This week was another big reading week. Not only am I personally finishing two or three books a week, but I’ve finished a couple of books a week with the children over the past few weeks. That makes my reading huge!!
I want to share a short blurb of each book that I read, but there are several of these that I am either working (or intending on working) on longer posts for. My time for non-school writing, however, is sometimes small . . .at least if I want to keep reading!!
Hope in the Dark by Craig Groeschel. Groeschel has long been one my favorite authors when I want to be inspired to a practical application of the gospel. He’s not strong on theology (not to say that I’ve often disagreed with him, just to say that his goal is not to teach theology). However, he has a light and encouraging manner that is very much in the vein of a Max Lucado book, except Groeschel’s writing always has a comedic element. This one is more serious than some of his books, with fewer moments of levity and more moments of heartbreak. However, he paints a beautiful picture of the Christian’s responsibility to turn towards God instead of away from God in times of trouble. Groeschel does not tie himself to the book of Habakkuk in his writing, but he does circle back and forth into Habakkuk’s writings as he seeks to establish a theology for those in pain.
The Vampire’s Photograph by Kevin Emerson. This is the first book in the middle grades vampire series, Oliver Nocturne. Oliver finds himself in a world, as a young teenager, where he is incredibly different from the other members of his vampire family. He realizes, when he doesn’t show up in photographs that he is even more different than he imagined. He befriends a couple of humans, and they begin searching for the secret as to why he does not show up in photographs.
I have been reading this one with my eight year old. Even though he gets scared easily, he did not find it to be very scary. Instead, it is a gentle introduction to the vampire genre, and it has quite an interesting mystery. Even as an adult, I admit that I truly want to keep flipping pages to solve the mystery and find out what would happen to Oliver next. Needless to say, we went immediately into reading the second book in the series together when we finished this one.
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman. Lady Helen is making her debut season in London, and her guardians (uncle and aunt) are hoping to quickly find her a good match. They became her guardians after the scandal of her mother’s death, and they look to bury that family scandal and get their family back on society’s track. However, Helen’s increasingly scandalous and erratic behavior, as well as her seeming infatuation with a scandalous man, is making this a little hard.
This novel combines two of my favorite sub-genres: regency fiction and monster slaying. If you imagine Jane Austen as a Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you are not going to be far off of the tone of this book. Helen has found out that she has powers to see and fight demons. A scandalous lord, accused of killing his wife, is her mentor in this new world. She finds herself learning and growing as a demon hunter while attempting to make the decision of whether to join the fight or go back to living my society’s mores.
This book was an interesting one, but perhaps a little long. I found, at times, it drug, especially towards the middle. It is also marketed at young adults (so far as I can tell), but I would be hesitant to hand it off to a young teen as many of the demons feed off of sexual energy. However, there is very little sexually explicit imagery, so it could be handed off to a mature young teen. I wouldn’t hand it off to either of mine though.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs. This is a somber toned, atmospheric and slightly creepy novel that the children and I listened to on Audible. The protagonist is a misfit young orphan, who finds himself living with his new guardian, an uncle who is a warlock. The boy struggles to makes friends, and attempts to keep a boy as a friend by raising the dead. While one of my children termed it “boring” compared to some of the more scary fare that he has consumed in his reading and media, the other three seemed captivated by Lewis and the world he inhabited.
For some families the references to magic and even to raising the dead are going to make this book a no-go, but for other families, this is a really nice introduction to the horror genre for upper elementary and middle school aged children. We watched the movie as a follow-up to our read, and while the movie is good, it just does not match the tone of the book. In fact, they had completely changed some details of story to make it more comedic, more openly horrific, and more of an entertainment piece. In doing this, they totally destroyed the theme and emphasis of the story, but my children all agreed that the movie was actually much more entertaining than the book.
A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This is a book of mythology that the children and I read for literature study. There are only six stories in the book, and each story is quite lengthy. However, Hawthorne adds helpful moral glosses to the stories and his pacing of the stories are quite enjoyable to read. Some of these we are really familiar with, and others this is the first time we’ve read the story. It probably would not go down as a favorite for the children. They like the little Ted-Ed mythology videos more than any other mythological retelling.
The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America by Tommy Tomlinson. This book is one man’s memoir of his relationship with food. He discusses how he comes to weight 460 pounds and the struggle that he has had to get healthier, spurred by the death of his sister. As someone who struggles with my weight, I find that I can really relate to this book and to the emotions and feelings that he goes through.
For example, I am an emotional eater. I have been trying to eat healthier, but I have been a little down emotionally the past two weeks, and I just haven’t really cared much about what I have eaten. The struggle is real.
If you struggle with your weight or you love someone who does, I think you would benefit from getting inside Tommy Tomlinson’s head for a little while. You might emerge for a new empathy for them (or yourself). Eventually, I would like to do a more in-depth blog post on this book, but I want to catch up my weekly posts first.