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Thursday, 31 January 2019

Something Blue - Courtney Sheinmel and Jennifer A. Bell - Stella Batts Book 6

Something Blue
Stella Batts Book 6
Courtney Sheinmel (Author)
Jennifer A. Bell (Illustrator)
Sleeping Bear Press

ISBN 9781585368525
eISBN 9781627537438
ASIN B00OGJ6G4K


With the writing of this review my oldest daughter and I have collaborated on reviews of all 10 books in the Stella Batts Series, We are also more than halfway through rereading the series. The first time we read them 2-3 years ago, we alternated pages, and it was a struggled to get her to read. Now She has asked to reread this book, and the whole series and this time around she is reading them to be and ripping through them in two or three sittings. Any book that my daughter is eager to read and wants to read over again is a big hit with me! 



It is interesting coming back to these books around three years after first reading them. The first time through it took almost 2 years to make it through the series. And it was a fight to get her to read. This time in under a month we have read half the series, and she asks to read and to read extra chapters once we have hit our minimum daily reading time. But let’s take a look at this specific title.

What can go wrong during a wedding? Well as many of us know from real life a lot. And often not what you think might or are prepared for. That is exactly what happens in this book. Stella’s aunt Laura is getting married, and not only is Stella getting a new Uncle in Rob, but her first cousin in Rob’s daughter Lia who is Stella’s age. But Stella soon finds herself in conflict. She has made a pinky promise to Lia but has a duty to Laura. She knows family is to come first, but Lia is about to become family. And when you combine that with an accident to the wedding cake and the brides dress and things just keep going from bad to worse for Stella. And Penny gets caught up in it all because she wants to stick to Stella’s side.



But even with all the misadventures in this story, Things always have a way of coming together for Stella, and this time things work out in surprising ways. All thanks to the hotel Aoife and the woman it is named after. A wonderful story about family, friends, and trying hard to do the right thing. It also does an amazing job of capturing some of what a child might struggle with being in a parents wedding party as the parent is remarried. 


Like the other books in the series there are several illustrations by Jennifer A. Bell scattered throughout the book. There are a few full-page illustrations and many smaller pieces interspersed in the text. My girls love the illustrations, my daughter will be reading along and all of a sudden pause, I will give her the last line she read thinking she has lost her place, and as often as not she has just stopped to look at the illustrations.



Part of what makes this a great series and that we appreciate most is that it is in the genre of realistic fiction. The events and characters could be our family, they could be family or friends from the neighbourhood or school. My kids have many friends with divorced parents, and hear stories about bouncing back and forth between the parents. We always have great discussions after reading a Stella Batts book, not only what do they like about the book, but how it applies to them. And in this book about the impact that has on their friends. And the focus on the family being a team and working through issues together.

A great book in an excellent series! A fantastic middle grade read, and one of our favorites in the series.

Books by: Courtney Sheinmel:
Stella Batts:

Stella Batts Needs A New Name
Stella Batts Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Stella Batts Pardon Me
Stella Batts A Case of the Meanies
Stella Batts Who's in Charge?
Stella Batts Something Blue
Stella Batts None of Your Beeswax
Stella Batts Superstar

Stella Batts Scaredy Cat
Stella Batts Broken Birthday


The Kindness Club:
The Kindness Club
Designed by Lucy


Agnes and Clarabelle Series :
Agnes and Clarabelle
Agnes and Clarabelle Celebrate


Other Books:
Edgewater
Zacktastic
My So-Called Life
Positively
Sincerely
All the Things You Are

...












Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Death by Airship - Arthur Slade - Orca Currents

Death by Airship
Orca Currents
Arthur Slade
Orca Book Publishers
ISBN 9781459818705
eISBN 9781459818729
ASIN B07N7JJW3B


I freely admit I am a fan of the works of Arthur Slade. I fell in love with his books when I was in university and worked as a bookseller. And I try and stay abreast of his new books. And this one did not disappoint. I have now read it through twice about 6 weeks apart. First I devoured it, and on the second in order for it to be fresher to write this review. My reaction when I first finished it was:

“It is an amazing Middle Grade read! The line I laughed out loud at was:

“She was so beautiful. Like a statue on the front of a ship. But alive. And not made of wood.”

So looking forward to reading it again with my son.”

And that sentiment remains. It is a really fun read; one that will grab the attentions of young boys and girls, even the most reluctant of readers. Slade writes such diverse books from vampires, myths and Icelandic legends, early Hollywood, and more. And yet with all the diversity if his novels to date this book surprised me. Now one thing really stood out to me as a seasoned and salted reader. In some way this reminded me of Piers Anthony’s Bio of a Space Tyrant series but aimed at a much younger audience and a lot more humour. This story has pirates, airships, a love interest, a family feuding, and just a smattering of revenge. And when pirates are a feuding things get messy quick. So without further ado yo ho ho let’s get to the specifics about the story!

Prince Conn will never be the pirate King. And to be honest that is just fine with him. He just wants his airship, a crew and the open sky. For he is in fact ninth in line for the throne and probably would not care if he was not on the list at all. He might wish his airship was a little newer, or better equipped, but it is his and his misfit crew are happy plundering the skies together. Soon however it might not matter what Conn would like. For his siblings are being knocked off one by one. And whoever is doing these dastardly deeds is making sure to leave clues that point clearly at Conn. The clues are so convincing even his mother is out to kill him before he knocks off any more of her children. And the deaths are all spectacular, and masterfully planned. The murders include tragic fires, mysterious poisoning, and even ferocious cannon attack. And each of the murders is more surprising than the last because of planning and cunning that went into it. 

The big questions are can Conn surprise every one and unmask the real killer, can he clear his name, can he save his father and even his own hide?

This is a wonderful little read. A great Middle Grade read, and entertaining enough for us older folks who just love a great story. My only real complaint is I believe this is a standalone novel, and I would love to see more stories set in this world. The Pirate clan is a fascinating family, and I desperately want to know what the next adventure is!

Another great read from the masterful pen of Arthur Slade! Hazzah!

Books by Arthur Slade:
The Dragonfly's Journey (1996)

John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Flickers (2016)
Crimson (2018)
Death by Airship (2019)
...

Hunchback Assignments Series:
aka Modo Mission Clockwork Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)


Librarian. Assassin. Vampire Series:
Amber Fang: The Hunted
Amber Fang: Betrayed
Amber Fang: Revenge
Amber Fang Box Set Books 1-3
...

Dragon Assassin Series:
Twin Fury
Shadow Hunter
Dark Wings
Bitterwaters
... 

Books as Stephen Shea:
The Not So Simple Life
Damage
Viper - Short Story


Visual Bibliography for Arthur Slade
Author profile interview with Arthur Slade.

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea. 

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Why pilgrimage? - David Baldwin - CTS Christian Shrines Series

Why pilgrimage?
CTS Christian Shrines Series
David Baldwin
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784690779
eISBN 9781784693022
ASIN B072FSFC2V
CTS Booklet D800



I have long had an interest in Pilgrimage with a particular passion for Santiago de Compostela. I have written about personal pilgrimage, and desire for pilgrimage previously. When I did my university degree, I did a course on ‘Sacred Spaces’ and another on ‘Faith Quests’ this little volume would have been excellent resource material for both of those courses. This is a great little read and serves as an excellent introduction and jumping off point to the CTS Christian Shrines Series. And David has written many of the book in the series. The sections in this volume are:

Dedication
Introduction
Why Pilgrimage?
Pilgrimage through the Ages
Three Principal Pilgrim Places
     The Holy Land and Jerusalem
     Rome
     The Way of Saint James and Santiago de Compostela
Marian Shrines
     Lourdes
     Fatima
     Guadalupe
     Walsingham “England’s Nazareth”
     Paris - Rue de Bac
     Banneux
     La Salette
     Loreto
     Knock
     Ephesus - The House of The Virgin Mary
The Great Saints
Other Pilgrim Places

     The Sacred Heart of Jesus - Paray-le-Monial
     Taizé
     Our Lady of Graces and St Joseph - Cotignac
     Canterbury Cathedral
     Poland - Auschwitz and the Divine Mercy
     The Shroud of Turin
     Marthe Robin - Chateauneuf-de-Galaure:
     The Infant of Prague
     The Holy Island of Lindisfarne
     Medjugorje
Pilgrim Prayer
A Pilgrim’s Prayer
Further Reading

This volume begins with these words:

“Recent years have seen rising numbers of pilgrims of all faiths seeking out their holy places. Set in the context of today’s overburdened and fractured world, there seems to be a deep yearning and a restless desire to seek consolation, solace, healing, affirmation, peace, forgiveness, reassurance - whether through that encounter on the pilgrim journey, or at the destination, or both - that would bring about a sense of fulfillment and a deeper understanding of self.

This applies equally to the Christian pilgrim, as evidenced by the millions who go every year to those well known, cherished pilgrim destinations such as the Holy Land, Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, Santiago de Compostela. But there are many others less well known or locally popular places of pilgrimage - which, of course, are just as valid or appealing.

This small book is about pilgrimage. It aims to give insights, ideas and inspiration, with a view to setting you -or continuing you - on your pilgrim journeys!”

Even though it is a small booklet it is packed with information. It examines reasons for going on pilgrimage. How to prepare. Setting realistic expectations. And How to process the experience once you have returned home. It looks briefly at the history of pilgrimage and the renewed appeal. Then it looks at different pilgrimages. The pilgrim’s prayer composed by David Baldwin is a wonderful way to conclude this book.

This book would be a great read for anyone with a passing interest in pilgrimages. For those who wish to go on pilgrimage and want a broad overview. Or for those who are unlikely to travel and just want to know in knowledge of the pilgrimage sites and devotions.

The CTS Christian Shrines Series seems to have two main styles of books. Pilgrimage companions and books focusing on the message from the shrine. This book is from the second category. There are also numerous other books from CTS that could support your quest for knowledge on pilgrimages and Christian shrines. This was a great little read, and I look forward to exploring more in the Christian Shrines Series.

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

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

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





Monday, 28 January 2019

Praying the Angelus Find Joy, Peace, and Purpose in Everyday Life - Jared Dees

Praying the Angelus
Find Joy, Peace, and Purpose in Everyday Life
Jared Dees
Ave Maria Press
ISBN 9781594716737
eISBN 9781594716744
ASIN B01MUC85QS

 


Prior to reading this book I had only ever prayed the Angelus a few times, those few times it was instigated and lead by a spiritual director while we walked and after we had prayed the rosary together. I was somewhat familiar with the tradition of the Angelus as a prayer and in art. But it had not been a significant part of my personal devotion. This book changed that. I am thankful for another review of this book I came across and that sparked my interest in the title. I read this book over a year before writing this review. The reason for the delay was that it is easy to read a book, or go to a retreat, event or conference and come back spiritually fired up and with new commitments. But also, just as easy for those habits to fall by the wayside. I wanted to see if this would be a new habit that would last and stick, or not before reviewing the book.

Now I will be completely honest I do not typically pray this prayer three times a day. I always pray it at noon, often pray it in the morning and occasionally pray it at 3 in the afternoon. I have email reminders for 5:55am and 11:55am so that I am prompted to pray it. It has truly been a blessing to add this devotion to my spiritual practice, and to have it last 18 months now. And therefore, I am writing the review. Now back to the book.

The Angelus as a devotion has been around and recognized for centuries. In this book Dees introduces readers to the history and significance of this prayer in church history and for the church today. Dees has written a series of meditations and reflections on both the Angelus and the Regina Caeli (Said in place of the Angelus during the Easter season from Easter to Pentecost.). His explorations are through words and images (artwork). The sections in this volume are:

Preface
The Angelus
The Regina Caeli
An Invitation
Origins of the Angelus and the Regina Caeli
How to Pray the Angelus
What to Expect
Why Pray the Angelus Today?
Angelus Meditations
     The Angel of the Lord Declared unto Mary
     And She Conceived of the Holy Spirit
     Behold the Handmaid of the Lord
     Be It Done unto Me According to Thy Word
     And the Word Was Made Flesh
     And Dwelt Among Us
     Pray for Us, O Holy Mother of God
     That We May Be Made Worthy of the Promises of Christ
     Pour Forth, We Beseech Thee O Lord, Thy Grace into Our Hearts
     That We to Whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son,
     Was Made Known by the Message of an Angel
     May by His Passion and Cross Be Brought to the Glory of His Resurrection
     Through the Same Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Regina Caeli Meditations
     Queen of Heaven, Rejoice, Alleluia
     For He, Whom You Did Merit to Bear, Alleluia
     Has Risen, as He Said, Alleluia
     Pray for Us to God, Alleluia
     Rejoice and Be Glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleluia
     For the Lord Has Truly Risen, Alleluia
     O God, Who Gave Joy to the World through the Resurrection of Thy Son,
    Our Lord Jesus Christ, Grant, We Beseech Thee
     That through the Intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother
     We May Obtain the Joys of Everlasting Life
Notes

This book serves as a guide to the Angelus for both those familiar with it and newcomers to the devotion. This is a wonderful read and will likely inspire you and change your prayer life. I give this book my highest recommendation for not only is it an easily accessible read, it is just as easy to implement and is very practical.

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

Books by Jared Dees:
31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator
To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach: The Essential Guide to Ministry in Today's Catholic Church
Praying the Angelus: Find Joy, Peace, and Purpose in Everyday Life
Christ in the Classroom: Lesson Planning for the Heart and Mind
The Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith) Study Guide: A Companion to Pope Francis's First Encyclical
Sunday Prayer for Catholic School Teachers 2013-14


Sunday, 27 January 2019

The Third Sunday In Ordinary Time 2019

The Third Sunday In Ordinary Time 2019

Our readings this week are:

First Reading Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10 
Responsorial Psalm 19:7, 8, 9, 14 Response John 6:63
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 12:12-30
Gospel Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

Our first reading this week is from the time of Israel’s return from exile. After the law is read, they mourn. They recognized that they had not been living the law. But Ezra and Nehemiah tell them:

“This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then Ezra said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”

I think of those today who celebrate sin, who flaunt the laws of God and the laws of nature. I doubt if they had the word of God read to them, they would immediately mourn and convert. I think about the new law in New York State, allowing abortion up to the moment of birth. And the celebrations and rejoicing over this ‘progressive’ law. I think about the vote last year on abortion in Ireland. And I think about the mistakes in my own life. Both what I have done, and what I have failed to do. What I have said and what I have failed to say. And I think about the joy and peace after a good confession. And to be honest I struggle there are some sins I confess regularly. But I am trying. I am striving. I think about this meme from a friend who writes at The Cordial Catholic. 


I also think about a new book ‘Remember Your Death: Lenten Devotional’ by Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble FSP. How many people today live their whole life without thinking about their death. About the four last things, Death Judgement, Heaven, and Hell? 


The response this week is an answer to all of those questions and reflections:

“Your words, Lord, are spirit and life.”

But in order to know that life, we need to be interacting with those words of life. Like the Israelites we need to listen to the word as community. We also need to be studying the word personally. And we need to try and live it. It cannot just be an intellectual activity, it needs to have an impact on our life. 

The reading from Corinthians speaks about the many parts one body. The older I get the more I understand and appreciate this passage. I also believe that God the Father through the Spirit is still giving the gifts of:

Apostles
Prophets
Teachers
Power
Healing
Assistance
Leadership
Tongues

I have seen different gifts in my life at different phases. And I have seen them in the lives of friends, family, and fellow parishioners. But one of the things that has served me over the years if persistence, and prayer. Between these two God has brought me through so many things. And I believe he will bring us through what we are facing as a family. And all that comes our way in the future. And then we come to this weeks Gospel.  Jesus declaring the day of the Lord. He publicly claims to fulfill the scriptures. Me trust in that claim is central to my life and trying to live out that belief. And so, I encourage you, if you are a believe grow that knowledge, grow in the faith and in living it out. If you are not, I challenge you to read the gospels with an open heart. For one day we will all die and be called to give an account.



Related Posts:

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Catholic Discipline - T.J. Burdick - 8 Daily Habits Towards Living a Holier Life

Catholic Discipline:
8 Daily Habits Towards Living a Holier Life
T.J. Burdick



This title booklet is available for free from the author’s website. It is a fantastic little read. I would live to see Burdick expand this into a much larger book. But the short concise format works well as an introduction to the topics covered. The book looks at 8 traits through the examples of 8 saints. In the introduction Burdick states:

“We are wired to become better than we currently are in every aspect of our lives. Innately, we know that our current state is not where we need to be and so we take the necessary steps to develop the skills to rise to a higher level. Athletes train with passion and deny themselves unhealthy diets to win the crown of victory. Chefs seek out the best ingredients and analyze every recipe until their pallets are satiated. Writers spend countless hours writing, editing, and revising their words until they have articulated their message with perfect clarity.

There is nothing worthwhile in life that comes without discipline.

As Catholics, there is nothing more worthwhile than attaining the ultimate degree of spiritual perfection. And doing so is no different than the athlete, the chef, the writer, etc. To rise to the highest of spiritual clarity, we must become intentional in our approach and disciplined in our pursuit of God.”

This book can easily be read over a coffee break. And is a book we can return to often as a quick refresher.

8 Traits:
Marian Devotion
Detachment
Study
Prayer
The Sacraments
Virtue
Community and Mission
Be Different

7 Saints:
St. Maximilian Kolbe
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Therese of Lisieux
St. Pope John Paul II
St. Catherine of Siena
St. Teresa of Calcutta

Community and mission is the only trait without a specific saint. But in reality, each of the saints profiled for the other 7 traits are examples of this. These 8 traits serve as pillars to growing as disciples of Jesus Christ. The list is by no means extensive and Burdick acknowledges that in the conclusion.

My conclusion is that this is an excellent little resource and you cannot beat the price.

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

Books by T.J. Burdick:
Detached: Put Your Phone in Its Pace
30 Minutes: Less Cell Phone. More Beauty
The Rosary in Kid Speak
99 Ways to Teach Like the Master
The Children’s Little Advent Book
One Body, Many Blogs: A Guide for Christian Bloggers
33: A Spiritfesto for All Writers
God's Wifi: How to Live a Happier, Holier Life in the Digital Age
Digital Missionary: How to Evangelize in the Digital World

Catholic Discipline: 8 Daily Habits Towards Living a Holier Life

Edited by T.J. Burdick:
Summa 365 (Annotated): Read the Summa in One Year


Friday, 25 January 2019

Message of Walsingham - R.W. Connelly - CTS Christian Shrines Series

Message of Walsingham
The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
CTS Christian Shrines Series
R.W. Connelly
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860820304
eISBN 9781784693565
ASIN B073FK3WW3
CTS Booklet D646



This book was originally written in 1973 and was expanded in 1998 and again in 2015. Some of the expansions are devotional guides and collection of prayers. Of all the Marian shrines in the CTS Christian Shrines Series or even the pilgrimage sites with the subtitle ‘A Pilgrim's Companion’ this book is about the location I am least familiar with. And that might be the reason I start with this book. I wanted to approach the series and this book with fresh eyes. I am thankful for the book and this message contained.

The sections in this book are:

Walsingham Ever Ancient - Ever New
Preface
History

     Origins Of Walsingham
     Growth Of Walsingham
     The Dowry Of Mary
     The Reformation
     The Desolation
     1897: Annus Mirabilis
Modern Times
     First National Pilgrimage
     England’s National Shrine
     Years Of Progress
     Ecumenism
     Slipper Chapel Statue
     Site Of The Original Shrine
Pilgrims
Devotions For Pilgrimage

     Departure For A Safe Pilgrimage
     During The Journey And On The Holy Mile
     Visit To The Holy Ghost Chapel
     Visit To The Slipper Chapel
     Visit To The Chapel Of Reconciliation
Message Of Walsingham
     Mary Of Nazareth
     The Word Of God
     What Do Pilgrims Seek?
     Walsingham Today
     Hospitality
     Walsingham Association

I was fascinated to read about the history of Walsingham. Some of the history that was of particular interest was:

“Walsingham has been a place of pilgrimage since 1061. This is the traditional date and is based upon the statement in the Pynson Ballad published in the last years of the fifteenth century.

In that year, when St Edward the Confessor was King of England, five years before the Norman Conquest, a lady of the village, Richeldis de Faverches, received a vision from Our Lady. The Pynson Ballad relates how Richeldis was ‘led in spirit’ to the Holy Land and shown the house where Mary was told she was to be the Mother of God. Richeldis was then requested by Our Lady to build another house like this at Walsingham and was promised: ‘Whoever seeks my help there will not go away empty-handed’.

This vision is the start of the Walsingham story. It shows that Mary herself selected Walsingham as a holy place, and invited people to visit her and seek her aid.”


And

“For over 350 years Walsingham was to be a land of desolation. With the Priory in ruins, the village seemed to forget its religious heritage. The vast majority of Englishmen had no interest in Our Lady of Walsingham. Even many Catholics through the difficult days of persecution found it difficult to preserve the memory of a shrine they could not visit. Yet it is remarkable that despite all the vicissitudes of English Catholics they never completely forgot the Lady of Walsingham.”

I am very intrigued by the resurrection of this shrine and pilgrimage site. Also, of the dray not only to Catholics but those of the Anglican persuasions. It is interesting that the current shrine is not on the original site, but near by. The original site being under private ownership. We are told:


“There has been some discussion in recent years as to whether the present Shrine should be sited in the Slipper Chapel, which after all is one mile outside Walsingham. At one time it was understood that this was merely a temporary site and that eventually the Shrine would return to Walsingham.

Perhaps in the distant future it will be possible for the Shrine to return to the village, but for the moment it is accepted that there are no practical possibilities for this. The cost of a new shrine would be prohibitive; the provision of land impossible. The old Catholic dream of rebuilding on the ancient site remains a dream. The Priory is in private hands and the owner has no wish to sell his family home.

It may be that future generations will have the privilege of restoring Our Lady to her old home, but in the meantime development will continue at the Slipper Chapel. It will not be in vain. No matter what the future may hold, the Slipper Chapel will always be a place for pilgrims to congregate either as the centre of the Shrine or as the starting point for processions into Walsingham.”


I have never been to Walsingham and have not been to the UK in almost 30 years. The section of prayers to be used while on pilgrimage and on site are intriguing. I copied the Prayer of Erasmus to my prayer journal and see my self praying it often. But even with never expecting to visit this shrine I have been blessed and benefited from reading this book.

The CTS Christian Shrines Series seems to have two main styles of books. Pilgrimage companions and books focusing on the message from the shrine. This book is from the second category. I loved reading this book and look forward to exploring more in the Christian Shrines 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






Thursday, 24 January 2019

Toward the Gleam - T.M. Doran

Toward the Gleam
Toward the Gleam Book 1
T.M. Doran
Ignatius Press
ISBN 9781586176334
ASIN B004UC7K4S



This book was a very pleasant surprise. It had been on my radar for a while and sat on my kindle for a few months. But once I started reading it I could not put it down. I read through my breaks at work and through my lunches and devoured the book over three days. It was so hard to put down when I had to take breaks from it.

This novel in the historical fiction style is told in a compelling way. There are so many characters that bibliophiles and bookaholics will recognize as authors and professors from the last century. It is an interesting blend of history, and the fantasy story that our Professor John Hill has uncovered. The main story is set between the first and second world wars. The story starts with an old man appearing at a monastery and telling the abbot the story of the artifact and book he is leaving in their care. Some of his companions cannot but be recognized as members of the Inklings. And his adventures while trying to find out if his translation of the story are possible take him to numerous countries, confirming with specialists in many disciplines. And still only getting a partial translation. But in his attempts to gleam information he arouses the interest of a man who ends up being a formidable and most dangerous foe.

There are so many interesting characters in this novel, both the representations of authors from the time, and the other characters in the story. A giant of a man who was formerly a slaver. A woman who can become almost anyone and is a master of disguise. A strange hermit in the hills. And then our own Professor Hill, his with, and his close group of friends. The longer Professor Hill has his artifact and the further he proceeds in his translation, the more danger he is in, and not just him, but his family and his friends. The story itself is story wrapped around a mystery, focused on philosophical questions. Questions that were important in the time that the story is set, and in many ways even more important today.

This story is a much more intellectual novel than many that are available today. It is not a Tom Clancy or a Robert B. Parker type of mystery. There is a depth in this story that you can go to again and again. It is well that can be plumbed and will leave you thinking. It is a novel that will suck you in and keep you turning the pages.

I have had this book for a while, but it just sat in my 'to be read pile' for a more than a year. It is a curious book, and many characters from history, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, and more. Once I got going, I could not put it down. A great beginning and looking forward to where the story will go in book 2. If you have read much by or about the Inklings I am certain you will enjoy this story immensely. A great read for fans of literary fiction or historical fiction of all ages. A great read!

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

Books by T.M. Doran:
Terrapin
Iota: A Novel
Circling the Turtle

Toward the Gleam Series:
Toward the Gleam
The Lucifer Ego




Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Superstar - Courtney Sheinmel and Jennifer A. Bell - Stella Batts Book 8

Superstar
Stella Batts Book 8
Courtney Sheinmel (Author)
Jennifer A. Bell (Illustrator)
Sleeping Bear Press

ISBN 9781585368563
eISBN 9781634704045
ASIN B00UZ6BUDU


My oldest and I have been reading the Stella Batts books for a few years now. And recently I started reading them with my youngest daughter as well. These books hold up well even to several readings over multiple years. My oldest is a most reluctant reader, but she always enjoys the Stella Batts stories, and now she can read a whole book to me in 2 or three sittings. It was her idea to reread these books and we are now more than half way through the series a second time. But now back to this specific book.

The books in the Stella Batts series form one continuous story. Each is written as if it a story written by Stella about her own life. Her life revolves around family, friends, and her families store Batts Confections. The focus in the book is family, friendship, and forgiveness. While Stella and her family are out at a restaurant, they meet a talent scot who wants to have Stella audition for a small part in a Superstar Sam episode being filmed locally. Superstar Sam is Stella’s favorite show and she is terribly excited. But that excitement soon turns to resentment and jealousy, but to find out why you will need to read the book. 

In this volume Stella has another run in with Joshua. And things escalate. Stella even must call and apologise to him. But her Mother helps her see things from a different angle, and this conflict that has been ongoing since the first volume seems to turn a corner.


As always there are several illustrations by Jennifer A. Bell scattered throughout the book. A few full-page illustrations and many smaller pieces interspersed in the text. My girls love the illustrations. And the story. 


One of the things that we appreciate most about this series is that it is in the genre of realistic fiction. The events and characters could be our family, they could be family or friends from the neighbourhood or school. We always have great discussions after reading a Stella Batts book, not only what do they like about the book, but how it applies to them. And this one has two great lessons. The first as mentioned earlier is the Stella – Joshua conflict. And the Second is Stella’s jealousy of her sister penny, and her coming through in a big way to support her sister when the time counts.  

This is a great Middle Grade read. A great book in an excellent series!

Books by: Courtney Sheinmel:
Stella Batts:

Stella Batts Needs A New Name
Stella Batts Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Stella Batts Pardon Me
Stella Batts A Case of the Meanies
Stella Batts Who's in Charge?
Stella Batts Something Blue
Stella Batts None of Your Beeswax
Stella Batts Superstar

Stella Batts Scaredy Cat
Stella Batts Broken Birthday


The Kindness Club:
The Kindness Club
Designed by Lucy


Agnes and Clarabelle Series :
Agnes and Clarabelle
Agnes and Clarabelle Celebrate


Other Books:
Edgewater
Zacktastic
My So-Called Life
Positively
Sincerely
All the Things You Are













Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Don't be afraid to be Saints: Words from John Paul II and Benedict XVI, World Youth Days 1984-2008

Don't be afraid to be Saints: Words from John Paul II and Benedict XVI, World Youth Days 1984-2008
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope John Paul II
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860824883
CTS Booklet Do 775 


I picked up this booklet to read after reading Finding Life's Purpose: Inspiration for Young People, which was taken from talks and sermons given by Pope Benedict in 2010 to young people on September 17th and 18th. So, this volume predates that volume and is taken from World Youth Days (WYD) between 1984 and 2008. But this volume is not direct excerpts from the WYD messages. This volume begins with a quote from Pope John Paul II in 2000 and the letter of invite from Pope Benedict XVI from 2008 and then the table of contents after these two pull page quotes.

The contents in this booklet are:

Come to Sydney
Christ is your Teacher
Discover your Vocation
Become a Witness
Formed by the Eucharist and Sacraments
Born to Love and Serve
The Challenge: Christ to the World?
To Live the Truth
Pilgrims looking for Christ

Based on the 68 quotes referenced in the endnotes the bock draws back and forth across various World Youth Days, and across both Popes. I personally have never been to a World Youth Day but have known many who gone and been blessed. And I believe the words spoken to the youth can encourage, and challenge those of us who are no longer in that category.  The opening words in the first chapter are:

“Christ’s call leads along a way which is not easy to travel, because it can also lead us to the Cross. But there is no other way which leads to truth and which can give life. Nevertheless, we are not alone on this path. Mary, through her fiat, opened a new way for humanity. By he acceptance of, and total dedication to the mission of her Son, she is the prototype of every Christian vocation.”

and later in the same chapter:

“You are young, and the Pope is old, 82 or 83 years of life is not the same as 22 or 23. But the pope still fully identifies with your hopes and aspirations. Although I have lived through much darkness, under harsh totalitarian regimes, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakeably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young. You are our hope, the young are our hope.”

I am in the middle I am not yet in my 80’s but also far from my 20’s. But the message in this book speaks to me, and gives me hope, and inspires me to bring hope. I need to bring and live that hope to my family, my friends, my coworkers. This book is a reminder to all of us, to live our call and be bold for the gospel. As a side note as much as I enjoyed this volume I enjoyed the one by Benedict XVI that is called out at the beginning of this review even more.

Another excellent resource from the Catholic Truth Society, and though out of print worth tracking down.

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

Books by Benedict XVI:
The Way of the Cross - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - Pope Benedict XVI
Finding Life's Purpose: Inspiration for Young People
Don't Be Afraid To Be Saints - with Pope John Paul II
...

Books About Pope Benedict:
Habemus Papam! Pope Benedict XVI - Regina Doman and Sean Lam
Benedict XVI - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky
A Pope of Surprises: The First Five Years of Pope Benedict XVI's Papacy - Helena Scott and Ethel Tolansky

Be Saints! An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI - Amy Welborn and Ann Kissane Engelhart



Related Articles:
Daily Study Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI
Which popes do you have a devotion to and why?
...