Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness - PG13

I am usually skeptical about prequels, but this second of the new Star Trek movies is very true to both the Star Trek saga and the characters we've become familiar with.

  There is tons of action, and plenty of outstanding special effects,  expertly woven together with the story line, which is the Enterprise crew's pursuit of a former Starfleet officer who is now targeting Starfleet.  A couple of times during the story, the issue of doing what is right vs what is logical or mandated by rules was addressed and added  to the depth of the story.  

The characters are very well portrayed, especially Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto).  The actors are a natural fit for their roles.  I especially enjoyed seeing how the characters come to bond with each other.

  I won't spoil any details, but they do tell the history of a couple of characters and events that occur in later Star Trek episodes and/or movies, so true 'Trekkies' will appreciate that aspect. 

  An excellent movie..don't miss it!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Review of "Blessed Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood"

We still buy the lie. Women are told that if they want to be successful in the world, they have to be more like men, or like a how-to-succeed-in-business stereotype. Aggressive, detached from commitments; and self serving. No softness, no vulnerability, and certainly no thinking of others. We have to put ourselves first or we will never succeed and be fulfilled. Its in every women's magazine, in daytime talk shows, self-help books and on the web. We have to put off having children and getting married, putting our work lives in first place above all, before our marriage. That will bring us happiness, they promise.Women wait so long to get married that they often miss their opportunity to have children and pursue costly IVF procedures in a desperate attempt to 'have it all'.
We see this model of success at all costs in Hollywood, yet what do the biggest starlets long for, the ones who have it all, fame, money, the best roles, the perfect body and the enviably handsome man? They want time off from Hollywood to have children, to have a private life where they can devote themselves to those they love, their children and their husband.
That should tell us something.
The desire to be receptive to love and to give of ourselves completely in love is built into the female heart. It is the key to fulfillment as a woman, no matter what role you play in the world. Pat Gohn in "Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious; Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood" takes the reader by the hand and gently talks to her inmost soul where these desires lie ignored, gently coaxing the reader into allowing her innate femininity flourish, and blossom into authentic womanhood.
Using down-to-earth, inspiring stories from her own life, Pat demonstrates how women can learn the ironic truth; that humility, receptivity and generous self-giving do not render us powerless, they are the keys to unlocking God's powerful grace in our souls. Pat describes how Mary is the quintessential example, she humbly received Christ into her womb by the most generous act of self-giving possible, and the world was forever changed as a result. The humblest "handmaid of the Lord" became the most revered and respected woman of all time "all generations shall call me blessed".
I was moved by Pat's honest personal stories of how she evolved from a "I am woman hear me roar" feminist to the authentically Catholic, happy, fulfilled, self-giving woman she is today. She overcame tremendous challenges in her life and, thanks to friends who built her up and mentored her, she grew in her ability to love and give of herself.
Its that warm mentoring which makes "Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious" the must-read self-improvement book of the year.

Review of "The Things Lily Knew"

Few novels are rich enough in characters to become a series, but the Lily Trilogy belongs in this rare company. The characters around Lily, a woman with Down syndrome who has a profound affect on the world around her are so vividly drawn, so realistic and multifaceted,  that they become friends with whom you want to stay in touch. So when novelist Sherry Boas announced that she was publishing another Lily book, "The Things Lily Knew" I was couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.

 In this book, we learn about Annabel Greeley the woman whose life Lily indirectly saved from abortion. Aannabel  is a brilliant geneticist and a Rhodes Scholar who has lived a charmed life. As the novel begins, she is faced with an enviable choice, two attractive, successful scientists are in love with her and she must choose between them. One, the gorgeous ladies man, Brad Beauchamp, is a former lover who jilted her for an ex-girlfriend,  is offering her a once in a lifetime career opportunity, and makes it clear to Annabel that his feelings for her will lead to a renewed love relationship. Annabel fears her past attraction for him well up every time he mentions rekindling their old romance and cause her to forget Brad's infidelity. The other man in her life is Logan Horne,  who, despite being an intellectual snob, is devoted to her happiness and proposes to her at a gala celebrating his greatest accomplishment. Both men have the world at their feet, they are renowned geneticists with prestigious careers and promise Annabel lifelong devotion, yet Annabelle is unable to make up her mind between these men without knowing why.
She, the Oxford scholar, seeks the  wisdom to make her decision in two of the most unlikely places; the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, and in the former home of Lily. In the contentment of the poor of Jamaica and the marriage of a woman with Down syndrome, the intellectual discovers the secret to happiness is not necessarily where the world would tell you to find it; success, wealth, fame, physical beauty and intelligence. Happiness is found in love, but the world has lost sight of the essence of true love, and the men who say they love Annabel cannot convince her that they do either. Annabel discovers that Lily knew love within her brief but happy marriage, and by learning about her life through her niece Beth, she is led to someone who can show her the true meaning of love; self-sacrifice.
"The Things Lily Knew" is edifying, challenging, and as the three novels before it, an absorbing read. Bring it with you on that summer vacation, because you won't be able to put it down!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Movie Review: Iron Man 3 - PG13

Tony Stark faces his latest nemesis, The Mandarin, and finds his whole world ruined, and those he cares about in danger.   But the plot is bigger than that, and Tony must stop a conspiracy that is more extensive and involved than first thought.  

There is tons of action, and the special effects are spectacular, and one of the coolest features is how fast Tony can now suit up as Ironman. The plot is somewhat more involved than you'd expect in a super-hero movie, and both Pepper Potts Colonel Rhodes are more involved in the action than before.  

There is also a good plot twist regarding the Mandarin.  

The ending was especially good, as it wrapped up the story lines very nicely.

Excellent!  Don't miss it! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

App Review: DGems: Daily Gospel Reflections by Fr. Philip Heng, S.J.

DGems: Daily Gospel Reflections is a collaboration between  Fr. Philip Heng, S.J. and Valent Richie, a Catholic app developer.  (I've also reviewed a few of Valent Richie's other apps on this blog before).    

This app provides the Gospel reading for each day, with a reflection by Fr. Philip Heng. If you can't attend daily Mass, you can easily read the Gospel for each day.  
It even has links to Fr. Heng's homilies for further reflection

A couple of very useful features in the app are: You can set a daily reminder if you wish to read the Gospel at a specific time each day.  

Do you see the little WI-FI symbol at the bottom right of the below screen shots? If you  touch it, you can easily share that day's Gospel reflection on Facebook or Twitter, or by email or text.  

A very useful app, and very well-designed!  
Of all the apps I've reviewed, this is the one I will personally use most often. 

  Here are a couple of screen shots of the app:


DGems Daily Gospel Relections is for iPhone, iPod and iPad. 
It  is available as a free download HERE or on iTunes.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Music Review: Angels and Saints at Ephesus

After reviewing their last CD, Advent at Ephesus, I was eager to hear this latest CD by the Benedictine Sisters. And I certainly was not disappointed  :)  

There are 17 tracks, most honoring God, Jesus and Mary.  There are a couple for Angels, and St. Joseph and St. Patrick each have a track :)  

The songs are sung in Latin or English.  Either way, the sisters' crystal-like voices give the whole CD an angelic quality.  You'll truly feel like you're in the presence of angels and saints.

 I very much enjoyed listening to Angels and Saints at Ephesus.  I recommend it for anyone  who appreciates traditional Catholic hymns.  Those who enjoy chant will also love this CD.


Movie Review: Ring the Bell - PG

Big city sports agent Rob Decker heads to a small town in search of a hot prospect for the majors.  He is very business-oriented and focused on money, but what struck me about Rob is that he comes across as a genuinely nice guy.  

Rob's trip is extended by car trouble, and he gets to know the locals.  Their faith really gets his attention.  Rob doesn't quite get what he wants, but he definitely gets what he needs.  

The end was pretty touching, but it did leave a couple of open questions for me.  

A very entertaining and inspirational movie.