Friday, 30 September 2016

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books ThirdQuarter 2016

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Third Quarter 2016

Wow what a quarter, I have managed to read 94 books and most of them this quarter were fiction. And have read 183 books since January 1st. I have built out an awesome and ever expanding Catholic reading list for 2016. There are some amazing books in these lists! Though to be honest working from my favorite and influential books by year list it was very hard to narrow down to the top ten fiction list this quarter. My top two fiction authors each with almost a book a week are Andrew Clements and Chris d'Lacey!

1. Jacob's Children - Noah ben Shea
2. Sword and Serpent - Taylor R. Marshall
3. Fly, Cherokee, Fly - Chris d'Lacey
4. Icefire - Chris d'Lacey - The Last Dragon Chronicles #2
5. The Janitor's Boy - Andrew Clements
6. Horace - Chris d'Lacey
7. Liberation - Corinna Turner - I Am Margaret Book 3
8. Little Bear - Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak
9. Icarus Down - James Bow
10. Someday - Corinna Turner

Honourable mention to other books by d'Lacey and Clements!

No Talking - Andrew Clements
A Week in the Woods - Andrew Clements
A Hole at the Pole - Chris d'Lacey
A Break In The Chain - Chris d'Lacey

1. Resisting Happiness - Matthew Kelly
2. How God Hauled Me Kicking And Screaming Into The Catholic Church - Kevin Lowry
3. 40 Years with a Saint: Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemaria Escriva - Cesare Cavalleri
4. Rediscover Jesus - Matthew Kelly
5. Hope for Hard Times - Scott Hahn
6. A Shepherd in Combat Boots - William L. Maher
7. Into the Deep: Finding Peace Through Prayer - Dan Burke
8. Soul, Mind and Heart - Cardianl Timothy M. Dolan
9. The Chameleon - Merrick Rosenberg
10. Made for More - Curtis Martin

Looking forward to what the next quarter will bring, and it is going to be very hard at the end of the year to narrow it down to a final Top 10 of 2016!

Relates Posts: 
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2010
Top 10 Reading Goals for 2010
Top 10 Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2010

Top 10 Fiction Books 4th Quarter 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2010 - Recap

Top 10 Fiction Books 2010
Top 10 Picture Books of 2010
Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2010

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2010
Top Ten Reading Goals For 2011

Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals for 2011 Update
Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2011 
Top Ten Fictions Books 4th Quarter 2011
Top Ten Fiction Books 2011
Top Ten Reading Goals 2011 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2012

Top Ten Fiction Books 3rd Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books  4th Quarter 2012
Top Ten Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2012
Top Ten Reading Goals 2012 - Recap
Top Ten Reading Goals 2013
Top 10 Fiction Books 1st Quarter 2013

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016 

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

183 - 2016 January-September
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Product Review - Super Serum Vanilla - Paleo Ethics

Super Serum Vanilla
Paleo Ethics

This is the third Paleo Ethics product that I have tried And I find it hard to write a review for this one. Unlike the Organic Super Greens that I loved, and the Vegan Recovery Matrix which I enjoyed, This one for a vanilla protein powder was great, but overall is a little more wanting then the other offerings I have tried.

For the most part Vanilla protein powders are awful, they usually smell great but taste horrible. I once struggled through half a tub of a product mixing it 1 to 2 with either chocolate or strawberry and finally gave up and threw the rest out. I am not sure why making a great tasting vanilla product has proved so hard. Now don't get me wrong this one tastes good, but is way too sweet for my palate. I am not sure if it is the Stevia, Vanilla Caramel or the Coconut oil powder but I could not drink this on its own. I tried mixing it with water, juice, and even greens powders. Just could not find a good way to have it just as a drink. Finally took to mixing it into smoothies that were heavy on chia and hemp hearts to tone it down. Also mixing it needed the bullet, just a glass or shaker always ended up with clumping.

I have seen two different sets of nutritional labels for this product. One says there are 18g protein for 1 scoop and the other 18g protein for 2 scoops. Not sure which is accurate? I like that the sugars are 0 and the sodium lower than many other brands. 

The ingredients are: Super Serum (beef), Beef protein Isolate, Stevia, Natural Vanilla Flavour, Natural French Vanilla, Coconut Oil Powder.

I really believe this product could be amazing if it had half the stevia.  As it is it is a good product and serves its stated purpose. And you can really appreciate the no eggs, non GMO, gluten free, dairy and soy free, no added sugar, no nuts, no corn and Paleo certified. 

Would I get it again not likely but based on the quality I would be more than willing to try some of their other products. Good try but not quite there.

Reviews of Paleo Ethics Products:
Organic Super Greens 
Vegan Recovery Matrix
Super Serum Vanilla

Monday, 26 September 2016

The Swan Riders - Erin Bow - Prisoners of Peace Book 2

The Swan Riders
Prisoners of Peace #2
Erin Bow
Margaret K. McElderry Books an imprint of
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781481442749


I have read a number of books by Erin Bow, both here young adult fiction and her poetry published under the name Erin Noteboom. Most of her books were hard to put down. But because I was reading a physical ARC of this book it was only read at home, mostly later in the evening. As such the read of this book took longer than most books I read. And in many ways that was a good thing. This book is cognitive fiction, as you read or even after you finish you will find yourself, thinking, reflecting and ruminating on some of the themes and motif's presented.

What does it mean to be human, to be loyal, and to love? To see something you desperately want slipping through your fingers and not knowing how to stop it? To want to save the world, but lose sight of the individuals while focusing on the masses. To be an AI connected to the whole world and lose that? To be willing to sacrifice, but having to figure out what is worth sacrificing and what is not no matter the cost. These and more are some of the things I reflected upon while reading this book. 

Bow writes a powerful narrative, filled with passion, a few betrayals, loyalty, friendship and love. Greta Stuart expected to die young, as a prisoner of peace, she knew she would likely die because of a war over water rights. But she accepted a different path. She chose to become an AI, but having been raised royalty, living as a hostage left a mark on her, and as she gave up her humanity she committed to fighting to be even more human than before. 

The swan riders are loyal servants of the AI's they are the boots on the ground in a global peace keeping initiative started s few hundred years ago, when the control of all the weapons platforms in space was taken over by the AI's. So Talis (aka Michael), Greta the new AI, and two swan riders as guards are riding across a post-apocalyptic Saskatchewan, with lots of time for discussion, discovery and difficulties . And in all of this Greta is the most precious cargo of all the first new AI in over 100 years. Greta has some serious influence in how all these complicated events are going to play out. 

There are some LGBT themes in this book, though not as overt as in the first volume. A major part of the plot does revolve around relationships, and how those dynamics can change when a second intelligence can use a host body, thus changing things a lot. To some extent the majority of the book is about relationship, relationship on a personal level, with the demigod AI's, with the nations under the thumb of threat. And how those different levels interact and influence decisions and reactions.  

The book is well written and again the strongest part of the characters. We experience a lot of growth in both Greta, and Elian. We also see a sort of metamorphosis in Michael (Talis). It was an interesting follow up novel, I was not quite as impressed as I was when I read Scorpion Rules, but still a very good book.

Thank you Erin Bow for another interesting adventure. 

Books By Erin Bow:
Plain Kate
Sorrow's Knot

Prisoners of Peace:
The Scorpion Rules 
The Swan Riders

As Erin Noteboom:
Ghost Maps: Poems for Carl Hruska
Seal up the Thunder
The Mongoose Diaries

Friday, 23 September 2016

40 Years with a Saint - Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemara Escriva

40 Years with a Saint:
Blessed Alvaro del Portillo on St. Josemara Escriva
Álvaro del Portillo
Cesare Cavalleri
Dr. Gerald Malsbary (Translator)
Scepter Publishers
ISBN 9781594172496

I have read this book through and know that I will read It again. It was inspiring, motivating and encouraging. This book is also reprint of the book originally called Immersed in God. I first started reading about Opus Dei and Saint Josemaria Escriva the founder over a decade ago. And yet the more I read, the more I am impressed with both the man and the organization. And this book was an incredible read, opening up the life of the man and the work from one of the earlier members, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo.

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo lived with and worked closely with Josemaria Escriva for 40 years. The faith of both men come through in the book, their friendship, their support for each other and their dedication to serving the Church. The book is an interview with the back and forth between Cavalleri and del Portillo.

The sections in this book are:

1. A Son of the Church
2. Citizens of Two Cities
3. What the Father Was Like
4. His Upbringing
5. The Founder
6. A Family and an Army
7. Means and Obstacles
8. Outlines of Interior Life
9. The Bread and the Word
10. Devotions
11. Virtues Lived to a Heroic Degree
12. A Reputation for Sanctity
13. June 26, 1975
A Chronology of the Life of St. Josemaría Escrivá
Bibliographical Note

Some of the stories in this book have different versions told elsewhere. But many of them are new. It is the personal account of a life lived in service. A life committed to following Gods leadings, guidance an immense trust in Gods provision. This book was an excellent read. It will challenge your faith and how you live it out. The examples of Escriva and del Portillo  will both motivate and encourage.

This book is wonderful and I encourage you to give it a read with an open heart!

(Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Icarus Down - James Bow

Icarus Down
James Bow
Scholastic Canada
ISBN 9781443139137
eISBN 9781443139144

I have read two other books by James Bow and greatly enjoyed them, but this book takes my appreciation of his writing to a whole new level. It was interesting I was reading both this book, and The Swan Riders - Prisoners of Peace book 2 by his wife Erin Bow at the same time. I was reading the eBook of this and a printed advance copy of Swan Riders. Slowly this book started monopolizing more and more of my time until I rushed through to finish it first. It got to the point where I just could not put this book down, I ended up taking a long lunch at work to finish it one day.

This story is gripping with a great intensity even with the slow pace of the story and is compelling in the message it conveys and how it is presented. It a world founded on lies and secrets a group of humans spread across thirteen cities suspended in chasms live a perilous life. The sun will easily kill humans if in it directly for long, but there are monsters in the fog below on the ground. Much of the technology that brought them here was lost in the first few days because of how harsh an environment it is and wiring just fried. And now their world is about to be turned upside down.

Simon Daud just wanted to be a pilot. And on his final flight test something goes terribly wrong. His brother is lost and he is horribly burned. But he survived. But soon his life is in upheaval as he finds out secrets his friends, his brother and even his mother had kept from him. He must decide if he will help the group known as grounders. But all that changes when his city is sabotaged and crashed to the ground. And with that he is abandoned to the fog forest. And this is where things get even more interesting. Tic Tic Tic.

 This book as mentioned was very hard to put down. In some ways it reminds me of reading Dune by Frank Herbert when I was much younger. And it is also reminiscent of some themes Robert A. Heinlein, especially Stanger in a Strange Land.  Humans who want to leave earth and the veil we have done to one another, only to succumb to what we hate most. The masses deceived and fooled by a few for many, many years. And learning to accept the self through finally understanding the alien, and through that recognising the alien within us all.

The characters in this story are masterfully written, from Simon and Eliza to the nefarious Tal. The characters are one of this books greatest strengths. Another is the pace of the plot, the time travelling and learning. The discoveries  and having to learn to accept and live with them. And I loved how the story was told back and forth, the first part of the book is Simon's story and then it is told back and forth from both Simon and Eliza or  EK-TAAK-TOCK-TAAK, point of view.

Overall I cannot think of a single criticism of this book. The closest would maybe be that I wish it was written in such a way that the story would continue. This is wonderful read in a classic science fiction style and I wish I could give it more than 5 stars!

Books by James Bow:
Icarus Down

The Unwritten Books:
The Unwritten Girl
Fathom Five
The Young City

Mysteries Revealed:

Animal Mysteries Revealed
Earth Mysteries Revealed
Space Mysteries Revealed

Lamborghini: Superstar Cars
Earth's Secrets: Invisible Worlds
Deep Space Extremes
Baseball: Sports Science
Cycling: Sports Science
Saving Endangered Plants and Animals: Science Solves It
Rescue Missions: Science Solves It