Monday, 26 June 2017

The Door Before - N.D. Wilson - 100 Cupboards Book 0.5

The Door Before
100 Cupboards Book 0.5
N.D. Wilson
Random House Books for Young Readers
Random House of Canada
ISBN 9780449816776

I have been a fan of N.D. Wilson's writings since reading 100 Cupboards back in 2009. When I found out that he was writing a prequel to the 100 Cupboards series I could not wait to read it. But even if you have not read that series this book in a wonderful read. In fact I really hope this book is the first in a new series. This book opens with these words:

"Trees keep time the way time is meant to be kept.
They wrap the years around themselves in ringed layers,
expanding as the ages do. And when time forks,
so do the trees, stretching branches into cousin futures,
plunging roots into sister pasts, binding
every leaf into the one story, the only story.
The story that began. The story that cannot end,
because it can never stop growing."

This is a story about family, about bonds, about friendship, and about magic. In the vein of the Lord of the Rings, or better yet the Narnia Chronicles. Like C.S. Lewis, N.D. Wilson is going back and telling the origin story after the first three books were published, and like Lewis this origin story is packed full of adventure. One of the main focuses of the book is a powerful young woman named Hyacinth Smith. She can stop dogs in their tracks, she can grow plans, and she sees what others miss. Her father inherits a house from a distant relative. Everything starts to go sideways when they get to this house. For her great aunt has been playing with powers well beyond her control. She has collected a forest of trees that were struck by lightning and has used them to create doorways into other worlds. 

When one of these doors open two boys tumble through, but so does a creature of great evil, the queen witch Nimiane. And the battle begins. Hyacinth, her brother, and the strange boys must find a way to stop the witch or she will not only destroy our world but all the worlds she can reach through the doors. 

Like Wilson's other books this story has a great pace. Incredible characters, and a whole lot of adventure. I love the strong female character and cannot wait to read this book with my girls when they are a little older. I greatly enjoyed this book, and really hope that Wilson blesses us with more.

Books by N.D. Wilson
100 Cupboards:

The Door Before - 100 Cupboards Book 0.5
100 Cupboards - 100 Cupboards Book 1
Dandelion Fire - 100 Cupboards Book 2
The Chestnut King - 100 Cupboards Books 3

Ashton Burials:

The Dragon's Tooth
The Drowned Vault

Leepike Ridge


Right Behind

Picture Books:

The Dragon and the Garden - The Old Stories
In The Time of Noah - The Old Stories


Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl
Death By Living

Author Profile Interview with N.D. Wilson

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Saint Anthony of Padua Fire and Light - Margaret Charles Kerry and Mary Elizabeth Tebo - Encounter the Saints

Saint Anthony of Padua:
Fire and Light
Encounter the Saints Series
Margaret Charles Kerry
Mary Elizabeth Tebo
Ray Morelli (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819870193
eISBN 9781306806688

With each book that I read in the Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media I find that my faith is challenged, that my prayer life deepens and that I desire to know more from the saints profiled in this series. This is an amazing book in an incredible series. I love reading these books and sharing them with my children. 

The chapters in this volume are:

1. A Letter and a Promise
2. Why?
3. Breaking the News
4. At Home in God's House
5. Toward the Cross
6. A New Beginning
7. God's Plans
8. Shipwreck!
9. The Meeting
10. Another "Yes"
11. Rescue
12. Go Teach, Preach
13. To France
14. The Boy and the Book
15. Anthony of Padua
16. One Last Journey
17. The Arms of the Lord
18. On the Lamp Stand

This story surprised me in many ways. Anthony of Padua, in some ways did it all in the religious life. He started as a member of the Augustinian, became fascinated with the Franciscans. Wanted to go travel and preach but was prevented by his health. He even preached at the ordination of a number of Dominicans. He was a teacher, and a preacher. He has dedicated to serving God and following where God lead. He was once asked if the changes in his life were 'running away from the cross, and he replied "No, Father, I'm running toward it,". And that is the great example from his life, to run towards God, no matter where he leads. To remove the distractions and focus on loving God and following where God leads. 

The prayer to Saint Anthony of Padua in this book is:
"Saint Anthony, God was always first in your life. You loved him so much that you wanted all people everywhere to come to know, love and serve him too. You used your special talents for teaching and preaching to bring people closer to God, and to help those who were doubtful or confused. 
There were many times in your life when things didn't work out as you had hoped for or expected, Saint Anthony. But you always trusted in God and in his love for you. 
It's not always easy for me to put God first in my life. Would you please help me, Saint Anthony? Show me how I can use my gifts and talents to help the people around me. Help me to know and follow God's will and to trust that God never stops watching over and loving me. 
I want to follow Jesus as you did. Pray for me, Saint Anthony.Amen." 
When he dies there was fighting over where he would be buried, for he was so popular and respected. Both the people of Arcella and Padua wished to have him buried in their town. Can you imagine living such a holy life that people fight over where you will be buried. This book gives us a taste of such a man's life. It shows us the saint who greatest focus was following God, no matter where he lead. And As such he is an example to us in each day we life, to see God and follow him.

The illustrations by  Ray Morelli in this book are very different in style than many of the others in this series or at least the 11 I have read so far. There are 5 illustrations in this volume but they are not as detailed as many of the others in the series. There are more of an black ink style and less a detailed pencil drawing. 

This book was the first published in the Encounter the Saints Series this book was published in 1999, and there are now 37 books published in the series and another is due out in January of 2018. It is an incredible series and I highly recommend this specific book and the whole series. Read about Saint Anthony and learn from his example of how to listen to God's leading and run towards it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media:
Blessed James Alberione Media Apostle
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Journey to the Summit
Journeys with Mary Apparitions of Our Lady
Saint André Bessette Miracles in Montreal
Saint Anthony of Padua Fire and Light
Saint Bakhita of Sudan Forever Free
Saint Bernadette Soubirous And Our Lady of Lourdes
Saint Catherine Labouré And Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Saint Clare of Assisi A Light for the World
Saint Damien of Molokai Hero of Hawaii
Saint Edith Stein Blessed by the Cross

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Daughter of America
Saint Faustina Kowalska Messenger of Mercy
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini Cecchina's Dream
Saint Francis of Assisi Gentle Revolutionary
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla The Gift of Life
Saint Ignatius of Loyola For the Greater Glory of God
Saint Isaac Jogues With Burning Heart
Saint Joan of Arc God's Soldier
Saint John Bosco Champion for the Young
Saint John Neumann Missionary to Immigrants
Saint John Paul II Be Not Afraid
Saint John Vianney A Priest for All People
Saint Juan Diego And Our Lady of Guadalupe
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Courageous Faith
Saint Katharine Drexel The Total Gift
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque And the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Saint Martin de Porres Humble Healer
Saint Maximilian Kolbe Mary's Knight
Saint Paul The Thirteenth Apostle
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina Rich in Love
Saint Teresa of Avila Joyful in the Lord
Saint Teresa of Calcutta Missionary of Charity
Saint Teresa of Kalkota Missionary of Charity
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux The Way of Love
Saint Thomas Aquinas Missionary of Truth
Saint Thomas More Courage, Conscience, and the King
Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto: Shepherds of Fatima
The Saints Pray for Us

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Product Review - Pure Leaf Chai Bagged Tea

Pure Leaf Chai Bagged Tea
Pure Leaf

I have had a few of the Pure Leaf Iced Teas over the years so when I had a chance to try some of their bagged tea, I was very excited. The excitement did not last. The first time I tried this tea it was so weak it had next to no flavour at all. The second time I steeped it for twice the recommended length of time, with almost no improvement. The third time I double bagged for a single mug and it made a pretty good cup of tea. I experimented and to get a nice strong flavourful cup of tea I had to use 4 oz of water and steep a long time for a single bag to be effective. With either very little water or double bagging it makes a fairly nice chai, but that makes it almost $1 a mug. So I would not likely buy the bags again, but I might try the loose leaf.  I had this experience with both the Chai and Vanilla Black.

This Tea is made from black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, chicory root, pink peppercorns, cloves, black peppercorns and marigold petals. It has a nice scent. But just too weak a portion in the bags for me to recommend them.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Why We're Catholic Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love - Trent Horn

Why We're Catholic:
Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love
Trent Horn
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781683570240
eISBN 9781683570264

I read this book right after reading Why I Am Catholic (and You Should Be Too) by Brandon Vogt. In some ways there is a number of similarities, and both speak specifically about the example of Saint Damien of Molokai. This was also the 10th book by Trent Horn that I have read this year. With each of his books that I read I am more impressed with his writing, his faith, his knowledge and his love of sharing these three things. Now having read a number of his books in such a short time, there were a number of times where I felt like I had read this passage before. He uses some of the same examples or arguments as his other books. But to be honest this book was a wonderful read.

The chapters in this book are:
Introduction: Why We Believe . . . Anything
1. Why We Believe in Truth
2. Why We Believe in Science
3. Why We Believe in a Creator
4. Why We Believe in God
5. Why We Believe God Conquers Evil
6. Why We Believe in Jesus
7. Why We Believe in the Resurrection
8. Why We Believe in the Trinity
9. Why We Believe in the Bible
10. Why We Aren't Bible-Only Christians
11. Why We Belong to the Catholic Church
12. Why We Have a Pope
13. Why We Have Priests
14. Why We Go to Mass
15. Why We Baptize Babies
16. Why We Believe in Spite of Scandal
17. Why We Believe that Faith Works Through Love
18. Why We Believe in Purgatory
19. Why We Pray to the Saints
20. Why We Honor Mary
21. Why We Protect Life
22. Why We Cherish Our Sexuality
23. Why We Defend Marriage
24. Why We Believe There's a Hell
25.Why We Hope for Heaven
How to Become Catholic
How to Go to Confession
Common Catholic Prayers

Two sections in the book immediately struck a chord with me; first the section on Saint Damien or Molokai, of whom I have been reading about and researching for over a decade now. And second Father Emil Kapaun, whom I only discovered last year. Both of these men have inspired me and finding them both called out as examples in this book hit me. But let's go back to the beginning, in the introduction Trent states:

"I don't look at people who've left the Catholic Church or who aren't Catholic as potential "customers." They're just people. They have things they love and things they hate. They may differ from me in lots of ways, but they almost certainly have one thing in common with me: they don't want to be ignorant and they do want to be happy. I became Catholic in high school because 1) I thought it was true, and 2) finding answers to my deepest questions about existence and purpose made me happy.
It would be selfish of me to keep to myself the peace and joy I receive from being Catholic, so I share this "good news" with others. My aim in this book is simple: to explain why Catholics believe what they believe. I haven't given every explanation I can think of, because most people aren't in a rush to read a book that is so thick it can double as a step stool. Instead, I've presented the reasons that made the biggest impact on me during my conversion to the Catholic faith."
This book is designed to strengthen your faith, and help you be able to explain it and defend it. It is not all encompassing but it does a great job of covering many of the basics. Throughout the book there are 'side boxes' pieces that explain deeper, or give examples of what is being talked about in that section of the book. Another great feature is that each chapter ends with three or more bullet points reinforcing what Catholics believe from the topic of that specific chapter. One of the most powerful side boxes is:


  • Calvary Chapel, 1965: Chuck Smith
  • Mormon church, 1830: Joseph Smith
  • Disciples of Christ, 1809: Thomas Campbell
  • Baptist church, 1609: John Smyth
  • Presbyterian church, 1560: John Knox
  • Calvinist church, 1536: John Calvin
  • Lutheran church, 1517: Martin Luther
  • Eastern Orthodox church, 1054: Eastern Patriarchs
  • Catholic Church, 33: Jesus Christ
And at the end of the book is a mini prayer book of common prayers. These eight prayers are the basis of so many popular Catholic devotions, or parts of a plan of life. And then there is an extensive section of end notes with quotes, and sources to go deeper.

I have read just shy of 200 books so far this year, of those 200, 105 were Catholic and this is one of the best out of all of that reading. Another incredible book from Catholic Answers, and written by Trent Horn. Pick it up you will be challenged, become more firmly rooted and prepared to answer hard questions about your faith!

Books by Trent Horn:

20 Answers Series:
20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Church - Trent Horn

Other Books:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity
The Mystery of God Study Guide
Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love

Books Co-Authored by Trent Horn:
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue (with Fr Frank Pavone)
From Creation to Catholicism: The Story of Salvation History (with Patrick Coffin)

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Product Review - Thule Chariot Lite 1 Plus Cycle/Stroll

Thule Chariot Lite 1 Plus Cycle/Stroll

With three children 10 and under we have been through our share of strollers. Between strollers we have owned, used with our friends children before we had our own and now with friends beginning to have their own children. In that time we have had a couple of high end strollers, but to be honest nothing we have used compared to the Chariot Lite from Thule.

We got this in order to review it, and for friends who are expecting their first child. From opening the box to having it fully together was under 5 minutes. To assemble and take down this stroller was easier and felt sturdier than any I have used before. This model weighs 12Kg, for the whole stroller, but the main body with no wheels or attachments is only 7.4Kg. After setting it up, we tried it on various terrains. When we gave it to the expectant parents they were thrilled, after showing them the features, it was assembled and taken down a number of times.  It also collapses so nicely it fits even in small cars. It is very compact when the wheels are off and it locks in the collapsed position.

The Top Five Features of this Stroller:
1.    Double locking wheels.
2.    Out of the box comes with stroller and bike kits
3.    High quality construction
4.    Easy to set up and take down
5.    Great Value for the quality

Now let’s look at each of those in a little more detail.

1.   Double locking wheels.

This feature really impressed me; there is a cable lock that when you lock one wheel it automatically locks the other back wheel. This is a great feature for safety. And also ease of access. It is a pin locking system not just pressure lock pressed against the wheel. When you engage the lock, pins extend from the hubs and actually engage both wheels making them immobile.

2.   Out of the box comes with stroller and bike kits.

Most strollers we have owned or even looked at, you buy the stroller and then everything else is an add on. It is fantastic that you get two of the most popular kits right out of the box and there are three others available as well. And the stroller wheels click in when in bike mode so it can be used to ride somewhere and then as a stroller.

3.   High Quality Construction.

Overall I believe this is one of the most soundly constructed strollers I have ever used. I was very impressed with the materials and functionality.

4.   Easy to set up and take down.

My 10 year old could put this together and take it apart. But the wheels or bike add-on lock into place so easily and so securely. Great for a busy parent with their hands full or loading the car to head out.

5.   Great Value for the quality.

There are strollers on the market both a lot cheaper or a lot more expensive than this one. To be honest it is in the top of the middle third for price range. But considering how well made and how easy it is to use, I consider it more than worth the cost. Better to invest in something good that will last and you can sell or pass on when you are done, than to get something cheaper and end up replacing it before the first child has outgrown it.

The other add-ons that are available currently for this model are:

Thule Infant Sling-Cross/Lite
Thule Chariot Jog Kit 1-Lite/Cross
Thule Cross Country Skiing and Hiking Kit

Overall this is an amazing product and I highly recommend it!