Sunday, 24 September 2017

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Best Halloween Ever - Barbara Robinson - The Herdmans Book 3

The Best (Worst) Halloween Ever
The Herdmans Book 3
Barbara Robinson
Harper Collins
ISBN 9780060766016

eISBN 9780062076946

My son came home from school raving about The Best School Year Ever, and wanted to read it together because of how much he was enjoying it. When I looked into it and found out that it was part of a trilogy he freaked out. I picked up all three so we could read them together. We have read them out of order but this was the second one we read.

There are over 15 editions of this book and it is available in a number of languages. I had not heard of this series or the author until my son came home from school excited about this series. This is the third book in the Herdmans trilogy. The Herdmans are a family of unruly children that have a knack for getting in trouble and spoiling things. The description on the back of the book is:

"The Herdmans plus Halloween have always spelled disaster. Every year these six kids -- the worst in the history of Woodrow Wilson School, and possibly even the world -- wreak havoc on the whole town. They steal candy, spray-paint kids, and take anything that's not nailed down. 
Now the mayor has had it. He's decided to cancel Halloween. There won't be any Herdmans to contend with this year, but there won't be any candy, either. And what's Halloween without candy? And without trick-or-treating? The Herdmans manage to turn the worst Halloween ever into the best Halloween ever in this uproarious sequel to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."

It is a really fun read. It has a great surprise ending. Well worth the read.

Books by Barbara Robinson:
My Brother Louis Measures Worms: And Other Louis Stories
Temporary Times, Temporary Places
The Happy Horses of H. Goodwine
The Fattest Bear in the First Grade
Hull Daily Mail: A Part of the Community
Across from Indian Shore
Trace through the Forest
One Off

The Herdmans Series:
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
The Best School Year Ever
The Best Halloween Ever

The Best Barbara Robinson Treasury Ever

Friday, 22 September 2017

Glen Eyrie Castle & Conference Center - A Photo Essay

Glen Eyrie Castle & Conference Center - A Photo Essay

Back in the summer of 2002 I spend the better part of August in Colorado springs at Glen Eyrie Castle & Conference Center helping to run an international conference for work. The conference center is right next to the garden of the Gods. I captured some amazing photo's.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Life Engineered - J-F Dubeau - World Engineered

The Life Engineered
World Engineered
J-F Dubeau
Sword & Laser
ISBN 9781941758595
eISBN 9781941758601

I was given a signed numbered limited edition copy of this book. But because I prefer eBooks it sat on my shelf for almost a year. But something about the cover and the jacket flap wright up kept causing it to come it mind. So I eventually picked up the eBook, and ripped through it over 2 days in three sittings.

For a debut novel this book really impressed me. It reminded me of the classic science fiction I enjoyed as a child, Heinlein, Herbert, and Betser. The story is compelling and the pace is very rapid. It is an intriguing concept . The description of the book is:

"The Life Engineered, begins in the year 3594, where humanity is little more than a memory a legend of the distant past destined to reappear. Capeks, a race of artificial creatures originally created by humans, have inherited the galaxy and formed a utopian civilization built on the shared goal of tirelessly working to prepare for their makers return. 
One moment a cop dying in the line of duty in Boston, the next reborn as a Capek, Dagir must find her place in this intricate society. That vaguely remembered death was but the last of hundreds of simulated lives, distilling her current personality. A robot built for rescue and repair, she finds her abilities tested immediately after her awakening when the large, sentient facility that created her is destroyed, marking the only instance of murder the peaceful Capeks have ever known. For the first time in their history, conflicting philosophies clash, setting off a violent civil war that could lay waste to the stars themselves. 
Dagir sets off on a quest to find the killers, and finds much more than she sought. As the layers of the Capeks past peel away to reveal their early origins, centuries-old truths come to light. And the resulting revelations may tear humanity s children apart and destroy all remnants of humankind."
The world is incredibly well thought out. With different lines of robots but all forming a single society. The mix of different earth mythologies along the different lines of Capeks.  There were some real twists in the plot that I did not see coming. First humans have gone missing but they have left behind a vast array of Capeks or robots but not dummy machines. These robots have personality from living virtually many many lives until they are ready to join society in physical form. A Form they design and build themselves. Nut now someone is killing off whole lines of robots. And in trying to figure out why the mystery of why Human's went into hiding starts to play a darker more ominous importance.

And my first thought upon finishing the book was I hope there will be more. My second thought was I wish I had read it earlier. It was a great little read.

Books by J-F Dubeau:
A God in the Shed

World Engineered:
The Life Engineered

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Child and the Man

The Child and the Man

This photo was given to me when I returned to university a second time in the spring of 1998. I was moving to a town where I hardly knew anybody. I was starting back at university. I didn't know what to expect. But this picture framed in just simple glass sat above my desk. Over time I came to see myself as both figures. The man I was becoming and the child I had been. The one looking back; and the other forward. There are divergent paths on the hill ahead, much as life often takes us ways we do not expect to go. But eventually they narrow into one cresting the hill. But a man showing vulnerability for his helm is off and his neck is exposed.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

St. Joseph's Hospital, London Ontario

A few years ago I was off work for almost three years with a work injury. I had numerous trips to St. Joseph's Hospital in London Ontario. I often stopped by this statue to say a prayer.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Asking for prayers for a special intention!

Asking for prayers for a special intention!

Asking for prayers for healing, for myself and a friend. Please be praying.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Quote of the day 2017-09-16 Habits

Quote of the day 2017-09-16 Habits

"The things we repeatedly do determine our character and destiny."

Matthew Kelly 
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic

This was one of the devotions in my inbox this morning. It is all about habits. We become what we do consistently. In all areas of our life, mind, body and spirit. 

Books by Matthew Kelly:
Rediscover Jesus
I Know Jesus
The Long View
Decision Point: The Workbook
Decision Point: The Leader Guide
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
Rediscover Advent
The One Thing
Rediscover Lent
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction
Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion
Why Am I Here?
Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness
Building Better Families: A Practical Guide to Raising Amazing Children
The Dream Manager
The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved
The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose
Building Better Families - 5 Practical Ways to Build Family Spirituality
The Book of Courage
The Shepherd: A Modern Parable about Our Search for Happiness
Mustard Is Persecution, Matthew Kelly Foundation
A Call to Joy - Living in the Presence of God
The Rhythm of Life: An Antidote For Our Busy Age
Words from God
Resisting Happiness
The Narrow Path
Our Father
Beautiful Mercy

Audio by Matthew Kelly from Lighthouse Media:
Becoming The Best Version Of Yourself
The Best Way To Live
Don't Just Try, Train
Faith At Work & The Holy Moment
The Four Signs Of A Dynamic Catholic - Excerpt
The Jesus Question
My Spiritual Journey
Our Lives Change When Our Habits Change
Raising Amazing Children
The Seven Levels Of Intimacy
The Seven Pillars Of Catholic Spirituality

Friday, 15 September 2017

Hail Mary's and Dirty Socks

Hail Mary's and Dirty Socks

One of my pet peeves is dirty laundry on the floor. Especially socks. With three young children I found them all over the house. The stairs, the entranceway, the living room, and sometimes even just thrown down the basement steps. And it really bugged me. A few weeks ago I started saying a Hail Mary whenever I picked up laundry off of the floor. I just prayed 8 on the way down to the computer in the basement.

So now in a way I am thankful, for I am praying more. I find I am praying for the child whose laundry I am picking up. I pray to conquer my frustration. I pray to learn and live more joy. And I can be assured there will be a number of random prayers a day as I encounter these out of place pieces of laundry. I pray not to change God, but to allow God in to change me.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Lord I Am Not Worthy

Lord I Am Not Worthy

At mass we pray "Lord I am not worthy that you should enter my house but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."  When I was younger the wording was slightly different we said, "I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word, and I shall be healed."  I have been thinking about these words a lot lately. My son who is almost 10 started praying this before bed every night. I pray for him, we pray the Angel of God, and then he prays this.

I think on Jesus entering our house, and being part of our life. I think about his healing. And the earlier implication that it was all encompassing and the newer language that focuses on the spiritual healing. I think about the simple faith of my children, and hope and pray it persists better than mine did as a teen and young man.

Author Dan Burke recently asked "What is the difference between the mentality of a Saint and the mentality of a Victim?" I have thought about it for almost two weeks. My short answer is a victim asks 'why me?' the saint asks 'why not me'? 

I pray that no matter what storms life throws at my children they will trust and shelter in God. I pray that they will live and grow in God and his ways. I pray that they will maintain their devotion to Mary. That they will love the mass. And I pray that I will trust in God and learn to live with more joy in my day to day life.

Note: Photo from Sault Ste Marie Ontario Spring of 2017 used with permission.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A Pocket Full Of Murder - R.J. Anderson - Uncommon Magic Book 1

A Pocket Full Of Murder
Uncommon Magic Book 1
R.J. Anderson
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
A Division of Simon and Schuster
ISBN 9781481437714

eISBN 9781481437738

I read book two, A Little Taste of Poison, in this series a year ago. It took me a while to get back to book one. I loved both books and think they are a great series. Having read book two first I had some ideas about this book. But that did not detract from the reading. I was introduced to R.J. Anderson and her works at a local book launch. I am very thankful for that. I have loved both books in this series, and hope there will be more. I am also looking forward to trying some of Anderson’s other writings. 

In some ways this book is a bleaker story than book two. For in this book after her father is accused of murder it seems like Isaveth and her sisters are on their own to fend against a world that dislikes them because they are poor, and because they are Moshite, a religious minority. But Isaveth is full of surprises. She is finding a strength inside herself that was not evident previously. She has strange encounter with Quiz, who appears to be a street kid who takes an interest in her, her family and her father’s plight. Soon the two of them are trapesing all over Tarreton to find out who really killed head master at the sage academy. 

This is a mystery story written in a world of magic. But there are two classes of citizens and two classes of magic. There is common magic and also sagery. It is a story with political intrigue, double dealing, and a bit of a family feud. It is very well written. Once I started reading this book I did not want to put it down. I loved reading about the brave Isaveth, her growing friendship with Quiz as she learns to trust, he maturity in trying to look after her sisters. And most of all her determination to get to the truth. I love reading books with strong female characters and look forward to reading them again with my daughters. This one has added to my reading list with my oldest for this year and in a few years with my youngest. 

In this series we have a world powered by magic, but there are two types of magic, common magic that is baked and can be used by almost anyone and sagery which works with charms and often only works for those who make it. This magic is used for heat, light, transportation and more. 

I loved this book and hope there will be more in the series. And the highest prase I can give to a children’s book, is my desire to read it with my children. This book scores top marks in that category. I look forward to reading other stories by Anderson, and I can highly recommend this book.

Books by R.J. Anderson:
Faery Rebels Series:


Ivy of the Delve Series:


Ultraviolet Series:

Uncommon Magic Series:
A Pocket Full Of Murder
A Little Taste of Poison

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Howard Wallace, P.I. - Casey Lyall - Howard Wallace, P.I. Book 1

Howard Wallace, P.I.
Howard Wallace, P.I. Book 1
Casey Lyall
Sterling Children's Books
ISBN 9781454919490
eISBN 9781454919957
ASIN B0751J58M5

I originally picked up a signed copy of this book at the book launch. But I struggle with getting around to reading physical books. It sat on my bed side table for a year and I picked it up a few times got through the first chapter and sat it down again. I so much prefer eBooks. When I bought the hard cover the eBook was not available.  I picked up the eBook edition a few days ago, and could not stop reading once I started. I ended up devouring the book in three sittings. And have already read a third of book two in the series before sitting down to write this review.

The writing in this book is very tight. It is a middle grade or tween read. But in many ways it reads like a young Spencer for Hire. Or like Mike Hammer in print. Reading this book took me back to my own days in school, but also when I was older and started watching detective TV shows with my father. I love the character’s, the setting and the pace in this novel. I have already told my oldest two children how much I loved it and why. My oldest and I have added it to our to be read list of books we read together. And my son has asked if we can read it after we finish our current book in The Great Mistake Mysteries from Sylvia McNicoll.

We have two main characters in this novel, to start the obvious Howard Wallace, who fancies himself a P.I. wears a bath robe as a trench coat. Chews gum, and often talks like he if from a classic movie or older TV show. And then we have Ivy mason, the new kid in town, her father is a cop, she is pretty smart and she wants in on this detective agency gig. The main mystery in this volume focuses around missing signed student council checks, and blackmail. Not only is the client being blackmailed but soon Howard is being threatened and his ‘office’ is ransacked a couple of times. And the tires on his old but faithful bike Big Blue get slashed. There is also some smaller cases on the go around this main investigation. We have some of the typical school cliques in this book, jocks (though on the periphery), student council, drama club, band kids. And some kids that are just trying to make it through primary school. It certainly is a lot of drams for some grade 7 and 8 students.

This is one of those books that I finally got around to reading that I really wish I had read earlier. There are so many people I would have recommended this book to over the last year. It is also great that Casey is a local author. Her live reading from the book at the launch was excellent. I can highly recommend this book and the series. At the end of this book is a plug for the second book. I really hope there will be more adventures of Wallace and Mason Investigations to come in the future.

Books by Casey Lyall:
Inky's Great Escape: The Incredible (and Mostly True) Story of an Octopus Escape

Howard Wallace, P.I. Series:

Howard Wallace, P.I.
Shadow of a Pug

Monday, 11 September 2017

Gethsemani Abby A Photo Essay

Gethsemani Abby A Photo Essay

A number of years ago I had the chance to spend an afternoon at Gethsemani Abby. I would love to go back for a retreat some time. Here are a few of the pictures I took that day, in the fall of 2002.

Related Articles:
Thomas Merton, The Man, the Monk, on Monasticism
May Crowing, Mass and Merton: And Other Reasons I Love Being Catholic by Liz Kelly
The Wisdom of the Desert: by Thomas Merton