Monday, June 7, 2021

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

My Month in Books

I read 12 books for my own enjoyment during May, and read aloud 4 more to my kids. First, my own reading: 

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy (4 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This was a wonderfully twisty thriller that tricked me not once, but twice. The audiobook narration contributed to the suspense and the elements of surprise. It wasn't quite five stars, but it was a very enjoyable four-star read. 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (5 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads
I listened to this collection of essays on the writing life and loved everything about it except the author's insistence on referring to God using female pronouns. 

Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (3 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads
The writing in this audiobook was good, but the plot felt thin. I made it to the end, but had I known how disappointing it was going to be, I probably would have skipped this one. 

My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman (1 star)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
I have enjoyed this author's detective novels, but the essays in this book were so angry and hateful (especially toward men) that I found myself completely turned off to her worldview altogether. After finishing the audiobook, I added all the books by her that I owned to our donation pile. 

A Place Like Home: Short Stories by Rosamunde Pilcher (5 stars)
[reviewed on Instagram
I love this cozy collection of domestic love stories. It renewed my interest in short stories and inspired me to want to write some of my own as well. I received a digital ARC of this book from Netgalley; it comes out in July. 

When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson (4 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This collection of deeply philosophical essays included many pieces that went right over my head, and others with which I disagreed, but I really appreciated the depth of this author's thinking about the writing life and the spiritual life. 

The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God by Ruth Pakaluk (4 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads
This was my book club's pick for May. I liked the section of the book that collected Ruth's letters, and the biography was interesting, but the talks at the end were kind of repetitive. I also don't love reading about mothers dying of cancer and leaving behind small children and probably would not have chosen this book on my own. 

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz (4 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads
I listened to this thriller on audio as well, and even though I figured out what was going to happen long before the end, I still loved the writing enough to read eagerly to the end. Still, I would have liked just a couple of red herrings. 

Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis (2 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This audiobook was ostensibly a collection of funny essays, but it was more crude than amusing. I think only one or two out of the whole set actually made me laugh. 

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (5 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
I really loved this When Harry Met Sally esque romance, and it was especially great to listen to the audiobook read by Julia Whelan. The ending unexpectedly made me cry!  

We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers by Marisa Crawford (3 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
This was interesting to me as a piece of nostalgia, but I didn't particularly like the way the essay writers read so much into a series of books for children. 

The Fortunate Marriage by Meriol Trevor (4 stars)
[reviewed on Goodreads]
Meriol Trevor is one of my all-time favorite Catholic authors. This Regency romance doesn't include as many references to the faith as some of her other books, but its views on marriage are 100% compatible with church teaching even if the characters' behavior isn't always. There are three more in this series, and several other similar series on my Kindle that I still plan to read. 

And here are the read-alouds, which I'm planning to review here on the blog at some point: 

Away Goes Sally by Elizabeth Coatsworth (3 stars)
This was a simple historical fiction story about a family moving their house over land to a new home. The writing was a little simplistic for me.  

Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (4 stars)
This one was a re-read for me, and I have already reviewed it. M. (7) liked it the most, but C. (5) and E. (3) were mostly invested in the story as well.  

The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley (5 stars)
I read this one aloud to E. as part of her daily preschool time, and she really liked it. The small adventures Milly-Molly-Mandy has in her village are just perfect for her age. 

Old Mother West Wind by Thornton Burgess (3 stars)
This was another read-aloud with E. She didn't love it that much to start with it, but really warmed up to it by the end. (Animal stories aren't my favorite, but I'll read them aloud if necessary.)


I abandoned quite a few books in May as I struggled to find my new reading rhythm heading into summer. 

First, I decided not to read anymore cozy mysteries and abandoned the one I had been struggling with, Deadly Edition by Victoria Gilbert, then removed the others I had from NetGalley and on my Kindle from my to-read shelf.

I also DNF'd That Summer by Jennifer Weiner (I was bored and bogged down in too many characters and timelines), Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books by Nick Hornby (it was slowing me down because it's so long), The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (I didn't like the writing), and Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann (great premise, but again I didn't like the writing). 

The Best of the Bunch

My favorite books this month were...

People We Meet on VacationA Place Like Home

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

On our trip to Gran's house last week we finished listening to the audiobook of The Hobbit and then started Anne of Green Gables.  

My husband read aloud Tal: His Marvelous Adventures with Noom-Zor-Noom by Paul Fenimore Cooper and also read a Choose Your Own Adventure story with the girls one night. He finished reading The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden, and also read The Book of Hob Stories and Underground Alley, both by William Mayne.  He is now reading The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken. 

M. (7 years, 6 months) read Rinkitink of Oz and started The Borrowers.

C. (5 years, 8 months) finished Ramona the Pest and moved on to Little House on the Prairie. We've also started reading picture books together in the evenings. She has enjoyed all my choices, but she  absolutely loved One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey.

E. (3 years, 7 months) is into a series of lift-the-flap books that includes Sophie's Seashell Scramble, which we recently received from the publisher for review, and the companion books of which my mom sent for her. She also just started listening to me read aloud Winnie-the-Pooh. 

R. and A. (14 months) have been enjoying ABC Cats and 123 Cats by Leslea Newman, which we received from the publisher for review.  

Up Next For Me

I'm currently listening to Fox's Earth by Anne Rivers Siddons, which is my first big book for Sue's Big Book Summer Challenge. I'm also listening to The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, which was recommended in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide. 

With a friend, I'm reading Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, for book club I'm reading The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder, and for a buddy read on Instagram I'm reading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. 

Linking Up

I'm sharing this post to four link-ups: 

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