Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Icefire - Chris d'Lacey - The Last Dragon Chronicles #2

The Last Dragon Chronicles #2
Chris d'Lacey
Orchard Books 
ISBN 9780439672467
eISBN 9780545414654

In under a year I have read 10 books by Chris d'Lacey. With each book that I read I am more impressed with his skill and style. Even though my children are a little young for The Last Dragon Chronicles I am really looking forward to reading these with them when they are a little older. I had these books sitting on my shelf for a number of years, but each book was larger than the previous and the series was getting longer, so I never got around to starting them. It really was my loss, because since I started read d'Lacey's books I have not been disappointed in one and look forward to reading many many more. In fact I need to pace myself and intersperse these books with others, for I found I was dreaming of dragons having read The Dragons of Wayward Crescent, The Fire Within Last Dragon Chronicles book 1, and The Wearle the Erth Dragons book 1 in such a short time. But coming back after a few months break, this book was like visiting with a friend after a long separation.

You never know what will happen when you visit with the folks at 42 Wayward Crescent, and in this book even more so than the previous 5 books I have read sit in and around that mysterious house and it's collection of dragons. This book begins with Lucy crafting a wishing dragon, as it's maker she gets the first wish, but then David makes a bizarre wish and the life for all of them takes a number of unexpected turns.

In this book, old tales and legends seem to come to life and ancient foes prepare to battle yet again. The stories of the legends of the Polar Bears who ruled the ice, and also the mythology of the last dragons on earth, the two interwoven. And all of it a puzzle that David must figure out. David at first has a hard time accepting what is happening. He is also struggling trying to publish his children's book, go to school and survive the craziness that is life on Wayward Crescent. Combine that with relationships ending, relationships beginning and the prospect of adventure in the frozen north of Canada and this book is just awesome!

This book was an enticing read. Barely able to put it down. I will warn readers once you start reading Chris d'Lacey's books you will have a really hard time stopping. Fortunately there are many to choose from. So give them a try and see where the dragon's take you.     

Books by Chris d'Lacey:
Dragons of Wayward Crescent

Gruffen (2009)
Gauge (2008)
Glade (2009)
Grabber (2010)

The Erth Dragons

The Wearle (2015)
2. Dark Wyng (2016)

The Last Dragon Chronicles with David Rain
The Fire Within (2001)
2 Icefire (2003)
3 Fire Star (2005)
4 The Fire Eternal (2007)
5 Dark Fire (2009)
6 Fire World (2011)
7 The Fire Ascending (2012)
Rain and Fire: A Guide to the Last Dragon Chronicles (2010)

The Unicorn Files
1 A Dark Inheritance (2014)
2 Alexander's Army (2015)

Other Books
Henry Spaloosh! 

Fly, Cherokee Fly
Shrinking Ralph Perfect
The Snail Patrol
The Table Football League
Riverside United
From E to You
Scupper Hargreaves, Football Genie
Pawnee Warrior
The Salt Pirates of Skegness
Falling for Mandy
The Prompter

Picture Books:
A Hole at the Pole
Juggling with Jeremy
A Break in the Chain
Read With Bubble and Float
Dexter's Journey
Frankin's Bear

A Week in the Woods - Andrew Clements

A Week in the Woods
Andrew Clements

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
A Division of Simon and Schuster

ISBN 9780689858024

This is the fifth book by Andrew Clements I have read in as many weeks. I must state that I am very thankful that I discovered Andrew's writings this year. These are wonderful books That I enjoy reading and now have started reading with my children. This was the first one without some illustrations, yet even with that what an incredible story. Clements has a way of taking the reader into another mind, to looking at motives, actions, self-examination, and though that towards growth. In this case that growth is both in a teacher and a student. Like a number of his other books I have read it is set in 5th grade. 

This is the story of both Mr. Maxwell the science teacher and Mark Chelmsley IV. Both of them make some mistakes, both of them come to realizations and both of them are changed. In this book Mark's parents have money a lot of money, and they have bought and renovated a new home. The plan is for him to finish out 5th grade at a local school in Whitson, New Hampshire, and then next year Runyon Academy. But Marc is not bothering to try and fit in, he is bored in his classes, and feels like he is just putting in time. Mr. Maxwell tries to being him out of his shell and the two end up just clashing. Things come to a head during the outdoor education week. And here is where they both make more mistakes, but also have a chance to make amends. 

This book was an excellent read. I could hardly put it down and cannot wait to read it with my children. The book helps the reader reason through some tough questions with both Mr. Maxwell and Marc. I could hardly out the book down and raced through it desperate to find out what was going to happen next.

Growing up with a dual form of dyslexia I did not read a lot of books when I was younger, or recall having many read to me. I honestly believe If I had read more books like this one and others by Clements, that lessons I only learned later in life and with a higher cost would have come easier, and likely earlier. Andrew Clements books teach lessons, and those lessons are just as applicable to adults as to children. There are not a lot of books I read with my three children that I think I get more out of at the time of reading then the kids, but this is one of those books. I have become a big fan of Clements works and will be reading more of them soon. I give this book my highest recommendation.

Books by Andrew Clements:
Bird Adalbert
Noah and the Ark and the Animals
Santa's Secret Helper
Temple Cat
Mother Earth's Counting Book
Billy and the Bad Teacher
Who Owns the Cow
Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers
(Adapter)Philipp's Birthday Book
Riff's BeBop Book
Real Monsters Go for the Mold
Things That Go EEK on Halloween
Real Monsters Stage Fright
Music Time, Any Time
Double Trouble in Walla Walla
Gromble's Haunted Halloween
Hey Dad, Could I Borrow Your Hammer
The Landry News
Look Who's in the Thanksgiving Play
The Mouse Family
The Janitor's Boy
Circus Family Dog
The Christmas Kitten
The School Story
Things Not Seen 
The Jacket 
A Week in the Woods
Slippers at Home
Naptime for Slippers
The Report Card
The Last Holiday Concert
Slippers at School
Slippers Loves to Run
A Million Is a Lot of Dots
Lunch Money
Things Hoped For
Room One: A Mystery or Two
No Talking
Things That Are
Lost and Found
Extra Credit
About Average
The Map Trap

Pets to the Rescue Series
Ringo Saves the Day!
Brave Norman
Tara and Tiree, Fearless Friends
Delores and the Big Fire

Jake Drake Series
Jake Drake Know-It-All
Jake Drake, Bully Buster
Jake Drake, Teacher's Pet
Jake Drake, Class Clown

Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School Series
We the Children
Fear Itself
The Whites of Their Eyes
In Harm's Way
We Hold These Truths

Reading program Books
Karen's Island
Three Wishes for Buster
Bill Picket: An American Original, Texas Style
Hurricane Andrew
Ham and Eggs for Jack
Life in the Desert
Desert Treasure
Inventors: Making Things Better, Steck-Vaughn
Milo's Great Invention

Monday, 25 July 2016

Soul, Mind and Heart - Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

Soul, Mind and Heart:
Personal Reflections on Saint John Paul, Benedict and Francis
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
Our Sunday Visitor
eISBN 9781681920160

This ebook is currently available for free from Our Sunday Visitor at this link. It is a very quick read. It is full of personal reflections, inside stories and with a sense of reverence. Cardinal Dolan open's up and shares from his heart and his experience with the last three popes.

Dolan in the introduction states: "At the risk of an oversimplification, an easy way to think about these last three popes is this: the Soul, the Mind, and the Heart. The Church is meant to be the soul of the world, to put on the mind of Christ, and to reveal the heart of Jesus. I propose that we look at Pope John Paul II as emphasizing the soul of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI as highlighting the mind of the Church, and Pope Francis as giving priority to the heart of the Church." And he goes on from there to highlight examples from personal experience and the public ministries of these three great men. He uses these three as examples for us, in our day to day lives and our personal call to ministry, "Let's explore how each of these popes reminds us of, and encourages us to be renewed in, soul, mind, and heart."I will include one short example for each of the three pope's profiles in this book.

Relating stories about Saint John Paul he draws from a variety of sources: "His emphasis on the soul was evident to others. On his first pastoral visit to the United States, in 1979, he was greeted at the White House by President Jimmy Carter, who called him "the soul of the world." When he returned to the United States in 1987, Billy Graham called him "a providential prescription for humanity's exhausted soul." In 2004, Rabbi Gilbert Rosenthal, a leader in Jewish-Catholic relations, was taking a group of Jewish leaders to meet with the Holy Father, not long before John Paul II died. The pope was in fragile health at the time, and somebody asked Rabbi Rosenthal: "The Pope is ill. He is feeble and can hardly talk. Why are you going to visit him?" To which the rabbi responded: "We're not going to see his body. We're going to see his soul."" Thus highlighting the great appeal and respect that Pope John Paul II had in his lifetime.

Reflecting on Pope Benedict Cardinal Dolan says: "The Church's rich intellectual tradition, so beautifully protected and handed down for centuries, is hardly a museum piece, but rather is a living force in the world today. This is because, as Benedict pointed out numerous times, our reason allows us to discover the truth, and truth ultimately points us to God. When reason is enriched by faith and Revelation, we have sparks. We have freedom. We have the ability to know what is true, good, and beautiful in the human person."

In writing about pope Francis Cardinal Dolan says: "In this way, Pope Francis reminds me of Bernini's masterful colonnades in Saint Peter's Square. Bernini said the columns are the arms of Holy Mother Church, reaching out to embrace the world and bring the world into the Church. Pope Francis reminds us that this embrace is especially necessary in the face of tragedy."

I hope that those three samples will entice you to give this little volume a read. Some of the personal stories are very moving. It is a great little read and how can you beat the fact that you can get the ebook for free!

Books by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan:
Called to be Holy
Soul, Mind and Heart
Praying in Rome
True Freedom
To Whom Shall We Go
Priests for the Third Millennium
Doers Of The Word: Putting Your Faith Into Practice
Advent Reflections: Come, Lord Jesus!
"Some Seed Fell on Good Ground": The Life of Edwin V. O'Hara

(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Uncle's Shawarma and Kabob - Review

Uncle's Shawarma and Kabob - Review

The Best Shawarma in KW Region!

Uncle's Shawarma & Kabob
425 University Ave E.
Waterloo, ON
N2K 4C9

(Freshco Plaza, University & Bridge)

I am a big fan of Shawarma specifically and middle eastern cuisine in general.  And I have tried many places in the region, and often when I travel for work make sure I find a place or two to try.  Until recently my favorite place was further along University Ave, and my second was on Victoria. But since trying Uncle's I have not gone back to any other. To be honest this is the best Shawarma I have had anywhere in the world. And I have had some really good stuff in Cologne, Germany, and in Phoenix, Arizona and even some inserting variations in Austin, Texas and nothing compares to Uncle's!

And unlike some Shawarma take out places, Uncle's has a full menu with a wide range of cuisine. And though not on the menu they have incredible soups; I often get a dal or chick pea of other soup and they are incredible. I am not a wrap guy, but love a Shawarma salad, or if hungrier a Shawarma plate. And the portion sizes here are very generous, at every other Shawarma place in the region I always order extra meat, especially if getting the salad. The first time I tried Uncle's I got a salad with extra meat and could not finish it. I have never again gotten extra meat at Uncle's and always been well satiated.

I have introduced a number of people to Uncle's, this past week my brother tried Shawarma for the first time there. A friend was over from the UK and took him there he got Shawarma and poutine and could not finish either because it was so much food.

They do have a counter that seats about 8 and a table that seats 6 but for the most part it is take out. I went there with my 3 young children, they love the hand cut fries and the oldest ate have a plate of Shawarma meat. The kids and I have often walked there and eaten in, or it is my stand by for eating out. Even my wife was impressed with how friendly the family that runs the place was when she stopped in to get me something one time when we were in a big rush.

If you like Shawarma, gyros, kabob's or even just good food in general you owe it to yourself to give this place a try. As I stated I think it is the best in the region and am sure you will enjoy it. Great people, amazing fun what more could you ask for!

Friday, 22 July 2016

Monsters on the Run - Kevin Sherry - The Yeti Files #2

Monsters on the Run
The Yeti Files #2
Kevin Sherry
Samantha Smith

ISBN 9780545556194

I need to start off by stating that my son absolutely loves this book and the series. We have just finished reading this one for a second time and have read the first one at least a half dozen times. My son has been earning books as part of a summer reading challenge, for every 10 days he reads he gets to pick a book of his choosing. And he is counting down the days until he can get book 3. He is also frequently asking if there will be more books (Hint, hint Kevin and Scholastic). My son loves flipping through these books, often going back and forth looking at the illustrations, comparing what is happening with what happened. 

This book is less of a story, but also not a graphic novel. It is not a picture book in the strictest sense. It does have a tale, but at time not told in a linear fashion. Each page has text and some wonderful illustrations. In this instalment of the Yeti Files - Nessie the Loch Ness Monster is thinking of revealing herself because she is son lonely. So after she contacts Blizz the leader of the cryptids and leader of a crack team of cryptozoologists, that includes a little monster, a dog and many others set off to travel back in time 65 million years with the help of a leprechaun to try and find Nessie a friend. But the age of the dinosaurs can be a scary and dangerous place even for the cryptids and their crew. Shortly after arriving the team is separated and each group has their own adventure before meeting up. Can they all make it back home safe? Can they find a friend for Nessie? Read to find out.

This book and the series are great book to read. My son who is 8 and youngest daughter at 5 both love them. They will bring readers back again and again.

The Yeti Files:
Meet the Big Feet
Monsters on the Run
Attack of the Kraken