Friday, 26 April 2019

Faking a Murderer - Lee Child and Kathy Reichs

Faking a Murderer
A Jack Reacher and Temperance Brennan Short Story
Lee Child
Kathy Reichs
eISBN 9780751569063

This story also appeared in:

Match Up: The Battle of the Sexes Just Got Thrilling
To Die book 7.5
Lee Child (Editor)
Simon and Schuster
ISBN 9780751569025
eISBN 9781501141614

This short story appears in the anthology Match Up: The Battle of the Sexes Just Got Thrilling edited by Lee Child. In some markets it is published as a stand-alone short story. The eBook comes in at 51 pages, and it is a great little read. I have been a fan of the Bones Tv Series for years and was finally able to watch all the episodes. Over the last few months I have read and reviewed 8 novels and other Reacher books. I have yet to read any of the books by Reichs but that is about to change. 

This was a very interesting story to read. Especially as my knowledge of all things Reacher is expanding. Based on the subtitle of Temperance Brennan VS Jack Reacher I was expecting a very different story than the one that was delivered. In the introduction to the story in the anthology Lee Child states:

“I was first published in1997 when Killing Floor introduced the world to a quiet wanderer named Jack Reacher. Kathy Reichs also came along in 1997 when Déjà Dead brought us forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.”

It is an interesting fact. He also states: 

“In creating our story, Kathy and I both agreed on the rough outline, then we wrote in turns. She likes things all planned out. I prefer to wander. But we found a happy medium in which to work. … but we discovered that our actual writing styles are somewhat similar. This sometimes happens with collaborations. It helped that we’ve both written screenplays. Kathy with the television series Bones, which is based on her characters, and myself with my daughter. There’s a process to fashioning a screenplay that’s different from crafting a novel. Much more give-and-take is there between the various contributors, since rarely is a screenplay written by only one person. Luckily, we were both comfortable with that process.” 

And what a wonderful story they have produced. To be honest this story is an excellent mash up. The characters of Bones and Reacher blend together well. The story begins with Reacher hitchhiking south for the winter when he hears a news story about an event from his past and Temperance. At that same time Temperance is giving into introductory remarks at a convention. Right after her talk she is approached by two officers who want her to accompany them for questioning. And thus, begins a great story.

But reading this have left me in a dilemma, I already have plans to read all the Reacher novels in a year. I already had the Murdoch Mystery novels by Maureen Jennings on my list to read next. And now I need to slot in the Kathy Reichs novels as well. If you are unfamiliar with either character this is still a great story. If you are a fan of either Reacher or Bones this is a must read. An excellent short story.

Books by Lee Child:
Jack Reacher Books Publishing Order:

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

Jack Reacher's Rules

Reacher Short Stories and Novella’s:
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:
Good and Valuable Consideration
The Fourth Man
The Christmas Scorpion
Faking a Murderer with Kathy Reichs

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Meditations on the Passion The Way of the Cross - Susanna Tamaro

Meditations on the Passion: The Way of the Cross
Susanna Tamaro
Scepter Publishers
eISBN 9781594172441

I picked up this book over a year ago and planned on using it during lent. But alas it slipped down in my reading list and then was forgotten. This year I was reminded of the book and planned to read and review it for lent as well. But it was not until Holy Week when I got around to reading it. I have several versions of the stations of the cross that I use throughout the year and return to again and again. And I have read other reflections that were read once and done. That will not be the case with this one. I see this as a mediation I will be returning to frequently.

The chapters in this book are:
Opening Prayer
First Station: Jesus Is Condemned to Death
Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross
Third Station: Jesus Falls for the First Time
Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother
Fifth Station: Jesus Is Helped by Simon of Cyrene to Carry the Cross
Sixth Station: Veronica Dries the Face of Jesus
Seventh Station: Jesus Falls for the Second Time
Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Ninth Station: Jesus Falls for the Third Time
Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross and Given to His Mother
Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Deposited in the Sepulchre

I do not know who translated this book, there is no indication within the volume. It may have even been the author herself. But however, we received the English version of this book, it is a treasure. Tamaro has 33 books available in Italian and is best known as a novelist. Some of her works have been translated into numerous languages. And maybe it is what she brings from her background in film and as an author that helps bring this version of the way of the cross to life in such a vivid and moving way.

Archbishop Gianpaolo Crepaldi of Trieste states in the preface:

“I am particularly honored to write a brief preface to these meditations and prayers on the Way of the Cross, written with profound spiritual sensibility by Susanna Tamaro, to accompany those invited on Good Friday by the young people of Catholic Action to walk the streets of Trieste, Italy to their Cathedral. They will devoutly contemplate together the scandalous and revolutionary mystery of the death of God. But, with the Easter resurrection of the Lord—he who lives—death is defeated, and therefore life, suffering, and death are not rendered meaningless, but are completed and made full.”

And further on he says:

“Susanno Tamaro helps us to discover that the Way of the Cross is, in reality, the way of consolation. It is the way of love. It is the way of life; the road of consolation and of love, the road of life.”

And those statements echo what I felt while praying with this book. There is a deep love and reverence present. But also, a moving experience of this devotion and prayer. In this English edition we have the preface, and then the opening prayer, we move through the fourteen stations, ending with the benediction. The ‘Amen’. There are no explanations, no extra chapters from the author. Just the meditation. I love the stations of the cross with Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Josemaria Escriva and ‘everyone’s way of the cross’ by Clarence Enzler. But this book by Dusanna Tamaro is now in my top 5 list for stations of the cross and will be used often. The only thing I really wished was that there was an audio version available that I could keep on my iPhone to pray with.

A wonderful version of this devotion, I am sure it will become an instant favorite! I am certain I will be using this version for years to come.

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

Books by Susanna Tamaro:
Meditations on the Passion
Follow Your Heart
Answer Me
For Solo Voice
Listen to My Voice
Turning Home: A Memoir
The Tiger and the Acrobat

In Italian:
Meditaciones sobre la Pasión
Cuore di ciccia
Anima Mundi
Per sempre
Luisito: Una storia d'amore
Per voce sola
Il cerchio magico

Other Way of the Cross Reviews:
The Way of The Cross
The Way of The Cross II
The Way of the Cross – Saint Josemaria Escriva

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Author Profile and Interview with Father Michael E. Giesler

Author Profile and Interview with Father Michael E. Giesler 

I had two books by Father Michael E. Giesler on my two be read pile for a few years. Once I read the first one, I have been on a quest to track down and read all of his works. Father Michael is a as a priest, professor, and retreat director for one of the retreat centres of Opus Dei. He has published two academic works for his masters and graduate studies. Since then he has published four fiction and four non-fiction works. The six I have read were amazing books. I was able to track father Michael down and Father Michael E. Giesler recently took some time from his busy schedule to answer 20 questions for the readers here at Book Reviews and More. So here in his own words is father Michael.

1. You have 8 books available in English, including a historical fiction trilogy. And yet they are published under a wide variation on your name: Michael E. Giesler, Rev. Michael Giesler, Father Michael Giesler, Michael Edward Giesler and just Michael Giesler. Even Across the Historical fiction trilogy there are three variations on your name. Can I ask what name you would prefer if you could consolidate them all under one name?

In my spiritually themed books, I have preferred to use Father or Reverend before my name. For the historical Fiction trilogy, I preferred to use my untitled name, since I began writing the first of them, Junia, as a layman back in the late 70’s. Also the main characters in the early Christian stories are not priests, but men and women among the ordinary faithful of 1900 years ago.

2. Speaking of your historical fiction trilogy which is comprised of: Junia (2002), Marcus (2004), Grain Of Wheat (2008) the three books are published by Scepter, but books 1 and 3 have eBooks and Kindle editions, and book 2 Marcus, does not. Would you like to see this volume available as an eBook also?

Yes, I would like to see it as an e-book and may bring up this point with my publisher.

3. You self-published through Create Space the volume, Called by Name: Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests, I am wondering if you have plans to release it as an eBook?

If there were a clear surge of interest in the book, I would negotiate with Create Space and possibly Amazon to offer it as an ebook. I think it would increase accessibility.

4. Your writing career spans 41 years, from the publication of Christ the Rejected Stone in 1974 to Family Grace: A Story of Conversion Through Friendship published in 2015. Do you plan time for writing around your duties as a priest, professor, and retreat director? Or When you get an idea the writing project becomes a priority?

I have been able to keep up a steady pace of writing over the years, and have found enough time between my duties as a priest and spiritual director, with the help of God’s grace. If a clear idea or motivation comes for writing a specific book, as in the case of Called by Name for the Year of Priests, or the Guidebook
for Confessors, I put those books on the “fast track”. In the case of You See Me, You Hear Me, I was specifically requested for a book on prayer, and was
able to complete it quickly over a summer vacation.

5. You have published four fictional works, and four non-fiction volumes. Do you find it easier writing fiction or non-fiction? Why?

While having to work hard at both genres of writing, I find them equally challenging as well as satisfying. As a writer, the most important consideration for me is if I have something useful or inspiring to say. That is enough motivation for me to get started and to complete the book, whether it be fiction or non-fiction.

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

The idea for a book could be generated in many different ways. Since my college days, I’ve always been interested in Greco-Roman civilization, as well as the spread of early Christianity. This was the seedbed for my novels on the early Christians. As a priest, I have always had the desire to help my brother priests, and this generated the idea of a book of meditations to help them in daily ministry, and of a practical guidebook on hearing confessions.

7. Is the process different when writing fiction compared to when writing non-fiction?

Yes, there is a far greater use of the imagination in writing fiction. I have to imagine and create the characters, the challenges they face, and the timeline of their lives. There are also dramatic effects to the story, which require several rewritings and re-focusing. In writing non-fiction, I have to pay far more attention to research and the proper framing of ideas and words. I cannot leave things for the reader’s imagination and feeling, but need to write sure and well-founded conclusions.

8. One of the greatest strengths in your fiction books are the characters, they are so solid and believable. The characters you create, are they reflections of people you know, composites of different people you know or entirely your creations?

Some of the characters, like Junia and her friend Marcia are simply drawn from my imagination and little bit of observation of young women and their interaction with one another. Other characters like Scintilla, servant of Marcia who gives Junia lessons in Christianity, are simply creations to keep the story going and alive. Junia’s father Gaius and her mother Aurelia are more based on particular characters in other novels. The character Numer is drawn from my knowledge of certain members of the Catholic institution Opus Dei, who have a combination of faith, intelligence and good humor in the way they live and react to others.

9. Which character from your fiction books is your favorite? Why?
Of them all I like Marcus the most. He has big ideals, but overthinks things and has a certain naivete which makes him a little mysterious, as well as charming. He also has a big heart for others. For this reason I was glad to put him as the main character in the last two books. I also was able to show his conversion to Christianity in a more developed way than I did with his sister Junia.

10. Which character in your novels was the hardest to write and why?

I really did not have a problem with any of the characters. As the story flowed, the characters came to me rather naturally…each with his or her own personality traits.

11. 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?

Though many of my characters lived 1900 years ago, and were fervent Christians, I like to imagine them being with God right now. At times I like to think that their lives more or less corresponded to the stories in my novels. And for this reason I would like to meet them some day in the afterlife … especially Junia, Marcia, Numer, and Atticus the priest who is sent to the lead mines in Dacia but has such a powerful love for his fellow Christians.

12. A few of your books are available in Spanish, are their plans to translate any of the others in to Spanish? Other Languages?

I would hope that all the novels could be translated someday into European languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, and German. I would like to see Marcus translated into Spanish fairly soon, since it is the key transitional book between Junia and Grain of Wheat.

13. If you could only recommend 10 books to a reader looking to grow in their Catholic faith what books would you suggest?

Apart from a thorough reading of Sacred Scripture, I would recommend the Confessions of Saint Augustine, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and the complete Didache series published by Midwest Theological Forum in Chicago.

14. What are some of your favorite fiction authors and books that you can recommend to our readers?

I’m a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I find that most of their books are quite rewarding, though Lewis himself did not become a member of the Catholic Church, at least while he was alive on earth.

15. Can you think of a book or two that the readers are unlikely to have heard of that you would highly recommend?

A new book by Scepter Publishers comes to mind, on the life of Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri, a Spanish woman who is soon to be beatified in Madrid. In a simple ordinary way her life demonstrates a life of prayer and service to the Church.

(Note: Guadalupe: The Freedom of Loving by Cristina Abad Cadenas, is the book he is making reference to.)

16. What current projects are you working on or are in the back burner in some stage of development?

I am working on a long poem entitled THY KINGDOM COME, which summarizes the history of salvation from the creation of Adam and Eve until the Second Coming of Christ. As you can see, it’s a very ambitious project and I am trying to get some feedback for what I have written so far from good friends and fellow authors. I am also working on a theological study of the “Mystery of Co-redemption” … our vital union with Christ in order to redeem the world…with practical applications to our contemporary life.

17. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy or could you recommend?

I’ve always liked musicals, especially from the 1940’s and 50’s. They leave you with an upbeat feeling, a trait often lacking in today’s movies.

18. 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?

The goal of all education is to lead a person from ignorance into truth. One reaches the truth by a combination of personal reflection and appreciation for the thoughts and discoveries of the great minds of the past. It is not enough to simply be informed about things; the truly educated person must have the ability to look at things both deeply and “fondly”, that is with a certain amount of love, which is the classical definition of wisdom.

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?

I would definitely want all 73 books of the Old and New Testament recognized as inspired by the Church; the Catholic Catechism 1994 edition; the second encyclical of Pope Emeritus Benedict on the virtue of Hope, (Spe Salvi, 2007). Finally Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian and English, particularly the Purgatorio and Paradiso sections of that poem.

20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists particularly those looking to have their art reflect their faith?

First, be very familiar with the teachings of the Catholic Church, and foster a particular devotion to Christ’s Sacred Heart and to Mary: Most Pure his Mother.

Second, have a dream with what you would like to do with your work. Hopefully it will not simply be to express yourself, but to create something beautiful that will instruct and inspire others to become better persons, and will lead them closer to Truth and Beauty Himself.

Finally get the sincere reactions of others to what they write. This may be hard on the ego at first, but it will enhance your work in the end. As my father used to say, who was a creative writer himself, “the best writer is a re-writer.”

Thank you, Father Michael, for your time in answering the twenty question. I have loved your books I have read and encourage all readers to give them a try. I look forward to some of the pieces you are currently working on. May God continue to bless you, your ministry, and us your readers. Thank you again.

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

Christ the Rejected Stone

Spanish Editions:
Dios te ve y te oye


Christian Historical Fiction Trilogy:
Grain Of Wheat


Author Profile and Interview with Father Michael E. Giesler.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Belt of Truth - Theresa Linden - Armor of God Series Book 1

Belt of Truth
Armor of God Book 1
Theresa Linden
Silver Fire Publishing

ISBN 9780997674781

In under two years I have read books by Theresa Linden twenty-two times. There are some amazing reads for young adults, and adults. This is her first book for younger readers, and it is excellent. Theresa Linden is one of my favourite contemporary authors. If not my favourite. I have compared her writings to Madeleine L’Engle and Lois Lowry, and firmly stand by that comparison. And it is good clean fiction. Her Young Adult novels that have the strength and appeal that I believe any adult would enjoy reading them. They have strong Christian themes and usually have Catholic main characters. This is her first book for younger readers, and it is just as good. 

I was impressed by Linden as an author, but in the new series she is both author and illustrator. This series is going be be based on the armor of God, 

“Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So, stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
~ Ephesians 6:13-17

The chapters in the story are:
1. Tryouts 1
2. Tapestry 11
3. Through the Woods 21
4. A New Friend 29
5. The Teacher 37
6. The Virtue 47
7. George’s Friends 51
8. Sneaking 57
9. Tuition 65
10. Sharing a Secret 69
11. Where is Erik? 75
12. Just Tell 81
13. The Truth 87
14. Finding Erik 93
15. Belt of Truth

This is the story of George Pennington, a young man whose greatest desire is to become a knight. But in order to become a knight he must first win entrance into knights’ school and make his way through the 6 levels of training to become a squire. After that he can work towards becoming a knight. But I am getting ahead of the story a bit. The story begins with the annual tryout’s day. Both George and his younger brother Erik are testing to see if they can enter the school. George has tested a few times before, and he really has his heart set on this. George is desperate not to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a scribe.

George and Erik become friends with Robyn Haylan a new girl in the region. She wans George that some of his friends might not be the best to hang around and tries to steer him along the correct path. But George is a little head strong, and that gets him in trouble. Soon he finds himself lying. And the more lies he tells the worse things get, until that fateful day … But you will need to read the story to find out about that day, and what George does or doesn’t do to make things right.

This is a wonderful read. The young and young at heart alike will love the stories. The illustrations are fun. And The book leaves you desperate for the next in the series. An excellent first book in what looks like it will be another wonderful series from the masterful pen of Theresa Linden!

(Author Theresa Linden is doing a virtual scavenger hunt as part of this story during the release. There are some incredible prizes. For more information click here.)

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

Books by Theresa Linden:
Anyone But Him
Tortured Soul

Chasing Liberty Series:
01 Chasing Liberty
02 Testing Liberty
03 Fight For Liberty
Bound to find Freedom - Short Story


West brothers Series:
Roland West Loner
Life-Changing Love
Battle for His Soul

Standing Strong
Roland West Outcast

Armour of God Series:
Belt of Truth
Breastplate of Righteousness
Boot of Peace
Shield of Faith
Helmet of Salvation
Sword of the Spirit

Other Books:
A Symbol of Hope - Short Story
A Battle for the Faith (with John Paul Wohlscheid)


Books contributed to:
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books

Monday, 22 April 2019

Finding God in Times of Stress - Father Antonio Ritaccio - CTS Finding God Series

Finding God in Times of Stress
CTS Finding God Series
Fr Antonio Ritaccio
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784696054
CTS Booklet PA59

I have no qualms stating that I love the books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. In the last years I have read and reviewed 60, and have over twice that number on my ‘to be read’ list. In fact, every time I go to do research while preparing a review for a CTS book, I end usually finding at least 1 or 2 more I am interested in. And that is how I ended up reading this book. After I finished reading Finding God in Anger and Bitterness by Nick Donnelly I found that there are 7 booklets in this series including this volume published early in 2019. The books to date in the series have been written by either Nick Donnelly or like this book by Father Antonio Ritaccio. 

I previously thought that I dealt with stress pretty well. I have had some hard times in life. Junk when growing up. Laid off twice with no notice, both times from jobs I really enjoyed. And an injury at work and being off work for three years. Typically, I have slept well, and up until the last few years when I wanted to get healthier and lose some weight, I could make it happen. But after reading this book I really believe that everyone could benefit from giving this book a read. I am sure there is a technique or two you will find helpful. My only real regret about this book is that there is no eBook edition. I would love to be able to gift the Kindle edition to several people I know who only read digitally. But even with that being said this is a very valuable little volume, especially in this day and age.

The chapters in this volume are:
Understanding Stress
Out of Control
Leaving it Until the Last Minute
Letting god
Practical Ways to Approach Stress
The Experience of prayer
Useful Resources

The first passage that really hit me was:

“Growing up, many of us even heard words of condemnation and shame: “You’re stupid!”, “You’ll never amount to anything!” “I wish you had never been born!” Negative words like these can form a kind of curse over us. They tend to define the way we see ourselves and the way in which we interact with the world around us. We can feel unwanted, rejected, stupid, ugly, unlovable, ashamed, and so on. At some deep level, we can even see ourselves as orphans. The scars from the painful ways in which people have treated us in the past can compound the way we see ourselves.”

The older I get the more I realize the truth of a passage like this, and the harder I try with my own children. This book will speak to the heart. It does not necessarily have all the answers but does point us in the right direction. One of the sections in the book talks about ways to handle and deal with stress. It gives some great ideas and also some examples of things not to do. It states:

“Finding ways to manage our breathing through Christian prayers and meditation can play a large part in managing the symptoms of stress. Breathing techniques and relaxation exercises, rooted in yoga and new age religions might be tempting for us to try since they are increasingly popular these days. However, the Church warns us to avoid them since they are not rooted in the Church’s rich history handed onto us by Christ. Even if they have a veneer of “spirituality” there is a danger that we can open ourselves up to the spiritual realities of the practices behind them, making us worse off than before. The Church herself has a rich history of Christian meditative prayer that can help us not only to relax, but also to help us open up to the healing love of the Holy Spirit.”

It provides some great examples of Christian meditation and prayer that can help with stress and with inner healing. And it strongly reminds us that part of the healing process is learning to forgive:

“Even though we know we should forgive ourselves and others we can find that we are powerless to change our lives and so we continue to hang on to the causes of stress to the bitter end of exhaustion. We can find ourselves bound by hidden fears and beliefs that we are worthless. These can then lead us to unhealthy habits of sin that add to our levels of stress - overeating, using pornography, masturbation, illicit sex, gambling, procrastination, stealing, spending hours playing online games, taking drugs, drinking and getting drunk etc.”

We need to learn to forgive others and ourselves, so that we can break the cycles. So that we can learn to heal, and maybe even learn to help others heal. There is a prayer for deliverance found in the book that is taken from Neal Lozano’s book Unbound. It is an incredibly moving and powerful prayer. I have set up an outlook reminder so that I can pray this prayer daily until I am living it to the full. The last passage I wish to share with you is:

Renewing our baptism:

As baptised children of God, we need to recognise the power that we have to renounce the influence of evil in our lives. We can refresh the power of our baptism at any moment by first repenting of our sins and renouncing Satan’s influence over us and then accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our lives and receiving the Father’s blessings.

Renunciation is a fruit of repentance. In repenting of our sins and vices (sinful habits), we are declaring that there is no more place in our lives for the idols that tempt us to turn towards them for our security.”

I do not typically read physically books but received a gift copy of this one. I am very thankful I have read it. And know that I will read it again. The resource section at the end of the book has both Catholic and Non-Catholic resources in the UK for many areas where we might need help after reading this book. Living in Canada I am certain if I reached out to some of them, they would be able to make referrals. This is an amazing little volume and I give it a very solid 5/5 stars. It was a book I read because of other in the series, but I found it was a book I needed to read. And maybe you will find the same if you give it a chance.

Another excellent resource 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.

Other Books in the Finding God Series:
Finding God in Times of Stress - Fr Antonio Ritaccio
Finding God in Loneliness - Fr Antonio Ritaccio
Finding God in Anxiety and Depression - Fr Antonio Ritaccio

Finding God in Anger and Bitterness - Nick Donnelly
Finding God in Doubt and Disbelief - Nick Donnelly
Finding God in Anger and Bitterness - Nick Donnelly
Finding God When Prayer Doesn't Work - Nick Donnelly
Finding God When a Loved One Loses Faith - Nick Donnelly

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Fruits of the Spirit - Stratford Caldecott - CTS Deeper Christianity Series

Fruits of the Spirit
CTS Deeper Christianity Series
Stratford Caldecott
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860826610
eISBN 9781784692919
CTS Booklet SP31

I have a friend who calls me a ‘completionist’ because when I find an author I love I try and read everything they wrote. I have come to realize that with books from the Catholic Truth Society that is likely impossible. Nearly every time I finish one I find 2 or three more I want to read. And so many are out of print and hard to track down. In just the last year I have read over 60 books from the Catholic Truth Society, I discovered them by accident doing research on an Alice Curtayne, and have fell in love with the books and booklets I have read. This book is the sixth book I have read in the Deeper Christianity Series. Up until recently I believed there were 16 books in the series and that 15 of those 16 were available as eBooks. I was mistaken. There have been 52 books in this particular series over the years. And most are now out of print. And from a contact at CTS, for many of the out-of-print volumes the CTS no longer holds the rights, therefore it is unlike they willcome back into print either as physically or eBooks. Tracking down those older volumes is proveing difficult. The Catholic Truth Society has been publishing books and booklets for over 150 years, they add many new titles each year, and many drop into the out of print category. Of the 60 titles I have read so far all have been 4 or 5 Stars our of 5. And I loved the books in this series.

The description of this volume is:

“This booklet explores the imagery of trees and fruitfulness in the Bible, and offers a sketch of Christian morality based on the relationship of spiritual fruits to the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues. The result is a kind of rough map, a guidebook of sorts to a life in the Spirit, inspired by teachings that we find in Holy Scripture and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The chapters in the book are:

Nostalgia for Paradise
The Tree of the Cross
The Pattern of the Moral Life
Dividing the Fruits
Fruits of Prudence
Fruits of Justice
Fruits of Fortitude
Fruits of Temperance
The Healing of the Nations

This book in many ways was much more academic than others in the series. Reading it, the book had a very different feel than others in the series. The fruit of the spirit and the spiritual disciplines are something that have fascinated me for over 30 years now. Stratford in the introduction states:

“This booklet is about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It explores the imagery of trees and fruitfulness in the Bible, and offers a tentative sketch of Christian morality based on the relationship of spiritual fruits to the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues. The result is a kind of rough map, a guidebook of sorts to a life in the Spirit, inspired by teachings that we find in Holy Scripture and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

He also says:

“The translation of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible lists the fruits of the Spirit as nine: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. But the older Vulgate and Douai versions give twelve: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Finally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (para 1832) follows the older tradition, and lists twelve:

“The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: ‘charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness [benignity], goodness, generosity [longanimity], gentleness [mildness], faithfulness [faith], modesty, self-control [continency], chastity’.”

Guided by the Catechism, it is this list of twelve that will be followed in what follows. But whether nine or twelve we need to remember that all these diverse fruits are aspects of the one fruit that is mentioned at the beginning of all three lists; namely love, or charity.”

After that he goes on to speak about symbols in the bible, about ways of interpreting symbols. And then he looks specifically at the symbols of trees, light, lamps and boats. One of the great sections in this book was a look at the differences between fruits and virtues. He states:

“One thing that many find confusing is the distinction between virtues and fruits. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are the result of the virtues. To put it more poetically, the virtues are the blossom on the tree of life, which we see in springtime, and the fruits are what come from these flowers at the time of ripeness. So at this point we need to consider the virtues. What are they, and how do they grow?”

In the next section ‘Dividing the Fruits’ Stratford declares:

“How are we to understand the fruits of the Holy Spirit in detail? What can we say about them? In what follows I have been very specific - perhaps too specific for some people. But I want to show that the twelve fruits are not just vague terms to describe the attributes or behaviour of a typically nice person; they are the actual results of the four cardinal virtues being energized by the Holy Spirit through the three theological virtues.”

And in part that is what I mentioned earlier. This book is much more detailed then others in the series. That is not a bad thing, but it is not what I was expecting. But it was a book I am blessed to have read. And it is another great 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 in the Deeper Christianity Series:
7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit
8 Deadly Sins Learning to Defend the Life of Grace
Christian Fasting Disciplining the Body, Awakening the Spirit
Deepening Prayer Life Defined by Prayer
Desire & Delight
Faith, Hope and Love The Theological Virtues
Fruits of the Holy Spirit 
Living a Happy Life
Lectio Divina Spiritual Reading of the Bible
Making Sunday Special

Mary in the Liturgy
Mary Mysteries of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Providence and Prayer
Prudence, Justice, Courage, and Temperance
Purgatory A Mystery of Love
Spiritual Warfare Fighting the Good Fight

The Church's Year Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ
The Name of God The Revelation of the Merciful Presence of God
Understanding The Story Of The Bible
Union with God

Books by Stratford Caldecott:
Secret Fire: The Spiritual Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien
All Things Made New: The Mysteries of the World in Christ
The Radiance of Being: Dimensions of Cosmic Christianity
The Tumbler of God: Chesterton as Mystic
Not as the World Gives: The Way of Creative Justice
A Hidden Presence: The Catholic Imagination of J.R.R Tolkien
Eternity in Time
Understanding The New Age Movement
Catholic Social Teaching

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

An Arrow In Flight - Jane Lebak - Seven Angels Book 1

An Arrow In Flight
Seven Archangels Book 1
Jane Lebak
Philangelus Press

ISBN 9781942133032
eISBN 9781942133148

I have read 15 books or published short stories by Jane Lebak in just under a year. But this is the first novel I have read in the Seven Archangels series. And what an incredible read it is. Some fiction that I read is just simple entertainment. This book on the other hand will make you think, will cause you to reflect and now almost 2 weeks after finishing the book I am still thinking about this story. Lebak’s examination of the lives of angels is incredible. I do not know if Lebak has been divinely inspired in writing these books. But they have caused me to reflect upon angels far more. And to be praying the Saint Michael and guardian angel prayers far far more often. 

This novel is a series of events and stories that span time, space, and overlaps with biblical events. The sections in the book are:

Heartless City 1415 BC
Holiday 1236 BC
Stones 1015 BC
In Carnation 973 BC
Pomegranate 960 BC
A Fish Story 637 BC
Irin 614 BC
Wanderer 593 BC, 
Children In Hell 576 BC
The Epilogue 3 BC and Year Eighteen

Reading this story will stir something visceral in the readers. If you are a person of faith, a Christian or a Catholic there is so much to appreciate and that will resonate with you. If you are not it might stir things you are not aware of. The presentation of the spiritual battles. The story spans from events at Sodom and Gomorrah through to the early life of Christ. The interactions between angels and humans, and angels and fallen angels is captured in a stunning fashion. 

Lebak does an amazing job of representing angels. The friendships and relationships between angles, and the different orders of angels. Also her portrayal of angels and their work for humans, is moving to read.

It has been a long time since I was a bright eyed 19 year old in my second year in university and leading a spiritual warfare prayer meeting weekday mornings at 630am. Over the years as my faith became more and more academic spiritual warfare interests have waxed and waned. But this fictional novel has stoked my prayer life. And it has left me desperate for book two. An excellent speculative fiction novel. 

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

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

Relic of His Heart
With Two Eyes Into Gehenna

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


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

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

Seven Angels Short Story Bundle 2.1-2.4

The Adventures of Lee and Bucky:

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

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

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

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Transfer Complete - Jorge Sáez Criado - Memories of Twilight Book 1

Transfer Complete
Memories of Twilight Book 1
J.S. Criado
Jorge Sáez Criado
Ana María Fernández Gutiérrez (Translator)
Lisa Nicholas (Translator)
ISBN 978-1790983346

I was introduced to the words of Jorge Sáez (J.S.) Criado through a fellow bibliophile. At the time none of Criado’s works were available in English. I started following the author and once I found out that this volume was available in English, I picked it up right away. I devoured it twice today. The first time I read it during my lunch break at work. The second I used adaptive technology and listened to it on my way home from work. My only complaint is that it is too short. But a bit about that, the author in the introduction to the book states:

“Memories of Twilight is an experiment and an adventure—a science fiction story about a powerful, out-of-control artificial intelligence, robots with unimaginable abilities, and humans who are more and more dependent on technology. This story required something special, to be written not as a novel but as a series of small, key fragments, each offering its own vision of the whole, a vision of the twilight of humanity.”

The story is written as a series of separate pieces, and the 9 pieces in this volume span more than 15 years in time. The sections in this volume are:

About Memories of Twilight
The Turing Test
What Have We Done?
Best Friend
Transfer Complete

In some ways the story reads like classic science fiction. It called to mind Frank Herbert’s stories The Green Brain and The Eye's of Heisenberg. The story begins with two programmers David and Billy who want to create an AI that can pass the Turing Test. They do too good a job and soon Amy has infected every internet aware device on Earth, and maybe even some no longer on the third rock from the sun. In an event similar to Ultron, spreading around the world, Amy is soon almost everywhere, and her security protocols are protecting her from being removed.

From there the story jumps in time, and place. We jump to different characters in different places at different times. We see follow the spread of robots from novelty items for the rich, to becoming standard household items. And All this time David and Billy are trying to find a way to put the lid on the Pandora’s box that they opened, because they were too smart and not cautious enough.

The Spanish edition of the book comes in at 120 pages, and the English print edition is just under 100. It is more of a novella. But it is also a collection of short stories. Each story could be read on its own. But together they weave a larger tale, a tale that is very well written, and as stated will leave you desperate for more. Book 2 is available in Spanish, and I hope we will not have too long a wait for it to be available in English. The way the story ends we are left hanging, wondering what happens to Billy and David. And I keep wondering what is going on, on the surface of the red planet.

A great story that will start you thinking, and one that you will not easily be able to stop thinking about. Very well written! I give it a solid 5/5 stars and encourage you to give it a try.

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

Books by Jorge Sáez Criado:
In English:

Memories of Twilight:
Transfer Complete


In Spanish:
Llorando sangre
Apocalipsis: El dia del Señor
Cartas desde el corazón a un hijo no nacido
La Escala de la Felicidad


Memorias del ocaso:


Meditando el Santo Rosario:
Misterios gozosos
Misterios dolorosos
Misterios luminosos


Monday, 15 April 2019

Forgiving Mother A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace - Marge Steinhage Fenelon

Forgiving Mother: 
A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace
Marge Steinhage Fenelon
Servant Books
Franciscan Media
ISBN 9781632532275
aISBN 9781632532282

I have read this book through and am already reading it a second time. When I was reading My Queen, My Mother, by Fenelon I came across this book and immediately bought it. I kept it toward the top of my screen on my Kindle but was hesitant to open the book. I debated starting it several times, and yet could not bring myself to flip open the cover. But once I started reading, I could not put it down. The first time through the book I highlighted 27 passages before getting to part 2 of the book, the novena, which is about a third of the book. This is a book that anyone who had a less than perfect relationship with their parent could read and benefit from. The sections in this book are:

Introduction - Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
Part One: Learning to Forgive
Yes, You Can Heal
Why Is Mary the Answer?
It’s Okay to Look Back
You Are a Child of God
She Is a Child of God
You’re Just Like Your Mother
Mom! I Need You!
Who Will Be a Mother to Me Now?
I Forgive You
Part Two: Novena
Lord, Give Me the Grace to Want to Heal
Mary, Let Me Grow Closer to You
Mary, Help Me Look Back
Mary, Let Me See Myself as a Child of God
Mary, Let Me See My Mother as a Child of God
Mary, Let Me Be Transformed in the Spirit
Mary, Draw Me into Your Heart
Mary, Let Me Grow
Mary, Let Me Be Healed

In the introduction Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle states:

“I can guarantee it. I also believe that Forgiving Mother will edify any reader, helping them to understand the need to love and nurture one another as well as learn more about Mary’s essential role in our lives.”

And the book lives up to that prediction. This book spoke directly to my heart, and to my experience. Even in my years away from the Catholic church, I maintained a devotion to Holy Mary, always kept Rosaries and often prayed to Mary. And I had many issues with my earthly mother. We were estranged for a few periods in our life. And my children do not even know her name. But being inspired by this book, I have not only started praying for the repose of my mother’s soul, have had mass intentions offered for her. But back to this amazing book.

Fenelon states in the preface:

“Perhaps you see my dilemma. I am sure beyond doubt that I’ve been called by God to share with you my childhood in light of healing from the effects of an abusive mother and about the miracles Mary has done in my life and will do in yours.”

And also:

“More than anything else, I hope and pray that, by daring to share my story, I will be helping you to open up channels of forgiveness, healing, and peace for you as well as for your mom. May our Mother Mary bless, guide, and comfort you!”

Marge writes this story from a very transparent and vulnerable place. She is open and honest with us about some of the abuse and mistreatment she received at her mothers’ hands. She shares her journey to healing and eventually forgiveness. It is a powerful read. But the book is also much more then biography both family and spiritual. It is an example that can offer tools for those of us who need to heal from our relationships with our mothers, or grandmothers. It does an incredible job of showing the love and protection of Mary. About the relationship you can have with Mary and through that healing and growth in your personal spiritual life.

I will share a few random quotes from the sections I highlighted:

“In spite of the difficulties, I was brought up in what I consider a fairly Catholic home, and my three siblings and I all received a Catholic education.”

“I want you to know and feel that you are a child of Mary and that she loves you tenderly. She really, truly is your mother—given to you by our Lord as he hung dying on the cross. Jesus wants you to accept his mother as your own and to develop a deepening relationship with her so that she can fill the void that the past has left inside of you. And in her kind, motherly way, she will. What’s more, she will lead you to her son, who, as God, is the ultimate source of all healing and peace.”

“Healing is a process, not a project, and you must, through prayer, allow God’s grace to work in you.”

“Do you want to be well? Do you really want to be well? Are you ready to go through the work of affecting that healing? I think you are; otherwise, you never would have picked up this book.”

“As our mother, she cares about every aspect of our lives, past, present, and future. She cares about our joys and sorrows, successes and failures, dreams and desires. She cares about where we have been and where we are going. She cares about who we are and who we would like to become. She cares about the seemingly insignificant details of our daily routines and the huge life events. She cares about all that is important to us and even about what is not so important. She cares about everything.”

“No matter what you lack from your childhood, it can be recovered with the Blessed Virgin’s help. Mary is the answer.”

In the last few weeks I have read two books by this author. Both were excellent reads. And before I had even finished this volume, I picked up two others by this author to read. This is an amazing read and I highly recommend it.

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

Books by Marge Steinhage Fenelon:
Our Lady, Undoer of Knots
My Queen, My Mother
Imitating Mary
Forgiving Mother
When’s God Gonna Call Me Back?
When’s God Gonna Show Up?
Reveille for the Soul
Strengthening Your Family: A Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home
10 Promises of Jesus: Stories and Scripture Reflections about Suffering and Joy