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

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