(This page includes Reviews and Interviews only published at Magic City Morning Star)
Laure McCourt Lopez is a California native who gave up the hustle and bustle of Bay Area living and moved to her ancestral roots in the “wilds” of suburban Maine with husband Gil and son Tom in tow. Life offered more change in the form of a career shift from 29 years in early childhood education to her current profession as Certified Professional Coder in family practice. When life takes a break from work, she enjoys genealogy (“Coder by trade, genealogist by addiction”), creative writing, crafting and exploring the varied nooks and crannies that New England has to offer. Laure and her family share a split level Eisenhower with their two Maine Coon cats, Cecil and Katie Mona, who insist they’re actually little people with fur. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laure McCourt Lopez Book Review: “New Caledonia: A Song of America”
by Laure McCourt Lopez
July 30, 2017
William D. McEachern’s latest offering, “New Caledonia: A Song of America,” is his third historical novel and the second in the Caledonia series. This book engages the reader in a time of relationships and events much different than our modern era. I would heartily recommend the reading of McEachern’s novel for the history buff, as well as the family history sojourner, and indeed anyone who appreciates the unfolding of time past on the printed page.
He was an extremely nice guy and when it was holidays for Christians he would always say ‘Come with a cart and horse and bring some villagers and we will collect some food.’ He’d give us all kinds of food and this was a nice tradition. The sad story is that I saw exactly when they came to arrest him in 1944, a time that they were arresting a lot of Polish people; I was looking out through the window.
In this book, the full gamut of human struggle is arrayed yet guideposts of hope and achievement are marked along the sojourner’s way. Each chapter focuses on either a prophet or apostle and a particular struggle that challenged him in life and discussion of how growth came through adversity. Inadequacy, fear, loneliness, disappointment and grief are just some of the topics touched upon; at the end of each chapter, Dr. Tweedie includes scripture references and a series of contemplative queries of self-examination for the reader.
Laure McCourt Lopez Interview with Dr. John Tweedie
Feb 20, 2016
I sensed that we should do a season on the prophets because each had a unique story: some felt inadequate, some were fearful and each one had to overcome certain things in order to serve God. So, as I prepared the themes and the scripts for thirteen episodes, I began to see myself in some of their stories as most people probably could. When each series is produced, and filming completed in Israel, we return home to do the editing process.
Review: “Ordinary Evil” by Gene Ferraro
Nov 1, 2015
Ordinary Evil explores corruption within the established hierarchy of the Catholic Church.. Via a series of vignettes revealing the various characters preparing to converge upon the stage, Ferraro introduces the reader to a host of individuals who are all touched by a common thread. The characters are as varied as the locales they represent; from the pomp and tradition of Rome to the local parishes of Massachusetts come young seminarians, parish families, soup kitchen volunteers, stalwart Vatican diplomats and Catholic clerics of varying personal convictions. Yet it is in the Prologue that we are introduced to one that carries with him seeds of deceit that will be spread along the path of many and will test the trust of those with whom he comes in contact.
I had the privilege of interviewing Gene Ferraro, author of “Ordinary Evil,” in early September of this year. The following encapsulates our discussion. Do you see more resources available to victims of clergy sexual abuse and in your findings, have you seen percentages of reported abuse diminish or increase? There was a Polish bishop whose funeral was just a few weeks ago. He had been involved in some pretty bad acts with young people. Not many high ranking church members attended his funeral. That was in The Globe. I don’t know what a percentage would be as I really don’t keep up with that.
There are books that engage the reader in fast-paced adventure or melancholy drama while others offer visitations to historical backdrops but “It’s All about Him,” by Dr. Lois Brittell, allows its reading audience moments of reflective solitude and places of pause while journeying a road less travelled. May the reader feel inspired by the gentle prompting along the way as the tangibles of today’s society such as anxiety, fear, anger, just to name a few, are thoughtfully explored; note that along the road less traveled there is ample time to put down the backpack, curl up into a comfortable spot and seek wisdom and answers in this narrative of spiritual refreshment.
Let me answer the second question first. As you listen to preachers and other professionals, anxiety and depression are on the rise. People are moving out of churches, religious life is taking on less importance than it used to. Values are changing and of course, if you are not attached to God, the events occurring in today’s world are going to leave you anxious, depressed, confused, angry, and having other pathological feelings. The difference between anxiety and fear is great, but it’s subtle.
Laure McCourt Lopez Interview with Carol Kuhnert
March 23, 2015
What scenes and /or characters would you like to highlight? “The first one would be the evening my frightened daughter told me that my brother was a child molester. The tension in our home had become unbearable. She was barely speaking to me. I walked on egg shells, weighing my words to her very carefully. Finally, one evening she asked me to come to her room, that she had something to tell me. She had difficulty beginning to speak. Then her tears flowed as quickly as her words blurted out. We shared a box of tissues as she revealed the terrible things my brother, a priest, had been doing to her as well as innocent little boys.
Review: “No Longer on Pedestals” by Carol Kuhnert
Mar 22, 2015
I was so personally moved by this book; as upsetting and disturbing were the revelations, I gained enormous insight as to not only the reactions of the Catholic Church but was shocked by the behaviors exhibited by some parishioners against the victims. Throughout the pages of the book, the author unveils the years of pain and torment her family and others endured upon learning that the family member in their midst had sexually abused an ever-growing number of young congregants of the various parishes that Fr. Christian served in.
There are many handbooks, DIY manuals and self-help journals that adorn the vast cyber bookshelves of the literary nook of the internet as well as its more old school component, The Book Store, yet this offering by author Douglas Kindred is a welcome breath of fresh air to a reader who is seeking a hands on approach for application to the spiritual journey. Don’t let the mere 124 pages fool you; there is ample amount of wisdom in this book whose title touts a DIY approach: “Read Matthew to Live Your Life, Read John to Save Your Soul.” This sage advice, relayed by the author’s mother, acted as a healing balm particularly during a turbulent season of life that brought Kindred to his emotional spiritual knees.
Review: “Casting Lots” by William D. McEachern
Nov 16, 2014
Set in journal format, and punctuated with various quotes from the classic writers such as Ovid and Cicero, the reader is immediately immersed in a world that is framed by mass crucifixions, tyrannical Roman rule, bustling marketplaces filled with every human trait imaginable and the development of a friendship of two men that represent two forms of slavery, one of legal agreement and the other an enslavement of the heart. At the behest of his slave master, Lucinius sets out to meet Cornelius, who possesses a multitude of stories particularly centered upon his encounters with Jesus, the Christ.
As an early childhood education teacher I would incorporate this story in an integrated curriculum unit focusing on the culture and environmental landscape of Sri Lanka. This book would also lend itself as a modern take of fable in a comparison/contrast unit of Aesop’s Fables and modern literature.
Review: “One for the Heart” book by G. Raye Jones
Jul 30, 2014
I once had a professor who said you could always tell when a reader was engaged in a good book: after reading for some time, the reader would pause and look up with a sign of personal reflection upon the face. That is how this book affected me. It isn’t just a matter of reading words but rather reading the musings of a heart that has so much to share with the reader. I highly recommend this thoughtfully crafted collection of poetry to enjoy during those contemplative moments when one wishes to step back from the busyness of life and reflect upon that which is lasting and meaningful.
Review: “Bella and Harry; Let’s Visit Maui!” by Lisa Manzione
Jul 27, 2014
Having been bitten by the travel bug many years ago, I was intrigued with this fanciful excursion of the beautiful island of Maui, one of Hawaii’s eight main islands. Who could ask for more charming tour guides than Bella and Harry, brother and sister Chihuahuas, as they invite young readers to join them on a trip that explores different customs, cultural diversity and historic landmarks. I especially appreciate how the author uses child-friendly descriptions that are clear and involve the five senses. Kudos to author Lisa Manzione and to Kristine Lucco for her illustrations.