You’d think that with the quarantine I’d have lots of extra time to read. Unfortunately, policing all four of my children’s at home schooling has taken up a ridiculous amount of my time. I can’t believe how much work my fourth grader has to do each day. Significantly more than my middle schooler who has seven different classes to juggle.

In any case, I did read quite a few books this month but it’s because most of them are YA.

This book is fascinating. I can’t believe the amount of work that went into the Chicago World’s Fair, which was built mostly just to show off and compete with France. Larson only mentions it in passing, but I thought it was interesting that Walt Disney’s father worked to help build the fair, which clearly helped inspire Disneyland.

I read this one and a David McCullough book this month and I found the differences interesting since they are both such successful narrative history writers. Larson talks frequently about how people are feeling or what their minds are preoccupied with and I can’t see how he would know those things for certain. He must be making educated guesses and inferences.

This book was really interesting to read during the quarantine. It follows the story of Ohio River Valley settlers following the Revolutionary War. They had repeated quarantines for several different kinds of diseases, not to mention trouble growing crops that resulted in starving times, hostilities with Native Americans and the general danger caused by the lawlessness of a settlement far away from civilization. McCullough paints a picture of a hardy and adaptable group of people that truly define the spirit of the USA.

McCullough drew some criticism for his depiction of Native Americans in this book but I feel like it’s political. He was telling the story of the American settlers so it’s from their perspective. A whole other book could easily be written about the Native American experience in the same time and place. When I was reading McCullough’s account I was struck by how appalled the Ohio settlers were about slavery, and how cavalier they were about Native Americans. Odd dichotomy.

McCullough doesn’t try to imply or impose feelings upon any of the historical figures he writes about, nor does he make inferences. He sticks stringently to what has been written in primary source documents and I am amazed at his ability to maintain a narrative story while staying true to that standard. He is amazing.

Sorry, a lot about McCullough.

This book was, sadly, not as good as Rebecca. Overall it was compelling, but not exactly the page turner that I was expecting. Like in Rebecca, the setting is a main character in the book.

The thing I found the most interesting about this book was its quasi-feminism. It was written in 1936 and the main character is a strong female character but has very little faith in the character or abilities of any of the other women in the book and attributes any of her flaws to the fact that she’s a woman.

I just didn’t love this one. I really liked Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware and this was supposed to be a read alike but I didn’t find it nearly as good. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t curious, the twist didn’t thrill me and the weird political message that rich people view poor people like they’re subhuman was distracting from the plot.

This was a fun YA puzzle book that I finished and then immediately put into my kids hands. I underestimated how hard the puzzle would be but found myself drawing all over my post-it bookmark trying to figure it out. And (spoiler alert) it has a happy ending, a must for my oldest daughter, who just finished it and loved it.

This is a religious book of encouragement and doctrinal discourse. Each chapter deals with a different subject. I found a couple of the chapters to be helpful and enlightening.

There are some controversial subjects in this book like same-sex attraction, modesty and chastity that might bother people who are sensitive about those subjects, just a head’s up. But I appreciated Sheri Dew’s personal stories about how she is unmarried as an older person and is still a virgin and how that has made her life better and easier.

This is a short book. It is not a kid’s book. It is a lot more violent than I expected it to be. The humans beat the dogs, the dogs tear each other apart, humans kill each other, humans and dogs die from the elements and dogs tear human’s throats out. Graphically.

I read this out loud to my kids thinking that we’d see the new Harrison Ford movie afterwards. My seven year old cried and cried and then refused to listen to it. She couldn’t bear the dogs getting hurt.

I’ve read this book has some deeper themes about human nature and the natural world and whatnot. I think I need to revisit it sometime when I’m not reading it to my kids. 🙂

Oh Hoot, I wanted to like you so much. All the incoming 6th graders at my daughter’s school have to read this book. It’s a Newbery medal book. I had high expectations.

It’s an interesting thing for kids to read because it deals with the idea that sometimes the right thing to do and following the rules are sometimes at odds. The kid in the book deals with this moral quandary. Definitely a good thought exercise for kids 12ish year old kids.

Unfortunately that’s the only positive thing I have to say about this book.

This book was just as charming as I imagined it would be and my only regret is that I watched the Netflix series before I read it!

What I love about this series is that the kids make their own luck and figure out solutions to their problems by themselves. No one comes to rescue them. I think that’s such an important concept for my kids, and myself, to grasp.

I read this book in one sitting. It’s pretty short and it’s fast moving. My daughter loves all of Gary Paulsen’s books.

I am amazed by Paulsen’s ability to craft a compelling narrative using little or no dialogue.

Stuart Little is another read aloud book for me and my kids. It was bizarre but entertaining at the same time. You should know that nothing is resolved at the end, one of my kids really struggled with that.

At one point in the book Stuart writes a note to a girl he’s never met urging her to meet him by the river that night without telling her parents because he doesn’t think they would approve of his mouse-like appearance. We used this as a great jumping off point to talk about stranger danger and why you should never ever do what Stuart convinced this girl to do and that she was lucky he wasn’t an axe murderer.

So those are the books of March. Reading has been a lovely distraction lately, although now I’m distracted by some beta reader feedback and fixes I need to make. My book is set to release on April 27th! I’m having a hard time remembering why I’m publishing my book. It seems like an exercise in self torture, but I guess forward progress is my goal in life and I’ve been scribbling for many years. I guess letting other people read it and decide if they hate it or not is the next step.

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