An Open Book: February 2018


An Open Book

Welcome to the February 2018 edition of An Open Book, now hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND!

An Open Book is all about what my family is reading this month, from the adults down to the little kids. Share what you’re reading by linking up your blog post below. Simply write about what you’re reading. You can make it personal or, as I do, extend it to the whole family. Your post can be as simple as a few lines about the book or as in-depth as a 700-word review. That’s entirely up to you. You can even forego writing all together and record a video or simply post cover photos.

No blog? No problem. Please share what you’re reading in the comments.

With the addition of Hoopla Digital to our local library membership, travel time, and ongoing frustrations with his progressive lenses, my husband’s favorite way of “reading” has become audiobooks. He’s been listening to Bloodline by Claudia Gray. This Star Wars story takes place before The Force Awakens, at the birth of The Resistance. My husband characterizes it as less an action story and more political intrigue, focusing on Princess Leia in particular.

I’d read so many glowing reviews of The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof, that I feared the book could never live up to the hype. I discovered, however, that it’s worthy of the praise it’s received. If you enjoy a character-driven story, a gentle romance, and a book that tugs on your heartstrings, you’ll enjoy the novel. Like any good fiction, there are themes and layers that resonate with truth, calling the reader to go deeper, examining what truly defiles the body, and how we participate in Christ’s suffering and sacrifice. Set amidst 19th century circus life, it’s a book that leaves an impression.

I’d also read many raves about Pulitzer-prize winner All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It tells the story of two children during World War II: one a blind French girl whose father hides a sought-after gem, and the other a German orphan boy with an affinity for radio communication. The story was beautifully written, the characters expertly drawn, but in the end, while I enjoyed the book, I felt as if the hint of hope was too little, too late for me. (For more discussion, check out this month’s Sabbath Rest Book Talk.)

My oldest son is still concentrating on the Greek mythology he began reading last month, but he brought home a new book he received at a school assembly: Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History by John Bergsma. His copy has a different cover and is marked the “Special Augustine Institute Edition,” but I don’t know how that differs from other editions. It takes the reader through the Bible with a broad eight-chapter overview, including some stick figure illustrations.

After seeing this National Book Award winner recommended twice within a few days, I requested a copy from the library. It’s The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. My daughter enjoyed what she thought was a more realistic depiction of family life than she usually reads. The children needed correction, and the siblings sometimes didn’t agree.

Shoo-Fly Girl by Lois Lenski is about an Amish girl who (along with other Amish children) attends public school. This author is a new favorite of my daughter’s, and she’s slowly working her way through the library collection. It includes a recipe for shoo-fly pie, which is a big deal in Lancaster, PA, but which I always find a bit bland.

After studying the Epic of Gilgamesh, my oldest son was enthusiastic about sharing the story with his little siblings and found this picture book, which I borrowed from the library. Gilgamesh the King by Ludmila Zeman is the first book in a trilogy. (Why the library carries the first one and not the remaining two is beyond me.) We enjoyed the retelling for children and ancient-looking but still inviting illustrations.

The Mercy Watson series is our all-time FAVORITE for beginning readers! The series features a pampered pet pig, Mercy (a “porcine wonder”), who loves nothing more than hot buttered toast. In her quest for it – and a bit of adventure – Mercy is involved in some hilarious escapades. Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride by Kate DiCamillo is my favorite of the series. And, I absolutely love the illustrations by Chris Van Dusen, which make me laugh out loud. Mercy wears such a look of innocent glee.

Our copy of Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! by Susan Meyers is well-loved and tattered. All of our children have loved this simple picture book. They study the illustrations by David Walker on each page, and pick out which puppy represents them. Cute rhyming story, fun read-aloud, and charming illustrations.

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Copyright 2018 Carolyn Astfalk


About Author

Carolyn Astfalk is a wife, mother of four young children, and a writer. Her contemporary inspirational romances Stay With Me, Ornamental Graces, and Rightfully Ours are available at She blogs at My Scribbler’s Heart. Visit


  1. Ellen Mongan on

    I loved your article on fear. What a great sharing about not only discernment but also facing a fear and doing it afraid.

    I always say that it takes a year to get used to a new baby, job, location, or even a new friend. I tell women that I mentor, “Give it a year!” If they keep on keeping on, a year later they usually love the addition to the family, are so glad they went back to work, do not to ever want to leave that new place and have decided they have a friend for life.

    Change takes some adjustment period. Just knowing that it does disperses those thoughts and replaces them with a desire to grow through the challenge ahead.

    I wonder if Peter was afraid to walk on the water when Jesus called his name. After all he was the only one who got out of the boat.

  2. Siobhain Bierschenk on

    I have just found your blog through CatholicMom. What a great blog idea! I wish I had done something like this once a month when my children were younger. It would have made a nice family history of sorts. Unfortunately my caboose son is not a big reader by choice, but he recently finished Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. I was very happy to be able to listen to both of these as he read them. I had never read Uncle Tom’s Cabin before and was surprised by how much I liked it. I am in two book clubs, and currently I am finishing News of the World by Paulette Jiles for one and am starting A Gentleman in Moscow for the other. I too was disappointed by All the Light We Cannot See. We read it in each of my book clubs in different years so I have read it twice. The second time, I labeled the dates for all of the chapters and read them chronologically which I liked better than hopping around in time the way the book is written. I also found the ending to be unsatisfying though I loved the grit of the young blind girl throughout the story and found parts of the book to be enlightening and the characters to be realistic and well-developed.

    • So glad you found us, Siobhain. The Killer Angels is a great book! Uncle Tom’s Cabin is one of those classics I haven’t yet managed to read.

      I hope you’ll chime in with us each month! I do like doing a roundup for our family each month. I’m much more conscious of what everyone’s reading, what their interests are, and how quickly or slowly they get through books.

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