Thursday 30 April 2020

PANIC! - Corinna Turner - unSPARKed Book 3

unSPARKed Book 3
Corinna Turner
Unseen Books
ISBN 9781910806913
eISBN 9781910806920

My son and I love these books! And when this one came out I picked it up later in the evening and had finished reading it even before he was up the next morning. I am fine with that because I will love reading it again with my son. My reaction to the story Breach! was “Wow! What an incredible tale!” And as much as I loved that story, this one is just as good. And leave’s us desperate for the next story, Farmgirls Die in Cages. Which is not yet available, but this book contains a sneak peak of the continuation of this story.

This story takes placed just a few weeks after the events of A Truly Raptor-ous Welcome. The story is told in alternating first person narratives. They are told from the perspective of Darryl, her little brother Harry, and Joshua who himself is just past his 18th birthday. Darryl and Harry are minors and live unSPARKed on a saur farm. Their farm is surrounded by a double electrified and alarmed fence. Joshua is the owner and currently only crew on a Hab-Vi a habitat vehicle. But their meeting is not under the best of circumstances. 

The story begins with Darryl in a panic, it appears her father has been snatched by a raptor that has breached their farm’s fence and security. Their stepmom Carol has only been living unSPARKed a few weeks, since the wedding. And in a panic decides that they must return to the city that night. Carol will not allow Darryl to drive and is even hesitant to let them bring their weapons in the vehicle for the 3 plus hour drive to the city gates. She panics along the way and things keep going from bad to worse. 

This story includes unexpected encounters with giant herbivores, that might be near their nest. And two different packs of raptors. A panicked flight off road across country. And a bog that has previously swallowed an entire Hab-vi. And we have the Eucharist saved from a home tabernacle. And as always the intercession of Saint Desmond. 

The unSPARKed world is like the story of Jurassic Park has overwhelmed the whole world. Most humans live in walled cities that have extensive protection. Some live in Hab-Vi’s and hunt for a living. And some live on farms outside the cities. The highways are monitored and protected. But once you are unSPARKed you better be able to protect yourself and keep yourself and those with you safe.  

This story ends with a huge twist. And a cliff hanger! It is another great installment in an excellent series. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Corinna Turner:
I Am Margaret Series:
0.0 The Underappreciated Virtues of Rusty Old Bicycles (A prequel)

0.5 Brothers (Prequel)
1.0 I Am Margaret
1.5 How Snakey Got His Name (Short Story)
2.0 The Three Most Wanted
3.0 Liberation
4.0 Bane's Eyes

5.0 Margo's (Attempted) Diary & Notebook
5.5 An Unexpected Guest
6.0 The Siege of Reginald Hill
6.5 Buttons (Short Story)
7.0 A Saint in the Family
I Am Margaret The Play - Fiorella de Maria

Yesterday and Tomorrow Series:

Tomorrow's Dead

unSPARKed Series:

Mandy Lamb Series:
Mandy Lamb and the Full Moon

Contributed to:
Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories - Catholic Teen Books
Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens
Treasures: Visible & Invisible 8 Stories for Teens

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Companion to the Passion of Our Lord - J.B. Midgley - CTS Companions Series

Companion to the Passion of Our Lord
CTS Companions Series
J.B. Midgley
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860823008
CTS Booklet D670

This is nineteenth volume by J.B. Midgely that I have read and the sixth in the Companions Series. I have read over a hundred books from The Catholic Truth Society over the last few years. Some are incredible reads, some are excellent, and all have been good and profitable reads. Last year I become fascinated with the works of Midgley. I have a friend who calls me a ‘completionist’ in that when I find an author that I really like I try to read everything they have written. This is now the case with Midgely, I believe he has published 28 books, and 26 of them are with the Catholic Truth Society. Most of those books are either in the ‘Great Saints Series’ or like this one the ‘Companions Series’. This book was originally published in 2005 and as of writing this review there is no eBook edition available. I can state that this particular volume is another excellent read. I read this book during the first week of Easter. I used it to reflect back on the week before. The description of this book is:

“This retelling and reflection on the passion of Christ will help readers to appreciate the immensity of Christ’s sacrifice, particularly in the Eucharist. 

The lucid opening sections set the scene, exploring the need for Christ’s controversial mission, his death and resurrection, and their impact on us today.”

I would agree, this volume is a treasure and it is finely written and edited. Midgley has created another wonderful little companion. I have read it cover to cover, and plan on rereading it again next year over lent.

The chapters in this volume are:

The Plan of Salvation
The Opposition to Jesus
Our Lord’s last Journey
Holy Thursday
Good Friday
Holy Saturday
Easter Sunday
The Days to Pentecost

Over the years I have read many different versions of the Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross. And Each time I pray through one I am moved. But reading this volume has taken me deeper into the events and has reached me at a very different level. This book goes back to the beginning. It goes back to angels, the fall. And gives us an overview of human history that lead up to the need for the passion. This volume sets the context both historically and culturally at the time of the events. But reading it we also experience the reality of these events and their importance to our own lives and times. 

This book has a brief bibliography that contains Midgley’s own Companion to the Feats of the Lord, a book that I have not read yet but that has jumped in my ‘to be read pile’.  This is another great read from the pen of J.B. Midgley and from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by J.B. Midgley:

Advent & Christmastide with the Saints
Antonio Rosmini
Benedict - Patron of Europe
Bernard of Clairvaux – CTS Great Saints
Charles Borromeo  - CTS Great Saints
Companion to St. Joseph
Companion to the Feasts of Mary
Companion to Saint Peter
Companion to Saint Paul
Companion to the Angels
Companion to the Feasts of Our Lord
Companion to the Passion of Our Lord
Dominic - CTS Great Saints
George: Patron of England - CTS Great Saints
Dewi Sant: St David Patron of Wales
Francis de Sales – CTS Great Saints
John Baptist de La Salle – CTS Great Saints
John Vianney – CTS Great Saints
Lent with the Saints
Nurturing the Young
Robert Bellarmine
Saint John the Baptist 
Stations of the Cross and Resurrection with the Saints
The Eucharist with the Saints
The Four Evangelists
Thomas Becket – CTS Saints of the Isles
Vincent de Paul – CTS Great Saints
Witchcraft, Sorcery and Magic

Contributed to:
First Fridays and First Saturdays The Devotions Explained 

Other books in the CTS Companions Series:
Companion to St. Joseph – J.B. Midgley
Companion to the Feasts of Mary – J.B. Midgley
Companion to Saint Peter – J.B. Midgley
Companion to Saint Paul – J.B. Midgley
Companion to the Angels – J.B. Midgley
Companion to the Feasts of Our Lord - J.B. Midgley
Companion to the Passion of Our Lord – J.B. Midgley
Companion to the Order of the Mass - Mgr Bruce Harbert
Companion to Reading the Old Testament – Adrian Graffy
Companion to Reading the New Testament – Adrian Graffy
Companion to Praying with the Bible – Z. Mattam
New Companion to Advent & Christmastide - CTS
New Companion to Prayer - Celia Wolf-Devine
New Companion to Lent - CTS

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Meditations on the Crucifix - James Hahn - They Shall Look Upon Him Whom They Have Pierced

Meditations on the Crucifix: 
They Shall Look Upon Him Whom They Have Pierced
James Hahn
Real Life Rosary
ISBN 9781507846186

I read this book a few weeks before Holy Week. It is an excellent resource for Lent and Holy Week, but it can be an excellent resource for throughout the year. I actually picked up this book a few years ago, but it somehow never got around to reading it. That is my loss. It is a volume I know I will be returning to often.  The chapters in the book are:

Prayer Before A Crucifix
The Cross
The Cross Without Christ
The Birth Scar
The Knees Of Christ
At The Feet Of Christ
The Side Of Christ
Into Your Hands
What I Have Written

The beginning of the preface states:

“Many people think of meditation as painting a picture in your mind and spending time looking at it.  Meditation is much more than that.  Meditation is trying to place yourself in the actual event and drawing from your experiences there.  It is more than just viewing, it is thinking and being.  It is living the experience and asking God to open up His mysteries to you.  For instance, when we meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries we are not supposed to just view an image in our head while rattling off our Hail Marys.  We are called to be with Christ, to hear the crowd, to smell the blood and the hate, to feel the pain, to hear the lashes and feel them on our own back.  We are called to share in the crucifixion with Christ.”

James goes on to recommend if possible, doing these meditations before the blessed sacrament. And to begin with the Prayer Before A Crucifix. In the first reflection he states:

“The cross, two pieces of wood set in opposition at a perpendicular angle.  The vertical beam represents God’s will.  The horizontal beam represents man's will.  If man’s will always coincided with God’s will, there would be no cross.”

The twelve meditations in this book are excellent. Hahn has a way of drawing us into the topic and experience. It is wonderfully written. I was most moved by the reflection What I Have Written, the thought of judging a priest based on ownership of a game console, and a later realization. It was deeply moving, and one I needed to experience at this time. 

This book is one that any Catholic would benefit from reading and meditating upon. To be honest any Christian would benefit from reading this book! It is an excellent volume. And I know I will be reading some of the other books from Hahn soon. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by James Hahn:
4 Simple Steps to Better Meditations
A Visit to Church: A Picture Journey
Meditations on the Crucifix
Rosary Meditations for Help with Addictions
Rosary Meditations for Real Life
Rosary Meditations for the Family

Monday 27 April 2020

Sr. Elizabeth Prout - Sister Dominic Savio Hamer CP - CTS Saints of the Isles

Sr. Elizabeth Prout
CTS Saints of the Isles
Sister Dominic Savio Hamer CP
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860825491
CTS Booklet B715

Over the last few years I have read over 100 books from the Catholic Truth Society. This was the thirteenth I have read in the Saints of the Isles Series. I have read all that are readily available and now tracking down those that are harder to find. And I must state that this one was well worth finding. I have also read many in the CTS Biographies and also Great Saints Series. There are so many great stories about the lives of the saints. I believe I have a complete list of the volumes in this series, and this is the eleventh I have read from the fourteen I have discovered so far. The description of the series is:

“The Saints of the Isles series brings together telling accounts of the extraordinary lives of men and women from the British Isles - lives of holiness, courage and true discipleship to Christ and the Gospel message.”

And of this specific book:

“Elizabeth Prout was christened as an anglican but grew up very near to Blessed Dominic Barberi's Passionist monastery. His preaching and actions inspired her to convert to Catholicism and give her life to Christ. With the help of the Passionists Elizabeth founded an order that poor girls could join in order to bring help and education to the very poorest. Elizabeth spent the rest of her life founding convents, schools and working tirelessly for the poor in Britain. Over the last 150 years the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion has spread all over the world and Sr Elizabeth's cause is progressing to a recognition of her heroic work.”

This is the shortest of the biographies I have read from the Catholic Truth Society, across all series. There is no table of contents in this book, and but a single chapter but the sections in the book are are:

Elizabeth Prout
Elizabeth Prout’s encounter with Blessed Dominic Barberi CP
First Encounter with Father Ignatius Spencer CP
The cost of conversion to Catholicism
Foundress of a new religious order
The Rule
St Chad’s, Manchester
St Mary’s Mulberry Street, Manchester
St  Joseph’s, Goulden Street, Manchester
Newton Heath, Manchester
St Mary’s Leveshulme
St Ann’s Ashton-under-Lyne
St Anne’s Sutton, St Helens
Parr Hall
Holy Cross Convent, Peckershill, Sutton
St Anne’s School, Sutton
St Joseph’s School, Peasley Cross
The Lancashire Cotton Famine in Ashton-under-Lyne
Homes for mill girls
Papal Approbation
Sisters of the Cross and Passion
A Prayer for the Beatification of Elizabeth Prout
Further Reading

That is a lot of sections in a volume that comes in at 32 pages. This is the story of the life and tireless work of Sister Elizabeth Prout, who is also known as Mother Mary Joseph of Jesus, she was the founder of the Roman Catholic religious institute originally called the Institute of the Holy Family, but known later as the Passionist Sisters or the Sisters of the Cross and Passion. This book captures much about here life. And the order she founded, including why the name changed. 

The book also begins by mentioning that she has been reinterred beside Ignatius Spencer and Dominic Barberi in the new shrine at Sutton. All three who are in process towards canonization. It was incredible to read about this woman, her life, her passion for Jesus, and her devotion to education, especially of girls and young women. 

Her conversion was almost instantaneous upon seeing the blessed Eucharist.  After entering a novitiate, she contracted tuberculosis. She returned home and recovered, but her mother gave her the choice of have a home or remaining Catholic. Soon after she was asked to found a new religious order. And that is the story we have here.

This was an amazing read. A fascinating life of service. Another great book in an excellent series. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 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
Thomas Becket - J.B. Midgley


Friday 24 April 2020

John Baptist de la Salle - J.B. Midgley - CTS Great Saints

John Baptist de la Salle
CTS Great Saints
J.B. Midgley
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 781860825477
CTS Booklet B714

This book was a little harder to track down but it was well worth the effort. It is an excellent read. I have become a huge fan of the Catholic Truth Society and also the writings of J.B. Midgley. I have been working on tracking down and reading all 28 books by J.B. Midgley. Twenty-six of those books were for the Catholic Truth Society.  And 8 of those were from the CTS Great Saints Series. And this is the seventh I have read. I have also read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series. And have loved almost all of them. I have been focusing on this series of late, and a couple of others, almost alternating books in each series, and still have a dozen in this series I want to read.  On top of finishing all the books written by Midgley. This volume was published in 2009 and as of the date of this review there is no eBook edition. I can state that this is a great book, by an excellent author in a wonderful series! 

The description on the back of the book is:

“At a time when St Vincent de Paul and others were changing the face of France, John Baptist renounced career and wealth to dedicate his life to educating the young. His achievements were great and lasting and have influenced educational practice and theory for over three centuries. Above all his spirituality and method reveal an enlightened educator ahead of his time. John Baptist often faced failure, opposition, difficulties and even persecution through all of which his great love for Christ carried him – as did his great respect and love for children and their inalienable right to education and true freedom.”

And the chapters in the volume are:

Early Years and Priesthood
Enlightened Educator
His Spirituality and Method
Progress at a Price
The Final Years
Devotion to John Baptist De La Salle

I was fascinated reading about this saint and his continual innovations in the area of education. In the foreword we are told:

“In the seventeenth century, John Baptist De la Salle renounced wealth, and the probability of an eminent ecclesiastical career, to devote himself to the education of youth. He recognised that children must be equipped with skills for life so that they can play their important role in the Church’s continuing mission, and receive the education of mind and spirit to enjoy the fruits of salvation in the kingdom of heaven.”

And also:

“John’s creative response to needs and conditions has contemporary relevance. He recognised that the underprivileged were deprived of social mobility, and valued education as the means of release from poverty and moral despair.” 

And this saint did this all while often facing opposition. Local priests often tried to gain control of the schools and brothers of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. He founded the organization, he innovated new forms of education including elementary schools, technical schools, special training schools. He also founded training colleges for teachers both secular and religious. And he focused on Teaching teachers that their role was of upmost importance and value. He appears to have spent as much time to developing the teachers, as teaching the students and overseeing the organization. 

In 1050 John Baptist De la Salle was named Patron of all teachers. Some believed he would be named a doctor of the church but that has yet to happen. At the time the book was written. Of the brothers of the institute 4 had been named saints, three martyred, and 16 beatified. We are also informed that:

“Today, the De la Salle Brothers remain one of the largest teaching Orders in the church. They continue their mission in eighty countries of the world, in primary and secondary schools, teacher training colleges, universities and in their extended apostolate of evangelisation and proclamation of the Faith, educational renewal, supporting the rights of children, and exercising a beneficent presence in multi-religious societies.”

And much, much more. I have many friends who are teachers. I have known some amazing teachers in my life. And much of my academic experience was based on De La Salle’s changes to how school was done. 

Another excellent read from the pen of J.B. Midgley and the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by J.B. Midgley:

Advent & Christmastide with the Saints
Antonio Rosmini
Benedict - Patron of Europe
Bernard of Clairvaux – CTS Great Saints
Charles Borromeo  - CTS Great Saints
Companion to St. Joseph
Companion to the Feasts of Mary
Companion to Saint Peter
Companion to Saint Paul
Companion to the Angels
Companion to the Feasts of Our Lord
Companion to the Passion of Our Lord
Dominic - CTS Great Saints
George: Patron of England - CTS Great Saints
Dewi Sant: St David Patron of Wales
Francis de Sales – CTS Great Saints
John Baptist de La Salle – CTS Great Saints
John Vianney – CTS Great Saints
Lent with the Saints
Nurturing the Young
Robert Bellarmine
Saint John the Baptist 
Stations of the Cross and Resurrection with the Saints
The Eucharist with the Saints
The Four Evangelists
Thomas Becket – CTS Saints of the Isles
Vincent de Paul – CTS Great Saints
Witchcraft, Sorcery and Magic

Contributed to:
First Fridays and First Saturdays The Devotions Explained 

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

Thursday 23 April 2020

Product Review Rosary Pouch - Coin Purse from a&k Designs

Rosary Pouch - Coin Purse
a&k Designs


I absolutely love my new Rosary pouches. In fact, I love them so much I have ordered three different times and given half of them away. My wife already had a number of products from this company. Many for personal use and that she has given away as gifts. We have small pounces in the car to organize the console bin. My wife has a few small pouches in her purse to help organize and find stuff easier.

The company is run locally by two sisters. One of the two was my oldest daughter’s confirmation sponsor. I asked her about Rosary pouches and had my first 4 within days. The first set had 2 with side zippers and 2 with top zippers. I fell in love with the side zipper pouches. When I am not at home, I have 2 of these on me, one to hold my coins, and the other a rosary. With them being double layered they hold up well. In the picture below the blue camo, top left, has been in my pocket daily for almost a year with a heavy Rosary in it. The pouch is a little rumpled, but the Rosary is protected, as is my pocket.

I have ordered some extras and given them away to priests I know. They are the best Rosary pouches I have ever had. And their other products are just as good.

We have three of the small rectangular pouches in the car. One has gum, one has candy and breath mints, and the third has tools (tweezers, scissors, nail clippers, …). And each is a different patter so it is easy to grab the pouch with what you want and need.

If you are looking for a Rosary Pouch please reach out to them. If your life could use a little more organization They have a wide range of products in a mix of fun, funky and fantastic patterns.  I give these products top marks. To be honest when my wife first started bringing them home, I thought why do we need all of these, I was mistaken. They have helped our whole family. And each child has their own Rosary pouch now also.

Great products from great people.

Contact Info:
a&k Designs Facebook
a&k Designs Instagram
a&k Designs Etsy

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Three Little Pigs - Alex Smith - DCI Kett Book 3.0

Three Little Pigs
DCI Kett Crime Thrillers Book 3.0
Zertex Crime
ISBN 9781912767199

First if you have been fallowing the sage of DCI Kett this book is a must read. If you happen to be a fan of rough and tough action you will enjoy this novel also. This is the fourth of the DCI Kett stories that I have read, and Kett made a brief appearance in The Harder They Fall, the first of the Softley Series of books. And to be honest if you enjoy this one you need to check out that series also. This book is the closest to that series in that it is farm more action and thriller than mystery. For this story is almost non-stop action from beginning to the end. And you will be on the edge of your seat. 

I have stated before that each of the Kett novels have been great crime mystery novels, and interesting reads. But they are dark books with terrible crimes. This time Kett is close to finding his kidnapped wife. And the closer he gets the more he is warned to let it go. Even in her own handwriting. But he can’t let it go. He can’t let her go, especially since he knows he is close to finding her and figuring out the mystery of the Pig man.

This book and this series is definitely not for all readers. It is dark and gritty and very intense. It is a great thriller. Over ten years ago, I read and loved the Lockdown series published primarily for a young adult audience by Alexander Gordon Smith. When I found out he had this new crime mystery series in the works I had visions of his skill turned to series like Wired in the Blood, or the Commander. There is always something extra appealing about a British crime drama or procedural, I was hooked from the concept. The first short story is available for free on his site, if you are uncertain but I will warn you the stories are very addictive. 

Kett is back in London and getting closer by the minute. But the forces he is up against. And the foes he is facing will surprise even him. After another officer is murdered it is a race against time. Kett is determined to get his wife back no matter the cost to his career, his health and maybe even his sanity. 

But to find out if he gets her back, or even if he survives you will need to read this gripping crime drama yourself. It is a great read it what has shaped up to be a very intense addictive series. And if you enjoy it you really need to check out The Harder They Fall, the first book in his other series.

When younger, I went through a phase of reading mostly mysteries. A lot of books by Andrew M. Greeley, Tom Clancy, and Robert B. Parker. And DCI Kett is a great character in the genre. Up until last year I had not read much in the mystery or crime genres for over 25 years. But last year I read a lot of crime and mystery books. I read all the books available by Maureen Jennings, the Jack Reacher Series by Lee Child, and the Hunt for Reacher series by Diane Capri. I said it before and I stand by it, I really believe that the writing in this story kept up with them all. It is a great fourth story in a series. 

Mystery Books as Alex Smith:

Softley Softley Series:
2.0 Hard Luck House

DCI Kett Series:
0.5 Cry Baby
2.0 Bad Dog
3.0 Three Little Pigs

Books By Alexander Gordon Smith:
Escape from Furnace:

Death Sentence
Execution Epilogue - Short Story
The Night Children - Short Story

Fury Series:
The Fury
The Storm

The Inventors:
The Inventors
The Inventors And The City of Stolen Souls

1001 Questions and Answers
Inspired Creative Writing: 52 Brilliant Ideas from the Master Wordsmiths
The Solar System
Family Quiz
Writing Bestselling Children's Books: 52 Brilliant Ideas for Inspiring Young Readers