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On My Bookshelf: What I’m Reading in November

source: Mo Riza

For many years, I was so busy with my littles and working from home that I rarely made time to read. Then, I got a Kindle and picked up where I had left off many years before, reading 2-3 books a week. There are still times when I have to read less to make time for family events or work projects, but reading is my #1 choice for relaxing & learning, and I make time for it as much as I can!

My favorite source for reading material is Amazon’s free Kindle books. I’ve gotten more than 600 books 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 iPad — at least while I anxiously await the delivery of my Kindle Fire next Wednesday — Amazon offers free Kindle apps for your PC, Mac, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android or Windows 7 phone as well!

When I do buy a book, I like to use gift cards I’ve earned through Swagbucks — guilt-free shopping at its finest!

Here are the books I’m currently reading or have recently finished as well as what’s in my to-be-read pile. I’d love to hear what’s on your lists as well!

Current Reads

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

By far, my favorite books last month were The Hunger Games. I fully intend to read the entire series a second time (although I won’t do it in 5 days this time, since that kind of messed with my productivity!) because they’re so gripping and thought-provoking. It’s hard to summarize these stories in just a few sentences, but the series focuses on a fictitious future world where children are literally sent to fight to the death as a ploy by the reigning government to keep the people from challenging their authority. We follow the main character as she gets chosen form “the Hunger Games” in the first book, and I won’t tell you about the other two since I don’t want to give anything away.

You know how when you read a lot of books, you have a guess or idea of what’s coming next? One thing that makes these stories so gripping is that you really never know what’s coming. Right up until the last page of the third book, I was constantly surprised. And that suspense kept me reading. In fact, many times I would realize I’d started the next chapter even though I meant to stop at the end of the previous one. You feel what the characters are feeling, and even though it is all pretty “out there”, I was never left feeling like, “Oh, how unrealistic.” My one-word review, if I had to give one, would be gripping (in case I hadn’t already used it enough!).

The second book is Catching Fire and the third is Mockingjay.

Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

Besides The Hunger Games, this story stands out as the most interesting that I read last month. It’s always good when a book inspires you to do more research about a time or place, and it did exactly that. Set in the Biltmore Estate at the turn of the century, I enjoyed reading about how the house was run and how generous the Vanderbilts were with their houeshold help. At its heart, it’s a sweet love story, but there was so much rich detail that drew me in as well!

Prairie Rose (A Town Called Hope) by Catherine Palmer

In case you hadn’t already figured it out, I have a thing for historical fiction! Prairie Rose is the story of a young girl who moves West in the mid 1800s with a man she hardly knows to be his housekeeper. Relieved to escape the orphanage where she’s spent her entire life, she confronts her doubts about her own worth, recognizes her strengths and, yes, falls in love. It was a nice, light read — the kind where you root for the main character every step of the way!

Lady in the Mist (The Midwives) by Laurie Alice Eakes

I had high hopes for this book — part romance, part suspense — and it was an interesting look at the life of a single midwife in the early 1800s and the expectations on indentured servants and household help. I appreciated the mystery as well as the historical aspects of it, although at times it felt slightly unfocused and left me wondering if I’d missed part of the story.

I also read a few other books that were okay but didn’t necessarily stand out from the rest, including:

  • Diagnosis Death by Richard Mabry MD (medical thriller)
  • From Ashes to Honor (First Responders) by Loree Lough (Christian fiction)
  • The Girl Who Couldn’t Say No by Tracy Engelbrecht (memoir)
  • The End of Boys by Peter Brown Hoffmeister (memoir)

With My Girls

The girls and I have been reading some really great books together as part of our school time, and I thought it would be fun to share these here as well. Most — but not all — of these are part of the Sonlight cores, which we use for literature recommendations even though it’s not our main curriculum!

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson

We truly enjoyed this story, which tells the story of a grumpy Parisian hobo — Armand — who is content to live alone on the streets. Then he meets a destitute family who moves in under his bridge, and they quickly work their way into his heart. Although the heartwarming story pulled us all in from the beginning, I think my girls’ favorite part was listening to me try to pronounce the many French names and terms throughout the book. I did my best to use a French accent, which mostly made for good laughs!

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Our current book is this fun story about an “all of a kind” family (just like ours) that a family friend gave us. Set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, it’s a wonderful story about five sisters with a myriad of lessons sprinkled throughout. I also love the insight it gives us into Jewish culture and celebrations without embracing typical stereotypes.

On the Shelf

I don’t typically read fiction bestsellers or the books that everybody is talking about — with the exception of The Help! and now The Hunger Games — so there’s no telling which fiction books I’ll read in the coming month. However, I usually have an ever-growing pile of non-fiction. This month, I’m hoping to read the following books:

Kisses from Katie by Katie J. Davis

Kisses from Katie is one of my favorite blogs, where Katie shares stories and insights from her life as a missionary to the people of Uganda. She’s now also mama to 13 beautiful little girls, and so Uganda will likely always be her home.

When I realized she now had a book available, I immediately bought it, and I plan to read this with our 7 year old. We will probably make slow progress since I’m sure parts of it will be heavy and hard to read, but it’s important to me that our girls grow up with a global perspective and understand how much suffering there is around the world — in part so they know how blessed they are and in part so their heart will be turned toward these people groups. We read the introduction on the way home from Disney (ironic, I know), so we’ll see how the rest goes.

Love Has a Face: Mascara, a Machete and One Woman’s Miraculous Journey with Jesus in Sudan by Michele Perry

I also picked up Love Has a Face after hearing a little bit of Michele’s story from another blogger. I’m looking forward to reading more about this tiny, one-legged woman who moved across the world on faith to start a children’s home and minister to a war-torn country!

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

As someone who mostly reads free books, this one gives me a bit of sticker stock, but I’ve heard so many great things about this biography and I think there are so many lessons to be learned from Steve Jobs’ life, so it’s on my list to buy after I finish the rest of the books I’ve started!

See earlier “What I’m Reading” posts here.

What are you reading this month?

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