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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 Iโ€™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.


  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 Iโ€™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.


  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 Iโ€™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

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

    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


    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 Brontรซ 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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    July 2017 Recap

    July 2017 in Stats

    Books Read This Month: 28
    Books Read This Year: 128

    Things That Happened
    • Book club – A Midsummer Night’s Dream for my in-person book club and True Grit in the Facebook group.
    • G turned eight, and had a week at Cub Scout camp.
    • Another week of VBS & week of taekwondo camp.
    • We had some friends stop by for an afternoon/evening as they drove across the country. It’d been a couple of years since we’d seen them so it’s always nice to have a chance to catch up with them. Their oldest son is 15, so this time we were more or less able to ignore the kids for longer stretches as their older ones kept an eye on all the littler ones. That was nice for us to be able to talk and visit.
    • Those visitors also motivated R to finish painting that corner for me, so my bookcase is in place and I’ve been getting organized and ready for us to start homeschooling again.
    • We (and by we, I mean R) refilled the sand box for the kids, and they’ve been out there playing in it every day since.
    • R also worked on the washing machine, which has been having some issues. Upon opening it up, he discovered a sock clogging it, and since removing it it’s been working much better.
      Whew. I was hoping we wouldn’t need to buy a new machine!
    What’s Cooking
    • I kind of made up a bar recipe when I didn’t have the exact ingredients the recipe called for. I ended up tossing in caramel bits, white chocolate chips, and even the dregs of a bag of toffee chips. They were amazing!
    • Burgers on the grill. Lots of burgers, which leads to easy leftover meals.
    What Iโ€™m Anticipating in August
    • M’s birthday! She’ll be THREE ๐Ÿ™‚
    • School starts up again!
    • Soccer starts for G and H. I don’t know who puts the kids on teams or schedules things, but I love them. This year, just like last year, the kids have their practice on the same day and time, in the same place. I love having it be set each week, so it’s easy to get into a routine, and I love love love having them both at the same time – makes life so much easier for me.
    • Book club – Lost in Shangri-La for my in-person book club and The Diamond Age in the Facebook group.
    Books I Read in July

    I shared the list of books I read in a recent post, and I haven’t even read any new picture or chapter books to the kids this month – it’s still been all old favorites all month, with nothing new to share. August should be different!

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    May 2017 Recap

    May was an amazing reading month – I read so much, and most of the books I finished were ones I really enjoyed.

    I didn’t get a lot done in the way of blogging – I was hoping to get posts written ahead before we left on vacation, but it didn’t happen. Then I intentionally left my computer at home and conceded that the blog was going to be put on a brief hiatus. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    May 2017 in Stats

    Books Read This Month: 24
    Books Read This Year: 76

    Things That Happened
    • Book club – My Antonia for my in-person book club and Hannah Coulter in the Facebook group.
    • We went on vacation to Florida! We went to Legoland, Disney, and Animal Kingdom. We also had days spent at the pool in between the amusement parks.
    • We wrapped up the “official” school year, although we’ll be doing some light things for the summer.
    What’s Cooking

      Lots of quick-and-easy meals, as we’ve been busy with baseball & softball. I keep thinking I should make myself a belated birthday cake, but so far I haven’t bothered. We were in Florida for my actual birthday, which is why it hasn’t happened yet.

      But! The smartest thing I did was schedule a Home Chef box to arrive right after vacation. We got home late Monday afternoon, and Tuesday morning a meal box was at my door. IT. WAS. AWESOME. I want to do that every time we’re coming home from vacation, as it made re-entry so much easier.

    What Iโ€™m Anticipating in June
    • H’s birthday! ๐Ÿ™‚
    • Baseball and softball will end. G’s team will have a tournament, so I’m not sure of the exact ending date.
    • Taekwondo camp, and VBS.
    • Belt testing. G tries again for his 1st degree recommended black belt, and H goes for brown belt. I am *so* hoping she passes because that’ll move her up into the advanced classes. Why do I care? Because then she’ll be in the same class as G again, which makes my life easier. ๐Ÿ™‚
    • Book club – Into Thin Air for my in-person book club and Uprooted in the Facebook group.
    Books I Read in May

    I shared the list of books I read in a post on Thursday, so I’ll share my favorites of the picture books we read in May:

    • The Gardener by Sarah Stewart

      Beautiful illustrations, and a sweet story

    • The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach

      Really funny, and great illustrations

    • Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

      Made my girls laugh, especially the pictures of the grumpy bear.

    • The Firehouse Light by Janet Nolan

      H really liked this one, and asked for it several days in a row. Interesting story, and well-done at showing the passage of time. It’s a wordier book, and wouldn’t hold the attention of toddlers.

    • Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park

      Cute story.

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    April 2017 Recap

    I love the idea of Spring more than I actually like Spring itself I think. Not because of dreading summer, or a huge love for winter, but because of what Spring brings with it.

    And by that I mean pollen. Allergies have been rough this year and I’ve been doing all of my crunchy natural remedies and using some OTC medicine too, in an attempt to keep myself functional. Even with all that I still feel like I spent a lot of time in a fog.

    April 2017 in Stats

    Books Read This Month: 20
    Books Read This Year: 52

    Things That Happened
    • Book club – A Gentleman in Moscow for my in-person book club and Dark Matter in the Facebook group.
    • Baseball began for G, and both kids had their opening day festivities. On the same day, which was aggravating. I ended up missing all of G’s events, and R missed half of H’s game as he was off with G at those events.
    • Belt testing – G went for recommended black belt (black belt with a red stripe down the middle), and H for senior blue belt (which is the last belt that attends the intermediate classes). For the first time ever in his taekwondo career, G did not pass a belt testing. He messed up something on his form (his arm was turned up when it should have been down, or it was down when it should have been up, I don’t remember). He took the disappointment really well, and is ready to retry in June.
    • R’s brother visited for a few days, and the kids were SO EXCITED to see him. Unfortunately, his last day here was the day of the kids baseball/softball opening events, so R didn’t get to see much of him that last day as we were off with the kids.
    What’s Cooking

      I have no idea – clearly, we all ate this month, but I don’t remember anything in particular that I fixed. I think it was a month of old standbys and “what is in the fridge that I can pull together” kind of meals.

    What Iโ€™m Anticipating in May
    • My birthday! ๐Ÿ™‚
    • I think we’re going to wrap-up this year of homeschooling for our summer break. It’s possible we may go into June a little bit though; I’m not completely decided on what we’ll do.
    • It’s also possible we won’t have any summer break, and will do school every day we don’t have something else planned (like VBS or Cub Scout camp)
    • Cub Scouts wraps up for the year, which is bittersweet. It’s been a lot of fun for G, and in many ways we have more time in the summer for activities. I’m not one of the leaders though, so it’s easy for me to not feel the same need for a break from everything. ๐Ÿ™‚
    • Awana also ends, so G is done with Sparks. That means he’s now been participating in Awana for 5 years, which seems crazy to me.
    • Book club – My Antonia for my in-person book club and Hannah Coulter in the Facebook group.
    Books I Read in April
    1. Home Crowd Advantage by Ben Aaronovitch (short story)
    2. Black Coffee by Agatha Christie, adapted by Charles Osborne
    3. A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd
    4. A Fearsome Doubt by Charles Todd
    5. Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel
    6. When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (audio)
    7. Rivers of London: Night Witch by Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel
    8. Clean My Space by Melissa Maker
    9. The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
    10. Ely Plot by Joan Lennon
    11. Escape from Wolfhaven Castle by Kate Forsyth
    12. Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer
    13. Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill
    14. Other People’s Dirt by Louise Rafkin (audio)
    15. Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
    16. Defend and Betray by Anne Perry
    17. Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspeare
    18. Saveur: The New Comfort Food by James Oseland
    19. Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein (audio)
    20. Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

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    March 2017 Recap

    March 2017 RecapKnock on wood, but I think the change of seasons has also brought with it a healthier family. That was ridiculously lingering and annoying and I do hope it’s gone forever.

    March also had some super weird weather – some really mild days and then cold again (even a bit of snow), but I guess none of that is surprising for March in Indiana. Despite living here for over a decade I still find myself expecting March to be warmer than it reliably is. At this point, I think it’s just in my DNA and won’t be changing and I’ll always associate March with Spring Training and watching baseball outside in shorts and hoping to avoid a sunburn. ๐Ÿ™‚

    March 2017 in Stats

    Books Read This Month: 12
    Books Read This Year: 32

    Things That Happened
    • In the Facebook book club we discussed Emma.
    • My in-person book club had our annual tea party discussed And Then There Were None.
    • H had her first softball practice, and her first rained-out softball practice. She was super disappointed about the second because “I need to practice catching because I’m not very good at it!”
    • G finished his basketball season. His team was pretty dreadful, but he did improve and he had fun with it, so that’s good enough.
    • G also had Pinewood Derby for Cub Scouts. He ended up coming in 6th place, which wasn’t too bad considering how late he was getting started on it. He ran out of time to do some of the finesse stuff that he could have otherwise. Bonus: he got to use some power tools (under supervision) so that was fun for him.
    What’s Cooking
    • Cabbage. Butter-sauteed with salt and pepper and I love it.
    • I’ve been picking up take-and-bake pizza bout once a week all month, because I’ve discovered their special pricing – a large cheese, pepperoni, or sausage pizza for $5. I can’t make one for much less than that (if at all), and certainly not when I give any sort of value to my time. If I cared that much I could add extra toppings of my own on at home, but so far I haven’t cared that much.
    What Iโ€™m Anticipating in April
    • Book club – A Gentleman in Moscow for my in-person book club and Dark Matter in the Facebook group.
    • Baseball begins for G, and both kids have their opening day festivities. On the same day, which is super frustrating as a parent.
    • Belt testing – G goes for recommended black belt (black belt with a red stripe down the middle), and H goes for senior blue belt (which is the last belt that attends the intermediate classes)
    Books I Read in March
    1. A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
    2. The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
    3. An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd
    4. Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith
    5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
    6. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
    7. A Dangerous Mourning by Anne Perry
    8. Emma by Jane Austen
    9. Watchers of Time by Charles Todd
    10. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
    11. The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch
    12. Art of the Pie by Kate McDermott

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