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Monday, 29 November 2021

Moonboy - Karina Fabian - A Rescue Sisters Story

Moonboy
A Rescue Sisters Story
Karina Fabian
Laser Cow Press
ASIN B09L593H12


First! Wow what an excellent story. Second please let there be many, many more stories of the Rescue Sisters to come. With every encounter with the Rescue Sisters, I love the world Fabian has been creating even more.  

I stumbled across this and another Rescue Sisters Story, These Three, shortly after they released. Fabian had not even plugged them yet on social media. And having loved the other two Rescue Sisters works, I picked these up and jumped them to the top of my reading list. They did not disappoint! I had not encountered this story previously and loved it. I read both stories then using adaptive technology listened to them, with my eyes closed picturing the events taking place. 

This story had previously been in the Planetary Anthologies: Luna, edited by Declan Finn in 2020, and I have picked up said Anthology, but have not got around to reading it yet. The description of this volume is:

“Cory Taylor was born on the moon – and he was doomed to die there before he turned 20. Frail and coddled since birth, the Moonboy decides to run away from home and have adventures before dying and giving his body to science. But when his first adventure leads him on a dangerous trek across the unforgiving moonscape, he may not live to see the next day.

Even worse, the fate of the hermitage depends on his getting help. Can he find rescue for himself and his new friends before it’s too late?”

Unlike the other two RS stories, I had not encountered this one previously, or if I have, I do not recall it. This story was fantastic on many levels. First the main plot is excellent. And as always, the characters are amazing. Her characters are part of what makes Fabian’s writing so appealing. My favorites this time around were:

Cory
Sister Josephine
Sister Angelique
Father Vince

Cory Taylor is an interesting character, he was the first human born on the moon. And has become known as Moonboy. He has an expiry date, and many medical issues because of being born off planet. He has spent most of his life being overly protected by his parents and in some ways serving as a lab rat, for doctors and scientists. But he dreams of more. But his adventure does not go as planned, the smuggler her paid off, did not send him off world. Cory was dupped and valuable cargo has been swiped. And Cory now has a debt to pay:

““Don’t give me that Earth attitude. In space, children earn their air.” 

Cory blinked, confused. Was she on his side? 

Another voice, Cory’s primary doctor, said, “Cory Taylor does earn his air. He’s the first child born off a planet, dealing with the effects of low gravity and an artificial environment. What we learn from him will advance science.” 

“Will those advances pay for our missing equipment? Maybe to hire a crew to effect repairs while we escort this child back to Drake?” Cory could not see Sister Josephina’s face, but he imagined her pinning the doctor with that same judging glare she’d used on him. Oh, he really hoped she was!”  

And that is how Cory came to be helping make repairs when a moonquake changed everything. But to find out how you will need to read this excellent story. We are given some background to this story:

“The heritage and Drake Station come from Tim Myers’ story “Brother Jubal and the Womb of Silence” in Infinite Space, Infinite God. I love that story! He was generous to let me incorporate the story into the Rescue Sisters world.”

We are also informed that:

“We dreamed up the Order of Our Lady of the Rescue on a date, and I’ve had great fun with the characters for over 25 years since.”

So, thank you Rob and Karina for this wonderful story. An excellent read for those who are fans of short Science fiction stories. This story and others remind me of some of Frank Herbert’s shorter fiction, such as The Green Brain and The Eye's of Heisenberg. They also have the feel of stories by Philip K. Dick and Alfred Bester. Classic sci-fi but with a new twist. I highly recommend this and the other 3 volumes about the Rescue Sisters. Give it a try, I am certain you will be entertained!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Karina Fabian:
Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life
Perfect Ten
Frightliner

Rescue Sisters Series:
These Three
...

Dex Hollister Series:

The Old Man and the Void
Dex's Way
...

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator Series :
Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator
I Left My Brains in San Francisco
Shambling in a Winter Wonderland


DragonEye PI Series:
DragonEye PI Novels:
3.0 Nun of My Business
3.6 Christmas Spirits
4.0 Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (Revised edition)
5.0 Live and Let Fly (Revised edition)
... 

DragonEye PI Short Stories:
...

DragonEye PI Original First Editions:
Live and Let Fly
...

Space Traipse Series:
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 1
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 2
Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 3
...
Space Traipse Stories

Mind Over Series:
Mind Over Mind
Mind Over Psyche
Mind Over All
Hearts Over Mind


Edited by: Karina Fabian:
Infinite Space, Infinite God I
Leaps of Faith
Infinite Space, Infinite God II


Contributed to:
Firestorm of Dragons
The Zombie Cookbook
The Book of Tentacles
Twisted Fayrie Tales
FRIGHTLINER: And Other Tales of the Undead
Mother Goose is Dead
Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary
Image and Likeness Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body
Corrupts Absolutely? Dark Metahuman Fiction
Weird Noir
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels
Manifesto UF
Avenir Eclectia
Planetary Anthology: Jupiter
Planetary Anthology: Pluto
Planetary Anthology: Luna
Planetary Anthology: Uranus
FlagShip Science Fiction and Fantasy v2i5
My Little Book of Headdesks
To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity
...









Sunday, 28 November 2021

Prepare the Way of the Lord - Carl E. Olson - CTS Devotions

Prepare the Way of the Lord
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 
9781784696627
eISBN 9781784696795
ASIN B09M7KBVRS
CTS Booklet D837


This was one of three new eBooks I picked up from the Catholic Truth Society the day the released. The other two are Prayer in Action by Andrzej Muszala and Praying the Great O Antiphons by Katy Carl (which is a great resource as well), and all three were eagerly anticipated since I first heard of them being announced. But this one maybe even more so, last Lent I read the companion volume to this book, Praying the Our Father in Lent, and absolutely loved it. And even though this book released just a week before Advent began, I devoured it, And plan to read it again through advent this year and for several years to come. 

Over the last several years, I have read over 250 volumes from the CTS. I have read books from many series. And many authors. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. I have read many books for Advent both from the CTS and other sources. This however is the second by Carl E. Olson that I have read, and I believe it is he only has the two books with the CTS. At least to date. The description of the booklet is:

“Prayerfully discover the meaning of Christmas with this collection of meditations on the Scriptures and prayers of the Advent season. Reflecting upon the Sunday Gospels, Carl E Olson highlights their depth and helps us to apply the Scriptures to our own lives.

Olson continues this Advent meditation by offering a line-by-line contemplation on the Hail Mary, illuminating the significance of each word so as to deepen our experience of this integral prayer. By praying the Hail Mary mindfully, we discover how to walk through Advent with Mary, ready to welcome her Son at Christmas.”

And the chapters in the book are:

Introduction

PART ONE: MEDITATIONS ON THE SUNDAY READINGS
Cycle A Readings
     First Sunday of Advent
     Second Sunday of Advent
     Third Sunday of Advent
     Fourth Sunday of Advent
Cycle B Readings
     First Sunday of Advent
     Second Sunday of Advent
     Third Sunday of Advent
     Fourth Sunday of Advent
Cycle C Readings
First Sunday of Advent
     Second Sunday of Advent
     Third Sunday of Advent
     Fourth Sunday of Advent
     Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

Part Two: Advent And The Hail Mary
Mary’s Gift of Self Points the Way
The Perfect Faith of the Blessed Virgin
Theotokos: Everything that Mary Is
Holy Mary and the Death of Sin

The first thing that impressed me even before I started reading was the fact that Olson has written reflections for all three years of the Liturgical Calendar. Not since reading Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary edited by Sarah A. Reinhard many years ago have I really looked at the Hail May in a new and deeper way. But this volume has taken me deeper into the Hail Mary and even reading the whole book before Advent, has me anticipating reading it again this Advent and for the next few to come. This volume begins with these words:

““Christmas”, stated Pope Benedict XVI during a General Audience in 2008, “is a privileged opportunity to meditate on the meaning and value of our existence.”1 There is much to contemplate in that single sentence. Do we, for example, think of Christmas as a “privileged opportunity”? As a chance to meditate on the what and why and how of our lives? Our existence? Our place in this world, in this time?

Advent is a time of anticipation, expectation, awakening, reflection. But I knew nothing at all about Advent for the first twenty-five years of my life. Growing up as a young Evangelical Protestant, I certainly looked forward to Christmas, and our family celebrated the birth of Christ. But there really wasn’t much preparation; there was no season to help focus my thoughts and heart on what – on Who! – was coming.

Now, having been a Catholic for nearly a quarter of a century, for me Advent has become a favourite time of the liturgical year, for a number of reasons.”

Further on in the introduction he states:

“You might say that Advent is the drama that leads to the climax, the search that concludes with the answer, the meditation that is taken up into the Incarnate Word. And the Advent drama does not just look forward, but looks back at salvation history, looks up to the saving heavens, and even looks down at the earthly reality of where we are now. Advent is that time when eternity starts to break into our temporal existence and, if we open our eyes and hearts, breaks into our very being.”

And also:

“And then there is the cross. We don’t often think of it as a companion during Advent, but it is the way of Christ and of his disciples. We can only long for the coming of Christ and eternal life if we die to ourselves. We must know our place – in both this world and the world to come. God desires a unity of all men, in communion with the Father through the Son. The cross leads to unity; pride leads to death: “The greatest obstacle anyone can put to unity”, warns Daniélou, “is to want to make himself the centre of things.””

Throughout the volume he draws frequently from Benedict XVI, Ronald Knox, and Jean Daniélou. The book is written with devotion and passion. But it is also exceptionally well researched. It is easy to engage with, but stopping at the end of the days may prove difficult. But it is one of those spiritual books you could read many, many times, and with each reading be blessed in a new and different way. I know that I will be reading it through the three year cycle at least once and likely for many years to come.

These reflections vary in length but not significantly, unlike the companion volume. At the beginning of Part II of the volume we are informed that: 

“This booklet is a companion to another CTS publication: Praying the Our Father in Lent. In that booklet I explored how the words of the “Our Father” can shape our Lenten preparations for Easter in a profound and fruitful way. In this booklet, I offer an exegesis of another beloved prayer of our Tradition, the “Hail Mary”. This is a prayer that many Catholics pray every day, some of us many times a day, either on its own or in the course of praying the Holy Rosary. The following thoughts are intended to help make this beautiful and glorious prayer a part of your own journey towards Christmas, a means of preparing your heart to welcome the Infant Christ.”

This is an excellent little volume, one that has the potential of becoming a spiritual classic. I greatly enjoyed reading this volume. And know I will work through it again over the next several years. It was an excellent book to work through. But I would love to see Olsen do a daily devotion for Lent or Advent. If you are looking for a great volume to read over Advent, I can highly recommend this one. It is another great resource from the Catholic Truth Society!  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.


For reviews of other books in the CTS Devotions series click here.

Books by Carl E. Olson:
Will Catholics Be Left Behind?
The Da Vinci Hoax
Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?
Catholicism Study Guide
Called to Be the Children of God









Saturday, 27 November 2021

Saint Isaac Jogues With Burning Heart - Christine Orfeo, Mary Tebo, and Barbara Kiwak - Encounter the Saints Series Book 12

Saint Isaac Jogues: 
With Burning Heart
Encounter the Saints Series Book 12
Christine Virginia Orfeo, FSP 
Mary Elizabeth Tebo, FSP
Barbara Kiwak  (Illustrator)
Pauline Books and Media
ISBN 9780819870636
eISBN 9781306806626
ASIN B005F1Q7CO


As a family we have read over 34 books in this series so far. I started reading this series myself, focusing on saints I knew and had devotion to. Then I started reading them with my three youngest children. My children and I love this series. We have read many of the books more than once. This is an excellent series is! Between my children and I we have now read nearly all of the books in this series. I read them either by myself, or with one or more child. My youngest 2 children ages 13, 10, still both love these books. They have read or reread them to us. My son wants to have the complete set in his room, so he keeps asking to buy his own set, because he loves these books so much. We have picked up several volumes to donate to the school library. And because of the Canadian connection this is one that we will do that for. I would love to have the whole set in the school library as a resource when the students are picking confirmation saints. Each time we read a book in the series we appreciate this series more. We hope there will be more books released in the series in the future. I would love to see how this series handles Saint Josemaria Escriva, Blessed Carlo Actus, … and many more. We would also like to eventually see eBooks of all of the volumes in the series. With my dyslexia and my son’s eye tracking issues we both prefer eBooks where we can change page color, font size and font spacing. This book has an eBook listed but I cannot find it, as it is listed at currently unavailable.

Now back to this specific book on Saint Isaac Jogues. 

The description of this volume is:

“No difficulty could stop this heroic Jesuit priest. Father Isaac's greatest desire was to bring Jesus to the Native Americans he encountered in the wilderness of the New World. After being ordained to the priesthood, he was sent to Quebec, Canada to be a missionary to the Huron Indians. Working among the native populations in North America, he revealed the Good News. Tortured by the Iroquois and killed by the Mohawks, Isaac sets an admirable example of courageously sharing the faith.”

The chapters in this volume are:

1. A Mind of His Own
2. A New Home
3. To New France
4. Three Rivers
5. Among the Hurons
6. Great Suffering, Greater Joy
7. “Your Prayer Is Heard”
8. “I’m Willing…”
9. Ambush!
10. Trail of Pain
11. The First Martyr
12. Captivity
13. The Plan
14. Escape!
15. Christmas in France
16. Homecoming
17. Courageous Return
18. The Trap
19. The Darkest Night
20. The Seed
Prayer
Glossary

The prayer in this volume is:

“Saint Isaac, your love for Jesus was so great that you wanted all people to know and love him too. You gave up everything you had—even your life—to bring the Good News of Jesus to the Native peoples of North America.

Help me to grow in love each day. Help me to imitate Jesus and to lead others to him just as you did. Ask God to give me the courage I need to live my Catholic faith, especially when I have to face problems or things that make me suffer. I want to believe, hope, and love as you did. Pray for me, Saint Isaac. 

Amen.”

The prayer in this volume is the same as the one in the companion volume, The Saints Pray for Us, which has prays for the first 30 saints and blessed covered in the series. This book is very moving read. I was familiar with Saint Isaac Jogues because of a couple of books on the North American Martyrs that I have read. There were several elements of his story that I was unaware of until reading this volume. The bit about his thumb was one of them, and because of that his needing special papal permission to say mass. It is explained in this way:

“Because his hands had been so mutilated, he could not hold the Host at Mass in the usual way. He would need special permission from the Pope to be able to celebrate Mass. When Pope Urban VIII heard about Father Isaac’s sufferings, he was greatly moved. He granted the needed permission at once. The Pope’s answer reached Father Isaac in March. It had been twenty months since he had last celebrated Mass! When he finally approached the altar he felt as joyful as if he were celebrating his first Mass all over again. Now he was ready to return to New France!” 

The one line that really struck me from his first mission trip to Canada was:

““The number of settlers in New France is growing beyond all expectations,” Father Paul explained. “It’s remarkable to see the enthusiasm with which the colonists build their settlements.”

“But what about the native people?” Father Isaac broke in. “Are they being cared for? It is their land, after all, that we are building on.””

But his care and concern even for his captors was so inspiring to read about. Hi faith and prayer life are inspirational and the thing of legends. This book was hard to put down, and a devoured it in one sitting. Once you start you will not want to stop.

The illustrations in this volume are 5 wonderful pencil sketches. They have amazing detail. They help bring elements of the book to life in a very different way.

We have now read over 30 of the books in the Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media. And everyone has been worth the read. Though this one is not at times an easy read it is an excellent read in a wonderful series! Very inspirational.

Please Note: I discovered recently that most of the eBook editions are no long available for this series. In fact I could only find a handful of the over 20 volumes that had been available electronically. I do not know why this is the case but I consider it a great loss. A loss for people with reading issues like my son and I, for others with learning disabilities, and for those in different geographic regions.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books about the North American Saints and Martyrs:

Encounter the Saints Series from Pauline Books and Media:
Blessed James Alberione Media Apostle
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Journey to the Summit
Journeys with Mary Apparitions of Our Lady
Saint André Bessette Miracles in Montreal
Saint Anthony of Padua Fire and Light
Saint Bakhita of Sudan Forever Free
Saint Bernadette Soubirous And Our Lady of Lourdes
Saint Catherine Labouré And Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Saint Clare of Assisi A Light for the World
Saint Damien of Molokai Hero of Hawaii
Saint Edith Stein Blessed by the Cross

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Daughter of America
Saint Faustina Kowalska Messenger of Mercy
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini Cecchina's Dream
Saint Francis of Assisi Gentle Revolutionary
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla The Gift of Life
Saint Ignatius of Loyola For the Greater Glory of God
Saint Isaac Jogues With Burning Heart
Saint Joan of Arc God's Soldier
Saint John Bosco Champion for the Young
Saint John Neumann Missionary to Immigrants
Saint John Paul II Be Not Afraid
Saint John Vianney A Priest for All People
Saint Juan Diego And Our Lady of Guadalupe
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Courageous Faith
Saint Katharine Drexel The Total Gift
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque And the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Saint Martin de Porres Humble Healer
Saint Maximilian Kolbe Mary's Knight
Saint Paul The Thirteenth Apostle
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina Rich in Love
Saint Teresa of Avila Joyful in the Lord
Saint Teresa of Calcutta Missionary of Charity
Saint Teresa of Kalkota Missionary of Charity
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux The Way of Love
Saint Thomas Aquinas Missionary of Truth
Saint Thomas More Courage, Conscience, and the King
Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto: Shepherds of Fatima
The Saints Pray for Us






Friday, 26 November 2021

Five Smooth Stones - Robert LeBlanc - Facing the Goliath of our Fears

Five Smooth Stones
Facing the Goliath of our Fears
ISBN 9781988165226


This is the first book by Robert LeBlanc that I have read and I believe the first from Justin Press as well. I am familiar with LeBlanc from social media, and during the past 2 years of the pandemic have attended 2 virtual conferences he has put on through Catholic Moment, and his talk during the Immortal Combat conference. His writing style is very engaging. And the book has a lot to offer. The description of the book is:

“Five Smooth Stones: Facing the Goliath of our Fears is a five-part reflection based on the biblical story of David and Goliath. Just as David picked up five smooth stones from the wadi to confront the giant, as we prepare to take on the Goliaths of our fears, we too must put five smooth stones into our own shepherd’s pouch: Humility, Wisdom, Virtue, Courage and the Grace of God. Each chapter examines how these aspects of our Catholic faith build upon each other, emboldening us to face the fears we come across in our daily lives. Each chapter closes with three ‘Points to Ponder’, which call the reader to delve more deeply into their relationship with God.”

Each chapter follows the same format. Biblical verses or quote. The teaching and then three question under the heading ‘Points to Ponder’. We the reader takes the time and some pen and paper, a journal, or a keyboard and online notebook and really wrestles with the questions, I am certain they will benefit much from the reading of the book. A sample set is:

“1. Who/What is your Goliath?
 2. How does your Goliath taunt you?
 3. How do you feel spiritually naked before the Goliath of your fears?”

Or a second example:

“1. How does your pride create fear/anxiety in your life?
 2. What are some fears/challenges in your life right now that you need to step back from and trust God’s plan?
 3. At those problematic momenta in your life have the sacraments (especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist) brought a sense of calmness to your life?”

I can see this as a book that a reader returns to every now and again, either to work through a specific chapter, or the whole volume. It is one of those books that would benefit from a rereading 6 months or a year later, or reviewing it every year maybe during Advent or Lent. It is a great little volume, and provides many tools for your spiritual growth. Some of the passages I highlighted my first time through were:

“We are not asked to have shining armour to overcome Goliath, but simply to know how to choose a few stones, the right ones, with the wisdom and courage of David.”
-St. John Paul II

“Like all stories from salvation history, we need to take a closer look, to go deeper in order to fully understand the story and the lesson that God lovingly wants us to hear.”

“The problem is, just like David in the king’s oversized chain-mail and cumbersome sword, when we put on the armour of the world (self-help strategies, supplements, and mindfulness) we too will find ourselves trying in vain to walk, for (we) are not used to them. (1 Sam 17:39)”

“Trusting that the Lord is at our side, we too can set our jab, square our shoulders and proclaim with conviction to whatever fear or insecurity is dogging us:  I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, whom you have defied. This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and with His help, I will strike you down!”

“Like the fictional Hobbit who confronted the dragon and the biblical shepherd boy who slew the giant, the five stones we need in order to confront out fears are: 
Humility
Wisdom
Virtue
Courage
The Grace of God”

“Over the years I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut in those kinds of situations, waiting to be asked for advice before giving any, even if it kills me.  Still, I find myself constantly repeating to myself, “God is God, and I am not!”  I especially need to hear this when I’m faced with a particularly difficult task at work, and more importantly, when confronted with my fears.”

“It takes a bigger person to check their ego at the door, to admit that they are frightened and overwhelmed; that they need help.  It takes a bigger person to put their trust in God and not themselves.”

“We need to follow David’s humble example.  We need to come to the realization that to conquer our fears we cannot turn to the armour of the world, that we cannot do it on our own, but that we need to put our trust in the Lord.  In order to slay the giants of our fears, in all humility we need to say:  “Jesus, I trust in You!””

““Only the penitent man will pass.”  We too need to realize this if we are to pass through our fears unscathed.  The acknowledgement of our own imperfections, of our own sinfulness, is the ultimate act of humility.”

“It is only by making a frequent examination of conscience and availing ourselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation that our conscience is liberated, freeing us from our fears.”

“Knowing that God is always right is liberating.  Trusting in God’s wisdom as we go about our human lives frees us from our worldly fears.  If we remain in God, we will always have a clear conscience of being right, even while the world is screaming that we are wrong.  Following the wisdom that God has revealed to us, we will have the peace of mind of knowing that we have done what the Father has asked of us.”

“Of all of the St. Augustine quotes that I have come across over the years, however, my own personal favourite remains, “There can be no virtue without temptation!””

“It’s all about the choices we make.  We are constantly at a moral crossroads in our lives, and we must choose which direction we are going to take.  We may ask for help; we may ask for directions; but ultimately the choice is our own; no one can make it for us.  As for choosing the virtuous life, this cannot be done without sacrifice, without turning away from a lie of giving in to our temptations.”

“In the Western World of the twenty-first century, it’s actually harder to lead a virtuous life than one of vice.”

“It is in making small, virtuous steps in our daily lives that we build our confidence to take on the bigger fears, the Goliaths, in our lives.”

This is an excellent read. I highly recommend it. I am certain it will bless the reader. Pick it up and pick up a copy to pass on to a friend or family member, I know you will not be disappointed. I just wish there was an eBook option I know several friends who would pick it up right away.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!  I was interviewed recently on the Pints & Pews Pod Cast, discussing reading Catholic with Robert.

Books by Robert LeBlanc:
Who Do You Say That I Am?




Thursday, 25 November 2021

To Kill a Mocking Bird - Harper Lee

To Kill a Mocking Bird
To Kill A Mocking Bird Book 1
ISBN 9780446310789
eISBN 9780062368683
ASIN B00K0OI42W


I last read this nearly 40 years ago. I believe it was grade 8 when we had to read it as a class. I remembered it had a big impact. And much of the book came back as I was reading it, but some did not. And reading it in my early 50’s and in this day and age is very different than reading it in the early 80’s. I picked this up because my daughter was reading it in grade 10. I have not reread everything she has been assigned these last two years, But I have read most of the novels and plays. I recall when Go Set a Watchman came out a handful of years ago, and even leading up to its publication the hullabaloo around it. I had intended to go back and read this book then, but it fell low in my ‘to be read pile’ and only now resurfaced.

I can recall that this was one of the first books that brought me close to tears, and moved me deeply. And even after all these years I would say its impact this time around was even deeper. There are parts of this book that even as an adult are hard or uncomfortable to read. But I do believe it is an important work. One I am grateful to have read when young, and to have read again now.

I know I cannot do justice to reviewing the book. But I can state that it has had a deep and lasting impact on how I look at the world. 

There are so many different editions, and imprints of this book, that it took me a long time to find the eBook edition to match the one my daughter was reading in school. My wife is reading the book now, which says a lot. I am thankful for this book, I am very thankful it has not been banned, or cancelled, yet. I am grateful to read this at the same time as my 15 year old and engage with her about the book. I do not know how anyone could read this, look at history and not be deeply moved. And I have bumped Go Set A Watchman towards the top of my reading list.

Books by Harper Lee:
Go Set a Watchman



Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Bursting Out in Praise Spirituality & Mental Health Gavin Thomas Murphy

Bursting Out in Praise: 
Spirituality & Mental Health
Gavin Thomas Murphy
ISBN 9781788120852
eISBN 9781788120869
eISBN 9781788121385
ASIN B0886KBLHJ


This is the fifth book published by Messenger Publications that I have read this year. The first I read was, Saint Ignatius of Loyola: A Convert's Story by Patrick Corkery SJ, and this was one of 4 I picked up while writing and researching for the review of that one. I have rather mixed feeling about this volume. And I will get to the reasons shortly. But first, the description of this booklet is:

“The author draws on his own hard-earned wisdom for this series of reflections on spirituality and mental health. He covers a range of experiences including: upsides, downsides, recovery, balance, loving life and spirituality. Bringing together wisdom from psychology and spirituality, he acknowledges the enormous benefit of psychological tools for wellness as well as a spirituality that aims to tell a different story. Ignatian Spirituality is a consistent thread throughout that offers a psycho-spirituality of great depth and awareness. This is a gentle introduction to spirituality and mental health. The real-life examples show that there is no dividing line between mental illness and normality. Everyone is somewhere along the mental health continuum and God is with them every step of the way.”

And the chapters in the book are:

Introduction
1 Upsides: Unexpected Blessings Along Our Mental Health Journey
     Resilence
     Humility
     Wisdom
2 Downsides: Challenges Along Our Mental Health Journey
     The Inner Critic
     Poor Self-Image
     Relationship Difficulties
3 Recovery: Steps and Considerations for Getting Back on Track
     Spiritual Guidance
     Popular Treatment
     Pain or Suffering
4 Balance: Modern and Contemplative Wisdom for Life
     Balanced Lifestyle
     Balanced Mood
     Balanced Relationships
5 Loving Life: Fully Embracing Our Mental Health Journey
     Fragility
     Self-Care
     Discipline
     Deepest Desires
     Praise
6 Spirituality: An Inner Dynamism toward Fullness of Life
     The Soft Sound of Praise
     The Value of Time
     The ‘Bursting Out in Praise’ Triangle

My hesitation began in Chapter 2 section 1 The Inner Critic. I have read a lot on the mindfulness movement and its impact. From authors I respect and trust, and from Catholic Exorcists. It is not something I can endorse or support. I highly recommend A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness by Susan Brinkmann. There was also mention of Buddhist I did continue to read the book but felt the same check in my spirit as when I read The Mindful Catholic Finding God One Moment at a Time by Dr. Gregory Bottaro, though not to the same extent. 

There was some good in this volume. And if the sections on mindfulness were removed I would heartily support it. But as it stands I can only recommend this to a very discerning reader. Each section contains personal story, a reflect section with some questions and A read sections with a biblical quote. 

I loved the 4 biographies I have read from Messenger Publications, and have a few others I have picked up including 2 for advent. But this is a book I would recommend readers pass on. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For all review of Messenger Publications books and booklets click here










Tuesday, 23 November 2021

The Green Ember - S.D. Smith - Green Ember Book 1

The Green Ember
Green Ember Book 1
Zach Franzen (Illustrator)
ISBN 9780986223501
ASIN B00QZ6BYNA 


This book and series was recommended to us by another family. They said it is their favourite series. And my youngest was looking for a new series to start. I will be honest, she gave up, she read less than a third of the book, keeping to her reading 20 minutes a day. And yes the book starts slow. I however finished the book and did enjoy it greatly. I have recommended she give it another try. But only time will tell. I had never heard about these books before giving this one a try. It just never came across my radar. I believe the first edition of this story came out in 2014, well after my time working in a book store while in university. There are currently 8 editions between print, audio and eBooks. The Description of the book is:

“Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.

Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?”

It is easy from this first volume to see how some families could say these are their favourite books. And that they love the book and series. There is action, adventure, family. Rumours. conflict, and betrayal. But at the centre of it all are two young rabbits trying to find their way and place after an attack by wolves and birds. The story does start slow, but once the action starts it is almost a race to the end. We will see both Picket and Heather face trials, conflict, and need to learn to rise above and to strive to be the best they can be. Even if readers do not form a connection to Heather or Picket I am certain they will for an attachment to either Smalls, Wilfred, or even Helmer. 
 
There are great characters. It has an interesting story line. Finding out the past in small instalments and having to piece parts of the story together was fun. A good read it what looks like a very good series.

From the very beginning I could not help but think about the Watership Down books by Richard Adams, and also the Duncton books by William Horwood. And both of those came to mind a few times, but through the first part of the book when my daughter was reading to me, and as I finished the book myself. I more than enjoyed this well enough to give reading other books in the series. it did start a little slow but was pure action by the end. And really sets up the sequel leaving the reader with great anticipation. Rabbits with swords and shields, and wolves with shields and spears oh my!

Books by S.D. Smith:
Green Ember Series:
Ember Falls 
Ember Rising
Ember’s End

Green Ember Archer Series:
The Last Archer 
The First Fowler 
The Archer’s Cup

Tales of Old Natalia:
The Black Star of Kingston (Tales of Old Natalia 1)
The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner (Tales of Old Natalia 2)

Suggested Reading Order:
The Black Star of Kingston (Tales of Old Natalia 1)
Ember Falls: The Green Ember Book II
The Last Archer: A Green Ember Story
Ember Rising: The Green Ember Book III
The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner (Tales of Old Natalia 2)
The First Fowler: A Green Ember Story
Ember’s End: The Green Ember Book IV