Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Take Five: Meditations with Pope Benedict XVI - Mike Aquilina and Kris D. Stubna

Take Five: Meditations with Pope Benedict XVI
Mike Aquilina
Kris D. Stubna
Our Sunday Visitor
ISBN 9781592765546
eISBN 9781306067539

This book was edited and compiled by Mike aquiline and Kris D. Stubna. It is one of three books co-authored by Mike that are in this style and format:

Take Five: On-The-Job Meditations with St. Ignatius
Take Five: Meditations with Pope Benedict XVI
Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman

It is the first that I have read, but before I had even finished it I picked up the other two. This book was very had to put down. I had to ration it and found myself doing one meditation in the morning, one at lunch and one in the evening because I just could not stop reading. In the How To Use Ths Book section we are told:

“Yet so many sermons and books on the spiritual life seem to ignore these everyday realities and focus instead on matters that are important — methods of meditation, volunteer work, almsgiving — but that hold a marginal place in the ordinary days of ordinary people.

In this book, we bring the rich teachings of Pope Benedict XVI to bear on the everyday circumstances of working life. Pope Benedict XVI has worked prodigiously through his life, and he has urged all the Church to do the same. He has written so many books and articles that his full bibliography can itself fill a book! And he produced these important works even as he held prestigious and responsible administrative and teaching positions.”

Each meditation is an extract from the works of Pope Benedict, from sermons, weekly reflections and his writings. They can be read in any order. And you can return to the book and read them again and again. There are 72 meditations or reflections in this volume. They cover a wide range of topics. The format of each is:

Think About It – a few points for prayer.
Just Imagine – a biblical passage for reflection.
Remember – a quote to take with you for the day.

Now I am typically an eBook guy, I read 30 eBooks for every physical book. This is one I will pick up a physical copy of to keep in my bedside bookcase, so that I can randomly open it any where and read them again from time to time. The 72 meditations are:

1. The Value of Every Human Being
2. Bringing Christ to Others
3. Be Ambitious
4. The Longing of the Human Heart
5. Continuing Education
6. The Grandeur of the Worker
7. Driving Safely
8. What’s My Style?
9. Warts and All
10. Courage, Daring
11. Signs of the Kingdom
12. Your Witness at Work
13. Listening to God’s Word
14. Choosing Truth
15. Offer It Up!
16. Living in Hope
17. Who Listens?
18. Purer Prayer
19. The Truth About Me
20. Feeding Our Prayer
21. Hope in God
22. Confess Regularly
23. Think Globally
24. Effective Communications
25. Only in God
26. End Times Begin Now
27. Walk Always With Jesus
28. The Power of Beauty
29. Discerning the Future
30. Loving God and Neighbor
31. A True Mission
32. Humility
33. The Small Details
34. Seeing With Christ’s Eyes
35. A Word About the Word
36. We Cannot Love If We Do Not Know
37. Prayer and Work
38. The Profit Motive
39. Go Against the Tide
40. How to Take a Sick Day
41. Personal Relationship With Christ
42. Ever a Seeker
43. Living With the Saints
44. Ready With a Reason
45. Giving of Self
46. Celebrating Sunday
47. The Happiness You Desire
48. Life Without God
49. False Gods I: Things
50. False Gods II: “Love”
51. False Gods III: Power
52. God’s Encouragement
53. The Ministry of Angels
54. Confronting Death
55. Praying for the Dead
56. Working for Unity
57. Giving Thanks Constantly
58. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
59. Building Up a Spiritual Reserve
60. Concern for Others
61. Friendship in Christ
62. Keeping Sunday Holy
63. Confirmed in the Spirit
64. Relying on Grace
65. Honor the Cross
66. Conversion of Heart
67. Going to Confession
68. Volunteering
69. Facing Temptations
70. Selfless Love
71. Mary, Our Mother
72. Praying the Rosary

The meditations focus around ‘5 Touchstones’ of Pope Benedict’s live and works:

1. Christ-Centered
2. Biblical
3. Liturgical
4. Traditional
5. Marian

Some of the meditations are only a few lines and some span a few pages. A sample one is:

Continuing Education:

Do not forget, however, that in order to carry out the mission entrusted to you, a proper technical and professional training is of course necessary; above all, though, you must ceaselessly cultivate within you a spirit of prayer and faithful adherence to the teachings of Christ and his Church. May the Virgin Mary, Star of the new evangelization, help and protect you always!
— Address on the 75th Anniversary of the
Founding of Vatican Radio (March 3, 2006)


 I should strive to know and do my work better, because I’m offering it to God.

 I should be ambitious in order to have a greater influence in my workplace or profession.

 Do I see my work — whatever it may be — as part of the new evangelization?


They were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well.”
Mark 7:37


To carry out the mission entrusted to me, a proper technical and professional training is necessary; above all, though, I must ceaselessly cultivate a spirit of prayer.”

This is a wonderful book that will challenge you, encourage you and bring your faith to life in a new way. It doesn’t matter if you read it from beginning to end or jump about. I am sure it will be a blessing on your life. So pick it up and take five minutes with Pope Benedict XVI from time to time to nourish your spiritual life. 

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

Books by Mike Aquilina:
A Year with the Angels: Daily Meditations with the Messengers of God
A Year With The Church Fathers: Patristic Wisdom for Daily Living
Angels of God: The Bible, the Church and the Heavenly Hosts
Companion Guide to Pope Benedict's 'The Fathers' 
Faith of Our Fathers: Why the Early Christians Still Matter and Always Will
Fire of God's Love: 120 Reflections on the Eucharist
Good Pope, Bad Pope: Their Lives, Our Lessons 
Love in the Little Things: Tales of Family Life
Ministers & Martyrs: The Ultimate Catholic Guide to the Apostolic Age
Praying in the Presence of Our Lord: With St. Thomas Aquinas
Roots of the Faith: From the Church Fathers to You
Sharing Christ's Priesthood: A Bible Study for Catholics
Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols
Sweet Gridlock: Selected Love Poems 
Terms and Conditions: Assorted Poems
The Apostles and Their Times
The Fathers of the Church Bible
The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers
The Mass of the Early Christians
The Resilient Church: The Glory, the Shame, & the Hope for Tomorrow
The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church
The Way of the Fathers: Praying With the Early Christians
The Witness of Early Christian Women: Mothers of the Church
Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers
Why Me? When Bad Things Happen
Yours Is the Church: How Catholicism Shapes Our World

Books co-written by Mike Aquilina:
A Pocket Catechism for Kids - Fr. Kris Stubna
Dion: The Wanderer Talks Truth - Dion DiMucci
Keeping Mary Close: Devotion to Our Lady through the Ages - Fr. Frederick Gruber
Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians - Scott Hahn
Praying the Psalms the Early Christians - Christopher Bailey
Saint Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer - Mark W. Sullivan
Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again - James Papandrea
Something More Pastoral: The Mission of Bishop, Archbishop, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl - Ann Rodgers
Take Five: Meditations John Henry Newman - Fr. Juan Velez
Take Five: Meditations Pope Benedict XVI - Fr. Kris Stubna
Take Five: On the Job Meditations With St. Ignatius - Fr. Kris Stubna
Talking to Youth About Sexuality: A Parents' Guide - Fr. Kris Stubna
The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today - John Michael Talbot
The Church: Unlocking the Secrets to the Places Catholics Call Home - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The Doubter's Novena: Nine Steps to Trust the Apostle Thomas - Christopher Bailey
The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us as Catholics - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence - Christopher Bailey
The Great Life: Essays on Doctrine and Holiness in Honor of Father Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap. - Kenneth Ogorek
The Holy Land: A Guide for Pilgrims - Fr. Dave Halaiko
The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions - Regis J. Flaherty
The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The World's First Christmas: Jubilee 2000 - Regis J. Flaherty
Weapons of the Spirit: Selected Writings of Father John Hugo - David Scott
What Catholics Believe: A Pocket Catechism - Fr. Kris Stubna

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Let Darkness Bury the Dead - Maureen Jennings - Detective Murdoch Book 8

Let Darkness Bury the Dead
Detective Murdoch Book 8
Maureen Jennings
McClelland & Stewart
An imprint of Penguin Random House Canada
ISBN 9780771050589
eISBN 9780771050596

This was the first novel by Maureen Jennings that I have read, I have been a fan of the Murdoch series for years and have recently been able to get caught up to date with the series. My older two children love watching the show. So I approached this novel with both eager anticipation and a little cautious trepidation. I need not have had any concerns. Now some might ask why I would begin with the most recent, book in a series both in publication order and chronologically. Something about the cover and the title just grabbed my attention, and even though I had planned to get around to reading a Murdoch book for years, this is the one that starts it. And I can emphatically state it will not be the last.

This most recent Murdoch novel was published 10 years after the previous, and after a very successful Tv series based upon the character. In the Authors preamble Maureen informs us that this novel begins 20 years after the previous one. In this story Murdoch is 56 years old, a senior detective, and his son Jack is just returning from the trenches of the Great War, the year is 1917.

This book was very hard to put down once I started. I read it in 4 sittings one day, my morning commute to work, my lunch break, my afternoon commute, then staying up way to late to finish it. This is one of those books that as I was reading it, I kept saying ‘just one more chapter’ and the next thing I knew it was the middle of the night and the book was finished. Not having read any of the other stories, it was like encountering an older friend after along absence. So much was familiar but there were subtle differences. In fact, it greatly enhanced my opinion of Murdoch.

The story is intriguing in many ways. An older Murdoch, who seems to have lost some of his faith or his practice of it. His son returning from way, with both physical injuries and emotional wounds. Jack has returned with a chum from the war and is very loyal to his mate Percy. But Percy is struggling with his return home even more so. And bodies start piling up right away. And there are some strange indications, a while feather, and yellow crosses being chalked on the victims. Jack is distance and keeping strange hours. Murdoch is investigating the murders, and when you throw in a young woman who grew up with jack that is very much anti war. And you have an explosive story.

This story was a great read, and I have already picked up two others by Jennings to put in my ‘to be read’ pile. Great characters, great pace, and delving into some serious issues. If you are a fan of the series and have not checked out the books, do so, you will not be disappointed. And if you love historical fiction or mysteries then you will be in for a real treat with this story. A very solid 5/5 Stars!

Books by Maureen Jennings:
Detective Murdoch Series:

0.5 Shipwreck
1.0 Except the Dying
2.0 Under the Dragon's Tail
3.0 Poor Tom Is Cold
4.0 Let Loose the Dogs
5.0 Night's Child
6.0 Vices of My Blood
7.0 A Journeyman to Grief
8.0 Let Darkness Bury the Dead

Detective Inspector Tom Tyler Series:
1.0 Season of Darkness
2.0 Beware This Boy
3.0 No Known Grave
4.0 Dead Ground in Between

Christine Morris Series:
1.0 Does Your Mother Know?
2.0 The K Handshape

Other books:
Heat Wave
The Map of Your Mind: Journeys into Creative Expression
Investigating Murdoch Mysteries: The Official Companion to the Series – with Michelle Ricci and Mir Bahmanyar

Monday, 20 May 2019

Forty Martyrs of England and Wales - James Walsh - CTS Saints of the Isles Series

Forty Martyrs of England and Wales
CTS Saints of the Isles Series
James Walsh
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860820212
ISBN 1860820212
ISBN 9780851830537
CTS Booklet B446

I have become addicted to books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I first really encountered them just over a year ago while doing research on a specific author. Since that time I have read and reviewed over 70 offerings from this publisher. There are many great books and many great series from CTS. This ‘Saints of the Isles’ series is one of my favourite series to date. This is the sixth book in this series from the Catholic Truth Society that I have read. I just love this series that focuses on the Saints of the Isles. It truly is inspiring, challenging, and encouraging to read about the Saints and Martyrs of the British Isles. I hold a religious studies degree, with a focus on Roman Catholic Thought, I had encountered saints from all over the world, and the great and lesser known saints of Europe. But this series is opening my eyes to Saints that are part of my heritage, saints from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. These are incredible books about amazing saints. It is a part of our history we need to be reminded of, and to be inspired by. But this book is different than any of the others in this series.

This book was compiled by Compiled by Father James Walsh, SJ, the Vice-Postulator for the Cause of the English Martyrs. It is a series of very brief introductions to the forty martyrs that were canonised by Pope Paul VI on the 25th of October 1970. Most of them are about one page in length. They are short, concise and to the point. They outline the individual’s background, conversion or ordination story, details of their arrest and trials, and their executions. They are:

Almond, John 
Arrowsmith, Edmund 
Barlow, Ambrose 
Boste, John 
Briant, Alexander 
Campion, Edmund 
Clitherow, Margaret 
Evans, Philip 
Garnet, Thomas 
Gennings, Edmund 
Gwyn, Richard 
Houghton, John 
Howard, Philip 
Jones, John 
Kemble, John 
Kirby, Luke 
Lawrence, Robert 
Lewis, David 
Line, Anne 
Lloyd, John
Mayne, Cuthbert 
Morse, Henry 
Owen, Nicholas 
Paine, John 
Plasden, Polydore 
Plessington, John 
Reynolds, Richard 
Rigby, John 
Roberts, John 
Roe, Alban 
Sherwin, Ralph 
Southwell, Robert 
Southworth, John 
Stone, John 
Wall, John 
Walpole, Henry 
Ward, Margaret 
Webster, Augustine 
Wells, Swithun 
White, Eustace 

A few of these forty have books dedicated to them in this Saints of the Isles Series. These martyrs died because of a series of laws that banned and persecuted Catholics in England and Wales. There are others who suffered the same fate in Scotland. Those in this book were tried under several different laws and acts; from the act of treason, to acts specifically against the Jesuits. Most chapters focus on a single martyr. Except for the first chapter which profiles Saints John Houghton, Robert Lawrence, and Augustine Webster, as they were together martyred on May 4th 1535. They were the first to dies in this English Reformation. Much of this book is unpleasant to read, the tortures some of the people endured. Their brutal deaths. At times it is overwhelming. I am now almost done this book for a second time. And I have picked several of the Saints to research and find out more about.

I believe there are three printings of this booklet, 1970, 1972, and 1997, which ever version you can get your hands on it is worth the read! Reading the news about events in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific, there are more martyrs today for being Christian or specifically being Catholic. In those cases it is not always the government or government sanctioned but it soon could be. This book will serve to remind us of those who have gone before us, and possibly strengthen us for what is yet to come. It is a book that will inspire, and hopefully also encourage and challenge.

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 in the 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

Friday, 17 May 2019

The Midnight Line - Lee Child - Jack Reacher Book 22

The Midnight Line
Jack Reacher Book 22
Lee Child
Penguin Random House Canada
ISBN 9780399593482
eISBN 9780399593499

To date this is my favorite Reacher story. I have read a Jack Reacher book each week for the past dozen weeks. This is the 22nd book in publication order and it is 34th in chronological order if you include the published short stories and cross over short stories. It currently comes directly after Faking a Murderer with Kathy Reichs. It is an older Reacher we encounter in this story. 

This story begins with Reacher taking a stroll through a small Wisconsin town, while the bus is at a rest stop. He sees a class ring in a pawn shop window, a West Point Class Ring. A ring that is small, and years after Reacher graduated. The ring must belong to a woman. And Reacher has an urge to find the owner, and their story, that would cause it to end up in a pawn shop. And thus begins a pursuit. Reacher is in pursuit of the story of the ring and its owner, and he will not take no for an answer. From a Pawn Shop to a biker gang, to a low-level thug, to a drug ring. Along the way Reacher is compared to Big foot and sasquatch. There is more than contract taken out on Reacher. Reacher is chasing a supply chain in reverse. He ends up calling in some favors at West Point. He meets a PI who seems to be searching for the same person. They agree to work together as long as it is mutually beneficial. 

This was an interesting story. We find out what rules Reacher is willing to bend, and even break for a vet in need. That his believe if they served, they are due some slack, especially if their service has cost them so much. The story also gives us a look into addiction, and its impact on the person and their family. 

Having jumped around a lot in the reading of Reacher novels, it is very interesting to see this older Reacher. Parts of it made me think of the Toby Keith Song As Good As I Once Was. But have no fear Reacher can still take it all and give as good as he ever could. This story has a little more depth and more layers than much of the Reacher novels I have read to date. 

A very interesting read. A story that makes you think a little more, but that is a good thing. And still a lot of Reacher left to 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
The 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:
No Middle Name – Complete Collected Short Stories
Stories in No Middle Name Collection:
Too Much Time
Second Son
Deep Down
Guy Walks into A Bar
James Penney’s New Identity
High Heat
Everyone Talks
Not A Drill
Small Wars
Maybe They Have A Tradition

No Room At The Motel
The Picture of the Lonely Diner

Other Short Stories:
The Fourth Man
The Christmas Scorpion
Faking a Murderer with Kathy Reichs
Cleaning the Gold with Karin Slaughter
Good and Valuable Consideration with Joseph Finder

Thursday, 16 May 2019

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

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

ISBN 9781784691004
CTS Booklet D805

This book was a complete surprise to me. I read it because of the authors and the series. I have read over 75 books from the Catholic Truth Society in just over the last year. I can honestly say I had never thought of pilgrimage to Poland. Even with all the great saints that have come from there, it literally never crossed my mind. But after reading this volume, if money was not an issue, I could see myself going there for an extended trip or for several trips. David Baldwin immerses the reader in so many places, and many saints. This book is an incredible read. 

This is the eleventh volume in the CTS Christian Shrines series that I have read. I approached this volume with completely new eyes. I have personally had an interest in Pilgrimage, for as long as I can remember. I have written about personal pilgrimage, and previously written about my desire for pilgrimage. I have a university degree in Religious Studies with a specialization in Roman Catholic Thought I would have loved to have had books from this series, and many from the CTS catalog to use as resources during my schooling. But back to this specific volume on Pilgrimage to Poland. 

The sections in this book are: 
Why Poland
     A Catholic Country
     Variety of pilgrim destinations
     A turbulent history
     World Wars
     Practical Thoughts
     Mercy and Reconciliation
Krakow and the Royal Cathedral
     Wawel Hill
     The Royal Cathedral
     First Impressions
     Once Inside
     Zygmunt Bell Tower
     Altar of Jesus Crucified
     Meditation before a Crucifix
     Side chapels and monuments
     Zygmunt Chapel
The Old Town of Krakow
     Our lady of the Assumption
     Visitors’ section
     The Church of St Barbara
     The Church of St Adalbert
     Contrasting churches
     The Dominican church of the Holy Trinity
     The Franciscan church of St Francis of Assisi
     The Church of St Andrew’s
Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy and the John Paul II Centre
     The Basilica
     Chaplet to the Divine Mercy
     Adoration Chapel
     Adoration Meditation
     Convent chapel
     John Paul II Centre
Around and About Krakow
     Nowa Huta
     Arka Pana
     Church dedicated to St Maximillian Kolbe
     Contrasting churches
     Cistercian Abby at Mogila
     The Church of St Bartholomew
     Benedictine Monastery at Tyniec
     The Salt Mines
     St Kinga’s Chapel
Kalwaria Sanctuary and Wadowice
     Our Lady of the Angels
     Calvary Way
     Basilica of the Presentation
     Side chapels
     The Church of St Peter the Apostle
     Three places worth a visit
Our Lady of Czestochowa
     The Black Madonna
     Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa
     Act of Consecration
     The Basilica
     Unusual Stations of the Cross
     Auschwitz II and III
     Unknown Numbers
     Auschwitz I
     Grim Displays
     The Children
     Black II
     Victims’ Monument
     Meditation – Kaddish – Jewish prayer for the Dead
     Centre for Information, Meetings, Dialogue, 
          Education and Prayer:
     The Carmelite convent
     The Parish of the Franciscan Friars
Mercy and Reconciliation

As can bee seen there is a lot of content in just over 100 pages of this book. This book refers to several other Books from CTS, specifically books about some of the Saints of Poland or the concentration camps. It was a book that inspired me to prayer. It was a book that has sparked an interest in this country, and the faith of the people there. I want to see pictures of many of the places highlighted in this pilgrimage book. I know I will reread this book and pray my way through it again soon. And it has sparked a quest for knowledge about this country, the churches, the shrines, and the Saints. In my opinion the only drawback is this book only comes in a physical format, many of the books in the series are available as eBooks and I really wish this was one of them. 

This is another great book in an excellent series. Maybe the best of the 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

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

The Last Victim in Hichester - Sarah Flanagan - The Brothers Mecarnin Book 1

The Last Victim in Hichester
The Brothers Mecarnin Book 1
Sarah Flanagan
Rivershore Books
ISBN 9781635220193


I read a lot of books, for the last few years nearly a book a day and if you average it out over 100 books a year since I first started keeping track. And this book took me by surprise in several ways. First for how young the author is (still in her teens) the world build is excellent. Second the complexity of the story. And finally, I was surprised by the cover, the cover t=shows three very young children, but most of the book takes place when they are much older.

Now I will admit there are a lot of characters in this novel. So many in fact I started keeping track on a cue card. But the characters are wonderfully written. Especially the three Mecarnin brothers. From their early departure from their parents’ home, to their time in the community home, to heading to the Hichester District. These boys have been through a lot. The first words in chapter 1 are:

“There are all types of legends and myths that I heard in my life, but none of them could match the one that would change my life and the lives of my brothers. There was a legend that we had heard but always thought was make-believe. Needless to say, we found out what fools we were and how wrong that assumption had been.”

This is a tale of epic proportions. It spans generations, and generational curses. It blends myths and legends with the world of today. The three boys are offered the opportunity of a good life, Father Fischer, has worked long and hard to find a home that will keep them together. Of father the three boys believe:

“Father Fischer, one of the greatest men they knew. He wrote them constantly, giving them support and encouragement”

The brothers Gene, Deke, and Neil are at the center of our story. But the events that lead up to this story began many years ago and based on the story itself will take many years to resolve. For it seams that the boys are at the center, or at least close to the center of a battel between good and evil. After they are on their way to the Hichester District, they realize everything is about to change. For the world they thought they knew was but the surface veneer of a much larger world, with much larger events, and much larger stories. And soon they find themselves aught up in those stores. They attend school, they attend the society (well worth reading about) and become part of a group of friends called the gang. When yet another child goes missing from the district, they decide to lead an investigation. And soon the majority of the children, tweens, and teens that are part of the Society are off on an adventure to rescue one of their own.

This is a wonderful story in the classic fantast genre. It is very well written, and I look forward to seeing where the story will go as the series proceeds. The story is well worth giving a try.

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

Books by Sarah Flanagan:
The Brothers Mecarnin Series:

The Last Victim in Hichester

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Letter to a Saint Letters from Guadalupe Ortiz to St Josemaria Escriva - Maria Del Rincón and Maria Teresa Escobar

LETTERS TO A SAINT Letters from Guadalupe Ortiz to St Josemaria Escriva
Maria Del Rincón
Maria Teresa Escobar
Opus Dei Information Office
ISBN 9781094672694
eISBn 9788409092932

I recently read Guadalupe: The Freedom of Loving by Cristina Abad Cadenas and became fascinated by the live of Guadalupe Ortiz. I have watched several YouTube videos about her and her life. While researching to review that volume I came across this book which is being offered for free from the Opus Dei Information Office. And it is a wonderful little read. The chapters in this volume are:

To the Reader.
Guadalupe Ortiz: a profile.
Timeline of Guadalupe’s life.
1. With her feet on the ground: holiness in ordinary life.
2. Always close: in love with God.
3. A huge heart: apostolic joy.
4. Desire to serve: working for God.
5. Here I am: path and mission.

His is a densely packed volume. The eBook comes in at just under 80 pages. And it has 170 end notes, most are references to which letter in the archive the letter or extract was drawn from. Some are external links, and some are references or explanations. We are told in the note to the reader:

“These extracts from letters written by Guadalupe Ortiz to St Josemaria Escriva reflect the soul of a woman who learned to find God in the middle of the world. Guadalupe opened her heart and soul to St Josemaria, whom she always called “Father”. The letters were written by someone who was convinced that Heaven was her destiny and the world was her path there.

In 1944, when Guadalupe, a chemistry teacher, first met St Josemaria, she discovered that God was offering her a path to holiness in the middle of the world, through her professional work. A few months after that encounter, she wrote him a letter beginning, like all her letters to him from then on, “Father,” in which she asked to join Opus Dei. That was the first of 350 letters that she wrote to him, beginning on 19 March 1944, and ending on 22 June 1975, four days before St Josemaria died in Rome.”

The excerpts in this volume are taken from a collection of 350 letters and the letters were written over a 30 years period. From shortly after Guadalupe med Josemaria Escriva and began spiritual work, until shortly before they both died in 1975. They letters are written with an openness and honesty. She wrote as a way to help grow in her spiritual life. She wrote being completely honest with herself and with her spiritual father. The letters will spur on your faith. They will challenge you. They will encourage and motivate you.

This was a wonderful read, and I honestly hop that someday a more complete collection of her letters will be available in English. I encourage you to give this volume a read and see what impact the life and faith of Guadalupe has on your own. 

You can get this book free here.

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

Other Books by or about Guadaupe Ortiz:

LETTERS TO A SAINT Letters from Guadalupe Ortiz to St Josemaria Escriva - Maria Del Rincón and  Maria Teresa Escobar 
Guadalupe: The Freedom of Loving - Christina Abad Cadenas

Monday, 13 May 2019

The Diamond Mistake Mystery - Sylvia McNicoll - The Great Mistake Mysteries Book 4

The Diamond Mistake Mystery 
The Great Mistake Mysteries Book 4
Sylvia McNicoll
Dundurn Press
ISBN 9781459744936
eISBN 9781459744943

My children and I were terribly excited when we found out that this series was being extended. We loved the stories in the original trilogy. And My son and I have read them together a couple of times. And even though there was a wait for it, this fourth book was well worth the wait. It is an excellent addition to the stories of Stephen Nobel and Renée Kobai. Reading this book was like visiting with old friends that you had not seen in a while. But things went back to exactly how they were before. 

In a previous review of volume 1: The Best Mistake Mystery I stated that in some ways this book reads like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon but written for kids. And after reading the whole trilogy, and now this fourth volume I can state that even more emphatically. Stephen counts mistakes each day, and the chapters of the books are days. It is hard to believe that all the action in this book took place over three days.

Day 1 - 11 Mistakes
Day 2 - 10 Mistakes
Day 3 - 10 Mistakes

Which is the same numbers as books, The Snake Mistake Mystery, but less than books one and two. In this story Stephen Nobel and Renée Kobai are both still working for Stephen's fathers pet walking business, the Noble Dog Walking Agency. But in this story they face their biggest challenge yet, they have committed to walking their new neighbour, Pearl Lebel, to school she is in kindergarten and is Stephen’s reading buddy at school. Renée is very excited about this new role, but Stephen is very leery. And right from the get go things go sideways. 

Pearl’s parents are jewellers and are planning on exhibiting a rare and famous pink diamond. But Pearl has informed Stephen and Renée that she has lost it. She does not want to get into trouble, and against his better judgement Stephen agrees not to tell her parents right away. And this Stephen and Renée are on the case again. Trying to track back the events and travels of the last few days. But they are unaware that pearl’s recollection of events might not be entirely accurate. 

In this story we have a precocious little girl. An interrupted sleep over. A missing diamond, dogs to walk and a whole lot more. It is a great read and wonderful addition to the Best Mistake Mysteries, of which our family hopes there will be many many more! A great read to read to young readers, or have middle grade readers read with or to you. It receives a top endorsement from our family.  We recommend this book, and this whole series. We sincerely hope there will be more to read soon. This book is entertaining for readers of all ages. (And I am not even a pet guy.)

Books by Sylvia McNicoll:
Blueberries and Whipped Cream - 1988
Jump Start - 1989
The Tiger Catcher's Kid - 1989
Project Disaster - 1990
More than Money - 1990
Facing the Enemy - 1992
Bringing Up Beauty - 1994
The Big Race - 1996
Walking a Thin Line - 1997
Double Dribble - 1999
Smoky and the Gorilla - 1999
Grave Secrets - 1999
Caught in a Lie - 2000
A Different Kind of Beauty - 2004
Beauty Returns - 2006
Last Chance For Paris - 2008
Slam Dunk Robot  2007
crush. candy. corpse. - 2012
Dying to Go Viral - 2013

Body Swap - 2018

The Great Mistake Mysteries:
The Best Mistake Mystery - 2017
The Artsy Mistake Mystery - 2017
The Snake Mistake Mystery - 2018
The Diamond Mistake Mystery - 2019

Books Written as Geena Dare:
Stage School Series:
Dan Clowning Around #5 - 1998
Matt Heartbreak Hero #6 - 1998
Lauren Dating Dreams #7 - 1999
Abbi Secret Stranger #9 - 1999
Jenna Standing Tall #10 - 1999
Dan Double Drama #11 -1999

Book Ghostwritten as Sharon Siamon:
The Spellbound Sleepover 1999

Mom and Dad's Guide to Martial Arts 1999

Foreign Editions unavailable in English to date:
Zannas vanskelige valg  2007 (Alpha Wolf)
Zanna - mellom barken og veden 2007 (River of Ice)
Snøras   2008 (Avalanche)
Zanna i fare 2008 (Victim's Impact)
Redningsaksjonen  2009 (The Nine Minute Disaster Zone) 

Author Profile and Interview with Sylvia McNicoll