*50 Women Every Christian Should Know by Michelle DeRusha -- I heard the author on a podcast and the book sounded good. It was described as a book full of 5-7 page mini biographies on each woman, and that sounded both easy and interesting. It was. I really enjoyed this book and plan to give it away as a Christmas gift to someone I know will get a lot out of it. I really don't know that much about Christianity's historical females, and I felt I learned a lot. Some of the women I had never even heard of before, and it was fun to read about women I'd heard of before by name, but knew little about their lives.
*The Story of Science by Susan Wise Bauer -- Oy. This book was tough to get through. Not because the writing wasn't good (it was excellent), but because of the subject matter and my right-brain. Out of any schoolish subjects, I would rate Science as my least favorite and most difficult. I read this book because when I had the kids' school order it, I thought I was getting a book similar in format to this curriculum, for my science-loving kid. It was not comparable in format or narrative, but it would be an excellent text for a high school or college student who wants a big-picture overview of the most famous and world-changing science texts throughout history. I took it slow and read a 5-10 page chapter a day, getting through it in over a month, that's how difficult I found the subject matter. It was not a page-turner for me, but the notes, bibliography, and explanations were very well done.
*The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls -- Phew, an easy novel to break it up! I love Jeanette Walls' writing, and this was her last book I had to read. Her stories and characters are captivating, and she can easily go between fiction and memoir (Half-Broke Horses) so easily, in my opinion. This story was about two sisters who had a neglectful mother, a strange but kind uncle, and an incident that would go on to change all of their lives. I think I read it in a few days. I don't read fluff, but I'd consider this--a page-turning fiction book--a beach read. I'd recommend it to anyone who liked her other book, The Glass Castle.
*Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers by Michael Long -- Well Stefan made fun of me for reading this book, but I learned so much about a childhood favorite from the research of Michael Long. It turns out that the Presbyterian pastor was not only a radical pacificist (which I wouldn't have known at the tender age of 5, when I probably started watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood), but he was so engaged in peace-making politics that he was on the front lines of every major equal rights, anti-war, pro-aid, and diplomatic issue front and center with his family centered tv show throughout the decades, even starting the first week of his show as a slam to current US politics! This book isn't a page-turner, but it is really fascinating and I am glad I read it. It isn't a biography, which is what I thought going into it (and I certainly would have liked to have more info on his actual growing up, homelife and family life); it is about the decisions he made as a pacificist, and how he showed what a peaceful life looks like to children and their adult caretakers through the program he created.
*Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman -- This book was so weird. Honestly, it was such an intriguing narrative: a collection of historical fiction essays on just that-nearly famous women in history. The author has enough facts to go on to tell a story about these women in history, but she filled in the details with her imagination. A lot of the stories were odd, graphic, and tragic, and it only took me a few plane rides to finish it. I don't know who I'd recommend it to, the nature of the book was so niche.
Read-Alouds with Kids:
*Imagination Station #1: Voyage with the Vikings by Marianne Hering -- I read this book with the kids over the two days where we had two other kiddos staying with us. The four of them loved it and kept begging for another chapter. This series appears to be a Christian substitute for the Magic Tree House series (go back in time, solve historical fiction mysteries, same grade level), and they were easily hooked. I read to them during meal times, so their mouths were busy and their attention was full. I'd be interested in having my kids read more of this series, because I think juvenile historical fiction is how I got hooked on reading, and many, many kids love a good mystery!
*The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh - This was a short novella, maybe 50 pages or so, about a young pioneer girl who helps her father by cooking for him as he's building their family's new house hundreds of miles away from their actual family. It's based on a true story and my kids enjoyed it. I had heard about this book from an online read-aloud forum, with many honorable mentions, but I didn't think the book was that great (oh, large expectations, you get me every time!). A great book as a supplement to learning about Pioneers or the Wild West, but no Little House.