Sunday, 14 August 2022

Chaplains in Action - Rosemarian V. Staudacher and H. Lawrence Hoffman - Vision Book #53

Chaplains in Action
Rosemarian V. Staudacher
H. Lawrence Hoffman (Illustrator)
Vision Books #53

This is one of the original 72 Vision Books for Young Readers. The originals were published between 1955 and 1969 by Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, Inc. Reprints of about half are available from Ignatius Press. This is not one of them. I wrote a piece about the series as a whole, Vision Books for Young Readers, after reading a few and wanting to know more about the series. This was one of the first that are out of print that I laid my hands on. It was an interesting read. I do not have a description of the book because the only copy I could tract down was missing the dust cover and could not find a description or dust jacket into online.

The chapters in the book are:
1. What Is a Chaplain? 
2. The Big Jump 
3· Chaplain Behind Bars 
4· Padre of the Wharves 
5· Conquering Suribachi 
6. Chaplain of Sawdustland 
7· Padre of the Texas Plains 
8. The Priest of Carville 
9· Chaplain in Moscow 
10. Soldier of Christ 
11. Dig in for Winter 
12. Two in Korea 

The first chapter deals with what a chaplain is and does on a basic level. The remaining 10 chapters give specific examples, a few from the military, some from schools, serving a diplomatic core, serving migrant workers and more.  I highlighted a few passages while working through this volume. Some of them are:

“CATHOLIC CHAPLAINS ARE, first of all, priests. When most people hear the word "priest" they think of their pastors who celebrate Mass, hear confessions, give Holy Communion, anoint the dying, and serve the people of the parish in many ways. These are, indeed, most important activities carried on by every priest. Chaplains ordinarily do all of these things too.”

“Chaplains in the armed forces are probably the best known of all. There have been official chaplains in the United States Army since the year 177 5 when the Continental Congress first adopted a resolution to provide pay for them.”

“History has recorded the actions of many famous Catholic chaplains-Father William Corby, C.S.C., at Gettysburg, Father Francis P. Duffy of the "Fighting 69th" in World War I, and a host of others.”

“Father Clark's ''hoodlums" are men and women paroled from prisons who need encouragement, jobs, places to live, and sometimes money to live on. 

Many a prisoner, re1eased after serving a lengthy term, has said determinedly: “I’ve got to make good." Part of his reason was the fact that Fat her Clark was counting on him to do so. And the ex-convict was counting on Father Clark's friendship. Father Clark adopted his middle name, "Dismas," chosen in honor of the Good Thief, more than ten years ago. He laughingly calls it "my alias."”

“Actually, the life of every chaplain is full of surprises. In the eleven chapters which follow, you will read about some of them. Up and down the length and breadth of the land are hundreds more chaplains whose stories may well be as important and as heroic. Yet the eleven stories chosen seem to represent, in a way, the colorful, unique and exciting work being done by chaplains everywhere.”

“For Father Suver, as for many others, the siege of Iwo Jima then was history. Yet he could never forget what he had seen on the island-horror, courage, heroism, love of fellowmen. As long as he lived he ·would remember in prayer the friends he left behind to rest in graves of volcanic ash.”

And at the end of the volume we are informed that:

“The stories you have read in this book are true. The chaplains whose adventures you have shared are real men, most of them still living today. If you could talk to them, you would find that they would be the first to deny being heroes. Yet no one can read their stories without discovering that chaplains have a special kind of courage, the courage to forget themselves.

They dedicate each day to God and spend it helping those special groups of people with whom they work, always aware of those people's special needs. They concentrate on giving, not getting-a secret of happiness and peace which we all may share.”

The chaplains profiled are:

Father Sampson – Paratrooper 
Father Gervase Brinkman, O.F.M. – Prison Chaplain
Father Thomas A. McDonough, C.Ss.R., chaplain for the port of New
Orleans - Catholic Maritime Clubs
Charles F. Suver, S.J., - Military Chaplain
Father Eddie Sullivan – Chaplain to the Circus and Circus Workers
Father Thomas Quinlivan, O.M.I. – chaplain to migrant workers
Rt. Rev. Francis Sadlier – Chaplain at the US National Leprosarium
Father Georges Bissonnette, Assumptionist Father – Diplomatic Core Moscow
Chaplain (Captain) Emil Kapaun – Military Chaplain 
Father Harold V. Heaney, - Navy chaplain assigned to Antarctica 
Father Cormac A. Walsh, O.M.I, a Franciscan priest and Army Chaplain
Father John L. Teufel, S.J. – Mikitary Chaplain in Korea

This was fascinating read, the profiles of 12 priests who severed as chaplains and some who made the ultimate sacrifice. It is inspiring and challenging. Reading these stories has inspired me to pray even more for vocations. They were lives of service in a different time.

Reading this volume was interesting. All of the chaplains profiled in the volume are Catholic Priests. There have been a lot of changes over the last 60 years. May chaplains these days in some similar circumstances are religious sisters, deacons, and even lay people. I have a friend who is a permanent deacon who is during the school year a High School Chaplain, and in the summer Serves in the military with Cadets. I have known a few priests who were chaplains in schools, but most these days at least in Canada are not priests. So this book is more a history text than a look at things today. 

A great read if you can lay your hands on a copy. But one that will leave you disheartened by how much things have changed.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Books in the Vision Books Saints Biographies:
Bernadette, Our Lady's Little Servant 
The Cure of Ars 
Edmund Campion 
Florence Nightingale's Nuns 
Fr. Marquette and the Great Rivers 
Francis and Clare, Saints of Assisi 
Kateri Tekakwitha 
Louis and Zelie 
Maria von Trapp and Her Musical Family 
Mother Cabrini, Missionary to the World 
Mother Seton and the Sisters of Charity 
Our Lady Came to Fatima 
Saint Anthony and the Christ Child 
Saint Benedict 
Saint Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal 
Saint Dominic and the Rosary 
Saint Elizabeth's Three Crowns 
Saint Francis of the Seven Seas 
Saint Helena and the True Cross 
Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus 
Saint Isaac and the Indians 
Saint Joan 
Saint John Bosco 
Saint Katherine Drexel 
Saint Louis and the Last Crusade 
Saint Philip of the Joyous Heart 
Saint Therese and the Roses 
Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Preaching Beggars 
Saint Thomas More of London 
Vincent De Paul: Saint of Charity 

Out of Print books in the Series:
Brother Andre of Montreal 
Catholic Campuses, Stories of American Catholic Colleges 
Champions in Sports and Spirit 
Charles de Foucauld, Adventurer of the Desert 
Children Welcome: Villages for Boys and Girls 
Christmas and the Saints 
Columbus and the New World 
Dear Philippine: Mission of Mother Duchesne 
Edel Quinn: Beneath the Southern Cross 
Father Kino, Priest to the Pimas 
Frances Warde and the First Sisters of Mercy 
Good Pope John b
Governor Al Smith 
In American Vineyards, Religious Orders in the United States 
Irish Saints 
John Carroll Bishop and Patriot
John Neumann, The Children's Bishop 
Kit Carson of the Old West 
Lydia Longley, the First American Nun 
Marguerite Bourgeoys, Pioneer Teacher 
Martin de Porres, Saint of the New World 
Modern Crusaders 
More Champions in Sports and Spirit 
Mother Barat's Vineyard 
My Eskimos: A Priest in the Artic 
Peter and Paul: The Rock and the Sword 
Peter Claver, Saint Among Slaves
Pope Pius XII, the World's Shepherd 
Rose Hawthorne: The Pilgramage of Nathaniel's Daughter 
Saints of the Byzantine World 
Sarah Peter: The Dream and the Harvest 
St. Augustine and His Search for Faith 
St. Francis de Sales 
St. Gregory the Great, Consul of God 
St. Jerome and the Bible 
St. Margaret Mary, Apostle of the Sacred Heart 
The Bible Story, The Promised Lord and His Coming 
The Cross in the West 
The Ursulines, Nuns of Adventure 
When Saints Were Young 

For all reviews and articles about Military Chaplains click here.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Cool Circuits Brain Game - Harry L. Nelson and Hiroshi Yamamoto

Cool Circuits Brain Game
Harry L. Nelson
Hiroshi Yamamoto

We picked up this game several years ago for our son. Not only did he love it, but our daughters and I enjoyed it as well. It is a solo play game, but also a game that gets progressively harder. The description of the game is:

“Electrify your brain with this challenging puzzler! The object is to place all of the pieces on the board to successfully complete the circuit; do so, and the entire board lights up! Cool Circuits emphasizes spatial reasoning and abstract thinking with over 40 different challenges ranging from student to expert. Can you solve them all?”

The game contains:

1 light up board
8 fluorescent 3-D puzzle pieces 
40 challenge cards

The cards are double sided for a total of 80 puzzles. And they fit in a draw under the playing area. Thus making it a great game for road trips or for travel. The game won game of the year in 2013 in the category of puzzle games. 

I am uncertain if any of us has completed all the puzzles. But we have done many. And circle back to it every now and again and knock out a number. The cards are numbered, on a little tab. My only complaint is the cards or just glossy magazine style paper. And they can become crumpled and torn easily. Especially when the kids were younger. A great game for all ages.

Friday, 12 August 2022

A Whisper of Sorrows - J.D. Kirk - DCI Logan Book 6

A Whisper of Sorrows
DCI Logan Book 6
ISBN 9781912767229

This is the ninth volume from J.D. Kirk that I have read in the last few months. I have enjoyed all that I have now read, the first 6 in the DCI Logan series and the first two in the Robert Hoon series. I picked the first for a few reasons, but mainly because authors Alex Smith and JE Mayhew have both recommended the author and series. I am a big fan of Smith’s DCI Kett novels and Mayhew’s DCI Will Blake Series. And having ripped through both of their series and slowing working through all of Mayhew’s others works I decided to give Kirk’s a try. Like Mayhew and Smith, Kirk publishes under various names. Kirk publishes children books as Barry Hutchison, and other adult fiction as Barry J. Hutchison. He is coming up on 175 books across the three pen names. If I had known that or I might not have picked up this first one. Friends call me a ‘completionist’ in that when I find an author I like, I try to read everything they have published. For now I will try and read the remaining books published as Kirk.

The description of this novel is:

“The hunter has become the hunted.

Ten years ago, DCI Jack Logan caught the twisted child killer known as Mister Whisper.

Two days ago, Mister Whisper escaped.

Now, Jack must track down the most ruthless enemy he has ever faced before he can strike again. But, after ten years behind bars, it isn't just murder that Mister Whisper has in mind.

It's revenge.”

This story takes many arcs from earlier books in the series and binds them together. It also hits a level of terror not yet seen in these stories. A serial killer is on the loose and leaving a trail of bodies and clues behind. He is out to get Logan one way or another. He has been pretending to be a vegetable for the last 10 years, 10 long years to plan this. Ten long years to plan his vengeance and revenge.  Will those plan work, or will Logan pull it off again? To find out you will need to read this most intense crime thriller! 

The two series written under the pen name J.D. Kirk are definitely Scottish Mysteries, and I can see the comparisons with both Smith and Mayhew’s works. Every time I finish a book by Kirk it takes willpower not to just pick up the next one and keep going. This is a good read in a great series. I can easily state that after having read the first six DCI Logan books and the first two in the Robert Hoon Series I know I will be reading all the books published buy this author under this name. I love that the stories are set in Scotland! This book and series would be great read for fans of Jack Reacher, DCI Kett or DCI Will Blake. It is a good read in an excellent series. But be warned once you finish this one you will want the next on hand to continue the story.

Books by J.D. Kirk:

DCI Logan Series:
The Big Man Upstairs
A Death Most Monumental
A Snowball's Chance in Hell
Ahead of the Game
An Isolated Incident
Colder than the Grave
Come Hell or High Water
City of Scars

Robert Hoon Thrillers:

Contributed to:
Everyday Kindness: A Collection of Uplifting Tales to Brighten Your Day

Books as Barry J. Hutchison:
Dan Deadman Space Detective Series:
Dial D for Deadman
Dead Inside
Dead in the Water

Space Team Series:
Space Team
The Wrath of Vajazzle 
The Search for Splurt 
Song of the Space Siren 
The Guns of Nana Joan 
Return of the Dead Guy 
Planet of the Japes 
The Time Titan of Tomorrow 
The King of Space Must Die 
Sting of the Mustard Mines 
Sentienced to Death
The Hunt for Reduk Topa
A Lot of Weird Space Shizz: Collected Short Stories

Sidekicks Initiative Series:
The Sidekicks Initiative

The Bug Books Series:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Complete Season One

Other Books:
World Killer

Children’s books as Barry Hutchison:
Invisible Fiends Series:
Mr Mumbles 
Raggy Maggie 
The Crowmaster 
Doc Mortis 
The Beast 
The Darkest Corners 

The Missing Remote of the Apocalypse
The 13th Horseman 
The Book of Doom 

Benjamin Blank Series:
The Shark-Headed Bear Thing 
The Swivel-Eyed Ogre-Thing 
The Moon-Faced Ghoul-Thing 

Beaky Malone Series:
The World's Greatest Liar
Worst School Trip Ever
Super Creepy Camp
Weirdest Show on Earth

Generator Rex Series:
The Trade
Mirror Mirror

Living Ted Series:
Night of the Living Ted
Revenge of the Living Ted
Invasion of the Living Ted

Spectre Collectors Series:
Too Ghoul for School
A New York Nightmare!
Rise of the Ghostfather!

Other works:
Rise of the Rabbits

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Masaru - Michael T. Cibenko

ISBN 9781935228233

I had picked up this book to read as part of the Good Reads Catholic book club. But because of my issues I refrained from commenting in the chats until after I had processed and written the following review. I have mixed feeling about this volume. I give it a solid 4/5 stars as a debut effort. My consternation comes from the liberties taken. Over the last few years I have read several works about saints and martyrs from around the world. I have been trying to track down the out of print volume Martyrs of Nagasaki by Lucian Hunt from the Catholic Truth Society, after having read The Martyrs of Korea by Father Richard Rutt. I had heard a lot of good things about this volume prior to reading it. And as a novel, even a Christian or Catholic novel it is well written. But the moving of dates, events, and attribution of faith to a princess with no historical evidence detracted from the story for me. A few times I stopped reading to go and check certain dates, events, or even the use of canons in Japan. If the authors note at the end of the volume where he explains some of this had been at the beginning it would not have been so perplexing while I read. And I know I am probably in the minority of readers who would have picked up on these things. And yet, it did play a roll in my enjoyment at the time of reading. Michael states in the author’s note:

“The statue is the likeness of Shirō Amakusa, the young Catholic samurai who is the inspiration for the main character in Masaru. The family name of Nakagawa was borrowed from my Japanese maternal grandmother. The real-life Shirō did indeed lead an uprising of peasants, many of whom were persecuted Christians, in what came to be known as The Shimabara Rebellion.

 The actual rebellion, which lasted from December 1637 to April 1638, took place on the Shimabara Peninsula of Nagasaki, just north of Amakusa. Visitors today can see the ruins of Hara Castle, the fortress where some thirty thousand people, including women and children, sought refuge. In Masaru, the setting of events was shifted slightly eastward, primarily between Yatsushiro and Hitoyoshi on the main island of Kyūshū. This is the area more intimately familiar to me, having lived there for a considerable time. But those wishing to learn more about the actual events will find themselves directed to points northwest of the setting in Masaru.”

And also:

“Following the events of the Shimabara Rebellion, Christianity in Japan was strictly banned for nearly two and half centuries. With the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853 and the subsequent reopening of Japan to the outside world, foreigners were once again permitted into the country. French Catholic missionaries were astonished to discover an entire community of “hidden Christians” in Nagasaki. This underground group had, albeit without the benefit of ordained priests, baptized and handed down the faith to their children over the course of all those generations. When news of this reached the West, Pope Pius IX declared it a miracle.”

It is a very interesting novel. It presents many historical events in an engaging and entertaining read. I am certain my son will love it and it has been added to his summer reading list. It is a book I can see tweens and teens really getting into. And there is some great presentation of Christian doctrine in the dialogue. 

Both history and historical fiction books from the time of this book are important. Much like reading about the Holocaust it is not fun to do, but important to do. The presentation of the fledgling Catholic faith in Japan at this time is well written. The story is engaging. After reading the authors note I had a much greater appreciation overall. I do not believe this volume has the power of Shusaku Endo’s Silence, I could see the author growing towards that achievement. I would have no issue picking up another volume from the author. As much as I struggled with the historical inaccuracies I find the book well worth the read, and therefore can recommend it to tweens, teen, and young adult readers without hesitation.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan!

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Bloom of the Flower Dragon - Tracey West and Graham Howells - Dragon Masters Book 21

Bloom of the Flower Dragon
Dragon Masters Book 21
Tracey West (Author)
Graham Howells (Illustrator)
ISBN 9781338776874
eISBN 9781338776898

These books are now well below my youngest daughters reading level. But she loves them so much. She reads for 20 minutes 5 days most weeks and a book in this series use to take her 10-12 days to read. This one she read in under three sittings. And she has insisted that we pre-order the two volumes Guarding the Invisible Dragons and Curse of the Shadow Dragon. I have said it before and I state it again, this series gets better and better. It has serious staying power.  And in this volume we get a few surprises! This is book 21 but we have reread a few of the volumes, making it the 31st time we have read a book in the series. As a family we eagerly await the new volumes that have been announced. And this volume Graham Howells is the illustrator, just like the last volume, I believe this is the 6th he has illustrated. We checked and he does not illustrate the next volume but does the one after that. But let us return to this volume. 

The description of this volume is:

“Drake and Worm must help a Flower Dragon protect his home in the latest action-packed installment of this New York Times bestselling series!
Pick a book. Grow a Reader!

This series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line, Branches, aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

A Flower Dragon named Wildroot has come to Bracken! He needs help because his home is in danger. The Dragon Masters must find this small dragon his own Dragon Master. The Dragon Stone reveals a boy named Oskar, who is disappointed that he does not have a big, fire-breathing dragon. Can Oskar and his dragon learn to work together in time to save the Flower Dragons from a terrible monster? With engaging black-and-white artwork on every page, kids won't be able to put down this action-packed adventure!”

This story picks up shortly after the previous one. And in this one the Master Dragon Stone shows Drake and Bo the next new dragon master. My daughter reads through the chapter titles before beginning, and guesses what might happen. The chapters this time are:

The Dragon Visitor
Wildroots Tale
A New Dragon Master?
To The Village!
A Mystery
The Valley of Starflowers
Legend and Werewolf
Dancing Dragons
The Finsterbuns!
Night Falls
Under Attack!
The Traveller’s Tale
Diego’s Idea

This story was fairly different. It was not action from beginning to end. The new dragon master was underwhelmed with his dragon. And there are some strange goings on. My daughter listed many things she loved about this book. She loved Oskar’s turning point. Even though we had figured it out with a few chapters to go she loved the twist or surprise and that we had both guessed correctly about what was to happen. She absolutely loves the idea of the little dancing flower dragons, kind of in a murmuration pattern. And she was very excited that we encountered Diego again after a few books, and that it looks like he will be a main character in the next one. I loved the Finsterbuns, not to spoil but they remind me of a hybrid with another legendary creature or hoax. 

This was a really fun read. We both enjoyed it immensely. We both give this volume a solid 5/5 stars, it is a great read in a wonderful series. West and Howells have hit it out of the park again. 

Dragon Master Books:
1. Rise of the Earth Dragon
2. Saving the Sun Dragon
3. Secret of the Water Dragon
4. Power of the Fire Dragon
5. Song of the Poison Dragon

6. Flight of the Moon Dragon
7. Search for the Lightning Dragon
22. Guarding the Invisible Dragons
23. Curse of the Shadow Dragon