Welcome to #OpenBook. I'm joining up with Carolyn Astfalk who hosts an #OpenBook Linkup on CatholicMom.com. Here's what I've been reading this past month. The dates indicate when I finished the books. Thanks for stopping by!
2/1/23 The Merchant's Curse - Antony Barone Kolenc - This is the fourth book in a middle-grade Catholic series, The Harwood Mysteries, set in 12th century England and featuring the main character Xan. The whole series has been excellent. In this installment, Xan is working as a merchant's apprentice with his uncle and must figure out whether a witch has cursed his uncle's partner. It also discusses the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes.
2/4/23 The Clown of God - Tomie dePaola - Last month, I read The Worlds of Tomie dePaola which inspired me to request some of his books out of the library. This is a lovely picture book about a juggle who ultimately comes to learn about Jesus and shares his gift of juggling with Him and Mary.
2/4/23 The Quilt Story - Tony Johnston and Tomie dePaola - Tomie dePaola did the illustrations for this charming multi-generational story about a quilt. I love quilts! How could I resist?
2/4/23 The Strange Birds of Flannery O'Connor - Amy Alznauer - Yes, I was on a picture book kick! Truly, I love picture books and miss the days when my kids were small and I got to read lots of them. I saw this one and was intrigued. I am not a fan of Flannery O'Connor's writing which is almost heretical in Catholic fiction circles, however several years ago I read her prayer journal, and I gained a great deal of respect for her as a person. This oversized picture book features large, colorful illustrations and provides children with a short biography of her life which has her love of birds as a connecting thread.
2/4/23 The Soul After Death - Fr. Seraphim Rose - I've always been interested in near-death experiences and what they tell us about life after death. I was looking for a different title when I saw this in the library catalog and thought it might be interesting. This book was written in 1980. Fr. Seraphim Rose was a Russian Orthodox priest who was writing in response to the great interest in near-death experiences of that time. He wanted to emphasize how these teachings do not offer a clear picture of what heaven or hell are truly like. This book is from the Orthodox perspective, which does have much in common with Roman Catholic thought, although the writer does not hide his disdain for Catholics and Protestants. In Orthodox thought, there is no purgatory, but they believe that souls can be rescued from hell through prayer (especially the sacrifice of the Mass) prior to the last judgment, so I would say that is somewhat similar. In many ways, this was a terrifying book. What I would encourage as the takeaways is that hell is a horrible place (I mean, we knew that, but it is good to have the reminder), and that it is incredibly important to pray for the dead, especially the first three days after death. In addition, requesting Masses for souls is extremely important. If you haven't done this for your deceased loved ones, do it now! My personal favorite place to request Masses because I can do it online is The Divine Mercy Shrine.
2/5/23 The Art of Reading: An Illustrated History of Books in Print - Jamie Camplin and Maria Ranauro - I didn't really read this book too much. I mostly looked at the pictures and read the captions on those. It is a book about paintings that feature people reading. There is no great order to the images and it all felt a bit disjointed, but I like looking at paintings and I like books, so it was enjoyable.
2/5/23 The New Design Rules - Emily Henderson - I saw this one on the "New" shelf at the library and picked it up. I don't have any major design projects planned for this year, but I still like looking at home design and decorating books. This one featured lots of good ideas for various budgets from simple upgrades to major re-dos. It had many lovely photographs.
2/11/23 The Art Lesson - Tomie dePaola - This is a sweet semi-autobiographical picture book about a little boy who wants to be an artist.
2/11/23 A Flag for Juneteenth - Kim Taylor - Despite being a history major in college, I had never heard about Juneteenth until 2020. This picture book offers children an introduction to this historical event, seen through the eyes of a little girl. The illustrations are all quilted which gives it a unique touch.
2/12/23 The Story of Love - Beth Wiseman - This is the second book in the Amish Bookstore series. I read the first book, The Bookseller's Promise, last year and enjoyed it, so I was eager to read this installment. This book actually focuses on an English couple - the woman is working for her Amish friends, managing their bookstore, and the man grew up Amish and is now working as police officer. But when he is forced to shoot someone, he starts reevaluating all the decisions he has made. It also features some suspense. It was some pleasant leisure reading!
2/15/23 When Tomorrow Came - Hannah Linder - This is a Gothic romance set in the early 1800s. Two siblings were abandoned by their father as children and their lives took radically different paths. When their father reappears in the early adulthood, at first it seems to be an answer to prayer, but not all is as it seems. (Read for a book review publication)
2/17/23 Mary's Life Journey and Her Amazing Yes - Denise Mercado - Mercado looks at what both canonical and non-canonical writings tell us about Mary's life. She also explores Mary's life through the mysteries of the Rosary (not only the ones in the Dominican Rosary that most of us are familiar with but also other versions of the Rosary). She uses the Ignatian approach of putting herself in the scenes of the mysteries. The meditations on the Passion of Our Lord are particularly poignant.
The Handy Little Guide to Liturgy of the Hours - Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS - Have you ever wanted to learn more about The Liturgy of the Hours? This quick guide provides the essential information about its history and how it is prayed. It inspired me to start doing the Liturgy of the Hours for Night Prayer for Lent.
2/19/22 Stories Behind the Stories - Danielle Higley - I absolutely loved this book that shares the true stories behind some famous works of children's literature such as Charlotte's Web, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Curious George, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and many more. It was fascinating!
2/25/23 Virginia Lee Burton: A Life in Art - Barbara Elleman - Virginia Lee Burton is best known as the writer and illustrator of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Little House. This book offered an interesting look at her life and work.Just Jerry - Jerry Pinkney - Continuing my theme of reading books about children's book illustrators, I read this autobiography by Jerry Pinkney. He shares his story of growing up Black in Philadelphia in the late 1940s, struggling with dyslexia but finding refuge in his drawing, and how he came to make a career of his art.
Since spring of 2019, I have been making my way through the Great Books Curriculum of Thomas Aquinas College (I'm currently working on the readings for sophomore year).2/15/23 Annals - Tacitus - Tacitus tells of Roman history from AD 14 - 68. Tacitus is a good writer and historian. I'm just not that interested in Roman history. One thing I found interesting was that he mentioned the death of Christ when he was talking about the Christian persecution under Nero. I also enjoyed that I had taken out a 1921 version of this book from the library and it had a wonderful old book smell!
My twelve-year-old daughter and I read the following books this month:
2/14/23 Treasures of the Twelve - Cindy Lin - This was the second and final book in a series my daughter and I started last month. Here's the Amazon description:
When Usagi first met the fabled Heirs of the Twelve, she had just one goal: saving her sister, Uma.
But despite increasing her zodiac powers by becoming the new Rabbit Warrior Heir, Usagi’s attempts to rescue Uma have failed. Soon Usagi and the Heirs realize that to truly free those they love from the Dragonlord, they must take on a dangerous task: finding the ancient treasures of The Twelve.
Hidden away by the last zodiac warriors, these treasures have miraculous powers. Their wielder can create massive sandstorms, bring the clouds down to earth to enshroud everyone nearby in a thick fog, or even grant any wish they desire—for a brief time.
Usagi and the Heirs must journey farther than they ever have before and take on the riddles and obstacles that await them on their hunt for the ancient relics.
But will they find them in time to save Uma?
2-22-23 The Circus of Stolen Dreams - Lorelei Savaryn - Savaryn is a fellow writer on CatholicMom.com and I saw this story mentioned in her bio. My daughter and I both really enjoyed this suspense-filled fantasy about a young girl transported into a land of dreams to forget the pain of her family life, where she can have any thing she wishes for, but all is not what it seems.
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