December 21, 2016

The Cherished Quilt by Amy Clipston

The Cherished Quilt is "An Amish Heirloom Novel" by Amy Clipston.  This book easily stood alone, so don't feel like you need to read the others in the series first (or after).

Sweet Emily Fisher is the star of the story, a pretty young Amish woman with a caring heart and a life that's an open book.  Chris quickly become her romantic interests, as he moves in nearby and works for her father and his own uncle.  He is rude and moody at first, and for good reason, one might say, but he is won over by her kindness and gentle friendship.  The ups and downs of this main relationship held no surprises, and the family relationships were supportive, for the most part.  There are parents and sibling relationships to keep the book interesting, too.

The Cherished Quilt is your typical, feel-good Amish romance.  The plot was not dull, but I admit in the beginning I wondered if it would truly draw me in.  It did, but I can't say I felt much suspense or got very emotionally involved with the characters.  The language was simple, making it feel like it was written for young teens, with the Amish vocabulary words thrown in to make it fit the genre, along with the quilt-making.  The character of Chris was the most interesting, as he was the most complete.  Emily was quite perfect, so less relatable for me.
I did not feel like my faith was challenged, but at a different time in life, it might have.  I was entertained, though, and it was an uplifting book overall.  I would recommend this to anyone wanting a super easy, light read with a  positive message.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

December 11, 2016

Reading Challenge 2017

I recently posted about how my 2016 reading challenges went.  With what I learned in mind, here is what I will attempt in 2017!

The Back to Classics Challenge

(All books must have been written at least 50 years ago; therefore, books must have been written by 1967 to qualify for this challenge.  See all the rules at Books and Chocolate, and sign up!)

1.  A 19th Century Classic - A Study in Scarlet by 

2.  A 20th Century Classic -  Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison 

3.  A classic by a woman author.  Wives and Daughters by 

4.  A classic in translation.  
Democracy in America by 

5.  A classic published before 1800.  Shakespeare OR 
She Stoops to Conquer by 

6.  An romance classic.  
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by 

7.  A Gothic or horror classic.   Dracula by Brom Stoker

8.  A classic with a number in the title. Three Men on the Bummel by 

9.  A classic about an animal.  Animal Farm by George Orwell 

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit.  
Good-Bye, Mr. Chips by 

11. An award-winning classic.  The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien 

WikipediaNominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction of the year (1938). More recently, the book has been recognized as "Most Important 20th-Century Novel (for Older Readers)" in the Children's Books of the Century poll in Books for Keeps.

12. A Russian Classic.   The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

My Personal Picks

With Ambleside Online Book Discussions or other Pre-reading

Euclid's Elements
Finish The New World, then onto the third volume of History of the English-Speaking Peoples, by Churchill

Health and Education

Smart but Scattered by Dawson and Guare 
Food Chaining by Fracker et al
The Adrenal Reset Diet by Christianson

The Living Page by Bestvater

Christianity and Self-Help

Finish The Holy War by Bunyan
Discipline, The Glad Surrender by Elliot
Teach Me to Pray by Murray

December 9, 2016

The Peterkin Papers

The Peterkin Papers {affiliate} by Lucretia Hale is a collection of short stories about the Peterkin family.  It is scheduled in Ambleside Online year 4 as a "free read".  I'm listening to it via, and they are 4 to 24 minutes long.

The names of the children strike me as funny - Elizabeth Eliza, Agammemnon, and Solomon John and two "little boys" are the siblings.  The parents are Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin. :)  There are other adults - the lady from Philadelphia, for one, "to whom these stories were first told."  They all showed up for a tea party at once and overfilled the house!  They had to improvise on finding more cups.

The children do come up with some funny ideas, and usually run into some trouble by running out of common sense, LOL.   They could be a good stories for practicing problem solving with your own kids!  Mr. Peterkin comes up with some interesting ideas, too, like raising the ceiling in the parlor in order to fit the too large Christmas tree instead of just cutting off the bottom of the tree.  I felt sorry for Mrs. Peterkin several times as she dealt with the mess or aftermath of her husband's and children' ideas.  Not that she was perfect - they went on a trip behind a horse and started out going the wrong way and she couldn't turn around, so they went a long way out of the way.

One of the craziest stories was The Peterkin's Charades.  They acted out an elaborate charade with other children in front of an audience and didn't even know the word they were trying to act out until the very end! Haha!

So, if you are looking for something quick and usually funny, these are worth the read.

December 7, 2016

The Betrothed

I realized that I did read this for the Back to classics challenge, but forgot to post a little review.  I'll do that below.  (Also, reading to The Peterkin papers now to get to the 6 required for an entry into the prize drawing!)

The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni

I loved this book.  Its easily my favorite read for the year.  I read along with the AO forum discussion, as this novel is scheduled in year 8, so it also counts as pre-reading!  Win.

I read the Penguin Classics paperback {affiliate} - its was large and intimidating at first.
This is the foremost Italian novel and its easy to see why.  Its set in the period of the 1628, through the plague of 1630 and forward, and gives close-up shots of a betrothed couple who are harangued by a wealthier local man because he wants Lucia for himself.  They take us on adventures that include tricking the local priests, taking flight, going into hiding, and learning that people are not always what they seem.  Then comes the plague.  In a sweeping view of the horrors in Italy at that time, we zoom out.  Then Manzoni zooms us back in and we follow the Renzo and Lucia's separate paths, dipping into their family and friends lives at times.

There are stirring conversations throughout the book, and Father Cristoforo was my favorite character.  I didn't keep good track of my favorite quotes, but did easily find this one near the end, and Manzoni himself describes it as "the very essence of our whole story."
"...after a long debate, and much heart-searching they came to the conclusion that troubles very often come because we have asked for them; but that the most prudent and innocent of conduct is not necessarily enough to keep them away; also that when they come, through our fault or otherwise, trust in God goes far to take away their sting, and makes them a useful preparation for a better life."
I won't tell you if the couple survives the plague, or if they are united in marriage at the end.  I will tell you that its worth your time to read and you will gain what feels like a first-hand account of seventeenth century Italy, while enjoying the various characters.  Each main character is fleshed out and we see the good, bad, and ugly.  I laughed at some weakness, shook my head at others, and got angry at some of the characters.  I cried over the deaths during the plague and the images may always be with me.  Read it, you won't regret it.

December 5, 2016

My Reading Challenge Success (or not)

In January of 2016, I challenged myself this year to not only read 50 books (the GoodReads reading challenge) but to read a variety of categories and difficulties.  Scroll on to see my #bookstagram #shelfies for the year, and to see how the challenge turned out.

A photo posted by Windy Hill Homeschool (@laurke2) on

First, I chose classics to fit into the Back to Classics challenge.  It doesn't look like I accomplished much there.  Here are the ones I did complete:

  • A classic in translation.  - *I, Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) by Alessandro Manzoni (June-Aug) 
  • A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. - *Utopia by Thomas More  (Feb-May)
  • A classic detective novel. Agatha Christie (some googling led me to And Then There Were None, so I will try to start there) (May)
  • A classic which includes the name of a place in the title. - Middlemarch by George Eliot (completed Jan/Feb)
  • A classic which has been banned or censored. - *Paradise Lost by Milton (Jan-April)
  • A volume of classic short stories. (min. of 8) -The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia Hale (December)

Then I chose books in other categories that are important to me, and there was some overlap between my personal reading challenge and the one above.

I have mixed feelings about these results.

A photo posted by Windy Hill Homeschool (@laurke2) on

On one hand, I'm disappointed not to meet the goals.  Maybe I should have put more time into reading, and less time into Facebook, the AO forum, and Instagram.  I do think those things can be a negative if not controlled...and I wonder if my attention span is getting shorter due to using social media.  Concentrating on dense books has gotten harder this year!

 On the other hand, I loved the books that I did read.  I didn't rush through any of them, but did a slow, thoughtful reading, often with an online book discussion to give it even more depth (and fun!).  My life was enriched by almost everything I read, and I felt like my brain was full nearly all the time.  Sometimes too full!

This was also the year of trying to sell our house (and its final "sale pending" now!), so it was busy with decluttering, cleaning and showing, looking for houses and all that jazz.  So, life happened.

Was it worth taking the time to determine what I wanted to read, even if I couldn't achieve my goals? YES!

I learned that I need to schedule fewer than I did and participate in fewer book discussions (but never stop completely!).  I learned that quantity of books isn't as important as the quality.  I explored new authors and new genres and enjoy the trip.

A photo posted by Windy Hill Homeschool (@laurke2) on

Did you do a reading challenge this year?  How did it go?  What did you learn from your success (or not)?