Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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

April Favorites

I read a whopping 36 books this month, and I had a lot of favorites across a wide variety of genres. All of the titles below I rated five stars. 

Diary of a Country Priest by George Bernanos
I tried reading this last fall and decided to DNF at that time, but I tried again with Close Reads and ended up loving it. The writing is beautiful, I loved the unique diary format, and there is so much in the story to think about and reflect on. I also really enjoyed the commentary on Close Reads, and it definitely enriched my reading experience.

The Cross and the Beatitudes by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
My local book club chose this one as our book for April, but then we all got busy and our meeting was canceled. I read it during Holy Week, one chapter per day, and I loved how much Archbishop Sheen crams into his little chapters. There were lots of quotable lines that really get to the heart of Christ's Passion. 

Ashes: Visible and Invisible by Catholic Teen Books
I read this during Holy Week as well, and it was great, as I expected it to be. These authors always inspire me and give me great ideas for my own writing. 

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
This was my fourth time reading this book, and I'm already looking forward to the next time. There is no book in the world I love more than this one. 

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
I liked this because it reminded me Evvie Drake Starts Over in that it's a romance that is written with a slightly more literary flavor than others of the genre. The characters were great, and I was completely invested in their relationship the entire time. 

It. Goes. So. Fast.: The Year of No Do-Overs by Mary Louise Kelly 
This memoir of an NPR news host who is also a mom was so well-written and the audiobook narration by the author was wonderful. I enjoyed her insights about motherhood as well as some of the anecdotes she told about reading the news. Reading this made me want to seek out her novels.

Wither and Bloom by Anne J. Hill, et. al. (including me)
I finally read this anthology that I and a bunch of my friends are in. I loved the variety of pieces and styles that were represented, and it was fun to see how my stories fit in with the rest.

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
I don't have much in common with Ann Patchett in terms of values, but her essay about the onset of the Covid pandemic that gives this book its title is one of the best and most emotional pieces of nonfiction I've ever read. She also writes beautifully, so that I can enjoy her prose even when she's using it to express points of view with which I disagree.

Squished by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter 
This graphic novel portrays a large, loving family where main character Avery sometimes feels a bit squished. I loved the overall positive outlook on big families, and the way the mom calls the kids to her by saying, "Every last Lee!" (It reminds me of the way I say, "Fitzgerald five!")

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn
I could have done without the steamy parts, but they were skippable, and these characters stole my heart. I loved the small-town setting, the redemption arc for the male protagonist and Georgie's own journey toward figuring out her life's trajectory. 

The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty 
I read this with Close Reads, and it was so good. It reminded me a little bit of the things I love about Flannery O'Connor and other Southern writers, and I really admire the author's talent. I want to read more Welty now. 


I read more shorter works than normal in April, some with #ShortFormClassics and some just at random. 

  • Congratulations, by the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness by George Saunders (4 stars)
    I listened to this graduation speech because Mary Louise Kelly recommended it in her memoir. I didn't think it was as earth-shatteringly great as she did, but it reminded me that  I need to read A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. 
  • Better Than the Prom (Better Than the Movies 1.5) by Lynn Painter (4 stars)
    This was a free read from the publisher's website. I've been wanting to try a romance by this YA author, and this gave me a decent taste of her writing. I'll probably give a full-length novel a try sometime soon. 
  • Silver Blaze by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (4 stars)
  • The Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (5 stars)
    I read these with #ShortFormClassics and enjoyed both. Somehome Sherlock Holmes stories don't seem as intimidating to me as they once did. 

Stand-Alone Books

  • Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney (4 stars)
  • The Dig by John Preston (4 stars)
  • The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell (3 stars)
  • Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall by Alexandra Lange (4 stars)
  • A Thousand Moments (ARC) by Kelly Moran (4 stars)
  • Picture Perfect Boyfriend (ARC) by Becky Dean (3 stars)
  • Something in the Heir (ARC) by Suzanne Enoch (4 stars)
  • Famous for a Living (ARC) by Melissa Ferguson (4 stars)
  • Heart Shaped II by Sheila M. Cronin (4 stars)
  • The Golden Ticket: A Life in College Admissions Essays (ARC) by Irena Smith (4 stars)
  • Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner (3 stars)
  • Kismet by Becky Chalsen (4 stars)


  • The Turf-Cutter's Donkey: An Irish Story of Mystery and Adventure by Patricia Lynch (4 stars)
  • The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way by Joy Hakim (3 stars)
    (Catholic homeschoolers, beware of this author. We had to skip some things and correct some other things.)

Series Books

  • Big Shot (Country Club Murders Book 15) by Julie Mulhern (4 stars)
  • Chaos (Kay Scarpetta Book 24) by Patricia Cornwell (4 stars)
  • Autopsy (Kay Scarpetta Book 25) by Patricia Cornwell (4 stars)
  • A Spoonful of Murder (Murder Most Unladylike Book 6) by Robin Stevens (4 stars) 
  • To Swoon and To Spar (Regency Vows Book 4) by Martha Waters (3 stars)
  • The Day We Met (The Men of Engine 17 Book 1) by Ash Keller (4 stars)
  • The Family Upstairs (The Family Upstairs Book 1) by Lisa Jewell (4 stars)

Did Not Finish 

  • House Mate by Leah Brunner
  • Ellie is Cool Now by Victoria Fulton & Faith McClaren
  • The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
  • In the Orchard by Eliza Minot 
  • Spring, Summer, Autumn, Us by Fiona Collins

Family Reading Lists

M. (girl, 9 years, 5 months)

  • The U.S. Frogmen of World War II by Wyatt Blassingame
  • We Were There at The Battle of the Bulge by David Shepard
  • We Were There at the Opening of the Atomic Age by James Munves
  • We Were There at the Normandy Invasion by Clayton Knight
  • We Were There at the Battle of Britain by Clayton Knight
  • We Were There at the Battle for Bataan by Benjamin Appel
  • Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
  • The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert deJong 
  • The Girl from Hard Times Hill by Emma Barnes
  • Pancakes-Paris by Claire Huchet Bishop

C. (girl, 7 years, 7 months)

  • Mattimeo by Brian Jacques 
  • The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards 

E. (girl, 5 years, 6 months)

  • Babe The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith
  • Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones 
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia Maclachlan 

R. (boy, 3 years, 1 month)

  • In the Forest by Marie Hall Ets
  • Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka 
  • Stanley series by William Bee 
  • Mama Cat Has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming 
  • Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney
  • Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale 
  • All About series by Jim Arnosky 

A. (girl, 3 years, 1 month) 

  • St. Joseph Picture Books 
  • Stanley series by Wiliam Bee 
  • Nini Lost and Found by Anita Lobel 
  • One Lighthouse, One Moon by Anita Lobel 
  • A Piglet Called Mercy by Kate DiCamillo 

My husband 

  • Hakon of Rogen's Saga by Erik Christian Haugaard
  • A Slave's Tale by Erik Christian Haugaard
  • The Little Fishes by Erik Christian Haugaard 
  • The Children of the Cave: A Tale of Israel and Rome by Zvi Livne Lieberman

Up Next For Me

I'm reading Out of the Silent Planet for book club, The Scarlet Letter with Close Reads, and The Habit of Being and The Maltese Falcon from my TBR. 

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