Very enjoyable as all the Charles Paris mysteries are. This had the added advantage that I didn't guess the murderer, which I generally do but since tVery enjoyable as all the Charles Paris mysteries are. This had the added advantage that I didn't guess the murderer, which I generally do but since these are "cozy" mysteries I don't mind. I'm there for Bill Nighy and for the general story....more
I have long enjoyed this ongoing series of BBC dramatizations of Simon Brett's stories about dipsomaniac, womanizing, older actor Charles Paris. EveryI have long enjoyed this ongoing series of BBC dramatizations of Simon Brett's stories about dipsomaniac, womanizing, older actor Charles Paris. Every job Charles gets, and they can be few and far between, somehow involves him in solving a murder. As if that weren't enough, he is continually trying to get back together with his ex-wife Frances, which makes a wonderfully entertaining subplot that carries on from story to story. If the mystery palls, Frances and Charles keep things lively.
I never realized these audio dramas were listed as books on GoodReads so have just reviewed a bunch of them - all at 5 stars. Take my word for it, just dive in and enjoy. They are all vastly entertaining, in large part thanks to Bill Nighy's wonderful take on Charles Paris's personality....more
This 4th book in Mick Herron's Slough House series continues the John LeCarre style spy story with intricate interwoven plots, gritty settings, and trThis 4th book in Mick Herron's Slough House series continues the John LeCarre style spy story with intricate interwoven plots, gritty settings, and treacherous characters. I never liked LeCarre but that's probably because Jackson Lamb's crew of broken, misfit spies wasn't in his books. There is humor but it is deliberate, understated, and always takes me by surprise. This band of misfits isn't there as a wacky, cozy spy subplot but as real people struggling to make sense of their failures and, occasionally, reaching redemption.
This book is particularly interesting because River's grandfather, the O.B., is suffering from significant dementia. And there's nothing worse than an old spy with dementia, especially when he knows where all the bodies are buried and has all his old skills (and a gun) to ward off the bad guys. Let's just hope he actually can tell the bad guys from the good guys. That plot idea was dealt with several years ago in Once a Spy though, of course, with significantly different storylines attached. I enjoyed both books though this one is my favorite of the two....more
At the moment this is like an exercise in torture because I gave up spoken word audio for Lent. So I listen to Stephen Fry's delightful narration on SAt the moment this is like an exercise in torture because I gave up spoken word audio for Lent. So I listen to Stephen Fry's delightful narration on Sundays. However, that has been enough for me to know that this is a really wonderful reading.
I also have the complete Derek Jacobi narration which has been my favorite to date. I can't say that I like Fry's reading better but he does bring something different to the interpretation and I enjoy it a lot. At this point I like them equally well.
This isn't actually the "definitive collection" because, as others have noted, it is missing The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes. However, it is still 66+ hours long so there is plenty of Sherlockian goodness to enjoy....more
As I mentioned in my review of the first edition, this is a book every Catholic should read.
You can read my general praise at the review link. I'll taAs I mentioned in my review of the first edition, this is a book every Catholic should read.
You can read my general praise at the review link. I'll take this space to say why the revised edition is necessary. In three short years, debate in the public square has shifted in a way that has often bewildered me. How to Defend the Faith explains that whereas questioners and critics used to be those outside of Christian faith, they are now often secularized Christians. They hold to basic principles that originated with Christian teachings but are so divorced from those teachings that they can't see the connection any more. That leaves a Catholic on shifting ground if one tries to anchor explanations of hot button issues in a Christian understanding. We're having discussions with people who aren't interpreting things with a common framework.
How to Defend the Faith helps understand the shifted frame from which critiques originate and how to reframe our responses so that we are all on the same page. Your questioner may not agree with you (and winning isn't the point - explanation is), but they will at least have a better understanding of the Church's attitudes toward contentious issues in the public square....more
I've read this umpteen times since I was a teenager and it just keeps getting better and better.
One of the things that's hitting me this time throughI've read this umpteen times since I was a teenager and it just keeps getting better and better.
One of the things that's hitting me this time through is just what a talented writer Wells was, not only in his plots but in his craft.
So you understand the roaring wave of fear that swept through the greatest city in the world just as Monday was dawning--the stream of flight rising swiftly to a torrent, lashing in a foaming tumult round the railway stations, banked up into a horrible struggle about the shipping in the Thames, and hurrying by every available channel northward and eastward. By ten o'clock the police organisation, and by midday even the railway organisations, were losing coherency, losing shape and efficiency, guttering, softening, running at last in that swift liquefaction of the social body.
Who among us having gotten caught up in a modern exodus from an oncoming disaster (such as a hurricane) has not experienced just what he describes? Albeit without the thoughtful appreciation and imagery of the above....more
While Scott runs through a frustrating maze, Julie marvels at her ability to find Karl Urban in every inkblot she sees. We dig deep below the surfaceWhile Scott runs through a frustrating maze, Julie marvels at her ability to find Karl Urban in every inkblot she sees. We dig deep below the surface Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes and find Genesis everywhere we look. Get it all in Episode 154 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.
I didn't realize the hidden riches in this story, mostly remembering it as something that made me cry in high school. So I was glad to discover more when I read it for the podcast....more
I've always been drawn to the idea of walking the Camino de Santiago, that ancient pilgrimage which treks over mountains and takes weeks to complete.I've always been drawn to the idea of walking the Camino de Santiago, that ancient pilgrimage which treks over mountains and takes weeks to complete. I've also always known in the depths of my sensible heart that time and money will never allow that pilgrimage.
However, it never occurred to me that there is a camino of sorts in the United States. California has a well known string of twenty-one missions stretching from San Diego to San Francisco. On foot, on bike, or by car, that is within my reach. Stephen J. Binz has written an eminently usable guidebook which has all the usual practical travel guide info, ranging from GPS to area history to mission bell names.
I learned a lot about California's early history that I never knew before, including details about problems between native people, colonists, and soldiers. Binz also includes that the unintended consequences of Spanish evangelization which didn't always work out for either the missionaries or the natives. I really respected Binz's acknowledgement that history is never simple as we like to paint it, while he sorted through each mission's story.
What makes this more than a travel guide, however, is that Binz takes care to feed the traveler's spiritual side. He explores each mission's patron with the lessons they have for us in our times. Each entry includes a litany and spiritual readings from scripture or missionary letters. These are designed to make each mission visit into a visit with Our Lord.
The only thing I'd change would be to include more photos of each location and to print them in color. But if you want to make a camino pilgrimage, this is the most complete resource I can imagine. ...more
We've spoken frankly so far about the American landscape as we now know it. Some of the words have been difficult. But candor is not an enemy of love
We've spoken frankly so far about the American landscape as we now know it. Some of the words have been difficult. But candor is not an enemy of love. And real hope begins in honesty.
The current spirit of our country inclines us to be troubled. It's a sensible temptation. How can any one person or small group of people make a difference? How can we change and renew things so that our children grow up in a better world? We come back to a question suggested at the start of this book: How can we live in joy, and serve the common good as leaven, in a culture that no longer shares what we believe?
As we might expect from the author of Render Unto Caesar, this is a book which focuses on how we can live both an authentically Catholic life and an American life in changing, chaotic times.
The first half of the book examines our nation's history, especially as it is tied to religion; how our society became "post Christian;" and why it will not return to the way it was. That last truth hit me hard. I'm not someone who thinks restoring a few laws is going to change the national psyche but I think I felt as if everything would settle back into old norms at some point. Absorbing Chaput's explanation was tough. But if we don't know the truth, then we aren't on firm ground for future decisions. So I'm grateful.
The second half looks at where we go from here, as Catholics, as Americans. I found it realistic and hope-filled and inspiring. What is hope and how do we maintain it? How do Jesus' promises in the Beatitudes apply to our lives and times? What does it mean to be the "people of God" in a distracted and unbelieving age?
Chaput's answer is one that I have always felt is a basic truth, perhaps because I myself came from a completely secular life before my conversion. We begin by reforming our own hearts, being authentic Christian witnesses by living our own lives with conviction. We have to be in love with our faith and with God. That is what spills over as we go into the world for work, school, and all the things that make up a normal life.
It may not always be easy, but, let's face it, we've been spoiled. All you have to do is look at the way Christians are persecuted around the world to see that.
In different ways, with varying directness, Chaput repeatedly points out that people living a fully Christian life make a difference in the world.
Jesus uses three images to describe using our gifts for God's kingdom: salt, light, and leaven, or yeast. ...
Note the logic at work here. Yeast mixes with flour and makes dough rise. We sprinkle salt on our food, and the meal tastes better. We turn on the lights of a dark room so we can see. The yeast, salt, and light aren't the focus of our attention. Rather, they impart their qualities to something else to make it better. And so it should be with the work of the Church in the world.
Chaput directly addresses why withdrawing from the world won't work. I found his first reason the most compelling: "The world will come after us" because reminders of an abandoned past will be increasingly irritating. In his discussion of forming a Catholic identity, Chaput acknowledges the Benedict Option idea, albeit without naming it specifically, adding:
This is wisdom, so long as we don't give up on the good present in American society. We need to create places where Catholic culture can flourish and be handed down to the next generation. ...
I'm not a fan of the Benedict Option, at least as I've read about it to date, but I do think it has begun a much needed discussion. Catholics and, indeed, all Christians need to be mindful of the uneasy ground beneath our feet as our society goes through a watershed moment. Strangers in a Strange Land is a clear-sighted road map to where we've been and where we need to head now....more
How can this be? I know I must have read this before but nothing seems familiar. So I have the delightful feeling of a fresh, new Agatha Christie.
TheHow can this be? I know I must have read this before but nothing seems familiar. So I have the delightful feeling of a fresh, new Agatha Christie.
The premise is delightful. Mystery author Ariadne Oliver has been hired to organize a Murder Hunt game for a small village fete. She asks Hercule Poirot to join her because her intuition tells her something is off.
And, of course, that pretty much guarantees murder is going to be one of the events....more
I listened to the excellent narration just as I did with all the previous books.
This one doesn't roll out quite as the others in the series have butI listened to the excellent narration just as I did with all the previous books.
This one doesn't roll out quite as the others in the series have but it is still very enjoyable. It was very much a crime investigation and almost a procedural. I enjoy those when you've got Peter Grant's snarky asides about police procedures and London architecture. Also, we finally get back to a real pursuit of The Faceless Man and Leslie May, which I have been wanting since a couple of books ago.
It almost felt low key through a lot of the story, despite occasional dramatic magical events, but I also didn't mind that. Just working the case, you know. I'll be curious to see where the story goes from here because Aaronovitch can't put off certain characters reaping the consequences of their actions or the series will go stale....more
I am writing this book to bring back the words of great Christian hymns, most of which are no longer heard anywhere. These hymns are not pious sentim
I am writing this book to bring back the words of great Christian hymns, most of which are no longer heard anywhere. These hymns are not pious sentiments (or, worse, self-celebrating sentiments or social propaganda) set to a catchy tune. They are works of art. They are, at their best, profound meditations upon the meaning of Scripture, their artistry serving to help us to see truths we may have missed or to hear in our hearts, not only in our ears, the implications of the Word of God for our lives. they are verbal and melodic icons of Jesus Christ.
I'm lucky enough to be part of a parish which offers a rich variety of music and our choice is the 11:00 Mass, where we often sing same great hymns that Anthony Esolen writes about in this stellar book.
Esolen's translation of Dante and his commentary on the missal, The Beauty of the Word, are favorites of mine. His adroit connecting of poetry and prayer with underlying meanings have often opened my eyes and inspired me. Naturally I was eager to see what he would show me in some of my favorite hymns. (Without the music, it's had to have a complete experience so a CD of 18 beautifully sung hymns is included with the book, though that is far from the complete number that Esolen examines.)
He begins with the psalms and how many classic hymns have come from them. Then he looks at how the English poet would focus on a particular aspect of a psalm and develop it as a bit of theology for us to sing.
I've loved these hymns for their rich imagery and meaning but never made the sorts of connections that Esolen points out. That is why it is so good to have Anthony Esolen for a guide. He clearly loves the theology, poetry, and meaning of each hymn.
Here's an example, from the chapter "Who is Christ?"
The glory of these forty days We celebrate with songs of praise; For Christ, by Whom all things were made, Himself has fasted and has prayed.
The poetry is so straightforward that we might miss the artistry. Notice the word glory. That should surprise us. When Jesus went forth into the desert, what glory accompanied Him? No train of disciples, no fanfare, no parade, no earthquake. The glory, then, must subsist in the very absence of the manifestations of glory. It susbsists in loving humility—a glory the world misses.
Thus we can understand the first part of the stanza only in the context of the last part. This is what's glorious: Christ by Whom the world was brought into being (cf. Jn 1:3), Himself has fasted and has prayed. He Himself has done so. The pronoun is emphatic. The richness of the world's being—all things—is placed in contrast with Jesus' depriving Himself of food, and His attitude of complete openness, complete self-emptying, in prayer before the Father.
We sing These Forty Days all the time during Lent but until I read Esolen's explanation, the hymn never came fully alive.
Chapters range from The Psalms to the Nativity, the Cross and the Resurrection to Our Love for Jesus to The Glory of God, and, of course, much more. Not only does this book help us to enter into each song, it gives us spiritual food in helping us understand and grow closer to God.
I can't recommend Real Music highly enough. Read it and then go ask your music director to slip some of these classics into his regular repertoire. They're good for the soul....more