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Friday, 31 March 2017

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2017

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books First Quarter 2017

This is my best quarter for reading that I can recall, 100 Books between January 1st and March 31st 2017. Of the hundred read 57 received 5 out of 5 stars so narrowing this list down to 10 Fiction and 10 Non-Fiction was not an easy task. But of the 39 Non-Fiction and 18 fiction are as follows. 

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:
1. In Conversation with God - Francis Fernandez
2. 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers
3. Marrying the Rosary to the Divine Mercy Chaplet - Shane Kapler
4. A Man Who Knew How to Forgive - Francesc Faus
5. Choosing Happiness: Working Within - Francisco Ugarte
6. Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent - St. Francis de Sales
7. The Catholic Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Origins of Catholic Christianity - Taylor R. Marshall - The Origins of Catholicism Book 2
8. The Deacon Reader - James Keating
9. Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius - Michael E. Gaitley
10. How to Read Your Way to Heaven - Vicki Burbach

Top Ten Fiction Books:
1. Patrick and the Fire - Cornelia Mary Blinsky and Maggie Coburn
2. 7 Riddles to Nowhere - A.J. Cattapan
3. The Strangers at the Manger - Lisa M. Hendey and Jenn Bower - Chime Travelers Book 5
4. Pictures of Me - Marilee Haynes
5. Bane's Eyes - Corinna Turner - I Am Margaret Book 4
6. a.k.a. Genius - Marilee Haynes
7. Brigid and the Butter - Pamela Love and Apryl Stott
8. Saving Faith - T.M. Gaouette - Faith & Kung Fu Book 2
9. Hit the Ground Running - Mark Burley
10. The Ideas of March: A Short Story - Barry Lyga

Note: I did not include books that have been read in previous years and were reread this year in my top ten lists. As stated it was no easy task making this quarter. But if you want more options check out my favorite books year by year list

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Fiction Books 2nd Quarter 2013
Top 10 Books Second Half 2013
Top Ten Fiction Books 2013
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2013 
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2014
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2014
Top Ten Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2014
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2015
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2015
Top Ten Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Non-Fiction Books 2015
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Second Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2016
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2016
Top Ten Non- Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Fiction Books 2016
Top Ten Catholic Books
Top Ten Books First Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Fourth Quarter 2017 

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

100 - 2017 January-March
272 - 2016 
177 - 2015 
130 - 2014 
88 -  2013
176 - 2012 
163 - 2011
302 - 2010
142 - 2009
98 - 2008
83 - 2007
191 - 2006
151 - 2005
60 - 2004
52 - 2003
97 - 2002
50 - 2001
41 - 2000
71 - 1999
73 - 1998
131 - 1997
101 - 1996



Thursday, 30 March 2017

Exodus 90 at Day 30

Exodus 90 - Day 30 Check In

A 90 Day program for Christian men with a focus on Prayer, Asceticism, and Brotherhood. From Those Catholic Men. And my fraternity is now 30 days in. Here are some reflections on the first month of the program.


This program is not for the faint of heart! And it is best to do it with a group of brothers. This is my second time attempting the program. The first time the group collapsed and never finished the program. This time I am part of a remote fraternity, at the beginning there were 4 in our merry band. And we spanned from Eastern Time Zone to Pacific Time Zone. Only one member knew all of us before we began. Following the guidance in the Exodus 90 Days Manual we meet weekly over Facebook video chat. We also check in almost every day. Now at day thirty we are down to 3. 

In the program each day you get an email with that day's readings. They vary in length a fair bit. The first day of each week there is a section in the email called Action List, with some key points for focus that week. It is eerily accurate how it is for what is happening with the group. The first week is a lot of excitement. By week two thinks start to slow down a bit. Week three is the first big real struggle. And for our crew the guys realized that this will carry not only through Lent, but over Easter. 

We have had some great fraternity meetings, some good sharing and some great prayers for each other. We keep those meetings to an hour as recommended. And once because of illness we shifted it. 




The program has changed a lot in the 10 months since I first tried to do it. The books have been completely redone, and are now available in print and pdf formats. (Would still love to see either epub or mobi formats of the eBooks). There is also now an exercise guide created by Mike Short, from Intentional Encounter, who worked through the program early on. There are workouts for every day of the program, starting off with simple body weight exercises for time, and in the first 30 days progressing to include AMRAP: As Many Rounds As Possible. Each day you have set exercises and stretches, and every 3rd day is Active rest. This first month we have 5 Exercises and 5 Stretches and a few more will be introduced over the next few weeks. 

The exercises in the first month include:
Hand Raise Push Ups
Airt Squats
Sit Ups / Crunches
Lunge Steps 
Jumping Jacks

The stretches are:
Tricep Stretch
Samson Stretch
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Pass Through with Broom handle
Inch Worm Stretch

Overall things are going well. Could use a little more discipline but that is what this time is for.

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

Exodus 90 Articles:
Exodus 90 My Commitment
Exodus 90 My Commitment - Take 2
Exodus 90 at Day 30
Exercise Update
Exodus 90 at Day 60
Exodus 90 at Day 90
What's Next After Exodus 90


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

20 Answers End of Life Issues - Jason Negri - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers

20 Answers End of Life Issues
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers
Jason Negri
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781938983962
eISBN 9781938983986
ASIN B01HDW0TCG



Out of the 10 books in the 20 Answers series that I have read, this might be the hardest to date. I made a commitment to do the 20 Answers Challenge from Catholic Answers Series, a commitment to read the 20 books in the series over lent. During lent this year you can get all 20 books for 50% off, an amazing deal, and you still have time to get them! This book was hard to read for many reasons, staying atop of the news in Europe, and in Canada, and the changes in attitudes to medical care and saving money by encouraging exit strategies for people, just made this book a very hard read. But one that was really worth taking the time and effort to work through.

Jason is a lawyer by day and that clear concise, and direct approach that you would expect from a lawyer is clearly evident in his writing. In this book he tackles End of Life Issues and the specific 20 questions that he answers are:


1. What is the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide?
2. Since suicide isn't against the law anymore, why should it be illegal to help someone commit suicide?
3. What about freedom of choice? If someone finds life intolerable, why shouldn't he be allowed to kill himself-even if it means getting someone to help?
4. Be reasonable! Some people are just lying there in a completely vegetative state. Shouldn't we just put them out of their misery?
5. What are some of the reasons that conscious and competent people give for wanting doctor-prescribed suicide?
6. But what if a person is in unbearable pain?
7. What if someone is already dying? What's the problem with just speeding up the inevitable?
8. Isn't your opposition to physician-assisted suicide based just on your religious beliefs?
9. PAS and euthanasia are already happening. So why not legalize them?
10. The cost of medical care for the very old and ill can be a tremendous burden. Isn't PAS a solution?
11. At what point should medical treatment be removed from a patient? Do I have to be kept alive by machines?
12. What about a feeding tube? Is there a different standard for deciding to withdraw that treatment?
13. I've heard the term "palliative care" in the context of end-of-life issues. What is it?
14. What is "elder abuse," and how does it factor into this debate?
15. Is there anything I can do now to make sure rights and wishes are respected in end-of-life situations?
16. I have heard about a new type of advance directive called a POLST. Is this a good idea?
17. What are the best arguments against PAS that both religious and non-religious people can agree on?
18. What is the legal status of assisted suicide in the United States right now?
19. What about euthanasia?
20. What practical things should I be doing to prepare for my own death?

In the introduction Jason states: "And yet death is the only certainty. Regardless of the worldly distractions with which we surround ourselves, regardless of our health, wealth, connections, or beliefs, regardless of whether we are ready for it, all of us will someday pass from this life. However unpleasant it may be, we ought to give this ultimate topic some attention-particularly at this moment in time, when controversies over euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and the rights of the sick and disabled have reached a crossroads." And that this booklet is just a starting point. All of these questions cannot be answered in 60 pages. But the conversation can begin. Jason begins by defining the terms, "Euthanasia means intentionally, knowingly, and directly acting to cause the death of another person-for example, giving him a lethal injection. Assisted suicide is defined as intentionally, knowingly, and directly providing the means by which another person commits suicide-such as giving him a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs. In both cases, the act is done ostensibly to relieve a patient's suffering."  But from some of the stories in this book and from the news in Europe it is important to add that euthanasia can further be broken down into two types, with the patients consent and without, or as Jason puts in voluntary and involuntary. 

There have been recent news stories about forced euthanasia, by doctors at the family's request to save on medical costs. Reading this book brings home a very bleak reality in the world we live in today. But it also offers hope in the Catholic's value on life, and all life; and also in finding that balance between valuing life, and accepting death as a part of the process. 

So far this was the hardest book in the 20 Answers Series to read, and because of that maybe one of the most important for us to read. Now some of the legal ramifications and precautions Jason writes about are geared to Americans, but as a Canadian it was easy to do some quick searches and find our relevant or similar information. This is a great series and this is a very relevant book in this day and age.

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

Note 2: Lent 2017 this is an amazing series of books is being offered at a 50% discount through the end of Lent 2017. But the challenge is to read the 20 books in the 20 Answers series over Lent. That is right you can get all 20 physical books or all 20 eBooks for just $34.95! If you want a way to go deeper this Lent give this series a try! #20AnswersChallenge




20 Answers Series:
20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Angels & Demons - Fr. Mike Driscoll
20 Answers Atheism - Matt Fradd
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Divorce & Remarriage - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers End of Life - Jason Negri
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Islam - Andrew Blezad
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mary - Tim Staples
20 Answers Miracles - Karlo Broussard
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers Salvation - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Scripture and Tradition - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Papacy - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn

20 Answers The Church - Trent Horn
20 Answers Witchcraft & the Occult - Michelle Arnold
20 Answers Apparitions & Revelations - Michael O'Neill
20 Answers The Sacraments - Fr. Mike Driscoll


Other Books from Catholic Answers:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties - Trent Horn
A Daily Defense: Apologetics Lessons for Every Day - Jimmy Akin
The Apostasy That Wasn't: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church - Rod Bennett
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity - Trent Horn
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue - Trent Horn and Fr Frank Pavone
The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism - Devin Rose
Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines - Tim Staples
Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians - James L. Papandrea
Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World - Fr. Mike Driscoll
Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faith - Devin Rose
100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura - Dave Armstrong
The Drama of Salvation: How God Rescues You from Your Sins and Brings You to Eternal Life - Jimmy Akin
The Truth is Out There (Brendan and Erc in Exile Book 1 - Brother Amadeus and Amadeus
...Memorize the Reasons! Defending the Faith with the Catholic Art of Memory - Kevin Vost
Marching Orders: A Tactical Plan for Converting the World to Christ - Dan McGuire

The Fathers Know Best - Jimmy Akin
Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love - Trent Horn
The Old Evangelization: How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did - Eric Sammons
...

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Ten: How the Ten Commandments Can Change Your Life - Mary Elizabeth Sperry

Ten: How the Ten Commandments Can Change Your Life
Mary Elizabeth Sperry
Franciscan Media
ISBN 9781616364083
ASIN B009J7PAQ4




This book was a really intriguing read. In fact it was so thought provoking that I added it to my next year's reading list after finishing it, I have thought about this book for over a week now before writing my review. The title of the book caught my attention right away. I thought for a while before buying this book. I was wondering how the author could speak to the commandments in a new way. But I kept seeing it in my news feeds, or it kept coming back to mind so I took the plunge. I am very thankful that I did. The description for this book is:

"The Ten Commandments, Sperry explains, teach us habits we need to live in right relationship with God, self, others, and things-habits such as:

  • creating priorities
  • seeking intimacy
  • spending time
  • giving respect
  • recognizing dignity
When our relationships are healthy, our lives are in balance. We know a joy that goes beyond fleeting pleasure. We are surrounded by love, and we live our call to holiness."

And it does that. In fact I found that I stopped reading a few times just to process Mary Elizabeth's writing. There are few books that I read and need to pause, with this one I paused a number of times. There are few of us who are not familiar with the 10 Commandments, though in this day and age I believe few could cite them all. Either the version from Exodus 20:1-17 or the version from Deuteronomy 5:6-21.  The way Mary Elizabeth speaks to each of the specific commandments are:

The First Commandment - Creating Priority
The Second Commandment - Seeking Intimacy
The Third Commandment - Spending Time
The Fourth Commandment - Giving Respect
The Fifth Commandment - Recognizing Dignity
The Sixth Commandment - Maintaining Integrity
The Seventh Commandment - Living Gratitude
The Eight Commandment - Upholding Honesty
The Ninth Commandment - Promising Fidelity
The Tenth Commandment - Bestowing Generosity

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz in the forward states: "While it can be tempting to treat the commandments as almost a self-help manual and fall victim to the ancient heresy that marred the life of the fourth-century monk Pelagius of "earning salvation," this treatment portrays God's grace in our response to our loving God. The emphasis is on the action of God in our hearts that brings about the internalizing of these precious ten words so that good and faithful habits result. On a personal note, I have had the privilege to know the author and have seen her admirable efforts to live what she presents in writing." And I would agree. Mary Elizabeth states: "The Ten Commandments. The very words conjure up memories of the booming, majestic voice of God and ancient laws engraved on stone tablets while Moses stood on Mount Sinai. But what can they possibly have to say to us? We live in a digital world; stone tablets are things we see in museums (or in photos on the Internet that we access from our real tablets). How can these commandments apply to us? It's not like we're going to go out and commit murder or armed robbery. It's easy to see the Ten Commandments as outdated, legalistic, not meaningful to us."  But she does not leave us there, she goes on to unpack the heart of the commandments and in many ways make them more relevant and central to our life than many of us likely have though in a long time, if ever.  In how to use this book she says: "I recommend reading this book one chapter at a time, taking time after each chapter to do the journaling exercises and to examine the way you follow (or don't follow) each commandment. The chapters build on each other, so it's important to go in order. Move to the next commandment when you feel ready to move forward. Feel free to go back to earlier chapters when things begin to feel out of balance. You might also want to keep this book on your shelf for a while, returning to it occasionally (perhaps each Lent) as a checkup on your spiritual development or as a refresher course to help deepen your relationship with God." And to be honest I agree. I could not read this book straight through as I do with many other volumes.

Mary Elizabeth has points to remember from the introduction:

  • Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments when he gave the Two Great Commandments: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40).
  • Our lives are formed by the choices we make. We can choose to do what is right or to do what is easy. Over time, those choices will determine the path of our life.
  • The Ten Commandments help us to make the right choices, leading us to right relationships in all aspects of our lives.
Each chapter of this book follows the same format. First we have the commandment, which is followed by a main teaching section. This is followed by Points to Remember, then a Culture Connection, and a Role Model. And then activities, Try This, Talk it Through and a section to Pray through.

This was a really interesting read. It got me thinking, reflecting and writing a bit on some very varied topics. I encourage you to give this book a try and read it with an open heart and see where the word and Spirit lead you.

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

Books by Mary Elizabeth Sperry:
Ten: How the Ten Commandments Can Change Your Life
Scripture in the Parish: A Guide for Catholic Ministry
Bible Top Tens: 30 Fun and Intriguing Lists to Inspire and Inform
Bible Top Tens: 40 Fun and Intriguing Lists to Inspire and Inform
Real Life Faith: Bible Companions for Catholic Teens

Contributed to:
The Liturgy Documents, Volume One: Fifth Edition: Essential Documents for Parish Worship


Monday, 27 March 2017

How to Read Your Way to Heaven - Vicki Burbach

How to Read Your Way to Heaven
Vicki Burbach
Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 9781622823604
ASIN B01N5OBE8X



I am a confirmed bibliophile, Last year I read 287 books and in less than 90 days this year I have read 97 books. But I was attracted to this book. I was eagerly awaiting its release. The description of this book is:

"Many of us commit to some form of spiritual reading, but we find that our book choices are sporadic and often based on a whim rather than following a purposeful plan. Designed for individual or group settings, How to Read Your Way to Heaven will guide your quest to delve deeper into a relationship with Christ by meditating on the written word while organizing your reading around the four pillars of the Catholic Faith the Creed, the sacraments, morality, and prayer.

How to Read Your Way to Heaven is not merely another book to read. It is designed to be an invaluable tool for guiding and organizing your reading to help you on your journey to become a saint. And best of all, this fully integrated do-it-yourself spiritual reading program that can be easily followed by the busiest of Catholics with the tightest of schedules."

The book is split into 5 sections, three sections to the main text and then the other sections. The three sections are: A Proper Approach to Spiritual Reading, How the Program Works, and Pillars of Joy: A Complete Spiritual Reading Program. There are also the 5 years of the reading plan. And also two other reading lists. I have already read about half of Fr. John McCloskey 'A Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan' but I have only read about a tenth of the recommended reading list from the contributors. The main body of the text is only about 30% of the book. This book has so much great content. I already have over 50 books on my Catholic Reading List this year but plan on tackling year one of this program next year.

Vicki writes from her own experience, and draws from her passion for books and spiritual development. This book is a wonderful tool. I really believe that any Catholic would benefit from reading this book, and working through the One, Three or Five year reading programs. I also think that anyone open to the Catholic faith would benefit greatly from reading this book and working through one of the reading plans.

This was an incredible read that I will be recommending to friends and family for years to come.


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

Sunday, 26 March 2017

20 Answers Salvation - Jimmy Akin - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers

20 Answers - Salvation
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers
Jimmy Akin
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781941663615
eISBN 9781941663639
ASIN B01HDZVDVE



Lent is now half over and I have read 7 of the 20 books in the 20 Answers series from Catholic Answers. And I realise I am setting myself up for a hard stretch towards the end. To date I have been avoiding all the ones that deal with other religions. I have no hesitation about reading them but am concerned about how to approach them for writing reviews. But I made the commitment to do the 20 Answers Challenge from Catholic Answers Series. During lent you can get all 20 books for 50% off, what an amazing deal! So I need to refocus my reading, and tackle some of those books I have not yet. I am part way through Jimmy Akin's A Daily Defense: Apologetics Lessons for Every Day, and love his writing style, so I was not surprised that I loved his volume on Salvation in this amazing series.

The twenty questions that Jimmy tackles regarding salvation are:

1. Why do I need to be saved?
2. What is original sin?
3. What is personal sin?
4. What is grace?
5. How can I be saved?
6. How should we understand the key concepts connected with salvation?
7. How should we answer the question, "Have you been saved?"
8. Why did Jesus die on the cross?
9. What is a sacrament?
10. What is baptism?
11. What is confession?
12. If Jesus died for our sins, why should we do penance?
13. What is justification?
14. Are we justified "by faith alone"?
15. What are "works of the law"?
16. What is merit?
17. What is heaven?
18. What is purgatory?
19. What is hell?
20. Is there salvation outside the Church?

From the introduction Jimmy is clear and concise in his teachings on Salvation, he states: "When Scripture says that God gave his only Son, it refers to Jesus Christ and the key events of his life-particularly his death on the cross. God didn't just give his Son to be born among men-he gave him to die on a cross for our salvation. That's how much God loves us!" This book is a synthesis of centuries of teaching about salvation, what it is, what it is not, how it is achieved are but a few of the lessons that will be learned in this book. Jimmy draws extensively from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and from Scriptures. There are a few other quotes from other church documents. But for the most part his arguments come from Scripture and the Catechism. 

I particularly loved the chapter: 'If Jesus died for our sins, why should we do penance?' for it is excellent for sharing with fallen away Catholics, or protestants who question the 'whole penance' thing. This line here is pure gold "So even when we've become children of God and been forgiven, God still disciplines us. He allows us to experience some consequences for our sins so that we may grow in holiness." And when you combine it with what follows it in the text: "That's why we do penance. It's a way of embracing discipline, of learning to do it, to internalize it, and it builds strength and self-control for the future. If we learn how to say no to ourselves as part of penance, we'll be better able to say no to temptations in the future." You have a blueprint for spiritual growth into maturity. Or as Saint Paul wrote, in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 "Brothers, I could not talk to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it. Indeed, you are still not able, even now, for you are still of the flesh. While there is jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving in an ordinary human way?" Penance will help bring about maturity, and to be honest so will reading this book or the whole 20 Answers series.

This was another excellent read in the 20 Answers series and I highly recommend the book and the series.

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

Note 2: Lent 2017 this is an amazing series of books is being offered at a 50% discount through the end of Lent 2017. But the challenge is to read the 20 books in the 20 Answers series over Lent. That is right you can get all 20 physical books or all 20 eBooks for just $34.95! If you want a way to go deeper this Lent give this series a try! #20AnswersChallenge




20 Answers Series:
20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Angels & Demons - Fr. Mike Driscoll
20 Answers Atheism - Matt Fradd
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Divorce & Remarriage - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers End of Life - Jason Negri
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Islam - Andrew Blezad
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mary - Tim Staples
20 Answers Miracles - Karlo Broussard
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers Salvation - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Scripture and Tradition - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Papacy - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn

20 Answers The Church - Trent Horn
20 Answers Witchcraft & the Occult - Michelle Arnold
20 Answers Apparitions & Revelations - Michael O'Neill
20 Answers The Sacraments - Fr. Mike Driscoll


Other Books from Catholic Answers:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties - Trent Horn
A Daily Defense: Apologetics Lessons for Every Day - Jimmy Akin
The Apostasy That Wasn't: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church - Rod Bennett
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity - Trent Horn
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue - Trent Horn and Fr Frank Pavone
The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism - Devin Rose
Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines - Tim Staples
Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians - James L. Papandrea
Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World - Fr. Mike Driscoll
Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faith - Devin Rose
100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura - Dave Armstrong
The Drama of Salvation: How God Rescues You from Your Sins and Brings You to Eternal Life - Jimmy Akin
The Truth is Out There (Brendan and Erc in Exile Book 1 - Brother Amadeus and Amadeus
...Memorize the Reasons! Defending the Faith with the Catholic Art of Memory - Kevin Vost
Marching Orders: A Tactical Plan for Converting the World to Christ - Dan McGuire

The Fathers Know Best - Jimmy Akin
Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love - Trent Horn
The Old Evangelization: How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did - Eric Sammons
...

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Take Away the A - Micheal Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo

Take Away the A
Micheal Escoffier
Kris Di Giacomo (Illustrator)
Enchanted Lion Books
ISBN 9781592701568




This books available in English is a translation from the original French book 'Sans le A'. It is a wonderful fun picture book. My youngest two insisted we read it back to back because they wanted to go through it again. My son who is 9 read it the second time through to is 6 year old sister and to me.

This book goes through the whole alphabet and for each letter has a paring of words one with the letter and one without the letter. The book is fun, it is very funny and my kids think it is Fantastic.

The illustrations are wonderful, my kids poured over them for hours without losing interest. Kris Di Giacomo's illustrations are simply wonderful.

There appears to be numerous books from this dynamic duo available in English, and based on how much my children loved this one we need to track more of them down. And to be honest that is one of the best book recommendations for my children they want more books by the same authors or illustrators. So this is one of the best picture books we have encountered this year. And the three of us highly endorse it!


Books by Escoffier & Di Giacomo:
Take Away the A
Brief Thief
The Day I Lost My Superpowers
Where's the Baboon?
Rabbit and the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf
Me First!
Grododo
Sleep Tight, Charlie





Friday, 24 March 2017

A Year of Living Prayerfully - Jared Brock

A Year of Living Prayerfully:
How A Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer Life
Jared Brock
Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN 9781414392134
eISBN 9781496403636
ASIN B00LPQLIK4



This book was recommended to me by my mother-in-law. She was reading it and loving it. She was laughing out loud, laughing so hard she has to stop reading. The idea of the book I though was really intriguing, travel the world, encounter other faith traditions, focus on how they pray, and learn to find your own way into prayer. When I started the book I was very eager to follow Jared around the world and through the various traditions. And to be honest for the first few chapters the excitement stayed. But slowly it began to feel like a lot of disrespect and insincerity and my reading slowed. In fact the book took me almost a year to the day to finish reading. Each time I picked it up again I was hoping for something more in the next chapter, and with the let-down it was at times months before I gave another chapter a shot.

Now to be fair, 15-20 year ago when I was in university, involved with campus ministries this is the type of book that would have made the rounds and most people would have loved and raved about. The non-denomination, evangelicals would lap this type of book up. But with the passing of time

The chapters in the book are:

Foreword - Mark Buchanan
Author's Note
How My Journey Started
Chapter 1: Hamilton, Ontario
Chapter 2: New York City - Hasidic Jews
Chapter 3: Israel
Chapter 4: Mount Athos, Greece - Greek orthodox
Chapter 5: Italy - Meet Pope Francis
Chapter 6: Spain - Camino de Santiago
Chapter 7: France - Brother Lawrence and Taize
Chapter 8: Eastern USA - Quakers
Chapter 9: The Outer Limits  

     Benny Hinn, Tony Robbins, and Westboro Baptist Church
Chapter 10: Korea
Chapter 11: England - CIM
Chapter 12: Hamilton, Ontario - Read 60 books
An Invitation
Seven Ways to Pray
Acknowledgments

As a person with a religious studies degree, and even though I specialized in Christianity and Catholicism, I was required to take a number of courses outside my areas of focus. I have studies a number of the tradition's that Jared visited, and seems to somewhat mock, or at least not take seriously.

By the time I finished I felt that the book was like reading an Adam Sandler film, some people laugh, some people find it funny, but I just do not get the humour and it comes off more as disrespect and insincere. They only really good thing was the Seven Ways to Pray and that could have been a wallet card without all the extra padding, and even then meh. Overall the book reads like someone with time on their hands, and the means to just travel around and play at being spiritual. I believe the idea behind the book had a lot of potential but just falls flat. I can only think of one or two people I could recommend this book to, one is in campus ministry still and would be able to pull pieces from this book and put together some good talks. The other an ex-evangelical would like to read it just to tear it apart. For my part I finally made it through but sort of wish I had not made the effort. I really struggled with rating it and wish I could give it 2.5 stars out of 5, but because that is not an option err on the side of caution and give it 2. No if you are a fan of Donald Miller, or Robin Sharma, or Mark Batterson, or Rob Bell you will likely love the book so have at it.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

20 Answers The Sacraments - Fr. Mike Driscoll - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers

20 Answers - The Sacraments
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers
Fr. Mike Driscoll
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781683570172
eISBN 9781683570196
ASIN B01MG19MT1



This is the sixth book that I have read in the Catholic Answers 20 Answers Series so far each of them have been great reads. During lent I am doing the 20 Answers Challenge from Catholic Answers Series. You can currently get all 20 books for 50% off, what an amazing deal! This is one of two books written by Fr. Mike Driscoll, he wrote this one and also one on Angels & Demons. It is interesting there are only 7 sacraments so how does Fr. Mike come up with 20 Questions. The 20 questions that Fr. Mike Driscoll tackles in this volume are:

1. What is a sacrament?
2. How do sacraments work?
3. Why do we have sacraments?
4. How can words and material objects give God's grace?
5. What is the difference between sacraments and sacramentals?
6. What does it mean for a sacrament to be "valid" and "licit"?
7. Why can only practicing Catholics receive the sacraments?
8. Why are there seven sacraments?
9. What is the sacrament of baptism?
10. What is the sacrament of confirmation?
11. What is the sacrament of the Eucharist?
12. What is the Mass?
13. What are the spiritual benefits of the Mass?
14. What is the sacrament of penance?
15. How is the sacrament of penance performed?
16. What is the sacrament of anointing of the sick?
17. What is the sacrament of holy orders?
18. What is the sacrament of matrimony?
19. What is an annulment?
20. What are some ways I can make the sacraments more effective in my life?

One of the best chapters is the one on 'What is the difference between sacraments and sacramentals?' Another excellent chapter is the final chapter 'What are some ways I can make the sacraments more effective in my life?' Father Mike in his answers draws extensively from the bible, Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Compendium, and also the Canon Code of Law.  

Fr. Mike writes in a easy to read an engaging style. This is a book that a Catholic can read easily in an afternoon in order to be able to answer questions from friends and families. It will give a clear concise view of the Sacramnets, their role in the church and in our own lives. It would also be a great read for those exploring the Catholic tradition.

The introduction of this booklet is:
"A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.

This line appeared in the 1885 Baltimore Catechism and was the standard definition memorized by Catholic children for the next eighty years. It is still taught by many Catholic parents, school teachers, and adult education instructors. The fact that it was memorized does not mean it was left unexplained; the Baltimore Catechism had many further questions and answers describing how the outward signs are performed, where in Scripture Christ is seen to institute them, and what is meant by grace.

Christ is the Word made flesh, God the Son who came into the world in a physical body. Though he also ascended into heaven in his resurrected body, he is still present in physical form in the sacraments. These strongest channels of God's grace enable the faithful to love God and neighbor as Jesus commanded. By keeping the sacraments at the center of our lives, we can know, love, and serve God in this world and one day be happy with him forever in heaven."

This is a great book and part of an awesome series. I highly recommend both the book and the series, and I eagerly look forward to read more books in the series, especially Fr. Mike Driscoll's other volume. 

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

Note 2: Lent 2017 this is an amazing series of books is being offered at a 50% discount through the end of Lent 2017. But the challenge is to read the 20 books in the 20 Answers series over Lent. That is right you can get all 20 physical books or all 20 eBooks for just $34.95! If you want a way to go deeper this Lent give this series a try! #20AnswersChallenge




20 Answers Series:
20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Angels & Demons - Fr. Mike Driscoll
20 Answers Atheism - Matt Fradd
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Divorce & Remarriage - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers End of Life - Jason Negri
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Islam - Andrew Blezad
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mary - Tim Staples
20 Answers Miracles - Karlo Broussard
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers Salvation - Jimmy Akin
20 Answers Scripture and Tradition - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Papacy - Jim Blackburn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn

20 Answers The Church - Trent Horn
20 Answers Witchcraft & the Occult - Michelle Arnold
20 Answers Apparitions & Revelations - Michael O'Neill
20 Answers The Sacraments - Fr. Mike Driscoll


Other Books from Catholic Answers:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties - Trent Horn
A Daily Defense: Apologetics Lessons for Every Day - Jimmy Akin
The Apostasy That Wasn't: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church - Rod Bennett
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity - Trent Horn
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue - Trent Horn and Fr Frank Pavone
The Protestant's Dilemma: How the Reformation's Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism - Devin Rose
Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines - Tim Staples
Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians - James L. Papandrea
Demons, Deliverance, Discernment: Separating Fact from Fiction about the Spirit World - Fr. Mike Driscoll
Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faith - Devin Rose
100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura - Dave Armstrong
The Drama of Salvation: How God Rescues You from Your Sins and Brings You to Eternal Life - Jimmy Akin
The Truth is Out There (Brendan and Erc in Exile Book 1 - Brother Amadeus and Amadeus
...Memorize the Reasons! Defending the Faith with the Catholic Art of Memory - Kevin Vost
Marching Orders: A Tactical Plan for Converting the World to Christ - Dan McGuire

The Fathers Know Best - Jimmy Akin
Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love - Trent Horn
The Old Evangelization: How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did - Eric Sammons
...

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Pictures of Me - Marilee Haynes

Pictures of Me
Marilee Haynes
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819860194

eISBN 9780819860200
ASIN B01AH4DODI



This was the second book by Marilee Hayes that I have read in as many weeks. I absolutely love her writing style. She writes in the style of realistic fiction, no fantasy, no science fiction, no super powers, but good clean down to earth stories. Over the last year I have read almost 20 books by Andrew Clements, he writes in a very similar style, realistic fiction, and most of his books teach a lesson in subtle ways. Haynes writing is much like Clements but with the Catholic undertones that just take the stories a little deeper. This story could be about kids you know, in your family or at your parish. The story is realistic, relevant and just an excellent read!

There are 48 days until the end of the school year. Annie, an eleven year old, must complete a self-portrait project for her end of the year project. But two of the girls in her class are bullies and seem intent on being mean to just about everyone. There is a new girl in class, Lacey, but Annie cannot seem to figure her out. Annie feels like it is all going sideways on her. And on top of that her best friend is having problems at home, and Annie seems to be missing the marks on the friendship front. 

In this story we encounter bullying, dealing with embarrassment, family problems and more. And Haynes does it in such a way that you are drawn in and really care about the characters.  And the group study questions at the end of the book can make this a great tool for working through at home or in the classroom. And while the setting in the book is a Catholic school, I really believe that an Christian, or really anyone who interacts with young people could find a place to use this book with the children in their lives.

My only real regret with this book is that to date Haynes only has three books in print! I wish there were more books I could read and pick up for our church and school libraries. But hopefully soon we will have more from this emerging author. This was an outstanding read about friendship, faith, finding your place, and finding your voice to be able to express who you are. I loved reading this and cannot wait to read it with my younger children as they get a little older. This is one of the best middle grade books I have read in years! 


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

Books by Marilee Haynes:
a.k.a. Genius
Genius Under Construction
Pictures of Me


Author profile and interview with Marilee Haynes.






Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Friendship, Mentor, and Teacher - Dr. Peter Frick

Today I had the pleasure of having lunch with one of my mentors and friends Dr. Peter Frick. I have had a photo of him of my desk for almost 19 years now. today I took a new one to replace the old. I did my first course at UW with Peter in the spring of 1998 and my final course in the fall of 2009. The first course was RS209 Paul's Life and Letters and the last course was an independent reading course on the works and life of J.F. Powers.



I have written about peter before:


It has been a blessing knowing this man, having worked for him part time and getting together from time to time for mentoring, conversation and sometimes just food or coffee. 

If you want to read any of my essays you can find them here. Or my writings on Powers here.