What the Kids are Reading (in October 2014)

Not a lot of new-to-us books recently; most of the books we’ve been reading have been old favorites. We did still manage a few new titles though:

Moonshot The Flight of Apollo 11Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca by Brian Floca

I thought G would be more into this than he was – he has loved some of Floca’s other books, and he loves outer space related titles, but this one wasn’t a favorite. It’s probably just a bit too old for him, so I’ll give it another try at a later date.

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

H especially loves this one, but G doesn’t mind listening to it as well. It’s very cute, with charming illustrations. I don’t think it’ll be one that H continues to ask for again and again, but that just makes it a perfect library book.

Hana in the Time of the TulipsHana in the Time of the TulipsHana in the Time of the Tulips by Deborah Noyes, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline by Deborah Noyes, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

The illustrations are beautiful, but the storyline doesn’t keep their interest. I think it’d be a better choice for older kids, even if it is a picture book.

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Fall of a Philanderer

Fall of a PhilandererFall of a Philanderer: A Daisy Dalrymple MysteryFall of a Philanderer: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery by Carola Dunn by Carola Dunn

I read Dunn’s novel immediate after finishing a Charles Todd novel, and the contrast between the two was fun. Both set in England between the world wars. Both feature a Scotland Yard detective (Todd’s main character, and a secondary one in Dunn’s). Both a mystery series.

And yet they are so completely different in tone and overall feel. Todd’s books dive into the after-effects of the war much more deeply. Dunn’s books are light and breezy and fun, if that doesn’t sound too impertinent to say about a series that includes dead bodies in every book. :)

In this entry to her series (#14 in what is currently 21 titles), Daisy remains cheerful and appealing, and quite charming. I liked the setting for this one, as she’s on holiday at the seashore and that allows for an easy way to bring in some fresh characters to the series.

I am biased towards reading series in order, but have to admit that in this case it only really matters because of Daisy’s personal situation. If you pick up this one and then start over with an earlier one any suspense about some individuals will be gone. Honestly though, with the cozy feel for the series I’d be shocked if there was any suspense involved in the situation I’m dancing around. And if you read the publisher’s description below it’ll give it away as well. Critical for enjoying the other books? Not at all. :)

Recommended if you are looking for a light read. The historical accuracy and especially the realism behind the crime-solving aspects are not strengths, but it’s an entertaining read when I’m looking for something with this sort of tone.

Publisher’s Description:
For Daisy and her husband Alec, a long-awaited break by the sea becomes a busman’s holiday when a local ladies’ man turns up murdered on the beach… Yet in the coastal town of Westcombe it’s hard to find someone who wouldn’t have wanted George Enderby dead. The married Casanova’s scandalous seductions had earned him the enmity of every jilted lover and cuckolded husband in the area – not to mention the resentment of his long-suffering wife. And now, as Daisy and Alec investigate among the seaside cliffs, beautiful beach and quaint village, this holiday idyll seems nothing more than a sinister backdrop for cold blooded murder… while the murderer may be closer than Daisy thinks!

Book Details

Title: Fall of a Philanderer: A Daisy Dalrymple MysteryFall of a Philanderer: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery by Carola Dunn
Author: Carola Dunn
Category: Fiction / Historical Mystery
My Rating: 3 Stars

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Eiffel’s Tower

Eiffel's TowerEiffel’s Tower:And the World’s Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a CountEiffel's Tower: The Thrilling Story Behind Paris's Beloved Monument and the Extraordinary World's Fair That Introduced It by Jill Jonnes by Jill Jonnes

If you’ve read Devil in the White City, Eiffel’s Tower will have a familiarity to it. They both give a detailed look at a major event – the World’s Fairs in Chicago and Paris – and especially focus on a particular aspect surrounding the event. In Devil’s case, it’s the serial killer operating nearby. In Eiffel’s Tower, it’s (no surprise) the Eiffel Tower.

My hesitation at recommending Devil in the White City has always been the true-crime element – it can be tough to read, especially if you’re really just wanting a look at the World’s Fair in Chicago. There are no such hesitations with Eiffel’s Tower, as everything is focused on the Tower, or the Fair.

It’s still not a book that will appeal to everyone – it can be a bit dry at times, and there are a ton of people to keep straight as far as who is who, and what their connection is to events. If you want nonfiction that reads like fiction or is impossible to put down, this is probably not the book for you. But for a fascinating look at Eiffel, his tower, Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, and many, many more, I really enjoyed this.
[Read more...]

Two More Christmas Ebooks

Two years ago I shared about two Christmas-focused ebooks. We’re well into Holiday Planning Season, so I’ve got two more I recently read that I recommend if you’re in the market for their specific topics.

101 Days of Christmas101 Days of Christmas101 Days of Christmas: 101+ Recipes & Crafts for a DIY Holiday by Mandi Ehman by Mandi Ehman

Why read it? If you want a ton of DIY ideas for Christmas. Crafts, gifts, food – it’s got almost anything you could want.

There are some delicious sounding recipes, and I appreciated that most of the crafts included full instructions in the text, rather than requiring you to click through to the website. It drives me crazy when ebooks do that – I disabled internet access on my Kindle, and want all the specifics included in the book itself. Extra info? Sure, include a link, but don’t force me to click through. There were only a couple where the full procedure wasn’t included, and for more crafty people, that might not be necessary at all. I’m not very crafty so I tend to need lots of details, and pictures are helpful too. :)

The ebook is a compilation of two years of Christmas-themed posts, so the content isn’t original. However, it’s all organized into a useful structure, so it may be worth buying even though you can find it all online. And if you can’t get enough of DIY Christmas, she runs the 101 Days series every year – 2014′s is going on right now.

You can get it in either a PDFor Kindle101 Days of Christmas: 101+ Recipes & Crafts for a DIY Holiday by Mandi Ehman version. While I usually love Kindle versions as they’re easier to read on my actual Kindle, in this case I like the better printing-capability of the PDF version.

A Simpler SeasonA Simpler SeasonA Simpler Season by Jessica Fisher by Jessica Fisher

Why read it? Because it includes ideas for the entire holiday season – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Planning sheets, recipe ideas, and more.

If you’re looking for a book exclusively focused on Christmas, this won’t be the one for you, but I enjoyed the coverage given to Thanksgiving and New Years as well. There are lots of budget-friendly ideas, and the book is much longer than a typical ebook – over 200 pages! I liked the planning pages and kid-focused ideas, and I especially liked the recipes and menu planning suggestions.

Surprising no one who knows me, my other favorite part of this book was the list of children’s holiday books, and suggested activities to do after reading those books.

This is also available as a PDF or KindleA Simpler Season by Jessica Fisher version, and there is the option to buy the printables only if you’ve bought the PDF (it’s priced to take that into account as well.)

(And if you’ve got young children, the Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands devotional I mentioned previously is still the best, easiest thing I’ve found to use. I was too miserably pregnant last year to do it with my kids again, but this year I’m getting the printable ornaments and will make it easy on myself. I love this devotional!)

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

Homeschooling Update: Back in the Groove. Maybe

Homeschooling October updateSince my last real update in August we’ve:

  • Started back at Awana (yay for that! Thank you all Awana volunteers, you are so appreciated.)
  • Made more “official” progress than I expected as far as our schedule goes, and that’s the whole reason I got an early start on it. We did school almost all summer long, so a mid-August to mid-September break is no big deal, and still keeps us on track to finish this year well before we need to.
  • Finished All About Reading Level 1, and are about a quarter of the way through Level 2.
  • Began All About Spelling (and so far, it’s a hit).
  • Started RightStart Math (the first edition, level B).
  • Passed the halfway point of our Sonlight core.
  • Had a baby, the reason for bullet point #2. :)

We’re now getting back into our school routine. We’re doing better when I just give G a handwriting page and tell him to work on that while I get ready for whatever we’re going to do next/finish cleaning up from breakfast/feed the baby/get H started with something/take care of some other need of the moment. He does it, and then we move on with the rest of the routine.

I’ve been trying something new as far as the rest of our routine goes – prompted in part by something I read on the Sonlight forums, which gave me an idea for how to modify it for us. I took five index cards and labeled them “reading,” “math,” “spelling,” “table work,” and “mama reads.” G gets to pick the order, and while we always do “mama reads,” the others may vary. He has to pick two cards for each day we do school (usually he picks three if not all four), and we do each one for at least 15 minutes. Some days it’s a lot longer than 15 minutes for each area, but that keeps him from getting aggravated/bored/what have you when all it has to be is 15 minutes.

(And he can’t continually pick the same two – whatever gets picked is “retired” until he goes through all four areas, then it’s up for grabs again.)

We’ve been trying out a new math program, so lately that’s been the first thing he wants to try, whenever it’s an option. Then it’s spelling or reading. Table work (which is the Developing the Early Learner workbooks and his geography workbook - things he does like once he gets started on it) is his last pick. The DEL books used to be his first choice, so it’s funny to me how things change.

Read alouds (a.k.a. “mama reads” happen on the couch, and the timing is almost entirely baby-dependent. It’s a lot easier to read while feeding/holding her, so when she’s napping is when we’re trying to do the other areas. I’m sure this is the sort of thing that will change as she gets older and becomes mobile.

We’ve done science projects once since having the baby, and that’s something I do hope to get back to semi-regularly soon. Right now the weather’s still been nice enough for the kids to play outside most afternoons with the neighbors, so I’m encouraging that. I can imagine some of that time will go to science and art projects once the weather keeps us inside later.

I got away from a true afternoon quiet time during the pregnancy, instead relying on the television to keep them occupied while I rested. I’ve got energy back now (usually) and am working to re-establish that habit. It’s going better than I expected! While I do have to police them a bit, generally they play quietly in a room for 45 minutes now. We started with 10 minutes, so stretching it to 45 has been good progress! I’m hoping to get it to 60, and have that really be 60 minutes of quiet time, not quiet time with lots of “is quiet time over yet?” questions plus interruptions where they fuss at each other in the doorways/stealth raids into the other’s room when they should be in their room etc. We’re getting there! And if I can someday get their quiet time to coordinate with the baby’s nap time, that would be glorious. She doesn’t have a good routine yet so I’m not even trying to match them up yet. I’ll just concentrate on getting the big kids to an hour of true quiet time first and then try and get it timed to M’s sleeping times!

The Mislaid Magician

The Mislaid MagicianThe Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years AfterThe Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years After (The Cecelia and Kate Novels, 3) by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

The final book in the Cecelia and Kate trilogy that begins with Sorcery and Cecelia, and continues with The Grand Tour.

I am a huge fan of this series, and hesitated to read this one for quite awhile as I was so scared that the book wouldn’t live up to my hopes for it. Book one was so good, and book two didn’t quite match it. How would book three fare?

What I didn’t like so much about the second book is that Cecelia and Kate are together, so the epistolary format seems much more contrived. They’re writing in their journals, or writing an account of events for the authorities. In book one they’re writing to each other, and their voices are much more believable in that sort of structure than the other.

Happily, in book three they’re separated, so they’re writing each other again. New this time is that their husbands are also writing letters to each other. That’s one weakness of the book – their voices aren’t that distinctive, and their writing style didn’t feel “right” for them in the same way it does for Cecelia and Kate.

No matter, I still enjoyed the book tremendously. If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous books, please do read this one – it’s fun to meet back up with them both ten years later. I would highly recommend reading the other books first however – you’ll spoil yourself for events in them, and also miss out on getting to know the characters.

Publisher’s Description:
Now married with children, Cecelia and Kate must face a threat to the wizarding world

It’s been a decade since Kate and Cecelia foiled Napoleon’s plot to reclaim the French crown. The cousins now have estates, children, and a place at the height of wizarding society. It is 1828, and though magic remains at the heart of the British Empire, a new power has begun to make itself felt across England: the steam engine. As iron tracks crisscross the countryside, the shaking of the locomotives begins to disrupt the workings of English magic, threatening the very foundations of the Empire. A foreign wizard on a diplomatic mission to England vanishes, and the Prime Minister sends Cecelia’s husband to investigate. In order to accompany her husband to the north of England, Cecelia leaves her children in Kate’s care. As Cecelia and James fight for the future of magic, Kate is left with a no less daunting problem: how to care for a gaggle of disobedient, spell-casting tots.

Book Details

Title: The Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years AfterThe Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years After (The Cecelia and Kate Novels, 3) by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
Author: Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
My Rating: 4 Stars

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Twitterature: Recent Re-reads

recent reads, twitterature-style

For various reasons, I’ve reread several books recently. I wrote full reviews of two of those re-reads (Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate PotSorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (The Cecelia and Kate Novels, 1) by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer and The Grand Tour: or the Purloined Coronation RegaliaThe Grand Tour: or the Purloined Coronation Regalia (The Cecelia and Kate Novels, 2) by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer), but the others are getting highlighted here:

Garlic and SapphiresGarlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in DisguiseGarlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl. Day 31 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by Ruth Reichl

Why did I reread it? It was book club pick’s for October, and I wanted to refresh my memory on the specifics.

How was it as a reread? Excellent.

Our Only May AmeliaOur Only May AmeliaOur Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm by Jennifer L. Holm

Why did I reread it? Trying it as an audio book.

How was it as a reread? Terrific – and it worked really well as an audio book. Highly recommended! Although I have some cautions if you’re considering it for your children – sensitive readers beware. (It’s still a great book, and I’ll spoil events if I explain more.)

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce NovelThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley by Alan Bradley

Why did I reread it? Book club’s December pick, and I read it so long ago that I’m a bit shaky on the details.

How was it as a reread? Great, and I listened to the first quarter or so, before having to return the audio book. It was a wonderful audio book with a fantastic reader!

Murder in the MaraisMurder in the Marais: An Aimee Leduc Investigation, Vol. 1Murder in the Marais: An Aimee Leduc Investigation, Vol. 1 by Cara Black by Cara Black

Why did I reread it? Trying again for a novel set in Paris. Not a fan.

How was it as a reread? I shouldn’t have bothered, or stuck with it.

Simple Scrubs to Make and GiveSimple Scrubs to Make and and Give by Stacy Karen

Why did I reread it? Skimmed it as I got ready to write about a package deal of which it’s part.

How was it as a reread? Fine – it’s hard to get as excited about a nonfiction book like this one, but I do like it and think it’s got good information.

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!

Delancey

DelanceyDelancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a MarriageDelancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg by Molly Wizenberg

I loved Wizenberg’s first book, A Homemade Life, and hoped to enjoy this follow-up just as much.

High expectations are tough – I think this one suffered just a bit because I hoped for so much from it. And it’s a good book, it just doesn’t have the same emotional component the first one does.

It also doesn’t have the most fantastically wonderful chocolate cake recipe like the first one does, so perhaps that’s playing a role in the whole which-book-is-my-favorite thinking. :)

If you’re wanting a perspective on what it’s like to open a small restaurant as inexperienced business owners, this is a good take on that. If you’re really wanting to get to know Wizenberg and her husband the way you do in her first book, this one is less personal (despite the promise of the subtitle). The book is appealing, but not as ultimately satisfying as A Homemade Life.

In addition, it’s not really a food memoir the way her previous book was. There are recipes included, but there is very little connection between the chapters in the book and the recipes which follow. They often feel tacked on, and that lack of a connection made me less inclined to try them.

Recommended, but not as heartily as I’d hoped. [Read more...]

Read This, Not That: Productivity Advice

Manage Your Day-to-Day168 Hours

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative MindManage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series) by Jocelyn Glei by Jocelyn Glei

Manage Your Day to Day has gotten some glowing reviews by readers I trust, so I was surprised to discover that I wasn’t all that crazy about it. It’s not that the advice in the book is bad, it’s just that it’s all information I’ve read before, often multiple times. In addition, many of the essays read like promotional material for the writer’s other books, or blog, or seminars.

My favorite essay was probably Gretchen Rubin’s, and there were a handful of others that I liked to varying degrees. As far as life-changing or modifying ideas though? Not here, at least for me. Lots of familiar advice and some platitudes, packaged for quick consumption.

Instead of this pick, go for Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. Or one of the more targeted books she wrote using the principles she describes in 168 hours, such as What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend or What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and LifeWhat the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings--and Life by Laura Vanderkam. [Read more...]

Book Stacks and My Current Reads – More #31BookPics

Clearly I’m not going to manage a picture every day, but I’m still doing some #31BookPics. This week I’ve got some of my current reads, and a book stack.

current readsWhile I usually have a huge stack of “real” (i.e., physical) books in progress, right now I’m almost exclusively reading ebooks. It’s so much easier to hold a Kindle or my phone while nursing, and that’s my main reading time right now.

I know that eventually I’ll get back to all forms, but for now I’m just grateful for the electronic option (and my library’s extensive collection that I can borrow!) I love how it’s easy to have so many options on one device – I can easily fit a book to my current reading mood. :)

book stacksThe book stack is what’s planned for my son’s 1st grade year. Except we’ll be getting to it sooner than that – as soon as he finishes his current curriculum (and I use that word very loosely) we’ll move on to this.

He doesn’t know about summer breaks, and this way I can take breaks whenever we need them without concern we’ll fall behind where he should be. Plus he loves school and I love the structure it gives to our days. It doesn’t hurt that I’m excited about reading almost all of these titles, and he’s excited about the ones that are for him to read himself!

Check out more #31BookPics at The Quirky Bookworm’s linkup!