New release in YA dystopian, plus classics, and Christmas tearjerkers abound in this month’s reads. Want more? Carolyn Astfalk with Catholic Mom has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!
No Sabbath Rest Book Talk for December or January, so here’s what we’re reading chez nous.
I forget where I found a list of historical picture books around the Christmas theme, but Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant was on there. We got it from the library, and in spite of reading it myself ahead of time, I couldn’t get through the read-aloud process without needing to stop a few times for the lump in my throat to clear, which it never fully did. It was a good opportunity to ask my audience to take over (this is someone who says she hates reading aloud). It’s the story of a rich man who, once helped by the people of Appalachia, decides he owes them a debt, so every year, he stands on the back of a train going through the mountains and throws silver packages of gifts to the children. Little Frankie always hopes he’ll get a doctor kit, but instead he gets other toys alongside practical gifts like warm clothes. Frankie grows up and realizes that, in spite of his childhood disappointment, he, too, owes a debt. Five stars, three Kleenex to Silver Packages.The Royal Diaries series has long been a favorite in our house full of girls who love history. Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor is the book the youngest just picked up, after her sisters read it several years ago. I’m hoping to get a chance to read it at some point after she’s in bed and before it has to go back to the library. Middle Dumpling is reading Emma, the only Jane Austen book I’ve never read. For some reason, this one never appealed to me (as much as I liked Clueless), but Middle Dumpling seems to be enjoying it in what little spare time she has; she’s taken on an ambitious course load and is kicking its but, if I may brag on her thusly.
I admit I’ll probably read Emma before you’ll get me to give Krisin Lavransdatter or any Russian novels another try. I’m more of a romance and action reader than a wallower in despair.
Speaking of romance and action, Oldest Dumpling has been given a “free choice reading” assignment for school, and it looks like she went with The Man in the Iron Mask. Love Dumas. Love love love. I’ve not read this one yet, but I’ll probably pick it up even before Emma.And here’s a book I actually have read! I cannot recommend The Ravenmaster: My Life With The Ravens at the Tower of London by Christopher Skaife enough. Skaife has a delightful voice, and I really felt like I was sitting in the pub with him across the table from me and my kids, telling us how he became the Ravenmaster, about his life in the military, even about his childhood as a bit of a “messer.” If you’re any kind of anglophile, bird fan, history buff, you’ll be absolutely delighted ty The Ravenmaster. Best of all, if you have a reader in your family whose reading level outpaces his/her maturity, The Ravenmaster is a great fit. It’s family friendly and rich storytelling.
I also want to give you a heads-up:
Just in time for St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, Three Kings, Candlemas, or any other occasion on which you feel like giving gifts of Catholic-friendly fiction to your favorite teen reader, UK-author Corinna Turner has released the latest in her YA dystopian saga, the I Am Margaret Series.
This latest release, The Siege of Reginald Hill, goes like this:
An odd surge filled my heart as I looked at him, sitting there in that chair: so old; so evil; so broken; so… alone. A warmth. A caring. A… love. I loved him. Just another poor sinner who need my care…
SAFETY IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF DANGER, BUT THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
Fr Kyle Verrall is living a quiet life as a parish priest in Africa when he’s snatched from his church one night by armed assailants. He’s in big trouble—his sister’s worst enemy is hell-bent on taking revenge on the famous Margaret Verrall by killing her brother, just as slowly and horribly as he can.
What could possibly save him? The humble young priest is defenceless—or so Reginald Hill believes.
But Kyle has a powerful weapon Hill knows nothing about. And he’s not afraid to use it.
Is Reginald Hill really the hunter? Or is he the hunted?
I love what I’ve read of this series so far, but be warned: there are some graphic violence bits that aren’t suitable for younger readers. I’ve just decided to let my 14 year-olds have at it. Perhaps the best part of this series is that there are so many books in it—more than just three, like some other, almost as good YA dystopian series I could name. Pick a YA reader or two in your life and gift the whole stack
That’s it for December! Want more details on An Open Book? You can also sign up for An Open Book reminder email, which goes out one week before the link-up. You can also check out the archives of An Open Book!