Book News

The Queen of UnforgettingThe Queen of Unforgetting by Sylvia Maultash Warsh (Cormorant Books Inc., 284 pages, $21).

The Queen of Unforgetting is a masterfully written book, with an engaging protagonist and a thought-provoking exploration of the themes of suffering, death and survival. It is well worth the read.

As the child of Holocaust survivors, Sylvia Maultash Warsh grew up listening to her mother’s stories of fleeing from the Nazis in Poland and surviving the horrors of the labour camps. These stories sparked Warsh’s interest in history — an interest that has shaped her fiction. To date, she has written three well-received historical mystery novels. In her fourth novel, The Queen of Unforgetting, she departs from the mystery genre with great success.

Only justice will bring Mideast peace

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Jerusalem TestamentJerusalem Testament by Melanie A. May (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 190 pages, softcover, $24.99).

Ecumenical statements can be dry. Words of consensus crafted by many minds, from many different traditions, are thoughtful, often insightful, but can lack the emotion that comes from one voice. Not so in Jerusalem Testament, a compilation of 20 years of statements from Palestinian Christian leaders. Their emotion is palpable.

As the narrative winds through the events of the Holy Land between 1988 and 2008, and progress towards peace rises and falls, an array of feelings come through: anguish at the lives destroyed, joy at glimmers of possibility, frustration at calls unanswered, determination to persevere. What also comes through is a sense of steadfast hope, a firm and deep faith in the child Jesus, who was born in the Bethlehem of their struggle.

Cardinal Newman's legacy strong today

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Newman’s Unquiet GraveNewman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint by John Cornwell (Continuum Books, 256 pages, hardcover, $22.95).

Every book has an agenda, sometimes blatant, sometimes unintentional, but always present and needing to be judged at least partly on the question of whether it achieves its goal.

A new biography of John Henry Newman, published mere months before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to England and Scotland, during which the Pope will beatify the 19th-century cardinal, thinker and theologian, is a natural subject for agenda detection.

Wisdom gained through journey into darkness

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When Values CollideWhen Values Collide: The Catholic Church, Sexual Abuse and the Challenges of Leadership  by Joseph P. Chinnici, O.F.M. (Orbis Books, 236 pages, softcover, $26).

The horror of clerical sexual abuse rocking the Church around the globe is a decidedly multi-faceted phenomenon. Coming to understand and perhaps transcend exactly what the scandal means, it matters deeply which perspective you choose. Over the coming months and years there will be a wave of books available to everyone struggling to make sense of and move forward from the sensationalist detail that preoccupies much of the mainstream media. Joseph P. Chinnici’s When Values Collide is one of the first and it is a truly impressive starting point.

Helping you come to grips with grief

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Now What? A Practical Guide to Dealing with Aging, Illness and DyingNow What? A Practical Guide to Dealing with Aging, Illness and Dying by Sherri Auger and Barbara Wickens (Novalis, 160 pages, softcover, $19.95).

Barbara Wickens and Sheri Auger say they wish they had a reference tool when they were facing their parents’ illnesses and deaths.

Me too.

Brendan, a saint of adventure

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BrendanBrendan: The Remarkable Life and Voyage of Brendan of Clonfert, One of the most Beloved Irish Saints by Morgan Llywelyn (New York, Tom Doherty Associates, 303 pages, $29.99.)

Saints stand out as great role models for youth and if they haven’t already added St. Brendan to their list of heroes, it’s probable they will after reading Brendan: The Remarkable Life and Voyage of Brendan of Clonfert, One of the most Beloved Irish Saints by Morgan Llywelyn.

Brendan is a telling tale of the legendary life of St. Brendan of Clonfert, or St. Brendan the Navigator, one of the greatest Irish saints. In reading the novel, the reader will develop a mental picture of who St. Brendan was — a man of great faith, knowledge and love for God.

Adding puzzling mystery to Jesus' story

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The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel ChristThe Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ, by Philip Pullman (Knopf, 256 pages, hardcover, $27.)

Well-known authors have tried to retell the Jesus story in fictional form over the last few decades. Some, like C.S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, used a highly imaginative and metaphorical setting. Nikos Kazantzakis with his very earthy Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ and Anne Rice with her recent and much more prosaic rendering in the Christ The Lord series both chose a literal retelling of the Gospel.

Finding grace in the meal

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Paula ButturiniTORONTO - For Paula Butturini, 15 years of continuous tragedies were countered by moments of unexpected grace and solace found in the rituals of preparing and sharing food around the dinner table.

In her book Keeping the Feast: One Couple’s Story of Love, Food and Healing in Italy, published this year by Riverhead Books, Butturini bounces the reader between a series of brutal, gut-wrenching events and peaceful, heartwarming stories that centre around food and fellowship — a gripping story of perseverance and hope.

Plain and simple, killing is wrong

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{mosimage}Autobiography of an Execution, by David R. Dow (Twelve, 320 pages, hard cover, $29.99.)

David Dow may not believe in God, but he does believe in justice, love and compassion — and he certainly has a conscience. A death penalty lawyer, he works in Texas for a non-profit organization that attempts to save inmates from capital punishment.

Dow does not try to save the prisoners because he feels for them personally. In fact, he dislikes most of his clients. But, as he makes very clear, they do not deserve to die, and certainly not through a biased, racist and classist criminal justice system.

A poor man's biblical view of economics

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{mosimage}Jesus and Money: A guide for Times of Financial Crisis by Ben Witherington III (Brazos Press, soft cover, 192 pages, $21.99)

Ben Witherington knows Scripture and he might know money, but when he brings the two together he falls short of talking sense.

Witherington brings biblical teaching on money to bear on the current economic crisis in Jesus and Money. Witherington is a well-published Evangelical biblical scholar whose works cover a wide range of scholarly debates, presenting them in accessible ways for lay Christian audiences. In this book, however, Witherington presents an incomplete view of biblical texts on wealth and oversteps the bounds of his expertise as he applies these texts to today’s economy.

This incompleteness is ironic, as Witherington explicitly stakes out his position as a “canonical” approach to the Scriptures. That is, he insists Christians may not pick and choose parts of Scripture that appeal to them while ignoring others. This is precisely the problem with his primary target throughout the book: advocates of the “health and wealth” or “prosperity” Gospel who focus on texts which seem to suggest that material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing.

Fr. Stan tells teens '2' love

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{mosimage}U Got 2 Love by Fr. Stan Fortuna, C.F.R. (Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 254 pages, $13.95.)

In the latest instalment of the U Got 2 series from renowned rapping priest Fr. Stan Fortuna, Catholics are not only urged, but called “2” love.

This follow-up to U Got 2 Believe and U Got 2 Pray dedicates itself to the dominant force in our faith and provides Catholics with a desperately needed and refreshing approach to a world stuck chasing impoverished and superficial love.