On My Bookshelf {July & August 2012}

reading
source: Mo Riza

My reading habits have been “off” for the past couple of months. Not only have I read less because of family activities, travel and working on the Easy Homemade ebook and launch, but I seem to have picked a lot of duds or difficult reads as well. I don’t like to not finish a book unless it’s really bad, so when I’m not as into a book, I tend to read less than when I pick up a book that keeps me up reading past my bedtime!

I’m looking forward to a new fall routine that hopefully includes more time for reading, and I’m thinking about rereading some of my favorites from my bookshelf. But first I need to get through Don Quixote.

Contemporary Fiction

  • Ready or Not and For Keeps by Chautona Havig
    These books — and presumably the third in the series, which I haven’t read — are kind of like a cheesy made-for-TV movie. In this series, Aggie is a college student who is unexpectedly thrust into the role of mother when she’s made guardian of her sister’s eight children after a tragic accident.  She faces tons of challenges, including her sister’s crazy mother-in-law, and undertakes the renovation of an old farmhouse to become her ready-made family’s new home. I read the books because they were sweet and cute (okay, and honestly, I wanted to make sure she ended up with the right guy!), but this is not the type of book I normally pick up, and I think I’ll stick to historical fiction for my “light” reading from now on!

Historical Fiction

  • Sing: A Novel of Colorado by Lisa T. Bergren
    Sing is the second book in The Homeward Trilogy, and — like a lot of sequels — it lost a little bit of the shine that the first book (and some of Lisa T. Bergren’s other books) held for me. I enjoyed it, and I still plan to read the third in the series at some point, but I thought the storyline was a bit of a stretch, and it didn’t offer much new insight into the time period or region, which is my favorite part of reading historical fiction.
  • Rekindled (Fountain Creek Chronicles, Book 1) by Tamera Alexander
    This is a really sweet, heartwrenching story of love, loss and second chances, and I really enjoyed it. I felt for each of the characters throughout the book and I read the entire book in just a couple days because I had to know what happened (although it is definitely one of those stories where you pretty much know what’s going to happen before you even start!). Tamera Alexander is an amazing writer who knows how to really capture and share the emotions of her characters, and so far I’ve loved everything of hers that I’ve read!
  • Casting Stones by G. M. Barlean
    I’m not opposed to novels that deal with unhappy topics (Hunger Games was one of my favorite series, after all!), but this one was so very depressing — without any redeeming story about rising above the challenges and tragedies this family faced — that it left me kind of sick to my stomach when it ended!
  • The Physician (Cole) by Noah Gordon
    The Physician is the story of a young boy who is orphaned and then taken in by a traveling barber surgeon in 11th century London. Rob Cole has a “gift” that allows him to sense when someone he touches is close to death, and an encounter with a Jewish physician leaves him desperately searching for a way to become a physician himself.I haven’t read many books — if any — set in this time period, and I was intrigued by the cultures in the various countries that Cole travels through. What I didn’t realize when I started was that this is a very longbook, and it starts kind of slow, so I was tempted to put it away several times (especially after the string of bad books I read in July!). It’s also gritty and crude in places, and not something I would recommend for teens, but in the end, I did feel like the inclusion of those elements served a purpose in setting the scene and painting a realistic picture of the time and experiences of Rob Cole (as opposed to gratuitous sex and violence).By the time I finished reading The Physician I was invested in the story and glad I hadn’t given up on it too soon!

Young Adult Fiction

  • Waterfall, Cascade and Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren
    After I mentioned in my June post that I really enjoyed Lisa T. Bergren, Amanda from Oh Amanda and Impress Your Kidsrecommend that I try this series. I had actually picked up the first book, Waterfall, as a Kindle freebie, and as soon as I finished that one, I bought the second and then third books as well.Part time travel, part historical fiction, the River of Time series tells the story of two sisters who are transported to 14th-century Italy — and dropped in the middle of a battle. Although definitely written on a young adult level, it’s an intriguing story of history, fate, love and faith, and I really enjoyed the whole series.
  • Bitterblueby Kristin Cashore
    Although Graceling was one of my favorite books last year, I was somewhat disappointed with Fire and I had almost forgotten that we were waiting on Bitterblue, which is the third book in the series (although Fire is a companion book and not an actual sequel, which is part of the reason I found it disappointing!). Shaina from Food for My Familystarted reading this one, though, and based on her recommendation I decided to pick this one up.Because Bitterblue focuses on Bitterblue, the 18-year-old queen of Monsea, this book has a decidedly younger tone than Graceling or Fire (although, thinking back on it — I think Katsa was the same age in Graceling, but she seemed much more mature). There were times when I found Bitterblue’s immaturity — although realistic — a bit annoying, and this will never rank up there with Graceling on my list of all-time favorites, but I liked the closure that it brought to the story.

On My Bookshelf for September

  • Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin by Tracy Lee Simmons
    This is my heavy read for September, and I’m honestly only halfway through the intro even though I started it a week ago, but I like what I’ve read so far. As classical homeschoolers, Latin is an important part of our curriculum — and I’ve loved Latin since I took it in 8th grade — and this book really explores why Latin and Greek are important to a well-rounded and effective education.
  • Don Quixote (Penguin Classics) by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra
    Honestly, I like this book — I really do — but I am not making any progress! I think part of the problem is that I have been trying to follow the method outlined in The Well-Educated Mind, which makes reading feel like a chore. I’ve put my journal away and I’m going to try just reading it instead to see if that changes it for me.What I love most about Don Quixote, besides the fact that it is at times laugh-out-loud funny, is that it doesn’t follow anyone’s predefined formula or rules, and there’s nothing predictable about it. Let’s see if I can finish it in September!

I often get asked how I have time to read so much, and you can read my top strategies in the busy mom’s guide to finding time to read. I also recently came across this post about the benefits of reading fiction that I thought made some great points about why making time for reading is a worthwhile endeavor.

If you just want to start reading more and aren’t especially particular about what you read, one of my favorite sources for reading material is Amazon’s free Kindle books, which really allowed me to restart my reading habit without investing a lot of money in books. I’ve “purchased” more than 1,000 books for free over the last two years, and I’ve discovered more than a few authors and series that I love. Although I prefer to read on my Kindle Fire, Amazon offers free Kindle apps for your PC, Mac, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android or Windows 7 phone as well!

What great books have you read recently? What’s on your reading list for this fall?

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