Friday, August 26, 2016

The Love that Made Mother Teresa (Sophia Institute Press)

The Love that Made Mother Teresa begins by speaking of Mother Teresa's beatification and the profound impact she had on each of the four popes she met. The next chapters then discuss what makes a saint, how she became a saint (the miracles she performed), and how some saints are different, i.e., saints with a global message, not just a local saint. The next section of the book focuses on her childhood, formative years, her entry into the convent, and it even compared her to St. Therese of Lisieux. The section after this deals primarily with the Mother Teresa we all knew and loved. We see her forming the Missionary Sisters of Charity and helping the poor. What was most interesting to me was the chapter that showed a start contrast between the war that was going on globally and Mother Teresa helping those with peace and love. The closing section deals with the darkness that Mother Teresa experienced at the end of her life. This is a very personal and hard to read section, but it is a truth worth reading.

This book is a mixture of biography and spiritual guidance. It not only tells of her life on earth, but also tells about the lasting impact she left on the lives of everyone she touched. What's even more impressive is the impact she had on people like me, who never had a chance to meet her, but were inspired by her life and work from afar. This is a book that all who love Mother Teresa should read. It is definitely worth picking up and reading before she becomes a saint on September 4th.

This book was provided to me for free by Sophia Institute Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mother Teresa Children's Books (Ignatius Press)

Mother Teresa is scheduled to be canonized on September 4th, 2016. To commemorate that, many Catholic publishers are releasing books to sync up with this event. Ignatius Press, for example, has at least three such books. Works of Love Are Works of Peace is a photographic documentation of her mission and prayer life, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Mother Teresa: The Smile of Calcutta are two children's books on our soon to be saint. Today, I will be telling you about the latter two books.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a hardcover, illustrated book for ages 9+. It begins by telling of her childhood in Albania. It tells of her First Communion at age five and the death of her father at age eight. We also learn about missionaries coming to her town to preach, and that was what led to her desire to be consecrated to God. The next chapter tells of her arrival in Calcutta to the convent of the Sisters of Loretto, her superiors sending her to teach at a local high school, and them choosing her to become the principal. In 1946, she was on a retreat and encountered the extreme poverty of the people in Darjeeling. Here she heard God's voice to help the poor, and in 1948, she took off the habit of the Sisters of Loretto and walked among the people of India to show love for the poor. We learn of trials and hardships she encountered while doing this, but we also learn about the difference she made in the children's lives by teaching them hygiene and the alphabet. The book continues with telling of her founding the Missionaries of Charity and the work she did. It concludes by telling of her Nobel Peace Prize, beatification, and upcoming canonization. This is a great book that teaches us about Mother Teresa and her mission. It is beautifully illustrated by Emmanuel Beaudesson, who has illustrated several great books that Ignatius Press has recently published. Highly recommended.

Mother Teresa: The Smile of Calcutta a hardcover, illustrated book for ages 7+. It's illustration style is a bit more cartoonish in nature than the book Mother Teresa of Calcutta, but that will probably make it more inviting for the younger audience. The book does not begin with her early childhood, but tells of her at 18 when she is joining the convent. This book however focuses heavily on her time in Calcutta and all the great works she did for the poor, neglected, and forgotten. What I really like about this book, compared with the book Mother Teresa of Calcutta is that it seems to have more personal experiences and stories in it. We learn that the first woman to join her Missionaries of Charity was a former student, named Subahini Das. We also learn that the first woman that Mother Teresa recruited to constantly prayer for the Missionaries of Charity was a Belgian nursed named Jacqueline. She wanted to become a Missionary of Charity but was too sick to become one. These little snippets add a very personal touch to the book and the life of Mother Teresa. This is another must read book for Catholic parents and teachers to read to their children.

These books were provided to me for free by Ignatius Press in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Guildhall Fantasy (Alderac Entertainment Group)

Guildhall Fantasy is a re-theme of the game Guildhall. It currently comes in three versions - Fellowship, Alliance, and Coalition. The boxes themselves are tiny in nature, which a lot of gamers don't like, but you can buy a bigger box (Box of Holding to be specific) to put four of these games in. This had led to speculation that there is one more game in this series on the way. Each game is designed for 2-4 players, ages 14+. They take roughly 30 minutes to play and retail for $28. The three games play almost identical in nature. The biggest difference is the characters available in each set. Fellowship (Bard, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Ranger, and Sorcerer), Alliance (Assassin, Marshall, Psion, Shaman, Spellblade, and Wizard), and Coalition (Artificer, Barbarian, Cleric, Rogue, Paladin, and Warlock). Today, I will be focusing on Guildhall Fantasy: Fellowship. Let's talk about the setup.
1. Shuffle the 120 Profession cards (Bard, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Ranger, and Sorcerer) together to create a deck.
2. Shuffle all of the Victory Point (VP) cards and deal five face up in the middle of the table to form a line. Set the rest of the VP deck nearby.
3. Place the VP tokens in a pile in the middle of the table.
4. Deal each player nine Profession cards. Then, the first player discards as many cards as they want and draws back up to nine cards. After that, they play three of their cards to their right. This forms their Guildhall. (Notes: No cards can be duplicates, meaning same name and color, and groups of the same Profession are referred to as Chapters.) Each player then follows the same actions in this step, and the game is ready to begin.
Game Play - You may take any two of the actions below, including the same action twice.
1. Play one Profession card into your action area and resolve it. After you have resolved the action(s), move cards from your action area to your Guildhall. In this step, each Profession card gives you an action you can perform, based on the number of that type of Profession card you have in your Guildhall. For example, if you play a Druid card, and you already have one Druid in your Guildhall, you can draw three Profession cards from the deck and put them in your hand. If you had three Druid cards in your Guildhall, you could draw five Profession cards from the deck and put one in your Guildhall. (Notes: You cannot play a Profession card of the same name and color as on you already have in your Guildhall. Also, if you perform this action twice, you may not play the same name Profession card for both actions.)
2. Discard any number of Profession cards from your hand and draw back up to six.
3. Buy one VP card from the center row. VP cards are bought by cashing in completed chapters (one of all five colors of a Profession in your Guildhall, i.e., one red, one blue, one yellow, one green, and one purple Monk card. (Note: Some VP cards give you solely victory points. Other VP cards give you points and an extra move. For example, the 7 VP card gives you seven points and allows you to take two more actions.0
4. The game ends when someone reaches 20 victory points.
The characters in this game are beautifully illustrated and detailed and they are what make this game really stand out on a table. The mechanics of the game are simple, but the execution is a bit complex. By this I mean, it's a simple hand management game, but it takes several times of playing to get used to what all the characters can do. The real trick of this game is deciding when to play which card, and that is what makes this game easy to learn, but difficult to master. Of all three sets, I liked the characters in Coalition the best, because they felt the most traditional of fantasy characters. Fellowship was a close second and Alliance was a distant third. What most interests me about this game is that you can take characters from each of the three sets and create your own Guildhall Fantasy adventure. I have also heard talk of being able to combine the game and make a super Guildhall Fantasy, but I wouldn't recommend that unless you have mastered all three of the games first. This is a perfect introduction to hand management and set collection with just enough "take that" action to make the game exciting but not annoying.

These games were provided to me for free by Alderac Entertainment Group in exchange for honest reviews. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!