An Open Book: November 2019

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Copyright 2018 Carolyn Astfalk. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the MONTH YEAR 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.

During his travels, my husband has been listening to Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates by Eric Jay Dolin. It’s what you might expect from the subtitle, but I found this part of the description interesting:  “[The book] illustrates how American colonists at first supported these outrageous pirates in an early display of solidarity against the Crown, and then violently opposed them.” Hmm. That’s something new to me.

He’s also listening to some different kinds of saint stories with Saints Who Battled Satan: Seventeen Holy Warriors Who Can Teach You How to Fight the Good Fight and Vanquish Your Ancient Enemy by Paul Thigpen. (Is there an award for longest subtitle?) It includes the stories of Saints Pio of Pietrelclina, Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Theresa of Avila, John Vianney, and a dozen others.

Be Brave in the ScaredI read Be Brave in the Scared by Mary Lenaburg in one evening. Yes, it’s short, but it is also smoothly written and not longer than it needed to be – and that says something. I often feel as if nonfiction books are trying to fill pages, becoming repetitive, but not in this case. Mary Lenaburg’s story is brutally honest and well-told, and that’s why this book has been so well-reviewed. I expected it to be more specifically about her relationship with her late daughter, Courtney, but it’s so much bigger and broader. If you’ve ever struggled to trust God with your life – and who hasn’t? – I recommend you read Be Brave in the Scared.

All In Good TimeI did a final read-through of my own novel, All in Good Time, hoping to catch every last typo or formatting error! It’s the story of a young widow of three children, Melanie, who unexpectedly finds romance with one of the coaches of her oldest son’s Little League team, Brian. (A “fun uncle” helping out, not a married dad!) But just as everything seems to be going right, it all crumbles. Brian has some secrets. One he can’t keep longer than a couple of days, and an old one he desperately tries to hold close. Some humor, some mystery/suspense, and some serious treatment of a pervasive societal and familial problem: pornography.

power of silenceI’ve begun reading The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Cardinal Robert Sarah and Nicholas Diat during a portion of my weekly Eucharistic Adoration. Who would’ve thought so much could be said about silence? So far, lots of food for thought. As a naturally quiet person and someone who tires of the noise of media (social and otherwise), a lot resonates with me. Even so, keeping silent runs so contrary to so much of how life “works” these days that aspects of the book are challenging.

Reluctant BrideA Reluctant Bride (The Bride Ships Book #1) by Jody Hedlund was an enjoyable book to listen to while running errands and completing household chores. From a writer’s perspective, so much of this novel is done right: internal and external conflicts for the hero and heroine, romantic tension, character arcs, story goals, and more. Beyond that, it was simply an enjoyable romance, drawing upon the common theme of love conquering class barriers. Joseph and Mercy were such honorable characters it would be hard not to like them, even if I wanted to give them a little nudge now and then.

Ella's PromiseElla’s Promise by Ellen Gable recently released, though I read an advance copy a couple of months ago. This is the final book in the Great War Great Love series, another sweet historical romance between an American woman and a Canadian man set against the backdrop of World War I in France. I especially enjoyed the bit of espionage that makes its way into this story and the satisfying resolution of the series.

DraculAs I make my way through Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a classic I’ve never read, my son is beginning Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker. Inspired by notes and texts left behind by Bram Stoker, Dracul is a prequel to Dracula, set in 1868.

Don QuixoteApparently he has a thing for thick classics, because he’s also begun reading Don Quixote by Cervantes. I think he’s trying to up his Quiz Bowl game in the literature category, but he’s always gravitated toward classics. My son’s going to be better read than I am, for certain.

JulieIn sixth grade, my daughter has been borrowing books from the classroom library. Unfortunately, she’s somehow reading a series in reverse order, which is driving her bonkers. The current book is Julie by Jean Craighead George about an Eskimo girl returning home after having lived among wolves. The first book in the series was a Newbery Award-winner.

BuddyMy second-grade daughter so desperately wants a puppy that it’s become nearly the sole topic of her reading. Poor thing. She recently read Buddy by Ellen Miles, another in the Puppy Place series in which foster dogs are placed in homes by a brother and sister, Charles and Lizzie Peterson.

Drawing GodShe also really enjoyed Drawing God by Karen Kiefer. I asked why she liked it, and she gave me a little summary of how a girl tries to draw God by drawing things that God is like: the sun, bread, and a heart. This is a creative story designed to get children to try drawing God themselves and unlock the creativity of their faith imagination. World Drawing God Day is November 7.

Nate the Great and the Snowy TrailIn first grade, my son has discovered Nate the Great books, and I am happy to revisit this series that I loved reading with my oldest child. Nate solves simple mysteries, often with a side of his favorite food, pancakes. What makes this series shine are the quirky kids in the neighborhood: Oliver, who follows him everywhere, Annie and her vicious dog Fang, and Rosamond and her cats. The book he most recently read is Nate the Great and the Snowy Trail by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat.

Brother Lorenzo's PretzelsAt bedtime, we read Brother Lorenzo’s Pretzels: Prayer and the Holy Trinity by Cornelia Mary Bilinsky. We enjoyed this little history of the pretzel and how it was used to teach children basic religious concepts. It’s nicely illustrated and comes with a pretzel recipe at the end. I recommend it with a side visit to the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania, the first commercial pretzel bakery in America.

 

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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.

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