Booking It August Update: Reviews of Great Expectations, Cinder, & The Big Mama Books

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Booking It July Update: Reviews of Delicious, The Warden and the Wolf King, & Mastering the Art of French EatingBooking It is an online book club where we share the good reads we’ve found in the previous month. We’ve found that over the years we’ve discovered some great new books thanks to this monthly book share. Carrie and Anne are my fellow bookworms and help round out the selections.

Carrie read:


Sparkly Green Earrings AND The Antelope in the Living Room

by Melanie Shankle

Two books, but the same author. It’s a 2-for-1 deal.

In 2008, my husband and I left our life overseas and moved back to the U.S. We desperately clung to the hope that God was trying to teach us something, though our life wasn’t turning out according to our plan. While he started a new job, I discovered blogs. One of the first ones I found was Life as MOM, but close on Jessica’s heels was the Big Mama Blog. Every morning I would grab my coffee and read about Big Mama’s life. It was so different from mine, yet it resonated. Melanie reminded me that life doesn’t always go according to plan, but sometimes that just means you have a better story to tell when it’s all said and done.

I’m not sure how I missed that Sparkly Green Earrings was about her journey into motherhood, but despite the fact that I am not a mother (and never had a desire to be a mother), I connected with her stories. As God is moving in my life, I saw parallels to Melanie’s story, and I see the humor in my own. Read her chapter on Caroline’s mouth feeling funny, and you might reconsider any desire you ever had to be a parent. Read the final chapter about four year old kisses, and even the least sappy among us (like me) will feel a little misty. Melanie may be known for her blog, but I hope we see many more books out of her!

My bonus book: The Antelope in the Living Room. This is Melanie’s take on marriage. I thought I would enjoy this one more than the motherhood book, and while it was still funny, it didn’t resonate as much. Possibly because I have no experience as a mom, so I can’t gauge how accurate Sparkly Green Earrings was, but I am married – and our marriages are completely different. That’s not a bad thing, it just meant the book wasn’t as appealing to me in the end, but still worth reading and great beach lit!

Anne read:



by Marissa Meyer

I approached Cinder, this first installment in the YA sci-fi/fantasy series The Lunar Chronicles with a healthy dose of skepticism. I don’t read a ton of sci-fi, and the idea of Cinderella-turned-cyborg didn’t reel me in.


I’ve found the very best book recommendations come from fellow book-lovers, and a good dozen fellow book nerds with impeccable taste (meaning: taste very similar to mine) urged me to give this series a try.

I threw Cinder in my bag for my beach vacation, read it by the pool in one afternoon, and promptly ordered the rest of the available books in the series so they’d be waiting for me when I got home. That was only last week, but I’ve long since finished those books. They’re pageturners!)

Now count me among the throngs of fans who are eagerly anticipating the next installment, due out in January. 155 days and counting….

Jessica read:

great expectations

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

What was probably required reading for many of you, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was not for me. In 10th grade we read A Tale of Two Cities instead. I loved that book. But, in later years when I’ve thought of Dickens, my mind has gone to Oliver Twist or A Christmas Carol, stories that I know really only in the context of Hollywood adaptations.

Somewhere I got the notion that my high schoolers should read Great Expectations this year. And since only had a vague recollection of the story from my student teaching days, I read it before they did. I was very pleasantly surprised by it. It’s got creepiness, for sure. But, it’s also got love, redemption, and romance. And the language is really quite beautiful. It’s not often that I say to myself, “Now that was a beautiful sentence.”

The other night I told my husband I was only going to read two more chapters before bed. Two hours later, I was sobbing through the end of it. Sobbing. It was 12:30 pm. I rarely stay up that late. It was that good.

I know not everyone embraces the story or the characters. For me, it really hit me in the right place at the right time. I can totally relate to pridefulness and regret. I think I’ve been Pip on more than one occasion. I can’t wait to chat with the boys about the book.

What have you been reading?

Booking It July Update: Reviews of Delicious, The Warden and the Wolf King, & Mastering the Art of French Eating– Anne loves strong coffee, long books, and big ideas. She puts a timely spin on timeless women’s issues at her blog Modern Mrs Darcy.

For more of Anne’s book recommendations, check out her new 2014 summer reading guide here to find out which breezy novels, nerdy nonfiction, and gripping books are best for the beach this year—or your own backyard.

Booking It July Update: Reviews of Delicious, The Warden and the Wolf King, & Mastering the Art of French Eating– Jessica is a married mom of six kids, aged 5 to 17. Most can read independently which means the homeschool experiment is working – at least on the literacy front. She has been a lover of books for 40 years and counting. We won’t count the first year of life.

She runs this here show called Life as MOM and also posts all the food things over at Good Cheap Eats.

Booking It July Update: Reviews of Delicious, The Warden and the Wolf King, & Mastering the Art of French Eating– Carrie adores culture, coffee, books, British mystery shows, Parisian cafés, and her husband of 14 years. She’s spent time in Africa, southeast Asia, and Alaska, and now works from home as a social media book launch director. 

In her spare time, you can find her blogging at Carrie’s Busy Nothings

Tell us what YOU’VE been reading.

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  1. My greatest non-fiction find so far this year is Women Living Well, by Courtney Joseph. Brilliant book on being a wife, mother and woman while seeking God’s best for yourself and your marriage!
    And my favourite fiction book this last month was Emma and Me, by Elizabeth Flock. An absolutely heartbreaking story of a little girl growing up in an abusive home, but so well written that you can’t put it down!

  2. Wow, it has been years since I read Great Expectations. I read three books this month the latest in the Outlander Series, Written in my own hearts blood. It is historical fiction and I enjoy this series immensely. I also read that latest Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum novel and lastly I read A Thousand Days in Venice for my Food n Flix Club. You can see all my reviews at

  3. I read The Apprentice (Jacques Pepin autobiography)–I think I saw someone recommend it here last month? Fabulous! I’ve also read a couple of the popular French kid-food books (can’t remember titles right now), French women don’t get Fat, as well as a memoir-type thing from Julia Child in the last year. It’s fascinating to see how all these fit together even though none of them based their books on each other’s. French culture and its food is pretty fascinating 🙂

    I also read a short book on World War Two which really piqued my interest in that era of history. It was tough reading for me (I am not a history person) but very eye-opening!

  4. Jessica I’m SO glad you enjoyed GE! I do love me some dickens – and it’s so outside my normal preferences – but yet, magical. I would have loved to meet the man.

    Anne it’s funny, I have been reading your blog through other avenues frequently of late, somehow I never connected you here with there LOL. I got Cinder from audible a while back and couldn’t get into it – will try again – I’m an audio girl in this phase of life since I spend SO MUCH TIME in the car – but you inspire me to get back to it 🙂

    1. I haven’t listened to the audio version, so I’m not sure what that’s like. Some books are great as audiobooks, some aren’t. I would have expected Cinder to be great. Maybe it’s just not for you? (I hope not!) It’s not great literature or anything, just lots of fun.

  5. I’ve been thinking about reading some Dickens and wasn’t sure where I wanted to start. Honestly, I was probably going to go for Bleak House because I’ve seen one of the BBC adaptations. But now I’m wondering if I should go for Great Expectations. Your review made it sound intriguing!

    I’ve been diving into some of the classics lately and finding I really enjoy reading older literature. I read two Shakespeare plays this summer and found I could understand them much more than I expected to. I’d read a bit of Shakespeare before, but not recently. I’ve also seen many of his plays live or in movie adaptations, but I wanted to see if I would really enjoy reading them just for fun. I think the answer is yes and no. I enjoyed the comedy/romance I read more than the tragedy; The Merchant of Venice was a fast read for me and very enjoyable. (I also enjoyed the commentaries and movie adaptation I found, which fleshed out the anti-Semitism issue, which was important to me to address as I read the play.) I did not enjoy Macbeth as much, mostly because it’s just so grisly. I tried watching a live performance video I found on YouTube, and that didn’t draw me in either, but I did enjoy the clips I found of Judi Dench playing Lady Macbeth – she’s definitely top on my favorite actress list!

    Anyway, I’ve moved up in the centuries and am now reading North and South by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, which I am really loving. I’ve seen the BBC miniseries and am a fan of it, but I can say with confidence that I’m enjoying the book even more. But the book is always better than the movie, so no surprise there. 😉

  6. I read the maze runner because my teenage son wanted to read it (and then see the movie-of course)
    Not my favorite but didn’t have to go over a long list of “problems” with the book, either. (I like to talk about things like language, death, violence, intimacy, etc. to make sure the book does not override the message I am trying to teach my kids.). This book was not that “bad” and my son appreciated that I didn’t give him a long lecture 🙂
    I’d not heard of either of Big Mama’s books but I’m going to see if our library has them now.
    Thanks as always for the suggestions.

  7. This month was a slow reading month for me! Jessica you have me considering Great Expectations for a winter read 🙂 I also read Antelope in the Living Room this month. It gave much needed comic relief as the worst of our kitchen, dining room, bathroom remodel took place!

    Thanks for hosting this community of readers. It’s fun to pop in each month.