Book Challenge Update


Earlier this year I posted about the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Book Challenge that I was going to try and accomplish.  I figured that I’d give an update on how I am doing and how I realize that some of my choices were not the best ones to pick!

A book published this year.  My pick:  The Nest by Cynthia DAprix Sweeney.  Completed!

I finished this book last month and I really enjoyed it.  It was one of those light reads that you could easily get through.  The characters all had some big flaws, but their stories were interesting.  I think that this is going to be one of the bigger books of 2016, but I don’t think that it will win any prizes for the writing.

A book you can finish in one day.  My pick:  Night by Elie Wiesel.  Completed!

I was able to finish this book in a couple of hours with some minor interruptions.  It was a very quick read and a short 120 pages.  It feels like almost everyone has read this book and I see why.  It is an important book to read about the holocaust during WWII.

A book you’ve been meaning to read.  My pick:  Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.  Completed!

This was the first book that I read for this challenge.  It was an excellent book that examines how we deal with people that are old and dying and people with terminal illnesses here in America.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough because I am sure all of us are going to deal with this at some point in our lives.

A book recommended by your local librarian.  My pick:  Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain.  Completed!

I think that out of all of the books that I have read for this challenge this was my least favorite, but I still enjoyed the book.

A book you should have read in school.  My pick:  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  

I still have to read this book and I’m not quite sure when I’ll get to it.

A book chosen for you by your spouse.  My husband’s pick:  Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.

My husband really enjoyed this book and he raved about it, so I figured why not?  I happened to be at the library one day and I saw the book on the new release shelf and my mouth fell open.  Why did it fall open you may be wondering?  The book was huge!  It is 880 pages.  What was I thinking letting him pick a book for me :)?  I’m still going to try and get through it.

A book published before you were born.  My pick:  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

Here is another book that I didn’t realize was so huge!  I wanted to read this book because it’s been on my to-read list forever and then some blogs I follow both mentioned this book and how good it was, so I decided to add it to my challenge.  I should have looked at the page count.  It is about 1,200 pages!  This will be my longest book.  I just started reading it.

A book that was banned at some point.  My pick:  In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

I have not read this book yet, but at least it isn’t a long one!

A book you previously abandoned.  My pick:  The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

I still need to get to this book and I am looking forward to reading this one because from what I read it was really good & funny.  Plus, the movie is one of my favorites.

A book you own, but have never read.  My pick:  And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.  Completed!

I really enjoyed this murder mystery.  It was my first Agatha Christie novel and I found that I couldn’t put the book down and felt like the book still holds up well to other murder mystery books these days.  I definitely will be reading more of her novels in the future.

A book that intimidates you.  My pick:  Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

I picked this book because I had heard great things about it and the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are really good.  The reason that it intimidates me is that it clocks in at 995 pages!  I thought that this book would be my longest book for the challenge, but at the time I didn’t know how long the Count of Monte Cristo is.

A book you’ve already read at least once.  My pick:  A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.  Completed!

This was the last book that I read and I am so glad that I chose this book as the one for me to reread.  I love Irving and in fact he is my favorite author.  This book wasn’t my favorite of his, but I think it is his highest rated book.  I wanted to give it another shot because I thought that this time around I would appreciate the book more than when I read it years ago (over 10+).  I remembered the most basic outline of the book (my memory of books tends not to be that great after years), but many of the plot points I didn’t remember and one of the book’s biggest mysteries I couldn’t remember the outcome, so I was surprised when the answer was revealed.  I enjoyed this book and probably more the second time around, but I still like some of his others more.

And that is it!  I have read six books and we are just getting into May, so I am one book ahead of schedule.  As you can see though I have three books that are L-O-N-G (all together they clock in at around 3,000 pages).  I’ve started the longest of the books now and hopefully I get through it quickly!  If you want to check out what else I am reading and get some longer reviews you can find me at here at Goodreads.

Happy Reading!

p.s.  All of the links above are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase one of the books through the link I get a small percentage back, which goes into our homeschooling.

Our Favorite Series of Books to Compliment Schooling


The Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne is a fantastic series of books for elementary aged students that compliment schooling really well.  It is about Jack and Annie, two kids that find this magic tree house that takes them to different points in time where they have a mission that they need to accomplish before they return home.  The kids are both respectful and there are some nice moral lessons that are prevalent throughout the series.  The best part about the series is that it actually teaches you something about the time period that the kids go to.  Mary Pope Osborne puts in factual information and at the end of each book there is a section that gives you more facts about the story in the book.  You can tell that Mary Pope Osborne put a lot of research into each book.

Many times when we are learning about history there is a Magic Tree House book that complements what we are studying.  For example we were reading about George Washington and then we happened to read one of her books that had him in it.  I don’t plan to read her books to correspond with what we are learning, but many times it just happens to work out perfectly.  The books are just long enough to keep the boys’ interest, but not too long that we all get bored with the story (one book can be read in a sitting).  I have found on multiple occasions that the boys will remember factual information about a time period easier from these books than from other books.  Mary Pope Osborne makes the information interesting and having a fun story behind it makes it more memorable.

There are 53 books in the series so far.  We get all of our books from the library, but we are thinking of buying the set because the boys love them and I am sure that once they are reading independently these will be books that they turn to.  The books are also available in audio format and Mary Pope Osborne is the reader and we all enjoy listening to her read the books.


2016 Reading Challenge


Right now my one and only hobby seems to be reading.  I LOVE reading and can’t get enough of it.  I follow the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy, which is a book/life blog that I enjoy reading.  Anne, the author, is very likable and has given some great recommendations since I started following her blog.  Last year she had a reading challenge that I did not participate in because I wasn’t sure if I was up for trying to read stuff based on a certain criteria.  This year I decided that I would give it a try.  The image above are the categories of the books to be read.  If you would like to join the challenge go to this page for more information.

Here are the books that I will be reading (not in any particular order):

A book published this year:  The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney 

“A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.”

This book got some good reviews and comes out in March.  It looks like a funny and light read, which I’m always good for.

A book you can finish in a day:  Night by Elie Wiesel 

Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps.”

This book is on one of my lists of books that people should read and I’ve been meaning to read it for a few years now.  It’s a short book at just 120 pages that I think I can get through in one day.

A book you’ve been meaning to read: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

“Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.”

I bought this book last year because I had heard great things about it and nothing but praise.  I just hadn’t gotten around to reading it.  I actually did read it in January and I’ll review it later.

A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller:  Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

“A razor-sharp satire set in Texas during America’s war in Iraq, it explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad.”

Our library has a shelf of books that the librarians have recommended and this book looked interesting and one that I hadn’t heard about.  As I was looking for a picture to put in this post I see that the movie of this book is coming out at the end of this year.

A book you should have read in school:  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Adulteress Hester Prynne must wear a scarlet A to mark her shame. Her lover, Arthur Dimmesdale, remains unidentified and is wracked with guilt, while her husband, Roger Chillingworth, seeks revenge.”

In middle and high school I’m pretty sure that I read everything that was assigned to me, so I don’t think that there is a book that I didn’t read for school.  With that being said, I know that there are many books that other people read in school that I didn’t.  This is one of those books and I thought that I would finally read it.

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF:  Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

“A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.”

My husband is a fan of Neal Stephenson’s work and good sci-fi novels.  This book came out last year and my husband enjoyed it thoroughly.  This book was also on many best of 2015 lists.

A book published before you were born:  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

“Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.”

This book was definitely written before I was born (1844)!  It’s been on my to read list, but I haven’t been that interested in reading it.  At the end of last year a couple of blogs that I follow wrote how they read this book and really enjoyed it, which piqued my interest and made me think that I should read this (I enjoyed the movie that came out in 2002).

A book that was banned at some point:  In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

“On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.  As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy.”

I think that most everyone has heard of this book and it is one of those that is on the must read lists.  When I Googled banned books I saw that this one was on the list.  Since I have been meaning to read this book I figured that this one would fit nicely in this category.

A book you previously abandoned:  The Princess Bride by William Goldman

“Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that’s home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”

For this category I thought that it would be very hard because I am a person that tends to finish books even if I am not into them.  I only abandon books that are so terrible to me and there would be no way that I would pick them up again.  Then I remembered that last year I had started reading The Princess Bride  to my boys, but at some point my husband took over on bed duties and I never finished this book.  This year I will finish it.

A book you own but have never read:  And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

“One of the most famous and beloved mysteries from The Queen of Suspense—Agatha Christie”

I’ve never read Agatha Christie, but I’ve heard that her books are good and they have been recommended many times.  This book is perhaps her most well known book and I bought it a couple of years ago, but I just haven’t gotten around to reading it.

A book that intimidates you:  Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

“Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.”

I got this book last year when it was on sale for the Kindle.  I had heard great things about it and the majority of ratings on Amazon and Goodreads are excellent.  It intimidates me because the book is 944 pages.  It should be the longest book I read this year.

A book you’ve already read at least once:  A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

“In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.”

John Irving is my favorite author and I love his writing.  I read this book many years ago and I want to revisit it because so many people would list this book as their favorite of his and for me it isn’t, although I did enjoy it.  Maybe reading it now after many years I will enjoy it more?

Phew, those are the books that I am going to try and get through this year.  I have one down and 11 more to go!

Happy Reading!


p.s. All of the links above are affiliate links, which gives me a small percentage if you buy through them and this all goes back to buying homeschooling stuff 🙂








February Book Recap



Here is a recap of the books that I read in February:

My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag…by Jolie Kerr

I heard an interview of Jolie Kerr on NPR talking about this book and she was pretty funny and some of her cleaning tips were good and I made a mental note to request this book. Well, I forgot about it and just recently was reminded about it and picked it up from the Library. Jolie has a blog/website that answers all issues related to getting things clean. She decided to write a book based on what she gets asked all of the time. There are no holds barred for her and she even goes over some of the gross requests, like the title of her book.

I hate cleaning and I’m not really good at it (I don’t know what I’m supposed to be using). Kerr gives some great advice and I’ve already purchased a couple of items that I didn’t know about. I found a lot of her tips helpful, especially when it came to laundry. I learned that OxiClean is probably her favorite cleaning tool for stains. Pine-Sol is also a good stain remover, who knew? Here is a list of the chapters that she goes over and ways to clean these places/things:

2-Floors, ceilings, walls, & other immovable objects
4-Lady “tools” (brush, curling iron, make-up supplies, etc)
8-Things that you can’t ask Martha (mostly related to bodily fluids)

Her writing is funny, but sometimes I found that she was trying too hard to be funny and it was kind of annoying. If you are a cleaning novice or have some cleaning experience like myself then this book would probably be good for you. If you are clean freak then I am sure that you already know most of these tricks and tips. I think that I’m going to buy a used copy of this book because it would be nice to reference back when I have a cleaning question!

I would rate this book 4 stars.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Thea Atwell, a young teenage girl from Florida is sent, by her parents, to a girls’ riding camp in Yonahlossee in North Carolina for some transgression that happened with her, which is a mystery to the reader. The novel takes place during the great depression so the only girls at this camp are girls that come from wealthy families, including Thea. Thea does not want to be at this camp, but over time she starts to like it, the girls, and she falls for the head master.

Through the course of the book we are slowly clued in to why Thea was sent to this camp. I don’t want to put any spoilers, but I was really disturbed by why she was sent. Not revealing too much of the secret too soon I thought was good on the writer’s part because it made me want to keep reading to figure out what happened (I was able to figure it out before it was completely revealed). The writing was easy to read and it was a fast read, but I only thought that the book was so-so. I also thought for awhile that this book was written by a man (I’ve never associated Anton being a girl’s name) and I thought that it was very weird that a man was writing about young girls at a riding camp. Once I figured out that it was actually a woman writing this it made a little more sense. To me, Thea wasn’t a hugely likeable character and the story didn’t captivate me.

I would rate this book 3 stars.

A Kiss Before You Go by Danny Gregory

This book is Danny Gregory’s illustrated memoir (in a diary type format) of his wife’s first accident (horrible), then her death (another horrible thing) and his year after her death coping with her being gone. It was a beautiful tribute to his wife and what the grief process does and can look like for someone that has lost their spouse. I enjoyed the drawings and the words that accompanied the drawings. A lot of what he said I saw in how my mom was and still is with the death of my dad. The book is a very fast read (30 minutes) because it is mostly drawings.

I would rate the book 4 stars.

How To Be Both by Ali Smith

I read a couple of synopses of this book and it sounded really intriguing to me, but once I got the book I couldn’t remember what it was about and I was kind of confused with what was going on. I think that it does help to know what this book is about before you read it. This book is two novels in one and they are connected. One of the novels is called “camera” and the other is called “eyes.” When they published the book they did two versions, one with camera being first and eyes second and vice versa. So, you may get a book and read it in a different order than someone else and I imagine that will change your view of the book? The order of the book that I got was camera first and eyes second. It felt like this was the right order to read them in, but it would be interesting to get the viewpoint of someone else who read eyes first. Anyway, in camera George (a girl whose real name is Georgia and this caused me quite some confusion because I was thinking that it was a transgender kid…) is the narrator and George is reflecting back on her time with her mother who has recently passed away. The book goes back and forth from the past to the present. One of the storylines in this book is that George’s mother was obsessed with this painting that was semi-recently discovered and they would go and visit this painting. Once George’s mother has died she goes and visits this painting more often. The second book, eyes, is about the painter who painted the painting that George’s mother loved and the one that George now visits. The painter, Francescho, was a young girl when she lost her mother. Her dad thought that the only way that the girl could continue on and be successful and have opportunities in life was to become a boy (dress and act like one). The girl does this and changes her name and ends up living her life as a man. The story goes from present day to the 1460s when Francescho was alive.

The book was a very interesting one and so different from anything that I have read before. The writing was really well done. I did find myself getting confused at some points and having to re-read things. There was also a lot that was left open and I wanted to know more about certain characters. It was a quick read for me.

I would rate the book 3.5 stars.

My reading “shelf” for March

March is going to probably be a big reading month.  I had put all of these books on hold at the library and like it always happens a lot of the books become available at the same time.  I don’t know if I will be able to get through them all, but if I have to return them I’ll have to wait for another month or two to get them.

  • The Brother’s K by David James Duncan (I was reading this book last month and then had to return it to the library because it is a long one and my time was up.  I just got it again and hopefully I can finish it!).

I’ve joined a new book club where I live, so I will also have that book to read and at the end of the month my other book club will pick a book.   I don’t know if I will be able to get to those in March.

Happy reading!





Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss



Today is the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.  I remember reading some of his books when I was younger and even getting the book Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  for a graduation gift and liking his work, but it really wasn’t until I had my two boys when I started to appreciate him so much more.  The way that he has with words is fascinating and I think that he is a genius when it comes to writing children’s books.  If you Google around you will find so many great quotes that can be applied to life that are from his books.  Whenever we read a Dr. Seuss (or a Theo LeSieg) book it is a guarantee that my boys will love it!

One of the facts about Dr. Seuss that has always stood out to me is that he never had any children.  He is probably the most well known children’s author and yet he had no kids.  If you want to read more about Dr. Seuss, his wiki page  has a lot of information about him.  Last week I read that his wife recently found a book that Dr. Seuss was working on that had never been published.  The book is What Pet Should I Get?  The book is coming out at the end of July, but it can be pre-ordered now.  We are very excited to read this book!

In honor of Dr. Seuss every March 2nd (his birthday) is celebrated as National Read across America Day and you can bet that we will be reading some Dr. Seuss today.  I hope that you do too!





p.s. This post contains an affiliate link and if you purchase from the link I’ll get a tiny commission which goes straight towards more books for homeschooling, thanks!

Chinese New Year


All of last week we learned about Chinese New Year (also called Lunar New Year because other countries besides China celebrate it), since the New Year date was on 2/19/15.  The new year is always held sometime between the end of January and the end of February, and is based on the moon.

We started off by talking about how we celebrate our New Year in the United States.  Then we read these three books:

Bringing In the New Year

Dragon Dance

Sam and the Lucky Money

I thought that Bringing In the New Year  was the most informative out of the three books.  It also kept the boys engaged.  At the end of the book there is a bit about the history of Chinese New Year written in a kid friendly manner.  After we read the three books we compared the similarities and the differences between Chinese New Year to our New Year.

Another day we started making these dragon puppets, but the boys weren’t interested in coloring them, so that project didn’t take off :(.

One Chinese New Years tradition is to give kids money in red envelopes (hongbao).  I thought that it would be fun to make some origami red envelopes and give to my boys.  I followed this great tutorial:

I made small envelopes because I only had small red paper and I figured that my boys would be happy receiving a quarter.  On the envelopes I added the Fú symbol    which means “good luck” or “good fortune.”

Here is one my finished envelopes:


On Chinese New Year we went out for Chinese food.  We wished our waiter “Happy New Year” and she was surprised that we knew about it.

On the weekend we went to Chinatown to the Chinese Garden to celebrate the New Year.

First we went to the Wishing Tree where we each got a ribbon with a gold piece tied to it.  We were supposed to throw it on the tree and make a wish.  All of us got our ribbon to stick with the first throw.  Other visitors were not so lucky :).


Nathan getting ready to throw the ribbon


Nathan and the wishing tree

Next we looked at all of the red lanterns hanging throughout the gardens (very pretty).  At about this time the Lions came out to dance!  The Lion Dance is done during the Chinese New Year to ward off evil and bring good fortune.   Many people mistake the lions for dragons, but one easy way to tell if it is a lion is to see how many legs it has.  The lions only have four legs (two dancers) and the dragon has more.  We all really enjoyed the dance very much (the dancer’s seemed to get a great workout)!


After the dance we went out to visit the Sheep pavilion, since it is the Year of the Sheep/Ram.  As a fun fact, my zodiac sign is a sheep.  My husband’s is an Ox and supposedly we do not make a good match 🙂  One of my sons is a Tiger and again the Sheep and Tiger aren’t supposed to get along well.

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Xin Nian Kuai Le! 新年快樂!


p.s.  This post contains affiliate links and if you purchase from the link you are helping support our homeschool, thanks!




Boys’ January Book Review


I thought that it would be fun to recap what the boys have “read” for the month too.  The boys don’t read yet, so these books were all read by husband or me to them and that counts!

At the end of last year we read The Fantastic Mr. Fox and our boys loved it.  Since we had the BFG we thought that we would read that book and they loved it.  I was at Costco at the beginning of January and saw that all of Roald Dahl’s books were packaged together for the cheap price of $25 and I knew that I couldn’t pass that deal up (it is around $40 on Amazon).  Since we now had all of his books we were on a Roald Dahl frenzy.  All of the wording below is straight from my boys’ mouths!

Matilda —  Is about a girl who reads.  She goes to school and there is a headmistress whose name is Ms. Trunchbull.  That’s pretty much it.

Nathan gives it five stars and Anderson gives it six (I gave them the option of 1-5).

James and the Giant Peach —  A little boy who had a nice father and mother got eaten by a rhinoceros and he had to live with his horrible Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge.  A man gave him some magic things and James slipped and the magic things fell out of his pocket onto the ground and a tree with a peach started growing.  Aunt Spiker said there was a peach and some other stuff.  Aunt Sponge didn’t believe her.  The cloud men, New York, the centipede, the old green grasshopper, the chief of the fire department, and the chief of police.

Nathan gives it five stars and Anderson gives it three.

The Magic Finger —  A girl with a magic finger and that’s pretty much it.  And the two boys that like to hunt.  And the dad that likes to hunt.  And the things they were trying to hunt and they were magic.

Nathan gives it five stars and Anderson gives it four stars.

Esio Trot–  A turtle named Alfie  and the tortoise catcher.

Nathan gives it five stars and Anderson gives it four.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — A boy that has poor parents and about Mr. Willy Wonka.  Mike Teavee gets sent by television and a huge chocolate bar gets sent by television (the boys aren’t really interested in talking to me right now about this book, so their description is super brief, but this has been their favorite Dahl book so far).

Nathan gives it FIVE stars.  Anderson gives it four, but I don’t think he understands the rating system 🙂

Roald Dahl’s books have been a huge hit for my boys.  I think that the 6+ crowd would enjoy them more than the younger crowd (my youngest isn’t sensitive, so he has been able to handle these books sometimes better than my older son).  I also have to warn that there is some not so nice language in the books (for example, calling people stupid and idiot).  When we were reading the books we would edit the story to say “silly” instead of stupid, but we borrowed the audiobooks from the library and they don’t edit there, so the boys picked up on the language.   Now we don’t edit because we are almost guaranteed to get the audiobook, so we read it how it is and talk about how those words aren’t nice to say and we discuss what words would be better to say.  In one of the books someone calls someone an “ass.”  For the next day my oldest son was calling everything an ass.  We discussed how that word wasn’t appropriate to say, but I think that just fueled him to say it more!  I also tried to cover up my laughing each time he said it :).

The below books we read, but they are not chapter books (there are not so many because we have spent our time on Dahl’s books)

Poky Little Puppy’s First Christmas — The boys saw this book somewhere and wanted to read it even though Christmas was over.  They love all of The Poky Little Puppy books.

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King — We read this one for Martin Luther King Jr. day.  After reading the book we discussed how Martin tried to change the laws peacefully so that everyone had the same rights.

Cézanne and the Apple Boy — As you probably know, this was from an art lesson we did.

One Cool Cat — We randomly picked up this book from the library and it wasn’t that great.


p.s. The links above are Amazon Affiliate links and if a book is purchased I get a small commission that will help my family get more homeschool materials, but all of the books with links are ones we got from the library and that really is the best source to get books!

January Book Recap

janbook2Here is a recap of the books that I read for the month of January.

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

This book is about the world of classical ballet. It starts in the 70s when Joan, a professional ballet dancer, meets and falls in love with a very talented Russian dancer named Arslan. It fast forwards in time to where Joan is now living in LA with her husband Jacob, whom she has known since high school, and their son Harry.  Joan is a ballet teacher and she is teaching Harry and the neighbor’s daughter Chloe ballet. The story goes back and forth from when Joan was with Arslan to her present life.  The book also tells the story of Harry and Chloe.

The book gives a glimpse into the life of ballet dancers, but I have a feeling that it is much worse than what the author described. I always thought of the movie Black Swan when I was reading this book and that was some crazy stuff.  I also have two friends that were professional ballet dancers and they don’t have anything great to say about that world.  The stories of the characters were interesting and I didn’t expect it to end how it did. It wasn’t a huge surprise though.  It was a really easy book to read and I actually read it on a recommendation of someone that loved this book.  I would give it 3.5 stars.


The Martian by Andy Weir

Mark Watney and his team are on Mars when a dust storm strikes. They have to abandon their mission and head home to Earth. Mark is struck by an antennae as they are trying to leave and thought to be dead so his crew leaves without him. Mark isn’t dead and comes to. This is his story of his life on Mars trying to survive and get help to get him off of the planet.

It was a really fun and interesting read. Mark’s character was so likeable and there were so many times when he would say something that would remind me of my husband. The book is categorized as Sci-Fi, which I usually don’t have much interest in reading, but I had heard good reviews from a few blogs that I follow and the book really piqued my interest. I had read that this book talks about Engineering and that some of the stuff in the book might go over a layperson’s head, but I really didn’t feel like it was that difficult to get through. Sure, some of the stuff I didn’t know, but it didn’t make the book hard to read. I definitely think that this book is one that both genders would really like (I told my husband about it and he started after me and finished before me with positive reviews on the book too). Also, it didn’t seem like the book was that far fetched.

They are coming out with a movie of this book later on in the year and I can’t wait to see the movie. They have an all star cast lined up and it should be good. I think that the back story to the book was also very interesting (the Author tried to get it published, but no one gave him an offer so he published it on his website for free and then his fans wanted it on the Kindle so he published it with Amazon for $.99 and it took off from there).

I would definitely recommend this book.  I give this book 4.5 stars.


As You Wish:  Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

This story is about the making of the movie The Princess Bride told from Cary Elwes point of view, with additional comments from other people involved in the making of the movie.  The book was a very quick and easy read.  I didn’t find that it was the best writing, but I didn’t mind that because I enjoyed the story.  Once I finished this book I immediately ordered The Princess Bride by William Goldman because I want to read the original book (I can’t believe that I haven’t read it).  I also really want to watch The Princess Bride again because I now have some background information about some of the scenes that I didn’t know about before.  I would give this book 4 stars.


What is on my nightstand for February:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood — I’ve been working on this book for awhile (the other books were library books and I had to finish them before they were due, so this one got put on the back burner).

The Brothers K by David James Duncan — I heard great reviews about this book (it is almost five stars on both Amazon and Goodreads).  It’s a long book at 654 pages.

My book club hasn’t met yet, so I don’t know what book I will be reading for that.  I think that those books will keep me busy, but there is always the chance that one of the books that I have on hold will become available and I’ll have to put one of the above on hold.

What are you reading this month?


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