Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Read-at-Home Mom Report: November 2022 Wrap-Up

My Month in Books

I read a ton of books in November. This is largely due to Audible's Black Friday deal whose promise of a coupon got me to sign up for four months of Audible and Premium Plus and gave me access to a bunch of very short Audible originals. I'll start this wrap-up with those and then dive into the rest of the books I read. 

Audible Originals

Quite a few of these surprised me with how good they are. These are all the 4 and 5-star Audible originals I listened to. 

  • Snow Day by Julie Lipson (5 stars)
    This was a really cute romance short story about a couple that meets while traveling. The way the story is structured really helped me organize my thoughts about a project I've been working on. 
  • You Can Thank Me Later by Kelly Harms (4 stars)
    This one is a heartfelt family story set over a series of Thanksgivings. I really liked the characters and though some parts were a little dramatic, I enjoyed the story too. 
  • For Love or Music by Julie Lipson (4 stars)
    This romance involved an established couple briefly driven apart by their ambitions when they both qualify for a prestigious music competition. 
  • The Best Worst Christmas by Kate Forster (4 stars)
    This author's writing reminds me a bit of Rosamunde Pilcher, only with an Australian connection and slightly more spice. This was a really entertaining listen and it made me laugh out loud a few times. 

  • A Tail as Old as Time by Elle Hay (4 stars)
    As I am currently writing a story about a magical dog in response to a specific submission call, I enjoyed this animal-themed romance. It gave me some good inspiration for managing the animal at the heart of my own work. 
  • The Christmas Pawdcast by Emily March (4 stars)
    This one involves both an animal (a pregnant cat) and a true crime podcaster. It was equal parts sweet and serious. 
  • Home Shopped Holiday by John Burd (4 stars)
    This was a You've Got Mail style story involving a home shopping channel. I really enjoyed it, though I did sometimes have trouble telling some of the character voices apart. 
  • The Secret History of Christmas by Bill Bryson (4 stars)
    This quick nonfiction exploration of the ways Western culture has celebrated Christmas over time was very interesting and informative. I learned quite a few new things about Christmas customs. 
The rest of these were not as memorable, and they all got three stars. 
  • Better than a Box of Chocolates by Emily March (3 stars)
  • The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland (3 stars)
  • The Wedding Proposal by John Swansiger (3 stars)
  • One of Those Flings by Lauren Blakely (3 stars)

Middle Grade

Middle grade books are starting to creep back into my repertoire again and I'm fine with that. They are really fun to zip through on audio.

  • A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus (5 stars)
    I've been meaning to read this all year and I finally got to it in November thanks to #WorldFullofBooks which had a library theme for the month. This was such a heartwarming story, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, given the WWII setting. 
  • The Rose Round by Meriol Trevor (5 stars)
    This was my last reread of the 40 Rereads Before 40 Project. I still love it. Reading it again has inspired me to plan to prioritize Meriol Trevor in the first quarter of 2023. 
  • Those Miller Girls! by Alberta Wilson Constant (5 stars)
    This was a reread, but not for my project. I read this aloud to my girls, and they really loved it.
  • The Library of Ever by Alexander Zeno (3 stars)
    I picked this audiobook at random on Scribd because it was about a library, and random ended up being the main word I would use to describe it. It was entertaining, but there was no real rhyme or reason to the story. It was just a string of unrelated events.
  • Tank Commander by Ronald Welch (3 stars)
    There is a lot of detail about WWI in this book, and I just couldn't stomach it. It was well-written, but just too much for me. 
  • The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe by Tricia Springstubb (3 stars)
    I love some of this author's earlier books, but this one was just okay. I am uncomfortable with the book's message that it's okay for a mom to neglect her kids for a good cause.  I'm also disturbed that this is not the only recent contemporary middle grade novel I've read that has this message. 

Young Adult

YA is also creeping back into my repertoire, largely because I'm finding YA books to be helpful crash courses in plotting. 

  • The Christmas Clash by Suzanne Park (4 stars)
    I had an e-audio ARC of this book from Netgalley, but ended up missing my chance to listen to it and getting it from Hoopla instead. This was a good one to read in November because it starts earlier in the falla and ends with Christmas. I loved the mall setting and the conflict of the feuding restaurants. 
  • Tessa and Weston: The Best Christmas Ever by Abbie Emmons (3 stars)
    I didn't like this book nearly as much as the first one, but it was enjoyable. I think it's hard to write a sequel to a romance that involves the same couple so I thought that was an interesting choice and enjoyed seeing how the author pulled it off.  

Short Stories

  • Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell (5 stars)
    This short story collection actually includes quite a few Christmas stories, which was a nice surprise. These are some of the best written romance short stories I've ever heard, and I wished there were more. I did skip one story, as it came from the author's fantasy series that I don't read. 
  • Beyond the Woods: A Supernatural Anthology by Jessica Thompson (4 stars)
    I received an ARC of this collection from the publisher and thought there was a lot of variation in quality among the stories, the book as a whole was very enjoyable. My favorite story was a retelling, "Frankenstein's Snowman."  


November was a really good month for romance. I had four 5-star romance reads. 

  • By Any Other Name by Lauren Kate (5 stars)
    This bookish romance about a male author who secretly writes books under a female pseudonym was so well written and the audiobook narrators were excellent too. 
  • Authentically Izzy by Pepper Basham (5 stars)
    This very gentle epistolary Christian romance about a budding  long-distance relationship between a librarian and a bookseller was a cozy delight. I want to read more from this author.
  • Kit McBride Gets a Wife by Amy Barry (5 stars)
    This historical romance stars a cowboy, a maid mistaken as a mail order bride and a meddling teenage girl. I loved these characters, and I loved that this was a light and humorous historical setting. 
  • Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison (5 stars)
    This was a bit spicier than I wanted, but the writing was otherwise excellent. I loved the characters.
The rest of the romances I read were not as good: 
  • A Snowy Little Christmas by Fern Michaels (3 stars)
  • The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas (2 stars)
  • All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox (2 stars)

Mystery & Miscellaneous

  • The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda (3 stars)
    This was probably my least favorite book by this author, but it was still an entertaining read. 
  • The Broken Spine by Dorothy St. James (3 stars)
    This is another title I picked up for the #WorldFullofBooks library theme. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't quite as good as the books in the Library Lovers mystery series by Jenn McKinlay.
  • The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day (4 stars)
    This was my local book club's November pick. I enjoyed the audiobook and we had a very interesting discussion. 
  • A Little Hope by Ethan Joella (5 stars)
    I heard about this on the Book Bumble podcast, which I saw recommended on Instagram. I normally wouldn't seek out a book about cancer and grief, but I'm glad I made an exception because I loved the characters and the writing in this book. I appreciated that the story leads the reader to look for hope again and again. 
  • For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library, Vol. 1: 1979-1982 by Lynn Johnston (5 stars)
    I found out that this series of comic strip collections is on Kindle Unlimited! I loved these when I was a teenager, and I'm looking forward to reading them all through eventually.
  • The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles (4 stars)
    I don't often read historical fiction, but Book Bumble made this sound so good I couldn't resist. It ended up being very interesting, and it's made me want to try more historical novels.

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

M. (girl, 9 years old )
  • The Scopes Trial by Renee Graves
  • The Story of Albert Schweitzer by Anita Daniel
  • The Good Master by Kate Seredy
  • The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
  • Homesick by Jean Fritz
  • Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis
  • Winter of Spies by Gerard Whelan
  • Katie's War by Aubrey Flegg
  • The Story of Scotland Yard by Laurence Thompson 
  • The Story of the Secret Service by Ferdinand Kuhn
  • Guglielmo Marconi by Richard Tames
  • The Secret of Skeleton Island by Robert Arthur 
  • The Mystery of the Fiery Eye by Robert Arthur 

C. (girl, 7 years, 2 months)
  • Freddy and Mr. Camphor by Walter Brooks 
  • Luttrell Village by Sheila Sancha 
  • Castle Diary by Richard Platt
  • The Adventures of the Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton 

E. (girl, 5 years, 1 month)
  • Viking Adventure by Clyde Robert Bulla 
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

R. (boy, 2 years, 8 months) & A. (girl, 2 years, 8 months)
  • Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry 
  • Ten Little Babies by Gyo Fujikawa
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff
  • The Three Little Pigs 
*My husband didn't finish any books 

Up Next For Me

I have a stack of Christmas books calling my name, including Talk Santa To Me by Linda Urban and This Year it Will Be Different by Maeve Binchy, as well as many Christmas romances on Kindle Unlimited. 

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