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Friday, 29 July 2016

Twilight's Sparkly Sleepover Surprise - Perdita Finn - My Little Pony Equestria Girls


Twilight's Sparkley Sleepover Surprise
My Little Pony Equestria Girls
Perdita Finn
Little Brown Kids
Hasbro
ISBN 9780316266987
ASIN B016V88MYA


I should be honest and day I had no real interest in reading this book. But we allow our children to pick their own books, especially when they earn them for reading. But having said that it ended up being a great way to start summer reading with my oldest. First it was a book my daughter was really interested in; second, the reading level was perfect for where my daughter is at. And third it ended up being much better than I ever expected. The story was better than I expected, in fact it was a very good read. My daughter and I read it together over a number of evening alternating pages.

I have not any of the hundreds of hours of My Little Pony  shows or specifically the Equestria Girls spin off. I am familiar enough from them being on in the back ground to know the basics. And yet I was truly surprised by the quality of the story.

This book is focuses around Twiglight who has transferred schools. And Things seem much better at her new school and she has real friends for the first time. But mean girls from her old school cause her to doubt the friendships and that she can really be a friend.

Soon she starts to figure out what true friendship is and even reach out to the mean girls from her old school. My daughter's favorite part was her attempts to help the girls from her old school learn what true friendship really is.

Overall this was an age appropriate book, at a good vocabulary level. It also had a pretty good message. And is actually well written. Would I ever read these books myself, no, unlike many other children's and young adult books, these just do not appeal to me. Will I read more with my daughter absolutely.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

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


IceFire
The Last Dragon Chronicles #2
Chris d'Lacey
Orchard Books 
Scholastic
ISBN 9780439672467
eISBN 9780545414654
ASIN B005E8AQTS

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)
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 Unicorne Files
1 A Dark Inheritance (2014)
2 Alexander's Army (2015)
3 A Crown of Dragons (2016)

Fly, Cherokee Fly Series
Fly, Cherokee Fly
Pawnee Warrior

Other Books
Henry Spaloosh! 
Horace
Shrinking Ralph Perfect
The Snail Patrol
The Table Football League
Riverside United
Lofty
From E to You
Scupper Hargreaves, Football Genie
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

Contributed to:
On Me ‘ead, Santa
Nice One, Santa
The Usborne Book of Christmas Stories
Heroes and Villains
In the Frame
Midnight Feast

Author Profile and Interview with Chris d'Lacey.










Tuesday, 26 July 2016

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
ASIN B000FC0WLA



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
Frindle 
(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
Workshop
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
Troublemaker
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
Scholastic

ISBN 9780545556194
ASIN B00TYTPILO

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








Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Corinna Turner - Author Profile and Interview


Corinna Turner is a fresh new voice in speculative fiction. In some ways here I Am Margaret series is like a more extreme and catholic version of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Her writing is gripping, compelling and in light of recent events somewhat predictive. I encountered her writings and have been hooked since the first few chapters. Recently Corinna took some time from her busy schedule to answer 20 questions for the readers here at Book Reviews and More, so here is Corinna in her own words.

1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you nurture that dream?

I remember writing various childhood stories, and enjoying it, but it didn't cross my mind that I might want to be a writer until the 'short' story I wrote when I was 14. It went on for 37 pages in my homework book and the teacher gave up marking it after about page 8 due to lack of time. I promptly set to and wrote it up into a full length novel. The novel was awful. No one is allowed to see it. Ever! I've been writing ever since, so I've nurtured the dream simply by living it.

2. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?

A former teacher and a teacher's mother were both very helpful, reading my work and commenting and encouraging me. My own mother has also been fantastic. She is always truthful, so I really value her feedback.

3. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?

Hard to say. I might be farming, I might have taken academic study further and be a don (academic), I might have joined the police, or I might be working full time in some sort of charity or church role. As you can see, my interests are varied, so who knows!

4. What authors influenced your writing style and format?

I'm honestly not sure, is the short answer. Some people consciously imitate the styles of their favourite authors, but I've never really done that. I've always just got on and written. Favourite authors have influenced my choice of topic, for example, I started off with thrillers, moved on to vampires, then fantasy, then Young Adult. Format: well, I've written in a variety of persons and tenses and hope to continue to do so rather than get locked into just one for every book. I choose whichever tense and person fits the book. So most of my early (unpublished) books were third person past tense-but one of them was first person past tense. The first book which I felt was really 'there', and which got me my literary agent, was also third past, the next book was first past, but with two points of view. I Am Margaret is, of course, first past, and Someday is not only first present, but has not one or two, but multiple points of view. But I have a historical in the (distant) pipeline that is in third past, two points of view. So it really is a question of what suits the book in question.

5. What does your writing process look like? Take us through the steps from idea to publishing?

Well, I'll have the idea, sometimes in a dream, sometimes not. It develops gradually into a fully fledged plot, sometimes quickly, sometimes over quite a period of time. Sometimes it all comes together fairly quickly and is fairly 'finished', other times, especially with the 'Yesterday & Tomorrow' series I'm working on at the moment, it will be evolving over one or two years, and every time I think it's all there, something else will plop into place. During this stage I may write detailed notes on the idea if I think it will be some time before I can write it. I have notebooks full of partially developed or embryonic ideas, just waiting for the time to be taken further. The ones that get written are the ones that keep coming back and growing and developing, and the ones that just storm over you and take you over and you know you have to write them.

6. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listening to the same music?

I don't actually get around to listening to much music nowadays, perhaps because I'm busy, perhaps because I used to have a need to fill the silence all the time, but now that my relationship with God has deepened that need has gone. I do sometimes have music that I find inspirational for certain books, though. The two tracks that evoked 'I Am Margaret' powerfully to me were 'London' and 'Solomon Vandy' from James Newton Howard's soundtrack for the film 'Blood Diamond'. I hadn't even seen the film at the time that I was writing 'I Am Margaret', but I like James Newton Howard's work so I came across the soundtrack and it completely evoked to me Margo trapped in the Facility and Bane outside, wanting to save her. And some time after I had the idea for the 'Yesterday & Tomorrow' series I heard the song '10,000 Reasons' by Matt Redman for the first time, and it felt like that was all about the series.

7. Are you currently working on any projects now that the I Am Margaret series is complete?

Yes, the first book in my new series, 'Yesterday & Tomorrow', has already been published. It's a prequel novella called 'Someday' and it's a retelling of the kidnapping of the Nigerian Schoolgirls from Chibok school in 2014 by Islamist militants, but it takes place in the UK. It came out in April and due to it having a fixed release date it ended up leapfrogging 'Bane's Eyes' and coming out first! The second book will be along in due course. There will also be a companion volume to the 'I Am Margaret' series, containing what was meant to be a short story but which has evolved into a novella! And I have the odd other thing up my sleeve.

8. Book four in the I Am Margaret series is now out: Bane's Eyes. Unlike the other 3 there is no T in the tile to be a cross. Was that intentional, accidental or foreshadowing?

Um, there is a cross in the title. It is the ' because there simply wasn't a T in the title!

9. How many more books are planned for the I Am Margaret series?

Bane's Eyes is the final full-length novel, other than the companion volume.

10. What were some of your favorite books and authors when you were younger?

The Biggles and Worrals books by Captain W. E. Johns. The Three Musketeers series by Alexandre Dumas. Les Miserables. Also Alistair Maclean and Desmond Bagley's thrillers, and Charles Dickens, 'A Tale of Two Cities'.

11. What are some of your favorite contemporary religious authors to read?

I have to admit that contemporary religious fiction is actually quite a new thing for me. When I was in Sunday school they used to give us these twee little books that bashed you over the head with a Bible so hard all you could see were little crosses. It put me off 'Christian' fiction pretty much for life, up until quite recently. Happily I've now become aware that Christian fiction has come on enormously since then. I'm particularly enjoying Regina Doman's 'Fairy Tale Novels'. 'The Shadow in the Dark' by Antony Barone Kolenc was a promising first novel and the promise has certainly paid off in a later short story 'Asking and Telling' which I believe is being published soon in an anthology called 'Image and Likeness' by Full Quiver Press. I've also discovered the very gentle 'Amish Romance' genre, which is nice when you're in the right mood. There are so many books I'd liked to read, and not enough time! I have a stack waiting to be read, after which I may have some more suggestions.

12. If you could only recommend 10 books to a reader looking to be a well-rounded and whole person what books would you suggest?

Difficult question, but here are ten of the most useful I can think of off the top of my head:
1. The Holy Bible
2. The Divine Office (The Liturgy of the Hours)
3. Catechism of the Catholic Church
4. Humanae Vitae - Pope Paul VI
5. St Thomas More - A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation
6. Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity of Women) - St John Paul II
7. St Francis de Sales - The Devout Life
8. The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency - John Seymour
9. Fr Marcus Holden & Fr Andrew Pinsent - Lumen: The Catholic Gift to Civilisation
10. J.M. Gaskell - Explaining Islam (CTS Explanations)

13. What fiction books or authors do you enjoy or recommend?

For sheer skill as a writer, it's hard to beat multi-award winning science-fiction and fantasy writer 'Lois McMaster Bujold', however, many of the positions she adopts in her books are not in accordance with Christianity so I cannot recommend her as whole-heartedly as I would like. 
Carol Berg is another fantastic fantasy writer, without the same issues as Bujold. So far everything I've written by her has been pretty solid morally.
I love Eoin Colfer's books, also the Harry Potter books. The Host - Stephanie Meyer (a totally different beast than the 'Twilight' books). A few other favourites are 'The Lady in the Tower' by Marie Louise-Jenson, 'The Secret Countess' by Eva Ibbotson, Audrey Erskine Lindop - 'The Singer not the Song', Captain Marryat - 'Children of the New Forest' and Paul Dowdswell's historical novels for children, especially 'Auslander'. But it's so hard to pick favourite books, so I could go on at length.

14. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?

I think your professor stated it quite well, actually. Knowing how to think and how to learn is far more important. As someone with a rather poor memory, I know how quickly facts can be forgotten. But the ability to go and find facts, to process them usefully and then act on them doesn't disappear in the same way and is far more helpful in life. Unfortunately many modern systems of education focus on exams and this tends to favour rather superficial education that focuses on knowing the right answers at one moment in your life, not on formulating and answering the right questions.

15. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy?

I don't watch very much TV at all. I did enjoy Poldark the other year. I watch quite a lot of films and have fairly wide interests, ranging from historical dramas like Titanic and Gladiator, fantasy like Lord of the Rings, sci-fi like Star Wars (esp. the originals), classics like The Scarlet and the Black, Quo Vadis, and The Three Musketeers (Michael York version) to more recent favourites like the modern Star Trek films, Avatar, Inception, Ender's Game, The Hunger Games series, Skyfall, Mongol, Solomon Kane, a lot of the Marvel superhero films (esp. Captain America), Child 44, Jurassic World, The X Men films, My Name is Khan, Edge of Tomorrow, Johnny English & Johnny English Reborn, Galaxy Quest, Amazing Grace, To End all Wars, Sherlock Holmes & Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, Slumdog Millionaire, Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3. I also love some classic children's films like Small Soldiers, Just Visiting, Babe Pig in the City, Mulan... I could go on for a long time here, as well!

16. All of your books are available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?

There are many positives about ebooks, although mostly I prefer to read a paper copy, but there's no doubt that piracy is a problem with ebooks that didn't really exist with printed books. I think most of all people need moral formation so that they understand they are stealing when they download from these sites. Getting rid of demand is the only way to shut them down. Of course, with human nature being fallen, the chances of completely shutting down such sites seem remote! But one can try.

17. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so or have someone do so for you?

Many marketing experts think that until an author is very, very famous, obscurity is a far greater danger than piracy. So I don't get wildly excited when I see my books on torrent sites. If anything I feel flattered because they wouldn't bother putting them up if they didn't think someone might want to download them. But I will try and get them taken down, now and then, since I believe it's necessary simply in order to protect my copyright. It's something I'm meaning to look into in a bit more detail, tbh.

18. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?

My characters are very real to me, but perhaps because they mostly inhabit other places, frequently fantasy worlds or other versions of our reality, they don't tend to be (metaphorically) walking around my house, as it were. But of course I know heaps more about them than can possibly go into a book, including what happens in the rest of their lives after the books ends (assuming they survive that long!). I imagine this is the same for most authors.

19. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

Impossible decision, but going for variety and length(!) a reasonable selection might be:
1. The Holy Bible
2. The Divine Office (The Liturgy of the Hours)
3. Catechism of the Catholic Church
4. Prayers and Meditations - St Anselm
5. The Curse of Chalion - Lois McMaster Bujold
6. Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained - John Milton
7. The Host - Stephanie Meyer
8. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
9. Audrey Erskine Lindop - 'The Singer not the Song'
10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J. K. Rowling (or possibly an Eoin Colfer, perhaps 'The Airman', only 'HP and the DHs' is so much fatter, so it's a tough decision...)

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists particularly those looking to have their art reflect their faith?

With regard to the artistic part of it, write. Don't talk about it or just sit around thinking about it, as soon as you have an idea that you really want to write, sit down and do it. When you've finished, then you have two choices: put away your first novel and start another. Then another. Then another, until you get one you think is fit to be seen. Or go over and over and over the novel you have written, editing, rewriting, tweaking, improving. I would recommend the first if put to it, but only because that is what I did. But the fact is that some authors do one, some do the other. Everyone is different, and it may ultimately depend on whether you have one idea, or lots of them.

If you want your art to reflect your faith then most importantly, don't be shy about putting it in. But subtly. It should be a 100% natural part of the story, it should not jar or 'bash' the reader over the head. It should be integral to both the characters and the plot. (Though be aware that for some non-religious readers, ANY positive presence of Christianity, however naturally it occurs, will feel like proselytisation and freak them out, and there really is nothing you can do about that.) Resist the temptation to make the good characters perfect, but make them good enough that people can aspire to be more like them, whilst recognising their faults and humanity. If you're writing 'secular' fiction you will need to be very subtle indeed. So subtle that I got fed up with writing 'secular' fiction because my faith felt smothered.

Most importantly, concentrate on your own faith life. You can't write what you aren't living. Pray, go to Mass (or other services if you're not Catholic)-and take purity seriously, in thought as well as action-and I don't just mean sexual purity. I've read some truly horrible novels recently purporting to be 'Christian' which glamorise violence, present revenge as perfectly okay, mention forgiveness not once and so on. So think about what you're reading and watching, and recognise that anything you see or hear WILL have an effect on you, and that once you've taken it into yourself, you cannot get it out again. Ever. Think about it: can you choose to forget a memory, just because you want to? 

What do I mean by 'think about what you read and watch'? Well, here's a personal example. I would love to watch 'Game of Thrones'. In fact, it's a big temptation. I'm pretty sure I would really enjoy it. But I choose not to watch it. I'd heard it was way off the acceptable scale for violence and sex and especially both together and I watched the first episode to form my own opinion and had to concur. As anyone who has read 'I Am Margaret' or 'Someday' will know, I don't shrink from depicting necessary violence. But the level portrayed in 'G of Ts' and other such series-and books-is simply not necessary, and I will not support it. I would encourage you not to either. You can show the same events and make them every bit as powerful without actually employing gratuitous sex and violence for shock value-in fact, the shock value is essentially a crutch that allows poor writing to slide on by. A really good writer (not claiming that's me, mind you!) can easily make such a scene more powerful, whilst showing much less. Aim to write like that.

Thank you Corinna for your time. As you can see from this interview Corinna has put a lot of thought and work into her craft. All of her books that I have read are amazing and I highly recommend them. If you have not read them definitely check them out!

Books by Corinna Turner:
I Am Margaret Series:
I Am Margaret
The Three Most Wanted
Liberation

Bane's Eyes
Margo's (Attempted) Diary & Notebook

Yesterday and Tomorrow Series:

Someday

Tomorrow's Dead

Author profile and interview with Corinna Turner.








Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Reach For The Stars, Ryan - Barb Chrysler and Igor Golovihin


Reach For The Stars, Ryan
Barb Chrysler
Philip McIvor (Illustrator)
Nanshe Publishing

ISBN 9780994804938

This was the second book by Barb Chrysler That I have read and the first illustrated by Igor Golovinhin. My children and I have read through this book a few times over the last week. My younger two love it. This is an interesting story for children. It is a story about perseverance, a story about encouragement and a story about parenting. 

In this book every time Ryan gets frustrated or discouraged his mother tickles him. And after the laughter his tries again and he is able to move forward. 

The issues he struggles with are:
Learning to print his name
Tie his shoes
Learn the alphabet
Ride his bicycle
Learn to skate
Adding numbers
Make friends

My kids got the message right away. If they keep trying they will be able to gain the skills. The book is particularly allocable as both my younger two are struggling with riding bikes, and this book has motivated them to keep trying. 

My children have mixed opinions about the illustrations, They are done in sort of a manga style. My daughter loves them my son does not like the huge eyes. But both of them loved the story. 

This is a great little book with a solid message. The message of working through issues with laughter, support and encouragement is one that we can all benefit from. As such all three of us give it a solid 4 stars!

Books by Barb Chrysler:
One Day: A Story About Positive Attitude
Reach for the Stars, Ryan
Oh My Gosh, Josh Loves Soccer
Oh My Gosh, Josh Is Forgetful
The Boy Who Didn't Quit
Get Your Head in the Game: The Power of Positive Mental Attitude

Books Contributed to:
I Belong to You


Monday, 18 July 2016

The Janitor's Boy - Andrew Clements


The Janitor's Boy
Andrew Clements

Mark Elliott (Illustrator)
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
A Division of Simon and Schuster

ISBN 9780689835858
ASIN B0070Z7TNO

I am very thankful that I discovered Andrew Clement's books this year. They are great for reading with my children. The stories are so entertaining that I really enjoy then. And each of them that I have read so far have amazing lessons. The message in this book is deeper than some of the others that I have read by Clements. 

Jack Rankins hates that his dad is the janitor at his school. SO he has a plan, a plan to make a horrendous mess for his father to need to clean up. But his plan for the prefect crime did not take into account the detective skills of Mr. Ackerby. Soon Jack has 3 weeks of punishment cleaning first his original target, and then what ever the head custodian wants him to clean. Jack reports to his father for duty.

But being in school after hours has some interesting benefits. Jack finds a key cabinet, discovers some secrets and learns a lot. He learns about who he really is, he learns about who his father is and some of the stuff he has been through. And he grows a lot. 

One of the best things about Clement's books is that they teach incredible lessons but in in a big showy way. The lessons are subtle, and the stories very realistic. These down to earth books a great for the whole family, currently in our house from ages 5-45 all enjoy these reads. This is one of the best in-between book I have ever read. It is not early readers and it is not yet young adult. This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.

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
Frindle 
(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
Workshop
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
Troublemaker
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


Friday, 15 July 2016

How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming Into the Catholic Church - Kevin Lowry


How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming Into the Catholic Church
Kevin Lowry
Our Sunday Visitor
ISBN 9781612788401
ASIN B01FIEBG50


This is the second book I have read by Kevin Lowry and I have read his contributions in other volumes also. And I must say the greatest strengths of his writings are threefold. First is his honesty and his transparency. Second is his engaging and entertaining writing style. And Third is his vulnerability is sharing his stories as they are faults and all. Over the last few years I have read a number of stories of how people have found the Catholic church or found their way back home. From the three volumes in the Surprised By Truth series edited by Patrick Madrid to Lorene Hanley Dunquin's Recovering Faith. But there is something very powerful in the whole story like Kevin Presents in this volume as opposed to shorter snapshots, even though I enjoy those also.

In this volume we have a story that spans many years, almost a decade. From a young 16 year old heading off to college to a man married with 2 children entering the Catholic Church. Kevin states in the introduction: "To undergo conversion is to become different, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that it is to be made different. It is the start of the process of becoming a saint, for that is the ultimate point of conversion and God's goal for each one of us." He goes on later to declare "I've grasped that I was not a failure but a human being. I have also grasped that the process of conversion - even for cradle Catholics - necessarily involves turning our hearts again and again toward Christ. It involves growing in our understanding and practice of the faith." And his book will inspire, challenge and at times even cause us to laugh. This book will help with our own turning, turning back, refocusing back on Christ. And if we are open to learning from Kevin's example it can help us grow.

The sections in this book are:
Foreword - Dr. Scott Hahn
Introduction - Transformed: Lessons of a Grateful Convert

Part I: Sprinting to the Starting Gate - or How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming into the Catholic Church Despite My Best Efforts to Avoid It
Chapter 1: Happy Easter! Now What?
Chapter 2: An Event and a Process
Chapter 3: A Fish Out of Water
Chapter 4: Soused in Steubenville
Chapter 5: Fast Forward
Chapter 6: The Beautiful American
Chapter 7: Spiritual Nomads

Part II: Turning Stumbling Blocks Into Stepping-Stones - or How All Those Weird Things About Catholicism Turn Out to Make Sense and Actually Bring You Closer to God
Chapter 8: First Stumbling Block: The Eucharist
Chapter 9: Second Stumbling Block: Confession
Chapter 10: Third Stumbling Block: The Mystical Body of Christ
Chapter 11: Fourth Stumbling Block: Mary
Chapter 12: Fifth Stumbling Block: Faith vs. Works
Chapter 13: Sixth Stumbling Block: Authority
Chapter 14: Seventh Stumbling Block: The Church's Imperfections
Chapter 15: The Worst Stumbling Block of All: Me

Kevin writes in such an engaging way that I could hardly put the book down.
"I need the Sacrament of Reconciliation as much as anyone and more than most. So instead, I force myself to look inward and marvel at my own intransigence - how my conversion seems to be put on hold far more often than it should be." And each of us must face those same questions, week by week, year by year. We need to learn to turn again and again back to God, to fix our focus on Christ and to follow the Holy Spirit's leading.

This book is an excellent read. For those firmly established in their Catholic faith it will serve as a reminder or a book to share with those on the path. For those who are on the path, Kevin is an excellent example and someone whom you can walk beside. I honestly believe that anyone who reads this book will be challenged to live a deeper and more authentic faith! It is a wonderful inspiring read so give it a try.

Books by Kevin Lowry:
Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck
How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming Into the Catholic Church

Contributed To:
Surprised By Truth 2
Man Up! Becoming the New Catholic Renaissance Man
Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary

Author Profile and Interview with Kevin Lowry.

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