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Friday, 30 June 2017

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Second Quarter 2017

Top Ten Fiction and Non-Fiction Books Second Quarter 2017

With a much better work - life balance than I have had in a while, this was a record breaking quarter for reading. According to Good Reads 2017 Challenge I have read 212 books, also according to Good Reads 184 of those were first time reads. And of those 212 I gave 127 5 out of 5 Stars, or they made my Best of 2017 list But that is for the year so here are comparison numbers:

Q1 Total Books 100
Q2 Total Books 112
Q1 5 Star 57
Q2 5 Star 70

So narrowing that 70 books read down to a Top 10 Fiction and Top 10 Non-Fiction was not an easy task. But here goes.


Top Ten Non-Fiction Books:
1. Why We're Catholic - Trent Horn
2. Encounter the Saints Series
Saint Damien of Molokai - Virginia Helen Richards
The Saints Pray for Us - Christina Wedendt Editor
Saint Martin de Porres: Humble Healer by Elizabeth Marie DeDomenico
Saint Anthnoy of Padua: Fire and Light - Margaret Charles Kerry
St. Gianna Beretta Molla The Gift of Life - Susan Helen Wallace and Patricia Edward Jablonski
3. 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn s
20 Answers Jehova's Witnesses - Trent Horn 
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn 
4. The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero - Roy Wenzl and Travis Heying
5. In Conversation with God - Francis Fernandez
(New eBook editions links to all reviews here)
In Conversation with God Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
In Conversation with God Volume 6 Part 2: Special Feasts: April - June
7. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassanti: An Ordinary Christian - Maria Amata Di Lorenzo
8. A Daily Defense 365 Days (Plus One) to becoming a Better Apologist - Jimmy Akin
9. Teresa of Calcutta: The Novel of a Soul - Maria Amata Di Lorenzo
10. Exodus 90
Exodus 90 Day 91 Life After Exodus 90 - Fr. Brian Doerr
Exodus 90 Exercise Guide - Mike Short
Exodus Ninety Days: Freedom Through Prayer, Asceticism, & Brotherhood - Fr. Brian Doerr

Top Ten Fiction Books:
1. Chasing Liberty - Theresa Linden - Chasing Liberty Trilogy Book 1
2. Bang - Barry Lyga
3. The Sleuths of the Spanish Transition - Manuel Alfonseca
4. Four Minutes - Barry Lyga - A Short Story
5. Saint Magnus the Last Viking - Susan Peek
6. The Artsy Mistake Mystery - Sylvia McNicoll - The Great Mistake Mysteries Book 2
7. A Battle for the Faith: Two Short Stories -  John Paul Wohlscheid and Theresa Linden
8. Gregor and the Code of Claw - Suzanne Collins - Underland Chronicles Book 5
9. Chime Travelers - Lisa M. Hendey and Jenn Bower 
The Secret of the Shamrock - The Sign of the Carved Cross
10. The Father Capranica Mysteries: Stories of the Strange and Supernatural - Fr. Mike Driscoll

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 Second Quarter 2017
Top Ten Books Third Quarter 2017 

All Top Ten Lists on Book Reviews and More

Statistics Books Read By Year:

212 - 2017 January-June
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, 29 June 2017

The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero - Roy Wenzl and Travis Heying

The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero
Roy Wenzl
Travis Heying
Ignatius Press
ISBN 9781586177799
ASIN B00C9HF00W




This was the second book about Father Kapaun that I have read. It is very different from A Shepherd in Combat Boots: Chaplain Emil Kapaun of the 1st Cavalry Division by William Maher, that book went into a lot of details about his youth, his time in school, and the service. This book focuses on his time it Korea, his death, and the process of the cause of his canonization and the process of awarding him posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor. The introduction states: "Emil Kapaun is a rare man. The Vatican is considering whether the priest deserves to be canonized a saint, and the president of the United States is pondering whether the soldier is worthy of the congressional Medal of Honor." It should be noted Pope John Paul II in 1993 declared him a Servant of God the first step towards canonization, and that he was awarded the Medal of Honour in 2013.

In the forward Bishop of Wichita Michael O. Jackels states:

"Why all the knowledge of and interest in Father Kapaun? The best answer I can think of is the attraction of his qualities of character. 
Father Kapaun was brave. He mocked the Communist indoctrination lectures in the PoW camp, calmly refuting their attacks on religion. 
Father Kapaun was generous. He literally carried a wounded soldier on a long, torturous forced march to the prison camp. 
Father Kapaun was good-natured. He worked at lifting the spirits of the POWs and at giving them hope. "Have faith, have faith", Father Kapaun told them. "Don't give up. We'll get out of here someday." 
Father Kapaun was caring. He would wash the clothes and bodies of sick POWs. He would scrounge for extra food to give them, sometimes giving them something from his meager share. 
Father Kapaun was self-sacrificing. He was captured because he would not leave the wounded GIs, even though he had the opportunity to do so. He died on May 23, 1951, his death hastened by harsh treatment from his captors and by a lack of food and clothing, for he had given to other POWs much of what he had."
And it is some of those characteristics that drew me back to him. In many ways reading about Emil Kapaun is like reading about Damien of Molokai. Both men lived to serve, both stood against injustices and authorities. Both men served until they could give no more, and died because of how much of themselves they outpoured. The stories in this book will amazing. They will inspire and they will challenge.  Jackels then goes on to say:
"Father Kapaun, just like every human being, including those already canonized by the Catholic Church, was not perfect. For example, he expressed the desire upon being liberated to treat a particularly nasty prison commander to a kick in the bohunkus. But it is his qualities of character, seen together with his humanness, that explain why everyone is interested in and touched by the story of Father Kapaun. These are manly, even heroic qualities of character, and the POWs with him, whether Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims or nonbelievers, found them to be attractive. 
There is, however, another layer to Father Kapaun: his motivation, that is, why he acted so bravely, generously, cheerfully, thoughtfully, sacrificially. This can be explained by one word: Jesus."
For a man to have lived in the POW camps and lived such an example that Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and non-believers were all inspired by him. For him to have served all, and raised many to be the best version of themselves. Is truly an inspiration.

I have been married 15 years, in that time my wife has seen me cry maybe twice. I was brought to tears twice while reading this book. What the men live through in the POW camps, I can hardly imagine. How Father Kapaun took that situation and served the men, served God, and brought light and hope into that situation really is the grace of God and miraculous.

The second half of this book is about miracles attributed to Kapaun  and the process of canonization that is under way.

This book in some ways is easier to read than A Shepherd in Combat Boots, but only because it does not go into nearly as many details about the time on forced marches, or as a POW. But it is hard to read some of the stories of miracles, as a father, as a brother, reading some of these stories and picturing my son or daughter, and it is hard not to, is very hard.

The monument to Kapaun in his home town has the saying engraved "all man, all priest" And he truly lived a life that will inspire and challenge us. What an incredible story!  Father Kapaun pray for us!

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


Books about Emil Kapaun:
The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero - Roy Wenzl and Travis Heying
A Saint Among Us: Remembering Father Emil J. Kapaun - Father Kapaun Guild
A Shepherd in Combat Boots: Chaplain Emil Kapaun of the 1st Cavalry Division - William Maher
The Story of Chaplain Kapaun: Patriot priest of the Korean conflict - Arthur Tonne
The Story of Father Emil J. Kapaun - Father Kapaun Guild
Father Kapaun: The ordeal of Chaplain Kapaun - Ray M. Dawe


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Product Review - Pure Leaf Black Tea with Vanilla

Pure Leaf Black Tea with Vanilla
Pure Leaf
ASIN B01NANU9YA


I have had a few of the Pure Leaf Iced Teas over the years so when I had a chance to try some of their bagged tea, I was very excited. First I tried the Chai Bagged Tea, it was a great disappointment. This one was not any better. This tea is so weak that at first I tried steeping it long, once I was up to 8 minutes I added a second bag, then a third. To get a good strong cup of tea it took 3 bags and steeping 6 minutes. This tea was so disappointing that I put it out at work with a sign saying help yourself.

I was very surprised that a company that makes such good bottled iced teas makes such pathetic bagged tea. Very disappointing. The directions say too steep for 3 minutes, but it takes almost triple the time and number of bags to make a good cup. If I had not got this to review I would have returned it for refund.

This tea contains single origin Kenyan long leaf black tea, ground vanilla beans, marigold petals, and natural flavour. It needs a lot more tea, a different type of tea or more 'natural flavour'.  Would not try it again and would not recommend it to anyone who actually enjoys tea.

I have tried hundreds of teas over the years. I currently have about 20 types at home and 10 at work. Some of my fondest memories are drinking tea with my gram, with friends or even a good book. This is the worst tea I can recall ever drinking! 



Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Champions of the Rosary - Donald H. Calloway - The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon

Champions of the Rosary:
The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon
Donald H. Calloway, MIC
Marian Press
ISBN 9781596143432
eISBN 9781596143937
ASIN B06X9NKYW6





I had a physical copy of this book for almost a year. And every time I tried to pick it up and just never got very far, because of the font and color. With my dual form of dyslexia I just could not get far and kept starting back at the beginning. Then the eBook was released, and even though I had bought the physical, I bought the eBook and read it in 2 days. I could not put it down. That was a few months ago, I have just gone back and reread it in order to write this review. This book is not a small volume at just under 550 pages it is to date the most comprehensive work on the Rosary available in English.

This book begins with a quote from St. Louis de Montfort:

"Dear reader, I promise you that if you practice this devotion [the rosary] and help to spread it you will learn more from the rosary than from any spiritual book. And what is more, you will have the happiness of being rewarded by Our Lady in accordance with the promises that she made to Saint Dominic, to Blessed Alan de la Roche and to all those who practice and encourage this devotion which is so dear to her. For the holy rosary teaches people about the virtues of Jesus and Mary, and leads them to mental prayer and to imitate Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It teaches them to approach the Sacraments often, to genuinely strive after Christian virtues and to do all kinds of good works, as well as interesting them in the many wonderful indulgences which can be gained through the rosary."
So you might ask why another book on the rosary. Fr. Calloway wrote to book after years of research, and years of prayer. The book is divided into three sections. The first is a deep history of the rosary; it is the culmination of 10 years of research and historical study. The second part of the book is profiles of 26 champions of the rosary. These 26 people, from all walks of life wrote about, or contributed to the promotion or defence of this prayer practice. And finally the third section of the book is information on praying the rosary.

Father Calloway concludes the introduction with these words:

"My greatest desire is that those who read this book will be inspired to want to pray the rosary daily and further the cause of Jesus Christ and his saving mysteries. Our world needs the rosary today more than ever. Every person who reads this book is capable of wielding this sword and becoming a champion of the rosary."
And I pray that for those who read this book because of my review. This book is an incredible read. 




The chapters in the first part of the book, the history of the rosary are:

From the Angelic Salutation to the 12th Century: The Antecedents of the Rosary
The 13th Century: St. Dominic and the Birth of the Rosary
The 14th Century: Plagues and Schism: The Rosary is (Almost) Forgotten
The 15th Century: Blessed Alan de la Roche and the Revival of the Confraternity of the Rosary
The 16th Century: The Rosary in Battle: Lepanto and Our Lady of Victory
The 18th Century: St. Louis de Montfort and The Secret of the Rosary
The 20th Century: Marian Apparitions and Apostles of the Rosary
The 21st Century: Luminous Mysteries in Dark Days




Part II of the book is the profiles of the 26 champions. Of the 26 champions of the rosary profiled 2 are venerable, 4 are blessed, 5 are classed as 'Servant of God', 7 are popes, and 11 are saints. And yes there are some overlaps in categories. On the list there are only two women St. Teresa of Calcutta and Lúcia Dos Santos. And of the 26 only Pope Benedict XVI is still alive. The full list of the 26 is:

St. Dominic (1170-1221)
Blessed Alan de la Roche (1428-1475)
St. Pope Pius V (1504-1572)
St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716)
St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)
Blessed Pope Pius IX (1792-1878)
St. Anthony Mary Claret (1807-1870)
Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903)
Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926)
Servant of God Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968)
Servant of God Lúcia Dos Santos (1907-2005)
St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941)
Servant of God Frank Duff (1889-1980)
Pope Pius XI (1857-1939)
Blessed James Alberione (1884-1971)
Venerable Pope Pius XII (1876-1958)
Servant of God Dolindo Ruotolo (1882-1970)
St. Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968)
St. Josemaria Escrivá (1902-1975)
St. Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)
Servant of God Patrick Peyton (1909-1992)
Blessed Pope Paul VI (1897-1978)
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979)
St. Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)
St. John Paul II (1920-2005)
Pope Benedict XVI (1927-present)

For each of the 26 champions there is a Photo with key dates, and the photo is representative of the person's role or relationship to the rosary. This is followed by a very brief biography. An outline of their Marian devotion is the next section and then a section on why they are a champion. This is followed by Rosary Gem's or quotes from the person's works, writings or attributed to them about the rosary.

For example:





Rosary Gems Saint Pope John XXIII

This prayer - the holy rosary - is the simplest and easiest one of all for the Christian people.
- St. Pope John XXIII

When parents and children gather together at the end of the day in the recitation of the rosary, together they meditate on the example of work, obedience, and charity which shone in the house of Nazareth; together they learn from the Mother of God to suffer serenely; to accept with dignity and courage the difficulties of life and to acquire the proper attitude to the daily events of life. It is certain that they will meet with greater facility the problems of family life. Homes will thereby be converted into sanctuaries of peace. Torrents of divine favors will come to them, even the inestimable favor of a priestly or religious vocation.
- St. Pope John XXIII

Individuals, whatever their spiritual status may be, will undoubtedly find in the fervent recitation of the holy rosary, an invitation to regulate their lives in conformity with Christian principles. They will, in truth, find in the rosary a spring of most abundant graces to help them in fulfilling faithfully their duties in life.
- St. Pope John XXIII

The well-meditated rosary consists in a threefold element. For each decade there is a picture, and for each picture a threefold emphasis, which is simultaneously: mystical contemplation, intimate reflection, and pious intention.
- St. Pope John XXIII

The rosary is a very commendable form of prayer and meditation. In saying it we weave a mystic garland of Ave Marias, Pater Nosters, and Gloria Patris.
- St. Pope John XXIII

As an exercise of Christian devotion among the faithful of the Latin Rite who constitute a notable portion of the Catholic family, the rosary ranks after Holy Mass and the Breviary for ecclesiastics [priests], and for the laity after participation in the sacraments. It is a devout form of union with God and lifts souls to a high supernatural plane.
- St. Pope John XXIII

May the rosary never fall from your hands.
- St. Pope John XXIII

The rosary is the glory of the Roman Church.
- St. Pope John XXIII

Oh, what a delight this blessed rosary is! Oh, what assurance it brings of being heard here on earth and in the eternal heavens!
- St. Pope John XXIII

I knew Pope John. His love for Our Lady and his devotion to her rosary contributed an essential element to his spiritual growth and stature.
- Servant of God Patrick Peyton



And the final section in the book Praying the Rosary:

Why Pray the Rosary?
How to Pray the Rosary
How to Become a Champion of the Rosary
The 15 Promises of Our Lady to Those Who Pray the Rosary
Indulgences of the Rosary

Appendix A: The Rosary in Art
Appendix B: Our Lady's Words to Blessed Alan de la Roche
Appendix C: Endorsements from Cardinals and Bishops
References

This book is an incredible read. If you already have a strong Marian devotion this book will help you to grow it. If it could use some improvement I cannot think of a better book to encourage, challenge and inspire you. A wonderful book and one that is needed in this day and age!

As a side note I passed on my physical copy to my church Library and always have my eBook with me.

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

Books by Donald H. Calloway:
No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy
Extreme Mercy II
Under the Mantle: Marians Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest
Purest of All Lilies: The Virgin Mary in the Spirituality of St. Faustina
Mary of Nazareth: The Life of Our Lady in Pictures
Champions of the Rosary
How to Pray the Rosary

Edited by:
The Virgin Mary and Theology of the Body
The Immaculate Conception in the Life of the Church
Rosary Gems: Daily Wisdom on the Holy Rosary
Marian Gems: Daily Wisdom on Our Lady

Contributed to:
Beautiful Mercy

Note some books are published as Donald H. Calloway and some as Donald Calloway.


Monday, 26 June 2017

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

The Door Before
100 Cupboards Book 0.5
N.D. Wilson
Random House Books for Young Readers
Random House of Canada
ISBN 9780449816776
ASIN B01GBAJR3I



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

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

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

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

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

Books by N.D. Wilson
100 Cupboards:
 

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


Ashton Burials:
 

The Dragon's Tooth
The Drowned Vault


Leepike Ridge


Parody:
 

Right Behind
Supergeddon


Picture Books:
 

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


Non-Fiction:

Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl
Death By Living

Author Profile Interview with N.D. Wilson


Sunday, 25 June 2017

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

Saint Anthony of Padua:
Fire and Light
Encounter the Saints Series
Margaret Charles Kerry
Mary Elizabeth Tebo
Ray Morelli (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819870193
eISBN 9781306806688
ASIN B005F1Q79M



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

The chapters in this volume are:

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

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



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




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

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

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

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

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




Saturday, 24 June 2017

Product Review - Pure Leaf Chai Bagged Tea

Pure Leaf Chai Bagged Tea
Pure Leaf
B01MY2WDWL


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

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



Friday, 23 June 2017

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

Why We're Catholic:
Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love
Trent Horn
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781683570240
eISBN 9781683570264
ASIN B0714JKZ8H





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

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

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

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

WHO STARTED YOUR CHURCH?

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

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

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

Books by Trent Horn:

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

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

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


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Product Review - Thule Chariot Lite 1 Plus Cycle/Stroll

Thule Chariot Lite 1 Plus Cycle/Stroll
Thule
ASIN B01N6NYW4L






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

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

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

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

1.   Double locking wheels.

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

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

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

3.   High Quality Construction.

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

4.   Easy to set up and take down.

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

5.   Great Value for the quality.

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



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

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

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







Reviews of other Thule Products:
Subterra 30 L Backpack Dark Shadow

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Courageous Faith - Lillian M Fisher - Encounter the Saints Series

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: 
Courageous Faith
Encounter the Saints Series
Lillian M Fisher
Barbara Kiwak (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9781306806428

eISBN 9780819872852
ASIN B00AEYPML4



This is the 11th book in the Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media that I have read this spring. It was also the second book on Saint Kateri Tekakwitha that I read back to back, the other a fictional story by Lisa Hendey, The Sign of the Carved Cross, Chime Travelers Book 2, led to our reading this book now. After reading Hendey’s book about a young girl who goes back in time and interacts with this Saint my oldest and I wanted to know more about her. Therefore this book jumped to the top of our reading list. And we are both so thankful that it did.

This book had a huge impact on my daughter and I for a number of reasons. First it is about a saint who died young. St. Kateri was only 24 when she passed away. Second was the Canadian connection, when Kateri was traveling to the settlement in Montreal, my daughter became very excited. And my daughter was also really excited about a young woman of deep faith. Also I can relate to a family that is not encouraging or supportive of a committed faith. We devoured this book, we each said more than once 1 more chapter and could just not put the book down. 



The example of love and service that Saint Kateri Tekakwitha lived is incredibly inspiring. He hunger and thirst for God and relationship is impressive. Her commitment to serving is an example to all of us. This story chronicles her life, from her mother’s capture by the Mohawks for she was an Algonquin; to her death and transformation at her time of death. This young girl lost her parents, her sibling, and lived the house of her uncle. She was not treated well in that situation because of her poor eyesight, and she was treated harshly. Once she came to express her faith this situation even worsened. But she loved Jesus and her faith more than the persecutions she experienced. She was a quick learner and loved learning about the Catholic faith and loved teaching about it also. Her greatest love was Jesus, and he life is an example to all of us.    


This book is a little different than others in the series that I have read to date. It is adapted from another book, currently available as Kateri Tekakwitha by Lilian M. Fisher, but originally published as Kateri Tekakwitha: The Lily of the Mohawks from the Saints and Holy People series. The book was adapted for children by Emily Beata Marsh and Jaymie Stuart Wolfe. Emily wrote one of the other books in this series, and Jaymie has written numerous books But reading it you cannot tell that it is a modified or abridged and edited version of another book. 

This book was the 31st book released in the Encounter the Saints Series, and this series is marketed for tweens geared for 9-12 year old readers. But I am finding that it is an excellent series for even younger children, if it is read to them, and that each book has challenged and motivated me and my faith and I am pushing 50. This book was an incredible read, and it is part of an amazing series. I highly recommend both the book and the series, I am sure that as you read the examples of these saints will inspire you to grow your own faith. A wonderful read.

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

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

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