August 2023 Book Reviews

This is the month when homeschooling starts, so I tried to squeeze more reading into the first week knowing that.

I managed to finish 9 books while also picking up a few others here & there. Reading in the little moments that I'm waiting for my kids to complete a math problem or while they're playing outside has been helpful! Always have a book nearby & that adds up to some serious reading.


You Can Trust God to Write Your Story: Embracing the Mysteries of Providence by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth & Robert Wolgemuth

Having heard of Nancy for many years, I was excited to read this book & hear more of her story. It's not strictly biographical. Instead, it pulls instances from Nancy's life, Robert's life (including the loss of his first wife), & lives of some of their friends & colleagues. The book would be a really helpful resource when going through a trial or in helping a friend who is hurting. It was very encouraging & definitely lifted my focus from recent circumstances.

Come To Jesus: What If God Designs Your Days to Keep You Running Back to Him? by Christa Threlfall

This little book just happens to be written by the pastor's wife at our church. She's blogged regularly for years & this book was published a little while ago. Written in short chapters, filled with Gospel encouragement, & laced with personal stories of victory & loss, Come to Jesus is a book I can see grabbing from my shelf over the years. It also helps knowing that the author's life backs up what she writes. She's as humble & Gospel-focused as she's encouraging us to be in her book. I wholeheartedly recommend this one!

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Education by John Taylor Gatto

This book gets some buzz in the "unschooling" groups of homeschoolers, so I was curious when I saw it pop up on the Hoopla app. Wow! It is so thought-provoking! Written by an NYC public school teacher of the year, it is a critique of what Gatto calls "monopoly education." He doesn't hold back on what he has experienced in his many years in the government-run classroom. Some of his stories had me so disappointed in how badly we're failing our nation's children. I have to agree with many of his points. He puts a lot of weight on getting parents involved. He attempts to allow the students as many choices as possible. These very methods are the ones he has been repeatedly told are not allowed. Being a homeschool mom, I could easily say, "So what?! Not my problem." Unfortunately, it is my problem. These kids will be the future of our country, the co-workers of my kids, the leaders in the government. I pay a lot of tax money to educate them, but they are falling further & further behind the rest of the world. My investment is being wasted. If anything, this book made me want to find ways that I can be involved in & an encouragement to the local schools!

The Marriage Season by Jane Dunn

This was a surprisingly clean regency novel! The main characters are sisters - one a widowed mother & one entering here first London season. They have a variety of suitors, mishaps, & parties. The sister relationship is sweet. And seeing the older sister's journey, from not at all looking to marry again to realizing that she may just want to do so, makes the book have a little more depth than some other books in this genre. I liked this book so much that I read another book by this author right away...

An Unsuitable Heiress by Jane Dunn

...but it was a big disappointment. This novel just was missing something for me. Maybe it was the premise of the girl dressed up like a boy. Would someone really be able to pull that off? The reunion of a long-separated father & daughter was another one that stretched my belief a bit. Random characters kept getting introduced. We were supposed to feel bad for a guy who refused to own his mistress' child as his own. This one definitely missed the mark for me.

Valuable: Why Your Worth Is Not Defined by How Useful You Feel by Liz Carter

Read this one! It was such an eye-opening, challenging book. The word "useful" gets thrown around in our Christian circles - "Are you being useful to God?" "You should get healthier so that you can be more useful to the church." Why do we think that only certain people are useful to God? Carter addresses the term - "used by God" - & explains the problems surrounding it, culturally & Biblically. I really appreciated her thoughts on this topic!

(As a side note, we've been watching The Chosen with our kids. If you haven't heard of or seen it, the show depicts the life of Jesus, especially in relation with his disciples. Much artistic license is taken since we don't know everything that happened, but wherever possible, the show seeks to remain faithful to Scripture. One of the artistic freedoms is that one disciple is depicted as having to walk with a stick because of some undisclosed reason. I watched this scene between this disciple (nicknamed "Little James") & Jesus shortly after finishing this book. I feel like it encapsulates much of what this book wants to get across to the audience.)

The Whole-Brain Child: Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson

If you ever get a chance to read books by these authors, just do it! They are so influential in helping parents (& kids) understand what's happening in their brains & how that's impacting their behaviors. The upstairs brain & downstairs brain, knowing how to make connections between the left & right brain - so much good stuff! I will probably need to read it again in another year to refresh my memory & because my kids are always developing & their brains are always growing. And I need to be ready to help them meet each challenge those things bring into their lives.

Circe by Madeline Miller

I picked this one up because we read a lot of Greek mythology in our homeschool & my oldest has been reading everything possible about Ancient Greece. I've been seeing this book on the best-seller lists since its release, but it just looked too daunting. It is a bit of a long & sometimes slow read. But it's also very interesting to read about Greek mythology through the eyes of one of the characters that never takes center stage. She's a daughter of Helios. Hermes is her boyfriend. The minotaur is her nephew. And she ends up having a son with Odysseus. A pretty dramatic & captivating story for sure! If you want a refresher on those Greek deities & their nonsense, Circe is a good book to pick up & read.

Hopeward: Gospel Grace for Weary Souls by Dai Hankey

This book is such a balm for the worn-out Christian. It follows some similar themes to Come to Jesus & Valuable, both of which I read this month. We are going through some difficult health things in our family, so I am thankful to have these books speaking Gospel truth into my heart. It is a short book but still saturated in Scripture. I also appreciated the author's candid testimony of how God has been working in his own life. Just an all-around solid book!


I'm typing this up before the end of the month because I know I won't be finishing any more books this month. I figured 9 is enough for one month, especially since homeschooling & all the other things are starting back up.

See anything that you've read or want to read?

Cheering you on!


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