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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A Graduate's Guide to Life - Frank J. Hanna

A Graduate's Guide to Life:
Three Things They Don't Teach You in College That Could Make All the Difference
Frank J. Hanna
Beacon Publishing for
Dynamic Catholic
ISBN 9781929266272
eISBN 9781929266883
ASIN B06ZZZKCXV



This is one of those small books that pop up around graduation time each year. I have read numerous books along this line, over the years there have been a few that I have really enjoyed. Such as James Allen’s As You Think, Todd Duncan’s Life by Design, or John Maxwell’s The Journey from Success to Significance or The Choice is Yours. Or the ever popular Dr. Seuss Oh The Places You Will Go. But to be honest all of those books pale in comparison to this book. To be honest this book was so good that when I finished it, I decided to immediately read it again, and thus have read it twice now back to back.

Hanna begins the introduction to this book with a statement, he declares:

“Within the pages of this short book, I’m going to give you a recipe for becoming successful. This recipe only has three ingredients: an understanding of reality, an understanding of competition, and an understanding of wealth. These concepts are not complex, so it won’t take us long. You’ll see.”
And then he goes on to do so. Some of the ideas he presents in this book were very new to me. Some were theories I was aware of but never seen them applied to life as a whole. In under 50 pages Hanna gives some excellent advice for those just starting out on careers after graduation, but it is also great advice for anyone who wishes to live a more fulfilled and meaningful life! The chapters in this book are:

Introduction
An Understanding of Reality
An Understanding of Competition
The Real Purpose of Human Competition
How Competition Can Destroy Success
Abundance and Value—an Alternative Way
The Real Way to Get Wealthy
The True Nature of Wealth
How Does Wealth Disappear?
The First Essential Ingredient of Wealth is Hope
The Second Essential Ingredient of Wealth is Human Relationships
Why Good Communion Works
Going Forward

Hanna states:

“So first, a question: How many of you and your friends were told as you headed off to college that these would be the best four years of your life? By the way, this is a rhetorical question. In other words, I already know the answer, because I have asked numerous groups of college students this question. The answer is: all of you. All of you were told, by someone, perhaps your parents, that your college years should be the best four years of your life. But you know what? It is horrible advice! Truly terrible. It can send you down the wrong path and have negative consequences in your life. 
In the following chapters, I’ll show you why and give you a better alternative. Let’s start by taking a look at the first ingredient in the wealth recipe: an understanding of reality.”
And I had never really thought about it that way. I know people who still look back at University or even High School as the best years of their life. They are constantly living back in the glory days, and because of that not fully living in the present. Hanna says:
“My favorite definition of education is from Josef Jungmann. He said that “education is the process of introducing a person to reality.” I love that definition, and it is so true. I have been involved with the field of education for many years, and I have helped to start a number of educational institutions, and I know from firsthand experience that this is indeed the goal of education—to introduce a person to reality.”
Then he goes on to focus on how important reality is:
People love to fool themselves, to provide an answer that is more palatable, even if it is wrong. It is so prevalent that, in order to guard against it, we developed a concept in our business called “reality-based management.” In other words, manage based on the way things actually are, rather than how you wish they were. We even created a slogan for our business: “Measured by reality.”
Think about how often have we in our own life lived based on the way we wished things were, rather than they really are. Now How many times did that lead to disappointment? Do you have the strength, to see things as they really are and live from that place? Moving on to competition he has some startling examples from both sports and business but this statement really stuck with me:
Regardless of your religious or ethical beliefs, most scientists concur that over the past ten thousand years human beings have built increasingly sophisticated and prosperous civilizations via cooperation, not competition.
How much more could we achieve is cooperation was our primary focus not competition. If our goal was working together to get things done and done well; instead of competing in order to get ahead? Hanna challenges us in our thinking he says:
Good competition, with love, can raise us to heroic heights. We find ourselves pushing with more energy and force than we might have thought possible. But we should also hope that our competitors can do the same thing—push themselves past where they thought possible, into the realm of the heroic. It is only human competition when both of these elements exist; otherwise, it is the activity of mere animals.
Hanna’s final focus is on wealth. But he is interested in real wealth not just accumulating possessions. He first defines wealth, drawing from more traditional meanings:
The word wealth itself comes from the Middle English word weal, meaning “well-being.” Simply put, our wealth is a function of our well-being. Unfortunately, well-being is hard to quantify, so we use a very very inaccurate shortcut. We instead define wealth as material goods.
His examples especially from the economic collapse of 2008-2009 so what most consider wealth at a personal, corporate even national level is based on future expectation and evaluation and that it is very fragile.  He says “Wealth can be created out of thin air when hope increases, and it can vanish into thin air when hope is diminished.”. Finally he goes on to tie the three themes, wealth, reality and competition to help shape a new focus that will take graduates, (an any of us open to change) to greater fulfillment and finding a purpose with real meaning. Hanna concludes the book with saying “This book is an exercise in hope—my hope for your future wealth. I hope it has also brought value to your life.” And I believe this book will help open eyes so that it will come true.

This is a wonderful little read. Yes it is a great gift for graduates, but it would also be great for us all. I have already read this book twice and will likely read it again once a year over the next few years, it was an instant favorite and I encourage you to give it a read and see if your life is changed!

Books by Frank J. Hanna:
A Graduate's Guide to Life
What Your Money Means






Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Saint Clare of Assisi: Runaway Rich Girl - Kim Hee-Ju

Saint Clare of Assisi: Runaway Rich Girl
Kim Hee-Ju
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819890870




This book is both written and illustrated by Kim Hee-Ju. It is a graphic novel in a semi-manga style. The reason I say semi is it has the typical oversized eyes, but it does not have disproportionate body sized, and it is in full color instead of black and white whit shading. Now I am by no means an expert on graphic novels. But I do enjoy a few artists that I have been introduced to. And this is a really good offering.

I read this book with my three children, ages 10, 9 and 6. The 6 year old loved it. She has carried it around for 2 weeks now. We have reread it a few times. She took it to school to share with her classroom. Her best friend and her have sat on the back porch and read through it a few times now. She even slept with the book the first few nights. And I do not think you can really give a book better praise then kids love reading it and read it again and again.




This book is really two stories in one. It is the stories of both Francis and Clare of Assisi. It starts with Clare remembering back to Francis's conversion and renouncing his worldly possessions. It is the story of Clare's love for God and appreciation for the work Francis was doing. And it is the story of Clare's call and life of service. And it is wonderfully told through both pictures and words.



Graphic novels are a good art form, and method of storytelling in and of themselves. But they are also great for reluctant readers. This is a good book and I really look forward to reading more in the series.

Graphic Novels from Pauline Books and Media:
St. Francis of Assisi: Messenger of Peace
St. Teresa of Avila: God's Troublemaker
Philip Neri: The Laughing Saint
Mother Teresa of Kolkata: Saint Among the Poor
Saint Clare of Assisi: Runaway Rich Girl
The Legend of Saint Christopher: Quest for a King


Monday, 22 May 2017

20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn- 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers

20 Answers The Real Jesus
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers 
Trent Horn
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781938983931
eISBN 9781938983955
ASIN B01HDWETCC



Some good news and some bad news; first the good news this series has just been expanded from 20 to 23 books and I believe more will release in the fall expanding it even further. The bad news is that Trent Horn has not authored any of the new volumes. Of the 23 books now available Trent Horn has written 10, and they are each great reads. 

This year I took the 20 Answers Challenge, at the time it was to read all the books available in the Catholic Answers series (that were available at the time).  You can still get the first 20 books for 50% off, an incredible deal, so get them with this deal while you can! They are really great reads. That will enhance your faith and your ability to defend it. I have rated 18 of the 20 with 5 out of 5 stars, and the other two got 4 stars. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religious Studies with a focus on Roman Catholic Thought, and I love the clarity of through and the format of this series. I cannot wait until my three children are a little order to read these books with each of them. The 20 questions that Trent answers in this volume are:

1. Is there any evidence that Jesus actually existed as a historical person?
2. But is there any evidence outside of the Bible that Jesus was real?
3. If Jesus really existed and performed miracles, then why didn't more ancient historians write about him? I've heard that there were dozens of ancient historians who lived shortly after Jesus and none of them wrote about Jesus being a real person.
4. Can we trust the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life? I heard they were written decades or even centuries later by anonymous authors.
5. We don't even have the original manuscripts of the Gospels, so how can we know that the words and deeds of Jesus were not made up or changed by various scribes who copied the New Testament?
6. I watched a video on the Internet that said the ancient world had legends about many dying and rising gods. People believed these gods were born on December 25, had twelve disciples, were crucified, and then rose from the dead. Were the stories about Jesus simply copied from pre-existing pagan mythology?
7. I'm willing to accept that a man named Jesus existed and was a wise teacher, like Buddha. However, I think everything about him being the son of God was added at a later time and embellished. Is there evidence that Jesus originally claimed to be the Son of God?
8. In the Bible, Jesus never says, "I am God. Worship me." In fact, didn't Jesus claim to be the "Son of man" and on several occasions deny that he was divine?
9. If Jesus was God, then how was God still running the universe when Jesus was a baby? Did Jesus know everything about the universe when he was five? In short, how is it possible for God to become a man?
10. Even if Jesus' words were accurately recorded, so many things he said seem crazy or just impossible to accept. Why would I want to worship someone like that?
11. Jesus said that there were people standing in front of him who would see the coming of the kingdom of God before they died (Mark 9:1). He also described the end of the world and said his generation would not pass away until it took place (Matt. 24:35). But the kingdom didn't come and the world didn't end. How can I believe in Jesus when he was so obviously wrong?
12. I heard that Jesus was married and that the Church suppressed other Gospels that depict him as just an ordinary man and not the Son of God. Is this true?
13. Why do Christians believe that Jesus had to die in order for God to forgive our sins? Why couldn't God just forgive our sins outright?
14. How can we be so certain that Jesus really died on the cross, and didn't just pass out and walk out of the tomb later? Or, how do we know that Jesus wasn't just left on the cross to rot or that his body wasn't thrown in a shallow grave and eaten by dogs? Those outcomes are far more likely than Jesus dying and rising from the dead.
15. How do we know Jesus' tomb was really empty? Maybe this was simply a legend that developed over time in order to explain what happened to Jesus.
16. What about the stories of the risen Jesus appearing to people? Maybe these were legends that developed later.
17. Even if the apostles believed that Jesus rose from the dead, that doesn't prove it really happened. How do we know they weren't suffering from a group hallucination?
18. But Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:37-50 that the "natural body" cannot enter heaven, but only the "spiritual body." Doesn't this mean that the apostles believed only in the "spiritual" resurrection of Jesus, and so a body lying in the tomb would not have disproved their "Easter faith"?
19. Is it possible to believe that Jesus really performed miracles? Christians don't believe the miracle stories of other religions, and besides, wouldn't miracles violate the laws of nature?
20. What should I believe about Jesus?

From the introduction of this booklet Horn states:
"Is the Christ of faith a mere fantasy? Or is he the same person as the Jewish carpenter who lived in Palestine 2,000 years ago? This is an essential question. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his book Jesus of Nazareth, "For biblical faith the historicity-and thus the 'facticity'-of the Incarnation is indispensable. Faith demands that we consider Jesus as approachable by historical research."
Since faith and reason cannot contradict one another, there must be rational, evidence-based answers to pressing questions about Jesus of Nazareth that do not contradict the "Christ of faith" who is worshipped by billions of Christians around the world. In this booklet we will look at some of those answers."
This book tackles questions around the key claims about Christ that Christian's believe. It is written to refute false claims or attacks against orthodox beliefs. And also to Support sound Christian doctrine.  It also brings in a lot of external historical evidence and proofs. Of the 20 books I have read in this series I think this is one of the most important. And one every Catholic, no that every Christian should read!

This is an incredible booklet and is part of an amazing series! It is another great read from Catholic Answers and Trent Horn.

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

Note 2: Currently this is an amazing series of books is being offered at a 50% discount so get it while you can. 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 year 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


Saturday, 20 May 2017

Saint John Bosco Champion for the Young - Emily Beata Marsh - Encounter the Saints Series

Saint John Bosco Champion for the Young
Encounter the Saints Series
Emily Beata Marsh FSP
Wayne Alfano (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819890450

eISBN 9780819890467
ASIN B017S0ZN3S



This is the third book in the Encounter the Saints series that I have read and it will not be the last. This is an amazing series. And even though this series was written for children, geared to the pre-teen and teen market, these are such good reads I really believe there are for all ages! Dom Bosco lived from August 16th 1815 to 31 January 1888. He was beatified on June 2nd 1929 and then canonized on April 1st 1934. His feast day is January 31st. And he is known as the patron saint of schoolchildren, young people, magicians, juvenile delinquents, editors, publishers, and apprentices. But this book is about his life, and oh what a life it was.



I think there are few saints that can claim in their job history shepherd, acrobat, farm hand and more. John was called to serve God, and God provided the way. It was unusual for farmers to become priests at this time. But John worked and studied. When conflict with his brother caused him to leave home at 12 and work as a farm hand elsewhere so he could save money for school. 
“John needed to go to school if he wanted to become a priest one day. But the Boscos were too poor to pay for school.“Pray, John,” Mama Margaret told him.“If God wants it, then it will happen.”And God did make it happen!”
Throughout his life John often relied on God providing what was needed when it was needed. 
“Don’t worry, Mama,” he said. “If you had money, you would give me some, right?”“Of course,” she replied.“Well, God is even more generous than you are,” he said smiling, “and he will provide the money we need.”God did provide. That week, two people came to Don Bosco with donations of money that added up to 1,000 livres. On February 19, 1851, Don Bosco became the owner of the Pinardi House, and he officially named it the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales.
John also had a lifelong closeness to his mother. And she was active in his ministry until she passed away. He followed her example. 
“Johnny watched all of this from his place on the floor by the fireplace. From his mother’s good example he was learning how to be generous and to love his neighbor. But there was much more learning to do.”
This is the story of a man who had dreams and followed God and the dreams that God placed on his heart. And that heart was for serving young men and serving the community. In founding the Salesians he founded a movement that is still serving in the world today. This man’s simple faith and hard work serve as an example for all of us. But especially for the youth of today. This was a wonderful read!



I can highly recommend this book and the whole series. I challenge you to read this and see the impact it will have on your faith and life, and I look forward to my next Encounter with the Saints in this amazing series of books.

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

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

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



Friday, 19 May 2017

The King's Prey: Saint Dymphna of Ireland - Susan Peek

The King's Prey: Saint Dymphna of Ireland
Susan Peek
Seven Swords Publications

ISBN 9780997000573



This was the second book by Susan Peek that I have read this spring. And I have already started another. I was even more impressed with this book that I was when I read Saint Magnus The Last Viking, which I thought was an excellent read. This book was compelling and addictive right from the beginning. I love this book and other writing by Susan Peek, who brings to life some lesser known saints. 

This book begins with a statement from the author:

“In many chapels,
reddened by the setting sun,
the saints rest silently,
waiting for someone to love them.”

“These words, penned by an unknown priest, long dead,
were the inspiration for this series on the lives of saints
who have fallen deep into the shadows of obscurity.
My hope is that, in reading their heroic stories,
you will make the acquaintance of some of
God's Forgotten Friends”

And this book does an amazing job of doing just that, she brings to life both Saint Dymphna and Saint Gerebran. This book deals with a number of mental health issues. Flashbacks, Blackouts, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a madness brought on by grief. And it does so without trivializing and of the conditions it is presenting. It also deals with broken families or at least families with great divides and a great number of misunderstandings. 

This book was a fascinating read. Both for the time it was set, and the story it tells. But there were times where it was not an easy read. It all starts with a mad king who wants to marry his daughter and rename her to replace her mother. That princess in trying to escape her father’s illness flees to a cottage, and draws in a young musician and her husband. Follow this trio as they garner the aid of a priest and begin the journey to find freedom. This is the story of two very brutal martyrdom’s. But it is also an inspiring story. 

I recommend this book and this series. Susan Peek does an amazing job of bringing lesser known saints to life. Though these stories are mostly fiction, a what might have been, they draw from the facts that we know. Well done and I wonder what saint Peek will flesh out for us next.

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

Books by Susan Peek:
Crusader King: A Novel of Baldwin IV and the Crusades
Saint Magnus The Last Viking
A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of Saint Camillus de Lellis
Animals of God
Animals of God, Volume Two
The Forgotten Christmas Saint: Saint Anastasia
The Man God Kept Surprising
Small for the Glory of God

The King's Prey: Saint Dymphna of Ireland



Thursday, 18 May 2017

Encounter the Saints - Pauline Books and Media


I have discovered an amazing series; Encounter the Saints from Pauline Books and Media. Currently there are 36 books available in the series and another is due out in January 2018. A few of the books have been updated over the years, noticeably when they have moved from Blesseds to being Sainted, and also the Mother Teresa was updated from Calcutta to Kalkota. I have read 3 of these books in the last two weeks and they are wonderful. 

These books provide inspiration. They provide encouragement. They are written for the ages 8-12 range but as an adult I love them and plan on reading many many more in the series. All the books in the series are currently available on the Pauline site, but not all are currently available through Amazon or other retailers. Some are available only in physical copies and others in both mobi or epub eBook editions as well as the physical. I have started reading these with my son, and my oldest and I have started reading them together where we alternate pages as we read. These book are a great blessing to our family and I am sure they would bless anyone who reads them; and there is such a variety of Saints to encounter in this incredible series so why not pick one or two up and give them a try!

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

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

P.S. check back often as I will update with links to the books in the series as I review them.

Encounter the Saints in Order of Release:
01 Saint Anthony of Padua
02 Saint Bernadette Soubirous
03 Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
04 Saint Francis of Assisi 
05 Saint Edith Stein 
06 Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto
07 Saint Joan of Arc 
08 Saint Ignatius of Loyola
09 Journeys with Mary 
10 Saint Maximilian Kolbe
11 Saint John Vianney
12 Saint Isaac Jogues 
13 Saint Pio of Pietrelcina 
14 Saint Juan Diego 
15 Saint Katharine Drexel
16 Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 
17 Saint Teresa of Kalkota 
18 Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati 
19 Saint Martin de Porres
20 Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
21 Saint Bakhita of Sudan
22 Saint Paul
23 Saint Faustina Kowalska
24 Saint Teresa of Ávila
25 Saint Damien of Molokai
26 Saint Clare of Assisi
27 Saint André Bessette
28 Saint John Paul II
29 Saint Gianna Beretta Molla 
30 Saint Catherine Labouré
31 Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
32 Blessed James Alberione 
33 Saint Thomas More
34 Saint John Bosco
35 Saint Thomas Aquinas 
36 Saint John Neumann 
37 Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque 
The Saints Pray for US

Books that have been updated and renamed in reprints:
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta 
Saint Teresa of Calcutta 

Blessed John Paul II

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




Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Show-And-Tell Strawberry Shortcake - Lana Jacobs

Show-And-Tell Strawberry Shortcake
Lana Jacobs
Turtleback Books
Penguin Random House of Canada
ISBN 9780606316941
ASIN B00CHQOSOE



It is a little weird writing a review of this book as a man in my mid-forties. But All of my children know I review books and each time we read a book they want to know if I am going to review it. I am pretty sure I read this about 5 years ago when it first came out with my oldest daughter and have now read it again with my youngest daughter.

This book is part of the Levelled reader books, as a Level 2 book it spans the letters E-I in the reading progression chart used in many schools. The goals of Level 2 books are:

These books are perfect for a Progressing Reader who:
can figure out unknown words by using picture and context clues;
can recognize beginning, middle, and ending sounds;
can make and confirm predictions about what will happen in the text; and
can distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.




As such it is a good book for where my daughter is at the moment. I find that with children's books, especially the levelled readers there is a great deal of variation is how good the books are, especially across specific series or different publishers. Some seem just slapped together, and others seem to have a little more thought and effort put into them. This is one of the better ones.



My daughter loved this book. On days where they are allowed to take something to school all three of my children struggle with what to take. There is often debate and talk about wise decisions and what is appropriate. This book has some of the same dialogues. The struggle of what to bring is very real to children and to the characters in the story.

The illustrations are a little simplistic in this book compared to others in the same category but both my daughters loved it. Any book my daughter wants to read to me more than once is a hit in my books! And this one was a grand slam.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Product Review - Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Hand Soap Lemon Verbena

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Hand Soap
Lemon Verbena
370ml
Mrs. Meyer's
ASIN B01N0Y2T2V



As I get older I have slowly started using more and more natural products. In part because of their impact; and in part because I just find that they seem to work better. Over the last few years I have switched to natural toothpaste, natural deodorant, and now natural hand soap. So far I have only tried the one fragrance the Lemon Verbena. It was an instant hit for the whole family. From my youngest who is 6 and loves washing her hands and smelling the soap to me in my mid 40’s the five of us all like it, a lot!

For years we have been using either foaming or gel soap for the most part from a store specializing in bath products. But over time the scents have become overpowering and I have grown to have concerns about the number of chemicals used in their production. This soap states that it:

• Gentle hand wash cleanses and softens
• Contains 98-percent plant-based ingredients including aloe vera and olive oil
• Contains no parabens; never tested on animals
• Made in the USA
• Refreshing lemon verbena fragrance

And it works well. Doing some research on the company there motto is:

Smells Great – Works Great – Is Great
And this product lives up to that goal. One of Mrs. Thelma A. Myers goals for her products is that they:
“Smells Like A Garden

Cleans Like The Dickens”
And from this first one that we have tried it does that in spades! This was the first product from Mrs. Myers that we have tried but it will not be the last. Great product at a good price.


And it worked really really well on foot odor that my girls got from old sandals.
  

Monday, 15 May 2017

Saint Edith Stein: Blessed by the Cross - Mary Lee Hill and Mari Goering

Saint Edith Stein
Blessed by the Cross
(Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
Encounter the Saints Series
Mary Lee Hill
Mari Goering (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819870360

eISBN 9780819872609
ASIN B00AEYP7Q4



This is the second book in the  'Encounter the Saints' series from Pauline Books and Media that I have read in the past week; it was an awesome read. This series is written for younger readers but are also great introductions for readers of all ages. But children in the intended 8-12 age range will really appreciate this series and especially this book. I encountered Saint Edith Stein in a few university courses, but this book brought her to life in a new way for me. Especially her childhood, there were so many events in her young life in this book that I had yet to read about. 

This book has 18 short chapters about Saint Edith Stein’s life that span from being six years old and begging to start school early, to her death in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. This book does not have the narrow focus of just her time in the convent and her death like others I have read. This one is the story of her life. Then from here early academic success, to a break from studies. Later to return to University. And her conversion to Catholicism, and her call to become a Carmelite nun. First a nun in Cologne, Germany and then as the hostilities against the Jews. So her move to in Echt, Holland, and learning to speak Dutch, yet another language that she mastered, to help her fit in and serve in that community. 

Edith Stein serves as an example to all of us to pursue knowledge, and truth. Her passion for academics was only surpassed by her passion to live for Christ, which was awakened through reading. Reading this with my oldest that was challenged by Edith’s example, and has committed to put more effort into school and into prayer. I have had an icon of Saint Edith Stein for a number of years over my desk at home. I have had a devotion to her for a number of years now, but this book has drawn me to the heart and example of this saint even more so. 



The book also contains five illustrations by Mari Goering. From a very young Edith, to her in the concentration camp in Germany just before the end of her life. These pencil drawings have great details. These illustrations add a great element to the book. At the end of the book there is a wonderful prayer 




As mentioned this book is the second in the ‘Encounter The Saints’ series that I have read. Both were great reads. I know that I will be reading many more in the series. This book will inspire and encourage. I am very thankful that I discovered this book and this series, highly recommend both.

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

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

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



Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Secret of the Shamrock - Lisa M. Hendey and Jenn Bower - Chime Travelers Book 1

The Secret of the Shamrock
Chime Travelers Book 5
Lisa M. Hendey
Jenn Bower (Illustrator)
Servant Books a division of
Franciscan  Media
ISBN 9781616368470




This is the second book by Lisa M. Hendey that I have read. I just finished reading it with my oldest child and we both loved it. Hendey is an editor and founder at CatholicMom.com she has written numerous books and also contributed to a number of other books. I started with the fifth book in this series as a teat and have gone back and am now reading them with my children in order. 

This is the first book in a series that is now up to fife volumes. It is a very interesting story. In this first story in the series Patrick Brady makes some mistakes, one was bringing his pet frog Francis to his sister's baptism. As penance his family commits to joining the cleaning crew at St. Anne's. While Patrick is inside the confessional cleaning for Fr. Miguel, when the church bells start to chime Patrick feels a rumbling and a rushing wind and then everything changes. After the confessional door blows open with the cold wind and then Patrick is no longer in St. Anne's. When he opens his eyes he is cold, wet, and he hears a strange clank, clank. 

Patrick has somehow travelled both in time and space. For he now finds himself in ancient Ireland. The young Patrick meets a shepherd and the shepherd has a faith that slowly rubs off on Patrick. He travels across the country lead by the Shepherd's dream and the guidance the Shepherd seeks through prayer. Patrick also travels through time again and meets an older Bishop who was his young friend just the day before. Young Patrick learns about the trinity, about faith, about prayer. 



My oldest loved this book. We read it together alternating pages. Her favourite parts were the time travel, meeting a real saint. And having a pet frog. My favourite parts were making St. Patrick real, and that my daughter wanted to start the next book as soon as we finished. We also both loved the numerous illustrations by Jenn Bower. The illustrations are fun and add to the story. I believe my younger two will love the book and my oldest and I plan on reading it to them soon. I think the younger readers will love the illustrations. 



This book is a great story that has a number of good lessons that it teaches. It is also a really fun read. At the end of the book is a short biography of the real St. Patrick and also a version of the St. Patrick breastplate prayer. This is an excellent book and part of an awesome series, recommended for the whole family.

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

Books by Lisa M. Hendey:
The Handbook for Catholic Moms
A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms
The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living
O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath
As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections

Chime Travelers Series:
The Secret of the Shamrock
The Sign of the Carved Cross
The Whisper in the Ruins
The Mystery at Midnight
The Strangers at the Manger

Contributed to:
Beautiful Mercy
Small Steps for Catholic Moms
The Catholic Baby Name Book
One Body, Many Blogs: A Guide for Christian Bloggers
The Catholic Mom S Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections
The Church and New Media










Saturday, 13 May 2017

Prayer of The Day - Our Lady of Fatima 100th Anniversary

Prayer of The Day - Our Lady of Fatima 100th Anniversary 



My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.


Most Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit- I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.

Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of Thy mercy.

(After reading two books on Fatima in the past month I have added these to my daily prayers.)

Reviews of books about Fatima:
Fatima: The Apparition That Changed the World - Jean M. Heimann
Fatima for Today - Andrew Apostoli
...

Friday, 12 May 2017

Saint Damien of Molokai: Hero of Hawaii - Virginia Helen Richards, D. Thomas Halpin and Anne Bergstrom

Saint Damien of Molokai
Hero of Hawaii

Encounter the Saints Series
Virginia Helen Richards
D. Thomas Halpin
Anne Bergstrom (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819871268
eISBN 9780819871800
ASIN B005F1Q7L0





I have read a number of books about the life of Saint Damien of Molokai. But this is the first book in the 'Encounter the Saints' series from Pauline Books and Media that I have read and I loved it! This book is written for readers in the ages 8-12 range but to be honest an adult could easily enjoy it and get through it in an afternoon or 2 of reading. Even with having read about a half dozen other books about Saint Damien this book had a number of stories I had not encountered before. This book has more information about him growing up, and stories about him and his siblings.

This book has 20 short chapters that span from early childhood to the legacy Damien left behind. The first third of the book is about his childhood and his studies. The next few chapters are about his travels, arrival and first 8 years of ministry in Hawaii. Then the last half of the book is about his time serving at Molokai, and the work he spearheaded and the hope he brought.

There are 5 pen and ink illustrations by Anne Bergstrom that are interspersed throughout the book. Though these drawings are simple in nature they really add to the story. The one that captivated me the most was one of Father Damien and Mother Marianne. The story about his room being prepared was moving and yet another I was unaware of. Part of me wishes that there had been a few more drawings to illustrate other stories from the book.



This book also contains a prayer to Saint Damien:

"Saint Damien, you learned to love others with the heart of Jesus. You saw the dignity and beauty of each person you served, where others saw only pain and misery. You embraced a new land and culture and helped people to have new hope. 
Pray for me that I might see others as Jesus sees them-as my brothers and sisters. May I recognize the needs of people around me and be willing to help, even when it is difficult, just as you did. When I experience challenges or suffering, pray for me that I may always be courageous and hope-filled. And may my own heart always be filled with the love of Jesus and Mary. Amen."
It is different prayer than the one on the Diocese of Honolulu that I have been praying for a little over a year now.

This was an excellent read and I can strongly recommend it to young readers or those with an open heart. For those not familiar with Saint Damien this book is a great starting point. For those who are familiar with his story this book will likely have a few unfamiliar stories. And even though it is written for the preteen and teen market it is an excellent book. I believe it will encourage, surprise and challenge any reader! A wonderful book and if the rest of the series is as good I have a lot of great reads ahead.


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

Reviews of Books and Movies about Saint Damien:
Apostle of the Exiled St. Damien of Molokai - Margaret Bunson & Matthew Bunson
Pilgrimage and Exile: Mother Marianne of Molokai by: Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, O.S.F.
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien by: Paul Cox
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien
Saint Damien of Molokai - Virginia Helen Richards and D. Thomas Halpin

Prayer of the Day - Saint Damien Prayer

Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media:

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

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