An Open Book

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the April 2017 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!

Let’s dive right in, shall we? Here’s what we’ve been reading. What are YOU reading this month?

Show Us the FatherAt this point, I’m ready to blindfold my husband as he walks by the book rack in the narthex of our church. He’s added many books to our collection by buying them from that kiosk. At least they all seem to be good books, including the most recent he purchased: Show Us the Father: 7 Secrets to Be a Father on Earth Like the Father in Heaven by Devin Schadt. My husband’s not too far into it yet, but he read several passages aloud to me last week, including the author’s home improvement woes, which seemed to mirror ours.

The Hesitant HeiressCarrie Schmidt, my favorite book blogger and the wit and wisdom behind Reading Is My Superpower, recently gushed about the hero in a historical romance by Dawn Crandall. I think this swoony hero is three to four books into The Everstone Chronicles, so I’ve started at the beginning with The Hesitant Heiress. This story, written in first person and hinging on perception and misperception, would appeal to Jane Austen fans. I think fans of Julie Klassen’s historical romance would enjoy it as well, although the book takes place in New England as opposed to “old” England. I’ll be working my way through the remainder of the series. The publisher, Whitaker House, was new to me, and I was surprised to discover that it’s located outside of my hometown, Pittsburgh.

Turning In CirclesI’m set to begin Michelle Buckman’s newest release, Turning In Circles, due out from Vinspire Publishing at the end of the month. I’ve only read the front matter so far, but the endorsements from Dolly Parton and Earl Hammer, Jr., author of Spencer’s Mountain, the book on which The Waltons was based, really caught my eye. Michelle’s writing has a wonderful Southern sensibility, and I thoroughly enjoyed her novel Rachel’s Contrition, which is being serialized at Aleteia.org during Lent.

Con AcademyMy eighth grader finished Con Academy by Joe Schreiber. He’s been a fan of Joe Schreiber’s since a local author event that he and I both participated in last year. I think Mr. Schreiber’s table in the corner had the most foot traffic since it was piled high with his Star Wars books. I read Con Academy before my son, and I loved the author’s voice from the get-go: his smart, economical style hooked me, and my son and I agreed that this high school con man story is a fast, fun read.

Saint MagnusYesterday, I cued up the Kindle app on the iPad mini and handed it to my son to divert him from the video game console. He’s started reading Saint Magnus, The Last Viking by Susan Peek. I’m anxious to hear what he thinks about this one. I read it a couple of years ago, I think, and purposefully waited to give it to him. While not explicitly or grossly violent, there is warfare, and I think he’s now mature enough to enjoy this inspiring story.

Charlotte's WebI was thrilled to see my third grader tear through Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. I had read the story aloud to her older brother, but, sadly, hadn’t read it  with her. She had her nose buried in it for a few days. Now, I have to make a point of watching one of the movie adaptions with her. The book provided her with a short respite from the Little House on the Prairies series, but she quickly resumed reading By the Shores of Silver By the Shores of Silver LakeLake by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This is the only book in the series that I owned as a child and therefore read several times. My daughter nearly squealed with delight when near the end of the book she reported the Laura had spotted Almanzo. (Her brother has taken to calling her a “farmie,” due to her Almanzo Wilder fangirling.)

The Carrot SeedMy husband ordered The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss for a couple of bucks. It’s a very simple book, but the little kids enjoyed the lesson in faith and persistence demonstrated by a little boy waiting for his carrot to grow from seed. I think the minimalist illustrations by Crockett Johnson appeal to them as well since they are big fans of Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Give a Pig a PancakeThe kids often bring me books in the If You Give A [fill in the blank] series. Currently, we’ve been reading If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff. My little ones love these books and their illustrations. They are fun books, but I often find myself stifling thoughts of what a cash cow the premise has become and how easy they are to satirize. Still, delightful illustrations by Felicia Bond keep me from tiring of the series.

Finally, if you like chatting about books, Erin McCole Cupp hosts a monthly Sabbath Rest Book Talk. I recently joined her, along with Rebecca Willen, to discuss books that include themes of self-sacrifice.  Take a look!Sabbath Rest Book Talk

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An Open Book

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the March 2017 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!

I know all the months roll by quickly, but really, February’s short. Add to that the fact that this bizarro “winter” has delivered only about four inches of sticking snow to our Pennsylvania home (here and gone), and I’m really not sure what month it is. The trusty calendar, however, says March 1, so it’s time to break open our books and see where we’re at!

The Complete Beer CourseIt’s been a few months since my husband has read a beer book, right? I can post another, can’t I? He’s currently working his way through The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes by Joshua M. Bernstein. This book has sent him scurrying to bottle shops in three counties seeking the beers needed for the course. Completion of the course will, I assume, elevate him to heretofore unknown levels of beer snobbery knowledge. Because there is a list of beers to procure, one thing that my husband said would be a helpful companion to the book is a checklist of some sort available in an app or a .pdf file. Lugging an oversize hardcover book to the bar would certainly be cumbersome. (If I were the author, this is an extra I’d offer as an incentive for signing up for my newsletter.) This would make an excellent gift for the beer lover in your life.

Still Life

I zipped through the second book in the Chesapeake Valor Series, Still Life by Dani Pettrey. There’s A LOT going on in this book – multiple crimes, several romances, and series-long arcs. The author handles it well, in my opinion, making this book stronger and better than the first book in the series, Cold Shot. I also enjoy that this series takes place relatively close to my home. While the first book included scenes from one of my favorite haunts, Gettysburg National Military Park, this one centers in and around Baltimore. I’m looking forward to more in the series.

An Unexpected RoleAn Unexpected Role by Leslea Wahl is a much simpler story than Still Life, but like her first novel, The Perfect Blindside, an ideal book for teens. It only took me several pages to adapt to the first person, present tense point of view, which works well for the main character, Josie. Sixteen-year-old Josie makes a summer escape to the beach, fleeing the petty meanness of the high school scene. Hoping to rediscover herself and enjoy a summer romance in the process, she’s disappointed to find Ryan, a boy from her school, on the same South Carolina island. Not everything or everyone is as they seem, however, and with a little mystery culminating in peril for both Ryan and Josie, she realizes what’s important, who she really is, and the value of authentic relationships. Recommended especially for musical theater buffs.

Game OnMy eighth grader just finished up last month’s read (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) and is ready to pick out something new. In the meantime, he’s been reading Game On!: All the Best Games: Awesome Facts and Coolest Secrets. (What’s with the two colon titles this month?) Not exactly a literary classic, but he enjoys these types of books. He appreciates the gaming tips and the ease of picking the book up when he has a few minutes to read here and there.

Key to the TreasureMy daughter checked out Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parish from her school library. Apparently, the school’s collection is from another era, with cringe-worthy covers that even my nine-year-old is embarrassed to be seen with. (I may have ruined her – or given her a discerning eye –  by sharing some truly awful book covers with her.) Thankfully, the content between the covers is good. I hadn’t realized that the Amelia Bedelia author wrote chapter books as well.

We let our kids pick out one book each at the Scholastic Book Fair during Catholic Schools Week. There is, however, a price limit on their purchases, so I helped my little girl find The Great Shelby HolmesThe Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg, which seemed to suit both her interests and our price cap. The title character is a play on Sherlock Holmes. She started it right away, declared it good, then promptly misplaced it for weeks. Sort of. She re-discovered it right where she left it, so, I don’t know. Kids.

No David Both books I’ve been reading to my little kids are short on words and big on illustrations. When I had my first child, I’ll admit that I didn’t really get these types of books. It’s not that I didn’t see the appeal of the illustrations. It’s just that books, in my mind, required words. Lots of words. Rhyming words are especially nice in kids’ books. It took a while for me to warm up to the idea of playing with the inflections in the few words I was given as a narrator and lingering over illustrations, studying them, finding interesting aspects, and asking questions. (I also discovered these are great books to “read” when you can barely hold your head up or your eyes open, for whatever reason. It’s a lot easier to get through one of these at two o’clock in the morning with a child who is sick or cannot sleep than a chapter book. Trust me on this one.) George ShrinksWe are currently savoring No, David! by David Shannon, a Caldecott Honor book. I’d heard of this book many times, so when my son snatched it from the take-home table after story time at the library, I was pleased. The other book we’ve been re-reading is George Shrinks by William Joyce, first published in 1985. (Apparently it became a Canadian/Chinese animated series in the early 2000s. Missed that.) To my mind, 1985 isn’t long ago, yet I enjoy noticing the out-of-date details in the illustrations, such as corded phones and two-prong electrical outlets. Ah, the good old days.

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An Open Book

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the February 2017 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!

Somehow it’s February already, and we haven’t had much winter weather in south-central Pennsylvania. My kids are getting antsy for a good snowfall, yet it’s been warm enough to fool our peonies into peeking above the ground. Snow or not, it’s a good season to sit down and savor a good book!

Over 40I recently woke to the audiobook version of Over 40 and You’re Hired by Robin Ryan. My husband checked it out of the library and streamed it from his phone while he was getting ready for work. He’s previously read some or all of the paperback version (when he was a little closer to forty). After a few minutes, I thought that being that I’m on the other side of forty as well, once I returned from dropping the kids at preschool, I should promptly dig my own grave with my withered hands and crawl in. Apparently many of us old folks lack savvy and enthusiasm (read: we don’t give a rat’s patooty anymore), and it keeps us from getting hired. Kidding aside, there are some solid tips here. My husband isn’t job searching, but sales is an uncertain industry, and he likes to keep his resume and skills relevant. So, kudos to him for still caring, what with one foot in the grave and all. If you’re over the hill forty and in the job market, you may want to give this one a look or listen.

the rose and the swordI have a bunch of books competing for my attention atop the to-be-read pile. In addition to some review copies, I’m trying to work through the books on my NetGalley shelf as well as complete requirements for my public library’s winter reading program. First up is The Rose and the Sword by Gina Marinello-Sweeney. Here are a couple of lines from an Amazon review: “The Rose And The Sword exemplifies the Catholic life journey of Rebecca Veritas, written in a uniquely touching, humorous and compelling style. The protagonist’s strong character is portrayed in her ability to persevere, when emotionally and physically challenged, through her belief in prayer and devotion to her Catholic faith.” sweetest rainNext, in an effort to whittle down the NetGalley books, I’ll be reading The Sweetest Rain by Myra Johnson, the third of three Franciscan Media romances I’ll have read this year. I’ve read several positive reviews of The Sweetest Rain by trusted reviewer friends, so I’m confident I’ll enjoy this story set in 1930s Arkansas.

Sherlock HolmesMy son has been busy with Boy Scouts, midterms, and his National History Day project, so I’ve not seen him reading much lately. He’s read more than twenty of the thirty books he’s required to read this school year, but at this point he’s choosing books from categories he’s less than enthusiastic about, such as poetry. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is his mystery selection.  (True confession: I’ve never read Sherlock Holmes.)

HeidiMy daughter turned nine several days ago, and she received four books as gifts. I snagged a discounted copy of one of my childhood favorites, Heidi by Joanna Spyri, at the local Scholastic Books warehouse before Christmas. (The cover pictured is from the version I bought, but the link is to the public domain (FREE!) Kindle version.) I remember re-reading a well-worn paperback of this book, and I’m anxious to read aloud the lovely illustrated version that we got her. Mystery at MidnightShe also received the next three books in the Chime Travelers series by Lisa Hendey: The Whisper in the Ruins, The Mystery at Midnight, and The Strangers at the Manger. She loved the first two books in the series, which is a sort of Magic Tree House meets Lives of the Saints, and I’m sure she’ll zip through these as well.

Night-Light for BunnyOne of our favorite bedtime stories was lost but has been found! Languishing in a box of books, I rediscovered A Night-Light for Bunny by Geoffrey Hayes. My husband picked up the discounted hardcover somewhere in his travels when our oldest was very little. It’s become a family favorite with its warm, cozy illustrations of the bunnies, their home, and their neighborhood. In searching Amazon, I discovered that there was a glow-in-the-dark version of the book, which makes sense based on the warm glow of various lights (street lights, moonlight, lightning bugs, etc.) pictured. I can’t find our particular edition (pictured here) available on Amazon. Saint ValentineIn an effort to explain a little bit of the history of Valentine’s Day to the little kids, I checked out Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda from our library. I’ve read this to the older kids. It’s not particularly Catholic, but apparently there is a dearth of children’s books about Saint Valentine. (Attention, Catholic children’s authors!)

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An Open Book

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the January 2017 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!

As of this writing, I’m trying to hit my 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal, and I’m only a book away! I think I’ll make it. As the new year begins, I’m looking forward to reading some paperbacks that have been piled around the house and some NetGalley review copies that  have been burning up my Kindle. Now, on to January’s books.

Resisting HappinessAn anonymous parishioner provided each family in our church with a copy of Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly for Christmas. This one was already on my husband’s book pile. I read Matthew Kelly’s Rhythm of Life many years ago, but haven’t gotten around to any of his books since. My 13-year-old has been watching Kelly’s Decision Point Confirmation Program video series with his classmates at school, and while I think he’s a bit weary of the “be the best version of yourself” mantra, we’re still going to give this book a go.

Unearthing ChristmasBecause it’s still Christmas, I’m reading Unearthing Christmas by Anthea T. Piscarik. I’ve sold books alongside Anthea at several diocesan women’s conferences, so it’s about time I got around to reading her book! So far, I’m enjoying the back and forth between Christmas 1955 and 2015. I think the characters will soon be descending into a bomb shelter, which should make things interesting. VanishedI’m also about to begin the final ebook in the Memories of Jane E, Friendless Orphan series: Vanished by Erin McCole Cupp. I’ve loved this series so far, and once it’s done, I’m probably going to be re-reading the classic Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte with a small group of friends online. I have to say again how much I love the covers of these ebooks!

Treachery and TruthTimed perfectly to the Feast of St. Stephen (December 26), my son just completed Treachery and Truth: A Story of Sinners, Servants, and Saints, the true story of Good King Wenceslaus, by Katy Huth Jones. When I won a paperback copy of the book, I knew my son would be all over this since “Good King Wenceslas” has always been his favorite carol. I’d catch him singing it at random times throughout the year. (It didn’t hurt that the Phineas and Ferb Christmas Special included its own adaption of the song by Buford and Baljeet.) AhsokaRealizing he’d not had enough forethought to ask for the new Star Wars book Star Wars: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston for Christmas, my son brought me cash to order it for him on Amazon Prime since Ahsoka Tano has always been one of  his favorite characters. (I suspect he may have had a crush on her years ago, but this kid is really tight-lipped about that sort of thing.) This book is geared right at his age level (grade 7 and up) and has good reviews. I may read this one myself.

Farmer BoyMy third grader continues to read the Little House series. She’s currently enjoying Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of the few books in the series I haven’t read. It apparently has a lot to do with that team of calves on the front cover that seem to keep Almanzo out of school. SounderI’ve also begun reading Sounder by William H. Armstrong aloud to her and whomever else cares to listen. I read it several times in elementary school but can’t recall much beyond it being a sad dog story somewhat like Old Yeller (which I read to my kids a couple of years ago). It’s also a Newbery Medal winner. These books have helped fill my daughter’s reading BINGO card over Christmas break, and in order to cross off another block, she read an entire book of classic fairy tales.

A Squirrel's TaleThe little kids are enjoying the books that we got them for Christmas. I purchased both of these at an online Usborne Books & More party hosted by a friend of mine. Usborne sells high quality books for children of all ages. My son, a big fan of Honey Bee’s Busy Day, which I linked to in September’s “An Open Book,” is enjoying A Squirre’s Tale, also by Richard Fowler. The Human BodyMy daughter snatches her dad’s flashlight for her new book, Shine-A-Light: The Human Body by Carron Brown and Rachael Saunders. This is a very cool concept – shine a light behind the page to see “inside” the illustration. Perfect for glimpsing skeletons, muscles, nerves, and unborn babies. (If you’d like to contact an Usborne representative, let me know, and I’d be happy to refer you.)

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An Open Book

 

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the December 2016 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!


Now that December has arrived, the days are shorter and, at least it seems, busier! Despite the Christmas preparations, I love spending some extra minutes reading this time of year. Not much better than a good book, a warm blanket, and a hot cup of herbal tea. I’ll spare you my envy of a roaring fireplace and simply be grateful for a warm house on a cold night.

Love-Powered ParentingMy husband’s between books, so I had to consult his to-be-read pile, and find out what he’d be reading next. Not sure if he’s trying to score brownie points, but he said he wants to read my book, Ornamental Graces, next. ‘Tis the season for Christmas romance and all. He’s also eager to read a book he bought from the rack in the narthex of our church: Love-Powered Parenting by Tom and Chaundel Holladay. It centers around six parenting principles: priorities, love, words, discipline and compassion, serving, and unselfishness. I don’t know precisely why my husband picked this up, but what family couldn’t use more love and unselfishness? Especially with us old, tired parents at the helm.

12 Days of SnowmenSandwiched between books three and four of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (Cress and Winter), I snuck in two short Christmas reads. The first is 12 Days of Snowman by Sarah Monzon. I’ve yet to read her novels, which are in my to-be-read pile, but this short was enough to solidify their place there. Like one of those puffy, red- and white-striped Christmas peppermints, this story is short and sweet. It’ll dissolve quickly because at this length there’s not a whole lot of substance, but sometimes that’s what this busy Advent season requires. One Enchanted EveI followed that with Melissa Tagg’s One Enchanted Eve, which is the second in a series of Christmas romance novellas. I enjoyed One Enchanted Christmas last year, and this year’s installment didn’t disappoint. Hero Colin Renwycke is a simply a fun character, and I enjoyed revisiting his family’s Iowa farm and following his story as he grows into the man he wants to be, falling in love with uptight culinary instructor/recipe stickler Rylan. I’m already looking forward to the third book in this series, which I expect will be available this time next year.

A Christmas CarolMy eighth grader’s class is reading Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol together. How sad is it that I’ve never read that? Even though my husband bought me a lovely hardbound collection of Charles Dickens’ Stories for Christmas to read aloud to the children years ago. Maybe I need to pull that book off of the shelf. My son’s also reading a DK biography of Thomas Edison by Jan Adkins.I also just picked up  Michael Vey 6: Fall of Hades by Richard Paul Evans from our local library, and I’m sure he’s going to tear through that in no time.Thomas Edison bio

Little House in the Big WoodsI’m so happy to be digging out our Laura Ingalls Wilder books from the attic. My eight-year-old started reading Little House in the Big Woods after Thanksgiving. Best conversation starter in that book: how pig bladders apparently make good balloon-like toys! My daughter seems fixated on the fact that baby Carrie doesn’t have a larger part in the story and would Ma just do something with that little girl. At least her preoccupation doesn’t seem to be diminishing her enjoyment.

Skippyjon Jones Snow WhatI’m having a hard time pulling the littlest ones away from the Skippyjon Jones books. After we met the author, Judy Schachner, at our library last month, we’ve been reading Snow What nonstop. I don’t mind. It’s a fun read aloud, and the author event was quite nice. With the advent of Advent, I was able to persuade them to read The Elf on the ShelfThe Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell a few nights to help them remember the “rules” to our elf game. (By the way, the Q&A on this product is hilarious.)

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An Open Book

 

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the November 2016 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!


November already! In this part of the world, it’s the ideal time to curl up with a book on a cold night. I prefer mine with a giant mug of herbal tea.

How to BrewMy husband, still using trial and error to perfect his home brewing methods, has been reading How to Brew by John J. Palmer.  Some, my husband says, is beyond him, as it is heavily laden with chemistry. He muttered something about an endothermic reaction. I loved chemistry, but it’s been a long time since I studied it, so his words rolled over me. He’s using the book as a reference to learn-by-doing regarding mash and sparge. (Yeah, your guess is as good as mine.)

The Wood's EdgeI am about a third of the way through The  Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton, a book that’s been waiting patiently on my Kindle for a very long time. I’ve heard exclusively good – very good – things about this novel. The premise is a British officer during the French and Indian War swaps his dead newborn son for a living, breathing half-Indian twin born in the same fort amidst the chaos of battle. There’s a bit more to it than that, but the novel then proceeds to follow both families as the children grow and the fathers in particular live with the effects of this heinous crime. The writing is excellent. The book skips ahead a lot, and I’m thrown a bit by the dates at the beginning of each chapter, but that’s a minor criticism. (It would be simpler for me if it listed the date and then, “x years later.” That way I wouldn’t have to keep electronically flipping through chapters to get my timeline straight.)

Mystery and ImaginationI’m also reading selections from Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe, which is only $1.54 on Kindle! Knowing how much I liked Poe, my husband bought me both this book and Tales and Poems many years ago. Mine are 4×6-inch hardcovers with gold edging and ribbon bookmarks, but I see both books have been published and re-published in a variety of formats.Tales and Poems I think this linked leather-bound edition that came out days ago would be a treasure to read and enjoy. I first read Poe in high school, and he’s always been one of my favorite American authors. My visit to his grave in Baltimore is long overdue.

The Challenger DisasterChallenger Disaster by TimMcNeese is being lugged around (though it’s a slim paperback) in my son’s backpack. It seems odd that he’s reading a historical book about something I remember quite well. The book includes how NASA recovered and learned from the tragedy. He has an interest in astronomy and space exploration, and this book will help fulfill his eighth-grade reading requirement for an informational book.

Little Town on the PrairieMy daughter was forced to take a break from reading Trixie Belden because the next book in the series is not available in our local libraries or direct from Amazon. Maybe she’ll receive some books in the series for Christmas. In the meantime, I started her on the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. When I went digging in the attic, I should have brought out Little House in the Big Woods, which is where I think the series begins. Instead, I grabbed one of our library-sale editions with a “1” written on the spine. It was Little Town on the Prairie, so that’s what she’s reading. Oops. I read them all out of order, so I think she’ll manage. Sadly, she told me she mentioned the book to her friends at school, and none of them had heard of the books. Yikes! Granted, in the 1970s, we had the television series to help promote the books, but I would hope that even today, new generations of girls get to enjoy Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories.

Skippyjon JonesIn advance of an event at our local library, I’ve been reading Skippyjon Jones and Skippyjon Jones in the Dog House, both by Judy Schachner, to my two youngest children. These are hands-down my favorite books to read aloud. The writing is snappy, the stories clever and witty, and a joy to read – with accents, singing, and clapping in the appropriate spots.Skippyjon Jones Dog House The illustrations are fun and lively as well. In November, Judy Schachner will be signing books at our library. Registered families (that includes us!) will receive a free copy of Skippyjon Jones Snow What to keep. There will also be kids’ crafts after the program. I’m looking forward to it!

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An Open Book

 

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the October 2016 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!


 

Ornamental Graces coverI’m re-reading a book I’ve read at least half a dozen times. It’s one of mine, and it’s due out in less than a week! At present, it’s pushed everything else off the table as I scour the proof for any lingering typos. Ornamental Graces is a contemporary inspirational Christmas romance set in Pittsburgh, PA. Dan, still dealing with the fallout from a failed relationship, is selling Christmas trees at a roadside lot when he first meets Emily, a schoolteacher with a thing for France who can’t seem to discover what God’s will for her life is. Despite a nudge from his matchmaking grandma, Dan can’t escape his past and make things work with Emily, who keeps ending up back in her brother and sister-in-law’s basement with a passel of nieces and nephews on her lap and at her heels. I think it’s a pretty good story, but then again, it came from my imagination. Despite the fact it spans three Christmas seasons, it can be enjoyed year round. It releases October 11.

Nameless by Erin McCole CuppAs soon as Ornamental Graces is ready for prime time, I have two more October releases to read. The first is Nameless by Erin McCole Cupp. This is Book 2 in The Memoirs of Jane_E, Friendless Orphan. (I wrote about Book 1, Unclaimed in July.) I’m anxious to pick up where I left off as Jane assumes her duties for a mysterious employer. Jane Eyre is among my very favorite classics, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the author’s creative cyberpunk re-imagining. It releases October 8.

A Walk in Her SandalsA Walk in Her Sandalsedited by Kelly Wahlquist and written by twelve Catholic women writers (including a favorite of mine, Stephanie Landsem) sounds like an intriguing mixture of fiction and nonfiction designed to draw the reader to the heart of Christ’s Passion. From the description: “Looking at six universal gifts of women through the eyes of women in the gospels, the book guides you on a prayerful and creative journey through the days of Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.” It releases October 10.

The Giver by Lois LowryMy teenager is reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, a 1994 Newbery Medal winner, with his eighth grade class. Within a day of his mentioning this book to me last month, I saw it turn up in one of the posts linked to the September An Open Book! The class isn’t too far along because they typically read it aloud together. (Not being allowed to read ahead would probably drive me nuts!) So far, my son says it’s suspenseful.

Nancy Clancy by Jane O'ConnorMy daughter is STILL reading Trixie Belden. She’s on Book 3 now. In between, I caught her re-reading Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer by Jane O’Connor. This is the second book in a series of chapter books featuring Fancy Nancy from the picture books of the same name. This one is a Valentine’s Day mystery.

Scary Scary Halloween by Even BuntingFinally, these are the books my little ones are asking for night after night. One of them pulled the books from the Halloween shelf at the library. The first is a favorite of mine that I’ve read to each of my children. The poetic verse and beautiful illustrations in Scary, Scary Halloween written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Jan Brett have made it somewhat of a Halloween tradition for us. It’s a simple story written from the clever perspective of the cats beneath the porch on trick-or-treat night.

A Woggle of Witches by Adrienne AdamsI’m less thrilled with A Woggle of Witches by Adrienne Adams. Unlike Frankenstein monsters, werewolves, or vampires, I’m always a bit uncomfortable reading about witches with the kids. Witches are real. I know because I’ve seen their bumper stickers. These witches, however, are of the typical pointy-hatted, bat-stew eating variety. The four- and five-year-old both enjoy the simple story and illustrations which, like Scary, Scary Halloween, involve hiding from trick-or-treaters.


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An Open Book

 

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the September 2016 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!


Fellowship of the Ring audiobookMy husband has been subjecting us to The Fellowship of the Ring audiobook by J.R.R. Tolkien. While my two older kids seem to enjoy the story in limited doses, I say “subjected” because it’s been the soundtrack of his choice for our recent travels. The little kids get bored. The big kids are okay with it if there’s not something else they’d rather be doing, and I must repeatedly slap my husband’s thigh while he’s driving and insist he open his eyes. That’s not to say this production isn’t well done. It seems to be. I think the particular times at which it’s being introduced to us is the biggest problem. For myself, I sincerely wish I enjoyed Tolkien more than I do. But, hey, I loved the Lord of the Rings movies!

Scarlet by Marissa MeyerI’m slowly making my way through Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. I zipped through the first book in the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder) quickly, but have slowed on this one. It’s not grabbing me right off that bat, but more to the point, I’ve had too many other obligations pulling me away from reading. I will return to it soon!

The Catholic Mom's Prayer CompanionI’ve also been reading The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, edited by Lisa Hendey and Sarah Reinhard, in order to review it. This is the one and only book I’ve reviewed without completing it, but, honestly, to read this book straight through seems to defeat its purpose, which is to provide short and simple daily meditations. So, I read a couple of months to inform myself of the quality, but I’m going to finish it day by day. And I’m going to be handing out a lot of these to Catholic moms at Christmas!

Treasure IslandMy son has been reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonInterestingly, he borrowed a paperback copy from the library even though we have it on Kindle. These kids and their paper books. Go figure. I read the book for the first time about a decade ago after pulling it off of the shelf at the beach house in which we were staying in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I’d always wanted to read it, and enjoying it so close to where real pirates sailed made it that much better!

Roland West, LonerMy boy’s also reading Roland West, Loner by my friend Theresa Linden. The book was one of our Christmas gifts to him, and I’m happy to see him reading something I enjoyed so much. I love that he asks me questions about the characters and other books in the series as if I have the inside scoop.

My daughter is STILL reading Trixie Belden, so no news to report there.

Honeybee's Busy DayWe did a little bit (very little bit) of cleanup, and shifted some boxes of books that were in my son’s bedroom. They are temporary storage for some of our favorite picture books. The littlest of our kids have no memory of these books, so they were excited to discover them. All of our children have loved Honeybee’s Busy Day by Richard Fowler. That little bee on the front cover is made of durable cardboard. Slip her out of her plastic pouch and take her through each page’s adventures by sliding her through the slots. There’s so much excitement over this book in our house that I have to strictly enforce taking turns. I’ve noticed that the author has a similar book, A Squirrel’s Tale, which is available at the gift shop in Shenandoah National Park, where we recently visited. I’m tempted to give that one a try too.

Little Black SamboThe kids have also been enjoying one of my childhood favorites, The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman. I barely recall the controversy over this book when I was young. It didn’t dim my love for the story, and I’m happy to see that all of my children love it as much as I do. Something about those tigers zipping around the tree so quickly they turn to ghi is simply magical! I haven’t revisited the hullaballoo over this book, but to say that the text is racist seems absurd to me. The characters are bright and industrious and in any case, they are not even African or African-American. They are Indian. With its tiger sounds and repeated dialogue between Sambo and the tigers, it’s a delightful story perfect for reading aloud.


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Want more details on An Open Book? You can also sign up for An Open Book reminder email, which goes out one week before the link-up. No blog? That’s okay. Just tell us what you’re reading in the comment box.


THANKS FOR STOPPING BY! STAY A WHILE AND LOOK AROUND. LEAVE A COMMENT. SHARE WITH A FRIEND. IF YOU LIKE WHAT YOU SEE, PLEASE SIGN UP FROM MY AUTHOR NEWSLETTER TO KEEP UP-TO-DATE ON NEW RELEASES, EXTRAS, AND HOT DEALS!Signature Box

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