An Open Book: July 2019

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Copyright 2018 Carolyn Astfalk. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the July 2019 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND Catholicmom.com!

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.

Revolutionary Mothers, bookOn our way home from our Boston-area vacation, which included visits to the Concord-Lexington area and Minute Man National Historic Park, my husband downloaded Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence by Carol Berkin. I only heard the first several chapters, but my husband finished it after we got home. (I’ll get to the rest, eventually.) I never took a women’s studies course, but I imagine this is somewhat like the material covered. A little on the textbook side but still interesting, Revolutionary Mothers provides a detailed look at women’s roles during the war that may be overlooked elsewhere.

How to Stay Alive in the Woods, bookBecause he’s also been listening to How to Stay Alive in the Woods: A Complete Guide to Food, Shelter, and Self-Preservation Anywhere by Bradford Angier, I get unusual texts about the edibles in our yard, such as rose hips. As we’ve added more native plants to our gardens, I’ve come to learn a lot about how such plants have been used, and this sounds like an interesting lesson in the varied uses of plants we’ve long considered merely ornamental. And did you know you can eat a porcupine? My husband did say that this book would be more useful in paperback form for easy reference.

The Pirate Bride, bookI’ve been tearing through a lot of books lately, so let’s get right to it! On audiobook, I listened to The Pirate Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower, Book 2) by Kathleen Y’Barbo. While the word “bride” in the title connotes romance, I do not categorize this is as such. The romance thread only surfaces in the final 10 percent of the book. That said, I loved this book, which my 11-year-old daughter ended up enjoying as well. The narration was well done with characters of French, Spanish, American, and African descent. Plenty of action, some unexpected twists and turns, and a French pirate – er, privateer add to the enjoyment. The heroine, Maribel, is a spirited, independent young woman whom I longed to see reunited with her privateer crew.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain, bookI’d been itching to read Sons of Blackbird Mountain (A Blackbird Mountain Novel) by Joanne Bischof for most of the past year. Having loved her novel The Lady and Lionheart and seeing so many rave reviews of this new book, I was anxious to read it. I was not disappointed. The story centers around three Virginian brothers of Norwegian descent: Jargon, Thor, and Haakon. Thor, a burly man who is deaf and mute, is center stage in this story as he meets and woos Aven, the widow of the brothers’ cousin, come to start a new life in America. The characterization of these brothers is among the best I’ve read, and the author does a tremendous job with the challenge of writing a deaf/mute hero. I’ve begun reading the second book in the series, Daughters of Northern Shores.

More Than Words Can Say, bookIn between the others, I flew through More Than Words Can Say (A Patchwork Family Novel Book #2) by Karen Witemeyer. The author really makes it look easy in this smooth read that does the marriage of convenience trope justice. The ongoing tension between Zach and Abigail and when their marriage will become more than a simple agreement had me turning digital pages late into the night. Despite the prominence of the whole “marital relations” issues, it’s really a cute, clean story that is refreshingly frank about marital love and the emotional intimacy that should co-exist with the physical intimacy. There’s also a nice spiritual message of relying on God.

Bloodline, bookOur monthly Star Wars pick is Bloodline by Claudia Gray. This novel focuses more on political intrigue involving Princess Leia in the years before The Force Awakens than action-adventure.

Perseus et Rex Malus, book, LatinWhile my son reads the Star Wars novel, I’m eyeing some of his summer reading for school, which includes two novellas written in Latin. Both are written by Andrew Olimpi, and the first is Perseus et Rex Malus. (Translation: Perseus and the Evil King) I may take a crack at reading these myself to sharpen my very rusty Latin translation skills.

Chains, bookIn perusing the selections for her summer reading assignment, my daughter discovered a new beloved author! She immediately homed in on books written in the colonial period and began reading Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. She loved the book and quickly moved on to the remaining books in The Seeds of America trilogy: Forge and Ashes. All feature African American slaves during the Revolutionary War.

The Princess and the Goblin, bookI’ve begun reading aloud The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald to whichever children care to listen. The version we checked out of the library is illustrated by Okama in Japanese manga style. I love that there are illustrations on every page, but the manga is clashing with the pictures my imagination generates. Just a personal preference. We’re not too far in yet, so I don’t have anything to add about the story itself though I discovered this book through another An Open Book post! Here’s what the description says: “The classic fantasy novel that inspired The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia now featuring playful illustrations by Japanese manga artist Okama!”

Encyclopedia Brown, bookMy soon-to-be second grader discovered the joys of young sleuth Encyclopedia Brown in Encyclopedia Brown and His Best Cases Ever by Donald J. Sobol. I read many of these with my oldest son and always enjoyed the little mysteries. This collection comprises fifteen favorite stories.

Stories of the Blessed Sacrament, bookThe kids and I enjoyed two books I received from Magnificat-Ignatius. The first is Stories of the Blessed Sacrament by Francine Bay. Twelve true stories emphasizing the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist are retold for children. Some stories were familiar to us, others new, including one I’d like to dig into. Great for all children but especially those approaching First Communion.

Mozart: Gift of God by Demi is a beautiful, sturdy picture book that brings Mozart’s faith to the forefront alongside his immense talent as a composer and musician. In addition to providing a traditional biography of Mozart, it allows the reader to see how faith and devotion inspire creativity and how our gifts and talents can be used in God’s service.

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Copyright 2019 Carolyn Astfalk
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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 Amazon.com. She blogs at My Scribbler’s Heart. Visit carolynastfalk.com.

2 Comments

  1. Thank You for the review of these books. Most of them have piqued my interest, I recently finished “Wives and Daughters” by Elizabeth Gaskell. It was first published in 1866. One of the best books I finished is “My Dear Hamilton” by Leslie Gould and Stephanie Gray.
    Marilyn

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