even though the main character is closer in age to my son instead of her. She liked to “read” it to me, by reciting the text since she knew it all by memory.

Randy Riley's Really Big HitRandy Riley’s Really Big HitRandy Riley's Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen by Chris Van Dusen

Perhaps my son’s favorite picture book of the year. The illustrations, the topic, and the inclusion of a telescope and giant robot all combined to be a BIG HIT. Pun very much intended.

The Great DivideThe Great Divide: A Mathematical MarathonThe Great Divide: A Mathematical Marathon by Dayle Ann Dodds, illustrated by Tracy Mitchell by Dayle Ann Dodds, illustrated by Tracy Mitchell

Who knew division could be so entertaining? Not that the kids realize what’s going on in the book; they just think it’s fun.

Full HouseFull House: An Invitation to FractionsFull House: An Invitation to Fractions by Dayle Ann Dodds, illustrated by Abby Carter by Dayle Ann Dodds, illustrated by Abby Carter

Another math picture book, another one beloved by my daughter. Both kids really enjoy Dodds work – no idea if it’s making any impact on them from a mathematical standpoint, but the books are fun regardless.

JourneyJourneyJourney by Aaron Becker by Aaron Becker

A wonderful wordless picture book, with a storyline that reminded me just a bit of Harold and the Purple CrayonHarold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, although the illustration style is completely different.

Tweak TweakTweak TweakTweak Tweak by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

My daughter adored this one, and asked for it again and again and again. She also tried to reenact it, which was awfully cute.

Have You Seen My New Blue SocksHave You Seen My New Blue Socks?Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
My daughter especially enjoyed this one. It’s a very quick, very cute read, with lots of simple rhymes that encouraged my kids to guess the sentence ending. It was an ideal library book – we read it endlessly for about 6 weeks, and then happily sent it back for fresh material.

Musk Ox CountsMusk Ox CountsMusk Ox Counts by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers

Funny story line, cute illustrations – my kids think it’s hilarious, even though they’re too young to get all the jokes. Maybe they just like the illustrations that much? I don’t like it as much as A Is for Musk OxA Is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers, but it’s still a cute counting book.

Nonfiction Picture Books

I Can Name 50 Trees TodayI Can Name 50 Trees Today!I Can Name 50 Trees Today!: All About Trees (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) by Bonnie Worth, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu by Bonnie Worth, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu

The Cat in the Hat nonfiction titles were new to us this year, and we read several of them. This was the most popular, but they also really liked the Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?: All About Deserts (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) one.

Berenstain Bear's Big Book of Science and NatureThe Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and NatureThe Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature by Stan & Jan Berenstain by Stan & Jan Berenstain

I’ve lost track of how many times we read this one, but it might have been the most frequently read title of the year.

Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? (Wells of Knowledge Science) by Robert E. Wells by Robert E. Wells

My son adores the Wells science series, and this is probably his favorite. Blue whales and outer space and so much fun!

What's Under the SeaWhat’s Under the SeaWhat's Under the Sea (Starting Point Science)

My son seems to love all the Usborne books we ever read, and this was no exception. We read it quickly, and then reread it and reread it.

Things People DoThings People DoThings People Do by Anne Civardi, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright by Anne Civardi, illustrated by Stephen Cartwright

This was initially a good-but-not-great book for my son, and then he hit the halfway point of it and became obsessed with it, looking at it by himself whenever he could.

Chapter Books

The Boxcar ChildrenThe Boxcar ChildrenThe Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries) by Gertrude Chandler Warner by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The book that turned my son into a chapter book reader – this is the first book we (successfully) read that wasn’t illustrated on every page, with a plot that continued on through successive chapters. We read it multiple times as well, with both kids asking repeatedly for the story about the “four hungry kids.”

Bink & GollieBink and GollieBink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile

An excellent bridge from picture books to chapter books – each chapter stands alone, it’s got illustrations on every page, and the plot is easy to follow.

Mercy Watson to the RescueMercy Watson to the RescueMercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Another excellent bridge from picture to chapter books. My 3 1/2 year old daughter especially loved this one – she found the story line to be really funny.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Curtsies & Conspiricies

Curtsies and ConspiraciesCurtsies & ConspiraciesCurtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School Book 2) by Gail Carriger by Gail Carriger

I feel like I’ve done nothing but gush about this series since discovering it, but it’s just been a lot of fun to read. If you’re not a fantasy fan, I don’t know that this will convert you, however if you are or are perhaps looking to try something new, this series is entertaining and easy to read.

This is obviously a sequel, and you’ll probably enjoy it more if you’ve read the first, Etiquette & Espionage, although it’s not completely essential. Sophronia is appealing, and I loved following along with her escapades. I also liked trying to predict what Carriger was going to come up with next – it can be a bit outlandish at times, but it feels appropriate to the overall story.

If steampunk, a school of espionage disguised as a Victorian finishing school housed in a floating dirigible, and supernatural creatures (werewolves and vampires specifically) don’t sound like they could combine into anything remotely appealing, well, I was surprised too. But they do, and I’m hooked on the series.

As I said in my review of Etiquette & Espionage, these books remind me a bit of the Lunar Chronicles series (Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress so far). No re-imagined fairy tales for this one, but a similar feel. One other big difference is that this series keeps the same main character focus for each book, instead of shifting perspectives. That’s not meant as a criticism of either series, just a comment. [Read more...]

Cheaper by the Dozen

Cheaper by the DozenCheaper by the DozenCheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey by Frank B Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

I dithered quite a bit about whether this was a 4-star read, or only 3 1/2, and eventually decided that if I had to think about it that much, I should probably go with the lower rating. So this is somewhere between an “I liked it” to “I really liked it!”

The biggest downsides to the book are that it is quite dated – there are some jokes that are thankfully no longer generally regarded as humorous which are casually included. It’s somewhat jarring at times now, but then again it’s maybe a bit unfair to criticize the book that much for something that was no big deal at the time.

It’s a fairly short book, and very quick to read – I was somewhat disappointed to come to the end of it and wished I had the sequel, Belles on Their ToesBelles on Their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, ready to dive into! I’m looking forward to reading more about what happens with the Gilbreth family.

[Read more...]