Thursday, August 17, 2023

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

July Favorites 

These favorites were all five-star reads. 

Shadow of the Hawk by Geoffrey Trease
This is a historical adventure novel in which two teens travel to a monastery to rescue the only known copy of an ancient play while pursued by nefarious forces who want the play only for monetary gain.  It has great characters, a compelling plot, and it was a great read-aloud. My kids loved it and kept begging me to keep reading.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
I have been avoiding this book my entire life, but my husband put the audiobook on in the car, and I was totally hooked. Rawls's writing is impeccable. The scenes he paints with words completely stuck in my mind and have stayed with me for weeks. Yes, the book is sad, but there are few stories more beautiful than this remembrance of a childhood spent with hounds.  

Summer at Buckhorn by Anna Rose Wright 
This is another memoir-esque children's novel that I read aloud to my kids. Five siblings travel from the North to Virginia during the post-Civil War era to visit family and have a largely unsupervised summer in the great outdoors. When they arrive, they meet a sixth child who is reluctant to enjoy himself but soon learns how to have fun. The hijinks of these characters made my kids laugh out loud, and my middle child was tickled by the fact that the middle child in the story calls herself "the bookmark of the family." 

The Changeling
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
My husband and I read this with our friend and discussed over Zoom. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite children's novels, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg. It does a beautiful job exploring the dynamics between two friends who meet and part and meet again at different points in their lives, and it highlights the role imagination often plays in friendship and in coping with difficulties during childhdood.  

Borrow My Heart by Kasie West 
This YA romance follows Wren and Asher. When Wren sees that Asher is waiting at the coffee shop for a girl who has clearly been catfishing him, she steps in to help him save face by pretending to be the girl. Then, quite unexpectedly, she falls for him herself, and has to find a way to let him know the truth. This was a delightful summer read, and one of this author's best books. 

Charting the Course by Leslea Wahl 
I reviewed this YA romance/mystery for Catholic Mom. I loved the believable characters and the realistic and relatable discussions of faith in the story. My full review is here.

The Road to Roswell
by Connie Willis
This wacky sci-fi rom-com made me laugh and was so entertaining. The references to western and sci-fi movies were really fun, and all the quirky characters were so well-written. I couldn't put it down. 

Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
I listened to this book because my book group on Instagram was focusing on books published in the year of our birth, and this came out in 1982. It ended up being a beautiful collection of essays, including one that intertwines worship at Mass with arctic exploration in a surprisingly satisfying way. 

Stand-Alone Books

  • Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri (3 stars) 
  • Sparrow Being Sparrow by Gail Donovan (4 stars)
  • The Me I Used to Be by Jennifer Ryan (3 stars)
  • Ford County by John Grisham (4 stars)
  • Begin Again by Emma Lord (4 stars)
  • Gentle Writing Advice: How to Be a Writer Without Destroying Yourself by Chuck Wendig (4 stars)
  • Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson (3 stars)

Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide

  • Once More with Feeling by Elissa Sussman (3 stars)
  • Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore (4 stars)


  • The Story of Science: Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim (3 stars)
  • The Road to the King's Mountain by Margaret Ann Hubbard (4 stars)

Series Books

  • The Final Empire (Mistborn Book 1) by Brandon Sanderson  (4 stars)
  • A Cryptic Clue (Hunter and Clewe Mystery Book 1) by Victoria Gilbert (4 stars)

Did Not Finish 

  • As You Wish by Jude Devereaux

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 8 months)

  • Alexander Fleming by Richard Tames
  • Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim
  • The School Segregation Cases by Janet Stevenson
  • Brown v. Board of Education by Diane L. Good
  • The Story of Jonas Salk and the Discovery of the Polio Vaccine by Jim Hargrove
  • You Choose: The Civil Rights Movement by Heather Adamson
  • Urchin of the Riding Stars by M. I. McAllister
  • Urchin and the Heartstone by M. I. McAllister
  • Meg and the Disappearing Diamonds by Holly Beth Walker
  • Americans Into Orbit by Gene Gurney
  • Walk in Space by Gene Gurney

C. (girl, 7 years, 10 months)

  • Little House in the Highlands by Melissa Wiley
  • No Flying in the House by Betty Brock
  • All-of-a-kind-family Uptown by Sydney Taylor
  • The Road to Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • A Pet for the Orphelines by Natalie Savage Carlson 

E. (girl, 5 years, 9 months)

  • Jenny Goes to Sea by Esther Averill
  • The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill
  • Betsy and Billy by Carolyn Haywood
  • Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary
  • The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
  • Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay
  • The Rackety-Packety House by Frances Hodgson Burnett

R. (boy, 3 years, 5 months)

  • Great White Shark by Claire Saxby
  • The Dinosaur Book by the Smithsonian
  • National Geographic Dinosaur Atlas 

A. (girl, 3 years, 5 months)

  • No David by David Shannon
  • Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson
  • All Better, Baby by Sara Gillingham
  • What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell
  • Lake Life with You by Cindy Jin

Monday, August 7, 2023

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

*I am very late in posting this! We had back-to-back trips in July, and this post has been sitting in my drafts for weeks.  But here, finally, is everything I read in June! The July round-up should be ready soon too. 

June Favorites

I Will Adventure by Elizabeth Gray Vining
I read this aloud to my girls at the same time that my 7 year old was studying Elizabethan England and Shakespeare. The story follows a teen boy to London as he takes on a position as a page for his cousin. He has several chance encounters with members of a theater troupe, including William Shakespeare himself, and he learns to overcome his homesickness and rise to the challenges of living in a new place. We all really enjoyed this one, and it was really easy and fun to read aloud. 

The Labors of Hercules Beal by Gary D. Schmidt
I wasn't sure at first how I would like this latest novel from Schmidt, but it was excellent. The plot requires some suspension of disbelief as some things do come together too neatly, but the writing is so beautiful, it truly doesn't matter. I loved all of the characters, and some scenes made me tear up. 

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler 
This book had a rocky start for me due to a bit of a red herring on the first page as to what the story is about, but it ended up being another wonderful portrait of a family from the author who is best at writing those.

No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister
This novel follows the life of a manuscript, from the imagination of the author, through the publishing process and into the lives of some of its readers. The structure of this novel seemed like it could be gimmicky, but it isn't. Each of the characters has an interesting backstory, and some of them are connected to one another. The author did a great job executing this concept without making it cheesy. 

The Spectacular by Fiona Davis 
This novel about a Radio City Music Hall Rockette dancer and a bomber in 1950s New York City was so fascinating. It's a historical fiction book, but in parts it read more like a thriller. I've read a few books by this author, and this one is my favorite so far. 

Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan
This is the perfect nostalgic beach read for summer. The writing is delightful, and I loved the characters and the looks back into their past. Annabel Monaghan is a new favorite author for me this year.

The Happy Life of Isadora Bentley by Courtney Walsh
The socially awkward science-minded protagonist of this romance is such a great character. I loved her journey toward not just romance, but toward widening her social circle and learning that she doesn't have to be alone to be happy. 

Stand-Alone Books

  • Everyone Hates Kelsie Miller by Meredith Ireland (3 stars)
  • The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson  (4 stars)
  • The Gauntlet by Ronald Welch (3 stars)
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (3 stars)
  • Just the Nicest Couple by Mary Kubica (3 stars)
  • The Words We Lost by Nicole Deese (4 stars)
  • It's Better This Way by Debbie Macomber (4 stars)

Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide

  • Above Ground by Clint Smith (4 stars)


  • Canadian Summer by Hilda van Stockum

Series Books

  • Gathering of Pearls (Year ofImpossible Goodbyes Book 3) by Sook Nyul Choi
  • Perelandra (Space Trilogy Book 2) by C.S. Lewis (5 stars)

Did Not Finish

  • The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle 
  • Watch Us Shine by Marisa de los Santos 
  • The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
  • Wait for It by Jenn McKinlay 
  • If We're Being Honest by Cat Shook 
  • The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry 

Family Reading Lists 

M. (girl, 9 years, 7 months)

  • Ben-Gurion and the Birth of Israel by Joan Comay
  • Other Sandals by Sally Watson
  • The Garden by Carol Matas
  • Exploring the Himalaya by William O. Douglas
  • These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Ark by Margot Benary Isbert
  • The Korean War by Tom McGowen
  • The Korean War Soldier at Heartbreak Ridge by Carl R. Green
  • The Man who made Time Travel by Kathryn Lasky
  • Newton's Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist by Kathryn Lasky
  • The Shoes from Yang Son Valley by Yong-ik Kim
  • The Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi 
  • Echoes of the White Giraffe by Sook Nyul Choi
  • Rowan Farm by Margot Benary Isbert

C. (7 years, 9 months)

  • The King's Beard by Leonard Wibberly 
  • Crossbows and Crucifixes by Henry Garnett
  • Shakespeare: His Work and His World by Michael Rosen

E. (5 years, 8 months)

  • Skylark by Patricia Maclachlan
  • Caleb's Story by Patricia Maclachlan
  • Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary 
  • Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace 
  • Betsy, Tacy, and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace

R. (3 years, 3 months)

  • Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine D. Hughes
  • National Geographic Dinosaur Atlas
  • The Dinosaur Book by John Woodward 
  • Oceanarium 

A, (3 years, 3 months)

  • Babybug magazines (old issues)
  • What Shall We Do with the Boohoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell
  • Eloise Wilkin Stories