Sadly, I was only able to read one book this month for Reading Roundup, but it was a great one! Just like last month, I was again contacted by the LDS Church Historian’s Press to review a book. *I received this book free in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.* Even more than the book I got last month, I was so excited to read the book I got!
It’s a new year. I know a lot of bloggers have a list of books they want to read, already. I do too. It’s called, “all the books on my bookshelf that I own and have never read yet.” That was basically the same plan for last year, too. But, I love to include a library book now and then, or a book from Blogging for Books. I’ve even done some book reviews for Cedar Forts Publishing, which is a Mormon-owned (not Church-owned) publishing company. This month, I was actually contacted by the author or publisher of both books I read for Reading Roundup.
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!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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?
It seems that whenever I’m really into blogging, my reading suffers. Whenever I’m really into reading, my blogging suffers. And, that is exactly what happened this month. I was able to begin and finish five entire books this month! I loved being able to read this much!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
I know a lot of people had harsh opinions about this and were disappointed. But, I actually really liked it! This play is about Harry’s son, Albus, and how he has to live in the shadow of his father, The Boy Who Lived. Albus isn’t very good at anything magical and is friends with Scorpio, Draco Malfoy’s son. Oh, and he’s a Slytherin. But, when an opportunity comes to try to fix a “mistake” in Harry’s past and make a name for himself, Albus jumps at the offer–only to cause some bad rippling effects.
I really liked the premise to this story–it made sense to me. Especially the part about Voldemort having progeny. I loved that idea. I also really liked the symbolism of the Augery. The distance and awkwardness between Harry and Albus made complete sense…I mean, how would you feel if you were a mediocre wizard whose father was the famous Harry Potter?!?! And, if you were Harry Potter, how would you feel with a son who did poorly in all things magical? And for that matter, the relationship between Draco and Scorpio was well done. Given Draco’s past and his relationship with his mother and father and all the emotional and mental turmoil he went through, especially since the order from Voldemort that he had to kill Dumbledore, it makes complete sense that he wants something different for his son, but just doesn’t really know how to do it. It was so fun for me to watch this play happen in my mind and makes me really curious about how they do all the magical stuff on a stage without CG or special effects! Too bad it’s going to take forever for the play to come on tour OFF Broadway in America.
However, there are a few things that I didn’t like. I enjoyed the play format and understand why, but I would’ve liked it in a novel format. In fact, I’d be willing to read a whole series about Albus Potter! I also wanted more background on the Augery and the whole Voldemort’s child story. I didn’t like Ron’s character at all. I think he was just downgraded to a buffoon adult comic relief. I also thought that the ending was a bit rushed and anti-climatic. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved talking with my husband about it. I read it in 48 hours, then he did the same after me, and we’d talk about it for hours together.
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger
My husband doesn’t like books like this. He sees the title and thinks, it’s another book for women to say how to deal with men, it’s all about degrading men. Well, my mom told me to read this book. She literally handed it to me as I was leaving for Texas and told me to pay attention to it and take good care of my husband. I trust my mom’s taste as she really loves and respects my dad. And, it’s more on how to be a good wife, how to stop being a whiny, nagging, entitled b**. It honestly reminded me of a book I read last year called When Beauty is a Beast.
The whole point of this book was really to let women know that men are truly and completely different then women, and typically, it’s the women’s fault for not trying to understand men that causes a lot of arguments and tensions in the family and marriage. Dr. Laura used a lot of examples from clients on her radio show and letters she’s received and I found myself shaking my head numerous times at these pitiful women ruining their own marriages, but trying to blame or change their husbands. Although it wasn’t necessarily as insightful as When Beauty is a Beast to me, it was still a nice way to reflect on how I treat my husband and think of ways to do a better job at being a better, more supportive, less complaining wife.
But, be warned, Dr. Laura is very Christian and has many conservative Christian ideals about marriage in her book–which I liked because they aligned with mine and how my religion feels about marriage and family. And, she is very obviously against feminism…so, if you are a feminist, please take what she says with a grain of salt! She still has great advice on being a better wife!
Zink by Cherie Bennett
This is about a 4th-6th grade reading level YA novel from my classroom collection. I’m making a good dent in it! Anyway, this is a cute little novel about a young girl, Becky, who gets leukemia. It follows her as she goes through treatment, and remission, and then had a relapse. But, through this whole time, she had the company of three Zebras who gave her friendship and courage, and allowed her to travel to Africa in spirit. They also taught her the story of Zink, the brave Zebra who was different from all others and was proud of it.
Bennett wrote this book for a girl she knew who was suffering and died from leukemia. She had other young kids suffering from cancer draw the illustrations in the book and had a lot of information about it at the end of the novel. It is definitely a sweet book, and I cried a little at the end.
The Dark Garden by Margaret Buffie
This is another one of my classroom YA’s. It is definitely a high school read, though, and is a thriller with paranormal events. Thea, a sixteen year old, got in a bike accident and received traumatic amnesia–she couldn’t remember anything about herself, her family, or her past. But, she started seeing ghosts and hearing voices. She wasn’t sure if this ghost, Susannah, was actually herself and her memories, or if she truly was Thea. But, with the help of a local farthely priest and a teenage clairvoyant named Lucas, Thea was able to begin to piece memories and scenes together and figure out a murder mystery.
I initially liked the idea of this book, but I thought the writing was a little all over the place and too confusing with the points of view and timings. I also absolutely hated Thea’s family–the parents were basically absentee, and the kids definitely needed social services to care for them. I also thought the climax was a bit anti-climatic, especially with all the spooky and paranormal buildup. It also happened way to fast.
Uppity Women Speak Their Mind by Vicki Leon
I love learning and reading about women in history. They are so fun, especially when it comes to the subject of “uppity women”. I love the famous quote, “Well-behaved women rarely make history,” and this book falls into that category. This book has short one page vignettes about women and a quote they are famous for. I often found myself smiling or doing imaginary fist pumps after reading about each woman. There were even some coarse women that I literally would laugh out loud after reading. I loved this easy, fast read, but wish that it was organized in a different way–maybe either alphabetically or chronologically.
What books did you read this month? Which one of these would you like to read?