2013 Book List

2013 book list from ohamanda.com

Inspired by Mandi Ehman’s Weekly Reads…and because I want to see how many books I actually read in a year, I thought I’d compile them all here. I’ll italicize my faves and give a few sentences of my thoughts on each one. I rarely recap the book because I hate giving spoilers! Ready?

{Keep scrolling to see the books I’ve read to my kids…}

most recent update December 26


Books I’ve read…

Two Crosses by Elizabeth Musser

Elizabeth Musser is one of my favorites. She writes heart-wrenching, beautiful stories usually revolving around Georiga or France. Two extremes, no? It’s because she’s lived in both those places. This one is set in Paris during the Algerian War and is full of spies, intrigue, love and more. It’s the first in a series and is fabulous.

Operation Christmas Child by Franklin Graham

This is the history of Operation Christmas Child. It tells all the amazing stories of how it began and how it continues to bless children and families around the world. I sobbed through half of it. I loved every bit of it.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I read this a couple of years ago but after seeing the movie had to read it again. I cannot believe how well they stuck to the book. I loved it all over again.

Praying For Boys by Brooke McGlolthlin

This one doesn’t come out until January 7th but I read it as a review and loved every word. It’s a must have. I’ll have a full review up soon!

Past Forward (Part 1 & 2) by Chautona Havig

So, I went on vacation and wanted an easy read, so I scrolled through my Kindle and discovered I had another Chautona Havig book I’d downloaded for free! This one is similar in theme to the Aggie series (see below) in that the main character is thrust into a new life and is discovering a completely new world–which we get to experience with them. This time, Willow, a 20-something girl who has lived only with her mom growing her own food, making her own clothes, etc is thrust into the “real world” when her mother dies. Chautona Havig catches my interest from the first page so I enjoyed this book but I can tell this is self-published because it’s so long! She has like 6 or 8 books in this series but it’s really one big long story. I’m all for a long series, but I think it could also use some tightening up. All in all, worth a read, especially if you find it on a good deal for your Kindle.

The Hope of Shridula by Kay Marshall Strom

I really loved the beginning of this book but it didn’t hold out through the whole book. The setting is 1940’s India with emphasis on the caste system. It’s totally interesting. But the book got confusing–jumping from character to character, not a hard-and-fast storyline. It was the 2nd in a series, which I didn’t know until after I finished it so that could have had something to do with it, too.

Misery Loves Company by Renee Gutteridge

This is a thriller about a blogger who does book reviews! Whoo-hoo! I really enjoyed it.My favorite quote from the book, “Writing is 5 percent work, 95 percent staying off the Internet.” Ha!

The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

This is one of the few actual paper books I’ve read this year. I got it at the library and remembered why I like my Kindle so much–books are heavy! This one felt a little like The Secret Garden but with grown-ups. There were actually a few parts that were kinda creepy. Overall I liked it. It was a nice, easy read.

Prayer Warrior Mom by Marla Alupoaicei

I read this as a morning devotion book–one chapter a day. I loved it. I’ve read several pray-for-your-kids books and although this one had similar parts (a Scripture prayer, study questions and supporting Scriptures) this one also had some great insight about ME as a mom and a Christian. I highly recommend this one for moms with any aged kids.

Here We Come by Chautona Havig (Aggie’s Inheritance, Book 3)

I bought this final book seconds after reading the 2nd one.  Again, this one had such good insight on marriage and parenting that I underlined a ton of it. There was a really great point in the plat that involved a tragedy that I thought I was going to hate and then I ended up liking. Overall, this was a fun series that also got me thinking about my heart and life.

For Keeps by Chautona Havig (Aggie’s Inheritance, Book 2)

This is just a continuation of Aggie learning to mother eight children–as a single mom. But there’s a little romance thrown in. And although the first one had a little “teaching” via fiction, this one definitely felt more didactic. (Is that how you use that word?) I actually loved it, though. The author’s outlook on childrearing, education and even dating is really inspiring. I underlined like half the book.

Ready or Not by Chautona Havig (Aggie’s Inheritance, Book 1)

I got this one for free on Kindle a few weeks ago. And I super loved it–so much so that I bought the next two in the series right away! (I’m a sucker for free-first-in-the-series!) It’s contemporary fiction about a 23 year old recent college graduate who inherits her sister’s eight kids after she and her husband are killed in a car accident. It’s not a sad book–it was actually really fun and refreshing. It felt a little like Jan Karon’s Mitford books or Angela Hunt’s Fairlawn series. I loved it so much I bought the second book in the series right away. (ps: it’s still free today!)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

Amy recommended this book so highly I had to read it. I love YA fiction and figured I could use something modern after being in the Civil War so long (see below!). This book is the sad beautiful tale about a girl with cancer. A girl with terminal cancer and her new boyfriend with cancer-in-remission. Oh. It is such a good read and had some super clever writing. There is a lot of language and (SPOILER) pre-marital sex (although, it was very non-explicit and not all that awesome), so…I don’t know what to say about it. I can’t actually recommend it but I also kinda do.

Undaunted Love by Jennings Wright

After reading 10 books in a row about the Civil War, I wasn’t sure what to pick up next. So, I just did the old judge-a-book-by-its-cover and clicked the first thing that looked good on my Kindle. And what do you know? This one hooked me from the first page! It’s also set in the Civil War and is about a young lady and her secret-soldier-husband. They are separated the entire war and then have to deal with post-Civil War finances, stress and family. It was a really beautiful book.

A Witness in Heaven by Gilbert Morris (The Appomattox Saga, Book 10)

I started out not liking this book because the main characters were not Rocklins. But as it progressed, I fell in love with all the characters. As a last book in the series, it wasn’t my favorite because I felt like it just ended. But everything was pretty tidy, so maybe it was just me wishing it would go on more and more!

Chariots in the Smoke by Gilbert Morris (The Appomattox Saga, Book 9)

Oooh, this one was a bit creepy. Well, maybe not creepy, but it dealt with the fear and post-traumatic stress that soldiers dealt with–and how it was dealt with in the 1800’s. I really liked this one.

Stars in their Courses by Gilbert Morris (The Appomattox Saga, Book 8)

Who knew there were traveling theatre troupes during the Civil War? In this story, one of the Rocklin boys uses a theatre troup to cover his covert spying operation for the Union army. The romance was minimal in this story and I enjoyed the new eyes of the theatre.

Wall of Fire by Gilbert Morris (The Appomattox Saga, Book 7)

This book was a little different than the rest of the books because they didn’t center on a romance. Instead, it’s the story of a father and daughter. It was a good read but not my favorite of the series because it felt removed from the rest of the Rocklin family storylines.

The Shadow of His Wings by Gilbert Morris (The Appomattox Saga, Book 6)

The interesting part of these books is that Gilbert Morris introduces you to aspects and stories of the Civil War you’ve never heard of! This one centers on one of the Rocklin boys who makes a hot air balloon to help the spies in the Confederate army. Of course, there’s a romance with a not-accepted-in-Richmond-society girl and more Civil War heartbreak. I loved it.

Out of the Whirlwind by Gilbert Morris (The Appomattox Saga, Book 5)

I started up on this series again because the time period went great with all the Lincoln and Laura Ingalls stuff we saw on our ohRV trip! This book was one of my favorites in the series. It was about another of the Rocklin sons who gets amnesia and falls in love with a Union nurse–the problem is he can’t remember which side of the war his allegiance belongs!

Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in my Castle of Chaos by Vicki Courtney

Vicki Courtney is one of my heroes. This book will show you why–she wants to help, encourage and lead women to embrace the place God has for them in their families. With super sweet, silly and sometimes crazy stories, she shares her heart—and what she believes God has shown her as a mom and wife. I used this book as my #hellomornings devotional but it would be an easy read in one sitting or even as a book club/small group. Highly recommend!

Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances by Kimberly L Smith

This is a hard book. It’s the true story of a missionary who dives headfirst into rescuing orphans in Sudan and Darfur. In the middle of rescuing, she finds herself in a downward spiral–struggling to maintain her marriage, her faith and balancing first world life with the horrors of Sudanese life. This one will stay with me forever. I definitely recommend it but just know that it’s not a happy story. I cried through most of it.

 Land of the Shadow by Gilbert Morris (The Appomattox Saga, Book 4)

I am continually amazed at the books in this series. Each one is creative and still manages to keep a nice thread of storyline through them all. This one is about another branch of the Rocklin family tree and some Civil War spies and battle photographers. It was really interesting and satisfying read.

Cascade by Lisa Tawn Bergren (River of Time, Book 2)

So, I couldn’t remember what was going to happen next after listening to Waterfall (below) so I picked up Cascade, the 2nd book in this River of Time series and pretty much finished it in a couple of hours. And I think I liked this book better than the first one! It is so dramatic it should be a movie. *shiver* Sword fights, knights, evil war lords and beautiful princess gowns. Seriously. Love these books.

Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren (River of Time, Book 1)

I’ve read this book before so this time, I listened to the audio. And I fell in love with the characters and story all over again. This is a young adult novel about two teenaged sisters who travel back in time to 14th century Italy. And of course, fall in love and experience really living. I adore Lisa Tawn Bergren and I love listening to audio books set in other countries because they always pronounce the names correctly!

Where Honor Dwells by Gilbert Morris (The Appomattox Saga, Book 3)

This is the 3rd in the Appomattox series. I just couldn’t stop after the second book! This one started slow for me because it wasn’t about the Rocklin family. It also wasn’t centered on the Civil War timeline. It’s about a gambler on the Mississippi Riverboats and a run-in he has with a rich Confederate. But after awhile, they rangled around to Richmond and got all tied up in our original family story lines.  I ended up really enjoying it.

Gate of His Enemies by Gilbert Morris (The Appomattox Saga, Book 2)

I opened this one immediately after reading the first in the series. And I loved it just as much as the first. It’s the story of Dent Rocklin (the son of Clay, who was our hero in the first book) and his heart torn between a Northern lady and the Southern Cause.

Covenant of Love by Gilbert Morris (The Appomattox Saga, Book 1)

This is the first of a ten-book series about a Virginian family at the brink of the American Civil War. This is my favorite kind of historical novel–where you follow a family for years. I’m not an expert–but the book is full of historical details about states rights, politicians and more. Not to mention the drama and complete heart-wrenching decisions Clay Rocklin and his family makes as they enter the war where brothers fight against brothers.

Tomorrow’s Sun by Becky Melby

This is one of those dual-plot books. Half of it was set in 1800’s and centered on the Underground Railroad. The other part of the book was set in modern day and of course, it all twisted together. It was a coming-back-to-God book with a little mystery and romance thrown in. I really enjoyed this one and will read the rest of the series.

In the Company of Secrets by Judith Miller

Eh. This had potential because of the setting of Pullman, Illinois in the late 1800’s. I’m intrigued by the turn of the century industrial revolution but the actual story itself just wasn’t that great. Then it ended without much resolution so you are practically required to read the 2nd book. Again, eh.

Florian’s Gate by Davis Bunn

At first, I thought this story was just an interesting tale of a man who becomes an antiques dealer with his older, secretive and slightly eccentric uncle. Instead, it is the story of the people behind the antiques. Specifically the people of Poland and the strength they show in the middle of Nazi and Communist control. I sobbed through many of the hard stories and chapters. After reading the acknowledgments, I realized why the stories seemed so real–they were actual words and experiences from his wife’s Polish family. This book will stay with me for a long time.

Wings of a Dream by Anne Mateer

I really liked this book! Set in 1918, it’s the story of a girl who wants to see the world…until a telegram changes her plans and her life. Although it had a love story in it, it was really more a story of a girl finding God’s plan and purpose for her life. I’ll be keeping Anne Mateer on my radar!

Perfectly Undatable: A Universally Misunderstood Novel by Kristin Billerbeck

This was a fun YA novel about a girl who wants a date for Prom, even if her strict and slightly neurotic Christian parents won’t let her. Considering it’s a book about Prom, I liked it. A must for any teens in your life. Kristin Billerbeck is hilarious!

Begin: Book 1 in the Growly books by Philip and Erin Ulrich

See my full review of this fun children’s book.

Twelfth Prophecy by Bodie Thoene

This is the fictional account of the Samaritan women at the well from John 4. Each part of the story was related to a different Scripture about water. Bodie Thoene’s ability to weave Scripture into fiction and then make it applicable is just outstanding. As always, I close one of her books wanting to know Jesus more.

The Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green

I read the first book in this series because I got it for free on Amazon. Well, I loved it so much, I started following the author on Facebook and lo and behold, when this second one came out it was free for a few days, too! (And look! It’s only $1.99 today!) I totally loved this book. It’s the story of the town of Gettysburg–after the battle. It tells the horrific and heroic details of the women who nursed soldiers back to life, who had their lives taken over when the wounded were left and the armies marched on to their next battle. Much of it was so descriptive it almost made me sick to my stomach. There was also a great ribbon of what equality and love and acceptance really looks like. I highly recommend this if you’re into the Civil War era or any historical fiction.

One Glorious Ambition by Jane Kirkpatrick

This is the story of Dorothea Dix, a woman in the late 1800’s who made it her life’s work to speak up for mentally handicapped people. She was friends with several presidents and worked hard in Washington when women were rarely seen. She was an author by age 20 and traveled the world making reforms in asylums and prisons. This book was fascinating but got a little slow about 2/3 of the way through because it followed a big bill she was trying to pass through Congress. I still enjoyed and I think if I read it a little slower, I might not have been so bogged down with the political details. (Or maybe just politics isn’t my thing.) Regardless, I love Jane Kirkpatrick and her passion to tell stories of incredible women.

There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

I discovered Jenny B. Jones’ Katie Parker series last year and laughed my head off for all three of these YA novels. This book is also YA and is about a teen who tries to come to terms with her brother’s death by visiting Ireland  where he spent a year studying. She ends up meeting a teen hearthrob and a grumpy old woman—and ends up reconnecting with God. I seriously enjoyed this book. Light (but not too light), fun, interesting and lots of heart.  (Also, it’s $2.99 for Kindle today!)

 Victim of Grace by Robin Jones Gunn

Robin Jones Gunn is one of my all-time heroes. This book is one of her few non-fiction books and tells her own story of an author, mother and wife. It’s so amazingly good and full of such life and love and wisdom. It’s one of the few books that halfway through I said, “I can’t wait to read this again.” In each chapter, as she shares a part of her story, she relates it to a lesson learned by a woman in the Bible. So inspiring. A must read for writers, bloggers, moms and anyone with a God-sized dream. And I think it would be a fabulous book club read, too.

Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma

This is a mom’s “12 month experiment to rid her home of youth entitlement”. Each month she and her kids have a new task—making their beds, planning a party, cleaning toilets, learning manners, etc. This isn’t a step-by-step guide on how to get your kids to stop whining and be consistent in making their beds. Instead, Kay shares what she and her kids are learning in each task–how parents easily step into the enabling roll while taking confidence and opportunity away from their kids. I highly recommend this book.

Waking Lazarus by TL Hines

Ooh, I loved this super creepy book. The story revolves around a man who has died three times. And then some serial killer type stuff. But then somehow, some really great God-stuff, too. I couldn’t put it down!

24/6 by Matthew Sleeth

This is a non-fiction book about remembering the Sabbath. I think this book could be life-altering. You can read my response to the book to learn more.

Unveiled (from the Lineage of Grace series) by Francine Rivers

I read this book (and this whole series) when it first came out several years ago. I love Francine Rivers’ historical fiction (her Mark of the Lion series is just ridiculous). The Lineage of Grace series are novellas about the five women mentioned in the family-line of Jesus recorded in the book of Matthew. If you’ve never read the story of Tamar in the Bible, well, reality TV has nothin’ on her story. It’s so cool to see how God used her and blessed her.

Scarlette by Davonna Juroe

So,  go from a real-life horror of sex-trafficking (see below) to a Young Adult Paranormal Fairy Tale. This one is a self-published book I got for free on Amazon one day. It’s a “what if Little Red Riding Hood was real”, Once-Upon-A-Time kinda thing. And although it was interesting and decently exciting, it was a little too juvenile (modern language, cursing–which I find to be immature, lots of repetitive writing devices, etc.). I liked the idea because I do like fairy tales and the-secret-life-of kinda themes, but this one was just meh.

Priceless by Tom Davis

I just finished reading this minutes ago. It’s a contemporary novel about the sex-trafficking industry in Russia. Everyone should read this book. I wish I had something more profound to say about it—it was just so moving that I can’t really verbalize it yet. (As of 3/12, it’s less than $3 on Kindle. Buy it.)

Waiting for Summer’s Return by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This is a sweet historical fiction book about a widow who tutors a little boy and falls in love with his family. It was fairly typical, but I still enjoyed it. This is the 2nd book I’ve read by Sawyer and I’ll keep the rest of this series on my radar. (It’s free on Amazon as of 3/12!)

Eleventh Guest by Brock and Bodie Thoene

I have been a long-time fan of Brock and Bodie Thoene. Their Zion series (Zion Chronicles, Zion Covenant, AD Chronicles, Zion Legacy and Shiloh Legacy) are outstanding historical fiction…with some amazing Biblical insight hidden inside. This is the 11th book in the AD Chronicles series (and one I got free with Amazon Prime!) and is about the ten lepers in the Bible. They go through each of the lepers stories and it’s heartbreaking to travel with them as they discover leprosy and are sent away from their families. But, as with every book by Brock and Bodie, I always finish the book in awe of and thankful to Yeshua, Jesus the Christ.

Upside Down Prayers for Parents by Lisa Tawn Bergren 

I hosted a book club for this book because I adore it. If you’re a parent, you need this. It’s part devotional for your heart and part prayer for your kids’ heart. See my initial post about the book.

All for a Song by Allison Pittman

I don’t know how to describe this book. It’s a beautiful story of a teenager during the 20’s who gets involved with Aimee Semple McPherson’s evangelistic ministry. It’s also a love story. And a coming-of-age story. And it’s kind of sad. I read Allison Pittman’s Sister Wives series and they have the same kind of beautiful sadness in them. I can’t describe it right, I just know I couldn’t put this book down and dreamed about it last night.

Where Lilcas Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick

Jane Kirkpatrick is one of my favorite authors because she writes historical…no, almost biographical fiction about inspiring women. Those women who probably only made a headline once but should have had movies made of their lives. Where Lilacs Bloom is the story of Hilda Klager who  was a German immigrant with an 8th grade education but developed over 100 varieties of lilacs in her home garden. It’s a beautiful story of family, faith and God-sized dreams.

To Walk or Stay by Lara Williams

This book is pretty awesome. You can read my full review here!

Midnight Sun by Lisa Tawn Bergren

This was the 3rd and final book in the Northern Lights series. Turn of the century ingenuity and the western frontier spirit is so exciting and intriguing to me. This one was set in Alaska and centered on steamships and the gold rush. I thought it was a great ending to a series.

Deep Harbor by Lisa Tawn Bergren

This is the second book in the Northern Lights series. I love reading series back to back. This one continued with the same characters has some heartbreak in it and some fabulous redemption.

Connecting Church and Home by Tim Kimmel

I wrote a full review of this book on my blog. But basically: I liked the whole idea of the book and agreed with much of it, I just didn’t love it. I think it wasn’t exactly what I expected either.

The Captain’s Bride by Lisa Tawn Bergren

I actually read this book a long time ago but picked it up again because Amazon had all three of this series (The Northern Lights) for $6.99 on Kindle. It’s the story of some Norwegian immigrants in the 1880-90’s some of whom move to North Dakota and others who move to Maine—with the over arching story of a sea captain and his new bride. There were lots of adventures and I think, some great characters.

Rekindled by Tamera Alexander

After reading two Jerry B. Jenkins’ books in a row, I needed some light historical fiction. But this one surprised me with an interesting and atypical love story plot line. It’s an old-west, gold-rush, horse-ranch type setting and I really enjoyed it. I think this may be the first Tamera Alexander book I’ve read–and this was first in a series. I think I’ll keep the next two on my wishlist!

The Betrayal by Jerry B. Jenkins

I read this immediately after finishing the first in the series (The Brotherhood, below). As with sequels you pick up immediately, it sometimes feels like one long book. Although I don’t really get the love-interest in this book, I enjoyed the story and high-speed 24-like feel it had.

The Brotherhood by Jerry B. Jenkins

Of course, I’ve read all of the Jenkins’ Left Behind books and loved them. But I haven’t had a crime-drama-mystery-thriller on my to-read list in awhile. This book made me think I should add some more to my list! It took me a couple of chapters to get into it but then I couldn’t put it down. I think I read this one in less than 24 hours. It was a super exciting story of the police and gangbangers in Chicago. But it had a really refreshing and hard-hitting story about why bad things happen–and why God lets them happen. I loved this one.

The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones

 This book surprised me with its beauty. It was about loss and loving people who are hard to love. I was in equal part stitches and equal part tears through the whole thing. (Mostly tears.) I think it might be a favorite of mine–I even underlined whole passages because it was so good. It’s a fictional account of the Governor of Tennessee, so it was fun to have a glimpse into a private space like the Governor’s mansion. And, oooh, the ending! #mouthshut

Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley

I have been attending Andy Stanley’s church for about six years. I can say that he absolutely does what he outlines in this book. I love the intentionality of our church. There is a razor-sharp focus on speaking to, attracting and loving un-churched people. If you’re involved in church ministry, it’s a book you must read.

All Different Kinds of Free by Jessica McCann

*whew* This was a rough one. It’s based on the true story of Margaret Morgan who was a free black woman in the 1830’s. She is then kidnapped and forced into slavery along with her children. It’s an absolutely heart-wrenching read. It’s got an Amistad-feel to it because much of the book is about court cases and state laws in regards to Margaret’s situation. {Caution: This book contains strong language and brief non-explicit sex. The sex is not “sexy” but in the context of slavery and “breeding”.}

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

I fell in love with Julie Klassen after reading The Apothecary’s Daughter. All her stories are creative, good characterization and have nice tidy endings. An easy read without being too light.

The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark

I’m not a big Amish-novel fan but I am a big Mindy Starns Clark fan. She write fabulous mysteries and this one was totally exciting. I loved it so much I put the 2nd one, The Amish Nanny on my wishlist right away.

Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck

Every mother should read this book. And when you’re done reading it, will you come and talk to me? Because I am DYING to discuss it! I have this fabulous theory about Brother Andre and I need to talk to someone about it!! I actually listened to the audio version which I highly recommend because they pronounce the Chinese names correctly. 😉

How Huge The Night by Lydia and Heather Munn

This is one of those books I want Lydia and Asa to read when they are older. It’s an amazing coming-of-age story set in France in WWII. But it’s more than a coming-of-age story. It’s the story of a boy coming-to-God. Must read.

What I’ve Read to the Kids…

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The kids loved this one since we went to the actual Plum Creek this summer. They wanted to open the next book right away!

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Whew. This book is a lot scarier and harder than I remembered. The Indians, the wolves, the well, the fire! Yikes.

Adventure in the Caribbean by Stacy Towle Morgan (Ruby Slippers School Book #1)

This is Lydia’s new favorite series. It’s about two homeschooled sisters who travel the world with their parents solving mysteries and meeting interesting Christians along the way. This one was about buried treasure in Antigua. I like it and appreciate the family dynamics, the Christian world-view and interesting locales. (I mention this book here and link to lots of other fab new-reader books.)

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

After reading Farmer Boy to Asa and our ohRV adventures, we had to start all over with the series. It’s one of my favorite books of all times. Best part? When Ma slaps the bear and Laura obediently runs into the house. One of the best conversations about obedience I’ve had with my kids! 🙂

Changes for Rebecca by Jacqueline Greene

Sigh. This is the final book in the series. Rebecca finally tells her parents she was in a movie. They are sufficiently outraged but she doesn’t really get in trouble. I dunno. I liked the whole series and it definitely led to good conversations about hiding things from your parents. But I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to.

Tumtum and Nutmeg (Book 1 & 2) by Emily Bearn

I got this book (it’s 3 books in 1) at the library because the illustrations are adorable. *shrugs* Two little wealthy married mice live in a house hidden in a broom cupboard of a cottage. They live just like humans with full wardrobes and tea time. And they are also very particular about caring for the children in “their” house. These children think they are fairies and ask them to help with their sinister Aunt Ivy. There is some really fun Roald Dahl-esque manipulation of the aunt and the mice save the day.

The second book continues Tumtum and Nutmeg’s adventures with “their” children and other mouse friends. But I didn’t like this one as much. It was crazy and didn’t feel as old-fashioned as the first one. I’m holding off on reading the final book for awhile.

The Whale by Cynthia Rylant

 Cynthia Rylant is one of my new favorite authors (I just realized how many books she’s written that we love!) and we’re trying to read all of her books. Lydia could have read this book on her own, but once I started it, I wanted to finish it. The illustrations are so sweet and the story is simple. This is a series about is a cat, dog and three mice siblings who live in a lighthouse. This story finds them in an adventure to save a baby beluga whale. We’re putting the rest of the series on our wishlist at the library!

Rebecca to the Rescue by Jacqueline Greene

We’re almost done with this American Girl series. And I like it, I do. But I don’t love it. This book is the story of Rebecca’s family’s trip to Coney Island. While that is interesting (hard for my Disney-World-lovin’ daughter to understand that this kind of entertainment is something they have never seen before!), I just am not in love with a story where a girl disobeys her parents and a police officer to do what she thinks is right. Of course, it does turn out OK and Rebecca is a hero. I just wish there was a little more balance to do-whats-in-your-heart and you-know-whats-best kind of feeling.

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 I started reading this to Asa but after school let out, Lydia joined us. This is one of my favorite Little House books because you travel a whole year with Almanzo. This book prompted an entire blog series for me a few years ago. Definitely a must read.

The Last Battle by CS Lewis

The awesomeness of Narnia is wrapped up in the very last page of this book. I cried all the way through the last chapter and was happy to see my kiddos cheering as we closed the book. This book has been a standard in my heart and mind about Heaven and death and life. I love it so much.

Rebecca and the Movies by Jacqueline Greene

This is the 3rd in the series about the American Girl, Rebecca. The chapters are really too long in these books but besides that I actually enjoyed this one because it’s all about silent movies (which is part of what The Invention of Hugo Cabret, below, is about, too). Rebecca actually gets to be in a movie so it’s interesting to read about the behind-the-scenes of those early shows. My only qualm is that Rebecca really wants to be an actress, so this is a dream come true–but she knows her parents and grandparents will never approve. I’m anxious to see how they handle this in the rest of the series–I’m hoping they will show a girl honoring her parents and still following her dream. But it could easily turn into, “I’ll do what I want!”

The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis

The kids loved this one but did tell me we should have read it first instead of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. *sigh* I’m old school and want to read it in the order they were written. Regardless of when you read it, this book on Narnia’s birth is full of magic and adventure.

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

My husband read this to the kids. They thought it was funny and especially loved the story about the donuts. Each chapter was a different story and I think it had some nice old-timey, Americana feel to it.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Lydia and I read this together and super-loved it! If you haven’t looked at the book, it’s worth it–half the book is words and half is black and white illustrations. Not just illustrations to support the story but to actually tell the story. It’s set in Paris and is about magicians, moviemakers and clockmakers. It was lovely.

The Silver Chair by CS Lewis

I usually think of this book as my least favorite of the series. However, when we read it, I fell in love with it again. Puddleglum’s speech to the Lady in green is just amazing.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

This is the first chapter book Asa and I have read together. He loved every bit of it. I liked it. I wasn’t in love with it. But I liked it. Beverly Cleary is always a good choice.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis

This one was a harder read for the kids because of all the nautical terms. Once we got a few chapters in, they got the hang of it and really enjoyed this one. The story of Eustace in this book is one of my favorites in Narnia.

The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis

Oh, I so love this book. Aslan is just amazing in this story. The whole story is extremely exciting and such a wonderful and magical setting. It’s one of my favorites.

Candlelight for Rebecca by Jacqueline Greene

This is the story of American Girl Rebecca struggling with Hanukkah at home and Christmas at school. It was handled really well and was a super sweet book. Lydia was practically clapping when it was done she was so excited.

Prince Caspian by CS Lewis

Of course, I love anything Narnia. There is one chapter in this book that is one of my favorite stories ever (Lucy following Aslan), but besides that, this one kind of has an anti-climatic ending. The kids really liked this one because of the two-stories-in-one of Peter/Susan/Edmund/Lucy and Prince Caspian.

 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis

This is one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve read it to the kids (at least Lydia) about 4 times. But this is the first time I feel like both of them really got into it. They looooved it. When we closed the book, they were jumping up and down and saying, “I wish Narnia was real! Can we start the next book tonight?!” #musictomyears

Rebecca and Ana by Jacqueline Greene

This is part of the American Girl set for Lydia’s doll, Rebecca. I liked this one because it’s about immigration and schools in 1914. It was interesting to me and Lydia loved it.

Notable Picture Books…

The Dreamer by Cynthia Rylant

This is a lovely retelling of Genesis’ creation story. I read it to Lydia and she did not get it, but I want to buy this one for myself. I loved it!

 The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart

I love Sarah Stewart and her husband David Small. They write and illustrate the most beautiful children’s books. This book is similar in form to two of Sarah Stewart’s other books (and some of my absolute faves): The Journey and The Gardener, in which the story is told via letters from the main character. This one is LOVELY and a must-read. Also perfect for when moving to a new home.

The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo

A heart-squeezing book about a girl and her family who lived on lighthouse island. Perfect for when you’re bringing a new baby home.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Hilarious. And there is a Rooster named Papa. Which is perfect for our Papa!

I gave it a go…


{books I tried to get into but after 50-100 pages, just couldn’t make it through}

Sons by Pearl S. Buck

This is the sequel to The Good Earth which is probably one of my favorite books ever. Buck describes this story as a traditional Chinese tale. That must be why I couldn’t finish it. *whew*

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

After reading Rekindled by Tamera Alexander (see above), I was looking forward to this book. This one is set just a few years after the Civil War in Nashville. I love this time period but about 30% of the way in (I love that my Kindle tells me by percentage how far I’ve read), I just couldn’t read anymore. It’s kinda slow and slightly predictable. Bummer.




  1. I read a couple of the books you mentioned above & liked them. You also mentioned in one of your other posts Lisa T Bergren’s River of Time series – read them & loved it.

    Thanks for the great book suggestions!

  2. Heather H. says:

    LOVE your blog! AND LOVE Jane Kirkpatrick! LOVE Her! As soon as I saw a book by her I hadn’t heard of, I bought it! Hope you get a few cents!

  3. Tahisha R says:

    I’m fairly new to your blog and I LOVE it. I am a mom of 4 (8,5,3, & 2). I love your book selections! Some of the books on your list are similar to mine! My pastor is planting a church and asked my help with the children’s ministry….he suggested I read Deep and Wide- It’s awesome. I’m half way through Hunger Games (I’m late, I know). I’m going to be adding some of your books to my list!! 🙂 We love reading in our house!! My son so enjoyed the audio of The Chronicles of Narnia (borrowed by our Children’s Pastor)!! We’re going to read it again. Right now we are reading another classic, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

  4. I recently read Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. They are the fairy tale characters set in a future world and Cinder is a cyborg. Which sounds weird, but I kind of loved them. I think there are going to be 5 in the series but only these 2 are published right now.

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