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Wednesday, 31 August 2022

A Time of Prayer - CBCEW - Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales - CTS Devotions and Prayers

A Time of Prayer
Daily Prayer for Groups and Individuals for
Morning, Evening or any time of the day
CBCEW - Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
ISBN 9781860822995
CTS Booklet D669


This is the first book I have read from the Liturgy Office England & Wales. Or at least that I can find evidence of. I have found several other volumes published under the name ‘Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales’ but only a few with the abbreviated CBCEW like this title. This volume was first published in 1979. It was reprinted in 2005 and there is no eBook as of mid-2022. Over the last several years I have read over 300 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society. Many great books, many wonderful series, and a slew of excellent authors. I have ready many books in the CTS Devotions and Prayers Series that have been of benefit to my faith. This one was a surprise, and to be honest a little disappointing.

The description of this volume is:

“A simple form of daily prayer based on the Liturgy of the Hours: hymns for Morning or Evening, psalms for each day, scripture reading for each day, Benedictus and Magnificat, seasonal psalms and Night Prayer.

Many people are looking for a simple pattern for daily prayer. Prepared by the Liturgy Office of the Bishops' Conference, A Time of Prayer offers a simple form that can be used at any time of the day, everyday. It follows the basic structure of the Divine Office, which since Vatican II has been seen as the prayer not just of the clergy and religious but of the whole church. This booklet is suitable for use by individuals and by groups: Hymn for Morning or Evening, Psalms for each day, Scripture reading for each day, Benedictus & Magnificat, Seasonal Psalms, Night Prayer.”

The back of the booklet states:

“Often people are looking for a simple pattern for daily prayer. This new booklet, prepared by the Liturgy Office of the Bishops' Conference, offers a simple form, using the scriptures that can be used at any time of the day, and everyday. It follows the basic structure of the Divine Office, which since Vatican II has been seen as the Prayer not just of the clergy and religious but of the whole Church. 

A Time of Prayer is suitable for use by individuals and by groups.”

The chapters and sections in this work are:

A Time of Prayer
     Introduction
     Word
     Prayer

A Form if Night Prayer
     Introduction
     Word
     Prayer

Notes

We are informed prior to the beginning of the book, prior to the table of contents that:

“The Liturgy Office works with the Department of Christian Life and Worship of the Bishops' Conference to provide diocese and parish communities with resources to enable a worthy celebration of the liturgy. It seeks to promote the full, conscious and active participation in the Liturgy by all the baptised so that they may find in the Liturgy nourishment and inspiration as they take up their pan in the mission of the Church.”

At the beginning of the book we are told:

“Christian prayer is primarily the prayer of the entire human community joined to Christ. Each individual has their part in this prayer which is common to the one Body and it thus becomes the voice of the beloved Spouse of Christ, putting into words the wishes and desires of the whole Christian people and making intercession for the necessities common to all humankind.

Those taking pray in the prayer should make it their own so that it becomes a source of devotion, abundant grace and nourishment for personal prayer and apostolic activity.”

Page 5 states:

Structure
Introduction
     Opening Response
     Hynm
Word
     Seasonal Psalm
     Psalm of the Day
     Scripture Reading
     Reflection
     Gospel Canticle
Prayer
     Intercession
     Lord's Prayer
     Concluding Prayer
     Blessing

At the end of the volume I highlighted a few passages:

“Psalm of the Day
A psalm is provided for every day of the week. It is hoped that through repetition these texts will known by heart.”

“Praying by Yourself
A time of prayer has been prepared so that it can be used by individuals as well as groups who wish to join in the prayer of the Church and would appreciate a short, simple format.”

“Praying as a Group
A time prayer can be used by a variety of groups. It can provide a form of Morning Prayer for parishes where Mass is not celebrated everyday but people wish to come together to pray. It provides a simple form of prayer for parish meetings or catechetical lessons. For groups reflecting on scripture together it could offer a structure for a session with the discussion following on from the silent reflection.”

The version presented here is very simple. I would suggest a fuller version of morning and evening prayer. It does recommend you can use different psalms but also recommends using it to the point they are memorized. Those instructions are inconsistent. If you have never looked at structured prayer this way the volume might be useful, or if you wanted to use it in a group. But I see many people outgrowing it very quickly. And because of that maybe not attempting more challenging versions like the Morning and Evening Prayer or Divine Worship Daily Office.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.











Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Death of a Scholar - Fiorella De Maria - Father Gabriel Mysteries Book 4

Death of a Scholar 
Father Gabriel Mysteries Book 4
Fiorella De Maria
Ignatius Press
ISBN 
9781621645177
eISBN 9781642292008
ASIN B0B9ZR9PRX


This was the thirteenth book by Fiorella de Maria I read. I stumbled upon her works a few years ago and I read nine of them in as many weeks. And now eagerly await each new offering from her masterful pen. I was eagerly anticipating this books, since she mentioned it on social media. I have tracked down and read everything by her under the name Fiorella de Maria. And this is the fourth book in her only series. I did not even read the description of the book prior to picking it up. I know that if Fiorella wrote it, it would be worth reading. It did not disappoint.

The description of this book states:

“Father Gabriel spends a few days of relaxation at his old Cambridge College, the guest of friend Arthur Kingsley from his student days. Kingsley is now a respected scientist and a Fellow of St Stephen's College, but after an enjoyable evening dining at High Table, Gabriel receives the shattering news that Daphne Silverton, Kingsley's brilliant young protégée, has been found dead in her laboratory after what appears to have been a tragic accident. Daphne was universally loved, but Gabriel's instincts tell him that her death was a little too perfectly staged to have been an accident.

After an emotional reunion with the parents of his late wife, Gabriel seeks the truth about Daphne's demise. His investigations lead him to the Peace Union and its Ban the Bomb campaign, another member of Daphne's laboratory is found dead. Gabriel struggles to lay aside his personal loyalties and confront the possibility that there are dark secrets lurking behind both deaths.

This fourth book in the popular Father Gabriel series examines the moral minefield of the complicity of scientists in the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. It also reveals more about Gabriel's past.”

In many of de Maria’s work she deals with moral topics. She has an uncanny ability to write in such a way that the read is drawn in and feels part of the story. And finds themselves reflecting on the moral questions at hand. And she does so without preaching, but really making readers think. We do learn a lot more about Father Gabriel’s background in this work. And his has not been an easy journey. And that journey is at first clouding his insight into the cases at hand. For not only is a young woman dead and the circumstances suspicious, at least to Father Gabriel. But soon it appears his long time friend might be implicated if not in this death, than in something far worse.

As with the three previous novels, it was great to watch Father Gabriel put the pieces together. To see him work out the lock room mystery. But What I loved most about this one was finding out so much about him and his life before he joined the hermitage. 

I have greatly enjoyed everything I have read from de Maria’s masterful pen. And before I even begin this one I found out she has another, a biography of Saint Maximillian Kolbe coming in in about a month. That volume is from Ignatius as well, and is a part of the New Vision Books for young readers, continuing the series they have reprint some 30ish title from. I can only hope that Ignatius will put back into print de Maria’s first two novels.

This is an excellent read in a great series. It is historical fiction at its best. A priest solving mysteries is not new; Father Brown by Chesterton, Bishop Blackie Ryan by Andrew Greely, but my new favourite is Father Gabriel by de Maria.

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


Books by Fiorella De Maria:
The Cassandra Curse
Father William's Daughter
Poor Banished Children
Do No Harm
We'll Never Tell Them
A Most Dangerous Innocence
I Am Margaret The Play
Father Gabriel Mysteries:
The Sleeping Witness
The Vanishing Woman
See No Evil

Death of a Scholar


Nonfiction:
Robert Southwell – CTS Saints of the Isles

Books as Fiorella Nash:
The Abolition of Woman: How Radical Feminism Is Betraying Women
...

Author Profile and Interview with Fiorella de Maria.











Monday, 29 August 2022

A Simple Penance Book - Mgr Paul Grogan - CTS Devotions and Prayers

A Simple Penance Book
Revised by Mgr Paul Grogan
ISBN 9781860829260
eISBN 9781784693053
ASIN B071WPX99Z
CTS Booklet D777
2014


Over the last few years I have read over 300 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society, and many of them more than once. I have ready many books in the CTS Devotions and Prayers Series that have been of benefit to my faith. This was one of two I read back to back and they are different versions of the dame book, even though they have different ISBN’s and CTS Booklet numbers. The two are:

A New Penance Book - Father J Webb and Robert Taylerson - CTS Devotions 1977 revised 2003 D660

A Simple Penance Book - Revised by Mgr Paul Grogan - CTS Devotions 2014 D777

There is a lot of material from A New Penance Book in A Simple Penance Book so if you are going to track it down I recommend the newest edition. But both were well worth reading. 

The description of this volume is:

“Acting as a guidebook for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, A Simple Penance Book guides penitents through the institution of the sacrament and its benefits, culminating in a guide on how to make a good confession.

The practice of Confession, Penance and Reconciliation bears rich fruit not only in the Christian’s own life but impacts directly on the lives of those around us. The true joy needed in the mission to share our faith arises from a real experience that our sins have been forgiven.

For those familiar with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and those who are not, A Simple Penance Book acts as a simple and helpful guidebook for the sacrament. Taking penitents through the institution of the sacrament and its benefits, it culminates in a guide on how to make a good confession.”

The chapters in this work are:

Introduction
Scripture and Confession
 Sin and reconciliation in Scripture
 The Institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Confession and the Christian Life
 Benefits of confession
 Contrition, confession and satisfaction
 Call to continuous conversion
 Preparing for confession
 Making a good confession
 The practice of regular confession
 Writings of Popes and saints
How to go to Confession
 The Rite of Penance
 Scripture passages
 Examination of conscience
 Prayers of sorrow
 Prayers of thanksgiving
 Other prayers

I highlighted several passages while reading through this book some of them were:

“There is a new interest in the Sacrament of Penance. Young people long to unburden themselves to Christ and to receive his forgiveness and with suitable encouragement they are able to overcome any apprehension they may feel about disclosing their sins. More mature Catholics too are rediscovering the sacrament.”

“The title the Sacrament of Confession, conveys two aspects: our readiness to acknowledge what we have done through articulating our sins and our confidence in God’s mercy which we confess through our celebration of the sacrament. The title the Sacrament of Reconciliation illuminates the fact that God reconciles us to himself, restoring that friendship which our sins have damaged so that we experience a “true ‘spiritual resurrection’” (CCC 1468).”

““Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so am I sending you.’ Then he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’””

“Our understanding of the benefits to be gained from the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be heightened if we pause to consider how necessary reconciliation is.”

“If we need to convince ourselves of the need for reconciliation, let us not think of our sins and failings, let us rather stand by the cross with Mary our mother and the disciple whom Jesus loved and let it sink into our heart that all his pain and agony was joyfully undergone to save each of us-you and me-from our sins.”

“Regular confession is recommended. Confessing to the same confessor is also a good arrangement. Why? Because it helps us to form our conscience, to fight against selfish and evil tendencies, and it opens us to Christ’s healing and to progress in the life of the Spirit-to become more and more like our Master. The constant receiving of mercy helps us in turn to be merciful as he is merciful.”

“Conversion is not just a human work. It is a gift of God given to the contrite heart-by God who loved us first. It does not mean changing faith. It involves an acknowledgement of our condition and a willingness to change the direction in which we are going. It is not a quick or superficial process, but deep and can take as long as is required.”

“Recognising sin is the first step to the joy of being freed from sin. To start, I need to see my sin, to know that my sin is mine. I am to blame. It is my responsibility. This sin is then also mine to confess to Christ and so to be freed from it. I am not free to confess what I don’t admit to owning. I have to recognise and admit to my sin before I can give it to Christ. Then he will lift the burden from me, taking my sins on his cross.”

“There are several problems and difficulties which regularly seem to get in the way when I try to examine my conscience. If these are a problem, it is good to recognise them, and to have some way to deal with them.”

“A simple, but detailed explanation is more likely to give me true insight into my sin, and make me more contrite. Candour and simplicity are great paths to both contrition and repentance. They help my conscience to be open and at rest.”

“Heartfelt sorrow for our sins and a determination not to sin again are at the centre of our reconciliation with Our Lord and his Church. Before approaching the priest we need to prepare ourselves by prayer and examining our conscience.”

“What Christ offers in this sacrament is the very thing we need in order to avoid what is wrong and be better enabled to do what is good. It stands to reason that we need it as regularly as we need to pray. Note, as regularly, not as frequently. We need to pray more often than we need confession, but both should be done as a regular practice. We have more cups of tea than we have warm baths, but hopefully we have both regularly.”

“St Josemaría Escrivá "you revealed your past wounds–full of pus–in Confession. And the priest dealt with your soul like a good doctor, like a conscientious doctor. He made an incision where he had to, and would not let the wound heal over until everything had been cleaned out. Be grateful.” (Furrow, 168)”

“St John XXIII "Doing penance for one’s sins is a first step towards obtaining forgiveness and winning eternal salvation. That is the clear and explicit teaching of Christ, and no one can fail to see how justified and how right the Catholic Church has always been in constantly insisting on this. She is the spokesman for her divine Redeemer. No individual Christian can grow in perfection, nor can Christianity gain in vigour, except it be on the basis of penance.” (Paenitentiam Agere, 1)”

“The Church recognises the dangers in mere routine repetition of the sacrament, and so she provides a rich variety of choice to suit our spiritual needs at different times; even if we always go to the same priest (generally a good thing to do) details of the celebration of the sacrament will change as he sees growth and change taking place in our determination to be ever renewed in the way of Our Lord.”

The Six Chief Commandments of the Church 
1. To keep the Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation holy, by hearing Mass and resting from servile works. 
2. To keep the days of Fasting and Abstinence appointed by the Church. 
3. To go to confession when we are conscious of having sinned gravely. 
4. To receive the Blessed Sacrament at least once a year, at Easter or thereabouts. 
5. To contribute to the support of our pastors 
6. Not to marry within certain degrees of kindred without dispensation.”

“Lord Jesus, you opened the eyes of the blind, healed the sick, forgave the sinful woman, and after Peter’s denial confirmed him in your love. Listen to my prayer: forgive all my sins, renew your love in my heart, help me to live in perfect unity with my fellow Christians that I may proclaim your saving power to all the world.”

I hope those quotes will give you a feel for the content and therefore the value of this booklet. Having read the older edition and this one back to back, if I had to pick one it would be this volume. It is much more extensive. There are a greater number of prayers, scriptural passages. And the overall length is longer. Some of the passages in this edition are word for word from the previous iteration of the book. But many have been rewritten or are entirely new way of presenting the material. The booklet was written for personal use, for teaching RCIA, or for use in the school, church or home.  

This is a wonderful volume and one I know I will return to often. It is an excellent resource for personal growth. I can easily recommend this book to all Catholic readers, knowing they would benefit by the reading of this book. It is an excellent resource from the CTS.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.






Sunday, 28 August 2022

A New Penance Book - Father J Webb and Father Robert Taylerson - CTS Devotions and Prayers

A New Penance Book 
Father J Webb 
Father Robert Taylerson
ISBN 9781860821868
CTS Booklet D660
1977, 2003


Over the last few years I have read over 300 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society and many of them more than once. I have ready many books in the CTS Devotions and Prayers Series that have been of benefit to my faith. This was one of two I read back to back and they are different versions of the dame book, even though they have different ISBN’s and CTS Booklet numbers. The two are:

A New Penance Book - Father J Webb and Robert Taylerson - CTS Devotions 1977 revised 2003 D660

A Simple Penance Book - Revised by Mgr Paul Grogan - CTS Devotions 2014 D777

There is a lot of material from A New Penance Book in A Simple Penance Book so if you are going to track it down I recommend the newest edition. But both were well worth reading. 

The description of this volume is:

“A New Penance Book will help you understand how to go to Confession. It explains the Christian disciples need for a continuous conversion of the heart, which produces a gradual change of life. It explains what the sacrament is and how to prepare for penance. Prayers are included. This booklet is suitable for personal use, and for instruction of adults, as well as young people and children.”

And the back cover states:

This little booklet will help you understand how to go to confession. It explains the Christian disciple's need for a continuous, 'true interior conversion'. It is this 'conversion of the heart', which produces a gradual but sure and real change of life. In this sense we discover the radical nature of the Sacrament of Penance. This booklet explains what the sacrament is, why we need it, how to approach the sacrament and prepare for it. There is a section for use when going to confession, and a collection of helpful prayers and scripture passages, for preparation and thanksgiving. This booklet is suitable for personal use, and for instruction of adults, as well as young people and children, in a school or family setting.

The chapters and sections in this work are:

Why go to Confession? 
Sacrament of Reconciliation - Summary
Preparing for Confession 
Examining your Conscience 
Going to Confession 
Scripture Passages 
Prayers of Penance and Thanksgiving 
Rediscovering Penance and Reconciliation

I highlighted several passages while reading through this book some of them were:

“Many people find the Sacrament of Reconciliation (or penance, or confession - keep to the old names if you like), difficult. It is for some a rather neglected sacrament, approached out of duty rather than with joy. There is a feeling that one is not getting the best out of it, if indeed there is anything to be got out of it, over and above confession and absolution.”

“First of all, what happens when we are reconciled in the words of absolution? Put simply, Christ unites himself with us by grace. He floods our soul with his presence.”

“Naturally, the more you realise what there is to be gained from the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the more you will want to take care that you make the most of it.”

“An important part of preparation is looking forward to going to confession. Yes, looking forward. The more we look forward to an event the more we are likely to benefit from it - that's the point of Lent and Advent – and is not being restored to wholeness and soundness of soul worth looking forward to? What God works in us is cause for deep spiritual joy, and therefore well worth looking forward to.”

“The essential ingredient of the sacrament is, from our point of view, sorrow. But we tend to forget, perhaps, that sorrow is not something we can manufacture by ourselves; it is a gift from God - so the best way to achieve sorrow is to ask for it, knowing it will never be refused.”

“Real sorrow consists in acknowledging that through our own fault we have offended our maker and redeemer by going against his will. We acknowledge this in humbly asking pardon, in intending to turn away from sin and in a willingness to do our best to make up.”

“Spiritual development or striving for perfection is nothing else than seeking a closer relationship with Our Lord, and there can be no relationship with anybody without regular personal contact.”

“We need to pray more often than we need confession, but both should be done as a regular practice. We have more cups of tea than we have warm baths, but hopefully we have both regularly.”

“Be patient; there is no such thing as instant improvement, and the results of being regularly reconciled to God will be gradual and cumulative.”

The Six Chief Commandments of the Church
1. To keep the Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation holy, by hearing Mass and resting from servile works.
2. To keep the days of Fasting and Abstinence appointed by the Church.
3. To go to Confession when we are conscious of having sinned gravely.
4. To receive the Blessed Sacrament at least once a year, at Easter or thereabouts.
5. To contribute to the support of our pastors.
6. Not to marry within certain degrees of kindred without dispensation.”

“This sacrament has many names, and is commonly known as Confession. While Confession itself forms an essential part of the sacrament, it is not all of it. It is more accurately known as the Sacrament of Conversion in which we respond to Christ's call to return to the Father; of forgiveness since the priest grants us Christ's pardon and peace; of reconciliation, where we are reconciled to God and our neighbour.”

Mercy produces mercy
Regular confession is recommended. Confession to the same confessor also. Why? Because it helps us form our conscience, fight against selfish and evil tendencies, and opens us to Christ's healing and to progress in the life of the Spirit - to become more and more like our Master. The constant receiving of mercy helps us in turn to be merciful as he is merciful.”

If I had not read the two editions of this book back to back I might not picked up on how much of this volume appears verbatim in the new edition. That being said if you can lay your hands on this edition it is not incorporated completely in the new. And there is enough material omitted that I am thankful I read both. There were some prayers in this one that were not translated to the newer edition. 

This was an excellent read. If you are going to track it down I would recommend the 2014 edition as either a physical booklet, which is still in print, or an eBook available on a few platforms. If you stumble across this one and want a different look at the subject by all means read both. I know I benefited from it. It is not the first time I have read two books from the CTS to find out there was a first and second or once even a first, second, and third edition. But both of these are excellent. It is a great resource from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.


Books by Robert Taylerson:
Teachings on Prayer: The Christian Tradition - CTS Deeper Christianity Series
Daily Examination of Conscience: Using Scripture Texts Suggested in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Story of Prayer Through Scripture – CTS Deeper Christianity Series









Saturday, 27 August 2022

Encore! - Inka and Markus Brand - Noch Mal!

Encore!
Noch Mal!
Inka & Markus Brand
ASIN B07KMLH9CM

Mobile Version


This is one of our favourite games over the last few years. We play it often both on the mobile app and with dice and pens. It is another game my brother and his wife introduced us to. He has an epic game collection (see photo at bottom). Every time we are at their place, or they are at ours several games get played each day. This is another one of our favourite games they have introduced us to. We have the original game, have had the 6 additional play pads, and we have the mobile version and unlocked all 6 extra game pads. The version on the iPads were excellent while we were in the hospital after my son had spinal surgery. We have played a few of the games designed by the couple Inka and Markus Brand. And this is to date our favorite

The contents of the box:

1 Scoring Pad 
3 Color Dice
3 Number Dice
6 Pens

We ordered from Germany 2 sets of three additional scoring blocks. There is a solo version and it plays up to 6 players. Game play is easy to learn and every game is different. It is a standard Roll and Write type game. The first three rounds any play can pick from the 6 dice rolled. After that the person who rolls picks theirs first and player can pick from the 4 remaining. You do not have to play if you do not want to or cannot. Game play ends once one person has completed 2 colours. You start in the H column, and all plays must be made adjacent to mark pieces or on the H column. Each of the colour dice has 1 of the five colours and black which is while, but you only have some many wilds to play. Wilds left at end of game are worth 2 points. Likewise the number dice have 1-5 and a wild. If you us a wild the max boxes you can mark is 5. And points for columns increase the further from the centre starting column you are. First person to complete a column gets more points than any subsequent players. Same For colour completion. Any stars on the board uncovered are -2 at the end of the game.

This game is easy to learn. It does require strategy, but also a little luck on the rolls. Some games you might push to the edges and go for column points. Sometimes you might race to get colours. It really depends on the dice and where and what you can play. It is an excellent Roll & Write game. We enjoy greatly, both as a physical board game and on a tablet. You can also use the tablet or mobile version just as a score sheet. We have had all 7 score blocks, the original and 6 additional, we have wiped out two already.

It is a great game for a family game night or hanging with friends!

Note: If you are local to Kitchener Waterloo you can get this and many other amazing games, puzzles and more at J & J Cards and Collectables! And you can check out my brothers game related posts via Linktree.

Games by Inka & Markus Brand:
2006 The Great Dinosaur Game ( Kosmos )
2006 Summertime (Kosmos)
2006 Desire for Ometepe (Ometepe Project Nicaragua)
2007 Guatemala Café ( Eggertspiele )
2007 The Golden Compass (Kosmos)
2007 The three ??? - The secret of the ghost island (cosmos)
2008 Star Tail - Magical Metamorphosis (Kosmos)
2008 River of Dragons (Cosmos)
2008 Under the protection of the castle (Eggertspiele)
2008 Brain Acrobats ( Spielbox )
2009 The Palace of Esnapur ( Amigo )
2009 Shaun the Sheep - Vegetable Football (Kosmos)
2009 Shaun the Sheep - The Race of the Lambs (Kosmos)
2009 Shaun the Sheep - The Big Eating (Kosmos)
2009 Witch Lili - Witch Lilli's great secret (Kosmos)
2009 Castle of 1000 Mirrors (Kosmos)
2009 Würfel-Ligretto ( Schmidt Spiele )
2009 Laura's star - Laura's big trip to China ( Amigo )
2009 Winx Club - The Magic Tournament (Kosmos)
2009 Winx Club - The Stolen Crystals (Kosmos)
2010 Hui Buh - The Cursed Secret Passage (Kosmos)
2010 Hasenjagd ( HABA )
2011 Hui Buh - The darned ghost hunt (Kosmos)
2011 Geolino - Journey into the Animal Kingdom - The Bringing Game (Kosmos)
2011 Geolino - Journey into the animal kingdom - The exciting discovery game (Kosmos)
2011 Tohuwabohu together with Matthias Prinz (Kosmos)
2011 Monster trap (Kosmos)
2011 Princess Lillifee - A festival for the unicorn ( Die Spiegelburg )
2011 Race on the pasture (Die Spiegelburg)
2011 A herd of wild horses (Die Spiegelburg)
2011 What are you pounding? ( HUCH! & Friends )
2011 Village (Eggertspiele/Pegasus)
2012 The little dragon coconut and the secret of the mummy (Kosmos)
2012 Würfelwurst (Kosmos)
2012 T-Rex attacks (Kosmos)
2012 seat! Space! Out! (Cosmos)
2012 The Hidden Key (HABA)
2012 Saint Malo ( alea )
2013 La Boca (Kosmos)
2014 Burgenland ( Ravensburger )
2016 Again!
2016 Word Slam
2016 Exit - Das Spiel (Kosmos; game series)
2017 Scotland Yard The Card Game (Ravensburger)
2017 Rajas of the Ganges
2018 The rise of Queensdale (Alea / Ravensburger)
2019 Bravo!
2020 Andor The Family Fantasy Game 









Friday, 26 August 2022

A Pius Man - Declan Finn - The Pius Trilogy Book 1

A Pius Man
The Pius Trilogy Book 1
Silver Empire
ISBN 9781482553895
eISBN 9781370225095
ASIN B0738JHZ41
 

Note: This book is currently out of print. The author is now working with a new publisher. But it is such an excellent read I am still writing a review of this edition. It will be updated with link to the new edition when it releases!

This is a brilliant book! The further I got into it, the more I was hooked. It is an amazing read. It is excellent as fiction and as presenting historical fact. It reached a point where I could just not put the book down. In many ways it reads like Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy on steroids, And it puts the works of Dan Brown to shame for research and integrity. At the end he gives several references for works that support it as presented in this story and also several opposing views. The authors not at the end is excellent he states:

“The history here is completely true, with the exception of Pope Pius XII sending assassins after Hitler and his upper echelon. Most of the arguments that have been presented in real life, for and against Pius XII, have been inserted into the book. The author of Hitler's Pope, for example, really did backpedal about Pius, turning his attention towards Pope John Paul II not long after the Pope died in 2005. At least one source used false documents by a convicted forger, and yet other researchers have used real sources, leaving out data that exonerates Pius XII—some have argued deliberately.

The discussion of the Soviets’ policy toward religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular is well documented. Rolf Hochhuth’s play, The Deputy, which first accused Pius XII of supporting the Nazis, really was supported by the USSR. Try The Sword and the Shield by Vasili Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrews for the history between Rome and Moscow. Andropov’s plan to separate the Church of Rome from the American Catholic Church is real—the details, obviously, are made up. The list of people whom the Soviets had supported is real, and is longer than is portrayed in the novel. Additional material can be taken from the works of Robert A. Graham, SJ. The Mikhailov family is, to my knowledge, a complete fabrication, though the history around them isn't.”

And also:

“The Goyim Brigade, anything on a “new” Knights Templar, or Vatican Intelligence, is completely a product of my deluded imagination. Any and all similarities between the characters in the book and real people are completely miraculous. If any of them are real, I would like to meet none of them in a dark alley anytime soon. And they are probably hired as Vatican Ninjas.

Everything political, and referred to in past tense, is true—about the Soviet Union, the United Nations and their resolution against Israel, legal action against the Church in the United States, etc. The analysis of those facts is purely that of my characters, who are, again, paranoid by profession.”

This was the eighth story I have read by Declan Finn in the last 3 months. I have read the first 5 in the Saint Tommy Series, the first in the White Ops Series, and now the first in this series. And I cannot but put the pieces together between this series and one far in the future the White Ops books. Many of his works are coming back into print with a new publisher. And some new volumes in those other two series. But I can state emphatically that readers are in for a treat when this story and series is back in print. I have been greatly impressed by all I have read that he has written. But back to this story, the description of this story is:

“As the head of Vatican security, Giovanni Figlia must protect a new, African Pope who courts controversy every other day. The Pope's latest project is to make Pius XII, "Hitler's Pope," a saint. Things haven't gotten better since the Pope employed American mercenary Sean Ryan.

Then a body fell onto the Vatican doorstep.

Soon, a pattern emerges-- people who go into the Pius XII historical archives are dying. Each time, a priest has been in the background-- a priest close to the Pope. One of the victims was an al-Qaeda operative, drawing Scott "Mossad" Murphy of Israeli intelligence to Rome.

Now, Ryan, Murphy and Figlia must join forces to unravel the mystery around the Vatican, as even the man Giovanni is supposed to protect looks like a suspect. To get out of this alive, they must discover if Hitler's Pope was a Nazi collaborator, or a pious man.”

This story has it all guns, bombs, plots, historic fact and a pope like one we need! The story races from nearly beginning to end. Starting with a murder then the assassin being taken out the story is off to the races. Nearly all the agencies from real life are represented and a few of Finn’s imaginings. This story is masterfully written. It has amazing characters. An excellent plot and pace. It is an action thriller, but the story has a purpose. It is a much better novel than many I read when I was younger, and even some I read today that are read just for entertainment purposes. I came away from this book with a deep desire to read more by and about Pope Pius XII and an ever greater commitment to read all the work s of Finn.

Last year I found I had a few books from Karina Fabian that I had purchased back in 2011 on my Kindle that I had not got around to reading. Like this those two are being rewritten and out of print. This was another long forgotten gem. If I had read it when I originally picked it up, I would not be playing catch up with over 35 books by him still on my to be read list! 

This story reads like a cross up of James Bond with the TV Series The Fall Guy, set in and around the Vatican, with a generous dollop of history, a lot of action. And All kinds of government agencies.  

I hope the new editions of this and other of the 5 books in the trilogy are reprinted soon. I know I will be recommending it often. And if you just cannot wait, track down a used copy, you will not be disappointed. I have been more impressed with each volume I read from Finn, and this one was amazing! I look forward to many more great reads from his most creative pen!

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

Books by Declan Finn:
Love At First Bite Series:
Short Stories:
Bad Date 
Blood Stained Cliffs of Dover
Novels:
Honor at Stake
Demons Are Forever
Live and Let Bite
Good to the last Drop
Mad Dog Moon

The Last Survivors Series:
Codename: Winterborn
Codename: Unsub

Convention Killings Series:
It Was Only On Stun!
Set To Kill

Pius Series:
A Pius Legacy
A Pius Stand
Pius History
Pius Tales (Anthology)
Pius Trilogy Short Stories:
...

St. Tommy Series:

Top Secret Service Series:
Too Secret Service
Too Secret Service 2
Too Secret Service 3

Dances with Werewolves Series:
Dances with Warewolves
Dances with Werewolves Volume II
Dances with Werewolves: Omnibus Edition

White Ops Series:
Main Street D.O.A.

Other books:
Arresting Merlin
Sad Puppies Bike Back






Thursday, 25 August 2022

Beauty Queen - Sarah Mlynowski - Whatever After Book 7

Beauty Queen
Whatever After Book 7
Sarah Mlynowski
Scholastic
ISBN 
9780545746540
eISBN 9780545746557
ASIN B00OBOA3EY


This is the fourteenth time I have read a book in this series. I have been reading these stories with my girls for over 6 years now. I read a few of these stories with my oldest starting in 2016. Now my youngest is reading them to me, and her sister has handed down the first several stories in the series. We had started reading them in 2016 but my oldest skipped around a bit and read a couple of volumes to her Aunt and Grandma while on a road trip. This was my first time encountering this specific story. My youngest insists we review everything that we read together, so this review from 2022 is part of that effort. Between reading with my oldest and youngest this is the fourteenth time I have read a book in this series. The stories have great staying power. Even as an adult I can enjoy these books, not only the first time but rereading them again and again.

Mlynowski always does a wonderful job with the story in this book, and all we have read in the series so far. My oldest was a reluctant reader. Back then when we read, I would read two pages for every page she read to me. The whole family loves these stories from 8-years old to 80 years old. It is a fantastic series. The stories are fun and entertaining, but also have some valuable lessons and insight. 

My youngest daughter and I give this story a solid 5/5 stars, she says this is her favourite to date, because we got to learn a lot about Maryrose and Jax. She was also surprised by what happened at the end with Jonah’s memories and some other memories. This story had a lot of twists and turns that she had not guessed and took her completely by surprise. She was totally taken by what happened at the end with both Freckles and Beauty. And she loved the surprise around what happened to Abby’s jewellery box once the story was resolved.

The description of this story is:

“This time, the magic mirror sucks Abby and Jonah into the story of Beauty and the Beast. When Jonah angers the Beast by picking flowers from his garden, he becomes the Beast's prisoner! Abby has to save her brother by finding Beauty, whom the Beast will surely fall in love with, right? NOPE. The Beast doesn't like Beauty, so it's up to Abby and her brother to match-make this reluctant pair and fix this fractured fairy tale before things get pretty ugly!”

I enjoyed Abby’s growth in this story. Her realizing who she was becoming and taking steps to change it. I also was surprised by some of the twists in this one. It is one of the best in the series.

We always enjoy Mlynowski’s twists and takes on old tales. Another great take on a familiar tale. The writing in these stories is excellent. My daughters and I love reading them together. And the retelling of this story surprised both of us at several different points and I am certain it will surprise you. It is a great book in an excellent series.











Books by Sarah Mlynowski:
Magic in Manhattan Series:

Bras & Broomsticks
Frogs & French Kisses
Spells & Sleeping Bags
Parties & Potions
...

Whatever After Series:

Fairest of All
If the Shoe Fits
Sink or Swim
Dream On
Bad Hair Day
Cold As Ice
Beauty Queen
Once Upon a Frog
Genie in a Bottle

Sugar and Spice
Two Peas in a Pod
Seeing Red
Spill the Beans
Good as Gold
Just Dance 


Whatever After Special Editions:
Abby in Wonderland
Abby in Oz



Upside-Down Magic Series:
Upside-Down Magic #1
Sticks and Stones #2
Showing Off #3
...

Other Books by Sarah:
Milkrun
Fishbowl
Monkey Business
As Seen on TV
Me Vs. Me
Gimme a Call
Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
Don't Even Think About It
Think Twice
Know It All
A Nice Fling is Hard to Find
A Little Bit Broken
Cruisin'
Party Girls
The Two-Month Itch
...

Books Coauthored:
See Jane Write (with Farrin Jacobs)
How to Be Bad (with E. Lockhart and Lauren Myracle)
...

Books Contributed To:
Girls' Night In
Girls Night Out
American Girls About Town
Fireworks
Vacations from Hell

...