Saturday, 22 September 2018

Pope Benedict XVI And The Sexual Abuse Crisis: Working For Redemption And Renewal by Gregory Erlandson and Matthew Bunson

Paperback:  "You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry.  I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured." - Pope Benedict XVI

Since 1985, the Catholic Church in the United States has been living in the shadow of the clerical sexual abuse crisis.

In 2002, revelations in Boston ignited an institutional nightmare.  More recently, the scandal erupted in Ireland and spread across Europe.  There is now a rush by some, both inside and outside the Church, to place direct blame upon Pope Benedict XVI.  There is no escaping the fact that Pope Benedict, as the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and now as pope, has played a historically pivotal and personal role in the Vatican's response to the crisis.

Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis (2010) is a groundbreaking, critically objective assessment of the criticism facing the pope as well as a review of his real response to the victims, abusers, bishops, media, and the millions of Catholics worldwide who continue to be justifiably horrified by the scandal.

The first and foremost objective for this book is the truth - no matter how difficult to face - and letting the pope's record speak for itself.

"No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly.  Real progress has been made, yet much more remains to be done..." - Pope Benedict XVI

About the authors:  Gregory Erlandson is President and Publisher of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Company.  Our Sunday Visitor is one of the largest Catholic publishers in the world, publishing books, periodicals, curriculum and pamphlets.

Matthew Bunson, editor of both The Catholic Almanac and The Catholic Answer magazine, is a consultant on Catholic issues for several national news organizations, including USA Today.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

When The Future Comes Too Soon (The Malayan Series) by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

Paperback:  In Japanese-occupied Malaya, lives are shattered and a woman discovers her inner strength in a world ravaged by war.

Following the death of their matriarch, the lives of Chye Hoon’s family turned upside down.

Now that the British have fled and the Japanese have conquered, their once-benign world changes overnight.

Amid the turmoil, Chye Hoon’s daughter-in-law, Mei Foong, must fend for her family as her husband, Weng Yu, becomes increasingly embittered.  Challenged in ways she never could have imagined and forced into hiding, Mei Foong finds a deep reservoir of resilience she did not know she had and soon draws the attentions of another man.

Is Mei Foong’s resolve enough to save herself, her marriage, and her family?

Only when peace returns to Malaya will she learn the full price she must pay for survival.

When The Future Comes Too Soon (2017) is the second book in the formidable Malayan Series set in Japanese occupied Malaya in the early twentieth century.

About the author:  Of Malaysian-Chinese heritage, Selina Siak Chin Yoke (石清玉) grew up listening to family stories and ancient legends.  She always knew that one day, she would write.  After an eclectic life as a physicist, banker and trader in London, the heavens intervened.  In 2009 Siak was diagnosed with cancer.  While recovering, she decided not to delay her dream of writing any longer.  Her first novel, The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, was published on 1 November 2016 and made an immediate emotional connection with readers.  It debuted as an Amazon best-seller in historical fiction, was named by Goodreads as one of the 6 best books of November 2016 and has been compared to the work of Pearl S Buck and Amy Tan.  She also writes a blog about Malaysia at

Rating:  5/5

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Mambo In Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Paperback:  From the bestselling author of Girl in Translation, Mambo in Chinatown (2014) is a novel about a young woman torn between her family duties in Chinatown and her escape into the world of ballroom dancing.

Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong grew up in New York’s Chinatown, the older daughter of a Beijing ballerina and a noodle maker.  Though an ABC (America-born Chinese), Charlie’s entire world has been limited to this small area.  Now grown, she lives in the same tiny apartment with her widower father and her eleven-year-old sister, and works miserably as a dishwasher.

But when she lands a job as a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio, Charlie gains access to a world she hardly knew existed, and everything she once took to be certain turns upside down.  Gradually, at the dance studio, awkward Charlie’s natural talents begin to emerge.  With them, her perspective, expectations, and sense of self are transformed - something she must take great pains to hide from her father and his suspicion of all things Western.

As Charlie blossoms, though, her sister becomes chronically ill.  As Pa insists on treating his ailing child exclusively with Eastern practices to no avail, Charlie is forced to try to reconcile her two selves and her two worlds - Eastern and Western, old world and new - to rescue her little sister without sacrificing her newfound confidence and identity.

About the author:  Jean Kwok is the New York Times and international bestselling author of the award-winning novels Girl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown.  Her work has been published in 18 countries and taught in universities, colleges and high schools across the world.  She has been selected for many honours including the American Library Association Alex Award, the Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book Award, and Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers.  Jean’s writing has been featured in Time, The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, People, Real Simple and O, The Oprah Magazine, among others.

Jean immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn when she was five and worked in a Chinatown clothing factory for much of her childhood while living in an unheated, roach-infested apartment.  In between her undergraduate degree at Harvard and MFA in fiction at Columbia, she worked for three years as a professional ballroom dancer.  Jean lives in the Netherlands with her husband, two boys and three cats.  A Dutch television documentary with English subtitles was filmed about Jean and her work.

Learn more about Jean here:

Rating:  4/5

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Julia Bernhard Comics

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (The Malayan Series) by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

Paperback:  One woman must summon the strength of her heritage to save her family.

Facing challenges in an increasingly colonial world, Chye Hoon, a rebellious young girl, must learn to embrace her mixed Malayan-Chinese identity as a Nyonya - and her destiny as a cook, rather than following her first dream of attending school like her brother.

Amidst the smells of chillies and garlic frying, Chye Hoon begins to appreciate the richness of her traditions, eventually marrying Wong Peng Choon, a Chinese man.  Together, they have ten children.

At last, she can pass on the stories she has heard - magical tales of men from the sea - and her warrior's courage, along with her wonderful kueh (cakes).

But the cultural shift towards the West has begun.

Chye Hoon finds herself afraid of losing the heritage she so prizes as her children move more and more into the modernising Western world.

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (2016) is the first book in the historical Malayan series set in Malaysia.

The sequel and latest book - When The Future Comes Too Soon (2017) - in the Malayan series is also available.

About the author:  Of Malaysian-Chinese heritage, Selina Siak Chin Yoke (石清玉) grew up listening to family stories and ancient legends.  She always knew that one day, she would write.  After an eclectic life as a physicist, banker and trader in London, the heavens intervened.  In 2009 Siak was diagnosed with cancer.  While recovering, she decided not to delay her dream of writing any longer.  Her first novel, The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, was published on 1 November 2016 and made an immediate emotional connection with readers.  It debuted as an Amazon best-seller in historical fiction, was named by Goodreads as one of the 6 best books of November 2016 and has been compared to the work of Pearl S Buck and Amy Tan.  She also writes a blog about Malaysia at

Rating:  5/5

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The Story Of Our Lady Of Good Success and Novena by Rev Father Manuel Sousa Pereira

Paperback:  The Story Of Our Lady Of Good Success and Novena (2013) is an abridgement of the book The Admirable Life of Mother Mariana of Jesus Torres y Berriochoa (1790), and translated from the Spanish by Father Paul Kimball.

On January 16, 1599, the Most Holy Mother of God appeared to Mother Marianna of Jesus Torres in the Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Quito, Ecuador, asking her to have a statue made of herself as she appeared, with the Child Jesus in her left arm and a crosier in her right hand, as a sign that she herself governs the convent.  Likewise, Our Lady asked that her statue be placed in the throne of the abbess, where this statue is still kept to this day.

The statue was consecrated by the bishop of Quito on February 2, 1611, with the title, "Mary of Good Success of the Purification or Candlemas".

During the various apparitions granted to Mother Mariana until her death on 16th January, 1635, Our Lady of Good Success foretold the evils of our times in great detail.  She was told that her visions and life would only become known in the twentieth century.  Mother Mariana was asked to help by her prayers and penances the souls of our time in which she was foretold there would be an enormous corruption of the Church.

It was Our Lord's will to reserve these revelations and the story of the life of Mother Mariana for this time of ours in which the precious life of faith is almost extinguished even within the official structures of the Church, fulfilling the prophecies of Our Lady.

The Most Holy Mother of God foretold that devotion to her under her title of Our Lady of Good Success would obtain mercy and pardon for sinners who have recourse to her with a contrite heart.

Our Heavenly Mother also revealed that "The consoling title of Good Success will be the support and safeguard of the Faith in the presence of the complete corruption of the twentieth century."

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Padre Pio: The Stigmatist by Reverend Charles Mortimer Carty

PaperbackIt would be easier for the earth to carry on without the sun than without the Holy Mass. - Padre Pio

Padre Pio died on 23 September 23 1968, his funeral attended by over 100 000 people.

During the fifty-eight years he was a priest, his monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, became a mecca for pilgrims from all over the world.

Born Francesco Forgione on 25 May 25 1887 in the town of Pietrelcina in southeastern Italy, Padre Pio joined the Capuchin Order in 1903 and was ordained in 1910.

On 20 September 1918, he received the sacred wounds of Christ, the stigmata, which he bore the rest of his life.

Renowned for the stigmata, which modern medical science could not explain, Padre Pio also possessed other unusual qualities, such as bilocation, celestial perfume, reading of hearts, miraculous cures, remarkable conversions, and prophetic insight.  Although he did not leave his monastery and was under obedience not to write or preach, this humble Capuchin monk became world famous for his piety, his counsel, and his miracles.

He was universally regarded as a saint in his own time.

Pope John Paul II beatified Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on Sunday, 2 May 1999 in St. Peter's Basilica Square before a throng of 650 000 devotees of this famed 20th-century stigmatist and canonized on 16 June 2002.

Remember that God is within us when we are in His grace, and outside of us when we are in sin. -Padre Pio

Padre Pio:  The Stigmatist is republished in 1973.

About the author:  For twenty-four years, Father Carty worked with Father Leslie Rumble of Sydney, Australia, in the apostolate of the radio and press.  Radio Replies Press of St Paul, Minnesota, was founded by these two courageous priests and hundreds of thousands of Catholic books and pamphlets were distributed by them through this outlet.  To gather information for the present account, Father Carty went to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio, living right in the Monastery, where he wrote much of the book.  Upon publication, Father Carty toured the United States, giving sermons in Catholic parishes on the subject of Padre Pio, promoting knowledge of this saintly stigmatist.  On 22 May 1964, Father Charles Mortimer Carty died in Eire, Pennsylvania, while on such a tour.

The Holy Souls: "Viva Padre Pio" by Fr Alessio Parente, OFM, CAP

Paperback:  The souls often forgotten by many of us had a very special place in Padre Pio's life;  in fact, they were constantly remembered in his daily prayers and masses.

On one occasion, while in conversation with some friars who were questioning him on the importance of his prayers in their favour, Padre Pio said:  "more souls of the dead from purgatory than the living climb this mountain to attend my masses and seek my prayers."

The Holy Souls, those in Purgatory and on their way to Heaven, interacted with Padre Pio on a regular basis.  Learn about the power of their intercession and what they suffer in those purifying fires.  They are some of the best intercessors to Jesus and Mary.

All Italian translations in The Holy Souls (2011) are carried out by Geraldine Nolan.

About the author:  Father Alessio Parente is a Capuchin Friar Minor of the religious province of Sant Angelo and Padre Pio.  He had the privilege of assisting Padre Pio in his last years and was responsible for the English correspondence.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

The Story Of Baby P: Setting The Record Straight by Ray Jones

Paperback:  In England in 2007, Peter Connelly, a seventeen-month old little boy - known initially in the media reporting as 'Baby P' - died following terrible neglect and abuse.

Fifteen months later, his mother, her boyfriend and the boyfriend's brother were sent to prison.

But media attention turned on those who worked to protect children, especially the social workers and their managers, who became the focus of the reporting and of the blame.

Five years later they are still harassed by press reporters.

The Story Of Baby P (2014) tells what happened to 'Baby P', how the story was told and became focused on the social workers, its threatening consequences for those who work to protect children, and its considerable impact on the child protection system in England.

This is the first book to draw together all evidence available on this high profile case and will make a unique and crucial contribution to the topic. 

It will make essential reading for everyone who is concerned about child protection and the care of children and about the media's impact.

About the author:  Professor Ray Jones is a registered social worker with over 40 years of practice and management experience in residential care and community social work within local authorities and a major national child care voluntary organisation.  From 1992 to 2006 he was director of social services, and then director of adult and community services, in Wiltshire, leading a top three-star rated service with an annual spend at 2014 equivalent costs of £250m and over 3,000 employees.

He was the first chief executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, and has been deputy chair, and then chair, of the British Association of Social Workers.  He has been a visiting professor at the University of Bath and at the University of Exeter, an honorary fellow at the University of Gloucestershire, and is an academician of the Academy for the Social Sciences, and a fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and of the Royal Society for the Arts.

Ray has been an advisor to numerous government policy and research committees.  From 2009-2013, he was the independent chair of Bristol's Safeguarding Children's Board, from 2010 - 2012, the chair of Salford's Safeguarding Children Improvement Board, and from 2011 to 2013, chair of Torbay's children's improvement board.  He currently oversees, reporting to the minister of state, child protection improvement for the Isle of Wight, Sandwell and Devon.

He was also a European Community advisor to the (then new) Slovenian government on the development of welfare policies and has more recently been a consultant with the Russian-European Trust for Welfare Reform, working with senior policy makers and social services directors within Russia.

Ray is the author of six books and over 100 published papers, is a frequent media columnist and commentator, and has undertaken research on adolescents and social work, neighbourhood work, child protection decision-making, direct payments for disabled people, 'troubled families', health and social care teams, and serious case reviews.  His most recent book, published in June 2014, by Policy Press, is The Story of Baby P: Setting the Record Straight.

He has been a trustee and chair of the Marlborough Brandt Group, which has linking and health, education and economic development programmes in The Gambia, a trustee of Wytham Hall, which works with homeless people in London, and of Quarriers, the major Scottish social care charity.  He is currently chair and a trustee of the Social Work Awards, which recognises the achievements and contributions of social workers in England.


A Common Creed

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Whispering Shadows (Rising Dragon Series) by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Paperback:  The first in a suspenseful new trilogy by the internationally bestselling author of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (2012), this gripping story follows a retired expat journalist in contemporary China who tries to crack a murder case as he battles his own personal demons.

American expat Paul Leibovitz was once an ambitious advisor, dedicated father, and loving husband. But after living for nearly thirty years in Hong Kong, personal tragedy strikes and Paul’s marriage unravels in the fallout.

Now Paul is living as a recluse on an outlying island of Hong Kong.  When he makes a fleeting connection with Elizabeth, a distressed American woman on the verge of collapse, his life is thrown into turmoil.  Less than twenty-four hours later, Elizabeth’s son is found dead in Shenzhen, and Paul, invigorated by a newfound purpose, sets out to investigate the murder on his own.

As Paul, Elizabeth, and a detective friend descend deeper into the Shenzhen underworld - against the wishes of a woman with whom Paul has had a flirtation - they discover dark secrets hidden beneath China’s booming new wealth.  In a country where rich businessmen with expensive degrees can corrupt the judicial system, the potential for evil abounds.

Part love story, part crime thriller, Whispering Shadows (2015) is the captivating tale of one man’s desperate search for redemption within the vice of a world superpower, a place where secrets from the past threaten to upend the country’s unchecked drive towards modernization.

Whispering Shadows is translated from the German by Christine Lo.

About the author:  Jan-Philipp Sendker, born in Hamburg in 1960, and, longing to travel the world, became the American correspondent for Stern from 1990 to 1995, and its Asian correspondent from 1995 to 1999.  In 2000, he published Cracks in the Great Wall, a nonfiction book about China.  The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is his first novel, and since then, he has written three further novels, including a sequel to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, that is, A Well-Tempered Heart.  In 2013, he received The Indies Choice Honour Award in the category Adult Fiction for The Art of Hearing Heartbeats.  He lives in Potsdam with his family and is currently working on the third instalment in his China-trilogy which will be published on 14 February 2019.

Christine Lo is an editor in book publishing in London.  She has also worked as a translator in Frankfurt and translated books by Juli Zeh and Senait Mehari from German into English.  Her most recent translation is Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky.

Rating:  5/5