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 November 2022

reading by a wood stove

Last month at my book club, I was handed a title that I knew nothing about. Since I'm not in charge of choosing our monthly selections, I'm usually ignorant about the novels until cracking them open. 

While I was not familiar with that particular book, I did recognize the name of the author. She had written a middle-grade fiction a few years ago that had garnered multiple awards from the ALA (red flag #1--I don't let my kids read most modern award winners.) Her second title was also a middle grade and one that I had decided against when vetting it for my other book club, a tween/teen group I lead for my son and his friends. If memory serves, it included inappropriate language and lots of cultural name-dropping (red flag #2).

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Despite my reservations, I began reading this new book club selection, an adult domestic fiction, only to find that it included F-bombs and soft-porn descriptions in the first few pages (red flag #3). While I'm not surprised, I am disappointed. 

Scripture tells me that I am to guard my mind and have nothing to do with corrupt speech (Prov. 4:23-27). This verse is often easier to heed when it comes to movies that have suggested ratings conveniently slapped on them. If only books also came with some kind of ranking or warning system. Fortunately, there are a few tools at my disposal to help me know whether a book will run parallel with my personal convictions.

Needless to say, I never read the book. Instead, I've been enjoying the following: 

What We're Reading in November 2022

Read aloud- everybody

The Last Battle- We've made it to the seventh and last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. 

When a donkey dresses up in the discarded skin of a lion, he and his ape companion convince all of Narnia that Aslan has returned. This treacherous act ushers in a war that puts an end to Narnia forever, or so it would seem.

Jamie- that's me!

Pagan Christianity- I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I think the authors have done an exceptional job of presenting the pagan roots behind so many modern-day church trappings and practices such as pulpit preaching, youth groups, choirs, and even America's version of tithing. On the other hand, I feel like they often disregarded the fact many of the corporate worship practices of the 1st-century believers were instituted in order that they could set themselves apart from both their Jewish and Roman neighbors. Obviously, believers in the 21st century should be set apart also. But, since we are living in a different cultural moment with different neighbors, our practices might need to be slightly different too. In other words, just because Scripture does not explicitly mention the words "youth group" doesn't automatically mean that the institution of a youth group in a church is unbiblical. 

I Will Always Write Back- When twelve-year-old Caitlin Stoicsitz from Pennsylvania is assigned to write a pen pal letter to Martin, an impoverished boy in Zimbabwe, she has no idea how it will change both of their lives forever. This is a duel-memoir of those two tweens who grow up writing letters back and forth until one day, as college-aged adults, they finally meet. 

I really wanted to like this book. The premise is fantastic. Unfortunately, the writing is very lackluster. It feels as if the book was written by teenagers instead of by adults who were reflecting on their teenage years. In addition, I am quite disappointed with Caitlin's evolution. Although she generously cared for Martin and his family, she seemed to treat most of the other people in her life with apathy and even rudeness. While I'm sure her care was genuine, the writing makes it sound like Martin was just her charitable "project."

The Fountains of Silence- In 1957, Madrid Spain is a divided city. When 18-year-old Daniel Matheson, son of a Texas oil tycoon, arrives with his family, he sees a luxurious vacation destination--a city of parties, wealth, and societal elite. But as he peers through the viewfinder of his camera, hoping to shoot a winning photo for an American photography contest, he sees an entirely different Madrid. He discovers a nation of impoverished people all suffering under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. With help from Anna, a hotel employee, Daniel uncovers a horrible secret that has plagued the country for decades.

Unlike other Ruta Sepetys' titles I've enjoyed, this one took me a while to get into. However, I did appreciate the chance to peek into a nearly-forgotten piece of world history within the pages. The author even included excerpts from real documents, radio broadcast transcripts, and government interviews to help add threads of historical accuracy to the fictional storyline that weaves the book together. 

Super Boy- 11th grade

The Last Disciple- Gallus Sergius Vitas is Nero's most trusted soldier and is tasked with tracking down and bringing Christians to justice. When the prophecies of the apostle John begin to come to pass, Vitas is compelled to listen.

My son has just started listening to this Christian fiction, an apocalyptic look at ancient Rome following the days of Christ's death. The plot reminds me of a mash-up of two wildly popular Christian fiction novels The Robe and Left Behind.

Blonde Warrior- 9th grade

Listen to the Moon- When a mysterious mute girl is found washed up on the shores of a small island town in Great Britain during WWI, the townspeople become convinced that she is German and want nothing to do with her. But Alfie and his family take her in and grow to love her as their own. Little do they know that she has survived one of the country's greatest wartime tragedies. 

This was the November pick for the tween/teen book club that I lead for my son and his readerly friends. 

Greased Lightning- 8th grade

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street- When the Venderbeeker children are told that their family will soon be evicted from their much-loved brownstone, they hatch a plan to save their home and in the end learn a valuable lesson in friendship. 

I read this aloud to my boys a few years ago and am excited to see my son wanting to revisit it. Please note: The story includes a mild teenage crush along with some instances of sibling snark. When we read it together, my kids were much younger, so I edited most of that out on the fly.  

The Dude- 5th grade

Farmer Boy- Like all of his brothers before him, my youngest son has been assigned to read this American classic for his literature unit in the purple LLATL book. Also like his brothers, he continues to stop mid-page to tell me about some funny misadventure of a young Almanzo Wilder who comes of age on a farm in 19th-Century New York. 

That's what we've been reading this month. How about you? 


  1. 2nd grade - we’re reading all the works of Beatrix Potter for reading and we’ve just finished reading Mr. Revere & I for American history.

  2. I can't remember the title, but I stopped reading J.K. Rowling's detective novel because of the insane amount of cursing. I did not bother researching the book because I assumed it would be like the Harry Potter books, with just a very few curse words spread throughout the book.

    1. That's unfortunate. Usually an author sticks with his/her same writing style from book to book.

  3. 4th Grade - We are reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as a Family Read-Aloud.

  4. I'm curious to know what other Ruta Sepetys books you enjoyed. I have only read Fountains of Silence.

  5. Loving reading all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books with my ten year old at the moment- Farmer bit was lots of fun! And Chronicles of Narnia have always been a huge hit in our home. We’ve forgone advent calendars this year in favour of an Advent book: The Promise and The Light by Katy Morgan. So far so very very good!

    1. I've not heard of that Advent book. Now I have to go check it out! Thanks for the rec.