It’s been 3 months since I put together a real reading roundup for #AnOpenBook. Maybe in the New Year I’ll get better about doing this consistently. (See, sometimes I can be an optimist!)
Before we begin, if you still need any Advent resources or a Sunday-readings devotional for Year B, check out my recommendations.
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:
The latest in Antony Barone Kolenc’s Harwood Mysteries for middle-school readers, Murder at Penwood Manor, is one of those stories that will keep your teen reading late into the night. Xan, an orphaned teen who was first taken in by monks and then came to live with an uncle in a distant town, seeks to exonerate a crusader who has returned from the Holy Land and is now accused of the murder of a romantic rival. Xan is accompanied in his quest to save Laurence the crusader by two young women, one in formation at a local abbey and another who appears to be his love interest. (Review copy from Loyola Press.) Read my full review.
Rachel and Ted Schluenderfritz of 5Sparrows.com, collaborated on a new children’s book, The Narrow Gate, which is a parable about our human tendency to accumulate too much stuff. In this story, a community packs up everything everyone owns in search of a new location where there is water—the one thing they don’t have. But all that stuff they’ve brought along turns into a bigger obstacle than anyone realized. The book concludes with a page of questions for kids and a second page of questions for readers of all ages. (Review copy from Emmaus Road Publishing.)
New from Our Sunday Visitor publishing is In My Mother’s Womb by Fr. Bill Deschamps, Christine Schroeder, Mary Roma, and Susan J. Bellavance, illustrated by Dan Andreasen. This week-by-week picture book that chronicles the development of a child in the womb, skillfully intermingling scientific information (the approximate size of the growing child, the formation of various organs, and the development of physical abilities) with Scripture verses, in a true celebration of the new life God has created through the baby’s parents. This book is appropriate for children of all ages and would particularly be enjoyed by a family anticipating the birth of a new baby. (Review copy from the publisher.)
Sr. Josephine Garrett, CSFN, shares her spiritual memoirs in HOPE: An Invitation. I didn’t know what to expect when I opened this book, but I found it to be not only hope-filled, but joy-filled as well. That is not to say that the author takes a Pollyanna look at life, because she is very honest about struggle, work, and pain. But in all of it, she finds hope and encourages the reader to seek to do the same. There is plenty to ponder in this little book. “The entire life of a saint becomes an act of hope” (59). (Review copy from the publisher, Our Sunday Visitor.)
Fans of local color and restaurant stories will enjoy On the Rocks: The Primadonna Story by Maria C. Palmer and Ruthie Robbins. Written by the daughter of Pittsburgh-area restauranteur Joe Costanzo, Jr., this true story is told in Joe’s voice and recalls his rise and fall as an entrepreneur. Joe’s superior marketing skills put his restaurant on the map, but his lack of good record-keeping regarding his charitable donations, along with his disregard for rules about things like the time bars must close for the night, eventually gain him the attention of law enforcement and he winds up spending six months in a white-collar prison. I wasn’t entirely convinced that Joe was repentant, but the story was entertaining, and the flavor of the neighborhood was well depicted. Be warned: there’s some strong language in this one—not a ridiculous amount, but it is in there. (Review copy from the author.)
Kristin Contino’s novel The Legacy of Us is also a good read for fans of local color. This split-time story is set in Philadelphia, where Liz, a young jewelry designer (who has a day job in a fashion boutique) finds a cameo in a box addressed to her among her late grandmother’s possessions. Along with the necklace is a diary that provides details of her grandmother’s life that no one in the family had known. Liz simultaneously reconnects with her old fiance and meets a new guy who’s understandably reluctant to get involved with someone who still has ties to her ex, losing the cameo in the process and eventually learns to take responsibility for her own mistakes.
They Say He Flies at Night by Amy Matayo was one of the most compelling novels I’ve read in quite a while. As the title implies, rumors abound regarding antique-shop owner Walter Lorry, who keeps to himself and sleeps on the porch of his store, even though he owns the house next door but seems never to go in. But Walter’s penmanship is so exquisite that Piper Moore’s soon-to-be mother-in-law pressures her into approaching Walter to design wedding invitations. Piper gets a glimpse into the real story behind the elderly man, and that changes her mind about everything she’d thought about love.
I’ve read quite a few forgettable novels in the past few weeks, as well. We won’t talk about those. But my Kindle remembers that I’ve read them.
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Where noted, books are review copies. If that is not indicated, I either purchased the book myself or borrowed it from the library.
Copyright 2023 Barb Szyszkiewicz