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Saturday, 23 March 2019

The Enemy - Lee Child - Jack Reacher Book 8

The Enemy
Jack Reacher Book 8
Lee Child
Penguin Random House Canada
ISBN 9780440334989
eISBN 9780739378526
ASIN B000FC1MBO


As of the writing of this review I have read 6 books about Jack Reacher by Lee Child in the last four weeks. I am getting more familiar with the character and the writing. To date the books are all either written in first person or third person. I started with Past Tense, which was at the time the most recent release. The next novel I read was  I went to the first published, Killing Floor. And now this one which is currently the first novel chronologically. There are a few short stories that predate this book which appear in No Middle Name Short Story Collection.  It has been a little odd jumping around the Reacher timeline and the two different voices. And yet with each one I read I am eager to pick up another. In fact when I finished this volume I picked the volume Jack Reacher’s Rules, The Fourth Man short story, and Night School to add to my reading pile. But now back to this volume.

The title of this book comes from a conversation between Reacher and his new CO (Commanding Office) a Colonel Willard. Reacher states:

“And you’re making a big mistake. Because you really don’t want to make an enemy out of me.”

Any truer words might never have been spoken. This story begins on new years eve 1989 and Reacher has just been transferred to Fort Bird. He is now acting XO (Executive Officer). It seems to be a quiet little military base. Reacher is not sure why he has been pulled out of a major mission in Panama. But the Army said move so he moved. But on New Year ’s Eve a dead body in a seedy motel that at first Reacher pawns off on the civilian authorities is the beginning of a very big can of worms. Within 2 weeks Reacher is back and forth to Europe, and across America chasing a missing agenda to a series of meetings.

Reacher makes some quick assumptions both at the hotel and after meeting his CO. Both have severe consequences. During the novel Reacher has numerous phone messages and a few calls with his older brother Joe. Reacher and Joe go on a quick trip to France to see their sick mother. And Reacher finds out a lot about his mother and himself that he never knew. 

There are some very brutal murders in this novel. And some attempts to stage a crime scene. We see less of the violence directly in this novel. But we do see more of the investigation into it, and resolving it. The story moves at a solid pace, but compared to the other novels I have read takes place over a much longer time frame. It is great to experience Reacher and his brother Joe interacting on the phone and in person. And I loved the discovery about his family history. In some ways the mystery in this novel reminds me of the old movie The Presidio. There is a lot more going on that we first suspect and some great plot twists. 

I really enjoyed this read and look forward to my next Reacher novel!

Books by Lee Child:
Jack Reacher Books Publishing Order:

Killing Floor
Die Trying
Tripwire
The Visitor /Running Blind
Echo Burning
Without Fail
Persuader
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
Personal
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, 22 March 2019

Devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston and W. Raemers CSsR

Devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
W. Raemers CSsR
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860829284
eISBN 9781784694333
ASIN B073H38R3Z
CTS Booklet D779


This book was originally written by W. Raemers CSsR, in 1997. It was later revised and edited by Glynn MacNiven-Johnston and the eBook edition was released in March of 2017. This book was a very fascinating read. The history of the painting, the devotion to it. It trading hands, and eventually being placed in a new church on the original site of the devotions was exciting to read. To read about the spread of the devotion, about replica paintings being touched to the original and sent all over the world, literally completely surprised me. I was enjoying this booklet so much on my way to work I nearly missed my stop, as I was so engrossed in the read.

The description of this booklet is:

“From the cross, Christ gave his mother to be mother of all Christians and of the whole Church. Her tender care and intercession in turn have long been sought by means of this devotion, and captured in the image of the celebrated icon dating from the fourteenth century.

The devotion’s history is here explained and accompanied by a rich collection of appropriate prayers, litanies and novenas, for private and communal use.

Cardinal Nichols has written a preface to this edition because he was created Cardinal-Priest of the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Rome, where the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour can be found, on February 22nd 2014.”

Cardinal Nichols states:

“… the original image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, which, now widely reproduced, is venerated in churches throughout the world. It movingly depicts the Christ-child, his redeeming Passion already in view, tenderly clasping his blessed Mother’s hand. Mary looks upon her son with such loving compassion. The image has inspired, and still inspires, immense comfort and hope in the hearts of millions. Devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour powerfully helps the Church’s universal mission to lead everyone into that joy flowing from a living relationship with Jesus. I therefore very much welcome this new edition of devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour published by the CTS.”

And reading this booklet I could not help but feel my heart and spirit stirred to even greater devotion to Jesus and Mary.

The chapters in this booklet are:
Preface
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
The Icon
The History of the Icon
The Icon and the Redemptorists
Devotions
Morning Prayer
Invocations
Act of Consecration
Litany of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
Prayer for Perseverance
The Perpetual Novena
Prayers to Our Lady
Perpetual Novena Prayers with a Leader
The Simple Novena
Prayer to Our Lady
Nine Prayers for a Novena
More Prayers to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
Daily Devotions
Hymn: O Blessed Mother

The book begins with these words:

“This icon was painted in the fourteenth or fifteenth century; it was given the name Mater de Perpetuo Succursu in 1867 by Pope Pius IX. The name is literally translated into English as Mother of Perpetual Help, but it is also variously rendered as Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. This name reminds us that when we need help, the Virgin Mary will be there to guide us to see God’s presence in our problems or suffering. The icon reminds us she saw her own son die in a cruel and horrible manner. She understands suffering and she is with us to support us in the suffering of our lives.”

And as mentioned reading this book drew me closer to Jesus and our lady. This book is part history, history of icons, and of this specific icon. It is the history of the devotion which bloomed in popularity, faded and has had a great resurgence. It is part prayer book, and it is part devotional. Because of the size of the volume it can easily be read in a single sitting. Or you can take your time and work through it section by section, prayer by prayer. 

Of the nearly 70 books from CTS that I have read over the last few years, This one is one of the best. I have come back to it and reread it already. And know that I will be using it as a prayer book for years to come. It is a wonderful little read and so I encourage you to pick it up and give it a try.

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 Glynn MacNiven-Johnston:
Biographies:
Maria Goretti Teenage Martyr
Pier Giorgio Frassati Inspiration for Students
Father Damien Apostle to the Lepers
Martin de Porres

...

Prayer Books:
Handbook of Novenas for Feasts and Seasons
Devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
The Infant of Prague
Handbook of Novenas to the Saints: Short Prayers for Needs & Graces
Handbook of Scriptural Novenas: For Various Needs and Intentions
Devotion to St Jude: Patron of Hopeless Cases

...

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Upsie-Daisy - Jane Lebak - The Adventures of Lee and Bucky Book 0.5

Upsie-Daisy
The Adventures of Lee and Bucky Book 0.5
Jane Lebak
Philangelus Press

eISBN 9781942133223
ASIN B06XXS3KF4


As stated in a different review my introduction to Bucky and Lee was the short story ‘Never pray for Patience’ in the collection Seven Angels Short Story Bundle. That story is also one of the chapters Honest And For True. Before I finished that first novel I had picked up this one and also Forever and for Keeps. But I was under the impression that Upsie-Daisy was actually book two, but it is really a prequel. So, at the beginning I was surprised, and the story was not making sense. Yet, once I had that figured out it proves to be a wonderful little story.

From reading this volume, I believe it makes the most sense to read the Bucky and Lee books in chronological order. The changes in Lee, her healing, her growth make stepping back to this read confusing. But that being said it is a great little story and really adds to the canon of work on Bucky and Lee, which currently consists of this short story or novella, and two novels, But I really hope we will have many more books in the Lee and Bucky series because they are such fun to read.

Being honest for a moment, I do not typically read comedies, romance or romantic comedies. But the writing in this series is so good, I cannot stop reading these books. That first short story really got me hooked. This story has three tightly packed chapters, they are:

Friends wearing blue uniforms and frowny faces
I love hurling myself into these interactions
The best pairing since vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce

And after that is a sample from Lebak’s novel ‘Pickup Notes’. Which to be honest I did not read. But based on how much I have enjoyed all the other books and short stories I have read by Lebak It will only be a matter of time. But back to this specific story.

Lee Singer is an auto mechanic in New York City. She sees the city and surroundings are her playground. She is free to date, to go out to a game or show, or choose what she wants. But since she was little she has been able to see her guardian angle whom she named Bucky. However, Lee has consistent habit about lying about her occupation. She makes up different stories all the time. And in this novella, she tells the guys she meets at the garage that she is an elevator inspector. When she discovers a trunk full of Styrofoam heads, she begins to ask some questions. And once she finds out he is a scientist who has a submarine and the heads are used in pressure experiments she becomes fascinated. She manages to wrangle a date, and even visits his lab. 

It is an interesting story. You cannot help but feel for Lee especially as she finds a job that looks perfect for her. But because of her fears …

A great story in a wonderful series. It is equal parts humour, human interactions, and Angelic intervention. A really fun read.

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

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




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
ASIN B07D5JC82Z

 


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
Gracewing
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:
Introduction
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.
Amen.”


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
ASIN B073FLLLM3
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:
Beginnings
Henry May
Marriage
Shop manageress
Banquets
Unwillingly Protestant
Margaret’s conversion
Recusancy
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”
Aftermath

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
ASIN B000OZ0NXA


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
Tripwire
The Visitor /Running Blind
Echo Burning
Without Fail
Persuader
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
Personal
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:

Forward
Introduction
Bibliographical Note
Vocation
Life of prayer
Serving the faithful
Humility
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:
Junia
Marcus
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
ASIN B07PFQH183


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:

Family
Friends
Assassin School
Betrayal
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
Damage
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
ASIN B07H9BWHZG


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

Non-Fiction:
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
ASIN B072L45VCV
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:
Foreword
Fatima - Introduction
Events, People and Apparitions
The Sanctuary
Outside the Sanctuary
Aftermath

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