featured image

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

Welcome to the October 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.

Click to tweet:
What are you (or your family) reading this month? Share in the #AnOpenBook linkup #CatholicMom

On a recent visit to see our son at Saint Vincent College, we stopped by Fort Ligonier, a French & Indian War outpost about an hour east of Pittsburgh (then Fort Duquesne). The college is only about 10 minutes from the fort, and I hadn’t been there since I was a child. My son took interest in a historical book that will likely appear in this space at later time, but my husband picked up lighter reading: Ghosts and Legends Fort Ligonier by Cassandra Fell and Dr. Walter L. Powell. It seems to have limited availability outside of the museum store, but it’s what you’d expect—lore and legends from in and around the historical site, which has been excavated and re-created. 


Man of Shadow & MistIt's a little early for spooky season, but I’ve been looking forward to reading Man of Shadow & Mist by Michelle Griep, the second novel in the Of Monsters and Men series, for a long time. I even added it to my summer reading list. (Just one more book, and I’ll have completed it!) This book is a take on Dracula with Bram Stoker himself playing a minor role. Set in 1890 England, native Transylvanian Sir James Morgan is regarded as a vampire by his superstitious North Yorkshire neighbors. After all, he’s seldom seen in sunlight and sheep are turning up dead, drained of blood. Librarian Rosa Edwards considers the accusations baseless and can’t help but be captivated by this magnetic, mysterious man who works tirelessly to find a cure for a secret disease from which both he and a loved one suffer. Michelle Griep’s prose delightfully captures the Gothic ethos in this Christian historical romance. 


Blueberries for Sal CookbookBlueberries for Sal Cookbook: Sweet Recipes Inspired by the Beloved Children’s Classic by Robert McCloskey was my selection from the library’s summer reading program. Playing heavily on nostalgia for the children’s classic, it features a variety of blueberry jams, breads, pies, puddings, and more. The recipes are simple and look delicious! I’ve got my eye on the Blueberry Skillet Cornbread. This little hardcover book paired with some muffins would make a great hostess gift. 


BeowulfNot one, but two of my children are reading Beowulf—my son for pleasure, my daughter for Humanities II. Rather than cobble together a description from my rusty memory, I’m sharing the Amazon description: “Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf  is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath.” 


The Canterbury TalesMy high-school daughter is also reading certain tales from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer with her class. The edition she’s reading offers the Middle English original on one page and modern English on the opposite page, which is helping her to understand particular words and phrases that might be unfamiliar.  


My daughter also read a short story that she shared with me: “Mr. Lupesco” by Anthony Boucher. It’s a clever story of a young boy and his imaginary friend, and it shows up in a variety of collections with other short stories. I’ve seen it described as horror, but I’d describe it more as a weird tale. It’s worth the short time it takes to read. 


The Jane Austen Escape Room BookAs her summer reading program reward, my daughter chose The Jane Austen Escape Room Book. She was sold as soon as she spotted the cover, which is beautifully illustrated by Marjolein Bastin, who has designed editions of beloved classics like Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre. The book includes characters from Pride & Prejudice in an intriguing tale in which the reader must solve puzzles and riddles to help Elizabeth find her way back to Mr. Darcy. My daughter has enjoyed working through the puzzles in this lovely book. 


The Other Side of FreedomMy middle school daughter read The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T. Toney to fulfill one of her historical fiction requirements for school. She enjoyed this short novel set on an early 20th century Louisiana strawberry farm. Young Sal, from a family of Italian immigrants, is unwittingly drawn into a crime. Bootlegging, police corruption, and bigotry mark this tale that reads like classic children’s literature. 


The Secret GardenI’m embarrassed to admit I don’t think I’ve ever read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. If I have, I’ve forgotten it. I should probably rectify that. At least both my daughters have now read this beloved classic about an orphaned girl who discovers a secret garden on her uncle’s property. 


Maniac MageeManiac Magee by Jerry Spinelli is a Newbery Award winner concerning an orphaned boy. Like many award winners, it tackles big issues such as racism, poverty, and homelessness. My children have, thus far, had the same middle school English Language Arts teacher, and this is the third child to read this book. Expect its return next year around this time for my now-fifth grader. 


King ArthurMy fifth-grader is reading Roger Lancelyn Green’s King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, which his sister bought him at the library book sale. She thought the Minecraft-like cover of the classic would entice him to read it, and she was correct. I can’t seem to find that cover online, which is probably related to the fact it turned up at the library’s used book sale. I’m pleased that he is really enjoying this retelling of the Arthurian stories. 


FrindleWith his class, my son is also reading Frindle by Andrew Clements. This is his second time through this story about a boy who renames the pen the “frindle.” It catches on, spreading through his school and beyond and ends up teaching Nick Allen, who’d been a bit of a trouble-maker, about actions and consequences. 





You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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.



Copyright 2023 Carolyn Astfalk
Images: Canva
This article contains Amazon affiliate links, which provide a small compensation to the author of this piece when purchases are made through the links, at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting our Catholic Mom writers in this way.