December 2017 Recap

For feeling like I was in a lengthy reading slump to end the year my year-end total is a surprising 230 books. Surprising, because that’s my “books read for me” total – it isn’t counting all the kids’ books I read.

This is why Goodreads shows me at 374 books finished for the year, and even that isn’t completely right but I refuse to look into it because I will want to obsess over it and that is a poor use of my time. So. A lot of books, which Yay! Books!

The Month in Stats

Books Read This Month: 13
Books Read This Year: 230

Things That Happened

  • Book club – we did a recap of the year-in-books for my in-person book club and Swear on This Life in the Facebook group.
  • Christmas, which ended up being much more eventful than I wanted. M had a reaction to something (we’re suspecting it was pistachios) and had major face-swelling and several days of woe.
  • Basketball had some games and then took a three-week hiatus.
  • H passed her taekwondo belt testing and is now a senior red belt. Next stop: black belt!
  • We did “holiday school,” which meant more holiday book reading, less official reading from the Instructors Guides. Plus H had a few days where all she did was art.

What I’m Anticipating in January

  • Back to basketball. This is when I really appreciate it – it’s SO COLD here and the kids don’t manage to play outside much. Basketball gets them running around and burning off energy a couple of times a week which is fantastic.
  • Disney on Ice with the girls (and H’s Girl Scout troop).
  • G gets braces. Yes, braces. Phase one, and it will hopefully make for a simpler phase two down the road by getting some more space in his mouth right now.
  • A visit to the allergist, to try and confirm what caused M’s reaction, and possibly to get a prescription to an EpiPen if it turns out to be necessary.
  • Girl Scout cookie sales begin – I hadn’t realized they started right after the new year. H was wanting to go around the neighborhood like G did with his Cub Scout popcorn, but when it’s below freezing here (and below zero with the wind chill) that isn’t going to happen. I’m hoping she can still reach her goal because she has her heart set the reward at a specific level. 🙂
  • Book club – Around the World in 80 Days for my in-person book club and The Gifts of Imperfection in the Facebook group.

Books I Read in December

I shared the list of books I read in a recent post.

Not that many readalouds finished, because I wasn’t counting our Christmas books. I just was reading them.


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Books I Read in December 2017

I had about a two-week stretch in the middle of the month where I read almost nothing, so really, my reading total is surprisingly high. I was pushing the last few days to wrap up a few titles before the end of the year, to avoid carrying them over into 2018.

My local bookclub is doing a read-around-the-world theme for 2018 (and probably 2019 as well) and I’m on the hunt for a great book set in Scotland for us to read and discuss. I’ve tried two mysteries and I’m still looking. 🙂

    Fiction

  1. King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

    A re-read as I listened to the audio, to get ready to read the next in the series. Also, just because I adore this series.

  2. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

    I decided to read this one first, and then I’ll listen to it later (I already own the audio). This one features a different main character, so I missed the usual narrator, but it’s still in that fabulous world MWT has created.

  3. Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

    Probably too gory to be the discussion book I was hoping to find, so I’m still looking for the right Scotland book for my local book club.

  4. Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

    I enjoy this series, except for the drawn-out battle scenes. I have so little interest in descriptions of battle tactics. Fortunately, those are easy to either skip ahead and miss and get back to the rest of the story.

  5. First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

    A sweet follow-up to Garden Spells. Once I adjusted to Bay as the primary narrator, I enjoyed this as a very light read.

  6. Death of a Gossip by M. C. Beaton

    Too dated and not enough depth to it for it to be a good fit for my book club. The hunt continues for the perfect Scotland book.

  7. Nonfiction

  8. Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall

    LOVED this geopolitical look at the world and history and why some regions are so contentious.
    I listened to it, and the narrator was good, but it’s one where the lack of maps to actually show what they’re describing is a drawback to the audiobook.

  9. The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career by L.M. Montgomery

    I enjoyed the peek into the creation of some of her famous stories, but overall it was such a brief overview it left me wanting more depth and detail.

  10. Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, And 3 RVs On Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure by David Rosenfelt

    Entertaining story behind a move from Southern California to Maine with 25 (large) dogs. Animal lovers should love the book, but it’s not a must-read for anyone else.

  11. Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

    I think my expectations were too high for it, as I was mostly underwhelmed by it. If I hadn’t gone into it remembering all the peole who said it was AMAZING and TRANSFORMATIVE I probably wouldn’t have felt so let-down by it.

  12. Kid Lit

  13. My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson

    Well-written and engaging middle-grade historical fiction. My perspective on Cuba is so skewed from growing up in Florida, knowing many Cuban refugee families with nothing at all good to say about Castro and his government. I appreciated learning about some of what it was like there as he took power, and especially reading about the successful literacy push.

  14. The Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

    The sequel to Book Scavenger, and it was someone more graphic – the secondary plot line involved an arsonist, and there’s more personal risk to the characters. I do enjoy the characters and setting, and as long as I’m in the mood to suspend disbelief over several plot points, it’s a fun read.

  15. I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge

    Old-fashioned Christmas story. I was pre-reading it as a possible readaloud for my kids, but quickly realized they would not have enjoyed it.

  16. Never Finished

  17. The Expats by Chris Pavone

    I abandoned it still with hours of reading time left in the book and got an overall plot summary of it from someone else. Nothing I was told about it made me regret not finishing it on my own, as the book isn’t a good match for my reading tastes.

  18. The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

    Too much Jane Eyre in one year left me uninterested in finishing this retelling.


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November 2017 Recap

The Month in Stats

Books Read This Month: 17
Books Read This Year: 217

Things That Happened

  • Book club – At Home in the World for my in-person book club and Ordinar Grace in the Facebook group.
  • Thanksgiving, with a pie extravaganza.
  • Basketball began. H doesn’t like it as much as soccer, but she’s liking it more every time she plays or practices. G has improved quite a bit, but it’s still not his game. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is his last year playing. Although, it’s such a good time of year to have a scheduled (indoor!) activity for them.
  • G received his 1st degree decided black belt (the one with his name on it). Super exciting!
  • Both big kids started jiu-jitsu. They usually only go once, maybe twice a week, but they seem to enjoy it.

What I’m Anticipating in December

  • Belt testing! H is going for her senior red belt.
  • Our 15th anniversary. We have no special plans.
  • Christmas! I am not ready.
  • Lots of Scout activities – both Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts.
  • Book club – no official title (just enjoying the end-of-the-year party) for my in-person book club and Swear on This Life in the Facebook group.

Books I Read in November

I shared the list of books I read in a recent post.

I feel like I should have finished more readalouds with the kids, but these are all I could remember.


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

Books I Read in November 2017

November was in many ways a disappointing reading month for me; I felt like I was in a slump most of the month, although the books I finished I mostly enjoyed.

“Having” to read anything I’m not enjoying really does keep me from reading other things instead. I drag myself through the must-read book, but feel too guilty to spend any time reading something I’d prefer.

While I know I don’t truly “have” to read anything now that I’m out of school, when it’s a book club pick that I selected for my own book club, I do feel obligated. Plus, I made it through The Diamond Age; I wasn’t going to let Swear on This Life stump me.

    Fiction

  1. Glass Houses by Louise Penny

    I loved reading this latest in the Armand Gamache series, and did my best to savor it, as now I have to wait until another one releases. I love how she’s developed the characters, and always enjoy spending time with them.

  2. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

    Read for bookclub, as it’s our January selection. We’re kicking off an around-the-world theme, and I’m excited to select books from various countries for us to read all year long.

    We’ve got some good ones lined up already (Burial Rites!), and other strong possibilities we’re still debating.

    I enjoyed this one, especially the excellent narrating job Jim Dale did.

  3. The Bloody Tower by Carola Dunn

    The next in the series, and I didn’t like the setting of this one quite so much – I was fairly confused by the description of what was happening when, as well as the organizational structure (which ended up not mattering at all to the plot).

    I’d probably have liked it more if I’d ever been to the Tower of London, but I had to satisfy myself with some Googling and looking at pictures online to get a better sense of the locale.

  4. Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino

    Book club selection for December, and the only reason I finished it is because it is a book club selection. It was not a good fit for me, and I thought it was poorly written and plotted, even if the style of the book had been a good match for my tastes. Overall I was super disappointed with it, and hope the discussion proves to be better than the book.

  5. Christmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery

    Another book club selection, and I listened to these stories. They were all very sweet, and very fitting for this time of year; I’m debating keeping an eye out for a print copy of the book to be able to reread it in future years.

  6. The Red Door by Charles Todd

    Continuing on with the Ian Rutledge series, and it’s always fairly disappointing when I figure out the solution. Although I guessed the big secret, and who was behind events, I don’t fully understand the motivation behind the one murder. I probably mised it while listening to the audio with my kids playing nearby; sometimes they get pretty loud and it’s easy to miss details on the audio books.

  7. Nonfiction

  8. Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

    My first Acuff book, and hopefully not my last. I also think I’d like to get this in print, as that’s easier for me to make notes from. This was really good, as much of what he says is what I need to hear (so good at starting; so bad at finishing).

  9. Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain

    Uneven, but when it was good it was so good. I laughed many times, and was very glad I was listening to it via earbuds. Way too much profanity and drug and sex mentions to be comfortable listening when my kids might hear.

  10. The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Revival by Alexe van Beuren and Dixie Grimes

    I spent the worst two years of my childhood living in Mississippi, and have never once felt any desire to go back there. This book actually made me wish I lived close enough to stop by their grocery, to try some of the delicious-sounding dishes. The contrast between her experiences moving there as an outsider and mine were striking.

  11. The 5 A.M. Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast by Jeff Sanders

    Checked out accidentally, and read more or less randomly. It’s very rah-rah motivational speaker in tone, and the contrast between some of what he advised, and what Acuff advised in the Finish book I’d just completed before reading this one was striking. Spoiler alert: I liked Acuff’s book more, and found it more inspiring in a “I might put this into practice” kind of way.

  12. Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck

    Another one kind of randomly checked out, when I was in the mood to peruse a cookbook. The writing style was amusing initially, but I got tired of it before I was even halfway through the book. I’m also not vegan, and very few of the recipes motivated me to want to go to any effort to try their dishes that involved ingredients I don’t already own.

  13. Kid Lit

  14. Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

    Super cute middle-grade novel-in-verse.

  15. Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech

    The sequel, which was just as enjoyable.

  16. Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford

    It’s so hard to follow a book that completely wows me as a reader. This one was good, but it lacked the “THIS IS AWESOME” factor that the first one had. And it couldn’t have it, because it was a follow-up. Still worth reading, and it still makes me wish this was a real location I could visit.

  17. Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

    Probably unrealistically optimistic and happy considering the situation the main character finds herself in, but I loved the main character and so many of the secondary characters.

    This is why I love middle-grade fiction because if this had been a young adult or new adult book, the happy ending wouldn’t have happened. Sorry if that’s a spoiler to you, but there was never any doubt in my mind how things would end up for her; it’s a middle-grade title. 😉

  18. North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler

    Kind of an odd book, and hard to say more about it without running into potential real spoilers (unlike the not-real spoilers I gave able). Overall I liked it, and think most middle-grade fans would.

  19. Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

    Beautiful book (as in, the book itself, and the story too). You’ve got to suspend disbelief quite a bit, but as long as you can manage that, you’re in for a fun read.


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October 2017 Recap

October RecapOctober was a strange month for me. I spent the first part of the month recovering from my surgery, and then the second part of the month recovering from my recovery time. 😉 I’m still catching up on things that got ignored while I was spending so much time resting.

The Month in Stats

Books Read This Month: 28
Books Read This Year: 200

Things That Happened

  • Book club – Jane Eyre, The Madwoman Upstairs, and Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart for my in-person book club and Funny in Farsi in the Facebook group.
  • Cub Scouts popcorn sales! G worked hard going through the neighborhood to reach his sales goal for the year. He sold enough to earn his way to camp this summer, so that was exciting for him.
  • Soccer ended, and I don’t think G is planning on playing it again. His team won their first game of the tournament, but lost their next two and that was the end of their season. First grade soccer doesn’t have a tournament, so H just had one final game and that was the end of it for her.
  • G and H had belt testing again at taekwondo. Both passed, so G is now a first degree decided black belt (that’s the one that has his name on the belt!), and H is a red belt. G’s next test isn’t for four months, so December will be the first testing cycle when he doesn’t test since he began.
  • Book club retreat – I posted about it already, but it was lovely as always.
  • I forgot to mention this for September, but M has started taekwondo classes as well. She’s in the tot classes, but still does belt testing – she passed testing in October and now has a yellow stripe belt.

What I’m Anticipating in November

  • G and H start basketball. This is G’s third year playing, and H’s first.
  • G and H are also trying out jiu-jitsu. The taekwondo studio where they take classes also offers jiu-jitsu, so it’s very convenient (and affordable, thanks to the family rate we’ve qualified for). I don’t expect them to do those classes often, as they’ll have to fit in around everything else, but they were both super excited to give it a try.
  • Lots of Scout activities – both Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts.
  • Book club – At Home in the World for my in-person book club and Ordinary Grace in the Facebook group.

Books I Read in October

I shared the list of books I read in a recent post.

I didn’t finish that many readalouds with my children this month, thanks to half the month including zero reading by me to them as I recovered from my surgery.


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

Books I Read in October 2017

Books I Read in October 2017I read lots of books in October, and thanks to surgery recovery I had a strong emphasis on easy-to-read titles. So you’ll see lots of kid lit on the list, and memoirs make up the bulk of the nonfiction.

    Fiction

  1. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

    Read for bookclub, and my biggest complaint with it is only that the mystery element took a long time to truly develop, and it was fairly weak. But that feels like an incredibly picky complaint because if I’d read the book not expecting it to be a mystery I’d have been completely satisfied with it. It’s a terrific historical novel, even if it did make me cry a bit.

  2. Gunpowder Plot by Carola Dunn

    Listened to #15 in the Daisy Dalrymple series, and it was light and entertaining and perfectly fit the sort of books I was emphasizing this month.

  3. Blood at the Root by Peter Robinson

    Continuing on with the Alan Banks series, and this one got fairly gruesome at the end. Yuck. I still will keep going, but I wish I’d been reading it in print, as I could have quickly skipped over the particular scene that was so brutal. That’s harder to do in audio.

  4. Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie

    Super dated with the racist and anti-Semitic comments, enough so that it’s hard to recommend this title except with big caveats, as the book itself isn’t good enough to outweigh the offensive parts.

  5. A Casualty of War by Charles Todd

    The latest in the Bess Crawford series, and I’m sad to be all caught up with it. I love this series, even though I can see the flaws with it.

  6. Nonfiction

  7. The Yes Effect: Accepting God’s Invitation to Transform the World Around You by Luis Bush with Darcy Wiley

    My friend is the co-author, so I fully admit to being an unbiased reviewer.

  8. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris

    Interesting, but very skippable. If I hadn’t been needing audiobooks due to eye issues post-surgery (I had trouble focusing while on painkillers) I wouldn’t have kept going with it.

  9. Hoist on My Own Petard by Dan Harris

    A brief (as in, chapter-length) follow-up to his book. It was free on Kindle, and mildly interesting if you finished his memoir.

  10. The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World by Steve Hely

    Reminded me a bit of a Bill Bryson in how he combined history and travel stories in a humorous fashion, although Hely has a lot more drugs and partying involved in his book. Most of it I enjoyed but there was a stretch towards the end that was not so interesting. Unless you like hearing the drug and party stories. But Hely is entertaining as he reads his own book, so overall I enjoyed his memoir.

  11. What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro

    Not entirely what I wanted it to be, and as much as I wanted to love it (food history + women’s history!) it didn’t really work for me. It was remarkably dry, and some of her claims seemed to be a stretch based on the available evidence.

  12. Life-Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally and Sarah Clarkson

    Another one where I wanted to love it, but ended up being disappointed because I only liked it somewhat. I strongly prefer one of the author’s writing style, so the chapters by the other writer were always a let-down. In addition, the content ended up being fairly obvious so much of the time that I ended up skimming heavily. I may have just overhyped it to myself and had too high of expectations from the start.

  13. The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week) by Robin Mather

    Reminded me a bit of Animal Vegetable Miracle, but with a stronger emphasis on affordability, and the trade-offs finances often require.

  14. Kid Lit

  15. The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

    Sequel to the fantastic The War That Saved My Life, and it is just as good as the original. It’ll make you cry, but it is such a great pair of books, and I highly highly highly recommend them to anyone looking for historical fiction, especially set in England during World War II. Be aware that there is tough stuff discussed, so don’t just hand them off to younger or sensitive readers, but they are so worth reading.

  16. Greenglass House by Kate Milford

    LOVED this book. LOVED it. So much so that I finished it and immediately began rereading it to see just how the author had pulled off some of the events. Super fun, and I’m anxiously waiting for the sequel.

  17. Audrey Goes to Town by Christine Harris

    Book #2 in the Audrey series (Book #1 is Audrey of the Outback, a delightful story). This follow up is just as fun, but it involves a big spoiler for the first book, so read them in order.

  18. Audrey’s Big Secret by Christine Harris

    Book #3 in the series, and this one takes a slightly more serious tone, as it touches on events involving the Aboriginal population, and how children were taken from their homes and rehoused. Still highly recommended, just with a caution for sensitive readers that you want to be aware of what’s going to be discussed.

  19. Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill

    Enjoyable sequel to Bo at Ballard Creek, and while I didn’t like this one quite as much, that was mostly because it’s hard for sequels to match up to the original.

  20. Poppy by Mary Hooper

    Interesting historical fiction and I wish my library had the sequel, as I’d like to continue on with her story. This is more of a young adult novel than the middle-grade or elementary fiction that make up the rest of my month’s reading.

  21. Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath

    Great as an audiobook, but a caution for sensitive readers – there are some tough things that happen in the book, and even though it’s handled in a very light way (even humorously), if your child is likely to be bothered by physical injuries, or missing (and presumed dead) parents, you may want to skip it. I enjoyed it tremendously, and think my daughter will as well in a couple of years.

  22. One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath

    Sequel to Everything on a Waffle, and it follows the familiar characters, plus introduces a couple of new ones. Don’t read this without having read Everything on a Waffle first, as it will be very strange and nowhere near enjoyable enough.

  23. Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

    Cute book puzzle/mystery set in San Francisco. Appealing characters and fun brain teasers, and I’m on hold for the second book in the series.

  24. Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen

    Very dated as far as girls-can-do-this, while boys-can-do-that, so much so that it detracted from the book to the point that I wouldn’t recommend it. Too many other great books, from all time periods, to deal with this one that didn’t have enough going for it to outweigh the negatives.

  25. Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

    Pre-reading it as a possible readaloud/reader for my kids in the future. It reminded me a bit of Ramona Quimby, with the girl who keeps having things go wrong no matter how she’s trying to behave. It was funny, and it’s staying on my list for future reads for the kids.

  26. The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett

    Pre-reading it as a possibility for my son. It was fine, and if you’re looking for an elementary-level humorous book I’d give this one a try. I think it might have had a touch of crass humor of the cows farting variety, but I’m not even certain if it did, as that’s not something I worry about him reading so I would have skipped right over it. So far he hasn’t tried it, but if he ever does I’m certain he’ll like it.

  27. Viking Adventure by Clyde Robert Bulla

    Pre-reading a story that my son is reading for school. It was fine, and I’m sure he’ll like it as there is a lot of adventurous happenings of the sort that he’ll enjoy.

  28. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

    Super entertaining and amusing, with lots of funny lines that had me cracking up, and wishing my son would have been amused by it so I could share it with him. He would not be amused by it, and so I have to wait and see if either of my girls grow up into kids who will find this one as funny as I did.

  29. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book II: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood

    Apparently, one book in the Incorrigible Children series is all I can handle in a month, as reading the second left me rolling my eyes at things that had me chuckling the first time. It’s very much a continuation of the story begun in the first book, and for the target audience, I’m sure binge-reading them is fine.

  30. Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech

    I love Sharon Creech, but I did not love this book. I didn’t find it interesting, or funny, or even all that coherent. Skip this one and read her other books instead.

  31. Never Finished

  32. Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker

    Tried the first few chapters and wasn’t enjoying it enough to spend the reading time. Didn’t care for her style or the overall approach towards the subject.

  33. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

    May give this another try someday, but after trying several times to get into the story it wasn’t capturing my attention. Might just have been the wrong timing for me, which is why I’m not ruling it out for the future.


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September 2017 Recap

September was filled with activity, just like August had been. Maybe I should just accept that that’s what our days look like now. The big news for September was that I had surgery at the end of the month. I’m hoping that’s the end of it and nothing else needs to happen pending biopsy results.

The Month in Stats

Books Read This Month: 24
Books Read This Year: 172

Things That Happened

  • Book club – Garden Spells for my in-person book club and Plainsong in the Facebook group.
  • Cub Scouts began for real (along with popcorn sales), and H started Daisy Scouts.
  • Lots of soccer games and G attended a goalie clinic. He seems to like playing goalie.
  • My in-laws came for a planned visit, a little earlier than originally planned (thanks to that surgery) so they could take care of my kids while I was in the hospital and recovering.
  • Awana resumed. G is a T&T and that structure is MOTIVATING him. Also, he is thrilled that he’s now considered old enough to be released without me officially “claiming” him – he’s allowed to come and find me as I am in the line to pick one or the other of his sisters. Plus, the T&T group had a game night on Friday night at the end of the month and it was two hours of Capture the Flag and Dodge Ball. He loved it.

What’s Cooking

  • Egg salad for me for lunch one day, and it made me wonder why I don’t make that more often for lunch.
  • I have found the BEST bar recipe. It’s actually more of a template, and a big part of why it’s the best is because it uses melted butter, so even if I have forgotten I need to bake something until the last second, no worries! I can make this recipe. At some point, I’ll probably make a real post about it and share the base of it, and then you too can use it as a jumping off point.

What I’m Anticipating in October

  • Book club retreat! Hopefully anyway, assuming I’ve recovered enough from surgery. I have a post-op appointment that morning, and will get the all-clear to go or not.
  • The end of soccer. G has a round-robin tournament, so he’s guaranteed at least two games. His team’s record isn’t great, but they’ve gotten better as the season progressed, so I’m not sure how to gauge their potential in the tournament.
  • Belt testing again. G goes for 1st degree decided black belt (!) and H goes for red belt(!)
  • My inlaws wrap up their visit and head back to Arizona, and I’ll try to get back into homeschooling routine after our fall break during their visit and my recovery.
  • Book club – It’s the Jane Eyre flight for my in-person book club and Funny in Farsi in the Facebook group.

Books I Read in September

I shared the list of books I read in a recent post.


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

Books I Read in September 2017

September was a fantastic month of nonfiction! It wasn’t a bad month in fiction either, but the nonfiction is what really stood out for me.

    Fiction

  1. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

    Book #2 in the Temeraire series, and I enjoyed this one almost as much as the first. What I especially enjoyed was the setup this one provides for future books in the series, and I’m eager to read more and see where Novik takes the characters.

  2. The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd

    So many coincidences to help Bess figure out the mystery, and too little of some secondary characters, but I’m still glad I read this entry in the Bess Crawford series. I’m both curious and concerned to know how Todd handles the end of the war – Bess serving as a nurse at the front is such a big part of the series, so what will happen with it once the war ends? If you’ve read later books in the series and know the answer to this question, don’t tell me; I’ll get there eventually.

  3. A Matter of Justice by Charles Todd

    I do imagine Bess meeting up with Ian Rutledge, and Todd having his two series collide in a sense. Hey, J. A. Jance did it once with her two series. This entry in the Rutledge series was less a complete whodunnit and a bit more of a howdunnit, but I always enjoy following along as he solves his cases, and rooting for him as he clashes with his boss at Scotland Yard.

  4. Final Account by Peter Robinson

    A re-read as I continue on with the Inspector Banks series, and get closer to catching up to where I left off with it pre-kids. It’s fun seeing the hints of events that happen in future books being dropped in these earlier titles, and it’s striking how much Robinson improved as a mystery author. In other words, read the early entries in the Banks series to get to know the characters, but realize that the later ones are much better.

  5. Just Killing Time by Julianne Holmes

    A cute cozy mystery. I was in the mood for something more in the light-and-fluffy mystery realm and this fit the bill. I may read the second one when I’m looking for another title of that sort. If those are your preferred mysteries, I think you might enjoy this one as well.

  6. Innocent Graves by Peter Robinson

    Listened to this one, as I continue to re-read the earlier ones in the series to get caught up with where I left off reading them.

  7. Nonfiction

  8. Come and Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table by Bri McKoy

    (Review title) Thought-provoking, and with some tasty sounding recipes as well. I enjoyed it quite a lot, and recommend it.

  9. Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas

    Entertaining account and I hope it works well as a discussion title.

  10. Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker

    LOVED this as an audiobook, so if you’re on the fence as far as which format to get, GET THE AUDIO. Hatmaker is funny and friendly, and so thought-provoking. I thought it connected well with Come and Eat, which I’d just finished right around when I was listening to Mess and Moxie.

  11. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

    Fascinating, both the modern story, and the earlier story that forms the basis for the search. I love reading about people doing things where I have ZERO desire to do that as well (see: Walking the Amazon) and this is another perfect example of that. I’m tempted to watch the movie that’s based on this book, to see how they adapted the two storylines.

  12. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

    SO. GOOD. I’m not entirely sure how to put some of the idas into practice in my life as a mom though, but it gave me so much to think about and consider.

  13. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

    Also loved this one, and the research behind it, and the stories Dweck uses to support her conclusions. It gave me so much to think about, both looking back on my life, but especially looking ahead. How can I keep a growth mindset for myself (in all areas; I’ve always done well at having one in some areas, but not at all in others), but especially now, how do I help cultivate one in my kids?

  14. Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker

    Loved this summary of what research shows about success, and how to achieve it. Even more, I loved the stories Barker includes that illustrate his points about success and the ways people have achieved it, both in expected and unexpected ways. My only disappointment was when I finished it and discovered that it’s Barker’s only book; I was hoping to find that he had a half dozen other titles to enjoy. If you like Malcolm Gladwell, try this for a similar feel.

  15. Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel

    Interesting summary look at various personality typing systems, and how to use them to make improvements in your own life. Reading it, and then reading the Gretchen Rubin book The Four Tendencies, I wish Bogel’s book had come out later (or Rubin’s earlier), so Bogel could also have included a chapter on the four tendencies – I’d be interested in how she condensed it down and put her own spin on it.

  16. The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

    A fascinating look into the four tendencies, and great ideas about how to work with your own tendency, and the tendencies of people around you. I got slightly sidetracked from the book itself by one story about an obliger because their way of approaching life is so completely different than mine (questioner here).

  17. Kid Lit

  18. Ride on, Will Cody! by Caroline Starr Rose, illustrated by Joe Lillington

    Beautifully illustrated, nicely told. I’m such a fangirl for Rose’s work.

  19. Baby by Patricia Maclachlan

    Sweet middle-grade story, but not a must-read for adults.

  20. Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright

    Fun conclusion to the story begun in Gone-Away Lake. I look forward to letting my kids read these books in the near(ish) future.

  21. Prairie School by Lois Lenski

    One of the books in Lenski’s Regional America series. I like the look at American life in very specific times and places, although it also includes some of the drawbacks to that as well.

  22. Nothing by Annie Barrows

    I so wanted to love this book, but found it disappointing overall. It’s really easy to read, and the two main characters are appealing. But there is so much casual profanity, and drug use mentioned, and some (slight) sexual content, that isn’t balanced by anything beneficial in the book. I get that the book is trying to show how much is happening during years teens say nothing is happening, but ultimately, I didn’t find it offered enough of anything to justify the reading time.

  23. The Grave of Lainey Grace by Aaron Galvin

    Love the magical touches in the story (leprechauns!) but the character development is weak to the point of unbelievability. As a younger reader, I doubt I’d have noticed though, and would have just enjoyed the story.

  24. Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie
  25. Like Bug Juice on a Burger
  26. Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

    Cute novels in verse. They all can stand alone, but there is a bit of progression between them, so there’s a slight advantage to reading them in order. The illustrations are sweet as well, and fit the book nicely.

Never Finished

  • Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

    I thought, yes! I’ll read another Jane Eyre-inspired book! And I started it and the writing is engaging and I was caring about Rochester and I realized that no, I did not want to read the book. I was expecting him to get his heart stomped on by life (and his awful father and lousy brother) and no, I didn’t want to put myself through it. So I sent it back to the library after only a couple of chapters.


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    August 2017 Recap

    August seemed to fly by, with lots of activity and appointments. None of the appointments were exciting unfortunately, they were for things like dental cleanings (times three), then a follow-up to deal with a cavity (only on one child fortunately), plus well-checks (times two – number three had hers this week), plus birthday parties and play dates getting squeezed in before school restarted. It made for a more hectic-seeming month than I like.

    August 2017 in Stats

    Books Read This Month: 20
    Books Read This Year: 148

    Things That Happened

    • Book club – Lost in Shangri-La for my in-person book club and The Diamond Age in the Facebook group.
    • M turned 3.
    • G and H went back-to-homeschool (3rd and 1st grade).
    • Both kids passed their latest belt tests at taekwondo, and G is now a 1st degree recommended black belt, and H is a senior brown belt.
    • The soccer season began for the two older kids. G’s level is now playing with a goalie for the first time, and he has enjoyed it the times he’s had the chance to play goalie. He still doesn’t really know what he’s doing out there, but he’s better there than he usually is in some of the other positions.

    What’s Cooking

    • Not much is really cooking – August isn’t the best month for me to want to cook. It’s not cool enough to branch out into Fall meals, I’m burning out on Summer dishes, etc. Lots of basics in the rotation this month, but I’m hoping to try some new dishes in September.

    What I’m Anticipating in September

    • G’s year as a Bear Scout begins, and H has joined Daisy Scouts. Her first troop meeting is in September and she can hardly wait. I’m curious to see how it goes for her.
    • My in-laws will be visiting at the end of the month! Hooray!
    • Awana starts back up again.
    • I have TWO author interviews coming up, and I’m really excited about trying to add that as a semi-regular feature here.
    • Cub scouts popcorn sales, and I’m hoping G gets to some of the store sales times this year. He’s got a sales goal he’s working towards.
    • Book club – Garden Spells for my in-person book club (it’s dinner party month!!) and Plainsong in the Facebook group.

    Books I Read in August

    I shared the list of books I read in a recent post.

    We’ve only just started the school year, so we haven’t finished all that many books. September’s list should include many more titles.

      Readalouds I finished with G (3rd grade)
    • George Mueller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans by Janet and Geoff Benge

      He liked this one (so did I), and wants to read more of the series. Fortunately for him, that’s already in the plans.

    • The Minstrel in the Tower by Gloria Skurzynski

      It amused him that I was reading this to him, when it’s very much at a reading level he can handle. Cute story, and a nice break from some drier books.

    • Readalouds I finished with H (1st grade)
    • The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

      Second time around was just as successful as the first time. She loved it.

    • More Milly Molly Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley

      I love the Milly Molly Mandy stories and am looking forward to reading them with M in a couple of years.

    • Readers G finished on his own
    • Third Grade Detectives #1 by George E. Stanley

      He couldn’t believe this counted as a school book, and he was also really entertained by the flip book format – book 1 and 2 are published together, just back-to-back and flipped.

    • The Secret Valley by Clyde Robert Bulla

      Bulla does such a great job at writing appealing stories at easier reading levels.

    • plus more Captain Underpants, as well as some Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

      Sigh. He loves these books. I tell myself it’s better than no books.

      Picture Books I Read with M (3 years old)

      I read many many more than this, but these are the new-to-us ones

    • Job Wanted by Teresa Bateman
    • Do Princesses Make Happy Campers? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
    • Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman

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    Books I Read in August 2017

    August was overall a nice reading month, but not as terrific as July had been, or as great as I’m anticipating September being.

    August 2017 Reads

      Mysteries

    1. This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber

      (Review book.) I enjoyed the premise and setting quite a bit. One of the secondary characters was also someone I’d like to see in future books, assuming this is the start of a series. Part of the premise behind the mystery was not very convincing, so it detracted from the book as a whole. It also reminded me quite a bit of several other titles, especially And Then There Were None, thanks to the secluded island setting. Overall though, I will happily look for future titles if this does become a series. Enjoyable and fun.

    2. Peril at End House by Agatha Christie

      I hate it when I catch on to some of the biggest clues in the book, and guess the culprit, but don’t figure out some of the intermediate proof and still end up having to wait for Poirot to reveal all. At least I’m not as clueless as Hastings. Another fun mystery by Christie.

    3. A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd

      Next in the Bess Crawford series. I feel slightly ghoulish for saying I don’t want the war to end, but I love these books and am not sure what Todd will do with the series post-war. Perhaps I’m just afraid that they’ll lose something without that backdrop. As it is, this was a typical book in the series, and won’t convert anyone who isn’t already a fan.

    4. A Pale Horse by Charles Todd

      I listened to this, and I’m not sure if I missed some details because of the audio, or if the book really did kind of gloss over a few things. As it was though, I’m still slightly confused by a few aspects of the book.

    5. A Most Novel Revenge by Ashley Weaver

      Light and fluffy murder mystery, if that’s not a contradiction in terms. It fit the reading mood I was in, and it’s an ok series if you’re looking for that type of historical mystery.

    6. Wednesday’s Child by Peter Robinson

      Continuing on with my re-read of the Alan Banks series. I’m enjoying them more as we get to the more recent ones; the earliest ones are so dated that it’s jarring at times.

    7. Other Fiction

    8. His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

      Loved this fun start to a lengthy series. Historical fiction set during the Napoleonic wars, but with dragons. I listened to it, but it’s not the easiest on audio unless you’re much better than I was at keeping track of lots of unfamiliar names and terminology. Highly recommended.

    9. Plainsong by Kent Haruf

      Book club selection for September. The pacing is very slow, compared to some of the other books I read this month, and the writing style was unusual. Overall I enjoyed it, although I’d have liked it more with a few of the graphic lines omitted.

    10. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

      A re-read for September’s in-person book club. Lots of fun the second time around, although it also had some more s*xual content than I’d remembered. Very different in tone though than Plainsong! I love the touch of magical realism it includes, and am looking forward to reading the sequel.

    11. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

      August’s book club selection, and I didn’t finish it until the discussion had begun. I *struggled* through this one. It’s long and so detailed at times. Parts of it were interesting, but other sections were so dull. And some sections were just baffling, or gross, or gross and baffling. I know it’s an award winner, and many people love it and recommend it, but I was not a fan.

    12. Nonfiction

    13. Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children by Angela J. Hanscom

      Love the premise behind it, and it was amazingly convicting. As an audio book though, it seemed very repetitive and like it could have been trimmed substantially. I expect it’d have worked better as a print or electronic version, where it’d have been easier to skim sections.

    14. Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu

      Really interesting (and reminded me quite a bit of a Laura Vanderkam book), but I’m not sure how much of it really applies in my life currently. I would recommend it to others though! And maybe some of the “nice but not for me” feeling is because I already am fairly good at not doing some things, even when there might be societal pressure on me that I will.

    15. The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures by Library of Congress

      Fun to flip through, but get the print version – the electronic one is very hard to see the small images and they’re the best part of the book. If you’re not interested in books or library history I don’t think it’ll hold much appeal, but if you are, you should give it a glance.

    16. Cookbooks

    17. One-Pan Wonders: Fuss-Free Meals for Your Sheet Pan, Dutch Oven, Skillet, Roasting Pan, Casserole, and Slow Cooker by Cook’s Country

      Love the premise behind it, but sometimes it seemed like they were making more work to try to keep it to one pan. And sometimes it seemed like they were stretching the allowed definition of dishes. If the point of one pan is to minimize cleanup, then having a separate bowl to cook things in the microwave seems like cheating a bit. Those quibbles aside, there were a LOT of dishes that I flagged as ones I’d like to try.

    18. Food52 A New Way to Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead by Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs

      Loved the premise behind this one as well, but probably won’t be making anything from it. Eating styles are different enough, or I’m not interested in enough of one of the week’s menu that it takes away from the advantage of their structure, that using the book kind of becomes a waste. If your tastes match theirs, however, this is a terrific idea and it’s well-structured.

    19. Salad for Dinner by Jeanne Kelley

      I might just have not been in the right mood when I was flipping through it, but none of the recipes tempted me enough to want to make them. Beautiful pictures, and a range of what counted as a salad, but not the book for me.

    20. Kid Lit

    21. Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

      A fun listen, and I’m looking forward to listening to the sequel in September.

    22. Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

      Grabbed this to pre-read to decide if I want to pass it along to my kids. There’s nothing in it that would keep me from doing so, but it’s not one I think my son would like right now. I’ll keep it in mind in the future, either for him if his tastes change a bit, or for one of my daughters as they get older. It’s fluffy entertainment, but not a must-read for any of them.

    23. Ice Road by Joan Lennon (The Wickit Chronicles #3)

      Finishing the series. I’d happily pass this along to my son – it’s an easy read, with short chapters (he is all about short chapters right now), but he has zero interest in anything smacking of fantasy. And a flying gargoyle would definitely count as fantasy for him. Sigh.

    24. A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

      Recommended if you’re looking for a middle-grade book dealing with the Berlin Wall and the time immediately after it was installed. Lacks the depth adult or even young adult fiction would have about the topic, but for what it is it was good.

    25. Did Not Finish

    26. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

      Read the first few chapters and wasn’t caring about any of the characters. I’m saving my reading time unless I end up being convinced it’s worth another try.

    27. The Brontë Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne by Catherine Reef

      Fine, but I’d just finished the adult biography on Charlotte and didn’t feel like this was adding anything extra to my knowledge. I read about half of it and mostly looked at the pictures.

    28. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

      Read one chapter and was really bored by it. Should I give it some more time? It had to go back to the library but I could request it again. Not sure if it was just a case of bad timing and it’s one that I’d like if I would give it a real chance.


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