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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Devotional Talks On Christian Commitment by: Timothy E. Moody

Devotional Talks On Christian Commitment
Timothy E. Moody

Baker Book House

ISBN 9780801062032

Most of the devotions in this book would be good jumping off points for group discussions or personal meditations.

There were a few where his theology was weak - almost heretical. Yet for someone grounded in their faith, the book will challenge thinking and what you believe and as such can be a tool to help deepen your roots as a Christian.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Assassins: Assignment: Jerusalem, Target: Antichrist by: Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Assassins: Assignment: Jerusalem, Target: Antichrist
Left Behind Book 6

Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Tyndale House

ISBN 084232920X

This is the last of the books in this never-ending series of books, games, spin off series and more, that I actually made it through. The writing quality dropped with every volume. In less than two decades they wrote 16 novels - over 7200 pages in the main series alone. They have eclipsed Piers Anthony's Xanth which took many decades to write.

In this series I never really agreed with the author's theological view of the end times, even though the series started off as good fiction, with entertaining books that made a reader think about the end times. Yet as the series dragged on, the writing became weaker and weaker, and for myself and many I know the authors lost the audience. I never made it through the whole series and I doubt I will ever go back and finish it. It really is a pity as there was so much potential in this series.

Everybody is out to be the one to kill the Antichrist (Nicolae) - Mac, Abdula, Chiem, Rayford. But we are left hanging about what really happens. The Trib Force team again loses members, Doc dies and Leih joins the team. Cameron travels to Israel again and sees the two witnesses resurrected and called up to heaven.

However even with all the action this was the end for me. I did not make it through any more books of the 16 in the series. The books in publication sequence are:

Left Behind
Tribulation Force
Nicolae: The Rise of the Antichrist
Soul Harvest:
Apollyon:
Assasins:
The Indwelling
The Mark
Desecration
The Remnant
Armageddon
Glorious Appearing
The Rising: The Antichrist is Born
The Regime: Evil Advances
The Rapture: In the Twinkling of an Eye
Kingdom Come

In the end it just seemed link a money-making ploy, with graphic novels, cds, teen versions, a video game and more. It is a pity this series dropped in quality so much. Jenkins went on to write an excellent trilogy - Soon, Silenced and Shadowed, that were set in a different interpretation of a future with a one world government.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Friday, 26 December 2008

Apollyon: The Destroyer is Unleashed by: Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Apollyon: The Destroyer is Unleashed
Left Behind Book 5

Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Tyndale House

ISBN 0842329161

In this series I never agreed with the author's theology. But the series started off as good fiction, entertaining, and were books that made a reader think about the end times. However as the series dragged on, the writing became weaker and weaker, and for myself and many I know the authors lost the audience. I never made it through the whole series and I doubt I will ever go back and finish it. It really is a pity - there was so much potential in this series.

This book was an interesting interpretation of the third woe from the Book of Revelation. The plague of the locust attacking the word is done in vivid graphic narrative. The Trib Force team has both losses and gains. The most important is Hattie leaving and joining the dark side. Buck and Chloe have their child.

Yet even with all the action this was the turning point for me. I only made it through one more book of the 16 in the series. The books in publication sequence are:

Left Behind
Tribulation Force
Nicolae: The Rise of the Antichrist
Soul Harvest:
Apollyon:
Assasins:
The Indwelling
The Mark
Desecration
The Remnant
Armageddon
Glorious Appearing
The Rising: The Antichrist is Born
The Regime: Evil Advances
The Rapture: In the Twinkling of an Eye
Kingdom Come

In the end it just seemed like a money-making ploy, with graphic novels, cds, teen versions, a video game and more.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Through the Looking Glass by: Lewis Carroll

Through the Looking Glass
Lewis Carroll
Various Editions

Though this book is not much better than Alice's Adventures, the chess motif and theme does make the book much more interesting. With the bossy, dominant Red Queen and the quiet, kind, messy white queen, the book is a study in contrasts.

The interweaving of the Nursery Rhyme Characters and the frequent fish poetry references does provide more continuity and a sense of sequential events than Alice's first adventure. I also appreciated the linking of the cat at the beginning and end of the story.

It does still feel like Carroll did way too many opium pipes in his time.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Monday, 22 December 2008

The Subway Mouse by: Barbara Reid

The Subway Mouse
Barbara Reid
Scholastic
ISBN 9780439952231

Famed Canadian author and illustrator Barbara Reid has created another wonderful book for children. Reid has won just about every Canadian award for children's authors or illustrators, and her unique plasticine illustrations are known and recognized the world over. In this story she not only uses her trademark images but incorporated found objects to enhance the images and tell the story.


This story is of a mouse named Nib. He is fascinated with items he finds around the subway station he lives in. In his home of Sweetfall, there are legends of Tunnel's End. Nib is fascinated and captivated by these mouse myths. One day he is compelled to search for Tunnel's End and his and our adventure is just beginning. His quest leads him through other mouse towns in different stations, and he meets Lola who joins him on his journey. Pick up the book and follow Nib on his journey; it will be a fun and wild journey.

(Images courtesy Barbara Reid.)

Book written and illustrated by Barbara Reid:
Zoe's Year (2012)
Picture A Tree (2011)
The Party (2010)
Perfect Snow (2009)
Sing a Song of Mother Goose (2007)
Fox Walked Alone (2009)
Read Me A Book (2004)
The Subway Mouse (2003)
Zoe's Rainy Day (1992)
Zoe's Sunny Day (1992)
Zoe's Windy Day (1992)
Zoe's Snowy Day (1992)
The Golden Goose (2000)
Fun With Modelling Clay (1998)
The Party (1997)
First Look Board Books: Acorn to Oak Tree (1999)
First Look Board Books: Seed To Flower (1999)
First Look Board Books: Caterpillar to Butterfly (1999)
First Look Board Books: Tadpole to Frog (1999)
Two By Two (1992)
Sing A Song of Mother Goose (1987)

Book illustrated by Barbara Reid:

Peg & The Yeti (2004)
Gifts (1995)
Effie (1990)
Have You Seen Birds? (1986)
The New Baby Calf (1984)
Jenny Greenteeth (1983)
Mustard (1983)


Books contributed to:
Read Me A Story (2010)
Dream; a Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes (2004)
Mother Goose: A Canadian Sampler (1994)

Author Profile and Interview with Barbara Reid

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Alice's Adventure in Wonderland by: Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventure in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll

Various Editions


My first impressions of this book were that it was like reading C.S. Lewis on cheap drugs. The events are complete non sequiturs and the changes in plot are worse.

It appears to be a spoiled child wandering in a world she does not understand, nor is willing to learn about - unlike Lucy in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe who seeks to understand the local customs and circumstances.

The book is very easy to read but it leaves distaste in my literary mouth. I know it is considered a classic but I just do not see it, and if I did not have to read it for school I would not have bothered to finish it.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The Party by: Barbara Reid

The Party
Barbara Reid
Scholastic
ISBN 9780590124287


Barbara Reid is a world renowned Canadian author and illustrator. Reid has won just about every Canadian award for children's authors or illustrators, and her unique plasticine illustrations are known and recognized the world over. She won the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Illustration with this book.

This is the story of a family reunion/party. It is the story of two sisters who are nervous and hesitant at the beginning of the day, and a little shy about being at the party. Yet as the day wears on the children have their own fun and adventures as the adults catch up and enjoy the party also. With incredible illustrations and a great story, it is a book that will be fun for the whole family.

(Images courtesy Barbara Reid.)

Book written and illustrated by Barbara Reid:
Zoe's Year (2012)
Picture A Tree (2011)
The Party (2010)
Perfect Snow (2009)
Sing a Song of Mother Goose (2007)
Fox Walked Alone (2009)
Read Me A Book (2004)
The Subway Mouse (2003)
Zoe's Rainy Day (1992)
Zoe's Sunny Day (1992)
Zoe's Windy Day (1992)
Zoe's Snowy Day (1992)
The Golden Goose (2000)
Fun With Modelling Clay (1998)
The Party (1997)
First Look Board Books: Acorn to Oak Tree (1999)
First Look Board Books: Seed To Flower (1999)
First Look Board Books: Caterpillar to Butterfly (1999)
First Look Board Books: Tadpole to Frog (1999)
Two By Two (1992)
Sing A Song of Mother Goose (1987)

Book illustrated by Barbara Reid:

Peg & The Yeti (2004)
Gifts (1995)
Effie (1990)
Have You Seen Birds? (1986)
The New Baby Calf (1984)
Jenny Greenteeth (1983)
Mustard (1983)


Books contributed to:
Read Me A Story (2010)
Dream; a Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes (2004)
Mother Goose: A Canadian Sampler (1994)

Author Profile and Interview with Barbara Reid

Friday, 19 December 2008

When The Almond Tree Blossoms by: David Aikman

When The Almond Tree Blossoms
David Aikman

ISBN 9780849936418

Thomas Nelson


This book is Christian speculative fiction. It was very interesting because it presents a possible future in which a second civil war takes place in the United States.


It has some wonderful plot twists. Basically it is the story of one man Douglas Richfield, a member of the peoples' movement (Socialist) who becomes a constitutionalist. It is the story of his development as a person, and as a person of faith. He is awoken from rote life living as a cog in the machine, to being a man of conscience, to finally a man of character.

It has elements of being a spy story, a love story, a story of political intrigue and faith all rolled up in one neat consistent package.

It is a good read that I could honestly recommend to just about anyone.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Pink! by Lynne Rickards and Margaret Chamberlain

Pink!
What's a Penguin to think when he turns Pink?

Lynne Rickards
Margaret Chamberlain (Illustrator)

Scholastic
ISBN 9780545086080


This is a fantastic book about being different and being accepted. It is the story of Patrick the penguin who wakes up one day and has turned pink. He finds it hard being a pink penguin so goes in search of other pink birds, specifically flamingos in Africa, but he finds out he fits in even less there. So he returns home to Antarctica and discovers that being different is not so bad after all.

I was originally attracted by the hilarious cover of this book, and both the story and illustrations are wonderful. It is one of those fun books to read and look at. I think it would be fun to share with most children, and they will learn a lesson from it also. Pink! is an excellent read.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Very Cranky Bear by: Nick Bland

The Very Cranky Bear
Nick Bland
Scholastic
ISBN 9780545989985


This is a great picture book for children. It is the story of four friends trying to get out from the rain and the cold. Unfortunately they take refuge in a Bear's cave. Bear is not happy that they have invaded his home. Lion, Zebra and Moose try to make bear happy by making him like them; Sheep on the other hand gives of himself.

It is a fun read and wonderfully illustrated by Australian author and illustrator Nick Bland. It has made me want to track down his other stories, and the books he has illustrated for other authors.

Books by Nick Bland:
A Monster Wrote Me a Letter (2005)
Aussie Jingle Bells (2006)
I Lost My Kisses (2007)
Donald Loves Drumming (2008)
The Very Cranky Bear (2008)
When Henry Caught Imaginitis (2008)
The Wrong Book (2009)
The Very Itchy Bear (2010)
Twinkle HB (2010)
The Runaway Hug (2011)

Monday, 15 December 2008

Selected Poems by: Rainer Maria Rilke

Selected Poems
Rainer Maria Rilke

This was a very good book of poetry and Rilke is one of my all time favorite poets. The poetry in this volume cuts to the heart. As I read I could not but hope and pray that the words would have an effect upon my heart and my life. A number of the poems moved me in significant ways. I copied Oblation and The Knight out in my journal.

I end up seeing myself both as Rilke observing others and as those whom he observes. I always look forward to pursuing more of his writings. This book was a great edition with the English translation and the German original on facing pages.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Read Me A Book by: Barbara Reid

Read Me A Book
Barbara Reid
Scholastic
ISBN 9780439937177

We received this book free in a welcome pack from the Ontario Early Years Centers when our first child was born. It is a great little book about the joy and pleasure of reading. It is one of the first books I read my daughter and she asked for it
again and again. The story is written in a rhyming verse that is fun and easy to read. The story is light and bouncy and the illustrations fantastic.

Barbara Reid is a world renowned Canadian author and illustrator. Reid h
as won just about every Canadian award for children's authors or illustrators, and her unique plasticine illustrations are known and recognized the world over. In this story she not only uses her trademark images to encourage reading and family activities, it's a great little book. Our first copy has been destroyed by use and has needed to be replaced.

(Images courtesy Barbara Reid.)

Book written and illustrated by Barbara Reid:
Zoe's Year (2012)
Picture A Tree (2011)
The Party (2010)
Perfect Snow (2009)
Sing a Song of Mother Goose (2007)
Fox Walked Alone (2009)
Read Me A Book (2004)
The Subway Mouse (2003)
Zoe's Rainy Day (1992)
Zoe's Sunny Day (1992)
Zoe's Windy Day (1992)
Zoe's Snowy Day (1992)
The Golden Goose (2000)
Fun With Modelling Clay (1998)
The Party (1997)
First Look Board Books: Acorn to Oak Tree (1999)
First Look Board Books: Seed To Flower (1999)
First Look Board Books: Caterpillar to Butterfly (1999)
First Look Board Books: Tadpole to Frog (1999)
Two By Two (1992)
Sing A Song of Mother Goose (1987)

Book illustrated by Barbara Reid:

Peg & The Yeti (2004)
Gifts (1995)
Effie (1990)
Have You Seen Birds? (1986)
The New Baby Calf (1984)
Jenny Greenteeth (1983)
Mustard (1983)


Books contributed to:
Read Me A Story (2010)
Dream; a Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes (2004)
Mother Goose: A Canadian Sampler (1994)

Author Profile and Interview with Barbara Reid

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Nigger of the Narcissus: A Tale of the Forecastle by: Joseph Conrad

Nigger of the Narcissus:
A Tale of the Forecastle
Joseph Conrad

Various Editions

Originally published in 1897this book is considered to be the turning point in Conrad's career. The book has also been published under the title The Children of the Sea: A Tale of the Forecastle.

This is a very good short novel. It has strong characters, great navel insight and is a study of the character of men. It also has to do with the lives of men in general - the good, the bad, and the indifferent.


In an interesting way it weaves a tale of deceit that becomes a reality. James "Jimmy" Waits, a west Indian black sailor waits for illness and is waiting for death.

It explores not only the deceits of men, but how man deals with illness and death in confined space. It was an excellent read.

It is available for free download from Project Gutenburg.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Friday, 12 December 2008

Fox Walked Alone by: Barbara Reid

Fox Walked Alone
Barbara Reid
Scholastic
ISBN 9780545989985


Fox walked alone is Barbara Reid's retelling of the story of Noah's Ark. It is the story of Fox who follows the other animals even though they are traveling in pairs. It is incredibly well written and the illustrations are awesome. This will be a
great book for children of all ages.

Famous for her plasticine illustrations, Canadian author and illustrator Barbara Reid is world renowned. Reid has won just about every Canadian award for children's authors or illustrators. She won the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Illustration for The Party and this book was nominated for 7 awards.

(Images courtesy Barbara Reid.)

Book written and illustrated by Barbara Reid:
Zoe's Year (2012)
Picture A Tree (2011)
The Party (2010)
Perfect Snow (2009)
Sing a Song of Mother Goose (2007)
Fox Walked Alone (2009)
Read Me A Book (2004)
The Subway Mouse (2003)
Zoe's Rainy Day (1992)
Zoe's Sunny Day (1992)
Zoe's Windy Day (1992)
Zoe's Snowy Day (1992)
The Golden Goose (2000)
Fun With Modelling Clay (1998)
The Party (1997)
First Look Board Books: Acorn to Oak Tree (1999)
First Look Board Books: Seed To Flower (1999)
First Look Board Books: Caterpillar to Butterfly (1999)
First Look Board Books: Tadpole to Frog (1999)
Two By Two (1992)
Sing A Song of Mother Goose (1987)

Book illustrated by Barbara Reid:

Peg & The Yeti (2004)
Gifts (1995)
Effie (1990)
Have You Seen Birds? (1986)
The New Baby Calf (1984)
Jenny Greenteeth (1983)
Mustard (1983)


Books contributed to:
Read Me A Story (2010)
Dream; a Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes (2004)
Mother Goose: A Canadian Sampler (1994)

Author Profile and Interview with Barbara Reid

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Anne of Avonlea by: L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Avonlea
L.M. Montgomery

Various Editions


Like the first Anne book, Anne of Green Gables, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. And though many think these books sentimental mush, I seemed to garner a lot from reading them.

They teach me to see God in new and exciting ways - to see God more in Nature and the world around me that He has created - to look for the best in all people I meet, especially those who are hard to like, ie Mrs. Rachael Lynd and Mr. Harrison. We have to learn to see past the exterior to see the person inside.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

Grumpy Bird
Jeremy Tankard
Scholastic
ISBN 9780439851473

This book was written to help children see that they can change a grumpy mood. We follow Bird as he begins his day grumpy and tries to stay grumpy. Jeremy Tankard has written and illustrated a great book, with fun, bright and vibrant colors. It is a great story book for the younger members of your families, or as a cure for your own bad mood.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Anne of Green Gables by: L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery

Various Editions


I read this book for a university course, and I was surprised by the book. I did not expect to enjoy it but ended up enjoying it quite a bit. I actually found that I could not put it down. There are so many themes and issues covered in the book. Like Matthew in the book, I found I fell in love with Anne and as Anne grew I was challenged to growth.

The themes in the book that grabbed me most were:

Importance of Trees
Importance of Naming
Death of hope
Prayers
Tears of healing
Belonging
Dreams
Alice in Wonderland References (Moral Duchess)
Looking Glass Friend
Sacred Memories
Self Naming "Anne of GG"
Desire to Fit In
Friendship
Time
Kindred Spirits
Anne being "All Spirit, Fire and Dew."
Etiquette

This book was so good that even though I only needed to read it for the course I ended up reading a few of the other books in the series.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Friday, 5 December 2008

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by: John O'Donohue

Anam Cara:
A Book of Celtic Wisdom

John O'Donohue

Harper Collins
- Browse Inside
ISBN 9780060929435


This was a wonderful book. I am very thankful to both Fr. Jim Link and Fr. Paul Quinon for recommending it to me. I must admit that I did not get it all, but much of the Celtic Spirituality presented touched my spirit, my mind, my intellect and my soul.

It is a book about the Celtic worldview and way of life. It has made me even more homesick for the land of the Celts; it aroused a desire to return to Ireland or Scotland. Yet I realized that I would need to learn to live the Celtic way/mode here before I could even consider going back across the pond.

The book made me realize how much I needed to simplify my life, and prompted me to take a semester off school to help establish a new pattern of living and of being. It prompted me to reestablish a stronger pattern of work, bible study, prayer, reading and pursuing God and his will above all else, to try to live each day to the full, to live to be a good and true friend, and to learn to be better at being.

As an aside there are two more books by O'Donohue that follow the same spirit: Eternal Echoes and To Bless the Space Between Us both of which I attempted to read on a number of occasions but was unable to make it through. One of his books of poetry conamara blues - I ended up reading a number of times.


(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Political Commentary


I normally do not do a lot of political commentary. To be honest it is not really my thing. But The proposed Canadian Coalition Government has raised so many issues and so much debate I wanted to say a little.

First a number of people on both sides of the fence on this have made some great points. Michael Davenport at Valacosa's Thoughts has one of the most reasoned and researched pieces on the events. Blazing Cat Fur has a number of posts on the topic. Also most media outlets sites have articles with 1000's and 1000's of responses.

All I can say is it is legal, it has happened before federally and provincially and I for one am glad to see Harper not as prime minister.

Petition To Support
Petition to Oppose

Globe and Mail Reader Poll
CTV's comments on growing web reaction.
Great National Post Article.

(Hat tip to Davenport for the links.)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

A Tarnished Phoenix by: James Melville

A Tarnished Phoenix
James Melville

ISBN 071263651X

Doubleday


I actually picked this book up for the cover art. I had a friend looking to get a tattoo of a phoenix and I was keeping my eye out for images for him. This one caught my eye. But not being one to spend money on a book and not read it or at least try to read it, I gave it a go.

This book is way outside my normal reading genres. First it is a spy novel, suspense thriller. Second it has a strong romantic element, yet with that being said, once into it I could not put it down.

It is a fascinating story set in post WWII Japan under MacArthur's administration. It has great characters, a very complex plot and is extremely well written. It was both intriguing and heartwarming at the same time. There were numerous interesting plot twists and developments and the pace was excellent.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Monday, 1 December 2008

Meme: A Book Meme - Book Award

Well I got myself tagged twice, the second was my own fault I was planning on Tagging Ebeth at A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pilliars, but had not yet responded to Jean at Catholic Fire tagged me first.
The Rules:
Pass this on to 5 blogging friends. Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56. Write the 5th sentence, as well as two to five sentences following that.

"I am in a hurry and must write quickly. I have only tonight to leave for you what I can and to hide it well. I don't know if this will ever be found, but it is a good precaution, and so I'll take the time to write it. Using the basket to hide this book of secret things up high will be another challenge, but I believe I can do it without anyone catching me. We shall see." - The House of Power: Atherton Book 1 Patrick Carman.

This passage was excerpted from Fulton J. Sheen's The World's First Love, Doubleday Image Book, 1952.

I am passing this award/meme on to:

1. Two Guys Named Jeff at Thursday Night Gumbo
2. Holly Black
3. Fionnchu at Blogtrotter
4. James at Real Life Rosary
5. Ellen at Divine Serendipity

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Fidelis: Birthpangs Book 1 by: A.R. Horvath

Fidelis:
Birthpangs Book 1
A.R. Horvath
ISBN 9780979127618 Softcover
ISBN 9780979127601
Hardcover
Suzeteo Enterprises

Fidelis is the best speculative fiction I have read since the early 80's. Reminiscent of Heinlein's writings with the skills of a master wordsmith, A.R. Horvath has created an amazing world and looks to a possible future that is dark and brooding. He
creates a world in which the United States has entered a second dark ages after a military defeat. The writing is superb, the characters believable and engaging. As you read you become transported into the events by Horvath's skill with the pen for he draws you in and captivates you. His storytelling is masterful.
We follow Fides as he goes from being a young man trying to look after his family and working as a skilled laborer to being a warrior serving a cause greater than any he could have imagined. As he journeys across the remnants of America he journeys into a faith he never dreamed of nor wanted. The book deals with big questions: faith, doubt, manhood, integrity, purpose in life, bravery and above all else, truth. It does so in a futuristic setting, however is written in such a way that the characters as they struggle with these issues seem to be real, not just a story for entertainment but a story to help us learn to ask the right questions in life.This book has been compared to Stephen King's The Dark Tower, or as a cross between it and the Left Behind books by LeHaye and Jenkins. However, to me it is more similar to C.S. Lewis's The Dark Tower or a darker version of Lewis's space trilogy. It also reads much like James Axler's Deathlands yet with more depth. Reading Horvath is like reading science fiction by Asimov, Bester or Heinlein, with the narrative power and creativity of C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien. It also contains strong military themes like those found in Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant, Orson Scott Card's Ender Series or Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books. This book is an amazing work of fiction. Both the writing style, and story itself will captivate and enthrall. This book is moving to my all time favorites list and it will take something pretty awesome to knock it down a notch on that list. So pick up the book and join Fides on his journey, both across a continent and into faith, and you too may be challenged to look inside and find the strength to struggle with faith and to ask yourself the tough questions. I for one eagerly anticipate the rest of the books to come in this new series.

(Note: a review of book 2 soon to follow.)


Books by A.R. Horvath:
Birthpangs Series
Fidelis
Spero

The Annals of Myrtle and the Blood King Series
The Warden-Watch

Books as Anthony Horvath:
Chronos and Old Facts
The Golden Rule of Epistemology and other essays
We Choose Life
Polite Company and Other Stories
The Knight in Black Tuzedo
Mordecai's Dilemma
For No Reason at All
Roots and Fruits
SUperfan
Author Profile and Interview with Anthony Horvath

Friday, 28 November 2008

Computer Tools, Tips and Tricks

Over the next few weeks I plan on writing a series of articles about computers. These will be written from the perspective of an IT Professional who constantly receives requests for help from friends and family. What I hope to do is outline and provide ideas for some tools, tricks and tips that will help users keep their machines clean and healthy and functioning better. Some of these tools I have been using for years and some are new to me through working in the field or through friends and colleagues. In this piece I will take a quick look at a number of tools, then over the next couple of weeks write a more in-depth step- by- step piece on each of these.

RegCure

AdAware
A-Squared
MalwareBytes
AVG
NoteTabPro
iGoogle

Part of how I see my role in IT is to help educate end-users so that they can do as much as they can for themselves. To that end, when I am working on someone's machine I explain what I am doing and why. This series will aim to help computer users learn from these experiences. Most of these software programs have a free trial version or scaled-down version for home/personal use but also have a more advanced version you can use buy if you want the extra features.

AVG

First and foremost it is important to have good virus software and to keep it up to date. Most software on the market will automatically update and let you know if it has not. AVG is great software and I have been using it for years. Once I was a huge Norton fan but it became more expensive to upgrade/renew each year than to buy a new version but for older machines the new version often took too many resources. AVG has always had a free home-use version; it is good software that runs efficiently without eating your system resources. The free version is good, the full version is great. AVG also has the ability to scan from a menu - you can right click an item or file you downloaded and scan it before opening it.

RegCure

This utility you can run for free but will have to buy eventually. It is fantastic. It will clean up stuff you are not even aware of. The system registry on a Windows-based machine is what allows the hardware and software to work together. This is a document that almost every program you install writes to. What Regcure does is remove the stuff not needed such as lost paths, empty registry fields, uninstalled program stuff and more. I know IT guys who run this every day to keep their machine running faster. Now on a side note, you will almost never get zero entries in this software. Because the registry is dynamic and always being written to, it will almost always find a few items to remove.

AdAware & A-Squared

AdAware and A-Squared are both very similar but do their jobs in a different way. They check for tracking coo
kies, malware and spyware. Both have free versions and are easy to install, update and use. I usually load both updates and set both to run, then walk away from the computer, go have supper and when I get back both scans are done and my machine is healthier. I always run a deep scan - it takes longer but checks everything on your computer not just the common items. AdAware has a paid version but it uses more system resources and runs all the time in the background. A-Squared has a nice function of being able to scan from the menu, so you can right click an item and scan with A-Squared to check it before opening or installing.

MalwareBytes

This program has come to be invaluable. It will remove almost any virus we have encountered either a
t work or on systems for friends or family. It is free to download and try and you can pay to upgrade to a pro version. Tip for this one is to update it twice after you install it. The first time it updates the software, the second the definitions it uses to scan. Malwarebytes has removed the UPS Virus, the XP Antivirus 2008/09, Antivirus Vundoo and many others. This is an excellent product. If by chance you exposed your system or know it is infected, this is the tool for you.

NoteTabPro

This little application is a fantastic utility. I use it daily at work and at home. I use it most to edit posts for m
y blog. I compose in MSWord, to be able to use spell check and grammar check, but if you cut and paste from Word you end up with all kinds of extraneous MS code in the paste. It can also be used for checking HTML, XML and CSS files. It is small, quick and extremely efficient. It's like Notepad on steroids, yet uses hardly any resources or space on the hard drive. I have barely tapped into the features of this utility in the 2 years I have been using it, but have recommended it to a few people who all rave about it.

iGoogle

Over the last year as I have become more mobile, I have come to find this to be an awesome tool. One reason is that Gmail now supports checking other email accounts and even sending from them. I have GMail configured to send from 8 accounts and it receives the messages from them also. iGoogle is a customizable webpage with gadgets galore to add to it. You can have your Gmail, news feeds, even Google calendar and many, many more. You can currently choose between the classic tabbed view or a sidebar navigation. I have moved to using this almost exclusively for mail and scheduling. Plus I have all my news and sports feeds on one tab and then a separate tab for using the Google reader to stay up on all the blogs I read. If they ever start charging for this service like Hotmail once did, I will be toast but currently, in my opinion, it is the best free service on the web.

Articles in this series:

Computer Tools, Tips and Tricks
RegCure
AdAware
A-Squared
MalwareBytes
AVG
NoteTabPro
iGoogle

(Note a variation of this article first published in Imprint 2008-11-28.)

Peace and Strength! Yours, learning to be Steven R. McEvoy

http://mcevoysmusings.ca My Homepage
http://bookreviewsandmore.ca My Blog

CompTIA IT PRO, A+ ITT, A+ DT, A+ RST, Network+
Microsoft MCP, MCTS Business Desktop Deployment, MCTS Vista Configuration, MCITP Enterprise Support, MCITP Consumer Support, MOS,

"The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it."
- Leo Rosten

Thursday, 27 November 2008

From the Journals

As I have mentioned before not only am I an avid reader I am an avid writer. I am currently on volume 35 of hard back journals. I use the Blueline A19 series 192 pages each they are 9 1/4 " X 7 1/3" or 235mm X 184mm. I have varied the color but green is dominant. Recently I went back through looking for my Myers Briggs results and found it in the 3rd one I pulled from the shelf. While doing that search I found a number of short book reviews that I wrote back in the spring and summer of 1999 while doing a children's literature course at the University of Waterloo. Now when journaling I write a 1 page summary of each book I read. However often it is more how the book affected me and what changes or observations I have discovered about my self from the books digestion. So I have decided to pull this collection out and clean them up a little and post them here. Some of these were favorite books when I read them but I was not reviewing formally then so this is a way to promote those books but not sacrifice the time to go back and reread them. Therefore over the next few months you will see posts every few days of some of my earliest reviews.

(Note yes I stole the title of this post from Eric Scheske who has been running a series of posts pulled from old journals.)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Quiz: What Does Your Taste in Music Say About You?

What Does Your Taste in Music Say About You?

Your musical tastes are reflective and complex.
You are intellectual to the point of being cerebral.

You are very open to new experiences, and even more open to new ideas and theories.


Wisdom and personal accomplishment are important to you.

You are naturally sophisticated. You are drawn to art, especially art by independent artists.

You are likely to be financially well off... and not because you were born that way.

My Top Ten List of Favorite Bands/Performers is:


Evanescence
Bif Naked
The Wyrd Sisters
Holly Cole
Chris Lizotte
Ozzy Osborne
Paul Gross
George Thorogood
David Wilcox
Beethoven
AC DC
Bach

Hat-tip Jean at Catholic Fire.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Do You Have Gaps in Your Knowledge?

Do You Have Gaps in Your Knowledge?

Where you have gaps in your knowledge:

No Gaps!

Where you don't have gaps in your knowledge:

Philosophy
Religion
Economics
Literature
History
Science
Art

Hat-tip Jean at Catholic Fire.

Monday, 24 November 2008

What Type is your Blog?

ISFP - The Artists

ISFP (for my blog)

The gentle and compassionate type. They are especially attuned their inner values and what other people need. They are not friends of many words and tend to take the worries of the world on their shoulders. They tend to follow the path of least resistance and have to look out not to be taken advantage of.

They often prefer working quietly, behind the scene as a part of a team. They tend to value their friends and family above what they do for a living.
Analysis
This show what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing.

ISTP - The Mechanics


ISTP (for my website.)

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.


The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and
highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

I do not remember the last time I did the Myers Briggs test but I do recall one category split almost 50/50 and one had a 99/1% split. I will have to look it up and see if I can find it. I went back and here are my results from the last time I did this in April of 99
E - 60% / I - 55%
S 75% / N 55%
T 55% / F 50%
J 55% / P 25%
So test as E/I S T/F J. It only took my 3rd journal out of 35 to find it. Which is funny based on these results making my writing in both categories a P. I know this will just show how precise I am I did some testing and it only check the title page, so I tested each month of my archive and got:
ISFP - The Artist - 19
ESFP - The Performer - 14
INTP - The Thinkers - 5
INFP - The Idealist - 1
For those not familiar with Myers-Briggs Types: the letters stand for:
Extraversion - Introversion
Sensing - INtuition
Thinking - Feeling
Judging - Perceiving.

(Hattip to Jean at Catholic Fire. You can check out your own here at the type analyzer.)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Knights of Columbus Book of the Month Club

The Catholic Company has more new stuff on the go. Now they are promoting their Joint venture the Knights of Columbus Book of the Month Club if you join you will receive the monthly offering at a 20% discount. Each month members will have the opportunity to join Supreme Knight Carl Anderson reading insightful, informative and faith-filled books and have the option to participating in an online discussion about that month's book. The discussion at the end of each month is led by Mr. Anderson and his guest's - authors and authorities on the subject of the book that month.

If you join before the 10th of a month you will receive that months book if not you will receive the next months book. There is even an online archive of old discussions.

This looks like a great tool to help you grow your faith. So Drop by and check it out.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Prereview of Skeleton Creek by Patrick carman

Skeleton Creek
Patrick Carman

Scholastic

ISBN 9780545075664


This is a prereview( my final review is here). That is, it is a review before a book comes out or even before I have read it. You might be asking how can I do that? There are two ways. First I have read 7 of the 9 books by the author and they are all excellent. Second this book is a brand new form of art. This book is not just a book, it is a book linked to a series of sites and interactive media. The media has started now and is available at skeletoncreekisreal.com. The book comes out early next year. The concept is that as you read the book you will be given codes to specific websites.


Now some might say that books linked to websites are nothing new, especially, John Twelve Hawks' fourth realm trilogy, starting with The Traveler. Or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins which has supporting fan sites. But that is completely different; that book only hid sites that were created for organizations in the book. In this case the Skeleton Creek sites are designed as part of the book. It is created as an alternate reality experience in which someone has discovered hidden secret files on a website (you can do it also if you follow the instructions in video #2). Those hidden files lead the narrator to believe that the Skeleton Creek story is based on real world events. And apparently there is no end of depth to these interactive sites. The narrator will never break character, so it feels very possible that everything he's saying could be true. Stay with it and pretty soon his own story will spin way out of control.

Author Patrick Carman states: "Now the fun part....there are clues to what's going on hidden in the videos, the file folders, on websites you'll find access to, even wikipedia sites. If you follow along you'll know about certain events almost no one else will be aware of. For example, if you pay attention, you'll be at the right place and the right time for live, once-only web casts of me giving additional information - and you might even get a chance to meet me in person or discover a hidden book in your area." The concept for this book is just so cool. How can it not be a great hit?

This book will be fantastic so check out the websites and get the book when it comes out. It is geared for the net generation, and the mixed media format will attract students, and students of all ages. As you read the book you get codes to watch the video's. The two combined tell the ghost story and should almost make it seem real.

Other Supporting Websites:

www.enterskeletoncreek.com
www.skeletoncreekisreal.com
www.haunteddredges.com
A couple of more links added:
Discussion Forum
Link found on Discussion Forum


Other of Patrick Carman Books:

The Dark Hills Divide - The Land of Elyon Book 1
Beyond the Valley of Thorns - The Land of Elyon Book 2

The Tenth City - The Land of Elyon Book 3
Into The Mist - The Land of Elyon Prequel
Stargazer - The Land of Elyon Book 4

The House of Power - Atherton Book 1
Rivers of Fire - Atherton, Book 2
The Dark Planet - Atherron Book 3

Saving Mr Nibbles
- Elliot's Park Book 1
Haunted Hike - Elliot's Park Book 2
The Walnut Cup - Elliot's Park Book 3
A Windy Tale - Elliot's Park Book 4

Skeleton Creek - Skeleton Creek Book 1 - A Prereview.
Ghost in the Machine - Skeleton Creek Book 2

Crossbones - Skeleton Creek Book 3
The Raven - Skeleton Creek Book 4

The Black Circle
- 39 Clues Book 5


Trackers #1

Thirteen Days to Midnight