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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

What We're Reading in July 2019

What We're Reading in July 2019 #homeschool #readaloud #readingculture

Last week, I opened the email of a popular Christian blogger. She's an online personality that thousands of well-read women flock to for their next book suggestions. She's just one of five or six Christian women who have online women's book clubs or book lists for summer. Her email included a handful of her favorite books that she's read in 2019 so far.

I was saddened to see that so many of her book suggestions were fraught with traumatic and graphic violence, sexual perversion, and language that should make us all blush. I think this "anything goes" attitude is becoming a cancer in the church and definitely is not in line with Phil. 4:8--that we are to think on things that are true, noble, pure, lovely, and admirable.


If those are the qualities we look for when finding books for our kids, why shouldn't we also look for them when finding books for ourselves?

So, I'm working on something to make it easier to find books that are filled with truth, goodness, and beauty and I need your help. To be clear, what I'm creating is not a book club or a book list, but will partner well with both of those.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

I need fiction book/author suggestions that would fall under the clean-but-captivating category. Here's the thing: I'm not looking for Christian fiction suggestions like Karen Kingsbury or Francine Rivers, as I think Christian fiction should be an obvious YES. However, they can be written by Christians.

I'm looking instead for traditional trade fiction that would be considered clean but which does not have an overtly Christian message to it like Jane of Austin (a light romance that won't make you feel like you're peering into someone's bedroom) or Marilla of Green Gables (a newly released fan fiction prequel).

Got any books or authors you could suggest that would fit that bill? I'll give you a few minutes to search your shelves and get back to me.

In the meantime, here's a look at what we're reading this month.

What We're Reading in July 2019 #homeschool #readaloud #readingculture

Read Aloud- everybody

Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine- This book has garnered quite a lot of buzz on a few popular kid lit blogs, podcasts, and sites lately. But, I'm just not sure what all the fuss is about. The writing is kind of bumpy. The plot drags. And the premise that two young boys leave their home, no matter how troublesome it may be, in order to head to the Klondike on their own in the middle of winter with nothing but a washboard and a few odds and ends to their names and still survive is a bit unbelievable even for middle-grade fiction. I'm all for fantastical tales and grand adventures, but this fell a little flat, in my opinion.

If you're looking for a riveting gold-mine adventure story, skip this one and pick up By the Great Horn Spoon instead.



Jamie- that's me!

The Printed Letter Bookshop- Reeling from a lost law firm partnership, Madeline Cullen heads to the suburbs of Chicago to settle the estate of her recently deceased aunt. She soon discovers that by the terms of the Will, she's been left everything--her aunt's home, her bookshop, her debt, and even her friends.

At first, Madeline hopes to unload it all and move onward and upward, but quickly finds her life intertwining with both the employees and the customers of the Printed Letter Bookshop in ways she didn't think were possible.

This one is both clean and captivating and would make for a great, light read for summer!


Three From Galilee- I just turned the final page on this sequel to Two From Galilee, a fictionalized look at the love story of Mary and Joseph that I read last December. I wish that I could say I loved this follow-up that tells of the childhood, adolescence, and pre-ministry years of Jesus just as much as I loved that former book. But, I didn't. Like most second books in a trilogy, it was kind of just written to get you from Point A to Point B.

The storyline seemed forced and overworked--too many words, too many unnecessary plot points. And to add insult to injury, the author decided to give Jesus a love interest, which in and of itself is not necessarily a bad inclusion as He was, in fact, carrying human flesh with the ability to be tempted. But, I think the author took her creative license too far, describing an impassioned Jesus who stumbles upon and then stares at the woman bathing in a brook. The story ends rather abruptly, assuming that a reader will go on to enjoy The Messiah, the third book in the trilogy. I'm not sure that I will. 


Sweetie Pea- 11th grade

My girl is working as a counselor at a Bible camp through most of July and is unable to read anything. I'm sure she'll come back with plenty of stories to tell, though!

Super Boy- 8th grade

SEAL of God- My son just turned the final page of this military memoir which tells the true story of Chad Williams, a former Navy SEAL who accepts Christ and then uses his SEAL experience to lead others to faith. He absolutely loved it and has been recommending it to many of his friends.

Please note: This book details some of the horrors of war and may not be suitable for every reader.


Blonde Warrior- 7th grade

Redwall- My fantasy-loving son is really enjoying this one. It is the introductory title of the entire Redwall series and features an unlikely hero, the fledgling apprentice Matthias who rallies his fellow mice to defend Redwall Abbey against an army of rats.


Greased Lightning- 5th grade

I Survived the Attack of the Grizzlies, 1967- The I Survived series of books, which are fictionalized retellings of famous national and world history events, is quite a bit below my son's reading and comprehension level. He read through most of them at the beginning of fourth grade. But last week, he stumbled upon a few titles that he never knew existed and began rereading the entire series.


The Dude- 2nd grade

The Secret Three- This book is one of my most favorite readers for young boys. It tells the story of three boys who send secret messages to one another in order to form a club. Readers must decode these messages in order to understand the plot.

My son, like his three big brothers before him, can't seem to put this one down!


And that's what we'll be reading during the month of July. What about you?

26 comments:

  1. Susan Wittig Albert has a series of mystery stories that mix fact and fiction around Beatrix Potter's life from the time she buys Hilltop Farm until she marries William Heelis. To write it out plainly like this sounds so unlikely, but the stories are sweet, engaging, and charming. They're called The Cottage Tales. And I think they fit the clean-but-captivating bill.

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    1. Yes, I've heard of those. Thank you! I'm adding them to my list of books.

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  2. Have you considered Ted Dekker? He's a Christian author, and his work has Christian undertones without being overly done. His writing tends to be more mystery and somewhat dark at times, but as a fan of the run-of-the-mill Francine Rivers, I sometimes like to sink my teeth into something a little "meatier". There's this one reader's two cents. ;)

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    1. I love Ted Dekker's Circle Series!

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    2. Ted Dekker books are horrifying and twisted if you ask me!

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  3. I cannot tell you how many books I have returned to the library this summer alone for this very reason. I love booklists! And I absolutely adore Christian bloggers who post these lists, but I have learned the hard way that just because someone recommends a book doesn't mean I can just dive right in.

    I love love love Dear Mr. Knightley, The Wolf Princess (it's for middle graders probably, but my entire family adored it!), and Edenbrooke (by Julianne Donaldson). I have heard great things about Kate Morton and a book called Orphan Train (by Christina Kline) and I have both on my shelf to read, but I haven't gotten to them yet. Joel Rosenberg and Brock and Bodie Thoene are good authors too. I am excited to see what everyone posts! Sunshine

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    1. Be aware the author of Edenbrooke is Mormon, as is the storyline. I have not read it, so no first hand experience, but it's in all the Mormon book stores and touted as a "LDS love story'.

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    2. Thank you for all those suggestions. I haven't heard of a couple of them and will be anxious to check them out!

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  4. Thanks for posting this...I have felt the same way about many booklists I've seen. I agree with you about the Jasper book as well. My kids loved the audible version of By the Great Horn Spoon.

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  5. Great post! Here are my clean but captivating fiction suggestions:
    Mara, Daughter of the Nile - Eloise Jarvis McGraw
    Jane Eyre
    These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine - Nancy Turner
    Peace Like a River - Leif Enger
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (I just thought that one was okay, but a lot of people really like it)
    Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast - Robin McKinley

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    1. Oooo...those all sound great! Can't wait to look into the ones I haven't read yet. Thank you!

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  6. I left several recommendations on your fb page, but I forgot the Mitford series. I actually *didn't* love those and only read one, but they are clean and many people like them. I've also read Debbie Macomber has some very clean romances, but have not read them myself. I found this list on Goodreads,which may help you: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/46778.Clean_Secular_Non_Religious_Reads.

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  7. I just finished Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts. Its a fictional account based on the life of Maud Baum, the wife of the author of the Wizard of Oz. It was interesting, clean and oh so good!

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  8. I would also recommend trying something by Charles Martin. He is a Christian writer, and his books are clean. (Good is called good; bad actions taken by the characters are shown as bad or show the negative consequences.) While not all of his books contain overt Christian references in the text, they are great at making you think, and the messages stay with me long after I finish the story. Also, the question guides at the end often tie the story to God and spiritual growth.

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    1. I love his books. I agree, they stay with you long after you've finished the story!

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  9. A very favorite author of mine is Van Reid. His Moosepath League series is an absolute delight and so witty and funny. The series is written in turn of the century Maine and is super charming! But I'm from Maine, so maybe that is part of the appeal? Anyway, I totally recommend them! The first book is Cordelia Underwood.

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  10. This month we found two great family read alouds "Mama's Bank Account" and "The Great Turkey Walk" both had people begging for one more chapter at night. Mid-High History books "Freedom Walker" by Freedman (best book on civil rights movement I've found done from a factual first hand factual approach, instead of a political approach) and "Alexander the Great Rocks the World" by Shecter (Best written account of Alexandr I've found, both engaging and infromative).

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    1. The Great Turkey Walk has been on my TO READ shelf for forever! I need to finally take it down and crack it open. Thanks for reminding me of it.

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  11. Redwall! My 9 year old LOVES that series. I think he's on the 7th book. For family movie nights on Fridays we've started watching the cartoons on YouTube. :)

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  12. Jenny B. Jones most of hers are not christiany but are clean and good reads. She has books for teens as well as fiction for women. Her books are very humourous and we'll written.

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    1. Hmm...I feel like I've read some of her stuff. Now, I'm off to look her up. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  13. Love your What We're Reading lists, and can't wait for more book compilations/suggestions from you. Thanks so much for posting these!

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    1. I'm so glad you're enjoying them. They are my most favorite posts to write!

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