Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Modo Ember's End - Arthur Slade and Christopher Steininger - A Mission Clockwork Graphic Novel

Modo Ember's End 
Hunchback Assignments Graphic Novel
Mission Clockwork Graphic Novel
Arthur Slade (Author)
Christopher Steininger (Illustrator)
Orca Publishing
ISBN 9781459817210

This book is a stand alone graphic novel. It was written by Arthur Slade, and illustrated by Christopher Steininger. But it is based in the world of Arthur Slade's Hunchback Assignments, that series has been rebranded a few times now. First in Canada it was published as The Hunch Back Assignments, and there were four novels. Later it was rebranded as Modo: Mission Clockwork, and now it is currently being rebranded again as Mission Cloclwork. But no matter what it is called the 4 novels are great reads and this fifth story set after the novels and as a graphic novel is an excellent addition to Modo’s story. I read this book first back in 2014 when it came out as part of a kickstarted campaign. And have just reread it again. 

Modo is such a great character. You cannot help but love him. And seeing Modo in this adventure fleshed out the images I had in my mind having read the novels about him. And this story is masterfully done. And the combinate of old west, steam punk, and spy story make for a very interesting read. Slade is one of the few authors I was reading almost 2 decades ago that I am still reading today. He writes an intriguing tale in this volume. And the illustrations by Christopher Steininger bring to life some of the most memorable characters that I have read in the last twenty years. Seeing Modo and Octavia at work in this book was very exciting. 

I am thankful this book is being released to a wider market. The Modo books are wonderful stories for young readers, or those with an adventuresome heart. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has read any of the other Modo books, or who loves a great graphic novel.

Books by Arthur Slade:
The Dragonfly's Journey (1996)

John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Flickers (2016)

Hunchback Assignments Series:

aka Modo Mission Clockwork Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)

Librarian. Assassin. Vampire Series:
Amber Fang: The Hunted 
Amber Fang: Betrayed
Amber Fang: Revenge

Books as Stephen Shea:
The Not So Simple Life
Viper - Short Story

Visual Bibliography for Arthur Slade
Author profile interview with Arthur Slade.

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea. 

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Feast of Saint Vincent Pallotti Celebration of Pallottines

Feast of Saint Vincent Pallotti
Celebration of Pallottines 

Last night Liam and I went to a celebration of the feast of Saint Vincent Pallotti (April 21st 1795-January 22nd 1850). Vincent Pallotti was the founder of the Pallottines. Our Parish of Saint Agnes is staffed by a Pallotine from the Ukraine, as are 4 other parishes in the Diocese of Hamilton. The mass tonight was at Saint Clements Church in St. Clements Ontario. We were blessed to have 7 priests and 2 deacons celebrate mass tonight. Liam loved the church. So after mass we took some pictures. Last summer I posted a photo essay of Saint Clements, but tonight took some pictures inside the church after dark. It was a blessing to be there with congregants from all over Ontario.

St. Clement's Parish
3619 Lobsinger Line
St. Clements
N0B 2M0

Monday, 22 January 2018

Product Review - Formed - Augustine Institute

Augustine Institute

Formed is a Catholic Online Resource that is presented by Augustine Institute. It is sort of like a Catholic Netflix and yet it is much more than that. It is a collection of materials for study, entertainment and spiritual growth and nourishment. It contains material for study, watching, listening or reading. Currently the content is predominantly available in English, with a growing selection of Spanish offerings.

Each week there is a video available with a brief teaching for the upcoming Sunday's mass readings. There are sections for Sacramental preparation, bible study, current topics and youth resources. Under the movies there are sub sections for movies, documentaries, apologetics and youth. The audio section contains talks, audio dramas, and audio books. And the book section contains nonfiction, fiction and youth resources. The movies and audio resources are available through the website or apps on both Android and iOS. The books are available to download in .EPUB (Android, Nook, iBooks) or a .PRC (Kindle, will work on Kindle on other operating systems.)

And our parish has purchased a parish wide subscription. That means each family, each individual in the parish has access to all of these resources. To sign up you go to a custom web address and register. The access code is available via the church office, or posters around the church.

And if you need assistance figuring out how to access or uncertain resources the link https://help.formed.org has all you need. Once you are registered you use the app or web browser to access the resources. In 2015 Lighthouse Catholic Media merged with the Augustinian Institute, so many of the lighthouse resources are available through Formed. And many of the books are from Lighthouse, Ignatius Press, Sophia Institute Press and more. There are some incredible resources for your personal or group study, entertainment and edification.

I have been testing it for two weeks now and have watched an amazing movie about Pope Saint John XXIII, read a book about Celtic saints, and one by Dr. Peter Kreeft, and am currently reading another. I have listened to some amazing talks especially by Father Mike Schmitz. I have also watched two movies with my children. My son loves it so much that we put it on his iPod and he has watched a few children's movies on his own. It is available to members of the parish through a parish membership at no cost to each family. But even if your parish does not choose to purchase a Parish subscription the cost is reasonable and the benefits amazing.

The content changes and on the homepage is a video lesson for the upcoming weekends mass readings. It includes a section highlighting the most popular content, including a pick of the week. There is also section focusing on the recently added content. The video and audio content will work on any device with an internet connection and a web browser. There are apps for iOS and Android. And the apps indicate that offline play is in development.

This is an incredible resource for any individual; but especially if purchased at the Parish level so check it out! And if you are still not certain you can get a free 7 day trial so you have nothing to lose. So go five Formed a try!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Feast of Saint Agnes Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018 A Reflection

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018 
And Memorial of Saint Agnes Virgin and Martyr
A Reflection

Lent begins in three and a half weeks. The church has returned to Green vestments. But already I am thinking head to lent. This year Ash Wednesday is also Saint valentine’s day February 14th, and Easter is April first, or April Fools day. We begin our Focus on the gospel of Mark this week. The majority of the Gospel readings this year will be from Mark, and as such today we beginning with Mark’s account of Jesus calling his first disciples.

First Reading Jonah 3:1-5,10
Responsorial Psalm 25:4-9 Response 9
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Gospel Mark1:14-20

The first reading is the second calling of Jonah. Not the story that all kids love about his being swallowed by the whale. It is the second time that God calls upon him. But what really catches my attention is:

“And the People of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.”
But one of the verses that we skip is about it starting with the King. Leadership began with the head, and spread down from there. I think there are considerations around this passage in our own day. Would a prophet be recognized if he appeared today? Would Jesus be recognized if he were to come back? Muck like in the Joshua books by father Joseph F. Girzone. And would the repentance start at the top, our prime minister’s, our premier’s, and our presidents? Or would it be a more grass roots movement.

The responsorial Psalm this week was an interesting passage:

From the United States Liturgy it is:

R. (4a) 
Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice
and teaches the humble his way.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

From the Canadian liturgy the the response is 'Lord, Make Me know your ways.' I much prefer the translation the US uses. There is a big difference between'teach' and 'make' but there are times that I need God to make his will known to me. So maybe the language that makes me uncomfortable is the one I need most. 

I pray this every day for my children and for myself. I want to grow in His ways. To learn to love Him more and through that to love and server others more. And from today’s gospel the fact that both pairs of men immediately left what they were doing and followed Jesus. We see the calling of Simon, Andrew, James, and John. They began a lifelong response to follow Jesus, just as we are on a life long journey to follow Jesus, to be his disciples, to live for him.

But today is also the feat of Saint Agnes Virgin and Martyr. And the readings for that mass are:

First Reading Hebrews 5:1010
Responsorial Psalm 110:1-4 Response 4B

Gospel Mark 2:18-22.

Saint Agnes is the patron saint of my parish.She was killed at a young age for her faith. Blessings on you and yours this week.

Related Posts:

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Product Review - Mpow Cheetah Bluetooth 4.1 Wireless Headphones

Mpow Cheetah Bluetooth 4.1 Wireless Headphones
ASIN B00Y2CGHS6 Canada

I bought a set of these about a year ago. And they have been one of the best electronic purchases I have ever made. I switched to an iPhone 7 so lost my head phone jack, and with the holster I use to carry my phone the dongle was not an option. I did not want to spend a ridiculous amount on headphones, especially with out being able to try them on. These were very reasonably priced, and had overall helpful reviews.

I was not disappointed. Right from the moment I opened the package they were a good fit. I ended up going to the smallest of the three ear piece attachments that came with them. And a year later they are still far exceeding expectations. I use them for almost an hour a day while walking, and only charge them once a week. Only twice in a year have they started warring of low battery and I have run out before having the opportunity to charge them. The sound quality is very good, and the noise cancelation is excellent. I use them while walking, writing the bus, and doing chores around the house. I have never had an issue with moisture damage, or performance issues. And in a year, they have only lost the blue tooth pairing once, and that was human error on my part.

For the price point these are the best headphones I have ever used, wired or wireless. They were a great investment and if something were to happen to them I would have no hesitation going with the same model again. I am very happy with the performance, value, and durability of these headphones!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Ambit Above - Derya Little - Kayan Kronicles Book 2

The Ambit Above
Kayan Kronicles Book 2
Derya Little
A Seafarer Book
ISBN 9781535192835


It is very seldom that I write two reviews for books in a series back to back. But when I finished book 1, The Manual Beyond, I immediately started reading this one. And usually I alternate fiction and non-fiction. So book one was a great read, but book two was incredible! So this was the second book by Derya Little that I read in 4 days. I could not put this book down. In fact I stayed up so late reading last night, I had to go take a quick nape this afternoon at work, I just could not keep my eyes open. And since I am almost 50, I learned a few years ago that sleep was important. And yet last night I kept saying 1 more chapter, 1 more chapter and the next thing I knew the book was done. 

In my review of the first book I stated about this series:  "I immediately thought about the John Carter of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burrows. Or the Barsoom series as some call it." And I feel that even more so after finishing the series. In this book James's lives have flipped, previously life on Earth was hard, and he could not wait to awaken on Kaya, where things were so much better. Now things on Earth are starting to turn around, and life in Aqui is filled with dangers, peril, and ever higher stakes. 

The description of this novel is:
"A sequel to The Manual Beyond... Now that James and his friends have the elusive Manual, surely it should be a matter of time to take the Ambit down. But neither the puzzling instructions nor their determined ruler is willing to cooperate. As open doors close one after another, is there still a chance to free Aqui? At least, things are looking up on Earth. James' mom is back in their lives. There is a glimmer of hope in the horizon. But, trust is a rare commodity for a homeless teenager. While James and Maggie try to navigate these new found waters, Kaya becomes a place where everyday is riddled with dangers and questions. Is the outcome worthy of the journey?"
James and his friends in Aqui are working with an ever growing team to try and bring down the Ambit. But the Rex has implemented marshal law and is using his knowledge of tactics from earth to put more and more pressure on James and the team. None of them will be left unscarred, some physically and some emotionally. But on Earth James meets with his mother again, and even agrees to meet with his father. Both of his parents are taking responsibility for the pain they caused, the mistakes they made and the time it might take to mend things. There is an incredible moving story about his mother, her alcoholism, and finding herself in a church before a copy of the pieta. Even though it is fiction this section nearly brought me to tears. But in order to bring down the Ambit they must solve another riddle and puzzle, and then once they know what the clues mean, find out how to make it happen. 

I loved the characters in this book, and truly enjoyed the concept of living two lives in two places. And to be honest I am a little sad that the series is completed. But it is an excellent book and series. In fact I can say it is one of the best new authors I have discovered in a few years and I do read a lot of books.

So if you enjoy classic science fiction along the lines of Burroughs, Heinlein, and Herbert, you owe it to yourself to give this series a try. If you just love a good read, you will enjoy these two books. And if you like a good clean story, with some faith based motifs this book has you covered there as well. I think these books would be a great addition to a school curriculum for grads 8-12, bet even with that being said I am nearly 50 and I loved them!

An amazing book in a great series!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Derya Little:

From Islam to Christ: One Woman's Path through the Riddles of God

Kayan Kronicles

The Manual Beyond
The Ambit Above

The Manual Beyond - Derya Little - Kayan Kronicles Book 1

The Manual Beyond
Kayan Kronicles Book 1
Derya Little
A Seafarer Book
ISBN 9781532874802

This was the first book I have read by Derya Little, but it will not be the last! From the advertised description of this book, I immediately thought about the John Carter of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burrows. Or the Barsoom series as some call it. The description of this novel is:

"It's hard to be a homeless teenager in Seattle, getting wet in the endless rain, not knowing where the next meal is going to come from -or whether there would be a next meal. 
At least, that isn't James' only world. 
Every night, James Knox of Earth goes to sleep at midnight. Every morning, he wakes up on Kaya, a paradise far beyond our constellations. The end of his Kayan day returns him once again to the streets. 
On Earth, the struggles of homeless life cast a dark shadow. On Kaya, James and his friends find themselves in the middle of an unexpected challenge. 
Is the destination worthy of the journey?"
But in this book James goes transports to a different body, on a different planet, and based on the constellations likely in a different solar system or even different galaxy. Can you imagine living two lives, one as an orphan, the other as a street kid in Seattle. Once I started reading this book I could not put it down. I got far too little sleep because of this book, and put it down way too late my first night reading it because my alarm was set for work for 5am. I finished the book the next day on the way to school. Now I will warn you that the book ends with a cliff hanger. So be prepared to want to jump into book two, The Ambit Above, right away.

James Knox lives two very different lives. On earth he is living on the streets of Seattle. He has settled into a weekly routine, with his friend sort of like his little sister, Maggie. They met shortly after her arrived on the streets and have been sticking together ever since. And every night no matter what time he goes to bed on Earth, he falls asleep at midnight and wakes up on Kaya at 7am. One life is hardship, struggle and strife, and the other though challenging work in school, and fields, and in the mines, but overall life is much more comfortable. But Kaya is a gilded cage there I a protective ambit above and around this island country. They are separate from the rest of their world. No one can get in and no one can get out. He lives in a house with other orphans and they start thinking about a way to take down the shield

Soon his life is turned upside down on both worlds. And It looks like James might play a pivotal part in freeing the people of Aqui. And Maggie and his friends from Aqui are both working together to try and solve the puzzle of how to set a people free.

This book was an excellent read. For a first novel it was amazing. I loved the story, the characters, the plot. Teacher monks, people with marks that gave them special abilities. Traveling to another planet while asleep. Reading this took me back to reading a lot of classic science fiction when I was in high school. It reminds me of Burroughs, Heinlein, and Herbert. I only finished book one the morning I wrote this and have already read a third of book two. This is a wonderful read that I highly recommend.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Derya Little:

From Islam to Christ: One Woman's Path through the Riddles of God

Kayan Kronicles

The Manual Beyond
The Ambit Above

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Confession of a Dyslexic Bibliophile - eBooks, Regional Rights and More

Confession of a Dyslexic Bibliophile - eBooks, Regional Rights and More

I love reading. In fact it is one of my favourite things to do. I have loved reading since I really learned to the summer between grade 7 and grade 8. You see I have a dual form of dyslexia, it was diagnosed in grade 2 and did testing every 4 years until I entered university to keep up my special needs status. I wrote a piece a number of years back called How I Became a Bibliophile, From Dyslexic to Addict. It was part of a column I wrote in Imprint my university student's paper, called Confessions of a Bibliophile. But I have discovered over the last few years that I really prefer reading electronically. 2011 was the first year I read more eBooks than Physical books. With eBooks I love that I can change the font, the background colour, the spacing. And more. All of these things make it easier for me to read. I also love reading across numerous devices, my phone, my tablet, and my computer. I have a stick of about 18 books on my bedside table I want to read, these books are not available electronically. But I tend not to get around to reading them. There was a second pile on my dresser that I had moved from the bed side table last year. Now I have two stacks, of books I wish to read. One book sat on this pile for almost a year, when the eBook came out I read it twice in a week. The first time I raced through it in two days, and the second I took more time with it. And ended up giving away the physical copy to a friend. I really wanted to read this book, and had started it a few times, but because it was physical and upstairs in the bed room I just kept not getting to it. 

So in this day and age I am surprised when books come out and are only available in a physical format. Or eBooks come out but are only available in the US, UK, or Australia. There are so many authors I love and their books are just not widely available in North America, or if they are only in a physical volume. Now do not get me wrong, there is no shortage of books for me to read. I currently have almost 200 books in my eBook waiting list and close to 40 physical books awaiting a read. But I get so frustrated when eBooks are geo-locked to specific regions.  I probably read 30 eBooks to every physical book at this point in time. The tipping point was a few years ago and the gap just keeps widening.  

Of course it is not like a decade ago where I had a whole table full and covered of books on the go. They now all sit snugly on my phone and my place is kept on the web and I can jump device to device and pick up right where I was. 

Statistics Books Read By Year:
380 - 2017 
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

I started keeping track of the books I finished reading in October of 1995, and movies watched in January of 1996. I have lists for:

All Books Read by Year
Favorite Books By Year
All Movies and TV Series Watched by Year
Favorite Movies and TV Series by Year

I also do a Top Ten List of books each quarter and for the year. They can be found here. I was also asked to pick a Top Ten Catholic Books I have read, you can find that list here (and occasionally I add a note when I come across something exceptional.)

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Mission Libertad - Lizette M Lantigua

Mission Libertad
Lizette M Lantigua
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819849007
eISBN 9780819849120

This book was on a list of Catholic Teen Fiction that I came across last year. The list highlighted 30 books over thirty days, and included books by authors I had encountered and read before like Corinna Turner, T.M. Gaouette, Lesley Wahl, and Susan Peak. It also had some authors I was familiar with but had not yet read; like Stephanie Engelman, Theresa Linden, A.J. Cattapan and more. In total there were 12 authors profiled across the 30 books. And the list included this book, by Lizette Lantigua. As of the writing of this review I have read 22 of the 30 books highlighted on that list. All the books have received 4 or 5 stars. And I have discovered some amazing authors.

I had no idea what to expect when I began reading this book. And maybe it is the font, or the coloring on the cover but with my dyslexia I had misread the title of the book and held off reading the books until I had read books by almost all of the other authors. I read the title as Mission Libtard, and it took a while before I actually saw the correct title. The book was written with the preteen and early teen market in mind. But I believe it is a powerful story that any reader could appreciate.

This book is a mix of action, adventure, and spiritual quest. The story is tightly written. Once I started reading I could barely put the book down. The historical part of the book, about people who escaped Cuba and went to the United States is a powerful story. This book looks back at a time when Americans accepted refugees and did what they could to help them and protect them. The Cuban spies in this book, I am sure mirrored real life. And the fear of reprisals for family members left behind.

It is the inspiring story of Luisito, a young teenage boy who escapes Communist Cuba in 1979 with his parents. Being the age that I am I remember stories about escapes like his from the news and social studies classes in school. I really appreciated the aspect of the story, where this young man comes to embrace the faith of his grandmother, a faith that had been repressed in Cuba when he left the country. Also the part of the story about smuggling a Catholic relic out of Cuba to bring inspiration and faith to the Miami, and entire US Cuban population was masterfully told.

I really enjoyed this book and the look back to this point in time in North American culture and Catholic history. I look forward to my son being a little older and rereading this book with him. And if more books become available by the author I would love to read them.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Monday, 15 January 2018

Healing from Heaven - Suzanne R. Jamail

Healing from Heaven
Suzanne R. Jamail
Proving Press
Enroute Books and Media
ISBN 9781633371521
eISBN 9781633371545

I will be transparent here. I was a little apprehensive when approaching this book. In fact, if it had not been for the fact of an endorsement by Dr. Kevin Vost I likely would have passed on giving it a read. But a number of people in my circles, and authors I know were talking about this book, so I decided to give it a try. The book was not exactly what I was expecting. I was expecting amore detailed exposition, but the book is more a collection of thoughts, pensée's or reflections. The book can easily be devoured in a single sitting. But like other collections like this one, it is better to go back and forth, flip to a page, or work through it again from time to time.

The sections in the book are:

Be Yourself
The Unknown
Be Like Children
Choose to Enjoy Life
You Are Loved
Accepting What Is
The Importance of Friendships
Dont Give Up
Think Positively about Your Life
Number Your Day's
It Isn't Fair
Be a Blessing
Think of Yourself Less
Are You There, God?
Life is a Journey and God Holds the Map
Let Go of the Past
Celebrating or Complaining
Living His Purpose
Savor Your Steps
Dare to Dream
Declare Your Dreams

The description of the book is: "This is my private journal, written during a difficult period of my life. The economy was poor, business was slow. The recession ravaged my private practice as a clinical psychologist. Thrown overboard into a sea of the unknown and the unstable, I fell into unrest and was plagued with thoughts of "going under," but in my heart, I believed my situation would turn around. In 2013, my office building finally sold. It was located in Flint, Michigan, the crime capital of the United States. It sold for the price of a fully loaded compact car. The financial loss only served to fuel the tidal wave of dis-empowering thoughts that tormented me. Giving up wasn't an option, while it frequently crossed my mind. Surely heaven understood my condition. So, I decided to say yes to life expecting God's favor to lift me above my personal challenges." The book is open an honest. As mentioned this book reminded me of others I have read over the years. In many ways it could be a continuation of the stoic tradition. It reminded me of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, or Life's Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. but with a very clear Christian, Catholic focus. These 40 reflections span a wide variety of topics, and offer serious insight into life, and trusting God. Each reflection is also accompanied by a piece of artwork. The artwork spans from 1500-1885, with the majority from Gustave Doré and the majority of his from the year1868.

Dr. Jamail in the introduction states: "A reader may think all of this comes from my unconscious mind, the vault of dreams, intuitions, and buried beliefs. I don't think so. I believe my book came from our Creator because I asked God to give me a new assignment. At that point, I believe I formed a creative alliance with the Holy Spirit, who spoke directly to my heart." And to be honest that is between the author and God. But I do believe that these meditations will benefit anyone who gives them a read. I know that I am likely to go back and go over them again, at least a few more times.

Three sample reflections from the book are:

Be Yourself

Focus on your unique strengths. God wants you to feel good about yourself just as you are. You are unique. You were made as you are on purpose. You have everything you need to fulfill your purpose. God doesn't make mistakes. The final chapter of your life hasn't been written. Keep a good attitude. Be patient. God is molding you.

In general, you have been a busy person. You are excessively disciplined, perfectionistic, and conscientious. You fear being found inadequate. The unknown is terrifying. Why is this happening? Others are unaware of your plight, for they see you as a super man or woman. But you are ordinary. You are ordinary. The false self, the persona you fabricated to be affirmed and accepted by significant others is being peeled away. You fear intimidation, rejection, and punishment; your outside world can't help you.

Mastering your demons through your intellect isn't possible. It is time to face your true nature. You have something to offer the world no one else can. Your identity is ego-oriented and the dismantling of your life only serves to exacerbate your teetering self-regard. You are thirsty for God, desperate in search of your own true uniqueness. You are on the potter's wheel. God is the potter and you are the clay. Through your trials, He is refining you.


It's easy to have a grateful attitude when life is going smoothly. Challenges, obstacles, and setbacks often trigger a myriad of negative thoughts and emotional symptoms. You feel you are doing something wrong.

You were never promised a smooth journey. But trust God will journey with you. Accept what is. The difficult times will pass. Be cheerful in spirit for God is with you in chaos and calm. Adapt to life with an attitude of gratitude. Dwell on all that is good in your life. Live in appreciation. Heaven knows your needs.


Many of the props have been removed from your life. Of course, this was not of your choosing, but with fewer distractions, you realize you have the essentials to be happy, whole, and to fulfill your life's purpose. You have many small things that make your life wonderful. Your life is being reordered, pruning away the trivial, leaving room for spiritual growth. Placing less importance on contemporary living and self-centered values, you live closer to God. Be more concerned with your message than your money.

As you can see from these samples there is some great content in this book. So give it a chance I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018 - A Reflection

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018 A Reflection

Ordinary time has begun. This is the first Sunday after the feast of the epiphany.  The White vestments from Christmas are put away. We return to green vestments. And the beginning of Lent is just a month away. And after this week, the Sunday Gospel readings move to Mark for the focus of year B.

First Reading Isaiah 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19
Responsorial Psalm 40 1,3,6-9 Response 7,8
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20
Gospel John 1:35-42

In reading and rereading the above readings in preparation for mass this weekend many thoughts kept coming up. From the first reading the fact that God calls to Samuel three times. But also, that both Samuel and Eli take a few times to realize that God is moving her. And then Samuel responds as Eli has told him to: “Speak, for your servant is listening.”. It made me wonder do I hear God’s voice? Do I listen? Am I willing to listen? Am I willing to follow God’s leadings? I know that God has spoken to me and through me many times in my life. But there are other times where it feels like it has been a long time since I have heard from him. I question is that period of silence because I am not listening? Or is it because God is not speaking?

From there we go to the response in the responsorial psalm: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” This theme ties so well into the first reading. Saying that phrase in response 4 times. Again, it calls to mind the question of ‘do I mean it?’. Will I do his will? Will I seek his leading even over my own wishes?

The last section of this reading always convicts me. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were brought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” I know that the grater passage is talking specifically about fornication and sexual sin. But each time I read this passage I also think about the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and therefore questions around am I eating right? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I looking after my body so that God can use it? So that I can be the best version of myself? Those are not easy questions to answer, and as in many areas of life it feels like 3 steps forward and then two steps back. But I must keep moving forward. As I try and teach my children it is not about being perfect, but giving a perfect effort. 

And that brings us to todays gospel. We see Andrew and Simon Peter start following Jesus. And that is still our job today we are to be followers of Jesus. And as Jesus said people should know we are his followers based on how we live. So, learn to live well. And may the Lord pour out his spirit upon you and strengthen you to give him all area’s of your life, and to listen to his voice and follow it.

Related Posts:

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Product Review - Organic Non-GMO Cacao Powder - Viva Naturals

Organic Non-GMO Cacao Powder
2 lb
Viva Naturals

Over the last year I have tried almost 20 products from Viva Naturals as they have expanded into the Canadian Market Place earlier this year. Overall I have been happy with each product I have tried, and many have replaced the previous brand I was using for a similar product. Viva Natural's have been around since 2011, previously as Viva Labs, south of the border. Viva Naturals is working to become an all-around health and wellness company.  They have a wide product range that includes; nutritional supplements, organic food, and beauty products to essentials oils. Their goal is to help you reach your wellness goals. And thankfully now they are expanding into the Canadian market place, with this and other great quality products. I have had the advantage of receiving a number of their products to try at the same time. And I have used many of them by themselves or in combination with each other. I have been impressed with each of them, but enough about Viva Naturals as a company and on to reviewing this specific product the Non-GMO Cacao Powder.  

How I tested this product:
In Smoothies
Breakfast Bowls
Hot Mug of Cacao
On top of frozen yogourt
In Cookies

Product Specifics:
QAI Certified Organic
Non-GMO Project Certified
Source of Protein, Fiber, Magnesium and Fatty Acids
High in Antioxidants
Bold Chocolate Flavor

Great taste

Size of bag
Self-sealing bag

This is a good product. But it is a large bag. After almost a year I still have a good amount left. And the self sealing bag does not hold up over time and it needs to be moved to a different container. But both of those concerns are minor.

As I have stated before over the last few months I have had the opportunity to try 17 different products from Viva Naturals. I have been impressed with them all! This is a brand I trust! These products are now available in Canada currently through the Amazon Marketplace. This is a good product at good price, looking forward to trying more products as they make their way to the Canadian Market.

Viva Naturals Reviews:
Supplements and Nutritional:
Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 16 Ounce
Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 32 Ounce
Organic Ground Flax Seed
Organic Goji Berries
Maca Powder
Coconut Flour: Non-GMO and Gluten-Free
Royal Quinoa Whole Grain
Chia Seeds
Organic Raw Cacao Nibs

Cacao Powder
Krill Oil 1250 milligram
Sweet Almond Oil 16 fl oz
Argon Oil 4oz
Maca Root 500 milligram 
Glutathione 500mg
Vitamin C 1000 milligrams

Essential Oil Difusers:

Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser 300ml, Ash Zen Model
Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser 400ml, Pine Tranquil Model
Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser 400ml, Espresso Tranquil Model

Friday, 12 January 2018

Tales from the Brackenwood Ghost Club - Andrew M. Seddon

Tales from the Brackenwood Ghost Club
Andrew M. Seddon
Far Wanderings
ISBN 9781975720575


Prior to reading this book, I have read three titles by Seddon, two of them twice through. And I have greatly enjoyed them. Each of those three garnered a 5 out of 5 stars rating. I was hesitant when approaching this book. The hesitation was with all the Catholic books I have been reading over the last few years, both fiction and non-fiction I have been leery of the strange and supernatural. But my concerns were unfounded. This collection of 11 tales was in many ways inspiring and intriguing.

The Brakenwood Ghost Club is a group that met at Max's house. The book is the work of Max's niece. The members were as varied as the tales they discussed. The stories spanned from the American West to the Himalayas. From lights for a mystery church to a dog acting as protector.  The eleven stories contained in this collection are:

1 The Church in the Sand
2 The Mission
3 Clouds of War
4 That'll Be the Missus
5 Once to Die
6 Bond
7 The Black Priest of Brackenwood
8 Desperation Gulch
9 Bright Stars Singing
10 The Third Man
11 Saint Aerdeyrn's Cross

Some of the stories are based upon real legends, or myths. Some are based upon real people but the stories are the creations of Seddon himself.  At the end of the stories is a section explaining the history of each of the pieces. And then there is an essay by Seddon entitled 'On Catholic Ghost Stories'  it begins with these words:

"IT MIGHT SEEM, at first glance, that ghost stories - like the closely related genres of horror, weird, and supernatural fiction - are unlikely candidates for inclusion in the pantheon of Catholic literature. The objection is sometimes raised that the Bible contains strong prohibitions against sorcery, divination, and necromancy. The fate of King Saul after consulting the Witch of Endor (1 Samuel) provides a chilling example of the dangers of meddling in forbidden realms. And, certainly, an unhealthy attraction to the occult and its practices is to be avoided."
This essay goes on to expand upon why the two are not incompatible. He states:
"And it should always be kept in mind that stories are just that: stories - not sermons, discourses, or theological treatises. 
Ghost stories, in fact, may serve several functions: to entertain, to edify, to encourage, to educate, to evangelize, and to enhance."
And then he goes on to expand upon each of those 6 purposes. Part of me wishes that the essay had been at the beginning of the book instead of at the end. It would have caused me to read the stories with a very different eye. However that being said, I did greatly enjoy the collection. And I look forward to checking out another collection What Darkness Remains that has been released since this one came out. And Seddon has contributed to a number of collections over the last year that I might need to track down even if just to read his contribution.

I had concerns when I approached this book, but knowing the author from his other works I should have known better. This is a read and I can highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Andrew M. Seddon:

Walking with the Celtic Saints (with Neil & Gerlinde Kennedy-Jones)

Historical Fiction:
Saints Alive Volume I - Saints of Empire
Saints Alive Volume II - Celtic Paths
Imperial Legions

Other Books:
Ring of Time
Iron Scepter
Wreaths of Empire
The Deathcats of Asa'ican and Other Tales of a Space Vet
Red Planet Rising
Tales from the Brackenwood Ghost Club
What Darkness Remains

Contributed to:
Sky Songs
Sky Songs II
Infinite Space Infinite God II
Fungi #20
The Tanist's Wife and other stories
Unintended Consequences
Silent Screams: An Anthology of Socially Conscious Dark Fiction
Eldritch Embraces: Putting the Love Back in Lovecraft
Tails from the Front Lines

Author Profile and interview with Andrew M Seddon.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Red Goodbye - Brandon M. Lipani - Serena Triton Detective Novel Book 2

The Red Goodbye
Serena Triton Detective Novel Book 2
Brandon M. Lipani
ISBN 9781521007952


This is the second novel from Lipani, and there were some great improvements over his first offering. It is a good detective story. It does strain the imagination, but the inconsistencies I saw in Serena's character and actions in book one have continued and if anything her character has changed to the extent that the character was not whom I believed her to be in the first book. This story is set a year after book one. And a lot has happened to Detective Triton in the interim. Serena is dating and settling into life with another. She has been moved from active homicides to cold cases, the open unsolved case unit is a big change for Triton. But she was given a choice of unemployment, looking in a different precinct, or cold cases. And in choosing cold cases she keeps the seniority she has, and is partnered with her old partner Andy. Andy had apparently transferred after the Panagram case. 

The case in this story is very interesting. A cold case that looks like it may be linked to a man who has been in jail for 30 years. But the inconsistencies the his conviction and the new evidence in a similar case won't let Serena let it rest. She keeps digging even after Internal Affairs steps in and takes over the case. And that is her first mistake. And from there she goes on to make many more. Her mistakes will not only cost her but those close to her. Sometimes being stubborn is just a bad idea. And in this case it might be downright terrible. But you will need to read the book to find out how. 

Now to some pros and cons.

The Pros:
Better second effort
Good characters
Well-paced story

The Cons:
Is really a novella or extended short story not a novel
Print version is listed at 179 pages, ebook is actually 75

The pros and cons are self-explanatory. I find some inconsistencies that do not make sense to me, but cannot go into them without spoiling the story. That being said it was an entertaining novella, and if there is a third Serena Triton novel I would pick it up and give it a go.

Books by Brandon M. Lipani:
Serena Triton Detective Series:
The Pangram Killer
The Red Goodbye