Friday 30 November 2012

Advent Reading 2012

Advent Reading 2012

It is the beginning of the church year. As we prepare to celebrate the entrance of God into the world in bodily form through the birth of Christ Jesus our Lord. As we begin the liturgical year it is a time to examine the meaning of life and what is really important. To aide in that endeavor I will be using a few Advent devotionals this year. I will be reading one in the morning, one at lunch, one at supper and one in the evening. This year I will be reading all four in eBook format. So why don't you pick one or more and read along through the holiday season.

Be Vigilant: Daily Meditations for Advent
Michael Dubruiel
Ed. Amy Welborn
ISBN 9780984281619

This past spring during Lent I read Amy Welborn's devotional Reconciled to God. It was incredible. I decided to read this volume edited by Amy from her late husband's writings. I have been anticipating reading it for months now and know it will be amazing. It goes from the first Sunday of Advent to the feast of the Epiphany. 

The Magnificat Advent Companion 2011
ISBN 9781936260386

You might ask why read two devotionals written for different years. During my Lenten reading this year I read the Magnificat Lenten Companion. It was a great read and with the eB00ks only being $0.99 why not double up on the goodness. This devotional has 20 contributors and had a number of prays for the season and readings for each day from the first Sunday of Advent until Christmas day.


The Magnificat Advent Companion 2012
ISBN 9781936260485

Everything I have read in the Magnificat line has been a great read. I am really looking forward to this devotional. There are 14 contributors in this edition and it should be a great season. 

In Conversation With God
Volume #1: Advent and Christmastide
By: Francis Fernandez
ISBN 0906138205
Scepter Press
7 Volume Set
ISBN 0906138191

This volume spans the time from the first Sunday of Advent till either January 12th or the Second Sunday after the Epiphany. Thus this book has 51 devotions for this joyous Church Season. For my full review of this book click here.

Magnificat, Year of Faith Companion
ISBN 9781936260508

Though not specifically designed for Advent this volume has readings for each day in the holiday season. It has readings starting on October 11th and going for a year. 

Tending the Temple
Dr. Kevin Vost
Shane Kapler
Peggy Bowes
Bezalel Books
ISBN 9781936453009

And of course I am reading for the third time Tending the Temple. An amazing year long devotional. This book is a devotional for body, mind and spirit. Christ stated that he came that we might have life and have it abundantly. I have always believed that God wants us to be whole - of sound body, sound mind and sound spirit. I personally, after 10 years in Campus ministry as a student, volunteer and staff, found that too many people, too many ministries and too many churches only focus on the spirit or spirit and mind, and let the body slide. This book is intended to help bring about a more balanced approach to life. You can read the full review here.

Hopefully that will give you some ideas to get a little more from this holiday season!

Thursday 15 November 2012

Alison Deluca - Author Profile Interview

Alison Deluca has worn many hats on her journey to being a writer. She is a mother, an editor, has been a teacher and many more. She recently took some time away from her many duties to answer 20 questions for the readers at Book Reviews and More.

1. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?

Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I was a very happy high school teacher. I taught both English and Spanish, so obviously words were my thing. I still miss my students and colleagues, very much, but I am truly blessed to have the time to write, every day. There is nothing better than being able to sit down and lose oneself in a new world that never existed before.

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how did you pursue that dream?

I always made up stories and characters, ever since I was six. My sister and I spent long summers with our grandparents without television - we were only allowed to listen to one radio program a week. That left huge stretches of time that we had to fill on our own. One way we entertained ourselves was by creating long stories for each other.

And, of course, during that time we read books and books and more books. So I suppose you could say we had a modern version of the Bronte sisters' upbringing, without the moor and the strange brother.

3. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?

I couldn't have done any of this without my husband. He introduced me to computers, cheered me on, and gave me time to write. I owe everything to him. My sister, of course, has been a constant friend, as well as my cover artist, Lisa Daly (who just happened to be one of my best friends in high school.)

As well, I have a very dear group of writers who help me with critiques, covers, blurbs - everything. They are my extended family.

4. What authors influenced your writing style and format?

Without a doubt, Enid Blyton was a huge influence. Yes, she was a product of her times, and some of her books are cringe worthy when you see the old-fashioned attitudes reflected within. But Enid could create adventures like no other. I wish I could be a more modern Enid.

I also love Philip Pullman for his concepts and Anne Tyler for her characters. I have some new favorites as well - Ross Kitson is amazing, as are David Wong and Dwight Okita. Honestly, there are too many to count. And may I add here that traditionally published authors are incredible (I'm looking at you, Karen Thompson Walker) but Indie authors are like undiscovered nuggets of gold (Marilyn Rucker and Johanna Garth.) It's such a thrill when you find a new, wonderful writer.

5. What advice do you wish an artist had passed on to you early in your career, which you only learned through experience?

Take that leap of faith. Don't second-guess yourself. Just do it.

6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?

  • Come up with a concept (can vary from long development to being struck with a bolt of lightning.)
  • Sketch out idea and add to it (either through very specific outline or story mapping.)
  • Research, research, research.
  • Begin writing. Don't stop for several months.
  • Finish first draft. Let it "marinate" and write something else - a story or a novella.
  • Go back and reread first draft. Curse at self for obvious logic flaws and grammar errors.
  • Edit and send out for beta reads.
  • Re-edit and send out for professional edit.
  • Another round of beta reads.
  • Final edit.
  • Begin cover concept - a REALLY FUN PART of the process.
  • Format the manuscript.
  • Put novel up online and start to market it.

7. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listing to the same music?

I do have an incredibly eclectic playlist which includes Angelique Kidjo, a Benin singer who inspired Night Watchman, as well as 50's jazz, 90's rap, disco from anytime, lounge music, the Stones, classical (Bach is a fave) - I'll listen to anything. Except that Call Me Maybe song.

8. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?

Absolutely! Miriam, my main character, is solid flesh and blood. She's a bit prickly and has a temper, which is a wonderful thing. Simon, the boy who eventually attracts - and is attracted by - Miriam is also very human. He was stuck-up at first but had a serious come-down in Devil's Kitchen. I love all my characters - even Barbara, my villainess.

I'm still in the middle of their story, but I do see glimpses of their futures. Just as I used to imagine what Mr. Darcy's and Elizabeth's Bennet's marriage would be like, I can picture Miriam and Simon's deepening relationship.

9. What is your favorite character you have created and why?

That would have to be Mana, my beautiful governess. She is from the islands, so she has dark skin. Yet, she is a governess in Edwardian England and, therefore, she has to face the social strictures of the time. Mana negotiates society with dignity and intelligence. Without a doubt, she is the most unique and most beloved character I've created yet.

10. What was your favorite book to write so far and why?

That's hard to choose - like choosing a favorite child! I really enjoyed Lamplighter's Special, though. It was told from the point of view of a maid who had very poor eyesight, so she had to grope her way through a fuzzy world. As a girl who had horrible vision growing up, I can really relate. As well, I did a lot of research about ladies' maids, the clothing of the time, steamships, and quantum computers for that book. Thanks to my wonderful editor, it all came together and was a blast to write.

11. What books are in process for you? Can you tell us anything about upcoming projects?

Yes, indeed! I'm almost finished with the rough draft of the final book in the series, The South Sea Bubble. It ties a lot of loose ends together, and I can promise some more romance along with loads of adventure.

Once that's done, I have a diesel punk book on the back burner, called The Gramophone Society. It's set in World War II and follows a group of displaced London children in a huge country mansion. I can't wait to get back to it.

12. Many of your books are available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?

Honestly, fighting pirates is like fighting hydras. Cut one head off and two grow back in its place. I think the same happens to traditionally published books as well, though. I do try to keep my prices low (less than a cup of coffee!) to combat piracy. As well, I have faith in human nature - hopefully, people will for the most part do the right thing and buy books through the proper channels.

13. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so or have someone do so for you?

Honestly, no, I don't. Must add that to the To-Do list!

14. What inspired you to join the ever growing legion of Steam Punk writers and what do you think makes your novel distinctive in such a popular genre?

I was always a huge admirer of Verne, Wells, and Doyle. When I wrote my books, I didn't have "This will be a steampunk series" in mind. It was only later that I looked back and thought, hey - this is my genre!

15. What were some of your favorite authors in your teen years who helped shape you?

I went through a classics phase in my teens. We were still staying with relatives and had little access to television, so I read most of Dickens, Hemingway, Dumas, the Brontes, Austen… I became fascinated with the literature of the Spanish Civil War. Laforet's Nada was amazing - I read it and reread it. I also loved the Irish writers and went through a serious James Joyce phase.

16. What are some of your favorite books and authors now?

I just finished John Dies in the End by David Wong and I simply ust read the next one, There Are Spiders in This Book. I will read anything by Haruki Murakami, thanks to my brother giving me The Wind Up Bird Chronicle a few years ago. I loved The Age of Miracles, and I am in the middle of Gone, Girl now. As I said, there are amazing Indie authors out there as well - Cypher Lx, Shaun Allan, Connie Jasperson, Rachel Tsoumbakos, Catherine Stine, and Tom Harris (The Amber Room - don't miss it!) are just a few of the writers I follow.

And, I'm enough of a kid to still read Harry Potter, the Narnia books, and The Hobbit over and over again.

17. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?

Learning how to think is a very good thing! But, for me, higher education meant a huge range of exposure to different writers, painters, musicians, mathematicians, and scientists. As well, I had the chance to meet people completely out of my realm in my little Pennsylvania home town - veterans, hippies, protestors, conservatives, students from Iran and from North Korea… For me, it was like a huge window on a new, previously unimagined world.

18. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy?

American Horror Story! It's so creepy and brilliant. My husband and I just saw Inception and loved it. I'm a sucker for anything space related - From the Earth to the Moon… Apollo 13... I'm a big Avatar fan, and I loved the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. As well, the new Sherlock Holmes series is amazing. Benedict Cumberbatch can come to my house for tea any time

19. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?

OH MY: that is a tough one.

1.   A blank journal so I could keep writing.

2.   Kafka on the Shore - Murakami
3.   The Prospect of My Arrival - Dwight Okita
4.   The Hobbit
5.   The Order of the Phoenix (my favorite Harry Potter book)
6.   The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
7.   The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
8.   The Narnia Books - I have to have them all in one heavy volume. Sorry.
9.   The God of Small Things
10. Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell - so large, so dense - I could read and reread this one and never grow bored.

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists?

Number One - protect yourself. As you negotiate social media, realize that it is a dangerous world out there. Don't write anything you wouldn't want your parents or, one day, your children to read. Stay away from conflict.
Number Two - Buy On Writing by Kind and The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Read them and keep them by your desk. And your bed.
Number Three - Butt-Chair = work. You won't reach your goals by not producing. Set yourself a daily word goal and try to reach it. If you do, great. If  you don't, there's always tomorrow.
Number Four - Make certain you pay attention in English class (said the former English teacher.) That grammar stuff really, really comes in handy.
Number Five - Keep reading. A lot. The Twilight books are fine, but do branch out and read nonfiction, classics, and ethnic literature as well. You'll be amazed at the beautiful new worlds you'll find.

Thank you Alison for taking the time to interact with the readers here at Book Reviews and More and may we have many more new tales from you in the future. Alison can be found numerous places online haunting the net; her blog Fresh Pot of Tea, Facebook, Twitter and more if you do a little searching.

Books by Alison Deluca:
Crown Phoenix Trilogy

The Night Watchman Express
Devil's Kitchen
The Lamplighter's Special

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Interruption to your regularly scheduled programming.

 Interruption to your regularly scheduled programming.

 For the first time in about 5 years I am not scheduled out at least a month. Work has been crazy busy with some projects and I have fallen behind on both reading and reviewing. I hope to be back on track in the next few weeks. And Aim to have every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through December and into next year. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Peace and Strength! 
Yours, learning to be 
Steven R. McEvoy My Homepage My Blog LinkedIN Twitter 

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"Now we can travel with more books stored in our telephones than the ancient Egyptians kept in their vast library at Alexandria." 
Mike Aquilina 

“No tea cup is big enough nor book long enough for me to be satisfied.” 
C.S. Lewis 

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left over I buy food and clothes!" 

Monday 12 November 2012

The Catholic Workout - Build Your Body. Build Your Faith - Michael Carrera M.Sc.

The Catholic Workout
Build Your Body. Build Your Faith
Michael Carrera M.Sc.
Freedom Bench Media Inc.
ISBN 9780980944808

I was really expecting a lot when I got a chance to review this book. The information is solid. The plan is easy to follow. But as someone who has been working out for years it was too simplistic. I tried following the program but it was just not challenging enough. I also found the book was trying to be all things to all people. The title is The Catholic Workout and yet it offers variations for non-Catholic Christians. For beginners, or those looking to get back into working out, this will be a good beginning guide. The book has great photos that outline the exercises and guide you through them. The writing was well done and to be honest, I would read another book either on spiritual disciplines or physical fitness by Michael. But found this one did not do it for me.

Friday 9 November 2012

Mind if I Read Your Mind? - Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver - Ghost Buddy 2

Mind If I read Your Mind?
Ghost Buddy 2
Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
ISBN 9780545298889
ISBN 9780545298834
eISBN 9780545469500

Winkler and Oliver are an amazing writing team and this new series is a great read. This second book is a direct progression on the first. Hoover Porterhouse is learning how to help Billy Broccoli and Billy is gaining some confidence and learning about who he really wants to be.

This story focuses more on the growing friendship between Billy and Porter, and on Billy's growing friendships at school. It is about growing and growing up. It is amazing how, when we start to like something, losing it can cause us angst. Both of these boys, or really a ghost and his boy, feel that way about each other at different points in the story. Can they overcome their hurt and sense of betrayal and work together again?

Another wonderful read by an amazing pair of authors. Hop on board and give the Ghost Buddy books a try.


Books by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Ghost Buddy Books:

1. Zero to Hero
2. Mind If I Read Your Mind?
3. How to Scare the Pants off Your Pets

Hank Zipzer Books:
1. Niagara Falls, or Does It?
2. I Got a "D" in Salami
3. Day of the Iguana
Zippety Zinger
5. The Night I Flunked My Field Trip
6. Holy Enchilada!
7. Help! Somebody Get me out of Fourth Grade!
8. Summer School? What Genius thought That Up?
My Secret Life as a Ping-Pong Wizard
10. My Dog's a Scaredy-Cat: A Halloween Tail
11. The Curtain Went Up, My Pants Went Down
12. Barfing in the Backseat: How I Survived My Family Road Trip
13. Who Ordered This Baby? Definitely Not Me!
14. Life of Me
15. A Tail of Two Tails
16. Dump Trucks and Dogsleds: I'm On My Way, Mom!
17. A Brand-New Me!

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Magic In The Mist - Brave - Barbara Bazaldua, Caroline LaVelle Egan and Grace Lee

Magic In The Mist
Barbara Bazaldua (Author)
Caroline LaVelle Egan (Illustrator)
Grace Lee (Illustrator)
Random House
ISBN 9780736428835

This book has some awesome, cool factors kids will love. There are glow-in-the-dark elements on every page. Right now the kids love taking it to the bathroom to read so they can see the glowing text and pictures. This book is an off-shoot story and has nothing from the movie Brave. Recently we took our older two children to see Brave. It was the first film they went to together to see at the theatre. We picked up a few of the Brave books to read. Right now they are incredibly popular in our house. This is a great picture board book with amazing illustrations, for children old enough for the film and also for their younger siblings. It is awesome fun for the whole family.

Monday 5 November 2012

Potty - Leslie Patricelli

Leslie Patricelli
ISBN 9780763644765

Life is changing now when I take the three kids to the book store; even the one and a half year old wanders around and wants to pick her own books. This was the first book she chose to read. This book was a great read for her and for the older two. They remembered their training time. The story is a fun read and well written. The illustrations are fun and the bright vibrant pallet will appeal to the young readers. But only time will tell if it will help, but either way an entertaining book the family will read many times over.

Friday 2 November 2012

Ruby's Rainbow - Max and Ruby

Ruby's Rainbow
Max and Ruby
Grosset & Dunlap an imprint of
Penguin Group
ISBN 9780448458632

This book was great fun! My two oldest children love the show and the books. This book was picked by my son but both he and my daughter loved it. The story follows closely one of the stories in an episode. It is fun watching the interactions between Max and Ruby, as Ruby tries to get them to do a painting for Grandma's visit and Max keeps trying to head outside. Join in the fun.