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Content by Craig Stephans
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Reviews Written by
Craig Stephans (Elizabeth City NC)

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The Mammy
The Mammy
by Brendan O'Carroll
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.29
68 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful story balancing sorrow with joy, Jan. 25 2004
This review is from: The Mammy (Paperback)
The Mammy is an eloquently written story about a family in Dublin, Ireland. The book is entertaining and moving. It is lighthearted at times and at other times it deals with serious matters such as death, sickness and religion. There are several laugh-out-loud moments when the author brilliantly captures the closeness of friends who share tragedy and exhiliration. The several children in the story offer a spectrum of personalities and clash and interact entertainingly. The story is full of wit and insight into human behavior, especially the love between mother and children.
I have given this book and its sequels as gifts to the delight of several friends. And I recommend it for you.

Abandonment to Divine Providence
Abandonment to Divine Providence
by Jean-Pierre De Caussade
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.19
45 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent spiritual book that balances contemporary thought, Jan. 22 2004
What is Divine Providence? Shakespeare writes that "there is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will." (Hamlet) This book expands on the theme of allowing providence to shape our ends and trusting in the wisdom of providence.
Taken on its own, this book may inspire some readers to be passive regarding life's outcomes, as other reviewers have suggested, but we read this in light of so much contemporary preaching and Christian writing about being proactice and successful and prosperous and "blessed" in all we decide to do that reading this book gives us a different view that will provide balance to our spiritual lives. It is a view of contentment at the feet of God, a view of trusting in God's presence and compassion. I was thrilled while reading this book. It is a book to inspire us all to sit at Jesus' feet and listen to him, as Mary did, rather than asking Jesus to bless our busyness from a distance.
One must remember that this is a book of compiled letters to nuns and notes for lectures to a similar audience. These are exhortations to nuns who have devoted their lives to Christ. The casual Christian may find the exhortations extreme and that they do not fit into our Christian America mindset. The structure of the book does create a more laborious read than modern books that flow better due to proper formatting.
I recommend this book as I recommend Imitation of Christ by Thomas a'Kempis. They are books that are relevant and I think necessary to modern Christians, especially those caught up in the "Purpose-Driven Life" movement. I bought a copy for my pastor to read, because we plainly do not hear of this kind of devotion today. It is not a movement but a sacrificial life the author promotes.

Snl: Best of Will Ferrell [Import]
Snl: Best of Will Ferrell [Import]
DVD ~ Don Pardo
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 36.70
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars I Can't Get Enough, Jan. 21 2004
Will Ferrell is one of my all-time favs from SNL. I rented this DVD first and liked it so much I bought it to add to my collection of SNL best-of's.
This contains most of his funny characters...the Professor and his "lover," the cowbell skit, Pres Bush, Craig the cheerleader, the morning show, and of course the high school music director. These are great to have on hand to pop in when I want a laugh.
There are a few skits missing...I wish they had put the skit when he is in the backyard yelling at the kids to "Get off the Shed"!!! But overall, I think the hits are here.
If you are a Will Ferrell fan, I don't see how you can be disappointed with this collection of skits.

Freaky Friday
Freaky Friday
DVD ~ Jamie Lee Curtis
Price: CDN$ 5.00
67 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Enjoyable, Jan. 20 2004
This review is from: Freaky Friday (DVD)
For a movie based on a mom and daughter switching bodies, this was very entertaining for the whole family. It was enjoyable to see the mother going to high school in her daughter's body, just as it was hilarious to watch the daughter counsel people while in her mother's body.
The events that occur and the script provide for many laughs. Of course, you can't expect it all to be realistic, due to the premise, but once over that, it is funny throughout.
The mother and daughter both learn their lessons after walking in the other's shoes.
this is a good wholesome fun-filled movie that parents, teens and young children can all watch together.

On Writing
On Writing
by Stephen King
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 10.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent memoir and guide for writers and readers, Jan. 20 2004
This review is from: On Writing (Mass Market Paperback)
On Writing is a memoir more than an instructional book on writing which is what makes it an enjoyable, as well as informative read. Stephen King shows through stories about his life how he has become a great and successful writer. His stories show writers what is required to polish writing skills and to become successful. This book shows that his success came after grueling hours, sacrifice and many failures. It shows the lifestyle of a famous and prolific writer. He also does offer advice and instruction to writers on skills, techniques and attitudes.
I don't think anyone would be disappointed with this book, since it is entertaining and instructional. I think it would appeal to writers and to any fans of Stephen King.

Roget’s Thesaurus of Phrases
Roget’s Thesaurus of Phrases
by Barbara Kipfer
Edition: Paperback
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful for Hopeful Writers of Christian Fiction, Jan. 20 2004
Ms. Stokes offers honest, helpful advice and instruction for aspiring writers of Christian fiction. She cites statistics and knowledge regarding the Christian fiction market that writers need to know. She seems to have a good grasp on what the publishers and booksellers are also wanting, and this is what it comes down to knowing when trying to sell a Christian novel to a publisher.
In addition to sharing her knowledge of the industry, Ms. Stokes writes about some of the common errors Christian fiction writers make. She provides solid instruction about several things the writer needs to check before submitting a book for review.
Overall, I found this to be a wise, general teaching tool for me. It also gave me some other resources to read.
I agree with a previous reviewer that there are peculiarities in the Christian fiction market that are frustrating, such as what I would consider the lack of realistic stories. Ms. Stokes discusses the type of Christian novel that is published and it is a conservative, evangelical book for the most part. Christian publishers may avoid a book that presents a different view of Christians from what they think is congruent with readers' values. Essentially, Ms. Stokes lets us know that there is a precise type of Christian fiction that most of the Christian publishers are looking for.
If you are trying to write and publish Christian fiction, this is a good learning tool for you. It was for me.

Black Robe (Widescreen) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
Black Robe (Widescreen) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
DVD ~ Lothaire Bluteau
Offered by Planet Video
Price: CDN$ 39.98
10 used & new from CDN$ 10.27

4.0 out of 5 stars Great historical movie, Jan. 19 2004
The Black Robe offers entertaining insights into the cultures of Native Americans in the face of approaching settlers/pioneers. The focus is on a Jesuit Priest who has left France and then the safety of a French Fort to venture into the wilderness in hopes of connecting with an Indian tribe. The movie conveys the commitment and utter sacrifice the priest makes to reach these people.
I think this movie offers an accurate glimpse of how the Indian tribes lived and clashed with each other and with the elements.
The interaction between the humans and each person's inner questioning and conflicts reveals much about faith, acceptance and life in general.
The scenery of the movie is amazing and alone would make the movie worth watching.
The story has sparked my interest in the events, so that I want to look into reading the book. It looks like the author and director were sincere in their efforts to tell a historically accurate story.

by Mary Shelley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.87
85 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquently Written Horror Classic, Jan. 19 2004
Frankenstein exceeded my expectations that were based on movies I have seen by the same title. This book is a literary masterpiece that sets a bar for terror that is yet to be surpassed.
I was very impressed by the writing skill of Shelley. She does a terrific job telling this story, using three narrators that offer different points of view and voices.
The monster is a character that elicited sympathy, respect, anger and hatred. He is intelligent and articulate in a way I did not expect. His ability to convey emotions and thoughts creates mixed emotions about him. Yet, because his hatred and anger prevail, these emotions prevailed in me too in my regards of him.
Shelley shows the danger of allowing one's ambitions to overtake balance and reason. We see the character of Dr. Frankenstein forsake all to see this dream of creating life realized. We see the consequences of his actions that are a warning to us to tread more cautiously regarding our ambitions.
All of the characters are developed comprehensively.
I enjoyed reading this but had to set it aside at times because of the tragedy it entails. You know where the story is headed but still hold out some hope that it will turn out more positively--like watching Titanic, you know it is going to sink but still hope maybe it won't.
I think this is a timeless classic you should read.

by Mary Shelley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.87
85 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Ahead of its time; exquisitely written, terrrifying novel, Jan. 18 2004
I was surprised by the literary beauty of this book and by its intriguing horror. It was not at all what I had expected based on my exposure to Frankenstein movies and tales. This story is quite different in many ways that make it more appealing to the reader.
The tale involves a monster that is truly hideous in form but reveals a conflicted mind and heart. Shelley effectively causes the reader to have mixed feelings about this creature that wields destruction while confessing its own misery and affection for humanity.
She also conveys the dangers of a person pursuing his or her ambition at the cost of other values such as relationships and peace.
The novel is told in an innovative fashion. Shelley uses three different narrators to tell the story. This creates some variety in the point of view and in the voice of the narrator.
This book is very compelling, but at times I had to put it down due to the tragedy of it. The whole time you know where its events are leading and a part of you wants to go there and another part wants to avoid it--like watching Titanic, you know it is going to sink but you still hold out some hope it won't and you try to avoid its definitive demise.
I think this is a horror story that has yet to be surpassed in literature. I really felt for the characters, including the monster. I was completely entertained by the skillful writing.

Losing Summer
Losing Summer
by James-Jason Gantt
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 28.34
11 used & new from CDN$ 25.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Novel; Fresh and Innovative Voice, Jan. 15 2004
This review is from: Losing Summer (Paperback)
Gantt has written a captivating novel. Losing Summer is refreshingly well written and succeeds at captivating the reader with its intrigue and suspense.
What stands out most to me about it is that it reads like a memoir. I felt like the main character, Daniel, is a real person telling his story. Gantt excels in character development. When the book is done, you will have become a personal acquaintance to the main characters.
The story is right out of our culture with young adults living life to the hilt. They experience a sudden halt to their exuberance when one of their own takes her own life. Her three friends are left wondering why. So are her wealthy, prominent father and the police.
The tale leads the narrator-Daniel and the reader through a labyrinthine tunnel that may or may not have a light at its end.
This book is unlike any other novel I have read due to its bold, in-your-face writing that turns out to be a welcome change from so many of the recent novels I have read. Gantt makes a real investment in his characters, and I think they offer a great return.
Before you read this book, make sure you have plenty of time set aside and do not have to get up early the next morning, because you will not be able to put it down once you start it.

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