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February Titles // 2017

I had a great reading month. I slammed down a few books I'd wanted to read for awhile, finished quite a few kid read-alouds (and so many awesome picture books!), and generally enjoyed all of them. Here they are.

*Scary Close by Donald Miller - I've wanted to read this book for awhile. It's Blue Like Jazz author, Donald Miller's, newest book meeting of his (now) wife, Betsy. It was part mental-health memoir, part leaving-behind bachelorhood and working on healthy relationships in preparation for marriage. I don't know if that sounds interesting to you, but I really liked it. Out of the books of his I've read, it felt like his most vulnerable, honest, and open. This would make a great gift to a couple who are engaged, though it could be enjoyed by anybody. 

*Ancient Rome: How it Affects You Today by Richard Maybury - Reading this book (the third "Uncle Eric" book I've now read) is part of me intentionally searching out  more politically conservative and/or libertarian-leaning books to get others' points of view. This book was a very brief history of political Rome, and by the subtitle you can see, how it affects us today. Even the state lines being straight (as opposed to the Indigenous tribe areas being more geographic) is a Roman invention. I learned a lot from this and I'm going to continue to read the rest of the series when I can find them. 

*Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals by Karen Skidmore Rackliffe - This book was borrowed from my local homeschool group's library. I have been toying with the idea of doing nature journals for awhile now, but for some reason, we've never tried them. This little 100+ page book was all about tips, ideas, etc. and has inspired me to finish some of our school year by starting one for each of us (well, the three of us), and see where the wind takes us!

*The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl - I'm not sure where I first heard of this book, but I had put it on hold (that, and another The Year of Living Danishly, which I have yet to get), and it was a very short and quick read, detailing 6 main principles that Danish people do while raising their kids, and how it's different from American parenting. I sort of rolled my eyes at one of them, because one can't just have zero discipline other than reframing a situation, and it doesn't go into detail about that...which is a huge part of parenting children. It was interesting, but I hope the next one (above) is better. 

*Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey - This is Bessey's second book, and it's also a bit of a spiritual memoir like her last. If the last one was an irritated rant, this one is much slower in pace, calmer in attitude, and just all around has a more mature and measured voice. Bessey lives in my area and I'd love to hear her speak. Not my favorite book, but I think it could meet a lot of people right where they are, especially if the background they grew up with gave them some Christian-ese baggage. 

*We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - This is my book club book for early March, and I'm really glad I got a head-start on ordering it because it's long-for me. At first I didn't really like the structure; the entire book is letters written by Eva (the mom of Kevin from the title) to her spouse. I got sort of annoyed because "no one writes letters like this!", sort of like how "no one talks like this!" while watching the overgrown teenagers on Dawson's Creek.  This is not a book I'd ever pick up off the library shelf and that's just one of the many reasons I love book club--I read a lot of books outside of my normal picks. This book, however grim (the story is about a mother processing her sociopath son's murderous shooting spree-that's not a spoiler) uses stunning metaphor at just the perfect pivot points in the book to keep you intrigued. This book is meticulously clever and has a bit of a surprise ending. The subject matter is tough, though, so if you can't read gruesome, don't get involved. 

*Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling - This was the last of the little mini-textbook series that I needed to read, that Rowling wrote after the Potter series finalized. This was just a fun little book (under 100 pages) with history of the wizard game, famous players' stories, etc. Nothing fancy, just a fun little dip back into one of my favorite 'worlds' in literature. Along with Quidditch are the two texts, Beedle the Bard, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (now a movie!), both their only little spin-offs that if you're a die-hard HP fan, you'll want to just take an afternoon and enjoy for old times' sake. 

Read Alouds

*The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis - This was the fourth book we read in the Narnia series, and the kids enjoyed bits and pieces of it, but it was probably their least favorite so far. Eustace, and a new character, his school-mate, Jill, fall into Narnia to find the missing Prince Rillian, son of beloved Narnian King Caspian (whom Eustace adventures with in the previous book). A lot of this story was just too slow for my two, but when there was action, they loved it. We've been practicing making predictions with plots and we did a lot of that in this book. The project we thought might be fun to accompany this book is making a 3D map of all the 'lands' they had to pass through until the end of the story...there's quite a few and they are all so different, it'd make a fun hands-on project. 

*Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure by Ann M. Martin and Annie Parnell - My kids have a deep love for the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, they get a (terribly ironic) kick out of the naughty children she 'cures' with common sense, natural consequences, and a bit of magic. Missy is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's great niece, who is taking up the need in Little Spring Valley. They asked for this book over and over, though the chapters were long, the results were still funny. We'll keep an eye out for more Missy books, taking over for MacDonald's long-loved books. 

*Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry - I've wanted to read this book aloud for a long time. My best friend grew up with these stories and recommended them to me for the kids years ago. I've been patiently biding my time. When I saw the YA novel on the shelf at my local library, complete with original illustrations, I knew the time had come. My daughter loves horses, so I knew this beloved classic would be a hit! This is a great podcast about the history of the (real!) ponies of Assateauge Island National Seashore, and gave us great background for the story. 


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