Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Review: Reflections on the Sunday Gospel: How to More Fully Live Out Your Relationship With God


About the Book:

Pope Francis illuminates a new, vibrant way of experiencing the Gospel through moving, intimate, and deeply meditative reflections that encourage us to live fully with meaning, purpose, and strength.

We live in an unprecedented time that has threatened to upend our daily rhythms, our work, our homes, even our faith. More than ever, we need books like Reflections on the Sunday Gospel to stir us to hope, to comfort, to peace. We need to remember what we live for and how good God is.

These reflections—published in English for the first time, drawn both from homilies given by Pope Francis and readings from the Fathers of the Church, including Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, and Saint Ambrose—do more than offer a way to enter into the liturgical year with weekly readings to enrich your devotional time. They offer Christ, and the power of His resurrection. They offer His words of assurance: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33, ESV).

Ultimately, as Pope Francis guides us through these timeless words, we will glean how even the giants of the faith needed God as much as we do, and how we can draw near to a good and faithful God no matter where we are or what season we’re in.

My Comments:

Usually when I get a book on NetGalley, the publication date is within a few months.  Generally publishers ask us to hold our reviews until about thirty days before publication.  I just noticed that the publication date for this book is November, 2022, which at first raised my eyebrows, but then got me thinking.  

If you are not familiar with the Catholic Lectionary, it is the book that contains the readings for Mass that day.  While there is some flexibility on weekdays, if you go to Sunday Mass anywhere in the world, you are going to hear the same Scripture readings as all other Catholics.  The Lectionary presents these Sunday readings in a three year cycle with each year focusing on a different synoptic gospel.  This year that gospel is the Gospel of Matthew.  When Advent begins, we start another church year and will move on to a different Gospel.  This year's cycle is the same as the one starting in November, 2022.  

So, now that you've had a quick lesson on Scripture in the Catholic Mass, what about the book?  As noted, it contains writings of Pope Francis about the readings each week.  This week's readings are here.  
In case the link doesn't work when you are reading this, the First Reading is from Exodus and tells the Israelites not to oppress people. The Second Reading is from Thessalonians and Paul is praising them for showing his preaching by their lives.  The Gospel is Jesus saying you shall love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.  
Chapters in the book begin with Pope Francis' reflection.  In this case he points out that the loving God and loving neighbor are inseparable as people are made in the image of God.  He also states that we cannot separate prayer and devotion and service to others.  He says "In the middle of the dense forest of rules and regulations--the legalisms of the past and present--Jesus makes an opening through which one can catch a glimpse of two faces:  the face of the Father and the face of the brother. He does not give us two formulas or two precepts;  there are no precepts or formulas.  He gives us two faces , actually, only one real face, that of God reflecte din the many faces, because in the face of each brother...there is God's own image.  
Following the Holy Father's teaching is a reading from the Fathers of the Church, in this case, St. Maximus the Confessor, who in this excerpt talks about love.  This does not appear to be one long teaching but rather excerpts from a variety of things, based on the ellipses and brackets.  One quote I liked was "He who loves God cannot help but love every man as himself, even if he abhors the passions of those not yet purified". 
I'd say the teachings from Pope Francis are pretty much the type of things he is known for--don't judge, love, care for the poor etc.  If Pope Francis is like fingernails on a chalkboard to you, you probably won't like this book.  If he is "your" Pope, you will.  I like him, so I'm giving this book a B+

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

My Review: Jingle All the Way

Jingle All the Way: A Novel by [Debbie Macomber]

About the Book:

Trapped in the middle of five siblings, Everly Lancaster always had big dreams. Now a top real-estate executive, Everly finds her work is her life, leaving no space for anything (or anyone) else. Sensing her stress, Everly’s boss insists she take December off. At first, a month away seems crazy—how will the company survive without her? But Everly’s mother convinces her otherwise. She deserves a vacation—plus, when she returns, she’ll have no excuse to skip family Christmas like she did last year.

But after her vengeful assistant books a guided cruise in the Amazon instead of the luxury beach vacation she expected, Everly is horrified to realize that she’s about to spend the next two weeks trapped—with no Wi-Fi!—in the rain forest. Not even Asher Adams, the ship’s charming naturalist, can convince Everly that the trip will be unforgettable. Slowly but surely, she realizes he is right: the sights are spectacular. And with each passing day, Everly’s relationship with Asher deepens, forcing her to take a long, hard look at her priorities.

Everly and Asher begin to see magic in the possibility of a life together. But as the cruise nears its end, and Everly’s family Christmas approaches, both must decide if love is worth the risk. A merry surprise may be in store in Debbie Macomber’s newest holiday delight.

My Comments:

Debbie Macomber Christmas novel.  Really, that says it all.  It's sweet, predictable, and not very realistic.  If you are in the right mood it is a pleasant way to pass a few hours but no, there is nothing special about this.  

I did like the setting--a cruise down the Amazon River.  Usually when you think of cruises you think of those huge ships that are floating luxury resorts sailing from beach to beach or tourist city to tourist city but this book reminded me that you can take cruises on smaller ships to more unique locations.  

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B-

Come join us for Show Off Tuesday to read other reviews and recipes and to enter a giveaway or two. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Cookbook Club: My Review

About the Book:

Margo Everson sees the call out for the cookbook club and knows she’s found her people. Recently dumped by her self-absorbed husband, who frankly isn’t much of a loss, she has little to show for her marriage but his ‘parting gift’—a dilapidated old farm house—and a collection of well-loved cookbooks

Aja Alexander just hopes her new-found friends won’t notice that that every time she looks at food, she gets queasy. It’s hard hiding a pregnancy, especially one she can’t bring herself to share with her wealthy boyfriend and his snooty mother. 

Trista Walker left the cutthroat world of the law behind and decided her fate was to open a restaurant…not the most secure choice ever. But there she could she indulge her passion for creating delectable meals and make money at the same time.

The women bond immediately, but it’s not all popovers with melted brie and blackberry jam.  Margo’s farm house is about to fall down around her ears; Trista’s restaurant needs a makeover and rat-removal fast; and as for Aja, just how long can you hide a baby bump anyway?

In this delightful novel, these women form bonds that go beyond a love grilled garlic and soy sauce shrimp. Because what is more important in life than friendship…and food?

My Comments:

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Christmas Delights: Cookbook Review

About the Book:

Savor the Delights of the Season with More than 250 Delicious Recipes!
This festive new compilation of family favorite holiday recipes is full of fantastic flavors of the season that will delight the young and the young at heart! Illustrated in full-color photographs, more than 250 recipes will inspire families with delicacies perfect for every Christmas occasion:

  • Christmas Eve Celebrations
  • Bountiful Breakfasts and Brunches
  • Christmas Dinner (including main dishes and sides)
  • Merrymaking (crowd-pleasers for parties)
  • Cookies and Candy
  • Giftable Treats (jar mixes, etc.)

My Comments

 One thing that comes to just about everyone's mind when you say "Christmas" is food. 

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