The first Wednesday of each month, Carolyn Astfalk hosts #OpenBook, where bloggers link posts about books they’ve read recently. Here’s a taste of what I’ve been reading:
Sunflowers in a Hurricane by Anne Faye. This is the story of a life-changing summer as seen through the eyes of three characters: teenage Ruth, her single mom Cheryl and their elderly neighbor George. It’s hard to get three voices to ring strong and true in a novel, but Anne Faye has achieved this in Sunflowers in a Hurricane. The characters will draw the reader in; their transformations throughout the story are true-to-life without being predictable. My full review of the novel is here.
Unclaimed by Erin McCole Cupp. This dystopian spin on Jane Eyre transports the reader into a world that, disturbingly, seems just around the corner. I was captivated by Jane E’s boldness and resilience as she navigated the challenging circumstances of living with a genetic defect in a designer-gene world. Erin McCole Cupp’s novel is a blend of three genres I rarely read (19th-century novel, dystopian fiction and fanfic) and it’s definitely a combo that works.
The Priest and the Peaches by Larry Peterson introduces the Peach family at a crisis point in their lives: the sudden death of their father. Their mother had died a few years prior, and these kids ranging in age from 18 to 7 are completely on their own as 1966 begins. Now the two oldest, Teddy and Joanie, have to figure out how to get food on the table and pay the rent for their Bronx apartment. They’re reminded, in the midst of hardship, just how much their father lived by his favorite catchphrase, “L-Y-N” (love your neighbor), what it costs to do this, and how living this way will change their lives.
The Demons of Abadon by Larry Peterson follows the family as summer approaches and their parish priest arranges for the two youngest boys, Joey and Beeker, to stay with friends of his in northwestern New Jersey. This is an unsettling tale of a spiritual battle; the Abadon forest is infested by “darkened” souls who don’t want 7-year-old Joey, innocent and very in tune with God, anywhere near them. Strange and scary things begin to happen, and you’ll keep turning pages to find out what’s behind the disturbing events in Abadon and how the Peach kids and the Winters family who took them in will weather this spiritual storm.
Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti opens with a music teacher losing her lifelong passion as the arts program at her school is completely eliminated. Her grief is complicated by her husband’s eagerness to stick close–too close–by her side during every moment of the day. Adrift, she seeks to find a way to bring the song back to her heart, only to discover the depths of real grief after a boating accident. I didn’t want this novel to end, and I will look for more by this author.
(Not So) Good in a Room by Dakota Madison. Cyrano de Bergerac meets the casting couch in this light romance. Nellie is a screenwriter who can script a terrific action movie but freezes up when it’s time to pitch. An unmotivated screenwriter offers the services of his actor to help sell Nellie’s scripts–but then the work won’t be known as hers, and crushes complicate matters.
Just a Matter of Time by Charity Tahmaseb is a YA paranormal romance (definitely not my usual genre) but I was intrigued by the premise: a student figures out how to “steal time” from other students, decreasing their ability to focus on their work. I wish this were a full-length novel.
Full Cycle by Christopher Blunt. Perfect for readers age 10 and up–and their parents, this father-son story follows sixth-grader Alex Peterson, a wanna-be athlete hindered from achieving this goal by an injury he received in an accident at his own birthday party. This is a story of perseverance, of teamwork and of looking beyond a disability to draw upon talents yet untapped. It would make a great movie. My full review is here.
Dying for Revenge by Dr. Barbara Golden is heavy on the suspense with none of the blood and guts. In other words, it kept me turning pages (and pages and pages), but I was still able to sleep without nightmares and I didn’t lose my appetite. The main character is a pathologist/investigator haunted by her own grief and desire for revenge. There’s much more than a mystery in this thriller; it’s the story of a soul in torment. My full review is here.
Find a Real Friend in Jesus by Gary Zimak. The author describes “Ten Amazingly Easy Steps” to encounter Jesus in your own life. While the steps may be “easy,” they do require effort on your part–but that effort will bear great spiritual fruit! Find a Real Friend in Jesus is easy to read and an excellent book to take to prayer as you seek to draw closer to the Lord. My full review of this book is here.
The Creed by Scott Hahn. In this very readable book, Hahn traces the history of, first, the Jewish covenants and then the Christian creeds. The reader will learn that every single word of the Creed is important. Every word is there for a reason. The Creed proclaims both mystery (God becomes man) and history (Jesus was born, walked the earth, died and rose.) My full review is here.
My Life as Laura: How I Searched for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Found Myself by Kelly Kathleen Ferguson. Another one of those “get a book deal to do something for a year and write about it” books that I can’t seem to resist reading–plus it’s about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Like me, the author found that the TV version of Laura’s story left her cold. She spent a year wearing an oddly-colored prairie dress and retracing Laura’s steps throughout the Midwest. It was a strange memoir, in a can’t-look-away-from-this-train-wreck sort of way.
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Follow my Goodreads reviews for the full list of what I’ve read recently (even the duds!)
Visit today’s #OpenBook post to join the linkup or just get some great ideas about what to read! You’ll find it at Carolyn Astfalk’s A Scribbler’s Heart and at CatholicMom.com!