Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Pin it on a Dead Man - Elizabeth Jukes - Dorothea Montgomery Mystery Book 1

Pin it on a Dead Man
Dorothea Montgomery Mystery Book 1
Elizabeth Jukes
Cozy Cat Press
ISBN 9781946063519


This book was recommended to me by my mother-in-law. Rather than read her physical copy I picked up the eBook to give a read. It was an enjoyable mystery. I enjoyed the historical setting. I also appreciated the setting in a small town in Ontario. The mix of a theft and dead body make for some interesting twists. In some ways this book took me back to when I was much younger and reading the neighbour's hand-me-down Agatha Christie novels. And the times and setting made me think more than once of the Murdoch Mysteries.

I do not typically go out of my way to read historical fiction or mysteries. I have read a fair bit in both genres but that was mostly 30-40 years ago. But I do love a good read and am always willing to give a book a try on a personal recommendation, like in this instance. The writing in this story is very tight. For a first novel it is very impressive. I will admit I had a pretty good idea fairly early some of the elements of this case.

Dorothea Montgomery is the matron of a well-to-do family in the town of Willowsdown. Her sister, Edith, and her sisters’ grandchildren are visiting from England. They have brought home with them a young man they met on the boat over. The world at this point is swept up in an Egyptology obsession. Shortly after their arrival Edith’s broach goes missing at a Christmas party. It is a very distinctive piece, a jewel-encrusted beetle, reportedly from an Egyptian dig. The next day it is discovered that Hugh Morton, the towns funeral director, is dead and stuffed in one of his own caskets.

Soon the small town is abuzz with rumours and side comments. But Dorothea is an exceptionally logical woman. And she is working the case from all angles. Once she has been warned by the local authorities, as much as they respect her and her mind, (there are allusions to previous cases) becuase they fear that this might be too dangerous for her to continue her investigations.

The story revolves around a small community, at a time when everyone knew everyone. It has a strong focus on family. And the characters are very solidly fleshed out. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. And I would absolutely read another Dorothea Montgomery Mystery if it appears or other books by Elizabeth Jukes.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, or mysteries this book is a great read, so why not give it a try?

Books by Elizabeth Jukes:
A Dorothea Montgomery Mystery Series:
Pin it on a Dead Man

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Devotions to St Thomas Becket - John S. Hogan

Devotions to St Thomas Becket
Fr. John S. Hogan
ISBN 9780852449141

This is the fifth book by Father Hogan that I have read, and to date it is the best. I received the book too late to do the Christmas Novena on the proscribed dates, but after finishing the book have created a calendar reminder to pray the novena on those dates this coming December. This book is part history, part novena prayer, a small prayer book, and prayers for pilgrimage to Canterbury.

Chapters in this book:
A Brief Life of St. Thomas Becket
Christmas Novena to St Thomas Becket
The Festal Invocations
Various Prayers to St. Thomas

       Pilgrim Prayer to St Thomas Becket
       Memorare to St St Thomas Becket
       Novena for the Grace of Conversion
       Prayer for the Sick to St Thomas Becket
       Litany for the Sick
       Prayer for Miracles
       Prayer to St Thomas for Chastity
       Prayer for Bishops
       Prayer for Priests
       Prayer for Courage
       Eucharistic Prayer to St Thomas
       Prayer in a Time of Need
       Prayer for the Persecuted
       Prayer for the Conversion of Souls
       Litany of St Thomas Becket
The Seven Stations of St. Thomas of Canterbury
A Pilgrimage to Canterbury

       I St Dunstan’s Church
       II The Pilgrim Walk
       III Canterbury Cathedral: Cloister
       IV Canterbury Cathedral: “The Martyrdom”
       V Canterbury Cathedral: The Crypt
       VI Canterbury Cathedral: The Site of the Tomb
       VII Parish Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury: Martyr’s Chapel

This book is an inspiring read. The brief biography of St. Thomas Becket that is included is enough to provide the big picture and the background. It is motivational in seeing the change in Thomas, his deepening devotion, his appreciation for the Eucharist, and changes as his faith began to grow. And the prayers in the book are wonderful. I have copied a few into my OneNote prayer book so I can have them on me at all times. I can recommend this book even just for the collection of prayers. The two I loved most were the prayer for Priests and seen below, the Prayer for Bishops.

Prayer For Bishops

Lord God, raise up heroic Shepherds for your people, Pastors formed in your grace and faithful to the Gospel, Disciples immersed in the mystery of Christ and consecrated in the truth of the Faith.
As with your beloved servant, St. Thomas of Canterbury, convert them to your will and make them forgetful of self.
May they be courageous and true, free of ambition and unfettered by materialism and their human weakness; authentic witnesses to hope and generous servants of charity.

May they be true fathers to their people and their priests and humble sons of the Church.
May they consecrate their hearts and their lives to the Heart of the Holy Mother of God that she may form them according to the Heart of her Son.
May they prefer suffering to honour and truth to respectability.
May they rejoice to see their people grow in holiness, and at the end of their days be counted as faithful servants.

O Lord God, raise up holy Shepherds for your people as we commend them to the prayers and watchful care of your holy martyr, their brother, St. Thomas of Canterbury.

This book is a wonderful addition to my library, and I am sure it will be to yours also. I plan on praying the novena on the proscribed dates. But Know I will be picking it up to use for prayer often. My only regret is that it is not available as an eBook so that I can keep it on me at all times.

Another excellent book by Father John S. Hogan. It is an excellent read! This is one of those little books I wish I could keep a stack of at home to just keep giving them away. I know that if you pick up this book, read, and pray it will have a great influence upon your heart, and the prayers will not return unanswered. Father Hogan is one of my favorite contemporary Catholic authors and this is his best book to date.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by John S. Hogan:
Edmund Arrowsmith (Saints of the Isles)
A Book of Martyrs: Devotions to the Martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales
Devotions to St Thomas Becket

Books in the Living Fruitfully Series:
Self-Control - Fr John S. Hogan
Generosity - Fr John S. Hogan

Author profile and interview with father John S. Hogan.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Margaret Clitherow - Jean Olwen Maynard - CTS Saints of the Isles Series

Margaret Clitherow
CTS Saints of the Isles Series
Jean Olwen Maynard
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781860822186
eISBN 9781784693602
CTS Booklet B676

In the last year I have read over 60 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. There are so many great books, and many excellent series. It has been fascinating reading about the Saints and Martyrs of the British Isles. And I can honestly say that I am not even sure I had come across the name of Margaret Clitherow before starting this volume. This book was a fascinating read. I could honestly not put this book down. 

In this day and age, it is interesting reading about a time when Catholicism was persecuted in the UK. Reading about priest holes, Secret masses, hidden mass centers. Priests being smuggled into the country and around the country and city. The saints of these times can be examples to us, and we can pray we are never in that situation again. And Margaret Clitherow is an incredible example for us.

The chapters in this book are:
Henry May
Shop manageress
Unwillingly Protestant
Margaret’s conversion
Arrests and imprisonments
York Castle
The secret room
Priest martyrs
The hanging of Marmaduke Bowes
Margaret’s house is raided
“Margaret Clitherow, how say you?”
“I believe in God”
No witnesses but children
“I thank God heartily for this”
“The best wife in all England”
Margaret’s last night
“I die for the love of my Lord Jesu”

Through this little book we follow a woman as her faith deepens and deepens. We watch as she takes risks to spread the gospel. And as she is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. A sacrifice to protect her children, her family, her friends. And in the way she went to her trials and death her joy in all the trials can serve as an example to all of us. Her statement on her way to her death was:

“No, no, Master Sheriff, I die for the love of my Lord Jesu.”

This book was a total surprise. And is so worth the time to read. Another excellent read from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Jean Olwen Maynard:
Saint Josephine Bakhita: A Survivor of Human Trafficking
Saints of North America
Saints of Africa
Gianna Molla
The Atlas Martyrs
Margaret Clitherow
Saints of South Asia
150 years of Mercy. A History of the Sisters of Mercy
The 'Saint Of Hoxton' Father Michael Kelly OSA
A History of St Mary's and St Michael's Parish
The Gypsy Saint Ceferino Jiménez Malla, El Pelé


Saints of the Isles Series:
Edmund Arrowsmith - John S. Hogan 
Margaret Clitherow - Jean Olwen Maynard
Edmund Campion - Alexander Haydon
John Southworth Priest and Martyr - Michael Archer
Saint Thomas More - Alvaro de Silva
John Ogilvie - Eleanor McDowell
Frances Taylor - Eithne Leonard
Mary Potter - Elizabeth Gilroy
John Fisher - Richard L. Smith 
Robert Southwell - Fiorella Sultana De Maria
Ignatius Spencer - Fr. Ben Lodge
Sr Elizabeth Prout - Dominic Savio Hamer 
Forty Martyrs of England and Wales - James Walsh

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Killing Floor - Lee Child - Jack Reacher Book 1

Killing Floor
Jack Reacher Book 1
Lee Child
Penguin Random House Canada
ISBN 9780515153651
eISBN 9781101147054

This is only the second Jack Reacher novel that I have read. It was the first one published and currently is the fourth novel in chronological order. It was a little weird reading this one after reading Past Tense, which was written in a third person voice, to this book which is written in the first person. From a list I found it appears that about a third of the books are written in the first person. The other factor is that I have read the No Middle Name Short Story Collection, and five of the stories in that collection take place before the events in this book. In the span of two weeks I have read the short story collection and 2 of the novels and am now well into a third. I have set the goal of reading the whole series this year. 

One of the things that has fascinated me about the series and this book, is the author is British. And het instead of writing about a former member of her Majesties military he chose to write about an American and an ex member of the Military Police. I wonder if when he wrote this first book he knew it would span over 20 novels and currently 15 short stories (even if the latest is not available in Canada yet.) 

This book was a little more violent and gruesome than any of the others I have read to date. There is some pretty extreme violence done to the victims, and Reacher himself needs to resort to very heavy-handed tactics to protect himself and others. The story begins with Reacher being arrested for a murder he knows he did not commit. After a few hours at the police stations the Chief of Margrave, Georgia says that he saw Reacher around the time and place of the murder. Jack knows that he did not kill anybody lately and not in a place he had never been before. But he soon stumbles into a conspiracy and plat that goes much deeper than even he could guess.

The story is part mystery and part crime. And All about a man who knows how to look after himself. But once you have crossed him, he will make sure to settle the score. And in this novel, he ends up in prison, has encounters with two different gangs there. And finds out that this case might be a lot more personal then he ever could have imagined. 

There are over 100 editions of this book in different formats, and different languages. I really appreciate the simplicity of the covers on the UK editions, but no matter what edition you read it is an intense book. At 50 years of age, I should know better than to stay up reading, but this book was so good I stayed up way later than I should have on a work night because I could just not put it down. 

Being late to the Reacher books I am jumping around in my reading. But if you have not read this one and are a fan of the books, the genre or movies you should give it a go. It is an excellent read!

Books by Lee Child:
Jack Reacher Books Publishing Order:

Killing Floor
Die Trying
The Visitor /Running Blind
Echo Burning
Without Fail
The Enemy
One Shot
The Hard Way
Bad Luck and Trouble
Nothing to Lose
Gone Tomorrow
61 Hours
Worth Dying For
He Affair
A Wanted Man
Never go Back
Make Me
Night School
The Midnight Line
Past Tense
Blue Moon

Jack Reacher's Rules

Reacher Short Stories and Novella’s:
Too Much Time

Second Son
Deep Down
Guy Walks into A Bar
James Penney’s New Identity
High Heat
Everyone Talks
Not A Drill
Good and Valuable Consideration
Small Wars
Maybe They Have A Tradition

No Room At The Motel
The Picture of the Lonely Diner
The Fourth Man

The Christmas Scorpion
No Middle Name – Complete Collected Short Stories

Friday, 15 March 2019

Called by Name - Father Michael E. Giesler - Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests

Called by Name: 
Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests
Father Michael E. Giesler
ISBN 9781466371231
ISBN 1466371234

I am not a priest and considering my marriage and age of my children I likely never will be. But after reading five other books by Father Michael R. Giesler I could not help but read this one. And I am thankful I have. I loved this book and can honestly recommend it to all diocesan priests. In fact, that is my first suggestion to you. But a copy and give it to your priest. I have known many great priests and been fortunate to be able to count on one hand those I have known well that I did not respect. And I wish I was in a position to buy this book by the case to give away to priests. In the forward Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of Saint Louis states:

“During the 2009-2010 Year of the Priest, Father Giesler composed twelve reflections on diocesan priesthood, inspired by the life and writings of saints John Mary Vianney, Phillip Neri, and Josemaria Escriva. He did this in addition to writing and seeing published a helpful ‘Guidebook for Confessors’. All twelve of these meditations, published here as ‘Called by Name’, have an appealing and practical style, interspersed with personal prayer; they address the life and challenges of diocesan priests as they begin the second decade of the 21st century.” 

And also:

“In sum, ‘Called by Name’ is ideal spiritual reading for the busy contemporary priests; it effectively focuses him on the purpose of his ordination, and provides him with specific ways to grow in holiness of life.”

And I could not agree more. It is a great read. This little volume of 99 pages is packed with some amazing information. I believe any priest would benefit from reading these meditations. And I as a lay person have used them to be able to pray for priests more specifically. In the introduction Father Giesler states:

“The reflections cover such topics as vocation, the work of the priest, life of prayer, humility, obedience to their Ordinary, love for celibacy, devotion to Mary, helping the poor through the works of mercy, having hope and giving hope to others, fraternity for other priests, and making Holy Mass to be the center of our priesthood. All of these topics of course overlap, so the reader should not be surprised if he finds certain key concepts and quotations repeated and emphasized in the different sections.”

The chapters in the book are:

Bibliographical Note
Life of prayer
Serving the faithful
Supernatural Hope and Optimism
Fidelity to the Church
Holy Mass and the Eucharist
Holy Purity and Celibacy
Sharing Christ’s Challenge of Holiness
Redemptive Sacrifice
Caring for Our Brothers in the priesthood
Mary Our Mother

In the first reflection ‘VOCATION’ Father Giesler states:

“Our vocation takes into account many factors: our family history, our schooling, our temperament, and all the events – even those that seemed inconsequential at the time – that led us to the call of priesthood. Whenever they occurred they were workings of God’s grace in our lives – perhaps in dramatic ways, perhaps in slow almost imperceptible ways. … Now it is up to each one of us to correspond to that gift, for the glory and love of God first of all, and then for the service of the souls that he has entrusted to us.”

Later in that same chapter he says:

“The call to priesthood is first of all then a personal call to give praise to God through our work and prayer. It is also a personal call to become saints. It would be a waste of time and energy if we were to try and make others holy and neglect our own spiritual lives. A priest must be a man of God and have Jesus Christ as his model. This means that literally everything that we do, from our first thought in the morning to our last thought at night, should be for the glory of God.”

The passage in this meditation that hit me the most is:

“The final test of any vocation is perseverance. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit” (Jn 15:5). Abide! What a beautiful old English word! It signifies not only being in a place – but remaining there in a fixed and permanent way. May I always abide in you, Lord, as your faithful priest and minister. We have all known priests who have left, often in very painful circumstances for themselves and those around them, and frequently with scandal to the church. We must realize that the ultimate goal of our calling as priests is to be faithful to the end. Let’s resolve, again with God’s constant help, to die in the state of grace and in the state of priesthood.”

In the second chapter ‘Life Of Prayer’ Father Giesler states:

“The glory which thou hast given Me I have given it them that they may be one even as We are one” (Jn 17:22) Our Lord spoke those words at the Last Supper, to remind His followers forever about the real source of effectiveness. The Priority of a priest’s life is to be always united to the Master; therefore he puts the things of God first, and in union with God, he serves others.”

A few paragraphs later he advises:

“He must therefore have certain priorities in his life, which means that he has to say yes to some things, and no to others. First he must say yes to his greatest privilege and duty as a priest; to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of Mass with the attention and devotion. It is the center of the Church’s life, and of his own life. We should therefore prepare for it well, by spending a little time in prayer before it begins – either with a Breviary or a period of meditation. Many pious priests over the centuries have also invoked their ministerial Archangel before saying Mass.”

I hope that from those few quotes you will see the power of this book. I have already picked up and given away a few copies of this book. It was an informative read, as a layperson. And I encourage you to pick it up and give it to the parish priest in your home parish, or to other priests that you know. I am certain it will be edifying for them, and through that bring even more blessings to their ministry. 

I will state it again, I implore you to buy this and give it to the priests you know! Bless them with this book. And be praying for them.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Rev. Michael Giesler:
You See Me, You Hear Me
Guidebook for Confessors
Family Grace: A Story of Conversion Through Friendship
Called by Name: Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests

Christ the Rejected Stone

Spanish Editions:
Dios te ve y te oye


Christian Historical Fiction Trilogy:
Grain Of Wheat


Thursday, 14 March 2019

Dragon Assassin 3 Dark Wings - Arthur Slade - Dragon Assassin Book 3

Dragon Assassin 3: Dark Wings
Arthur Slade
Dava Enterprises

This book is part of a series that is being released one section at a time over a year. In some ways it is like being a kid in the 70’sor 80’s and waiting for the next episode of a show. And it harkens back to the day when almost all fiction and especially science fiction and fantast were published serially. My first thought upon finishing this third installment was ‘This series just keeps getting better and better!’ And I stand by that opinion. I freely admit that I have been a fan of Arthur Slades’s writing since reading both Dust and Tribes in 2002. I eagerly await each new release from his masterful pen.  And this series and this episode in it are excellent offerings. And as we wait to tune in next month to the same Dragon Chanel for the next installment, her is my review of Book 3 Dark Wings.  

Each volume in this book has a lot on the go, and this time is no different. I admit I was completely surprised by some of the action and a major plot twist in this specific volume. In this third episode we have:

An emperor with tricks up his sleeve
A brother with powerful new armour
A sister and her friends still set on revenge
A dragon locked into a promise to an assassin
Said, Dragon being owed a year of service once Carmen’s vow is completed
And just a few battles between assassins, those who betrayed the assassin guild, And the emperor’s very powerful guards

With each volume in the series to date the plot has thickened. With each puzzle piece we put together we realize the puzzle was much bigger than we thought, and we are missing the picture to help us put it together.

Book One Twin Fury focused around:

Assassin School
A Dragon
A deal with said dragon
And more

Book Two Shadow Hunter:

A reunion with a friend
An adversary turned friend
Aide from a former mentor and teacher
Another betrayal
A dragon to the rescue
The promise of three hands and a claw

And this one we have the twists in the plot. I really did not see the major events in this volume coming. Some of them I would have expected much later in the series. As such I really have no idea when things will go in the next volume.

Another excellent read! A great book in a wonderful series. If you have not given these books a try, I strongly encourage you to. You will not be disappointed. 

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)
Crimson (2018)
Death by Airship (2019)

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
Amber Fang Box Set Books 1-3

Dragon Assassin Series:
Twin Fury
Shadow Hunter
Dark Wings

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. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

With Two Eyes Into Gehenna - Jane Lebak

With Two Eyes Into Gehenna
Jane Lebak
Philangelus Press

eISBN 9781942133308

In the last few months I have read 12 books or published short stories by Jane Lebak. I loved the Father Jay series, and have enjoyed the many stories and novels in the arch angel’s series. The Adventures of Bucky and Lee are really fun reads. But this, this is my favourite book by Lebak to date and it is completely different than anything else I have read by her. 

The Catherinite nuns are a small religious order. All of the members were formerly with a different order. They work running a hospital for the incurables, and a hostel at the Council of Trent. They have taken a vow of obedience to the pope. They are the pope’s secret service. They work as body guards, informers, and handmaids of the lord. They train their body and also their mind. At 17, Magdalena, kills a priest who tried to assault her. She is given a chance to live by swathing orders. The priest she killed came from a powerful Roman family, and she was born out of wedlock three generations back on the outside of another powerful family, and the two families have an ongoing feud. She wants to serve God, protect her family, and help to see the Council of Trent be successful and come to a close.

The pope’s health is failing. A cardinal is manipulating the pope and the Catherinite’s in order to keep and even expand his power. Magdalena has honed her skills and she can now slip through cathedrals, palaces, and the night. She is an elite operative at the service of the pope and the church. She is a body guard, a servant, and has befriended some of the Cardinals she has served. The penalty for heresy is death. But The way to Hell is paved with good intentions, and when one of the pope’s own is named a heretic she must decide not only how far she will go, but if breaking orders and her vows for the greater good might be the only way out.

This book was riveting! It was very hard to put down. Once you get into the story you will find yourself racing through until the end. With the twists and turns in the plot you will occasionally be surprised. But you will find yourself cheering on Magdalena as she struggles to find what the right thing to do is. The depiction of this religious order, their works and their role is fascinating. It is a real page turner. And I cannot help but wonder how busy such an order would have been at Vatican II, or even in Rome today.

Jane has written many great reads, and I believe that this is the best! If you have not read any books by her I greatly encourage you to do so. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Jane Lebak:
Pickup Notes
Love's Highway
Forever And For Keeps
Half Missing

Relic of His Heart
With Two Eyes Into Gehenna

Father Jay Series:
Bulletproof Vestments
The Boys Upstairs
A Different Heroism


Seven Archangels:
1.0 An Arrow In Flight
2.0 Sacred Cups
3.0 Shattered Walls
4.0 The Wrong Enemy
5.0 Annihilation

Seven Archangels Short Stories:
2.1 Damage
2.2 Even A Stone
2.3 Hired Man
2.4 Winter Branches
5.5 Once Only

Seven Angels Short Story Bundle 2.1-2.4

The Adventures of Lee and Bucky:

0.5 Upsie-Daisy
1.0 Honest And For True
2.0 Forever And For Keeps

Rails of Sweet Grove:
2.0 Love's Rules of the Road

Carrying to Term: A Guide for Parents after a Devastating Prenatal Diagnosis

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Fatima: A Pilgrim's Companion - David Baldwin - CTS Christian Shrines Series

Fatima: A Pilgrim's Companion
CTS Christian Shrines Series
David Baldwin
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781784691493
eISBN 9781784692100
CTS Booklet D816

This book was of interested to me for a few reasons. First last year was the 100th anniversary of the aspirations. Second our parish here in Canada has a replica statue of Our lady of Fatima that was blessed by Saint John Paul II. And it is the tenth book in the CTS Christian Shrines series that I have read. I might have approached this volume in a more critical way than others in the series. I have had a personal interest in Pilgrimage, for nearly as long as I can remember. I have written about personal pilgrimage, and previously written about my desire for pilgrimage. I hold a university degree in Religious Studies with a specialization in Roman Catholic Thought I would have loved to have had this book, other in this series, and many from the CTS catalog to use as resources during my schooling. There is a lot to love about this book, and this series. I really appreciate that the book can be used as a guide to plan and physically partake in a pilgrimage. Or this book allows us to virtually go on tour to Fatima, but only after a grate overview of the history. I strongly recommend this wonderful series and specifically this wonderful volume. 

The chapters in this volume are:
Fatima - Introduction
Events, People and Apparitions
The Sanctuary
Outside the Sanctuary

But the focus of this book is not the logistics of planning and doing a pilgrimage. Instead this one focuses on more on the history and spirituality. David states:

“It is not a guide book in the conventional sense of giving comprehensive specific details of events, accommodation or travel times - these tend to change and fluctuate over time and season, and this type of information is given in other publications or relevant internet sites. Some major organisations and contacts regarding Fatima are listed at the back of the book.”

David Baldwin declares:

“It is a story of many layers. From the initial telling by simple, uneducated children, striving to articulate, be consistent, and having the courage to stand by the incredible supernatural happenings that they had witnessed; to the Church’s and the State’s reaction; to the response of the people of Portugal; and, in the longer term, of world history. It is a story still underlain with speculation, enigma - and enduring mystery.”

And that is the sense we come away with from this book, this apparition of our lady. The historical, the social and the ongoing impact. This guide is written in such a way that it tells the story. We are drawn into the original events. Have a wonderful telling of visiting the Sanctuary in Fatima today. The book is interspersed with prayers and meditations. They can be used while on pilgrimage or as a resource for personal prayer. I really appreciated the section on the Fatima Parish, Our lady of Joys, I find it helps root the larger churches and grounds in the history of the events. In the chapter Aftermath there is a section called ‘Heading Home’, it has some great advice for pilgrims as they are preparing for the trip home and once they are there. It helps them to take the high of the pilgrimage and incorporate it in their life once the trip is over. 

At the end of the volume is an extensive list of contacts, web links, and bibliography for reference. Including fie other books from the Catholic Truth Society on Fatima.

A great book in an excellent series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Other Books in the CTS Christian Shrines Series:
Message of Assisa
Message of Fatima
Message of Guadalupe
Message of Walsingham
Santiago: Santiago de Compostela - The Pilgrim Way of St James
The Message of Carmel at Aylesford

Pilgrim’s Companions:
Why Pilgrimage?
Fatima - A Pilgrim's Companion
Glastonbury - A Pilgrim's Companion
Holy Land - A Pilgrim's Companion
Lisieux - A Pilgrim's Companion
Poland: A Pilgrim's Companion
Rome - A Pilgrim's Companion

Monday, 11 March 2019

God as Father: In the Message of Blessed Josemaria Escriva - Fernando Ocáriz

God as Father: 
In the Message of Blessed Josemaria Escriva
Fernando Ocáriz
Scepter Publishers

ISBN 9780933932753
eISBN 9781594712991

This is the second book by Father Ocáriz that I have read. It appears he has several that are not available in English, but after reading this one and also Love in Action: Loving God and Neighbor A Twofold Commandment, I know that I will be tracking down and reading all that is available to us. This is a small volume but one that is an excellent read, and that any Christian would benefit from reading.

The contents of this volume are:
Being a Child of God
Being Christ Himself
Through the Holy Spirit
Children of Mary (and Joseph)
Children of the Church (and the Pope)
Brothers and Sisters to All
Filial and Fraternal Spirit
A Child of God Everywhere
The Freedom of God’s Children
Working as God’s Children
The Prayer of God’s Children
The Apostolate of God’s Children
Joy, Sorrow and Death for God’s Children
The Conversion of God’s Children
Conclusion: The Father’s little Children

The introduction begins with these words:

“Since his death on June 26, 1975, countless people the world over have testified to the benefits they attribute to St. Josemaría Escrivá. Among them are those who prize Escrivá’s contributions to theological development. This, despite the fact that Opus Dei’s founder wrote no treatises. Rather his was a pastoral activity that led him largely to preach and to pen letters and instructions, mostly for members.”

And later Ocariz clearly defines his purpose for the volume.

“The following pages offer a preliminary attempt at analyzing and collating the truly impressive theological richness the founder’s teachings contain on divine filiation. Such a task is both easy and difficult. Easy because the texts, while profound, possess an extraordinary clarity and spiritual keenness; it’s not necessary to interpret them and even less to dissect them, perhaps thereby draining them of life. Difficult, on the other hand, because in fact divine filiation pervades everything in both his spirit and his writings, not being limited to just some passages, however numerous. Thus, one can’t merely study pages where divine filiation or its equivalents and derivatives appear. If Escrivá speaks or writes on faith, he deals with the faith of God’s children; so too with fortitude or conversion and penance, he calls for courage or conversion of God’s children. In his life, speech and writings, every virtue, every aspect of Christian existence, and even human existence itself, is stamped with the seal of divine filiation. Hence all this teaching by itself (and even more so when gleaned from contemplation rather than simple speculation) escapes any rationalistic systematization.”

This book helps us to truly understand our call as children of God. It helps us see that in both the biblical and historical perspective. And through that We are told that:

“St. Josemaría as a child learned to turn to God with the trust of one backed by a loving and all-powerful Father. But it was in Madrid in 1931, while on a streetcar, that God indelibly and more loftily engraved in his soul a consciousness, practically an instinct, of divine filiation.”

And we are told that:

“The following pages are essentially a commentary (largely from Escrivá’s writings) on this compact, rich text, which is not only ascetical and mystical but theological and dogmatic as well. And one also can’t help seeing God’s gift to a soul singularly privileged and most faithful in corresponding to love.”

And through that we can learn and grow into that truth through this volume. This book is listed as 56 pages in length. And yet it contains 144 quotes. Of those quotes 6 are from Alvaro Del Portillo, 6 are from church documents, the Bible or saints, and 122 are from Saint Josemaria Escriva. This book brings us to a deeper understanding of divine filiation, and through that understanding to grow in fullness of our life in Christ as God’s children. 

This book is an excellent read. It is a book that all Christians should read! I doubt any believer could read this book and not come away changed. 

Father Fernando ends the volume with these words:

“On the other hand, the direct reading of the texts that weave these pages together will make even clearer the capital importance of the unitary vision of Christian existence rooted in divine filiation. This was effectively demonstrated in the life of St. Escrivá in all its ineffable depth: as the direct connection of the supernatural order with the divine life of the holy Trinity; as identification with Christ; as root of authentic freedom; as the foundation for all Christian life, even its most aspects.

This supernatural radicalism gives a profound sense to all the other great themes—sanctifying one’s work, family and social life, and so forth—where Escrivá has made theological contributions. These pages are also a testimony of filial thanksgiving to one who has not only been a master of theological understanding of the highest mysteries, but also a Father who has cleared this great path God has given us: recognizing our divine filiation.”

I strongly encourage you to give this a read your life will be changed!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Fernando Ocáriz:
The Mystery of Jesus Christ
Love in Action
God as Father
Fundamental Theology
The Canonical Path of Opus Dei: The History and Defense of a Charism
God, the Church, and the World: An Interview with the Auxiliary Vicar of Opus Dei
Opus Dei In The Church: An Ecclesiological Study Of The Life And Apostolate Of Opus Dei

Saturday, 9 March 2019

No Middle Name - Lee Child - The Complete Jack Reacher Short Stories

No Middle Name
Jack Reacher Book 21.5
The Complete Short Stories
Lee Child
Random House Canada

ISBN 9780399593598
eISBN 9780399593581

Prior to reading this collection I had only see the movies and read ‘Past Tense’. I loved ‘Past Tense’ so much that even before I had finished it I picked up this volume to get a wide range of Reacher stories under my belt. It did not disappoint. The twelve of the stories in this collection had previously been published between 2009 and 2017. The stories are:

Too Much Time
Second Son
High Heat
Deep Down
Small Wars
James Penney’s New Identity
Everyone Talks
Not a Drill
Maybe They Have a Tradition
Guy Walks into a Bar
No Room at the Motel
The Picture of the Lonely Diner

As someone fairly new to the Reacher stories I loved this collection. Especially the stories when he was 13 and 17. The collection includes stories from Reacher’s youth, from his time in the military, and his time post military as a nomad.

I know that in the publishing industry today it is often expected to release a short story or novella between novels especially as series progress. But writing short stories is a very different art form than writing novels. The advantage that Lee Child has is that Reacher is a known commodity. Weather readers are long time fans or new to the books, or even just seen the movies, when Jack Reacher is the main character, we have a pretty good idea that most times there will be some fights, and someone to protect, and a problem to solve. But even with that being said, there are some excellent stories in this collection. I loved the story ‘Second Son’, and 'High Heat' was great except for the incident in the car. And the two stories that surprised me most were ‘James Penney’s New Identity’ and ‘Everyone Talks’. I also appreciated the ‘No Room at the Motel’ both for what happens and what it alludes to. 

For fans of the series who have not read them there are some serious gems in this collection. For fans of short stories it is a collection that spans Reacher’s many years. If you like the movies, the books, or just short stories you owe it to yourself to give this series a read.

Books by Lee Child:
Jack Reacher Books Publishing Order:

Killing Floor
Die Trying
The Visitor /Running Blind
Echo Burning
Without Fail
The Enemy
One Shot
The Hard Way
Bad Luck and Trouble
Nothing to Lose
Gone Tomorrow
61 Hours
Worth Dying For
He Affair
A Wanted Man
Never go Back
Make Me
Night School
The Midnight Line
Past Tense
Blue Moon

Jack Reacher's Rules

Reacher Short Stories and Novella’s:
Too Much Time

Second Son
Deep Down
Guy Walks into A Bar
James Penney’s New Identity
High Heat
Everyone Talks
Not A Drill
Good and Valuable Consideration
Small Wars
Maybe They Have A Tradition

No Room At The Motel
The Picture of the Lonely Diner
The Fourth Man

The Christmas Scorpion
No Middle Name – Complete Collected Short Stories