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 read last month:
When We Were Young and Brave by Hazel Gaynor.
An intense novel set in a boarding school in China during World War II. The students are children of British diplomats and missionaries, for the most part. Mainly focused on one student and one teacher who had met on the boat to the school, the novel follows the entire course of the war and the ways the Chinese nationals and those from other nations who lived in China suffered during the Japanese occupation. It’s a beautiful story of suffering and resilience, and you will need a very light read to follow it up.
Shadows of the White City (The Windy City Saga Book 2) by Jocelyn Green.
Sylvie, a single woman who had dedicated her life to caring for her parents and running the family business, takes in a motherless little girl. All goes well for about 12 years until teenage Rose goes missing during the Chicago World’s Fair. Crime rings, human trafficking, and the hand-to-mouth existence of many late 19th-century immigrants feature prominently in this story of what motherhood really means. Second in a series, but it’s a standalone.
Homestands by Sally Bradley.
I’m not a baseball fan, but I enjoyed this story! Baseball star Mike Connor runs into his ex-wife after he ruins yet another relationship, and discovers that he has a 5-year-old son he never knew about. The story got a little far-fetched as it went along, but it was well-told and an enjoyable read. It’s supposed to be Book 1 of a series, but I can’t find anything else from this author.
Lighter reads (blurbs courtesy of Amazon):
- The Cupcake Dilemma by Jennifer Rodewald. “It all started with an extra assignment delegated to me at school right before Valentine’s Day… But before we get too far, let me begin by stating this clearly. I was voluntold.” A sweet, funny read.
- Getting to Yes by Allie Pleiter. “Valentine’s Day is coming. It’s the perfect time for him to pop the question. She’s more than ready, he’s trying to get ready, so why would God throw obstacle after obstacle into the mix?”
- Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh. “When a public scandal upends Evelyn Brandt’s neatly constructed life, she’s launched on a journey of self-discovery. She finds a new start in the most unlikely place—a picturesque Colorado farm, owned by her estranged friend, Trevor Whitney. Trevor’s unexpected kindness pushes Evelyn to reclaim her dreams, but it also leaves her with many questions, and he’s never been one for sharing.”
Middle-grade mystery fans (about age 10 and up) will enjoy The Haunted Cathedral, Book 2 in the Harwood Mysteries series.
Set in 12th-century England, this story can be read as a standalone. Author Antony Barone Kolenc has crafted a compelling mystery featuring Xan, a 12-year-old orphan who has been in the care of a monastery for about a year. When he is forced to travel to the city of Lincoln with Carlo, who was involved in Xan’s parents’ death, Xan faces multiple obstacles that challenge him to forgive — and he learns firsthand the consequences for himself and others when he withholds forgiveness. (Advance review copy received from publisher.)
Catholic Teen Books’ Treasures: Visible and Invisible is the third in a series of short-story collections from a group of 8 authors in various genres.
Unlike the other collections, this one almost feels like a novel because all the stories are linked by a single significant object that passes from the time of St. Patrick into a dystopian future. (Full review coming soon; advance review copy received from the authors.)
Be Bold in the Broken: How I Found My Courage and Purpose in God’s Unconditional Love by Mary Lenaburg.
I found myself nodding “yes” to so much of what the author says in this book. Mary and I are polar opposites in terms of personality, but I could see myself in quite a few of the personal anecdotes she shared. If you’ve ever felt like you just don’t fit and start questioning what you’re even doing here, this book is for you. (Advance review copy received from publisher; releases March 12)
The Big Hustle: A Boston Street Kid’s Story of Addiction and Redemption by Jim Wahlberg.
This was a gritty, open look at a young man’s path into addiction, crime, and prison, then to faith and a chance at a new life dedicated to helping others in recovery.
Links to books in this post are Amazon affiliate links. Your purchases made through these links support Franciscanmom.com. Thank you!
Where noted, books are review copies. If that is not indicated, I either purchased the book myself or borrowed it from the library.
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!
Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
5 thoughts on “An Open Book: February 2021 Reads”
I love your reviews. Going to look into that first selection as I need a good one for book club and I’m doubting my choice I made already. (the Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell)
Thanks for visiting! The first one would be great for Book Club but it will say – it’s an intense read. I had a book hangover for a long time after that one.
Great selections! I think all but Shadows of the White City and Getting to Yes I either have on my to-read list or have read. The old New Kids on the Block fan in me is especially interested in the Wahlberg book.
He wasn’t a NKOTB – those were younger siblings and friends. But they are mentioned.
Yes, Donnie was the NKOTB member, but their family story is interesting – Irish Catholic family from poverty, addiction, jail, to music, acting, celebrity status, and hamburgers!