The Home Ranch (& Other September Reads)

The Home Ranch and other September Reads

I finished seven books in the month of September: The Home Ranch and six others. Read on for my thoughts on each title. Or to read past reviews, follow this link: Flanders Family Recent Reads.

  • God is Able by Priscilla Shirer

    God is Able and The Home RanchI’d be hardpressed to pick a favorite from among the fiction I finished last month–all were classics we’ve read, read, and read again. But my favorite nonfiction title from September? This was it, hands down.

    In God is Able, Priscilla Shirer dissects one of my favorite passages, word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase. Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

    This book reads more like a revival sermon than a Christian living title. Shirer takes this wonderful passage and applies it to all the difficult problems and seemingly impossible situations with which we may currently be dealing — I have some of those, don’t you? — and directs our attention to the One who holds it all in His hands. The one who has a purpose and plan. The one who can both solve all our problems and sustain us through them.

  • Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins

    Mocking JayWe finished re-reading The Hunger Games Trilogy last month. It was some of our younger kids first time to hear the whole saga. At least, it was the first time they heard it at an old enough age to follow and remember the storyline.

    Back when our daughter Bethany was ready to read this third installment, she had to wait a full four months for its release. A wait made all the more more difficult by the fact that CATCHING FIRE had ended on such a cliff-hanger.

    Fortunately, by the time the rest of us finished the first two books (a decade ago), Mocking Jay was already available. So we could begin immediately. We devoured it. By that point, the characters had become our close friends. And, although the bittersweet conclusion to this series wrapped up all their various storylines beautifully, when we closed the cover after the final chapter, we were left wanting more.

    We felt the same way at the end of this reading. After each installment, we watched the movie. The third book was broken into two movies, both of which followed the literary work with a fair amount of accuracy. Again, if you aren’t a fan of dystopian fiction, better steer clear of The Hunger Games (both the books and the movies). If, however, you enjoy a well-written story no matter the genre, we’d highly recommend this one.

  • Along the Road by Larry Mast

    The Home Ranch and Along the RoadA new friend from church gave me a copy of this book this summer. He wrote it himself and told me he thought I’d enjoy it.

    He was right.

    Larry and his wife have served as missionaries with Mercy ships for many years. Their work took them to all four corners of the globe. As you might imagine, they’ve collected a wealth of experience through all their years of service, and a treasure trove of stories, as well.

    Along the Road includes a wide variety of such stories — some funny, some frightening, some surprising and amazing and inspirational. Most with a good lesson, even for folks like me, who’s spent her entire life living in the same 100-mile radius. Yet I thoroughly enjoyed reading how God has blessed their work and about the many things He has taught them in the midst of their faithful service.

  • Uncommon Ground by Tim Keller and John Inazu

    Uncommon GroundI listened to the audioversion of this book and found it challenging. Each chapter of the book was written by a different contributor, including Lecrae, Tish Harrison Warren, Kristen Deede Johnson, Claude Richard Alexander, Shirley Hoogstra, Sara Groves, Rudy Carrasco, Trillia Newbell, Tom Lin, and Warren Kinghorn.

    Most of those names were new to me, but the chapters were well-articulated and spoke to many of the divisive issues our culture is currently facing. I cannot say that I agreed 100% with the authors’ conclusions, but I deeply appreciated their willingness to dialogue on a vitally important question: How can Christians engage the culture with humility, grace, love, and tolerance, while still holding fast to scripture and refusing to compromise on the Truth?

    I especially enjoyed Chapter 2 (“The Pastor” by Tim Keller) and chapter 9 (“The Bridge Builder” by Shirley Hoogstra). The concluding remarks were also excellent and made me wish for a hard copy so I could make notes in the margin.

  • The Home Ranch by Ralph Moody

    The Home RanchI continued reading through the Little Britches saga with my grandkids last month. Such good stuff!

    The Home Ranch covers the summer Ralph Moody spent as a cattle drover working for Mr. Batchlett. Like the other titles in the series, this one is packed with great life lessons, lots of humorous anecdotes, and evidence that this young boy was wise beyond his years.

    I especially love Ralph’s work ethic. Although he is only 12, he’s being paid a man’s wages and is determined to do a man’s work. The character lessons in these books are worth their weight in gold! And they’re all the more effective, because they never sound forced or preachy. He teaches as much through his mistakes as he does through his accomplishments, all served up with a heaping helping of humility on the side.

  • Exploring Creation with Land Animals of the Sixth Day by Jeannie Fulbright

    Exploring Creation with Land Animals of the Sixth DayHere is another series that lends itself well to multi-level teaching. We love Apologia science and use it throughout all 12 grades of homeschooling.

    Chock-full of fascinating facts, detailed photographs, and easy-to-do projects and experiments, Jeannie Fulbright’s science books do a great job of keeping our younger kids and grandkids engaged. (Okay, so maybe the two-year olds are not always riveted, but the rest of the kids listen closely and beg for more.)

    We finished Zoology 3 last month, which covers land animals. Zoology 1 focuses on flying creatures, Zoology 2 deals with swimming creatures. Now we’ve moved on to Human Anatomy.

  • Prince Caspian by CS Lewis

    Prince CaspianNot only have I been re-reading the Little Britches books with my grandkids, but we’ve been working our way through The Chronicles of Narnia, as well. Last month, we finished the fourth in the series, Prince Caspian.

    As with the other Narnian tales, this one is full of adventure and magic and intrigue. When his aunt bears the king a son, Caspian must flee for his life. As the rightful heir to the throne, he alone stands in his usurper uncle’s way to a continued reign. At least, Caspian thinks he’s alone. He soon finds allies among the hidden citizens of the old Narnia. Can they succeed against the evil King Miraz and restore Caspian to the throne?

    One of the things I appreciate most about Prince Caspian is how the truths his nurse taught him in the nursery and his tutor reinforced in top secret discussions during late night star-watching excursions shaped his character and prepared him to be a wise and good ruler in the future. As a homeschool mom, I’m charged to do the same with my children (and grandchildren) — instilling lessons in them as children that will guide them well as adults.

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