January 2018 Audiobooks

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So far, this has been a great winter for reading. Unfortunately I spent a majority of my audiobook time this month listening to Under a Pole Star, a long book that I thought would be about polar exploration in the early 1900's, but ended up being about a weird love affair. Anyway, here are the books I liked:

I thought Caroline by Sarah Miller was an excellent addition to the Little House books. I loved the way it made Ma seem a little more human and mad at Pa without changing her character. Genius. If you read these books as an adult, and shook your head at Ma the whole time, this book is a must read.

I re-listened to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe around Christmas time. This is a good story, and has so much good snow in it.

We couldn't help ourselves. We finished listening to book 7 in the car, and went to the library the next day and checked book 1 right out again. We love these audiobooks for the car.

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Life According to Steph

December 2016 audiobooks

I have been tearing through audio books this month. It must be all of the cookie baking and laundry. It's really a great way to decompress after so many social gatherings. Manual labor and great voices telling me stories, it's good for the soul.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - I listened to the version read by Jim Dale and just loved it. I've seen the movie thousands of times, but this is the first time I've read the book.

I'm still binge listening to the Gamache mysteries. This month it was A Fatal Grace  and A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny. I'm starting to like Peter about as much as I like Matthew from the Cormoran Strike books. That said, I'm so glad I stuck with these.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead was a fun 1970's coming of age story with a little time travel thrown in. It's a middle grade book that I listened to in the car with the kids, but I think I liked it better than they did.

And of course, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling for the 500th or so time. Harry kind of drives me nuts in this one with all of his teenage angst, but still, I liked being in Hogwarts. I'm waiting impatiently for Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows to come in through Overdrive.

Life According to Steph

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Harry Potter season

For me this time of year is Harry Potter season. Most nights find me staying up late listening to the audio book versions and making cookies.

I still have to finish listening to It, and I have the next Inspector Gamache mystery in my playlist. However I know that soon though the spirit of the season will take over, and I'll need to listen to The Half Blood Prince. It wouldn't feel right not to.

Do you have certain books that you read or listen to at certain times of the year?

P.S. I brought the kids to see Fantastic Beasts this weekend and we loved it! It was funny and cute with a hint of scary. I never really liked the Harry Potter movies, but since I wasn't comparing this one to a book I was able to relax and enjoy it.

November Quick Lit

Reading in a tent, just a few short weeks ago.

Reading in a tent, just a few short weeks ago.

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

For three quarters of the year I am a very mindful, list driven reader. This time of year I use reading as a form of self-care, and pick up whatever feels good. This is what has felt good lately.

I really enjoyed Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry. It's about a woman working on Wall Street in 2008. I have never made $500k a year, or had anyone grab my butt at work, but other than that this book reflected my experience more than any other working mom book I've read. I loved the tangent at the end that seemed to say the financial crisis would have never been so bad if a few more women had been in leadership positions.

I'm getting ready to host a family Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, and Immoveable Feast by John Baxter really got me in the mood. It's about a family's Christmas feast in Paris, and the background of each of the courses. If you really love putting together huge dinners, and sourcing each ingredient, read this book.

My son and I are reading through this series by Lauren Tarshis, and we both love it. We started with I Survived the Eruption of Mount St. Helens, 1980, and quickly followed that with I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic. My son claims to "hate reading" but he begs me for one more chapter each night for like five chapters. (I can't wait until I can hand him Into Thin Air!)

Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs wasn't the best book I've ever read, and I don't think I'd seek out anything else from this series, BUT when I needed something simple to read on a dark night it fit the bill. It's a classic bad boy meets good girl and she makes him believe in Christmas and fall in love type story.

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[REVIEW] The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall

This has been a rough couple of weeks in the way that normal weeks can be rough. No emergencies, but grinding, persistent nonsense that has been wearing me down. There was nothing I needed more than a Saturday afternoon on the couch with a pleasant romance to fill my tanks enough to face another week.

I was so glad when The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall arrived in my mail box. Rose and Joel, two members of the Amish faith, both feel that they have no choice but to marry after Joel's wife dies. Joel has no one to care for his three small children while he keeps his business alive, and Rose can see no other way to get away from her abusive family. They form a practical partnership, but eventually individually decide they want more. The only problem is the series of mishaps and misunderstandings that keeps them apart. That this all plays out on the days before Christmas makes for a delicious and heartwarming tale that soothes all your mental aches.

Note: The book was provided in exchange for a honest review from Blogging For Books.

Quick Lit January 2016

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

3/4 through The Nightingale I would have said it was good, but not great. But the ending, wow. I am talking a miss your kid's school bus level of gripping. Great feminist message at the end too.

The Bassoon King is surprisingly deep. Not just another celebrity memoir. Give it a try if you've been holding off.

Two of the books I read last month were in an effort to find new Christmas stories. Both A Christmas Escape and A Christmas Blizzard gave me what I was looking for: short, entertaining novels with an uncomplicated story. (Disclosure: I got A Christmas Escape from the Library Thing Early Reviewers Program.)

Kitchens of The Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal was my first read of 2016. I've been on the library holds list for this one since the summer, and it was worth the wait. It's hard to describe. It's hopeful and heartbreaking at the same time, and has you cheering for bad decisions. Plus, it includes recipes.

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My Three Favorite Christmas Scenes From Kid Lit

Children's literature has shaped the way I want to celebrate Christmas as an adult. I love the simple pleasures and uncomplicated joy in the little things. Here are my three favorites.

In Little Women the March girls know they are in for a sparse Christmas, but still find it in their hearts to give their breakfast to a local family who has nothing. Later that day their elderly neighbor is so touched by their act that he sends over ice cream and bon bons for the girls and their friends.

There are two Christmas scenes in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Both are very well written, but the one that I love involves main character Francie and her brother Neeley and a gigantic Christmas tree. In their neighborhood there was a custom that trees that were unsold by Christmas Eve were free - if you could catch them when the burly tree seller guy threw them at you. Francie and Neeley try for, and catch, the biggest tree. It's a great story that shows how in a harsh world, you can still find joy.

All of the Little House books have some pretty good Christmas scenes, but my favorite is when Pa gets lost in a blizzard in On the Banks of Plum Creek. He has to hole up in a snow cave, and the only thing he has to keep him alive is the girls' Christmas candy. Pa eventually realizes he's just feet from home, and they are reunited in time for Christmas. Some things are better than candy!

If you love these stories as much as I do:

I've searched for great Christmas novels in the realm of adult literature, but haven't found a ton. Why is that? Two that I did enjoy are:

Do you have any suggestions for me? My TBR is lacking in holiday spirit.

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