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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 June 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


May’s a little wild, isn’t it? Even without spring sports, recitals, sacraments, or graduations, May flew by in a blur of concerts, tests, and general busyness. That meant a little less reading for some of us. Plus, my daughters have been reading more books in series I’ve already shared here multiple times. My college student, who completed his semester in early May, made up for them though. 

Abandonment to Divine ProvidenceI was happily surprised to receive book mail with Pauline Books & Media’s reprint of Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade. I’d heard of this spiritual classic, and my husband commented that it had been recommended to us by a friend. Turns out we have an ugly copy of it already. This edition from Pauline Books & Media is anything but ugly. With a durable leather-like cover, pretty gold ribbon, and thin pages, this book is both attractive and easily portable. Its chapters are super short, perfect for reading one or two each day and allowing me to ruminate. My husband was aghast that I’ve highlighted passages, but there are so many salient points I want to remember. Its focus is on attaining holiness through total submission to the will of God in every moment. It’s simple and yet so substantive. I’m so grateful to have discovered this treasure.


DontGabriella Batel’s YA novel Don’t has me reading “just one more chapter” night after night. Its tone and mood are recognizable to me from other YA novels—a little bleak for my taste—but it’s a strong, polished debut and, as I’ve reached the halfway point, hard to put down. The point-of-view character, Paityn, has recently lost her stepfather, a police officer murdered by gang members. But Paityn, her pregnant mother, stepbrother, and friend are still mixed up in the continuing violence. And Paityn’s health is precarious, at best, as she suffers from frequent lupus flare-ups.


Desire or DefenseAfter enjoying a professional hockey rom-com last month, I reached for another—Defense or Desire by Leah Bruner. While it wasn’t a terribly substantive story (not that I expected it to be), I liked the characters well enough, especially the hockey player with the bad rep, Mitch. (As an aside, I’d love to see the hockey-player-who-needs-to-reform-his-image trope turned on its head. Let’s see a pretty boy who needs to be perceived as rough and aggressive.) After being suspended by the NHL, Mitch must coach some ice hockey hopefuls, among them, little brother to spunky nurse Andie. An enemies-to-lovers romance ensues. On the technical side, I was distracted by rampant comma splices and punctuation issues, but otherwise, it read smoothly.


The Return of the KingMy oldest son finally completed the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He happily finished The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, and it may be his favorite of the three (contending with The Two Towers). He preferred the books to the movies, enjoying a fuller experience of the stories. I think he’s trying to blot the Amazon Rings of Power series from his memory.


The Children of HurinWanting more Middle Earth stories to read, he also read The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien and enjoyed returning to the complex world the author built. This book was reconstructed by Christopher Tolkien and published after his father’s death. It is a tale set in the same world as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a tragedy in the classic sense, and culminates in a battle with a dragon. There are also illustrations throughout the hardcover edition we own.


The Poetic EddaThe Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods edited and translated by Jackson Crawford was a recent birthday gift to the same son. Compared to The Saga of the Volsungs, which he received for Christmas, this volume is less narrative and more poetry. Interestingly, many of the dwarf names in one of the early poems were used by Tolkien for his hobbits.


Our Friends in HeavenMy youngest daughter has been picking up Our Friends in Heaven, Volume 1: Saints for Every Day January to June and Volume 2: Saints for Every Day July to December. As you’d guess from the titles, the saints are organized according to their feast days. Entries are short—a couple of pages—and include a biography and listing of the saint’s patronage. This is the fourth edition of a classic bestseller, and I think my daughter’s interest is growing as she gets closer to the age (in our diocese) of choosing a Confirmation saint.


I Survived the Japanese SunamiAs my youngest son wraps up fourth grade, he’s read yet another book in the I Survived series, which are a mainstay of his classroom. I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis recounts the story of an American family vacationing in Japan when the tsunami hits. The family gets separated when they are pulled from their car—until their eventual reunion.


The Strange Sound by the Sea The Strange Sound by the Sea by Haley Stewart is the third book in The Sister Seraphina Mystery series. I admit I’m becoming attached to these adorable mice and their simple adventures. The Christmas story is still my favorite since it’s all sorts of cozy, but this trip to the seashore (as stowaways in G.K. Chesteron’s car) is fun as well. There’s a strange sound scaring the young mice at their seashore lodgings, and Dominic and Marigold must get to the bottom of it.



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Copyright 2023 Carolyn Astfalk
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