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Carolyn Astfalk hosts the Open Book linkup: Share what you're reading and get recommendations from other readers.

Welcome to the August 2022 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.

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What are you (or your family) reading this month? Share in the #AnOpenBook linkup #catholicmom

Somehow, I squeezed in a lot of reading in the past month. Maybe it was vacation. Maybe it was a string of good books. I even have a few books in progress that I’ll hold until next month. Let’s get to it! 

In Honor_s DefenseKaren Witemeyer’s Christian historical romances are incredibly consistent in quality, but I particularly enjoyed In Honor’s Defense. It’s last in a series but can stand alone. I appreciated that the connection between a hardened, lonely cowboy/vigilante and an overlooked, citified woman was based on a connection more than skin deep. Damaris provides the compassion, tenderness, and stability that Luke has never had. He provides the affection and attention she’s never received. The story has plenty of action and a little mystery as they work to uncover who wants to take the land left to Damaris’s orphaned nephew by any means necessary.


Love and the Dream Come TrueLove and the Dream Come True by Tammy L. Gray is also last (I think!) in a series. I’m a third of the way through the novel focused on a character who’s had his share of time “on screen” in the first two books in the series. In both books, Cameron, an aspiring musician, has been dumped, to put it bluntly. The second instance left him bereft of the love of his life and his friends/bandmates. Now he’s reached stardom, but he’s as lonely and anxiety ridden as ever. Enter his sister’s friend, Lexie, who’s had a crush on him since they were young and has perpetuated an imaginary relationship with him for more than a decade while raising her sister’s daughter. Cameron still has a way to go to make me like him, so I’m eager to see how this turns out.


Merrying the CowboyI did a little Christmas in July reading with Crystal Walton’s Merrying the Cowboy. If you like Hallmark Christmas movies, you’ll enjoy this one. It follows the format closely with the career-oriented city woman returning to the small town to help her ailing mother. While there, she can’t escape painful losses or her old boyfriend, a cowboy with some regrets where she’s concerned. The story flows smoothly and easily.


Harvest MoonYet another third in the series is Denise Hunter’s Harvest Moon. It didn’t hurt that this series, set in a North Carolina Appalachian Trail town ushered in my hiking/camping vacation that included some Appalachian Trail hikes. Mulberry Hollow addresses some serious grief and unresolved issues between a divorced couple left with (temporary) custody of their friends’ young daughter. From book one, the reader knows that Laurel and Gavin buried their own young son, and Denise Hunter does a great job of drawing out the tension surrounding that loss until well into this third book. Like Karen Witemeyer, I find Denise Hunter’s writing very consistent. 


Mulberry Hollow

Mulberry Hollow immediately precedes Harvest Moon. It’s probably my favorite of the three books as it’s the most trail-oriented. Wes is hiking part of the Appalachian Trail for a fallen friend. He gets sick and ends up on the door of the local town’s health clinic where Avery, the town doctor, nurses him back to health. He can’t pay her, so he remodels a small guest property that Avery hopes will help lure another doctor to her practice to lighten her load. As you might guess, they’re attracted to one another, but Wes has promised to head north to the sister of his fallen friend, and Avery has committed herself to being single due to the possibility of a hereditary health condition. Don’t worry. It all works out.


JocelynJocelyn by Sarah Monzon is another rom-com in the Sewing in So Cal series. I think I liked the first book, Molly, better, but this one is much like the first in tone and mood. These are relatively short, light reads that I’ve found refreshing. This one has a little of the cowboy/ranch hand thing going for it in a contemporary setting and is set apart by featuring a Black couple, which I don’t see a whole lot in Christian romance.


Child UnwantedI did read more than romance in July, and here’s evidence. Child, Unwanted by Corinna Turner is the next in her Friends in High Places series. Daniel, the main character of the first book in the series is featured prominently in this story of a young boy, Miracle, scarred from birth by a failed abortion, who lands in foster care and then suffers a near-fatal accident. He’s got a lot to suffer. Daniel is there as a companion and so is St. Margaret of Castello. I knew very little about this recently canonized saint who suffered both physically and emotionally her entire life. As an aside, Corinna Turner is the only author I know who can confine her protagonist to a hospital bed in a single room and still make the story engrossing. (This isn’t the first time she’s done it.)


In the Shadows of FreedomIn the Shadows of Freedom by C. & C. Spellman is the first book in a dystopian series. In it, the United States is governed by what I’d call a totalitarian libertarianism, odd as that sounds. The story of a disaffected young woman, Amanda, includes supernatural elements and an exploration of freedom versus licentiousness. Amanda cultivates troublesome relationships that promote drug experimentation and draw her further from the faith of her childhood. One of the authors is a Catholic Mom contributor!


Shenandoah HeritageWhile on vacation, my college-age son picked up a small book about the lives of the mountain families whose homes were taken by eminent domain to establish Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah Heritage: The Story of the People Before the Park by Carolyn Reeder and Jack Reeder features stories of families and individuals who resisted leaving their homes. Many of the residents were stereotyped as uneducated and lazy and became part of a campaign to relocate residents against their will, for their own good, of course. It was terribly unjust.


Scourging AngelThe Scourging Angel: The Black Death in the British Isles by Benedict Gummer was snagged at a library sale and has sat on our shelf for a while. My son picked it up and dug in. It includes information on the plague itself with a focus on Britain and how it was affected by the disease and related upheaval. I imagine this is more interesting reading having lived through the last couple of years.


The Beatryce ProphecyBased on a recommendation from an An Open Book post last month, I requested The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo from the local library. My almost fifth-grade daughter has enjoyed many of Kate DiCamillo’s books, and she enjoyed reading this one at our campsite on vacation. This illustrated story set in medieval times traces the journey of Beatryce, who is nursed to health by a monk. There’s a prophecy about Beatryce, and the king is after her.


Little House on the PrairieThe same daughter is reading Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the second book in the beloved series. Interestingly, I heard her spouting facts she’d learned from this and the first book while we were hiking. She’s picking up on natural history and pioneer survival skills. This book involves the Ingalls family traveling by covered wagon to Kansas territory.


SplatoonMy youngest son picked Splatoon Vol. 10 by Sankichi Hinodeya from the library. I don’t have much to say about these books, which are comic book adaptions of the video game. You defeat enemies by spraying them with paint. The interesting thing to me about these books is that they are read from back to front as one would do in Japan.


Catholic Bible ChroniclesIf you’re looking for readable Bible stories for children, Catholic Bible Chronicles: 70 Bible Stories from Adam to the Apostles may fit the bill. The stories, adapted by Amy Welborn for Ascension Kids, are illustrated with a single picture and include a reference to the relevant Bible chapters. Stories are organized according to Ascension’s The Bible Timeline, which orders books according to Salvation History. It’s a large, sturdy hardback that can survive heavy use by many little hands.


An Ark Full of AnimalsAn Ark Full of Animals by Renita Boyle is a colorful picture book adaption of the story of Noah’s Ark that works best as a read aloud with rhyming, alliteration, and fun, descriptive language. The book is sturdy and visually appealing, something I’ve come to recognize as a quality of books from Ascension Kids.




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Copyright 2022 Carolyn Astfalk
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