Wednesday, 22 February 2017

20 Answers - Mary - Tim Staples - 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers Book 13

20 Answers - Mary
20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers Book 13
Tim Staples
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781941663684

This is the first book in this amazing series that I have read. This series comprises 20 Books, 20 Topics, and 20 Questions on different aspects of Catholicism or Catholic answers to other religions. I recently read a challenge to read all 20 books in this series over lent. I was originally planning on reading them over a year, but after reading this volume I am up for the challenge. To read them all over lent would be about 25 pages of reading a day. But let's take a look at this specific book, Tim Staples book about Mary.

I have read a number of books on Mary over the years but this short concise volume has a lot of great information. It has information for Catholics to better understand theology surrounding our Mother. It has the answers to key questions that protestants raise regarding Mary and her role in salvation history. Tim Staples as a convert has a very different view of Mary then many cradle Catholics or even those who have come home to the Catholic Church. For Tim started out completely opposed to Mary specifically, and Catholicism in general, but in studying theology to refute Catholicism was convinced of the validity and converted.

The chapters and topics that Tim tackles in this book are:
1. Who is "Mary of Nazareth"?
2. What is the Immaculate Conception?
3. How could a mother be a virgin?
4. What is the Assumption of Mary, and what is the biblical evidence for it?
5. What does it mean to say that Mary is "Mediatrix"?
6. What does it mean to call Mary "co-redemptrix"? Isn't Jesus alone the Redeemer of the world?
7. Is there a queen in the kingdom of heaven?
8. How can God have a mother?
9. How can Mary be without sin?
10. If Jesus had "brothers," wouldn't that mean that Mary had other children?
11. What other arguments do Protestants make against the perpetual virginity of Mary?
12. Doesn't the Bible condemn the idea that Mary was assumed into heaven?
13. Doesn't the Bible condemn the idea of a "Queen of Heaven"?
14. How can Mary hear and answer our prayers in heaven?
15. Isn't it blasphemous to say Mary "redeems" or "saves" us?
16. What did the Fathers of the Church say about Mary?
17. Does the bible condemn praying to Mary?
18. But didn't Jesus condemn "repetitious prayers" like the rosary?
19. How do you know alleged "apparitions" of Mary are of God?
20. Why do I need to have a relationship with Mary?

Tim draws his answers predominately from scriptures, then from the Catechism, and also church history. He also draws heavily from early sources. He also dives into the Greek and Aramaic meanings of words and how they came to be translated or used the way they were.

This book was eye opening and as I mentioned I have read a number of books on Mary over the years. And I love that with the size of this book I can go back and reread it quickly as a refresher any time I want or need. This was an incredible little book, and I really look forward to reading the rest of the 20 Answers series!

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

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 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

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

My Home Parish - Saint Agnes Waterloo, ON

This is my home parish, Saint Agnes Waterloo, Ontario.

This short video is pictures every time I went to mass from November 13th 2016-February 19th 2017. I Plan on doing another at the beginning of Advent with a full year of Sundays.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Skill of Our Hands - Steven Brust and Skyler White - The Incrementalist Book 2

The Skill of Our Hands 
The Incrementalist Book 2
Steven Brust and Skyler White
ISBN 9780765382887
eISBN 9781466889736

I have been a fan of Brust's writing since I first started buying my own books. One of the things I love most about reading Steven Brust is you never know where he might take a story. And this one began in a way I really did not expect. Having love the first book The Incrementalists and both of the short stories set in this world, I can state I did not expect such a shakeup, or change in format. For The Incrementalists was told in alternating first person chapters. 

One thing that remains consistent through the majority of Brust's works is that he moves fast, throw curves at the readers, and is always willing to upturn the table. And he does all of that in the first few paragraphs of this book.

The Incrementalists, a secret society of around 200 people worldwide, have found a way to cheat death. They have found a way to transfer their memories into a recipient, and to remember their pervious lives. And they hope and try to use that skill and that experience to try and make things better. Now better is a nebulous word, and sometimes the group does not always have the same ideas of which way they should try and shape or influence things. 

This story begins with Phil being shot, actually being shot three times in the back. As his body is dying he is trying to save some memories in the garden for the other Incrementalists to use and to save his last memories. And soon the core leadership team of the Incrementalists are gathering in Arizona to find a replacement for Phil and get a handle on what he was working on. For they have realized that he was working on something to do with immigration, vigilante's and a militarized police force. (Sound familiar?)

This book was a race from the first page until I had finished it. It was a little hard getting comfortable with the new format. I really like the alternating chapters told in Phil and Ren's voice from book one. It also made it harder to know who wrote which parts of the book Brust of White. There is a saying that the sins of the father will visit the sons, in this book we must determine if Phil's sins of the past are being repeated now. And it comes down to a question of is it ok to kill?

 This book deals with a number of very serious issues the world faces today. But it does do in a fictional story that helps you to look at some of the issues from different angles. Yet with that being said it is a still a great piece of fiction. And really leaves the readers wondering where White and Brust will go next if there is a book three. If you are into speculative fiction this book and series will be great reads so give them a try.

Books by Steven Brust:
Vlad Taltos Publishing Order:

Jhereg (1983)
Yendi (1984)
Teckla (1987)
Taltos (1988)
Phoenix (1990)
Athyra (1993)
Orca (1996)
Dragon (1998)
Issola (2001)
Dzur (2006)
Jhegaala (2008)
Iorich (2010)
Tiassa (2011)
Hawk (2014)
Vallista (TBD)

Vlad Taltos: Chronological Order:
Taltos (1988)
Dragon, main chapters (1998)
Yendi (1984)
Dragon, interludes (1998)
Tiassa, section 1 (2011)
Jhereg (1983)
Teckla (1987)
Phoenix (1990)
Jhegaala (2008)
Athyra (1993)
Orca (1996)
Issola (2001)
Dzur (2006)
Tiassa, section 2 (2011)
Iorich (2010)
Tiassa, section 3 (2011)
Hawk (2014)

The Khaavren Romances:
The Phoenix Guards (1991)
Five Hundred Years After (1994)
The Viscount of Adrilankha, published in three volumes:
The Paths of the Dead (2002)
The Lord of Castle Black (2003)
Sethra Lavode (2004)

Other Books:
Brokedown Palace (1986)
To Reign in Hell (1984)
The Sun, the Moon & the Stars (1987)
Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille (1990)
Agyar (1993)
My Own Kind of Freedom (2008)

Co Written:
The Gypsy (1992) with Megan Lindholm
Freedom & Necessity (1997) with Emma Bull

Incrementalist (with Skyler White):
The Incrementalists
The Skill of our Hands

Incrementalist Short Stories
Fireworks in the Rain - Steven Brust
Strongest Conjuration - Skyler White

Short Stories:
An Act of Contrition - Liavek (1985)
An Act of Trust - Liavek: The Players of Luck (1986)
A Dream of Passion - in the convention chapbook for Ad Astra (1986)
An Act of Mercy - Liavek: Wizard's Row (1987, with Megan Lindholm)
An Act of Love - Liavek: Spells of Binding (1988, with Gregory Frost and Megan Lindholm)
Csucskári - Excerpt from The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: First Annual Collection (1988)
A Hot Night at Cheeky's - Liavek: Festival Week (1990)
Looking Forward: Excerpt from Athyra in Amazing Stories, March (1993)
Attention Shoppers - Xanadu (1993)
Abduction from the Harem - in Timewalker Issue 14 (October 1996)
Drift - Space Opera (1996)
Valóság and Élet - in Sandman: Book of Dreams (1996)
Calling Pittsburgh - in Lord of the Fantastic: Stories in Honor of Roger Zelazny (1998)
When the Bow Breaks - The Essential Bordertown (1998)
The Man From Shemhaza - in Thieves' World: Enemies of Fortune (2004), reprinted in Year's Best Fantasy 5 (2005)
Klava with Honey - Eeriecon Convention Chapbook #4 (2005)
Chapter One - in Eeriecon Convention Chapbook #6 (2007)
The Desecrator - on tor.com (2011)
Fireworks in the Rain - on tor.com (2013)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Sermons of St. Francis de Sales For Lent

Sermons of St. Francis de Sales For Lent
St. Francis de Sales
TAN Books
ISBN 9780895552600

Over the last few years I have been reading more and more by and about St. Francis de Sales. This volume the third in this series of collected sermons focuses on Lend. These specific sermons in this collection were given in the year 1622. This series was originally published in 1987 and the eBook editions were released in 2015.

The topics for these specific sermons are:

 1. Fasting
 2. Temptation
 3. Faith
 4. Eternal Happiness
 5. Election and Reprobation
 6. Mutual Charity
 7. Proper Conduct in Illness
 8. God's Spiritual Providence
 9. Proper Fear of Death
10. Hearing the Word of God
11. Humility and Obedience
12. The Passion of our Lord and What It Means

These sermons were compiled from the Saints working notes, tests. And this collection highlights the Saints dedication as a Bishop to preach. We see his preaching style, and the sound presentation of theological truths. As a Bishop St. Francis de Sales preached 20 series over lent, and those in this collection were given to cloistered religious. But any reader today will see their value and how applicable they are to the life of any Christian. And this collection was taken from and translated from the Annecy edition of his sermons volume X.

In the introduction Rev. John A. Abruzzese, S.T.D. states: "The Lenten sermons which follow, translated by the Visitation Sisters and edited by Fr. Lewis Fiorelli, O.S.F.S., were obviously meant to be heard, not read. Therefore, a great part of St. Francis' "heart to heart" preaching which made them so effective is undeniably and regrettably lacking. However, the fact that these sermons result from the loving efforts of persons intimately living St. Francis de Sales' spirit, as his spiritual sons and daughters, can be perceived as something issuing from his own heart. If it were not for their labor of love, very few indeed would have even this opportunity of experiencing the personal charism of the saint." SO I took his words to heard and worked through this book twice. The first time I read through the book. The second time I used text to speech in the Kindle application to listen to the sermons. When reading the sermons there was an immediate impact, but when I took time and listened to the same sermon, I found it even more impactful. A few of the sermons I went back and listened to a second time after about a week because of the impact it had on me.

A few quotes from the sermon on Fasting  as samples of some of what you will encounter in this book.

"To treat of fasting and of what is required to fast well, we must, at the start, understand that of itself fasting is not a virtue. The good and the bad, as well as Christians and pagans, observe it. The ancient philosophers observed it and recommended it. They were not virtuous for that reason, nor did they practice virtue in fasting. Oh, no, fasting is a virtue only when it is accompanied by conditions which render it pleasing to God. Thus it happens that it profits some and not others, because it is not undertaken by all in the same manner."

"The first condition is that we must fast with our whole heart, that is to say, willingly, whole-heartedly, universally and entirely."

"It is thus reasonable that, in order to make our fast complete and meritorious, it should be universal, that is to say, practiced in both body and spirit. This is the first condition to be observed in order to fast well. The second condition is never to fast through vanity but always through humility."

This book was a wonderful read. It challenged me personally and I know it will do the same for you. I am thankful for having read and to be slowly applying the lessons from this Saint and Doctor of the church. And I look forward to the other three volumes in this series. I highly recommend this book and the series of 4.

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

Books by Saint Francis de Sales:
Introduction to the Devout Life
The Sign of the Cross
The Art of Loving God
Roses Among Thorns
Finding God's Will for You

Sermons of St. Francis de Sales:
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Prayer
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Advent and Christmas

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hit the Ground Running - Mark Burley

Hit the Ground Running
Mark Burley
Blue Moon Publishers
ISBN 9781988279473
eISBN 9781988279480

This book was addictive from the first chapter. In some ways it reads like the 39 Clues, and in some ways it reads like Conspiracy 365 by Gabrielle Lord.  Or another way to maybe describe it would be a cross between a young Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne and Indiana Jones. And I do not throw out those three names lightly. This book has action, adventure, anthropology, archaeology and a mixing in of various mythologies and legends.

This book begins with Eric Bakker getting a video message from his older brother, it begins with "Eric-Mom and Dad are gone. I don't know what happened, but I'm going to find out." And ends with the sounds of a gunshot after a chase. And it seems like it is up to Eric to figure it out. Eric is at a new school in Canada, he has not made any friends yet, he has not even really tried. But between this message and his own uneasiness soon he finds he is relying on people he has just met and in much deeper than he ever expected.

In this first volume in the Hit The Ground Running Trilogy the action goes up and down the west coast, and then the climax is in Montana. Eric is our main protagonist but his new friend who joins him on the adventure is Tess Edwards, and she draws into their circle two geniuses Seth and Lakey Sawatzky. While Eric and Tess are gallivanting from Victoria to San Francisco and back the Lakey's are manning the computers, enhancing videos and photos and breaking into secure networks to help their friends out.

But this story is more than just grand adventure. There is a lot of internal dialogue as Eric tries to figure things out. Why he made the decisions he has made. How he is processing what is going on now. But there are some serious thugs, a very rich eccentric maybe bordering on madman, and some unknown forces all at play on the board. Soon Eric must make a choice about who to trust, even though his brother said to trust no one. For Eric is running out of options, all the key people he knew his parents trusted cannot be reached. So after figuring out where his brother is being held, and hoping his parents are there also, he must risk it all on a daring rescue.

The characters in this story are great. In fact the characters are one of the greatest strengths in the novel. But the pace of the action is also excellent, and the descriptions during some of the chase scenes, especially Eric's parkour, is thrilling and really helps transport the reader into the action. I average over 100 books a year, and this is an excellent fiction read. I know the marketing is towards the Young Adult but I am planning on giving it to my father who is 70 this year because I know he will love it. A great book and I look forward to the rest of the series!

Books by Mark Burley:
Hit the Ground Running Series:

Hit the Ground Running
Book 2 2018
Book 3 2019

Friday, 17 February 2017

Product Review - Q-bitz Game

Visual Dexterity. Cubed.
Mind Ware

I received this game a year ago for my birthday and from the day it entered the house it has been a family favorite. This is a great game for cognitive development. We have played it often. This game comes with:

4 game play trays
16 cubes of each color
80 Q-bitz cards

The box says it can be played with 2-4 players but you can play solo. The game also has 3 modes of play in the rules that come with the game:

Round one of this game is all about speed as players race to manipulate their cubes to copy the pattern on the Q-bitz pattern card.

Round two players roll all of their cubes on the table like dice. Then using the cubes as rolled players place as many cubes as possible in the tray to recreate the pattern shown on the card. And then it is a race to see who can complete the pattern card rerolling as many times as needed.

Round three really tests memory skills, players study the pattern card for ten seconds, flip it face down and then create the pattern from memory.

But the new Q-bitz Extreme has a fourth way to play and our family has a fifth which is most often used with our youngest.

Round four players race to do the reverse or negative image of the card.

Round five one player at a time creates a pattern, then the others race to copy the pattern.

This game is designed to teaches symmetry, help improve visual dexterity and provide friendly competition. It also stimulates the brain by use of spatial reasoning and memory skills. And it is super fun.

The other day I was wondering if they had release an expansion pack of cards for this game yet. When I went searching I found Q-bitz Solo Orange and Q-bitz Solo Magenta both of which come with an additional 20 unique cards that can be used for solo play or added into the base game back. I also found out there is a new Q-bitz Extreme that I have already picked up, and it is pretty amazing, but that is for another review!

Overall this is an amazing game the recommendation is that players be aged 8 and up, but we have played with our youngest even when she was 5 and it still works well. It is a lot of fun for the whole family. Can be taught in under a minute and is easy to introduce to new players or visitors to the house. They also have a classroom set that has 12 player trays and 120 cards, which would be great for larger families, or campus game nights. We absolutely love this game and hope that they release more expansion cards in the future!

Note: If you are local to Kitchener Waterloo you can get this and many other amazing games at J & J Super Store!

Games by Mind Ware:
Q-bitz Solo Orange
Q-bitz Solo Magenta
Q-bitz Extreme
Q-bitz Classroom Set

Cool Circuits Puzzle

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Archbishop and I: My Childhood Friend Fulton J. Sheen - Margo Weber Nassar

The Archbishop and I: My Childhood Friend Fulton J. Sheen:
Discover the personal side of this legendary Catholic archbishop in this newly revealed story!
Marguerite (Margo) Weber Nassar
ISBN 9781536856804

I have known about Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen for a number of years, but it has only been the last year that I have taken to reading his books. Having read a number of books by the Archbishop this one ended up recommended based on other reads, so I thought I would give it a try. It is a little volume but adds some interesting insight into the man and the legend that is Archbishop Sheen. In the preface the author states: "I never intended to write this. This short read began when I was writing my autobiography. The section on my childhood friendship with Archbishop Sheen, however, took on a life of its own. I realized I had written a piece shorter than a book and longer than an article-a perfect short read." And that is exactly what this little volume is.

Margo was a very lucky young lady, for at the age of 11 she encountered the Archbishop for the first time and he befriended her and her family. She says: "I was an eleven-year-old schoolgirl from Oregon when I had the good fortune to meet Fulton J. Sheen. We became friends and pen pals in his sunset years, and we connected in uncommon circumstances. With age, I began to understand how lucky I was to have met such a human being. I have heard it said that his combination of virtue, intellect, and charisma comes along about once a millennium."  About the chance encounter that sparked an unlikely friendship.

The sections in the book are:
Section 1: Leaving Oregon
Section 2: Arriving in Virginia
Section 3: Visiting New York
Section 4: Coming Back to Virginia
Section 5: Returning to Oregon
Life Lessons
About Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Closing Message
About the Author

It is clear from reading this book that Margo had a special relationship with Archbishop Sheen. It is also clear that he continued to shape and have influence on her life after he had passed away. As a reader who is just beginning to really engage with Sheen's writings I found this book insightful, encouraging and at times very entertaining. From the story of their first encounter to 1974 when Sheen baptized Margo's little sister this is an encouraging story. Especially looking back almost 40 years after his passing, the image of Sheen as a media personality, as the first televangelist, as a theologian sometimes we lose sight of the person. This book brings Sheen back down to earth.  Like that friend of the family that is as close as blood. 

This book was a great little read, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the life or works of Archbishop Sheen. It will shed a little light on him that you may not get from other sources.

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

Books by Fulton J. Sheen:
God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy
The Seven Last Words
Philosophy of Science
The Eternal Galilean
Calvary and the Mass
The Cross and the Beatitudes
Communism and the Conscience of the West
Peace of Soul
Three to Get Married
The World's First Love
Life Is Worth Living Series 1-5
Way to Happiness
Way to Inner Peace 
Life of Christ
Missions and the World Crisis
The Power of Love
Footprints in a Darkened Forest
Lenten and Easter Inspirations
Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen
God's World and Our Place In It

Books About Fulton J. Sheen:
The Archbishop and I

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Quote of the Week - 2017-03-15

In Conversation With God
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Francis Fernandez
Scepter Press
ISBN 9780906138519


I really love this series. And a section I highlighted yesterday keeps coming back to mind. So I am sharing it with you even though I will be reviewing this volume next week.

"We need to make God a participant in the thousand little moments of ordinary life. This can be done by the way in which we offer up our work, the manner in which we take our vacations, how we choose to rest. The Faith should penetrate all of our actions so as to enrich them and make them pleasing to God. We will find that this supernatural effort will help to make our activities more human."

From the reading on February 14th SAINTS CYRIL, MONK AND METHODIUS, BISHOP Co-Patrons and Evangelizers of Europe Memorial. Would love to know your thoughts and reactions  to the quote?

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

Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude 

In Conversation with God:

In Conversation with God eBooks:
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Volume 1 Part 2 Christmas and Epiphany
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6
Volume 3 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 7-12
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13-18
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Volume 5 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 29-34
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feats July -September
Volume 7 Part 2 Special Feats October -December

Books by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Overcoming Lukewarmness
Through The Winds and Waves

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Asp of Ascension - B.R. Myers - The Nefertari Hughes Mystery Series #1

Asp of Ascension
The Nefertari Hughes Mystery Series #1
B.R. Myers
Blue Moon Publishers
ISBN 9781988279
eISBN 9781988279527

This book was my introduction to the writings of B.R. Myers, but it will certainly not be my last! As far as young adult books go this one has a lot going for it. Good plot, intriguing mystery, slight romance, but not too much. Overall it is fairly clean content, a little kissing but that it is. Some violence but mostly just a great adventure with learning about friendship mixed in. And some incredible characters. I was attracted to this book by the cover and the description. The description begins with:

"Nefertari "Terry" Hughes has three rules for surviving high school:
#1 Don't attract attention.
#2 Don't get involved.
#3 Don't make trouble.

A year after the accident that left her crippled and took her mother's life, sixteen-year-old Terry just wants to keep her head down and survive her new high school. When she catches the eye of cute basketball star Zach - who happens to be the boyfriend of mean girl Allison - all hopes of flying under the radar are gone."

Nefertari - Terry just wanted to get through high school, or at least until she could convince her father to let her do online tutors like she did while her and her parents were on archaeological dig in Egypt. But now they are back in the states, her father is preparing a new exhibit at a small museum, Terry is in high school and her mother is dead.

This story has a bit of it all mixed together in just the right amounts. You have the new kid at school. The jock. A mean girl. The editor of the school newspaper. And the Best friend, even if she is a social outcast. And that is just the teenagers. You also have an Egyptian Prince, an Archaeologist, a Museum curator combined with lots of crazy rumours and stories. And at the centre Terry must solve the riddles, and put together the clues, and at every turn it seems like someone else she cares about is in danger. So we have the mystery of a theft 50 years earlier Cleopatra's Armband and the disappearance of a school girl. Two people who are unconscious and the doctor's cannot figure out why. Thugs attack a young man, and at the centre of this swirling storm Terry the girl that wanted to not attract attention or get involved.

I started reading this book without realizing what book in the series it was. I actually though it was book 2 because of all the reference to the accident that killed Terry's mom and destroyed her knee. After finishing I realized this is book one and the story moves forward from here not back to tell how we got here. But to be honest I wish we had books on each end of this story. We can hope for a prequel someday …

This book was a great little read. I know a number of people that I will be recommending it to directly. This book does an excellent job as a mystery and also tackling the theme of bullying. There is a great section at the end for study group or class room discussion. As an introduction to a new author this book has hooked me and I know I will be reading more by Myers soon!

Books by B.R. Myers:
Butterflies Don't Lie
Girl on the Run

Nefertari Hughes Mystery Series:
ASP of Ascension
Diadem of Death

Night Shift Series:
Night Shift
Black Firday

Monday, 13 February 2017

Loving the University - Barry Lyga - A Short Story

Loving the University
A Short Story
Barry Lyga
B & Z Publishing 

This is the second in a series of short stories that Barry Lyga is releasing this year. These previously unpublished stories will be released one a month, and from the look of it only available during that month. So if you are a fan of Lyga's work then I suggest get them while you can. But these stories are also being published with a purpose, for Lyga will not be taking any of the proceeds of the sales. He has decided to donate the money to the ACLU in response to all that is currently going on in the political sphere. You can read about that more here. But not living in the United States nor being American that has a little less impact on me. However I have been a fan of Lyga's work since first discovering his writings in the anthology Geektastic back in 2009, in fact I have tracked down out of print anthologies that he contributed to. So the chance to get some new short stories is welcome.

This story was a very interesting read. As someone who was a student off and on for over 20 years both full and part time at a few different universities, and as someone who worked as a university chaplain, there is still a draw to campus and campus life. But this story tackles that from a different direction. It follows a father and son who live their life working in the family pizza shop, that is dependant upon the university students for it's success and prosperity. It is interesting to read about son witnessing his father, and then repeating the same events in his own life.

Lyga's description of the story is: 
"Stavros has worked his whole life at the Pizza Emporium.
(Or has he?)
He's watched generations of University men come and go, ever-changing, while his life has remained the same.
(Or has it?)
"Loving the University" is an intimate and intricate look into one man's choices and the pains of mere living.
(Or is it?)"

And in the author's note at the end of the story, he shares how this story came close to being published a number of times. But the publications seemed to want the same one change, a change that Lyga himself through would fundamentally alter the story. So it did not see the light of day until published this year so the proceeds can go to a cause Lyga believes in. The story was written in response to events that transpired in Lyga's life at Broadway Pizza in New Haven. But looking back he wonders about his writing the story and his conjectures that led to it. 

In this case event though it is a very good short story, they story about the story and the stories history are almost as interesting.

Books by Barry Lyga:
I Hunt Killers:
I Hunt Killers (2012)
Game - I Hunt Killers #2 (2013)

Blood of My Blood - I Hunt Killers # 3 (2014)

I Hunt Killers Short Stories:
Lucky Day (2014)
Career Day (2012)
Neutral Mask (2013)
Blood Boy (2014)

Brookdale High:
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (2006)
Boy Toy (2007)
Hero Type (2008)
Goth Girl Rising (2009)

Archvillain #1 (2010)
The Mad Mask - Archvillian #2 (2011)
Yesterday Again - Archvillian #3 (2013)

Other Books By Barry Lyga:
Graphic Novels in Your Media Center: A definitive Guide (with Alison A.W. Lyga - 2004)
Wolverine: Worst Day Ever (2009)
MangaMan (with Colleen Dorren 2011)

Unsoul'd (2013)
After The Red Rain (2015)
The Secret Sea (2016)
Bang (2017)

Short Story Project 2017
The Ghosts at 95
Loving The University

Contributed to:

Geektastic (2009)
Who Done It? (2013)

Author Profile and Interview with Barry Lyga

Author Profile and Interview with Randall Banner

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons on Cana and Calvary - Fulton J. Sheen

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons on Cana and Calvary
Fulton J. Sheen
Liguori Publications
ISBN 9780764807084

This book is available in a few different editions it was originally published in 1945. Another edition does not have the subtitle 'Lessons on Cana and Calvary'.

In the first chapter of this book Sheen states: "It is interesting that Our Lord spoke seven times on Calvary and that His Mother is recorded as having spoken but seven times in Sacred Scripture. Her last recorded word was at the marriage feast of Cana, when her Divine Son began His public life. Now that the sun was out, there was no longer need of the moon to shine. Now that the Word has spoken, there was no longer need of words." And he goes on to say: "Saint Luke records five of the seven words which he could have known only from her. Saint John records the other two. One wonders, as Our Blessed Lord spoke each of His Seven Words, if Our Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross did not think of each of her corresponding words. Such will be the subject of our meditation: Our Lord's Seven Words on the Cross and the Seven Words of Mary's Life." Then the book goes on to compare and contrast the seven times Mary speaks with Jesus seven phrases from the cross.

The seven chapters in this book are:
The First Word: The Value of Ignorance
The Second Word: The Secret of Sanctity
The Third Word: The Fellowship of Religion
The Fourth Word: Confidence in Victory
The Fifth Word: Religion is a Quest
The Sixth Word: The Hour
The Seventh Word: The Purpose of Life

The first section compares Jesus statement "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" Luke 23:34 with Mary's own 'know not' from "And Mary said to the Angel: 'How shall this be done, because I know not man?'" Luke 1:31-34.

This book is the 9th by Rev. Fulton J. Sheen that I have read in the last year. With each book I am realizing what a treasure we have in the writings that he has left behind for us. This book is pure biblical exegesis. For other than quoting a few prayers or poems this entire book is written around the scriptures, and Rev Sheen teaching to us directly from the word. In this work he draws predominantly from the gospel of Luke, but also from other gospels to compare wording or to support his teachings from the broader New Testament. In Fact he quotes from the followings books:

Luke 27
John 19
Matthew 6
Mark 5
Old Testament 7
Rest of New Testament 7

This book was an excellent read. The more of Sheen's writings I encounter the more I want to read. This is another excellent book that I highly recommend.

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

Books by Fulton J. Sheen:
God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy
The Seven Last Words
Philosophy of Science
The Eternal Galilean
Calvary and the Mass
The Cross and the Beatitudes
Communism and the Conscience of the West
Peace of Soul
Three to Get Married
The World's First Love
Life Is Worth Living Series 1-5
Way to Happiness
Way to Inner Peace 
Life of Christ
Missions and the World Crisis
The Power of Love
Footprints in a Darkened Forest
Lenten and Easter Inspirations
Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen
God's World and Our Place In It

Books About Fulton J. Sheen:


Saturday, 11 February 2017

Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man - William Shatner

Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man
William Shatner
David Fisher
Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN 9781250083319
Sidgwick & Jackson
ISBN 9780283072529

When I was young I can remember coming home from school and watching TV, most days it was the same Star Trek, Dr. Who, The Six Million Dollar Man, Starsky and Hutch, or the Dukes of Hazzard. But my favorite was always Star Trek. I loved Kirk's bravery, and Spock's logic. It is easy to say that my first heroes who did not play for the Montreal Canadians were Kirk and Spock. And I have been a fan of both of their work since. My earliest memories other than watching Hockey are of watching Star Trek. That being said this book was much more than I expected.

There have been rumours about Shatner on and off screen for years now. And if the rumours about Shatner are exaggerated than those about Nimoy are understated. At least from the man presented in this book. For in this book William Shatner opens up about one of the most important relationships in his life. As men who grew up in a different age and time, and as an actors their relationship is truly a testament to manly relationships.

Shatner states in the dedication: "I am dedicating this book to a human being who lived his life for over eighty-three years, whose journey was filled with joy and anger, cynicism and idealism, the endless array of emotions that constantly change and evolve. We humans go through life barnacled with the detritus of life-it's a drag, causing change, what once was passion changes to indifference-joy becomes sorrow and love has many hues. All the interweaving elements of human existence. Thus, I am that, you are that, and he was that. I dedicate this book to my dear friend Leonard Nimoy and his loving family." And he treats his friends legacy with respect.

Shatner is open an honest about Nimoy's faults, and to be honest about some of his own. But it is not done in a way to tear down a legacy, to tarnish the legacy. No it is done to honour what Nimoy had been through. And what he overcame. The book includes 17 great photo's spanning Nimoy's career and only three of them include Shatner. In almost 300 pages Shatner recounts stories about the original series, the movies and the two men's continued relationship.

Having read this book, these two men had a real friendship, a real relationship. In this day and age that truly is a rare thing, especially one that spans 50 years. Shatner states: "I often think about friendship. Our friendship. All friendships. The complexities that bring two lives together sometimes briefly, sometimes for almost a lifetime. There are fleeting friendships and enduring friendships. It is such an all-encompassing word, but it doesn't sufficiently define the depth of any relationship." So the saddest part of the books is what Shatner shares about their estrangement that lasted the last few years of Leonard's life.

If you are a fan of either of these men, or just their work this book will be a surprising read. It was well worth the time and effort to learn more about these gentlemen, their friendship and the example of lasting friendship. Well done Shatner and as Nimoy would say LLAP.

Books by William Shatner:

Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man
Up Till Now
Star Trek Memories
Shatner Rules
Get a Life!
I'm Working on That: A Trek from Science Fiction to Science Fact
Captain's Log: William Shatner's Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V, the Final Frontier
Spirit of the Horse: A Celebration in Fact and Fable
Star Trek Memories
Star Trek Movie Memories

Believe with Michael Tobias

The TekWar Series co-written with Ron Goulart
Tek Vengeance
Tek Secret
Tek Power
Tek Money
Tek Kill
Tek Net

Star Trek Series with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
The Ashes of Eden
The Return
Dark Victory
Captain's Peril
Captain's Blood
Captain's Glory
The Academy-Collision Course

War Series
Man o' War
The Law of War

Quest for Tomorrow Series
Delta Search
In Alien Hands
Step into Chaos
Beyond the Stars
Shadow Planet

Graphic Novels
William Shatner's TekWorld)
Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden

Friday, 10 February 2017

Asking for Prayers

I am asking for prayers for a special intention. If you are a praying person please say a prayer for me for discernment. I greatly appreciate it.

Saint Patrick's Rune

All heaven with its power
and the sun with its brightness,
and the snow with its whiteness,
and the fire with all the strength it hath-
and lightning with its rapid wrath
and the winds with their swiftness along their path.
and the sea with its deepness,
and the rocks with their steepness
and the earth with its starkness-
all these I place
by God's almighty help and grace
between myself and
the powers of darkness!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Very Sleepy Sloth - Andrew Murray and Jack Tickle

The Very Sleepy Sloth
Andrew Murray
Jack Tickle (Illustrator)

ISBN 9780439680684
Little Tiger
ISBN 9781589250338

My youngest daughter recently brought this book home for us to read together. She loved it so much we read it a number of times within a few days. When preparing to write a review I discovered that there 6 editions of this book from 5 different publishers of imprints, that have been released between 2003 and 2010. And for a picture book of 32 pages it really has some great lessons.

The first few times my daughter and I read this she just thought the story was funny. It starts with different animals in the jungle all going about their own business. Cheetah on a treadmill, Elephant lifting weights, Kangaroo bouncing on a trampoline and monkey swinging. But soon they all notice Sloth is just sleeping. So they sort of gang up on him and try and pressure him into being more active. The Sloth being smarter than he looks; and he turns the tables on them, by suggesting that each of the other animals do a different animals activity. They all fail, and each getting more upset than the one before. Soon they all get mad at Sloth and he points of that he was just laying there.

Having talked this over with my daughter after about the 10th reading she realizes that we each have different strengths and talents and that is part of what makes us who we are. She also realized that trying to be someone else is not going to end well. She also picked up on the group gaining up on Sloth as a kind of bullying. And that they laughed at or were rude when others failed at different tasks, which is not ok. She realized that most of the animals were bucket dippers not bucket fillers(a concept used in primary grades at our school). And that Sloth helps them realize the mistakes they were making.

The illustrations by Jack Tickle are wonderful. His use of predominately soft tones and a broad palate bring the jungle scenes and animals to life. And children will love the pictures.

To be honest the first time through I was not as impressed but the more we read this book and talked about it the more impressed I became. That my 6 year old picked up all of these lessons by herself speaks to the quality of the book.

Overall a really good book with an awesome message, but without being preachy.