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:
A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl by Susie Finkbeiner. This harrowing novel graphically depicts the hardships faced in Western Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years. Ten-year-old Pearl sees the poverty around her and learns about mercy through the way her parents share what they have with those who have nothing. Unfortunately, some of these works of mercy lead to opening the door to the revelation of a family secret and putting the entire family at risk.
Just Claire by Jean Ann Williams. This coming-of-age novel for tweens and up focuses on Claire, the oldest in a large family that has just relocated due to a job change for their father. They live in a cabin in a lumber camp in a Western state. The move brings on labor for Claire’s mother, and Claire is left caring for several siblings when her mother experiences birth complications and postpartum depression. 13-year-old Claire tries to fit in at school but is caught between the Mean Girls and Belinda, a true friend who is bullied by her peers and whose family situation is worse than Claire’s.
Frozen Footprints by Therese Heckencamp. 18-year-old twins, growing up under the thumb of their wealthy but tyrannical grandfather, find different ways to deal with the situation. Max is all set to run away when he is kidnapped by a disgruntled former employee of his grandfather. Charlene, closely bonded with her brother, seeks to save him when her grandfather refuses and finds herself a hostage as well. Then the kidnapper’s brother enters the picture. This novel will keep readers guessing the whole time.
After the Thaw by Therese Heckencamp. This fast-paced suspense novel picks up a few years after Frozen Footprints leaves off, continuing main character Charlene’s story. She can’t break off the link with her kidnapper’s brother who was forced to torture her and Max but who wanted to help them escape. The villains were unspeakably frightening.
The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore. A novel of a Bay Area family whose life is coming apart at the seams. Stressors include a high-school senior trying to get into Harvard, a second-grader who can’t read, a realtor mom whose high-priced deals start falling through, and a mysterious intern at the dad’s office. From what I’ve read so far, I think a better title might be “By Hook or By Crook” as it seems like most of the members of this family are bent on getting what they want by any means necessary. I’m reading this right now and I have to say, I find it disturbing. I’m actually puzzled about why my mother insisted that I get my hands on this book. Honestly, that’s why I haven’t abandoned it yet–I’m trying to figure out why she recommended it to me!
Girlfriends and Other Saints by Teresa Tomeo. Teresa Tomeo’s spiritual writing has a style all its own; she’s funny without being shallow and she doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is. Best of all, you don’t need a degree in Sacred Theology to benefit from her books. My full review is here.
Talking to God by Julie Cragon. Get your hands on this new prayer book by Julie Cragon, but don’t read it all the way through. That’s not what Talking to God is for. It’s a small book (on purpose), just right to slide into your handbag for easy reference in prayer emergencies. My full review is here.
Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson. Part spiritual memoir, part devotional, Hope Unfolding explores how moms can learn to lean on God: we shouldn’t be trying to do it all by ourselves. Each chapter of the book concludes with journal prompts, a prayer and a note of hope. Becky Thompson writes from the perspective of a mom with very young children. Though I haven’t fit into that category for quite a while, this book still spoke to me. My full review is here.
Divine Mercy for Moms by Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet. For moms with children of any age, this book packs a strong spiritual punch. It’s loaded with advice on living the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in family life and comes complete with an excellent resource list, including a tutorial on the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
The Four Keys to Everlasting Love by Dr. Manuel and Karee Santos. This husband-and-wife writing team has put together a book on how to maintain a healthy sacramental marriage in a society that doesn’t support such a relationship. This comprehensive book is an excellent resource for marriage prep, but it’s not just for engaged couples or even newlyweds. Married couples in all stages of life can benefit from the sage advice they’ll find here. While couples whose relationships are on rocky ground will find help and hope in this book, it also contains plenty of encouragement for the growth and maintenance of healthy married relationships.
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Follow my Goodreads reviews for the full list of what I’ve read recently (even the duds!.