Book Chat

This month’s book reviews (post may contain affiliate links):

northanger abbeyWelcome to another month’s look at my current reads! I had a bit of an epiphany this month. When I first began blogging, I was so excited to find many sites where I could get books free in exchange for reviews. I signed up at all the sites, and soon books began arriving. How exciting!

And then, over time, I realized that most of these books weren’t ones I would have read had I not gotten them free. Many of them I didn’t even enjoy. And really? I could get any book I wanted free at the local library.

So, I’ve cut way back on the books I accept for review. It’s felt pretty freeing!

On to Northanger Abbey. My oldest daughter has read a boatload of classics lately, thanks to Stanza on her iPod Touch. She loved this one, and it was a Jane Austen I hadn’t read. I liked it, too. It always takes a little while to get into the cadence of 1800’s writing, but the rewards are well worth it. Catherine Morland ventures out into the wide world of Bath, where she meets dashing Mr. Tilney – as well as not-so-dashing-but-enamored-of-her Mr. Thorpe.

How will things end up? Will the book end happily, with a bunch of weddings? Or in tragedy? If you’ve read much Jane Austen, you can probably predict. Recommended.


Year of WondersI’ve read a lot about medieval times, and used to teach classes about that era and all it involved. Sure, there were nifty things like kings and knights and castles, but there were also major downsides, such as the plague. Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague details what it might have been like to live in an English village during a plague, and as you might suspect, it wasn’t good.

I loved this book. It was well-written, and it brought me into a decidedly dark time and place without seeming dark or depressing. There are the predictable deaths (lots of them) and one that took me by surprise. Also, the ending is full of surprises. Read it to find out! Recommended.


black stallion Each summer, I enjoy reading classic books to the girls. We’ve done “Freckles,” “Girl of the Limberlost,” “Bears of Blue River,” and “Huckleberry Finn” that I can remember offhand. This summer, we’re starting with “The Black Stallion.”

Why? I wish I could give a grand reason, but basically it’s because I found it on the shelf and I’d never read it. It’s not the genre I’d normally choose – boy vs. nature – but we’re enjoying it. A boy and a stallion are shipwrecked on an island, and the adventure continues from there. I’m glad I’m reading it aloud to the kids, because being an older book (1941), the language and pacing don’t lend themselves to today’s kids. But as a read-aloud, the action unfolds and we all can enjoy it together.


10 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. I think it’s wonderful that you read classics with your kids. I used to do the same and would take nothing for the time we spent together.

  2. Year of Wonders was a great book, I enjoy much of Geraldine Brooks’s work. All wonderful books on your list.


  3. A downside like the plague? Yeah, I guess that did sort of cramp their medieval style, huh? 🙂 That sounds really interesting, and definitely eye-opening about a time that can be so unimaginable in our age of technology and medical advances.

    I wonder if you’ve read any of the Penderwick books with your children? The newest title is out this summer, and my son and I have it next on our shelf to read together.

    -Dawn, 5M4B

  4. Have you read Fever? We read it with sixth graders a few years back and it was a very good read.

  5. I’m adding Year of Wonders to my list…..”North…Abbey” was my kids’ unintentional introduction to Jane Austen. On a car trip I forgot “their” book so we had to listen to mine! Eventually they were bored enough with griping to start listening! Even with their then-limited English, they began to ask good questions. A kid of 8 or 9 can be open to a lot of new experiences that a teen might skip! So cool that your daughter is reading classics! This summer I’d settle for one of mine reading a cereal box even!

  6. Yup! I TOTALLY hear what you are saying about review copies. Then you receive the book and suddenly it feels like more of an obligation than a pleasure. With you there! Which is precisely why I’ve cut back as well. There are so many older (classics) – like the ones you’ve mentioned here – that I would like to spend time with.

  7. These all sound really good. I’ve been meaning to pick up a classic book, especially with all the free ones I have stored up on my kindle, I’ll need to get around to that soon!

  8. Lovely, lovely books, all of them! I loved the Black Stallion series as a child. And I enjoyed Northanger Abbey and Year of Wonders too.

  9. All of these look good. I know I’ve read Northanger Abbey but don’t remember much about it. Nice list!

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