Monday, July 12, 2021

Read-at-Home Mom Report: June 2021 Wrap-Up

My Month in Books

I read 17 books in June - 4 read-alouds with my kids and 13 for my own enjoyment. Seven were audiobooks, 7 were print books, and 3 were ebooks. Linked book titles below will take you to my reviews. 

I kicked off the month by reading the ebook of The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris in one night while we were staying with my mother-in-law. I picked it up to start before bed and just zipped right through it. It's a thriller set in the publishing world, with themes related to race woven into the story. I picked it up because it was in the Modern Mrs. Darcy summer reading guide and I really enjoyed its unique style and odd, creepy mood. (4 stars)

Next, I read The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder for book club. I thought I remembered reading and loving this book in college, but after re-reading it, I'm convinced I have it confused with a different book. I could appreciate some of the writing as distinctive, but for a story with a lot of Catholics in it, it didn't have much of a Catholic message. The only good thing I can really say about it is that it was short. (3 stars)

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave was another thriller I picked from the Modern Mrs. Darcy summer reading guide, and this one I listened to as an audiobook. The writing was great, and the relationship between the main character and her stepdaughter was the most interesting part of the story for me. The ending felt a little anti-climactic, but it was also believable as a way things might resolve themselves in such a situation in real life. (4 stars) 

My next audiobook was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, which I had never read before. I had a horrible experience years ago reading The Captive by O'Dell, and I was afraid this was going to be dark and depressing in the same way, but it wasn't at all. This is a beautifully written story with vivid descriptions of people and landscapes alike, and I really enjoyed it despite not typically loving survival stories. (4 stars)

Next I listened to Hooked on You by Kathleen Fuller on Hoopla, and that was  a great palate cleanser. It's just a gentle Christian romance set in a small town and it's the first in a series. I'm looking forward to book two in 2022. (3 stars)

With a group on Instagram I read The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. The group loved it. I didn't especially. It was fine, but it had a lot of things I don't like in it - character names with not-so-hidden special meanings, coincidences, puzzles, etc. The writing also felt uneven. In some sections the story flew by. In others, it dragged on endlessly. I also have no interest in the Disney+ adaptation of the book, so that aspect of the discussion was kind of lost on me as well. I'm not sorry I read it, but it was just okay. (3 stars)

I did love The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright, which I read aloud to my kids. It presents such a charmed and charming view of childhood, and I loved it even more than The Saturdays. (5 stars) 

Fox's Earth by Anne Rivers Siddons is a Southern gothic family saga spanning several generations. I didn't love it as much as this author's Colony, which I listened to last summer,  but Sally Darling did a fantastic job as the narrator and though the characters were mostly not likable I was riveted by their story. I also loved Rip, the black woman who works for the family at the center of the book who is the only truly good character in the entire book. (4 stars)

I read The Overloaded Ark by Gerald Durrell to satisfy a challenge prompt of a book set in Africa. I'm not an animal person, so a lot of the details about the animals were not that interesting to me, but I liked the stories about humans interacting with animals and with the jungle climate. Durrell is a good writer even if the book felt slow in some places. (3 stars)

My three-year-old and I read Winnie-the-Pooh together, and it was so much fun seeing her meet these characters for the first time. (We don't really do Disney, so she had no prior knowledge.) I think some of the writing style was lost on her at this age, but she loved Piglet, Owl, and Roo, and that made it enjoyable enough for a first read-through. (5 stars)

With my oldest I read aloud Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. It's pretty perfect. I got choked up a little at the end, but I made it through without shedding tears. She loved it and can't wait to read it again. (5 stars)

Another great audiobook pick was Haven Point by Virginia Hume, which is another family saga. This one jumped back and forth in time as it told the stories of three generations of women: one living in 1944, one in 1970, and one in 2008. Normally, alcoholism and WWII would be topics I would avoid in books but this one made both interesting and relatable enough that I was not turned off. (4 stars)

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides was kind of a let-down. I felt like there was a lot of hype surrounding it, and the premise sounded great, but the execution didn't quite work. The audiobook narration was top-notch, however. (3 stars)

Rosetown Summer by Cynthia Rylant was an ARC; the book comes out later in July. It's a sequel to Rosetown, and I might be the only one who loves it, but I loved it. I'm planning a review very soon. (5 stars)

Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink was another read-aloud, this time with my 5-year-old who loves babies. She had heard it before when I read it to her older sister, but she had forgotten the story so it was all new to her again. She really enjoyed it. (5 stars) 

My last audiobook of the month was Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews It was well-written, it kept me guessing, and it totally surprised me. It's a debut novel, and I'm hoping for more in the future!  (4 stars)

Finally, I finished the month with the ebook of The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green. I have always liked the way John Green writes even when I haven't liked what he has to say. That was the case with this book. Written during the pandemic, this book is just utterly depressing and devoid of hope. Green sounds like he expects the world to end any day and it was hard to find more than a tiny flicker of hope anywhere in his essays. I enjoyed the line-by-line writing, but as a whole, it was just too gloomy. (3 stars)


There were a couple of books I abandoned again this month: The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer by Liza Rodman (it was weirdly anti-Catholic) and The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary (I was bored and I didn't like the audiobook narration). 

As for the rest of the family's reading...

My husband read aloud The Little Lame Prince to the family each night after dinner. In the car, we finished Anne of Green Gables

With my mom, I'm doing a summer reading project with my kids where we pick an author/illustrator/theme each week. I read books during the week, and then my mom reads one over Skype on Saturday. In June, we focused on Roger Duvoisin, Paul Galdone, and Virginia Lee Burton. 

M. (7 years, 7 months) has been reading the second book in the Borrowers series. She has also been reading Thee, Hannah by Marguerite deAngeli aloud to my mother-in-law on Skype.  

C. (5 years, 9 months) finished Little House on the Prairie, and she also read Three Boys and a Lighthouse by Nan Hayden Agle and  Ellen Wilson.

After E. (3 years, 8 months) and I finished Winnie-the-Pooh she got interested in Raggedy Anne and listened to some of the stories on audiobook. She also twice asked for the audiobook of The Saturdays at naptime. With her, I've also been reading aloud National Geographic's Little Kids First Big Book of Reptiles and Amphibians. She has also begun sounding out words and she was able to read Rag on her own. 

R. and A. (15 months) get very little scheduled reading time. They are often present for the older kids' read-alouds, and they do love to look at books but we need to work on carving out a time for them to hear more stories.

Up Next For Me 

In July, I plan to pick up where I left off with Jan Karon's Mitford series and listen to Light From Heaven. I've also started reading Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger. I'm supposed to be reading Angle of Repose with a friend as well, but we both keep pushing it off in favor of other books. I'm also hoping to read one of the Marcia Willett books my aunt sent me and to read a couple of other paperbacks from my TBR pile. 

Linking Up

No comments:

Post a Comment