An Open Book: March 2019

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Copyright 2018 Carolyn Astfalk. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the March 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.

My husband stumbled across The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals – and Other Forgotten Skills while searching for a book about hammocks. (Yes, there are books about hammocks.) Not only do I love this cover, but this book is filled with so many fascinating, practical observations about animals, the weather, plants, the sky, and more, that I’m eager to bring it outdoors and put it to use, should spring weather arrive.  The author, Tristan Gooley, has an Indiana Jones thing going on in his author photo and is a seasoned world traveler.

If you like split time novels, Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson is a beautifully written story set in both present day and during the Nazi occupation of Austria. It  follows the lives of a handful of young Austrians. One is a gifted Jewish musician, one is the young man who loves her, and another the childhood friend who loves him. Interwoven is the story of Callie, aka Story Girl, a lonely bookstore owner in possession of two books connected to Austria and hidden treasure. There is mystery, romance, and tragedy, but, in sum, it’s a novel about the power of stories – children’s stories and our own stories – internalizing them, living them, and marveling at the way the master storyteller has perfectly interwoven each of them.

I loved the highly original Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Both fun and touching, it is told in part through the email exchange between two women friends/co-workers and part through narrative from the man charged with monitoring their interoffice messages. I loved almost everything about this story – the author’s voice, the characters, the setting (a newsroom at the brink of Y2K), the romance. I could’ve done without a liberal sprinkling of the F-word, but it was not excessive and always in character. Also worth noting here: reference to “off-screen” premarital sex.

Connections: Five Stories Celebrating Renewal and Redemption by R. L. Mosz is a quick read of varied short stories that include both Catholic and other-worldly elements. These hopeful stories are great when you have fifteen or so minutes to read. My favorite is the first story, “Golden Boy,” about a man’s fall from grace.

I’ve just started reading Awakening by Claudia Cangilla McAdams, and what a great time to share a perfect Lenten selection for teens! A contemporary young teen awakes to find herself in Jerusalem, 33 A.D. Think The Wizard of Oz meets The Passion of the Christ. In what I’ve read so far, the author captures a young teen’s thoughts and feelings very, very well.

My sophomore’s class is moving into the Renaissance, and he’s reading some of The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli. This kid’s curriculum makes me want to go back and re-read so much of classic literature that was somewhat wasted on me in high school. The Prince discusses how a great man conducts himself and the conventions of princely government.

Fellow author (and homeschooling mom) Quenby Olson mentioned The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers, and I knew I had to get my hands on a copy for my daughter to read. Written by Jonathan W. Stokes and illustrated by David Sossella, the book presents a lot of interesting facts about Roman life and history in an easy-to-read, fun manner. Cleopatra’s Perfectly Normal Family Tree, color-coded according to means of murder, is hilarious.

While I haven’t yet gotten a hard-cover copy of Lisa Hendey’s new book for children, I read an advance electronic copy and am eager to read I Am God’s Storyteller aloud to my youngest children.  The picture book traces salvation history from creation through the Old Testament and then Christianity using the framework of stories and storytellers, including the prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles. It beautifully nourishes the divinely sparked creativity in each of us, but especially in children, who naturally gravitate to stories.

We’re coming up on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and it’s time for me to help my kids dress up as a character from one of his books. (Last year, my son dressed as Sam I Am with his green eggs and ham.) I like some Dr. Seuss books better than others, but my favorite as a child was On Beyond Zebra!, and that’s the one we’re reading here. In classic, tongue-twisting, silly Seuss fashion, it takes a look at the letters that come after Z.

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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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