My Eight 5-Star Reads of 2018



Last week, I posted about my 5+ star reads of last year. This week, I’m sharing my 5-star reads of 2018! These two posts make up my (reviewed) top favourite books of last year. (I say ‘reviewed’ because of course there were others that I loved but I didn’t review them, so I don’t have a rating or review to go by). As before, several of these books are free as ebooks! 


1. Balanced & Barefootby Angela J. Hanscom.
In this important book, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook shows how outdoor play and unstructured freedom of movement are vital for children’s cognitive development and growth, and offers tons of fun, engaging ways to help ensure that kids grow into healthy, balanced, and resilient adults. Today’s kids have adopted sedentary lifestyles filled with television, video games, and computer screens. But more and more, studies show that children need ‘rough and tumble’ outdoor play in order to develop their sensory, motor, and executive functions. Disturbingly, a lack of movement has been shown to lead to a number of health and cognitive difficulties, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotion regulation and sensory processing issues, and aggressiveness at school recess break. So, how can you ensure your child is fully engaging their body, mind, and all of their senses? Using the same philosophy that lies at the heart of her popular TimberNook program—that nature is the ultimate sensory experience, and that psychological and physical health improves for children when they spend time outside on a regular basis—author Angela Hanscom offers several strategies to help your child thrive, even if you live in an urban environment. Today it is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, or spinning in circles just for fun. We’ve taken away merry-go-rounds, shortened the length of swings, and done away with teeter-totters to keep children safe. Children have fewer opportunities for unstructured outdoor play than ever before, and recess times at school are shrinking due to demanding educational environments. With this book, you’ll discover little things you can do anytime, anywhere to help your kids achieve the movement they need to be happy and healthy in mind, body, and spirit.” (from Amazon)

This book is so good! I completely recommend it for teens and parents. It is sure to make you think and reconsider some things in your life!


2. “The Graham Quartet & the Mysterious Strangers” by Rebekah A. Morris.
In the midst of the cold, snowy woods, the Graham Quartet stumble across a mystery. It could mean danger, but that doesn’t stop Elsa, Matt, Tim and Selena as they try their best to help a stranger who needs them. But what can Siam, Hong Kong and Vanderbilt have to do with the local furniture factory? And why are so many strangers suddenly appearing and then disappearing in town? With the arrival of an elusive figure, things start moving, while a simple delivery trip may bring more than the Quartet bargained for. Will the four siblings be able to help their friend and their country?” (from Amazon)

Ohmyword this book was sooo good!! I was literally on the edge of my chair. And the action scene at the end! Ahhhh I just loved it so much!!!


3. “In the Reign of Terror” by G.A. Henty.
Harry Sandwith, a Westminster boy, becomes a resident at the chateau of a French marquis, and after various adventures accompanies the family to Paris at the crisis of the Revolution. Imprisonment and death reduced their number, and the hero finds himself beset by perils with the three young daughters of the house in his charge.” (from Amazon)

I’ve read this book before, but it still kept me fast in its grasp. The desperate excitement… and Harry… I love Harry… I just loved it so much! (Note that it is not for younger/sensitive readers.)


4. “The Secret Slipper” by Amanda Tero.
Being a cripple is only the beginning of Lia’s troubles. It seems as if Bioti’s goal in life is to make Lia as miserable as possible. If Lia’s purpose is to be a slave, then why did God make her a cripple? How can He make something beautiful out of her deformity? Raoul never questioned the death of his daughter until someone reports her whereabouts. If Ellia is still alive, how has she survived these ten years with her deformity? When Raoul doesn’t know who to trust, can he trust God to keep Ellia safe when evidence reveals Bioti’s dangerous character? As time brings more hindrances, will Raoul find Ellia, or will she forever be lost to the father she doesn’t even know is searching for her?” (from Amazon)

This book was so well done. I loved the characters, the message, the plot, the cover… <33 So beautiful. 


5. “The Story of my Life” by Helen Keller.
When she was 19 months old, Helen Keller (1880–1968) suffered a severe illness that left her blind and deaf. Not long after, she also became mute. Her tenacious struggle to overcome these handicaps—with the help of her inspired teacher, Anne Sullivan—is one of the great stories of human courage and dedication. In this classic autobiography, first published in 1903, Miss Keller recounts the first 22 years of her life, including the magical moment at the water pump when, recognizing the connection between the word ‘water’ and the cold liquid flowing over her hand, she realized that objects had names. Subsequent experiences were equally noteworthy: her joy at eventually learning to speak, her friendships with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edward Everett Hale and other notables, her education at Radcliffe (from which she graduated cum laude), and-underlying all-her extraordinary relationship with Miss Sullivan, who showed a remarkable genius for communicating with her eager and quick-to-learn pupil. These and many other aspects of Helen Keller’s life are presented here in clear, straightforward prose full of wonderful descriptions and imagery that would do credit to a sighted writer. Completely devoid of self-pity, yet full of love and compassion for others, this deeply moving memoir offers an unforgettable portrait of one of the outstanding women of the twentieth century.” (from Amazon)

This is one of my favourite books… I love Helen’s poetic and humorous writing. It’s also a good book if you are around deaf/blind/handicapped people. I read this free version which has extra accounts from her teachers and some of her letters. 


6. “Understood Betsy” by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.
For all of her nine years, fragile Elizabeth Ann has heard her Aunt Frances refer in whispers to her ‘horrid Putney cousins.’ But when her aunt can no longer care for her, Elizabeth Ann must leave her sheltered life to live in the wilds of Vermont with those distant relatives. In the beginning, Elizabeth Ann is shocked by country living—pets are allowed to sleep in the house and children are expected to do chores! But with country living comes independence and responsibility, and in time, Elizabeth Ann finds herself making friends and enjoying her new family. When the year is up and Aunt Frances comes to get her niece, she finds a healthier, prouder girl with a new name—Betsy—and a new outlook on life. ‘Understood Betsy’ has delighted generations of young readers since it was first published by Henry Holt and Company in 1917.” (from Amazon)

I’ve reread this book so many, many times… and I love it as much as I ever did, if not more. It’s so sweet and old-fashioned and just… ^_^ 


7. “The White Horse King” by Benjamin Merkle.
The unlikely king who saved England. Down swept the Vikings from the frigid North. Across the English coastlands and countryside they raided, torched, murdered, and destroyed all in their path. Farmers, monks, and soldiers all fell bloody under the Viking sword, hammer, and axe. Then, when the hour was most desperate, came an unlikely hero. King Alfred rallied the battered and bedraggled kingdoms of Britain and after decades of plotting, praying, and persisting, finally triumphed over the invaders. Alfred’s victory reverberates to this day: He sparked a literary renaissance, restructured Britain’s roadways, revised the legal codes, and revived Christian learning and worship. It was Alfred’s accomplishments that laid the groundwork for Britian’s later glories and triumphs in literature, liturgy, and liberty.” (from Amazon)

This book is not at all for sensitive or young readers (check my review for more deatils). But for a history buff and beautful writing lover like me, it’s amazing. Ben Merkle has amazing talent. 


8. “The Wit of a Duck, & Other Papers” by John Burroughs.
At the age of twenty-five [John Burroughs] chanced to read a volume of Audubon, and this proved the turning-point in his life, inspiring a new zeal for the study of birds and enabling him to see with keener eyes not only the birds themselves, but their nests and surroundings, and to hear with more discernment the peculiar calls and songs of each. Mr. Burroughs thoroughly enjoys the country life, and in his strolls through the woods or in the fields he is always ready to stop and investigate anything new or interesting that he may chance to see among the birds, or squirrels, or bees, or insects. His long life of observation and study has developed remarkably quick eyesight and a keen sense of hearing, which enable him to detect all the activities of nature and to place a correct interpretation upon them to an extent that few other naturalists have realized. When he writes he is simply living over again the experiences which have delighted him, and the best explanation of the rare pleasure that is imparted by his writings to every reader is given in his own words: ‘….The writing of the book was only a second and finer enjoyment of my holiday in the fields or woods; not till the writing did it really seem to strike in and become part of me’; and so the reader seems to participate in this ‘finer enjoyment’ of a holiday in the fields or woods, walking arm-in-arm with the naturalist, feeling the influence of his poetic temperament, learning something new at every turn, and sharing the master’s enthusiasm.” (from Amazon)

I enjoyed most of Burroughs’ books… I love his dry humour and his beautiful descriptive writing, as well as his whimsical thoughts and shrewd essays. 🙂


Published by Katja L.

Hello! :) I'm Katja. I'm a Canadian bibliophile, book reviewer, writer, and child of God. I love too many things to name, but among them are chocolate, heirlooms, history, fancy handwriting, grammar & punctuation, laughter, tearjerking books, lists, organized bookshelves, pink roses, flowing skirts, hymns, and pretty much anything old-fashioned, beautiful, & classy.

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