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Content by Steven R. McEvoy
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Reviews Written by
Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada)

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The Scarlet Dragon (The Kingdom of Wrenly Book 2)
The Scarlet Dragon (The Kingdom of Wrenly Book 2)
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good book and series, June 29 2016
This was the second book in the Secrets of Wrenly series that we have read as a family. My oldest daughter and I took turn's reading it to the younger children. All of us thoroughly enjoyed the book. This is one of a few series we are reading currently together. The children really enjoy the illustrations. The reading level is such that my grade 4 can read it easily, and yet the story is entertaining enough that all the way down to kindergarten love reading it.

The illustrations by Robert McPhillips really help make the story. We have been reading these books electronically and the kids love expanding the pictures and zooming in to see all the details. The pen and ink or line sketches really do contain a lot of details. The children love going back and forth to the pictures as we read.

As the second book in the series there is less set up and background compared to the first story. Therefore we jump right into the adventure. In this story a Scarlet dragon egg is found, but soon after hatching it becomes Ill. Lucas and Clara go on an adventure to find special berries, vixberries to be specific, that will help cure the dragonling.

Overall this was better than book one. And it sets up lots of promising future reading with 8 more books already out in the series. We are looking forward to seeing what Clara and Lucas get up to next. These books are great for young readers and those who read to them. So go for an adventure in Wrenly I am sure you will enjoy the quest.

Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story and lessons, June 27 2016
This review is from: Troublemaker (Kindle Edition)
This was the second book I have read by Andrew Clements in under a week. As soon as I finished Frindle I picked up this one to read. I really enjoyed Frindle but I loved this one. In many ways Clayton Hensley reminds me of myself. Not afraid to stand up to authority, not afraid to get in trouble, and not afraid to cross lines. But in this book after his older brother returns from a month in county jail things are about to change.

Shortly after our story begins Clayton promises his big brother he will work at cleaning up his act. But when you have a reputation for making trouble, often people will not take your changes at face value. Clayton goes from being one of the wild ruffian's in the school to asking to not be sent to the principal's office overnight. The other kids especially his best friend do not understand the change. But Clayton has given his word and as hard as it is he is working on making changes.

Soon Clayton finds himself examining what is doing, what he observers with new eyes. He finds he is thinking about other people's feelings, how the same would impact him. What it is like to be on the other side. Soon he realizes a lot of what he did for fun was really not fun for himself and especially others. These little examinations of conscience are helping him to make the changes he promised. And being a man of his word means a lot to him.

This was an incredible book to read. I just wish I had learned some of the lessons as young as Clayton did. I am really looking forward to reading this book with my kids over summer break. Another great book by a new found favorite author. An excellent read!

Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun and lessons., June 22 2016
This review is from: Frindle (Kindle Edition)
This book was a great little read. It came as a recommendation from another blog. I do not recall reading any books by Andrew Clements, and most of his books were written after 1995 when I started keeping track. But there was something familiar about the story. The writing is highly entertaining.

Nick Allen is a very intelligent boy, and he seems to have a knack for stirring up trouble even though he does not intend to be a troublemaker. This book focuses mostly around his fifth grade year. Without intending to he ends up in a battle with Mrs. Granger. This is a war that goes on from the first day of school until the end of the year. And it is a war or words, or more specifically a war about words. After giving a report, an extra assignment, on dictionaries Nick comes up with the plan to eliminate the word pen and replace it with Frindle.

The characters are well done. One can't help cheering for Nick and wishing against the Granger. And once words are set loose they cannot be taken back and that is what happens to Nick. By the time his parents become aware of the situation he cannot take the word back, it has a life of its own. The story gets more and more complicated, spreading from Nick's class to all grade 5's, to the whole school and soon the whole nation.

This was a wonderful book to read. I have put it to the top of the summer reading list for my oldest to read with her, and then to have her read to her younger siblings. It is the type of story that teaches a great lesson, has some fun but also looks at the seriousness of our actions and the consequences they can have. This book was so good I have already picked up a few others by Clements to read with the kids. I highly recommend this book.

A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness
A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness
Price: CDN$ 1.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource, June 20 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have read this book 4 times over the last year. My initial reaction was to state that "I would compare Michal to Robin Sharma, Stephen R. Covey, Dan Millman and John C. Maxwell. It is a mix of some incredible insight, great tips, practice advice and some good steps to get you there." The reason I read through it 4 times was to really work on the material and craft my own personal mission statement. A few years ago I had a co-worker ask me what I was my greatest achievements, he through I would say degrees, certifications, projects at work. I surprised him when I said, being a good husband, being a good father, brother friend. This book helped take some of those areas of life and more and focus them. It was a process, and took months for me to hone and craft it into something not vague, that was succinct and meaningful. And Michal provided guidance along the whole journey.

Michal starts, as always by teaching from his own experience. He states "I share with you what my personal mission statement creation process looked like. In that example, I show you which points I consider vital in the creation of a mission statement in general." He also draws often from the late Jim Rohn. Stawicki leaping off from Rohn declares: "Jim Rohn said that the natural order of things is to chisel your character first and the success comes from your character. To chisel your inner self, you first need to know yourself. I think a personal mission statement is the best road map to build your character and consequently your success, however you define it.
A personal mission statement is your philosophy, your creed. "It focuses on what you want to be (character) and what you want to do (contributions and achievements), and on the values or principles upon which being and doing are based." It is supposed to allow you to state your own constitution based on your deepest values, so you can lead life premised on them." And that is where our journey begins, with finding our purpose: "A personal mission statement is about your life's purpose. This purpose determines the quality and quantity of your life. Literally."

Speaking about that purpose Michal quotes Victor Frankal and expands upon Frankal's though: "Victor Frankl was convinced that every human being has his/ her unique life's purpose. Maybe you even agree with that statement. But it's not enough to know it exists. To have the vague feeling of your mission. What you need is a concrete purpose. You need to know by heart the exact words which will guide you through everyday decisions. Thus, you need a personal mission statement." Unfortunately many in life get stuck believe they have a purpose but never put in the time and effort to really figure out what it is.

Michal like us a just a regular Joe, a guy who has learned by trial and error and his had some great successes. He says "Most of us are just common folks who struggle with our fears, doubts, anxieties, past. We don't dream of being a hero, rescuing the world. We dream about a few sources of income to be able to support our families and look to the future with hope. To heal our relationships. To break up our addictions. To reduce the pile of our problems." And the purpose of a personal mission statement is to help narrow that list down and to really go to work on it.

Michal wonders "Maybe in following your personal mission statement, you will grow beyond your wildest dreams.", or maybe we will just be happier, more content and more focused. Either way it is a win if we find ourselves living with renewed passion and purpose. But he is adamant in warning us that "Your personal mission statement is not a certificate of accomplishment to be put into the drawer. It is supposed to be your lens, starting point, the source of focus. Use it." And some of the ways he encourages us to use it are:

a) Read it every day. Or even better - read it several times a day.
b) Meditate upon it. It's the same story as with reading - make it a ritual and compose it into your schedule.
c) Listen to it. Record your personal mission statement and listen to it any time and any place you want
d) Visualize it. This is especially important if you included some future aspirations or desired changes in the mission statement.
e) Create a vision board. Find pictures and photos corresponding with your mission statement. Stick them to the board.
f) Make a mind movie. Its function is similar to a vision board - a mind movie is meant to fire up your imagination.

So go for it get the book, but in the work and let's see the places you will go.

Great Quotes to Inspire Great Teachers
Great Quotes to Inspire Great Teachers
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars For all those who inspire, June 17 2016
I must admit I have been a huge fan of Noah benShea's writing since encountering the book Jacob the Baker at a retreat at a street mission in Toronto many year ago. This book is very different than the Jacob series, and yet like everything I have read by Noah is full of wisdom, wisdom that will help you live a better life and be a better person. The difference is as a formal teacher and principal and someone with a lifelong focus on education this book is geared to teachers.

In my life I have been blessed with a few amazing teachers, many good teachers and luckily very few who were poor educators. As I read through this book I took inspiration and recalled fondly many teachers from my past, from grade school all the way to university in my late 30's. I also thought of a few friends who are currently teachers and the great work they do.

The collection of quotes in this book are narrowed down to 26 categories. Noah draws from his own writings, and from numerous motivational, historical and religious sources. The Specific chapters are:

1. The Art of Teaching
2. Adversity
3. Behavior
4. Character
5. Children
6. Collaboration and Teamwork
7. Communication and Conflict
8. Community
9. Compassion
10. Criticism
11. Discipline
12. Diversity, Culture, and Language
13. Gifted and Talented
14. Gossip
15. Leadership
16. Math and Science
17. Personal and Professional Develop.
18. Reading and Writing
19. Responsibility
20. School Safety
21. Spirituality
22. Stress, Rest, and Well-being
23. Technology
24. Testing
25. Time and Resources Management
26. Women in Education
End Word

This book can be read through from beginning to end, or picked up and randomly sampled. Like his other books that I have read I know I will come back to this one again and read it often, as such I can highly recommend it. On my first reading through I did not mark up the book. On the second I highlighted 19 quotes. And I will share some of those with you as a taste of what the book offers.

"Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition."
-Jacques Barzun

"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."
-Albert Einstein

"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers . . . with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling . . ."
-Carl Gustav Jung

"When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier."
-Roy Disney

"Actions don't speak louder than words. They shout."
-Noah benShea

"Although our inattention can contribute to our lack of total well-being, we also have the power to choose positive behaviors and responses. In that choice we change our every experience of life! Every thought, word, and behavior affects our greater health and well-being . . . physically, emotionally and spiritually."
-Greg Anderson (US basketball player)

"The essence of good behavior is thinking about what's also good for others."
-Noah benShea

"Character is less often something we grow into and more often where we grow from."
-Noah benShea

"Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."
-Frank Outlaw

"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."
-Marcus Aurelius

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
-Alvin Toffler

"We teach what we like to learn and the reason many people go into teaching is vicariously to re-experience the primary joy experienced the first time they learned something they loved."
-Stephen Brookfield

"The word "no" carries a lot more meaning when spoken by a parent who also knows how to say "yes.""
-Joyce Maynard

"Two monologues do not make a dialogue."
-Jeff Daly

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."
-Albert Schweitzer

"The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism."
-Norman Vincent Peale

"Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty."
-Frank Herbert

"All leadership begins with self-leadership."
-Noah benShea

"Prayer is a path where there is none."
-Noah benShea

As can be seen from this sampling there is some amazing stuff in this little volume. A few of the quotes I had encountered before but there were many that were new to me. Some are applicable to my role as a father, and some as an employee and some for just being and learning to be better at being. I highly recommend this book.

The Divine Mercy Image Explained
The Divine Mercy Image Explained
Price: CDN$ 0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great resource, June 15 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This was the second book by Father Gaitley that I have read this year. My introduction to his writing was his piece in the collection Beautiful Mercy, and I followed that up with his Divine Mercy Explained. From having read that book I was expecting lot from this book and it delivered in full.

The chapters in the book are as follows:
Author's Preface
The Grace of the Image
Tradition: Sacred Art
Tradition: Prophetic Witness
The Meaning of the Image
The Rays
Jesus, I Trust in You
The Gaze
A Truly Sacred Image
The Enthronement of the Image
An Invitation to Jesus, the Divine Mercy
How to Make the Invitation (Offering)
Divine Mercy Enthronement
Appendix One: A Meditation on the Image
Appendix Two: Articles on the Image
"The Power of the Image"
"Fr. Joseph's Dream Come True"
Appendix Three: Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Divine Mercy Resources

Father Gaitley does an amazing job of distilling the meaning of Divine Mercy image. He does so in a very accessible way. His research is extensive, her personal devotion comes through and will challenge the reader. There is a great section about meditating on the image, in our parish there is a very large version of the divine image. I love spending time praying before it, as do my three children. After reading this book I plan on getting high quality copies of the Divine Mercy image for their bedrooms.

This book challenged my devotion, it helped open me to more grace in my life, and to be open to growing and extending more grace to others.

This is an amazing read and to be honest you cannot beat the price. When you combine it with the message of Father Michael's other book Divine Mercy Explained they are excellent tools in your spiritual tool box. Give this book a try I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Dragon Masters #5: Song of the Poison Dragon
Dragon Masters #5: Song of the Poison Dragon
by Tracey West
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.50
12 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great book great series., June 13 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This series really has staying power. With my two youngest children there are few chapter books that we have read more than once, let alone whole series. This is the first series I recall we have read through twice and are eagerly awaiting the next instalment. The Dragon Masters is a great series that children and those who read to them will both enjoy.

One of the nice things about this series is that it is a true series. Each story builds upon the next. Now yes that are strong enough to be read on their own, but as a whole we get to watch the growth of the group as they come together as a team and learn to work together and support each other. In this latest offering the Dragon stone has chosen a new dragon master, Petra and her great uncle had also been a dragon master. She seems to know a lot about dragons and their abilities, but when it comes time for her to meet her Hydra and bond with it, something just seems off.

Even though Petra seems like a know-it-all, she also seems afraid. She is far from home and knows that there are high expectations upon her. When King Roland plans on show casing the dragons especially the new Hydra and Petra to Queen Rose the day after Petra's arrival, things go bad quickly. Soon the King is poisoned and all the dragon masters are searching for a cure. Will they find something in their books, or will Petra and the Hydra make connecting in time to save the King?

My children love the illustrations by Graham Howells, the often go back to look at previous illustrations or sneak ahead to get a glimpse of what is coming next. Add to the excellent drawings wonderful stories and it makes for some great reading time.

These books are enjoyed by the whole family. The younger kids like having them read to them. My oldest enjoys listening or taking a turn reading to her siblings. And there is a great series of questions at the end of the book to help make sure children comprehend the story. Set at a grade 2 reading level in our house these are enjoyed from Kindergarten to grade 4. The kids love these books and therefore come with their seal of approval.

3 Methods of Prayer That Will Change Your Life
3 Methods of Prayer That Will Change Your Life
Price: CDN$ 1.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Great resource, June 10 2016
This was the second book by Philip Kosloski that I have read. For the price it is a great deal. The book reads more like an essay or university assignment, and I do not mean that in a derogatory way. It is short, concise, and yet packed with useful information. In the introduction Philip states:

"Prayer, above all else, is a relationship. As Saint Therese so eloquently put it, "For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy (Story of a Soul)." This quote was deliberately put at the very start of the Catechism 's section on "What is Prayer" and should always be kept in mind. Prayer is an action of the heart, as we cry out to God and lay before Him all of our needs and worries."

And later he goes on to iterate:

"With that said, here are three methods of prayer that have the power to change your life. I am not saying that you must use these methods and do so in a systematic way. I am simply offering these to you to take on your quest to draw closer to the heart of God."

The three methods that he highlights in this book are:

1. Heart to Heart
2. Acknowledge. Relate. Receive. Respond (ARRR)
3. Lectio Divina

Now he freely acknowledges there are many methods of prayer, but these are three drawn from church history, the saints and personal experience that he has found helpful for growth and deepening of a prayer life. And if a reader applies the information I am sure it will be beneficial for them as well.

As I mentioned I picked up this book and read it, immediately after finishing The Basic Field Manual for Hearing God's Voice, This is another good read for an amazing price. I just wish some of his other books were available on Amazon also. It also has an excellent appendix with a great list of further readings. So in summary good book, great price and excellent jumping off point to go deeper in your prayer life.

Divine Mercy Explained
Divine Mercy Explained
Price: CDN$ 0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction, June 8 2016
My introduction to Father Michael Gaitley's writing was his piece in the collection Beautiful Mercy, and since then I have read a few of his books starting with this one. I must admit when I first took a look at the eBook I was a little disappointed that the main part of the book was only 17 pages long, but after reading the book and the extensive appendixes it made a lot more sense. And I was very grateful for the teaching and instruction provided via this volume.

The chapters in the book are as follows:
The Message of Divine Mercy
Tapping Into the Graces
Appendix One: Divine Mercy Prayers
Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Novena to Divine Mercy
St. Faustina's Litany of Divine Mercy
Appendix Two: Divine Mercy Wisdom from the Popes
Top Ten 'Mercy Quotes' from Pope John Paul II
Top Ten 'Mercy Quotes' from Pope Benedict XVI
Pope John Paul II's Definitions of Mercy
Divine Mercy Resources

Father Gaitley does an excellent job of distilling the message and history of Divine Mercy in a way that easily attainable way. He provides a lot of practical examples of how to incorporate the spiritual practice in your personal and family life. The prayers broken down separately at the end make a great teaching tool, and in eBook format you can easily have them with you on your phone or tablet all the time.

The second appendix drawing from the teachings of Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI from their writings help us to go deeper into this mystery. At my parish there is a very large painting of Divine Mercy, which was done by a friend of the former pastor. I have been fascinated by it since we started attending there a few years ago, as it is the parish associated my with children's school. I wish I had read this book earlier. Because I love spending time praying in church before the tabernacle, a statue or Mary and the painting.

If you are looking for a quick easy to understand introduction to the teachings surrounding Divine Mercy this is the book for you, and likely it will serve as a jumping off pint into further studies. It is a good book that I can highly recommend!

The Life God Wants You to Have: Discovering the Divine Plan When Human Plans Fail
The Life God Wants You to Have: Discovering the Divine Plan When Human Plans Fail
by Gregory K. Popcak PhD
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.74
22 used & new from CDN$ 14.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Horses vs Zebras, June 5 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I picked up this book after listening to some audio presentations by Gregory K. Popcak. And to be honest this book was an incredible read. In the introduction Dr. Popcak uses an example of horses and zebras. The premise is that in life when we are thinking about changes either in our careers, marriages, and relationships often we are horses who want to be zebras. We want a major change and we want it now. We desire to jump the fence and join the zebras because their grass is greener. When in fact most of the time we need to work on being better horses where we are. Instead of getting a divorce and starting over, work on who you are and work on the relationship. Most of the time we what to make that chance because of being bored. Instead of changing jobs, become the best horse in the job you currently have. No he does state that for major life decisions sometimes we are being called to jump that fence but not for marriage and only after great discernment.

And that is what the rest of the book does. It teaches you how to discern if you are a horse that needs to be better at what and where you are. And if that is not the case it gives you the tools to help decide if God really is calling you to a major change and how to pursue it if that is the case. Dr. Popcak states: "That a sense of meaning comes from attempting to use fully the gifts you have been given for the good of others and the glory of God in whatever circumstances you find yourself. While certain activities may be more meaningful than others because they give you a greater opportunity to use your gifts, all activities can be the source of a sense of meaningfulness - to one degree or another - if you are constantly striving to bring everything you have to the task at hand, whether that task is a job, role, or relationship. By contrast, a sense of boredom and meaninglessness comes when we hold back. Every time we merely act as if we are going through the motions, or we treat the work or relationships we have in too casual a manner, we rob a moment of its potential to be meaningful, and therefore to be a source of joy." Basically we get bored and want change because we are not really putting in the effort. And if that is the case we need to learn to work at being a better horse, not trying to be a zebra. The grass is not greener in that other job, in that other relationship, it only appears that way and once the novelty wears off we are back in the same place. Dr. Popcak illustrates each chapter with a number of case studies from his years in practice. The order of the book is:

Part One: Getting Started
1. "When I grow up …"
2. You Have to Start With Yourself
a. Meaningfulness Quiz
b. Intimacy Quiz
c. Virtue Quiz

Part Two: Walking in F.A.I.T.H.
3. Follow the Rules for Healthy Discernment
4. Act, Even When in Doubt
5. Investigate the Causes of Your Anxiety
6. Take Others into Account
7. Hold On Through Adversity

Part Three: Further Steps:
8. Conclusion - Moving from Suffering to Surrender
9. Epilogue: Finding Strength in Community

Throughout this book Dr. Popcak teaches us strategies to discern God's direction for our life; especially if the life we thought we were called to life is falling apart. He teaches us to seek our guidance from the Holy Spirit, from others in our circles and if needed from professional counsellors. I know many people who have been through hardships in relationships, or careers who moved to a new pasture because they thought the grass was greener; when all that happened was they ended up making major changes again often in a short time. This book could have saved them a lot of heartache, pain, uncertainty and even loss.

I highly recommend this book, and know that even I will be rereading it again.

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