Hooray! I was able to read four books for this month’s Reading Roundup. Yes, two of them were books I read in less than 36 hours each…but still! That just means I really am weeding down my YA bookshelves! And, sadly, there were a few disappointments in this month’s set of books.
Hooray! It’s the last month of the year! I’ve read so many books this year–I’m so happy! Every month, except one, I read at least two books. I’ve been so happy! Although I have gotten a lot of free books in exchange for reviews, I’ve still made a good dent in all the books I’ve previously owned that I never opened! This month was no exception for the reading roundup! I read 4 books and completed a year long devotional book!
I’m also looking to relaunch Reading Roundup as a monthly linkup. If you’d like to cohost with me for 2017, please let me know either in the comments or via email!
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Bud is a 10 year-old African-American orphan living in Flint, Michigan during the Great Depression. After some horrible foster care experiences, he decides to set out to find his who he thinks is his father, based on clues his mother left him. He wants to find where he truly belongs and fits in.
This is a later elementary school read: 4th-6th grade, I’d say. So, I read it pretty quickly. It was a very entertaining historical fiction novel. I thought it was well written, and I really liked the character of Bud, although, sometimes he did seem a little too grown-up for just 10 years old. He had certain “rules” to make life easier for him, and I liked those. I also loved the different characters that showed up in the novel. The ending, however, was a little glossed over, I thought, after such a big build up. But, I’d definitely recommend it.
Bendon Junior Classic Abridged Version of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I’ve mentioned before that I bought a ton of these Bendon Junior Classic abridged versions from the Target $1 spot. They are absolutely perfect to have in a junior high English classroom–it gets children reading all the literary classics at their own reading level!
Surprisingly, I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables, nor have I seen any movie adaptation. However, after reading this book, I want to do both, now!
Anne is a young, imaginative, talkative red-headed orphan taken in my Matthew and Marilla on their farm, Green Gables, in the Prince Edward Island city of Avonlea. The book follows Anne as she gets into mischief, learns from it, and grows up. I love the character of Anne–she’s definitely a version of me when I was a kid: unsatisfied with red hair, talkative, always imagining, and wanting to do my best in school. Reading it actually made me think of Little House on the Prairie: it covers a lot of years, but some major points in time during growing up.
I really do appreciate these Bendon Junior Classics. They keep some very popular/famous/important dialogue and narration, but other than that, it is adapted and summarized for a younger audience. The font is bigger, as is suited for a 4-6th grade reading level, there is a picture every other page, and the writing is easier to read and understand. They also keep a list of characters in the front to help students remember who is who.
Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional by Asheritah Ciuciu
I actually won this book in a giveaway last Christmas, but didn’t get it until after the holidays. I’ve been looking forward all year to opening it up! This book has daily devotions focusing on a name of Christ. It describes and explains the name in historic, spiritual, and present-day context, along with a challenge, prayer, and scriptures for further study. The names are organized into four sections: hope, preparation, joy, and love. These are the four weeks of advent. I decided not to do it day at a time, but to read it straight…it took me about a week. Instead of doing my regular morning scripture study, I would read a few pages/devotions out of this book instead. I loved learning and focusing on the different names, and therefore the different aspects and personality traits of our Savior. It is a great book to read not only during Advent, but anytime during the year.
Daily Guideposts 2016: A Spirit-Led Devotional
A friend of mine actually gave this book to me at the beginning of the year, thinking I would enjoy it. She was right. It was the perfect supplement to my daily scripture reading. There is a devotion for each day, written by different authors. Each day focuses on a scripture, has a story or lesson that goes along with the scripture, a short prayer, and more scripture references that connect. I was able to find some new favorite verses while reading these devotions. Some of the authors even did series throughout the year. One of my favorites was “What the Saints Have Taught Me.” I loved learning more about Christian Saints and their examples and how this author tried to apply it to her life. This year was their 40th anniversary. They do one every year, so if you are interested, definitely grab one for next year.
Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life by Jeff Wilser
*I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*
All throughout his Junior and Senior year (2013-2015), my brother became obsessed with American History, especially Alexander Hamilton. He loved Hamilton before Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway “Hamilton” premiered…my brother had been on his LDS mission for half a year by then. So, knowing how much Hamilton influenced my brother, but also knowing how popular he has been since the Broadway, I decided I needed to learn a little more about him.
Of course, I knew a little bit about him–all history teachers should! But, it was really limited–he was a younger Founding Father, born in the Caribbean, worked his way up, was loved by Washington, created the National Bank and was very economically minded, and then had a duel with and was killed by Aaron Burr. That was really it. So I was really excited to read this book.
It isn’t like a typical biography–it’s set up pretty much chronologically, but it’s also organized by different lessons that could be learned from Hamilton’s life…kind of like Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography or the way that Gretchin Rubin set up her Happiness Project. It contains a ton of maxims that Hamilton himself tried to live by and what we could learn from that and how to apply it to our present day lives.
The book begins with his birth and ends with his death, so I was able to learn about his entire life. And boy, Hamilton, to me, is now right up there with Franklin (my favorite Founding Father). Hamilton was always trying to improve and better himself–he was a lifelong learner. I mean, for crying out loud, he carried a book and notepad with him to battle during the Revolution!!! He definitely was a Renaissance Man, trying to learn everything and be an expert in all aspects of life. He was also very stubborn with his ideology and would’ve ever back down from what he believed was right, even if everyone else was against him. No wonder my brother loves him so much!
Wilser wrote it very well. He doesn’t claim to be a historian, and it’s not stuffy writing at all. Wilser has been fascinated by Hamilton, but definitely writes lightly, adding humor to it. It’s very easy to read and very nicely organized. I’d actually like to read the other books that Wilser has written!
If you like Hamilton in any aspect for any reason, I’d definitely, definitely, definitely add this book to your must read list! And…one of you can get lucky! I have two copies! One, I’m keeping to give to my brother next Christmas (2017) when he returns from his LDS 2 year proselytizing mission, and the other copy I’m giving away!
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What books did you read this month?
I know, I know…I say it every month…but boy did this month just fly by! It seems like less than two weeks ago we went Trick-or-Treating, and now before my eyes, Thanksgiving is over, and the house is decorated for Christmas. Luckily, I was able to read four and a half books for this month’s reading roundup.
Potty Training For Dummies
We decided to try potty training around Halloween. So, I read this book in hopes of advice in addition to all my friends’ and family’s advice and tips. It was the first “For Dummies” book I’ve ever read and I can tell that I do not like the set up of this series–it’s too crowded, to junk-y.
I did get some good tips, but they tried to be as generic as possible. They also switched back and forth from referring to your toddler as a him or a her and with different names. I know they were trying to appease to both moms of girls and of boys and of different cultures, but it got really annoying. There was also a ton of links to specific brands of training potties or apps, etc. Did they expect me to type the entire URL out after reading the book? Because this book tried to be light-hearted for the series, even though it was “written” by PhD’s and pediatric specialists, I feel that it was ghost written by some intern.
Potty Training for Boys: The Easy Way
This was a much more useful book. I mean, for starters, it was specifically geared towards boys, who apparently have different issues with potty training with girls. It helped me get into the mindset of my almost 2.5 year old son and see things the way he sees them, which helped me a lot. It gave a lot of specific tips and tricks to help boys and made me a lot more confident about quitting potty training for now. I’ll definitely pick it up again when we start again. It also give a lot of troubleshooting and different methods for different boys. Even Justin read this book!!!
The Lampfish of Twill by Janet Taylor Lisle
I actually unknowingly read another one of Lisle’s books before: The Afternoon of the Elves, and to be honest, liked that one better. This book follows young Eric, an orphan being raised by his aunt in the perilous fishing community of Twill. Twill is settled on harsh cliffs near rough waters. Fishing is all they know, and it is a dangerous game on their shores–they are used to lives being lost constantly. However, the lampfish brings them hope. These legendary fish are huge and provide a ton of meat as well as bones and oil for deeply needed supplies. However, they are rare and extremely tricky to hunt and catch. After meeting weird, mystical old Mr. Cantrip, he begins to change his mind on fishing lampfish after he learns the truth about them.
I am unsure on how I feel about this book. I think the writing could’ve been better. The ending was a bit anti-climatic, as was the climax itself. It just kind of fizzled out with no real resolution. It was also confusing at times. But, I did like the culture that Lisle created for the village of Twill. It would definitely be an interesting read for a junior high class to do together!
Repurposed Faith: Breathing New Life into Your Quiet Time by Rosie Williams
** I received a copy of this book from Ambassador International Publishing in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. **
This book is about taking your quiet time you use in the Word or studying devotionals and making it more purposeful, more intentional. Sometimes, we either get out of the habit of daily scripture reading, and sometimes, we just go through the process of reading verse after verse without really getting any meaning out of it. I know that I’ve had that issue recently…Rhys has been waking up a bit earlier ever since Daylight Savings, which is during my daily scripture study time. So, I try to do scripture study while Nick Jr. is on…I haven’t really gotten a lot out of it this past month. So, I’m now trying books only for Rhys while I read scriptures.
What I love about this book is that Williams gives all sorts of different suggestions on how to be more purposeful with our scripture study in ways that will benefit us and our personalities. She also mentions promises that God gives to us for when we are intentional about studying His Word. I think that sometimes, we all need a small reminder on how to be better about our personal time with God and Christ.
What books did you read this month?
All right, y’all! It’s time to get back into the grove of blogging! (and into the grove of life!) I didn’t even do a Reading Roundup in May, so I have two months of books to show you (and I’m super, super late with the sponsored book reviews! Holy cow!). And…I didn’t really even read that many books!
Born to Treason by E.B. Wheeler
**I received this book free from Cedar Forts Publishing in exchange for a review. But, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Joan Pryce is not only a Catholic during the English Reformation but also Welsh, and comes from a family of proud revolutionaries. But when a small act of defiance entangles her in a deadly conspiracy, a single misstep could lead her straight to the gallows! Joan must decide between fighting for freedom and finding love. (Summary from Cedar Forts Publishing.)
I mean, how much more interesting to me can a book get?!?! I loved reading about a Welsh heroine during Elizabeth I’s reign! There was even Welsh phrases, terminology, and culture correctly placed, but no duh. The author studied medieval history, especially Welsh…I mean, if I didn’t know better, I’d think that I wrote the book! It was well-written as well. I thought the characters were very good and deep, the plot was solid, and it wasn’t overtly romantic. I definitely recommend this book to all history and British lovers!
The Sacred Gift of Childbirth by Marie-Ange Bigelow
**I received this book free from Cedar Forts Publishing in exchange for a review. But, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Bigelow is a certified doula, who also happens to be Mormon. She views childbirth, especially natural birth, as a sacred gift from God. And honestly, I have to agree. The men get the priesthood, we have motherhood. We are able to share in God’s power of creation as our children develop in us for 9 months. I remember when Rhys was born, Justin said he had never felt closer to the veil and heaven than that moment. One of my favorite parts about this book was one of her reasons as to why natural childbirth is a perfect gift from God and is sacred. She said that it is a small glimpse and experience of what the Savior did for us: unspeakable pain for others so that they might live. Christ suffered more than we could ever know and gave His life so that we might live again, both physically and spiritually. Mothers go through almost unbearable pain so that our children might live. I never thought of it that way.
However, as much as she claims she is unbiased and just wanting us to make the best decision for ourselves, Bigelow is quite biased towards unmedicated natural birth. I wish it was more of finding the sacredness in all aspects of childbirth rather than focusing mainly on natural birth.
Sonnets of Faith by Dona Wilding Haws
**I received this book free from Ambassador International in exchange for a review. But, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I absolutely loved this beautiful book. Haws picks different scriptures from the Bible and writes Shakespearean sonnets based off them. The sonnets are wonderfully spiritual. But, more than just that, there are amazingly gorgeous paintings that accompany each theme of sonnets. I cannot stress how beautiful this book is. And, I truly felt Christ’s spirit near me while I read it. It’s perfect for a morning devotional! I’ll definitely be keeping this book on a coffee table.
What books have you read this month?
I have mentioned before that I have loved getting to know women from the Peony Project. Those women are such good examples of Christian women, representing their religions on their blogs. They are great member missionaries. I have also loved the daily emails and Instagram scriptures from She Reads Truth.
So, I was very excited when I had to the opportunity to become a part of the admin team for a new devotional website dedicated to LDS women. It is called She Teaches Fearlessly.
She Teaches Fearlessly is a website dedicated to answering President Russell M.
Nelson’s plea in the October 2015 General Conference:
“Today I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before. I plead with you to fulfill President Kimball’s prophecy. And I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that as you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!”
We are glad to answer his call. In the same talk, President Nelson said that “women of this dispensation are distinct from the women of any other…this distinction brings both privileges and responsibilities.” We know we
hold responsibility in bringing light and Gospel truth to the world. We also know we have been admonished by the general authorities to be member missionaries. What a wonderful time we live in to be able to use technology to
our advantage, to flood social media with uplifting messages and scriptures, easily bringing the Gospel to light with a simple tweet or graphic quote on Instagram.
There have been many LDS women who have been motivational speakers, celebrities both online and on television, and bloggers who have always upheld their beliefs. That takes courage. We applaud those women and would hope to join their ranks of strengthening the women of not only our faith, but all women in the world. In 1979, President Spencer W. Kimball prophesied, “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”
President Nelson declared, “The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God!” So, join with us in proudly
teaching the gospel in our homes, neighborhoods and communities. Join us in the call to serve and teach, fearlessly. #sheteachesfearlessly
**You can read President Nelson’s full talk here.**
I have already written a handful of articles:
Follow along with She Teaches Fearlessly!