Books of 2014, Second Half

Jan 1, 2015

After only reading 26 books during the first half of the year, I was afraid I wouldn't make my goal of reading 60 books this year. But July - December were good to me (I think summer break and a nursing baby helped), and I read a total of 38 books during the second half.

Here's a brief recap (titles are linked to the full reviews):

1. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, 9/10
Since finishing this, I have learned what a divisive book it is. I happened to love it. It's just the kind of moral dilemma I love (and yes, despite what you haters say, and despite what Isabel should have done, it is a dilemma). 

2. All About Sam by Lois Lowry, readaloud, 5/10
Despite many fond memories of this book as a child, it didn't hold up for me as an adult (my kids loved it though).

3. Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, AUDIO, 10/10
LOVE. If pressed, this might be my favorite book in the series. But there are several close seconds.

4. A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith, readaloud, 7/10
After the boys and I read Babe, we were happy to discover many more books by Dick King-Smith. This darling story was one of them.

5. Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins, readaloud, 8/10
Not your rehashed toy book--not by a long shot.

6. Mostly Monty by Johanna Hurwitz, readaloud, 5/10
I have to admit, I was mostly bored by this book (but my kids weren't).

7. Dangerous by Shannon Hale, 6/10
Whoa, aliens and space and sci-fi? Not my usual book fare at all. But I'll try anything if Shannon Hale writes it.

8. These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder, AUDIO, 10/10
Lovely, just lovely. I could read Laura and Almanzo's courtship over and over again. 

9. The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder, AUDIO, 3/10
This book was never meant to be the final book in the series, and I resent the person who made the decision to tack it onto the end.

10. West of the Moon by Margi Preus, 8/10
A lovely melding of genres and featuring one of my favorite folk tales.

11. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards, readaloud, 9/10
A fanciful tale with such vivid descriptions, it does very well without pictures.

12. Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock, 9/10
I suppose you could say this book is full of too many issues, but I found it heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

13. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, 8/10
I especially appreciated the way this book helped me to view anger in a more constructive light.

14. Notes From a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider, 10/10
I enjoyed every aspect of this book (except for the title).

15. Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick,AUDIO, 8/10
Really eye-opening and shocking--I still can't believe this level of brainwashing happened during my lifetime.

16. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, readaloud, 8/10
The intrigue of four kids living alone in a boxcar did not wane in the 20 years since I read this book for the first time. 

17. Toy Dance Party by Emily Jenkins, readaloud, 8/10
This book confirmed it: we are devoted fans of StingRay, Lumphy, and Plastic.

18. Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary, readaloud, 10/10
Four months later, Max is still making up his own tales of catching a 30 lb. chinook. This was one of our favorite readalouds of the year.

19. Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith, AUDIO, 8/10
I liked this book much better than the first one in the series (and I didn't hate that one).

20. The Art of Flying by Judy Hoffman, 6/10
A fun autumn read.

21. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, readaloud, 10/10
You'd be hard pressed to find another book my kids and I enjoyed more than this one.

22. The Trouble With Magic by Ruth Chew, readaloud, 4/10
It wasn't meant to be creepy, but Harrison Peabody creeped me out nonetheless.

23. Strong Mothers, Strong Sons by Meg Meeker, 8/10
Takeaway message: Love is unconditional. Duh.

24. The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson, readaloud, 2/10
I begged my kids multiple times to let me stop reading this book. I hated it that much.

25. Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart, 8/10
Suspense, danger, and an elegant (but foreboding) house = the perfect October read. Why have I not read anything by Mary Stewart before?

26. The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clayton M. Christensen, 7/10
Loved all the personal stories that went along with this.

27. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, AUDIO, 9/10
All-around fantastic.

28. The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt, AUDIO, 8/10
Gave this book a second chance. It was worth it.

29. The Trouble With Chickens by Doreen Cronin, readaloud, 5/10
I read it to my boys, and the change in viewpoint halfway through confused us all.

30. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, readaloud, 8/10
Wacky and bizarre--and we loved it.

31. The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma, 8/10
About a father who read to his daughter until the day she left for college. How could I not love it?

32. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, 10/10
I'm not sure if I'm just a sucker for verse novels or if this one was truly exceptional, but I loved it.

33. The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright, readaloud, 6/10
My kids were not fans of the coal gas or fire episodes, but other than that, we liked this book.

34. Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith, 8/10
Written in 1963 about a marriage in the 1920's, I was surprised how much it reminded me of my own early days of marriage in 2005.

35. Fire in the Bones by S. Michael Wilcox, 6/10
It deepened my appreciation of the Bible, no question, but it was a tediously long read.

36. Greenglass House by Kate Milford, 8/10
A cast of unusual characters all on a quest to discover the secrets of Greenglass House. A perfect winter read.

37. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, AUDIO, 7/10
The food descriptions were tantalizing, but I felt like Molly and I had almost nothing in common.

38. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, readaloud, 6/10
I think I would have liked this book a lot more if I could have nailed the Peruvian and British accents. As it was, I think I just confused my children.

Hoping 2015 is full of just as many good books! Have you read any of these?


  1. Wow! I've just been clicking through to some of your reviews of these and some of them sound so interesting! In particular, All About Sam (my girls would love it), Nothing to Envy (I'd have to be in the right mood) and Raising an Emotionally... (sounds like it would help ME). I'll definitely be adding some of these to my To Read list this year. :)

  2. You have inspired me to go back over my reading list for 2014. I did meet my goal of one book per week (ending up with 56 total). I think my most rewarding fictional read was Where the Red Fern Grows. I was surprised at how much more I liked it all these years after my first time as a boy. It also touches on faith promoting themes much more than I remember. I was getting misty eyed every other chapter. This is one of the great books ever written for boys that girls will also like and grown men will love.

  3. The Light Between Oceans has been on my maybe list for awhile. I'm definitely going to need to read it now.

  4. I've read four of these: Nothing to Envy, Fortunately the Milk, The Reading Promise, and Joy in the Morning, and I agree with you on each of them. A Homemade Life is on my to read short list. I read her Delancey earlier this year, and I enjoyed it for her honest portrayal of marriage (particularly, working with your partner), but I agree that she and I wouldn't have much in common either!

  5. I just finished reading A Homemade Life, too! I really liked it and I checked out Delancey which I've heard isn't a good, but I'm going to give it a try anyway. :-)

  6. Wasn't Brown Girl Dreaming amazing? I had never really been one for books in verse, but I'm glad I read it!
    Thanks for joining the books link up!


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