Sunday, December 3, 2023

7 New Picture Books for Christmas 2023

Advent is here, and I am excited about new Christmas children's books! I have received 7 Christmasy review copies this year. 

Two are in board book format. 

Be My Reindeer
by Jeffrey Burton and Anna Hurley asks who will pull Santa's sleigh. Dinosaurs? Kittens? Robots? Each turn of the page reveals the face of a newly suggested character, and antlers glued onto the back cover appear to grow from each one's head. The silliness is perfect for the toddler age group, and I would have loved this for holiday story times at the library. We are sort of growing beyond the board book stage here, so I think Saint Nicholas is bringing everyone picture books this year, but we'll be sure to pass our copy along.

In the Holly Jolly North Pole by Joel Stern and Nancy Leschnikoff is a rhyming pop-up book designed in landscape format so that the book has to be turned sideways to be read. It's a pretty generic peek into life in Santa's workshop, but the fun pop-ups and cartoonish figures will appeal to little ones all the same.

The rest of these are picture books.

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona
is a reprint of a 1986 Tomie dePaola favorite. During Advent, Strega Nona has so much to do to get ready for her annual feast, but while she depends on Big Anthony to help her, he schemes with the neighbors to find a way to give back to Strega Nona. I love that this book mentions the Advent wreath and Mass. I plan to give this one to my eight-year-old from St. Nicholas.

In We Disagree About This Tree housemates Bear and Mouse are getting along mostly fine until they get a Christmas tree. By turns,  they each decorate the tree the way they believe it should look, each irritating the other until the tree finally falls down. This book has a grammar error, in which a singular hypothetical referee that Bear believes would help mediate their disagreement is referred to as "they." The rhyme is also a little bit awkward in parts. Still, it's a funny odd-couple style story that will make kids laugh. St. Nicholas isn't bringing this one to anyone, I'll probably just sneak it into the stack at some point. 

The Christmas Doll by Amy Sparkes and Katie Hickey is based on an episode of a British television show I've never seen or heard of, The Repair Shop. Evie and great-grandma Sue bring an old doll named Lizzy to the Repair Shop. Great-grandma tells the history of the doll from her own childhood, and then the "Teddy Bear Ladies" restore her so that Evie can have the doll. It's a really sweet story, and my 6-year-old who shares the doll's name will receive this one from St. Nicholas. 

Dasher Can't Wait for Christmas by Matt Tavares is a sequel to Dasher from a few years ago. On the eve of  Christmas Eve, Dasher wanders off, takes flight and has a little adventure with a human friend, and then has the opportunity to bring gifts to that child on Christmas Eve. The appeal of this book is the beautiful use of light in the illustrations. It creates a similar magical feel to The Polar Express. My oldest daughter received Dasher when it was first released, so this one is going to her.

Finally, How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen is a surprisingly sweet book from this duo. It explores all the various silly ways Santa might have of entering our homes on Christmas Eve. My 3-year-old daughter, who has been asking a lot of questions about how Santa gets into our house, will receive this one. 

Thank you to Candlewick Press and Simon & Schuster for the review copies!

Read-at-Home Mom Report: November 2023 Wrap-Up

November Favorites

I had a great reading month in November, and a lot of favorites. All of these were five-star books. 

Unleashed by Amber Kirkpatrick

My friend Amber wrote this fantasy romance, and I read the ebook from Hoopla before my paperback pre-order even shipped. I love the characters and the setting, and most especially the dialogue. There is some real sadness and brutality in the world of the story (many of the characters have superpowers and are persecuted for it), but the love story between grumpy, wounded Fen and bright, young Sara manages to be sweet and cozy even against such a backdrop. I also love the friendship between Fen and Marcel, and the fact that Marcel and his family are Catholic. I'm really excited for book two of the series! 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 

I already knew I loved Fredrik Backman's writing, and this book just further confirmed that opinion. This is such a hopeful story, despite how broken Ove is, and it points out the importance of community without becoming saccharine. 

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

This is a fascinating Catholic science fiction novel that I know I will need to read again to fully appreciate. I especially loved the first and last sections. 

Crowns anthology edited by Brittany Eden and Brigitte Cromey

I have a story in this collection, which is full of unique voices and beautiful prose, poetry and artwork. It's an honor to be included. 

Essays of E.B. White 

I listened to this essay collection, and I was just blown away by White's writing. It was interesting to view the issues of the day (1950s to 1970s) from his point of view, and also to hear his reflections on nature, farm life, and New York City, as well as on William Strunk. 

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders

This was on my winter TBR, but I didn't pick it up until mid-November. I listened to the audiobook and read along in the hardcover, marking all my favorite passages with post-its and book darts. It was like taking a creative writing class, and made me feel inspired for my own writing.


Times Three by Phyllis McGinley 

I found this Pulitzer prize winning vintage collection of light verse by Catholic housewife Phyllis McGinley at the used bookstore, and it turned out to be such a gem. I love the author's wit, and her poems about saints were among my favorites.

Faking Christmas by Kerry Winfrey

This was my first Christmas romance of the season, and it was delightful! Just like this author's Very Sincerely Yours, this felt like it was written just for me. I laughed out loud multiple times listening to the audiobook, and I fell in love with the characters. I really want to own a copy of this one. 

Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers 

I read this with the Literary Life podcast, and I loved the way Sayers thinks about the creative life in light of Christianity. This is one I would like to read again and annotate next time.

Read-Aloud and Homeschool 

  • The Ancient Near Eastern World by Amanda H. Podany (4 stars)
  • Mist on the Mountain by Jane Flory (4 stars)
  • Bread and Butter Journey by Anne Colver (3 stars)

Series Books

  • Fourth Wing  (The Empyrean Book 1) by Rebecca Yarros (4 stars)
  • The Parfit Knight (Rockliffe Book 1) by Stella Riley (4 stars)
  • The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia Book 5) by C.S. Lewis (4 stars)
  • The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia Book 6) by C.S. Lewis (5 stars)
  • The Firm (The Firm Book 1) by John Grishman (4 stars)

Stand-Alone Books

  • Awake, Not Woke by Noelle Mering (5 stars)
  • A Slipping-Down Life by Anne Tyler (4 stars)
  • Hey, Hun by Emily Lynn Paulson (4 stars)
  • Tenth of December by George Saunders (5 stars)
  • And So This is Christmas by Brian Bilston (5 stars)
  • The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass (5 stars)


  • Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros
    I just couldn't sign on for more of this series. The book was so long, and I couldn't handle all the sexual content. 

Family Reading Lists 

M. (girl, age 10)

  • My Family and Other Skaters by Fiorella De Maria
  • Staying Nine by Pam Conrad
  • Journey of the Eldest Son by J. G. Fyson
  • Hittite Warrior by Joanne Williamson
  • The Lost Queen of Egypt by Lucile Morrison
  • Fog Magic by Julia Sauer
  • Boy of the Pyramids by Ruth Fosdick Jones

C. (girl, 8 years, 2 months)

  • My Family and Other Skaters by Fiorella De Maria
  • This New Land by G.Wisler
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
  • Ghost Light in the Attic by Pat Thomson
  • The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster 
  • The Puritan Revolution by C. Walter Hodges
  • Witch Dog by John and Patricia Beatty 

E. (girl, 6 years, 1 month)

  • Hickory by Palmer Brown 
  • Beyond the Paw Paw Trees by Palmer Brown
  • The Silver Nutmeg by Palmer Brown
  • Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne 
  • Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary
  • Carbonel, The King of the Cats by Barbara Sleigh

R. (boy, 3 years, 8 months)

*R has started sounding out words and has begun reading the Hooked on Phonics readers.

  • Rag by Barney Saltzburg 
  • Dad and Sam by Leslie McGuire 
  • The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett 
  • All About Alfie by Shirley Hughes
  • I Love You, Little Shark by Jeffrey Burton 
  • In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  • Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka 

A. (girl, 3 years, 8 months)

  • All About Alfie by Shirley Hughes 
  • Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka

My husband

  • Mist on the Mountain by Jane Flory 
  • Heartsease by Peter Dickinson 
  • The Blood-Red Crescent by Henry Garnett 
  • The Winged Girl of Knossos by Erick Berry (read aloud)
  • The Winged Cat and Other Tales of Ancient Civilizations by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Homeschool Update: October 2023

Group Activities


From The Complete Book of Marvels by Richard Halliburton, Dad read the sections about the Boulder (Hoover) Dam, Niagara Falls, New York City, and Washington, DC. Then we watched these videos: 


We continued working our way through Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age by William E. Linney. After we learned a few verbs and how to conjugate them, we took a break from the book to make sure all three girls were solid in their understanding of how to identify and translate each verb. E. took a bit to catch up. C. is our strongest Latin student right now. 


The girls spent October memorizing some of the three witches' lines from Macbeth. They recorded a performance on Halloween. 


In October, Dad read aloud The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis Mcgraw and Egyptian Adventures by Olivia Coolidge. I read aloud A Lemon and a Star by E. C. Spykman and we played the audiobook of The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. 


M. and C. continued to memorize answers to questions in the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism Volume 1 and E. continued to memorize the answers to questions in  The St. Joseph First Communion Catechism


We are reading Poem-making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry by Myra Cohn Livingston on Fridays. 


C. and E. read about birds and insects in The Golden Treasury of Natural History. In Secrets of the Universe, M. and I read three chapters: "Planetary Motion," "Pendulums and Falling Objects - Galileo's Laws of Motion," and "Newton's Three Laws of Motion." She watched several demonstrations by Julius Sumner Miller, and did two experiments from Janice VanCleave's Physics for Every Kid, one about buoyancy and one about gravity. 


E. watched the episodes of How the Body Works about the tongue and the nervous system. M. visited the orthodontist. 


E. and I read about Egypt in A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer. We also read Pharaoh's Boat by David Weitzman and The Great Pyramid by Elizabeth Mann. On her own, she read: 

  • Mummies Made in Egypt by Aliki
  • Pepi and the Secret Names by Jill Paton Walsh 
  • Hatshepsut, His Majesty, Herself by Catherine M. Andronik
  • Zekmet, the Stone Carver: A Tale of Ancient Egypt by Mary Stolz
  • Seeker of Knowledge by James Rumford 
  • The Shipwrecked Sailor: An Egyptian Tale with Hieroglyphs by Tamara Bower
  • Sokar and the Crocodile by Alice Howard 

She also acted out an Egyptian burial using a homemade paper mummy and a shoebox sarcophagus she decorated herself using drawing instructions from Ralph Masiello's Ancient Egypt Drawing Book

M. and I finished The Early Human World and read most of The Ancient Near Eastern World. She watched most of the episodes of the Great Courses class, Between the Rivers. She wrote a narration about Hammurabi and read The Three Brothers of Ur by J. G. Fyson. 

C. and Dad continued reading The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster, covering these sections: 
  • John Smith, Sightseer in Italy (1600)
  • Galileo
  • A Royal Wedding (1600 - Henry IV & Maria de Medici)
  • Grand Opera and the Violin
  • John Smith and the Terrible Turks (1601-1603)
  • John Smith, Slave (1603)
  • Cervantes and Don Quixote
  • Boris Godunov
  • The Queen Is Dead (1603)
  • King James I
  • The Globe Theater
  • Ben Jonson
  • Sir Walter Raleigh a Prisoner (1603)
  • Sir Francis Bacon Rings the Bell
  • The King James Bible (1604)
  • Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot (1605)
  • A Meeting in Scrooby Village
  • A Frenchman Reports on New Spain (Champlain)
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Champlain Visits Canada
  • Off to Virginia (1606)
  • New France, the First Colony
  • The Great Chief Powhatan
  • John Smith at Jamestown (1607)
  • A Compass and Talking Paper
  • Pocahontas and John Smith
  • John Smith Draws a Map of Virginia (1608)
  • Half Moon on the Hudson River
  • French and Indians on Lake Champlain
  • President John Smith (1608)
  • Starvation and Shipwreck
  • (Tobacco to the Rescue)
  • A Synagogue in Amsterdam
  • At Home in Leyden
  • (The Telescope (1608))
  • Galileo and the Planets
  • Henry IV is Dead
  • Galileo in Rome (1611)
  • French Missionaries in Canada
  • Pocahontas Is Married
  • The Royal Couple
  • King Gustav Adolf
  • Russia's New Tsar, Michael Romanov (1613)
  • The Naming of New England
  • In Memory of Shakespeare (d. 1616)
  • Pocahontas in England
  • The Law vs. the King?
  • Raleigh's Last Adventure (1616)
  • The House of Burgesses (1619)
  • Servants and Slaves (1619)
  • They Knew That They Were Pilgrims
  • John Smith, Unhappy Admiral
  • The Mayflower Sails (1620)
  • Anchored at Plymouth

C. also read Puritan Adventure by Lois Lenski. 


M. continued working on Vocabulary from Classical Roots A and Rex Barks. E. continued working in Grammarland. C. continued working in the Beginning book of Sentence Diagramming

R. started sounding out consonant-vowel-consonant words. 


M. continued working on Challenging Word Problems 3. She finished the reviews in Singapore 5A and moved on to 5B. She also continued with Khan Academy 6th grade math, Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents and drilling math facts with flashcards online every Friday. 

C. continued with Singapore 3B, Khan Academy 3rd grade math, and Life of Fred: Farming.

E. continued with Singapore 1A and Khan Academy early math. 


All three girls practiced piano and recorder daily. 

Physical Education

The girls rode bikes and played on the playground. They also did an exercise video from the Ten Thousand method once or twice. 

Friday, November 3, 2023

Read-at-Home Mom Report: October 2023 Wrap-Up

October Favorites

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler's talent for characterization never ceases to amaze me. I became totally immersed in the life of her main character, Barnaby Gatlin, and was fascinated by his every move, no matter how mundane, from beginning to end of this novel. Absolutely no one writes like Anne Tyler, and every book of hers so far has been a delight. 

The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin
This was an enjoyable book not for the mystery plot, but for all the literary allusions and witty repartee between characters. I read this with Close Reads, and it's one of my favorites of the books they did this year. 

It Was an Ugly Couch Anyway by Elizabeth Passarella
I loved this memoir about the trials and tribulations the author and her husband endured trying to buy an apartment in Manhattan from an elderly woman. The author read the audiobook, and that made me feel like I was having a chat with her whenever I listened. There is also a charming interview at the end of the audiobook with the lady who sold her the apartment, and I loved hearing that. 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
The dark humor in this is spot-on. I figured out the big reveal at the end pretty early on, but that in no way spoiled the reading experience. Eleanor is a one-of-a-kind character and seeing her come into her own years after significant trauma was heartwarming in a quirky way. 

The Puppets of Spelhorst by Kate DiCamillo
Kate DiCamillo's latest is the perfect example of why I read everything she writes. Her prose is beautiful, and there is a depth to the story beyond just entertainment. I'm so excited to know this is the first of a trilogy because I want more! 

My Family and Other Skaters by Fiorella de Maria
I'm reviewing this for Catholic Mom, and it is a delight. It absolutely would have been my favorite book if it was around when I was 9 or 10, and my girls are eating it up as well. 

Glass Helix by Katee Stein
My friend Katee wrote this sci-fi romance, and I could not put it down. I loved the world of the story, and the way the love story unfolded within the difficulties the characters faced. 

Where Darkness Dwells by Andrea Renae
This fantasy novel by my friend Andrea is a beautiful meditation on good and evil, darkness and light. Images from this book are lingering in my mind days after I finished it.  

Read-Aloud & Homeschool 

  • A Lemon and a Star by E.C. Spykman (4 stars)
  • The Early Human World by Peter Robertshaw (4 stars)

Series Books

  • Fool Moon (Dresden Files Book 2) by Jim Butcher (4 stars)
  • The Princess Diaries (Princess Diaries Book 1) by Meg Cabot (4 stars)
  • Townshipped (Getting Shipped! Book 3) by Savannah Scott (5 stars)
  • In the Company of Witches (Evenfall Witches B&B Book 1) by Auralee Wallace (4 stars)
  • Until the Celebration (Green Sky Trilogy Book 3) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (3 stars)
  • Losing the Field (Field Party Book 4) by Abbi Glines (4 stars)
  • Can't Help Falling (Sweater Weather Book 3) by Courtney Walsh (4 stars)
  • Meet Me on Love Lane (Hopeless Romantics Book 2) by Nina Bocci (3 stars)
  • Grave Peril (Dresden Files Book 3) by Jim Butcher (4 stars)
  • A Spoonful Of Spice (Seasons of Love Short Story 2) by Liwen Ho (4 stars)

Stand-Alone Books

  • Howards End by E.M. Forster (5 stars)
  • The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton (4 stars)
  • St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets by Annie England Noblin (4 stars)
  • Snow Place Like Home by Lacey Baker (4 stars) 
  • Truth on Trial: Liberal Education Be Hanged by Robert K. Carlson (4 stars)
  • The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic by Breanne Randall (3 stars)

Family Reading Lists 

M. (girl 9 years, 11 months)

  • The Three Brothers of Ur by J. G. Fyson
  • The Heir of Mistmantle by M. I. McAllister

C. (girl, 8 years, 1 month)

  • Wayside School under the Cloud of Doom by Louis Sachar
  • Then Came Adventure by Emma L. Brock
  • The Far Side of The Loch by Melissa Wiley
  • Ramona Quimby Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
  • Stella Endicott and the Anything is Possible Poem by Kate DiCamillo
  • Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package by Kate DiCamillo
  • All-of-a-kind-family Downtown by Sydney Taylor
  • Catwings by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Catwings Return by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Jane on her Own by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Puritan Adventure by Lois Lenski
  • The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden 

E. (girl, 6 years) 

  • The Book of Hob Stories by William Mayne 

R. (boy 3 years, 7 months)

  • The Monsters on the Broom by Annemarie Riley Guertin
  • Knock Knock, Trick or Treat! by Amy E. Sklansky
  • Thomas the Tank Engine: The Complete Collection by Rev. W. Awdry 

A. (girl, 3 years 7 months)

  • All About Alfie by Shirley Hughes 
  • Babybug magazines
  • Thomas the Tank Engine: The Complete Collection by Rev. W. Awdry

My husband

  • Jane on Her Own by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Past Eight O'Clock: Goodnight Stories by Joan Aiken
  • The Winged Colt of Casa Mia by Betsy Byars 

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Homeschool Update: September 2023

Group Activities


Dad is reading aloud geography this year from The Complete Book of Marvels by Richard Halliburton. This month, he read the sections about the Transbay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. After each section, the kids all watched a related video. The videos were:  

The architectural landmarks covered in this book are our focus for art this year.


We completed the first 20 lessons of Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age by William E. Linney, and it's going well so far. E. (almost 6) struggled at first, but she is holding her own. The girls take turns translating the exercises each day, and we use the audio recordings to help with pronunciation. Even the twins have picked up a little bit. 


Our play this month was Macbeth. We read the children's version from Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield, and the girls started to memorize the "double, double toil and trouble" passage in parts. 


We are doing two read-alouds at a time this year. Dad reads a historical fiction novel and I read an additional novel. September's books were Attar of the Ice Valley by Leonard Wibberley, The Axe of Bronze by Kurt Schmeltzer, The Crystal Tree by Jennie D. Lindquist, and Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (which we finished on St. Francis's feast day owing to his role in the end of the book.) 


M. and C. memorized the answers to the questions in Lesson 1 of the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism Volume 1 and E. memorized the answers to the questions in the first few lessons of The St. Joseph First Communion Catechism


C. and E. are having science with me every morning before breakfast. We're reading The Golden Treasury of Natural History, and we have covered the formation of rocks, early animals (such as trilobites), and creatures of the seashore (including mollusks). 

M. and I read two chapters from Secrets of the Universe: "What is a natural law?" and "Archimedes' Principle." She watched a Demonstrations in Physics video with Julius Sumner Miller and did two experiments from Janice VanCleave's Physics for Every Kid, one about electricity and one about magnets. 


E. watched the KidsHealth How the Body Works videos about the ear, nose, eye, and teeth. M. read some of the later chapters in The Body Book for Girls (she's almost done) and C. started reading it. C. and M. also both had orthdontist visits. 


E. and I read the first four chapters in A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer. We also read They Lived Like This in the Old Stone Age by Marie Neurath and The First Farmers by Leonard Weisgard, and she created some cave art with crayons on brown paper. 

M. and I read all but the final 5 chapters in The Early Human World. She wrote a narration about archaeologist Mary Leakey. She also watched supplemental videos: 

  • Science Odyssey: Origins 1
  • First Peoples - Africa
  • Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life
  • Becoming Human Episode 1
  • Science Odyssey: Origins 2
  • Dr. Leakey and the Dawn of Man
  • Life on Earth Episode 13
  • Becoming Human Episode 2
  • First Peoples - Europe
  • Becoming Human Episode 3
  • Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors 
  • Lapedo Child 
  • First Peoples - Australia
  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams
  • Lascaux: How to Save 18,000 Years of History
  • Ice Age Art
  • First Peoples - America
  • Prehistoric Animals of the Tar Pits

C. and Dad are reading The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster. They have covered these sections: The Queen's Little Pirate; Queen Elizabeth; Philip II; A Declaration of Independence; The Virgin Queen and Her Frog Prince; Mary Stuart; The Three Henrys and the Queen Mother of France; Young Walter Raleigh and Virginia; No Gold - But Tobacco; Little John Smith; To and From Holland; Mary Stuart and the Honest Man; James; Lord Roanoke and Virginia Dare; Spanish Armada; War of the Three Henrys; The Lost Colony; John Smith, Schoolboy; The Faerie Queen; The Upstart Crow (Shakespeare); The White-Plumed Henry (of Navarre); El Greco and Philip II; John Smith, Would-Be Knight; El Dorado, City of Gold; Akbar of India; Mr. Pilot in Japan; Entrance to China; Sun, Moon, and Stars; A Star Gazer, Tycho Brahe and His Dog; Gustav Adolf, Star of the North. 

Independently, C. read The Lost Colony and she wrote a narration about Roanoke as well. 


M. worked on Vocabulary from Classical Roots A. C. started working in the Beginning book of Sentence Diagramming. E. did the first three chapters of Grammarland and the corresponding worksheets. 

All three girls read independently pretty much every day.


M. continued working on Challenging Word Problems 3 and started doing the reviews in Singapore Primary Mathematics 5A. She is also working on Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents and she drills math facts with flashcards online every Friday. 

C. is working on Singapore Primary Mathematics 3B and Life of Fred: Farming, and she also does flashcards online. 

E. is working on Singapore Primary Mathematics 1A as well as Khan Academy Early Math.

M. and C. also continue to work on Khan Academy.


All three girls practiced piano and recorder daily. 

Physical Education

The girls rode bikes many afternoons and played on the playground across from our house. 

Monday, October 16, 2023

Read-at-Home Report: September 2023 Wrap-Up

September Favorites

I only had two five-star reads in September, and both were 2023 releases. 

Brynn and Sebastian Hate Each Other by Bethany Turner 
This enemies-to-lovers small-town celebrity romance has great characters and a charming setting. I had an ARC from Netgalley but ended up listening to the audiobook, which was excellent. I'm looking forward to the companion book coming out next year!

Fire and Rain (Country Club Murder Book 16) by Julie Mulhern
This series is always fun, and it never stops making me laugh. This was another great installment. 


  • Old Mother West Wind by Thornton Burgess (3 stars)
  • The Crystal Tree (Golden Name Day Book 3) by Jennie D. Lundquist (4 stars)


  • Death Checked Out (Larkspur Library Mysteries Book 1) by Leah Dobrinska (4 stars)
  • Commit by Kortney Keisel (The Sweet Rom"Com" Book .5) (3 stars)
  • Compared (The Sweet Rom"Com" Book 1) by Kortney Keisel (4 stars)
  • In the Company of Others (Mitford Book 11) by Jan Karon (3 stars)
  • The Madness of Crowds (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Book 17) by Louise Penny (2 stars)
  • Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good (Mitford Book 12) by Jan Karon (4 stars)
  • And All Between (Green Sky Trilogy Book 2) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (3 stars)
  • Come Rain or Come Shine (Mitford Book 13) by Jan Karon (4 stars)
  • Just Don't Fall (Sweater Weather Book 1) by Emma St. Clair (3 stars)
  • The Vanderbeekers Ever After (The Vanderbeekers Book 7) by Karina Yan Glaser (3 stars)
  • The Fall Back Plan (Sweater Weather Book 2) by Melanie Jacobson (4 stars)
  • Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad Book 3) by Tana French (4 stars)

Stand-alone Books

  • Paradise Lost by John Milton (3 stars)
  • Frederica by Georgette Heyer (4 stars)
  • Counting the Cost by Jill Duggar (3 stars)
  • When Sharks Attack With Kindness by AndrĂ©s J. Colmenares (4 stars)
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (3 stars)
  • The Only Purple House in Town by Ann Aguirre (2 stars)

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 10 months old)

  • The Fall of the Soviet Union by Miles Harvey
  • Three Margarets by Laura Richards
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  • The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards
  • Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates by Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw

C. (girl, 8 years)

  • Pollyanna Grows Up by Eleanor H. Porter
  • More Wishing Chair Tales by Enid Blyton

E. (girl, 5 years 11 months)

  • The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann 

R. (boy, 3 years, 6 months)

  • In the Sea by David Elliot, illustrated by Holly Meade
  • Little Blue Truck's Valentine by Alice Schertle 

A. (girl, 3 years, 6 months)

  • Old Babybug magazines 

My husband 

  • Attar of the Ice Valley by Leonard Wibberley
  • The Axe of Bronze, a Story of Stonehenge by Kurt Schmeltzer
  • The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Read-at-Home Mom Report: August 2023 Wrap-Up

August Favorites

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
I did a slow read of this book with a group on Instagram that took most of the summer. Because of trips and other summer activities, I fell behind a few times and went long stretches without reading, and I know the stopping and starting caused me to miss things, but I loved the main character, Isabel Archer, and the writing, and I liked knowing I was reading a novel that was loved by one of my favorite writers, Flannery O'Connor. 

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Though this is quite different from the other novels I've read by this author, I really enjoyed the reading experience. The way Greene incorporates religious themes into the story is similar to the approach he takes in my favorite novel of his, The End of the Affair, but in a totally different setting.  

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
This was the stand-out book of the month. The audiobook is read by Meryl Streep, the story involves many references to Our Town, and the author manages to tell the story of two timelines in a single narrative. I have read a few other books by Ann Patchett and felt they were just okay, but this was truly delightful. 

Zero Days by Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware is an author who has always been very hit or miss for me, but this ended up being my favorite of hers. She builds suspense in such an organic and believable way, and I didn't want to put the book down. Imogen Church who reads the audiobook is also excellent. 

Share Your Stuff, I'll Go First by Laura Tremaine 
I gave this 5 stars not for the self-help angle, but because I enjoyed the memoir-style anecdotes the author used to illustrate the different areas about which she suggests women share with each other. 

Stand-Alone Books

  • Welcome to Beach Town by Susan Wiggs (4 stars)
  • Must Love Flowers by Debbie Macomber (4 stars) 
  • The Life Council by Laura Tremaine (4 stars)
  • Hello, Stranger by Katherine Center (4 stars)

Short Stories

  • The Girl in the Plane by Katherine Center (5 stars)
  • All Roads Lead to Here by Abby Jimenez (5 stars)

Series Books

  • Wishes (Heartbooks Book 1) by Brittany Eden (4 stars)
  • Well Matched (Well Met Book 3) by Jen De Luca (4 stars)
  • Below the Root (Green Sky Trilogy Book 1) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (4 stars)
  • Positively, Penelope (Skymar Book 2) by Pepper Basham 


  • The Midnight Horse by Paul Fleischman (3 stars)
  • Friendly Gables by Hilda van Stockum (5 stars)
  • The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension by Joy Hakim (3 stars)

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 9 months old)

  • Americans to the Moon by Gene Gurney 
  • Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
  • Moonshot by Brian Floca
  • The War in Vietnam by Don Lawson
  • Women of Courage by Dorothy Nathan
  • The Three Investigators in the Mystery of the Coughing Dragon by Nick West
  • The Space Shuttle by George Fichter

C. (girl, 7 years, 11 months old) 

  • More All-of-a-Kind-Family by Sydney Taylor 
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar 

E. (girl, 5 years, 10 months old)

  • The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
  • The Secret Staircase by Jill Barklem
  • The High Hills by Jill Barklem

R. (boy, 3 years, 5 months old)

  • Anthology of Aquatic Life 
  • Shimmer and Splash by Jim Arnosky
  • If You See a Kitten by John Butler 
  • A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle 

A. (girl, 3 years, 5 months old)

  • Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy
  • What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell 
  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle 
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell 

My husband 

  • Fingal's Quest by Madeleine Polland
  • Pictured Worlds: Masterpieces of Children’s Book Art by 101 Essential Illustrators from Around the World by Leonard Marcus 
  • Dexter by Clyde Robert Bulla