Book Stacks: Volume 2 (with giveaways!)

Monday, October 1, 2018

You know what? I do these book posts infrequently enough, it might be fun to do a giveaway with each one! And this week I have not one, but TWO books to give away—one for adults, one for kids.



So, what have we been reading these past few months? Well, you'll have to check out my Goodreads to see everything, because it's been 40+ books for me... That's what happens when I get pregnant & have insomnia, thus spending lots of time in bed reading on my Kindle. I'm not going to list them all here, just some highlights! Read Volume 1 here.

Here's some of what I've read!


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5-star books:

The Help--I think I saw the movie way back when, and had meant to read the book but never got around to it... It was available from the library on Kindle though (and pretty cheap if you want to buy the Kindle version), so I gave it a try and thought it was excellent and very eye-opening.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat--Yes fine, okay, I'm giving 5 stars to... A cookbook. But it's a really GOOD cookbook. Tons of cooking science, inspiration for cooks who love to improvise (and cooks who might be afraid to), and practical recipes. More than half of the book is dedicated to anecdotes, cooking science, diagrams, and tutorials, with recipes in the remainder of the book. So it's part cookbook, part well-written textbook? It's good enough that I put it on my wish list so I can get it for Christmas!

Books fantasy-lovers will like:

Uprooted--I really enjoyed this one! Some violence, minimal sex, a refreshingly unique fantasy story line (although it felt very much like another book I've read at first, but diverged from the "wizard in a tower insists on villagers giving him a village girl" story line fairly quickly.

Hunted--A fun, fairly quick read. I liked this author's take on the classic tale, incorporating Russian folk tales. I will basically never not read a YA retelling of a fairy tale, particularly one based on Beauty and the Beast, so this was right up my alley.

Walk on Earth a Stranger--I really enjoyed this author's first series, and it looks like this one is entirely different but still great! Based during the mid-1800s California gold rush, the main character has the power to sense the presence of gold around her, which obviously comes with complications... Enough that she has to flee her hometown seeking safety. Looking forward to reading the next books in the series.

Thick as Thieves--I read the first books in this series years ago, and just noticed that there was a newer one out. Despite not remembering much of the previous books, this was easy enough for me to read without confusion. Very engaging, I recommend the whole series.

Realistic fiction:

The Hired Girl--This is really well done—I'd recommend for adults who want a light read, and girls 13+ (there's a little bit of romance that I'd steer clear of with younger girls, and talk through a lot with older girls). It would make an *excellent* mother-daughter book club read. Both the Judaism and Catholicism in the book were treated respectfully, which I wasn't expecting!

At Home in Mitford--I'm at a point where I actually prefer to read books that are longer than necessary, solely because it gives me something to do when I'm up with insomnia for hours most nights. I'm not sure I'll bother reading more of these once I run out of Kindle volumes I can get from the library! That said, I thought it was a gentle, fun story of small-town living. I didn't expect to enjoy the characters so much, considering the average age of most of the main characters, but they really are likeable.

Village School--A really pleasant, light read! Think "Children of the Noisy Village" but for grown-ups. Very sweet and funny, I think these will make a good series to work through this fall.

Crossing to Safety--I really enjoyed this one, but not enough to give it 5 stars (which, for me, means "everybody must read this book, immediately if possible"). I enjoy Stegner's writing style, and generally find myself preferring adult fiction that was written many, many years ago, possibly because it's cleaner than modern adult fiction?

So Big--So good! One of my favorite reads of the year, I think, despite the lack of closure. The friend who recommended Bess Streeter Aldrich to me also recommended this, so if you liked A Lantern in Her Hand or A White Bird Flying, you'll like this one. I also read two of Ferber's other books, Show Boat and Cimarron. Both were engaging, but a little jarring due to casually racist content (meant to depict racial tensions during both historical periods, which I don't believe the author condoned, but being books from their time period, there's going to be racism).

Historical Fiction:

Victoria--I really enjoyed this! It inspired me to read more about Queen Victoria, and I think the author did a really good job with the subject matter. She based the book on Queen Victoria's extensive diaries, so it's really very credible.

Shadows on the Rock--Really I only read this because it's Cather, but it was excellent and proved very timely as we were about to vacation in Montreal. Being able to see some of the sites mentioned in the book was very interesting, as well as seeing just what important real-life figures some of the book's characters were. Major points for a bad bishop seeing the error of his ways & repenting—timely & refreshing in the current climate.

The Summer Before the War--I really enjoyed this one, even if some of the loose ends were tied up in a rather unbelievably convenient manner in the end, but that's the author's prerogative, and one of which I generally approve given the assumption that things work out in a manner that satisfies me ;) Some odd elements throughout, several of which were rather anachronistic. But the overarching love story was fun to read, and there were several lovable characters that the author didn't kill off.

Nonfiction:

Letters from New York--I find Hanff to be rather a delightful author. What a fun way she has of describing city life! It *almost* makes me want to abandon the country but... Not quite! (I also read her 84 Charing Cross Road, which was just as charming, if not more so.)

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder--This one is long, fair warning. But it's impeccably researched and absolutely fascinating. You'll come out of it slightly disillusioned, perhaps, but with a far greater understanding of all the characters and events in the Little House books. Highly recommend!

Current Reads:


The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart

If you've read Joel Salatin & Wendell Berry as much as we do in this house, you'll find a lot of familiar sentiments in this book, backed up by solid theology. Do we accept the fact that the "average American family" spends more time in front of the television than outdoors? Do we allow ourselves to become divorced from the beauty of creation, not actually spending time experiencing that of which we're called to be stewards?

This book might make you uncomfortable. Heck, we up and moved to a farm a few years ago for many of the same reasons the Stewarts changed their lives, and I'm still uncomfortably convicted by this book! It's worth your time to give it a good, slow read and think about what small changes you can make in your life in order to rebel against our throwaway culture, allowing yourself to live more by pursuing less.

Scroll to the bottom of the post to enter the giveaway!



Catechism of the Seven Sacraments by Kevin and Mary O’Neill

The kids have been reading this on their own (my sister got it for John Paul as a baptism anniversary present) and I always hear lots of giggles, but only just had a chance to start reading through it with them. It is meaty! I think we’ll be working through this one for a while, it’s full of Old Testament connections to the sacraments, and we’re all learning a ton.

From my 5yo: I like the faces of the babies! The babies are cute!

From my other 5yo: I like the doves. The Holy Spirit. The dove represents the Holy Spirit.

From my 3yo: I like it when they're roasting s'mores!

Scroll to the bottom of the post to enter the giveaway!

So! What are YOU reading lately? Anything good to recommend? I am ALL ears!



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34 comments:

  1. Spinning silver is Naomi Novik's latest book and is also inspired by a fairy tale, in this case Rumplestiltskin. I don't think it's quite as good as Uprooted but still a great read!

    Have you read any Laini Taylor? Daughter of smoke and bone is amazing and unlike anything else I have read, which is pretty impressive when it comes to fantasy!

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    1. I have that one on hold! Waiting for the library to come through :) I will check out that other author!!! I'm always looking for more good fantasy.

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  2. I'm currently enjoying In the Midst of Winter.

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  3. Currently reading "In Farleigh Field" and am enjoying it.
    Recently finished "The War I finally Won" which is the sequel to "The War That Saved My Life" both of which are very good YA historical fiction about WW2 and the Battle of Britain.

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  4. I'm having a hard time reading anything new right now (a medication situation makes it difficult to concentrate) but I'm going through all of my old mystery favorites to keep me happy. Anne George was my first stop, now Agatha Christie. I do read a lot of medical non-fiction. One of my favorite is "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande, a moving look at how aging and death is dealt with in America.

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  5. Ooo, I just started the Victoria PBS series, and now I'm remembering why I recognized the director's name -- she's that author! I haven't read her Victoria book but maybe now I need to. Adding a bunch of these others to my Goodreads list. :) :)

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    1. oh, and I have just finished Lethal White (JK Rowling's mystery series latest installment) which was as captivating as the others, and now I'm waiting for a few library holds to get to me.

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  6. I see your Village School and raise you a Village Diary. Thank you for lending them to me!

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  7. I have been reading a ton, but lately everything's just been okay. I have been making my way through Reese Witherspoon book club choices. Erotic Stories by Punjabi Widows was surprisingly good. I was totally put off by the title but enjoyed it quite a lot. (PG-13, suggestive not trashy BTW.)

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    1. And I went to see what I could get for my kindle from the library and it's none of them. Boo. Except for the ones on your list I've already read. So I've requested a bunch and now I wait.

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  8. I just read a great book called "The Ragged Edge of Night" about a German monk living in WW2 who struggles with how to live out his vocation once his monastery is forcibly closed. The author is agnostic but it's the true story of a family ancestor and it is such a beautiful account of love and devotion!
    (Just realized I said I would comment as JessicaC on the rafflecopter, but my blogger account is actually just Jessica.)

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  9. French Twist" I just finished. It's of the French parenting vs American genre created by the success of Bringing up Bebe. Both are funny and good. If you like old books and 84 Charing cross Rd, then Daddy Long Legs and sequel Dear Enemy are a must!--MariaE

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  10. I'm currently reading Jennifer Fulweiler's One Beautiful Dream. But I've been looking for a good fiction book to start - thanks for the ideas!

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  11. Currently reading "The Life Giving Home" by Sally Clarkson, with bits of Charlotte Mason's "Home Education" sprinkled in every so often!

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  12. Booklists are the best. Thanks for posting and for hosting the giveaway! I'm currently reading Pride and Prejudice, having just finished Gone With the Wind. I decided that for considering myself a reader, I had some pretty ridiculous gaps in the classics!

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  13. I just finished Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown.

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  14. I am currently reading Kristin Lavransdatter and then will be reading either Jane Eyre or Middlemarch.

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  15. I just finished reading "Marguerite de la Roche." It tells the true story (it still boggles my mind that this actually happened!) of a French noblewoman whose uncle left her on an island off the coast of Labrador, Canada, in the 1500s. Her nurse and a young man were left there with her, along with some basic supplies (a handful of guns, some powder, her trunk of clothes, etc). It was just them against the wilderness - polar bears, wolverines, etc. It's written by a historian, so the story-telling is a bit clunky at times, but it's an incredible tale!

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  16. I just read a fascinating memoir called Rabbit. It was a hard read. Lots of rough stuff. But so well told.

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  17. I read all the Incorrigible Children of Aston Place books last month. Couldn't put them down; they were so fun!

    Excited to take a look at the Lego Catechism when I order it for my brother-in-law for Christmas!

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  18. I've been reading Harriet the Spy with my kids. And I can't remember the name on the Christian fiction book I'm working on. That's my only real problem with Kindle. I don't see the cover and title unless I go looking for it, thus I rarely know what I'm reading...

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  19. Awesome giveaway! Reading Anthony Esolen's Out of the Ashes, Mr. Popper's Penguins (aloud), and For the Children's Sake... maybe more?!

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  20. I am reading Beyond Birds and Bees (Popcak) & Jen Fulwiler book
    Ali P

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  21. I loved A Father's Tale by Michael O'Brien, Quarter-Acre Farm by Spring Warren, A Thread of Grace by Mary Russell Doria. I just finished Mere Christianity, I don't know why it took me so long to read it, it was awesome! The kids and I are enjoying the Green Ember series as a read aloud.

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  22. Re: Uprooted: what do you mean by "minimal sex"? Allusions or descriptions? If anything, I'll listen to it, and my tolerance for smut is about zero for audiobooks.

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    1. Mmm no graphic descriptions and v. short scenes (2, one close call, one all the way) that took up maybe two paragraphs? Still probably enough to make you uncomfortable if you're listening unless you can skip ahead easily.

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  23. What great selections. I've been reading When Women Pray which is wonderful!

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  24. I adored So Big! I believe I read it after finishing the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society...I just really loved the common thread of finding beauty in the ordinary or broken.

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  25. I also read The Help this summer! It was so good and I rewarded myself by watching the movie (it was good as well, but nothing ever compares to the book)!
    I recently finished The Glass Castle, a memoir, which was good, but disturbing as well at times and The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. It was so, so good....a quick read with a surprising ending.
    Right now, I'm reading Sarah Clarkson's Book Girl and Wendell Berry's Hannah Coulter.

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  26. On to have the want to read...uh I don't!! But with all the time in the van driving from hither and yon we listen to a lot of audio books. Our latest enjoyment is The Penderwick series. Everyone is enjoyed it!!!

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  27. I’m reading a zillion things at once, as usual. Re-reading Annie Dillard for Well-Read Moms and listening to Anne of the Island during chores. I’m also reading a lot on pregnancy from a Catholic perspective for a project—any recommendations?

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  28. I've wanted to get the catechism book for awhile. Now my oldest is three perhaps she's ready

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  29. I just finished One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler and Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Highly recommend both!

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  30. I'm reading a lot of middle frade fiction because of my 9yo and 7yo daughters. I'm in the middle of Sweep by Jonathan Auxier and also A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban.

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