Monday, May 3, 2021

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

My Month in Books

I read 16 books in April (down from 31 in April 2020, when I was still counting picture books) and more than half were audiobooks. After giving up audiobooks for Lent, I decided to celebrate Easter by just listening to a bunch without worrying too much about moderation. As of the end of April, I've listened to 20 books this year. By the end of April 2020, I was already at 28, so I'm still sticking to my goal of limiting audiobooks. 

Here is the full list of what I read in April: 

American Royals by Katharine McGee
[reviewed on Instagram]
Majesty by Katharine McGee
[reviewed on Goodreads]
I started the month with American Royals on audio and ended it with the sequel, Majesty, also on audio. I absolutely loved the first book. The premise - that George Washington was made king, not president - was really intriguing and it was really fun keeping up with all the entanglements among the characters. The sequel was a little less compelling, as all the relationships were entangled differently and it was hard to know where to place my loyalty. I did like the ending, though, and would welcome a third book, though I believe the author has said there are no plans for another book right now.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
[reviewed on Goodreads]
I heard about this book from Sarah's Nightstand on YouTube and took her advice to listen to the audio. Though I liked the audio production, I was disappointed by the ending that seemed to come out of nowhere and felt like it didn't really add up.

And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School
by Judith Warner
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This book I heard about from Janssen at @everydayreading on Instagram. I wasn't really reading this from a parent's perspective since I doubt very much my homeschooled kids will ever set foot in a middle school building, but from the perspective of someone who suffered a lot of social angst in 7th and 8th grade.  And it was extremely validating and also made me realize that, however it felt at the time, it was definitely not just me. 

Dandelion Cottage by Carroll Watson Rankin
[reviewed on the blog]
This was a re-read, this time as a read-aloud for my girls. They loved it, and I loved sharing it with them. My review is from 2018. 

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese
[reviewed on Goodreads
This book was recommended by Carolyn Astfalk's @cmastfalk on Instagram and it was a five-star read for me. Sometimes I'm not sure whether to read Christian fiction that isn't explicitly Catholic, but this one was in no way offensive to Catholics and it was amazingly well-written. I listened to the audio, and it was a great production as well. I highly recommend this one. 

The Enchanted April
by Elizabeth von Armin
I sometimes like to read books with months in the title during the months for which they are named. This was a funny, farcical, escapist read to enjoy outside on the warm days we enjoyed here during April.

The Chicken Sisters by KJ. Dell'antonia 
[reviewed on Instagram]
I believe Krista from Books and Jams on YouTube mentioned this book in passing, and it was available from Book of the Month club and is also a Reese's Book Club Pick. I was able to borrow the audio from the library, figuring I'd just give it a try. It ended up being a five-star family story about two rival chicken restaurants and the pain and resentments at the roots of their feud. I loved it. 

Dream Work by Mary Oliver
For most of the month I was reading poems aloud daily on Instagram, but by the end of three weeks, almost everyone was skipping my stories (the hatred for poetry is stronger than I knew!) so I decided to stop and read some poetry on my own instead. I've been wanting to try Mary Oliver so I selected this book at random at Hoopla. I didn't especially love any one poem, but I do appreciate her talent. 

Camino Island
by John Grisham
Surprise, surprise, this is actually a bookish novel! It involves the theft of F. Scott Fitzgerald's manuscripts and the investigation of the bookstore owner who may be in possession of them. Not my favorite by Grisham, but a fun audiobook. 

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley 
[review coming soon on the blog]
I didn't love this. I'm not really surprised. Details to come in my review.

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
[review coming soon on the blog]
This was technically a re-read since I read it sometime during library school, but since it wasn't on Goodreads and I hadn't reviewed it, I didn't want to count it without revisiting the story. I loved it. 

Peppermints in the Parlor
by Barbara Brooks Wallace
[review coming soon on the blog]
My husband recommended this as a read-aloud for my girls, and we all liked it. Odd, but also strangely wise about the value and vulnerability of elderly people. 

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
This was such a great book. The quickest 945 pages I've ever read, with some of the greatest characters. This will probably end up being my favorite book of 2021.

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
[review coming soon on the blog] 
I listened to this book on audio, and that was a lot easier than reading it in print would have been. It really immerses the reader in the Revolutionary War, and Johnny is a great character.

A Holy Hour with Mother Angelica
[review coming soon at Catholic Mom]
I just love Mother Angelica and I was so happy to receive this for review. My piece about this book will be my June submission for Catholic Mom so I'll save my thoughts until then.  

The Best of the Bunch

My favorites this month were Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry and All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese. 

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

My husband finished Summer Birds by Penelope Farmer and then read a sequel, Charlotte Sometimes. Now he is reading The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden.

M., age 7, has just started reading and listening to Mattimeo by Brian Jacques. Before that, she read Prince Caspian

C., age 5, finally finished reading Betsy-Tacy and Tib and moved on to Ramona the Pest. She's also really into the Elisa books by Johanna Hurwitz.

E., age 3, has been into picture books such as Ben Finds a Friend by Anne-Marie Chapouton, Pet Show by Ezra Jack Keats, First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, and Jody's Beans by  Malachy Doyle. She has also been listening to me read aloud from The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook. We are almost done. 

The babies, R. and A., age 13 months, are into word books with photographs. They like to hear what things are called. They also like to chew on Indestructible books.

Up Next For Me

In May, I'm hoping to read some cozy mystery ebooks as well as a couple of e-ARCs. I also started the audiobook of Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney on Scribd, and I'm enjoying it so far. 

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