Tag Archives: Kindle

Book review; Lay Siege to Heaven Louis de Wohl

lay-siege-to-heaven2248lgI think Lay Siege to Heaven is the best of de Wohl’s books. He has always done his homework on the historical context for any of his books and there’s a great deal of history here, but in this book he seems to have a strong understanding of Catherine Benincasa and her mother which gives a strong, three dimensional figure to both women. The books isn’t really about Mona Lapa Benincasa but she is there and you can’t help getting to know her.

Louis de Wohl does not give us a sloppy plaster saint, but rather a woman of fire and energy driven by her love of God and His demands on her.  He treats her relationship with God well and seems to have a good grip on the miraculous happenings from her intersession. I particularly love the way she seems to tell the hospital doctor off for being lazy lying dead in bed. Up he gets – plague free and alive again – and sets about his work with the same gusto she had with her care of the plague victims crowding the hospital and town of Sienna.

De Wohl does not shy away from the terrible mess the Church was in, with weak, comfort loving Popes keeping the Bride in her Babylonian Captivity in Avignon. The greed, simony and vice of the whole Avignon set up is made clear by de Wohl who has his information from history, the writings of St. Catherine’s friend Fra Raymond Capua and from Catherine’s amazing and at times rather shocking letters.

For the last ten years of her life (she died at the age of 33) Catherine ate nothing but the Eucharist. She is not the only saint who has been a living proof of the life of the Bread of Life. There’s a touching scene in the book in which the Pope, to test Catherine’s obedience, asks her if she would eat something should he command her.

She says she would obey him and eat whatever he commanded, but she could not obey him if he asked her to keep it down. She had eaten less and less over the years as food immediately came back until she stopped eating altogether.

There is a great deal of historical and biographical information on St. Catherine of Siena as well as the historical record of the years of her life. De Whol has been faithful to this giving the book it’s authenticity.

He touches briefly on her relationship with St. Bridget of Sweden and her daughter St. Katrin of Vadstena (aka St Catherine of Sweden). There’s a moment when she had asked Katrin to negotiate with the awful Queen Joanna of Naples and Katrin still smarting from what had happened to her older brother Karl, refused.

The Church has produced a few very great saints and St. Catherine of Siena is one of the greatest.

A chapel built on a rock in the grounds of the St. Malo retreat centre is named for her and was visited by Bl. Pope John Paul II. Recently a massive flood and mudslide destroyed a lot in the area although the floods came right up to the rock the chapel remained untouched. Catherine weathered the storms that hit the Church in her era, and those storms were great as the Popes were so weak. But she prevailed and at last the pope returned to Rome where he belonged and the beginning of the renewal could take place. There are many times over the 2000 years since Christ established His Church on Peter -Kephas- the rock and the apostles that the storms and flood waters looked to destroy her; but His promise stands firm.

Book Review: Shadows and Images by Meriol Trevor.

shadows-images-novel-meriol-trevor-paperback-cover-artI get the sense that Meriol Trevor is making a come back and I am glad she is. Many, if not all, of her books were out of print but thanks to some good American publishers they are making it back into both print and ebook format.

Shadows and Images is a gentle novel based around the fictional characters of Clem and Augustine and their families; while the over riding character is the very real John Henry Cardinal Newman of the Birmingham Oratory (now Blessed). Trevor’s knowledge of the life and times of Newman is deep and broad so although the book is “historical fiction” it’s very factual historical fiction.

Trevor touches on the industrialism of the Midlands, particularly around Birmingham and the Black Country; Bilston even gets a mention! There is the underlying issue of bad practice and unjust wages for the workers. But she spends a little more time on the surge of anti-Catholic feeling since Emancipation, including some of the violence.

She doesn’t mention this, but here’s a bit of my history to add. I was baptised in one of the first Catholic Churches to be built and opened after Emancipation was finally granted in 1829. SS Mary and John’s in Wolverhampton was opened in 1850, but just beforehand as the Church was completed a baptist minister from somewhere else (nowhere near Wolverhampton – can’t remember where) gathered a load of people to cause a riot against the church. Their attempt failed, partly because local protestants wouldn’t support him (good for them).

The church was opened on 1st May 1855 by Newman’s friend Cardinal Wiseman (who was pretty saintly himself). Wiseman is in Trevors book and his work during the dreadful cholera outbreak is noted.

Clem follows her friend Newman through his conversion, his difficulties over the Idea of a University, his uncomfortable relationships with Ward and Manning and the bizarre trial and attack on him by Charles Kingsley.

I found Kinglsey’s slander sad, especially in light of the good he had done to raise the issue of child labour.  Surely a good Christian should not have stooped to telling great big porkies about a fellow Christian, or anyone. But Newman took it in style and quietly forgave.

Trevor brings her story to an end as the elderly Clem continues her friendship with the even older Newman and those who worked with him such as the great Cardinal Ullathorne. She sees the end of an era that brought some little light to England before the great darkness of the First World War descended.

The children have read and loved Meriol Trevors Letzenstein Chronicles; The Crystal SnowstormFollowing the Phoenix, Angel and Dragon and The Rose Crown

Book Basket; kids kindle and hardcopy reading.

books basketRonan got a Kindle for his birthday and he loves it. I love the fact that both he and Avila will spend quiet time reading, (Avila has my old Kindle) often with Profiterole and Cecily on their laps (Prof and Ces are the guinea pigs).

I had bought some books for the kids Kindles and a friend gave Ronan some money towards more books.

He has read the first two books in Meriol Trevors Letzenstein Chronicles. With the money from J N P I’ve  bought the third and fourth books in the series as he has requested.

He’s reading The Mitchells at the moment and says it’s good. I think I got it as a freebie some time ago.

Avila has been reading Alvin’s Secret Code and would like some more of those books. She’s reading aloud (to me) Children of the New Forest which is certainly stretching her vocabulary.

She’s also read Five Children and It

We don’t have a book basket this week but Ronan was reading St Francis of Assisi which is a book I bought for Alex for his Confirmation as he took that name.

Also they’ve been reading Marguerite Makes a Book

I do love the fact that both Ronan and Avila love to read. I hope I can encourage them to read good stuff and so grow with their reading. I don’t buy into the idea that all books are good and all screens are bad. That simply isn’t true. Neither do I believe that all old books are good and modern ones are bad. If that were the case Charlotte Mason would not have needed to warn parents against exposing their children to “twaddle”. It is sad that perhaps we can say the newer versions of twaddle are more poisonous than the old versions, but I think as parents we have to be cautious in all the stuff we expose our children to.

There’s plenty of really good books out there, especially once the children have hit a stage where they can read fluently.

Heleyna is reading some of the Oxford Owl books as part of her reading.

She loves it when Avila reads Winnie the Pooh and from me she always chooses Sheepford and Oxley (bk 1)  As Classical Academic Press are  promising bilingual versions I will hang on before buying more.

The other books she’s had out a few times is Our Lady of Guadalupe pop up book. She and her friends seem to love it.

Ronan has been reading the beautifully illustrated Gregor Mendel; the Friar Who Grew Peas

I like the way the children are able to mix happily between ebooks and hardcopy.

Meanwhile I am a Kindle only reader these days. I’ve just finished re-reading Marcus Grodi’s first novel How Firm and Foundation and I’m on to his next one Pillar and Bulwark I have the first one in hard copy but I’ve rebought it for Kindle and don’t mind as I know a lot of Marcus’ work is supporting those who in coming Home to the Catholic Church have lost everything; job home and sometimes a big chunk of their family and friends.

And for lighter reading I’m reading the Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz

I am also slowly pre-reading The Mystery of the Periodic Table with a view to planning some lessons around it.

Also reading A Father’s Tale by Michael O’Brien

Iona is reading some Raffles books (in hardcopy) but the link is for the free ebooks

The Deacon brought me Holy Communion yesterday, and we gor talking about the joy of books

Lent Reading; trying to be inspired.

It’s Lent and so I thought I would put out a list of books for good Lentern reading.

I’m still working through the Dairies of St. Faustina which I converted to a mobi file for my Kindle using CALIBRE, which is a free and easy to use e-book converter and manager.

I found a text file of the Catechism and I’ve made that into a pdf using PRIMO PDF. I’ve been using Primo for a long time to make the free lesson packs Kalei has been putting up on That Resource Site. Do go and take a look at what she’s got on offer for Lentern resources.

If you want to read a book on your ereader then having Primo and Calibre is a great help. I’ve transferred books to Word then to pdf and Calibre with convert them to mobi.

So I am hoping to read a lot of the Catechism throughout Lent.

I am also reading the Life of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi . I love this woman, but the book is a true penance to read. I can’t stand purple passage and this book is awash with sentimentality, flouncy, purple and elaborate extrapolations. It’s so bad, it can be difficult to find the story of Anna Maria in there – but it is there.

If you are wondering why I would deliberately read a book as astonishingly badly written as this, well, I really find her inspiring and there are hardly any books in English out there about her. I have the one by TAN publishers (can’t remember the author just now) on order – but that’s a hard copy so I will only be able to read it when eyesight allows.

I love Anna Maria because she was so ordinary in her extraordinariness. She was married, had seven children and lived a tough life. She cared for her parents when they grew old and poor. Her mother, who was a little difficult apparently, lived with them and then her daughter Sophia moved back home with her six children when her husband died.

Obviously the “big” part of Anna Maria’s story was her gift of prophecy and the “sun” she saw in which God revealed to her the things He needed her to tell others.

Anyway, apart from the penance of reading a badly written book, I’m hoping her life will inspire me to better behaviour over being ill. She had many of the same symptoms as your average FMS/ME cum dysautonomia patient, including severe migraines, black outs, pain, absolute exhaustion and the rest. She handled all this as you’d expect a holy saint to handle it – that is, not like me! So I am hoping for inspiration. (stop laughing!)

When my poor husband says he can tell how much pain I’m in, even when I, in saint-mode do not mention it – because I’m irratible and snappy that’s an epic fail!

So, hopefully Bl. Anna Maria will help me out, without me requiring yet another holy 2×4 across the soul. (So I’m a slow learner).

I am still slowly working through Les Miserables which I love. Even so, dear old Vic likes to pontificate rather pompously and go off on long pontifical-tandems to the point where you almost feel like yelling “Get back to the story!” But when he’s in the story; it’s brilliant.

As a straight forward book I’m reading a The Emperor of North America the second book in the Young Chesterton Chronicales by John McNichol. I actually bought it along with The Tripods Attack for Ronan but as you can have it on more than one Kindle at a time I’m getting to read it too.

So I have something to read for all brain states from flurble to relatively sensible.

Book Basket

P1010995This weeks book basket has the following books:

Frog and Toad books. There’s a great story about frog and toad going sledging in the snow. Just right for all the snow we have here at the moment.

Diary of a Wombat This is a simple and funny little tale for the younger ones. Heleyna loves it and Avila often reads it to her.

Charlie Needs a Cloak. Another good winter story for Heleyna. It’s by the children’s favourite author Tomie DePaola.

Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery Just a lovely story with beautiful illustrations about a monk who has a bakery to help make the monastery make ends meet. Rona loves this story as he wants to be a baker.

Paintings First Discovery/Art

The 5000 Year old Puzzle

feature-prime._V386282737_I have given Avila my old Kindle, and have a Paperwhite for me now which is brilliant in all sorts of light from dark to bright sunlight. It’s a touch screen which I was unsure about at first because of my peripheral neuropathy. I wasn’t sure the screen would recognise my fingers but it’s been fine most of the time.

Keeping secrets in our house is nigh on impossible – (which I suppose is ok really because I don’t approve of secrets; they always end with biting someone) – but anyway, dear old Ronan has found out that he is getting a Kindle for his birthday.

At the moment he and Avila are sharing my old one.

She is reading E.Nesbit’s(opens list)  The Phoenix and the Carpet which I read to them as a read aloud some time ago. She also has Tom’s Midnight Garden for quick reading. She read it to me ages ago now.

Ronan is reading L. Frank Baum (opens list)  The Tin Woodman of Oz

What the adults are reading:

I am reading Les Miserables  which I read years ago and can’t remember well. Iona has seen the film and thinks we should go too.

I am also reading The Silmarillion which, like Les Mis I haven’t read for many years. Nice to go back to these things.

Al is reading Dorothy Sayers Strong Poison on the train as he goes to and from work.

Iona is reading Daphne du Maurier’s The King’s General. She’s a big Daphne Du Maurier fan.

Book Basket

P1010955I think the book basket this week might only be slightly changed next week. I am not pushing too hard on “personal reading” time but they do seem to just pick a book from the basket and sit with it for a quiet time.

The Usborne See Inside Your Body has been a long time favourite.  As they got Mr. Guts for Christmas it’s been revived as an interest.

Sir Cumference and Knights of the Round Table. A fun way to learn a few maths facts. Avila has taken to these books. I think they are a nice complement to the Life of Fred books they love so much.

The King’s Equal is short and easy to read. Nice relaxing book with some depth of story.

The Glorious Flight of Louis Bleriot across the English channel.

Uncle Chestnut Lovely whimsical stories based around our beloved G.K Chesterton. The book is a very slim paperback for the price. I must admit being taken about by how small the book was for such a price- but it is very well written. (perhaps it’s cheaper in the USA)

At night they are reading something different. The Roman Mysteries that they love so much have a set of mini stories and Ronan has just finished The Trumpeter of Krakow which he really enjoyed.

For read alouds Avila has just finised Kateri Tekakwitha and will read  Mates of the Kurlalong which her aunt has lent to her.

Ronan is reading Swallows and Amazons

I am finding that many books are available as ebooks from Bethlehem, Sophia and Ignatius press and are cheaper in dollars than in sterling. They are certainly cheaper in ebook than hard copy.

So, don’t tell him, but I’ve bought Ronan a kindle for his birthday (24th Feb). Between now and then I will get him a couple of books and I’ve already started loading it with free books. Amazon let you put together a wishlist so I’m building one for him as I go along.

I did spend quite some time looking at other ereaders before I caved to the Kindle again. But the advantage is that we can have the same book on up to five kindles which is brilliant for group reading times. I’ve decided to upgrade to a paperwhite and give Avila my kindle. She’s been asking for one almost more than Ronan.

Reading for the Year of Faith: Kindle and hard copy.

Bible: Why not treat yourself to a good translation such as the RSV-CE, (Ignatius or Navarre.) or a Knox if you can get hold of one. Commit to doing just a little Bible study each day. Ignatius Press publish a whole lot of good Bibles commentaries and stuff

I’ve got the Dairies of St. Faustina and although I’ve read them before I’m going through them again. Her understanding of the signs of the times, of suffering and of service are wonderful: like little lights along the road.

I’m also reading St. John of the Cross The Dark Night of the Soul. For me at least, this takes long slow reading. It’s so packed that reading it in bleurgh times doesn’t cut it.

The End of the Present World And the Mysteries of the Future Life by Fr. Charles Arminjin now in English. This was a book that St. Therese the Little Flower recommended.

The Father’s Know Best by Jimmy Akin. Understanding what the early Fathers of the Church wrote and taught is a great insight into the development of doctrine, and how She handled persecution.

At a time when America is facing a wholesale onslaught  over religious freedom, which is an intrinsic human right,  I think it would be worth reading the stories of St. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) companions. (She’s one of our family saints so obviously I love her a lot.) If you have the brain power (which sadly I don’t) you could try reading her philosophical work, or get hold of some wonderful Alice von Hildebrand books and lectures. EWTN audio archives still hold the series she did about the life and work of her husband Deitrich. His escape from the Nazi’s and his writings are all amazing.

For children the Vision Books are great and for religious freedom and persecution the stories of St. Edmund Campion and St. Thomas More. Also the story of St Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal given in the time when France was persecuting Catholics viciously.

How’s that for starters? Don’t spend the next year reading twaddle. Life’s too short for that. Fill up your heart, soul and mind with something worthwhile- even in fiction.

Book Review, Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy.

I have just finished The Cross, the last of the Kristen Lavransdatter trilogy by the award winning author Sigrid Undset. I think the kudos for a beautifully rendered translation goes to Tina Nunnally.  When I blogged about books that are true and therefore speak to us in harmony with natural law,  I was still reading Unset. She shows a profound grasp of human life, love and struggle. She writes from the viewpoint and soul of Kristen as a child, young girl in love, wife and mother of seven sons and mistress of a great house to her old age and the final realisation of her life and struggle, brought about by a sudden opportunity to make an astonishing act of mercy.

Undset’s deep understanding of human nature and the consequences of choices and actions make all the characters of the book very real and believable.

Kristen’s relationship with her saintly father Lavrans and the more difficult relationship with her mother is drawn sympathetically while avoiding  saccharine and vinegar in her description of Kristin’s parents.

Undset’s deep knowledge of history also shines in this story. There are no glaring historical errors to irritate the reader. In fact, there are some details that ring so true that they left me saying “Ah so that’s it!”

While the story is placed in fourteenth century Norway, it has a timeless quality to it, most probably because of the depth of the characters and the fact that human nature has changed little, if at all. I love the complexity of Kristin’s life, love and faith. She commits some truly awful sins, and has to wrestle with her conscience, pride and guilt over them.

Life is way too short to spend reading what Miss Charlotte would call “twaddle” and too short indeed to read trash, so why not make every moment count by reading something good for the heart, mind and soul. This trilogy is it.

A more eloquent review is here: Under Her Heart: Motherhood in Kristen Lavransdatter.

This set of books will be read again (I hope) by me.

 

Book Review: Unbridled Grace – the astonishing dangers of being a chiropractor.

Qualifying as a chiropractor should be a straightforward way to get to earn a living and take care of  your family. Dr. Norman answered a tiny little ad. in a newspaper looking for a part time chiropractor at a little Spanish speaking medical practice and he applied. He got the interview and he got the job. Wonderful.

Or not.

Unbridled Grace is the “you couldn’t make it up” story of an ordinary person finding themselves working for the Russian Mafia.  If that isn’t bad enough, he soon finds his family life under attack, his daughter’s well-being threatened and his life about to be seriously penned in, not because of the Mafia, who barely seem to be bothered with him, but because of the police and the FBI. It’s the Government agents with no soul who come out of this looking truly evil. Fabricated evidence and social-climbing with emotional manipulations and threats make up their action against Dr. Norman.

The most astounding part of the story, where surely the agent should have received some sort of serious disciplinary action, but didn’t, was the over dramatic arrest of the doctor in front of his then 5 year old daughter. It took her many years before she could hear the doorbell ring and not run for cover.

In the midst of this 8 year battle to get back to the life he had worked so hard for and to prove his innocence (so much for innocent until proven guilty) Dr. Norman finds God in his foxhole and of course God (who has a great sense of humour) produced some quiet, but moving, miracles.

For those of us feeling a bit like victims, or footballs, being kicked around a system of uncaring but powerful “professionals” and I use that word loosely, this is a book of hope and promise. It’s a quick and easy read and I recommend it.

I don’t recommend working for the Mafia … or the FBI…

Home Education Literature plans for grades k to 4

Here is a list of some of the books we have read or intend to read. I’ve marked the ones I read to them as read alouds. Many of those will be personal reading books for the children in the future. Audio is marked as audio. Read alouds and audio are for a mixed age audience. I’ll undoubtedly be writing more about what we read as the next academic year goes on.

KINDERGARTEN (year 1)

All these books are read aloud books as most K aged children can’t read at this level yet. They are important for teaching listening skills and building vocabulary and reasoning skills. All the more reason for avoiding the disneyfied versions of things like Winnie the Pooh

Trawl second hand bookshops and charity shops, unless you are lucky enough to have easy acess to Wigtown. Get the old Postman Pat books. The new ones are so badly written, that they could make your eyes bleed! Children are nowhere near as dim as some of the “new” adapted versions would have us believe. Charlotte Mason warned against twaddle and I’ve come across some really sugary stuff form her day, but even those don’t quite plumb the depths of grammatical horribleness as the new versions of Postman Pat and Winnie the Pooh.

Winnie The Pooh The real ones by A A Milne.

Alfie and Annie Rose Shirley Hughes is a wonderful writer and illustrator.

The Dairy of a Wombat (activities)

Little Pear (I don’t have this yet, but intend to get it)

The Blue Fairy Book Andrew Lang audio Lit2Go

All things Amy Steedman here as well

Aesop’s fables and audio Lit2Go

Brother William’s Year A beautiful little book on the life of a monastary.

Granfather’s Journey

All things Tomie DePaola.

For Heleyna to read herself we will be using the printed up and online version of the Starfall books, the Oxford Reading Tree books (not as phonic based as the newer ones I believe) and Step Into Reading Books I’ve accumulated over the years as well as the free online Oxford Owl books.

(Ignore the grades for these books. Even Avila who has some mild dyslexic tenancies was reading Step into Reading level 5 books like the Trojan Horse by grade 1.  And the ORT years and ages are not very useful as guides either). Having said that the grades I have put books into are just a basic guide. Your children will be different and their interests may be different.

GRADE 1 (yr 2)

26 Fairmount Ave series by T DePaola (self read)

The Secret Garden  (read aloud) (free ebook)

The Pheonix and the Carpet   (read aloud) (free ebook)

Stranger Moon  audio

The Chronicles of Narnia read along with audio

The Happy Prince and other Stories which includes my favourite The Selfish Giant. We have a hardcopy of this. (self read)

Martin’s Mice and the Hodgeheg by Dick King Smith (self read)

the Little Ships; A story of the Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk.

GRADE 2 (yr 3)

Wise Guy; the Life and Philosophy of Socrates Good intro for children.

The Arabian Nights Andrew Lang

Little House in the Big Wood Laura Ingalls Wilder (copywrite free if you live in  Canada)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (no we wont be watching the movie which I hear is nothing like the book). (self read)

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis. and sharing with her brother the other Narnia stories following them from Readings From Under the Grapevine.

The Little Duke Charlotte Yonge (free ebook)

Mary Poppins

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz

GRADE 3 (yr 4)

Emil and the Detectives

St Ignatius and the Company of Jesus

Tom’s Midnight Garden

The Sword in the Stone

Francis of the Seven Seas (I know Seton has it down as G 6 but Ronan wanted to read it now so he is)

Gregor Mendel, The Friar who grew peas Good science picture book with the story of Fr Mendel and his genetic discovery and experiementation with peas.

Usborne Classics (adaption) Don Quixote

Adolphus Tips Michael Morpurgo (An Iona find in a charity shop)

GRADE 4 (yr 5)

Captain’s Courageous Rudyard Kipling

Around the World in 80 Days Jules Verne audio from Lit2Go

The Call of the Wild Jack London audio from Lit2Go

The Children of the New Forest Frederick Marryat

Famous Men of Greece Charles Haaren (I have the mobi version as I bought the Yesterday’s Classics set a last year)

The Cat of Bubastes G. A. Henty

On Henty – I-ve read he should be treated with caution. He wrote fiction more than he wrote “historical” apparently, and the place I found the info did a short overview of his book on the fall of Jerusalem showing the problems. He is also well known as writing some anti-Catholic anhistorical stuff too – so I am going to either pre-read (God give me a 28 hr day) or avoid. There’s plenty of other stuff out there.

The Lost World Arthur Conan Doyle

Swallows and Amazons (which I bought in Wigtown the Book Town of Scotland)

Mystery of the Roman Ransom

The Children’s Homer (I picked up a lovely hardcopy of this in Wigtown).

The Canterville Ghost Oscar Wilde

More Narnia books.

MIXED BAG

Frog and Toad

The Ink Garden of Br Theophane along with Magic in the Margins and Marguerite Makes a Book are beautiful ways to get children interested in manuscript and book making before printing. There are basic recipes for the inks and the books themselves are so well illustrated you’ll have plenty of inspiration. Activity sheet (opens pdf)

What’s Your Angle Pythagoras?

I love just about all the Picture books I’ve ever bought and have a lot that I hope to buy eventually. They are books for relaxing with and suit all three of them pretty well. Avila is lovely at sitting with younger children and reading to them and these books are ideal for that.

Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery

Other books I might think of getting for free reading>

Inkheart                                                                   The Hundred and One Dalmations

The Borrowers

READ ALOUDS (if I have voice – audio if not)

The Secret Garden (I’ve read this to them before but Avila has requested it again) Also by Frances Hodgeson Burnett Little Lord Fauntleroy and A Little Princess

E.Nesbit books

Home Education Reading Week

It would be half term this week, but as Al is not off until next week I have decided to make this a reading week. I am reading to them from the two Seton History books The Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas (we have an older version) and Our Catholic Legacy. It has proved depressingly difficult to get honestly written history books for the children, so I have decided to use Catholic books to balance and correct some dishonesty, editorial silence and just plain wrong stuff in other history books.

Ronan (grade 3/ year 4) is reading Macbeth from the boxed Shakespeare Stories set we have.His next book with be Tom’s Midnight Garden  , so I’ve made a special Ronan folder on my Kindle.(I am beginning to think I should have bought him a Kindle for his upcoming birthday – but oh well, Christmas …) For his self reading he has just finished The Wizard of Oz and has decided to read Five Children and It which I read to them some time ago. Yes, he has been borrowing my Kindle rather a lot.

Avila (Gr 1/yr 2) is reading Things Will Never Be the Same from T. dePaola’s 26 Fairmount Ave series. For self reading she has been going through some of the picture books and has been reading a little book of Oscar Wilde’s stories for children which I got from a second hand books shop last summer.

If you have a Kindle or your child has a Kindle you might be interested in the Gutenberg Children’s Bookshelf.

Read together Stories From Winnie the Pooh which is the real stories not the awful disneyfied ones.

And me? Well I am reading Have His Carcass by the wonderful Dorothy L. Sayers. I have been lent How Children Fail by John Holt, which is a short, fairly interesting book of Holt’s observations in schools at the end of the ’50s and beginning of the ’60s. I am also slowly but surely reading the absolutely brilliant expose book Osler’s Web by Hillary Johnson. This book is well worth reading and has opened my eyes to why it is I am always hitting walls when it comes to getting answers or care for the fibromyalgia; the politics and vested interest wrapped in egos is the reason.

home education: reading week

As there is so much to organise for Christmas, we are spending this week reading and cooking.

The children are continuing their music lessons every day and then there are stories.

Ronan is reading Emil and the Detectives and Avila is reading What a Year from the 26 Fairmount Ave books.

Heleyna is reading Oxford Reading Tree stage 1+ books and the books on more.starfall and Starfall.

I have also just downloaded a free geography – maps and flags game called Seterra which has proved fun.

Read Alouds this week:

The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie de Paola (This book seems really difficult to get hold of these days.)

From my Kindle

The Pheonix and the Carpet

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (bought when Yesterday’s Classics were doing a massive deal). It’s not the real story of Santa Claus, but it’s a fun tale nevertheless.

My personal reading at the moment is Theophilos by Michael O’Brien

and Dorothy L Sayers Unpleasentness at the Bellona Club – but I can’t remember where I found it online.

I am sure there will be more, around all the cooking, prep and stuff and I’ll update if there is.

Kindle up on Jimmy Akin and C.S.Lewis

I listen to Catholic Answers quite a bit, and I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Jimmy Akin has an amazing talent as an apologist. He always answers questions clearly, so that even when I’m scrubbing the loo I can get what he’s on about. He has a BLOG and he has a number of books which look very interesting.

I have bought the Kindle edition of The Father’s Know Best which is a good read and not too dense for people like me to understand. As the teachings, writings and activities of the Church Fathers can, and indeed has, filled many volumes this is a short overview but a good one and to help get more depth he has set up The Fathers Know Best website where you will find videos answering various questions and myths surrounding the Father’s.

If that’s not enough Akin for you then he has started his own podcast series in which he answers questions sent in.  They are also available on itunes.

When you plug the Kindle into the computer via the usb you will see three folders marked Documents, Audio and Music. The documents are for books obviously. The audio will take audio books and other mp3 files, so I drop and drag or save directly the files I want to listen to into that. It means you can see what you are listening to and are able to pause, rewind or fast forward as you like.

If you drop the files into music you can listen and read at the same time, but the files are played in the order you dropped them and there’s no way of controlling them once they start.

I have wondered if I could use the music folder for read alouds for the children where they can read and listen to the book at the same time.

That brings me to the C.S. Lewis audio.

First of all there is this fantastic freebie being offered from Ancient Faith Radio. Mp3 recordings of all the Narnia books being read. (h/t Freely Educate) you might also like their podcasts from an Orthodox pov.

If that’s not enough C.S.Lewis for you there is All About C.S.Lewis podcasts to pack into your Kindle (or mp3 player) (h/t Freebie of the Day) These podcasts look at many of the books of C.S.Lewis.

I also recommend the wonderful insights of Peter Kreeft who has free lectures on his site covering Lewis’s writings. I particularly recommend his lecture on “‘Till We Have Faces” and I really do recommend reading the book (although I can’t seem to find a Kindle edition unfortunately)

So there you go. Quite a bit there for all ages. (I think Dr. Kreeft is particularly good for young adults)

Enjoy

home education book basket and kindle

I’m sorting out some holiday read alouds and self-reading books for the children, as well as some audio books for long journey’s ans days out.

Light up Your Brain has some lovely tales such as The Velveteen Rabbit and The Emperors New Clothes. There are a couple of Beatrix Potter stories too – but I really don’t like her stuff so can’t face it on long journey’s. (Yes I am a very bad home eductor).

Heleyna has asked for Dinosaurs Love Underpants and Chicken Lickin’ She is reading Can You See Me and some Starfall books

Avila is reading Danny’s Secret Fox and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Ronan is finishing off Detectives in Togas with me reading some and him reading some so we can finish before the end of term.  He is also reading a tatty old copy of Usborne’s Mysteries of the Unknown.

Finally, what is on my Kindle? Lots of stuff.

If you plug the Kindle into your computer and open the files you will see you have three files folders; documents where all the books go, music where apparently you can store and listen to music while you read. I haven’t tried that. I’m not sure I can read that well with something like that going on- but if it works for you, it’s a nice little feature.

Finally there’s a folder marked audible. This is where you can put mp3s and audio books. The speakers on the Kindle are pretty good considering and there’s an audio jack hole at the bottom.

Jimmy Akin has started his own podcasting which you can get with itunes. You can also download Catholic Answers with lots of Akin wisdom and knowledge.

The first Outline of Sanity podcast is available. The Distributist Review also has a list of distributist authors and their books, some of which are free.

I am not 100% sure of what I think of The Distributist Review, but there are some good articles.

And I have tons of  Cath Lab to listen to so that I can get my head around Science and Ethics and all that jazz.

Book wise I have just finished reading The Necromancers by R H Benson and I am reading his biography titled “Hugh” written by his brother. It’s a gentle story but it is clear that the brothers did not really understand each other. They come across as a loving but strangely separate family. Their father became Archbishop of Cambury in 1883 and was succeeded by the famous Archbishop Temple.

I enjoyed the Necromancers. It’s an easier read than “Come Rack, Come Rope,” which was the first of his books I ever read.

The Necromancers delves into the world of spiritualism that was so fashioable among certain people in those days. I think it was spiritualism that caused poor old Conan Doyle to loose his way somewhat (the Cottingely Fairies springs to mind.) Benson looks hard at the underbelly of this “light entertainment” and shows the very real damage that messing with that sort of stuff can cause. It’s a ghost story with a strangely even handed approach, treating the psychology od the situation, rather than ecto-plasm.

I recommend Lord of the World by Benson which is a piece of disturbingly accurate prophecy of the ‘future’.

Confessions of a Kindle owner…

I have a confession to make. I have really annoyed my 17 year old daughter, a well brought up girl, who has a great love for books – real books. How can I have so offended her? Well, I have bought a Kindle.

This was not a sudden transaction on my part. I have been considering the merit or otherwise of e-readers for some time and have carefully considered the choices out there. Iona made it perfectly clear from the beginning that she utterly and completely disapproves of a book where there is neither booky smell nor the satisfaction of page turning. “When I am told a book is a ‘page turner’,” she tells me, “I think, that is the very least I expect of a book. What kind of book would it be if I couldn’t turn the page?”

Well the answer, which she finds most distressing, is a Kindle. Her most indecorous mother is now in possession of such an item. Worse still – I love it!

Now in part I have to blame dear Nonna for helping to lead me astray. She told me that not only is it gentle on the eyes, but (and this was the clincher) she can hold it easily and her arms don’t hurt!

Now, I must admit, all things being equal, I lean towards Iona’s point of view. Books are the most wonderful invention of man (properly written ones that is) and we have a house full of them. In fact we have so many books, it has caused  my poor husband to proclaim the oxymoronic phrase “Too many books.”

So why did I buy the darned contraption?

Firstly, because I just can’t see to read very often these days and when I can see well enough, it’s not a good time. I needed something that would allow me to read even when I normally can’t and wouldn’t hurt my eyes the way the computer screen does. Going by what I’ve found on line lots of people with sight problems for various reasons have one. The font size is adjustable and the “ink” is very clear on the page. It is light to hold and so doesn’t hurt the way a heavy tome tends to these days. For really bad days when my eyes wont even cope with super-sized print, there is the audible section where I can listen to MP3 downloads and audio books. So, you see all bases are covered and the Kindle has become a fibro-friend.

Free books are all over the place and then there are some fairly cheap books to be had too. Other books are not much cheaper for a digital version as for a hard copy, which is a surprise but perhaps as more people want to use  e-readers the prices of ebooks will come down. We’ll see. Can’t complain too much as the Kindle versions I could download are available straight away and I can read them! In fact there are some books we have in hard copy that I am finding so difficult to see, I am wondering about buying the e-version just so I am able to read it when I would like to read.

The fact is, as my eyes have become more unreliable and my hands don’t work so well, managing a book has been more difficult and I had reached a point when I was hardly reading anything unless it was on the computer (which was not helping my eyes).  This is my way around all these problems.

I will write another post telling you what I have on my Kindle.