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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 February 2023 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

Red Badge of CourageI’ve shared my love for Hoopla Digital here several times, but, sadly, our local libraries no longer support it. So, when I was looking for a short audiobook to accompany me on my drive from Virginia back to Pennsylvania, I turned to our Audible books. Stephen Crane’s classic The Red Badge of Courage fit the bill. I admired Crane’s use of imagery, but overall, this Civil War novel about a young man who romanticized battle then fled under pressure was a good but not great read. The main character, Henry Fleming, is referred to as “the youth” throughout, creating a distance from the character that I’d rather didn’t exist. Still, I thought the author did a great job of getting inside the youth’s head and experiencing his guilt, shame, pride, and nobility. Interestingly, the book is lauded as being a realistic war story, though Crane himself had no battle experience.


The Merchant_s CurseMy oldest daughter and I both read The Merchant’s Curse by Antony B. Kolenc this month. She received the paperback for Christmas, and I read the e-book. We both thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think it may be my favorite book in the Harwood Mysteries series thus far. Xan (Alexander) has left the abbey to be a merchant’s apprentice to his Uncle William but is doubting that this move was God’s will for him. A witch has cursed the son of his uncle’s partner and then Xan himself is cursed. (As a result, there’s a lot of retching going on in this novel.) There’s also a minor romantic thread between Xan and Christina, who assists Xan’s uncle. I really didn’t expect the witch’s curse to persist throughout the novel, which I guess I should have, based on the title, but I love that it did.


New AtlantisMy college son is reading Sir Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, a utopian story. His opinion thus far is that it could’ve used an editor. Apparently, there is a lot of detail he thinks could be pared down. According to the description, Bacon’s depiction of an ideal college, Salomon’s House, “envisioned the modern research university in both applied and pure sciences.”


IntermissionIntermission by Serena Chase is one of my all-time favorite Christian Young Adult romances, and my 15-year-old can hardly put it down. My review when I read it in 2017 says, in part, “This beautifully-written, gut-wrenching story is not only a touching, tender, and chaste love story, but an examination of obedience, an exploration of faith, and God's magnificent plans for our lives—which may not follow our plans or our timelines.” Musical theatre buffs will love it, but I’m not one of those, and I still adored it!


Mission LibertadMy fifth-grade daughter is reading Lizette Lantigua’s Mission Libertad with her class. It’s the story of a 14-year-old boy who escapes communist Cuba. He comes to America and is embroiled in a mystery. It’s a fun combination of adventure, suspense, history, and faith. Its availability has become limited, so visit Good News! Book Shop to find it.


Lacey_s StoryBased on Patrice Fagnant-MacAthurs’ An Open Book recommendation last month, I borrowed Lacey’s Story by Bruce Cameron from the library for my daughter too. She’d been wrapped up in a long, ongoing series, but now she’ll be looking for something new. This story in Cameron’s series of puppy tales regards a special needs puppy who gets around with a mobility cart following an accident. So far, my daughter thinks it’s a little sad, but I think it will end up being heartwarming.


The Fight to SurviveMy youngest son picked up a Star Wars Boba Fett Clone Wars novel at a library sale last year. When he discovered The Fight to Survive by Terry Bisson in the school library, he realized he’d read book two and not book one. He borrowed the book and problem solved! My children all seem to enjoy the Clone Wars era of Star Wars most, and Boba Fett is this particular child’s favorite character. In this first novel, Boba Fett is a teenager on his home planet, Kamino—an especially rainy, watery world.


The Wellington AvalancheIn fourth grade, he continues to read more in the I Survived series. Most recently, it’s I Survived the Wellington Avalanche, 1910 by Lauren Tarshis. I’m starting to think I should read this series to get a thumbnail sketch of all the history I’ve never learned about. This snowslide in the Cascade Mountains is the deadliest in American history. Ninety-six people were killed when lightning struck the mountain and sent a ten-foot wave of snow down its slope.


A Prayer from the Heart is Tammy Fernando’s debut picture book. It’s not yet available, but I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy. The main character, Chris, touches a soft spot in my heart. He prays for a friend, something I think all of my children—and I—have done. The way God answers his prayer is touching and demonstrates God’s intimate care and concern for each of us. Illustrations are bright and inviting. Tammy hasn't yet done a cover reveal for this book, so follow her website or social media to get the first look!

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Copyright 2023 Carolyn Astfalk
Images: Canva
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