20 Best Tips
Teaching Textbooks

What I’m Reading (and the Kids too) – March 2018

What have YOU been reading this month? 

I’ve been trying to branch out some in my reading genre (i.e. I’m a huge historical fiction fan and tend to get stuck in an era or genre). There are some books coming to movies and also a few that people have been raving about, so I added a few of those to my February reading list. 

One of those, The Girl on the Train, is a title I read incorrectly, and consequently read The Girl  FROM the Train first – and the two are very, very different. The second title was a translation and I believe there were some things a little lost in translation. Overall it wasn’t bad (and honestly I enjoyed it more than the one all the fuss is about), but when I realized I’d read the wrong book – oy. 

I honestly don’t feel like I read a lot during February (in comparison to my normal book intake), but overall finished six books – five fiction and one non-fiction and started a few others.  While my Kindle is my “go-to” at bedtime, I’ve literally been falling asleep almost as soon as I’m in bed, so reading is a moot point. For this upcoming month, I’ve picked one additional book from my 2018 Reading List to focus on along with finishing one I started last month, and have at least two non-fiction books I’d like to read as well. 

Feed readers can click here to see my books for March

  • Blessed Are the Misfits
  • With All Due Respect
  • Just Open the Door
  • Eve
  • Romancing Daphne
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I’m very much enjoying Blessed Are the Misfits so far, and really can’t wait to dig into Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt! 

What the Kids are Reading

Something has truly “clicked” with Kaleb over the last bit and reading has been less of a struggle – which is beyond thrilling (really, truly). February had us going back and forth a lot in the afternoons, so we didn’t accomplish a lot of reading aloud at all, hence the reason we are still reading Gregor together. :)

Read aloud – Gregor the Underland Chronicles

McKenna – Ivanhoe

Zachary – A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

Kaleb – All About Reading Level 4

What I Read in February (and Quick Thoughts)

Godspeed by Britt Merrick – This book still has me mulling over so many things. The overarching theme is that we are called to “mission” in our lives – and it doesn’t necessarily involve a going out all over the world, but can mean little things (mission vs. missions). It isn’t that it’s super earth shattering, but it’s practical and presents topics in a way that you really stop and re-think the why behind some of your beliefs. Honestly one of my favorite books read to date. 

For Love or Honor by Sara Eden – if you love period dramas, this was another fun book in the Jonquil brothers series by Eden. I read it in a little over a day and a sweet story. Not my favorite in the series, but still fun to read and see past characters. 

The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley – fourth book in the series of six adopted sisters who lost their father. Each book chronicles the life of one sister in the months following their father’s death as they search deeper into their birth heritage. This has been a really interesting series as it flips back and forth between present time and back sometimes a hundred years or more to share history (one included Beatrix Potter). This one had a little more ‘edge’ to it, but nothing explicit. 

I’m trying to balance out my reading genres a little, but bedtime is typically my “pick up a piece of fiction” time, sometimes via Kindle and other times a good ol’ paperback book. Here are links to four of the six books I read in February. 

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 


What I’m Reading (and the Kids too) February 2018

The first part of January had me curled up in the living room with a blanket rather frequently. We’ve had some rather chilly days, so a warm fire and cozy blanket seemed the perfect opportunity to squeeze some reading in. The last week though felt a bit overwhelming and I didn’t have as much time to sit down and read between dentist appointments and a few other commitments that needed my attention…and not a book. :(

All of the books from my 2018 Reading List are on the bookshelf and waiting for me, so I pulled off three fiction books to read and managed to get through all but half of one along with a few from my non-fiction list. Two were ones that I normally wouldn’t have picked up, but ended up really enjoying! 

Feed readers can click here to see my books for January

I’m very much enjoying Godspeed so far, but this is one that is requiring a little more focus for me as well (not just a light read). It is very good though! 

What the Kids are Reading

Laurianna has been a little busy with her schoolwork and hasn’t had as much time for fun reading the last bit, but the three others are getting in their reading time with the following books. One thing I am really enjoying is seeing Kaleb branch out a little in his reading as well, so finding books that he enjoys makes my heart happy. 


Read aloud – Gregor the Underland Chronicles

McKenna – Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Zachary – The Bronze Bow

Kaleb – AAR Level 3-4, What is the Superbowl? and Who Was Jackie Robinson? 

What I Read in January (and Quick Thoughts)

I’m trying to balance out my reading genres a little, but bedtime is typically my “pick up a piece of fiction” time, sometimes via Kindle and other times a good ol’ paperback book. Here’s a look at the eight books I read in January. 


You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt – a friend suggested this one to me, and quite honestly, it was almost as if this book could have been written recently, rather than over sixty years ago. So much of it practically applied to today, although I did find myself at times wondering how Mrs. Roosevelt would view all the busyness that we have in our society today in comparison to the timeframe from which she was writing. 

Reading People by Anne Bogel – again, another book that I wouldn’t normally have picked up, but it was rather interesting. Bogel looks at the various personality tests and how different personality types interact and may react. It does have me rather curious about a few. My hubby and I were talking about how our personality types have shifted over the twenty or so past years. I am definitely more outgoing/extroverted, but during the last ten years have really pulled closer to home and what is familiar, rather than wanting as much energy from others. I’d much rather curl up with a book and recharge quietly. An interesting read! 

A Name Unknown and A Song Unheard by Roseanna White – these are both by one of my favorite historical fiction writers and a newer series from her. I absolutely LOVED both of them. The main characters are part of a group of pickpockets that have adopted each other over the years and become a family. One by one they are approached to do specific “jobs” for a mysterious man and in the process find both love and relationships with God. Both books were well-written and I can’t wait for the next book (and sibling) in the series. 

The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley – this is a random series I picked up at the library last year to start reading and they are still in process of being released. Each book in the series follows one of six adopted sisters and their search to discover their roots after the death of their father. This one follows Star as her clues lead her on a hunt stretching back 100 years and to a different country. 

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 


My 2018 Reading List

The last few years I have shared my “focused” reading list with you all. I love the suggestions you all have made via Facebook and commenting (some great suggestions!) and the accountability it has given me. There’s something about putting your goals out there for everyone to see that helps you kick into overdrive when it comes to meeting those goals. 

Each year I’ve tried to push myself a little bit more in what I am reading for non-fiction, and try to cover several different topics: parenting, personal growth, marriage, spiritual, and then there are those things that just catch my eye. 

I’m a sucker for a pretty cover. And texture – how it feels when I hold it in my hand makes a difference. I know it sounds odd. Call me crazy. :) 

While I only have fifteen books listed specifically for 2018, keep in mind this doesn’t list all of the fiction that somehow manages to make it to my list. My overall goal is to finish the 15 “growth” books and leave a little wiggle-room for new books that catch my eye over the course of the year.

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to track my reading over the last few years has been via the GoodReads app.   Following friends, seeing what others are reading, and being able to quickly rate a book I’m reading – love that (because my memory isn’t what it used to be!). Join me there and let’s read along together!

The Main Reading Pile

“If There is Time Pile”

Fiction Books/Series to Look At

So, a lot of my books do tend to gravitate to historical fiction, but at times I pepper in teen lit (to stay on top of things before the kids read them) and lately more contemporary fiction. I personally have been a bit picky about much of the stuff I read, because for me too much language or other graphic stuff is a ‘trigger’ for me – so I tend to err on the side of books that aren’t raunchy or full of whatever.

Last year there were a few that I read (Lianne Moriarty, for starters) that were out of my comfort zone in some ways, but overall not bad (language mainly) – but generated conversation on topics in the books with friends for sure. All that said, I haven’t vetted all of the below series, so they may be complete busts! 


If you’re interested, here are my 10 favorite books I read last year (a mix of fiction and non-fiction). I’d love to hear what books you have on your shelf for the 2018 year and and recommendations for me to add to my list! 

Happy reading!


My Top 10 Favorite Books from 2017

Overall my reading goal for 2017 was 70 books, specifically 12 non-fiction (since those are hardest for me) and then a whole lot of fiction (because that’s my favorite). 

All of you that read non-fiction without a problem – I’m jealous. 

For me, it’s been a work-in-progress over the years to step back from the “I can only read one chapter a day and need to thoughtfully contemplate all that I have read and take it to heart,” to reading through as I would any other book and marking areas that I would like to review in the future. I’ve also started a quotes book where I can note any things that really impacted me (and why). 

My book total for 2017 was 88: non-fiction – 21 and fiction – 67. You can see the full list of books I read here on Good Reads. 

Many of you have asked how I manage to read so much. My goal is one non-fiction a month and I try to set aside 20-30 minutes each afternoon to rest and read. At night, I literally fall asleep with a book (or Kindle) in hand. I’ve been like that since I was a little girl and don’t see it changing anytime soon. :) 

Top 10 Favorite Books from 2017

That said, there are ten books that I especially enjoyed reading this past year and would highly recommend. The list is a mix of both non-fiction, fun reading, and even a book I found very helpful in homeschooling. 

1. Come and Eat

Come and Eat was written by a lady I know (and love to death) in real life, Bri McCoy. While I know her from Compassion International, her personality and humor SHINE through in this book. 

Mixed in with her rich storytelling and humor, Bri challenges us to open our homes and tables to develop relationships with friends, strangers, and more. Rick and I will be leading a small group, and one of the things I really wanted to add in was a meal with one family each time we meet – because so much happens around the table (food is a fabulous neutral ground). 


2. Crazy Love

This book has been recommended to me multiple times over the years and it took me a bit to get moving on it. Crazy Love is both easy-to-read and one that will make you think/contemplate at the same time. There were quite a few spots of personal challenge for me (which I definitely need to happen). The book has been added to my shelf to read again in upcoming years – and pass along to my hubby as well. 


3. A Fall of Marigolds

Absolutely LOVED this book. The lives of two women, nearly 100 years apart, are paralleled through the journey of one colorful marigold-patterned scarf. Though living in different times, both have experienced deep losses and learn valuable lessons on life and love. 

Another thing I loved (because it is rare to find in current fiction) – no language or other content that is inappropriate, and still and amazing story was woven. Cannot recommend highly enough.


4. Finish

Finish is written in Acuff’s typical style – a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor and really something I needed to read in this moment because it focused a lot on how we set unrealistic/unattainable goals for ourselves and then don’t end up finishing things because our goals can’t be met, then drop the ball on that and more. For people who are perfectionists (hello, me), this ends up being a huge issue. Just read it! :) 


5. Growing Up Social

Some sobering information, but the book is also packed with practical tips and advice on maneuvering technology with kids, provides alternative ideas to get off technology, and also some great parenting helps overall. 


6. The Nightingale

This was probably my FAVORITE fiction read of the year. It focuses on the time period of WW2 and the lives of women left behind as their husbands go off to war and they are left to fend for their families in a country occupied by the Germans. There is some mature content, but sadly appropriate for the topic and storyline.  Overall it’s real, raw at times, and incredibly moving.


7. How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare

if you have ever doubted your ability to form a way to work on Shakespeare with your kids, you need to check out this book. Yes, you will have to read the actual book itself, but it has a plethora of information inside (I promise, it’s worth it). Technically, there are a few chapters you really want to read first and the remainder you could skim through unless you are studying those plays (definitely read the intro and chapters 1 – 6, 10, 14, 21, 31, and the epilogue), but I would recommend reading the entire book.

Ludwig believes the younger you start kids learning and memorizing the better. While memorizing seems daunting, he breaks down the process, making it manageable and even something young children can work on. In addition to memorization techniques, Ludwig talks about Shakespeare’s life and history, components of Shakespeare’s plays (imagery, humor, poetry/prose, metaphors), and so much more.


8. Never Unfriended

Even though it wasn’t on my 2017 reading list, this book was one of those that I definitely wanted to add the moment I saw it, and I loved it enough to order copies for a few friends who I knew could use the encouragement and words as much as I did. This mom thing is hard, homeschooling adds another layer to that, and protecting the friendships I have is very important to me – I want to BE the best friend I can and also foster healthy relationships along the way.   


9. The Auschwitz Escape

Joel Rosenberg is one of my favorite thriller/suspense authors to read. They can sometimes take a bit to get into, but once you are pulled in, they are hard to put down. The Auschwitz Escape tells the story of a man who assumes the identity of another man as he is sent to Auschwitz and then works toward escaping the camp. It is a very sobering story, but extremely well-written. 


10. The Magnolia Story

While this isn’t a super in-depth read, it’s a great peek into Chip and Joanna Gaines’ life and how they built their business and incorporate family-life into their busy days. I loved this quote from the book, because it’s something I’ve repeated to myself frequently over the last few years: 

“It all came down to a mind shift in which I asked myself, “What am I going for in life?” Was it to achieve somebody else’s idea of what a perfect home should look like? Or was it to live fully in the perfection of the home and family I have?”


Honorable Mention: Seven Sisters

I feel I should at least give an honorable mention to The Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley. However, I will give a bit of a warning: if you struggle mild sexual content, you will either need to skip (like I did) brief sections, or not read these books. The plot of the books kept me reading into the week hours of the morning with both books I’ve read so far. None of the added content is necessary for any plot issues in the book (which irritates me that it even needs to be included), but they have definitely been page turners. 


That’s it for 2017! What have you read this year that you would recommend for others to read? I’d love to hear from you and add a few more books to my 2018 pile! 

What I’m Reading (and the Kids too)

December is here. Chilly temps have really settled in, and books are becoming my most favorite thing – especially by the light of the Christmas tree. Admittedly, those non-fiction books are a little harder to pick up and dig into (it’s much easier to get lost in another world where I don’t have to focus on anything), but I am making progress.

The one thing I really need to focus on this month is decidedly making time to read for my growth – not just for fun. The last few weeks have been crazy with family visiting and traveling, so focusing on a more serious topic has been harder to do. Hence – the fiction. :) I will also admit that the last little bit I have been sidetracked by the Hallmark channel (we subscribed to Sling TV for the month so we could get all the holiday movies!!), and that may have put a damper on my reading.

My GoodReads app is helping me track the books that I’m reading. Only two books on my original reading list for 2017 remain, and one of them is already halfway finished. I’m definitely looking forward to our Christmas break and hoping to finish both of them prior to that so I can just relax and read all the FUN books that are still on my shelf.

To help me toward my goal of finishing those two books, I’m setting an alarm for every afternoon at 2pm so I can sit down and read for at least 15 minutes.  Here are the books on my pile to read this month: 

The Kids are Reading…

  • Laurianna – lots of assigned reading for her college classes
  • McKenna – Heart of Darkness
  • Zachary – Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
  • Kaleb – Boxcar Children book #3
  • Family read-aloud – Gregor the Overlander series

What I Finished in November

Here’s a peek at what I finished in the month of November – just fiction and working through some non-fiction too. 


  • Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason
  • Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden – HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!
  • five books in the Jacobite chronicles by Julia Brannon (there were some parts I had to skip). Otherwise a good series, but the parts I skipped seemed like they were token “add in” scenes that honestly could have been modified or left out completely. 

That’s it for this month – what is on YOUR reading list??

What I’m Reading (and the Kids too) November 2017

November is here and along with it comes some busy night and company. On the other hand, the weather has also cooled down considerably, making Sunday afternoons a wonderful time to snuggle under a blanket and get lost in a book! 

My GoodReads app has been very handy in helping me track the books that I’m reading. Although I didn’t get much of one of the remaining books on my original reading list for 2017 read, I did finish one in my “extras” pile and a total of eight books overall. These last two months are dedicated to finishing the final two books in my “must read” list. 

Most afternoons I have a chance to sit down for about 15 minutes, but honestly I’ve been not focusing as much on reading as just relaxing and resting (I’m not going to get upset over that). Here are the books I’d like to focus on in November (and inevitably there will be books that manage to sneak their way onto my pile!): 

  • Abba’s Child by Brendan Manning
  • When God Seems Far Away by Joy Jacobs
  • Loving Our Kids on Purpose (re-reading this one)
  • Awaken (devotional) by Priscilla Shirer
  • Cherish by Gary Thomas (still working through this) 
  • random Kindle books (bedtime reading)

The Kids are Reading…

  • Laurianna – lots of assigned reading for her college classes
  • McKenna – finishing Count of Monte Cristo and starting Heart of Darkness
  • Zachary – finishing Treasure Island and starting Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
  • Kaleb – Boxcar Children book
  • Family read-aloud – Gregor the Overlander series

What I Finished in October

Here’s a peek at what I finished in the month of October. 

  • Moral Revolution by Kris & Jason Vallotton (our youth group is working through the video series based on this book)
  • Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Faber 
  • An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter
  • random Kindle books (bedtime reading), including Marrying Miss Marshal, To Win Her Favor, A Dangerous Engagement, A New Day Rising, and An Untamed Heart

That’s it for this month – what is on YOUR reading list??