March 2024 Book Reviews

One of my principals along my short-lived classroom teaching career once called March the "March of Death." It's a long month. The weather starts to get warm so everyone starts to get spring fever. No holidays to take off. It can be a very long slog.

I feel that way even as a homeschooling mom now. I'm already looking ahead at next year's curriculum. The kids want to get outside a little more & I want them to be outside more. It's hard to remember to finish the schoolyear on a high note!

Well, as March has trudged along, I've read quite a few books along the way. And here are some short & sweet reviews for each!


The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers have been a read aloud with my kids off & on the past year or so. The first book was really cute, the second one less so, & this one was just a mess. I know kids in the city are more independent than my own kids, walking up & down city blocks on their own. But these kids are hiding pets, going to auditions, looking at real estate, etc. The story of this book just had so much chaos, so much hiding this & that from this person & that. Just not my favorite. My kids love these books, so I'm sure we'll keep plugging along to finish the series. Hopefully, this one was just a fluke & the rest will get back to that endearing quality of the first.

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

I got this book at a library book sale last summer, so I finally got around to reading it. It's a juvenile novel, so it was a pretty quick read. The title character is a young boy around 11 living in Canada. He was born free to parents who knew the danger of fleeing across the border to this community of formerly enslaved people. The characters are so rich - from Elijah to his friend to the "preacher." The town rings a liberty bell everytime a new person reached freedom. Elijah's story is full of little twists & turns that take him into danger & out. His growth from "fragile" boy to rescuing hero is such a sweet thread to follow. Definitely a book I will be recommending to my kids!

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

Read this one with my oldest son. I've read a couple books by this author, but I hadn't read Bronze Bow yet. It's set during the time of Jesus in Palestine. The main character, Daniel, is full of bitter hatred to the Romans. They're responsible for all the bad in his life--losing his parents, his sister's mysterious sickness, the poverty. He joins a group of rebels but can't escape the ever-present Roman soldiers. Then, he finds out about Jesus. People say He's the One they've been waiting for, but Daniel gets frustrated waiting for this Messiah to act. It's a beautiful story of redemption. Also, I enjoy reading about this time period. I feel like it really enriches my understanding of the culture that much of New Testament is set in.

Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity by Alisa Childers

If you're looking for a great beginner-level apologetics book, this could be what you're looking for. It's not simply a critique of progressivism in Christianity, it goes back to the basics of why we believe what we believe. Alisa has been a Christian since she was a young child, so she carried that child-like faith with her. She just believed what she'd been taught like so many people who grow in church. But a pastor (who was moving toward progressive Christianity) came along & challenged her beliefs. She realized that she'd never fully thought critically through her faith. The process would lead her to a deeper, more confident faith in the God of the Bible.

5 Things to Pray for a Suffering Friend: Prayers that Change Things for Friends or Family Who Are Walking Through Trials by Helen Thorne

From The Good Book Company, this book is from a series. Working through a series of topics, this book is so helpful in helping us know what to pray for our friends - whether suffering or not. Each page is also filled with Scripture to enrich & ground your prayers in the infallible truths of God's Word.

P is for Pilgrim by Stephen Cottrell

Written by the current Archbishop of York, this book comes from a distinctly Anglican point of view. It is intended for children, but it could also be seen as a primer of sorts for the Church of England. While the protestant view of Jesus & salvation by faith is held, there are also some items that might need some explaining to children who are not growing up C of E. Bishop, eucharist, mass-- these terms that aren't as familiar to all denominations might just need a little extra commentary. Overall, not a bad little book, but not one that I would necessarily choose to buy for my kids. I can't not mention the illustrations. Jack Seymour did an lovely job incorporating a traditional style through his linocut designs.

Peace over Perfection: Enjoying a Good God When You Feel You're Never Good Enough by Faith Chang

This book was given to me by The Good Book Company. First off, the cover design is beautiful, so I totally judged a book by its cover on this one. However, the premise of the book also got me. As Christians, we can struggle with a unique strain of perfectionism. We strive toward the example set for us by Jesus Christ, but we are acutely aware of how far we fall short. We know that one day our faith will be sight & we'll stand before Him with our robes washed white. But here we are just struggling through mediocrity. How do we embrace the slow journey of sanctification, trusting that God knows best? This book walks you through those struggles & where the Gospel meets us at each turn.

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig

I think that I was expecting something a little different from this book, but it was still delightful. The whole foundation of Ludwig's strategies is to encourage memorization of some of Shakespeare's most beautiful passages. As they memorize these lines from plays, you also take time to explain the context & meaning behind these fancy words they're reciting. I've been working on the first passage with my kids off & on throughout reading this book. My kids have surprised me by enjoying the challenge!

Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God by Gloria Furman

I'm not super familiar with Gloria Furman, but I wanted to give this popular book a try. While the doctrine is all sound, starting with a "flyover" of the OT, the book is maybe a little different from what I was expecting. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the first part of the book (that OT survey) was great & all, but it took a while to get to the practical application of the book. I understand that you want to make sure your audience is on the same page, but maybe that could have been a part of each chapter? I do love the message of the book, placing motherhood in the big story of Scripture...

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

This Newberry Medal winner has been on book lists that I've been handed from seventh grade. But it just never quite seemed like something I'd be interested in. I recently have been trying to collect more of these older juvenile novels since I have kids coming into this age. When I got this one, I figured I should try to give it a try! It was a great coming-of-age novel that follows a boy from his early days as an indentured servant to his time at sea. His work ethic & natural talent for mathematics leads him to places of honor & respect. Even though his life doesn't follow all the paths he'd wished when he was younger, he meets each new challenge with determination.

Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

Told from the perspective of his younger self, Nayeri takes us to pre-Revolution Iran where his youngest childhood memories bring his family & ancestors into the story. He mixes these stories in between stories of his school days in Oklahoma as an immigrant. While some children are friendly, many misunderstand & even are outright rude to him. His mother (a prestigious doctor back in Iran) now must work jobs that pay much less & marries a man that is abusive. Daniel slowly gives you small details about how this change came to be & the miracles that surrounded it. He also delves into the pain of leaving behind everything he knew, dealing with bullies at home & at school, trying to make sense of a foreign culture. It's a multifaceted, sometimes silly, sometimes heart-wrenching, story. Also, a word of warning--since the story is mostly told from the perspective of a young boy, there are quite a few "gross out" stories included. But they usually have something to do with moving the story forward. For the most part.

Our Radiant Redeemer: Lent Devotions on the Transfiguration of Jesus by Tim Chester

I've never made much of the Transfiguration. It seems like a less-than-usual episode in the Gospel accounts. What did it really mean? Why did it matter? How should it affect my understanding of Jesus, God, the resurrection, the future? Turns out you can spend 40 days learning about the Transfiguration & still feel like you don't completely understand it, but you can still feel encouraged by it. Chester takes his time, comparing the variations in the accounts. None are identical, but that isn't a problem. Each detail is important & each account emphasizes a different aspect. I think this is a fantastic devotional for outside of the Lenten season. I'm coming away from it wanting to know more, for sure!


Wow! I really made up for the slow month in February. Yes, some of these were long-term reads that I finally got around to finishing. But it's still nice to get some of those off my "currently reading" shelf on Goodreads.

Let me know if you see anything you'd like to know more about!

Cheering you on!


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